This is an extract from my book “Developmental Coaching”

I really appreciate Ken Wilber’s work. His ongoing development of a framework enables so many people to understand the world better. As well as my formal studies in Organisational Psychology (University of London, Birkbeck College- an excellent programme) it has been superb to have the time to spend years studying his work. On a personal level, placing my own experiences into a larger developmental, or should I say integral, framework allowed a ‘bringing together’, through my own efforts and with much guidance from my own coaches, that I ‘brought myself together.’

Years ago I used to enthusiastically begin discussing Wilber’s work in great detail in the first session with a coachee. Over time, however, I have found myself sitting with a pen and paper, as I scribble through this incredibly useful model in a later session. For Devlopmental Coaching we will focus on the practical applications how you can use this with the coachee at this stage.I find you will achieve better results, as will with coachees, if you understand their areas of relative focus in relation to the model.


Let me now begin a scenario that this session will unpack as we go: What is necessary for me to understand the following phrase? ‘I am a creative Developmental Coach’.

Here we have a question that could be answered in many different ways. From the use of ‘I am…’, we can all see that it is a statement about ‘identity’. It also says something about how I see myself, i.e. ‘creative’. For me to say I am creative may mean that factors other than my self-perception of ‘me’ as a practitioner are operating. Furthermore, for me to make any value judgement of my capabilities, there must be an interpretation of what I do within the coaching culture – I must have interpreted what I do and where I do it within the context of the coaching culture/community. In other words, I must be comparing myself. So the identity level statement is not just a comment about myself, but also says that I exist within the coaching culture. The statement of ‘I’ therefore has a relationship with ‘We’, i.e. the coaching community. Also, for me to be a coach, I might have received some sort of certification proving I am qualified, or my coaching qualification may be based on qualifications I already have – this may be from a university, professional body etc. There will have been a system in place that recognises me (or at least a system such as the business I operate in).

So, the statement exists in 4 domains:

mind – ‘I’ actually experience the thought in my mind

there are correlative changes in brain chemistry – ‘it’, e.g. synapses fire in the brain etc. It is also the realm of observable behaviour – I ‘do’ something as coach

culture – ‘we’, to agree or disagree with the statement

society – ‘its’ – society has processes for certification and application

In order to have a more complete understanding of reality at whatever level of consciousness, Wilber suggests that all four quadrants (I, we, it and its) need to be considered in all life areas. To ignore any one is to reduce ‘reality’ into something that it is not. In the coaching context, it may help to broaden the way a person thinks about their life and its workings. In fact, I think it is part of the fabric of this process.  Makes sense?

Let’s now start unpacking and expanding the 4 Quadrant model and its applications with an overview. We will then move on to relate its applications to coaching and Gallwey’s GROW model.


The overview

Here comes another model for you to get on board. Hold on tight!
In Ken Wilber’s A Theory of Everything (one of many of Wilber’s books to include this model), he explains that existence has developed through 4 distinct, but not separate, areas.


From the moment of the Big Bang at the beginning of time (shown symbolically in the centre), there has been an evolution in different areas. When humans came on the scene, it is expressed through the four areas of “I, we, it and its”. They are manifested as: what is going on inside you (your thoughts, perceptions etc), your body (and brain), the society you live in and the culture (or shared view of the world).

The Individual quadrants

Before turning to the collective quadrants, let us look at the individual ones – ‘I’ and ‘it’. The suggestion is that there is a direct correlation between the two quadrants, and that without the brain, there can be no mind. Think to yourself, ‘I am going to read a coaching book’. You will have experienced the thought, ‘I am going to read a coaching book’. The thought will have contained words or pictures, or both. There is also corresponding activity in the brain, i.e. brain-wave state changes, dopamine increases etc. And in this sense, ‘I’, at a fundamental level, do something – a behaviour – I read.

So what is the major difference between the brain and mind? As you know, the brain and behaviour are tangible ‘things’ that can be objectively observed but for mind, you have to ask questions or experience the content. No matter how much external prodding and poking around you do, you will not find the experience of the thought. The ‘it’ and ‘its’ quadrants are the realms of science and social science – and the tendency has been ‘If you can’t hit it with a hammer, it ain’t real!’ However, the thought is experienced. This is the ‘I’ domain – the inner world of experience – just as valid, but experienced internally. The ‘it’ or brain domain is not separate from the ‘I’ domain but, nonetheless, is different.


