Therapy, coaches, training: why are we never enough?

I am entering a year in which I plan to hand over much of my administrative responsibility at the school I started 4 years ago. I do not want to leave the school, but to begin the process of training others in how the school runs. Much of the systems are out of my head by now and starting to find form in manuals, data files, and such. The list of things to hand off and the list of all the details I hold has been developed and continues to be added to.  Part of this also includes focusing my energy on the parts of this founding experience that I want to build out and carry out into the world as my work– the thread to connect this moment to the next ones to come.

For me this is the formalization of my Teacher Reflection and Mindful Development program for teachers. This was my intention before the school: to create a reflection program based on principles of mindfulness for teachers (specifically then, yoga teachers) that enables them to utilize practices in community to build accountability, and listening skills that would inform their practices.

As I do this, I have had the thought that a career coach might be a helpful support. I have thought a therapist or a training might help. I tried a therapist, but quickly realized that she wanted to find what was wrong with me and to fix it. I reached out to a career coach as well. I had a great conversation with her, and she offered me a handful of lovely reflection practices. But in the end she wanted to enroll me in a course for strengthening marketing and messaging skills– not really what I was looking for.

In the process, I realized two things: I have a habit of seeking out new and additional skills to give me what I believe I lack. When in reality,  I realized that what I do need  is  to give more focus in my life to support and community. Parker Palmer writes of a community of congruence, a community that invites the paradox of life, the presence of unanswerable questions, into the day to day without trying to fix anything at all. The purpose of these communities, as Parker shares in an interview, “is mutual reassurance; people help each other to understand that the normal behavior expected by the institutions they are part of can be crazy , but that seeking integrity is always sane… These communities are also places where people begin to develop the language to explain their vision– and that language provides the strength they will need in the tough and tumble world of the public realm.”  (Lantieri, L, 2001, pg 5-6)

Communities of congruence do not ask us to fix ourselves, to add to ourselves, they simple invite us to them as is– and give us space to share, to listen , and to grow.  Essentially, I think of this as spiritual community– a gathering of folks seeking to connect, to explore purpose and meaning that already exists, rather than trying to  fix or teach one another. The difference in this, for me, and some of my experiences with coaches and therapists, is that it rests on the mutual understanding that each of us is enough.

© Traci Childress, 2013.


Palmer, P.J. (2001). Intergral life: intergral teacher: An interview with Parker J. Palmer. In L. Lantieri (Ed.) Schools with spirit: nurturing the inner lives of children and teachers. (pp.1-6). Boston: Beacon Press.

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