There’s something appealing about the coaching industry being pitched and sold as the one universal solution or truth to any problem. You might have been told that you can use these tools on anyone at any time and that it’s all you need, and this is exactly what attracts so many people to it.
On this limited series podcast, we’ve been inviting you to see the power of leaning into radical subjectivity, and what we’re focusing on this week is all about the nuance versus dogmatism that people wrestle with in coaching. Approaching your coaching in a black-and-white way might have helped you find the confidence and courage to start, but we’re showing you why staying here is preventing you from becoming the best coach you could be.
Join us this week as we outline what is stopping you from using coaching tools in a more nuanced way, why this is so detrimental to you and your clients, and how to begin leaning into nuance to acknowledge the multifactorial complexities of your clients’ lived experiences.
Welcome to Outside the White Box: Elevating the Coaching Conversation. Your podcast with two life coaches who have Ivy League educations and vaguely remember some of what they learned. This podcast is deeper than a Tumblr post, but nothing approaching a PhD dissertation.
I’m Simone Seol. I’m Kara Loewentheil and we’re two life coaches who think that the life coaching industry could use a little bit of an intellectual glow-up, but we do not claim to be experts in anything other than the coaching. Don’t @ us with any actual expertise. Keep your actual expertise to yourselves please. We hope you enjoy.
Kara: We’re already in a roll here. Simone and I had to record the intro for this podcast, which had us in stitches and took us like 12 tries. So we’re feeling that we tried to recruit our outros. We couldn’t even do it. So weren’t in good shape today.
And we also though had this amazing idea. So I just want to give you guys a preview of what’s coming is we are going to have some other amazing coaches come on and talk about how they use these different perspectives in their own work. So I am very excited for that too. We’re talking about how not everything’s black and white, it turns out.
Kara: Yeah. Though Simone’s sitting in front of a very white background right now. So it does feel like she’s a very a clean…
Simone: I’m inside the white box.
Kara: She’s inside the white box, but she’s also wearing sparkly magenta.
Simone: That’s right. But you just had a brilliant explanation of the nuance versus dogmatism that people can wrestle with in coaching. So tell us about that again.
Kara: Yeah. So I think that’s what we wanted to talk about today. I think that my experience certainly was, when I came to coaching, I had a lot of black and white thinking in my life. And so of course my brain was like, here’s a new thing to be black and white about. And I think that a lot of people who create coaching, it’s like a certain brain will just as human and then is drawn to coaching. Just like – I did a podcast with, oh, wait, that was with you and Judith. We’ve talked about how people attracted to a dogmatic religion might be attracted to dogmatic coaching or spiritual communities, if that’s what you’re looking for.
And when we’re taught coaching, a lot of us are taught a very black and white version of it. It’s like, this is the fundamental truth. You can use this on anyone. You don’t need to know anything about them. You don’t need to know anything about their lived experience. You just need to know the tools and it’s like there’s a way…
Simone: Sorry, and they all apply equally cross-culturally.
Kara: Right. Yeah. And they all apply equally to any element of human experience; you don’t need to know anything about someone’s lived experience. You don’t need to know anything about someone’s background. It’s very flat and I actually think of it as layers or nesting dolls.
It’s like at the most basic level, I do believe that there is this simple human language creates our experience. And so that is kind of a universal, but then there’s another whole layer of all of our socialization and our genetics and our epigenetics and our different communities and then our different experiences in life and the different kinds of trauma or sematic experiences of may have had.
And all of that stuff, I think when you’re first learning to coach, it’s obviously overwhelming to think about. And so it’s very appealing when someone says that they can teach you a tool that you can just use on anyone at any time without knowing anything else. And that’s all you need.
Simone: I think in the beginning that could give you the courage to go out and try something new. I mean, I studied lots of different coaching modalities. But I remember when one of my teachers told me, “Hey, you learned this thing. You can now go apply this one thing to anybody. You could help anybody.” What I really took away from that as a self-concept of like, I can help anyone. And I think that’s really, really important and valuable when you are just starting out because your brain is already flooded with a five trillion doubts…
Kara: Yeah, totally.
