Coaching for Yin
by Dennis Roberts
Coaching for Yin According to the Taoists everything has both masculine and feminine aspects. There is an innate nature to all things and, furthermore, how we view things affects our interpretation just like wearing sunglasses affects the clarity of what we are seeing. We view the world through our own filter of the world.
I need to make a distinction at the outset. Feminine energy is not the sole preserve of women. Both men and women to varying degrees access their feminine energy. If all things have both masculine and feminine aspects then this may relate to people, business enterprises, environments, work culture and everything else.
Let me contrast two perspectives of feminine (Yin) energy. At its core the feminine is a metaphor of the field of infinite potential. It has no boundaries, cannot be quantified, is latent, innate, unrealised. In colour terms the Taoists suggest Yin energy is dark. It is still, motionless, uniform, passive. It is a place of rest and retreat. If it were a direction it would be inward.
There are two perspectives, or filters through which we view this Yin energy and not surprisingly they are:
· How the masculine views the feminine, or SOLAR Yin, and
· How the feminine views the feminine, or LUNAR Yin.
SOLAR represents the masculine (Yang) energy and LUNAR represents feminine (Yin) energy. The opposite also holds true, ie there is a LUNAR yang (how the feminine views the masculine) and SOLAR yang (how the masculine views the masculine).
In business parlance a SOLAR yin perspective might embrace more feminine energy, eg ask open questions, brainstorm ideas, invite contribution, adopt an open plan environment, etc for the purpose of creating a competitive advantage. The ends justifies the means. The masculine perspective is one of competition, advantage, victory.
On the other hand a LUNAR yin perspective in a business setting might ask questions, brainstorm ideas, invite contribution, etc simply out of respect for the individual. It is a show of empathy and genuine caring for the individual. The creation of authentic dialogue, trust and respect is integral to being in business, and being a leader. A transaction doesn’t have consummate the relationship. The relationship in and of itself is enough.
If we apply this LUNAR yin perspective, or how the feminine views the feminine, into a business context what might it create at the enterprise level? What sort of work environment or organisational culture may result?
Well, it would be a collaborative and creative environment based on real relationships and authentic dialogue where one might expect high rates of staff retention. Staff will feel personally empowered, work life balance would be something practiced and not just preached. Plans would be more flexible. The paradigm of leadership would be situational and adaptive rather than directive and based on positions of power and authority. The goal of the business would reflect sustainable growth and work practices and not be consumed by growth for growth’s sake. It may shift the very driver of the business from profit maximisation (for shareholders) to something more equitable and sustainable for all stakeholders.
The central theme of Taoist philosophy is that we have an innate nature and life is best served being in tune with our innate nature. Finding flow is another expression of the same theme. This is in contrast with the traditional model of business premised on the Protestant work ethic and that is you must work hard to be successful.
A business enterprise which adopts more of this Taoist perspective is embracing more feminine energy and in a rapidly changing economic landscape being fluid and in flow is essential to health, harmony and prosperity. Perhaps it is the road less travelled.
* originally published Nov-13