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Why Is Potential What Coaching is All About?

Part I: Able to Be

“Be better, be our best Self, be true to Self, be you everybody else is taken, live from Essence, make it your best year yet, be free to choose, be whole, be authentic…”

I challenge you to discover your personal potency to invite clients into an explicit exploration of potential and notice the positive and expansive change in coaching plans that occurs. Potential, by ICF definition, is the focus of a coaching relationship. As coaches we maximize personal and professional potential through a thought provoking and creative exchange with our clients. What do clients know or better yet, care about potential? Language used with clients rarely includes the term potential. I am curious about why and invite you to explore this topic with me in this series.

The Latin root of the word potential is a combination of potis, able plus esse, to be: to be able, to have authority and power to be effective in action. From this we learn that potential is a condition of having power that is potent and has not yet come into being; it is possible, latent, unrealized and underdeveloped. What stops us from naturally expressing our fully potency? Ah, now that is the sweet spot I find inspiring to explore with clients!

Our potential resides in our Essence, the core or center of us. That means the playing field of life is level in terms of potential because we each have it. However, following cultural norms of society, our community, our workplace and our family create a bit of amnesia. One of the beautiful and sacred influences of a coaching relationship is that our memory of Essence is restored and with that access to our internal gifts and resources, in other words our possible, latent, unrealized or underdeveloped potential.

In order to fully explore potential with a client it is important for each of us as coaches to explore the same question: What stops us from naturally expressing our fully potency? Self-reflection generates perspective, understanding and compassion for the journey we invite clients to take with us. Taking the risk to express our potent Essence freely in any relationship is a state of wholeness. When we courageously choose to embody wholeness we generate reciprocal inspiration with clients. I invite you to self-reflect over the next couple of weeks and let’s learn about energy as the currency of potential in Part II of this series.

Part II: Energy is the Fuel of Potential

Everything in life is energy. Energy with a certain magnitude is at the root of understanding potential. Imagine a state of being in which our ultimate potential is realized, energy flows like the spectacular waterfall. Essence, our inner vision, is the highest truth of being made manifest through purpose. The potency of our highest truth is eternal; it will always be, regardless of our degree of awareness of it. The first step toward realizing our Essence is to purposefully direct our energy to open awareness and access to our potency and “own” it.

There is an interesting paradox about realizing Essence. Living from an externally proscribed set of rules demands energy. When this way of being is our primary mode, especially as an unconscious habit, it’s like having a small hole in our gas tank. No matter how much energy we put into our tank in the form of rest, healthy eating, exercise, learning and fun, we never seem to sustain our fuel. By contrast, living from Essence, from inside out instead of outside in, is replenishing and doesn’t wear a hole in our tank. Our gas tank is always flush with plenty of fuel.

When we attempt to make changes from the outside it is similar to depending on the advice of others versus trusting the answers from within. It also calls for being someone we are not and that requires extra energy, lowering the magnitude of energy available for expression. For example, when we find we are consistently accommodating what others want or expect we are living from the outside in. And, that’s exhausting.

When we live, choose and act from the inside out it’s energizing. While it is true that outside circumstances may be beyond our control, we are in charge of how we relate to circumstances. When we choose from our Essence, life is easier and more satisfying. Focusing our energy in this way is central to sustaining conscious awareness of our potency.

What do we imagine is available if we live life based upon our Essence?
What choices and actions empower us to wake up and own our potency?
What intentions sustain consistent, conscious choice from inside out?

These are central questions to answer, consciously and daily in order to maximize our potential. And, because this is an internal process, we must find these answers for ourselves and act accordingly. Pay attention to your process and begin to experiment with clients. Invite discovery of Essence in coaching sessions and notice what happens to client energy.

Part III: Choose Habits Consciously

Have you ever stopped to ask about the origin of habits in your life? The habits that give us pleasure and vitality are especially helpful to be conscious about. Most of us don’t stop and ask. More important we also don’t stop and ask about the habits that give us stress and fatigue!

