I was supervised today on a coaching session I recorded several weeks ago (with my client’s permission, of course). The verdict: I was colluding with my client’s saboteur. Guilty as charged!
So what does this mean exactly? What are the consequences? Can one go to jail for this?
The saboteur concept embodies a group of thought processes and feelings that maintains the status quo in our lives. It often appears to be a structure that protects us, but, in fact, it prevents us from moving forward and getting what we truly want in life. The Saboteur will always be with us. It is neither good nor bad; it just is! The Saboteur loses power over us when we can identify it for what it is, notice our options in the situation, and then consciously choose the action we really want at that time (as defined in Co-Active Coaching by L. Whitworth, K. and H. Kimsey-House and P Sandahl).
Most of my friends, family, colleagues and clients have a saboteur or two, if not a whole committee. At first it was a hard concept for me to understand given that I have none (she said, tongue in cheek). Life Coach Martha Beck calls them les bêtes noires (black beasts). Her article, “8 Steps to Conquer the Beast Within” in this month’s O Magazine explains the concept beautifully(http://www.oprah.com/article/omagazine/200902_omag_beck) and offers a step by step process to tame the beast within. On reading it, I feel it has great merit. I haven’t had time to try it yet myself.
In coaching, the trick is to coach the client and not his saboteur. Of course, they are tricky and conniving and sometimes masquerade really well (here I am speaking of saboteurs!). Sometimes the coach gets duped and gets in cohoots with the saboteur. This is what happened in the session I mention above. And admittedly, while I was in it, I didn’t see the forest for the trees.
I fell into the trap of sympathizing with a voice coming from the client that was all about the “Ya buts”.
“What about doing XYZ, I asked?”
“Ya,” responded my client, “but I feel really shy about doing that”.
“What would work for you?” I countered.
“I don’t know”, was the familiar reply.
This is the dialogue of a client caught in the grip of a saboteur. He cannot see that it’s not him speaking his truth. It’s his saboteur talking. The internal dialogue might be something along the lines of “Hey you! You can’t do that; you might look really stupid and you could fail. What will people think? Elizbeth will think you are a loser of a boyfriend. The people at work might find out you aren’t such a hotshot after all. Then what??? You can’t let this happen!”.
 This entry is based on real feedback from a coaching supervision session. However, due to the confidential nature of coaching, all client details have been changed.