Imagining possibility, considering possibility, implementing what is best from that possibility is critical for both creativity and on a purely practical level, for getting unstuck and finding viable practical solutions. People with a preference for Intuition expand the field and see possibility beyond what is immediately apparent. Laura McGrath is a coach and facilitator who combines a preference for Intuition with her gifts of critical thinking and organizational genius to help individuals and organizations imagine and take action on more creative, more effective and fulfilling answers.

In a recent blog post Laura paints a vivid picture of what happens when possibility itself gets stuck in the endless looping of internal overwhelm – when the cycle of action / reflection gets reduced to to imagining alone.

I have copied Laura’s post here below to show how she invites us to use Sensing as a way to evaporate the overwhelm of possibility run amok.

In my room the world is beyond my understanding;

But when I walk I see that it consists of three or four hills and a cloud.

~Wallace Stevens

The most daunting part of the journey is, I think, the part I make up in my head when I am alone, when I withdraw, when I cut off from support, when I look at the immensity of the task. I sit in my room, and it is all beyond my understanding.

But if I venture out, if I take one step and then the next, if I do the first thing, and then do the second thing, and let the obvious third thing arise when it’s ready, then I see that it is all very simple really: three or four hills and a cloud

Category : Coaching | creativity | Blog

I had an experience this week where I was wearing the wrong hat during a conversation. My fall back position is that of coach. And when I talk about coaching I mean partnering with someone to get clear on what’s important, to try on some possibilities and to decide next steps. This process is all about what the person being coached is ready, willing and able to do and nothing to do with introducing my approach or pushing any agenda I may have.

Being an Enneagram Six helps in that my natural inclination is not to assume authority. In theory that supports my intention not to push for my solutions to be introduced or championed. My goal is to be 100% there to pay attention to whether the solutions that are explored “fit” the person and the situation.

Well this natural inclination of the Six not to want to be the authority can backfire when that is what you have signed up to do… bring your expertise in a particular area to the table – that is. During the conversation I was asking questions, when all the other participants wanted was to be given advice. It took someone to say just “tell us what to do” for me to wake up and switch hats. Of course I was able to share my experience complete with the typically Sixish cautionary warning, and all was good.

I’m actually not sure what general conclusion I want to offer. I know for me personally, it was a friendly elbow in the side to not only stay in the conversation but also to be equally aware of what is going on on the periphery. I might have noticed that there was some frustration and wondered what to do about that. Think about what cues you use to switch from wearing one hat to another.

The learning never ends! And as Martha says, “That’s a good thing.”


Category : Coaching | Other Assessments | Blog

Pam Fox Rollin of Idea Shape hits the nail on the head when she says that

What looks like someone’s blind spot can be simply their way of being in the world

The approach that Pam modeled in working with blind spots was based on looking at the person not the blind spot. Her emphasis was more on building trust, being respectful of what matters to the individual and helping them achieve their goals through using tools such as developing non-judgmental tools of observation.

Pam points to a study that determined that when we observe ourselves we do not make use of all the available behavioural information that a neutral observe uses. She quotes Bob Sutton of Work Matters who sums things up

Others perceptions of your actions are probably a lot more accurate than your own

Everyone may be reeling from the wake someone leaves behind but don’t expect that anyone will rush to “thank you” if you point out their blind spots to them. Sometimes timing matters. In her presentation for TypeLabs “Type Practitioner Blueprint series” Pam presented some clear and concise case studies that illustrated why knowing your blind spots matters, what triggered the need for the individual to explore their blind spots and the resulting outcomes of having a new awareness.

These stories included the whole spectrum of blind spots from the person who was proud of his drill sergeant style which wasn’t challenged until the time he sought a management position to the person who was blind to their capability and was stopping their career before it had a chance to gain momentum.

Pam points out that people may have heard feedback about their blind spots before but often don’t take action until it costs them. That’s when they finally understand the consequences that being embedded in this behaviour has to their well being. This new awareness is not always an easy pill to swallow and it may, in fact, threaten a person’s self perception. Often they can hear the words but simply don’t know what do do about it.

Assessment tools such as the MBTI, Enneagram or DISC can help the coach and client develop hypothesis of blind spots. These models provide an array of typical issues for a type. Pam suggests following the lead of the client and using whatever assessment tool the client is familiar with and/or what the coach knows best. The coachee can then observe and test to see what if any behaviour resulting from a blind spot holds true for them.

Having a coach as insightful and skilled as Pam resulted in the fellow with the drill sergeant mode of operation revealing that the best part of his new awareness and shift in style came when his young son said that he wasn’t afraid of him any longer.

Knowing your blind spots may not be such a transformational experience for everyone but if we are not aware of the impact of our behaviour we are surely not able to do anything differently.

