What’s Going On?


When I hear Marvin Gaye’s unforgettable 1971 song “what’s going on,” a feeling of hope infuses my body. It is Marvin’s cry for change, and a desperate call to address the social unrest that engulfed US cities in the late 1960s.

The title of the song “what’s going on” brings to mind the state of my coaching clients when I first meet them. Some describe the need for career coaching, others express a need for leadership coaching. Some just say they are “stuck.”

These two types of coaching specialties, career and leadership coaching, mirror the two primary issues I see in my clients: a misalignment of role and purpose or/and a need to expand their repertoire of leadership skills (often thought of as emotional intelligence). It usually takes a bit of time to disentangle them.

But the interesting thing is, at the start of our coaching sessions, they are often unaware of which they really need to make things better professionally. Some clients express being trapped in a career they don’t like and discover the primary cause is unhealthy engagement with their colleagues, not their career path. Others, who say they want to improve their leadership skills, to rise up in the hierarchy and earn more income, discover the core problem is they find little or no purpose in their jobs (beyond, perhaps, economic) – a career/role issue. Without being aware of “what’s going on,” it’s more difficult to create a plan to achieve growth and make things better.

The wonderful thing about Gestalt-infused coaching is we’re trained to assume nothing from the start. Yes, the client defines a specific goal of the coaching, however, this can change. We create a process that allows the client to self-discover in the now, become aware of what’s blocking them in the now, until they themselves are ready to mobilize for change. When this happens, they know “what’s going on” and they can pursue the plan they created to make things better.

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