How do we become coaches? Well one way is to devote ourselves to mastering the coaching competencies identified by the International Coaching Federation. These competencies are the holy grail against which aspirant coaches are measured in order to get accredited with the Federation. No 5 of these is perhaps the most nebulous which is to “maintain presence.”
Pamela Richarde in a an ICF video says that: “Coaching Presence is the ability to be with another human being with an open flexible engaging way of being without attachment and confidence,”elaborating that it is “a quality of care for another human being that invites another human being to emerge.” Richarde says that these are the ways you can notice presence:
- “It being ok for you as a coach to not know.”
- “Being okay with allowing the space.”
- “Curiosity is a natural state of the coaches personality.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j4Jke814PLU&list=PLMBtOVpaN5DjRt-VAJIa0Xe0MLuA-LZNk&index=5
I experience being present with another as the essence of being a coach. It is holding the space for that person to show up and be as they are and also in their highest future possibility. In this state of presence there is an awareness and listening to the deepest why or purpose of that person as well as what is in the whole field. To get an idea of the whole field, Otto Scharmer in his book Theory U uses the analogy of a violinist playing for themselves vs playing in a Cathedral with its acoustics. He and Peter Senge et al explored the idea of “Presence” in a book by the same name:
“The state at the bottom of the U is presencing – seeing from the deepest source and becoming a vehicle for that source. When we suspend and redirect our attention, perception starts to arise from within the living process of the whole. When we are presencing, it moves further, to arise from the highest future possibility that connects self and whole. The real challenge in understanding presencing lies not in its abstractness but in the subtlety of the experience.”
Maintaining presence is not just for coaches. It’s a powerful way to be for ourselves and for others in generating the world.