Simone: And so that’s the utility and the value of thinking this is a tool I can help anybody, but then you get hit with the reality of wait, hold on. But I couldn’t help somebody with this thing for this context, did I do it wrong? And so it needs to pass the test of meeting lots of different kinds of humans in reality. And when you have trouble there, you can end up blaming yourself or blaming the coaching when what’s really happening is that it was never meant to be that black and white in the first place.
Kara: Yeah. I mean, I think it’s true. It’s almost like a marketing issue, not really marketing, but it’s like, I think it’s true that if someone is receptive to hearing it and applying it, there are certain coaching tools that will help anyone. But when you don’t acknowledge the complexities and different experiences people have and your own biases, you are not able to as effectively communicate the power of that tool in a more nuanced way.
It’s like I have so many women in my coaching community in The Clutch who are women of color, or disabled women, or fat women, or just women of any other marginalized identity who have had really bad experiences with life coaching. Because they’re basically being told that, whatever discrimination they face doesn’t exist, or it’s like, they brought it upon themselves by with a victim mindset or they’re imagining it, or whatever else.
And they’re still seeking this kind of support, but then they’re so nervous about being told that again for understandable reasons. And it’s not like I’m teaching the opposite. It’s not like I’m teaching your thoughts don’t matter. But because I’m willing to teach it in a more complicated way, or complex, it’s not complicated, but because I’m willing to teach it with more nuance, because I’m willing to say, yeah, discrimination exists and you have some control of your mind and how you’re going to react to it and how you’re going to respond to it. I’m just able to connect with more people than you’re able to connect with and explain the power of coaching too, when it’s very black, white, everything, nothing.
I went through this with pain coaching, with working with a pain coach who was very far on the side of like, it’s all completely mental. There’s no structural, there’s no nothing in the body. It’s like all in the mind. And I mean, that was so far from what I was experiencing and it was not helpful for me. And I don’t think it was accurate. And then I found the coach that I work with now on pain. So it was Dr. Andrea Moore, who is a doctor of physical therapy.
And she was able to offer me this much more complex, nuanced view, which was like, it starts structural, then some of it’s in the brain, and some of it’s structural, and some of it is the neuroception, and then some of it is this, and some of it is emotional and they all work together in these ways. I was like, okay. Now, somebody is willing to offer me, yes, a slightly more complex explanation that isn’t maybe as satisfying as just like fix this one thing and it’ll fix everything. But I have so much more trust there because I’m like, okay, this person understands that it’s like multifactorial.
Simone: Yeah. I think coaching community and the industry in general is moving away from unifactorial. I don’t know, something like that.
Kara: I don’t know what the other word is, like unifactor, I guess?
Simone: Yeah. Unifactors are like unifying theory of the universe approach to life coaching where you just need to know this one thing. And I know you were trained in LCS from the beginning, but I dabbled in lots of different like spiritual, whatever, hypnosis stuff. And everywhere you go, I mean, I think not everybody, but a lot of teachers will teach their thing like this is the thing.
And their thing could be a particular modality of spiritual, whatever, or somatic, whatever. And I think what we’re moving towards is listen, there’s the biological, there’s the cognitive, there’s the hormonal, there’s the emotional, there is the environmental, there’s the social, there’s all these different layers to it.
And I think in a lot of contexts, even acknowledging that those different layers exist and matter, it could be threatening to the one size fits all paradigm, but I think we are moving towards, and I think, my prediction is that people who give more consideration to the fuller picture will, I don’t know, ultimately ended up having the most influence because it’s going to make the most intuitive sense to people. Oh, yeah, of course, my emotions matter, but it’s not just my emotions. Of course, I have hormones happening in my body, but it’s also these other things.
And I talk a lot about how the coaching industry is very young and it’s very much in its infancy. And as we’re developing and we’re adding more voices to the mix, more different shades of expertise, I think it’s one day it’s going to become really normal to consider all these layers. And it’s going to feel really weird that, oh, remember when we used to think that cognitive approach was everything and we didn’t talk about all these other things.
Remember when spirituality and cognitive functions and body stuff was all separate and we didn’t think about it in an integrative way. I think we’re going to look back on it and I think that we were a little bit primitive, almost. I don’t mean that in a judgmental way but I think that, that’s the direction we’re moving in.
