In many different social, philosophical, spiritual and psychological environments, the here-and-now expression is commonly served to suggest a host of different values (to drop out of the rat-race), attitudes (to become more aware of feelings and emotions), health strategies (to live out of stress), behaviors (to react to or enjoy the present), etc.
In quantum-based systemic coaching, the here-and-now expression rests on a theoretical frame of reference or paradigm of reality that collapses time and space into one same dimension. Consequently in this coaching perspective, time-space is rolled out in a number of very precise systemic strategies. These strategies are not to be taken as expressions of an intellectual or ideological coaching posture or stance. These strategies are mainly used because they are real for quantum-based systemic coaches. They are consequences of a definitive reality. As such, quantum-based systemic coaches have proved this paradigm and these strategies to be much more effective when accompanying clients to quickly and effectively move on with their lives and loves.
To be sure, coaches in general use a number of time-related techniques that suggest clients shift in time and space to change perspective on their issues if not on their reality. Systemic coaches follow through by actually espousing a quantum mechanics time-space paradigm when working with their clients. The object of this article is to offer very practical examples on exactly how quantum-based systemic coaches proceed. Before introducing the quantum time-space perspective, however, consider a first time travel coaching experience:
Future-oriented time travel
One rather classical example of what could be considered a powerful coaching question designed to help a client move more rapidly towards success consists in propelling the client into their future, somewhere beyond the expected completion of their project, or expected resolution of their issue.
- Example A: If you where two years from now and your issue/project was totally completed in a way that truly satisfied both you and everyone else concerned, what option did you decide today?
The way this question is asked suggests that the client can move forward into the future in order to look back at today, in order to discover from that different vantage point the option that was made in the past. The way the coach formulates the question, however, may be marginally powerful.
Another alternative is to proceed in the same fashion by using a future projection, to ask the client to fully inhabit that future.
- Example B: Imagine we are two years from now. Your project is successfully completed to your total satisfaction as well as to that of everyone else concerned. It is a total success. Can you describe the achieved result?
The way the coach puts the question in the present tense actually invites the client to travel into the future and reside there for a while. This is done so the client can immediately and truly inhabit the project’s result.
It is useful for the coach to follow up on this future projection or this collapse of the future into the present. To do so, the coach can add other detail-oriented questions to elicit client descriptions of the results of the project, on where this is taking place, on the people who are still concerned, of those who have moved on, on new important partners, on technical and operational details, on financial ratios and benefits, etc. In order to support each description and elicit more of this reality on the client’s part, the coach can validate with positive comments: “Great! Sounds really good! What else?” In this way, a coach can help clients fully own and inhabit their successful project’s future existence and results.
- This strategy actually pulls the client future into the present, thereby collapsing time into a present space.
Only after this future has been truly and fully lived by the client can the coach ask another, separate past-related question: “Now from this vantage point, looking back two years into the past, what first easy actions have you initiated in order to start achieving these great results?
There are a number of important differences between the first (A) and second (B) examples of future-oriented coaching questions presented above.
- The linguistics in the first (A) example use conditionals while the second is much more affirmative. in option (B), The future is presented in the present tense. It is now.
- Judging from client results, experience seems to prove that the second (B) example is invariably much more powerful.
- The first (A) example mixes forward thinking and coming back to the past in one quick round-way trip. Most probably, the coach wants to quickly focus on immediate action planning.
- In the second (B) example, the client is mostly asked to reside in the future, fully detail the results, envision the place in which this future exists, and get motivated by the finalized project. This is kin to detailed visioning work.
Note that in the second example, the strategy to return to the present in order to center the client on what to do to get there is positioned as a consequence of the detailed result. The proposed focus on immediate action plans is almost an after-thought.
- A) In the first case, the coach strategy could seem to be quite incremental, mostly focused on how the client can build tomorrow’s action plan in order to gradually get moving forward into the future.
- Through a coach question, the coach time-space paradigm is transferred to a client.
First imagine a question similar to the (B) option offered above, asking a client to completely inhabit the details of a successful future:
- Example B: Imagine we are two years from now. Your project is successfully completed to your total satisfaction as well as to that of everyone else concerned. It is recognized as a huge success. Can you describe that result?
After eliciting descriptions and details and validating the client each step of the way, in the same way as illustrated above, the coach can then ask a totally different type of follow-up question:
- Example C: Great! So now that this project is so well is done and finished to everyone’s satisfaction, you can now, at long last, start to focus on what you really really, really want to do with your future? Can you describe what that is all about?
