The third of our 7 C’s of purpose is compassion. I disagree with the dictionary definition of compassion so please do not Google it to find out what I mean here. For me, compassion is not “sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others”, it sounds so passive and sad. Instead I see compassion as an acceptance of others regardless of their situation, as a sharing of a burden, as a willingness and desire to be part of the solution; there has to be passion in it, literally. Compassion of this nature is fundamental to the type of coach I want to be and the type of experience I want my coachees to have when we work together.
One of the biggest influencers in my coaching practice is the book In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts by Dr Gabor Maté, and I have written about it a number of times. Dr Maté uses the phrase “compassionate curiosity” when discussing his approach to working with drug addicts in downtown Vancouver. Last week I was observed as part of my university studies. I had to begin by explaining my coaching model, then undertake a 20 minute “session” with one of my classmates, and it highlighted why this phrase is so important. There is a real emphasis on challenge in my coaching; I tried to explain it as knowing that each of my coachees has inside of them everything they need, and we are going to keep digging until we strike oil. The trick for me is to explore with compassion; to stretch without breaking; and to heal without hurting.
It is probably quite an interesting time to reflect on who or what you have compassion for, especially when we are all feeling a little frayed and worn out. I wonder what causes have still been important to you; where you have donated any of your time and money; what aspects of this crisis situation have moved you and brought you to tears? Compassion is not a weakness, it takes incredibly strong and courageous people to give of themselves to others, particularly at times when there is not a lot to spare. And when we add compassion to the previous two C’s of community and connection, we start to build something very powerful indeed.