Creativity in Coaching and Beyond
“I’m just not a creative type!”
“I’m really not sure what I should be imagining.”
“What do you mean to visualize it?”
I’m not sure about other coaches, but I have had quite a few experiences with clients who had a hard time getting in touch with their creative sides. Clients sometimes hold the limiting belief that only artists or writers can be considered creative and, therefore, do not dare to discover their own innate creativity.
Unfortunately, most people are not encouraged to explore their creative sides unless they work in a creative profession. In general, we are taught to be reliable, to be dutiful and to carry out the tasks at hand on time. From schools to universities to workplaces, staying “in the box” is the norm, and that mindset is hard to let go.
Most of our clients are used to being rational, giving explanations and justifying their actions. This mindset can creep into coaching as well, since this is what the clients are familiar with. However, being too much “in the head” can stop the creative juices from flowing. Coaches can help their clients explore their creativity and leave behind preconceptions about themselves.
Here are six tips that a coach can use to help their clients unlock their creativity.
Be a Role Model
Clients pick up on our moods, attitudes and energies. If a coach holds back on their creativity, it is likely that the client will model this behavior. If a coach is not willing to go the extra stretch, how can they expect it from their client? In order for the client to start experimenting with their creativity, coaches need to be able to do this themselves.
Modeling aside, you can look towards co-creation, or in this case co-experimentation, to lead to surprising moments both for the client and the coach. Imagine the coaching space as a laboratory that encourages imaginative and/or real experiments and experiences. If the client catches the “creative bug,” they may continue with the experimenting mood even after the coaching session is over.
Show, Don’t Talk
Coaching doesn’t solely rely on talking; there are many ways to get an idea across without using words. Challenge your clients to draw, write, sculpt, papier-mache, use LEGO blocks, take photos, or use anything but words to express themselves! This could be a great way to let the client introduce themselves at the beginning of the coaching relationship (instead of filling out a questionnaire) or to further the coaching process later on.
Create a Unique Space
The beauty of the coaching space is that it is so different from everyday life. By creating a safe and unique space, clients can design their own rules, and that itself is part of creativity. Breaking away from what they are used to and freeing themselves within the coaching relationship can be the first step to (re)discovering their creative side.
Move Body and Mind
Many of our clients work in sedentary jobs day after day. Imagine your client has spent most of their day in a chair before arriving for their coaching session. Bringing all the work energy into coaching can hinder the creativity. Therefore, it is important to get the client off their chair and moving around! Don’t be afraid to ask your client to walk (or run) around the space, and even leave it!
Habits, routines and schedules are all useful to keep us on track. If they have a garden, ask them to go there and tell you what it is that they see and feel. If they live in a busy neighborhood, ask them to step onto the street as if they were visiting as a tourist. Change the scenery, change the rhythm and let them tap into their creative potential through that.
As Pablo Picasso so aptly put it: “Every child is an artist, the problem is staying an artist when you grow up.” While no coach should expect their client to be the next Picasso, through the coach’s encouragement and challenges, they can begin to see themselves as we see them: the fully creative person that they already are.