|Chant Construction, a dam-building company with 45 employees had been owed nearly $10 million for
over three years by a ‘well-heeled’ client, an electricity utility. Not surprisingly Ted, its chief executive
and sole owner and its founder 7 years before, felt furious, and also alarmed because this unpaid debt
was holding up launch of the Employee Share Ownership Plan he had long promised his employees.
Although he had learned to manage these strong emotions extraordinarily well, Ted knew they were
adversely affecting his decision-making. So, when Peter Wales (pseudonym), a consulting broker,
introduced him in 2006 to the author, whom Peter knew had done good work in similar circumstances,
Ted was intrigued.
We began with an interview involving Ted's director of human resources, following which I prepared a
substantial 7-section proposal that laid out a trade-off between desired outcome and investment by the
client. Ted and I then reviewed this proposal and refined it into a firm contract. We then started
weekly 2-3 hour coaching sessions, over the course of which Ted described the circumstances he faced
and I encouraged him, by introducing him to the "I have X emotion now” (IHXEN) form of I-statement,
to make his descriptions increasingly detailed and accurate. This IHXEN (pronounced 'Eye-Zen') form is
a very rarely form of I-statement, but because it is also the focus of this narrative, most readers will
want to know at least some of the theory supporting the use of IHXENs rather than the more usual form
of I-statement in English, which is the "I am 'X adjectival phrase'" (IAXAP) form. I have therefore
provided in the narrative following the briefest possible summary of the theory that supports IHXEN
use in problem-solving conversations. Further details on IHXEN use are provided in the menu item
"Overview of Eye-Zen English" that appears at the end of the narrative. Also, because the narrative uses
the word 'equanimity', readers who are not thoroughly familiar with the use of word 'equanimity' will
want, before continuing to read this narrative of a coaching engagement facilitated by IHXENs, first to
study a link that describes its use in detail. (The link is short and has a return to this page near its end).
Ted, an engineer by profession who, before founding Chant, had been a very senior executive for a large
and very well-known construction firm, worked with me, at moments of doubt or anxiety of any kind
experienced by either of us, to practice IHXEN exchanges in coaching sessions of two to three hours
every week for a few months. This practice, which assisted us both to make our relationship a
progressively more thoroughly trusting one, facilitated the surfacing of many intuitions and memories
that would very often have been considered either 'bad form' or irrelevant in conventional business
conversation. We then drew from our exchanges conclusions of relevance to collecting the outstanding
debt and tested them for accuracy by reference either to whatever objective data was available or to
assumptions with which we both felt very comfortable after expressing IHXENs in relation to them.
This process empowered us, together, to refine our conclusions into what seemed to both of us to be
reliable insight relative to finding a solution into the enterprise survival problem that the overdue
receivable constituted for Chant. Ted found these sessions cleared and grounded his thinking -- as the
testimonial at the end of this page confirms.
As our ease with the practice of IHXEN exchanges grew, Ted and I were able to focus our attentions on
drafting and refining an email aimed at interesting the utility's president in meeting Ted; and Ted soon
felt enough confidence in this process to instruct the lawyer with whom he was working on the legal
side of the issues not to initiate any further activity on the utility file. At the same time, he acquired
enough trust in me to ask that I work with his corporate staff to see if we could feel comfortable
proposing his Employee Share Ownership Plan (ESOP) in advance of the next annual general meeting.
The ESOP was a major part of Ted’s founding vision for the company. It was, in fact, a project he and his
senior staff had been working on with an ESOP consultant for two years. But, pending a satisfactory
resolution of the outstanding utility receivable, no senior person had felt comfortable proposing to
Chant employees at large the specifics of what had earlier been agreed by the ESOP consultant to be
reasonable ESOP terms. Indeed, at the time of my engagement, only Ted was able to retain any hope
that the utility receivable issue would ever actually be satisfactorily resolved.
