This article is published in Coaching at Work magazine on Saturday, October 25th, 2014, filed under Articles, Letter from Greece.
Barbara Asimakopoulou, Business Coach ICF
I can vividly remember that September in 2008, when suddenly, having just got back from holiday, something had changed in Greece forever. The past was gone; things would never be the same again.
At the time, some predicted the worst was still to come. Six years later, I’m wondering about what has come to pass and what remains to be seen. Regarding the economic crisis, I can’t tell what the next phase will be like. Many here still adopt the ostrich position, believing things will go back to the way they were, that wages will rise, jobs will be available once again and good restaurants will be fully booked.
Fortunately, some of us believe that a change in our nation should begin with a change in ourselves. We don’t turn to our political leaders in despair for them to save us; we ourselves become politicians, and active citizens. This is the way Aristotle taught us – and, as Plato declared: “One of the penalties of refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.”
We’re searching for values: integrity, honesty, justice, cooperation. We go back to ourselves to return as better partners, better business people, better parents – it’s what we call ‘rebounding’.
We embrace challenge and seek our chance.
A missed field goal does not make us bad players. We’re reorganising ourselves, and recovery is a team game.
And there is a coach in every game.
Inspiring, helping to bring out people’s better selves, motivating and, in the end, helping people change.
Coaching in Greece is still a very fresh idea, but judging by its rapid development in the last few years, it will finally attain the status it deserves. The number of professional coaches is increasing and people are more informed about its benefits. It is needed now more than ever.
Sure, there are obstacles hindering its acceptance. We Greeks do not easily turn to specialists for help nor does proactivity run in our blood. We suffer from numerous weaknesses that we ourselves acknowledge, including lack of foresight. Fearing hard work is not one of those weaknesses, despite what some say. We also love family and friends, we savour life, we’re proud, we get through hardships in original ways, we give birth to new ideas, we easily adapt and we are 100 per cent European.
Admittedly, things are not promising. We have 30 per cent unemployment, entrepreneurship is suffocating through lack of liquidity, old ideologies are constantly challenged, political leaders are no longer trusted, and social tension is rising with the shortage of stable and secure points of reference.
We seek in Europe a powerful common voice and action against dangerous trends, such as populism and/or extreme ideologies; we hope for the existence of a common European political vision to deal with them.
Little by little, the voices of the ‘virtuous’ are joining, supported by new collective actions and trends, such as volunteerism, generosity, handcrafting, returning to nature, to our roots, to the everlasting values of love, friendship, hope and persistence, which also characterise Greeks.
As for coaching, it will unlock Greeks, the way Socrates did 2,500 years ago, in his pursuit of the truth innate in everyone. That’s why Socrates holds the title of the very first coach.