Widening Coaching Perspectives

I myself am only a child playing on the beach, while vast oceans of truth lie undiscovered before me. Issac Newton

Earlier this month I said goodbye to my son who is off on the next leg of his ‘gap’ travels before starting university in the autumn. It’s time for him to step out into the world, widen horizons and explore who he becomes as he encounters different places and people.  A few days later I said goodbye to our first London cohort, it’s been a rich and enjoyable year with an enthusiastic and engaged group. They are stepping out now and their perspective on coaching will change as they encounter new situations and new clients.  Continue reading “Widening Coaching Perspectives”

At the still point of the turning year – solstice reflections…

I’m writing this at the Winter Solstice. It’s one of those still Dartmoor winter afternoons, there’s a blanket of motionless grey clouds and not a breath of wind.  Earlier a buzzard wheeled lazily over our rooftop, the only movement in a sky where even the ubiquitous rooks were still and silent. Though it’s only 4:15pm it’s twilight, that intermediate, in-between state of not light and not yet dark. By the time I finish writing it will be deep dark.

It’s a day that feels like a pause, an in-breath, a still point, an ambiguous and paradoxical turning point in time. Slivers of lines from T.S Eliot’s poem Burnt Norton have been flickering in and out of my mind, like minnows barely visible in peaty amber streams that flow off the moor  “the light is still at the still point of the turning world…”

This year, I almost didn’t send a Christmas post, too many have been popping into my in-box and I felt like I didn’t want to add to the busyness and clutter.  But then at the last minute, I realise there is something I want to share…

Yesterday I attended the funeral of a local young man, not much more than a boy. Nineteen years old – the same age as my son.  The sudden random death of one so young, with so much to look forward to shakes a community. He was ‘one of ours’ a lovely, bright boy. It’s just not how things are meant to be.  It can’t be reconciled.

In the church, mourners squeezed into pews, packed themselves into the back and overflowed down the aisles in silent solidarity.  Being part of a  congregation, brought together to witness the loss and celebrate his life was a first attempt towards reconciling the unreconcilable, a leaning towards an eventual return of the light. It’s easy to say that there is no light without dark, no life without death and no dance without a still point.  It’s easy to say that buried inside polarity and the clash of opposites is always a relationship between two elements. It’s easy to say that the challenge is to hold the tension and find a place to stand that can hold both sides of a paradox, stepping forward into life from there. But it is not easy to live from there and if I am totally honest, as a mother, I don’t know if I’d survive such a loss, I don’t know if or how I’d find my way through.

Perhaps it’s no surprise that on this longest of nights, after a year that’s had more than its fair share of clashing opposites and political polarity I turn to Eliot’s poem and find inspiration and comfort as it edges towards reconciling the irreconcilable.   Here’s a few lines …
 

At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;
Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,
But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity,
Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor towards,
Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point,
There would be no dance, and there is only the dance.

So as the year turns and the light begins its return, with gratitude for all of your good wishes and support over the past year, I wish you the gifts of the season  peace, joy, light, hope and love.

The Climbing Wall – A new way of looking at our working lives

Many thanks to Wise Goose graduate Lucy Weldon for this post.  Lucy is a career coach who specialises in the development of sustainable careers.

Have you thought about what living to a hundred will be like?  It will soon be unremarkable to live that long.  Many societies, including the UK, are rapidly ageing.  There’s lots of discussion about the funding challenge but not enough about the decades that precede our twilight years and what we do with our longer lives.

In the book, The 100-year Life by Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott, the authors talk about this extended life and working life as being a gift.  It’s certainly a positive way of looking at it.  However, it depends on your individual circumstances.  If you live in the USA without health insurance or you depend solely on the UK government pension with little personal savings, the extended working life is a worrying and onerous necessity.

We’re seeing already that the simple career path of a ‘job for life’ is losing its currency.  The vertical career ladder of ‘onwards and upwards’ needs to change to what I call a multi-staged climbing wall model.  Now, more than ever, we need to look at our working lives differently and to manage them more proactively.   Luck will always play its part, but it won’t necessarily get you to where you want or need to get to.

My focus with clients is on having a ‘sustainable career’; by that I mean having a working life that brings in the required financial reward as well as fulfilment, purpose and balance.  How do we achieve this?  It won’t just happen.

