There’s one book I come back to again and again for inspiration and grounding. That book is Nancy Kline’s Time to Think (1999, Ward Lock). I was lucky enough to experience the magic of Nancy’s teaching first hand on my School of Coaching programme, and my copy of her book bears an inscription that never fails to warm my heart and humble me, reminding me that I was party to something very special. These days we’re bombarded by input, stimulus, diverse demands, and the need to respond instantaneously to the never-ceasing deluge of e-mails and social networked communication. How timely, then to be reminded of the first principle of what Nancy calls the Thinking Environment:
Everything we do depends on the quality of the thinking we do first.
Our thinking depends on the quality of our attention for each other.
Please, on this Monday morning, or whenever you’re reading this, take a few moments to reflect upon that. There’s a wonderful, and still radical, assumption in the Time to Think approach, which is that everyone’s thoughts are of equal value. There are 9 other components that when put together with the equality principle result in a Thinking Environment, which in turn transforms how we work together so that we make better decisions, build on our talents and skills, truly turn the whole into more than the sum of its parts. It’s about clear and respectful communication, integrity in how we behave with each other, enabling each member of the group or team to be the best that they can be. One of the components that I love, and which is as powerful in one to one conversations as it is in groups, is the idea of incisive questions – questions that stimulate creative thinking, tap into the unconscious – what we know but we don’t yet know that we know it – and challenge limiting assumptions. Here’s one from the book:
If you knew that you are beautiful just as you are, what would change for you?
In one of my coaching groups for women leading small charities, a member was expressing her frustration at the poor standard of appointments her organisation had been making. “We’re just not getting the right people for the jobs,” she said. “There’s something we’re not doing right.” I asked, “If you knew that by changing one thing in the way you handle recruitment you’d make excellent appointments, what would that one thing be?” “I’d involve my members more,” she said, quick as a flash. “Yes, that’s what we need to do. Get our service users involved.”
Have a great week, and may you give and receive the very best quality of attention.