In much personal development we tend to focus on the upper left quadrant, i.e. we tend to be very much in the ‘I’ domain – ‘what I think, what I feel, what I believe’ etc. On the other hand, in some forms of coaching, there tends to be a focus on behaviour, i.e. the ‘it’ domain – ‘what I can do’. And there is no problem with that either. The point of Wilber’s model is to show that there are other domains to which ‘I’ and ‘it’ are firmly related and inseparable. In effect, the ‘I’ and ‘it’ cannot exist without the other two domains, but an individual can focus more attention in study and application on the ‘I’ or ‘it’ domains (as they could [and often do] with either ‘we’ or ‘its’).

The Collective areas

Imagine yourself sitting on a park bench and not seeing anyone – ever – nor at your office or bookshop. It is not possible, as life is dependent on other people. And so also is coaching. The lower left quadrant (culture) refers to values that we share with others at a particular point. It is also the “view” of the culture we exist within – this view has developed over time, but different cultures on the planet at this time all can have different views. The way we ‘make meaning’ of the world is dependant on the culture that we are in. The phrase ‘Developmental Coach’ may have no meaning at all outside of a quite limited circle of people; but within it there are many meanings bounding around, don’t they? For instance, for Developmental Coaching it could mean that people have a shared view: this type of coach has studied some developmental psychology, has good interpersonal skills and are endeavouring to continue their own personal development.’ In other words, there is mutual understanding within the culture.

Culture does, however, have its own ‘it’ correlate. This is the social system that culture exists within. For example, for the thought ‘I am going to coach my colleagues at the office’, there must be a system set up whereby a person can gain the appropriate coaching knowledge. There must also be no restrictions upon someone coaching, per se, or no restrictions on coaching at the office. So the social system is about rules, regulations etc. There is also the use of the technology that is available (a social system facet) e.g. skype chat, email, phone etc.

On the other hand, the culture will add meaning to this whole event. There is general consensus within the cultural worldview as to whether the event is worthwhile, good/bad and so on, i.e. culture adds ‘meaning’, interpretation or value to the event. For example, what do colleagues think when you go for a coaching session?


4 quadrant thinking and GROW

Bringing this model together with the goal setting approach from our very first session we will now look at a specific example. This will begin to show its importance within the coaching context. I bet you are feeling warm feeling now that we are tying it all together!

I regularly talk people through ‘seeing the world with clearer, 4 quadrant lenses’ and the results never cease to amaze me. In one instance I remember talking with a coachee who was having a ‘personal crisis’, having lost her belief in herself. I decided it was appropriate to explore this within the 4 quadrants of her life. Initially I didn’t say that I was exploring ‘her world’ through the 4 Quadrant model, but I was. We explored how she thought and felt, how she was acting, who she was relating to and the business she was in. As there had been a new customer booking system introduced within her department, as a senior manager with responsibility for communicating the message of these changes she realised that the culture was rejecting the new processes and how this was causing her personal problems. When she saw that her feelings of failure were related to how the changes were being communicated, she felt free to take appropriate action (which, in this case involved a team meeting and action learning within the group). As I moved towards the close of the interaction she told me that her thinking was now somehow more ‘complete’ and more ‘encompassing’ than an hour earlier. The initial problem no longer felt the same. She felt she had been brought ‘more together’.

On another occasion I worked with senior Fire and Rescue Service personnel to analyse the 2011 riots in London. We discussed how an individual’s behaviour (it) was affected by their poor access to education and resultant attitudes (I) but how their communities (we) felt disenfranchised from the current social system (its). This is a sad and complex issue in cities where rich and poor live within minutes of one and other. The question became how best to intervene to a) prevent future incidents, but also b) to improve the situation for all parties. There will inevitably be multiple approaches to how best to solve such issues, including educational improvements and training opportunities, individuals’ “feeling heard”, community based projects, tax and benefits adjustments based on behaviours.

The journey through these four areas really is fundamental for coaching and I recommend you personally explore which of the lenses within your own 4 quadrant spectacles are clouded over, and which ones contain a stronger lens – I, we, it or its. When you strengthen all the lenses together, your world truly will look quite different; your world will actually change before your eyes – the world will change within your mind.


Let’s look now at an example of using GROW before looking once again at the 4 Quadrants and then bringing them together. In the coaching context you may find that the coachee actually brings a straightforward and primarily behaviourally-based problem to you. If they say, ‘I am not good at presentations’, you may start to explore, using the GROW model, what they want instead. In this case you have begun with the Reality before the Goal – this is very common. If you establish what they want is ‘To believe I can perform well in front of an audience’, you have yourself the Goal. Next you may look at what the person can do about this, what are their Options? After a while they may decide that, out of all the possible options, they just need to believe they are able ‘to learn how to perform better in front of an audience’. The final stage will be ‘What next?’

