COACHING THE COACHES
by Jon Rappoport
Copyright © 2011 by Jon Rappoport
I once had a client, a business coach who told me, “Everybody works inside a system. The only kind of advice I can give people is about how to make their particular system better.”
That’s a legitimate statement, as far as it goes. But it’s like saying, “If you live in a world where people only use their right hands, it’s useless to teach them how to use their left hands.”
A decent operational definition of imagination is: “it’s what exists outside systems.”
When a person wants to access imagination, what does he do?
There is no single answer to that question. With my clients, I use a variety of strategies. Over the course of the last 15 years, I’ve developed a whole series of techniques and exercises that awaken imagination.
When employed consistently, these techniques result in, among other effects, the person finding himself entertaining new ideas that seem to come out of thin air. The person begins to act in ways that are more spontaneous. This doesn’t imply chaos. It implies New, Fresh, Original, Interesting, Unique.
Accessing imagination begins with the thought that common reality and the status quo are simply the starting point for innovation; otherwise, we would still be living in caves and rooting around in barren soil for roots.
So all progress has always depended on imagination as the leading prow. It is blank and robotic obedience that resists change on the basis that all change is bad; this mental state obstructs advancement in any relationship, life, operation, or organization.
Imagination is expansive, far-reaching, experimental, adventurous.
The first move in accessing imagination is considering the possibility that you can be expansive, far-reaching, experimental, and adventurous. Mull that over. Roll it over in your mind. Play with it.
Are you wedded to step 1,2,3.4,5, in sequence, forever the same, without thought, without questions, without hope for something more? Are you? Are you simply and only trying to shore up and solidify steps 1-5? Is that your basic mission in life?
Think of society as a gigantic school. And consider this: if all the education promoted and taught in this school must be imparted as a series of graduated steps in one direction, then how can imagination, as a course of study, be introduced into the curriculum? The answer is it can’t. It doesn’t fit. The deck is stacked. And therefore, all education is going to ignore imagination, and finally people will believe that imagination is a complete mystery—because they have been attending a school all their lives where it is absent from the classroom, where it is never thought about in any depth.
Coaches often take on clients whose basic position about life seems to be: I’m confused. And it appears to be folly to introduce yet another factor (imagination) whose character and very existence might add to the confusion. These clients need rules and stability and very clear avenues of behavior, don’t they?
You, as a coach, should think very seriously about that question, because, in a real sense, your whole future is riding on the answer.
How are you going to direct your client? Where are you going to try to move him? And is that direction going to give him More or Less?
This is a very fertile area of exploration, for yourself and your clients.
Should you, for example, say you’re only interested in short-term results? Should you assume that life offers only a few possible choices, within an already-limited context?
I’ll take this one step further. Sometimes, after repeated efforts to get a client to take effective action, the coach, feeling frustrated, will offer one of the following:
“Keep circling back to the vision.”
“Plug into the passion.”
“Don’t be attached to the outcome.”
“Baby steps add up to a giant leap.”
“THIS is what successful people do.”
“What’s important is the journey, not the destination.”
Remember, this (life and coaching) is just a process.”
“You know, you can achieve your dreams.”
“You need to believe in yourself.”
“You see, you have to change your belief system.”
“You’re not seeing how much power you have.”
“If you don’t commit to change, how can it happen?”
“Life is really about the big picture. You have to look at that picture.”
“As you think, so you are. So you have to change what you’re thinking.”
“You need to do more positive affirmations.”
“Change your relationships. They’re toxic.”
“Setting a real goal is the key. Once you have that in mind, you can move toward achieving it.”
“You’re a wonderful amazing human being. Accept that.”
“Get off your butt.”
And so forth and so on.
When uttered as a last-ditch effort to move a client to a better place, these statements reveal a puzzlement about why the client seems to want to hold himself back.
What’s going on? Why is the client stalling at the gate? Why is he making so little progress? Is there a way to surgically remove his beliefs that are convincing him he can’t win?
There is a more fundamental factor at work.
If a human being never moves beyond a kind of mechanical sense of what he is doing in life, he won’t be happy.
If he sees his present and future as trying to fit into a system, or trying to fit into a better system, he’ll never feel inspired.
If he is basically looking to put patches on his life to cover up what he can’t solve, he won’t feel free.
There were moments, in his childhood, when he did feel happy and inspired and free. So what was present then that isn’t present now?
That’s a very important question.
And the answer is, when he was a child, he knew what imagination was and he used it all the time. He used it to enhance everything around him. He didn’t just see a tree, he saw magic with arms and legs and a radiance in its leaves. He didn’t just see a road, he saw a road that curved away into an infinite distance. He didn’t just see clouds in the sky, he saw sailing ships and faces and cities. He didn’t just think of the day ahead as a series of routines, he saw the day as a potentially endless adventure. He wasn’t only living in the present, he was living in the present and the future.
He was living through and by imagination—and therefore, he FELT ALIVE. That’s WHY he felt alive.
Imagination was no mystery. It wasn’t a puzzle. It wasn’t something he had to learn by reading a book.
So, flash forward. This child is now an adult, and he feels frustration. He feels unable to solve the biggest problems that face him. He feels the future should be better, but he isn’t sure how to make that happen.
And you as a coach are going to help him straighten out his life WITHIN THE CONTEXT of his present thoughts and feelings and actions? Really?
Imagination is not a solution to a problem. It is the faculty that makes the obsession for solving all problems fade into the background. It is the leap that puts a life on a new basis.
If you want to help your client in the most basic and profound way possible, you are going to explore the key question: how does a person who once lived through imagination restore that state of mind and consciousness now?
A former candidate for a US Congressional seat in California, Jon has worked as an investigative reporter for 30 years. He has written articles on politics, medicine, and health for CBS Healthwatch, LA Weekly, Spin Magazine, Stern, and other newspapers and magazines in the US and Europe. The author of The Ownership of All Life, Jon has maintained a consulting practice for the past 15 years. He has delivered lectures and seminars on global politics, health, and creativity to audiences around the world.