Recently, I assisted in a coach training course for CTI. I wanted to strengthen my own connection with the Co-Active model, surround myself with coaching company, and give back in a way that further grows curiosity, connection and collaboration into the world. At the end of this experience I was surprised at some feedback that I received from the group in my shared role — as one of three assistants to the group.
The “assistant” is a leadership role known as “Leader from Behind.” The feedback I heard about my participation was that my presence was felt as strong and anchored, and there was a felt safety in how the room felt. In a few moments during this course, I made direct connection with a couple people and they offered their appreciation for their interactions with me.
I’ve been wondering where the heck that all came from. What about my back-of-the-room presence was coming through to them? What can I do to bring this “presence” in service of my clients? What was this? As I process through this, my self-doubt plays up and the monkey in my mind begins this agitated, stiff-shouldered, stiff-armed hopping — its monkey yelling calls in my own saboteurs to… well, fuck with me. Let’s just call it what it is. It’s not fun play. It isn’t nice so let’s not pretend. This self-doubt plays up and yells loudly over the monkey din, “Do you deserve this?”
So this course is all full of learning the skills of perspectives, conscious choice and commitment. In this moment where the monkey wants to throw its shit around and make a party of it, I’m at my first choice. Let their sadistic “play” take over or find another place to occupy. Even when noticing the choice, another self-doubter shows up more subtly. It’s a sneaky one and it’s a real bastard. It sounds like a bit of back-handed slap and is charged with a bunch of dirty old energy. It says, “Geez, can’t you take a compliment?” Underneath that I hear, “Can’t you even do this right?” Let’s be honest, this isn’t kind. This isn’t helping anyone, not me, and certainly not anyone around me. Other than me telling you this, would you have ever known that all this shit throwing is going on?
Look, me and baboons simply don’t need to be occupying the same space. Figuratively or literally. If you know me well enough you may have heard me tell real-life stories of my own encounters with them in Cape Town and outside of Johannesburg. I sure as hell don’t want them in my head wreaking havoc. If I search these memories deeply enough I can still hear my NYC burrough, O.G. Jewish Grandma yelling at my sister and I to quit screaming about baboons on the roof from the backseat of the 1972 era Ford. Ah yes. Good times.
I choose another perspective to be in. The one without these monkeys. It came to me with ease. I didn’t have to work hard to make this up.
Somehow, this is all happening while I’m naked in the shower, which goes to show that this is a creative space for me and that these choices can be made anywhere. To begin with, I call it simply “the tree” perspective. Check it out, this is the tree perspective.
My heart and mind see a place in another world. The place of a huge old tree trunk with bright new growth filling its boughs and branches. I come upon this tree and strong feelings of warmth and joy fill me as I’m compelled to hug this tree and stay with it. What grows forth from this tree is life, clean air and water, the story of Earth and all that dwells here. This tree is strong. Storms come through occasionally and shift this trees branches, toying with it, pushing against it, and this tree remains confidently poised, brilliant, sure and emerges stronger. This tree that offers me shelter, safety, warmth, joy, companionship in itself — and with all who visit this tree.
I stay to offer this tree and all who come past my best. My best at keeping care of their needs. There is Love here and in this little place upon Earth it is healthy. Life and death are respected here with compassion. What shies away from this place are the misaligned beings on their own journey. They may stop by and look. They may simply pass by. They may see something they recognize and want to take a piece for themselves. And they may be surprised when what they want to take is offered to them without cost to themselves. And they move onward. Unsettled in themselves and looking. A few may stay awhile here. Fewer still will stay to be with this tree and this place and the with the others who hold this space true.
There’s connection here. The longer the stay, the stronger the connection grows. Energy flows from deep within Earth, up through the roots of the tree and is felt by all who touch this tree or breath the air around it. It’s grounding. It’s powerful. It flows with all that can be found here. All the values of empathy, of care, of joy, of presence, peace, connection, of safety, and of freedom. A breath of this air, a touch upon this tree and you remember it. Stay awhile and you are forever changed. The magic here is in your breath that fills your chest, surrounds your heart, and feeds your mind.
Taking a moment to be in this perspective, I recognize the energy that flows through the tree in this grounded perspective. It’s the same energy that flows freely through something else that is a part of me. It’s what I know now as my Internal Leader. Interesting, for me at least, to notice that my Inner Leader connects to this place.
Pulling from all the connectedness that is here, the name of this perspective changes from “the tree” perspective to “The Tree of Life” perspective.
Back in the world we all share, you recognize those who breathe this air. You’ve taken a breath here at some point too. From today’s perspective, I will work from here, I work to honor my values aligned with this powerful place that exists in a nearby world.
How does this serve my clients when I am connected to this? Simple answer, I show up differently.
Most likely, when I show up in my job as Co-Active Coach, my clients would also prefer that I didn’t have my monkeys running amok.
Coaches continually get coached themselves and evaluate where they are in their process all in service of their clients.