Coaching For Circularity

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Welcome to the Abundant Thinking Coaching blog. In this instalment I'm going to be showing how coaching really uses the same sustainable principles as circularity. By this I mean The Circular Economy.

The Circular Economy is based on 3 Main Principles:

  1. Minimise waste and pollution
  2. Keep products and materials in use
  3. Regenerate natural systems

The circular economy is different from the more ubiquitous linear economy as that tends to be based on 'Take, Make and Waste' principles - where businesses take a natural resource and turn it into a product which is destined, at some point, to be discarded.

So what's my explanation as to why circularity works really well as a way of explaining how coaching works? I'm really glad you asked!!

Let's look at that first principle of circularity - minimise waste and pollution. Most people who engage the services of a coach are looking to sort out some kind of issue in their lives - this could be unhappiness in their job or personal relationships; it could be frustration with how they think others perceive them; it could be a feeling that they are not being listened to or valued. There are diverse reasons but when you boil it down you could say that people feel they are wasting time or their own resources. The feelings that this provokes are often unpleasant - rumination, sadness, bitterness, anger - which are all polluting for yourself and others. Coaching focuses on helping people to understand their strengths. It also focuses on how to utilise these amazing resources that we all have, so that we can live our values and create meaning for ourselves. When we create happiness and positivity I see that as fertilizer for ourselves and those around us, as opposed to the pollution we create when we are unhappy and negative.

There's also a dietary angle to this - around waste and pollution that we introduce to our lives via the food and drink we consume. I've made a lot of changes to what I physically ingest, based on whether the substances are going to do me any good or ill. Honestly I wish I'd been this forensic years ago, but it was symptoms of perimenopause which made me focus on my diet. I have lots of information I can share in workshops about healthy eating. After all, what's the sense polluting our own internal ecosystem with toxins?!

The second principle is keeping products and materials in use. In coaching terms I would apply this to building on the strengths that we discussed in relation to the first principle. Having skills that give you a sense of meaning and purpose is really life-affirming. Usually these skills can be used to 'pay it forward' by helping other people to build their skills, which spreads the good feeling even wider. We are social animals and when we are recognised by other people, or when we make other people feel good by supporting them then we help to generate the happy hormones that give us energy and a sense of wellbeing. I've been reading and thinking a lot about what some refer to as 'Radical Individualism' - the modern phenomenon of living in our own lonely bubbles, not really socialising, often spending our days at work glued to a computer and our evenings watching the TV or doomscrolling through social media.

There are lots of opportunities for us all to keep our valuable personal products and materials (our skills and strengths) in use by sharing expertise with friends, charities, neighbours and co-workers. I know covid has made close-contact difficult, but as the world opens up have a think about what you could do to pay it forward by sharing what you know.

Again there's a healthy lifestyle angle to this principle too - partly diet and partly activity. One of the things that got me really laser focused about my diet was advice from my Integrative Health Practitioner Andy Johnson (@andyjohnsonihp on Instagram) about seeing your body as a rain barrel which over time fills up with all manner of things that are not good for you. Through a process of elimination over several months I have revamped my diet and I can see and feel the impact of those changes - I have more energy, am happier, sleep better and have lost weight. In terms of activity I have started to pay attention to my body in choosing the activities that I do. I used to lift weights and do high intensity interval training, and honestly I think this was harming me rather than helping me. I have found equilibrium, increased flexibility and less pain by doing low impact exercise like yoga, pilates and walking. This combination of diet and exercise changes seems to be helping to keep my mind and body in use in my early 50s! Different strokes for different folks of course, so my advice here is to try things out, listen to your body and do what works for you.

The third and final principle is regenerate natural systems. I see coaching as a maintenance for the mind. In the natural world there are cycles essential to every process - growing seasons, inputs leading to outputs, delicate feedback loops that preserve ecosystems. In the human world some of these processes seem to be being ignored or compromised. For example we ignore feedback loops in our own lives at our peril. If you experience upset you need to give the impact of that event time to register in order for your system to cope with it. If you ignore the event or try to pretend it never happened you are not closing the natural feedback loop, and that will cause the upset to fester somewhere in you. Give yourself time to grieve, to consider the actions that led to the event and to assess how you will move on from it with grace and strength. This is just one example, but it's one where coaching can absolutely help you to regenerate your own natural system.

I hope you've enjoyed this post on how the principles of circularity weave well with those of coaching. I'd be interested to talk more to you if the concepts here have sparked your interest in working with me. Please do drop me an email to [email protected] if you'd like to find out more.

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