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Episode 2

Coaching From Source

Jim Dethmer
July 25, 2017
53 minutes

Jim Dethmer has been coaching for nearly three decades and it shows. He’s the founder of the Conscious Leadership Group and co-author of the acclaimed book – The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership.

In this episode we explore a powerful transition we can make in our coaching, from what Jim calls ‘By Me’ coaching to ‘Through Me’ coaching.

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Joel and Jim begin the conversation by offering a useful framework to explore the concept of coaching from source by defining four contexts of experience; “to me”, “by me”, “through me”, and “as me”.

Jim explains why coaching from source is a “through me” or “as me” space, and how when we begin coaching we often start with “by me” (empowered creator) and then gradually begin to have moments in the coaching experience that feel surprising, at which point we’re starting to get a taste of the “through me” space.

The “through me” space is defined by a quality that has a different dimensionality to it, that both parties drop into and that feels like magic.

Three kinds of listening

What are you listening TO and what are you listening FOR?

There are different types of listening, and increasing your competence in each is a necessary component in learning to coach from source.

The type of listening we first think of is listening to someone else; a great coach becomes a world class listener, listening from the head, from the heart, and from the gut.

Another dimension of listening is listening to yourself; to your intuition, your inner knowing, your impulses. Listening to your conversational partner and to yourself simultaneously can be seen as two-dimensional listening.

The third type of listening is actively listening for “other” (something that’s going on other than yourself and the other person) – this is what opens up the “through me” space and can be seen as three-dimensional listening.

To distill the essence of this practice, ask yourself, Can I listen to you, me and it?

Practice listening in a multi-dimensional way by “moving” your listening – from the client, to yourself, to source and seeing to what extent you can hold all three channels open simultaneously.

To do this you need an attitudinal shift from “by me” to “through me” that asks you to let go of attachments to outcomes and surrender your individual will.

It’s a paradoxical shift in a sense because you develop the empowered “by me” from the victim state of “to me” and then relinquish it again as you move into “through me”, but rather than regressing to a victim mentality, you drop into ego-less surrender.

Shifting from “by me” to “through me”

The most common developmental trend is to move from “to me” (victim) to “by me” (empowered) to through me (surrender). As this happens your guiding question shifts from “What do I want?” to,

“What does life want?”

“What does love want?”

“What does spirit want?”

It’s a paradoxical shift in a sense because you develop the empowered “by me” from the victim state of “to me” and then relinquish it again as you move into “through me”, but rather than regressing to a victim mentality, you drop into ego-less surrender.

The nature of surrender is opening, receptivity, stillness; in order to be able to hold a “through me” state you have to develop your capacity to tolerate silence and stillness.

An interesting thing to explore is how you experience this quality of surrender – do you hear things or see things? What is your somatic/sensorial experience of this state of being?

Through surrender, the coaching tools recede into the background and with them the certainty that comes from allowing them to create and direct the process. In the “through me” state another kind of certainty has to come forward, and this manifests as a deep trust.

Jim explains how the work that prepares you to be able to hold a “through me” space is being able to source a stable sense of “ok-ness” or “basic trust” around approval, control and security, and being able to stay present. This builds a solid foundation for pure presence and full availability for source to move through you.

How to cultivate a sense of “basic trust”

Building your sense of innate trust and ok-ness is a continuously unfolding process rather than an end-goal. According to Jim, there are two steps in this process, which can be repeated every time you find yourself in an undesirable state:

  1. Awareness: noticing when you lose presence (what happens in your mind, emotions, body)
  2. Acceptance: one breath of acceptance (outsource approval, control and security)

As coaches desiring to work from source, how do you handle a momentary lapse in presence within the coaching context? You can either repeat the above process and drop back in without letting the client know what’s happening in you, or alternatively you can practice full transparency and share your experience with the client.

Allowing yourself to “out” a lapse in presence can be very powerful for the client and create a deeper space of trust – it also gives them an experience of what it could be like to live their whole life from that level of presence and inter-relational authenticity.

This level of transparency can be taken further; owning that you don’t know where a session will go can also be incredibly powerful. Opening to not knowing and releasing the desire to control creates deeper presence in the coaching space.

How to bring it into the world

This being a comparatively edgy practice in conventional society, you might worry about how to bring your way of working into contact with the world, but in fact you don’t need your client to buy into the “other” space / 3D listening; you can simply commit to bringing this quality into the coaching sessions yourself.

If you sense that the client is ready however, you can introduce them to what Jim refers to as “Listening Leadership” (what wants to be accomplished in the world through us, rather than what we want to accomplish). If this concept takes hold, you can segue into inviting them to co-create coaching sessions with the same quality.

When you do this, you can expect to start having a lot more space in the conversations, more silence.

Surrender or agenda? Watch yourself to see your own edge as you move into “through me” coaching.

About Jim

Jim Dethmer
Jim Dethmer

Jim Dethmer is a coach, speaker, author, and founding partner at The Conscious Leadership Group. He has personally worked with over 150 CEOs and their teams to integrate conscious leadership into their organizations.

Jim also leads monthly Forums for select leaders in Chicago and New York and trains coaches through The Conscious Leadership Group.

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