Was Socrates the first coach?
The ancient Greek philosophers and coaching
Flourishing life (eudaimonia)
Excellence (aristia) –Prudence (phronesis) – Morals (ethos)
This original article (a shorter one) written by Barbara Asimakopoulou was first published in International Coaching Federation’s blog
The ancient Greek philosophers, motivated by their love of knowledge (the actual word “philosopher” derives from the Greek words “filos” and “Sophia” which mean “friend” and “wisdom” respectively) have been preoccupied with the investigation of the reasons for human existence and the way men should live, so as to be consistent with their reason for being.
Their views widely appealed ...view middle of the document...
• The discovery, development and leveraging of our skills is primarily the aim of an authentic life through coaching.
Our lives’ target is, according to Aristotle, the pursuit of well-being through practicing and developing virtues; Virtues, are our values and models of behaviour which guide us as towards the way we should lead our lives. Excellence (aristia) is related to the virtuous man, who discovers and explores his/her capabilities (his/her self truth) and practices moderation; the principle of the golden median; the doctrine of the median, that is the avoidance of all excess, exaggeration and shortage. Such virtues were valour, bravery, mildness, consistency, generosity and fairness for Aristotle.
Excellence (aristia) is also common in the business world. Excellence for Aristotle does not necessarily imply perfection, as is the widely spread notion dominating our modern society. Excellence for Aristotle has to do with more action and not persistence in perfection.
• A coach focuses on obtaining the appropriate personality, which is compatible with the genuine aims leading to a happy life.
According to Aristotle, phronesis (prudence) is a virtue of the man seeking essential knowledge and its implementation, i.e. action.
• Your coach urges you to change your life, to live with integrity and for this to happen, you have to start practicing it.
Socrates is the first Greek philosopher who investigated human nature and soul.
• The science of coaching puts man and his behaviour at its centre.
Socrates places the quest for truth, which man has buried deep inside him, at the centre of his philosophy,
• Exactly the same way coaching does.
For Socrates, self-awareness is a fundamental principle-value
• Just like in coaching.
Socrates discovers truth through dialogue. This Socratic dialectic method is called “maieutics” (midwifing) because it helps people give birth to the truth – by discovering it for themselves. Socrates’ mother was a midwife and Socrates used to compare his art of discussion with a midwife’s art. The midwife is not the one giving birth to the child, but the mother. A coach eternally seeks the truth, no matter how difficult it is to discover.
• Coaching is mainly the investigation of truth through dialogue. It is based on the assumption that everybody bears the truth inside them, they only know what is best for them and the coach helps them bring this truth to the surface – to give birth to it.
Socrates aimed at...