By Linda Woolston
The pride in this event was evident, particularly in the partnership that had made it possible between Coaching Psychology interest groups in South Africa, New Zealand and Australia and the further international support for the event from the UK’s Professor Stephen Palmer (BPS-Special Group in Coaching Psychology).
A piece from the programme reinforces the contribution coaches can make to the world: “Coaching Psychology, still characterised by its youth and infancy, faces opportunities that will allow a positive contribution to society, whether it is facilitating quality conversations with influential executives of multi-nationals, community leaders with the capacity to influence the lives of many involved, activists for socio-political change, team leaders of sports teams, key government representatives, middle management in organisations, CE0′s of NGO’s or ordinary individuals that contribute to society in their daily lives.”
Currently 12 coaching psychology interest groups from around the world are collaborating to promote the profession, bring the community together, share theory, research and practice and to engage professionals interested in coaching and coaching psychology.
My sense is that Coaching Psychology (and the broader coaching industry) is gaining a momentum and that this event will be one of many manifestations of greater international collaboration bringing together shared learning and standards globally.
By Linda Woolston
I know… it’s quite a title, wait until I start talking about existential positive psychology (that comes later). This session was led by Prof Reinhard Stelter. A professor of Sports and Coaching Psychology.
An interesting presentation. I’m not sure I can do it justice but I thought I’d try to share some of the key points I took away.
The starting point was reflecting on why coaching is such a wide spread phenomena in our post-modern societies? Society is hyper-complex, individuals are faced with growing diversity at work and in other areas of life. There is a continuous obligation to develop at work, and in our private and social lives. This in part is why the demand for coaching has grown.
In my first blog posting I wrote about the African philosophy of ubuntu, Rheinhard quoted from the German sociologist Ulrich Beck saying “no country or group can shut itself off from others” which linked back in my mind to ubuntu. Society is complex and interconnected. “The post-modern being is a restless nomad” (Gergen). How can a coach help clients navigate in a society that leads to increased restlessness and loss of common values? The speaker split coaching in to three generations, 1st Generation-Problem focused / goal perspective (eg GROW) 2nd Generation-Solution / Future perspective (eg Positive Psychology / Appreciative Inquiry) 3rd Generation- Reflective perspective (eg Narrative coaching).
He separated the 3rd generation approach into four areas:
- Values-focusing on and reflecting on values ie the central part of our identity and the guide to how we live.
- Meaning Making-things become meaningful when we understand our own way of thinking.
- The Implicit-revisiting the absent but implicit, those things embedded in action but can’t be verbalised without effort. A process in the present moment accessed in a state of mindfulness.
- Narrative-helping the client get their story, possibly a new plot. The coach and client co-create the story, where the coach is curious, irreverent in regard to the client’s life and his her own life. “The principal way in which our minds, our ‘realities’ get shaped to the pattern of daily cultural life is through the stories we tell, listen to and read-true or fictional” J Bruner 2006.
As I understood it this approach is about listening deeply to the stories clients tell us, using this to co-create new stories with ideas and approaches that may not have previously thought of.
A later speaker (Ingra du Buisson-Narsai) said that “stories define leaders more than a profile or a score.” Another phrase that Linda used that suck in my mind is “we are what we constantly do”, an alternative version of the famous Gandhi quote.
In a more narrative or reflective approach to coaching the suggestion is that it is not always beneficial to define a goal in the beginning of the coaching session, “but to give space to unfold narratives, and the importance of reflecting on personal and social meanings and values as the basis for our thinking and acting” (Reinhard Stelter) .
Food for thought.
By Linda Woolston (BC 2004)
Me and my Blackberry are a team. Keeping me connected to the people I love, keeping me up to date with what’s going on in the world and of course access to those emails. I text, BBM, email, take photos, as well as use it for its conventional purpose as a phone. It’s value intensifies on an overseas trip.
Before I came away to South Africa, I thought the unthinkable, what if I lost my Blackberry? So, I wrote the important phone numbers down so I had them separately. I’d never thought about doing this before on any previous trips. Day two and I’m at the conference… and can’t find my Blackberry. It’s gone. Hand bag emptied, pockets emptied - it’s gone.
I borrow a phone and call the hotel and ask if they could check my room - I’d checked out that morning. There’s a feeling of panic and anxiety, which is being met inside by the equal need to be calm and think straight. Could I have left it in the taxi? Did one of my co-travellers have the taxi drivers number? Yes she does!! At this point another delegate (British) said with certainty “well if you left it in a taxi, you’ll never see that again”. In that moment I was hoping with all my heart that he was wrong for South Africa, for humanity and… because I wanted my phone back. I had to stick with my belief that the overwhelming majority of people are good. I had to believe that if it was in the taxi the driver would return it. It was. He did. Twenty minutes later there he was, he said he knew how he would feel if he lost his phone and was glad to return it. Thank you Robert, a driver in Pretoria.
I sought out the fatalistic British delegate and told him the good news. Later in one of the sessions one of the speakers used the phrase “doing hope”. During that time of Blackberry separation, I thought that was what I was doing… doing hope.
