We all had the feeling that that Christmas Eve dinner was to be a very special for our family. My mother, Marisa, had been diagnosed of an irreversible cancer four months earlier. It was to be terminal in a short span of time.
On that day, Dec. 24, 2010, all of us: parents, children and relatives sat around the dining room table at home. Bach´s oratory was playing. The music came from the library, as every Christmas Eve. I get very emotional , when thinking about it. In a certain way, I knew that dinner ,on such a special date ,was to be the last one with our beloved mother.
I wanted to hold back every word , every gesture, everything during those moments. I dreamed of stopping the clock right there and then. I wanted to steal time and fill up my desire of keeping my mother alive a bit more. I wanted to delay as much as possible her unavoidable end. Today, I can say that my yearning became reality. On that night, a feeling of profound love was revealed to me that I relive every time I share experiences, emotions, smiles and, at times, tears with persons that need to be heard.
But I do not want to lose your attention during these first lines. Therefore, I will try to avoid sentimentality. I must admit it: the excess of romanticism of my tears may swamp this text with melancholy, frustrating the true meaning of it. However, I have meant to rescue these personal and emotional memories to give sense to a subject that has become fashionable: coaching. For those not familiar with the term, a coach is a professional that escorts anyone during a process of learning with the final purpose of increasing his/ her personal resources and, thus, improve their lives.
I read an article a few days ago that said that, given these speedy and troubled times, so many coaches have “bloomed”, that anyone could traverse our planet from north to south, jumping from one of their heads to the other like a squirrel would. I could not avoid a smile then, and so do I now on thinking of the instance.
It is true that there is a horde of coaches. They do differ concerning their “fathers and mothers”. There is one for every taste, guaranteed by an infinite number of schools and credentials. Not all of them of reputable prestige.
As well as in the times of the Greek philosopher, Heraclitus; the flow of life is as unruly as always, and one knows that from unruly waters emerge new demands and offers that lead to profitable and onerous business. It is for this reason that we should not be surprised if we find that some people equate the figure of the coach to peddlers and charlatans selling hair-growing lotions. As it is known, these wandered the Old West selling, loudly, the benefits of their miraculous formulas.
Now, more than ever, men and women try to alleviate their inner contradictions and their feelings of having lost the sense of their lives. At times, they do so by seeking shelter in the consummation of anxiolytic, antidepressant and anti-ulcer drugs, leaving alone the use and abuse of illegal drugs and alcohol. It takes only a glimpse of the list of drugs most sold by the pharmaceutical companies, to realize that the human being is lacking basic emotional tools to manage peaceful relations with others and, what is more worrisome, to be able to stand themselves. But, what is it that is going on?
In the “ecosystem“ of our existence, as it has been in many other instances in history, progress had to coexist with too many ambivalences: at the same time in which the majority of civilization proudly applauds technological progress, it dismisses with indifference the intangibility of the evolution having to do with the meaning of being a person. This may be due to the fear of realizing that, as long as there is no mental illness, there is the possibility to learn to solve problems concerning both the soul and the head. This can be done without losing track of the course, moving away from the highways leading to heaven prescribed by the pharmacological tradition in order to obtain spiritual peace. And how does one achieve this goal?
This is achieved in a simple way. As the walker in Antonio Machado´s poem: “the path is made by walking”. It is achieved accepting an invitation to create our own destiny, our own path of life. In these modern times, the company of a coach tends to solve the problem. Most important is to know how to contact good persons who, in time, are exceptional professionals who love and value the human being above all. It is difficult to find this kind of people amongst so much noise and discredit. Fortunately, they do exist. I can attest of that.
It is true that some self-proclaimed coaches, pose indecently with a business-like language as well as others do it with the language of souls. They both may be the same, after all.
Perhaps these Anglo-Saxon terms, such as the word Coach, are chrematistic ideas created to give a current aspect to things that come from way back. Or it may be that these news terms and walks of life be the natural development that some deity – or simply the cosmos- settles in order to transform, both men and women, in the authentic versions of themselves. Given, and it is so, the special feeling of deep love represented by my parents. A feeling I found that Christmas Eve.
At this point , I would like to point out that the procedure we are calling Coaching is not a passing fad. It is here to stay. It will stay in the same manner that stayed the hegemonic religions or sciences such as Psychiatry, Psychology, etc. There was an admonishing song in the seventies that, in a way, anticipated what was going to happen: ”video killed the radio star”.
