Jenny (not her real name) came out of her second session recently describing what she felt like as she came out of her first. “It was as if the whole world was brighter. The colours were brighter, the greens greener, the sky bluer.” That’s a key motivator in my coaching. I can turn the light on for my clients – and giving others a brighter future is a JOY.
This week I’ve had several life-brightening comments like that – two from people who I coached over fifteen years ago. Fifteen years! And they BOTH called this week, with real, deep, kind, oh-so-rewarding things to say. Completely out of the blue.
I stopped to think of how much they would have missed if they had not connected up. They both have children in their teens and twenties now, whose lives also are brighter (greener, bluer?) because these two men – their dads – chose to take action on the tough challenges they were facing.
Although it is impossible to guarantee results from coaching (no coach can do that) the long-term effect can be massive. The whole world can come alive in a way you have not noticed before. It is like hitting the Enhance button on your photo app, only to realise what you now see is how life actually is, the real deal, not an ‘enhanced’ version at all. It is just that yesterday was duller, a faded (tarnished, darker) version of how life is, and you hadn’t noticed.
Or perhaps you have. You’ve known a time when you were happier than you are now. You suspect there are dark shadows in your life that you want to get rid of.
And if I’ve coached you in the past, and you’ve not been in touch for a while, I’d love to know what happened and what you’re doing now. Sharing your joys with others multiplies them.
Either way, call me on my mobile 07771631945 (or email me a few lines at email@example.com) and multiply the benefit for both our lives. I’m itching to hear what happened to you.
In a world where the usual reassurances are no longer working, where, across the world, confidence in government, education, business and justice systems – even in ourselves – is at an all-time low, more and more people are looking around with searching eyes, hunting for some roots, some solid ground beneath their feet, something – anything – that they can rely on as an ultimate safety net, a better pathway along which to walk into the future and a better way of living for the present.
Is this ‘something’ God? Not the universe, energy, or Nature, but the God of Christianity, the creator of it all? I am increasingly of the conviction that it is.
There is an unwavering hope, wholeness and security in the Christian Faith. With its clear clean message of the ultimate in love, freedom and justice, it is proving yet again to be better than any kitchen or partner update, more reliable than Wikipedia, and more secure than a gated property or any amount of money in the bank.
Built around relevant real-time local worshipping communities, Christianity has consistently invited people to a liberating spiritual surrender of their lives to their Creator – along with a radical review of their current values and attitudes – reaching out to him in humility, faith and commitment.
The result is a profound sideways ‘paradigm’ shift, into a new world and a new way of thinking, where the goals and aspirations of 21st Century living are replaced by much more profound goals and aspirations that cannot be bettered and will last, literally, for ever.
Welcome to the experience of a loving and eternal here-and-now God who we can truly connect with and be honestly accountable to.
Welcome to the promise of heaven and eternal life awaiting us beyond our physical death.
Welcome to a set of uncompromised day-to-day guiding life principles that have been around since the beginning of time and we can surrender to.
Welcome to an understanding of the world we live in that takes us beyond the natural worries and concerns of economic growth, survival of the fittest, cancer and redundancy.
Yes, welcome to the faith-filled, hope-filled, and love-filled life of 21st Century Christianity. Signing up has changed the lives of thousands of millions across the world for over two millennia. Some track record, eh? Agreed, there is a price to pay – the price is simply everything you have, do and are. Everything.
I’ve sometimes been asked how it is I am able to ‘get inside’ a client’s life and thinking so quickly. How is it I seem to know where to go in the coaching conversation? How is it they are so honest so quickly, often in a way they have never been with (literally) anyone else? What is the secret?
Take a few minutes off right now and read through this – to the end. It will definitely be worth it!
The secret isn’t particularly a secret, but in this day and age talking about a subject like this is emotive. People get sensitive about it, not least because it can be so misunderstood. Today I’m going to risk that misunderstanding, pluck up the courage to ‘come out’ and tell you.
Ready? Here it is: I choose to love my clients.
Simple, isn’t it? Whilst I am working with them, and actually from then on to one extent or another, I love them. Good old-fashioned human love. The love of one good person towards another. The stuff that makes the world work so much better.
Wholesome, honest, kind, honouring, ‘agape’ love. Love that is trustworthy. Love that is strong and challenging. Love that protects the wellbeing, respect and physical and emotional boundaries of another human being. Love that doesn’t exploit or abuse. Love that tells the truth, but not more than they can bear. Love that focuses on giving, not taking (‘Love’ that depletes the recipient is not love at all). Love that makes the giver vulnerable (as writing about it publicly like this does). Love that keeps the receiver safe.
Love that protects without being protective. Love that is direct without being directive. Love that sacrifices without being sacrificial. Love that is kind and shares.
Love that smiles, hugs and embraces – and buys the coffee. Love that is comfortably warm and has nothing to do with current concepts of ‘hot’. Love that goes the extra mile – and goes one more after that. And the kind of love that knows when to speak and when to listen. And love that willingly expresses its natural affection in a way that is healthy and welcome.
