Transformational Coaching like all coaching aims to connect you to your inherent and often latent potential. But it goes a step further and transforms your life or leadership from the inside out by bringing your essential mind dynamics and paradigms to conscious awareness, releasing blockages and stuck patterns and enabling you to very consciously shift into a more evolved way of being. It is consequently a potent form of coaching that creates amazing and sustainable change.
However, it is not for those wanting a quick fix. You need to be willing to open up, be vulnerable, to explore your inner world and be very committed to change. You then need to consciously work on shifting your mindset. All of this requires a strong and long-term collaborative relationship with an experienced coach – the process takes time – some clients will sign up for 10 sessions and achieve initial outcomes, others may stay with the process over a period of years. Clients invariably report that the transformation makes it all very worthwhile.
Until recently, Transformational Coaching was relatively unknown, especially in the business world. And often, the transformation on offer turned out not to be transformational, just change. When a real transformation takes place, the mind reorganises itself, deeply held beliefs change, perspectives change and a new level of how you experience the world emerges.
Coaching is a relatively new profession and there are not too many coaches trained or experienced enough to work at this level. Such coaches need to have done considerable inner work themselves and have a good understanding of the intricate workings of the mind.
Two case studies, names and details changed to protect confidentiality highlight this kind of work:
John, 55, is the founder and CEO of an engineering company that turns over around Eur 150 M a year. He was referred to me by a friend after attending a leadership course and realising that he was mega stressed; and it had been suggested to him that his command-and-control style of leadership was outdated and was holding back the company.
I found that John had a bright enquiring mind, was open to new possibilities, but was very stuck in his head and cut off from his emotions. His coaching goals were: “to stop micro-managing, to become an inspirational leader, to discover a new sense of well-being and to rescue his marriage”.
In our early sessions, despite his apparent positivity and massive drive, it was apparent that his essential way of being was survival mode, which in turn was rooted in a difficult upbringing and a lot of inherited beliefs about how the world works and how to live life.
We decided to frame a lot of our work around ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Training), a mindfulness-based approach that focuses on living a values-based life.
John loved our sessions, though he found them challenging and he often resisted doing the inner work that was required of him between sessions. But he stuck with it and gradually reconnected to himself and his emotions, which had many positive effects including working less and making time for his family.
A vision emerged for him about empowering young people (he set up an innovative apprenticeship programme in his company) and living in a “thrive state”. Over a period of around 18 months, he attended about 30 sessions and achieved all of his goals. He said the turning point was the realisation that he was on auto-mode and could choose to shift into a higher state of being – he said it was like waking up from a long dream. John continues to attend periodic sessions to hold himself accountable.
Naomi, 42 is a clinical psychologist with a well-established private practice and author of a series of self-help books. She is divorced and spends her weekends socialising and doing outdoor pursuits. She heard about me from a colleague. During our initial call, she explained that she had ticked most of the “success” boxes already, was happy being single, but felt strangely empty and wondered what was next. Her single coaching goal was to discover “what does the next chapter of my life look like”.
As we looked at her underlying paradigm, it became apparent that there was a fundamental assumption: professional and material success would equate to a state of fulfilment and happiness. This turned out in her case to have been partly true in the past, but no longer so – in fact she was now on an addictive treadmill of needing more success to find fulfilment.
The main tool we used was to connect to her heart – to her emotional centre and to be still. Consequently, a lot of our sessions included periods of silence, apparently without aim or specific agenda. But within that silence, answers and insights began to emerge. The most significant discovery was that if she just let herself “be”, fulfilment and happiness were already present – it was not a matter of striving for them. From that space of being, she intuitively then started to know what she wanted and which activities to pursue. A long held but suppressed belief of not being enough (she often complained of imposter syndrome) fell away seemingly by itself.
After just 10 sessions, Naomi felt she had shifted her paradigm of herself and had a new perspective on life and a way forward.