Category : Coaching | Leadership | Blog

Language is imprecise. We use words to describe an image that we have in our heads and assume that other people are applying definitions that are similar to ours. This is not just true for grand concepts such as truth, justice, beauty, integrity or freedom. Next time you have dinner guests take one of these words that people use all the time and ask two questions. The first question requires a simple yes or no – “Do you know what it means?” The second is to ask everyone “What does it mean to you?”

People will generally all agree that they know what the word means in response to question #1. Then in response to question #2 you will get the same number of definitions as there are people at the dinner table. Introducing a commonly held definition may help somewhat but people are still apt to apply their own perspective.

A coaching client (ENTP) saw themselves as supportive and a team player. This was true in respect to direct reports and those in an underdog position who were deemed to be trying their best. To these people this person was a champion and would go the extra mile in a kind and compassionate manner. What the client didn’t “see” was just how differently peers were treated. People at the same level in the organization were held to a completely different set of criteria, and they were expected to be capable, efficient and effective without any need for support. The approach was “show me you are competent and you will have my respect. Otherwise stay out of my way.”


Different people in the organization had opposing opinions about this person’s character, but the overall opinion was not serving this client well because people were confused. What added to the confusion was how blind this person was to their double standard. In this person’s model of the world, it was a waste of their time being “nice” to people at their level of seniority. After all they were being paid to do an equivalent job. The end result was a handful of people saw this person as a team player and others saw them as rude.

Patrick Lencioni author of The Five Dysfunctions of a Team says that team ONE is the team that you are on not the team that you lead. With that in mind, defining oneself as a team player when the team that counts doesn’t agree is a problem. You may argue that this person was “right” that there ought to be an expectation of competence but that misses the point . Sometimes being “right” is a cold and lonely place.

Category : Coaching | Relationships | Team Building | Blog

Take a term like “coaching” and a thousand definitions come to mind depending on one’s perspective. This week I listened to a man “rant” about coaches. He was telling it “like it is’ in order to get coaches to sign up for his seminars on how one really ought to build a successful practice. He said that a percentage of people who didn’t do things according to his model of the world ought to get out of the business of coaching. This might be true but not for the reasons he espoused.

His point was that sports coaches tell athletes detailed specifics -to move their arm like this and put their take off foot 3 inches to the left and so on – specific, observable, measurable. That works for technique and technical issues. It doesn’t work to tell people with a different motivational make up to do it like I do. Their is no formula that fits every personality type.

My rant is about why we keep trying to make other people like ourselves instead of helping each other do our best work aligned with our individual operating systems and software. We seem to understand that we can’t open Photoshop if we don’t have the software installed but the “just do what I do” mentality still abounds.

One aspect of good coaching is to help the individual see what software they are running – what beliefs they are operating from and what external factors are influencing current conditions. What I like to add to the mix is understanding the lens of personality preferences and how that tints how we see reality.

“Telling” plays a role when it involves sharing an informed opinion but personally if I can’t use someone elses 12 steps if I don’t believe in them or have the motivational software for it. Finally, don’t tell me how much you have made in order to convince me that you are right. Listen and ask so that I can find my own 3 steps that I am actually motivated to do.

Jim Collins of “Good to Great” fame consults rarely: in this NY Times article he describes his non- tell method:

Companies also ask him to consult. But he mostly declines, agreeing only if the company intrigues him and if its executives come to Boulder to meet him. Over two half-day sessions, for $60,000, he will ask pointed questions and provide very few answers.

“I am completely Socratic,” he said, “and I challenge and push; they come up with their own answers. I couldn’t come up with people’s answers.”

Category : Coaching | Blog

Not every organization embraces using coaches but more and more people are using coaching skills in the workplace. Both coaches and managers using coaching tools can hone their coaching skills.

During a recent conversation that was ostensibly about an upcoming presentation, I was reminded about the role that Sensing plays as a coaching capability to be developed. The person was focusing all of their energy on getting the words exactly right and in including every point. The further they went in this direction the more their posture shifted … eyes downcast, voice low and mumbling and shoulders slumped. A winning presentation would depend more about being in a resourceful “state” than getting the words perfect.

This person knew the material so well they could have written a book about it so what was the story that the body was telling?

Noticing these changes provided an opportunity to identify what was going on and to shift the focus to where it needed to be in order to get a good result.

It is easy to think that content is king and to pay all of our attention to what a person is saying. What usually matters more is focusing on being present and using sensory cues… such as breathing, changes in tonality, posture or coloring.

These changes may indicate an opening worth investigating with genuine curiosity. If we are trapped in only following the logic of the thread of what the person is saying we could miss the moment. Openings are the real royalty.

In an insightful article on coaching in organizations Michael Bungay Stanier points out the value of “just in time” laser coaching. Openings don’t take an hour to notice. Coaching is more about how you pay attention and not at all about having the answers. Call on the Sensing function to focus your attention in the moment.

Category : Coaching | Blog