Dancing in the moment

For coaches, one of our core competencies is being present and flexible during the coaching process, responding spontaneously to the needs of the coachee as they arise in a coaching conversation. We sometimes refer to this as “dancing in the moment.”

In March this year, something like 50% of the world’s population was under some form of temporary stay-at-home order. Now, six months on, many aspects of our lives still haven’t returned to the normal that we knew before the pandemic, and some of the patterns of our lives are probably changed forever. In London where I live, despite the lifting of restrictions for public transportation, urban transport usage remains only at 25 or 30% of its former usage because people are still very wary of being in close quarters with one another. When will things go back to normal? Well, we might have to accept that this IS normal–for now.

In fact, we only ever have now to be ourselves in: we know who we are partly from the life stories we hold about our past, and our goals for the future, which shape our beliefs about ourselves. But the reality is we only ever have now, right now, this moment, to be who we are.

It’s not only the pandemic which is causing 2020 to be a year of disruption and upheaval. Environmental disruption, the ongoing refugee crisis, and civil unreset in nations all around the world: the United States, China, Belarus, Germany, and more, are all contributing to a global feeling of volatility.

It’s not surprising that we’re facing a global mental health crisis, with the World Health Organization providing a new guide for managing stress in challenging circumstances–a guide designed for everyone, from a refugee making a dangerous water crossing in an inflatable boat, to a civil rights campaigner facing violent opposition from the state, to someone anxious about making their daily commute on public transportation.

All of our circumstances are different. Not all of the hardships we are facing will be of equal magnitude. But if there is one thing that we can all use a little more of in challenging times, it is learning to dance in the moment: recognizing the inner resources we have available, being responsive to external challenges which we can’t control, and setting aside the ‘now’ that we fear or the ‘now’ that we desire to live fully in the ‘now’ that we have.

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