An article in the newspaper Le Soir of July 8th, 2017 says: “Since 1889, the kilogram is defined by a material standard: a cylinder composed of 90% platinum and 10% iridium maintained under a triple glass clock at the International Office of Weights and Measures located near Paris. Every thirty years, this standard of metrology, named ‘Big K’, is extracted from its safe box which three keys are in the hands of three different persons, and is compared to six witnesses, namely six official copies kept with the same care.” In 1946 though, the Big K was weighting 30 micrograms less and in 1992, even 50 less, which corresponds to the weight of a fly’s wing. The kilogram was not the kilogram any longer…
The newspaper continues: “As from 2018, the kilogram will lay on a fundamental constant to be found in Quantum Physics, namely the Planck’s constant measuring the quantity of energy carried by a single photon (the particle of light).” Why is it so vital to determine the exact weight? Because of the domino effect: the newton which is the standard unit of Force is based on the kilogram and the newton defines the joule, which is the standard unit of Energy. As such, uncertainty about the kilogram generates uncertainty about all measures in our physical world.
As we can see: certitude falls or, at least, must be re-analyzed. Even the most scientifically measured beliefs are influenced by history evolution. How many times do we find ourselves in front of a client “sure of their certitude”, often anchored since childhood and confirmed by their life experiences? And even if the client accepts the change, he still has to accept the newly associated behaviors.
On their side, coaches need to wipe away their own certitude to reach the well-known “white screen” allowing them to remain judgement-free and preventing them to “plaque” their life experience on their client’s one.
This is the biggest challenge in coaching, leading to the main difference with other support professions to individuals or organizations. Indeed, coaching requires a “low position” from the coach: his life experience helps him formulate “the powerful question” (the adequate question at the right moment), and it will remain as often as possible open in order to allow the client create his own answer. A good coaching question never leads to a unique choice that would limit client’s capacity to generate his own solution.
Neither coach nor client have the truth on the standard weight, the kilogram made of platinum and iridium as the client’s context is always influenced by life experience – which makes life so fascinating…
Coaches will never recommend or “plaque” their perception of a situation on their client’s situation. Their starting presupposition is that the client already knows the answer but doesn’t know it yet. The renowned steps of the learning process as defined by the anthropologist Gregory Bateson are thus shacked: the unconscious incompetency (I don’t know that I know) comes before the conscious competency (I know that I know). And this is precisely the beauty of coaching: believing without condition that the client already owns his own solution which already applies to his operational context.