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Showing Your Clients How to Be Alert and Not Alarmed with James Flaherty

July 12, 2021


“Coaching is about integrating all the different parts of us. Because from our wholeness there are ways we can know ourselves and ways we can be in touch with our own resourcefulness and that also lets us be in touch with the whole part of other people.”

-James Flaherty

Listen to the Podinar:

Being alert and not alarmed are the characteristics most needed in our time. When we are calm and present, we can contact our inner resources and be a helpful source in our world. In this session, Alison Whitmire, President of Learning In Action, is joined by James Flaherty to explore what it takes to generate this presence and how we can show our clients to be alert and not alarmed.

James Flaherty is the founder of New Ventures West and a co-founder of Integral Leadership LLC. He is also the author of Coaching: Evoking Excellence in Others, a text widely recognized as seminal in the field of coach education and used internationally at universities and coach training institutions. James designed the Professional Coaching course and dozens of other programs over the past two decades, and has led coaching and leadership courses involving 1000s of people throughout North America, South Africa, Asia and Europe. He has also coached top executives at Fortune 500 companies, and is a highly sought-after speaker.

Discovering Our Client’s Essence

For many coaches, the first step in working with a new client is to uncover an essential positive quality in our client that we can reflect back to them — we may think of it as their essence or true nature. We all have a number of positive qualities and in this case, the idea is for the coach to tune into the one quality that’s most prominent in the moment and that is most deeply connected with the coaching issue our client has named. When we can accurately identify our client’s essence, just saying it out loud can be incredibly powerful. It has the potential to awaken something in them that feels deeper, more grounded, and more true than the personality they’ve constructed or the skill set they may identify with. For our clients, discovering their essence is a returning to something that is strong, rooted, and energizing — and it can become a powerful foundation for the rest of our coaching.

How do we help our clients to discover their essence? There is no specific method to point to for uncovering our client’s essential quality, much of it happens unconsciously. As coaches, it helps to calm ourselves, quiet our inner chatter, and intentionally cultivate our capacity for presence so we can listen for what’s most important to the client. And when we do land on our client’s essence, it’s a somatic experience — our bodies have a deep way of knowing it’s true.


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Posted in: Heal The Divide|Podinar Series

Navigating Polarities: Coaching Through Complexity with Kelly Lewis | Heal The Divide Podinar

June 7, 2021

“The missing link for me was the heart. When we’re taking polarities from a conceptual, mind space and integrating them the heart has to engage too.” -Kelly Lewis


Many of us have never heard of the concept of polarities and at the same time, are impacted by them on a day-to-day basis. In this podinar, Alison Whitmire, President Learning in Action, welcomes special guest, Kelly Lewis to explore what polarities are and how we can help our clients to navigate them to expand what’s possible in their lives and work.

Kelly Lewis, PCC is a principal and founder of Andiron, a leadership development firm committed to providing the space and tools for transformation. For more than 15 years, Kelly has been using polarities as a lens to help leaders and organizations navigate some of their most complex challenges. She is particularly curious about the roles identity and vulnerability play in helping people be successful in the midst of paradoxical tensions.

Kelly works from a principle that leadership is a way of being, not just something we do. She is known by her clients as a coach that “finds the just right place between support and challenge” as well as a “thought partner who leverages her mastery of polarities coupled with her experience as a Fortune 500 executive to understand the context”.


What Is a Polarity?

Polarities are interdependent, yet often seemingly contradictory states that need to coexist over time for success. They are foundational to the decisions we make and the actions we take. We experience polarities every day and in every facet of our lives and yet many of us are not aware they exist. Here are some examples of polarities that we may experience: “focus on the short term, focus on the long term”, “activity/rest”, or “take care of self, take care of other”. A polarity that the pandemic has brought up for many people is “pay attention to local, pay attention to global”. In a leadership context, we might come across polarities such as “lead with confidence, lead with humility” or “support/challenge”.

