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Coaching to a New York City State of Mind

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I find that when I visit and work in cities around the world, they often help to frame the way in which I am experiencing my own internal world as well as the environment of the city. Each city has its own character, its own history and its own culture. Just as organizations have their own cultures and subcultures (Bergquist, 1993; Bergquist, Guest and Rooney, 2003; Bergquist and Pawlak, 2007, Bergquist and Brock, 2008)), so I believe that cities have their own “state-of-mind” and this state of mind can influence the way in which we view and work in the world both short-term (as visitors to the city) and long-term (as residents of the city).

I propose that there are frames of mind that exist in our coaching clients (and in our own minds) that parallel those of specific cities. If nothing else, the “state-of-mind” analysis of a specific city can serve as a rich metaphor for our coaching clients. They can talk about being in a Chicago-state-of-mind or in a Paris-state-of-mind or in a Tokyo-state-of-mind—even if they have never been to this city but have only heard or read about the unique character of this city.  While any single analysis of a city’s state-of-mind is clearly a generalization and even a stereotype, it doesn’t hurt to play with this generalization or stereotype as a coach if this is done on behalf of the client’s own self-awareness regarding underlying assumptions and ways in which her environment (inside her organization or inside her own city or town) influences the ways in which she thinks, feels, decides and acts.

In a series of essays, I will be offering my own reflections on how specific cities impact me and will suggest ways in we might find similar states-of-mind in our clients – whether or not they have ever visited this specific city. I begin with the “Big Apple” – New York City—a metropolis to which I often travel in my work and my leisure time.

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