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Pathways to Alignment
Richard Michaels & Sharon Brown
Coaching for Transformation
People say that what we are all seeking is a meaning for life…I think that what we are really seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on a purely physical plane will have resonance within our innermost being and reality, so that we can actually feel the rapture of being alive. —Joseph Campbell
As coaches, we take clients deeper than “figuring out” what they want to do. We take them into the experience of their core aliveness. Grounded in what resonates at the soul level, their life choices become more purposeful, rich and satisfying.
We off er five pathways to alignment, which remind people to connect with their core essence. Each process engages clients with their core aliveness and deepens self-connection. For instance, values clarification is one of the powerful ways to invite clients to “come home” to themselves. This “coming home” speaks to the core principle of valuing diversity, where all parts of self are welcomed home. Each pathway helps clients clarify what matters most, and reconnect with their creative, resourceful core. Regardless of which pathway to alignment you choose, each process supports self-awareness, which leads clients to deeper confidence about their direction, choices and action.
Our clients’ true selves are deeply connected, ready and eager to embrace life and create. Th ey also have many parts that compete for attention—parts that tend to shut down creativity and action. Our job as a coach is to help clients become more aware of their highest self and the possibilities that brings, while integrating all parts, including those they’ve disliked or ignored. As they work with limiting beliefs, old patterns and inner critics, we can help them move toward radical self acceptance. At Leadership that Works, we call this process “bringing the client into alignment.”
Supporting self-alignment can be as simple and profound as finding images and metaphors that connect them to their deeper self, offering an embodiment practice that helps them connect with times when they were most alive, or developing declarations or vows that serve as touchstones for how their essence lives in the world. Whatever process we choose, the value of self-alignment is that clients step out of feeling stuck and step into a new relationship with themselves that reconnects them with their inner resources.
Without making any part of our clients wrong, we help them become more self connected by working effectively with all parts of themselves. Each part exists for a reason. Each part, even a destructive part, has a noble purpose. The inner critic, for example, wants the same things that we all want—mastery, love, harmony, safety or connection. It often uses a strategy that we don’t enjoy, like screaming at us, but we can help them tap into their yearning and change their strategy. In that way, we learn to recognize the parts of psyche that do most of the heavy lifting in maintaining identity, and keeping us safe physically and psychologically.
When clients are “lined up” with themselves, integrating body, mind and spirit, we sense a palpable energetic shift. New possibilities for action arise easily, along with a sense of movement, aliveness and creativity. When in alignment, our clients are present and engage with life more fully.
Much of the coaching training prepares coaches to both recognize alignment and enhance its expression. The pathways to alignment are processes that help bring out powerful, creative and authentic self-expression. They also get the limiting beliefs to loosen their grip and reduce their power to run out clients’ lives.
When clients shed the victim mentality and create from that place of alignment, they connect with their aliveness, empowering beliefs and gratitude. Alignment leads to awareness of new possibilities, new choices and new action. As alignment becomes more sustainable over time, clients engage with the world in a different way. We recognize a radical shift in awareness that continually deepens. The ongoing transformation allows people to celebrate themselves just the way they are, and releases yearning and creative power. They step into actions they were unwilling to take on in the past, or go where they were too frightened to go. As we bring clients into alignment of body, mind and spirit, we don’t know what’s going to happen. Both the questions and the ground shift. Instead of clients asking, “How do I get more out of my life?” you may notice them asking, “How can I contribute more to life?”
Transformation is the process of moving from limitations to full creativity and full expression. Our clients have opportunities for transformation while on the pathway toward alignment, and new doors open as a result of alignment. We recognize alignment because clients have greater access to inner and outer resources. They let go of old attachments, viewpoints and limiting beliefs.
The evolution occurs both in the movement toward alignment, and in the radical life changes that occur when clients create their lives from the place of full alignment. They become ready and eager to create in the world and more able to see their personal, authentic path and unique contribution.
Wildly different possibilities exist when clients become more aligned. As they become more understanding of their inner critics, creativity and possibility are ignited. Action becomes easy and natural. Transformation includes both an internal shift and a shift in their relationship with the world.
Transformation is not a static, idealized state in which clients never experience limiting beliefs, because actual human development is cyclical and progressive. Transformation is available in every moment. We shift internally and then move to another level with new challenges. So coaching becomes a process of continuous movement toward alignment and breakthrough to transformation, and then we find fresh opportunities that lead to deeper alignment.
Questions to Consider
What is your experience with self-alignment?
What has transformed in your life as a result?
Clients need help holding the focus on transforming their lives. Once the transformational agenda emerges, coaches commit to holding onto the possibilities for life transformation and support the discovery of what clients really want. This strong commitment to the transformational agenda keeps the coaching moving toward expansive possibilities and away from quick solutions or business as usual.
Part of holding the transformational agenda is engaging with the mystery. We bring clients to the edge of what they already know and have the courage for, and then move to the edge of what they have the courage to create, and then jump off the cliff into the mystery together. If we stop at “The client has the answer” or “I know what this client is capable of,” we miss the real power of coaching—engaging in the places that neither the client nor coach can imagine.
Transformational agenda questions that become part of our stand as a coach can include: What is possible for this client that they have not considered? Who is this person becoming? What is the authentic expression of this individual in the world? What is beyond what we know is possible?
Excerpt from the book Coaching for Transformation: Pathways to Ignite Personal & Social Change by Martha Lasley, Virginia Kellogg, Richard Michaels and Sharon Brown. As faculty at Leadership that Works, they certify coaches who offer personal, organization and community transformation. Check out the free Power of Coaching teleclass.
Coaching is life-changing, world-changing work. The coaching programs at Leadership that Works go beyond theories and models and work with clients on a deeper level. You learn how to coach the whole person: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Whole person Transformation.
Transforming the world.