To all my ‘Clean’ contacts and coaching colleagues,
A personal note from Angela:
For those who have requested this newsletter, I am delighted to send you the first “Clean Coaching with EK” newsletter, which I hope
will make interesting and useful reading for you. I trust the level of content shows the effort and dedication that has gone into its production. Future editions of this newsletter we be sent every 2 – 3 months and please add my email address to your 'safe senders list' so you receive future issues of this newsletter safely.
This is also being sent to all my coaching colleagues I know personally, and I would welcome any feedback from you!
The source of all information is based on the original work of David Grove, and I will be building on this with my own and other's explanations and ideas. There will always be at least two articles, the first being suitable for all, including those with no training in Clean techniques and with an interest in learning more. The second will take an aspect of David’s work, or an expression he used, and dig beneath the surface of its meaning to discover different areas of knowledge which may aid your own understanding and provide an insight into David’s work. I also hope that I will be able to feature articles by other Clean facilitators, so please let me know if you have an article that might be suitable for this newsletter. Also, I would welcome any feedback on the format and content of this newsletter, so please feel free to drop me a line with your thoughts.
Section One: Clean for all:
(Scroll down for full text of Section Two: Boundary Conditions)
Space to think?
How often do we hear someone say that they need some ‘space’ or we use this expression ourselves? It seems that at times we all need this space in order to sort out our thoughts and work out what we want to do and make a decision…What do we mean by ‘space’ in this context? For some, they actually mean some physical ‘emptiness’ around them, ie literally an empty space where they can be alone with their thoughts. But more often or not, this is a metaphor we use to describe the kind of experience we want, rather than the environment we need.
Space is perhaps one of the most fundamental and common metaphors that we use to describe experience. In physical reality, without space, nothing would exist as a separate, definable unit. Everything would be just one mass of matter. With space, objects can have their own location and we can perceive them as separate entities. And because of the space that exists around them and between them, we can notice the relationships and connections that exist.
Similarly, in our ‘mind’s eye’, our internal mental cinema we use to organise and assess our thoughts, beliefs and opinions, we also need space. Let me explain further. If I ask you right now to imagine a cat, you will form some kind of impression of that cat, within your mind’s eye. If I then ask you to imagine that the cat is chasing a mouse, you will need to create a mental space that can hold both the cat, the mouse, and the space between them, somewhere in a virtual place inside your head. We are doing this kind of processing all the time with everything we think about. All our ideas, concepts, belief etc are made up of a series of imaginary ‘objects’ that have some kind of shape and form and a location that they occupy within our minds…
So what does any of this have to do with coaching? Well, for many people when life is complicated all those objects and spaces can get somewhat jumbled up inside their heads. And one thing that a coach can do to help is to have them separate out all those things and work out where they are, and the relationship they have to one another. With Clean Coaching, you can do this quite literally and have the client physically map out their goal, the obstacles and all the other factors that might be involved in this.
David Grove gave a very simple but powerful description of the different sources of information that as EK coaches we need to explore, and the particular spaces that they reside in.
The client comes to you with all their own experiences, beliefs, history, identity etc. Everything they know about themselves exists in one space which David labelled as “A”. And then there is the goal that the client wants, which is where they want to get to. By its very definition, the goal can’t be in the same place that they are, or it would already be achieved. So, that goal must be somewhere different, usually outside of themselves, in a space we
can call B.
And coaching is really all about helping that client get from A to B. Now the obvious route to success sounds as though it would be through a straight-ish line, working to move towards the goal in as few steps as possible. However in this mental picture, what lies in that mental space between A and B? David suggested that between A and B would be everything else we know about where we are now and where we want to be, including what’s stopping us. So all the barriers, all the excuses, reasons, explanations – real or otherwise that prevent us from achieving our goal, also sit between the two spaces.
So, with Clean Coaching, we take a very different strategy to help a coachee get from A to B. Rather than by that direct route, which probably couldn’t work (otherwise the client would have already done it) we take a more circuitous route, that may take us ‘all around the houses’. The client will discover more about achieving this goal from other mental spaces and we can help them explore the less obvious path that could open up an entirely different perspective on the whole thing.
This “A to B” strategy can be viewed as a metaphoric exploration. Equally with most EK processes the coachee actually maps out these imaginary spaces in real locations in the physical space around them, taking their internal perspective and making it something tangible that they can actually move around in.
In summary, the Clean Coaching framework provides a structured questioning process that makes a different route from A to B an easy and comfortable journey for the coachee to embark on.
