Years ago, when I was new to being coached, I experienced a fundamental attribute of transformational coaching. I was completing a fantastic call with my coach, Mary Arzt. I had done a lot of venting and whining. I had seen some new possibilities. I, ultimately, had gotten clear and excited about the steps I would take into my future. A fantastic coaching call. I thanked my coach for the generosity of her listening and the power of her insight.
At which point, everything had been said and there was nothing left to say. The coach let the silence continue and we sort of basked in that rare space of nothing to do and no place to go: just perfect. At some point, my ego started to second-guess the just completed conversation. My ego realized that I had revealed some aspects of my inner conversation that were not flattering, things I would not normally feel safe revealing. Remarkably, I felt no remorse or embarrassment.
“I feel totally known and accepted,” I told her.
“That’s right,” she replied, “Me too.”
The silence continued, comfortably, until I said, “I guess that’s love.”
“Yes,” she replied, “Yes, it is.”
Love is a word, in our culture, both overused and avoided. The ancient Greeks coined eros, philia, agape, and other words to describe their affinities but we use the same word toward our children, spouses, cars, and hobbies. On the other hand, love is used as a synonym for romance or even lust, so we recoil from speaking of our love for co-workers and friends, though we care so much for them-and they care for us.
Let’s use this Valentine’s Day to reclaim the best word we have for the most important experience of life. I declare my love for the people I work with everyday, who accept me as best they can and who want the best for me, as I accept them and wish the best for each. I encourage you, too, to relax your pretense of coldness and let the love show.
More of my love posts here.
What a Wonderful World
I see friends shaking hands,
Saying “How do you do.”
They’re really saying,
“I love you.”
See also, psychologist Dr. Carl Rogers on love for the client.