Last night I was listening to a series of video clips of Naomi Shihab Nye speaking about poetry, inspiration and creativity, and it got me thinking about the connections between poetry and coaching, and how both can evoke our most powerful selves and push us to live out our most creative and meaningful purposes.
Both coaching and poetry cultivate the art of noticing. Here’s how:
CURIOSITY – Poetry requires that we pause, look and listen. It invites our curiosity, “What is being evoked here?” Similarly, in coaching we are taught to remain curious, to pause and notice: what is present; what is being evoked in us; what does intuition tell us?
CREATIVITY – Poetry calls upon our creative selves, whether we are reading poetry, writing or hearing it. It embraces possibility and eschews predictability. Coaching also challenges our narrow understanding of what is possible and move us out of our comfort zones.
CATALYST – How moving poetry can be. “This. Yes, this,” I hear myself say, as I read the poems of Mary Oliver. Poetry and coaching both urge us to awaken, to live more fully and tap the inspiration living inside our selves.
PLACE – Poetry is grounded in a sense of place – sometimes offering exquisite detail and other times simply a subtle texture. We must slow down to notice where the poet is taking us. In life, we must also slow down and notice where we are taking ourselves. Coaching teaches us to pay attention to the geography of any given moment – emotional, mental or physical geography – and ask ourselves how that geography informs our awareness.
PERSPECTIVE – Poetry invites us to experience a new point of view, a fresh perspective that perhaps challenges our more familiar and comfortable viewpoint. Coaching can do this, too. It can be very informative and interesting to notice where we want to hold on to one perspective and where we are open to considering others. Stretching ourselves to embody new perspectives cultivates creativity and empowers us to live from a place of conscious choice.
PURPOSE – Evocative and artful poetry serves a purpose. Its goal might be to ground us or propel us or touch us deeply. Without purpose, poetry might simply be the scattering of words upon paper. What about your life without purpose? You might notice it feels empty or uninspiring, scattered or insignificant. When our lives hold purpose and meaning, we engage; we inspire; we have an impact.
Poetry touches something in us that prose cannot. It reaches past our analytical minds to touch our softer, interior knowing. Coaching does this also. The practice of noticing provides access to an inner landscape where rich questions live. [Questions that have no right to go away.] These questions urge us deeper, urge us forward. They urge us to participate in our own evolution, in our own transformation.
What is the powerful question you are sitting with today?
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