Thursday, 13 May 2010

One saying that I never have seen the point of is the one that attempts to instruct me that I "can't have my cake and eat it". Since I can't-remember-when, I have been resistant to the restriction that is inferred by this small cluster of words.

Firstly, Why not? Can't I get another one? Make another one if it came to that - and maybe the next one I make will be better - but how will I know how to make it better if I hadn't learned from eating the first?

Then - the logical question - what is the whole point of having a cake if it is not to be eaten?

What's the point of having something if you don't use it?

Before I paint a picture of myself as a cake-gobbling giant, I have to confess that I can leave cakes well alone, (but wave a packet of Twiglets in front of me - and that's a different kettle of fish-cakes.)

Anyway, it's not about cakes at all, but I do think that my early inbuilt reaction to such boundaried restrictions has shaped my thinking to some extent. (So thank you Nana!)

I have connected with this recently in a random sequence of situations that I notice seem to be requiring me to adopt an "either/or" mentality, when a "both/and" approach leaves me with far more creative leg-room.

Some of the triggers have been various discussion threads in different groups about coaching definitions.

 First was an ILM discussion thread about whether coaching outcomes should be about performance OR development.

Do you hear the crafty pre-supposition of the "OR" in the question? The moment a question requires me to think in this linear fashion, a big cake pops into my head.

Why does it need to be either about performance OR development? How do we achieve improved performance without development? And what is the point of development without improved performance?

Is either/or? - not in my opinion or experience. Is it both / and - you bet!

Another was a question about the notion of "life coach" OR "executive coach" and the implications of defining ourselves under these titles. I got the cake-in-the-head-thing again!

If I define myself in this way, then I am at risk of setting the coaching style and the agenda for my client - and one of the core purposes of coaching is to work to the client's agenda. 

Call me greedy if you must, but why would I want to choose "either/or" when "both/and" is up for grabs? It's a really limiting thought process, full of restrictions and binary choices, whereas "both/and" thinking gets me to a completely different place of variations, permutations and possibilities.

I've learned from this little jolt to my wrinkled thinking to keep "either/or" questions under tight control in my own coaching dialogue in future!

Can I have my cake and eat it? You bet I can - with a cherry on top!

How about you?

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