Coaching the Human #3: Being

Posted by Ross Nichols on Tuesday, July 13, 2021 Under: Coaching

Further to my previous articles in this series, ‘Coaching the Human #1: Love’ in early May; and ‘Coaching the Human #2: Shadow’ in early June, here is the third article, ‘Coaching the Human #3: Being’, which was published in early July as part of the ICF wellbeing series.  These 3 articles form a trilogy of what I’ve learned on this amazing journey that we share as coaches.


The Importance of Being

We are known as Human Beings yet most of us in the West have turned into Human Doings.  This is perhaps the result of 300 years of the so-called Enlightenment, which focuses on science, logic and rational thinking; and the industrial revolution, which brought factory hours, focusing on productivity and efficiency – Henry Ford’s production line for making cars and so on.  In the process, we let go of ‘being’ with the natural rhythms of the seasons and subjugated ourselves to the discipline of the workplace.  We became Human Doings.  The digital age has only added to our challenge.  We are ever more connected and available with portable, indeed wearable, electronic devices, always ‘on’, having to respond, distracting us from ‘being’ and keeping us in ‘doing’ mode.

‘Being’ matters because all the research shows that success ensues when we can be more of who we are – see the Gallup research in ‘First, Break All the Rules’ by Marcus Buckingham (Simon and Schuster UK Ltd/Pocket Books, 2005).  Note that it’s when we can be, not when we can do, that we are more likely to succeed.

What do I mean by succeed? 

Success is what it feels like on the inside, not what it looks like on the outside.

(Nicola Heulin, Animas Coaching Summit, 2016). 

Success has more than one dimension for most of us: our career, our health and wellbeing, our intimate relationships and so on.  No one else can tell us what success means for us; we have to figure it out for ourselves.

The consequences of not being oneself can manifest as reduced wellbeing and illness.  For example, in the corporate workplace we see significant numbers of people with burnout.  When we compromise who we are to fit in with someone else’s values and purpose, we can become bent out of shape.  Over time, we can gradually lose ourselves and our health and wellbeing can suffer. 

What is ‘being’? 

My definition of ‘being’ is simple:

 being fully present to oneself and accepting what is. 

The power of simply being oneself has been gloriously expressed by Anita Moorjani in her book, Dying To Be Me (Hay House, 2012).

The insights Anita Moorjani shares from her near-death experience and recovery from terminal cancer dovetail perfectly into my learnings from completing various coaching certificates together with my own experience of personal transformation and healing.  I became aware that whenever I’ve drifted away from ‘being’ back towards ‘doing’, I lose some of the connection to myself.  Not only do I start to feel lost at times, my mood, my ability to concentrate and get stuff done also decline.  Anita Moorjani’s book seems to express perfectly what I’ve learned about living and healing, as well as teaching me more about the nature of forgiveness and the power of being non-judgemental.  For this learning, I am truly grateful. 

In the spirit of simply ‘being me’, I was moved to write a review of her book, ‘Dying To Be Me’, in the moment as I was reading it, to share my learning with a positive intent to serve whomever might read it.  There is so much of value in this book that the only way to appreciate it fully is to read it.  Here is an extract of my review of those points which resonated most strongly with me, together with my reflections on them.

P128, ‘I detach myself from preconceived outcomes and trust that all is well.  Being myself allows the wholeness of my unique magnificence to draw me in those directions most beneficial to me and to all others.  This is really the only thing I have to do.  And within that framework, everything that’s truly mine comes into my life effortlessly, in the most magical and unexpected ways imaginable, demonstrating every day the power and love of who I truly am.’  Comment: wow!  It is an astonishing revelation that the best way to live is simply to be ourselves.  It took me nearly half a century to accept myself as I am and no longer try to be anyone else.  When I’m in that state is when the magic happens and I’m keen to get back there – I feel another Mindfulness meditation coming on!

