Coach / mentor details
WHAT I OFFER - CREATIVITY COACHING
As a part-time visual artist and creative writer with almost 30 years management experience in the health and social care sector, I have a keen interest in the impact of creativity on health and wellbeing, and a person's capacity to be innovative in business.
As a published author, and exhibiting artist, I have direct and personal experience of the benefits of creative activity, and the processes that can be used to unlock creativity. There are many reasons why people choose to learn more about their creativity. Sometimes they're driven by a desire to approach work tasks in a different way, or sometimes they wish to 'be more artistic' or to write a book, or invent something the world has not yet seen. Whatever the motivation, creativity certainly seems to boost personal wellbeing, and enhance performance at work.
PILLARS OF PRACTICE
My coaching style is solution-oriented. I like to start by asking my client what they want to achieve from the coaching process. This can be something very specific like "I want to write a book about aviation in Britain during WW1" or it might be something general like "I want to be more effective in my job". Whatever the core desire, it is important to get this articulated as soon as possible. The desire may of course change over time, but making a start with what the client believes is most important to them, is important to me.
Once that core goal is established, I like to ask my client why this goal is important to them and how they would like to achieve it. It is usually at this part of the conversation that people become more aware of what is driving them, or more aware that there are things they have not yet fully realized, and they may need some time to reflect on it further. Sometimes that reflection starts immediately, in the conversation, and sometimes it happens much later, outside of the coaching conversation.
Discussing the actions the client would like to take toward achieving their goal is the next step. I like this action planning to be a fairly fluid process, so my client has the elbow room they need, to explore a number of ways in which they would like to progress toward their goal. I am a fan of the expression 'many roads lead to Rome' because there really is no one, or right, way of approaching a task, and therefore, no one path to achieving a goal. Allowing the client to work toward their goal in a way that is most meaningful and satisfying for them is of paramount importance.
Honoring the uniqueness of each client is also crucial. Drawing upon the words of the late and great Alan Watts, who said 'I am a unique expression of the oneness of all things' I believe that it is only through finding our own unique way in life that we express ourselves in a way that is both satisfying to us, and most likely to produce to best results.
I also prompt my clients to evaluate their progress and their approach throughout the coaching process, as this helps them to reflect on their actions, and to fine tune their future actions, or to bring new actions into the mix.
Whom I work with - my approach tends to work best with people are fluid and open-minded and willing to explore new ways of doing things. Usually, these people have a general sense of what they want, and they are comfortable about working out the details as they progress through the coaching process.
Impact of my work - I have coached many people in my 30 years of professional experience. Often these people have been in senior positions such Medical Directors or Chief Executives in large and medium sized healthcare organisations, and responsible for leading a diverse workforce through a major change process. Their leadership style and behaviour has therefore been a key variable in the success of the change they wish to create.
In my role as the change agent, or consultant, I have had to coach these leaders to help them get the results they want, whilst harnessing the talents of their workforce. The role of the change agent has also required me to facilitate a number of multi-functional teams to either re-engineer processes or redesign models of service delivery. This work has almost always been enjoyable, because it has enabled me to bring a number of creative thinking tools to the task.
I have also coached a number of people on their own creative process. Sometimes this has been in relation to a particular creative project they have wanted to bring to fruition for some time, but not known how to start. On other occasions, the goal has been to help them find their own creative process. Over time, the flow-on effect of this creativity coaching seems to have been that the client has not only achieved their goal, but found a number of new goals they wish to pursue. Some have also said they have been able to better integrate their creativity into other aspects of their lives.
In both types of scenarios, I have felt that the coaching process has enabled my clients to find their own clarity of purpose, and this has resulted in them feeling more confident as change leaders or creators. Actually, I see little difference between change leadership and creativity, as the success of both is dependent upon responding to the situation with a fresh perspective. The key impact which my coaching style seems to have on my clients is that they are left with a commitment to continuously learning and developing, and exploring what interests them.
MY PROFESSIONAL JOURNEY
Beginnings - my career started in 1985 when I commenced part-time study toward a Bachelor of Health Science (Health Information Management) In selecting this rather niche course of study, I was motivated by a desire to be in a helping profession without wanting to do any 'hands on' work with people who were ill. During my first year of study, I was fortunate enough to score a part-time job as a ward clerk on a large general medical ward in a large hospital in Perth, Western Australia.
The administrative tasks were not the most exciting, but I found it most satisfying to be the person who coordinated the ward activity and facilitated communication between the seemingly endless stream of doctors, nurses, allied health professionals and support staff that entered and left the ward during my shift. I soon realized that, in such busy environment, it was all too easy for even the most highly skilled and experienced professionals to make mistakes that could make patients� experience of hospitalization far more unpleasant than it needed to be.
