In this issue
What does trauma have to do with coaching?
Julia Vaughan Smith and Jenny Rogers
Living her unlived life
Developing a coaching business
Part 2: How to price your products and services
Julie J Allan
Ask the Executive (free article)
How do I become an executive coach?
Meet the member
I took the unusual step of giving myself an extended holiday over the summer – indeed, as I write (mid September), I am only now just beginning to dip my toes tentatively back into the world of work. I realised, towards the end of spring, that I was beginning to feel a little frazzled and frayed around the edges, and that I was in danger of operating from what I have learned to recognise as ‘survival mode’ (when I go into shutdown, cease to feel and operate more from a ‘heady’ thinking space, rather than my customary embodied, heart-centred, feeling and intuiting place).
Looking back at that period now, I recognise that this was a healthy, perhaps necessary, response – an acutely primal, animalistic response designed to protect myself from potential overwhelm in the face of numerous challenges on a personal, professional, social (and dare I add, political) level. (I swore I wasn’t going to write about our current political situation in this issue’s column, but it’s there, always, in the ether and unavoidable, like the smell of bad drains).
I take a small comfort in the fact that I am not the only one who has been feeling this way, it seems. Among my colleagues and peers – coaches, therapists, writers, artists and activists – there’s a collective sense of disquiet, frustration, sadness, grief, anger, exhaustion, fatigue and fear. We want to do something, to change the world – but we’re all too bl**dy kn**kered. For me, my response was to sit and do nothing, which is so much harder than it sounds (can you relate?) I took great solace in the opening lines of the poem, Wild Geese, by Mary Oliver, which I shared with a client just before we ended our work together before the summer:
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert,
You only have to let the soft animal
of your body
love what it loves.1
Sometimes, it takes a pause and a breath, and the courage to do nothing, to allow ourselves to reconnect with our wildness, our intuition, with the soft animals of our bodies. To give ourselves the silence and space so we can hear the whispers of our own soul longing. In that stillness, I realised that, in order to continue my work effectively, safely, creatively and lovingly as a practitioner, I need to reconnect with my dance artist self again, which was something of a surprise, to say the least. At this stage, I’m still exploring the possibilities and potential (not to mention practicalities) of this revelation, but it turns out that what the soft animal of my body loves is simply to dance: so, however inconvenient that may be at this stage of my life and career, I need to find some way of inviting that back into my practice, alongside my work with my clients.
So... what does the soft animal of your body love?