Coaching at El Camino

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When a person begins the Way, he inevitably sets two parameters: where am I and where do I want to go?
The same environment, in an alien terrain to our daily lives, can help us to address the desired direction.

Manuel Rosi, a veteran of the Way of Saint James and a real character on the Jacobean route, has written a very illustrative phrase: “Teach your son to be a pilgrim, one day, when he becomes a father, he will copy your wise teaching”. Yes, the Way is an apprenticeship. And although the phrase refers to a very specific learning process – that of being a pilgrim – the truth is that on the Way one does not only learn how to go on pilgrimage: the Way of Saint James is a school of life and from its origins it has been the playground where countless people have learned to work, to relate, to achieve individual and group objectives…

And in this, no matter what the reason is that has led them to set out on the road – devotion, sport, culture, religiosity or spirituality – in the end the teachings offered by the Jacobean route are for all those who travel it to anything that they do so with an open mind and a desire to learn, all that the route offers us.

This will be a learning process that can be done in a self-taught way -as most of the people who travel this millenary route do- surprised at every step by the personal and social teachings that emerge and with the risk of not detecting them all and, therefore, not being able to take advantage of them. But it can also be done by a trusted mentor, a person who knows what we are looking for, what we want to achieve, and what we need to achieve it, and who also knows the possibilities that the Way offers us, and who supports and guides us in this process.

It’s that simple: coaching on the Way of Saint James. It is possible and even recommended. It is enough to take a look at the infinite number of blogs, spaces in Facebook or other social networks opened by pilgrims, to understand three things:

  • First, there are as many purposes for doing the Camino as there are people willing to start the pilgrimage, and all are valid.
  • Second lesson is that all people who do the Way of Saint James learn something that they can put into practice in their lives. Most of them on a personal and emotional level – experiential if you like – but also in their work and professional, social and family life…
  • Third great lesson that the Route to Santiago de Compostela offers us is that the quality of learning is always directly related to the real knowledge that one has of what the Way is: the greater our knowledge and even the previous experience already lived on the Way, the greater use we will have of these lessons.

In this sense, if the Way of Saint James is more than proven to be the ideal scenario for a process of search, reflection and growth, and only for this last reason and if we really want to make the most of our experience, it seems that the sensible thing to do is to consider doing the Way with someone who accompanies us, who knows it and knows the possibilities of growth and learning that it offers us.

But there are more reasons that support us the possibility of carrying out a coaching process in the Way of Saint James. When a person decides to start the route to Compostela, he or she can make an infinite number of preparations or hardly any at all. But what they will inevitably do is set two parameters: the starting point and the arrival point. Where I am and where I want to go. And this is precisely the starting point of any coaching process: Where are we and where do we want to go? We don’t care if the question is related to our work, family or personal life… The question ‘where am I and where do I want to go’ is presented to us as the beginning of a ‘path’ that is best walked with someone who helps us reach the desired destination: our ‘coach’.

Finally, any coaching process raises a question that is often overlooked and ends up making the coaching process more difficult: the distance that the coachee must take from his day-to-day life, from his daily reality, in order to transcend it and find the keys that will allow him to climb, change, correct his course and fulfil his objective, reach his destination.

In this sense, the very environment in which the Way runs and the itinerancy it forces through areas so far from our daily lives will invite us to engage more easily in a deep process of reflection. Not to mention that the very fact of walking is already one of the best allies for any reflective and introspective process that breaks down resistances and barriers.

The assistance of the ‘coach‘ – the trainer – will also allow us to objectively evaluate our starting point and clearly set the desired objective. It will allow us to use objective indicators that will help us to evaluate the progress of the process – if we get closer and how much to the goal – as we develop it. It will also allow us to determine the comparative advantages we have to achieve that objective, what our added value is when it comes to going for it and, most importantly, its previous knowledge of the Way will allow us to take advantage of the synergies of the route to our benefit; not only the material structure but also the opportunities and challenges that each of the stages designed and shaped precisely to achieve that end and that, well guided, will serve us in our training process.

Overcoming adversity, controlling frustration or euphoria, looking out from the battlements of our inner castle and launching ourselves from them into a radical change outside our comfort zone, changing our way of life or preparing ourselves for those inevitable changes that lie ahead, strengthening work and sports teams, creating new teams to face new challenges, detecting and empowering the natural leaders of a group… these are just a few brushstrokes of what the experience of walking the Way of Saint James naturally offers us. To do it in the hand of an experienced and committed ‘coach’ in order to reach that objective that we pursue, that we need to make our company more competitive, our team more effective and harmonious… our life more complete, is synonymous with success.

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