Thursday 26 November 2020

Continuing adventures online

 I have reported my journey with regard to online development workshops previously on this blog; a journey from scepticism to enthusiasm. But now I am beset by doubts.

My doubts are not about the efficacy or practicality of the medium. I remain convinced that online workshops that are well-designed and well-run can be very effective, and very efficient, too.

No, my doubts are much more personal. It was brought home to me this week, when I was delivering a second Time Management workshop. Both workshops went well: participants had engaged in the 6 pre-call modules and came willing and able to discuss the ideas raised, their own practice and so on, and to develop plans to work on improving their time management. All well and good.

However, I was reflecting on how different the experience was. In particular, the pre-call modules (which I made available as videos, podcasts and written material, so that participants could choose how to engage with them) were stripped of most of the anecdotes, humour and little interactive elements that feature when I run the workshop face-to-face. I think that is the right thing to do, because I think those things would not translate well into the new media. But, and this is where my doubts come in, I also think that it is those things that distinguish my approach from that of many others.

I believe that one of my skills as a facilitator, and possibly my most valuable one, is the ability to create a safe and engaging learning environment in the room; I can pace the presentation, the telling of an anecdote, the use of small interactive elements, and so forth in a way that engages people and that they find helpful and memorable. 

So my fear is that, moving my work into the online space, stripped back to a series of quick and clear modules of learning, may make it indistinguishable from any other competent trainer.

Perhaps the universe is telling me something and that my future lies in coaching and coaching supervision, and specialist facilitation; and the days of running standard workshops is behind me. Or perhaps good enough workshops are good enough.

I think I'll wait for the feedback forms to start rolling in, and see what the participants have to say about my efforts.


With thanks to  Christin HumeNathan Ansell and Joshua Ness for sharing their photography on Unsplash

Thursday 12 November 2020

Humour, humility and humanity

I made a note earlier this week, after a conversation I had with my wife, Jane, while we were out for a walk, that this week I'd blog about Humour, Humility and Humanity.

It's a great title, but now that I sit down to write it, I find that I have completely forgotten the exciting set of linkages that had sparked the title.  You've got to laugh...


I could, of course, write some plausible piece associating the three, and it would probably be all right, But somehow that would seem to dishonour the genius of the original idea (as I imagine it to have been). And for now, all I can remember is that we thought how interesting it was that all three words begin with Hum.

I think I'll leave it there. If it comes back to me, I may write further. In the meantime, feel free to laugh at this non-post.


With thanks to Aikomo Opeyemi for sharing this photo on Unsplash

Friday 6 November 2020

Philosophy, Purpose and Process

 A colleague and I were discussing 'hurt' the other day, and (it being a supervisory conversation) we drew on the model proposed by Jackson and Bachkirova, in Eve Turner’s Heart of Coaching Supervision.

So we started by discussing our philosophy of hurt; what we believe about it. We recognised hurt as part of the (fallen) human condition; and the fact that we can choose the power it has over us: we can feed it, or not. It may require us to forgive – both ourselves and others. We can support and hold others experiencing hurt but cannot rescue them from it. We may be able to help them to change the context. 

We also discussed the issue of attributing intentionality to it – which may make it worse. But recognised that meaningless suffering was also intense. So Viktor Frankl's ideas arose as so often… The opportunity for hurt to be transformative and redemptive, and for it to be an opportunity for learning and growth – the relevance of the famous Serenity prayer: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference...

In terms of our purpose in working with people in their hurt, we discussed awareness and learning: our common humanity and the associated responsibilities… compassion, improvement, action….

Awareness is foundational, perhaps; admitting and acknowledging hurt, using it to become more self-aware and to reflect on the impact of one’s own behaviours; becoming more compassionate in judgement of others; thinking about the power we are giving to hurt, and seeing the continuing impact on us and our relationships.

We moved on to discuss the processes we might use in working with hurt, and noted how well grounded in our philosophy and purpose these turned out to be – and how helpful it was to make those links explicit in this way.

We started by discussing the basics: being there, holding, listening, psychological safety; and then some of the other tools: stories, systemic visibility and understanding, re-building confidence and competence, time perspectives, resource anchors, resilience self audit, challenging binary (good/bad) thinking, picture cards to access feelings and futures, assumption hunting etc. And also the importance of the coach being the guardian of hope in the system, the issue of timing in all of this, and the importance of support, and how to encourage people to identify and access the support available to them.

All in all, we found the structure a very resourcing way of provoking a rich conversation on this theme, which left both of us with several practical ideas for ways in which we can better work with our clients.


With thanks to Tom Pumford,  jurien huggins and Marc-Olivier Jodoin for sharing their photos on Unsplash