Saturday 1 December 2018

The post-coaching era.

What comes after coaching? Decades ago, those who could went to psychologists, some for clincial reasons, some for counselling purposes, many just to find answers. That era has moved on, and medical aids have doubts about paying for these services, often, because the medical status of psychology has moved on, too.

Arising from some psychological bases, such as the work of Virginia Satir and Fritz Perls, NLP was born: neuro-lingusitic programming, and this is the framework for coaching. What we feel and what we say work together to create a felt sense of purpose, meaning and achievement, and thus we are offered the only three ways to achieve happiness, the seven steps to fulfilled love, the four linking loops of abundance and nine ways of reducing neuro-science to a new sense of reality. New brands of coaching are created continually: the common thread to all of them is head-turning, attention-arresting, heart-touching manipulations of emotive attention. From blogs to vlogs to podcasts and pop-up word-shops, the business of arresting, persuading and getting payment for the gratification of attentional needs is getting overcooked.

I think it may be pertinent to remember that there is nothing new under the sun. The seasons turn, the cycles repeat, new imprints of life remind us of the irreversible yet unworded places that decision is enacted, and the story simply continues.

This is why I founded the Story Clinic. Literary theory may be interesting to some, but it's definitely a hollow, intellectual pursuit, and means little to the person on the pavement. (You can't say "man in the street" anymore, that's a highly suspect, stereotypical, sexist, gender-aggressive statement, as well as a localisation of maleness, and also a possible racial slur because of any white stripes that might be painted on the tarmac.)

Whereas humans use, abuse and disabuse language as they please, the story that speaks through them, arising from deeper places that they can't imagine, whispering, screaming or singing from the guts, as the case may be, simply can't lie. I wouldn't necessarily say there's just one story communicating through us. There could well be many, but that's too difficult to start with. I mean, how many minds do we have?

Maybe I could create a workshop to identify your seven minds in five easy steps. But I think I've made my point. R.D. Laing once remarked that when his patients asked why they were paying all this money for no result, and walked off, it was called a cure.

So I think coaching could be fined for going over a speed trap in due course. I don't have anything particular against coaching. I think it often does good work, and changes lives for the better. On the other hand, it's often superficial, frequently expensive in respect of training, and deceptively condescending in that it's bottom line is that the answer is in you.

So what on earth are you actually paying for?

Stories are time-honoured: that's why I like them. There's no one definition for what a story is, but we do know that the body uses them, persistently and consistently to create a sense of coherent meaning. So I'm suggesting that when coaching cools off, or just gets too confusing for wonderful choice, the stories of who we are and what's going on will still be there. We need to get closer to them, and learn to listen more attentively, both to others and ourselves. So I am bold to announce the beginning of the post-coaching era, and the arrival of storied-time. It's called"storied-time" because when we get involved in our various narratives on purpose, things change vividly. It's a natural way of approaching what would seem to be unapproachable. And not so expensive.

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