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  • Writer's picturegeoffashton

Harmony from cacophony through the creative space

Many of us will have had the bruising experience of trying to explore an idea with someone before it was sufficiently clear in our minds what we were trying to say. At its worst, these conversations end up with our ideas being shot down in flames before they had the chance to be fully developed. I wonder how many really good ideas have been delayed, diluted, or destroyed by a failure get them into a place where they can gain enough traction to be turned into practical proposals.

The problem isn't always with the person who has had the idea. A more generous reception by others and a desire to look for the gold in someone else's creativity can rescue a half-formed idea from an early demise.

Finding a creative space

The difficulty, particularly in a pressurised work context, is finding the space to form ideas fully. Where can you go to avoid the risks of someone pouring cold water on your creative spark or worse, stealing it for themselves? Coaching provides that creative space where you can work with someone whose one aim to get your idea into shape where it can command a hearing. More than that, a coach will help you think through how you will present it, when, with whom, and how to sequence these steps.

When working with people to create ideas I ask them to be clear about three objectives - rational (what you want people to understand) experiential (how you want them to feel about it) and volitional (what you want them to do). This is a powerful framework for formulating an idea. If, for example, you want to identify a business risk what are the key pieces of information you want to get across? You may need a combination of hard data, anecdotes and robust assumptions. Do you want people to feel hopeful that the risk can be averted or, in the first instance, feel the threat of not addressing it? And what do you want people to do - find an immediate solution or conduct further research?

A space for yourself

Rather than formulating ideas for others, you may be wanting to shape some ideas for yourself. You may, for example, have an outline plan towards an outcome you want to achieve but need to fill in the gaps between where you are now and where you want to be. The conversation you may need could be to explore what are as yet unintended consequences of your plan, to get some reassurance that you really have thought through everything that you could reasonably expect to, or perhaps to find the courage to take the first step. As a coach I often find myself in the role of a temporary co-creator of ideas, what some call "the guide on the side" as the client crafts and shapes their own vision for the future.

Changing position and changing perspective

One of my skills as a coach is to take up different positions from which to explore a subject. In the coaching conversation I regularly move between looking at an issues from my own eyes as a third party observer, to seeing the world through the eyes of the client, to seeking to view the subject through the eyes of other people who may be affected. I work with clients to help them make their own positional shifts through which they can then develop new creative insights of their own.

What are you wanting to create?

What came to mind as you read this article? That will give you a clue as to the creative coaching conversation that could make a significant difference to you now.

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