As it usually happens with what appears to be modern inventions, mundane ignorance and bewilderment about the meaning of what Coaching is, is huge. Confusion and incomprehension reign, as well as the lack of curiosity concerning the better knowledge of this ”learning process” installed in our every-day life. I ask of you not to look for precise nor precious definitions about the subject here. You may find those easily on Internet by ways of “clicks” , as they happen to say now.
I speak to you from experience, from my emotions, from my heart… My relationship with Coaching emerged more from a vital need than a professional one: my mother´s transition through her affliction and her sequential death, scarred me. It was then when I looked for, and found, the help of a coach. I recognized my true vocation instantly. That which gave full sense to my life: Coaching.
After much effort and training, my practice as coach has become my passion and it is the best way I know to contributing to make a better world. My look towards Coaching points directly to the heart. I intend to procure your soul with emotional profit, nothing technological. If you still have the strength to allow yourself to feel. If you haven´t lost that strength due to the abuse of medication. Or if you haven´t lost that strength due to a prolonged misuse of it.
Thus, in this way, you may be able to recognize what a human being should never miss in order to become a true human being. The same applies to a good coach. Neither one should be missing what a four-letter word implies: love, known by all. Not much in fashion lately. I hope you then will understand what I mean when I speak about Coaching, this lofty art of which some consultants have profited with the sole aim of airing their commercial portfolios.
I assure you that being a coach is much more than a profession with which I earn a living. It is a way of life that requires, above all, an inner drive and a vocation towards serving others. It is a way of love presided by love. The first need of a good coach is learning to love a human being, he thereupon will love that human being truly; with no restrictions. So are the authentic coaches of our time, real “superheroes of love”
Allow my soul to come close to yours and share the incomparable feeling I evoked at the beginning of this paper and that I relive each day during my conversations with my coaches. They are people unsatisfied with the results obtained with their lives. They seek the help of a coach that may go along with them in their learning process towards the obtainment of the aims pursued. I am referring to love, of course. It may be that, due to the curiosity awaken by the word that looks to get a persuasive charge, some streams of light may get through to the somber turmoil I have mentioned before.
May it be that, as it happened to me on that Christmas Eve of 2010, you could identify the emotional feeling that captured my heart in an incomparable way, making my life change forever. I was never again the same. I speak to you about these unexpected impressions with which life presents us in ways of magic moments. Then, time and the whole universe ally to stop at once, illuminating everything as a gesture of respect and profound gratitude. Life is worth living only for such opportunities; so truthful. They are unanswerable and unique opportunities, very authentic from any point of view.
It is to have the feeling of existing only by contemplating what goes on. No more. It is as when the children´s eyes look, when the children don´t even know what they are. It is to delight with the beauty of a feeling so ephemeral in time, as imperishable in the memory. It was so intense that it lasts in me with equal strength. It still makes my life gain sense in this very instant and gains momentum towards posterity.
It is now that you will understand what I felt and still feel. Just before the beginning of the Christmas dinner and after my mother had said a blessing, my father stood up. He looked up and asked to have the word. That man, torn with sorrow but with the necessary strength that always emerge in determined and dignified spirits, declared his unconditional love to his wife “since ever and for eternity”. His heart declaimed to that of his loved one, a moving and beautiful poem from the bottom of his soul. It was in accordance to the solemnity of that last and unforgettable family meeting. I assure you that those were more than a few verses. It was pure love, live. On that night, two persons´ love, who had chosen to love each other a whole life through, could safeguard what really means to be “ a human being”. At the same time, anguish and chagrin vanished offshore.
I remember well those verses. They were written in countercurrent death. The most emotional and courageous of the verses went: “While I was loving you…”
Yes. It is here and now that I want to proclaim the world the importance of love as a liberating feeling in life and, naturally, so it is in good Coaching, in doing good to others. This is so, because this sublime art can only be created and shared if one truly loves.
I want to thank my beloved parents for their generosity. It was on that Christmas Eve that I learned to recognize the immensity of love. The love that knows how to exist in the hearts of true human beings. The love that has the key to new worlds and transforms the nature of our species, still so primitive and ambivalent concerning the most valuable treasure of the universe: authenticity. Maybe now you may understand better why, for me, being a true person and good coach is, in essence, a matter of love.
Ignacio Isusi Garteiz-Gogeascoa
Ontological Coach and expert in managing success