Charliberty, Equality, Fraternity

French flag and tearsThe year 2015 arrives with many challenges, plenty of New Year’s resolutions, dreams, hopes . . . and just after the holiday festivities we are struck by the tragedy of Charlie Hebdo to remind us that freedom, tolerance, and love are values that need to be cultivated in order to be able to live in harmony. It is from this freedom, the right to express ourselves, that we can express our full human potential and use our technological prowess not only to raise human consciousness, but to also protect Life, the life on this planet which impacts the life of all its inhabitants.
Nothing can justify the barbarous acts of killing “free thinkers” with the objective of “killing” the freedom of expression. But we also know that a growing number of people are no longer willing to accept the unacceptable. From these moments of shock, sadness, and anger, the unacceptable additionally takes into account those people who try to penalize the Muslim community as a whole, a community of people who have no link to the fundamentalist extremists who perpetrated the atrocious acts of violence that go completely against the evolution of humanity.
Freedom of expression is a human rightWe can no longer accept the ethnocentricity of certain individuals who manipulate the values of freedom and liberty, who are often the same people participating in demonstrations against gay marriage, preventing same-sex couples from freely showing their love for each other. These people would take advantage of this tragic situation to pass “moral laws” that point in the exact same direction as the extremists and contradict the values of openness and tolerance that are part of our postindustrial society. To these people as well, we say “JE SUIS CHARLIE” — “I am Charlie”.
The events leading up to Charlie Hebdo and the aftermath of these events present us with an opportunity to update our beliefs regardless of our religious or political affiliation or of our sexual orientation. Do our actions and our beliefs put us in a position of elitism, nationalism, racism, or machismo? Or do our actions open up our hearts to all human beings? One thing is certain: we can no longer continue to live by polluting the planet, stripping the earth of all its resources, believing that women are inferior to men, and increasing the gap between the haves and the have nots (which is multiplying by the minute) . . . It is time to no longer accept the unacceptable.
2015 hits us with a huge wake-up call — a call asking us to RETHINK. We can be, every single one of us, a catalyst to provoke change and elevate the level of consciousness in the different vital sectors impacting our emergent future. It is our responsibility and our duty to give a new breath of fresh air to an evolutionary movement, which includes and transcends the legacies of the past, and participate in the co-creation of a new paradigm shift in different areas that impact all of humanity in the 21st century: work, education, family, the environment, relationships, religion, spirituality, entrepreneurship . . .
We are convinced, more than ever, that people are basically good and that we need to change all the systems that no longer correspond to our reality — with tiny steps and with huge steps. The tragedy of Charlie Hebdo rekindles our determination to continue in the evolution of le playground and its evolutionary “playing fields” to accompany those leaders and changemakers who are ready to rock the world to inspire and activate the best improbable future for our planet.

