For about the first decade of my coaching career I collected methodologies. I dove into everything that interested me, finding approaches that went deeper with things liked, that felt like colorful variations of other strategies, and approaches that went way out or directly contradicted other approaches.

As that approach matured, I started optimizing, filtering, picking favorites – what models and tactics of transformational work gave the biggest ‘bang for the buck’? When a client got more out of one conversation than the last several years of therapy, what was the sweet spot? When the client was only growing incrementally, what was getting in the way? (For example, when I doubled down on IFS for several months, while the sessions felt dynamic and impressive, those clients weren’t actually changing much in their lives.) I started getting simpler, having less of a methodology and more focused on waiting for the one simple intervention that opens up the big insight.

Now I feel a new, even more subtle approach to coaching: allowing wisdom.

Wisdom, here, is the magic is trying to happen. It’s the insight that will change everything. It’s the question that breaks open the client’s reality. It’s the tears that are ready to be shed. The power that’s ready to be claimed. The shift into another reality. The choice that’s ready to be made.

Even after dropping the ‘how’ of methodologies, there’s also a residual assumption in each methodology of ‘where’ the wisdom comes from. Many beginning coaches put an emphasis on teaching, on sharing someone else’s wisdom with their clients, hoping it triggers their wisdom. Somatic methodologies think that wisdom is in the body, and moving and feeling releases it. Nancy Kline’s Thinking Environments (which inspired my Generative Listening teaching) sees the wisdom in the client thinking out loud in a space of generous listening.

So my new stance is: I don’t know where the wisdom will come from! But I know it’s there. I know it wants to come forth; there is an evolutionary urge for magic to unfold. And I’ve got a lot of ideas of where to look, and a willingness to hang out and not know. Sometimes the wisdom is going to be a download through me. Sometimes it occurs to me to ask a powerful question, or teach, or role-play, or to move subtle energy. Often I let myself just sit there not knowing because it’s moving within the client. Even interruptions or things in the environment that draw your attention can be part of wisdom coming forth.

So an inquiry for you, in your practice:

Where do you think the wisdom comes from?

Are there some channels that are especially open for you, or for your client?

And what if wisdom is everywhere?

Michael McDonald
Transformational Coach

Michael McDonald, Transformational Coach

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