As many of you may have seen Sir John Whitmore, a pioneer in the field of professional coaching, recently passed away. Along with several others Whitmore was credited with creating the GROW model which is used extensively in coaching today. What you may not know is that prior to his career in coaching he was also a successful motor racing driver, winning the British Saloon Car Championship in 1961. In the early 1970s Whitmore studied at the Esalen Institute in California, and then he studied under Timothy Gallwey, who had developed the Inner Game method of coaching as a tennis coach.
The Esalen centre has been pivotal in the promotion of the ‘human potential’ concept. Many significant and influential people either taught there or were taught there. The very first training director at Esalen was Virginia Satir. At the time she was a highly renowned family therapist. One of the speakers to pass through Esalen was the Gestalt Therapist Fritz Perls. Both Satir and Perls were then modelled in the early 1970s by the creators of NLP, along with medical doctor and hypnotherapist Milton Erickson. The studies of these three individuals, together with further development, and experimentation lead to the body of knowledge, which is now known as Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP). Coaching and NLP are very closely intertwined, and in my opinion to be a successful coach the NLP toolkit is essential.
Looking back on this period of the late 1960s into the mid-1970s, I can see a significant amount of development tools emerging into human consciousness. And that’s not just NLP and coaching, in 1975 Raymond Moody published Live After Life, about Near-Death Experiences. Though he wasn’t the first to ever write about the subject, it was he who coined the term Near-Death Experience. His book was a best seller, and a whole raft of more scientific studies followed his work. Also in the late 1960s psychiatrist Ian Stevenson published Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation, which was a methodical study of very young children who claimed to have lived before. Also by the mid-1970s, through careful parapsychological testing, it became clear that people have a degree of psychic ability, though it still isn’t accepted by mainstream science today. And in the mid-1970s the US military started its psychic spying programme, using remote viewing to gather intelligence, in what became known as project STARGATE. Having studied all of these subjects it seems to me that humanity is being given the information and the tools to grow up, to reject the patterns of past limitation, to more consciously understand who we really are, and to explore and realise our full potential. Yet 40 years later one can also look around and ask ‘How is this development of human potential coming along?’
Now it doesn’t really matter how we think everyone else is doing, the important question that we need to ask ourselves is ‘What are we doing to utilise our own unique gifts, and fulfil our own potential?’ So in that vein; ask yourself ‘What are your goals in life?’; ‘What do you want to achieve?’; ‘How can you be of service to others?’; ‘Relative to those goals, where are you now?’; ‘What options do you have?’; ‘What obstacles do you have to overcome?’; ‘Can you see a way forward?’ and ‘How motivated are you about embarking upon that path now?’ This in a nutshell is the GROW process; very simply, coaching is about taking someone from where they are, to where they want to go. Though at the same time there is no small amount of skill involved in finding out where someone is, where do they want to go, and how are they going to get there.
The pioneers of the development of human potential, of which Sir John Whitmore was one, have created a path by cutting through the jungle of wrongheaded human thinking. Today are we ready and willing to consciously walk this path of development, can we let go of negativity and division and become more of who we really are? And what is your role in humanity’s developmental journey?
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Nelson Mandela