In these challenging circumstances I suggested that the existing ESOP offering terms would be more
attractive to employees if the offering document were to include a social contract binding employees
and their leaders more closely in explicitly described shared aspirations. Such a contract could become
a written commitment by all levels to personal-professional growth via dedication to a desirable set of
corporate value disciplines. I suggested that honesty be an example of such a value discipline --
defining it, as Authentix Coaches had already defined it for clients in prior coaching engagements, as:
Honesty: The discipline of avoiding either inaccuracy or deception and of being reciprocally open about intents
and evolving intentions.
By sharing with the senior group the Authentix list of eight definitions for such personal-professional
values -- ones that Authentix Coaches had developed and practised over many years as disciplines
toward which Authentix clients and their coaches could both aspire in our relationships, I anticipated
that Chant would be able to give practical form to the corporate social contract I was envisioning. Ted
and I both saw the list as offering a blueprint for increasing the level of trust each Chant person would
feel able safely to repose in the authenticity and empathy of other Chant people. I therefore proposed
inserting a preface to the existing ESOP draft – one that would explicitly commit Chant people to
adopting defined value disciplines as an aspiration toward which all could work. I also suggested we
start with the eight value-discipline definitions adopted in Authentix coaching engagements.
Feedback on this idea from the senior group resulted in their approval of all eight of the Authentix
definitions; and a lively debate – one facilitated by IHXENs – then ensued concerning other value
disciplines that the team collectively felt were necessary for Chant’s particular 'economic niche'. These
debates were concluded by a consensus around a total of 15 values – values we expected could be
elaborated into a 'ladder' of disciplines to which Chant people, both junior and senior, would all want
to aspire. We visualized the ladder becoming a part of Chant's employee performance review process.
The ESOP team then asked me to thread the descriptions of the new value disciplines into a preface to
their ESOP document of Offer to Employees. When I had done this to their satisfaction, Ted added to
the credibility of the new value disciplines by having their descriptions framed and displayed
prominently in Chant's offices. The ESOP team then went ahead with the ESOP launch. The results?
First, everyone involved in these discussions felt a surge of confidence that coherence between Ted and
his prospective employee shareholders would more easily be found in the ongoing problem-solving
activities of the company; and second, the ESOP launch (a couple of months later) attracted -- without
change to any of its pre-existing commercial terms -- 'buy-ins' by 90% of its 'confirmed' employees.
(By way of comparison, 90% is about three times the average for ESOP launches in the United States).
Shortly thereafter, Ted's and my IHXEN-facilitated sessions culminated in our production of a draft for
the email to the utility president. But before sending it, Ted and I wanted to be very sure that both his
and my states of being in relation to sending the email were, given the email’s significance for Chant’s
survival, truly equanimous. This requirement was not easy to satisfy because neither of us was entirely
sure how he could distinguish genuine equanimity from states of being close to it. We knew that
equanimity lay somewhere between pleasant and unpleasant emotions yet was not what one might call
'numbed-out' indifference nor what one might call carefully controlled bravado; and from our practice
of IHXEN exchanges we had become minutely aware of our emotions (a list is available at the foot of
this page) in relation to each significant part of our draft. Working in this way, our practice of IHXEN
exchanges eventually led us both to feeling sure that each of us had found equanimity rather than
'controlled indifference or bravado' in relation to the specific of sending the draft.
How this happened is worth noting carefully. The day before Ted sent the email, I told him that I felt
equanimous about him sending it, and asked him what emotion he had about doing so. He replied: "I
too feel I have equanimity" (phrasing only from my memory). I then suggested he might not have
equanimity after sleeping on it, in which case he might want again to change it. So we parted with the
unanimity that he would sleep on it, and that, if he felt anything but equanimity in the morning in
relation to sending the draft he would make the change he then believed was necessary and, if he then
felt the slightest doubt about sending the result, he would call me and we would again discuss it. A few
days later I learned he had sent the draft we had agreed on the previous day, and that the utility
president had replied by email requesting that he visit Ted.
