At Newfield, we practice ontological coaching. The world “ontology” can seem intimidating; it sounds like something very serious! But ontology is simply a theory of being. In ontology, we dare to ask: “What is a human being?”
In our times and culture, we respond from a place of analytical thinking, which leads us to the idea that being is about separation. All the things that define “me” as a human being have to do with distinguishing me from you. Separation leads to our widespread feelings of isolation.
In our programs, we defy the ontology that I can exist without you and that you can exist without me. Such a thing just does not exist: it is impossible to even think of a being that is completely detached from all other beings! We are constantly in relationships--and defined by those relationships. For example, when I enter a shop, I am a client; when I am in the classroom, I am a teacher; when I am with my wife, I am a husband. I define myself and my range of actions through these relationships. There are thousands of relationships that emerge as we move through life.
Life is One Big Dance
Our ideas of individuality and individualism are deeply rooted: They have been with us for the last 400 years. They are part of our cultural drift—the transparent tide of thinking that we carry with us, the lens through which we see the world. Individualism in-and-of-itself is not a bad thing: in the past, the lack of individualism at the civic level has resulted in the abuse of human rights. The right to vote and to self-expression are very important to improve the lives of human beings. We must recognize, however, that there is a cost of overemphasizing individualism: We forget about our interconnectedness, our need for each other.
We forget that life is one big dance.
This dance also occurs at the physiological level. For example, if I am speaking to you, the vibration of my voice will affect you, and your gaze will affect what I say. What I am telling you is not separate from you--if I were speaking to someone else, I would probably say it in a different way.
When I include in my awareness the fact that my being is always dancing with another being, it enlarges the sense of who I am. I am made up of thousands! At the same time, it generates a profound humility: Who I am is not about any one special and particular thing that is in me.
In traditional logic, to be both unique and made up of others doesn’t make sense, but it is one of the most extraordinary things about existence. We (and the tree, the dog—all things) are both unique and part of a whole.
This point of view profoundly affects how we learn and how we think. When you think, your thoughts are not yours alone, they are influenced by thousands of others. When you speak, history speaks through you. When you deeply listen to another, you learn something, not only because of the information you receive but also because of the connection created. You begin to see yourself in the person that is speaking, you begin to realize that your issues, your sadness, your pain, your joy are all tied to a world that you are sharing with other human beings.
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Author: Julio Olalla
Julio Olalla, Newfield Network founderJulio Olalla, MCC, founder of Newfield Network, is regarded as a pioneer of the coaching profession and transformational learning fields. Julio has trained thousands of individuals and organizations, CEOs, and government figureheads to challenge traditional thinking and create stronger leaders to navigate the turbulence facing our global community.
Originally an attorney with the Chilean government, Julio made his way to the U.S. after the 1973 Chilean coup d’état. He is based in Boulder, Colorado with a travel schedule that takes him worldwide.
His multi-cultural perspective makes him an in-demand, trusted advisor of Fortune 500 companies, international governments, and high-profile individuals. Julio Olalla is a sought-after keynote and motivational speaker, addressing audiences on leadership, organizational learning, education, emotion, and executive coaching. He is dedicated to generating a healthier, more sustainable way to inhabit the planet.
Julio Olalla is the author of From Knowledge to Wisdom.