This article was originally written by Michael Hall - gently edited by The Coaching Room
I run mountain trails. Well, I run them when I’m home in Colorado and when I am home my schedule is to run the trails every other day for an hour or an hour-and-a-half. Now recently in July, on our day off during NSTT, I had the privilege of taking five of the guys up on the mountain trails here in Western Colorado. After about an hour of running we arrived at a peak that we could see from the trail head at the parking lot. That’s when we got off the trail and hiked to the peak of that peak. The panoramic view was pretty incredible.
Back on the trail, Ricard from Sweden asked about the trail that continued going up. We were at the foot of another steep climb and I said that it would take us another hour to continue if we wanted to get to the top.
“But you can’t see it from here. In fact, when you get to that next rise,” I said pointing to the steep before us, “you can’t even see if from there. In fact, at the top of the next three peaks, you still can’t see it.”
It’s all about perspective. Typically you have to get a long, long way away from the peak to see it. You can’t see it as you are moving toward it because the next smaller peak is in the way. Skill development of training skills, coaching skills, and every other kind of skill is like that. When you first encounter a new skill— you think you get it. “I see it!” But you don’t. You are only beginning to see. When you first learn about the seven core skills of coaching—you think, “Piece of cake! No problem. I’ll hit 2.5 on my first go.” But the truth is more like the Bible verse that says—
“Eyes they have, but they see not. Ears they have, but they do not hear.”
Why is that? It is because there’s more to seeing than recognition or even understanding. There’s experiencing. Now in Gestalt Therapy, this was one of Fritz Perls’ primary emphasis:
“Lose your mind and come to your senses...” “Be here now...”
“Gestalt is the art of seeing the obvious.”
Now it does begin by learning to see the obvious. Most people do not do that. The obvious is right in front of them and they can’t see it. It’s invisible to them. And why? Because instead of seeing, they are “in their mind” hallucinating, filtering through their beliefs and experiences, mind-reading, judging, etc. And that’s because they are not truly in the here and now. All of this brings me to the quote by Marcel Proust:
“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”
Ah, yes, having new eyes. That’s because we do not see best with our eyes, but with our mind. The best seeing is with the eyes of the mind and then with those new eyes you can begin to see things that you have never before been able to see. You can begin to see the Matrix. Recall when you did your first coaching laboratories and the person giving you feedback showed you the benchmark paper and all of the things that you did not hear or see. You probably recognised nearly all of those things. “Yes, I heard that.” “Yes, I saw that.” Yet your recognition and even understanding was not enough. You did not truly see deep enough to know what to do with what you were seeing and hearing. And that is the challenge of Meta-Coaching— to learn how to truly see the invisible and respond accordingly.
At first you did not and could not see what you are now beginning to see— the invisible structures in a client’s conversation. At first you probably saw and heard nothing. Then as you began to see and hear, you became confused and maybe even overwhelmed. You began to see and hear all kinds of things that had been invisible to you—
Representational systems, predicates, eye accessing cues.
Semantic space being used for time, persons, places, orientations, etc. The three processes of the Matrix— meaning, intention, and state.
The five content dimension of the Matrix — self, power, others, time, and world. Attractions and aversions.
Truly seeing and hearing all that your client is offering you is not natural and it is not easy. But with learning, and supervised practice, and feedback, and ongoing training— it is a skill that you can learn. And then is fulfilled the prophesy, “The blind shall see and the deaf shall hear.” Then you begin to see and hear what has been outside of your awareness (unconscious) and invisible. And then, with that high quality of seeing, you will be able to intervene in ways that to the uninitiated look magical. Are you ready for that level of coaching competence? Practice under supervision, go to your local MCF chapter, start a chapter, revisit!