A Lesson in Education

I was speaking to a new client the other day whose boss had suggested he should have coaching. The client was feeling under pressure and very upset about a situation at work. He told me within the first 10 minutes that he had two degrees from Oxford University, and how he already had a thorough knowledge of many management techniques and models, so he wasn’t sure how coaching could help him. He went on to outline in great rambling detail all his thinking about how wrong and unfair this particular situation was. It occurred to me that despite all of his academic study, intellectualising, and mastering of concepts about productive thinking – he just could not find clarity. – As a coach, I see this over and over again. That’s why the smarter I get, the more I realise I need to let go of my learnt knowledge and access my own in-the-moment wisdom.

…… I remember at school being given list after list of things to learn by heart. Also we were taught to always back up our opinions with references, quotes and evidence. It seemed the idea of having an idea or concept that came from ‘nowhere’ was wrong and that any good idea you could have had must have come from someone else first, otherwise it wasn’t valid. So what is ‘wrong’ with that? Well the more we know the more we have a tendency to try to fit what are experiencing in the moment against what we know from our personal map of the world and rulebook. Add that to the misunderstanding that a lot of us believe that the external world holds the source of our well-being – so the more we like to stick to what we can control and know. Which would sort of make sense if a) learnt knowledge and intellect were direct creators of well-being and wonderful experiences (or even success) or b) there was a limited amount of knowledge and good ideas in the world and we needed to store them all in our heads. One of my mentors Michael Neill uses a lovely metaphor where he says if you had a choice between a computer with a huge hard drive but no access to the Internet, or a computer with very little memory but super fast Internet connection, what would you choose? I am not saying that knowledge and intellect are never useful – there are some forms of the game of life where it is necessary – a lawyer needs to know the proscribed objective parameters on which justice system operates, an engineer might want to understand the theory x to remove the amount of y, or you simply might want to find your way to the supermarket. But when we are navigating life and wanting to maximise our moment to moment experiences of joy and wonder, reducing the aperture of your consciousness by putting pre-formed intellectual boundaries on it is not very helpful…..When we are looking for clarity, going back into personal thought is like trying to breathe under water- slightly distressing and not working with how the system actually works. And see whether this is true for you…usually we will have our new insights and fresh perspectives when we aren’t engaging ours intellect. This is because the human system works better when we get out of the way.

I will leave you with a quote from a more intelligent man than me…“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honours the servant and has forgotten the gift.” Albert Einstein.

If you are curious about understanding more about how you can access more of your innate wisdom, drop me a line