The Process of Transformation (#743)

When I teach transformative coaching, it is not so much a set of skills that needs to be taught as a new way of seeing and a deeper understanding of what it is that is being seen.

One of the distinctions I have found to be extremely useful in this process is the difference between “normal” and “natural”. It can be difficult and time-consuming to get someone (including yourself) to conform to a societal ideal of the norm. But it takes no particular act of will to restore something to its natural state.

Here are some of the ways that distinction typically shows up in our culture:

This is not to suggest that “normal” is always bad – simply that when you align with what is natural and real, things seem much simpler and life gets a lot easier to navigate. Instead of continually trying to fix things, you step back and see what’s actually there – and in that clear seeing, the world as you knew it seems to change in front of your eyes.

In fact, while one of the most common things people say about those who are being coached in this way is “it’s like they’re a different person”, it would be far more accurate to say “they’re seeing with different eyes”.

Here’s a fun way of describing the process of transformation which came out of a conversation with one of my first coaching apprentices, the brilliantly talented Ali Campbell

Imagine you have a reputation as one of the greatest restorers of statues in all the world. Your studio has a world-wide reputation, and there is a waiting list of people who want to get their statues restored to their full glory.

One day, a student comes to you to learn more about how it is you do what you do. She tells you that she too wants to be a great statue restorer, and is willing to study for as long as it takes to become one of the best.  You can tell she is truly committed to learning, so you decide to hold nothing back.

“Look around the studio,” you tell her, “and choose a statue for me to work on.” They notice as if for the first time that the studio is filled with statues for as far as the eye can see, and each statue is covered from head to toe with a drop cloth, making them virtually impossible to tell apart.

“How about that one?” she says, pointing to a slightly taller statue toward the back.

“Excellent choice,” you respond with a smile. You walk over to the statue and take a bit of time to walk around the statue, exploring it from different angles. Then with a mock drum roll, you whip off the drop cloth to unveil a beautiful golden god, shimmering with power and light.

Duly impressed, the student asks to see another, this time pointing to a small statue almost hidden amongst a group of larger ones. Again you walk over, this time taking a bit longer to gently gather up enough of the cloth to pull it off in one fell swoop, revealing the almost porcelain smooth face and body of a perfectly formed cherub underneath.

At the student’s request, you repeat the process again and again. Occasionally the drop cloth gets caught up on an extremity or oddly shaped part, but with a bit of time and care, dozens of beautiful men, women, and children are revealed to the light.

Eventually, the student looks at you curiously and asks how it is that each statue she has chosen is already perfectly restored before you even removed the cloth from around them, and that is when you decide she is ready to hear your secret:

“I do not need to restore these statues,” you say, “because they already have  perfection inside them. I simply need to remove the veils that cover that perfection over. My art is simply that I can see the veils to remove them.”

“But how is it that they are all so beautiful?” the student asks.

“You would have to ask that of their original creator,” you respond. “But I can tell you this – there is something about the quality of light in this studio that seems to bring that beauty to life.”

You do not need to work with a great “restorer” to find the innate health and wisdom and well-being that is inside you.  But it certainly makes things easier if you know in which direction to look.  Study the “normal” and you will become an expert on how people think the world should look; study what is natural and you might just see the kindness of the design…

Have fun, learn heaps, and may all your success be fun!

With love,
Michael

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