Monday 25 February 2019

Supervision in the Thinking Environment

Those who follow this blog assiduously (yes, both of you!) will know that I am a fan of Nancy Kline's work on the Thinking Environment; and also that I have raised questions about it, and in particular the risk of collusion inherent in all person-centred approaches. (I have also blogged about how that risk is mitigated in coaching, here).

At a recent meeting of Nancy's Collegiate in London, I learned that Eve Turner, a member of the Collegiate, had just published a book, The Heart of Coaching Supervision, which contains a chapter on Supervision in a Thinking Environment.

So of course, I rushed out and bought the book (when I say 'out' I speak metaphorically: I bought it on the web...). And very good it is, too.

And today, I tried my first supervision using Eve's Thinking Environment Supervision model. It works something like this:

Part 1

Supervisor: With regard to your (focus) practice, what would you like to think about, and what are your thoughts?

What more do you think or feel or want to say? (and repeat...)

Part 2

Supervisor: What question(s) do you have of me?

Part 3

Coach: What observation, question or input do you have for me that we have not already covered?

Part 4

Coach’s final comments/reflections

Both: what quality do we admire in the other?

I found this very easy to use: it fits in intuitively with my work as a Thinking Environment coach. More importantly, the coach I was supervising found it very powerful: she generated significant learning for herself about a very difficult question she had bought to supervision; some of that in Part 1, where she was allowed to think for as long as she wanted, in ease (as we walked above Ullswater, as it happens); and then encouraged to think for a little longer still.  And some of it in response to the answers I provided to her questions in Part 2, and a reflection I shared in Part 3.

And it clearly addresses the earlier concern I had about collusion (which of course is particularly important in the context of supervision) by requiring the supervisor both to answer questions the coach may have, and also to provide any additional 'observation, question or input' that has not already been covered. That places an obligation on the supervisor to be sufficiently skilled to address (for example) all the issues raised by Hawkins' 7-eyed model, or all the considerations of Murdoch and Arnold's Full Spectrum Supervision.

So a very fruitful afternoon, both for the coach and for me as I continue to learn about supervision - and given I have just started on my post-Graduate Diploma in Supervision, that is just as well!

Saturday 16 February 2019

In which I am revealed to be a Hysteric Gibbon...

I have blogged before about four-box models.  This is one that Mike came up with the other day at dinner.  I can’t remember just how the conversation went, but I said something to the effect that he was ‘too normy, stormy, and performy’ (vaguely referencing the well-known team development model.) He was intrigued and asked ‘if that was a thing…’ I explained it was from a different context, but he was off, and came up with this matrix.
On one axis we go from conformy to performy. This is about image, and the degree to which we seek to fit in with social norms (on one extreme) or (at the other extreme) stand out from the crowd.

The other axis is from stormy to normie, and is about temperament, from very volatile, to very laid back.

Having drawn this out, he put himself at the intersection of the axes (the perfect balanced man, as he clearly sees himself) and then plotted the rest of the family.  I, for example, was a little more stormy and a little more performy than he is (as is his elder sister Clare, but more so); his mother is a lot more normy and conformy than he is (as is his younger sister Lizzie, but slightly less so). His eldest sister Annie is stormy and conformy.

So that was fun. And then we realised that we needed to name the quadrants. We started with :
  • Beige (for normy and conformy) and wondered if that was too derogatory, but as neither of us was in that quadrant, we went with it
  • Poseur (for normy and performy)
  • Hysteric (for stormy and performy)
  • and, after some hard thinking, Gatsbic (for stormy and conformy - after Jay Gatsby).

But then we wondered if we would do better to have animals to characterise the quadrants, instead of these labels:
  • Penguin (for normy and conformy) 
  • Peacock (for normy and performy)
  • Gibbon (for stormy and performy)
  • and Collie (for stormy and conformy)

And we realised, of course, that both sets of labels were good, so left both in the final model.

Then (having added a spurious attribution to Jung) we sent the whole thing around the rest of the family for their comment. 

It was Annie who had the genius idea of re-norming the grid with herself at the centre (0,0) point: revealing that this gave a sense of how each of us might see the other. It was particularly insightful, for example, to realise that her husband, Harry, sees all of our family as Hysteric Gibbons…

So I record it here for posterity, and hope that you will find it as useful (or at least as entertaining) as we did.

Saturday 9 February 2019

I will...

Last week, I blogged about knowing what I really want to do; I have been reflecting further on that, and in particular, on how to translate intention into action.

I have blogged about this before: in this post, I describe eight things one can do to deliver on good resolutions (for the detail, follow the link to the post).

But do these things work?  In reflecting on that question, I was pleased to come up on this post, from 2014.  In it, I was resolving to make time to meditate every day.  I am pleased (and even proud) to be able to say that meditation has been part of my daily routine, almost without fail, ever since. And I achieved that by using most of the eight strategies listed.

My point here is not to boast (or at least, not much) but rather to illustrate how adopting new habits is really possible, even when (on a day by day basis) one does not 'want' to do them.

Stephen Covey makes the point (in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People) that being confident that you will keep a promise that you make to yourself is a very valuable attribute. After all, how can you expect others to trust you, if you are not able to trust yourself.

So being able to say 'I will...' to yourself, and know that you can deliver on that 'will' is a great skill to cultivate; and as I have remarked before, relying  on a naive idea of will power may not serve you well. You build your will power, as with any virtue, by repeated practice; and the ideas above should help you to do so. 

Sunday 3 February 2019

What do I want to do?

I was challenged lately by the question: How do I know what I want to do?  If I really wanted to do {X}, I'd be doing it by now! So maybe I don't really want to, I just think or pretend that I want to?...

I thought this an interesting question, because it resonated with a lot of my own experience.  If I decide and intend to do something and then don't do it, what precisely is that about?

Of course, it's an age old problem: St Paul writes about it 2000 years ago: For the good that I would, I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.

But I think it too simple to conclude, as my challenger was tempted to do, that a failure to follow through on an intention indicates that I didn't really want to do it.  I think that compresses and conflates a lot of things.

One example, from my experience, is getting out of bed at 6.30 on a cold, wet morning to go for a run. There was a time when, despite my intention to run every day, I would actually re-set the alarm and have another hour in bed.  Now, I don't.

But to say that I no longer want to do that is inaccurate: quite often it is a very appealing prospect: at that moment in time, I think it would be true to say that I want (at least in part) to stay in bed. So what has changed?

One way to look at this is to think about short and long term desires; there have been studies (eg Duckworth and Seligman) suggesting the ability to delay gratification is a strong predictor of success. Thus I prioritise my longer term desire to stay fit and healthy over my short term desire to stay warm and comfortable.

But my formulation is somewhat different. I like to think of it in terms not of what I want to do (which seems to me always to risk the short term or expedient answer, in the heat of battle - or indeed the warmth of bed) but rather, who do I want to be (or become).

By framing it that way, I can acknowledge that what I want to do may be to stay warm and comfortable; but the person I want to become is someone who not only stays fit and healthy, but also has mastery over his short term desires, and can honour commitments that he makes to himself (such as going for a run every morning).

For me, that has real power, as my fundamental philosophy means that I think it is frequently important to prioritise being over doing. To put that another way, I would prefer that what I do is driven by who I aspire to be; rather than who I become being driven by the actions I take (in pursuit of short term desires).