This is the 4th in a series of blogs inspired by a day’s workshop in Narrative Coaching by Dr David Drake.
It’s a tough world out there right now. Every day brings more news of companies ceasing to trade, shops closing, redundancies rising. There is uncertainty wherever you look. The pace of technology grows ever faster, we are adapting, facing challenges which would have been unthinkable a generation or two ago.
Or would they?
- 50 years ago – one of the most severe winters on record, there was snow on the ground from Boxing Day until late March.
- 100 years ago – Emily Davison ran out in front of the King’s Horse to protest for votes for women, she died of her wounds.
- 150 years ago – the world’s first underground railway opened in London.
Those are all pretty big challenges which our ancestors coped with. They, improvised, adapted and overcame the hurdles in their way.
It’s the same in our own lives. I don’t know about you but I’m not in the same industry I joined after education, and being a coach wasn’t my dream job (how times change). I didn’t know my life would lead this way but I was flexible enough to adapt.
I thought of this when David talked about helping clients to change their narrative, to “Rewrite their destiny”. Many clients are so strongly identified with certain patterns of behaviour that they struggle to see what they could do differently. Clients become comfortable in set roles. These may be positive ones such as “provider” or “parent”. Other times though it may be a role which leaves the client debilitated, (we’ve all met “victims” or “saboteurs”). In order to play these roles there is often a supporting cast, people who’ve almost come to expect such behaviour and in some way enable it. It’s a vicious circle and does no one any good.
How does this relate to Narrative Coaching? Well, our clients are able to rewrite their story, to take a new role in a different narrative. More than that though, they can get rid of certain characters if they don’t help the action along or serve a useful purpose in the plot. They are free to change their story from a tragedy to an adventure, a romance or a thriller (or if they are lucky – all of that and more).
I wrote last week about how we are coaches, not editors. We owe it to our clients to listen well. It is incumbent upon us to feed back what we heard, what gripped or inspired us, what bored or saddened us. It’s a privileged position to be in and we should take that responsibility very seriously.
I’ll leave the final word on this subject to master storyteller – Shakespeare
“All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts”