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Using myself to inspire growth in others

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Using myself to inspire growth in others

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James Woodeson

Coach, Supervisor & Programmes

Working 1:1 with a senior leader in a US based Tech firm

My client said they felt undervalued by their boss. Over the course of each of our first three sessions, there was at least one occasion where their eyes would fill with tears, which were not cried.

I was close to intervening to raise their awareness of what I was noticing, yet something in me suggested that this could heighten a sense of “I’m not strong enough”. Their predominant topic was striving and trying to please people. I noticed a dilemma “Is this impacting me because this is what I used to do and sometimes still do?”.

I felt stuck and reflected on this ahead of our next session. On arriving, I was still stuck and chose to share that I was noticing a sensation of “stuck” and I wondered how the client had left the previous session. They said they were holding in their tears and “needed to be strong”, they noticed that this was a place of stuck-ness for them and that crying was not something they often did. Tears filled their eyes and again, they were stuck.

We explored what it meant and was like for her to be strong and then, how we were being strong with each other. What might be like to be the opposite? The client named this ‘soft’. We deepened our experience in this polarity and shared stories of both. We met and matched each other at each end of the polarity.

Right at the end of the session, something emerged in me and spontaneously I asked “would you be open to receiving an affirmation?”. The client smiled broadly and responded with “well yes, that would be really nice actually.”. I felt nervous and said “I realise that I have no idea what I want to say! So if I may, I’ll take a moment to take you all in.”. I took her all in. From nowhere, the words “I see you” came out of my mouth and the client sobbed deeply. I also had tears fall from my eyes. I held the space with silence, the client experienced the moment, then eventually spoke. “That’s it. I want to be seen.”. This was a deeply held need, which was playing out with her boss, who had a focus on tasks and rarely engaged her as a person or considered their relationship.

It was a deeply moving experience. In sharing a part of myself and exploring this together, it brought awareness for the client. From that place, a strong, spontaneous resonance emerged which led to a simple, powerful and creative intervention which supported the client to be not-stuck and to hear the words her tears might express.

My own ‘stuck’ was telling me something legitimate about waiting. It’s OK to be stuck. In sharing my experience of being ‘stuck’, the client was able to notice their own sense of ‘stuck’. From here, we were both changed.

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