Kara: Yeah. I just think that it’s interesting to think about why we think there has to be like the one solution to end all solutions. Why do we have to have the one unifying theory? And I actually think it’s like an outgrowth of wanting to believe that we have to be right. If we are just have the one thing and the right answers…
Simone: We’re just like so hungry for an answer.
Kara: Exactly, yeah.
Simone: The F line of certainty. Now it all makes sense.
Kara: Yeah. And that we’ll be able to fix everything. If you think about, people come to coaching, most people like to think they’re broken or there’s something wrong with them and if they have this problem they have to solve, and human brains want certainty and the world is offering us all these different solutions for whatever our problem is. And so we are just have this, yeah, hunger for that certainty of the one explanation but you would never go to a doctor and was like, don’t worry, it’s literally just your kidney function. We will only have to look at anything that…
Simone: There are doctors who make a brand out of reducing everything to if you stop eating sugar, you will just live forever.
Kara: Nobody will ever get cancer or be sad if they stopped eating sugar.
Kara: Yeah, that does happen. But at least when I see those people, I’m like, Jesus. And I think that’s when I feel like, we don’t have to. We don’t have to be able to solve everything to be able to help people. And I do think it’s a balance. Because this is something I think about all the time. I think one of the reasons people go to that extreme is that it feels like the slippery slope. Where it’s like, well, if I allow that, it’s not just how you choose to think about something. How am I going to know where to draw the line?
How am I going to know – if I don’t just never believe my client’s thoughts, or always believe them, how am I going to know which ones? How am I going to make sure – and I deal with this with my own self coaching. What is the balance between believing X form of structural oppression exists, and still challenging myself to not believe that every interaction that I have, that I attribute that is caused by it?
I think that’s the concern that people have is, well, if we over-correct too far the other way, then we’re also not serving our clients because we’re believing them about the limitations they have, believing them about what’s possible for them, believing them about things having to be the way they are already and then we’re not serving them.
But I think that’s what I would call like that discernment comes in. It’s actually about you as a coach trusting yourself enough, and trusting your clients enough to make those judgment calls, and you won’t always get it right. But not taking false security in this false certainty.
Simone: This is my personal opinion that relates to what you just said, but I think that everything…
Kara: As opposed to this podcast which is not our personal opinions at all. Everything else is fantasy.
Simone: Okay. Extra caveat. I tend to think that everything else, all of the efficacy of what we do in coaching is subservient to the most important layer, which is the quality of the relationship that you have with the client, and the quality of the space that you hold for the client, and the fact that you are face-to-face having a conversation, one human being, listening to another and holding space for another.
I think that is the most powerful ingredient of coaching and just one person having their heart open, ears open, brain open, to completely in service of another. I think that’s the most powerful ingredient and I’m sure you’ve heard the thing where if you just talk to a lamppost every week about your problems or whatever it is, you’ll get help.
Just like having a place where you can unload and think about your thoughts and we have some distance to see your issues and whatever objectively. So, once you have that, I think that is away more powerful than any one tool or any one modality or paradigm, and I think because it’s maybe a little bit more difficult for coaches to trust the enoughness of that or trust – because I’m all woo, I would characterize it as like, the spirit of the business, or the ineffable energetic exchange at work when you’re sitting down with the intention to serve a client. It’s almost harder to trust that there’s something intelligent at work, that there’s something that is enough because then you don’t have to have a death grip on, I have to use this tool in this particular way to make it work.
And so, another analogy that I bring into this is like, you could have, in that quote of like, I had a lot of teachers over the course of my life, a lot of mentors, and I don’t remember the exact specifics of what each of them taught me, but what I remember is how they all made me feel, what they allowed me to believe about myself and feel about myself and their presence.
And I think it very much applies to coaching as well, where, what’s the quality of the space you’re holding for your client? How does your client feel about themselves when they’re in your presence because of how you’re holding the space? And so, again, it goes back to the belief that you have about the client and belief you have about the coaching container that is going to do so much of the heavy lifting that you don’t even notice.
And when you’re so busy thinking about, should I use this tool? Should I use that tool? How do I ram this tool down their throat? And I think that leaves so much more room open for something more dynamic to happen, where, okay, like you said, you might try to use a tool with somebody and it might not work. And when you’re really invested on that tool, working a certain way, you’re going to be flustered and confused and not know where to go. But if you’re more focused on the connection with the client, then your brain is going to be like, okay, so what if we try this other thing? What if I try explaining it this other way? What if there’s another part of this that we need to dig into more deeply?