To move from the Goal stage in this example to the Options stage, in particular, is quite a jump and one that many coaches would love to help their clients make even more quickly and effectively. Through understanding the 4 Quadrant approach, the coach can talk using language that respectfully engages the 4 Quadrants of the coachee’s world. This, I am suggesting, will help the coachee not only make a change, but also aid their long-term development too.

Next, and on the same theme, let’s take belief through the 4 Quadrants. When you say, ‘I believe I am able to learn how to present better’, the belief has expression within the four domains of body, mind, culture and society. Thus, ‘I’ experience the thought as a string of inner dialogue and some visual images. Again, the brain’s dopamine levels will change, synapses fire etc – ‘it’. If a different language was spoken, the belief would consist of different symbols or words with different meanings due to the culture – ‘we’. Also, if there were no presentations to give, a different thought might be there. It may be, ‘I’m going to enjoy ploughing the field.’ – the social ‘its’. So the thought is dependent upon other people (we) and the system (its) as well as the individual (I and its). Culture is necessary to develop these thoughts. If there were no people, who would the presentation be given to? Or, how can specific language develop without people to share it with? The same goes for the social quadrant. The level of technology (using this term to include agriculture etc) and existing codes of practice present determine the thought. Culture needs something substantial to operate in, e.g. buildings, technology, rules. The handouts from the presentation need to be printed and distributed; an overhead projector or computer are often needed.

The statement, ‘I believe I am able to learn how to perform better’, clearly needs all four quadrants to exist.


So, returning to the example and using GROW within the coaching session, the 4 Quadrant model could be used as follows:

‘What would you be thinking and feeling if you did believe this?’ – (I)

‘How would your behaviours be different’ – (It)

‘What do your boss or colleagues think makes a good presenter?’ – (We)

‘How would this change the business system you operate in?’ – (Its)

While they are being talked through the 4 Quadrants in this way, the coachee may reply:

‘Well, I think I would feel more confident and know that I do most things very well.’ – (I)

‘I would spend more time preparing the overheads and slides that I will use.’ – (It)

‘There are people that I compare myself with that my boss considers good. And yes, I will talk with them about their approach.’ – (We)

‘Then, if I believe I can present well I know that it will affect the bottom line within my team. We will get more business.’ – (Its)

You, as the coach, will have facilitated the coachee’s world opening up to a more comprehensive way of thinking about their initial problem. They do something more than just shift the belief. Something will shift as the coachee, fundamentally, has worked out the problem for themselves within the complete four domains of life – I, we, it and its. Guidance on this occasion has been minimal, but it has been present throughout in the questions asked by the coach.


Making meaning

The Developmental Coach then is an integral coach as they understand that we all add a layer of interpretation to events. It is this interpretation that gives us our unique subjective, ‘I’, experience. We don’t just experience life, we also interpret this experience – we ‘make meaning’ about life from this. When we, as individuals, look at an event, rarely will we all perceive (think and feel) the same way about it. The differences in the way we think and feel have a lot to do with the rich tapestry in human life. There are not many great artists that see what Picasso saw; nor are there enough world leaders that hold the vision for the planet in mind while acting on behalf of their nation. The world each of us think is the ‘real’ world is just the individual’s version of the ‘real world’.

This appreciation allows the coach to explore options that exist within the coachee’s world. As I have indicated before, the coach should largely allow the coachee to hold the cards for the choices they make. Maybe the coach’s role is, in part, to give the coachee a few more cards (or help them gain a few); or maybe it is for the coach to help the coachee take a leap so that the cards they hold become of a higher order. Whichever way, the coachee’s (internal) cards will produce their view of the world and the coach should be careful to respectfully accept this view up to the point that it could cause harm to the coachee or someone else. Of course, if the coachee’s view exceeded this point, then firm intervention is certainly valid. When you add the understanding of the non-separateness/inter-dependence of culture and system, it becomes easier to understand that both the individual and collective domains have a relationship to meaning.

The Developmental Coach has the right to observe and comment on the coachee’s haziness on any of the 4 Quadrant domains. If the coach notices that the coachee is focused, let’s say, on how their colleagues feel (we), about what the coachee as an individual does (it), then the questions in the ‘I’ and ‘its’ domains will become important, i.e. because they are not being mentioned. Bringing out the ‘I’ and ‘its’ domains will lead to an expansion of view that will aid in the growth and development of the whole individual within the internal individual mind (I) and social (its) context. Remember that Developmental Coaching is not about fixing the problem alone (although this may be an element) – it is also potentially about growth and development through the solving of the problem. This is one of the reasons it is different to many other forms of coaching.

