Facilitator Journal | Issue #0275, October 24, 2006 ....
Coaching is a skill set all effective facilitators can benefit from
in their work with groups. Ultimately, there will come times when
it's prudent for us to step out of our facilitator role and step
into the role of coach, trainer, or consultant to help individuals
or entire groups move toward move effective behaviors or clarity
of goals and action steps.
This week's article, "Mindful Coaching," was submitted
by executive coach and author Doug Silsbee. In keeping with our
recent theme around the inner aspects of working with ourselves
and others, Doug has identified several mental habits that distract
us from mindful presence with our clients. While they may have served
us in the past, these mental energies continue to follow established
mental pathways, like a stream following a worn groove over bare
rock. Meanwhile, like seeds stranded on the bank above, new ideas,
new ways of thinking, and new possibilities fail to sprout for lack
Expert Tele-seminar: The Mindful Facilitator...Cultivating
Professional Presence Through Mindfulness.
Join Doug Silsbee and I in this one-hour interview
where we'll discuss practical strategies for recognizing
and working with the attachments that pull us away from being fully
present and in service to our groups. Check
out the details after the article.
you an executive, manager, or supervisor troubled by high turnover,
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Recognizing Your Habits
in his April 2004 ILCT article on Living Mindfully, spoke eloquently about
the process of cultivating present moment awareness. In particular, Jim
makes the point that "knowing what is driving my train allows me
to identify and master my distractions." Recognizing distractions
as they arise, and choosing to come back to our present experience with
our client is central to coaching mindfully.
development as a Buddhist practitioner and as a coach, I've identified
a number of mental habits that distract us from mindful presence with
our clients. While they may have served us in the past, our mental energies
continue to follow these established pathways in our minds, like a stream
following a worn groove over bare rock. Meanwhile, like seeds stranded
on the bank above, new ideas, new ways of thinking, and new possibilities
fail to sprout for lack of water.
aware of ways in which our own conditioning "hooks" or distracts
us is inherent in our self-development work. This work, I believe, is
essential if we are to know the territory as we coach our clients through
their own conditioned patterns in order to become more fulfilled and effective.
There are several common habits of mind that challenge all of us to remain
both humble and mindful:
We look at the world through the filters of our experiences. The sense
of comfortable intimacy and our feelings of irritation with our clients'
limitations say more about us than about the client. This confusion
of ourselves with our clients may lead us to approaches based on our
own history and needs, rather than those of the client. Recognizing
this potential is the first step towards seeing the client more clearly.
We can judge ourselves for mistakes or missed opportunities. For example,
if I notice that I'm distracted and not listening well, I might be hard
on myself. It's useful to see that my self-judgment about being distracted
takes me away from my client just as surely as the distraction did in
the first place! The trick is to cultivate the ability to observe myself
We all have a story about ourselves that we believe and desire to be
true. We can sometimes present ourselves to others in ways that invite
them to reinforce this identity. For example, wanting to be seen as
smart or as a good listener may subtly distort our interactions with
others. Seeing the subtleties of our identity, and the ways in which
we seek to affirm it, allows more space in the coaching relationship.
Mind: It is easy, in developing competency in any area, to begin
to settle for approaches that have worked in the past. The more comfortable
and expert we feel, the easier it becomes to follow routines. Models,
proven lines of questioning and templates, while helpful, can put us
in a metaphorical sleep as our minds default to established neural pathways
in our brains. True mastery comes from being present, from seeing the
client as new and fresh in this moment, and providing what best supports
the client's learning.
and freeing ourselves from these and other habits requires rigorous and
constant practice. We can learn to see and accept the unique set of habits
that has defined us as a personality, and they begin to lose their hold
on us. Doing so expands our experience of ourselves, and a clearer, less
filtered view of what is around us.
Service to our clients requires all of who we are. The constant practice
of cultivating presence and authenticity with our clients is mindfulness
work at the highest level. We can be grateful that our chosen profession
of coaching illuminates our blind spots, shows us new aspects of our selves,
and provides limitless opportunities to deepen our own practice and growth.
About the Author. This article was first published in ILCT's Tomorrow's
Life Coach in August 2004. Doug Silsbee is an author and coach in Asheville,
NC. Doug's coaching provides mindful support for personal and professional
change. His 2004 book, The Mindful Coach: Seven Roles for Helping People
Grow, discusses these and other habits of mind, and provides a wealth
of practical tools for developing mindfulness in coaching. Doug can be
reached at email@example.com
or http://dougsilsbee.com. His book
can be previewed or ordered through this website.
can you be a more mindful coach and facilitator with your groups? Please
click reply and share your comments. I'd love to hear from you.
Professional Presence Through Mindfulness
Featuring Doug Silsbee,
Executive Coach, Consultant, and Author
"Just in Time" Learning
is a master teacher and author of The Mindful Coach: Seven Roles for Helping
People Grow. In this interview, we'll emphasize practical strategies for
recognizing and working with the attachments that pull us away from being
fully present and in service to our groups. Attend
this one-hour tele-seminar with Doug Silsbee and
Steve Davis Thursday, November 9th at 1:00
PM EST (NY Time). Some of the points
we'll discuss are...
What does mindfulness mean to me as a facilitator?
What mental habits create conflicts of interest?
How do mental habits subvert the work that I do?
How does professional presence benefit me as a facilitator/coach?
How does my professional presence benefit my clients?
How can I recognize when I'm attached, or in the grip of a habit?
What practical tools can help me name and work with the habits that pull
us off center?
How can I integrate mindfulness into our own professional development?
And, answers to any questions you bring to the teleclass.
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to do so providing you follow these guidelines.
by recommendation only when you find our material of use! If you enjoyed
this issue, we'd love it if you'd spread the word. Click
here to use our interactive form to tell your friends about MFJ, and
as a thank you, you will receive our f$ree Facilitator's Self Assessment.
Coaching Skills for Managers
You know your group has the talent to be more productive
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talent may be there but new skills may be needed.
for more effective tools to move organizations forward,
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both the technology and the process to achieve this
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is the Coaching Clinic?
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Can I Expect From the Clinic?
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the clinic, participants will experience:
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of their personal coaching style using an inventory
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Resource, organizational development and quality improvement
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here for agenda and further details.