Posted in leadership

Co-Active Coaching: Quick Notes – Purpose and Balance

  • So long as we look for ways to HAVE a fulfilling life, we are likely to be temporarily filled and constantly hungry. Rather to ask, what would it take to BE fulfilled. Part of the confusion about fulfillment is in the language. We know what it means to be full and think fulfillment is a state we will eventually get to – filled full, capped off, finished. Instead there is a paradox about fulfillment that we can be filled today and still be filled again tomorrow, maybe even in a different way, and then filled again the day after that. It is disillusioning to think that we can capture fulfillment. To HAVE fulfillment is like trying to bottle daylight.
  • One way to experiment with possibilities is to have the client imagine how the future self might solve this problem or work through that situation.
  • A life purpose statement is another way to capture the essence of what it means to be fully alive. To be living life intentionally, to be making choices that increase the value of life to self and others is a description of being fulfilled today and everyday.
  • Balance is not a state we can get to or arrive at because it is always in motion. Balance requires consistent, conscious, and controlled motion. There is a growing movement in this country toward voluntary simplicity. Coaching can provide the accountability and support for those who want to pursue a simpler, slower, intentional lifestyle. Most clients have not thought about what balance means to them or what it is they truly want. Too often, it means continuing to have everything the have today – but with less stress, less tension, pressure, and pain. Clients may desire more balance in their lives as it if were a thing that can be acquired like furniture – as in “I’d like more balance in my life.” Coaching balance is about helping clients see the circumstance of their lives, clarify what is important, and move from perspective to choice. In the process, the coach helps them find their own unique vision of balance.
  • It makes one pause to realize we are human BEINGS and not human DOINGS. Maybe it’s just an accident of the language, but it’s instructive. You have this life you are living. Sorry, there is no exchange window. You can’t turn it in and get another one. While you are busy making plans for the future you are also in the present. You are in the process of life.
  • Part of the underlying purpose of coaching is to produce a client who is capable of self-directed change.
  • The vision was never about coaching. It was always about people living lives of radical fulfillment, balance, and aliveness. Coaching emerged as a means.

Reference: Whitworth, L, Kimsey-House, H., Sandahl, P. Co-Active Coaching. (1998) Palto Alto, CA: Davies-Black Pub


For a list of Sheila’s books, check out


Dr. Sheila Embry is a govie, author, pracademician, sister, aunt, cousin, and friend who loves to read, write, think, and laugh. Many of her blog postings are summaries or excerpts of books that she read and wants to share to encourage others. An author with more than 25 years experience within the legislative and executive branches of the U. S. federal government holding 3 accredited degrees: Doctor of Management in Organizational Leadership, Master of Arts in Human Resources Development, and Baccalaureate of Business Administration, she believes in continuing learning both on and off the job. She has been recognized with multiple professional and writing awards for her peer-reviewed, publications. Click the bibliography page above for a listing of all the publications.

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