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Mapping the Mind

Back in January I ran a competition to celebrate the 1st anniversary of this blog.
Nominated by Ian Pettigrew (@KingfisherCoach) the lucky winner Bev Holden (@stickythinker) won a ticket to the EMCC UK 1 day Symposium “Mapping the Mind“.  Bev has written a superb guest blog post about her experience – I hope you enjoy it!

Mapping the Mind 

Clutching my metaphorical “golden ticket”, I joined EMCC UK members for the Manchester Symposium on Thursday 15th March, thanks to a thoughtful nomination by Ian Pettigrew (Kingfisher Coaching), suggesting that I would be the deserving recipient of David’s “spare” ticket, and apparently I was! 
So, for those of you that couldn’t make it to the event, and even for those of you who did, I’ve captured some of my reflections about the day. I haven’t attempted to share the expert content in any detail; the EMCC will make it accessible to those who are interested in knowing more. These are my “afters,” the thoughts and questions I have been left with so far, as I suspect the non-conscious part of my brain will be cogitating for a while longer and firing unexpected questions into my consciousness over the coming days and weeks. Fitting it all into a blog-sized nutshell has been taxing to say the least, so I’ve left quite a lot of things out – they do say “less is more.” 
This was my first exposure to Psychodynamics and Catherine Sandler painted a picture that had great resonance for me, describing a reality where a person knows they need to change, truly wants to change but finds it difficult to break through entrenched patterns of thinking and behaviour. I imagine most coaches have come across someone who fits this description. 
Chris Samsa brought us positive psychology, interesting evidence from the world of neuroscience, and some hugs (I should probably explain that the hugging was all about raising oxytocin levels to help us be more effective at solving problems creatively.) There was lots of content that helped me recall some of what I know and use from the field of NLP too. 
With Danielle Grant we explored the meaning of life, IQ, EQ and SQ, authenticity and even neuro plasticity within the context of leadership, and she gave us the delightful term “authentic chameleon” to describe the leader who deftly adjusts their style to meet the needs of their people. 
The Mapping the Mind Symposium gave me some new information, asked me some challenging questions, and has left me with some really practical approaches I can build into my professional coaching practice. I have been able to “inter-twingle” my thinking on Psychodynamics, Neuroscience and Positive Psychology and Ego and here’s where I’ve got to in my cogitations – if that’s a word. 

Why business needs us to be good parents 

If we agree with the theory that our early life experiences shape the way we are as adults, and that we learn to deploy psychological defence mechanisms such as denial, repression, displacement, projection and idealisation to keep us psychologically safe and sound, then business really needs us to be good parents. 
It’s these defence mechanisms that become our “hidden drivers” sitting below the surface, beneath the observable behaviour that we present to the world, that cause us to think, feel and behave in particular ways, sometimes creating great outcomes and other times sabotaging our success. It’s these hidden drivers that coaching with the psychodynamic approach can bring to the surface, building self-awareness in the client and being the catalyst for personal change. 
If we provide our children with a happy, stable and enriching childhood, what are the “hidden drivers” that we are shaping for the future? And I’ve made a leap in my thinking that leads me to suggest that if parenting is done well, maybe we won’t need coaches to help people in organisations to perform well as adults? I suspect I’m taking a far too simplistic stance on this one…… 

Why we might need to rethink how we use trusted coaching models 

Chris Samsa’s insight into neuroscience and positive psychology left me feeling inclined to revisit some of the coaching models I have relied on so far, and find ways to incorporate his very elegant SCARF model into what I do. 
We risk reinforcing negative and less helpful thoughts, feelings and behaviours by encouraging our clients to describe their current reality in vivid terms, as a source of information upon which to begin searching for a future ideal. This places too much emphasis on Away thinking rather than Towards thinking. 
In my experience clients find it very easy to describe what’s happening now and what they don’t want, (i.e. what they want to get away from) but are less able to create a vivid picture of what they want instead (i.e. towards) but it’s exactly this kind of thinking that shifts them from an unresourceful state to one where they can be more creative and innovative. 
I’m inclined to think that Away from thinking is less effective because it lacks direction, you can run away from something in any direction you like, and perhaps end up in a worse situation. I liken Towards thinking to the tractor beam on the Star Wars Death Star, it’s both irresistible and compelling! 
What does make some people so reluctant to dream about the future and its infinite possibilities? What do we need to do differently as coaches to move our clients into a more positive state and would it speed the coaching process, and the pace of transformation, up if we did? 

Why managers need to let go of what they know 

Historically managers and leaders have acquired knowledge and held onto it as a way to keep them at the top of the organisational pyramid. With the pace of change accelerating and knowledge becoming accessible to the masses, it’s much harder to hold onto knowledge and for it to be relevant for very long! 
Organisations thrive when they are agile and responsive, when they are equipped to react appropriately to the pace of change and where everyone in the organisation is enabled to make it happen. How can an organisation behave that way if all the knowledge (and the power and control) is held by an elite group of individuals? 
One of our challenges as coaches is to help some clients let go of what they know by letting go of their ego, by thinking beyond their ego, which for me means they realise the success of the organisation is a combined effort, bringing together and leveraging the skills, experiences and abilities of a broad range of people under a visionary leader. 
There is also a place for the coach in helping team members to step up to the challenge of being empowered, so that the people who lead them have more confidence in their ability, making it much easier to let go……at least in Utopia if nowhere else! 
So, I hope this gives you a flavour for the event and I look forward to your comments. I’m very grateful to David and Ian for the opportunity to attend and now it’s time for me to time to turn thinking into action. 

Bev Holden is the co-founder and Director of The Clear Thinking Partnership. She and her business partner Kate Hargreaves work with clients to help them think more clearly, boosting individual and team performance and business success.


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