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The Body Eclectic: Coaching in a Messy and Multifaceted World

By now you may be wondering why a leadership and holistic coach is writing about so many random subjects. If so, I completely understand. Focusing on the specifics of leadership coaching, or holistic coaching would seem to make more sense. 

But being a leader, being a person, is complicated nowadays. It’s not just about understanding the best strategies or choosing great goals. Clients bring so many diverse topics to the table because, in real life, things are messy. We have to deal with challenging people, including narcissists, we have to work through our emotions, learn how to harness our will power in appropriate ways, learn how not just to make smart decisions, but authentic ones. 

Having an eclectic background allows me to think outside of the box when I’m coaching. It helps when clients are trying to figure out a way forward, but normal strategies are not working, or there’s more to the situation than meets the eye. Although having a holistic perspective might sound wishy-washy, it really just means that you understand how one aspect of your life, or the world, is connected to others and what the impact of that is. 

For example, if you want to take a more active role in shaping the culture of your team, you may need to become more emotionally available as a leader, which will also benefit your personal life. Or you want to become more decisive, but find that skill easier to practice at home or the grocery store and then implement it at work later. You may need to connect more deeply with your values and you find it easier to do that through exercise, time with friends or a spiritual practice, before bringing that self-knowledge in to inform your leadership style.

There are so many different aspects of life, it is impossible to learn how to lead through textbooks and seminars alone as if it is one self-contained subject. Your whole life informs your leadership style and can strength it (or limit it) also.

To be a great leader we need to know who we are as individuals, what makes us thrive, what drains us, what inspires us and our “why”. We need many skills such as: processing emotions, communication, freeing up will power and resting effectively. It is also important to be able to switch from a big-picture eagle’s eye view to the detail-oriented view of a magnifying glass. This ability to be adaptable, in-the-moment and to shift between different ways of being can be an innate gift, but for many it is a learned skill that comes from working on themselves. 

And this is very important with the clients who come for holistic coaching (closer to life coaching), who feel that there is more they can be, more they can experience, but something is holding them back. It is usually not the obvious thing that is limiting you, it’s the dynamics and beliefs underlying it, as well as its connection to other aspects of who you are. For example, you’re trying to get in shape but keep craving sweets and the feeling of fullness. An underlying belief may be “I am empty, something is lacking, so I need to fill myself up”, while the dynamic could be looking for comfort through food instead of being brave and going after what would really satisfy you (a better job, method of self-expression or experience of intimacy, for example). This habit may be connected to other areas of your life such as self-esteem and the way you talk about yourself to others, your boundaries, the way you relate to people, your expectations, how much money and time you’re willing to spend on self-care and fulfilment, how far ahead you look in your life, whether you are looking mainly to avoiding your fears (while mostly believing they’ll probably come true anyway) or to moving towards your passion and joy, etc. etc. I could go on for a long time, because all aspects of ourselves are related!

So, whether a client comes with an unexpected blind spot (such as a prejudice), a difficulty with a co-worker, a resistance to a particular task or a confusing group dynamic, taking a holistic view can be powerful. And any issue can be a wonderful way to begin an exploration of areas for growth and insight. With coaching it almost never matters where you start, it is all about the journey and the lessons you learn along the way. Great coaches know how to guide you on that journey. 

So, I write about eclectic topics, more than the behind-the-scenes coaching tools I use, because real life is where the growth and learning happens. It’s messy and diverse and unexpectedly challenging sometimes. The skills we are expected to develop as a leader and a person nowadays require unprecedented amounts of self-knowledge and personal growth. But the beauty of that is just how much we can use real-life situations to bring us closer to ourselves and to others.

Because real self-development isn’t about living far from antagonism and meditating on perfection (for most of us). It’s about being in the messiness of life, and using the opportunities it presents us with to grow as people, and to bring that growth back into our lives to enrich it for ourselves and others. A great leader isn’t only skilled at leadership in one specific environment, they can use learning and growth from different aspects of their lives to embody their own leadership style as well as a genuine way of being. 

Life is much more complex today than in years’ past, and we’re expected to draw from many different sources of knowledge. But although that can be a challenge, it gives us so many opportunities for growth and for fun.

I hope you continue to find value in my eclectic blog. 

And as always, take care!