One Single Step Can Change Everything

Thi Bich Doan
Thi Bich Doan
The passage to a new year is symbolically significant: the end of the year festivities, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s resolutions . . . We feel confident that it’s possible to build, to create new opportunities, to realize our dreams and bring our projects into fruition. We all wish each other the best without any limitations.
With the twelfth stroke of midnight on December 31, the New Year begins. The leap takes place naturally, with ease, without us having to put any effort into it – all in a fraction of a second. So what makes the difference? Why is it that everyone participates in this great change, many of us hoping that it will even revolutionize our lives? Could it simply be consciousness, the fact of being conscious and acting consciously?
What if we were conscious of each second that passes, of every opportunity that comes our way during our unavoidable movement forward in time? What if we were to set our intentions, our choices, our actions every time we wanted, even when our energy is drained from facing the turmoils of everyday life? It’s not about encumbering ourselves with repeated obligations without any discernment to motivate us, but rather giving ourselves the space to be in touch with our inner clarity and to liberate our impulsive forces.
How? Personally, I find my fundamental resources in the 4 C’s of the arc model (creativity, curiosity, compassion and courage). It’s not a figment of my imagination but a real observation after the achievement of a very long university endeavour followed by a new professional activity as an energy healing practitioner. On December 17, 2014, I did the oral defense of my dissertation at the Sorbonne University. The topic of my thesis was “Direct Perceptive Experience”. Between 2011 and 2014 I was also taking arc leadership emergessence and arc leadercoach certification courses at le playground, and both of these provided a steady and profound support for my doctoral research work linking science, art and spirituality and the “oneness” of body, mind and spirit.
Life mentors like Lourdes and Marco believe in you and in your potential and are willing to push you in order for you to express it in full force, when perhaps you would have settled for displaying it more quietly. They uncompromisingly bring you to see your shadow side that keeps you safe in your comfort zone and take you to the challenge of overcoming it, going beyond it and expressing it in front of the entire group. In my case, they knew that my force would be to dare to welcome my vulnerability. Behind my intellectual rigor, my martial arts armour and my spiritual wisdom, they knew how to touch the sensitivity of my heart.
Sprout through concreteThe heart is like a fragile sprout that sneaks out through the cement cracks to flourish with the sun’s rays: when this sprout struggles to find the light under the weight of its past stories, it would be a pity not to collect the nurturing water that can nourish it so it can make its own way.
It’s not the other flowers or an external miracle that makes the flower flourish, but the flower itself when it uses its own resources to get in touch with its inner strength. The sap coming up from the earth to nourish it and help it blossom is the universal life force shared by all. Let’s not forget that we are all interrelated and that each step we take is a contribution to the collective energy, which in turn opens us up and transforms us above and beyond our individual personality.
The year 2015 begins with a first step and will be followed by other steps, surrounded by all the steps from everyone else. Let’s offer ourselves the gift of appreciating each of our steps, as uncertain as they may be (were not our first steps as a baby a huge achievement?). Let’s accept with gratitude and discernment the gift offered to us by those who have taken other steps before ours. Let’s give thanks to life for allowing us to walk side by side, to fulfill in ourselves and in those around us that which is most dear to our hearts. This is my invitation, just a small step but one that fills me with joy: the joy of understanding after a frantic and victorious race that one step at a time is sufficient to advance in the right direction.
To learn more about Thi Bich Doan, visit her website at (in French).

Children v.21

Lourdes Gutierrez and Marco Frediani
Lourdes Gutierrez & Marco Frediani
