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The Context of Coaching

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The way ahead is to change our expectations, our perceptions, our vision of how life works—and to come up with rules that empower our lives and institutions in the context of the rapid change that defines our time. Most of all we need to believe in ourselves again—both as individuals and as a people or culture. If we replace the four old rules with new rules that are both fair and empowering for our lives in our kind of world, we can restore confidence, quality living, productivity, and leadership.

The field of coaching, which was born during this transition from old to new rules, is dedicated to “restore confidence, social vision, and leadership” through mentoring relationships that grow self- directed, responsible persons in a change-dominated world.

Our cultural crisis is about the inadequacy of  the  “mental  maps” we used to follow, one and all—the prevailing beliefs of cultural evolution and progress, the expectation of “more” and “better;” the illusion of “control,” the belief that hard work and honesty automatically lead to happiness and success. Increasingly, Americans are realizing that for nearly half a century we’ve been applying outdated notions of human effectiveness to a world undergoing continuous change.

Overall our society today is healthier than it is sick, and the quality of our lives is among the highest in the world, but we the people are no longer clear about how to find or sustain personal and social fulfillment within the world as we find it. There are new rules to learn for empowering our lives. Latent in the very words we fear are our undoing: global chaos, discontinuity, and transitions. Our biggest challenge is to construct our lives and social institutions around the advantages and opportunities of the change process itself, starting with the microsystems of our lives: our lifestyles, work styles, family life, and community relationships.

The Four New Rules That Will Empower Persons and Organizations in the Twenty-First Century

The Cyclical Rule

Our lives today are measured by cycles and chapters, not by linear accomplishments. Think of your life as a story, with many chapters. Each chapter itself has a beginning and an end, and a transition to the next chapter. That is the basic model for understanding life in today’s world. We measure our lives in small units or “script” that dramatically describe who we are and what we are doing, for a period (a life chapter) of our lives. When that script becomes too rusty or wobbly to function well, we ride the waves of change—called a “transition”—and either modify our story or come up with a new one. In technical language, a life chapter represents many dimensions of “attachment” that we weave together, and a life transition represents many dimensions of “loss” that we let go of, and begin the process over.

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