P147. ‘I have discovered that to determine whether my actions stem from “doing” or “being”, I only need to look at the emotion behind my everyday decision.  Is it fear or is it passion?  If everything I do each day is driven by passion and a zest for living, then I’m “being”, but if my actions are a result of fear, then I’m in “doing” mode.  Comment: I’ve used this today to help me make a decision, which I’ve been wrestling with for weeks.  I realised that fear was driving me and when I made the decision to ‘be’ rather than ‘do’ I felt so much better – this stuff really works J

P161, ‘Since the tapestry of all time has already been woven, everything I could ever want to happen in my life already exists in that infinite, nonphysical plane.   My only task is to expand my earthly self, enough to let it into this realm.  So, if there is something I desire, the idea isn’t to go out and get it, but to expand my own consciousness to allow universal energy to bring it into my reality here.  Pursuing what I desire only reinforces separation, whereas allowing means realizing that since we’re all One and everything is connected, that which I desire is already mine’.  Comment: this won’t seem far-fetched if you’ve read Dying To Be Me and understood the transformation of consciousness that Anite Moorjani achieved and brought back with her. 

P173, ‘When something comes from the center [sic] of our being, it’s no longer an action – it becomes who we are.  We don’t need to think about it or work at it.  We become an instrument for service to manifest on this planet.  This is the difference between being of service and performing a service.  Comment: there are similarities here to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s concept of being in ‘flow’, when we lose all sense of time and nothing else matters.  I liken this to a state of Grace – the French expression for flow is ‘etat de Grace’ (state of Grace).  This is probably my best indicator of when I’m ‘being’ – if I’m ‘doing’, I lose this lightness and energy.  I’m becoming more aware of this and more committed to ‘being’.

P183, ‘The only thing you need to learn is that you already are what you’re seeking to attain.  Just express your uniqueness fearlessly, with abandon!  That’s why you’re made the way you are, and that’s why you’re here in the physical world.’  Comment: what better way to explain the central importance of being ourselves and living our passion and purpose?

P117, ‘Because of my experience [recovering from terminal cancer], I absolutely do strongly believe that we all have the capacity to heal ourselves as well as facilitate the healing of others.  When we get in touch with that infinite place within use where we are Whole, then illness can’t remain in the body.  And because we’re all connected, there’s no reason why one person’s state of wellness can’t touch others, elevating them and triggering their recovery.  And when we heal others, we also heal ourselves and the planet.  There’s no separation except in our own minds.’  Comment: this provides a basis for how coaching can be a healing process.  There is so much that modern science doesn’t know about the universe – the 95% of the universe that is anti-matter is as yet a closed book – yet the incontrovertible evidence of Anita Moorjani’s recovery from terminal cancer demonstrates that seemingly impossible healing is possible.  This inspires me as I begin my journey as a Health and Wellness coach.

How can we be fully ourselves? 

Being is not necessarily an easy choice.  We need to embrace all parts of ourselves, as the great poet Rumi expressed in his poem, ’The Guest House’ c700 years ago.

The Guest House
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.



All my coaching programmes start with enquiries on the same topic: who are you?  I liken this to ‘painting the invisible person’ so that my client can see themself in 3-D and glorious technicolour.  This is about developing their self-awareness by exploring their purpose, their values and their strengths and talents.  As explained in my previous article (Coaching the Human: #2: Shadow) it’s about helping the client to embrace all parts of themself, including their shadow side – the ‘crowd of sorrows’ that Rumi mentions in his poem.  This also links to my first article (Coaching the Human #1: Love): being fully oneself is the pathway to the most powerful state of being, that of healthy self-love. 

Some coaching approaches that I find particularly helpful for client self-awareness are Emotional Intelligence and Mindfulness.  The 5 dimensions of Emotional Intelligence (in the EQ-i 2.0 assessment) are: Self-Perception, Self-Expression, Inter-Personal, Decision-Making and Stress Management.  The use of assessments of emotional intelligence can be very revealing.  Mindfulness meditations with the client are useful to explore what is going on for them in the moment.  This helps clients simply to be fully present to themselves, which is a necessary first step towards ‘being’.

What happens when we can be more of who we are? 

By way of example, I had a ‘pinch me, am I dreaming?’ moment in early 2020.  I realised that everything I wanted in my coaching practice had been manifesting for over a year.  This was a surreal experience, seeing ‘success’ in the rear-view mirror without realising that this had become my new normal.  This got me wondering: how did I get here?

