Throughout my whole career, never before have I felt such great importance of being mindful and presencing in my day-to-day. In my current role as an Enterprise Agile Coach, I feel that I’m spending most of my day in a heightened state of presencing. The word Presencing comes from the combination of presence and sensing.
The name Agile Coach might be mixed with the typical sense of an Agile Coach that is adopting an agile way of working, may that be scrum, or other operating models. Yet the work I do, is more a systemic organizational coach. And of course there are a lot of agility elements woven in. To sense into aspects of a complex system, reveals the most start mindfulness homework:)
This reflection came to mind after I facilitated part of a 3-day Hackathon. In one session, the concept of emergent conversations gained a lot of resonance. When we’re very much present with the space and flow of conversation, we’re building on each other’s points, new sparks of ideas are triggered as all who are in the space can tune in and be present. I find the greatest creativity flow during such working sessions. And it is the most rewarding for me when I experience a group’s flow state.
Flow state is gaining increasing interests by organizations, researchers and the like. The book <Flow> brought much insight in this concept.
Personally I experienced flow state most frequently in coaching conversations, this is also why i kept my coaching practice no matter how busy i am with my other work. Because in this space, I felt the most precious and deepest human connections. Also in this space, is when I bring absolutely no agenda to the table. Most of the coaching sessions felt like improvisation theater, in a way that is highly emergent and often times creative when both sides enter into a space of mindful focus. I can hardly describe how rewarding it can be when I see the coaches eyes lit up, when their own wisdom starts to shine.
At the moment, I’m spending most of my time in organizational context. Since I joined the team of systemic coaches, I find that there is much difference in the quality of conversations compared to my previous roles in strategy or even in leadership development. This thanks to the individual people’s quality of presencing and the culture of the group, we often enter into emergent conversations that both require and provide the space of mindful focus. As somebody familiar with the different level of listening and quality of conversations, I’m sure we all feel the difference in energy.
Another significant aspect I feel is system thinking. Having experienced a few meetings/workshop settings with the CEO and the leadership team, I sensed the systemic wisdom that they hold to adopt an avenue of having enterprise coaches supporting the vast diversity of the organization. One of our values I feel, is sensing the organization, sometimes to the most down-to-earth level at the customer facing roles. The effect of this is, the group of enterprise coaches naturally become the sensing hub of the organization, and because we are an open and cohesive group, information and insights flow around us at a speed that is much faster than the typical organization structure. A side benefit is that we naturally shortened the information chain and time to respond from the lowest to the highest levels. By having the group of enterprise coaches in the system, we’re creating the foundation element of an organic and network-based organization. Isn’t that really what agility is about…
Of course the next level is that we serve as catalysts, the topic of scaling and having exponential impact often surface in our conversations. Sensing the system, having the clarity of the greater purpose, and having the awareness, knowledge and tools to catalyze makes the whole effort much more systemic. For sure, there is no ideal state. I think there will never be an ideal state, and still, this setting feels like the most systemic and adaptable way to navigate in a highly complex human system.
And in doing all this, the ability of mindful focus and presencing is crucial. Never before have I felt this level of intense focus and presencing. It is a fascinating experience despite that I’m still finding the flow. I still remember vividly what my Buddhist teacher said as he taught meditation, he said, mindfulness is anytime everywhere. At that time, I felt rather casual about it, for sure I aspire to be mindful during everything I do. Now, I feel I’m experiencing the most stark homework of mindfulness. Because this literally is the prerequisite of my job. I will not be able to sense the system in a swift manner, nor facilitate sometimes sensitive workshops spontaneously, if I could not hold the space of mindful focus for myself and for others. So finally the homework becomes my everyday life:)
What helped me greatly is the Buddhist practice of three noble principles, namely raising vast compassion (Bodhichitta), realizing the non-duality nature, and dedicating merit.
I found so clearly, the more I am able to raise vast compassion to the system and to the people in the system, the more relaxed and resourceful I feel. Because the vast intention has the power to permeate any ego triggered dynamic. When I raise the vast intention of doing good to the world, to the ecosystem that my system serves, there is not much space for individual ego. And working in this way simply feels relaxing and natural.
Yet, because our egos are so clever in permeating into our daily life, especially when we’re perceived as being effective or successful. The understanding, or pretending to understand non-duality could cut through any potential ego dynamic that can be generated by the first practice. We need to be aware that everything happens in our mind, there is an illusory nature of the world. Now, whenever talking on this bandwidth I’m conscious that I’ll start losing audience:p so at least what I could reflect is the complex nature of systems. In other words, being aware that no matter what I do, I’m only able to influence the system, whatever happens in a complex system, I will have no power of knowing for sure. So when I embrace the unknown-unknowns. The potential ego that can be triggered by raising vast intention and purpose can be transcended.
Looking at all such practices, no doubt the foundation is mindful focus. All the awareness of the 3 practices can only originate in mindful focus and the absence of fear and ego. Then it’s no surprise why I feel such a heightened focus since I started in this role of a systemic coach. Certainly an interesting journey ahead. And hopefully such a systemic approach will bring some fruitful outcomes in the system:)