What do we mean by confidence?
Where does the word come from?
The prefix con, in Latin means ‘with’ or ‘connected to’.
Fidence, also comes from the Latin, and is connected to ‘fides’ which can mean either’ to have trust in,’ or ‘to have faith that’.
One of the most well-known lines in the Christian Bible is:
Nunc autem manent fides, spes, caritas, tria hæc
‘And now abideth faith, hope, and charity, these three: but the greatest of these is charity or love.’
In mediaeval Christian mythology Faith, Hope and Charity were the three martyred saints who were the daughters of Sophia, or wisdom.
So, let us focus on Saint Fides, who do we need to have faith and trust with or in? We might start by saying I need to have trust and faith in the coachee, or others might say, no I must have faith and trust in my ability and expertise as a coach. Both of these might be partially helpful in our early development as coaches. However, the most transformational coaching happens at the learning edge, where neither the coach, or coachee have the answer, but both know in their heart of hearts that life is requiring an answer, or at the very least a response. In the many years I have been supervising coaches and practising as a coach, I know that when we are faced with the learning edge, most of us panic and fall back on old patterns and defences. At this place of transformation, neither the client or the coach can be fully trusted, for we are both flawed, limited learning humans.
So where to place my trust and faith?
Some people say: “trust the process”, and others “trust the relational container”. This is a helpful relational turn in our focus and a useful next step. For here we are invested in our collective wisdom as being greater than the sum of our limited individual wisdoms, we are trusting that if we continue to explore and inquire collaboratively together, new generative thinking and being, can emerge.
I believe there is a third step, where we move from the relational to the systemic turn. Here we place our faith and trust not in individuals, or even a collection or team of individuals, but in the greater system we are all part of. In coaching teams, this might involve bringing in the perspectives of: other parts of the organization; the wider stakeholders; and/or past and future generations.
The fourth step is the eco-systemic turn where we move beyond placing our faith just in human individuals and human groupings or even in humanity as a species, but the much larger eco-system of creation, evolution, life and death.
When you encounter the panic at the learning edge, both in you and the team you are working with, do not react, or try harder, but instead pray. It does not matter who you pray to, as long as it is a greater system than you. Some people then ask: But what if no answer comes? My response: “Be patient and pray harder?”
This protects us from the four dangers:
- Over investing your trust in another, which becomes a burden
- The arrogance of trusting yourself,
- Individualism and
Instead, we are left with the wisdom of vulnerability, held and supported by humility and faith.
Peter Hawkins, March 22nd 2023