You’re not going to have the flexibility in your brain to go to those other places when you are, one, not trusting in the coaching relationship enough, not trusting yourself as a coach enough, and two, with that you’re overly fixated on using the tools correctly and with a uni-purpose kind of way.
Kara: Yeah. I think we have overlapping with slightly different perspectives on that. I hear what you’re saying and there’s studies showing that basically what makes the therapeutic modality effective is the relationship quality…
Simone: That’s what I was trying to think of but, yeah.
Kara: More so than any other modality generally, but I think also the studies show that for certain specific concerns, some forms of therapy are more helpful. So, CBD for anxiety or for obsessive thinking or should I…
Simone: It’s CBD or it’s CBT?
Kara: Oh, sorry. CBT.
Simone: I was like, there is really big difference.
Kara: No, no, no. CBT, cognitive behavioral therapy. I don’t know what the studies are about CBD. That’s not what we’re doing here. CBT is more effective for anxiety. So I think in my experience, I actually had gone to various different coaches before I found The Life Coach School model work. And so to me, I actually think that I’m somebody for whom the modality made a big difference.
I had had lovely therapists and coaches before, and really it was the cognitive strategy that was helpful. And so I think to me, it’s both, but where in my perspective, like not black and white just comes in. Where I think we do agree is for sure the non-attachment – I feel very sure about what I believe about the tools I teach and how they work for me, but I don’t have any attachment to other people agreeing with me about it, which I did in the beginning when I still felt very like, this has to be the right thing.
Because I didn’t even trust myself, so then if I don’t trust myself, then the system has to be right. I have to be able to rely on the system to be correct when I don’t trust myself. And to be fair, it’s like before I created a lot of results with it. Why do I trust myself now about my own experience with it? Because I’ve used my own work and created my results, and so I’m like, do it, if it doesn’t resonate with you, no problem. I don’t even claim that it’s universal. I just claim that this worked for me and you might want to give it a try if you don’t like your life then see if it gets any better. But I think it’s that self-trust.
I think one of the things that we talked about a lot in ACFC is this thinking of like it’s black and white, it’s all or nothing, transfers into like – I coached several people specifically on the idea of why do you have to believe that you are never ever doing harm, in order to accept yourself? I think one of the things that’s so appealing about some of the concepts that are prevalent throughout the coaching space, none of this is really any coaching school specific. But is like the world is already perfect or like you can’t harm other people. So it’s like all of this which I totally believe that thoughts cause feelings. I don’t believe that we hurt other people’s feelings. But I also just think it’s so interesting, we can get very attached to that as like that’s the basis of our self-acceptance kind of.
It’s like if I did do any harm, I’d have to think I was a bad person, but I found a way to not think that I do so it’s okay. As opposed like this came up in coaching, one of the ACFC students who was a weight loss coach and she was really struggling with, okay I believe in what I teach and coach, and also I see what I’m being taught about fat phobia in the world, and how can I hold those books at the same time, and how can I grapple with the idea that my marketing or what I teach might be helping some people and then for other people it’s triggering thoughts that are negative or painful, or it’s contributing to a form of systemic oppression or a form of a systemic problem. And I think to me, discernment and nuance comes from we’re all complicit.
I’m talking to you on this microphone. I didn’t look into where it was made. But I’m sure it was made in a factory by probably people not being treated that well. We’re all complicit, like in the global interconnected world. And how can we both try to live our values but also hold space for that and not pretend that we somehow are living in the white box and like nothing we do has an impact or causes any harm to anything else.
Simone: I think that was one of the most mind-blowing things that I learned from ACFC. The reason that we all want to jump around it so much is because we don’t want to face the music. We don’t want to say what we all know is the truth, or what we intuit might be the truth and we fear it might be the truth, which is that in our efforts to do good or even just like exist neutrally, we might do some harm in the world.
Because I think that idea is so, so uncomfortable to so many of us. And just the maturity that it takes to be able to say, yeah, what I’m doing out of the goodness of my heart with my sacred mission of my life coaching business might do some harm, and not only that, like you just said, I might end up doing lots of harm in other ways that I don’t even know about through all the choices that I make to exist in modern society.
