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  • Foto van schrijverMIke Brouwer

What can we learn from philosophers when working as a coach - de Bouvoir

Simone de Bouvoir’s work as a philosopher and feminist provides valuable lessons for coaches, such as the importance of understanding our individual needs. She argued that each individual should be seen as a unique person with their own values, desires, and motivations. One of her most influential statements was: “On ne naît pas femme: on le devient”. This refers to a personal responsibility in becoming your unique self, rather than taking on a role that is expected of you. As a feminist she would probably not be an advocate of talking about “gender”, which came into use later on. The use and origin of the word “gender” is more in line with the way Linnaeus categorized the living world. It introduces categories to adhere to, while she radically believed in personal freedom and expression, away from any preset identity. Her ideas about the importance of self-reflection, acceptance of personal uniqueness, and understanding are essential values for any coach.

She also emphasized the importance of creating an environment of respect and trust to foster productive dialogue and collaboration, similar to her relationship with Sartre. She believed that we should challenge others to think critically and openly to discover each other’s path to success, in which she believed that one must strive to remain open to the possibility of new perspectives. At the same time, we should be knowledgeable, open-minded, and accepting of individual differences. As a coach, one can learn from her work to approach people with kindness, understanding and respect while maintaining that open mind. She stressed the importance of actively listening to clients and being aware of one’s own biases when engaging in conversations. She particularly pointed to our bias in language, which is predominantly male. We e.g. (still) talk about becoming a “Master” Certified Coach.

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