Polarities often feel like tensions and they invite us to practice “both/and” thinking. They show up within ourselves, in relationships, in teams, in organizations, and in societies — and they scale any level of the system. In isolation, each side of the polarity often seems logical, and then when they appear together, it may seem completely absurd to our minds that they coexist, yet they do. When we can help clients name and explore their polarities, it can help illuminate the “either/or” decisions they need to make leading to more informed and better decisions.


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Posted in: Heal The Divide|Podinar Series

How to Use Disruption to Find Your Growth Edge with Charlene Li | Heal The Divide Podinar

May 25, 2021

“Change that’s worth doing is going to be hard, theres not going to be an easy way to do it.” – Charlene Li


What does it mean to be disruptive? And instead of avoiding disruption, what if we can use it to find new growth opportunities? In this session, Alison Whitmire, President of Learning in Action, is joined by Charlene Li to explore what disruption is, why it’s important for leaders to be willing to be disruptive, and how coaches can encourage their clients to be more disruptive in their leadership roles.

Charlene Li is the author of six books, including the New York Times bestseller, Open Leadership: How Social Technology Can Transform the Way You Lead, and the co-author of the critically acclaimed, Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies. Her latest book is the best seller The Disruption Mindset: Why Some Organizations Transform While Others Fail. Charlene is the founder of Altimeter Group, an analyst firm that was acquired in 2015 by Profit. She is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Business School. Charlene has also been named by Fast Company as one of the most creative people in business and an expert on digital transformation.


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Integrating Mindfulness into Coaching: Three Mindfulness Practices to Employ in Coaching

May 19, 2021

When we realize the fact that everything changes and can find our composure in it, that is the fruition of the practice.” – Master Suzuki Roshi


What is mindfulness and how can we bring it into our coaching practice? In this session, Alison Whitmire, President of Learning in Action, offers the benefits of incorporating mindfulness in our coaching and shares three practical exercises we can use with our clients for a deeper and more meaningful coaching experience.


What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is defined in many different ways by various people. When we break it down, it comes to purposely attending to our present moment experience with acceptance or without judgment. We can point to the three core components of mindfulness as present moment awareness, being on purpose, and accepting our experience. Meditation comes in as the practice we use to develop mindfulness.


Benefits of Mindfulness

How is mindfulness beneficial to our coaching clients? Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), which was started by Jon Kabat-Zinn in a hospital in Massachusetts over twenty years ago, has been studied in a clinical setting for decades. Research provides evidence that mindfulness reduces emotional exhaustion, stress, depression, and anxiety. It also improves feelings of accomplishment, self-compassion, the quality of our sleep, and relaxation.

In these incredibly uncertain and challenging times, mindfulness can give our clients the ability to maintain a degree of buoyancy or a sense of resilience and spaciousness that they would find difficult to access otherwise. This is what we are looking to foster with our clients: the ability to be with what is, no matter the circumstances.


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Posted in: Coaching|Mindfulness & Meditation

The Neuroscience of Effective Coaching with Richard Boyatzis | Heal The Divide Podinar

April 14, 2021

“Our ability to sustain getting someone else excited and open to new ideas or possibilities starts with us.” -Richard Boyatzis


How can we mitigate the impact of stress in our daily lives? What does it mean to coach with compassion and how does it serve our clients in their desire for change? In this session, Richard Boyatzis joins Alison Whitmire, President of Learning in Action, and leads us through examples of how true, evidence-based coaching with compassion is key to development and more resonant relationships.


Richard Boyatzis is a Distinguished University Professor at Case Western Reserve University in the departments of Organizational Behavior, Psychology, Cognitive Science, and the HR Horvitz Chair in Family Business. Since 1967, he has used his Intentional Change Theory (ICT) to study how people and organizations engage in sustainable, desired change.


Richard is the author of more than 200 articles and nine books on leadership, emotional intelligence, competency development, coaching, neuroscience, and management education. His books include the international bestseller, Primal Leadership: Unleashing the Power of Emotional Intelligence written with Daniel Goleman and Annie McKee and his most recent book, Helping People Change: Coaching with Compassion for Lifelong Learning and Growth written with Melvin Smith and Ellen Van Oosten.


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Posted in: Heal The Divide|Podinar Series