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How Plato and Jung Made Me a Better Coach

Angela MacDonald Mar 2, 2015 7:00:00 AM

plato-and-aristotle-in-the-academyGreek philosopher Plato and Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung both spoke of these things called archetypes. Both men spoke of how archetypes influence and define who we are through our behavior.

My studies of archetypes have helped me to become a better coach by tapping into the underlying theory behind them.

My career and my education have taken some interesting twists and turns over the years. I have found myself fascinated by the human make-up, human behaviors, self-development and psychology. I was first exposed to the concept of archetypes through some of Plato's writings. Plato believed archetypes to be mental forms embedded in the soul prior to birth.

Later on, I discovered the theories of Carl Jung and found that he, too, had developed a theory regarding these things called archetypes. Jung identified archetypes as elements of the “collective unconscious” that can be identified through behavior. According to Jung, archetypes are the foundation of our personality, our drive, feelings, beliefs, and actions.

CarlJungNoteI had the opportunity of doing some training with Caroline Myss, author of numerous books, facilitator and speaker on health and the human psyche including archetypes. Myss produced more in-depth information about archetypes. She spoke of archetypes as the governing forces of your psyche and soul, the “archetypes are the architects of our lives.” She believed that through identifying your core archetypes you develop insights into what drives you and makes you tick. She identified numerous archetypes and describes each one in detail in her book Sacred Contracts and guides you through identifying twelve main archetypes

Using archetypes to make you a better coach

If you understand the theory of archetypes and what the archetypes tell us about ourselves and others, you can use that information to do two things. The first is understanding you better. By knowing more about your core temperament, you can leverage your strengths and adapt your weaknesses to improve outcomes in coaching meetings.

The second opportunity comes from identifying the archetypes of others based on observation. Putting this knowledge together with the knowledge of yourself, you can really improve your approach and customize it to each interaction.

Currently I work with an assessment that identifies ones core temperament based on four main traits. These trait groupings can be identified as profile types, which I have discovered is another way of looking at archetypes.

This information is so valuable to have and to use in coaching. It enables you to assist an individual in gaining insight and more in-depth self-awareness. This, in turn, will assist in empowerment, motivation and action. You can use it in identifying the right job fit and areas to coach and empower an individual with regards to their career path.

For more tips on improving the effectiveness of your coaching program with a Coaching Toolbox, check out this blog post.


 

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Topics: Employee Engagement, Productivity, Coaching and Development