This past year has been one of total transformation. As Carlo Bos, our co-CEO, noted around this time last year, the pandemic has been a catalyst for us to reflect on three levels of relationship: our relationship to ourself, our relationship with others, and our relationship to the bigger world or greater thing. Hitting the “pause” button in March 2020 gave us the opportunity to enter a new era of Relationship with our world.
Let’s look at how those three levels of relationship have been impacted by the events of the past year and explore the key role coaches play in helping us heal and even thrive in the future.
One: Relationship with self
There is no question that the pandemic has affected our relationship with ourselves. With the downfall of the economy, many people lost their jobs and found themselves struggling to keep up with finances and a sense of purpose. Social distancing regulations caused people to internalize emotions of fear, frustration, isolation, and sadness. And the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement directed our energy toward a variety of complex emotions around injustice and oppression.
Often, when people are faced with charged emotions (both positive and negative), they become skilled at ignoring them, pushing them down deep inside to avoid facing them. Ignoring these emotions can severely limit your potential for achieving a truly fulfilling life. This is where Co-Active coaches can help.
Co-Active coaches are skilled at process coaching. When a Co-Active coach notices their coachee is stuck in an emotion, they use this principle to create a safe space to explore and experience the emotion. This process creates a pool of new energy that shifts the coachee into a place where they can create from it.
Entering a coaching relationship is one of the best ways to explore and process the variety of emotions we have experienced over the past year. Additionally, coaches help people explore life purpose and values that serve as a foundation for designing a unique and compelling life for themselves.
Two: Relationship with others
The past year has also had a dramatic impact on our relationships with others. As we have been asked to distance ourselves physically and socially from one another, finding new ways to connect with friends, colleagues, and loved ones has been of paramount importance.
In public, wearing face masks has covered our smiles and our frowns, and it is simply more difficult to see and connect with how people are feeling.
At work, those who have the option to work remotely often rely on collaborative software platforms such as Zoom. But this innovative technology is also taking a toll on our health and our relationship with others. People are experiencing the new phenomenon of Zoom fatigue, which can show up even if you haven’t left your couch and even after meetings with colleagues you love and friends you miss.
The pace of our lives has quickened, and we have become increasingly action-oriented and results-driven. It seems expedient to dispense with all the “soft” stuff (being) and instead just push to “get the job done” (doing). Unfortunately, this leaves us feeling disconnected and desperate for meaning and belonging. We wind up with what we might call “the hamster wheel” experience of life, as we run around alone in circles, desperately trying to get things done, only to find ourselves right back where we started.
So how can we find authentic connection and intimacy with others these days? This is where the Co-Active philosophy and the coaching skill of deep listening can have a transformative impact on our relationships with others.
Co-Active philosophy: At it’s most basic, Co-Active means simply “being in action…together.” It is so important to begin with the relationship and then have action arise from there. Staying in tune with one another’s being, and integrating that with the work we are doing, is what helps us stay in deep connection with one another.
Levels of listening: In Co-Active coaching, we talk about three levels of listening. What distinguishes them is where you focus your attention.
Level 1 listening is listening primarily to yourself, or your own thoughts. You could be focusing on any number of things. Maybe you’re thinking about what to say next, and so you are only half-hearing what the other is saying.
Level 2 listening is when you are intensely focused on what the other person is saying, with nothing distracting you.
Level 3 listening is also entirely focused on the other person, but it is deeper and has more range. You listen beyond just the words. You become aware of body language, the inflections and tone of their voice, their pauses and hesitations. Imagine being tuned in to what’s happening in their mind and heart.
Practicing listening at level 3 with colleagues, friends, family and even those essential workers you interact with behind your face mask is a transformational way to create intimacy, connection, and love in a world that is overcoming such a challenging time.
Three: Relationship with the wider world.
Finally, the past year has uncovered a lot about our relationship with the larger world.
Just a few weeks ago, Apple TV released the documentary The Year the Earth Changed, which reveals the positive impacts the Earth experienced during the global lockdown. In the film, we see captivating stories about how communities evolved to work with nature instead of fighting against it. And we witness how endangered species gained strength and momentum.
Another example of how the past year has affected our relationship with the wider world is evident in the momentum achieved in the Black Lives Matter movement, where we saw global co-operation and focus to start addressing systemic injustice.
Many people are hungry to learn from what this past year has to offer, and coaching is one highly effective way for people to reflect, gain self-awareness, connect the learning to purposeful ideals, and taking action around what is important.
As you can see, the world needs more coaches, now more than ever.