le playground: an ideal playing field to dream and create the new paradigm for children of the 21st century, our leaders of tomorrow!
2015 comes with many magnificent challenges. And as you already know, we love to attain the ImProbable . . . Living in a world of uncertainty, in the midst of a huge economic, social, environmental and spiritual paradigm shift, we are ready to use our bows and arrows to aim, disrupt and reveal the unique creative essence of our future leaders who are no longer willing to accept the unacceptable.
During our different trainings last year, our participants asked us on several occasions, “What is being done in the world of children and education?” There’s been a knocking on the door saying this is urgent — this is a field that needs attention and it’s vital for the Future of Humanity . . .
So on December 18, 2014, the very first circle of 13 “archers” came together to talk about today’s children and many other diverse and related topics essential to the way children experience life in the 21st century, topics that can no longer be looked at from an Industrial Era mindset.
Accompanying, mentoring and/or tutoring children and adolescents, including the field of education and educators, teachers, parents and the role of the “new” family, are all themes that were passionately discussed among this new circle of changemakers. Children were the focal point — these precious beings who live in a completely different reality than we did when we were children. This circle’s mission is both exhilarating and difficult. The areas that touch child development are so vast that one of the circle’s ambitions is to respond to and update many of the different “worlds” of our children’s environments that are obsolete; it is clear that we are no longer meeting their needs.
painted childrens handsEducation as we knew it is no longer adapted to a reality in which there is no need to mold everyone to fit into an Industrial Era map of the world. Today children have all types of information, both good and bad, readily available to them on the Internet via a plethora of electronic devices. At school it is no longer sufficient for a child to simply memorize information and regurgitate it; today’s child needs to feel capable of looking for information and using his creativity to be able to make something new. The 21st-century child needs to learn to navigate, express his ideas, find new ways to do things, gather all his resources, and learn to cocreate within a team (even when many already benefit from easy access to the collective intelligence). Our children need to learn to trust their intuition. Many of today’s children and adolescents are much more evolved in the intangible intelligences and have deeper access to sensations, feelings, and visions — they come wired with an incredibly developed emotional and energetic sensitivity. These children desperately need us to be able to meet them in their world, which sometimes goes beyond our rational capacity to understand. And yet, there is a calling for us to be able to give them the tools, competencies and our experiences, both in the tangible and intangible realms, in order for them to reach their highest aspirations. It’s not about making them fit into a box which no longer makes any sense.
We know that the path ahead will be difficult — it’s a true multidisciplinary and multidimensional challenge that this circle has embarked on. This circle of evolutionary leaders has taken it upon itself to create a new discipline that includes and transcends our previous ones.
We are still feeling the resonance of this first encounter — the passion, the glances exchanged, the emotional intensity. It was like being witness to something that is bigger than ourselves and, at the same time, having the conviction that we have something to transmit at this particular moment of our human evolution. There’s a reverberation of plotting a scheme that is both powerful and fluid — it’s the fire of this circle, each one of us being magnificently different from the others and being able to cocreate something beyond our single-minded comprehension.
We are experiencing a moment of expansion, of realization of ImProbable dreams — the creation of an evolutionary movement. This first circle fuels our vision to create other circles of “archers” who provoke change and inspire evolution in other areas that need us to think differently and act differently. To be continued . . .
Are you ready to play with change and lead the change from a different level of consciousness?
Come join a circle! Contact us for more info.


