If you’ve ever seen Tom Hanks in Big or Jamie Lee Curtis in Freaky Friday you might have thought that getting to be a child again would be fun. And it’s quite likely that you do sometimes revert to “childish” ways, often without realizing, when you revisit your childhood home and/or spend time with family and childhood friends. It might not take the form of playing air guitar or getting back on your BMX, but could show up as expecting to be fed and watered by parents, or playing the practical joker with old friends. It happens because the family “system” is stronger than the individuals within it - and can last for decades with only periodic nurturing.
One of the topics we explored at the ICF conference last week was Relationship Systems i.e. a group of people with a common goal or purpose in which the system has its own needs and identity, independent of the people within in. Along with workload, one of the biggest challenges for people who are being trained or coached is how to maintain their renewed energy and intentions when they return to their own work or social system. And how to ensure that they don’t unconsciously use their new knowledge and skills in a way that evokes bad feeling and even retaliation from their peers and colleagues.
As coaches, having an awareness of the wider system is critical if we want to enable individuals or teams to implement the changes they want to make. On a personal level paying attention to any system we are a part of and depersonalizing individual roles within it takes a surprisingly liberating shift of perspective. And is much more achievable than undergoing a full body swap.