Coaching: Working with Attractors and Disturbances

Last week Vicki Henricks and I launched the Global Coaching Institute.

It’s the realisation of a dream Vicki and I first spoke of lying on a beach in Hawaii when we were first en-route to study with Arnold Mindell, the founder of Process Oriented psychology. Our coaching methodology is based on the work of he and his colleagues. At the time, the conversation could best be characterised as idle dreaming rather than a clear plan or from intention.  We were shy about our visions and still needed to grow into the ability to realise them.

So it’s hardly a surprise, with our first cohort of students commencing in October, my focus lately has been on what it takes to become a skilled coach.  I’ve been thinking about what prompts individuals to take that step to develop their coaching skills and perhaps embark on a coaching career.  I’ve also been thinking about what prompts individuals to seek out coaches.

The events and motivations that bring clients to coaching can be thought of as either push or pull forces.  At GCI we use the terms attractors and disturbances to describe those forces that provide the impetus to action.  Let’s define these terms.

Attractors appear as visions, dreams or opportunities which inspire us to pursue a specific endpoint such as a new career, the development of a new product or way of relating with our clients or team.  They prompt new way of being or doing things.  For instance a coaching client may enter a new role which requires them to adopt a new leadership style.

Attractors stimulate a creative tension which prompts change.  Even the act of speaking about our dreams set something in motion for Vicki and I. Coaching helps the client to engage with and harness this creative tension.

Coaching supports individuals to realise their aspirations by mining their visions until their essence is revealed.  It supports clients to believe in themselves and to take the steps necessary to achieve their dreams.  At times when the road ahead is steep our clients need to be reminded of what attracted them to their goal or vision in the first place.

Disturbances on the other hand, are something that most people would rather conquer or avoid.

Disturbances can come the external environment in the form of organisational change or shifting market forces.  Disturbances such as negative performance feedback can also be more personal in nature or in the case of interpersonal or team conflict may be felt by many people  Sometimes clients seek coaching because a failure or disappointment prompts them to reassess their priorities or to learn from their mistakes.

Clients who enter coaching in response to a disturbance are more likely to present with a reactionary goal ‘away from’ the discomfort the disturbance brings.  The coaching experience allows client to explore alternatives to their current situation and to identify a preferred future.  Coaches then work closely with individuals to develop the mindsets, skills and behaviours needed to address their situation.

Of course there’s usually an unexpected bonus when clients seek coaching. They don’t just end up with a troubling situation neutralised or resolved.  Individuals learn and grow through the process.  They build their muscle for dealing with conflict or gain critical insights into their interpersonal or management style.

It’s common for clients to develop an appreciation of the very crisis that prompted them to seek coaching in the first place.  Many people, having seen coaching’s powerful impact, continue coaching long after the initial crisis has resolved.

Over the years I’ve observed that individuals and teams who notice and engage with attractors and disturbers are more likely to realise their potential and develop agility in the face of a changing environment.  Confidence comes from learning to adapt and respond to both expected and unexpected circumstances.


What currently attracts or inspires you?

What would you need to do to have more of this quality or thing in your life?

How is it already present in your life?

What disturbs you?

What change does it call for?

What development is required on your part to meet this challenge?

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