Matthieu Bister
Matthieu Bister
It is there
in front of you
  above you
all the time
  behind you.

It is a leather coat slowing down your shoulder.
An armour in the way of faster.
A frame keeping you in the limits
  of its edges
  off the sedges
  of its limitations.
One size fits all.
One regulates.
One deorders.

Waiting for you after a feeling
It gives you a direction
  wrong, obviously.
But you follow it blindfolded by the youth of your heart your mind your life.
You receive it as a gift
like a Christmas chalice
  impossible to bring back
grenouille et boeufby your predecessors
  to get rid of it
parents or others.

You feed it and nurture it
With passion
  and conviction.
It grows under the sun
nourished by some

Latent, deep within you.
Ancient. After all, you.

HERA France: Rebuilding Lives Around the Passion for Entrepreneurship

Chiara Condi of HERA France
Chiara Condi
I started HERA France after a very long period of self-discovery. It all began the day I quit my job, not knowing what I would do next. It was not an immediate next step; it took me a long period of illness and loss to get me back to a reality that I love. To say it briefly and succinctly, my work for an international organization had left me so disappointed in my ability to change things that I just abandoned hope for a little too long.
Looking back, I not only see how difficult it was for me at the time, but today I also see precisely why: it was not because of the reality but because of how I saw it. I was plagued by feeling a terrible loss at having left my job where I had worked so hard and not knowing exactly what I was leaving it for. I refused to see that things could be any other way than they were or that I could bring new ideas and solutions. When I finally decided to move on, I had to start from zero. How do you build a structure to help women when you don’t have any money to do it?
For too long I hung on to the incorrect notion that it was an impossible dream. Then one day I decided that I could do it by inspiring others to see the same change that I wanted to see. I knew that eventually it would build enough followers, the right people I needed, to create something with others. From that day on I simply shared my vision far and wide with everyone I could, believing that eventually enough people would adhere to the notion. The great thing about working this way is that those who adhere somehow become investors in the process—your success becomes theirs and they work with you, not for you. I didn’t know that at the time, but that makes all the difference in the world in the long run.
la coccinellePerhaps the key was that I was so convinced about what I was doing that I knew it would happen and suddenly I stopped thinking about when. I no longer thought about how it was going to happen and started to concentrate on the first steps. That was perhaps the most important realization in the process, because one should not underestimate the power of seeing a first step. I’ve come to appreciate the fact that any success, no matter how small, fuels your next success.
Somehow over the past year and a half I did it, starting from scratch to build an organization that helps women who have been victims of violence and trafficking become entrepreneurs. The program lasts one year, throughout which it helps them go from passion to project.
In the process, I learned that belief in changing the world is also contagious. Soon enough that brought me to the right person in a business school who led to the program’s acceptance by its board of directors. One business school brought another, and entrepreneurs brought other entrepreneurs who then brought other people. That’s how it happened. You put in enthusiasm, knock on doors and then momentum plays a magic of its own. Today I thankfully find myself in the position where people find me. The program is heterogeneous, unexpected and full of character because it is not built around me, but around the talents and skills of the individuals I gathered around me who express themselves fully. I’ve come to believe that just like for the board of a company, this diversity is the best way to ensure success and hedge against failure—somewhere someone will always have a brilliant idea and it will be something you never thought of before.
And you can’t spend your life preparing. The truth is that you could spend your life preparing, but at some point you just have to announce to yourself that no matter what—perfect or imperfect—the show will start as is. It’s tough to go on stage because everyone sees your work and you will inevitably be judged. It’s true that it can always be better, but that’s what the future is for—otherwise what would we have to look forward to?
I don’t want to make it sound as if the path was easy and especially not as if it was drawn out and clear, because that is far from the truth. I’ve had to deal with the most unpredictable things that I could have ever imagined. How could I have guessed that those who help women are also so reluctant to expose them to new challenges, even when they have the possibility to help them reconstruct their lives? Thus, I learned that worrying too much was useless because in the end the things that actually do happen are the things you could have never foreseen. You just have to have faith and at every challenge and obstacle believe that you will find a solution.
What role has Le Playground played in this path? First of all, I always like to say that I do not make the women I help, nor my mentors for that matter, go through anything or any experience I have not tried myself. This is my stamp of integrity—that I promise people that I believe fully in every person and part of the program. This means that I asked them to be part of the adventure because of the impact they had on me and I believed they could have on the people I serve. The beauty of it is that it has become a pillar of the common HERA experience as much for the mentors as for the women involved, and it has helped us all come together around a common vision and a shared language for making it come true. It has brought others to believe in their own dreams as much as in our common dream as an organization.
HERA France logoWhat was the most rewarding part of the experience? Seeing that people can change and witnessing the change. I thought I would only see it in the mentees, but on the contrary I see it also in the mentors, and it has somehow spread to all those who come into contact with our group. I have come to see it as inevitable that we grow ourselves as we help others. It means that everyone is fully invested and we are not invested in a result but in a process—that means that we are open to the fact that the process will change us. And I am proud to say that for every one of us it has.
For more information, contact Chiara Condi at

SSEO Has a Joyful Ride in Le Playground

What does it mean to be a leader?
What does it mean to be a great leader?
What does it mean to be a great leader in business?
And what does it mean to be a great leader in the business of social enterprise?

Claire Ross Dunn, Fellow, School for Social Entrepreneurs Ontario
Claire Ross Dunn

