So, 8 months later, how did the grand mothering strategy play out? I would say now that there was a larger cultural gap at play in the CSA program than the business vs counseling perspective, or the British vs American perspective; it turned out to be a gap between ICF and CCL beliefs, assumptions, and training. It also became more apparent that I’m not your typical grandmother, either.
The larger gap was largely between those with psychological background and training and those with coaching background and training coming into learning a process that had 3 legs on the stool of ‘supervision’: psychological mindedness, coaching (questioning) expertise, and systems and field awareness. What took time to become aware of is that people who come out of typical ‘coach training’ programs, be they ICF programs or others that are ICF approved, may have very different experiences of psychological self development in their past. Some may have done quite a bit and others not much at all. But there is also a tendency in common coach training to not put ‘self’ into the conversation. In fact, in the ICF basic programs, the instructions are specifically to avoid referring to yourself, your reactions to the coaching conversation, or your own experience. In supervision, however, ‘you’ are a common and potentially powerful part of the process and you learn to use yourself wisely and well and specifically in illuminating parallel process. The challenge for these colleagues was to 1) learn about yourself in new ways, and 2) be willing to share that with others, even though you are uncomfortable doing that. That was a tall order for some people who tended to remain more introverted, emotionally contained, and focused on individual process during that 9 months.
The big challenge for those coming with a background of psychological training, group therapy, counseling, or leadership work (group orientation), was to stop talking so much, ask more questions when we did talk (which has a whole system and vocabulary attached which we hadn’t experienced), and stop looking to this ‘group’ for community, or group process learning, and just focus on our personal learning. It may sound like a simple difference, but it was a Grand Canyon of world views! Individual vs Group orientation and values, primarily, right down to; in supervision are we just focused on ‘you, as the coach, and your work with ‘your client’ as an individual? Or are you and I, together, focused on what happens between you and your client and their impact on the team and organization? In other words, do we learn through others or do we learn by asking ourselves questions about our own thinking, our own assumptions, our own blindspots? I guess you could say, both.
All of this was not on my ‘grand mothering’ radar last October, and I didn’t really manage it well, along the way. I found myself being more direct, expressive, extroverted, confrontational, and challenging than the group norm. Usually it was a constant struggle for me with lack of feedback and personal sharing when we were all in the same room for those 8 days. But the learning was huge for me! In fairness, the larger process was spread out over different learning experiences; my supervisor was in London; my mentor in Ireland; my triad for practice between England, Peru, and the US; and our great book club from S. America to the U.S.
At the end of the day, I hoped to be more serene and accepting regardless of what the experience was like. Isn’t that what grandmothers are for? To be full of love and understanding? Well, maybe my next lifetime…. as the Buddhists say, you can’t stop the birds from flying around your head, but you can stop them from nesting in your hair.