#cawconf16 – Keep a green tree in your heart

I am fascinated by what Hetty Einzig is going to say today as the metaphor of ‘keeping a green tree in your heart’ intrigues me.

Hetty starts us off by saying how as coaches we are in the ‘meaning making’ business and how we do that in the current uncertain world is tough.  How do we keep the ability to think and an equilibrium is a constant changing environment.  Hetty says that we cannot any longer stick with the idea that the future will be like the past and that the uncertainty spans personal and environmental aspects.  

A question posed is ‘what are our reference points?’ As some of those have been shaken; workplace institutions, church, science etc.  This then links into the complexity of things.  Hetty says that complexity is not a synonym for complicated.  It is the ‘Intertwangled’ (a word she has stolen) aspects of the world that makes it complex.

When it comes to ambiguity Hetty talks about how it (ambiguity) permeates into every aspect of work.  How mis- communication, understandings etc are present and that this then links to some of our wants or needs.  Those wants or needs may be around inclusion or ego or power.  No matter what you may think about this (ambiguity) it affects the feelings you have (and added by me) that in turn affects how you think.

Hetty suggests that there is a distinction between anxiety and fear.  She says that with fear there is a tangible target or subject.  However, with anxiety she says that there are 4 types:

1) Existential – gets triggered constantly in a VUCA world with feelings of exclusion

2) Ambivalence – the push and pull of wanting to be part of a team and to assert our individuality 

3) Meaning making – how we see our world in our mind and contrasted by the ‘not wanting to know’ or as I will call it, denial. So we want meaning but we also don’t want it because it means we have to deal with it.

4) The outside coming inside – how events that are ‘far away’ suddenly become ‘close’ and the thing of terror entering our homes.

Hetty talks of the work from George Lakoff and his work on metaphor and frames.  Lakov suggests that the metaphors and frames we use pervade our understanding and representation of our world.  Here’s a link to find out more about him and his work (it is really interesting) https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Lakoff

The ‘outside to inside’ aspect also feeds into how we want or need control.  By making changes we do what we can to maintain control and actually this is an illusion that doesn’t work.  Reminds me of this blog I wrote a while ago https://e3ctc.wordpress.com/2014/05/01/letting-go-of-control/ 

When thinking about ‘Perverse Organisations’ Hetty talks about 5 things that seem to be present:

1) Individual good before collective

2) Incapacity to see what is really going on and denial of reality

3) Instrumental relations – when people become cogs in a wheel and parts of a system that are interchangeable 

4) Engage others in the ‘group think’ – a sense of complicity or self (I’ll add group) deception

5) 

In her summary, Hetty uses the metaphor of a ‘wetlands’ so we learnt to love complexity rather that try to control it or tidy it up.  Hetty says that new generation coaching is about 


Hetty gives a challenge to the room about ‘how do we step up to the coaching role that is needed now’ using the 4 aspects in the picture above.  Under the ‘partnership’ heading Hetty challenges the notion of ‘we must not create dependency’ and maybe what the VUCA world needs is longer term relationships and not the ‘6 session contract’

Linking back to the metaphor in the title of the session Hetty talks about how the things within and around us ‘inhabit’ us.  To illustrate the point Hetty guided us through an embodied exercise in visualising ourselves as a tree.  The point (I think) was that we don’t have to be in a forest to hold a tree in our heart.

Hetty then takes us into the ‘how’: 


If we take these ‘how’ aspects we can use to shape what Hetty calls ‘leading edge’ regenerative business(es).

Some thoughts to bring us to a close:

Care – who you care for and are they similar or difference to you and what do you care about.

Compassion – are we able to hold it for the world and retain in when things are tough

Courage – taking a stand, or being silent, or endurance and even being still

Hetty suggests we need to revisit and reframe these for Coaching in a VUCA world.

This post has been live blogged from the Coaching at Work 2016 conference.  I’ve worked hard to represent the session well and if I have got anything inaccurate or wrong then apologies in advance.

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