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Edie Seashore: On Coaching

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Dorothy:  What I think is so interesting is this is where the power truly is of coaching others for their own voices.  That’s moving beyond mentorship. That was the coaching question. “Why didn’t you bring that up then and let me have the benefit of your seeing something that I wasn’t so that we could have talked about this?” And it’s not your answer, it’s not my answer, but it is the question that would have evoked her voice and that voice, the voice of a gifted African American professional was so critical back in the 1980s and most certainly, that voice is so important today.

Edie:  I know.  And it’s a question I can ask, but answering it in retrospect is not easy.  Answering it 20, 30 years later.

Dorothy:  Well, it’s a painful one to answer, “how did you stop yourself from asking the bold and needed question when it mattered” in retrospect because you paid for that with 20 or 30 years of “not having asked it”.  And, asking the question that evokes an answer that has not been heard, is what opens up new perspectives and therefore, new possibilities.

Edie:  Exactly.

Dorothy:  That’s actually the painful one, and I say that to you with my own regrets for self and certainly for others. Discipline is required to develop the strength of self to ask the bold questions just at that moment when the status quo makes the bold question risky. It is core to what “good” coaching requires. To not ask relevant but bold questions at the time that matters is remembered as opportunity that was lost, status quo continued which maintains what needed to be released. Any of us remember those lost moments with regret.  Paradoxically, regret reconsidered allows for wisdom and new possibilities. It is in this “seeing” possibility that new perspectives offer themselves that enlarge our ground for future actions.  This is why longevity in the field is so critical, that we learn and inspire new possibilities. And, your work in supporting diversity speaks to that.  Your willingness to share those moments of missed opportunity, serves to inspire others to what can be acted upon.

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