The entire process took us almost six months. But, to our delight, the utility presidents response began
with a starting settlement offer of $3 million. This meant that Chant could safely assume that most of
the remaining $7 million would soon be settled reasonably amicably. Such a response naturally
relieved a lot of anxiety on the part not only of Ted, who was then able to pass the issue over to his
lawyer, but also of Chant's employees, and of me.
Ted had turned the corner for Chant Construction from what might be described as gamely brave but
dudgeonly frustration at the top and anxiety below to fruitful negotiation and confidence in future
Team Chant coherence throughout the organization. Our practice, at moments of particular
difficulty in decision-making, of the IHXEN form of I-statement, which is the cornerstone of what
is now called the 'Eye-Zen English' family of Rational Emoto-Linguistics, had, together with our
personal experience of what the word 'equanimity' symbolizes in practice, facilitated his and
my discovery of 'the crucial difference'. Together, we had empowered Ted to transform the energy
of his anger and alarm – at the utility's unconscienable ignorance of the plight in which its executives
had left his company – into rationally purposeful and, in the event, very productive energy on a wide
but coherent 'front'.
Practice of the IHXEN form of I-statement was not on its own responsible for this result -- one all the
more astonishing because it was quite unexpected by virtually all involved. The people who used this
practice also contributed many specialty skills of their own to produce the engagement’s success. What
practice of the IHXEN form had done was help the people involved become consciously aware
of the emotions that from time to time would otherwise – had they not practiced IHXEN
exchanges – have diverted them from focusing constructively on productive problem-solving.
By acquiring some proficiency in exchanging IHXENs, Ted and his senior team were able to
transform the energy of their emotions into trustingly connected and productively purposeful
|Proficiency in the IHXEN Psycho-Linguistic:
Achieving Balance to 'Make the Difference'
-- an ROI summary and brief engagement narrative
(c) 2007-2013 by
Principal, Authentix Coaches
|Visits to this URL: 483 Latest Update: 130724
* * *
This has been a narrative by the coach in this engagement and author of this URL page. What then does
the client, Ted Chant, have to say about his coach? Shortly before he learned of the success of the email
he sent to the CEO of his customer, the electric utility, this was Ted's written testimony:
|"Combining corporate productivity with personal well-being has always been more art than science, and
hence a seemingly inaccessible goal to many. We began our quest for work nirvana 7 years ago knowing
that an Employee Share Ownership Plan (ESOP) would be a part of it. Having helped my corporate team
reach and communicate the balance among interests that a successful ESOP requires, Authentix Coaches’
Angus Cunningham is now helping us realize larger aims through the growing of an organically constructive
culture, in which the values we bring from our home, workplace and marketplace experiences are refined into
an equitable, coherent and vital whole. Having a 2-hour coaching session each week with Angus is to find
one turning the relentless pressure of today’s working world into clarifying insights, intriguing intuitions,
and focused initiatives in which one feels a welcome degree of inner confidence, and often renewed energy.
Each session enables me to reframe my sense of what is occurring in my world with such accuracy that my
setting of priorities and decision-making is not only making my own life, and those of my family members,
less workaholic, but also beginning to make the working lives of all our employees more productive and
enjoyable. Having Angus coach us through the many transitions we know we now both must and want to
make is giving us, when the going gets tough, confidence that we “have it in ourselves” to realize shockingly
excellent success!" -- Ted Chant, February, 2007
|Cost/benefit of the Authentix Eye-Zen English service: An investment of under
$30,000, plus perhaps $50,000 to $80,000 in internal opportunity costs, resulted in
(a) recovery of an outstanding receivable of $10,000,000 that had been threatening
the client's survival for 3 years, (b) creation of a solid base (a proven style of
thorough problem-solving conversation) for a cooperative future advanced by a
spectacularly successful ESOP launch that generated much good will between the
founder/owner, his employees and their overdue client, and (c) a pathway for
achieving financial equity in a carelessly materialistic larger world.
|The schematic below illustrates the architecture of how Eye-Zen English principles
for problem-solving and needs-meeting conversation are a synthesis of prior
psycho-linguistic disciplines. Click on this logo for a brief overview of these