Like our Chair, Lucy Myers, I’ve been reflecting a lot lately on the notion of connection – and its shadow side, disconnection. Perhaps this is due in part to the fact that, as I sit and write this, we have just emerged from the national knees-up that was the four-day bank holiday to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.
Whether you’re a republican or a royalist, and however you spent the weekend, unless you chose to lie in a darkened room and switch off your phone and telly for four days, it was impossible to miss the fact that the entire nation was seemingly high on cheering, flag-waving and scoffing Mr Kipling iced fancies. The fact that this extraordinary four-day jamboree was taking place as we are still emerging from two years of the coronavirus pandemic only highlighted its magnitude, the images of the cheering crowds lining the Mall in stark contrast to those not-so-recent images of deserted streets and shuttered shopfronts in towns and cities across the country.
Reflecting on the weekend, it was also not lost on me that there were others who chose not to celebrate, or were unable to, for a variety of reasons. This was less a royal celebration, more a cultural event, and if anything is likely to highlight disconnection, isolation and exclusion, it is the idea that everyone else is celebrating and coming together in unity – which is why festivals and holidays such as Christmas can be particularly difficult for so many people.
The wake of COVID-19 has created further ambivalence towards coming together – in-person connection both longed for and feared in equal measure – and recent data show that many people continue to practise social distancing to some extent.1,2 I include myself in this group, and I am definitely seeing it among my clients. Echoing our Chair’s words, I have been working with a charity supporting young women for almost two years now, and I am facing the prospect of finally meeting my coaching colleagues in three-dimensional flesh space next week. While I am excited, I admit to also feeling some trepidation, not only about the journey, which will require travelling at rush hour, but also about being with a group of people who, until now, have been only pixels on a screen. In the midst of celebrations and excitement, and desire for connection, it can be challenging to be the lone voice that expresses ambivalence or reticence.
This, to me, is the power of our work – that we hold space for our clients to express their ambivalent feelings, without judgment or censure. As coaches, we have the potential to
create connection in the midst of isolation and exclusion, whether we work with marginalised communities or leaders in organisations. The articles in this summer issue reflect the extraordinary power that our work has to create and facilitate connection – with self and other. Each of the practitioners contributing demonstrate how they help their clients navigate the line between ‘me’ energy and ‘we’ energy. Sometimes, all we need to know is that we are not alone with our feelings and experiences. This, to me, is the most potent aspect of our work.
However you are spending the summer, I hope it is one of reconnection, restoration and relaxation.
Until next time…