Ten tensions 8: newness and wisdom

8. Having a beginner’s mind and an expert mind

It seems that so much of working with all these tensions amounts to bringing all we can in service of the client at the same time as knowing that we know nothing. Curiosity and insight, openness and intuition, awe and recognition, newness and wisdom: we need to meet our clients with both a beginner’s mind and an expert mind.

This means allowing our intuition and insight to shine through while meeting our clients – even if we have met them many times before – with freshness and openness. One way in which I check whether I am ready to coach is to ask myself: how focused am I, how open am I and how is my energy? I then give each quality a mark out of 10 and reflect on whether it is enough. Simple awareness usually boosts my score to a level with which I am content. Each of these qualities matters but openness is so important. If I bring assumptions about the client, about their issue, about their story, about their commitment then I become blind to what they show. At the same time, recognising patterns in their behaviour that they have displayed before, or which I have encountered with other clients, could enable me to serve them well. For me the essence of the balance here is to remain curious about whether what my intuition or insight is telling me has meaning for this client at that moment: beginner’s mind and expert mind.

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