My children both went to a Waldorf school. Rudolf Steiner founded the original school for the employees of the Waldorf cigarette factory in Stuttgart. He used to ask the teachers, “Have you loved your children today?” He told teachers that part of their job, before they went to sleep, was to visualize each child in the class, and to see not just the current stage of development of the child, but to also visualize their highest potential.
This was, and still is, an incredibly visionary way to go about education. My kids both went to such a school. One of the teachers, to one of my children, clearly followed Steiner’s directions: she would visualize the highest potential of each child before bed. She was on fire with vision. All of the kids from that class are doing extraordinary things today. I would say that is so, because she loved them. She didn’t love them theoretically, she actually practiced love every day: loving her children in such a way that they blossomed. The other teacher, who was teaching my other son, came out of mainstream education and didn’t have as strong of a visionary background. And those kids didn’t benefit quite so much.
Loving somebody is not just a concept or a fleeting feeling. Loving somebody is a commitment.
We spoke about this in a recent Awakening Coaching Training Online session. I asked one of the coaches in training, who is also a mother, if she loves her son.
“Of course I do,” she answered.
Then I asked her what it means to love someone. What are the signs or symptoms?
“It’s hard to describe in words,” she said.
Love is actually hard to talk about. When something is real, but hard to talk about in words, then what do we know is probably true? It means that it is coming from your intuition, from your being, from what is natural to you. It means that it is probably not something that you have learned from a book, not something that you can understand, not something that you imitate from somebody else. It means that it is actually something that is rising from the innermost of your being, from who you are.
“I adore him, and I’m very proud of him, especially if he does things I have never expected him to do,” she went on.
Another quality about loving is allowing yourself to be amazed, to appreciate qualities of brilliance that did not come from anything you taught or gave. It is a feeling of awe. You are inspired and amazed.
“If I am very angry with him, I suffer in my heart,” she told me.
When you love, if you react in a way that you feel is influenced by your own emotional state, your love for the other causes you to feel pain.
But also, there are times where you get angry and it feels that it’s the right thing to do, it feels necessary. That is also an expression of love.
Loving sometimes include supporting the other to be more than he or she thinks is possible. It can include holding him or her accountable, and pointing out weaknesses or mistakes. It includes seeing a bigger vision than he or she thinks is possible. Sometimes it can mean popping a bubble and saying, ‘Wake up.’
Loving a child can sometimes include taking away things that he or she thinks are pleasurable. It can also sometimes include rewarding, and giving him or her things that give pleasure.
Loving somebody is a multi-dimensional experience. It has many different flavors and frequencies. You can’t love somebody from a set of rules: you know how to love somebody because it is natural to you. You know how to love somebody because it is deeply engrained in who you are. You are love. You simply have to shake off everything you think you should do or shouldn’t do, and that gives you the power, the natural freedom to love, to be tough when you need to be tough, to be supportive when you need to be supportive, and empathetic when you need to be empathetic.
Love is natural to you, it just needs a freedom to express itself.
Just as Rudolf Steiner encouraged his teachers to love the children in their classes, as a more important principle than educating or disciplining, so love is also the governing principle in Awakening Coaching.
As a coach, you are entering into a relationship with somebody you don’t know at the beginning. You enter the relationship to love them deeply, in a way that they actually feel loved. The governing principle is not that you do this and that technique in a specific order. The governing principle is that you let love determine what will serve that person most.
Everything we practice in Awakening Coaching (Radical Awakening, Radical Releasing, and Empowerment Practices) are all just channels through which your Love for the client can flow. Your Love is yours, your Love is not something we teach you, it is not something we have any copyright for, it is not something we have created. Your Love comes from within you, from your innermost being.
Because you love the client so deeply, you want the best for them. You have heard their dreams. When you read somebody’s list of what they most want to accomplish in their life, on that list is probably going to be the way they want to serve, be a good mother, or a good wife, a great father, or a good husband. That is tangible and touching. You hear their innermost dreams that they hardly dare to dream.
You also hear what gets in the way, the things that they suffer, habits that you can probably recognize from your own experience. You feel compassion for that.
You hear the strengths they have developed: they may been doing yoga for 25 years, they may have quit alcohol. You hear about all the disciplines they have put in place.
And then you hear why they have hired a coach: what they want to get out of coaching.
When I hear all of these things, I am overflowing with love. I am overflowing with the kind of love my student just described when talking about her son. Out of that feeling of love, not a love that is only cushy and supportive, but a love that can be firm, and direct, and hold the client accountable, out of that love I can always feel what is the best thing to do next.
A great coach does not ask “How can I do this coaching correctly?” but “How can I most love this person?” When you are really feeling that love, it is a fierce force, stronger and more authoritative than anybody else telling you what to do.
Out of that love you feel How can I most support you now? Out of that love, you have heard what the client wants from coaching, and you feel I really want those things for you, too.
If you were to say this explicitly, it might sound like this: “You have shown me what you want. I feel touched by what you want. Out of my deep Love for you, and my care for you, I would love for you to do these specific practices this week, to move you forward in what you dream of living into.”
You don’t actually have to say those words. A corporate client, for example, may feel a little weird if you speak in this way. To talk in terms of love might be a little difficult for some people. But essentially this is what is happening, spoken or not. Love is always the governing principle.
When I train coaches, I am giving them total permission and encouragement to be great lovers, more than anything else. I don’t think we can put this so overtly on our Awakening Coaching website, that we train people to be a great lovers, because that would sound more like a tantra school. But that is essentially what we are doing. We are giving you a space to deeply love people, so that love becomes a more authoritative force than anything else.
You learn to trust love to decide each and every step of the coaching process.