In 2014 Mark and I went on a walking safari in Zambia. One of our guides was very enthusiastic about how clever animals were and how adaptive they could be. He recommended a book called “The Brain that changes itself” (Doidge, 2007). I bought the book as soon as we came home and that was my introduction into Neuroscience. If you have not read it, it is a fascinating read of 11 astounding case studies demonstrating the plasticity of the brain. As a coach this was music to my ears and a real leap forwards in my belief of how adaptive the brain could be.
So in 2015 I undertook the Association of Coaching’s “The Science of the Art of Coaching” (Neurobehavioural Modelling) Programme which I loved. It introduced me to a whole new world of exciting research and the possibility as a coach to really uplift my practice. It was out of this programme that I decided to start my doctorate.
Having looked at a number of options I decided upon Middlesex University. I like its fully practical approach focussed on, effectively, making your work a research programme. Also there is an advisor who helps someone who is not freshly out of university with the dynamics of creating a full doctoral-level research project. I suggest that if you undertake such a doctorate that you find an advisor you really get on with. They are a key part of your success and will work with you for 3 to 5 years, or more. The book “The Professional Doctorate” (Fulton, 2013) outlines beautifully the extent of the professional doctorate of which there are many nowadays. If you are thinking of starting a doctorate then this is a useful read as it covers everything well.
So why the doctorate? Three things really, I read a lot (you may have noticed) and I love turning my reading or my new understanding from colleagues and courses into practical uses that help my coachees. Also as my Advisor said, a professional doctorate is about being a ‘frustrated scholarly practitioner’ and I immediately related to that. I was at a stage where I was really wondering (bordering frustrated) about coachees that zoomed ahead and made changes versus those that got it logically and yet seemed to do little about it. I was saddened that some coachees seemed unable to embrace what others do willingly and yet excited about the possibility of enabling some change for them towards that goal. The prospect of being able to make a difference for coaching and coachees through using the emerging neuroscience really excited me although I was very nervous about the enormity of the undertaking.
Once I embraced the doctorate I have realised that it has opened up a very different style of working: A doctorate is inclusive of others and encourages sharing and discussion. It is about connecting and discovering. Overall it is about adding to the collective jigsaw of knowledge alongside others and that is why I decided to write this blog.
My intention with this blog is to share with you things that I am finding out that I feel may help your coaching practice. Also I, and other readers, would love to hear what you are finding out in the arena of neuroscience and coaching. Together I am sure that we can create a wonderful conversation and make a difference to our coachees (coaching). From a Thinking Partner session that I had, I came out with this mantra to help me prepare for a coaching session: “Enjoy the process of discovery unfolding before my eyes and savour the delight of their new realisations and insights” – maybe we could do that too?