The School for Social Entrepreneurs Ontario’s 2014 Cohort had a chance to explore these interesting ideas for three intense days of work with France’s innovative training company, le playground.
Based in Paris, le playground is the brainchild of cocreators Lourdes Gutierrez and Marco Frediani. They deliver training programs to both individuals and groups in the areas of business development, leadership and changemaking. With these goals, Marco and Lourdes came to Toronto in May 2014 to work with social enterprise leaders of today and tomorrow.
For SSEO’s purposes, a social enterprise is any organization – charity, non-profit, cooperative, or for-profit – whose primary goal is the betterment of society. It makes sense, then, that a social enterprise would need a particular kind of leader: one who is not out for profit first and foremost, but out for something deeper, better, and greater.
There are many companies that develop their enterprise and then, later, set up a Corporate Social Responsibility office to ‘give back.’ And yet, one arm of the company might not know what the other is doing. One mandate might not match the other. Head office’s efforts might boost shareholder dividends, and the CSR office’s efforts might buff up brand image, but much else (people, children, the environment, labour conditions, etc.) may suffer in the process.
Social enterprise proposes something different: that, out of the gate, the whole is carefully conceived and considered, with a measurable and transparent triple bottom line (people, planet and profit). It’s a win-win-win scenario, not just for shareholders, but for everyone.
If the social enterprise business model is about the whole, the person who leads that social enterprise must consider the whole, too.
So what does this mean?
It was this question that SSEO and le playground explored, in a leadership context, over 3 days, with a combination of group discussion, brainstorming, exercises and, yes, fun. Our discoveries were profound, concretizing, and inspiring. We are 20 Fellows, with 20 very different social enterprises in the sectors of health/wellness, the environment, youth, the arts, education, e-commerce, social connectedness/multiculturalism, and charitable/non-profit work. And we are 20 very different people – in age, background, and perspective.
But we share a common purpose: to work not just for ourselves, but for the greater good. During our time with le playground, we all had breakthroughs in the growth of our social enterprises and ourselves. And we learned from each others’ discoveries as well.
I, for example, am a graduate of theatre school back in the 80s. For the last 17 years or so, I have made my living writing and story editing for film and TV. For the last 9 years, I have also run a small charitable initiative called Cuppa Change, where we raise money for international and local development by selling fair trade coffee. Now I am venturing into this foreign land of start-ups and digital platforms. But this weekend, it occurred to me that all these parts of me are connected – and valuable – in my new venture.
I am my business. My values are the values on which I build my venture. I lead it with my whole self: my awareness of the world, my vision of a better future, my behaviour as a leader and therefore a caregiver of not only those who work inside the four walls of my business, but of those who live outside those four walls, too.
I bring not only my head to my business, but also my heart. Yes, I have an ability to write a business plan, do market research, find financing and develop a prototype, but I also have an ability to use my best personal qualities – those of empathy, compassion, and creative expression – to move my business forward, and to move others.
A leader who can marry these qualities of both head and heart can evolve from start-up to full-steam. A leader who can marry these qualities has the courage to be a changemaker now, and in the future.
Albert Einstein said, ‘No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.’ le playground helped me, and nineteen other SSEO Fellows, make a shift in our consciousness.
Now our job is to move that to action.
SSEO - School for Social Entrepreneurs Ontario - 2014 Cohort
School for Social Entrepreneurs Ontario – 2014 Cohort; Photo: Seyed M. Tabaie

The Postconventional Entrepreneurs’ Revolution

rethink with / penser autrement avec le playground

Disrupting to create the future

In a recent email from one of the fellow students at SSEO (School of Social Entrepreneurs Ontario), we received the following testimonial after a three-day leadership training this past May:

“…Marco and Lourdes are pioneers in a new leadership model that brings a new consciousness to leadership development. le playground celebrates the human heart, the innate intelligence of our souls, and together with our greatest intentions teaches us that we can create magic in a world that needs innovative and authentic leaders. I really, truly love what you are doing and I hope you both reach the hearts of the many international corporations and businesses that have people within them who  are praying for someone like you both to come along and unleash their power to do good in the world.”Natalia Savone