Just let me put on record that this is a million miles from the pseudo-love that is coercive, focused on sex, pitying, or even ‘charitable’ in the victorian sense of the word – or the sort of ‘love’ that creates an impression of kindness but is actually motivated by something more sinister, more one-sided. That kind of so-called ‘love’ is horrible, and such a distortion of the real thing. It is the greatest sadness to me that for many millions of people – maybe for one or two who will read this blog – it is the only understanding of the word ‘love’ they know.
Maybe that’s one particular reason I so enjoy Therapeutic Coaching. Apart from all the other good and liberating things it does, it empowers people to love.
I learnt primarily about love from my mother, but also from my mentor, Campbell McAlpine, both of whom demonstrated selfless acceptance of a young Andrew Sercombe, and provided me with the experiences of love I needed in order to love others – however inadequately I manage that, because as those close to me know, I’m not always loving. Sometimes I’m just plain selfish.
There are three things that we are told will endure for ever: faith, hope, and love. Without love there can be little trust, the trust which enables faith in others, and there is certainly no hope for our world in the future if love is missing. Who would look forward to a world like that? So the greatest of these three has to be…
PS: If you’ve got a problem with love – giving it, receiving it, or because someone has abused the concept – get in touch with me firstname.lastname@example.org or at www.powerchange.com. I or one of our coaching team may be able to help.
In Powerchange we have all sorts of interesting ways to help people have a better quality of life, and here’s a new exercise I’d like you to test for me. It’s called The Kind Stranger and it works by readjusting your thoughts as you read it. Notice what it does to you emotionally over the next few minutes or days, and ‘leave a comment’ (above) so we can know how it is working for you. If it ‘works’, pass it on to your friends – even Facebook it for me! Here it is …
You know those times when you feel ‘needy’- alone maybe, inadequate somehow, or unresourced? It was at such a time as this that the kind stranger turned up. It was a completely unexpected encounter, and one that changed me. He just came up to me, smiling, and although to start with I was a bit suspicious I quickly realised he was a genuinely good person, and his intentions towards me were healthy – pure – and good.
What he said was good too. So very good. He fed me, deep in my soul, and it was only later that I realised how much I had benefited from his kindness. “Excuse me,” the kind stranger said, “I hope you don’t mind me coming over to you, but I notice that you seem to feel alone and, dare I say it, in need somehow.” He disarmed me with his gentle tone of voice and obvious respect. His honesty was refreshing, although a little unnerving, and enabled me to be honest too. “Yes,” I admitted. “It is a bit like that at the moment.”
“May I take just a few minutes to help?” He was so direct, and although I had so much to busy myself with, I knew I must stop and listen to him. We found somewhere to sit down, and he, this smiling kind stranger, addressed me personally.
“What do you need to hear someone say to you today?”
It was such a surprising line it took me off guard, and I could feel a lump in my throat. I wanted to get away, yet I knew this was important. He was obviously in no rush, waiting quietly for my reply. He watched me attentively – kindly – as his words sank in, slipping under my defences. I mentally ran through a few superficial replies but knew I must be honest in return. I thought of the one thing I’ve longed for someone to say to me, but simply couldn’t voice it. It was lodged, stuck in my heart.
“That’s right,” he said.
Had he read my mind? I thought of some more.
“And those are good too.”
With a tender transparent authority the kind stranger told me clearly, gently, confidently, things I needed to hear. And something inside me change for ever. How did he know? (For he certainly did.)
” May I put my hand on your arm?” he asked. Shocked, I reached out towards him, and he respectfully held my arm just above my wrist. It was such an important touch – firm, reassuring, filled with the rich tenderness of loving human contact. I loved him for it. Skin-food for my soul. I felt a deep confidence come from his hand into my body.
“You know,” he said wisely, “we could meet right here every day or every week in person and I could say these things to you. It would be very resourcing and up-building for you. But I’ve got a better idea: I want you to listen to my voice now, saying and repeating these things you need to hear, deep inside you. Listen to my voice deep in your heart.” He paused as he noticed me do what he suggested. “It is me, isn’t it!” He chuckled, and continued, “And then, every day, even though I will not be with you physically as I am now, I want you to feel my hand on your arm like this and hear my voice reminding you of them –and all the other things you’ve forgotten that you need. Hear the words you needed someone to say to you when you were a child, a teenager, and at those other moments of your life when you felt alone, lacking confidence and direction. I’ll say them – listen out for me. You will hear my voice inside you and I will say them. They are the truth. And when you’ve learned how to listen to me, tell others about your encounter with me and help them to listen. So from today on I’ll be with you forever – and with them too if they want me!”
And he is. Whenever I sense I need him, he’s there… here. Every day. I feel his warm hand on my arm as I write, his confident touch relaxing me, feel his strong arm around my shoulders, hear his wholesome, rich voice, full of endorsement, encouragement, kindness and love reminding me of what I need to hear. I listen to him every day now, and he’s no longer a stranger.