Creativity in Coaching

I’ve been known to be trigger happy with my creative ideas, infamously known amongst my friends as someone who never shies away from the challenge of turning ideas into reality (no matter how crazy they sound). Though I must admit, not always successfully, not always on point, not always sustainably. My motto was always “Cuba Jaya” (Malay origin. Translated to Try and Succeed).

Now as a coach, I often times find myself on the verge of letting the cat out of the bag. Sometimes, I can hear my ideas start propagating in anticipation to assist the coachee. I continuously had to check-in with myself and re-focus on the coaching mindset, rather than a mentor / advisor / friend. I am reminded that the client / coachee is the epicenter of his/her growth. I am a coach, facilitating growth, listening actively, asking powerful questions, providing that safe, unbiase space.

So, how does a coach help the client / coachee to find inspiring ideas, compelling action plans, and develop the commitment to see their ideas through?

Let’s be honest, sometimes the client themselves are seeking resolution from the coach, in hopes of some saving grace, time and effort. And many a times, the client is also at wits end. The value in coaching is not in the answers itself, it’s in the journey of its discovery that could lead to something else.

So, how can a coach help with creativity?

One creativity method was inspired by Walt Disney himself, and defined by Robert Dilts in the 1990s, in which creative ideas are combined with a sense of reality, leading towards an action plan. Starting with a precise question or problem at hand, the process starts with the dreamer stage, then progresses to the realist stage and finally the critic stage. Each stage has its own objectives, followed by questions to dive deeper into the discussion, exploring all possibilities. The final outcome is an action plan that has been thoroughly discussed from the 3 main angles – The Dreamer, The Realist, The Critic.

Designed by Shereen Kaur. Image source: IMDB.com. Images are used for illustrating of learning points only. Not for commercial use.

Another tool that can be used, is the Locus of Control, or Circle of Influence, from Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. The grounding of this tool, is that the client / coachee is at the heart of situations and circumstances. There are areas that can be controlled which is mainly directed at them, areas that they can influence which is further away from their boundaries, and finally, we can call it the areas of opportunity (or traditionally called the areas of concern) which are furthest away, nevertheless it possesses the attraction of adventure. These circles can change in diameters and circumference depending on importance, scope and filters, hence, as a coach we can facilitate the client / coachee to consider the area of that they are in. This will also enable the coach to evaluate the reality of the client / coachee.

Adapted from 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

The third and very interesting method shared by Coach Mel Leow, MCC, founder of Catalyst Coach, is The Power of Instead. One of my favourite methods so far, as it keeps it real, without the pressure of being creative. Simple. Fun. Magical.

  1. What do I want instead of this?
  2. Who do I want to be instead?
  3. What do I want to be thinking instead?
  4. How do I want to be feeling instead?
  5. What do I want to be doing instead?
  6. Where do I want to be going instead?
  7. What do I want to be saying instead?

I had the opportunity to test this during an impromptu session, with a young man, who was exploring his career opportunities, having just completed his degree. I was happy that at the end of the session, he saw some opportunities that he needed to work on, and it provided him a different perspective to job-hunting post COVID-19.

Last but not least, we could also leverage on our SUPERHERO, T.E.A. Do refer to my previous post to understand T.E.A. (Thoughts, Emotions and Actions) better. Even in the creativity process, discernment towards the client’s thoughts, reveals their emotions, and explains their choice for action. Look for signs of being politically correct, or textbook answers, lack of emotions, hazy timelines and actions/strategies that are out of character with the client / coachee.

My key take-aways from creativity in coaching module are:

  1. I must maintain the focus, the mindset as a coach, to ensure that the creativity of the ideas is coming from the client / coachee. It is their ideas to make it work. Not mine.
  2. I can help to facilitate the discussion of the mechanics, action plans, however, the details must be worked on by the client / coachee. It is their reality, their context, their world. Not mine.
  3. Actions within the control, influence of the client / coachee, will encourage, motivate, and sustain the momentum to ensure success, rather than the most creative one. It will be their action that makes their dreams a reality.

P/S: Check out your creative type with this fun interactive diagnostic tool by Adobe. Click here.

“Creativity is intelligence having fun”

~ Albert Einstein

Published by Shereen Kaur

Coach, Consultant, Wellness Advocate, Artist, Mom

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