“What do you mean by authentic presence?”
This is what often my students in coach training ask me when we come to Competency nr. 8 ‘Maintains Presence’. “Be present in what you do” is usually my answer “and remember that our time is limited”.
We so often forget that our life on this planet normally consists of a certain number of breaths and a certain number of heartbeats. Too often we are not focused on what happens in this very moment.
We often forget to stop, we forget to listen to ourselves, to feel our breath.
We forget how to just be. To enjoy life.
We are so caught up in what has been, or we worry about what will be, that we fail to live in the moment. We rarely find space for ourselves in our daily life, and this ends up in the fact that we simply forget to live.
Most of the time we spend our life outside the present moment, in a time that does not exist but in our mind. The present moment is not in our mind, it is connected to our senses, to our body, to our whole being.
That is why we often feel like we are wasting our lives. Human beings have this mistaken belief that there is always unlimited time. This is the great game or the illusion of the mind, but we know very well that sooner or later we will have to leave this physical body.
The only way to stop time is to live in the now. That is when every moment is perfect.
How can all these considerations be connected to the ICF coaching competency ‘Maintains Presence’?
I want to offer a practical example, that comes from my experience as a coach trainer and a coach mentor in an ACTP program, and my experience as an ICF credentialing assessor.
One of my coaches-in-training recently sent me one of her session’s recording to be assessed, in order to receive feedback in her journey to her ACTP certification.
The coach-in-training welcomes her client by saying ‘how are you?’ and the client shares with the coach ‘I’m a bit anxious, this is the first time I work with a coach’.
The coach proceeds to ask the client ‘OK, so what do you want to explore today together?’, showing that her attention is focused on competency nr. 3. Establishes and Maintains Agreements.
Being present to ourselves and to our client allows us to listen to ‘who the client is’, to what the client is saying and to what the client is not saying. In the example above, our full presence in the moment, with that unique and special client in front of us, would bring us to acknowledge what the client is experiencing and sharing with us so openly, from the very first moment of our conversation.
I shared with my student that the ICF competencies should not be performed in a sequence, because they are all important, they all support the development and the demonstration of our ability to partner with the client with the purpose of allowing more awareness and learning to emerge. In this way the new actions, the new behaviors, or the new thoughts that derive from what is emerging, can bring a purposeful and powerful transformation towards the client’s desired outcomes.
I suggested the coach-in-training to acknowledge the client in her entirety, to acknowledge and encompass the client’s way of feeling in the moment, in the session, by telling her for instance
‘I hear you, you are feeling a bit anxious. I am here to support you, how do you want me to do that?’ or
‘I hear you are a bit anxious because it is the first time to work with a coach. How would you like to feel during this session?’.
These are just a couple of examples of ways to acknowledge the client and offer a question related to her feelings in the present moment.
What would be the benefit of acting like this, in the moment, by being present to the client and to what the client is saying while opening our conversation?
In this case, our full presence as a coach is promoting trust and connection with the client, so that the client can feel accepted for who she is, for what she is bringing into the coaching conversation and she can feel that the coach is acting in respect to who the client is (the being).
By using your full presence in this specific case, you can show your awareness in relation to and your ability to demonstrate the following PCC Markers
In the current version:
3.2: Coach expresses support for the client.
3.3: Coach encourages and allows the client to fully express him/herself
4.1: Coach acts in response to both the whole person of the client and what the client wants to accomplish in the session.
4.2: Coach is observant, empathetic, and responsive
5.1: Coach’s questions and observations are customized by using what the coach has learned about who the client is and the client’s situation.
and in the updated version:
4.2: Coach shows support, empathy or concern for the client.
4.3: Coach acknowledges and supports the client’s expression of feelings, perceptions, concerns, beliefs or suggestions.
5.1: Coach acts in response to the whole person of the client (the who).
6.1: Coach’s questions and observations are customized by using what the coach has learned about who the client is or the client’s situation.
6.3: Coach inquires about or explores the client’s emotions.
By simply acting in response to the whole person of the client we demonstrate our ability to remain focused, to be always curios about who the client is during the coaching process and to manages one’s emotions in order to stay present with the client.
Demonstrating confidence in working with strong client emotions can also be shown at the very beginning of a coaching conversation, when the client is bringing her anxiety to open up to a coach for the first time.
By being fully present we show to be comfortable in working in a space of not knowing: we actually don’t know what the client’s anxiety might bring, but our role as professional coaches is to be there, present and to partner with the client.
It’d be interesting for you to know that the client desired coachable outcome – in the session of the above example – originated from that genuine declaration about that ‘feeling anxious’. Even if the coach did not listen carefully to those initial important words of the client, that topic was there since the beginning and it came out, despite the coach’s agenda.
Our clients always knows, we just need to learn from them, our role as professional coaches is to be present to them, be there in the moment to learn from the clients’ wisdom.
The anxious feeling mentioned by the client was the seed from which a coachable result for the session emerged later, with more work and more space offered by the coach to the client.
Remember, you won’t stay here forever. Life is now, not yesterday, not tomorrow. Value your time. Value yourself. And value your clients in the moment.
If not now, when?
Let’s do our best to welcome the present moment, which is the only one we have.
Let’s commit to live the moment as a butterfly.
In the here and now everything is revealed.
For more articles visit our Blog here https://epicoaching.academy/blog/