If you were to describe yourself as an element of nature at this moment, what would it be and why? Take a moment to reflect on your response and you will soon discover that it opens the door to who you are being as a coach.
I choose space today because I am paying attention in bringing more stillness, silence and time to reflect on my coaching presence.
What are these Elements? The 5 elements are reflected in Japanese, Buddhist, Hindu and Ayurveda and yogic chakras worldviews and various spiritual practices (Ayurveda, Chinese medicine, etc). When I got introduced to this metaphorical framework by my mentor a few years ago, it became my internal compass to continually become more present as a coach. I began paying attention to all of the elements and even became aware of my personal preferences.
What do these elements mean in my coaching journey? Earth is the practice of grounding before and during a coaching session. Water is the practice of creating flow and connection. Fire is about managing energy, creating warmth and safety. Air is the practice of seeing the big or fuller picture. Space is creating ample time for reflection.
As I embarked on my PCC journey, one thing became clear right from the start, that an essential part of a coach’s professional development is to intentionally expand awareness and to determine who you want to be as a coach. I have been working on being present in every moment as I coach my clients and with my peers during peer coaching sessions. It can be tricky to sustain this for periods of time, but the good news is that we can develop this over time.
My Reflective practices: I would like to share 6 practices that help in bringing more Space with the gift of reflection and silence in my coaching. I am learning, unlearning and relearning every day and it is a magical journey.
Practice #1: Writing Morning Pages I started active journaling after I got this brilliant book called “The Artists Way’ by Julia Cameron. This is a daily practice of writing 3 pages first thing when I wake up. The simple, effective idea of starting the day by writing to connect with yourself, is exactly what I needed. It was like being taught a secret meditation technique. My morning practice is simple – to slow down and be present with my whole self. Whatever the morning routine, it seems that one purpose of this practice is to get the busyness out of the way to leave space for some magic to enter.
Practice #2: Practicing Mindful moments: These are mindful moments I create for myself to silent my mind and to focus on my senses. The most powerful is to breathe. I also set aside time to nourish myself with a walk . The key is to notice what you have never noticed before and look at things with awe and curiosity – which is a beginners’ mindset. I believe that magic happens when we invest in the process, not the outcome.
Practice #3: Buddy Reflection: Another practice that is working for me is regular reflection sessions with a coaching buddy. We meet once a fortnight for a mindful reflection and it is an opportunity to challenge AND support each other. The most crucial factor is not what we’re doing, it’s who we are becoming. It all starts when we give ourselves permission to be authentic and transparent and to listen actively.
Practice #4: Recharge, Renew, Reset There are times when I feel mentally and physically tired with all the stimulation around me and I am not able to bring my whole self to the coaching conversation. One of my favourite ways to reset is to take a break and just ‘do nothing’. Have nothing on the agenda! Just be in the moment and pay attention. It’s ok to do nothing – because right after, it gets you to do everything. Have you tried this ever?
Practice #5: NVC Practice Group I am passionate and curious about the work of Marshal Rosenberg –and am part of a Non-Violent Communication practice group which meets every fortnight. This practice helps me to connect more deeply and compassionately with others by first learning to connect with my own needs and feelings. When I am in touch with my own feelings and needs, I am mindful of what is alive in the moment.
Practice #6: Embracing Silence. I love this quote by Ram Dass “We’re fascinated by the words – but where we meet is in the silence between them’. I believe silence is not an absence of talking – it is an inner state of stillness and an outer state of being fully present with another, listening deeply. Without a space for silence, there is no place for reflection.
It is tough to be quiet and we will do anything to fill the silence. Start by becoming aware of your comfort with silence– notice what happens for you and in you as you quiet the internal chatter. Practice pausing for a couple of more seconds before AND after you speak. Practice WAIT or WAIST by asking yourself ‘Why am I talking? Or “Why am I still talking?’ Remember that silence isn’t about nothingness, it’s the creation of an intentional gap for discovery.
When a client experiences an aha moment or insight, I need to check myself before I jump in with my observations about their new state of understanding. I work to stay right there, in the moment with my silence. I am staying out of the way of their internal experience – creating the space with them for these insights to sink in. Embracing silence is a continuous practice!
These are a few of my practices that give me spaciousness to be in the moment and be present. I learn so much from nature and the 5 elements. What about you? I’d love to hear your practices in reflecting and creating space for yourself.
About the Author: Farah Ismail is an Internationally recognized Facilitator, Coach, Speaker and Founder of Interact Consulting. She inspires women entrepreneurs who find themselves frustrated and unfulfilled despite outward signs of success. When they work with her, they re-imagine their business, crafting a lucrative purpose-driven enterprise that delivers more clarity, confidence, connection and meaning.