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Insights: Coach Talk
November 26, 2008

Coach Talk

“The Stanford Declaration!”

It means very little to anyone right now but in time to come I have to believe that it may be seen as one of those little watershed events in our industry.

I was privileged, over the course of last week-end to attend a gathering of representatives of South African coach training institutions in a small but incredibly scenic valley near Stanford in the Cape.

The event had been billed as the National Coach Trainers Convention, which seems like a rather presumptuous name for such a small gathering of people – but, in fairness, it did include one or two people who had been given mandates to attend on behalf of numerous others.

Now, I would be quite wrong to use this forum to disclose exactly what took place at Stanford as there is still much communication and negotiation to be undertaken internally before certain key decisions can be ratified and actioned. Suffice to say that those of us present were excited enough by the outcome to label it, somewhat triumphantly, albeit perhaps with tongue-in-cheek, as the Stanford Declaration!

What I can tell you about the week-end – and no doubt of more relevance to this newsletter – is the common vision that the gathered coaches and coach trainers shared about the changes that are taking place in this world and the role that coaching has to play.

Philosophical discussion

Over after-dinner drinks on Friday evening, we were led in a philosophical discussion on this topic by one of our deeper-thinking colleagues.

As you might imagine, being a Friday evening, the conversation got off to a slow start. But that didn’t last long as we started to reflect on the fundamental nature of the changes taking place all around us in society and in our environment.

There was a general consensus among us that our world was beginning to enter yet another ‘new age’ of sorts; this so soon after the much-heralded information age that has been with us now for around thirty years.

The consciousness era

This ‘new age’ is referred to by some as the ‘consciousness era’. I find this quite profound because it describes the time we are entering from the point of view of how we humans choose to perceive our existence and not from the perspective of the technology that we have enabled.

As the gathered coaching clan digested the meaning of this, the conversation turned to some of the dramatic events causing humanity to reassess its model of existence on this planet.

Tumultuous events

In 1989, The Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaskan waters resulted in one of the most devastating environmental disasters caused by man. One year later, the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and the subsequent ‘scorched earth’ style Iraqi retreat was another unprecedented man made assault on our environment.

These events focused attention on the fragility of our environment at a time when debate was raging about the cause of the ozone hole that British scientists had discovered existed above the Antarctic – a cause that was later undisputedly agreed to be due to the interventions of mankind.

In 2001 the world witnessed the horror of the 9-11 plane crashes into the World Trade Centre twin towers and their subsequent dramatic collapse. This was quickly followed by American invasions of Afghanistan and, later Iraq, using ‘shock and awe’ tactics that employed overwhelming use of military force.

On the economic front the world, this year, witnessed a financial collapse second only in seriousness (so far) to the great depression of the 1920s.

A wake-up call for humanity

All of these tumultuous events – and many others – have served a purpose. Humanity is slowly waking up to the fact that the model of the world that we have created is in serious need of a rethink. We are rapidly destroying our environment and we are destroying ourselves.

But there are signs of change... This month saw the American people reject the Bush policies of brute force that had failed to deliver the secure and peaceful world that they so desired and the ushering in to power of the charismatic pragmatist that is Barack Obama.

I stared into the crackling log fire around which we were huddled in an uncharacteristically drizzly and cold November evening and I thought back to my recent corporate days in London. It is not uncommon for people in London – and no doubt elsewhere – to commute for three or four hours a day and to work for another ten hours on top of that, effectively eliminating any family and relaxation time of meaning.

A design defect

“How could we humans have designed a world in which we inflict so much hardship on ourselves, not to mention those who don’t have the luxury of a job or an income,” I wondered? The waiter serving drinks dropped a glass on the terracotta tiles next to the fireplace, instantly bringing me back to the present, only to find that the conversation had moved on to the role that coaches have in helping people make the transition into the consciousness era.

We all set about expounding our theories on what coaching is and what it seeks to do – but my aforementioned ‘deep-thinking’ colleague seemed to hit the mark when she said, simply but powerfully, “Coaching is about helping people to get in touch with themselves and relate to each other as humans.”

And, to be honest, that’s why I get such a kick out of this business. I think that in future the consciousness age will be defined as the era in which people finally realized that it’s not what you know, it’s not even who you know, it’s how you feel and how feeling you are that really counts.

Global Coaching Convention

Few people realise that the Global Coaching Convention was held in Dublin, Ireland earlier this year. Perhaps even fewer, at this stage, know that the next GCC is scheduled for Cape Town in 2010.

The organizer of this event, one of the architects of the ‘Stanford Declaration’, has an inspiring vision for how this event will bring together 1 000 coaches from around the world, all with one thing in mind – making South Africa – and the world - a better, more conscious and more human place to live!

What’s your role?

Perhaps you have a calling to work with people, guiding them to confront change, transform their lives and experience more joy and satisfaction in their lives?

If so, I invite you to consider a career, either part or full-time, in life coaching. It has to be one of the most fulfilling and rewarding ways to make a living available today – and South Africa desperately needs more good life coaches as we move into the consciousness era.

If you have a passion for people and for improving people’s lives, the New Insights Life Coaching Skills Training Programme is everything you need to become a certified, practising life coach. You study in your time when it suits you. Our programme is powerful, flexible and affordable. And the great news is that we’ve just launched an updated and upgraded new version of the home study course.

On top of that every order placed before Christmas will qualify for our deeply discounted Early Bird Special Rate!

How’s that for Seasonal Goodwill!

With warm regards


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