The power of I don’t know

It’s International Coaching Week and I’ve been listening to key CTI leaders talk about the future of coaching. It’s been inspiring and evoking. Personally speaking, I’ve been a professional Co-Active coach for ten years and I’ve had the pleasure of coaching 100s of women around the world on matters close to their hearts. I feel inspired by their courage and willingness to transform.

After a week of listening and sharing insights about the coaching industry, one thing is jumping out at me. I wanted to share it with you now.

The power of “I don’t know” is the gateway to transformation:

As coaches (regardless of age or experience levels), we have to be prepared to let go of what we know in order to serve our clients. One of my favourite Master Coaches, Helen House once said, “If I’m asking a question and I know the answer to it, then it’s not coaching. That’s manipulation.” 

It’s essential that we ask open and powerful questions that will create space for deeper insights to emerge, that we can hold and serve the moments of silence required to connect to higher level intelligence. This does not come through easily when we are engaged in daily, outward activities, so we must make space to connect on a deeper level.

We need to stay in this space for long enough to allow a shift to be felt and experienced. This is where aliveness lives, this is where the magic is. From here, clients can experience their own breakthroughs. 

It’s not to say that we don’t have a technique, tool or remedy that we believe will support the client with her vision, but fixing is not coaching. We hold the space of the unknown, we take our clients hands and then we dance with them in THIS moment. 

When we enter the unknown, we create a blank page and together, a new pathway is created that connects the bridge between being and doing. 

If you are at work and you approach all new challenges in the same way, you will become outdated, and innovation will pass you by. While you already hold deep wisdom within you, a beginner’s mind is also essential to the process of transformation and innovation. 

Here’s the ultimate paradox, by stepping into the unknown we connect to a higher field of knowing.

Hold the space of the unknown for innovation to flow.

Go deeper, reach higher: 

There are times when it’s not clear where a session is headed because the territory entered is the unknown. While we may agree a topic at the start, we must also be willing to take a detour because while we are holding the space for change, it is the client who holds the key. 

Welcome this with an open heart and trust that some stuck-ness when/if it arrives is part of the process. To get unstuck, your client may need to experience how it feels to be stuck live in a session. 

In my experience, naming the energy of stuck-ness, resistance etc usually creates an energetic change big enough to create movement. Again, this is of service to the client, trust that everything that comes is a guide.  If you can lean into it, the space will become more expansive. 

Essential ingredients:  

Working with the unknown requires courage and trust. When I step into this space, I choose to become right sized, I shrink myself so that my ego has no place to gather momentum. This requires self-management and a willingness to let go of everything I know. 

To be able to hold this space, I find myself connecting to a wider field of intelligence which for me is best described as “love.” This helps to detach from what I believe is the right action. Find your own form of meaning or higher power because this will help you to stay focused, and connected to the magic IN each moment.

Now it’s your turn:

My challenge to you today is to hold the space of the unknown and practice having a beginner’s mind:

In conversations say, “I don’t know, what do you think?” How does it feel to sit back and hold a bigger context? How does the other person respond to being given the baton of knowing by you?

In my experience, this is when people discover who they really are and what they are capable of. This is facilitated because they have been empowered and given an open space to step into. 

This blog is part of a Powerful Conversations series written by Karen Heras-Kelly, a feminine leader responsible for Empowering women to take their seats at the table since 2012. Karen is a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach, Leadership facilitator, mindfulness and creative visualisation expert. She is the founder of A Tribe Called Woman, a company dedicated to the empowerment of women in the workplace and the ‘Mindfulness Time at work’ project.

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