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Coaching to a New York City State of Mind

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Coaching the Internal Context

While all four of Johansson’s strategies (and many more) help us increase the number and diversity of Intersections in our life, I would suggest that there is a second dimension to explore when considering ways in which to create and use Intersections. I specifically propose that there are two different types of Intersection and both types are abundant in New York City. There are first of all the Spirit-ful Intersections. These are Intersections that elicit optimistic, big picture ideas. They encourage us to move upward. We look at the high-rising building in New York City and are inspired. Even as we enter Manhattan from Brooklyn or New Jersey, we are awestruck by the skyline.

There are also Soul-ful Intersections. These are the Intersections that elicit reflection and often painful remembrance. We soulfully grieve the absence of the Twin Towers at the World Trade Center and the aspirations these buildings (and those working in these buildings) brought to the world of international commerce. The new 9/11 memorial site, with the water dropping off as a four-sided waterfall into the deep recesses of the earth inspires us in a quite different manner than the high-rise buildings. The cathedrals, synagogues and mosques similarly pull us deeper and into a state of solemnity and prayer. Even if we are not oriented toward a religious life, we find the sanctuaries of New York City (of which I wrote earlier) to be sources of soul-ful Intersection. I would suggest that New York City is filled more with the spirit than the soul. By contrast, my hunch is that New Orleans (of which I will write shortly) is filled more with the soul than the spirit. However, I do think that both types of Intersections are present in New York City—and both are present in a New York City State of Mind. An effective coach will encourage both the spirit-ful movement upward and outward with her client, and the soul-ful movement downward and inward.  The New York City State of Mind is incomplete without both types of Intersections.

These two types of Intersection also set the stage for a fuller representation of the New York City State of Mind—or any state of mind for that matter. When describing a state of mind, I am exploring the internal context of my client—which is usually the primary focus of my coaching sessions.  As coaches we are looking for diversity not only in the environment in which our clients dwell, but also in the mind and heart that dictate how our clients process and act upon this world. As my colleague, Sandra Hill notes, we must pay attention to not only the external context in which leaders operate, but also to their own internal context. Cities like New York have both character and culture – as do coaching clients. Character is all about the internal context and culture is about the external context. The New York City State of Mind is about the internal context of our clients—how their mind and heart take in and operate with diversity, the challenge of growth and size, and the appearance of many Intersections. With the help of a coach, clients can create and learn to live constructively and creatively within a New York City State of Mind. They can begin to truly appreciate their own rich and distinctive internal context and character.


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