Some coaches may choose to explicitly show the 4 Quadrant model to the coachee at an earlier point in the journey, when the relationship has reached an appropriate stage, i.e. when they choose to be more explicit about the processes they use. Interestingly, this is when coaching begins to turn its naturally integral corner as it moves into a different frame. As the coach begins to take the coachee through such models as the 4 Quadrants explicitly, they begin to mentor (albeit at the earliest of stages). Mentoring allows for a higher level of guidance than conventional coaching. As I mentioned at the start, Developmental Coaching is not coaching alone. It will take on new meaning as the relationship between coach and coachee develops – a relationship, not surprisingly, that exists within 4 Quadrants. Whatever we do within the coaching context, it is learned and applied within the context of the 4 Quadrants. Understanding this, there can be more balance through developing mind, body, culture and social systems.



This can be another way of approaching a coachee’s goals and dreams, as well as their day-to-day activity. So, during this session you want to be exploring this approach in as many ways as you possibly can.

It is because life exists within the 4 Quadrants that we need to realise the equal importance of each one and that they are non-separate/inter-dependent – they are integral. There is a tendency to over emphasise one of the Quadrant as being all-important, e.g. the Upper Left ‘I’. But even though the functional locus of consciousness (mind) is the upper left quadrant, it is a distributed function across all 4 Quadrants. In other words, you cannot just develop any one quadrant without this leading to a distorted view. Within each of the Quadrants – mind (I), body and behaviour (It), culture (We) and society (Its) – there is a path of development and each Quadrant is affected by the development of another area. For example, in the social system (Its) Quadrant, the move into an Informational age will have seen a move that correlates to this in the cultural (We) Quadrant, an increase in the ‘view’ that is more ‘world’ than ‘self’ centred. But there will also be shifts in the other Quadrants as they are non-separate/inter-dependent. The individual will have new behaviours, e.g. social networking and potentially new ways of thinking that will help integrate all of the other parts. Think for a second how many changes in your personal networking have occurred since social networking sites have sprung up. Technology allows a new culture to emerge (or is the cultural need, first?) and we all think and behave differently to boot.


Things can go wrong!

There can be distortions that occur within any of the 4 Quadrants where development occurs. Even though we may see progress in some ways, we can be held back by the distortions of ineffective progress, just as we discussed earlier. Here are a few examples how they express themselves.

An individual can develop themselves to higher levels of thinking and being, but be held back by a lie they tell themselves, i.e. pushing out of consciousness an event they cannot face – this then affects their behaviours unconsciously. A person may have a condition such as dyslexia whereby their brain, in all other ways fully functioning, hasn’t the required neurology to do a certain task. A culture could be brought together and founded in a religion that focused on devotion, but when the religion is distorted, it can be a powerful weapon- ‘if you kill on behalf of the religion, you will have life everlasting’. A society can say they are developing nuclear power as a safe form of energy when in fact, they have a distorted view in which the bi-products are used to make bombs. So, each domain therefore has its path and its distortions.

When an individual grows and develops (‘I’), their personal view changes. However, unless the individual appreciates the necessary corresponding changes in all Quadrants, they will not see the changes needed in behavioural (‘it’) community service and cultural activities (‘we’), techno-economic infrastructures and social systems (‘its’). For an even more integral approach, the reader will need a thorough appreciation of all of the areas, as I have only touched on some Quadrants. In short, development of an individual manifests in all 4 Quadrants.

The main purpose of this 4 Quadrant model is the applications it has for human understanding of life. Without application it is interesting, but limited. As a result, finding points of application in business, education, medicine, politics etc are already well underway. Below I have suggested a sample of these applications. Please don’t be limited by my own limitations of applications – both in here and out there, there is a 4 Quadrant world that is waiting for you to explore!



With the frequent association that health exists in the ‘I’ and ‘it’ domains, it can be a coaching revelation to appreciate the cultural and social aspects to health as well. I have an example to illustrate this point, but before presenting it, I want to make the following point. I chose the example without any moral judgement and I hope with a little compassion to anyone whose circumstances are or have been similar. My intention is that the example will be an aid in applying and explaining the importance of this principle in terms of 4 Quadrant thinking, and to point towards a potential easing of such conditions. Sometimes you simply never know what your coaching sessions could involve…

