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My Journey as an Ontological Coach

 -By Michele Lum , ACC –

Last weekend, I tuned into an online session  organised by ICF Malaysia. The session focused on meditation techniques and how to be ever present in a tumultuous world.

Focusing on the ebbs and flows of my breathing like the gentle tide by the seashore, a particular thought rose to the surface. “It’s OK to not know all the answers because I am enough.” This thought lingered ….

Having “grown up” in the corporate world in the last 20+ years, unknown to me, I had declared (to myself) that in order to be the best in what I do, I had to know all the answers. From Communication to Marketing and Leadership, I had to have all the answers in order for my team and leadership peers (anyone for that matter) to pay attention to what I had to contribute. Naturally, there was no end to that journey of strive, chasing after educational degrees and certifications, promotions and awards. It was a journey that often lifted me to the peaks of mountains, only to find myself down and out at the valleys of despair, burnout and the start or base of the next (taller) mountain.

My journey to becoming an ontological coach since 2018, has (among many things) brought me to a place of being comfortable in not knowing everything. In fact, it’s better for me (as a Coach) to not know everything so I’m not busy figuring out the answers to other’s questions or solving other people’s problems. Or worse, imagining what should and should not be the next, right moves for my clients … as if I had the right to tell my clients what they can and should do. It is after all, their lives and what they choose to do or not to do … a journey they will need to own and be responsible for at the end of the day.

I’ve learnt that as a ontological coach, I am to practice being present and curious at all times in order that I may be aware of the whole person – the body, emotions and language that is before me. I am that mirror my clients look into and the place, where they are invited to come to terms with what they see in themselves. When they’re open and ready, they are invited to “dance” with me (their Coach) across the safe expanse and explore the new (and often, hidden) possibilities … possibilities that seem to show up when we become open to them!

At the end of most unusual conversations, what’s most energising for us is when we both discover that we are at a new place, where we’ve never been before. Imagine the possibilities that show themselves when we are open and willing to explore. Together, we co-create new movement and the next steps that lead to healthier and more fulfilling lives.

As a coach, I am at peace knowing that all that I have been and am is enough. In not knowing everything, I show up “present”, ready to partner with others and journey with them into new territories to discover that which brings health, wellness and fulfilment.

Today, I give myself permission to pause, breathe deeply and celebrate how far I have come as a human being (not human doing).

Will you give yourself permission to pause and just be?




#mindfulness #mindfulnesspractice

#beingpresent #humanbeing


Contributed by Michele Lum, Communication Director, ICF Malaysia.

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