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Alan Sieler

Welcome to our third issue of Observing Differently for this year.

As we continue to adjust in a COVID dominated world, we are challenged to decide how we want to be and how we will live our lives in the wake of our learnings from our experiences of social restriction. As we saw in the previous newsletter article, interruptions and disruptions to life such as we have been experiencing not only close down possibilities, but they also open up possibilities that we otherwise would not have been aware of.

An ontological approach to coaching and leadership, with its focus on potentiality-for-being, is about enabling people to discover new perceptual and behavioural possibilities within themselves that they have not been aware of.

We are delighted with the success of our online Ontological Coaching and Leadership in Action workshop in Australia and South Africa. In addition to continuing to offer the workshop in an online format in both countries in July and August, we are also offering it to Europe and the UK in September and November (see details below).

Our article for this issue is a combined effort from two of my ontological colleagues – Helen Woodward in the UK and Idot Wong in China. Their writing illuminates a hallmark of the ontological approach, which is the notion of second-order learning. This is a form of learning that goes deeper and is more powerful than conventional first-order learning, having the potential to bring about profound and lasting change. I think you will find this stimulating reading.

Until next time ...

Best wishes

Alan Sieler


Excerpt from Ontology and Second-Order Learning
By Helen Woodward and Idot Wong


I am delighted to share the thoughts and experiences of two of my ontological colleagues, Helen Woodward from Bury in the UK and Idot Wong from Hong Kong, currently living in Shanghai, China, on the concept and lived experience of second-order learning.

Second-order learning is one of the hallmarks of the ontological approach to life, coaching and leadership. The essence of second-order learning consists of developing the twofold skilful practice of:

  • observing or noticing our Way of Being and how this inevitably shapes our behaviour; and
  • changing or shifting our Way of Being to improve the quality of our thinking, behaviour and communication.

Helen writes ...

I borrowed Volume I of Alan Sieler's Coaching to the Human Soul: Ontological Coaching and Deep Change, having seen it on a friend's bookshelf in 2017. This was my introduction to ontological coaching. Alan writes about our 'Way of Being’, the dynamic interplay between three spheres of human existence - language, emotions and body. The proposal is that for deep and lasting change to take place, ‘shift’ is needed in all three domains. All of this begins with ‘'noticing’. The following quotation from R. D. Laing brilliantly captures idea of ‘noticing’ which is applied in the ontological approach to learning and change:

The range of what we think and do is limited by what we fail to notice. And because we fail to notice that we fail to notice, there is little we can do to change; until we notice how failing to notice shapes our thoughts and deeds.

It sounds so simple. The practice is challenging. Alan offers an Ontological Coaching and Leadership in Action three-day workshop, and an in-depth coach training and leadership development program, that brings the theory to life through, listening, discussion and practice. This enables everyone to develop deeper awareness about their own 'Way of Being' and prepares you to more effectively work with coaching clients.

»  Read the full article

The Ontological Coaching Institute operates as the Newfield Institute in Australia and New Zealand. Ontological programs also run in the USA through EFL Seminars.




• 2, 4, 7 and 9 September 2020 (online)
• 3, 6, 9 and 11 November 2020 (online)

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• 30 July - 1 August 2020 (online)
• 27 - 29 2020 October

Cape Town
• 26 - 28 August 2020 (online)
• 18 - 20 November 2020

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South Africa
• Scheduled to commence 1 February 2021

Basel, Switzerland
• Scheduled to commence in March 2021

ICF Accreditation

This program has received ACTP (Accredited Coach Training Program) status from the International Coach Federation.

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Ontological Coaching Institute

Ontological Coaching Institute
Corporate and Personal Transformation

Head Office
7 Rigani Court, Blackburn VIC 3130

TEL: +61 3 9878 5501

info@ontologicalcoaching.com.au · www.ontologicalcoaching.com.au

Cape Town · Johannesburg · Brussels · Hong Kong