Posts tagged coaching
Standing tall in hard times

In my coaching practice, I encourage leaders and executives to express their concerns and ambitions is a variety of ways so that we can access some of the intuitive, embodied experience and knowing that they have gathered throughout their careers. Over the years, I particularly remember the sketches and stories of seriously embattled, isolated individuals sometimes literally shown on barricades, with brickbats and arrows flying around them. 

Maybe it's a sign of the times but these conversations seem to be returning.

Leadership can be an enviable position for some. But we tend to project our hopes and fears onto our leaders; idealising or demonising them depending not only on how we negotiate our relationship with them as individuals but also within the context of all the other references to power and authority that we hold.

Each of us will have a different story but, for me, this sunflower, standing tall above the surrounding crop evoked some of loneliness and vulnerability often goes hand in hand with the rewards of leadership.  

Whether we are institutional leaders, entrepreneurs or freelancers, we love to turn our heads to the light but also need to be resourceful as storm clouds gather.

Personally, I wouldn't have it any other way and, even in these harder times, I'm grateful for those who, in spite of brickbats and arrows, still feel the same. 


Quiet friend who has come so far,

feel how your breathing makes more space around you.

Let this darkness be a bell tower

and you the bell. As you ring,

what batters you becomes your strength.

Move back and forth into the change.

What is it like, such intensity of pain?

If the drink is bitter, turn yourself to wine.

In this uncontainable night,

be the mystery at the crossroads of your senses,

the meaning discovered there.

And if the world has ceased to hear you,

say to the silent Earth: I flow.

To the rushing water, speak: I am.

I found Rilke's poem on Joanna Macy's website as I reflected on my experience of a Photo-Dialogue coaching session with author and dialogue practitioner Amanda Ridings.

Amanda and I were working on the prospect of 'visibility'.  

Amanda had put 'getting out there' at the bottom of the priority list and, like many writers, needed to make sure that both she and her new book, were clearly visible to her coaching clients and dialogue students.

The camera provides and excellent coaching tool for issues like 'visibility', or 'vision'... and in our Photo-Dialogue I gently challenged Amanda..." show me how that would feel..." as I photographed away checking-in with her as the images arrived..." this what you mean...?"

The images we made together during the session are only part of the story; then the conversation and dialogue begins....  This image is a section of a collage that became part of the conversation; I scribbled Rilke across the frame, Amanda responded by collaging new images onto the photograph.  This movement between conversation, image and text generates a far wider range of creative possibility than the normal coaching 'meeting'.  And our process and dialogues will continue as ideas form and actions are tested...

Using these co-created images in the coaching process provides a unique quality of engagement and accountability.  In fact, although the photo-dialogue provides the key ingredient to a successful coaching process, ultimately the images become very difficult to ignore.

As art-critic John Berger says:

"Unlike any other visual image, a photograph is not a rendering, an imitation or an interpretation of its subject, but actually a trace of it. No painting or drawing, however naturalist, belongs to its subject in the way that a photograph does."