And the coach can again accompany the client in his or her intuitive search to define the next future. The one that lies beyond the first successful future. Notice the huge difference now offered by this totally different coach shift in perspective.
- A: In our first option above, time travel is superficially used to run back to what needs to be done tomorrow in order to build the future that is perceived as a goal.
- B: In the second option, time travel is used to define a precise inspiring future that will organize everything the client does, because that future is already so present in the client’s heart and soul. The future is then perceived as a result or outcome.
- C: In the third option, we now perceive that the future can also just be perceived as a stepping-stone or a halfway house allowing the client to peer beyond into the next future, that can be bigger, more important, or just totally different.
- “Considering what you really want, how can you adapt or adjust your 2-year project and action plan so as to start achieving that bigger more important goal much sooner than what you initially had in mind?”
The future then stays rather undefined and inaccessible, in the far future. As a consequence, the coach strategy will probably be much more incremental or means-oriented, in the near present.
- B) In the second example above, the coach takes the time to let the client clearly define a future he or she already intuits and can now formulate in very clear terms.
This second coach actually allows the client discover the future that already exists in his or her present. This coach is much more results-oriented. This coach knows that means always tend to naturally serve client purpose, when clients are purposeful.
In fact, the two strategies are indeed totally different. And they rest on two very different coach frames of reference or time related paradigms.Coach paradigms
- In quantum-based systemic coaching, the time dimension is intimately linked to the space dimension. Time does not exist out of space, nor does space exist out of time. The two are intimately linked.
To offer a concrete example, many hand-on managers and leaders have a time management issue, or so they say. As a consequence, they often toy with the idea of getting time management training and time-management coaching. Of course, most of the time, they do not have the time to do so. Indeed how can one work on their time issue if they don't have time? One could even argue that should they succeed in doing so, they may not solve their time-management issue for the simple reason that they are not looking at it in the appropriate fashion. Indeed:
- Managers and leaders who have time-management issues do not know how to delegate. as they are not at their right place, they actually have a space-management issue!
Indeed, quantum-based systemic coaches know that the time-space continuum is at stake here. When managers do not delegate, they are actually doing a lot of the work that should be done on the level immediately below, or even farther down the line. Those managers are taking on too many details that concern the employees or managers on much lower levels. of course, control issues may also be at stake here: "To make sure it is done right, I must do it myself!"
- It is quite easy to understand that if one is involved in the details of the work done by five to ten people on lower levels, one will not have the time to get involved in one's own time-space level of responsibility.
There is direct and predictable consequence of over-detailing and controlling responsibilities that belong to lower operational levels: Such a manager or leader will not have the time to invest in the strategic issues that are characteristic of his or her own superior or general level.
Consequently for a quantum-based systemic coach, time-management issues do not exist as such. They are immediately perceived by the coach as time-space management issues that in fact often need to be considered delegation issues. This can often give systemic coaches a predictable career-coaching guideline:
- Whenever managers are promoted to a superior position, they (finally!) start facing and managing the issues they should have considered on their previous level.
In such a perspective, recently promoted marketing managers often start managing their previous area of responsibility. They start focusing on the specific product line from which they have been promoted. Likewise, recently promoted CEOs originating from finance departments often just start having a strategic financial perspective. Whereas if they originated from the control department when they were financial managers, they probably then had a mere comptroller's perspective. As CEOs these ex-finance managers will probably not consider other departments such as operations, marketing, sales, etc. in larger perspective than that of a financial expert.
As a consequence of their past positions, newly promoted CEOs may often get into lower-level over-details by privileging their knowledge of their previous field of expertise (space). In doing so, they never have the time to become strategic on the level that is characteristic of their promotion as CEOs. In order to accompany these new CEOs to have much more time, the best way to coach them as quantum-based systemic coaches is to have them inhabit their new strategic place. This is done by accompanying them to delegate everything that belongs to lower levels, if possible to excellent managers who will also know how to delegate. Especially everything that belonged to their previous positions.
Coming back to time-space future travel, once coaches accept the frame of reference:
- That we all intuitively know exactly what to build into our futures,
- That we can start traveling up and down the road of space-time to perceive and define what-and-where we wish to be, or what futures we already have in us, or again what our futures already hold for us right now.
- Then we already know what is best for us to do today.
