Capacity vs. Insight

By Toku

If you want to change the lives of your clients, you can’t just change the surface of their lives. You have to get down underneath the stories and beliefs and shift the foundational principles that rule their lives. But in order to do this, you have to guide your clients passed their normal blocks and into a place where this kind of deep transformation occurs.

And I’d like to share one distinction I’ve found incredibly valuable in this pursuit.

Coaching for Insight Vs Coaching for Capacity

Most of the time when I observe coaches they are pursuing insight with their clients. The tools they use might be different, but the approach is the same. And yet a client’s ability to gain insight is limited by the capacity they have to see deeply into the nature of themselves and their own lives. This is why pursuing insight is often not enough. If you want to take your clients deeper and deeper in every session you have to also coach around increasing a client’s capacity.

It’s like swimming in a pool. If you keep asking a client to dive into the shallow end of their pool, they may find a lot at the bottom, but they won’t ever be going deeper than a few feet. But if you can help a client develop the courage, trust, and curiosity to dive into the deep end of the pool, they will be able see much more even if they only swim halfway to the bottom.

Coaching around capacity isn’t always easy for you or for your clients, but it can be done.

Here are 4 ways I recommend coaching around capacity:

1. Training Your Clients To Be A Client

In every session you have with your clients, you are training them how to be coached. If you give them answers to their questions, offer them advice, try to make them comfortable, or push them really harshly you are teaching them that this is what coaching is. It may feel good in the moment to do any of these things, but each time you do, you train your client the wrong way to be a client.

Instead, think about your best clients. How do they show up? What kind of questions do they ask? How do they prepare for the sessions? Study these amazing clients and figure out how you can train your other clients to be this way. We teach our clients that they create their worlds, which must mean we create them as clients from beginning to end. So how do you want to create them?

2. Practices That Push Edges

Along with helping your clients see deeply into the nature of their lives, it’s important that you also invite them into practices that stretch what they see is possible. One of my favorite practices is one I got from my coach, Jeff Riddle, and it involves simply asking a client to make every choice for one week by asking the question: “What would bring me the most joy?” While this practice is incredibly simple it helps a client understand how they make decisions and pushes them into places at the edges of their ability to receive and choose what they want.

This practice certainly may lead to insights, however the goal of it is to challenge the frame of a client’s thinking. It’s important as a coach that we choose to not just give our clients’ practices of reflection, but practices that ask them to lean into the edge of their understanding.

3. Work Their Nervous System

Many coaches use some form of somatic or embodied work in their coaching, but one small mistake I see many coaches make is that they only use this work to reveal the truth about what a client wants or what is holding them back. While this is a powerful way to use this work, there’s a whole other realm of body devoted simply in creating your clients’ nervous system. The difference between these two approaches is that the former directs the client to seeing while the latter directs the client to being with a feeling. Your job as a coach is not always to relieve their guilt, destroy their fear, or lessen their pain. Part of your job as a coach is to teach them to be with these feelings in deeper and more profound ways. Because it’s only through their capacity to be with these pains that deeper realms can be reached. This is also why it’s vital for you to learn and practice being with these parts of yourself as well.

4. Simmering

There’s a particular form we teach in the Dojo called the ‘art of simmering.’ Simply explained this is the art of knowing when to shut up, take someone off the hot seat, or letting a question sit with a client without asking or needing there to be an answer. One of the reasons simmering is so important is that it slowly increases a client’s capacity for insight. One of the biggest barriers to deeper insight is our need to get answers quickly. Simmering challenges this need and invites a client to sit with uncertainty and be open to insight far beyond the bounds of the piece of work you’re doing in a session and the bounds of the session itself.

Mastering The Art Of Capacity Creation

The real key to mastering the art of capacity doesn’t lie in any of the practices listed above, but instead arises from where we come from as coaches. If we come into a session seeking to create insight then that’s what we will pursue. But if we come into each session with the intention to increase capacity as well as insight much more becomes possible. We move beyond the session after session chase of an insight high and we begin to play the long game of deep transformation.

If you’re unsure where to start you can begin right here. Even if you change nothing in the way you coach, just explore what happens when you step into your next session with the intention to serve your clients’ capacity in a way that will make every other session you have with them more powerful than the last.

If you do this anything becomes possible.

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