Take as an example, if an individual has the misfortune to acquire a sexually transmitted disease. The ‘it’ domain would be the physical manifestation of the disease. The individual will usually receive a prescription from a doctor to deal with the physical problem, but they may also ‘feel’ guilty about getting the disease – it may be through no fault of their own but, nonetheless, they feel the emotion of guilt. This guilt exists within the ‘I’ domain and is just as much an aspect to health as the physical realm. In turn, the individual may seek counselling to help with those negative feelings. They may also find that within their culture this condition is seen as a disgrace. Alternatively, their culture may accept that this is par for the course. Whichever way, the individual’s feelings are likely to be affected by the culture they are part of – whether positively or negatively. This cultural consideration is in the ‘we’ domain. If the individual exists within a social structure that allows appropriate medicines to be supplied over the counter (a system question), then their feelings and condition may dissipate more quickly. If, however, the person could not afford the best treatment, then the body, mind and culture aspects will be affected. These are social system questions in the ‘its’ domain. Note: If alternatively the condition had been a facial skin complaint, it is observable how the individual can be affected in body, mind, culture (by people ignoring them etc) and social system (maybe the doctor’s rules relating to priorities of treating or not treating skin complaints could become relevant).

This example proves how each of the domains impact on the person’s health – it is not just about body; it is not even just about mind-body; it is about mind and body within the context of culture and society. Hopefully you have found that one useful to run through; as the coach, it is your role to support the understanding that health extends to all 4 domains of the Quadrant.

An interesting revelation that came out of one coaching session was that many health conditions improve considerably if you have money available to pay for the attendance of ‘top’ doctors. So ‘its’, in this case money, is a vital aspect of health. In the same way, diet (often related to both money and culture) also has an impact. To be healthy, we need then to apply our minds so that we appreciate how our health is embedded within each of the 4 Quadrants and that our health can actually develop to higher degrees through operating in these areas.

Here is another example when one coachee found he and his wife felt (‘I’) healthier not only when they did exercise (‘its’) but also when they socialised after their chosen sport (‘We’). And of course the quality of social interactions are dependent upon the quality of that environment (‘its’). See, I said there could be more fun using this approach.



4 Quadrant thinking has already made its way into large corporate consultancies across the world. However, as 4 Quadrant thinking is only part of the larger integral framework this does not mean that the thinking is necessarily integral. Having said this, this model is still effective and relatively straightforward to grasp. One coachee who was running their own business found it fascinating that their mind had been fixed on the right hand domains (‘it’ and ‘its’) for so long that the left hand domains had suffered. The relationships (‘we’) can been neglected for many years (partly due to the internal challenges of the coachee). Quite simply, the relational aspects of business were, at best, ignored and, at worst, scoffed at. With staff turnover at an all time high, the business was finding that low morale on a cultural level (‘we’) was seriously affecting the behaviours within the roles (‘it’) and the bottom line of the business (‘its’). It was only when a new senior manager who had the capability (‘it’) and attitude (‘I’) to develop long-term relationships that business began, slowly, to improve (‘it’). A focus shifted to balancing out the ‘its’ with a new and transformed ‘we’.

Business is not about systems; it is about systems related to the contexts of culture, behaviour and attitude etc. When any one domain (‘I’, ‘we’, ‘it’ or ’its’) runs the show, there will be a detrimental effect. Another instance is that if the relational (‘we’) aspect alone is the only focus and systems are not kept up to date (‘its’), then the business becomes less competitive if other businesses within the marketplace do keep up with the times.

Business success needs 4 Quadrant thinking and, if you analyse any successful business you know, they will have applied it – probably without actually knowing the theory.



Taking a family situation, we can clearly see differences of culture (‘we’) between families – some families are at loggerheads while others have a culture of cooperation. Also, we can see how family relationships are impacted by social factors (‘its’). For example, a family whose members have access to a good education (‘its’) may result in them becoming a family that sit around the table (‘we’) and discuss how they see world events. The individual behaviours (‘it’) that come from this will also be affected, e.g. their choice of job and opportunities are determined by individual competencies.

To show how 4 Quadrant thinking affects a relationship within a family, let’s look at a problem faced by one coachee. The coachee’s teenage son was going through a wayward phase of smoking pot and going on drinking binges. The main problem to stem from this was school truancy – he would not get up after she went to work herself.

She had tried to do everything to change his behaviour and had failed (‘it’).

She was left confused and frustrated (‘I’).

The family was also becoming affected as a whole (‘we’) as the son was not setting a good example to the younger children in the family.

After talking it through, the coachee began to see that her laissez faire attitude to child rearing may need to change. As family rules and regulations will affect any individual member’s behaviours and feelings within the family, she decided to look at this quadrant as an area to change (‘its’). Not wishing to stamp out personal freedom totally, she decided to ‘do a deal’ to charge her errant son a small rent out of his allowance for every day he failed to make it to school; and for every day he did make it, this money was doubled and saved on his behalf for his first car. This social shaping provided her son with enough personal motivation – the car – to get himself out of bed.

