Svetoslava Stoyanova is a personal growth cultivator, speaker, and communication strategist. She is а certified professional coach, holding a credential from the International Coaching Federation. As a career and growth coach and business constellations facilitator, she accompanies founders and corporate professionals in their unique journey to fulfillment in business.
With one conversation at a time, we may not be able to change the world, but we may possibly change someone’s world. There are circumstances in life, as so in business, when it is not about a conversation but is more about creating a space for a person or team, ‘to be’ – to hear, to listen and to sense what is there for them beyond words and thoughts. Such ‘space’ is available, “if only we are brave enough to see it, if only we are brave enough to be it” – to reword Amanda Gorman’s ‘inauguration’ poem from the beginning of this year. One way to create that space for a person, group or team is something I call ‘coaching constellation’. It stems from organizational constellations, based on Bert Hellinger’s family constellations concept and the theory of systemic thinking.
Your business avatar starts with who you are
“The context this work was born into is that the first ‘team’ to which we belong is the family of origin. In every other team we belong to thereafter (business, organization, etc.), we are either looking to replicate what worked really well in our family or find what we didn’t get. This means that we bring our family system and its stories with us everywhere we go, and that teams for example, often behave like families (with all the function and dysfunction of that!),” says Laura Beckingham, who enables people to live and lead more consciously, through systemic constellations and more.
“For business owners and leaders, this instrument provides quality time for self-reflection and 360 degrees’ observation of a difficult situation, challenge, as well as potential for business growth. Tapping into something we can call deep data, we can come up with more effective and sustained solutions to complex challenges,” adds Lachezar Afrikanov, who is using systems theory in his coaching approach towards school and NGO leaders.
“This approach gives you in-depth insight and helps you to establish the source of a problem in a short time. Use business constellations whenever there are repeating problems, patterns that don’t work or issues that can’t be solved with rational thinking,” suggests Martijn Meima, a business coach and trainer, who recently published a book about entrepreneurship viewed from a systemic perspective.
A coaching constellation in action
A mighty way to determine the effect of something is the Before-and-After approach. Bravely enough, I decided to go this way, while crafting this article. I opened a call for clients to volunteer and Iana Avramova, an energetic serial entrepreneur, was willing to explore her inner journey on a sensitive subject for most startups: money. Hats off to her for being open and authentic in sharing her constellation experience with us.
BEFORE THE SESSION
DURING THE SESSION
The session itself was a one-and-a-half-hour online coaching conversation. We started with distilling Iana’s initial challenging question about her relationship with money. During the course of the session she gradually moved from [How to achieve financial abundance with ease?], to [How to achieve financial freedom with ease?], to the most resonant to her exploratory journey question [How to achieve financial ease?].
Constellation process needs a leap of faith, in order to reveal new perspectives and insights. As Laura Beckingham put it, what makes a [business] constellation effective is “allowing it all ‘into the room’. It works when the facilitator is letting go of the need to ‘constellate’ literally and working more systemically in a broader way.” A constellation can be set up with people, floor or table markers or objects, representing elements of the question at hand, and from that, the information needed emerges.
I introduced a digital version of ‘table markers’, to represent each of the elements playing an important role in client’s inquiry. We settled representatives for Ease, Money, and for Iana, using virtually the system deck of coaching YOCO cards.
[10 days] AFTER THE SESSION
A week after our coaching constellation session, I e-mailed Iana Avramova with a few questions to reflect on, and a few days later she came back to me with answers.
Svetoslava: What were your thoughts and feelings when you entered the session?
Iana: I was expecting that it will help me move at least one step forward towards more clarity. I knew I had a blockage related to money and finances. In the past I have been doing a lot of work on the issue but still, something was obviously missing. So, the session for me was mostly about digging, figuring out, and systemizing what is sabotaging me and preventing my start-up from earning good money.
What made you slightly but markedly change your question a few times in the session?
Iana: What I have found out during my personal and professional development is that desire always beats will. In all three times the question was valid for my case. The problem was that the words I was using were too big for me. Changing the question throughout the session allowed me to desire and feel comfortable with it. If I had kept on the initial question, I would fail inevitably at one point. Now I know I can stick with this final question and the actions it requires for the long term.
