In his book, A Whole New Mind
(Pink, 2005) the author introduces six senses to complement the learning associated with the right-hemisphere brain: Design, Story, Symphony, Empathy, Play, and Meaning. Clients may benefit from exploring these senses between coaching session to help strengthen creativity and imagination.
One simple method for building the design sense is to keep a design notebook. Each time the client sees a great design, he or she writes it down in the notebook. This simple exercise will soon lead to viewing the environment in anew perspective – one with greater awareness and acuity.
One quick and fun way to develop the story sense is to learn to write the mini-saga. According to Pink (2005), the mini saga is a story with a beginning, middle and end, but unlike the short story, a mini-sage is exactly 50 words. No less. No more.
Another option is to visit a Storytelling Festival. These events are held all over the world and can easily be found on the Internet.
Finally, try interviewing a friend or family member with a simple tape recorder. Ask some open ended questions who their favorite teacher was or their happiest day in their life and listen for the stories to unfold. All these exercises will help develop the client’s own storytelling sense.
This sense relates to the ability to put together the pieces rather than analyze the pieces. Symphony helps the client connect unrelated events and fields and put something new together. An excellent way to develop symphony is to have the client create an inspiration board. For example, if the client’s inspiration is to travel, then each time the client sees something that reminds them of the inspiration (a photo, an article, even a piece of fabric) they attach it to the inspiration board. Soon, clients will begin seeing connections to inspire them to move forward.
Before one attempts toincrease their empathy sense, they should first know their empathy base line. The internet has a number of good assessmenttests to measure the Empathy Quotient including Simon Baron-Cohen 60 question instrument. Strengthening listeningskills and working to understand (not necessarily agree) is one of the best ways to increase the empathy sense.
Play is not only an important part of personal well-being, but has recognized importance in both business and work. Case in point is Southwest Airlines missionstatement, “People rarely succeed at anything unless they are having fun doing it.” Incorporating games, humor and laughter, will build this right side attribute and strengthen the right-hemisphere helping promote imagination and creativity.
The sense of meaning relates to the ability to find meaning and purpose where others may notsee it. As coaches, we can strengthen our sense of meaning through simply exercises like practicing gratitude. As Dr. Robert Firestone writes, “You’re not going to find the meaning of life hidden under a rock written by someone else.You’ll only find it by giving meaning to life from inside yourself.”
Do you allow yourself time each week to imagine, create, and play? Can you substitute judgment for empathy and place yourself in another’s shoes? What are you grateful for this week? How about today? What about this moment?
We cannot help our clients imagine if we ourselves fail to do so. We not only ask our clients to trust a change is within their reach, we must also believe this for ourselves. Otherwise, we are truly not “walking our talk” as a coach.
Throughout our studies of coaching we become exposed to a number of tools (like the ones above) to improve our ability to imagine. If we are already right-brain individuals, the ability toimagine may be second nature. However, if we are coming to the coaching professional as predominately left-brain individuals, we may need to work on developing our imagination and creativity skills.
Coaching is about beingauthentic. We want our clients to be authentic but we must practice this too. If we cannot imagine or dream, we are not being true to ourselves. We may be able to visualize another’s dream, but until we learn to imagine, they will never be our dreams.
Are you more of a left-brain logical coach or a right brain creative coach? What tools can you use to strengthen your creativity and imagination? Do you follow your own dreams or those of someone else?
Carson, Clayborne, 1998, Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr., Grand Central Publishing, New York, NY.Axelrod, Alan, 2006, Profiles in Audacity, Sterling Publishing Co., New York, NY.Pink, Daniel, 2005, A Whole New Mind, River Head Books, New York, NY.Kotter, John, 1996, Leading Change, Harvard Business School Press, Boston, MA.