It was a 4 Quadrant result both for him and for her.

Now I bet you are already thinking about adaptations and levels of development in those last examples. Well, throughout the book we have used health, business and relationships as areas of application for Developmental Coaching. Now that we are coming to a close of this session, it is time to focus one more time on the importance of an integral approach within these areas. It is time to bring it all together. Whether this approach is through the Developmental Coaching relationship or through application by oneself, the affect is the same – an integral view and an integral approach leading to integral results. This approach should allow you to see more points of application when you are working with clients, chatting with colleagues or even observing your family and friends.

Integral health

Often we may think of ‘the body getting ill’, and in some cases this is true – there will be some kind of invasion of a virus, or maybe a cartilage wears down. But when it comes to health, as we saw in the 4 Quadrant example above, the role of many other factors must be taken into account, beyond just the body. Using it as an illustration, George Vaillant says, “when we lose someone whom we love, it is never the mind that is broken, only our heart, and feelings can mysteriously leap from the mind to the body.” This connection of ‘feelings’ to health has its foundation in the upper quadrants of mind and body. The mind contains the feelings that we experience. It is through the reflective capacity of mind that the feelings are experienced. But because the feelings have a location in the body, there is a response in the physical body as well.

Bringing this together with the 4 quadrants, even though the physical ‘Body’ is an ‘it’, the experience of the subjective feelings, emotions and sensations of the ‘body’ are actual within the ‘I’ domain. So the ‘Body’ is objective whereas the ‘body’ is in the mind (a subjective experience). A point that is important to grasp as a Developmental Coach using the 4 Quadrants because it shows the importance of the correlation between mind and body/behaviour. The two are non separate; and in fact, the ‘body’ of the senses is included within the mind. As coach, this understanding will integrate your coaching approach in certain areas. Concerning health, it may be that feelings impact on physical well-being.

Healing the mind-body split

There is a very common phenomena you will probably come across in your own world- the body and the mind are often not integrated. To explain it this way, a person develops from ‘being’ just their body; at the earliest stage of development as a child, the child is their sensations and basic emotions etc. For Developmental Coaching purposes, this stage is pre-operational and due to its fundamental level, I have not focused on it – any problems that come from the child stage are usually not within the realm of coaching, but remember all the work you have done on adaptations as well. It is after this stage that the mind becomes more who they consider themselves to be. As with all evolution there is a movement away from the initial structure and onto a new, more complete one. This movement includes what went before it, but things can go wrong. If the stage before is shunned, like the major association with the body that existed until age 2, the individual will repress this part– they will turn against it and even ‘cut’ off contact. In this case, the part that is repressed is the feelings aspect of the body. If this happens, the body becomes separated from the mind. The body, as frequently happens, becomes separate and secondary, cut off from the sensations, emotions etc. This is very common and is alluded to when James Joyce said, “Mr Duffy lived a short distance from his body”.

The body/mind split occurs for several reasons. The ego (simply meaning “I”) sees that what stops its immortality is the inevitable demise of the body. Hence this is a very common defence. The ego believes it can live forever; the body, as the ego knows, cannot. So, the ego will dissociate, or split off, from the body. Frequently this continues until one of two things happens – the body either becomes ill, a situation that has to be dealt with, or the person transcends their ego level and goes beyond it, i.e. it re-members (reintegrates) the body with the mind. The result is a body-mind that is more complete than just a mind. The body can be remembered at any stage of the process (and in some cases it may have never been lost). In order for this to happen, the physiological line of development would be followed using one of many practices such as a sport, martial arts, yoga, cycling etc. This allows for embodiment of the mental realm to occur. In fact, irrespective of healing the mind-body split, unless an individual embodies their experience through physical activity, then their learning will be only partial. The mind-body requires activation beyond the neural activation of ‘mind’ alone in order for an individual to develop to greater levels of capacity. So keep an eye out for that one as well.

As has already been considered, health is not just to do with mind and body. For optimal health, the other quadrants must also be considered. If an individual moves to a location where the food distribution network (social – its) is not set up, it may have a serious impact on their quality of health as they cannot eat so well. In a similar situation, if someone joins a group whose members hold strong vegetarian beliefs, the individual could find this culture (we) impacting on their health if the only food available was wild bore. Hence, this cultural restriction has a strong affect. Integral health has to have all 4 quadrants as a base. The lines of development, e.g. physiological, and to what extent they are developed, i.e. to what level, is clearly relevant. At increasingly high levels of awareness the meaning of ‘health’ can be refined as well. To a yoga practitioner or sportsman, the experience of health is likely to be different to a layman.