Of course, we can also dearly hold on the idea that this is all just a mind game. We do not really know what the future will be. “Que sera, sera” says the song, or what will be, will be. On the other hand, we can also argue that the whole reason to build our vision for the future, to then define our mission, our corresponding goals and action plans is to make that vision become a reality, as effectively and as soon as possible.
In reality, our vision of the future is the one we hold today. And the vision we now hold of the future can now influence our immediate actions. Those will of course rapidly forge the nature and quality of our future. The more we believe in and want our defined future now, the sooner we will make it happen. In a simple way, setting a future goal defines what you do today in order to begin to achieve it. A systemic coach frame reference is coherent with this rather common way to organize one’s life, albeit in a slightly more radical way.
In this quantum-based coaching perspective, the future is not in the future, it is now: there is no such thing as time, except in a totally unified way.
- For a systemic coach, the future exists in the present, as in fact does the past..
We can therefore immediately explore our futures by creating them now, in our present. And we need to go into details in this creation. Considering we are all participating observers in our universe, each one of us can now either choose to let others define possible futures, or we can each choose to actively create our futures to our liking.
- Consequently, systemic coaches routinely accompany clients in time travel to have them very concretely build their futures in the present, with detailed precision.
- We each act in order to prove that what we believe is true, to the point of achieving measurable results that confirm the veracity of our beliefs.
For example, by never sailing around the globe because we believe that it is flat, we prove that we better not attempt to sail around the globe, because it is flat. Consequently, all our beliefs are true because we make them operationally true.
Just as quantum theoreticians, systemic coaches believe that time does not exist. They routinely collapse time to the point of traveling from past to present to future with their clients, in no time. This routinely happens to the point of helping clients achieve totally different futures, now.
Technically, language is the most important coaching tool to convey shifts in perspective. Again, to convey how quantum-based systemic coaches collapse time, consider the different linguistics, especially the verb tenses, of the following two coach questions:
- A) Supposing you were a year from now, can you describe what will be/could be your achieved result?
- B) Supposing you and I are meeting again a year from now, can you please describe the results you have successfully achieved?
Obviously, the first option (A) has a conditional form. This first question is consequently suggesting the future is still undefined as of yet. The coach can rightfully be perceived as less pushy if not less assertive.
The second (B) option more assertively or powerfully transports the client into the future, right now. It suggests that the client has already defined her or his future, and that this future can immediately be brought into present consciousness. This second option directly suggests the client has already decided and achieved a specific result in this present future. If terms of space-time travel, this second approach is much more effective.
A master coach once said that the most important sessions in a coaching process are the first one and the last one. All the intermediate sessions that are inserted in a longer coaching process are like the fold in an accordion. They just serve to take space. They can therefore be eliminated to make client progress happen much faster. Of course, one could also imagine that the first and last coaching session can also be merged into one.
It is likewise true that if clients have been harboring deep bothersome issues for months or years, it is rather difficult to tell them that one session is more than enough to achieve resolution and move on beyond. One can imagine that it is much more reassuring to tell clients that at least ten, maybe twenty sessions are necessary to solve their difficult problem. But consider that temporizing may be at hand here.
- When we know what needs to be done, it may be an excellent postponing strategy to get a coach in order to buy time.
Client linguistics often give clear indicators of postponing strategies. Consider the following response to a coach asking what the client wanted to achieve during a specific coaching session:
- Well, I would like to try to find out how to prepare the first few steps to test out an important project I am considering for my future.
Reviewing the response is quite edifying: Well, (hesitation), i would (conditional), like (pleasure-orientation), to prepare (preliminary) the first few steps (partial), to test out (preliminary), an important project I am considering (undecided) for my future (postponing). The coach could make a safe bet here, that the client is illustrating numerous hesitation and postponing patterns that apply to many different realms in his or her personal and professional life. The client language may indeed illustrate postponing in sports, in changing food habits, in managing personal and professional projects, in meeting with friends, in solving issues, , etc. The above phrase formulated by a more determined client would be much shorter: "I want to prepare an important project".
The fractal hypothesis held by quantum-based systemic coaches stipulates that clients express themselves in similar patterns in every aspect of their lives. That means that within seconds or minutes such as when pronouncing a phrase, they illustrate patterns they unfold over hours, days, weeks or months all their other activities. Of course, fractal or hologram patterns are not permanent.
- People, teams, organizations and all living systems evolve their patterns in time. That is the whole point of their internal dialogue: to evolve.