Natalia Savone’s words truly hit the core of what we do. In today’s postindustrial society with its technological innovations and widespread access to free communication, constant change happens at the speed of light. Unfortunately, most conventional corporations are fighting to survive or expand with short-term cosmetic solutions from the Industrial Era that are not adapted to our current times and changing needs.
At le playground, one of our passions is working with companies and organizations that truly wish to go through a process of transformational change, a completely different way of doing things – companies who wish to RETHINK the way they do business, RETHINK the way they treat their employees, RETHINK their definition of leadership and how they express it, RETHINK their impact on the planet and its limited resources. It takes a company that is willing to disrupt the system for a greater good, sourcing a long-term and sustainable vision where people, planet and profit are an equal part of the equation.
And although doing this type of work inside corporations is something that the world desperately needs, a lot of them are not ready to pursue real transformational change. It’s a scary proposition to ask a company, an organization, a government or a group of educators to change the way they do things. However, the world is changing . . . a new economic paradigm is emerging, and thanks to the innovative changes and advancements in technology, people are starting to do business differently. The traditional 9-to-5 job is becoming a thing of the past. Since many companies are not keeping up with the external changes of our times at a quick enough pace, the best-performing and most innovative people are becoming deeply dissatisfied – even depressed – with their “conventional” jobs.
This new mal de siècle is becoming more and more apparent in our society. Thus, many of these wonderfully creative people who have been stuck working in environments that put them “inside the box” are finally deciding to leave the corporate world and go after their own dreams. We are entering the era of the local-global small business (LGSB), and companies are losing their best people because they are not being seen and not given responsibilities and projects in which they can express their leadership or their  true and creative selves.
A true revolution is starting to happen, and le playground is excited to be playing an active role in this new revolution. We see it and are part of it because many of the people who come to our leadership trainings are yearning to find meaning in their Work, Work with a capital W. People are looking for Work that takes into account their passions, their talents, their creativity and the desire to contribute something to the world, to something much bigger than themselves. These are the people who are taking the big leap, leaving the conventional system of the corporate world of the Industrial Era, willing to disrupt the status quo to create something they dream of doing that has meaning and impact. These are the new entrepreneurs of the 21st century, creating their own businesses where passion, people, planet and profit are the four essential ingredients in developing a successful enterprise. If you feel that calling, you may be ready to become an entrepreneur and be a part of the entrepreneurial revolution. This world of postconventional entrepreneurs, of local-global small businesses is one of the important pathways where real change is taking place. Do you feel the calling to be a part of the postconventional entrepreneurial revolution?

You have to live it!

It all began next to the coffee machine, during a conversation between colleagues.

I had been searching for a coach training program for some time. I wanted to complete my training and enrich my work of accompanying the employees at my company.

coffee245“I’m looking for a school to take a coach training program, but nothing I’ve seen so far has convinced me,” I said, drinking my cup of morning coffee.

“Ah!” said one of my colleagues. “I’ve just finished a course that changed my way of looking at accompanying individuals . . . but I won’t tell you any more than that because it’s experiential; you have to live it!” When uttering that final phrase, her face broke out in a radiant smile.

The discussion between colleagues continued, but I didn’t forget her phrase “it’s experiential; you have to live it!”

What could this training possibly have that was so distinctive that one had such a smile upon remembering it? A training program is a training program, period, I said to myself. But my curiosity took over and I immediately called my colleague to learn more . . . and I began the training program.

One day, someone knocked at my office door. I didn’t know this person and didn’t know what he wanted.

Once the introductions were made, our exchange began in a rather surprising manner:

man“I came to see you because I was told that one can really talk to you. Nothing is going right with my work. I’m killing myself working, but no one seems to notice.” Following that phrase, there was a long silence.

I accompanied the silence, and then he spoke to me of his problem while I listened attentively. After he had finished, I replied, “I don’t quite understand. For me, there’s a big contradiction . . . ” I explained the reason for my response.

His face darkened for a moment, and then he said, “No one has ever presented it in that way. How were you able to see it so quickly? You’re right; I never wanted to see my part of responsibility for the problem.” Then he smiled at me.

We continued to have other exchanges at other times.

The last time he came to see me was to thank me. According to him, I told him what he didn’t want to hear, and I accompanied him in going beyond the problem, all the while respecting his point of view and encouraging him.

“I don’t know how to do it” has never produced a good result. “I will try” has regularly accomplished wonders. “I’m going to do it” has resulted in performing miracles.

From the very first day of the program arc leadercoach essence, I began to understand the reason for the big smile on my colleague’s face.

possible2During the training, I learned that we can move mountains with the force of our most magnificent inner self and that we can make a difference in accompanying individuals.

