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The Role of Presence and Intuition in Facilitating Coaching Breakthroughs: Part 2


A series of three articles exploring the role of presence and intuition in facilitating transformational change in others.

The goal of Article 1 was to help you understand what presence is, how it manifests itself, and how coaches can develop their presence.

Article 2 focuses on how intuition builds off of presence and how coaches can strengthen and cultivate their sense of intuition.

Article 3 will discuss how to use these cultivated skills of intuition and presence together to build deeper trust with the client and to lead to new insights.

Part 2: How can we cultivate our Intuition?

Last week we talked about presence and its relationship to accessing, trusting and using one’s intuition. This week we will explore intuition more deeply. We will explore the link between mindfulness and our ability to use one of our most valuable tools to help open up a dialogue; raise awareness; challenge the coachee and help ‘create shift’.

What are the various definitions of intuition?

Webster’s Dictionary says that intuition is “quick and ready insight; immediate apprehension or cognition; and/or the power or faculty of attaining direct knowledge or cognition without evident rational thought and inference.”

Carl Jung defines it as perception via the unconscious.

Wikipedia describes it as “thoughts that come to mind quickly, without arduous reflection that we that we cannot necessarily justify. It is a speedy, creative and subconscious process that can get to the truth of things without in depth reasoning or analysis.

Frances E. Vaughan in Awakening Intuition (1979) says that an intuitive experience usually falls in one of four levels of awareness: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual, or they can (and often do) overlap. Lets examine each briefly.

1. Physical intuition: We have to tune into what the body is telling us, typically “gut feelings”. Or, perhaps they show up as feelings in the chest, and/or a prickly head. Pay attention to those physical cues. They are our intuition speaking to us.

2. Emotional: Intuition also speaks through our feelings. For example, when we are sensing another person energy. Let’s say you have a sense that something the client is saying is far more painful for them than their contrived smile and tone of voice implies. Checking this out with your client can help them check in with their body. If done well, it can lead to a deeper level of awareness for them.

3. Mental: This often emerges as an insight, “inner vision” or sudden clarity. For example, you spend hours trying to solve a puzzle and then after a good night sleep you awaken with an “aha!” and now clearly “see” the solution.

4. Spiritual: Vaughan says “spiritual intuition is independent from sensations, feelings, and thoughts. Often, meditation is a technique used to activate spiritual intuition where we can then sense the truth, unity and oneness of everything.”

How Can You Cultivate and Strengthen Your Intuition?

Charlene Belitz and Meg Lundstrom, in “The Power of Flow: Practical Ways to Transform Your Life with Meaningful Coincidence “outlines a five step process to cultivate intuition.

1. First, declare your intention to access and use your intuition. Then, commit to exploring what it is telling you by dialoguing with it.

2. Learn how it speaks to you—does it comes to you from the emotional, physical, spiritual or mental realm? Observe yourself.

3. Trust it. This is the scary one. This means being willing to be wrong! Lets face it, there is no other way to develop your intuition other than trial and error. Whitworth et al., (2007:54) reminds us, ”The important thing to remember in coaching is to be open to intuition – trusting it, aware of it, and completely unattached to the interpretation. In the end, intuition is valuable when it moves the client to action or deeper learning. It is irrelevant, really, whether your intuition was 'correct'."

4. Do what it is telling you even if it seems contrary to the facts presented. See scary item #3 above.

5. Reflect on what happened. Keep a log of intuitive hunches, whether you acted on or ignored them and the end result. What are you seeing? How often were you spot on? For the times you were not, what was happening in your body? What did you feel? What are you learning?

In summary, you need to listen for it, hear it, trust it, use it, see what happens, reflect, edit and go back in the arena. Or, you could play it safe and never reach your true potential as a coach.

Reverend Joyce Meyers said: “Which would you rather experience the pain of being stuck where you are or the pain of pushing through and potentially getting to somewhere better?” It’s worth the risk to help facilitate breakthroughs for our clients. Trust it!

So, What Holds Us Back From Accessing Intuition?

Roberto Assagioli, an Italian psychiatrist and pioneer in the fields of humanistic and transpersonal psychology, says that intuition can be activated simply by eliminating the various obstacles to its unfolding. Well said, Dr. Assagioli! Simple yet profound.

Being in the moment and not listening to the mind chatter are hallmarks of accessing intuition. Overthinking significantly impairs one’s ability to access intuition. It is a rather simple concept yet hard to do.

What other fears and bad habits hold us back?

I think the number one fear is wanting to be seen as capable and smart. Avoiding the possibility of a mistake almost ensures we will not use our intuition, as there are never any facts to back it up and therein lies the risk. What if you are off base? And worse, you may offend them.

Secondly, being too attached to your intuitive hit rather than holding it loosely as a hunch could be valuable if spoken. Let go of your attachment. See #1 above regarding wanting to be seen as smart.

Third, a lack of self-care (lack of sleep, coaching in a distracting space, not grounding yourself before the call) will interfere with your ability to be present.

Another is waiting for the “perfect” time to share your hunch. There is no better time than when it emerges as it is purest when new.

Finally doubting yourself is big one. You have to learn to trust yourself. That’s a significant undertaking for many, especially if you are new to the profession. Which leads me to…

Can We Really Trust Our Intuition?

Malcolm Gladwell says yes. In fact he believes that the mind has the ability to examine a situation, make a correct decision, and plot a course of action almost instantaneously!

He coins this ability “thin slicing” and claims that the most accurate “thin slices” are often those that involve our assessment of the emotional or mental states of others. He believes we can accurately assess the actions and motives of others with just a glance.

In fact, in Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking he says that people who were asked to explain themselves while trying to solve a problem solved 30 percent fewer problems then those who weren’t asked to explain themselves.

He goes on to illustrate ways that accurate decisions can be made very rapidly; how just the thinking, sensing and feeling that occurs in the first few seconds of evaluation is often correct. Huh!

In our last article in the series, out next week, we will look at the practical ways we can apply our intuition to facilitate better thinking for the clients, leading to better results.

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