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There is a lot of quite challenging, no, depressing new around us at present. For years, the media has been obsessed with sensational and shocking stories – it sells. But these days we are even more bombarded by “news”. I haven’t watched the TV news for years, but that no longer innoculates me from depressing, hope sucking stories. I get them through my Facebook, MSM, Email and even Twitter:
We are running out of oil and other natural resources.
The economy is failing: it’s a triple dip recession.
Horrific stories of abuse, rape and torture seem to be rising.
Climate change is now irreversible.
I need to know about these things, or I risk running my life in a way which is unethical, bad for the world and won’t prepare my kids properly. However, depressing people to the point of inaction and encouraging the belief that they can’t do anything to help (“What’s the point, I am just one person” “It’s too late”) just isn’t helpful.
Coaching has a huge role to play in our current society and the challenges we face as a world. Whatever situation we face, we can choose our response. Even people in the direst situations, still have choice:
“The one thing you can’t take away from me is the way I choose to respond to what you do to me. The last of one’s freedoms is to choose one’s attitude in any given circumstance”
Victor Frankl (1952)
The attitude, to which Frankl refers is one, that we know, skilful coaching can evoke. Coaching helps people to see a range of different choices, options or pathways that their previous perception would not allow them see.
“Hope” is a complex mix of willingness to see that different choices exist, willingness to act differently, belief that our actions are having an impact and the resilience to keep going. This isn’t about glibly promoting optimism or positive thinking – there has to be a genuine perception that something different could occur and that we really do have different options. It’s also about taking action, rather than being passive.
As a process, coaching helps people at all of these levels.
We help people develop different options and see that they have choice.
We help people raise self-awareness, notice how they are being and what they are choosing.
We help people build a strong sense of self efficacy – the belief that we are able to effect change.
We promote sustainable action – however small, (in fact the smaller the better as it is less likely to evoke a fear response)
We help people reflect on what they feel, what they do and what happens as a result of their actions.
We help people question and enquire
We help people negotiate barriers and obstacles.
We help people move away from blame and towards hope and possibility.
This is, what the world needs right now. It needs its citizens to be hopeful and proactive.
“The ability to “catch” an inspiring vision is the(refore) key to staying motivated”Johnstone and Macy (2012)
In the past, we used the law, physical force, religion, fame, or fearful myths, to influence behaviour and control people, but those things don’t have the power that they used to. Just look at the “Arab Spring” and the unearthing of corruption in all arenas that is going on at the moment – from kids TV presenters, to “strange additions” to meat products!
This crumbling of old structures needs to be replaced with self- management, awareness and responsibility.
Hope is crucial. Coaching has a pivotal role to play.
Johnstone C, Macy J (2012) Active Hope: how to face the mess we’re in without going crazy New World Library
Frankl V (1952 ) Mans Search for Meaning
write by Odette