During our move back to Europe this summer, while putting things into order, I came across the report of the Master of Science in Fluid Mechanics I did at the end of my engineering school. It is hard to think that at one point I understood these equations.
Since then I have taken a path with no equations, except maybe Insight + Action = Results (that would be the high-level foundational equation of coaching).
Living with questions that have no right answers has however probably been the most challenging thing for me transitioning into coaching (both as a coach and as a coachee) and that I see in my clients, whether they are coaches or not. The tendency to constantly look for the right way to do things, to ask for and to offer solutions, the “should”, the strategies, the 7 steps plans or the declarations about how “we help X do Y so as to Z’” all illustrate in different ways this living in a world of equations.
These equations, whether describing our physical world or metaphorically describing the way we live, are useful, they have enabled a great deal of scientific progress and enable us to move forward in structured and often efficient way… until a certain point. Because they are also what keeps us stuck into a determinist way of thinking (the basis of an equation is to have a predetermined solution) with predictable outcomes. They prevent us from REALLY thinking outside the box, and seeing all the possibilities that exist outside of them.
That’s why so many people keep working at jobs that don’t fulfill them, stop dreaming and give up so many things and resign into a “that’s the way it is” mindset.
That’s the reason of the “Yes, but”, “You don’t understand”, “I don’t have time”, “I can’t afford it”, “I’m too young”, “I’m too old”, “I’m not good enough” and all other automatic responses that kill all possibilities right away.
And that is why I used to (and sometimes still do if I am honest) look for a reproducible way to coach (one of the main characteristics of an equation is that it describes a reproduceable reality and that is safe and controllable) whereas the biggest power of coaching resides in a deep presence in the moment, from where the next step will emerge in an unreproducible way, from one person to another and even from one session to another with the same person. Coaching, in a sense, requires to play outside of the equations that run our world.
Outside of the equations are Possibility, Creativity and Empowerment.
However, what it takes to access these is breaking the rules of our own thinking and that is confronting, triggering and bringing up resistance. Stepping into the unknown with no equation, no predictable outcome and no certainty to grasp on requires being vulnerable, letting go of control, leaning into Trust, having doubts but still moving forward, without being sure of what is going to come out of it, trusting that from there a new possibility will arise that you can’ t yet see. It requires risking to be said that what you are up to doesn’t make sense or is not reasonable and risking to fail. That can feel scary, is uncomfortable, and requires commitment, courage and support, but from there you can create so much more, and that is really empowering.
What would be possible if you were starting to play outside of your known equations? Are you willing to take a tiny step to explore?