At any one point in time, however, we clearly illustrate detailed aspects of our inner dialogue by projecting it out in everything we do. A trained quantum-based systemic coach can quickly pick up on these patterns, and rapidly help clients perceive them, and then subtly tweak them into more performing ways to proceed.
It is all happening now: collapsing time
In order to proceed by example, consider the following true case study that illustrates how to almost magically propel a client forward into the future, or cut short postponing strategies: A very successful middle-aged entrepreneur and CEO had been stuck in a
motivational quagmire for years. He proudly recognized and appreciated
his successes, having built a well-known research company that had
attracted a good number of scientific minds to create a performing very team
of brilliant game changers in their field.
More privately, the CEO also clearly wanted to move to a smaller university town to teach as a professor, spend more time with his family and have a much more qualitative life style. He Both knew that his company needed him to continue to play a central role, and that he wanted out. He could not decide what to do, and felt he had become the miserable hostage of his own hard-earned success. The story probably rings a bell for many successful people, coaches and clients.
On his first coaching meeting, the CEO rambled on explaining the double bind out of which he could not break free. In short: damned if I do and damned if I don’t, and I feel miserable. After a few minutes, the coach he was becoming a hostage to the story. He asked to interrupt to share a perception, and softly said
- (A): “I may be totally wrong, but it seems to me that deep down inside, you have decided exactly what you want to do. You are just wondering how to do it, maybe because you are afraid of facing the consequences.
That coach direct language startled the CEO, and shut him up for about a puzzling minute. The CEO then gave a tentative smile. The coach then went on to say, just as softly
- (B). “If I may, considering you know how to be a very effective CEO when you set your mind and heart to it, you also know how to manage consequences so they can be acceptable, if not downright positive, for all those concerned.”
That silenced the CEO for longer. In effect, the CEO’s issue was solved in a matter of minutes. For the next three sessions spread out over a few months, the rest of the coaching process was purely incremental: it just concerned actions that followed up on an obvious decision. So what happened?
The CEO had been defining himself as stuck in a time-space where his decision had not been made, where he could not choose, and therefore could not manage the consequences. This iterative story had been repeated for years and, indeed the client was proving he was stuck.
A few minutes were enough to change the story. The new story (A) just propelled the CEO in time, beyond the decision that in fact was already made, in order to (B) start managing consequences in a way that could be advantageous for all. In as much as managing consequences was incremental, the effective CEO just made it happen fast. His life changed within months.
This case study illustrates that being a systemic coach consists in firmly believing that clients are capable, know all they need to know, have their answers right, are intelligent adults, are motivated, etc. They have everything they need to progress immediately. That means they can rapidly time-travel into their future or collapse their future into the present. Being a quantum systemic coach is based on that assumption. Clients really don’t need more analysis, nor more means, nor more courage, nor more of anything and especially not more time. As time does not exist unless you postpone, clients can have it all now by jumping into the future they already have in them.
For individual, team and organizational clients accompanied by systemic coaches, the consequences of this quantum time of frame of reference are very important both in terms of means and in terms of results.
- First, in terms of means, coaching processes or relationships can be very short.
- Second, in terms of achieving results, the benefits or gains that can be expected form such a quantum coaching approach are as immediate as the change of perspective.
There are no prerequisites for action.
In corporate environments, quantum-based systemic coaches often perceive that all analytical prerequisites as mere excuses to postpone decisions and actions. Remember indeed, that coaches consider their clients are healthy, intelligent, informed, capable, intuitive, motivated, etc.
- IF any important client decision must be made by first gathering as much information as possible, that would be assuming that clients have kept themselves uninformed and/or misinformed.
- IF any client decision to achieve a new goal first requires the acquisition of necessary new means such as more time, more financial investment, more people, etc., that would be assuming this client doesn’t already have all the necessary means.
Both assumptions disqualify the client by telling the wrong story.
- A) When one is asked to set and visualize a goal, that positions the person on the starting line, and the goal is to be visualized at a distance. The next obvious question is how can one get to the goal? What are the useful means to get there?
- B) When instead of a goal, a client is asked to immediately visualize an achievement or a result, she or he is immediately positioned on the finish line. The question concerning the result is now; the achievement is acquired, what is it? This assumes that the means have been there, that the road was quick and easy, that we can now rejoice! In this frame of reference, active life can be a picnic!
Remember again, that our reality is the one we choose to create through our own self-confirming beliefs. If we believe life is difficult, we will prove it in fact is. If we believe it is a joyful path of learning and achievement, it in fact is. As both beliefs are self-confirming, both are in fact equally true. They both help us achieve equally real results, even if those results are totally different from each other. Most of the time, one of the above belief systems is obviously more fun and much more effective.
