Advanced Coaching Program in Generative Well-Being
George Mason University's Generative Well-Being Advanced Coaching Certificate Program is a six-month, cohort-based program offers training in a cutting edge-toolbox of innovative coaching methods and transformative mindfulness practices that deepens self-awareness, coaching presence, and coaching ability toward greater levels of individual and organizational well-being.
Developed by George Mason's Center for Consciousness and Transformation (a unique academic center focused on the intersections of well-being, leadership and creativity in human consciousness and transformation), the program is designed specifically for coaches who have already completed ICF-accredited training or certification.
The GWB Advanced Coaching program is grounded in research-based practices and theory about what increases greater levels of well-being in self and others, organizations and communities—including positive psychology, reflective learning, and strengths-based approaches to coaching others. In addition, the program focuses on a variety of transformative mindfulness practices that include contemplative elements. This unique combination offers program participants the opportunity to learn new coaching methods, expand their own levels of consciousness, and become better prepared to affect transformation in others and organizations.
Visit the Coaching program web page: wellbeingcoaching.gmu.edu
To learn more about the Generative Well-Being Coaching program and the application of mindfulness to work with clients, please read the article below written by GWB Coaching Cohort 1 graduate, Kris Miller.
The Business of Mindfulness
By Kris Miller, MBA, PCC
A few months ago I had one of the best early morning gym workouts I had ever had. I was totally in the zone. I let go of the rest of my day and just focused on my workout. I was fully present, in a state of mindfulness. I wasn’t even aware of time. It didn’t really matter. All I needed to focus on was my breath, my awareness, and my intention for being there…with each step on the treadmill, with each weight I lifted. My sense of struggle ceased, and the work became easier.
We’ve all encountered this place of mindfulness. Sometimes we stumble upon it as I did with my workout. Other times, we need to intentionally call it in. So, what does this all have to do with coaching? I have found that mindfulness is a great coaching tool. It’s one that enriches the experience for the client as well as for me. I view mindfulness in coaching as the ability to tune in to the client in front of you. It’s about really focusing on where they are at that exact moment, so they experience the felt sense of having been seen and heard.
Most coaches have had some experience with mindfulness and felt the sense of its power and impact. For others, this seems more of “an occasional” often a “retreat-only” encounter. I think there’s an opportunity to embody this experience, making it more a part of our natural reflexive being.
Introducing Mindfulness to Our Clients
For many of our clients, this will be a new experience. As coaches, we can introduce this concept in a number of ways, meeting the client wherever they are and offering the appropriate degree of challenge for growth. Through these practices clients discover tools for increasing their resilience as leaders.
At the most basic level, coaches model the state of mindfulness in the way we show up in a coaching meeting (our coaching presence, our way of being) when we are coming from a more mindful place. This state also enhances our capacity in core coaching competencies including active listening, direct communications, and building trust and intimacy. As we strengthen our muscle of mindfulness, we increase our mastery of coaching and can more effectively serve our clients.
Another way we can introduce this to clients is to invite them to explore their own practices of mindfulness, again meeting them where they are with this topic. For some clients, this might be inviting them to remember a time when they were quieted, centered, feeling in their power (without using the mindfulness word, which could disarm some clients). Similarly, one might ask the client how they need to be, or how they need to show up, to strengthen their approach related to a stated goal.
Today, one of my clients shared with me the impact that mindfulness had on her professionally. “I can’t believe how great my meetings have gone lately,” she shared. She went on to tell me that coworkers had expected there to be complications in their meeting, but it went surprisingly well. Later, they asked her, “How did you do that?” My client responded with this advice, “Take three minutes before the meeting to just stop. Then, take a couple of deep breaths, let go of any stress, and fill yourself with what you want to bring to the meeting.” I couldn’t have said it better myself. She has fully applied the principles of mindfulness in a way that works for her.
Another client shared a personal account. He recalled the impact of arriving 15-minutes early for weekly church mass, and how this created for him a state of quieted internal coherence. He had never considered this state as a competency and inner resource. The client agreed to a practice that helped him access this same state in preparing for a complicated meeting. Other clients are completely open (many more than we might think) to exploring in more direct language a wider range of mindfulness experiences and practices.
So, how can we as coaches further embrace and integrate mindfulness practices into our lives and into our business? The following first two lines from Mary Oliver’s poem, The Journey, help simplify the answer for me:
One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began…
Beginning or deepening existing mindfulness practices, and integrating this into our work is a life-long journey. The growth objective can be as simple as taking the first, or next, step. Don’t overcomplicate this as I did having discovered a 30-minute sitting practice, on a meditation pillow, that worked beautifully at a retreat. I returned to Washington, ordered a “pillow,” committed to 30-minutes meditations, and failed. I could not get quiet on the pillow alone in my house. The very idea of it made me run the other way. All was not lost, however. I discovered I could get up early, sit in the quiet of the morning in a comfortable chair, achieving my current intentions for a meditation practice. Building this muscle helps me in the related practice of pausing to think about my mindfulness state before every client meeting. In this practice I am a relative beginner, and without doubt this attention enhances my coaching performance.
I highly recommend these books on mindfulness: Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabot-Zinn, and The Art and Science of Mindfulness by Shauna L. Shapiro and Linda E. Carlson. The Kabat-Zinn national bestseller opens the window to holding mindfulness in a lighter and more accessible place. I often suggest this book as a first step to clients who are interested in exploring mindfulness meditation and related practices. The Shapiro and Carlson work provides a broad overview including the science behind mindfulness and the status of ongoing research.
Another powerful resource is the Generative Well-Being Advanced Coaching Program, in the Center for Consciousness and Transformation, at George Mason University. The program is designed for seasoned coaches who want to take their coaching to the next level. I am honored to have been part of this year’s inaugural cohort. The theme of mindfulness is woven throughout six powerful advanced coaching modules—amplifying the experience, learning, and integration of the material.
From an organizational perspective, the being state of mindfulness supports coaches and clients in accessing a fuller potential.
Kris is an Executive Coach who works with global leaders and teams in corporations, the U.S. government, and non-profit organizations. His prior experience as a business executive serves as a strong foundation for coaching leaders across sectors, helping clients and their organizations to flourish. He is a contributing member to LEARNING, the ICF MetroDC coaching journal, and Executive Coach and partner in the Washington Coaching Group. If you have any comments please e-mail him at Kris@WashingtonCoachingGroup.com