You never know what people will make of your words
One of the funny things about blogging is you never know which bits will provoke a response. You can slave away for ages at a post, only to watch it sink without trace in the digital ocean. Or you can write something off-the-cuff or with a feeling that it’s a bit dull, only to find people getting irate or excited, with links coming in from vertiginous heights in the Technorati rankings. I think I’ve said elsewhere that my original enthusiasm post was like that – something I’ve been saying for years to clients, that I thought would make a nice ‘filler’ post on the blog, which turned out to be the most popular page on Wishful Thinking.
I had a different kind of surprise yesterday, with my post about how Coaching is not Training, Mentoring or Counselling. I thought this was a bit of an obvious post, and that it would be clear that – as a trainer and therapist myself, as well as a coach – I was only highlighting some well-established differences, and that I wasn’t intending any slight on disciplines that I practise myself in other contexts.
But context is everything, as they say – having discussed it with Annette in her comments section, I can appreciate how fed up she gets if she meets people arguing that emotions have no place at work. It was a slightly surreal experience to be mistaken for one of them, but I think we’ve cleared that one up.
Maybe I should label my labels more clearly
The discussion made me wonder whether I should have made my intentions clearer re the Introduction to Business Coaching series.
Firstly, I’m not writing it because I’m a card-carrying member of the business coaching fraternity who thinks it’s the best thing since scientific management. I don’t have a GROW wallchart above my bed or spend hours defining my SMART goals for this blog. I do think its a useful model and set of tools, which I use a lot – but it’s certainly not the only ingredient in my snake oil.
In the context of this blog and my work, I’m writing the series because my research project and other conversations have shown me that – unlike other sectors I’ve worked in – many managers in the creative industries are completely unfamiliar with the concept of business coaching. (In my opinion that hasn’t stopped them being very good coaches, but that’s a story for another time.) So I’m writing the series simply to introduce the concept, so that I can refer to it in future and it’s clear what I mean by it.
It’s a bit like the improvisation concept of ‘platform’. When actors begin an improvised scene, they will often ‘mark out’ different objects on the stage with a bit of mime – a quick burst of ironing stage left establishes that there’s an ironing board stage left; someone making tea establishes where the sink is, etc. Which means the audience get the joke later on, when someone tries to exit stage left and trips over the ironing-board. So think of my intro series as the ironing board – once I’ve set it up it will be sitting there stage left of this blog, just waiting for me to trip over it…
Always read the label – then forget it
Johnnie made an excellent point when he said “Once we get into the detail, the whole semantic debate tends to go into the background” – i.e. when the conversation starts and we get down to talking about what’s actually happening and what the client wants, it doesn’t matter what label we stick on it. The only real question is “is it useful or satisfying?”.
Behold, this is the truth!
Let a man get up and say, “Behold, this is the truth,” and instantly I perceive a sandy cat filching a piece of fish in the background. Look, you have forgotten the cat, I say.
(Virginia Woolf, The Waves)
This post is a post-it to myself: “Don’t forget cat”