Marilyn Atkinson is the Founder of Erickson Coaching International and originator of the Solution-Focused Coaching methodology. A former Registered Organizational Psychologist, Marilyn is an NLP Master Trainer and specialist in Ericksonian Communications. Since 1980s she has been helping leading global companies and leaders through Solution- Focused and Outcome-Oriented Coaching. Marilyn has authored eight books, including The Art & Science of Coaching trilogy (Inner Dynamics of Coaching, Step-by-Step Coaching & The Flow of Coaching).
Awakening the Genius Within Yourself and Others
American psychiatrist Dr. Milton Erickson, the namesake of Erickson Coaching International, was known for his unconventional approach to psychotherapy and his extensive use of therapeutic metaphors and stories. He called this approach Solution-Focused. A man of great optimism and faith, he frequently shared a moment from his childhood with students that later helped him develop this Solution-Focused counseling modality.
It was a sunny spring morning, and he was a young boy of ten. He was going out to a pasture on his father’s farm to bring some heifers to the farmyard. It was a long, boring walk; he felt despondent and wanted to be elsewhere. Then he heard a deep “buzzing” sound and suddenly saw a white biplane approaching him quickly across the deep blue sky. Surprisingly, it dove and swooped fast and low over his father’s fields. The ground shook from the roar of the engine as it passed over him. Then, with sunlight flashing on its wings, it darted across the valley and vanished over the next rise. The roar of the engine waned, became a droning sound, and then all was quiet again. It was the first time he ever saw an airplane and at a very close-up view, to boot.
Though the vision was only present for a moment, it was totally exhilarating for him. And he remained exultant walking the long route home with the heifers. He reflected on how life had offered him an unexpected prize, a gift he had not expected, and the thought occurred to him: “One never knows what life will bring. It surprises us every moment. Who knows what wonders it will bring next?”
After sharing this story with his students, he would turn to them and say, “That moment taught me that you can always wonder what life will bring you. When you are ten years old, you have no idea the surprises or gifts life might offer you between the ages of ten and twenty. At age twenty, we have no idea about what will come between twenty and thirty. At thirty, we are in mystery about the new possibilities between thirty and forty. And so on! Acknowledging the mystery of our next steps allows us to be fully alive!”
If you want to coach others, then first assess your current life satisfaction. It is fascinating to consider how each of us finds a path in life that we travel year after year that may (or may not) support us in living a life of passion, fulfillment, and significance in the way we would like. As you engage your coaching journey, take a few moments for some useful self-assessment. Ask yourself, “How satisfying, fulfilling, and rewarding is the path I travel? How many mysteries do I discover each day?”
Interested in becoming a coach? Discover how Solution-Focused coaching skills enable you to create transformational change in yourself and others.
Many of us have a typical series of standard moves or patterns we go through. What is a typical day or pattern for you? Do you get up in the morning and have a cup of coffee with breakfast, go to the gym, change into a pressed suit, go to work, attend meetings, and prepare reports to collect a paycheck that allows you to pay your bills and occasionally treat yourself to something special? Or is every day completely different as you organize your life according to your child's or spouse's schedule, living for everyone else? Perhaps you have lots of time on your hands and find that you are not powerfully engaged, inspired, or alive. Are you living a conscious journey of awakening and reawakening in every moment? Are you allowing your fullest expression to come to life? Or is it the exact opposite—a repeating pattern, a mundane existence, in which to-do lists run your mind, heart, and hands, leaving you exhausted and unfulfilled? Are you so busy with current life demands that you have not taken the time to consider what a significant and deeply satisfying life might be for you? Have you found a path that is comfortable but somewhat mindless? In other words, do you consciously live your days?
If life is a game, how are you currently playing it? Do you have a passionate purpose or a calling? The focus of your game leads you into activities that are either satisfying or not. People tend to choose a game early in life and then stick with it. It tends to become a hypnotic focus—a fascination for a lifetime. Consider the possibility that it is easy to become swept up in distracting life games such as a search for power, fame, or money. These lesser games tend to move us into ways of life that do not challenge us to live fully alive but to acquire various advantages.
To be masterful in life requires mastery in key areas such as warmth, connection, and flexibility with others and feeling good in your body no matter what is occurring in the outer world. It requires a focus on balance, vision, and future thinking. It also moves ahead with gratitude and true forgiveness to handle the slings and arrows of life. To aim for mastery and, at the same time, step into a masterful state of mind, is to challenge yourself to use the opportunities that life offers and to live from this place of consciousness.