The above B option is also an excellent example of systemic coaching work using the quantum time-space continuum. In effect, this second option illustrates how a quantum-based systemic coach invites a client to immediately move from the starting line, theoretically here and now to the finishing point theoretically there and then. This move in time is in time-space from the starting line to the finish line.
Time-space travel to client past
To proceed with our exploration of quantum time travel in systemic coaching, consider the following question that could be put to a client while she or he is working on solving a difficult issue within a conflicting relationship.
- A) Have you ever had a similarly difficult relationship in the past, with a very similar type of person?
When the client acquiesces, which is almost invariably the case, the coach immediately serves another question, introducing the second part of his time-travel strategy:
- B) Great! So you have experience in the matter! (pause) What can you do today in your present situation, that you know works ? (OR) What do you already know you can do today to make sure you achieve a positive outcome for all those concerned?
In effect on a first obvious level, the two subsequent coach questions exemplified above serve to bring the client’s past knowledge and experience into the present situation. All coach clients indeed have prior experience. They have all developed skills that can be made accessible in a present situation. This strategy reinforces client empowerment by letting them rest on their previously acquired qualities, competencies or know-how.
In linear time, privileged relationships seem to be repetitious in their form. These relationships unfold with very similar privileged partners. Consequently, when a client chooses to work on a given difficult issue within a conflicting relationship or situation, the first question exemplified above is almost rhetorical.
- The systemic coach knows that the client has already been there and done it in the past.
- The systemic coach also knows the client has already developed a coherent set of skills to attract this type of partner or situation, to interact with or within them, and to explore different possible outcomes.
Simultaneously, in a completely complementary quantum or fractal perspective or paradigm, the exact same strategy refers to a form of fractal time-space travel. A client’s capacity to develop difficult relationships with a partner can be perceived as happening now, as having happened in the past, and as also possibly happening in the future. This perspective is out of time, or in a collapsed form of time.
- Consequently, a systemic coach knows that in a quantum frame for reference, there is no more separateness in space than there is in time. Everything that appears to be separate in time is in fact an integral part of one intricate whole.
A client who may apparently be dealing with difficult others in apparently different times and spaces is actually having a continuous exploratory internal dialogue. That client is actually engaged in a internal monologue that is attempting to elaborate a much more satisfying personal reality, in the past, in the present and possibly in the future. This internal process just appears to be spread out in linear time, and just seems to interact with apparently different external partners and situations.
- Of course, systemic coaches are also aware that this fractal reality includes the quality of the client’s interface with a chosen coach.
Travel in space
Another strategy to allow the same client to work on the relational or situational pattern could be to just change the client context, or the space rather than suggest the client travel in time:
- If this professional relational issue was not at all at work, but in your private life, (pause) how would you go about solving it professionally?
Note that the coach linguistics serve to confuse or superimpose the personal and professional contexts, assuming that the client does simultaneously have the same fractal relational patterns in different contexts. Confusing the contexts or superimposing them is very powerful in that the coach is suggesting that the client work on both at the same time, on the common pattern behind the apparently different relationships.
- In the quantum perspective that there is no separate space, that in fact separation is an illusion, both at home and at work, the client is having an internal dialogue to elaborate a different internal reality.
In these ways, quantum-based systemic coaching rests on the frame of reference that both time and space are perceptual illusions. In space, there are no different places. They are all one. As a matter of fact in space, there isn't even an out there out there. It is all inside of us. Although that too is an illusion, as we are all one. So for a systemic coach, inside and outside, here and there, are merged, just as present, past and future.
- Through these separate and differentiated illusions, we are all really engaged in a shared, interlaced and unitary internal dialogue.
Travel in time, then in space
Now consider another example of past-and-present time travel, first in time and then in space, in order to accompany client exploration of personal pattern. Imagine the same client in a very similar situation, dealing with a similarly negative relationship or facing difficulties in a project.
- Example: A) Suppose you are back on the first day of this relationship/ back at the very beginning of this project. (pause) You are now defining the parnership/relationship with your partners in order to set solid foundations. (Pause) What do you do completely differently, knowing what you know today?
Notice that the formulation of the question merges the context of the past formulated as a present, mixing the times when the relationship or project was initiated and the knowledge and experience the client has accumulated today. In effect, the coach is asking the client how she or he can now rewrite or reboot the project or relationship's initial agreements or contract, in order to revisit the initial foundations or alignment between the partners.