Here are some aspects of career management to think about.  They are not necessarily age specific.  Responses to them will be rooted much more in life stage:

  • Re-framing the working life. Given extended lives, the potential exists to look at our careers differently.  Experts now talk about the career as being a marathon, a long journey, a series of short sprints with essential holding patterns in between. I see it more as a climbing wall.
  • Multiple careers. Because the choices exist and the imperative is growing, we will have a number of careers or career paths. This will require us to be flexible, resilient and creative. And to keep on learning and investing in ourselves and our working lives.
  • Re-thinking your working identity.  ‘I’ve always been a ……’.  That may change and may have to change.  What you will also need is a clear understanding of your skills and strengths as well as the kind of work that you find enjoyable and stimulating as you go through your working life.
  • Work life balance. It’s critical to talk about work life balance.  Will we be like the Japanese and have a word that sums up the worst extreme of this imbalance?  ‘Karoshi’ is a Japanese word that means death through overwork.  The UK is known for its long working hours.
  • Financial reward to fit your life stage and lifestyle. Unsurprisingly, money can dictate conversations about working lives.  It is an important
  • consideration.  Whilst money can be a short-term motivator, poor financial reward is a sure fire demotivator that sets in quickly.  Establishing what you want and need is vital, and it typically changes with lifestyle and life stage.
  • On-going personal development within your current role and the future direction of your career. Finishing your education in your younger years reflects the old working life model.  Investing in you, your future working life and a different career direction may well depend on a period of acquiring new knowledge, skills, credentials and qualifications.  You can’t teach an old dog new tricks?  Yes, you can!

It’s the ‘whole you’ not just the ‘working you’ that needs to be looked at and considered.  It’s also about making our extended lives more a voyage of discovery than a haphazard, hoping for the best kind of experience.  When you have choices, when you can get on the front foot, why wouldn’t you?

Find out more about Lucy’s work at www.lucyweldoncoaching.com or contact her at lucy@lucyweldoncoaching.com

 

A Sense of Place -Coaching in Context

 

 

Granite. A glittering, resilient rock. The Barefoot Barn where we hold our Wise Goose Devon training programmes stands upon granite, the house I live in is built from it.  Both overlook the huge granite plug of Dartmoor. Granite is one of the defining characteristics of this place.

 

The moaning, whistling, howling or whispering of wind is another; it’s usually south westerly – you can tell the direction by the lean of stunted hawthorn and oak. Water is another element of this place, drizzling or pouring, to be soaked up by the spongy ground that is our watershed; as I write this the landscape is wrapped in a gentle Dartmoor mizzle. The song of moving water is never far away, sometimes quietly dripping or gurgling, sometimes running off the tors in amber torrents, nudging the granite clitter downslope into streams which run away to meet the sea at Teignmouth.

‘Granite Song’, by local sculptor Peter Randall-Page, rests unlabelled, a secret waiting to be chanced upon, on a small island on the river Teign.  At first glance this egg-like granite boulder is like many others nearby. Embedded in the landscape, it could have been tossed there by the river. But it has been split in two like a walnut, revealing carved organic, labyrinthine patterns. The sculptor has taken granite and made it a living part of a tradition of the moors with its standing stones, reaves and hut circles, knitting together a relationship and resonance between the people of this place and time and the land.  In this simple sculpture there’s a sense of belonging, a vision of participation; a sense of place.

Here at Wise Goose we believe place matters in coaching, it can shape, inform and sustain us, place is both geographical terrain and a terrain of consciousness.   That’s why, whether in the wilds of the countryside or the midst of the capital city, we do our best to find venues where we have a relationship, that provide opportunities to reflect and renew, connect with context and draw out a networked perspective.  Most professional development courses are held in rootless, sterile and bland conference centres. Even mansions set in pristine landscaped gardens there’s often a disconnect between the content taught and the wider context of work –  they don’t nurture a sense of place.

A sense of place weaves together the physical characteristics of the land with memory, art, story, metaphor and history. The inexplicable feel, sight, sound and smell places leave on the skin and mind affect how we approach our work and our lives.  Connecting beyond our self in this way can inspire an embodied, systemic, networked, holistic approach to coaching that places human persons, organisations and communities as part of their world, co-creating their world, in service to a vision of a better future.

Our Space in the City:  In the midst of King’s Cross Development site close to national and international transport networks, the Skip Garden is a unique and quirky space.

It is a movable, urban  garden where fruit and vegetables are farmed out of skips.  An initiative of the charity Global Generation, it  brings together businesses who work alongside young people and the local residents to create healthy, integrated and environmentally responsible communities   We are delighted to have the opportunity to collaborate with a charity whose values and approach so closely mirrors our ow

Amongst the lettuce leaves , blossom trees and open fires are unique indoor spaces, purpose built for all kinds of learning and personal development opportunities.  The venue also boasts a thriving café serving food from the garden.

Our Scottish Collaboration.  It is a real privilege  to be working with the Findhorn Foundation to deliver a residential, intensive Foundations course in Core Coaching and Mentoring Skills in Scotland.

Nestled amidst dunes and forest, bay and beach, the Findhorn Foundation is an internationally respected ecovillage community and spiritual learning centre dedicated to inspired action and a vision of creating a better world.

