Monday, July 1, 2013

Evocative Coaching

For years I've searched for an alternative to describing my work as "life coaching." There seem to be zillions of people calling themselves life coaches, from Tony Robbins (I can never be that tall) to Gretchen Rubin (I'll never write a book called "Happier at ______"). That doesn't mean I don't admire success, or scads of money, but I do wonder if the "better" life some coaches promise belongs to the maya category (all is illusion). Efforts, in other words, to satisfy clients' egos.

Then I read that after Bill Clinton's first (or second, or third) major disappointment in the Presidency, he held a staff retreat facilitated by Marianne Williamson, Tony Robbins (yep), and Jean Houston. Williamson is said to have a quiet demeanor, but picture Houston and Robbins together: Clash of the Titans! Don't know; wasn't there. What did strike me as hilariously theatrical (as I find Houston to be), was her self-description, also shared in an interview with Oprah Winfrey:
"I would call myself an evocateur of the possible, and a midwife of souls." Dr. Jean Houston.
Sometimes my laughter and immediate rejection of an idea are defenses against taking a risk. Sure enough, while I definitely don't resonate with midwife, I couldn't stop thinking about evocateur. Too grandiose, too foreign, too too... yet somehow edgy and intriguing. Out of curiosity I played around at the online Thesaurus and Dictionary. 

As expected, life coaches are described as "helping people to make changes in their lives, to learn new ways of coping, and to function at their maximum potential." Ho hum. Some synonyms: expert, consultant, guide, counselor, mentor, partner, confidant... and in a lighter mode, kibitzer. At the more directive end, I like buttinski. 

Evocateur doesn't appear in either source, but I found evocator and this is my synthesis: 
"Through artistry and imagination, evocators call forth a vision of transformed reality, elicit passion, and summon others into action."
The synonyms for evocator tend to derive from prophet, including predictor, forecaster, oracle, reader, diviner, clairvoyant, seer, soothsayer, and witch. I admit to all, on occasion.

Following this thread, I googled evocateur. The first hit was Jean Houston's site, where this description expands on my synthesis above:
"The times of great change and remarkable opportunity are upon us... we can no longer go it alone, but must partner... to share innovative and creative ways in which to rethink and restructure our individual existence within the context of our expanding global communities. To do this requires a heightened awareness, an awakened sense of purpose, and a dedicated commitment to actively seek out the possible."
Evocateur went too far for me, but more and more I liked the intimations of evocator and coined (I thought) evocative coaching. I found only one use of the term in Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a Time, a "teacher-centered, no-fault, strengths-based approach to performance improvement."


Their model is consistent with my values, based on consciousness (self-awareness, self-monitoring), connection (high- trust relationships), competence (celebration of clients' abilities), contribution (honoring client's input), and creativity (openness to change, being in a flow state as described by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyl).

If you want to quote me quoting them, remember that Csikszentmihalyl is pronounced, more or less, "cheek-sent-me-high."


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