- A common frame of reference is to consider that once a contract, agreement, project, relationship, etc. has been engaged, it is too late to change anything.
- A quantum-based posture stipulates that we are always at the beginning, middle and end of time, and we can always do what is needed. It is never too late.
It is therefore never too late to go back in time, or to relive the past today, in order to revisit or consolidate foundations, or to completely reconsider an inappropriate engagement. In this way, imply changing a past event by modifying what needs to be changed today can allow for a completely different future right now. Not doing so could firmly anchor our possible futures on the mistakes of one of our pasts.
Of course following the client's work to redefine past foundations, to revisit the alignment today, the coach needs to bring that past present back to today's present, to design a different future:
- Example follow up B): So considering your excellent work, what can you do with your partners to effectively change the situation to everyone's satisfaction?
This follow up serves to let the client actualize whatever clarity he or she gained, in order to ensure a different future in the concerned relationship or project. This client work also needs to be well validated by the coach as it is detailed into an action plan.
After that time travel, the coach could choose to suggest a lateral space travel into one or more other client personal or professional realms of interest.
- Example follow up C): Congratulations for your excellent work! (pause) May I suggest a way you can leverage your progress, in order to make it really useful and lasting? (pause for client approval) If the way you are realigning yourself in this issue was very useful in other professional or personal areas of your life today, where do you perceive you could transpose your new awareness and action plan?
This lateral shift to other spaces in the client's private and work life is totally coherent with a fractal view of client patterns. Whatever positive strategic progress the client can make in one micro or local situation in her or his life can most probably be transposed or copy-pasted in a good number of other client relationships and projects. In this way:
- A useful piece of work changing a pattern in one relationship or project can be leveraged to be generalized in many other personal and professional relationships and projects.
- Our pasts, presents and futures can always collapse into one, whenever we choose to do so.
- The ways we grow in any specific relationship, project, situation, environment, etc. can immediately be leveraged into all the the other fractal dimensions of our lives.
Stated in this straightforward way, this can sound quite outlandish. Note, however, that in mainstream time perception, if anything radically changed today, that change would most probably rewrite history. For example, should a radically authoritarian régime replace a state's historical democracy, one can be sure that all that country’s history books will be rewritten to justify a more restrictive present.
- Example: A post-Vietnam war journalist once said: “History will prove that Nixon was a great president”. When this sentence was said, the opposite was obviously true, or the sentence would not be justified. So in effect, the journalist was saying that in a predictable future, historians would rewrite the past in a way that contradicts the very present that justified his comment.
Likewise, when such a major authoritarian change does take place in a given country, one can expect an instant fractal shift in a large number of that state's institutions and sub-systems, such as in agencies, companies, provinces, families, associations, and personal relationships. The parts almost simultaneously resonate in coherency with the whole.
Concerning Nixon, of course, we have not yet reached that time, but who knows? Official history has already been changed a good number of times to justify different presents.
Here and now time-space
Speaking of here-and-now, another coaching space-time strategy and corresponding question is to bring the client issue here and now, right in the presence of the coaching setting. To illustrate, imagine again our same coaching client facing the same situation, dealing with a negative relationship. The client says he needs to solve the issue and is looking for a strategy. In this perspective, possible coaching question are:
- A) Supposing this person is right here, right at your side, right now. What is it you want to tell him?
- If your meeting starts right now, everyone is right here in the meeting room, what is your opening statement?
Another example of bringing a situation here and now into the coaching room could concern a client who sustains that no decision is really needed before the end of the year. This client belief can be real, and it can also be a postponing strategy. That doesn't really matter. The coach could again just collapse client space and time:
- Suppose you are now in meeting room at the office, at the end of the year, (pause) and you are now communicating your decision to your partners. They are all here and attentively listening. What do you tell them?
In such cases, the client may argue that this is premature, that more analysis is still required. This would be a confirmation that the time shift has not occurred. In such cases, the coach can then reformulate with more intention:
- Yes! And right now, at the end of the year, you have done all the useful research and analysis, (^pause) and we are now in your office, and you are communicating the decision you have studied, matured, and made. (pause) So?
If the coach really inhabits the make-believe situation, the client will most likely follow through and formulate the awareness of the decision already at hand. Of course, once the client has done that, the coach can then say: "It is great to have all that time until the end of the year to really validate your decision, (pause) or maybe to communicate it earlier in order to get things moving without so much delay. There are many options."
