Jean Davidson is a coach, consultant and facilitator with a 10-year-old business devoted to helping clients move through big transitions with ease and intention. As you can imagine, neuroscience and the Seven Levels dovetail perfectly with the kind of coaching she does and have had a big impact on her practice.
In her interview below, Jean tells us how different her coaching approach is today than it was when she started her business. She also shares about the way BEabove’s neuroscience material has expanded both her clients’ thinking about what’s possible, and her own.
Tell us a bit about your work.
I always struggle with what title to use, but essentially I am the owner/founder of Davidson Consulting and Coaching. About 60% of my work is coaching and the other 40% is consulting, teaching and facilitation.
When you go into coaching there’s encouragement to find a niche. That always bugged me because I didn’t know what my niche would be. There were so many things I was interested in and knew I could do. If I had to categorize it, I would say the theme of my work is transition – people who want to be in a different situation but don’t know how to get there, or have found themselves in a different situation and need help finding traction.
Sometimes that shift can be external and sometimes it can be internal. Sometimes they’ve achieved massive growth and need help managing next steps; sometimes they feel like they’re drowning and they can’t see another way to do what they’re doing. There are so many ways this can play out, but the core of what’s happening is some significant shift.
My clients are often either new team members, or people moving into executive-level leadership roles.
When did your training with BEabove take place? How long have you been using it in your work?
A few years after I completed my CTI training, I was a member of a Twin Cities CTI group that sponsored an event and invited Ann to speak at it. Her topic was neuroscience in coaching and in it she talked about crossing the river, the two neural networks, etc. It was all brand new to me. I had been running into the word “neuroscience” here and there, but Ann put it all together for me. That’s when I knew I wanted to do the Neuroscience, Consciousness and Transformational Coaching program.
The coaching with neuroscience piece was just such a natural fit. Ann and Ursula gave us a zillion tools, and while I don’t use all the tools all the time, I think of them like shirts in a closet. I’ve got a few that I love and a few that I pull out when I need them. Since I did the program, I don’t think there’s been a single session where I didn’t say, “Hold on, I need to let you know what’s going on in your brain right now.” It really resonates for people. Ann and Ursula made it really accessible and actionable for them – it’s something they can walk out with and use themselves. It creates so many ah-has.
What drew you the BEabove training?
Well, I finished CTI in 2010 and started my BEabove training in 2013. By then I had already been in business for 3 years and I had had lots of clients. It’s part of my personality that I always want to understand why, and that’s what the BEabove material does. It helps you understand why coaching works, why our clients have certain challenges, etc.
So when I’m in a conversation with a client, regardless of the words they’re using, I can hear, “Oh, they’re below the line, right hemisphere.” Before BEabove I would have heard that they’re overwhelmed and we could have worked through that, but now I can explain the “why” to them, I can tell them there’s science behind it, and that’s a much quicker way to work through it.
For example there was someone I worked with who told me he was “allergic” to the word “energy”. I was able to frame things in terms of science to give him an entry point, and after a few sessions it really allowed him to embrace that word in a new way.
These tools are working in the background for me all the time. They’re never turned off. So I can always share them with folks if they want to go deeper, but I don’t have to. I only do it if I know they are interested.
What is the unique way that you are using neuroscience, NCTC work?
What I love about what I learned with BEabove is that it can change how we show up. It might seem like kind of squishy, human-development-type stuff to some people – like when I think of engineers or tech folks, that’s not really something they’re interested in. But because there’s neuroscience behind it, it opens the door just enough that they are able to embrace it and start to see the changes take place.
I don’t start any group sessions without something related to metaphors or images. I don’t care who the group is – board of directors, entry level – this is how we start the work. The reason for this is that everything we know is in our left hemisphere, and everything new is in our right. We are going to create a gate to access the right hemisphere, and this is the only way to get new information. So far nobody has said, “This is stupid.” If I do receive any pushback I just tell them that if we want different, we have to access different, and that always works!
What has had the biggest impact on students? On the school?
Two things. First, it’s sustainable. According to the process we learn in coaching training, most of it is reliant on us as coaches asking powerful questions. I think it’s challenging for an individual to ask themselves powerful questions, but with the BEabove material, it’s something they can take away that’s concrete and they can use themselves. I tell clients, “I will be with you as long as you want, but my goal is that you will be able to coach yourself through things in the future”. And with these tools, they can do that.
Second, it lasts. As we work together we are literally rewiring their brains, and those changes really stick. It’s neuroplasticity. They create a new wiring around something and it stays with them. They’ve changed.
How has this learning enabled you to go to places you would have otherwise been unable to go?
There’s such an emphasis now in leadership on the being vs. the doing. The tools and practices I’ve learned from BEabove have impacted both the way I show up with a client, and also who I am in the world.
When I am working through something personally or noticing emotions come up, I am able to stop and think, “Okay is there a tool I can use to get myself out of this?” There’s not a tool in the BEabove playbook that I haven’t used on myself and I have stories that go along with each one. This makes me so much more comfortable and confident using them with clients.
I now see myself as the instrument, as the interface between me and the work I want to do. I really think that’s the biggest gift. I have learned that it has to start with me; I have to use this on myself first, and I do all the time. I think that’s the biggest piece of this – I know how to manage myself.
You can learn more about Jean’s coaching business on her website.