“One can never consent to creep when one feels an impulse to soar.”
Helen Keller, American writer, educator and social activist

the art of arc

“When you draw a tree, you must feel yourself growing with it.” – Chinese Proverb

Mark Rothko - Blue Divided by Blue
Mark Rothko – Blue Divided by Blue

Connecting the visual arts, life and personal evolution has always fascinated me. For many years I directed a programme of art workshops in the UK in which artists coached young people on how to express themselves more fully through the challenges of drawing from the naked human figure. The workshops took participants on a journey of self-discovery through visual language in which the subject was life itself and the process of intense artistic questioning enabled previously hidden talents and potential to emerge
I have also seen the way in which a work of art or an artist’s philosophy can resonate deeply with someone and how, when they are inspired by an artist touching his or her own ‘essence’ in their art, they can feel more connected to themselves and their own essence. They may also feel more aligned with their own creativity and realize that they, too, can be artists in their own lives. They have the power to carve, paint, draw and conceptualise themselves in infinite ways in the search for their most profound passions and ‘life purpose’.
When I participated in the arc leadercoach essence programme earlier this year, I could sense many connections between artists’ approaches and the arc coaching model, and various ideas came to mind. I reflected on how the creative processes of well-known artists demonstrate a fusion of creativity, curiosity and compassion combined with moments of courage where an innovative leap takes place, and a new kind of artistic expression or state of being is brought into the world. As is the case with a client, these kinds of developmental breakthroughs can happen several times in an artist’s evolution, each time bringing them closer to revealing their creative essence in visual form.
Like coaches, artists dig deep and use numerous strategies to explore their subjects, clarify their intentions and ‘name what’s present’. They are expert at taking risks and breaking boundaries to fully express unconscious, intangible feelings. Artists are constantly questioning themselves, their direction and purpose, beliefs and values. They are brilliant at examining re-examining inner and outer realities.
Claude Monet - Impression, Sunrise
Claude Monet – Impression, Sunrise

The key elements of an artist’s ‘essence’ are usually hinted at in their early work through their instinctive choice of subjects, colours and techniques. It can then take time, perhaps a whole lifetime of self -questioning and exploration, to be fully expressed, where the form and materials are completely aligned with the meaning. It feels the same in our own lives: the threads of our unique essences are there from the beginning, but may never be integrated or fully realized without a coaching context.
Claude Monet’s famous early painting of sunrise in the port of Le Havre, with its simple expression of light and atmosphere on water, shows all the elements of the artist’s lifelong search to capture his ephemeral impressions of nature in paint, but it took until nearly the end of his life for these to become the full subject of his art.  In his daringly abstract cycle of water lily murals in the Musée de l’Orangerie, we can completely touch the artist’s essence on an immense scale. Poetic sensations of light, colour, water and atmosphere have become the entire subject of the painting and all reference to visual reality has disappeared.
Mark Rothko - No. 1
Mark Rothko – No. 1

The large abstract paintings of Mark Rothko in which simple colour fields are the portals to our deepest feelings and states of being are for me examples of this artist in his essence.  The palpable silence of these paintings requires us to be fully present emotionally in the here and now and invites us to reflect on our sensations. The nuances of colour open the paintings to numerous interpretations, with joy and sadness often layered in the same image and the intangible inner world made tangible.
Henri Matisse - The Sheaf
Henri Matisse – The Sheaf

Henri Matisse is perhaps the ultimate arc artist. Running through the whole of his work and his writings is a search for essence and the complete and simple expression of his inner reality. The carefully modulated colours and articulate lines in his earlier artworks were gradually intensified into the essential shapes and forms of his later ‘cut-outs’. The artist’s values and vision are clearly expressed as much by what he chooses to exclude from the image as by what he chooses to include. Emotional authenticity was of key importance for Matisse, who said that his artistic curiosity was constantly fed by being in touch with his feelings and intuition.
The arc model helps coaches to bring clients greater consciousness and clarity about what it is they really want to express in their lives, their essence, the deepest possibility of who they are, and the creative steps they need to put in place to release this potential. Sometimes there are no precise terms to communicate moments of transformation, and visual language may express these states more articulately than words. The visual arts can provide a rich frame of reference and an additional source of metaphors to support this process, while also suggesting questions to deepen the search and widen the focus.