Helena Clayton | Getting into the balcony



Getting into the balcony

16 Mar 2022, Posted by Helena Clayton in Monthly Blog, Uncategorized

Some recent posts have been on the theme of detachment, and this continues that theme.

I’m reminding myself here of the practices I use that help me keep a bigger perspective. Heifetz talked about the importance of leaving the dance floor and heading up to the balcony so that we can look down on the dance. How do I do that?

Here’s a bunch of ways that help me get perspective:

Coaching Supervision
I have two coaching supervisors right now as I’m doing a lot of coaching work. I meet them each month, one is 1:1. And the other is 1:2 where I share the time with another coach.

And I’m also about to start some mentor coaching again with Clare Norman. This provides a more granular focus on what actually comes out of my mouth in a coaching session. I’ve found it super-useful before and it feels time for a bit more of it.

Essential for seeing my own patterns as well as those of coaching client – and also of the coaching relationship.

Informal peer supervision
A practice and discipline I learned when at Roffey Park, where we always worked in pairs, was to make sure we started and ended (and did plenty of this in the gaps and breaks too) an ongoing conversation during the work, covering things like:

• How am I today?
• What’s going on for me that you should be aware of we work together?
• Is there anything that might get in the way of me being present/showing up fully today?
• What’s my intention for today?
• Is there anything between us that needs to be said / cleared?
• My own reflections on yesterday – what went well, what less so, any learnings for me and my practice?
• What am I thinking/feeling about the group and any individuals within the group? Any transference going on?
• What patterns, themes etc am I noticing in the group?
• What’s going on the wider system that might be at play here?

No, not all of those, and not all of the time. But the value of having this sort of reflective practice conversation is part-and-parcel of how I like to work.

Just stepping back as a working pair and seeing what’s going on in my system, their system and the wider system.

Morning Pages / journaling
For me, witing things out is a really helpful way of seeing what’s going on in my mind. When I can get into the habit of daily writing (and it’s so rarely daily!) then it’s amazing what I see inside my head when I start writing.

Assumptions, judgements, habits, reactions … and almost always helpful, if sometimes uncomfortable, to see them laid out.

And when it’s not daily, and more ad hoc – perhaps when I notice something seems to be bothering me, even when it’s at the edge of my attention – then I start to write and pull on that thread and, lo and behold, it usually creates a glimpse into what might be going on.

For me, this is a form of reflective practice. Whether I’m doing a 2 day solo walk on the Downs or taking 20 mins to fast-walk around Horsham park in between meetings, this is when my thinking clears.

The left-right-left-right-left-right movement is well known to aid thinking and creativity. And it’s certainly so for me. This is often when the perfect phrase for a tricky email comes to me. Or when I see a more loving way to approach something. Or something important bobs up from my unconscious that I’d forgotten about. I often capture these thoughts/actions using Voicenotes.

And for me, the best place to walk is somewhere with a horizon, somewhere where there is already a wider perspective offered to me. By the sea. Up in the hills. Somehow this soothes me and generally reminds me that the world is much bigger than the tiny thing that’s been niggling at me and sucking up my attention.

Gratitude practice / appreciation practice
One of things that trails me is a deficit mindset. I am wired a little bit to be looking for the things I don’t have, the things that I’m not doing. This really doesn’t serve me. I know the parts of me that are mean and small-minded, that are grabby and controlling.

And so over the years, I have done a fairly decent job at re-wiring some of that approach. For me a practice of gratitude for all that I do have and all that life has given me and continues to give me freely is certainly one of the things that helps me keep a healthy perspective.

And this applies as much to my client work as it does to wider life.

These are some of mine. What are some of yours? How do you get up into the balcony and what does that give you?

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