Originally Published in Coaching for Transformation
When I “call out the power” with my clients, it brings me into my full power and unconditional love. I discover fearless love within me. I stand strong looking deep into my client’s soul-yearning. I believe in it and call it forth.
We both step into the unknown and discover the magic. It only happens when I operate from a place of deep love and faith in my client’s potential. When I am not in that space (as sometimes happens), I become judgmental, critical or demanding and that’s when I fail. My client struggles and retaliates. I become defensive, until I return to my centre, own up to my failure and restart the relationship.
My client had recently moved to become general manager of a coal power plant (a private company) after a long career in the government sector. He found himself losing the race to young, smart, MBAs in the corporate sector and kept judging himself as “not good enough” for this sector. He spoke throughout in a monotonous, flat tone. Given his illustrious career and senior leadership role, I was surprised by his low energy and apparent hopelessness.
I touched my frustration and asked him, “What frustrates you most in this work and life?” For the fi rst time he spoke passionately about the company’s lack of responsibility for community and environment. He was angry about how they were polluting water and destroying the water table of nearby villages. When asked what he would like to do about it, he said “Nothing, I do not have much power in this system.”
I looked at him... “GM of a power plant, 15 years of public sector career and family legacy of social service. His father led a cooperative and his grandfather was a freedom fighter. What is it that he is not ready to step into?” But instead of asking that, I did something that surprised me. I asked him, “If your father and grandfather could come in the room right now, what would they say?”
I had no idea where this would lead our coaching. The question went like a jolt. He stared at me for a long time. No answer. I held the silence while looking deeply in his eyes. I almost had tears in my eyes. Something connected us beyond the contract. In retrospect, this was one moment I didn’t care about the contract or continuity. I was fearlessly in service of his deeper soul-yearning.
After a long silence, I gave him a challenge, “Before we meet next, I request you write a letter to your father (not alive) and ask him to guide you in your journey as a leader. See what he says.”
Next month when I met him again, he had very different energy. The passion in his voice and appearance was vivid. He shared that he met villagers personally, involved them in influencing his boss and company owner to get nine water treatment plants sanctioned. Out of which three were already built. All this happened within one month. He not only stepped into his full power, but went beyond the set norms to truly follow his passion. He found a new path in his company as a sustainability leader. After working with him, I realized that our deep source of power often lies in our life journey and seeks expression through the challenges we face in life.
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