It was really brain-breaking. That’s what it felt like to me, tell the truth about that. It’s like, yeah, harm is going to happen, and even further to tell the truth, the painful truth I think that there may be no way ever that we get to circumvent that. There may be no way ever that we get to bring the harm that we do to zero.
And for me as a business coach, I grappled with the fact that I teach people how to succeed in their businesses and make money and all that stuff. And as I’m doing so I am perpetuating a capitalist system that harms and disenfranchises a lot of people who don’t benefit from being at the top of the hierarchy. And it’s such a more mature way of looking at everything, like being able to acknowledge that and say, okay, this is the reality and given the moral constraints of all the complex factors at play, this is what I’m going to choose to do anyway, because I believe that it minimizes harm according to the value system that I choose and maximizes the good.
And I’m responsible for deciding for myself where that balance is and I’m responsible for believing in it, and I’m responsible for questioning it. And so basically everything I just said is what Kara said, but like phrased in the Simone way. And I think it’s worth saying so many different ways, because I thought it was so mind-blowing, and when I gave myself permission to not have to be a morally perfect human being, and still – again there’s that nuance – and still be responsible for making decisions and having my own back.
The most important part of it is like being able to love myself no matter what, and not make my self-love conditional on needs doing zero harm to anybody else on the planet on a given day. That is when I was able to unlock so much freedom for myself. And I know that a lot of other students – I can never say that acronym right – ACFC, felt the same way.
And because I talked to lots of coaches who were in earlier parts of their business journey and building their practices, I think a lot of us struggle with not even doing harm, just like on a conceptual level, but I talked to a client, that I serve them adequately. Did I do right by them so to speak, or did I intend to help, but did I leave them more confused? Did I hurt their feelings?
These are all thoughts that we have or questions that we have as coaches who are also humans, and how I applied this thinking to that is that, yeah like, again, given that we don’t actually believe that you can hurt another person’s feelings or cause them harm because of your words or whatever, but there is a part where in your quest to help, sometimes you might not be, and what are you making that mean? Sometimes when you think this is the best tool that’s going to help this person in the situation and you’re often wrong, I have been wrong so, so many times.
Kara: Look at history, look at all the doctors who were doing things they thought were helpful based on medicine that we now think are totally outdated, but we’re not like, well, they were monsters.
Simone: Well, some people might think that, but if the doctors just stopped doing anything with the potential for harm, then there would be no medical profession. And there would be no helping profession. A lot of it is we’re being asked to step up to a maturity where we are honest with that possibility. Yeah, we might do some harm, we’re going to try our best, not to, but we’re going to end up doing some harm. And when that happens, we’re going to take responsibility. We’re going to learn from it. We’re going to make some different decisions. And that honesty we can have with ourselves is so important. And for me, it changed everything.
Kara: Loving yourself. On the days that you aren’t mean to your spouse and don’t learn anything from it. It’s like, we’re trying to teach our clients to love themselves. But if we are not willing to accept and love ourselves, even though we’re hopelessly complicit in systems of global capitalism and discrimination. To me, it’s not even like, I’m like, can I even know that I’m maximizing value and minimizing harm? No. I’m not going to get a…
Simone: I have a thought that I’m trying.
Kara: Yeah. But like, I’m not going to get a print out from a computer at the end. I like thinking about that show The Good Place where they’re calculating the value. I don’t know, maybe I get to have it in there, like actually, buying one microphone from that factory is more negative points and all the people you’ve coached. I don’t know, I’m never going to be right because no system.
But I think that the more that we are willing be with the complexities and nuances of our own humanity, the more we can be that with our clients. And for some people, it seems to work to take the form of – I think a lot of what you hear in coaching, especially in the beginning when you’re beginning is you can believe everything is perfect. It happened this way so it’s perfect. You did it that way so it’s perfect.
And I understand why that works for some people, but for those of you who it doesn’t work for us, it didn’t work for me, I just want to say, what if it was massively imperfect? And so what? What have you totally yelled at your kid for no reason? And you still love yourself and you don’t have to believe it was perfect, making your own self-love conditional, it’s just another version of perfectionism to me. It’s just like a more subtle version where instead of trying to achieve a certain goal of behavior, we just decided to call all the behavior we already have perfect. But it’s still like that’s what allows me to…
Simone: We’re just running away from imperfection because we can’t just stand it.
