Lessons on Balance from the Cricket Field

Practicing cricket yesterday, I became acutely aware of the importance of my balance while I was batting. Too much of my weight on the front foot, just before the ball was delivered, and I would rush at the ball. Too much weight to the offside and I would struggle to play any ball on leg stump. My challenge was to bring my weight back, from front to back foot and from off to leg side.

This translates well into my life. I have a tendency to lean forward – to rush into things and rush through things. It’s like I’m already envisioning the outcome before I’ve started putting the pieces together – the danger being that I want to move on to the next thing before I’ve finished the last.

The bodily sensation when I get my balance right at the crease is a sensation that I’d love to transplant into all aspects of my life – work, career, money, relationships. It’s a sensation of being centered, i.e. having my center of gravity in the same place as the middle of my body. I suspect that a lot of the time my center of gravity is just in front of me, literally and figuratively.

I can’t help thinking this is connected to a feeling that whatever I am doing, whatever I have (and, possibly most fundamentally, who I am) is not enough. And that moving my center of gravity away from myself is a way of avoiding a confrontation with that feeling of not-enough-ness (yes, inadequacy is a better word).

One of the key shifts that integral coaching looks to help people with is this achievement of balance. It seems a simple enough concept at first glance, but I worry that we oversimplify balance (it’s not just about debits and credits). The more I coach, the bigger the topic of balance starts to look to me.

That being said, getting a physical appreciation for what balance feels like is not a bad place to start, so dust off that old your cricket bat and get into a net, or get on to a yoga mat and revisit that tree pose.

Richard Jamieson is an Integral Coach and an Associate at Connemara.

What is the story you’re living out?

Coaching a client this week, I was struck by the power of the stories that we tell ourselves about who we are. Formed early on in our lives, our stories shape our relationships with others, and inform the strategies we use to make our way in the world.

Funny thing is, we grow into adults, our bodies and appearance change dramatically, we accumulate qualifications, possessions, and families and we develop the habits that mark us out as well functioning adults. But often our core story remains the same.

I’m not very smart. I’m not the confident one. I never seem to quite get it right. I try hard, but no one recognizes what I do.

Unfortunately, the story is often a limiting one. And it comes with an associated strategy.

If I’m not that smart, I’ll get ahead by working harder than anyone else. If I’m not that confident I’ll use my smarts to do well in an environment where people skills are not that important.

The more effective the strategy is, the harder it is to change later on.

The disconnect feels particularly strange when you start to realize that you see yourself very differently to how others see you. I heard a quote somewhere, “The last thing we learn is the impact we have on others.”

One way of understanding coaching is that it helps individuals to surface these stories, examine them, and explore the possibility of living into an alternative story.

What is the story you’re living out?

Coach-Client Partnership?

coaching partnershipThe subject of partnerships is one that has become very important to me, especially since starting my own business two years ago. Reflecting back on two years of running a small business, with three different partners, convinced me that possibly the most important thing in business is who you  partner with (or, as one friend of mine put it, also a business owner, whether you take on a partner at all).

The penny that dropped for me today was around coaching and partnerships. The point is often made that the coach-client relationship should be a partnership. To make this point clearer one can contrast it with other kinds of relationships: parent-child, doctor-patient, therapist-patient, teacher-student, mentor-mentee.

I guess the distinction is that coaching should be a partnership of equals, and there shouldn’t be a difference in rank between coach and client. However, in practice this is often difficult to achieve, I guess because the format is so similar to a mentor-mentee or therapist-patient relationship.

So the penny that dropped for me was essentially this: What would it be like if I approached my coaching relationships the way that I now approach potential business partnerships? What if I  only moved ahead with a coaching engagement if I was excited about working with the client, because of an alignment at some fundamental level, and because I truly believed we could produce exciting results by working together?

Comments anyone?