What new perspectives did you gain with the final question that you hadn’t had with the one you entered the coaching constellation session?
Iana: A huge discovery for me was that I take money and finances very seriously. When something is so serious, it requires enormous effort, long-term vision, detailed strategy, complete dedication, lack of sleep, personal life, time for the kids, time for reading, sport or anything in general. I do not want to get that serious. I want to keep some independence, some leisure and lazy time, I want to avoid being stressed, tired, overwhelmed and nervous. Changing my perspective and allowing myself to think of money as a means, made it easier to think, feel, and see earning money as a game. The greatest discovery was the change of perspective. Like Wayne Dyer has said it “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change”.
How was the coaching constellation process instrumental to you?
Iana: An amazing process. It allowed me to get all my thoughts out, to see them arranged into a visual. It helped me screen out the important and relative thoughts from the rest. For me it was of a great importance to doubt each thought and belief I have, in order to first figure out how I sabotage myself and second to come up with a completely new way of looking at things.
SYSTEM AWARENESS AND A BONUS FOR YOU
What Iana Avramova experienced within the coaching constellation was self and system awareness and letting herself take the world as it is, through observing reality without judgment. System awareness has four components that we all can focus on too, when we examine a challenge: knowing it 🡪 sensing it 🡪 asking [yourself and the systems you belong to] and 🡪 doing [taking action towards a new, desired perspective].
DIY: A BUSINESS CONSTELLATION BY MARTIJN MEIMA
“Try it yourself and experience how the process works. Use your intuition to investigate how to get the best out of your company. This constellation can support you to use the full potential of your company or project.
- Use four sheets of paper and write the following on them
- I (or your name)
- My company (or the name of your company)
- The full potential of … (fill in the name of your company)
- The first next step (literally write down these four words. You don’t have to know what this step is)
- Intuitively place the sheets in the room or put them down where you think they should be.
- Then step on the sheet of paper with “I” and observe what you experience there. You can pay attention to signals from your body, your emotions, your thoughts. You just observe, without judgment.
- Investigate how you relate to the other elements. Imagine people standing on the other sheets of paper. If you do this with other people, you can ask them to stand on the other sheets of paper.
- If you have a sense of moving, move your sheet of paper and let your feet determine its position.
- Take some time after moving the sheet of paper to observe the changes. What do you experience in this position and how do you now relate to the other elements?
- Slow down and take your time. If you have registered all information, take another 30 seconds to allow subtler information to present itself.
- Step off this sheet of paper. Shake, turn around, and stamp your feet, before you continue.
- Repeat steps 3-8 for the other sheets, “My company”, “The full potential of xxx”, and “The first next step”. Make sure you really step off a sheet of paper, shake, turn around, and stamp your feet before stepping on the next one.
- Finally, end on the sheet of paper with your name on it and observe what it is like to be in that position now and how you relate to the others.
- Write down what information you have received about your company and its full potential. Also, write down the information you got about the first step. Decide to really take this step in the next few days and be curious to the results this will bring. Don’t expect anything, be open to everything.”
Do you remember when you learned to swim? The harder you tried to control the situation, the faster you sunk. The moment when you let go of control, you then stayed on the surface without effort, enjoying the lightness of your body. This is a micro-moment and everyone who struggled with swimming at first, can recall it. Reliance meets the laws of physics and you are floating. You are a step forward and this is just the beginning of an adventure.
Same thing with business constellations. What makes them effective? Part of me believes it might be our maverick imagination in a free discovery; another, more solid explanation lays down the principle of quantum physics, revealing nonlocality and entanglement. The explanation may well be hidden in the phenomenon of social fields.
On the whole, a constellation is about employing the system’s wisdom, beyond tangible, conventional knowledge. It means that the person or the leader, if it is teamwork, will not look for a quick fix, but will start searching for the root cause of a symptom. Cultivating system awareness means exposing ourselves to the ability we all have – to look at situations, relationships and challenges as related to the whole system. However, it is about acknowledging the world as it is, through observing reality without judgment. It happens when we are brave enough to see it, we are brave enough to be it’.