All the space-time collapsing strategies illustrated above can have a number of very useful positive effects to allow clients to succeed better, now. Of course, there are a number of obvious prerequisites.
- No technique is powerful in itself. A truly professional coach knows how to make a technique powerful for a given client, at a given time.
- Techniques need to be lived and embodied by a professional coach. A coach that does not time travel nor believe in time travel cannot possibly accompany a client in convincingly useful time warps and space travel.
- Remember there is no out there, out there and that goes for the coach. Whenever a given client brings forth a specific issue to a coach, that piece of work actually (also) concerns the coach’s own personal and professional life. Clients offer their issues to their coaches in order to have these coaches work on themselves.
- All basic coaching principles and ethics require coaches to respect client pace, rhythm, integrity, identity, knowledge, etc. These are also to be respected in all forms of time warps and space travels.
Consequently, helping achieve the client end in much a more time-effective fashion does not justify unethical or disrespectful means. When such frame of reference prerequisites are respected, quantum-based systemic coaching can become extremely effective in accompanying clients at lightning speed, with magical grace.
MAY I INTERRUPT? Thank you!
(A related article first posted on LINKEDIN)
Professional coaches know that listening skills and silences usefully create open spaces for clients and partners to explore, expand, create and become. Listening and silences are often good indicators of a productive dialogue.
To have the space for real deep listening in any dialogue, however, it is of the utmost importance to know how to do the exact opposite, and that is to interrupt. Interruption is obviously needed when facing obsessionally unproductive behaviors. They aim to stop reiterated routines enacted by stuck individuals, repetitiously failing strategies deployed by groups and leaders. In a subtle way, however, interruption may be needed much more often than we may think.
Le us first consider that useless circular behaviors, excessively limiting frames of reference, totally predictable thoughts and actions that relentlessly lead towards the same unsuccessful results desperately need to be interrupted.
- When these interruptions bring change, they are said to take courage. When they don't rapidly achieve such liberating outcomes, they are considered to be disruptive.
So knowing how to really interrupt can be salutary. Real interruptions first provide new space and silence. They offer us the option to stop just filling our lives with the same old patterns of thinking and behaving. They suggest we delve deeper, in order to make room for real innovation to emerge.
Obviously in relationships, interruptions should not be immediately followed by contrary options, counter arguments, rebuttals or escalation into other predictable loops that feed ongoing discussions. Interruptions are to be followed by silence. All partners need to stop.
- The etymology of the word interrupt means to break in the middle. Interruptions are therefore stand-alone proposals, opportunities for disruption in the middle of a discussion, a relationship, a project.
To offer a simple and practical example, the need for this article has been present to me for at least twenty-four hours. But I have had many other occupations or preoccupations. As a matter of fact, I am typically a totally preoccupied person. Even doing nothing is a form of occupation I enjoy. Consequently, to find the time to write an article, I first have to interrupt all my other activities.
_ »May I interrupt? »
I first have to stop everything in order to make new space, then sit down and write. This creates an uncomfortable void: a blank page, unclear direction, mental chaos. In this void lurks my shadows and doubts, endless questioning. Interruptions disrupt. Then, slowly, painstakingly, I start writing a few words. They become a phrase. Another phase follows. Gradually, I find momentum. An optional direction emerges. A paragraph follows another, and a new text or maybe an innovative article can slowly surface. This creative process very gradually fills the empty space initially created by my interruption.
If we don’t first interrupt our routines, innovation is impossible.
On the international scene, the profound nature of the recent Brexit vote and US elections could be perceived as major interruptions. They obviously cause disruption. This is not our first warning. Prior smaller-scale interruptions were called the Arab Spring, Occupy Wall-Street, the Indignados on Piazza del Sol, the Icelandic bailout refusals, etc. For years now and world wide, endless calls for a necessary interruption have been voiced by grassroots movements. The most destructively disruptive is probably ISIS.
In the West, mainstream party politicians, the establishment, the elites, have just not been heeding. In the past ten years, beyond Labour and Tory, Republicans and Democrats, military and religion, all forms of exit votes and actions have repeatedly aimed to interrupt established politics, controlling centralized administrations, brainwashing media, top-down militarism, colonialist exploitation of the masses.
- More than for change within the same logic, these apparently unpredictable and uncontrollable grass-root uprisings and votes have relentlessly called for game-changing options and solutions.
