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The Conscious Coach as Midwife

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The Midwife Metaphor for Coaching Consciousness on Race & Gender

The ancient story of the Israelites in bondage as slaves in Egypt provides a poignant backdrop to the role of the coach as a midwife in a complicated and dangerous context. When the Pharaoh ordered the killing of male Israelite children, it was midwives that were responsible for executing the task. Yet amongst this group of midwives, there were many courageous conviction that dared to disobey the Pharaoh and bring the new life of Israelite male children into an oppressive context. (5) What would spur both the Midianite and Egyptian midwives to do this? I am especially intrigued by the Egyptian midwives bringing prohibited children of another race into being. This exemplifies for me, the calling of the coach as a midwife that is both courageous but also committed to conducting their work in a very volatile racist context. The disobedient midwives were not just delivering ‘their own’ but availing themselves for the cross- race/cultural work of conscious birthing.

Coaching Community of Practice Reflections

The community of coaching practice (COP) which I was a part of, engaged in a series of masterclasses focused on coaching capacity building. Over the year, the focus has been on coaching in a social context addressing the more difficult issues of race, gender, power and patriarchy. In our last conversation, we explored emerging metaphors for a new paradigm of coaching with particular focus on the midwife as a relevant metaphor for coaching.

The demographics of our COP may have also found particular resonance with the midwife metaphor, being mostly women, five Black and five White. Most of the COP clients are of different race identity, which amplifies the need for conscious engagement on race and gender as critical variables in the coaching context. The following notes are reflective of our coaching conversation, which may provide a window for how other coaching communities may consider the role of race and gender especially in the context of South Africa’s race and patriarchy. The premise of our conversation asked how coaching and coaches can be an agent for social change. We explored what the metaphor means for us; what are the implications for coaching practice and finally what capacity building is needed to enable competence, confidence and compassion in this difficult space of race, gender, power and patriarchy.

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