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The Alpamayo Coaching Equaliser

Since writing two earlier pieces on ‘what I am becoming’ (check out the links here for Part 1 and Part 2) featuring thinking on interdependent pairs I have completed a course on Adaptive Action Coaching led in collaboration by Royce Holladay (Human Systems Dynamics Institute) and Miriam Bayes (MBG).  It was an opportunity to explore some of the HSD thinking and how it can be applied to coaching.  It was an enjoyable experience with course colleagues from various points around the world, all with their unique experience, thoughts, and feelings to share.

I suspect I made a bit of a pest of myself as on occasion I showed resistance to practicing a particular model in a coaching conversation, despite understanding that learning is deepened by practice.  I won’t try and justify my behaviour aside from saying that a fundamental part of coaching for me is responding to your clients’ needs, in the moment they express them.  It is difficult to do this if you enter a coaching conversation with a preordained sense of what you are going to say, or what you are going to do.

From graphic equaliser to Alpamayo Coaching Equaliser

Enough said though!!  The reason for sharing this context is because  today I am sharing……..a method for provoking thinking that could be used in self-reflection or developmental coaching.  Okay, okay, it’s a model, I’m sharing a model.  I have a feeling that my course colleagues will be having a giggle about this.  I hope that is not because they find me a hypocrite, but because they can see me squirming as I grapple with another interdependent pair which has model/ structure at one end freestyle/ intuition at the other!  Perhaps the truth is that my intuition is a model; one formed of my beliefs, bias, and life experience. 

This model is a way of encouraging thinking using interdependent pairs, and how they interact with each other.  It is based on the graphic equaliser, a feature of nearly every household HiFi system when sound systems were big and bulky!  It was a series of slider controls which allowed the listener to adjust the quality of the sound to meet the needs of their ears by increasing or reducing contribution of different sound frequencies.  In effect it could take an unpleasing sound and making it into something more appealing. 

You can think of the coaching equaliser as something similar.  It is made up of slider controls that are each indicating your position in a particular independent pair which you have identified as being important in relation to the topic you are thinking about.  You pass the information about this topic, which might be a jumble of thoughts and feelings, into your coaching equaliser and see what you senses experience with the information you experience coming out of the other end.  If it is still a jumble you can think about how you might adjust the controls on your coaching equaliser to help you create an output that is clear and actionable.

My Alpamayo Coaching Equaliser being used in my thinking about ‘what I am becoming’

Some examples of enquiries that I share for use with the Alpamayo Coaching Equaliser are below:

  •  What interdependent pairs are relevant to the issue you are interested in thinking about?

  • What might be the word or phrase that describes the connection within each independent pair?

  • As you reflect on the connecting word or phrase is there any adjustment to the language describing each end of the pair that you want to make, or perhaps is there another pair you need to add to your equaliser?

  • Move your coaching equaliser controls to where you think and feel you are now within each interdependent pair.   In your reflection, or conversation, be open to any response you have to this activity in your mind or body.  Notice it and describe it verbally or in writing.  Take a picture of your equaliser.

  • Now think about what it is you want to achieve.  Start moving your coaching equaliser controls to capture what you want to change in each pair.  Notice your thinking and feeling.  Capture it as before.

  • Reflect on how changing within one pair influences the other pairs in our equaliser.

  • Once you have arrived at a place where you feel your equaliser captures your intention think about how you translate your thinking into actions

  • You might be curious about what might happen in your equaliser thinking if you turned the volume up……or if you altered your balance?


If you are interested in knowing more about the Alpamayo Coaching Equaliser please do get in touch and I will be very happy to share the 10-page resource including guidance, templates and suggestions for how to use with self, individuals and groups (in person or virtually). 

To paraphrase what I say in the introduction this is a resource that is inspired by the Human System Dynamics Institute (HSDi), the coaching adaptation is my idea, and the thinking, feeling and being will be all yours!  If you are inclined to have a play let me know how it works for you.

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