The Barefoot Barn is our original venue and ‘home’.  Set in six acres of woodland, glades and ponds with views across the atmospheric and spectacular ancient landscape of Dartmoor.   An ideal location from which to practice outdoor walking coaching and widen perspectives.  The Barn was initially created for the local community of Chagford, 20+ years ago, for the teaching and practice of meditation and yoga and is a few minutes walk from the centre of Chagford  a historic and vibrant town, in an area of outstanding beauty, on the edge of Dartmoor and within easy reach of the M5, Exeter airport and the national railway network.

 

“The present is not a time for desperation but for hopeful activity.”

crocus

I have the quote above from Thomas Berry, scribbled on a post-it on my desk. Some days it brings out a smile and a sense of purpose. Some days it feels like a bad joke. I am a ‘glass half full’ person but as I look at many of the changes currently sweeping through the world my hopefulness for the future can be put to the test.

I’m not alone, the 2017 Edelman TRUST BAROMETER reveals the largest-ever drop in trust across the institutions of government, business, media and NGOs. The credibility of leaders has also collapsed globally to an all-time low, with government leaders seen as least credible.

More than half respondents, including elites believe the system is unfair and offers little hope for the future. The result is toxic populism and nationalism fuelled by lack of trust in the system, fear of immigration, globalization, corruption as well as economic fears. Continue reading ““The present is not a time for desperation but for hopeful activity.””

Questionable Intentions – Intentional Questions 

trafficjamMany thanks to Mark Hunt for this post. Mark had recently finished his first training weekend with Wise Goose where we’d been looking at questions in coaching when he had real life opportunity to put the theory into practice!

Recently, after a visit to Wise Goose, I was travelling back to Exeter along narrow Dartmoor roads. I had an important meeting to get to and had allowed myself a whisker’s breadth of contingency to get there on time. It was mid afternoon and the roads would be quiet. What could possibly go wrong?

All was well until I tried to join the main road. In front of the junction was an enormous articulated lorry and in both directions cars as far as the eye could see. It was clear that the lorry was blocking the road, and my first thought questioned what the driver was thinking of bringing that great metal behemoth down these skinny lanes. And then – I realised it was an agricultural lorry and – tail between my legs – wondered who had more right to be there. Continue reading “Questionable Intentions – Intentional Questions “

A Year of Blessings

christmas-free-clip-art

As the nights draw in and another year draws to a close, its a natural time to pause and reflect.
I’ve been looking back and asking: Has this year brought me closer to the goals I’d imagined for Wise Goose this time last year? Have we made the most of the opportunities and the gifts that have come my way? Have we been true to our purpose and values?

I must admit I was feeling a bit low when I started, our son is in India on a gap year adventure and won’t be back until Spring, this will be the first Christmas without him. And I was feeling sad about losing a colleague who, for good personal reasons, decided to move on, but I’ll still miss working with her.

And 2016 has been a challenging year in other ways, Brexit and the long term uncertainty it brings and Donald Trump as the next US president is just plain scary!

But the more I reflected, the more I saw that this has been a really good year for Wise Goose. It’s all too easy to lose sight of this in the midst of the day-to-day challenges of life and running of a business. Continue reading “A Year of Blessings”

Help Others. Help yourself.

helping others

Many thanks to Sarah Dawkins  for this post. Sarah is a graduate of the Wise Goose Advanced Programme and  works as a Confidence Coach here in the South West.

If your confidence stopping you from taking those steps to getting where you want to be in your life or work then confidence coaching is a great opportunity for you to work towards overcoming areas that are being hit by lack of confidence, be it that interview, talking to people or making that speech.

Something has got to change.

That was the thought that had been buzzing around in my head for 2 years before I decided to actually take action with my life; before that, the nagging thought was just something to squirrel away in the back of my mind to revisit when I reached that magical state of having time to think about it. Continue reading “Help Others. Help yourself.”

From Therapist to Coach

In this month’s post Rachel Jewell,  a Wise Goose student, tells us about her journey from therapist to a coach specialising with working in the field of female empowerment.

women change

 

 

Facilitating Change, one way or another!

 

My passion has always been to facilitate change in others so that they can achieve their chosen outcomes for their lives. The methodology for achieving a successful outcomes has changed over time, however my purpose has remained clear. Continue reading “From Therapist to Coach”

Questions and coaching

In this month’s post Janet Kipling,  a Wise Goose student, tells us how training in coaching is impacting on her work.  Janet began her career as a journalist in newspapers, and as a BBC radio reporter, producer and presenter.  Twelve years ago she jumped the fence to work in public relation. She still does occasional radio presentation work, writing and media training as well as teaching yoga, and came to coaching wanting to develop a decluttering business. 

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Questions, questions

I’ve made a pretty good career out of asking questions. As a newspaper journalist, radio reporter and then presenter, asking the right question to get the headline or soundbite was a key tool of the trade. Thanks Helen and the Wise Goose team for turning this all upside down! Continue reading “Questions and coaching”