“almost every”

“almost every” is a mathematical catch phrase to warn that even though something is 100% true, there are instances when it is false.

(Smith, L. 2007. Chaos – a very short introduction.) This is the first term in the glossary of that book and it made me laugh. The more I get into my DProf, the more my post-positive (objective) view is unravelling – is nothing what it pertains to be?

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Well 2018 ended on a high note. On the 21st December I found out that my Ethics Form had been approved. So, 15 months after leaving Middlesex Uni I am ready to get researching again. Although my research project overall and my understanding are in a much more robust position.

My literature review is now in full flow and I know this because I have stopped reading to understand what is being said. Instead I am reading to see if the book or article has something relevant for me. In this way I have ‘sped read’, or should I say, ‘skip read’, the latest Handbook of Coaching Psychology in three days. Not bad for 580 large pages. What was interesting is that when I went to have a look at the Handbook of Coaching, it had almost identical chapters. So, I thought I’d give that a miss.

Anyway, two chapters appeared to reference the coaching dynamic I am exploring: Ontological coaching and a coaching practice new to me – Compassion Focussed Coaching, which seems to have come from the work of Paul Gilbert on Compassion Focussed Therapy. He has a book called Mindful Compassion which although cheap is exceedingly thick. Richard Boyatisz also seems to have done a lot on Coaching with Compassion. In fact, he gave a lecture on it recently which you can view here. He has an ‘interesting’ style which he explains around the 33-minute point. Both he and Gilbert reference the workings of the brain and how early life, structures much of your brain (and who you are) without you realising. Also, they advocate how sharing information on the brain helps coachees realise that they are not entirely responsible for who they are and that change is possible, which echoes my coaching stance.

For the other approaches in the handbook, the general theme appears to be: that beliefs and experience shape our thoughts and behaviours; that having a good coaching relationship and method will allow obstacles to be explored and overcome; otherwise the coachee was not really ready for coaching or was not truly committed to the coaching goals. Sound advice for most coaching assignments.

l subsequently did a Google search on ‘neuroscience for coaching’, which was depressing. “Neuro-coaching” is definitely a buzz word and there are a lot of them. For most of them, when they describe why neuro-coaching is so different to coaching, I struggled to get it. One said it was different because it was working with the brain. Funnily enough I thought that’s what I’d been doing for the last 20 yrs: working on thoughts, habits and perceptions. It was cringing to read website after website.

Patricia Riddell’s well written and pragmatic chapter on ‘Neuroscience and Coaching’, in the Handbook of Coaching Psychology says a lot. Firstly, it is short. Secondly it mainly says that neuroscience is predominantly underpinning with facts how coaching works and also how a scientific explanation works better for some people so they engage more fully into the coaching. One example discussed is neuroplasticity and how it helps people have more confidence that change is possible. In a few pages she summed up nicely, I thought, the current status of neuroscience and coaching, as does this slightly longer article which mentions that direct neuroscience developed coaching interventions are some way off.

Getting back into the neuroscience reading, ‘Mysteries of the mind’ is a good little Scientific America ebook. It is a collection of quite readable papers on various topics such as ‘Uncanny Sight in the Blind’, ‘The For-Real Science of Brain Training’ and ‘Lab-Built Brains’. At only $5.99 I thought it was a good way to catch up on some recent neuroscience topics from 2017. Although I knew a lot of it, it was useful to keep up to date on the current situation and finding an easy way to do that can be difficult. But as Patricia Riddell says in her chapter, if you are using neuroscience information in some way then you need to stay credibly up to date and ensure that what you are reading is grounded in some reasonable facts.

With that thought, here is a 2018 article entitled: Birth of New Neurons in the Human Hippocampus Ends in Childhood

I’ve also bought ‘The science of thought’ ebook which looks interesting. Its first paper is about the 10 things you don’t know about yourself and I think that is useful to know as a coach, both because you are human and to help with the person you are coaching. I’ve decided I’m very keen on coaches understanding and thinking about the person opposite them. From my literature review much of what is written feels as if it’s about the coach, the mechanics of coaching and what a coach does or doesn’t “do” to a coachee. Although the coachee’s beliefs, values and interpretation of the world are mentioned, the dynamics going on within the person is less written about. I think that is why I found NLP interesting as it is the next level down without going into the word of psychology. ‘Personality Adaptations’ also help and have a good level of depth. Both these give another level of insight into what is causing the behaviour, belief and values a coach may be seeing in, or hearing from, the coachee.

Talking of knowing the other person, and ending on a humorous note (or not), check out this article: Worried You are Dating a Psychopath? Signs to Look for, According to Science

Best wishes for a prosperous 2019,

Deni