By Linda Woolston (BC 2004)
The conference has begun… on arrival we were given a goody bag, I pulled out the first item and there was Anne Scoular’s face staring up at me!!! We’d all been given a copy of Coaching at Work – with a feature article on Anne and the book.
I’m in a minority here in that most delegates are psychologists, fortunately I have made two friends who are willing to “translate” for me. One from Australia and one from Namibia (Did you know Namibia has a population of 2 million and a 52% unemployment rate?).
We heard confirmation this morning of something that I think we knew and that is that in the UK there is a growth in team coaching and internal coaching. Prof Stephen Palmer expects this to be verified in the next annual survey of coaches and coaching psychologists to be conducted by Palmer and Whybrow.
By Linda Woolston (BC 2004)
I arrived in South Africa this morning. All has gone well. A man called Jimmy was waiting at arrivals with a reassuring sign that said “Linda Woolston”, he greeted me warmly and then asked my name and how to spell it. He explained he was delivering me to my driver Joseph and then talked to me about everything I must see while I was here. A great ambassador for the area. Joseph was great, we covered football (and who we wanted to win the Champions league), family, politics and then I’m not sure why, but it did seem in context at the time, I mentioned that in our community choir we’d learned the South African National Anthem, Nkosi Sikele. He said that there was one verse of the anthem in his language which starts with “O se boloke”. I responded with the next line “setjhaba sa heso”. We were both so happy!! He was thrilled that this English woman had just sung a line back to him in his own language, I was thrilled because I’d remembered it (!) and that somehow a community choir singing in a school hall every Tuesday in Kingston upon Thames had connected with a man in Pretoria.
I’m now reviewing the programme for tomorrow and trying to select which workshops to go for. I’m doing this sitting by the pool in the sunshine and yes, it’s autumn, almost winter here. I think it will include the following “Coaching as a process of brand positivity” and “Coaching4Resillience”, though I must say the “4″ puts me off a bit…
My workshop selection has just been interrupted by a lovely waitress wanting to know everything about the Royal Wedding. I confessed to having been in THE room with the balcony at the palace (obviously not on the wedding day) and this led to much excitement.
And the third workshop will probably be “A blueprint for building a meaningful life-an approach to use in personal leadership mastery coaching”.
More tomorrow from the conference.
By Linda Woolston (BC 2004)
I’m about to go global! Three weeks away-South Africa, Sunderland, New York. It’s at this moment that I wish I was a “J” for packing purposes for this extended blend of work, leisure and countries! My usual approach to packing ie putting a million things out on every available surface over several days, then packing selected items ( plus non-selected items just in case) an hour before I leave for the airport, is just not going to work… Is there such a thing as a packing coach?
The programme has just been published for the conference and I must admit there are some things mentioned I’ve never heard of but all the more opportunity to learn! There are also some sessions that I’m immediately drawn to. If you look at the programme and there’s anything in particular you’d like to hear about please leave a comment on the blog and I’ll do my best to oblige. I’m interested to learn more about how the approach to coaching / coaching market differs in South Africa to the UK and there will be delegates from all over the world, particularly the southern hemisphere, so lots to learn from them too.
Anne (Scoular) asked about my zuzuvela… which if you followed last year’s football World Cup you will know she means vuvuzela (it’s close). For those of you watching the World Cup at home it was the vuvuzelas creating the constant sound of giant swarms of bees. I was lucky enough to be at the World Cup and the vuvuzela noise was a brilliant part of the atmosphere-loved it. The very attractive beaded vuvuzela I brought home will not be making it on to my packing list. I last (and first) used it when I was MC at my niece’s wedding at a rather smart venue. The manager there loved it so much he asked if he could have it! So I passed it on.
An African philosophy that means a lot to me is “ubuntu” – one interpretation of this is “I am what I am because of who we all are.” Desmond Tutu said “Ubuntu speaks particularly about the fact that you can’t exist as a human being in isolation. It speaks about our interconnectedness. You can’t be human all by yourself, and when you have this quality – Ubuntu – you are known for your generosity. We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole World. When you do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole of humanity”. In the context of this conference and in our role as coaches the inter-connectedness is significant, the impact of coaches globally through our work has a ripple effect way beyond the individual client. Through coaching we are privileged to have the chance to have an impact on the world. For two days I will experience the opportunity of connecting with many coaches from different backgrounds and different countries and will be connecting back “home” through the Meyler Campbell blog. I’m looking forward to it!
By Anne Scoular, Faculty Member
In pursuit of our goal of thought leadership, and radically upping the flows of practical, evidence-based information to the Meyler Campbell community, Linda Woolston, Business Coach Programme Graduate and coach with The Alliance, is to represent us all at The 1st International Congress of Coaching Psychology (Southern Hemisphere) 26/27 May 2011. Linda will be writing a blog on what she picks up, so community members can access the latest tips, research and updates in virtually real time! For more on Linda see www.alliancecoaching.co.uk/linda-woolston.html.
For information about the conference please go to http://www.coachingpsychologycongress.org/.