About Life and Learning

All problems and conflicts are opportunities for learning and growth.

Life is about learning. When we can see our problems as teachers, we can get value from anything that is coming at us in life. These life lessons can swing from mundane and inconvenient, to exciting and challenging, to extremely painful and life shattering. Some lessons show up as acute, and must be dealt with immediately; others can be chronic and linger for years.

No matter what the issue or its severity, when we view problems as lessons to be learned from and use the 4 Gateways to wisdom, transformation is possible and we can grow and evolve.

Even after looking at an issue using the 4 Gateways, we may discover that some form of the challenge or conflict will persist. In fact, the chances are that it will; but when we open ourselves to learn and to see from a new perspective, then the whole context can shift. What was seen previously as a problem or barrier can become a resource and ally or it will begin to change as we change.


We get exactly the right issues to further our development.

Whatever is showing up in our lives, belongs to us, and is right for our soul. We are capable of learning from all that is given to us. Often, problems just beyond our understanding and control are the very catalysts we need to increase our capacities and deepen our soul work. This applies to our inner life as well as in all our worldly issues.
Each of us is capable of handling what is coming our way. We are the only person, in fact, that can. And, this doesn’t mean we can or must do everything ourselves. Paradoxically, it actually requires that we ask for help. We can never see the whole picture of ourselves and we need others to assist us in seeing those blind spots. In fact, those very blind spots often become the keys to the next lesson we need to learn.


We learn best in open, supportive environments.
Play, role-playing, and imitation are our fundamental learning modes.

This belief goes somewhat contrary to the widely held assumption that we need to be under pressure to learn something well. Just because we were often taught under pressure at home, at school, and on the job doesn’t make that the right way or the best way.

The most natural way for humans to learn is through play and trial and error. That is the way we learned how to walk, talk, eat, and make friends. 4 Gateways Coaching is all about moving and embodying, trying things out and exploring possibilities, interacting, and getting direct feedback.

The deepest learning occurs in an environment where we can honor our unique path and feel supported to learn in our own way. To really blossom into the fullness of whom we are and to fulfill our purpose in life, we need the opportunity to explore our potential in a safe and supportive environment, a place where we can make mistakes and try on new ways of being.


All positions co-arise with their opposites. Conflict is normal and natural.

We can easily understand in our everyday world that we will always have hot and cold, up and down, and yin and yang, action and reaction. Yet we often forget that to be whole we must also have blessing and criticism, brilliance and stupidity, wealth and poverty, war and peace, compassion and indifference, respect and hatred, bravery and cowardice. We often try to stay on the “good” side of these polarities and deny the “bad” side. This only succeeds in locking us into eternal struggles with an “enemy” who embodies what we don’t like or can’t accept within ourselves. Those rejected sides of us live in our shadows. We then project these rejected sides onto others, and fight the “enemy” out in the world. In this work we embrace the existence of both sides and embrace the paradox that we have both sides of these polarities simultaneously.

When we take sides, defining one as “good” and the other as “bad,” we are immediately caught in the drama of conflict. As a result, the denied part of us goes unconscious. We take one side and reject the other. That said, both sides of a conflict then become stuck in “The Box” of their own thinking and acting.

This understanding applies equally to internal conflicts or outer worldly conflicts. When we try to make ourselves better from within or try to make the world better, we immediately set up a conflict with an inner part of ourselves or an “enemy” out there that opposes our idealized direction. 4 Gateways Coaching encompasses both the “good” crusader and the conflicting “enemy” as legitimate and worthy of respect.

It is important to note that we are not advocating for the “dark side” or saying that certain behaviors we identify as abuse, manipulation, addiction, or tyranny are OK. What we are saying is that the potential for those behaviors exist in all of us. Ignoring, denying, and projecting those potentials onto others paradoxically makes the “bad” stronger in the world and is ultimately harmful to us, our loved ones, and the world.


Everything is connected. The inner and outer worlds reflect one another.

From the tiniest part of an atom to the biggest galaxy cluster, all is connected to and influences everything else. At the human level, our personal life is intimately connected to our family, which connects to our social group, and to the local community, the culture, the nation, and the world. All the different levels are simultaneously unique, yet they are made up of many smaller parts and in turn are part of something much larger. The 4 Gateways process ask us to look at both the greater whole, the many parts, and at their inter-connections.

The 4 Gateways give us the opportunity to take any issue, internal or external, look at it from four different wisdom perspectives and see the connections in both directions – how our inner life impacts our outer life and how our outer life impacts our inner life.


No problem can be resolved at the level it was created.

Albert Einstein is most often attributed as saying that a problem can’t be solved at the same level as it was created. In 4 Gateways Coaching we view problems, roles, issues, and identities from a distance. We “jump out of the system,” get “out of the box” or “watch the movie of our lives” to really see an issue and resolve it at a different level than where it originated. Using this model we can try out creative alternatives without negative real world consequences, and then from those experiments we can choose transformative solutions that work for the whole system.

When we are “out of the box” even momentarily, then the possibility for change exists. From outside our boxes we can begin to be more objective, to see that what we thought was “our” problem starts to become “the” problem. We sometimes ask clients to imagine what it would be like to coach someone else who had a similar problem. Looking at any situation more objectively or metaphorically often gives rise to new insights and awareness.