The difference between achieving goals and being fulfilled

Rather than helping clients solve problems, Integral Coaches work with them to develop a new way of being: one that has them live in ways that are more effective and useful across all areas of their life. We are interested in deepening our clients’ capacity to be self-generating and self-correcting. Another way of explaining this is horizontal and vertical development.

Sometimes coaching deals primarily with horizontal development: working with the client on the problem or situation they’ve presented. This may help resolve an issue or achieve a goal, but doesn’t necessarily lead toward greater meaning or fulfillment. It can also leave the client dependent on the coach as they haven’t developed new or deeper capacity to address the specific problem and others like it.

Integral Coaching invites vertical development: accessing a way of being that has us live in an entirely new way. It requires us to pay attention to something about ourselves that has always been available to us but that we haven’t yet seen.

In vertical development, we can’t rely on what we’ve already done or learned. It’s not an extension of our experience; rather, it’s opening up new territory for us. The coach’s job is to bring the client’s awareness to this new possible way of being, invite him/her into it with language (a new narrative), and have him/her take on a practice so that it becomes embodied.

Vertical development also allows for self-generation and self-correction: becoming competent in a way that allows the client to address what arises in an ongoing and sustainable way.

For example, if a client wants more freedom, rather than looking for ways to clear her schedule, maybe she explores what freedom feels like. What is the felt [body] sense of freedom? How are her beliefs, environment, habits, etc. getting in the way of being in contact with that sensation?

We hope this is a useful way of viewing your own development and framing your work with clients!