Self-Work in Coaching, Consulting, and Leadership: Awareness Matters

A business client once told me she just did not have the time for the self-work that so deeply influences our actions and interactions, professionally and personally. I responded with understanding and compassion about the challenges of her life. But I also referenced the importance and positive impact of the work of Emotional Intelligence (by Goleman), Mindful Leadership (by SIYLI's Chade-Meng Tan), and Awareness IQ (by Siminovitch). Many thought leaders and leadership experts agree that self-work—a commitment to reflecting on one’s values and inner world—is key for self-awareness, which influences what we choose to respond to and even how we will act. In more strategic language, our responses are “interventions” and are directly related to what we are aware of and the meaning we make from that awareness. Learning what shapes our awareness, and how to then use our awareness in ways that result in interventions that have impact and bring satisfaction, is why presence and use of self are such central concepts for coaches, consultants, and high performing leaders.

On Saying Farewell to Sonia Nevis: Teacher, Adopted Mentor, Legend

Sonia was a tiny woman, about 5 feet tall, but everyone who knew her thought she was always the biggest person they were lucky enough to meet. She had the kind of depth that made little children smile when she talked to them, and strangers turn their head to hear the next thing she would say. She was once stopped by airport security, who could not believe that anyone would travel with so few possessions. Sonia liked the idea of minimalism. She famously did not like wasting words, as if extra words would ruin what she had to say. She could be very direct and brief with her words. But her message was always enduring, profound, and special to receive.

"A Gestalt Coaching Primer" - Reflections

A book must be the ax for the frozen sea within us. – Franz Kafka

Now that my book, A Gestalt Coaching Primer: The Path Toward Awareness IQ, has been published, I find myself thinking of Kafka’s quote and the reasons that drove me to write this book. I ask myself if I achieved what I intended to achieve. I ask myself if this contribution to the coaching literature will connect with and inspire interested readers. Launching A Gestalt Coaching Primer has brought an unexpected flood of memories along with new surprises.

Presence and Use of Self



As identified by the Awareness IQ™ model, the gifts of presence include: being able to claim one's internal wisdom, strengths, and creativity; capturing and applying intuitive insights; the capacity for heart-based connections; the courage to voice one's truth; and the elusive competency of reading one's environmental field. We create trust in others when we are able to inhabit our strengths in a grounded manner and have the self-awareness to know what we offer others. Knowing what we evoke in others allows us to be more choiceful in how we intentionally use our presence.

Register soon! Contact Ceren Aydos at

Presence and Use of Self as Instrument: Presence is powerful because people pick up their "story" in themselves just by your showing up! Presence is a complex issue to fully appreciate yet we know when we experience another's coherent and compelling presence.


“Mindfulness” has become a favored competency and way of being, not only in leadership training and practice but also in personal effectiveness. Such is the power of the concept that it seems to have ubiquitous desirability. Yet the concept has been around for years—even for centuries, if spiritual traditions are considered. And because the term quintessentially means being fully aware in, paying attention to, and inhabiting the present moment, I can say that mindfulness is the central principle of the Gestalt approach, though we’ve always called it “awareness.” The Gestalt approach draws deeply from Eastern spiritual thinking (Buddhism, for example), but adapted and modified that rich source to speak more directly and convincingly to Western values and behaviors.

Awareness is the primary catalyzing power of the Gestalt approach. Mindfulness is a contemporary and accessible adaptation of this awareness concept, which is a challenge to fully embrace because of how far-reaching yet microscopic awareness can be. Jon Kabat-Zinn’s definition of mindfulness is widely known and memorable: “paying attention . . . on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.” There is an appreciative and accepting quality to being in-the-moment and being aware in that moment, without judgment and without pre-scripted responses, that releases us from both the past and the future. We purposefully let go of past and future to live in that moment, to pay attention to what moves, motivates, and inspires us now. And this orientation is what gives us the strength and the energy to move forward.

The idea of purposefulness is valuable to Gestalt coaches and their clients, because what we pay attention to on purpose has the effect of enabling us to see in different ways, and deeper and more compelling ways. So moving and compelling is the act of paying attention—the act of intense awareness—that the great Milan Kundera said that paying attention is an act of love.

I invite anyone who wants to learn how to pay attention—which invites emotional self-regulation as well as enhancing professional skills—and how to come into greater contact with your own awareness process to contact me or my colleagues at the Gestalt Center for Coaching or at Gestalt Coaching Works. We teach awareness training concepts that promote coaching, leadership, and personal mastery. I have come to believe that what makes our particular Gestalt approach and our teaching workshops and programs so unique is that we continually ask ourselves: “Is our awareness done in a loving way?”

Love may certainly seem like a strange or even alien ingredient to throw into the burgeoning brew of coach training program “requirements” or “credentials,” but I offer this idea to you as something basic and needed, and invite you to evaluate what it provokes.

If you are interested in working with us in Istanbul or in Toronto, contact us. We welcome and would love the opportunity to work together.

I invite you to watch my brief video detailing an experience I had that reminds me always of the power of being attentive and mindful in the moment.

Dorothy Siminovitch on Mindfulness

Presence and Use of Self: Hillary Clinton's Campaign Challenges

My core work as a teacher, writer, presenter, and executive coach is to guide people into their authentic, embodied, and inspiring selves, and to strengthen their ability to access those gifts of presence in moments of choice. It is always a challenge, as people are often blind to both their strengths and their developmental edges, which are revealed or not. People develop habitual ways of presenting themselves and may not realize when they are out of alignment with their gifts and fundamental values. They may not realize that the way they are choosing to interact with others—that is, the way they choose to use their self as an instrument—does not create the impact they desire.

The Power of Learning in the Presence of Others

Satsang is a Sanskrit word that means "gathering together for the truth" or, more simply, "being with the truth.” Whenever something increases your experience of the Truth, it opens your Heart and quiets your mind. Conversely, whenever something, such as a thought, fear, or judgment, limits or narrows your experience of the Truth, the Heart contracts and the mind gets busier. We are all equally endowed with this capacity to discriminate the Truth.