Section Two: Deeper into David's ideas:
What are “Boundary Conditions”?
In many of David’s trainings and articles, (including our free audio tutorial) he talked about Boundary Conditions, as the ‘rules’ that limit a person’s understanding of their given situation. To quote David directly, he says: “If we think of this (the ‘A to B’ small world set-up) as being a system, or a model of the world that that person is going to bring to you, then there is a boundary condition which, in terms of a person’s current or present state of mind actually creates this spatial world…”.
Where does the term ‘Boundary Condition’ come from? Well, this one David did not invent. This is a common term used in science, particularly in the fields of mathematics and physics. A simplistic definition from Wikipedia explains that a ‘problem’ equation has a set of additional restraints called ‘boundary conditions’ which have to be solved if a solution is to be effective.
If you are brave enough to tackle the science behind the concept, a good starting point would be the book “The Philosophy of Science” by Alexander Rosenberg (Routledge, 2000).
In Chapter Two, “Defining scientific explanation”, the author explains that the whole purpose of science is to come up with provable explanations of how things work. And a fundamental principle of traditional science is that it “seeks a checklist of conditions that any explanation should satisfy” (Rosenberg, 2000 p23). And whose conditions, when satisfied, provide a guarantee of the adequacy of the explanation. So for instance, the conditions of a triangle are a “plane figure having three sides”. The advantages of having conditions are that they remove any ambiguity or uncertainty, there are no borderline cases, something either is or it isn’t a triangle. Any definable border then provides the scope, the limit of what a thing can be. The ‘boundary’ conditions are the basic, initial factors that explain why a thing exists in the first place. For example, in his book, Rosenberg explains the boundary conditions as to why the sky is blue, listing all the known scientific ‘facts’ that give us the reasons for the blue sky.
David takes this scientific principle and applies it to how our minds work. We strive to define all our concepts with boundary conditions that remove the ambiguity that may actually exist in the ‘real world’. So, the coachee can’t help but create a boundary or edge around their thinking ‘system’ of the goal they want to reach (which, of course will include the reasons they haven’t yet achieved it) . That boundary has conditions attached, rules that keep the mental space engaged in this thinking system at a constant size and shape. Like an egg, it is safely contained within a shell, that keeps everything that it not the egg outside of the space. It also prevents any radically different points of view or solutions to be able to permeate the often tough barrier that exists, to protect the interior.
David had a fascination with the edges or boundaries of those things we think about, and many of his techniques involved ways to explore those boundaries or edges, and rather than experiencing them as a single point or line of demarcation, through closer examination we can discover the line may be a thicker, fuzzier edge with a shape and a form of its own. By exploring this boundary your own, often unconscious rules, reasons and beliefs for holding a certain viewpoint may well shift or expand.
One Clean Coaching exercise included in our programme is known as “Clean Boundaries”, which helps a person identify the boundary that exists around the whole of their small-world thinking system, and after exploring that boundary, to go beyond the edge of that and into the space around and outside of that boundary. And once that is explored to go to the boundary of that space. This exercise often results in a coachee stepping into a imaginary world of outer space, and most importantly when they return to their original small world, they may discover that the world view they used to have has been re-scaled, meaning everything in it is now sized appropriately, whereas before (for example) problems may have been giants and solutions miniscule stars.
Distance Learning Training Programmes coming up
The next full “Clean Coaching with EK” Module One programme starts on 16th March 2009 at 11.00am (11:00 GMT). Previous participants have been delighted by how ‘up close and personal’ distance learning can be, with the warm and open learning environment remaining as a resource even after the formal training had ended. We still have a few places left so please click on this link to find out full details and register. Cost just £149.00 for 10 hours of supervised, participative learning including in-depth written feedback on your own recorded practice sessions.
We are also launching a new “Clean Language for Coaches” programme which begins on 21st April 2009 at 7.00pm (19:00 GMT). The first module is entitled: “Exploring Metaphors using Clean Language” and you will learn: An understanding of how to enter a client’s inner world and help them explore issues and reach solutions from a deeper source of knowledge. Cost just £149.00 for 10 hours of supervised, participative learning including personal feedback on your own recorded practice sessions. Contact us for more information and to pre-register your interest.
That concludes this issue, I am thrilled to have shared this with you and I hope it has provided some new perspectives and increased your understanding. Please feel free to pass on to others that may value it. And if this has been passed on to you, please contact me to ensure we add you to our circulation list and you get future issues.
© Angela Dunbar, Feb 2009, www.cleancoaching.com