As the bright light of coaching grows, it, like all other things under the sun, will inevitably cast a shadow which undermines quality. That wouldn’t matter if we offered just ad hoc skills, but we have defined ourselves as a profession. It is up to us to maintain standards and, as John Schuster has said, “We must make ourselves worthy of our clients. “Fortunately, the shadow is not something to repress; it is a source of depth and power when properly engaged.
What is a shadow? In the Jungian sense, it is the part of ourselves kept hidden from others and from ourselves and it strikes me that shadows exist for both individual coaches and the profession itself.
One of the more common coach shadows I have encountered in myself and in good coaches whom I supervise is vulnerability. Here I am, a Master Certified Coach, and yet there are moments when I simply don’t know what to do! When I hide that uncertainty, it becomes a shadow. And when I don’t know that the shadow exists, my chances of serving my clients well goes down.
I’m amazed at how many times my coaching supervisees say the most useful thing about a session is when I admit I don’t know what to do! They say that when my vulnerability shows up, they are invited to show up completely as well. Then real learning begins.
I’ll continue exploring this in my blog next week.