COACHING THE COACHES
by Jon Rappoport
Copyright © 2011 by Jon Rappoport
Over the past 15 years, I’ve developed many techniques and exercises for clients.
These exercises reacquaint a person with his own imagination—and by extension bring about the realization that status-quo reality is merely one possibility in a sea of possibilities.
Reality is actually far more malleable than we ordinarily believe.
Doing these exercises consistently creates a foundation of confidence in one’s own capacity to create new futures.
An educator once told me, “That wouldn’t work for me. I have to satisfy people like board members and professors and alumni. If anything, I need less imagination.”
I gave him a handful of exercises to do and said, “Look, if you find yourself gaining too much creativity, you can always dial it back and just pretend you’re a pillar of tradition. Your colleagues and constituents won’t ever know the difference. Only you will.”
He thought that was amusing.
A few years later, I ran across him at a conference, and he showed me photos of his new cottage in Spain.
“I paint there every summer now,” he said. “It’s my secret studio. If all goes well, I’ll be having a show next year. I did those exercises of yours for a few months, and I bought some brushes, paints, and canvases, and I was off and running.”
Later, over dinner, he mentioned that his wife, with whom he’d been teetering on the edge of divorce, was now quite happy at home.
“She says I’m no longer a stodgy bureaucrat.”
I’m fully aware that many coaches and consultants work in environments where the only issue is how to tweak a system to make it better. I understand the situation. There is nothing wrong with that kind of work. It satisfies a need. However, at the same time, coaches need to look for opportunities to plant seeds with individuals in those environments who want greater change.
And those individuals do exist. They are peering out from their lives and wondering what they are missing.
But what about the coach? If he is ensconced in a system of his own, he needs to tap into his imagination and find ways to feel more alive.
Creativity in any field of endeavor acts as a universal solvent. It doesn’t so much solve problems as institute new strategies and actions that make those problems obsolete.
The American automobile industry realized this at a very late date. Manufacturers in Europe and Japan were, for several decades, turning out superior cars, the kinds of cars Americans wanted. They were more reliable and efficient, less cumbersome, and the advertising that touted them was designed by younger people who didn’t take themselves so seriously. Meanwhile, in Detroit, the Americans were trying to solve problems with their older models. Somehow they thought that by taking a plodding and methodical approach, they would work out the bugs and regain their leadership role. Instead, some of them went broke.
They were dedicated to their systems and didn’t want any interference from IMAGINATION. How did it turn out for them?
What about the American space program? After missions to the moon that riveted and galvanized the nation, the government decided the next step was flying lower in the sky on shuttles. If the shuttle program was actually, in some mysterious way, an advance over moon flights, the American people certainly didn’t hear about it. No coherent message on that score was ever delivered. The public was left in the lurch.
Again, somebody had a system, and he was sticking to it. A sign should have been hung over the front door at NASA headquarters: NO IMAGINATION WANTED.
I could offer you scores of other examples.
The ancient Roman civilization, borrowing heavily from brilliant innovations birthed in the tiny Greek city of Athens, established itself as the premier technological center of the Western world. Then, grasping at straws (in an abject failure of imagination), its leaders decided the only path for the future was mindless territorial expansion. That misadventure brought about its fall.
How many lives have foundered on the rocks of rote loyalty to outmoded ways of doing things—when what was needed was a strong injection of imagination.
This is your opportunity as a coach, for your clients and for yourself. Realize that, with imagination, new futures can be built and won, without trying to solve problems that were created by systems that had already achieved their goals and were no longer relevant.
The philosopher Santanyana famously wrote, “Those who cannot learn from the past are condemned to repeat it.”
Yes, but even if we know that, yet have no intimate connection to our own imaginations, how can we construct a future that is any different from what has gone before?
A former candidate for a US Congressional seat in California, Jon has worked as an investigative reporter for 30 years. He has written articles on politics, medicine, and health for CBS Healthwatch, LA Weekly, Spin Magazine, Stern, and other newspapers and magazines in the US and Europe. The author of The Ownership of All Life, Jon has maintained a consulting practice for the past 15 years. He has delivered lectures and seminars on global politics, health, and creativity to audiences around the world.