Kara: Yeah. We just redefine the term. We changed the terms as opposed to being like, let’s get outside that box in the first place. And I think when you can model that and coach in that way, you also are so much more able to speak to people where they are. And you’re so much more able to – especially in the coaching industry right now, the bar is actually pretty low.
All you need to do is like – you don’t have to have a PhD in any of these things. Clearly, we do not. I’m always trying to educate myself more and become more skillful at this, but these tools have so much power to help people. And they’re just so often pitched and sold and delivered in a way that is so unnuanced. And I just want to be like, we all can rise to this occasion and use these tools in a much more nuanced, powerful way, but we can’t do it when we don’t have that relationship with ourselves.
Simone: Yeah. That’s a perfect way to sum it up.
Kara: So everybody just do that. Go have a better relationship with yourself. That’ll solve all the problems in the coaching industry.
Simone: I mean, another thing is that I’ve met a lot of resistance from coaches when I bring up the idea that there are certain forms of suffering that coaching can’t prevent. And we can’t create all of our R lines and there are just things that happen to ourselves and to the world that just suck. And there are forces that create our suffering that are beyond our control.
I don’t even want to say suffering, but create just unpleasant bad things that we don’t want. To what extent are we actually able to stop or reverse global warming that’s going to kill all of us? I don’t know. Probably not that much. And I think there’s a kind of hopeful perfectionism. I don’t even know if that’s the right word, that happens towards when you’re thinking about the future where you’re like, oh, yeah, we’re going to make the world perfect and we’re going to fix all the world’s problems perfectly.
And I think that’s kind of a descendant of this Western saviorism and imperialist mentality that happens where you look at the world as a set of problems that need to be and can be solved by the designs of the human mind. And I think whenever people get twitchy about this idea that coaching can’t solve everything, I’m like, well, yeah, that’s Western imperialism and what if not every problem in the world is something that needs to be fixed by you or can’t be fixed?
I think in Eastern traditions there’s a lot more of an idea of what Westerners would say is being resigned to things, but it’s like there’s harm in the world. There’s tragedy, there’s bad things happening and it’s not necessarily all of us to fix. And now again, the nuance is, there’s that Eastern idea of acceptance versus literally being resigned. What can we do about it?
There is a middle ground where we can exercise full personal responsibility and show up in the way that as a change you want to be in the world, whatever, without going into what I characterize as saviorism, being so wrapped up in a perfectionistic mindset where you can’t stomach the thought that there might be forces outside of our control. There might be results that happen against our will, against our efforts, right?
Kara: Right. That’s just an attempt to control. If it feels like even stand somebody else saying some things are outside of your control, then that’s your version of being in control. It’s interesting. Yeah. I do think it’s very Western. I also think of it as Christian in this sense of like the world is fallen and needs to be perfected.
Simone: Exactly. Everything needs to be like brought to deliverance.
Kara: Yeah, which is not really a Jewish concept of how we think about things. So to me I think that’s why I was just – I don’t know if I talked about this on the previous episode, but I spoke to Brooke recently that before I even signed up for coaching, I wrote her an email when she was still taking listener emails on her podcast in the very beginning.
It was this exact thing. It was like, well, you’re teaching everything is perfect and as it should be, and it’s like a cultural difference that does not compute. This idea does not resonate. And if you don’t believe in a God who makes a perfect plan, then how are you supposed to think about this? Yeah. I do think it’s always if you were…
Simone: So many sneaky remnants of Christianity in coaching. It’s so fascinating. We could do a whole episode on just that.
Kara: Remnants of Christianity or ask someone who’s not a Christian. I mean, that’s always the case. If you need to see whiteness, truly, you have to ask a person of color. The minority always has to know a lot about the majority of the majority doesn’t have to know anything about the minority.
Simone: Yeah. If you’re not Christian, if you’re not Western, you see a lot more of it than if you’re a Western white Christian. Yeah.
Kara: Yeah. Exactly. I’m Western. So I see it more. So everybody’s got their own lens through, which is just the point of all of this that we’re talking about. And I think people take to the – I work in the same way, or this podcast or whatever, where they’re like, okay, I’m going to like clean up all my biases so I can finally truly see clearly. As opposed to you’re always going to be a human, you’re always going to have a lens on things that is influenced by your experiences and perspective and whatever else.
