Home Concepts Schools of Coaching Adlerian Alfred Adler and the Future of Coaching: Ethics, Equality, and Eternity

Alfred Adler and the Future of Coaching: Ethics, Equality, and Eternity

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Coaching organizations are grappling with the challenge of inequality. For example, the Association of Coach Training Organizations (ACTO) held a “Calling in Power and Privilege Summit” of coach trainers in Toronto in September, 2017. In building efforts to take action toward goals of equality, the question becomes, “whom can I trust to understand that we all advance more together than separately?” The answer lies in honestly and courageously evaluating the consequences of our joint efforts. Those who contribute useful actions toward our common goals, not just words, qualify as trustworthy team members.

Eternity Challenge

The third challenge to coaching is related to a portion of Adler’s definition of social interest that is not limited to feelings of empathy (kinship with others and their interests) or of contribution (taking action toward those common interests). Adler goes even deeper by invoking as an element of social interest the philosophical principle put forth by Baruch Spinoza (1632 – 1677): Sub specie aeternitatis, from a universal perspective – universal in the sense of both time and space (Adler, 1956). “We are living on the crust of this poor planet, earth, and nowhere else” (Adler, 1931, p. 5) Against this criterion, what would a critical evaluation of coaching conclude?

Contemporary predictions of environmental disaster (ICC, 2018) suggest that earth could become uninhabitable by humans in the foreseeable future. From the perspective of the last few humans alive after such a catastrophe, what would they say about previous activities, such as ours today, that promoted that disaster or did nothing to stop it?

David Rock & co-author Page (2009) surveyed how systemic thinking contributed to the emergence of coaching in the late 20th century. In later presentations to coaches, co-author Page found there was considerable knowledge and cognitive acceptance of systemic concepts such as “everything is connected to everything.” However, the ability to feel for systems beyond our own bodies is less common.

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