Awareness and coaching: the key to self consciousness

The 7th Wonder and the 7th ICF Competency


Being Aware is a primary and familiar experience: the knowing of our own being, or our self-consciousness that lies in us. However, awareness, or the experience of simply ‘being aware’, has no external evidence and it is so often ignored.

The process of becoming aware of who we are, becoming aware that’ ‘we are’, is the essence of a fulfillment and it is source of a sense of lasting peace. Becoming aware allows us to go through our life in a conscious way, it allows us to be present to our life and to choose direction in order to express who we really are.

In order to fulfill the desire for happiness, most people engage in a relentless search in the realm of objects, substances, activities, states of mind and relationships. This search also takes the form of resistance to whomever or whatever is perceived to jeopardize our happiness. Thus, seeking and resistance are the two main impulses that govern the thoughts and feelings, and the subsequent activities and relationships, of most people.

The activities of seeking and resisting are an inevitable expression of the sense of lack or suffering that underlies them.
At some point, either spontaneously or as a result of living some challenging experiences, some people begin to question whether or not objective experience can ever really be the source of the lasting peace or satisfaction for which they long.

This understanding or intuition is one of the most profound recognitions that one may have, and it initiates a crisis whose exploration and resolution might take to choose to work with a coach to reach new results and give birth to a new paradigm.

It is important to remember that one of the most effective, but also one of the less understood key competencies for a coach is the ability to evoke awareness in their clients.

The Gold Standard in Coaching, the set of competencies according to the ICF (International Coaching Federation) defines this competency as ‘the ability of the coach to facilitate client insight and learning by using tools and techniques such as powerful questioning, silence, metaphor or analogy’ (see link to the ICF Core Comeptencies here).

Being an MCC Master Certified Coach, a Coach Mentor and a Coach Trainer, I constantly go through the challenge to train new coaches to develop this specific ability in their coaching practice, both at the ACC, PCC and MCC level.

In addition to the PCC Markers, ICF recently developed the ACC and MCC Minimum Skills Requirements to support the evolution of coaching, the process of training and mentoring at different levels of competency and to offer to accurately define what the ICF assessors evaluate in relation to each ICF Core Competency when reviewing a recorded coaching session. 

The ICF Minimum Skills Requirements documents are intended to assist coaches as they prepare for their credential performance evaluation to understand the behavioral and coaching skill requirements. As well as inform mentor coaches, supervisors, and coaching education providers on how to prepare coaches for their credential application. Or for growth mindset coaches who want to be the best coach they can be at this skill level.

The ICF Competency nr 7 defines the ability of the coach to evoke awareness and – accordingly to the ICF approach – it includes:

  1. The coach’s use of inquiry, exploration, silence and other techniques that support the client in achieving new or deeper learning and awareness
  2. The coach’s ability to explore with and evoke exploration by the client of the emotional and substantive meaning of the client’s words
  3. The coach’s ability to explore with and evoke exploration by the client of the underlying beliefs and means of thinking, creating, and learning that are occurring for the client
  4. The coach’s ability to support the client in exploring new or expanded perspectives or ways of thinking
  5. The coach’s invitation to and integration of the client’s intuition, thinking, and language as critical tools in the coaching process.

Specifically, ACC applicants are assessed by the ICF on the following skills within Competency 7: Evokes Awareness as part of the performance evaluation process:

  • Coach inquires about or explores the client’s ideas, beliefs, thinking, emotions, and behaviors in relation to the desired outcome
  • Coach supports the client in viewing the situation from new or different perspectives
  • Coach acknowledges the client’s new awareness, learning, and movement toward the desired outcome

When coaches want to expand their level of coaching and want to reach the Master (MCC) level accordingly to the ICF standards, they need to elevate their ability to partner with clients in a deep and full exploration of important issues that precedes and is significantly greater than the invitation to a solution.

At an MCC level, the coach’s way of being is consistently curious; the coach is willing to not know and allow the exploration to evolve based on the client’s thinking, learning, and creating.

The coach asks mostly evocative questions that are fully responsive to the client in the moment, to the client’s agenda and stated objectives, and that require significant thought by the client or take the client to a new place of thinking.

The coach makes frequent and full use of the client’s language and learning style to craft questions, insights, or observations that provide a space for a client to use and expand their own style of thinking, learning, and creating, and to discover their power, gifts, and strengths.

The coach provides sufficient space and encouragement to allow the client to integrate and use new awareness to identify patterns of thinking or behavior, resolve current challenges, achieve current goals, and think how the new awareness may be used in the future.

Awareness is fundamental in our life! And it is a fundamental state in coaching, even for the coaches themselves.
That’s why among the ICF Competencies we find the invitation for the coaches to ‘Develop a Coaching Mindset’: the coach develops and maintains a mindset that is open, curious, flexible and client-centered.
Competency 2 ‘Embodies a Coaching Mindset’ serves as a foundational competency for coach practitioners, focused primarily on the “being” of the coach.

And the ability to use this competency in the coaching process has an immense impact on the clients’ results.
Coaching at the level of the ‘who’ (coaching the Being of the client) means to allow the clients to ‘look at themselves’ from different perspectives.
This can allow the individuals to become aware of themselves, because awareness is always there, somewhere in the background, ready to be seen, as words on a paper. It is not our mind or our body who be conscious of our life: it is us – the awareness that lies in us – to be conscious of the existence of our mind and of our body.

We all know we exist: we are all aware of that. And the only way we have to know that we exist is to own this awareness.
So awareness is what we really are.

We are aware of the sound around us, we are aware we are reading this article, we are aware of the space around us, of our name, of our body. Without awareness we could not experience life. That is why awareness is everything.

When we want to manifest our goals, intention and commitment are not everything. There’s more to consider. In a coaching process, for the clients to become aware of their values, their beliefs, their thoughts, their feelings is the key to be able to change them.

It is the ‘inward-facing path’ – sometimes referred to as self- remembering, self-enquiry, self-abidance or the way of surrender – that is the basis of coaching at the Being level and it is a transformative journey.

I wish all the readers here could one day experience this amazing partnership, with a PCC or MCC coach who is moved by a full trust in you and who is able to evoke that so long awareness in you!

We turn away from the objects of experience and investigate the nature of the one who experiences. In this investigation, as the mind turns the light of its knowing away from the objects of experience towards its own essence, it is gradually, or sometimes suddenly, we let go of our limitations and we allow our Self to be revealed.

Peace and joy are not objective experiences that the mind has from time to time; through awareness, they become the very nature of the mind itself. Joy is our essential nature, apparently obscured much of the time by the glamour of objective experience but never completely extinguished by it.

Coaching at the Being level is the tool to access our inner source of wisdom, our awareness,.
Joy is our very nature and lies at the source of the mind, or the heart of ourself, in all conditions and under all circumstances. It cannot be acquired; it can only be revealed.

That is why coaches do not have to add anything to their clients: the clients are already whole, complete. They can only be revealed by the skilled coach who has conducted an ongoing practice to develop a coaching mindset and to expand the ability to evoke awareness.


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