Whether consciously adopted or unconsciously inherited values underlie core beliefs that trigger habitual behaviors. While people tend to feel quite strongly about values, these are not positive or negative, good or bad. Values do, however, have a profound influence on our choices and behavior and therefore quality of life. When we operate from unconscious habit without awareness of our values it is quite easy to experience stress caused by a values conflict with other people.

Core beliefs are the life rules that help us stay on course and make choices that are congruent with our Essence. Usually expressed as phrases or statements that represent perspective and meaning, core beliefs support our choice making. Sometimes our core beliefs are out of date, meaning we adopted the belief at a time in our lives when we didn’t have as much experience and skill. “It is better to listen and observe rather than say something foolish” is a life rule we learn when we are young, in order to belong, to fit into our family, school or community system. While listening and observing are fine skills, when we choose to exclude our perspective and contribute to our team, we are limiting our potential, the team’s potential and the organization’s potential. That’s a steep cost!

When we withhold it is easily misinterpreted as either having nothing to offer or intentionally undermining the process. If the old belief is operating unconsciously, neither conclusion as seen from the outside is accurate. Everyone behaves foolishly; the opposite of what the belief intends. Bringing the belief into current time, we might adopt a refinement, e.g. “listen and observe in order to contribute perspective that builds upon ideas and is constructive.” This refinement invites participation and opens the opportunity for inclusion and partnership, maximizing our potential.

Imagine now what impact an exploration of values and core beliefs has upon energy and expression of potency. Before you read the last installment of this series, invest some time reviewing coaching plans for current clients. To what degree are values and core beliefs identified? Reflect on this question in the weeks ahead.

What will generate more consciousness in sessions and invite clients to create and develop Essence-based habits of expression?

Part IV: Optimizing Options for Self Development

An invitation to write for choice’s Expert Series is a privilege and honor that acknowledges our achievement of some level of competence and knowledge. What I realize for myself is that I know less and experience being a beginning more with passage of time and expansion of hours with clients. A paradox indeed and one I find inspiring and energizing. Being a student of our powerful modality maximizes my potential as coach and reminds me that it is my responsibility to express my potency, fully and freely.

In this final installment of the series, I offer a list of self-development goals that help me to understand the journey of maximizing potential first hand. Bringing my compassion to clients helps me to invite clients to engage in the same journey. Together we experience vitality and inspiration to be the cause of positive transformation in the world. May you too find a pathway that sustains your vision for being a coach by expressing your potency, fully and freely!

GoalBehavior to Broaden & Deepen
Expand client perspective about inherent potency

Ability to acknowledge and welcome the forces of nature that drive realizing potential (Essence)
Ability to listen deeply and be actively curious about the environment and relationships that will facilitate empowering forces of nurture (Energy)

Ability to consistently demonstrate an absolute belief in and partnership skills to create an environment that promotes individual wholeness, resourcefulness, capability and creativity (Coach Mindset: Core Belief & Values)
Create session environment that encourages taking personal risk

Ability to extend an open invitation for individuals to express and apply his or her unique learning, thinking, and creating capacity will activate latent potential.
Ability to focus attention upon conscious choice so that individuals choose a relationship to circumstance that complements inherent strengths and Essence

Ability to create awareness about the magnitude of energy clients apply and the influence and impact of those choices upon fully expression of potency.
Demonstrate the conditions of satisfaction and success available by maximizing potential

Ability to observe, communicate and contribute to consistent cultural practices that honor the inherent nature of potential.
Ability to invite clients to imagine and construct measurement systems that evaluate and reward wholeness in Self and with others

Ability to be generative, the dynamic capacity to originate, create, learn and produce desired results while being free to express from Essence in any relationship
Janet M. Harvey, MCC

Experienced with individuals at the Board of Directors, “C” Chair, Executive and Senior Management levels, Janet assists executives in adopting effective habits of perception and behavior to lead and accelerate corporate strategies. Typical engagements address executive development in the following areas: articulate and inspire through clarity of vision, enable respectful challenge, debate and catalyze synergy for strategic business choices, risk/reward critical thinking about investments and shareholder value, plan leader succession and architect sustainable cultural/strategic change.
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