The story never ends

This is the 6th and final post in a series of blogs inspired by a day’s workshop in Narrative Coaching by Dr David Drake.

I don’t know about you but when I’m reading a book I have really enjoyed, I actually tend to slow down as I near the end. Almost reluctant to finish it in case the denouement isn’t as satisfying as the rest of the narrative.

It can be the same when working with a coaching client. Knowing that the engagement must end at a given point imparts a certain energy and as a coach you have to be careful how you deal with that. I’ve written on this subject before and I’m quite clear that we have to manage the process ethically and professionally. I’ve seen too many coaches who seem to feel it is their job to “fix” the client and won’t let go until their own agenda has been fulfilled.

How about for the client though? To take a couple of examples from my own practice, I’ve recently had clients emigrate and accept redundancy – both times of huge change and both things that meant we would stop working together. Both these clients are about to write new chapters in their own narratives and yet they have been used to having me around. In this sort of situation I tend to follow the basic tenets from the 4th post in this series – a client has the ability to change the characters in their narrative and I encourage my clients to write me out of their story. I actually ask what other characters they would include to take my place. Or if there was another coach in their story, what traits would this person have? Clients tend to find this empowering, realising that they already have people in their own lives who can take on some of these roles. Or indeed that they can do some of this on their own now, holding themselves to account or accessing their own experience more quickly.

So as a coach you never get to hear the end of the story, and actually that’s ok. Don’t get me wrong, it’s always a pleasure to hear from ex-clients, to see Linked In updates about a change of job or see the Twitter buzz about a new project but ultimately, my part in their story is over. I was entrusted with their narrative for a while. I try to look after it, be careful and respect it, just as you would with any prized possession but when all is said and done you have to let go.

That’s it (for now at least) on my Narrative Coaching series. It has been an interesting exercise and as you can probably tell, I took a lot from the workshop. There is more I could have written and perhaps will in time but currently I’m keen to start a new story of my own. A journey in to other forms of knowledge and practice. I hope you will join me.


About Jon Bartlett

I'm a coach, blogging on things that occur to me, that I want to share and any other fun stuff I find lying around in the real world.
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