And can you live with a goal that’s like, I’m just going to try to get better and better at seeing things in different ways. And not like, I have to arrive at a certain destination of being good at this before I can accept myself, believe I’m a good coach.
Simone: Another thing that you helped me to understand is that there’s always going to be intelligent, well-meaning people who disagree with you about how to best go about doing a thing or bringing out an outcome. And I think maybe it’s probably another aspect of Christianity.
Kara: Ask someone who’s never been on a social justice board. That’s where you get…
Simone: If we’re all intelligent, if we’re all good people, we’re all going to agree on how to best fight racism. We’re all going to agree on what to do with the environment. We’re all going to agree on what to do about vaccines, whatever. And the truth is that’s just not true.
And then when you allow for the fact that there are smart, well-meaning people who are always going to disagree with you, no matter, there’s no place you ever get to where everybody that you respect in the world agrees with you and gives you a stamp of approval and says, you’re doing a good job, we all agree with you, and you’re not doing any harm, and you’re only doing good, good job. You never get there. And when you think that there’s something wrong with not being there, you’re going to waste a lot of time. Just grinding against reality.
Kara: Yeah, 100%. I know it’s so nice to think that you could just get to the point where they just give you all the stamps on your little passport.
Simone: I really was looking forward. I was like, am I there yet? Am I there yet? Nope, still not.
Kara: I thought you were going to give me the stamp, but no, no stamps. We can tie it all back together. When you give yourself your own stamp, that’s when you don’t really worry so much about other people’s stamps. So I feel if there’s one message, even though this isn’t the end of this podcast series, but for me, all of the reason to know all those different things we’ve been talking about to have all the different perspectives is to enable you to act with more and to think with more nuance and more discernment and less of a blinder perspective.
Less of a, like everything is this or that, it’s black and white. Everyone is this way. This is the only explanation for anything we need. This is the only tool I need. I think that, that is there’s such perfectionism inherent in that because it feels so safe because otherwise it feels like, well, what if there’s something I need to learn that I never learned, or what if I don’t know all the things, or what if I don’t, whatever?
I’m like how can you learn to develop the relationship with yourself and the self-trust to make decisions, coach people, whatever it is, put yourself out there, knowing that sometimes you’re going to do amazing work, and sometimes you’re going to do B- work. And sometimes people are actually going to think that you harmed them and sometimes maybe you even did.
And how are you going to be able to show up for that, take it in stride, of course, reflect and learn if you need to, but not let your self-acceptance wobble every time you hit one of those speed bumps? Because what happens is then when we try to take refuge in false certainty, I don’t think that we can show up to do the work in the world that we need to do, and we can’t really be of good service to other people.
Simone: Totally. And when you lean into the nuance, when you lean into the complexity, I think that puts you not only are you going to have more compassion and love for yourself, you’re going to also going to be able to have the same for other people because you now – if you take yourself out of the race to get it right and get it perfect, then you also see that everybody else is just doing their best. And I think that opens you up to learn so much more from other people, that opens you up to have a better communication, better intimacy with those that you want to connect with. And I think it’s just better for everything.
Kara: I think that actually takes it full circle, but like the insight of coaching that I do believe is universally true is universal subjectivity. And ironically when we’re trying to be so black and white about. How things work or what the solution is, we’ve lost sight of that. Whereas when we are truly able to embrace radical subjectivity, that includes how you think the brain works and how you think coaching works and how you think people should use these tools. But all of that is part of that same radical subjectivity. And the more that you can accept your own radical subjectivity, then the more I think you can really help people see the ways that it is available to them too.
Simone: Amen. The end.
Kara: Amen. And that’s it for this week people. Tune in next week for some coach friends. Simone, Kara and friends show, where we will talk to other coaches to talk about how they use these kinds of perspectives in their work.
Simone: That will be fun.
Kara: See you next week.
If you’ve enjoyed listening to this podcast and all humor aside, you understand that in order to be the best coach you can be, you need a deeper understanding of the history, the politics, the sociology, the cultural framework, and the critical theory that has informed everything we’ve talked about on this podcast, then you’re going to want to check out the Advanced Certification in Feminist Coaching.
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