Tag Archives: awareness

How the Martial Art Aikido and Coaching School are the Same…

After coaching class last week and feeling like a clumsy oaf, I vividly remembered my first year training in Aikido.  I was an experienced martial artist before I started Aikido having studied both Wing-Chun and Tae Kwan Do to an intermediate level.  But, Aikido is different.  Aikido is a soft art.  This does not mean that it isn’t as intense Aikidophysically.  It means that learning how to receive a technique is as important as learning how to execute a technique.   When I began Aikido, I was pretty good at punching, kicking and blocking.  But, following someone’s energy and direction, receiving a technique and flowing with it?  I actively resisted this…which is at least half of the art of Aikido.  One day I was coming off the mat utterly frustrated, feeling completely incompetent like I had two left feet, two right hands and if I could muster a single coordinated movement like putting one foot in front of the other, it would have been miraculous.  My sensei, when on the mat, was a man of few words. Steve taught like he spoke broken English.  “MOVE YOUR FOOT!!!” sternly spoken with a Japanese Samauri accent was a frequent instruction.  He taught like this because he learned Aikido from a Japanese man who spoke broken English.  Steve was, in fact, a white boy, born and raised in the U.S.  Steve clearly saw my frustration and said something like, “When you execute a technique correctly, you are not learning anything.  You have already learned it.  It is only when you are frustrated that you are learning anything.  What are you here for?”

So, this week after a particularly frustrating experience with a difficult client, sensei’s words came back to me.  I felt similarly to that moment walking off the mat, “What did I do wrong?  What should I have done differently?  Have I gained any competence in this at all?  Can you actually, physically step on your tongue because that’s what it feels like I have been doing all night?” And, I remembered, “’What are you here for?’ This is part of the learning process.  Feeling awkward, unsure of myself, uncomfortable, clumsy, oafish, all of it is part of learning.  So, what am I here for?  If I were an MCC level coach, I wouldn’t be taking the class to begin with.  Do I want to learn or not?  There’s only one way to get there: fall down and get up.  Fall down and get up.  Repeat until lessons are learned…”

‘Sigh,’ it is uncomfortable.  After practicing Aikido, I always wake up the morning after physically sore.  After practicing coaching, sometimes I get up the next day sore but in a different way.  I have learned to enjoy feeling sore.  It means I’m learning.

In the fall, I will be testing for my black belt.  In the relatively near future, I will be testing for MCC level coaching.  These points are reached only after falling and getting up, literally and figuratively countless times.  It’s all good.


Tom Boomershine has been a United Methodist pastor for over 20 years.  Through his ministry, Tom has coached over 100 people in their relationships, life transitions and career transitions.  Author of the soon to be published book, “After Ever After,” he is currently in the process of becoming an ICF Associate Certified Coach through Marianna Lead’s Goal Imagery® Institute, International School of Coaching Mastery™.  Tom believes everyone has unique gifts given by our creator to be used for a purpose.


The Coaching Core Competency of Creating Awareness: Competency or Outcome?

The more I teach and experience coaching, the more I’m convinced that awareness is created by implementing all other competencies, such as establishing the coaching agreement, deep listening, powerful questions and direct communication. What are your thoughts?


Gremlins: Our Agenda or Our Client’s?

For some clients, putting themselves down is their “default” system. We understand that when they do – their “Gremlins” must be acting out. Our clients know that they are not stupid. They know it, but these voices – their Gremlins – do creep in. So, of course, we must create awareness around that. And, once the awareness is established and our clients still put themselves down… then what? At times, when that happens, I feel it’s healthier to take a beat and move on, rather than focus their attention on it once more. After all, we strengthen what we focus on. I definitely don’t want to give more energy and more strength to their Gremlins. We also must watch out for this not to become our agenda for “fixing” our clients. There is a significant skill that is required for bringing Gremlins to light at appropriate times while still staying on your client’s agenda. One of the ways to do it is to simply ask if they would want to talk about it or stay on their original agenda. However, it becomes challenging if a client does it over and over again as a habit of sorts. What are your thoughts and experiences?

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Coaching & Training: Should Coaches Be Asking, “What are You Feeling Now?” Part III

Here’s another interesting point that some coaches bring up about the use of the “feelings”question. They remind us that people naturally have different learning channels and for those who are more visual or auditory, the more effective questions may be, “What are you seeing?” for a visual client and “What does it say to you?” for an auditory one. Even though these questions expand awareness, they are not focusing clients directly on how they feel.  I don’t think it matters much even if we were to ask “how do you feel” question of someone who is more auditory or visual. In this context people are well aware that we are really asking about their emotional state of being and not about their sense of touch/feel.  Not ever in my coaching experience, a response to “What are you feeling now?”  was “I’m feeling the breathe coming from my window.” or “I don’t understand what you mean.” Sometimes certain schools of thought in coaching make very simple things too complex artificially.

I also noticed that what coaches ask to create client’s awareness depends largely on their coach training. As coaches, we must be aware to what degree accessing emotions is important to making effective decisions and/or how to help their clients to access their emotions. For scientific perspective, we can refer to the work and many books of Antonio Damasio, Gregg Braden, and others.

In attempt to avoid the “feeling” question, some coaches suggest asking “What are your thoughts?” instead. Even though it’s a great question on its own,”What are your thoughts?” invites your client to access their thinking and not their emotions/feelings. So, the intention and  meaning behind these two questions  are different. Granted, some people are not very much in touch with their feelings, but that is even more of a reason to help them “get there” on their journey of self-discovery. And, you can ask it differently. For instance, you can ask, “What’s coming up for you now?” This would open up a coaching conversation  to either accessing clients’ feelings and/or thinking.

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