What are you going to wish for?

For me, this short clip from ‘Never Ending Story’ alludes quite beautifully to the magic of coaching.

Bastian, the young boy, finds it hard to believe that, “the more wishes he makes the more magnificent Fantasia will become!” However, once he is convinced that it can happen, he makes his first wish and then all the wonderful things begin to appear.

In real life it’s not as easy as “make a wish and then it appears”, as there is a bit of work to do in between (this is what keeps us coaches in work!).  Nonetheless, it still starts with a wish, a dream, a vision, a longing for something new or different. Without this ‘wish’, then, indeed, there can be no ‘Fantasia’.

 So what will be your first wish?   What would you like to have happen?

Get in touch when you are ready to start, I can't wait to work with you!

Attention is a gift that keeps on giving

I really love Nancy Kline's 'Thinking Environment' and here is a short poem I wrote about one of the 10 components - attention. It's not just any old attention - it's an exquisite attention full of warmth, expectation and filled with the positive intention and belief that this person before you has all the magic and potential in them to come up with something marvellous...

Attention is a gift that keeps on giving

Will you give me the gift of your attention please?

It is your undivided attention that makes me feel safe

and brave, as I begin to talk, as I begin to think.

Your attention is like the stretched and primed canvas,

that will allow the colours, strokes and swirls

of my thinking and ideas to emerge and become visible.

Your attention is what I need to think at my best.

So give me all your attention

and who knows what we will discover…


Nemo Shaw 2nd Oct 2017

Coaching and the 'child within' (30/06/18)

“Hey, look at me! Watch me! Hey, Hey, look at me! Watch me!”

Maybe you can identify with this feeling if you think back to when you were young, or if you have any young kids yourself, or watch young kids playing in the park etc. I really can identify with it.

When I am being coached and I feel safe enough to really open up, it can feel a bit like it did when I was a kid. A vibrant mix: vulnerability, learning new things, exploring, creating, and needing attention and love and safety and belonging

Think of when a child is just getting the hang of something new and challenging. For example, maybe jumping over a ditch, or traversing a set of playground climbing bars, or doing trick, act or impression. This is when we crave that attention, the “look at me!” moment. Just being watched or held in others attention is a nourishing space that says “It’s your turn”, “the ‘stage’ is yours”, “we are watching in anticipation”, and it has an amazing impact. It’s as if the act of attention is helping the child to be brave, courageous and activated, and it definitely accelerates their learning.

 In terms of the ICF coaching competencies[i] could this kind of attention be a bit like Competency 3: ‘Creating Trust and Intimacy’: that expression of support for the client, you are there for them when they need you to be, and your attention is encouraging them to fully express themselves. This is part of the role of a coach.

Here’s a picture of me when I was about 6? Feeling quite smart in my fancy outfit with kipper tie!

After the child has completed the new feat, there is the amazing positive impact from the reaction of the onlookers. Words like ‘wow!’, ‘Cool!’. ‘Awesome!’, ‘Way to go!’ etc. all seem to heighten the thrill, sense of reward and achievement. This acknowledgement, recognition and validation seems to add to the sense of self-belief, excitement, and somehow being witnessed makes the achievement all the more real, tangible, verifiable. I believe it helps the child to absorb this new skill and confidence as a new emerging part of ‘who they are’.

 The situation above seems to me to be a blend of several ICF competencies. For example:

  • Competency 4: ‘Coaching Presence’: the coach is observant, empathic and responsive (acknowledging the success).
  • Competency 8: ‘Creating Awareness’, as the child begins to realize “I can do this new thing and it rocks!”.
  • Competency 9/10/11 ‘Managing Progress and Accountability’, just as the parent/onlooker is notice and reflecting the child’s progress, e.g. “You are getting good at this!”

Once the child is starting to get the hang of this new skill the parent needs to be careful not to interfere. For example if they say “let me help you with that”, the chances are the child will shrug them off and say “no let me do it! I can do it!”, or perhaps the child will allow the parent to help and thus discount their own ability (Adaptive Child). However if the parent says “can you show me again, it’s great!”, the child will delight in the enjoyment of performing and perfecting this new skill.

This reminds me to be sensitive when working with clients as they are breaking through with new skills, realizations and learning. If I get a bit over involved then it can make them annoyed or switch off. In the ICF competencies 9/10/11, there is a part about client accountability. When I am being coached, I notice that I get irritated if the coach says to me: “is there anything I can do to help?” It is as if the child within me, that was beginning to get the hang of something new, has had his power diminished, and I don’t want it. However, with just a small tweak the question becomes: “Is there anything that you need to stay on track?”, which I am absolutely fine with. It says to me ‘I can be in charge!’ I might ask for some help, or I might not, but the most important thing is that it’s my decision, and it’s on my terms. I think when I open up during coaching, I can be in a child-like state and sensitive, and hence why I think these nuances become very significant in what I want from a coach and what will turn me off.

So, for me, when coaching is working it often seems to tap into the inner-child part of the client (and what a wonderful gift to the coach when the client opens up and shares their vulnerability), and that calls for heightened sensitivity and responsiveness.

Give the client control and let them decide. Such a delicate balance and it can make so much difference.

[i] The 'ICF Core Competencies' are a set of professional standards that help to uphold and improve the quality and consistency of the coaching profession: https://coachfederation.org/core-competencies