Impossible is an opinion

I remember a few years ago, when staying in a rather glamorous hotel in Madrid, watching a film in Spanish in an attempt to accelerate my understanding of the Spanish vernacular.  Rioja may have been involved.    An advertisement came on, the screen was utterly  dominated by the fascinating face of Muhammad Ali with his glorious voice telling me –  “impossible is an opinion”.

This stayed with me,  it grabbed my attention, it made me think.  I’m still thinking – and here are some of my thoughts.

We are full of unrealised potential, never ending potential, beautiful potential, angry potential, strength, grace, rage, sorrow, joy.   Our potential has no boundaries.

We need each other to  help us get unstuck, unlock, unblock and to move into the unknown.  We need each other to discover that which is possible, to release our potency.

Potency descibes our Inherent capacity for growth and development our potentiality  – potency is where the word potential comes from.  I was asked to recognise my own potency recently.  So much thinking.  So much seeing.

Sukh invites us to think about the fruition of potential, Sara asks me to think about my potency.  I see how it connects.   I think too that freedom comes from embracing our potency; if we don’t think about what we are not, but think about what we could be, impossible really is just an opinion.

A final thought; have you read  Bounce by Matthew Syed?  He does a pretty good job challenging our beliefs about talent.  I wonder – if we exchanged the word talent for potential – what greater potency could be released into organisations.

Positive Practices in Coaching and Mentoring

Earlier this year, David Goddin @changecontinuum from People, Performance, Potential invited bloggers to write a blog about their Positive Practices in Coaching and Mentoring.  I really enjoyed writing mine, and reading all the others; please follow the link here and visit David’s blog to read them for yourself.

My own blog that I wrote for PPP has had cause to resonate over recent weeks, and I have found myself going back to read it.  So I thought I’d publish it here for myself, and any readers that may find it helpful.



You must be the change you wish to see in the world”                                                                     Mahatma Gandhi

I am lucky that I have had some active mentors in my life; some have been formal arrangements, some informal – often by happenstance.  Whoever (they know who they are) and however – they have had one thing in common, and that is their confidence to express an opinion, thought or observation and – their absolute acceptance of me.   Exploring this in terms of successful practices, here’s my attempt at deconstructing this:

What’s the old adage?  “”Behaviour breeds behaviour.  Being with confident people makes me feel more confident.   More confidence means more chance that I’ll jump, stumble, fall out of my comfort zone – landing straight into the depths of my potential.

When I say confident, what am I really saying?   How I see it – confident people are those whose locus of control is within them; whose drivers are not shaped by extrinsic factors, but whose drivers are instrinsically shaped by what matters to them.  Confident people like this have a genuine curiousity about others, life and themselves.  They aren’t afraid of how others might see them and they don’t worry about potential consequences.  They try things and know that some will work better than others. They’re proactive.     They’re OK with – me, you and themselves.

Offering unconditional positive regard

Translating this into coaching and mentoring; well, it’s about offering encouragement, confidence, belief into the process.  I don’t believe that the coach or mentor is neutral party; I see myself as instrument who influences and is influenced by my experiences.  I’m a participator not an observer.    What I value and cherish has to be brought into my work.

David Myers describes Carl Rogers concept of unconditional positive regard as “an attitude of grace, an attitude that values us – even knowing our failings. It is a profound relief to drop our pretenses, confess our worst feelings, and discover that we are still accepted.”

That unconditional acceptance, that positive regard that I have received from past and present coaches/mentors/friends/loved ones carries me when I need carrying, and propels and accelerates me when I’m flying.    It’s what I offer.

Putting this into practice?  I work to create a space where people to feel confident enough to really see themselves, and to find a way to accept their flaws, vulnerabilities and fears, and to help them move towards self acceptance,  insight and growth.  I offer my acceptance, respect and regard, unconditionally.  It’s OK to be angry, resentful, uncertain, or  – bored.     I don’t know all the answers and I’m honest about that; I may have some experiences to share, but I know enough to know I don’t know much.    I offer real curiosity in my challenges and questions, I offer warmth and encouragement when they feel they’ve achieved something, I laugh at myself and with them when they feel foolish – I acknowledge their discomfort when they drop their pretenses.  I notice and acknowledge mine.   I am me, I don’t play a role or adopt a different persona.      I am just another human offering my unconditional positive regard.  It’s part of the contracting, it’s part of the process, and it’s part of the ending/beginning.

When someone gets that moment where they recognise connections between thinking and doing and behaviour, where they are able to be truly aware in the moment of what they are saying and how it relates to obstacles/problems, that’s the time where they can take responsibility for themselves and where the internal locus sparks up.   Their regard for themselves may raise up a level; it’s exciting.

Singles remind me of kisses

There are times when I carry something around with me for a while.  I don’t know why it’s with me, but I know that staying with it bears fruit at some stage.

“Singles remind me of kisses, albums remind me of plans.”  A line from a beautiful song from one of my most loved bands.    It’s just the most lovely expression of the joyful intimacy of shared hopes and private moments.  At the best of times, Difford and Tillbrook write perfect lyrics, but somehow this one is lingering around me, like a cape around my shoulders.  It must be there for a reason musn’t it?

Perhaps it’s like a fast track back to lost times, maybe it’s my precious fragment.  Maybe that’s why I’m hanging on to it because I’m holding on to a time and a me that has gone.  Ah, the writing takes me to the source.

One loss can create an echo of other losses and then you’re surrounded by the soft echoes reminding you of unresolved grief.

That single that takes you immediately back to being fantastically fourteen again, where everything is an adventure, and the album – where every track leads to another and oh, the emotional intensity attached to the dreaming your life to it.  It’s joy.

The precious fragment; you can’t have it without having already lost it.