Monday 28 June 2010
The Road Less Travelled
This phrase has become locked into what JK Galbraith coined as "conventional wisdom", yet the meaning of this saying I believe is largely misunderstood. This is an epic read and a challenging one. There are so many facets to the book that warrant attention. This is a book by a psychotherapist about therapy. Yet it's a compelling read for any emerging Coach even though the terrain is different. Here are some reasons why:
1. Our past has made us who we are and may in some way inform our future.
2. Very often, our "world view" (our map) is inaccurate and does not serve who we want to become. Knowing the context of that may give us greater insight into our client and may be valuable input into the Coaching work.
3. There's a stigma attached to therapy in that if you need to see a "shrink" you need to be "shrunk" in some way. But aren't we all traumatised to some degree by life's journey...?
So where's the shame in that...? In fact therapy could well be just plain smart! It's about personal growth and development. Sometimes we need to uncouple ourselves from the past to allow us to move towards where we'd rather be. Therapy helps us to do that. Coaching helps us move forward and we normally don't need the context of the past to help people do that. A good Coach should however, be able to know when a client would benefit from therapy and where Coaching's appropriate.
My own position on this is quite clear. The rule I apply is, if a person's past shows up in their present to a degree that impinges on them accessing their future they should explore how therapy may help them. A book of this quality gives me greater insight into that world and I'm a better Coach for it.
Peck's one of those rare people who cared enough about the subject matter and the audience to get to the bottom of complex issues in a simplistic enough way to make them interesting and meaningful for the reader. The first main point I picked up from him is linked to the notion that our map or view of the world when inaccurate severely limits the quality of our lives. The pain and suffering associated with addressing this issue is less than avoidance and denial. He frames this in a linear fashion by saying that people who attend therapy tend to fall into one of two categories....
1. Neurosis (they present as neurotic)...Things are my fault, guilt, shame, fear. (The flaw in the map is internal- They don't see themselves properly= I'm inferior)
2. Character Disorder (the world's the problem-there's nothing wrong with me= I'm superior)
He goes on to say that people in category 1 can have greater success from therapy as they're more disposed to change. Perhaps marginally the lesser of 2 evils! In my experience we tend to have a default position on either side of the centre line. This is often a negative pattern laid down in childhood. In today's language we could say it's the "aggressives" v the "submissives". These are the behaviours, the real work is the underlying cause.
This mirrors a lot of the work I do as a Coach. I ask the people I Coach when we work on these areas to establish where the "centre line" is. If we know where that is we should be CENTRED I guess! Peck calls this BALANCING. In this context he means this is where we need to be flexible enough to embrace change (go with the bend in the road) and exercise judgement as dictated by the circumstances when we're presented with new things to deal with.
Like many things it's simple...just not easy. It's a pleasure to read someone who truly mastered their craft to the point where it gets transformed into an art form. Shame he passed away a few years ago. His legacy will no doubt endure.....
What do you think of the above...? Have you read the book...?