There are lots of ingredients that have contributed to arriving at my success.  Importantly, I knew my life purpose and how being a coach was aligned to that however this was not enough to get me there.  I started my practice (as a business mentor) in late 2011 and gave myself 3 years to make it (and trained as a coach in 2014/15).  This became 4 years and then in the 5th year, with my wife’s patience stretched to near breaking point, I realised I had to figure out what was holding me back.  It was time to make my business work or give up and get a job.  I decided on one more roll of the dice and went on a business accelerator course. 

The business accelerator course was excellent.  I already knew a lot of the content, but I became increasingly frustrated that I was not implementing what I was being taught.  Halfway through the accelerator, the trainer asked if anyone was struggling.  I put my hand up and he asked me some pointy questions that had me squirming in my seat.  I replied,

‘I don’t have an answer however that is such an uncomfortable question that I know it’s the right question’. 

I felt that this was a big clue as to what might be holding me back – this is what I’d been looking for.  I decided to let this soak for a couple of weeks then took myself off for a quiet coffee, determined to figure out what was going on.  As I cleared my mind and observed myself, I noticed almost immediately that my head was busy with thoughts such as, ‘You need to do this!’, and ‘You must do that!’, and ‘You ought to do this as well!’  I instinctively let these thoughts go and 2 hours later I looked up and discovered that I’d written a brochure for a coaching programme I wanted to run.  Within 2 weeks, I was pitching this to a room full of my target audience.  I did not sell a single place on the programme however I gained 4 new clients who wanted me to coach them 1:1. If I could achieve that by clearing my mind, I wondered if I could use the same approach to figure out how to grow my business?  When I was ready, I took myself off for another coffee and cleared my mind again.  When I looked up 2 hours later, I discovered that I had written a business plan, which is something I’d been unable to do for the previous 5 years, despite some expertise in this area.  I’d always been the plans guy in my Army days and as a business mentor, I’d scrutinised scores of business plans however I was simply unable to write one for myself.  But this was unlike any business plan I’d ever seen before.  I realised it was an intuitive business plan, which was much more about ‘being’ than ‘doing’.  It comprised coaching exercises and nuggets of wisdom I’d been gathering in a sequence that helped me to figure out who I was, where I wanted to go and how I was going to get there.  My insight was that I didn’t need to write a business plan because I already was the business plan!  This intuitive business plan worked for me and I started using it with my business clients.  Additional versions emerged: the intuitive marketing plan; the intuitive career transition plan; the intuitive wellness plan; and most recently the intuitive leadership plan.  These are the basis of my coaching programmes.  By the end of these programmes, my clients don’t necessarily have a written plan, they simply know how to ‘be’ and the doing takes care of itself.

Reflecting on this later, I came to understand my purpose for being in business.  I’d chosen to be a freelance, self-employed coach.  I was in business, so I needed to focus on making money, right?  This assumption was so wrong for me!  It led me to chase the money when money is simply not what motivates me.  I now understood that my purpose for being in business was to be me and to do it my way.  This liberated me to simply turn up as myself every day, do what I wanted to do rather than what I thought I should be doing and, amazingly, my business has grown steadily ever since.

This poem expresses the essence of what ‘being’ means to me:


On Being


What does it mean to be, not do?
How can you finally be more you?
How do you find a life that you love?
How do you find a way to choose?


Questions, questions, is where it starts,
Questions to open your heart,
Open your heart and let light in,
This is how your journey begins.

Is it so simple, simply to be?
Yes, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy.
Take your time to know yourself,
Listen and feel for your inner voice.

The road may be long and tough,
Yet this is a journey to love,
Love for yourself, love for others,
This is what really matters.

What’s the secret, how do you start,
To find a way to open your heart?
Sit still and simply be you,
See what comes up and embrace it in full.

This is your way, your truth, your light,
It comes from within, no need to fight.
Yes, courage is needed to face your fears,
And facing them brings a power to heal.

So, let go of others’ voices,
Simply be you,
It’s your life,
Who are you?

Ross Nichols 

Working out who you are and how to simply be yourself liberates you to be your best self and get out of your own way.  This is where your power lies and this is when the magic happens.  I hope this article helps you to be more of who you are and so achieve the success you want.  Good luck!

Ross Nichols 2021


In : Coaching 

Tags: love shadow being success