Approaching health from a different angle, a person with more mature adaptations is in a better position to deal with any health issues that might arise. Even if ill health occurs, such an individual can adapt well to the condition and, let’s say, anticipate consequences or suppress until it is time for action. Humour also helps the individual feel better about what they are facing (as can anticipation, another mature defence) – in turn this will aid the individual’s mind and body to be in the best possible state. So health is partially to do with a disease that enters the body, such as a viral infection, but is does not end there. The dis-ease of a person also has a role to play. If the ‘self’ has an identity problem with the job they are doing and are struggling to hold themselves together, they will also ‘feel’ less than optimal – these are the feelings that can become embodied and in turn cause ill health.


Business (revisited)

Throughout the book we have looked at 4 quadrant applications in business, often without stating so explicitly. But what about 4 quadrants in the publicly funded services ‘business’? Though this varies from country to country, it will still depict the challenges being faced. Many of your coachees will have an interest within the public sector arenas either directly (working in them or supplying them with services) or indirectly as a citizen (as a recipient of services such as health, taxation or government). It is down to the reader to find their own applications and maybe even the occasional volunteer as coachee who will explore how this type of thinking is helpful to them. There are many people in business who are more than happy to receive support on issues they are currently facing- coaching and consulting businesses continue to thrive as the pace of change within organisations continues to speed up.

On a personal note, on one occasion my coach called me when I was working on a business consulting project and asked how things were going. I explained I had talked someone through the 4 quadrant model and, though this Director usually challenged any new ideas, they ran with it and were talking about restructuring because they ‘now see more clearly’. They then made a radical decision to integrate their internal communication system so that the culture of the organisation would feel included in all of their product and service areas (as opposed to departmentalism). Also, individuals would be financially rewarded according to their contribution to the success of the entire organisation.  I explained to my coach that I was slightly shocked at how large a change had come about when I expected the Director to pick holes in it. ‘Why?’ he inquired. My coach then said something that I like, ‘What else could they say? The model is robust.’ Looking at its applications, I hope you too can see the scope that an integral approach has and how robust it truly is.

On another occasion, a Director of a small private company once said, ‘Too much demand. What a great problem to have!’ He saw that his company would achieve its targets by increasing the efficiency of the staff, improving the way the workforce felt about their work, sharing the rewards of increased profits with all employees and paying for new equipment if needed. With less than 50 employees, his 4 quadrant actions were able to support the business’s growth and development. But in the public sector, too much demand over-stretches available resources and the key resource is the people providing the service. The fact that any government-funded system must be rationed leads to an automatic problem – the allocated funds must be distributed as fairly as possible for the interest of all parties, and when they run out, they run out. (well, supposedly but have you seen those deficit figures?!) This contributes to the psychological conflict that ‘We want to do more, but can’t’ (upper quadrants). It is not just to do with money either. This can be seen, let’s say, in the police service where an officer wants to be in active service, but needs to fulfil bureaucratic requirements; or a teacher who spends more time dealing with ‘organisational’ issues than they do teaching. In the private sector, more often than not, a director is looking for a return on capital. But the public sector is often constrained by the politics of the day – and politics vary with whichever political party is in power. Success in the public sector is showcased, while failing public services are named and shamed for all to see. This significantly affects the public services’ cultural psychology as employees are caught between doing a good job for the ‘customer’ and satisfying the holders of the purse strings too. However while the system creates many of its own problems, it may also be the basis of their solution. But changing the system in a huge business (private or public) is not easy, illustrated by the adage that goes ‘if you take a lousy system and you make it more efficient, what do you get? …A more efficiently lousy system!’ This could be further illustrated by someone attempting to make the paper-based patient’s records system more effective by filing them differently – in contrast, some foreign health services use hand held computers to log patient information instead of using paper records. So even though changing the system is a challenge, maybe it is a challenge worth taking.

It is those who can transcend the current view of a system and see it from the outside that make the most effective long-term changes. It is those who can create the systems, instead of adapting to them, that will move the ‘business’ on. Individuals who can see possibilities beyond the current level of culture and systems can implement changes in that system when the opportunity, i.e. new money or a new initiative, arises. There is also an impact on shared culture and individuals’ attitudes and behaviours. For instance, a doctor working in both the public and private sectors may not have the resources to operate in their chosen way in their public sector work, while they can do so in the private sector. When the opportunity arises, they can operate at the higher level of treatment, or thinking, in the public sector as well. Their behaviour and attitudes change as they are freed up to do what they consider to be a better service. Whether we are talking about education, health or local and police authorities the principles will stand because all such services are, to a large extent, constrained by the system.  

