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Enemies of a True (Coaching) Warrior

written byErickson Coaching Internationalon 30/01/2013

I want to tell you a small anecdote reported by Carlos Castaneda from an Yaqui Native sorcerer named Don Juan. Have you ever read Tales of Power or any of Carlos Castaneda’s great books?  

At one point in Tales of Power, Don Juan, Carlos’ great mentor, says:  “Everyone who wants to become a true warrior in life must face four enemies. One of them is power. One of them is old age. One of them is fear and one of them is clarity.”

As a life coach, this interesting statement inspires some further pondering. You probably know why each of these ‘enemies’ could be a problem! Old age certainly is a concern for many, or can seem like it is. Why? Because it gradually tends to rob people of the most effective use of their sensory channels, does it not? It diminishes salience. Our physical intake channels: our eyes, ears, and overall physical sensing start to decline.  

The second, fear, obviously can be a challenge because it takes people out of relationships and out of the deeper experience of each other. With fear comes dissociation. This means that they may no longer communicate what they feel is important. Also, they may no longer explore relational questions that might be risky. The richness of life is left behind.  

Power is a difficult obsession for many people because as soon as people believe they have power they often slow or stop their creativity. As personal coach trainers, have you noticed that? They desensitize their awareness when they start to rely on power. They no longer focus on what is truly relevant to them because maintaining power now controls the mind. Power easily hardens into an addictive quality. It tends to replace the flexible attitude of the learning process, where we are initiating and creating something. If you have gained a certain kind of power for yourself, you do not need to learn or grow anymore and you do not need to develop flexibility. You do not need to pay attention to anyone else’s growth either. Maintaining power takes over the mind.

But why is clarity an enemy for a warrior? This is a question that takes real pondering. It is only when we explore the essence of process thinking that we truly understand the answer.  

Don Juan, the mentor said, “Clarity is the biggest enemy because it creates an illusory world.” Why is this? It’s because we never truly have it! If we remain truly curious about the workings of life, we continually notice new things to clarify and this draws us forward. Like power, if we think we have clarity, we tend to get mesmerized. We stop asking important questions and, of course the ‘clarity’ becomes a belief that hardens our capacity to learn and grow. If we think we have it, we turn off inner attention. Perhaps we try to turn our clarity into a knowledge system and say, “This is it!”.  

The poet, Leonard Cohen was quoted to say, “There’s a crack in everything, that’s how the light shines in.” When new ideas challenge the agreed or settled version of reality, the conscious mind is brought into uncertainty. This leads to surprise, rejection and of course; confusion. Again and again we will begin once more to look for a larger understanding. We forever grow through that search.      

In other words, we may believe that we have the only truth! We may build a showcase around what we have concluded. However, there is always a crack somewhere in our system. Some small lack of clarity emerges to create ambiguity and questions. The conscious mind tries to gain clarity, but clarity only grows as we appreciate life exactly as it is…with all it’s various ‘cracks’.  

Have you encountered any of these four enemies in your life? As life, business and professional coaches, do you find these enemies prevalent amongst clients? Do you have any tips for helping lead people into an acceptance of the ‘cracks’ in their lives?