Coach as Cartographer


Everyone is coaching or being coached; there are life coaches, career coaches, personal coaches, fitness coaches, executive coaches, coaches for getting out of bed in the morning and coaches for getting to sleep at night. Why do we need coaches so much and so often?

Could it be that the old, well-worn and predictable pathways – any path to anywhere and every path to everywhere – are dsiappearing, the maps no longer even remotely relating to the territory? Are coaches our conceptual cartographers?

I’m not a great fan of mind mapping, but I find the mapping analogy for coaching very compelling. I often find myself encouraging my clients to stop (the *stopping* is important, whatever it is that needs to stop) and take notes of their thoughts and feelings; these tend to stream out in a linear, if not strictly logical way. Then I ask them to stop again, that is, stop the linear thought process and take a helicopter view, to rise above and hover over the text they’ve streamed, to imagine the words – and the thoughts and feelings they signifiy – as elements in a landscape, to look for non-linear, associative links. ‘What is this page telling you?’

The words and ideas, these lanscape features, can be seen as part of a map. Maybe it’s a new map, maybe new trails can be broken to link the various new hills, trees, creeks and villages.

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