A new evolutionary coaching paradigm in a time of crisis
by Mick Timpson
Under my Christmas tree in 2022 was Flourish, a book by urban planner, Sarah Ichioka and architect, Michael Pawlyn. Flourish concerns itself with what architects, city planners and engineers can do to respond to the climate emergency. What makes the book interesting though is its focus not on so much on projects but on the development of new mindsets linked with personal agency, or what we would call at beanddo™ – conscious action. The time for action the authors say, as most of us already know, is now. But here lies our problem, as hardly any of us are present to being just here, right now. We know that in all types of coaching helping others discover presence is the first task. Only in the now is change possible and it’s the transforming of consciousness by being fully present that will help make the world flourish again.
Flourish points out that yes, we have the technology and the systems but to really transform and act wholly we need to open and nurture a new way of looking at ourselves each other and the rest of the living world. We need to cultivate (or rediscover) a deeper connectivity so that a new evolutionary transformation is possible before it’s too late. It’s the evolutionary, inner life aspect of this call to action that I find exciting as a coach (and architect). This is change, not as an externally, applied, mechanical thing (the original reason for the climate crisis) but as an internal, heart centred, universal, human thing which we can all align with if we want to. All it requires a shift of perspective which is where my coaching practice comes in.
You don’t always need to be in control
But can such a shift be coached in a time of massive uncertainty? Yes, in fact I would say it’s probably the only thing that will save us. We need to raise the dialogue beyond the usual lifestyle changes that the media tells we must swallow like a reluctant medicine. We have all the data, but we are distracted, resist, or lack the will or vision to act on it. Instead, we need to go deeper and uncover change powered by new ways of being and doing aligning with a bigger wholistic flow. What is needed is an acceptance that uncertainty is part of the deal in terms of finding a more flourishing world. Shifting from expectation to not fully knowing is the creative and intuitive aspect of positive change which for too long has been crushed out of existence by big business and inept government. This is the first thing that needs upgrading. Always, wanting to be in control leads to procrastination, second guessing and resistance to change. In turn resistance, causes friction and then heat – just what the world doesn’t need more of right now. It’s here 21st century coaching techniques will help foster new perspectives, new patterns of connections that link moment-by-moment response and courageous intuitive action.
The emphasis here is on responding to things as they are rather than fixating on a future that can never be fully predicted or realised. It’s expectation, trying to lasso solutions from the future rather than responding directly, creatively and authentically with what is really happening. As Yogis would say, this is being present, inhabiting the here and now because only in the present can we take conscious action and hammer out real change.
We do this by shifting and upgrading our perspective towards everything we do, feel, see, hear, think and say. We call this Modern Meditation and it’s the core of my teaching and coaching work. We may not set out to change the world, but an enlivened individual will impact way beyond their immediate context.
There are two aspects to this which involves a conscious switching on of what I call vertical and horizontal skills. Vertical is the ability to go inwards and engage with self through enhanced attention and awareness. Attention used this way leads to deeper observation, connectivity and focus while deeper awareness skills lead to heightened perception, effortless momentum, and embodiment. Horizontal skills are the ability to engage outwards with the flow and action of the world. Here one’s attitude and action are upgraded which in turn lead to heightened sense of control, selflessness and clarity linked to action shaped by immediate feedback, creativity, and purpose.
Practice regularly, follow the coaching and one begins to recognise and navigate around obstacles that have hitherto fuelled unconscious reactivity, ingrained habits which become a default setting. Teach your clients how to notice and break this setting, making the unconscious conscious as we often say, and they will discover how to tap into new mindsets that channel insight and creativity and empower themselves in whatever they are doing, wherever they are. This is transformation that comes from the inside out and from experience there are at least five obstacles that my type of coaching addresses.
- I don't have any power - You already have all the power you need - it’s pointless to seek more. Cultivate a field of possibility around and in you because cynicism, scepticism and conservatism are exhausting and will stifle and close off all options. Be open to the power you have. Modern Meditation will help you do that.
- I am so isolated - You are never alone - We are all both locally and non-locally connected. Connected to everything. You and I, all of nature, everything is powered by the same source. It fuels your work, your expression in the world as it does the trees, the stars and the bees. Modern Meditation will help you do that.
- I just don't have enough time - you have all the time in the world. Forget speed and short-term expectations, and instead go for the present and open up to the long now - work from where space and time are infinite and the only place where you can make real change. Modern Meditation will help you do that.
- I need to stay ahead of the Competition - What for? There is no race. It’s an illusion designed to control you. Instead, don’t judge, don’t make comparisons, and instead look for ways to be a ‘super collaborator’ with others and the world. Be open. There is real creative wisdom found in the most unlikely places. Modern Meditation will help you do that.
- I feel nothing will change - change is constant, everywhere. Seek it out, feel it and discover how to direct it and nurture a new web of connection, momentum and growth, inside and outside. Modern meditation will help you do that.
None of us will thrive unless we can discover how to step up a bigger mode of change in what we do and how we do it. Staying inside our self-created comfort is no longer practical or healthy.
Michael Timpson is an architect, artist, author, coach and modern yoga and meditation teacher. Here he introduces his Modern Meditation based coaching technique which features in his forthcoming book A Modern Way to Meditate. You can read more about Mick’s yoga and meditation teaching in his last book, Making Happy Work. A beginner’s guide to navigating the modern world.
Mick runs yoga and meditation teacher training programmes, coaching, workshops, classes and events through his coaching initiative beanddo™. He teaches personal Modern Meditation based strategies for creativity, self-empowerment, resilience and stress reduction practices across many organisations. He works 1-2-1, as well as with small groups. He talks regularly at events on the impact of what he calls ‘Conscious Action’ where individuals discover how to be who they really are and what they can do.
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