Most of the techniques we teach have very few steps and are deceptively powerful. They often involve an immersion in the moment rather than an inclination to get somewhere. Paradoxically, it allows for more progress to be made. We tend to work on fewer things in coaching a a result, in keeping with what we now how change actually happens.
I saw this again recently with a high tech executive charged with growing new lines of business. Each session ends up revolving around one new frame for him that he can then practice all week. Each one seems to build on the ones before them and allows him to develop simple pivots and track his progress. Last week's was the awareness that his problem was not their problem, which led to a shift in how he approached the collaborators he needed.
As part of walking our talk, this blog models this commitment by focusing only on one aspect of the work each week and doing so in ways that are simple. We are inundated with so many demands on our attention every day. As with narrative coaching itself, I want to offer you new experiences rather than add more explanations which only exacerbate our cognitive congestion.
One of my answers to these questions is a request for you. I am seeking someone who can help me build out two e-learning/technology offers to complement my work in organizations. If you know if someone who is looking for an opportunity to co-create some simple by powerful resources, have them contact me.
Ease and grace....
I have been on a mission since founding the field of narrative coaching nearly 15 years ago to distill the process of human transformation down to its essence. It is based in a belief that people need new experiences far more than more explanations. It has resulted in the creation of a number of practices that are research-based but don't require memorizing lists of theories, steps or terms to work. They just get the job done in the simplest, most direct, way possible. I have found design thinking to be a wonderful tool in this regard.
As I started working with it in projects in organizations, I came to realize that it could be used in developing people as well. As such, it is now an integral part of the Narrative Design model upon which my work is based. Part of the beauty of working this way is that it is clear enough to guide even a novice yet open enough to make room for a master. It is innately human because it mirrors the process of the stories we tell, the transitions we make and the development we experience. It focuses on one thing at a time.
It allows us to approach personal growth as a design thinking project using the following four phases:
The powerful paradox is that rather than trying to "get somewhere" as is the case with some other approaches, the attention is largely on what is present and what is called for next to further the design. It is about helping people get to the crux of their issue so they can begin prototyping new ways of being and acting. It is about an iterative spiral. It is intentions with direction not goals with steps.
How might this design-based approach help you make a shift in your life or practice that is important to you right now?
It was tempting to run away from this experience, with an easy out that I didn't want to get stuck in that story. I soon realized though that I actually needed to be fully in the experience of what I blurted out so I could find the healing it offered. It proved to be an opening to a very important pivot in my current journey. It was the only way in. Once there, I could see the gift in it and make the shift.
It seems to me that much of what people look to us for in coaching is an expression of courageous compassion. They hope that we will hold space for them in all of their humanity. They want to feel we care for them without condition and from that place we will also be courageous to say what needs to be said . . . and ask the one question they most hope (and fear) we will ask them. They want us to go all in on both and not settle for some bland average. Your strength as a practitioner and their growth depend on it. Why settle for anything less?
I was reminded of this yet again in reading people's reflections on David Bowie's death. One in particular caught my attention as it captured the spirit of narrative coaching as a process that helps people get to and act on the crux of the matter. Read it and ask yourself, "Where can I be more courageously compassionate today?"
Dr David Drake is the founder of the field of Narrative Coaching.