An Honest Day’s Work (#888)

Earlier this week, one of my coaching apprentices and I were discussing what actually happens during a transformative conversation that allows seemingly miraculous changes to take place in our clients. Here’s the analogy that came to mind:

Imagine a river covered over with ice. Even though the ice may be many inches thick, the river continues to flow underneath it. Now imagine that your job is to break up the ice and “free the river” so that it comes back up to the surface and can be seen and enjoyed by all.Each day, you go down to the river and chip away at the ice. Some days you may break through the ice in one or two isolated spots; other days you may not have any “breakthroughs”, but the constant chipping away will have weakened something structural.While this may seem a frustrating and difficult job, particularly if the river has been iced over for a long time and has gotten particularly thick in places, you have a secret ally in your task – the river itself.

At some point in this process, larger chunks of ice will begin to break away and the river will begin to show through more and more. When the ice breaks up enough, the river itself will take over the process, as the warmer water and continual flow remove the remaining ice as it both gets carried downstream and melts back into the water out of which it was originally formed.

At the risk of explaining away the obvious, we all have a deep river of wisdom and well-being that has been running through us from the moment we were born. Over time, that river gets iced over in places, and we learn to drive ourselves forward on the treacherous “ice roads” of our psyche instead of flowing along, carried by the river.

So as people who facilitate transformative conversations, what we do is chip away at the “ice” of long held beliefs and other objectified thoughts while simultaneously “presencing the river” – speaking to the health and wisdom inside of people and drawing it up to the surface more and more.

While there is certainly an element of artistry to our work, in a way it’s a very blue collar job. We clock in at the beginning of each day, do what occurs to us to do to chip away at the ice and presence the river, and clock out at the end of the day, never knowing at exactly what point the water will breakthrough the ice, reuniting our psyche’s with the spirit out of which they were formed.

But what keeps us showing up for work each day is the absolute certainty that the principles behind the mind are as constant as the principles behind nature. At some point, if we keep chipping away at the ice (and sometimes even if we don’t), the river of wisdom and well-being will rise to the surface and once again run freely through our client’s mind.

Have fun, learn heaps, and may the light within you illuminate the world around you!

Michael

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