This last section has been a tour around the 4 quadrants with recognition that if any one quadrant is changed, there will be an impact on the others. And it is not something that stands still. This is a dynamic process that needs monitoring with the necessary interventions at the right time. From a business perspective, acting within all 4 quadrants, looking at attitude, behaviour, culture and systems, is a more complete approach to management than choosing either what is ‘in vogue’, or one’s own preferences.

For your coaching sessions, the 4 quadrants have instant applications in the business world, but there are also the other elements such as levels of development. Just as we spoke of ‘as if’, ‘what if?’, ‘full what if?’ and ‘what what if?’ as levels of consciousness, there are also levels that exist within business. These have their correlates in the lower left quadrant of culture too. There is a movement from a social system that supports ‘dog eat dog’ culture through to ones that enable all individuals to express more compassion and understanding. An illustration would be a business that encouraged salesmen to work just for themselves. Or at a higher level, for themselves and their team. Or at an even higher level for themselves, their team and the good of the community – and in return gain greater rewards at each higher level. And the system can be, and needs to be, set up to allow this to occur. It is a case of looking at what level the system is currently at and how this supports the level of culture that is jointly experienced. From there the system and culture can be moved on. Frequently key individuals drive this change so the level of being they are operating at is vital to the whole process.

Integral relationships

Writer Paul Watzlawick says, “We all know what it means when one thing depends on another. But when the other thing depends on the first to an equal degree, so that they unavoidably influence each other, they are said to be interdependent.’ Similarly, integral relationships are founded in reciprocity – this is not just two people who are independent of one another, but rather two people who are inexplicitly bound by the relationship themselves. In fact the relationship creates the person as much as the person creates the relationship. This is looking at relationships at a high level of where, as Kegan says in relation to conflict, “the parties can recognise each other’s needs, views and fears, and consider solutions which reassure the other that their precious interests will be respected.”

The level at which the relationship exists depends on the levels of consciousness of the parties involved.  Aim to understand the level at which the parties are operating and support growth, instead of condemning them. From early on I have suggested that Developmental Coaching is a vehicle for the individuals to be changed by their relationship. Whether it is a coaching relationship, a business partnership, intimacy, family or friends, an integral relationship is based on appreciation of the other party, i.e. understanding their views, not trying to change who they are, but trying to engage with them in a way that allows the relationship to create new ways of being for all parties involved in the exchange. In relationships it is when there is reciprocity of feelings, of cognition and of language that individuals feel connected and integral. Concerning intimacy, this type of relationship transcends the lower levels where mere base desires are the binding force. This is not even just about emotions and having strong ‘feelings’ for another person. Instead this extends to how the individuals think and how they exchange those thoughts with each other, and then their extension of them back into their actions. When individuals have commonality at the higher levels, the exchanges not only create the relationship but also the form of the people within that relationship. This can then be extended out as a way of being to a wider culture of family and beyond. It can also be taken into the system area of life where an individual relates to others in a way that allows for the development of themselves and of the other party.

As an individual develops to a higher level of being (from ‘as if’ through to ‘what what if?’), they will not ‘lift up their anchor’ and drift away from others. Instead in an integral sense they will find themselves more inclusive in their approach. With the sub-personalities integrated into a higher level order and the adaptations at a level that allows for more mature responses, they find themselves relating more at the level of another, not more beyond it. For the coach in particular it is worthwhile remembering that ‘no one cares how much you know until they know how much you care’.

So, there we have it. The end of session seven. I truly hope that running through example after example has helped you to know how to apply these models. I have also aimed for you to see how the earlier sessions can be fitted together. The truth is, you will find your own way as a Developmental Coach. You might decide to call yourself an Integral Coach but, as I said from the start, you may well need to be reaching to the highest levels of human potential to truly be such a coach. You may well also need to consider areas I have missed as well, but we haven’t done badly working together throughout this book to look at what it means to develop an individual.


Questions for reflection


In which Quadrants can you develop further as a coach?

Think of certain coachees. In which Quadrants can you support them to develop further?

Do you have a map of how they see the world? Are there any areas of distortion you can help with?

How will you now approach your coaching sessions differently?


                              Intentional (mind)                Behavioural (brain)

                                       I      IT

          WE ITS

      Cultural (worldview)           Social (system)                        


Are coachees aware of the mind-body continuum? Do they maintain good health? Are they prone to frequent but mild illness?

Do coachees, of whatever type, understand the role of the 4 quadrants in their business life?

Are the coachees engaging in reciprocal relationships with those around them? If not, how will you help them?