Life is full of paradoxes, those pesky little mind-flips that seem straightforward at first, but eventually result in aching heads.
Some paradoxes, like the question in the box, are just interesting and great to throw out at parties to intimidate and humiliate your friends and family.
Other paradoxes are more subtle …
I remember a paradox from my days as an addictions therapist. As part of their treatment planning, we encouraged our clients to engage in a 12–step recovery group. In our experience, those who successfully created a lasting recovery from their addiction did so by including this in their personal treatment, while those who did not struggled with staying clean and sober.
A salient feature of most 12–step recovery models is the idea of surrendering oneself to a higher power of some kind, with the underlying concept that the person cannot deal with the addiction through willpower or without support.
The paradox comes from the perception that only when the person gives up trying to control their use without help can they then actually begin to control that use.
“I can’t do this” becomes “I can do this, with other’s help” …
Another paradox I have more recently experienced comes from coaching others for effective change.
Valid coaching training always includes a strong insistence that the coach does not solve the person’s issues and that the coaches own experiences are not usually pertinent to the client’s actions. Coaching involves empowering your client to create their own solutions to their issues, not accept another’s solutions, espcially from the coach.
In other words, the coach need not be an expert in the person’s issue, so the relationship is not that of teaching, training, consulting, or even mentoring: the coaching relationship is to help the person make their own decision and create their own solution (with an emphasis on “their own”)
“Here’s how it worked for me …” statements might be helpful if the client is really stuck, but more often reinforce the coache’s knowledge authority and even subtly “guide” the client to the “right answer”. This constitutes manipulation from a perceived position of power (specifically power through authority and knowledge).
So far, so good …
However, as coaches, we are also strongly encouraged to select a niche topic or focus, to specialize as it were in a particular type of change. So some coaches become business coaches, often because they have been successful in business themselves. Others coach on activities that they are proficient in, such as running or writing.
Most coaches tend to advertise and tout their background in whatever their niche or focus area is … seems to build credibility, and from one perspective, that is true.
Being an expert is fine, as long as you do not let being an expert in something or even just having a long history of experience in that thing get in the way of helping the client make their own determinations and decisions.
If you would coach someone, you actually have to let go of any perception that you know anything about that person’s issues, even if they chose you specifically because you DO have experience with that same issue … paradox:).
A coach really only need be an “expert” in mationone area:
Effective Transformational Change
Trying ever so hard to learn this particular lesson in the Heartland ….
Go ahead, reason it out with the two possibilities: The sentence is true or the sentence is false