As coaches we are interested in human development and potential. The success of our clients is always a mix of complex inner nuances, concrete steps, action plans and personal shifts/insights. Joseph Campbell describes the Hero’s journey as making a proactive choice, “Stepping … out of the trance of daily life and into a state of awakening …”. The hero/heroin separates (leaves our everyday world), experiences initiation (a series of trials), and then returns (taking back this knowledge into every day life). Maslow’s hierarchy of needs describes what motivates us: physiological, safety, belonging, esteem, self-actualization and finally transcendence, (going beyond a prior state of oneself). In coaching terms, self-actualizing or transcendence is what we encourage. In essence, it is a quest for real awareness, the ability to change our patterns and a deep yearning for healing and personal growth. In other words healing and consciousness go hand in hand. According to Ken Wilber, who has written and researched Human Consciousness for over 30 years and has founded the Integral School of thought, a shifting level of consciousness does not immediately erase our previous ways of knowing. We often remember, relate and reflect on earlier ways of understanding ourselves, and our world. Development of consciousness is always a matter of transcending some earlier way and incorporating personal evolution, bringing meaning to our lives. Both Ken Wilber’s Integral Coaching Approach and the Hoffman Process have many points in common. Bob Hoffman gained a sold reputation helping some of the toughest clients among a circle of San Francisco area therapists. From 1967-1997 he worked in the US, South America, Europe and in the UK. His technique: a sequence of exercises that moves the participants from awareness of blocks to finding expression, followed by Self-forgiveness then to new behavior.
Hoffman “… realized that the brightest of people could fall into self destructive behaviors so the answer could not lie in intellectual reasoning”. He believed the gap was the space where we learn our habits emotionally and that change is not always possible by talking alone. When your clients have tried to change with the best of intentions: read the books, took the workshops, hired the coach, had the therapists, made the promises, declared to friends and loved ones and still… it might take something extra for someone to change fundamentally.
His method consists of an eight day residential retreat based on his Theory: The Negative Love Syndrome; all of our patterns are learned in the first 12 years of our lives from our care givers. The Quadrinity Model Hoffman describes is the healing and integration of 4 parts of our being (our body, the emotional self, intellectual self, and our higher or spiritual self). Amazingly Ken Wilber also divided consciousness into 4 Quadrants: - emotions or feelings, intellect or thoughts, spirit or essence, and the physical realm or the body.
The Hoffman Process provides tools to get past the beliefs and attitudes that we learned that limit and end up hindering our personal growth. As coaches we can point out patterns, ask the right questions and even with awareness our clients get stuck! Awareness Hell. The Hoffman Process trusts “in the essential health and goodness of humanity”, this is coaching fundamental! It bridges the gap between an “analysis of our past-favored by the traditional psychotherapies”.
“The unexamined life is not worth living”, said Socrates. As coaches we strive to be the best at what we do, to stay authentic, to co-create with as little bias, filters and personal agendas as possible. I advocate that traveling beyond what we know, what we do, allows us to become the Hero in our journey.
Ken Wilber’s work on consciousness underscores the need to examine where we place our awareness. What do we pay attention to, what do we experience, how do we take in reality and where is our focus? The four quadrants; I (Individual or interior, It (Individual and Exterior, We (Collective and Interior and It’s (Collective and Exterior) make up the model. Each of us has a primary area in which we best understand ourselves in relation to the world. Some of us in the “I” space, experience our reality through emotions, thoughts and an Interior process. Where as “It’s” space individuals focus on behavior, bodies and energies and actions. Those of the “We” space value shared meaning, relationships and mutual understanding and the “Its” space quadrant is most focused on outcomes, systems and technology and the overall environment. Each of us has a “home base”, where we prefer or orient ourselves. This is how we perceive the world. Usually there is a quadrant that we don’t go to very much, which is underdeveloped. This work is important in helping coaches understand our bias and natural filters and in seeing where our clients may need development or understanding of themselves and those they interact with.
The Hoffman Process believes that patterns (behaviors that occur again and again) are learned and can be unlearned. Both Wilber and Hoffman speak to the evolution of consciousness and our deep need for healing. They both agree on spiritual health as essential in our development. Joan Borysenko, best-selling author and co-founder of Harvard’s Mind-Body Clinic, said that “One of the most concrete changes I have experienced… is the steady increase of joy and gratitude that began to bubble up. Another change is that I find it nearly impossible to blame and shame myself or anyone else”. In spite of the fantastic amount of patterns that can stop us from living our lives the way we authentically want to, we can achieve healing through the Hoffman Process, and awareness using Wilber’s Quadrants for a deeper understanding of the map of our consciousness. We can choose to experience our present, forgive our past, and transform our future.