April 24, 2021
By Lisa McNeil
I’ve always loved the early morning light. The way things are illuminated, and the unseen becomes visible as everything is bathed in a warm golden glow. The morning light is softer and more welcoming than that of an afternoon sun, which can sometimes seem too bright and make us shield our eyes.
As the morning sun rises, it begins to make things clearer and encourages us to look a little closer. The shape and lines of tree trunks and limbs and the texture of their bark come into focus. We can start to make out the vines wrapped around plants, sometimes cutting into the trees and shrubs, impeding their growth. Or the thickets around young trees, protecting the saplings and occasionally overtaking them. And in the winter and early spring, we can find the nests built by birds, squirrels, or hornets that are hidden from us in the summer and fall.
I sometimes think of coaching like the morning light; a welcoming invitation to look more closely and to see things as they are. No judgement, just a new awareness and a chance to investigate and explore what’s there.
At BEC, we draw on Gestalt principles and practices in our coaching to help clients bring awareness of themselves to light. For example, we look at well-developed and less-developed skills; which skills do you use the most – many of which have helped you to grow and thrive – and what are some of the other skills you could develop to help take pressure off of those well-used roots and limbs.
Polarities—the opposites that exist in our lives and around us—can help to make meaning of a given situation or action. We all possess light and dark, good and bad, masculine and feminine qualities. Coaching helps to explore those polarities and to see that they are often a continuum of behaviors and characteristics we can draw on at different times, like a tree that looks straight and strong but bends and sways in the strong wind to keep from breaking.
We might also investigate the idea of multiple realities; our own and other’s perspectives and views of our environment and circumstances, which can sometimes help us stay “safe” in a diverse environment or one of competing interests. Taking the time to understand not only the other person’s perspective and where it came from but our own can help us grow within the environment. Through this kind of inquiry, you might find that the stories or assumptions you tell yourself are holding you back like the vines wrapped tightly around trees.
Identifying and making visible the cycle of experience in your business and team can help you as a leader make meaning of the work you do and how you do it with the people you lead. Is each part of the cycle of experience getting the time in the sun it needs for the work and team to grow and thrive?
Through appreciative inquiry, we can identify and explore situations and relationships in your work and life that are helping you grow and bring a sense of satisfaction—the things you want more of—as well as those things that are holding you back or putting unwanted pressure on you, like two trees growing together, they can have a synergistic relationship or perhaps one demands too much of the resources.
And with an optimistic stance, we are always excited to see the buds and new growth that develop over time. Just like the sun rising or the trees blooming, awareness isn’t built and growth doesn’t happen all at once. It takes time, and it is a cyclical process that continues as long as we are willing to be curious about what is showing up.