We need climate conscious coaches who can bridge the chasm between ‘business as usual’ conversations at work and their inner beliefs


In the last column I spoke of the earthquake in Surrey, UK. It woke me physically and shook me into being more active in addressing the big issues already around us, and coming down the line, that I care deeply about.

That has led to awareness of what I call The Chasm – the dividing gap between personal feelings, thoughts, beliefs and fears, and ‘business as usual’ conversations and actions in the workplace.

Zoë Cohen, director at Shine Coaching and Consultancy, experiences this with a different metaphor: “I’ve made a decision to smash down the wall between the outer work and my inner beliefs,” she says.

For Zoë this means giving voice to her fears and passion around climate change. Since the New Year she has been increasingly speaking out online and with coaches, leaders and clients. Spending 1-2 hours/day on social media, her posts are generally curated re-posts and messages from others rather than her own writing. Her focus is on the ‘wake up’. Some posts gain 3000+ views and 100+ likes. In four months her LinkedIn network has multiplied 3-4 times to 7000+ professionals.

Zoë is clear: “I’m not doing it for me. I’m doing it to get the messages out there, to raise awareness in professional fields, and to help others speak out.”

It’s apparent that a growing proportion of professionals are aware that things are not right and they want to speak out. As I write this the news comes in that the last male Sumatran Rhino has died. Another extinction. It’s becoming ever harder to avoid the realities of our lifestyles, choices, habits, values, belief systems and actions.

I ask Zoë about the responses she is getting. Supportive messages arrive daily. People value the affirmation that they are not the only professionals feeling this. This gives them more confidence in sharing what’s important to them.

There are, of course, dangers. Zoë recognises the possibility of “Going around in circles in a bubble of like-minded people.” She has also experienced trolling. Curiously, the photos accompanying the comments suggest that they are mainly “older white American males”.

It’s consistent enough to ask if these are bots, though Zoë recognises she is not media savvy enough to know. Her advice on dealing with such things is simple: “grow a thick skin” and “say nothing”. On the other hand, she recognises the value of “critical friends”: people who respect what’s being said but may have different views on the means to achieve the ends.

I ask Zoë if there is a message she would like to share. Without hesitation she asks for coaches and the coaching industry “to play their part in the awareness, adaptation and mitigation that needs to happen if we’re going to get through the challenges we face”.

For Zoë, that includes a series of three tele-seminars kindly hosted by the ICF in the UK starting in September. She’d love you to join her and find out more about being a climate conscious coach.

If you have experienced your ‘earthquake’, and recognise the chasm or wall, and want to find your piece of the puzzle in doing something, I will be hosting a Coaching at Work masterclass, The Earthquake, The Chasm and The Puzzle, on 19 November, with Lise Lewis and other guests. Details soon on the Coaching at Work website. I’ll also be hosting an exploration workshop on the subject at the Coaching at Work annual conference on 3 July: http://bit.ly/2Ri8z9T

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