The question stunned me for a second, and I didn’t know how to respond. For me, religious affiliation is irrelevant in coaching.
What I’ve learned over the past four years is that as soon as a person throws out a word to identify “what I am,” preconceived ideas flourish and then labeling, categorizing and compartmentalizing happens in a split second.
Because of that observation, I based my coaching practice on being as open and impersonal as possible.
- The most rare and valuable spaces for people to gain clarity and grow include non-judgment, impersonal attention, and supportive affirmation.
- An impactful coach doesn’t listen to agree or disagree; he or she listens to hear.
- To many people, beliefs are sacred – even if their belief is to have no beliefs.
To truly impact (and not just help), the less labels and categories presented, the better.
Something recently caught my attention while reading intake forms for new clientel. One question asks for preferred areas of focus during coaching, including personal development, professional development, relationships, spiritual awareness, or other. It donned on me that only one individual I’ve worked with over the past two-and-a-half years included “Spiritual Awareness” as an area of focus.
I began to wonder at what point spirituality plays a part in personal and professional growth? And then I wondered at what point doesn’t it?
Considering legacy, purpose, connection, our view of ourselves, and how we want to make an impact and what’s stopping us, I’m not sure how spirituality – not to be confused with religion – isn’t a piece of the equation.
That doesn’t mean it’s essential to have a conversation about it while coaching, but it often feels as if inadvertently we already are.
At some point, if we’re going to get real with one another (and heal, grow, “improve”, move forward, etc.), we’ll need to meet each other beyond categories, beyond labels, beyond preconceived ideas, and at times beyond words.
Some of the most influential leaders pointed in this direction: Ghandi, Martin Luther King, Jr., Jesus, Nelson Mandela, Mother Theresa, etc.
If spiritual equality means nothing, then it becomes okay to gossip about colleagues, hate your boss, mistreat nature, or disregard humans who don’t share the same values. The innate likeness between one another is forgotten and separation comes into play by labeling, categorizing, and compartmentalizing who is different than whom, than “us”. And let’s face it, the track record of humanity doesn’t show love abounding when people are categorized.
It’s called “professional and personal development” when we want to be better at our jobs, improve our mental and emotional wellbeing, increase communication effectiveness, and so on, but if we intentionally (or unintentionally) leave out the spiritual part, the thread that runs through everyone and everything, we’ve only scratched the surface to apply a bandaid over deep seeded wounds that could use a good cleansing.
It’s possible that professional and personal development will become a moot point when we start from the inside – impersonal development…knowing it’s impossible for anyone or anything to be separate, greater, or less than the whole – and then work outward.
Reflect: What does spirituality mean to you? What part does it play in your daily life?
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