Today, a majority of western electors just want to put a stop to promises they have heard before. They are tired of seeing and hearing the same copy-paste ruling dynasties, media, political parties, financial interests, etc. all reiterate a similar frame of reference while pretending to aim for innovative results.
Loud and clear, voters are saying: _ « May I interrupt?... Stop talking down, stop taking up all the space and start listening! You need to reconsider. Start listening to us and to our real needs in this fast-changing world. »
Ironically, both the Boris Brexit and Trump votes have taken the right-wing winners by surprise. Both the Tories and the Republicans were very far from expecting such an
interrupting outcome. Now that it is here, both really don't know what to do. In fact Western conservative parties are just as interrupted as their Labour and Democrat bedfellows. Who really knows how to deal with a Brexit or with a wild Trump card? In both cases, the political game is now poised for radical change. Everyone has to hustle to create a new game. For indeed, the old one has been interrupted.
Note in passing that the US Democrats missed their opportunity for disruption. They refused to allow space for their own trump card represented by Bernie. Bernie also, wasn’t strong enough to disrupt the Democrat machine. The way Donald maneuvered to undermine the Republican establishment.
- Consequently today, Trump and Bernie could be rather obvious game-changing allies!
So the the Arab Spring has finally hit the Western World in a big way. One country at a time, notice the domino effect. Gradually, predictably, we are all going to stand interrupted.
Voids are there to be filled. The Icelandic experience illustrates a possible courageous game-changing process:
- A temporary shutdown from the international scene.
- An internal crackdown on all corrupt political and financial profiteers.
- Several years of painful economic downsizing in order to find a new sustainable economic foundation.
- An ongoing search for innovative options to define a new social contract, a political system really run by the people. Almost a new constitution!
Very often, however, chaos comes first.
Previous Arab Spring movements illustrate other more difficult options. The void can rapidly be filled by extremist whiplashes and various forms of violence. Military crackdown and/or religious fanaticism are two ways to reinstate historical feudal power and quell emerging aspirations. Clearly reactionary, this is just more of the same thing, an extreme form of escalation within the same right-left self-destructive polarity. Not a game changing option. Just temporizing and quite bloody.
In politically polarized western systems such as Greece, maybe Spain, street riots, labor unions revolts and grass-root upheavals regularly flare in the face of proposed government solutions. Even when the latter could be planting seeds for innovative futures. Not enough dialogue in a consistently top-down approach pushed by technocrats may be the reason. No matter the solution, the future must be built with dialogue.
In other centralized Western ex-colonialist countries, witness England, France, the US, and their rampant racial intolerance and xenophobia directed against handy scapegoats. Violence can surface with a vengeance. Should this take place in gun-toting populations such as in the US, we can expect quite a heavy death count.
Social and political interruptions are also felt as personal and internal. Individuals feel anger and confusion, sadness, regrets, fear, sometimes panic. These are all predictable, maybe necessary emotions when real interruptions provoke disruption. This is how we handle separation and mourning processes in our lives. Consequently, these emotional reactions are clear indications that we could all be moving towards radical shifts in perspectives, world-views, or frames of references.
Social and economic chaos creates both uncertainty and opportunity.
We need to find the courage to move forward, of course. For indeed, out of chaos can arise new life, unforeseeable opportunities, real innovation. Consider several useful strategies to be deployed:
- One needs to be extremely attentive to details in order to separate real information from noise, to foster positive future-oriented solutions, to avoid giving in to anger or the « darker side of the Force ».
- Anger is extremely powerful energy that can be quickly wasted when directed against an opponent. This just serves to fortify the opponent! All personal and collective energy needs to be clearly, firmly, relentlessly directed to achieve win-win-win sustainable solutions.
- As one moves on, our fears indicate the need to proceed slowly, cautiously, one small step at a time, never loosing sight of the inner direction, of the longer-term horizon.
- Sadness indicates our need to take excellent care of ourselves and of each other, while proceeding forward. This needs to be done collectively, humanly, tenderly, respectfully.
- Learning to accept complexity is the foundation of inclusive dialogue. We need to avoid simplistic solutions pushed by strong, convinced, inspirational, messianic leaders. Those are all egos of the past. They are not game-changing
Of course proceeding with joy is an excellent indicator that we are on the right path.
It seems obvious that the coaching profession has been and will be accompanying people, teams and organizations in this worldwide long-term societal transformation process. That is our purpose.
or Politically incorrect food for thought on change management and coaching: