In this issue
The stories we tell: a narrative approach to coaching (free article)
A reflection on integration
Opinion: Diagnostic tools in executive coaching – more harm than good?
Erik de Haan and Carine Metselaar
Why I became a coach: Green shoots through concrete
As I write this, I’m staring at the latest addition to my bookshelves – a secondhand hardback copy of Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces.1 In this seminal text, first published in 1949, Campbell explores the concept of the ‘monomyth’ or the Hero’s Journey – a universal theme of transformation and adventure that can be found recurring in most of the world’s myths and cultural traditions.
Stories help us to make sense of who we are and our place in the world, both individually and collectively. I found this to be particularly true while writing my own contribution to our new ‘Why I Became a Coach’ series in this issue, and my reflections on why – and how – I was drawn to this profession have given me cause to pause and reflect on my journey so far. I also find myself curious about how this period of reflection might influence the trajectory of my journey in the future.
As Sue MacMillan writes in our cover feature on narrative coaching, ‘Our brains are hardwired for stories… who we are and what we do are influenced by the stories we tell ourselves and the ways in which we narrate those experiences have an impact on how we feel and think, how we see ourselves and our relationships with others.’ As coaches and coach-therapist practitioners, we are facilitators of stories, holding space for our clients as they explore and examine their own scripts and narratives, use them to make sense of who they are and their place in the world and fuel their journeys into the unknown.
But in reflecting on my own professional journey, I realise that stories also help us as practitioners in our own development, a notion reflected by Peter Wryczca in his follow-up contribution to Coaching Today on change and transformation. In this piece, Peter focuses on our development as practitioners, on our own change and transformation, and how that in turn impacts on our work with our clients. He writes, ‘As we mature as coaches, our clients mature too. We find them less interested in goal setting, problem solving and realising coaching outcomes, and more interested in the unfolding of who he or she can be.’ As we reflect on our practice, we become less concerned with the what and the when, and more interested in the who, how and why. How did I get here? Who am I? And ultimately – where am I going?
This theme of unfolding narratives and journeys, exploring our own identities and relationships, is also reflected in our identity as an organisation, and our place in the wider world of the profession. Who are we – and who do we represent? Within coaching, the coach-therapy profession is still gaining ground, but as our Chair, Gill Fennings-Monkman, narrates in her regular column, exciting developments are taking place, alliances and collaborations are forming and, while there is much work still to be done, there is also much to celebrate. This is also reflected here in our journal: as we examine our own narratives and explore how the past has shaped our identity, we gain understanding of our present and clarity about where we are going in the future, and where we want to be.
We launch another new series in this issue – the new ‘Opinion’ column. I hope both will facilitate further discussion, debate and storytelling among you. We want to hear your voices, your opinions, your narratives. I have reflected on my own journey here because I am curious about yours. As editor of this journal for the past three years, I have realised how increasingly diverse this profession of ours is. While we won’t always agree, there is always the potential for common ground. I want to represent and celebrate both our differences and our similarities – the collective monomyth to be found in our individual stories.
The personal is universal. Let’s pause to take stock, celebrate our successes – and continue on our journey.
1 Campbell J. The hero with a thousand faces (3rd ed). Novato: CA: New World Library; 2008.