In the fifteen years I have been practicing as an Executive Coach in London, I am proud to have helped many clients transform their personal and professional lives through practical and results-driven coaching.
It is not only my clients who grow from these experiences, however. With time, I have realised that there is more than one way to help others reach their goals, and that stepping out of my own comfort zone and doing things differently can achieve even better results than traditional coaching might have. I also get to explore parts of my personality in the process. I’m sure that you can’t wait to hear what I’m talking about!
The answer is very simple: I started to be more aware of each client’s body, presence or “soma”.
Somatic comes from the Greek, “Somatikos”, which means “of the body”. The word suggests that neither mind nor body is separate from the other, both being part of a living process called the soma. Up until then, my approach to coaching had been Cartesian, viewing the body in service of the mind and its rational thought. For a long time I had mostly focused on what my clients said during our sessions, not so much on their body language or presence.
When I was first introduced to somatic practice in a workshop based on Wendy Palmer’s methodology on Leadership Embodiment, I was sceptical. I had doubts on how I could introduce this practice to my Senior Executive clients from the corporate world; I feared that they might reject it as too “touchy-feely” and spiritual.
For the last few years, I have started observing the impact that my clients have on me – their body language, energy and how I feel in their company – in order to understand the effect they might be having on others. A whole new universe has opened up in my coaching practice as a result.
My typical clients, senior executives in the banking and finance industry, can be so focused on the “doing” that they forget about the “being”. I was now starting to draw attention to the being, and what they could do to get to the best version of their being. Wendy Palmer’s methodology on Leadership Embodiment has been crucial in helping my clients become more centred and inclusive.
It can be odd, sometimes, coaching a powerful leader who wants quick fixes and teaching them how to be more centred. The moment you start talking about body alignments and centering postures, they can lose interest. Over time, however, my clients see that transformative change comes from within and that, through cultivation of the self, we continually move towards an authentic way of being, creating meaning and purpose in our lives and the lives of those we work with.
The journey towards change only begins once we start asking ourselves “Who am I?” instead of “What am I doing?”, and the degree of transformation we wish to inspire in others is dictated by the degree of transformation we are prepared to go through ourselves.