Along the way - this new knowledge led me to work in the area of quality assurance and risk management in another large hospital in Perth, by which time I had graduated from my degree. There I had loads of opportunity to talk to patients about their experience of the hospital system, and by 1995, I developed a keen interest in the psycho-social impact that the healthcare system had on people who accessed it, and so I commenced a Graduate Certificate in Behaviour Health Science to explore this interest further.
I soon found myself moving into leadership roles in which I was responsible for affecting organisational change and development, to help my hospitals achieve accreditation and certification status. I was also starting to see a strong correlation between the leadership styles and behaviours of senior hospital staff, and the kind of results we were getting, in terms of accreditation, quality and patient safety. And at the same, I was starting to understand that my own leadership style and behaviour could benefit from some development, so I commenced a Masters Degree in Leadership and Management.
I graduated from this Masters Degree in August 2000. At first it was a great relief, but I soon found that I was in need of another big challenge. About half way through 2001, I moved to Sydney, on the east coast of Australia. There I found a far more exciting and dynamic work environment, and something even more important. Somehow, the change in location ignited in me a strong urge to start making art and doing creative writing, so I did this on my weekends and evenings, after work.
For almost a decade, I kept a clear demarcation line between my professional life and my creative life; somehow under the illusion that the two were mutually exclusive and might poison each other if mixed. As I continued to read about the lives and works of those great post-impressionist painters in Europe, and the seemingly magnificent galleries their works were exhibited in, I made the decision to relate to the UK so I could have easy access to all the art and architecture of Europe.
In July 2010, I left Australia and commenced a 3 month trek through France and Spain, visiting a number of cities in each, and spending almost all of my time on foot, walking from one gallery and museum to the next. I was also fortunate enough to meet a number of other travelers who shared my passion, and I am still friends with many of them today.
I started working in the UK in December 2010. It was a good entry point for securing a regular income, and a home, in a country from which I could have regular trips to Europe. What I didn't expect for a moment, was the rapid expansion of my creative networks in England, and how much that would enrich my own creativity. I soon found myself working on a range of creative projects with other people. Within the first year of living in England, I had co-authored a book which was accepted for publication on our first attempt, and I was exhibiting my artwork in a beautiful and prestigious gallery. It was more fun than I could have dreamt of.
As I reflect on this surprising success, I wonder what the moral of the story is, and I guess it is this - for intuitive people like me, who are strongly moved by a certain vision and desire, it only takes one or two steps in the direction of that desire before many wonderful things unfold. Nothing really just happens overnight, but is usually the result of a long, and deeply held desire that we allow to filter through us and guide us in the choices we make.
Where I am going in the future - I am noticing that the old (self-created) demarcation line between my professional life and my create life is disappearing. There isn't much of a boundary between the two things anymore, and in the not-too-distant future, it will not exist at all. But for anyone struggling with the separation between their professional lives, and what they really love doing, I wish to share some thoughts with you, on work / life balance.
FINDING LIFE / WORK BALANCE
In our work-addicted culture, we sometimes speak with a sick pride about the importance of finding work / life balance, as though it's something we should make the effort to do. It never ceases to amaze me when I hear people saying they wouldn't know what to do with their time if they didn't have to work for a living. To me, these expressions speak of a person who has lost their connection with themselves. As Einstein apparently said 'The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servants and has forgotten the gift.'
For anyone committed to re-connecting with their creativity, the quest for work / life balance needs to be taken seriously. Of course, this will mean different things to different people, depending on their circumstances. For some, it might mean leaving the office at 6pm no matter what the demands are, and refusing to work on weekends. For others it might mean going to a sports group or a literature class one night per week, and getting there every week, no matter what.
Whilst this kind of boundary-setting has worked well for me, I also enjoyed bringing my creative work into my day job by doing something artistic during my lunch break. Even if I only got 10 minutes of creative writing or drawing done whilst eating a sandwich, it was better than nothing and it kept the portal open to my creative Self. Here are a few quick fixes I have used:
* Take a deep breath. Breathe out slowly. Repeat three times.
* Go for a short walk. Notice colours, sounds and smells.
* Focus on a leaf, flower, feather or stone for a few minutes.
* Listen to some gentle music for five minutes.
* Relax in a warm bath. Put lavender or rosemary oil in the water.
* Drink a cup of herbal tea.
* Doodle for a few minutes with your non-dominant hand.
For anyone struggling to find a work / life balance that enables them to re-connect with their creative Self, the answer may be as simple as taking one small, intuitive step, and trusting that the pathway will unfold. As with any journey, there will be parts of the path which seem occluded or impassable, but perseverance and intuition seem to be the most faithful navigators. Coaching can also help.