To coach or not to coach..

Persephone-03Recently I was asked to write a bio of myself and the coaching services I offer. I had to write about my coaching style and approaches, and here I was, typing out furiously (and self-righteously) the various NLP techniques, evidence-based coaching approaches, when i suddenly remember a coaching incident I had last month with a client. I call it an “incident” because it was neither planned nor both parties.

Without going into the details of our conversation, suffice to say that it was just quite a bizarre experience, at least for me, when the conversation went into a more spiritual realm of spirits and ghosts of a dimension that I have not encountered. As the conversation hurtled along my mind’s corridor of unknown, I wasn’t sure when I should stop and asked if I should refer my client to someone else who may be more professionally trained to deal with the spiritual issues that she was facing. And then, I just decided to listen whole heartedly without placing any judgment on MYSELF and my perceived limited capabilities. I allowed her to just pour out everything she had been bottling inside, and shared my own stories when she asked. I stopped second-guessing myself as to whether I should maintain composure or not, whether my stories would help in any way, and whether this is going to even help. At the end of the day, my client walked away with a lighter heart, had the confidence that I, as her sherpa, am walking alongside her, not just as her coach but as a friend too. I did refer her to a psychologist who would have a more precise and technical repertoire of solutions to help her get through such difficult times. There is a difference between listening with the heart and holding her hand, and prescribing solutions to alleviate her pain. However, at that juncture, when she was sitting on my couch, speaking into things that I was not really able to understand because of my limited exposure on spiritual realms, I was glad I did not let my own pre-notions and self-judgment on my own limitations and cultural prejudices to be in the way of being emphatic and loving. I was grateful for the ability to stop being afraid, to step out of the textbook coaching approaches, and to just reach out like the greek Demeter reaching out her hand for her daughter, Persephone who was kidnapped by Hades into the Underworld. Demeter couldn’t understand what Persephone had experienced in the hole she was sucked into, but that did not stop Demeter from stretching out her hand to try to be the lifeline that Persephone was looking for.