Thursday 30 July 2015

Shakespeare and Coaching

I went to a fascinating workshop yesterday evening hosted by EMCC at Manchester. It was run by Mary Holmes and was exploring the relevance of her passion for Shakespeare to her work as a coach.

Along the way she scattered many gems: the idea that Lear had two coaches, Kent and the Fool, really struck me; and as she pointed out, the Fool had that particularly valuable coaching skill: knowing when to end the coaching relationship.

She shared a little of her own autobiography to explain where the passion for Shakespeare came from, and the many aspects of his life and work that she draws inspiration from. But she was equally interested in inviting us to explore what inspired us, and what difference it made to our coaching clients if we were inspired.

This prompted wide-ranging and stimulating discussion, not least as I found myself working with Keri Phillips, whom I have met a couple of times, both a very long time ago, and who proved as thought-provoking as ever.

And of course the evening was peppered with Shakespearian quotations that take on a whole new resonance when applied to the world of coaching.

Another fascinating reflection was Mary’s discussion of the scene in Henry IV part 1, in which Prince Hal and Falstaff play act Hal’s forthcoming meeting with his father, with Falstaff as the king; and then reverse roles, and the effect that change of perspective has on Prince Harry. This is classic coaching stuff (eg three-chair work, or perceptual position work, or however you frame it) and I had never seen it as such before.

We also discussed inspiration further, and noted its relationship with other concepts, such as aspiration, respiration, perspiration, and expiring…

And the whole business of theatre is rich with learning for coaches, from consideration of scripts and rehearsal, through to the role of the Director, and the relationship of the audience to the work, and the whole business of story, ambiguity, and where you choose to shine a light (and where you don’t).

So a completely fascinating evening, which I will continue to reflect on for some time.

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