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Taking the Ego Out of Coaching

Written by: Annemiek van Helsdingen

Some days, it seems like everyone is a coach or at the very minimum has been coached.

And it shows. Coaching has become a multi-billion dollar industry over the last decades: the market size of the coaching industry was $15 billion in 2019 with a total of $7.5 billion worth market value in the US alone. The market value is expected to reach $20 billion by 2022 with a 6.7% average yearly growth rate from 2019 to 2022. Moreover, according to PwC, the global accounting and consulting network, the coaching industry was the second fastest growing sector in the world.

That’s an incredible amount of money. And potentially an incredible amount of value that’s being offered to coaching clients.

The tricky part is that not all coaching was created equal and it’s time to start exploring this.

A very substantial chunk of all non-sports coaching stems from its business origins where white men in corporate settings started to bring the benefit of sports coaching to executives.

It was focussed on how to improve performance: how to go faster, higher, better. And one of the first, and still widely popular coaching models, the GROW model, illustrates that beautifully.

In this model, developed by John Withmore (e.a.) the coach helps the client analyze:

  • What the Goal is that they want to achieve

  • What the Reality is of the client’s situation

  • What the Obstacles and Options are

  • And what they Will do to make it happen

It comes from the worldview where you push and force things to happen. Where will-power, accountability, and stamina are key factors, and what the body experiences is not as relevant.

It comes from the power-over paradigm, where we extract what we need out of ourselves and our environment to have our needs met, regardless of [most of] the consequences.

Where ‘negative’ emotions are not welcome and are either ignored or need to be controlled.

Of course, this is a sweeping generalisation, and there are many nuances. But it’s also pointing at the underlying cultural influences of patriarchy, colonialism, and extraction culture that breathe life into this way of coaching because they are dominant paradigms in our culture.

As we are in the midst of a giant turn-around in prevailing values, we see the rise of the Feminine paradigm. And we start to realise just how much we have left behind in the craft of coaching.

Multiple approaches have been created that now work with emotions and that value their expression and wisdom.

Other approaches include the body’s wisdom and the importance of our connection with nature.

And now it’s time to also include the soul.

We all are spiritual beings incarnated. That’s what the Priestess in me knows beyond the shadow of a doubt, and most religions and spiritual movements ascribe too.

Our souls have a wealth of information and resources at their disposal - if we only learn to listen.

And that’s the tricky part. We have all been conditioned to listen to our egos - coaches and clients alike.

And to be perfectly clear: there is nothing wrong with our egos. They are an important part of well-functioning human beings. It’s just that the ego wasn’t designed to ‘drive the car’.

Albert Einstein called the intuitive or metaphoric mind a sacred gift. He added that the rational mind was a faithful servant. But in our Western societies, we worship the servant and have forgotten that gift.

So it’s time for coaches to learn how to work with the Soul’s knowing.

The great news is that it’s possible. It simply asks coaches to learn some additional skills. Here are three ways to start:

  1. Honouring your client’s soul-knowing means that your role is to help them tap into that knowing first and foremost. Your clients are their own authority on themselves and no matter how good we think we are as coaches, your client’s soul-knowing will always top that in terms of what needs to happen and how it can happen.

  2. Practice holding space, and letting go of specific outcomes. Learn to stay present in your body and become comfortable in the field of not knowing. This is where co-creation with life itself can start to happen for your client - when you’re not busy fixing [things for] them.

  3. And lastly, what if you started to look at yourself as a coaching midwife? One whose job it is to make the birth of the change that wants to happen for your client as easeful as possible? What if it’s NOT up to you to determine what that change should be? And what if you learn to trust the birthing process?

You do need some tools for this, but what happens when you start to explore this path, is that you will see changes happen for your clients with incredible speed. A recent client of one of our Certified Soul-based Coaches shared that the changes from three sessions with her [Certified Soul-based Coach] would have taken her a year in therapy.

It will also mean that both coach and client get to work in a different realm, one of sacredness and magic - and still have practical, real-life results.

As one of our others coaches shared: ‘The magic that I knew in my life went from special and ‘one-of-a-kind’ experiences to ‘normal’ - it’s part of daily life and how I work now!’

That sacred magical Soul realm is our birthright - and tapping into its power is tapping into the Shakti energy - the power that literally shapes our worlds.

There is no more powerful place than that.


Originally published in Issue 2 · April/May 2021 issue of SOULACY.

Buy the full issue here.

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