Exploring people potential

This month our coaching expert, Sue Stockdale looks at the value of introducing new perspectives

People can get stale when they have been doing the same activities at work for a long period of time. Sometimes the familiarity means that we pay less attention to what we are doing, and go onto ‘autopilot’, which can lead to performance diminishing over time.

Getting a different perspective and generating fresh ideas can help someone to maintain and improve performance. For example, coaches use coaching supervision to evaluate their performance. A coaching supervisor can help a coach to reflect on their practice so that they can become aware of their blind spots or identify areas to develop.

According to Dr Alex Hill, co-founder, and Director of the Centre for High Performance1, keeping fresh by looking outside your immediate sector to sustain high levels of performance is not to be underestimated. For example, British Cycling wanted to improve how the team operated on tour, they looked to the Royal Ballet, rather than another cycling team to get knowledge on best practice.

Regardless of the method used, the intention is to switch things up, and use creativity to inspire new behaviour so that a person can improve what they do

Another who advocates this type of behaviour is legendary music producer Rick Rubin. In his book The Creative Act: A Way of Being, Rubin describes some interesting ways he helps musicians introduce creative approaches to their work. One is to change the environment. If normal studio conditions are not inspiring them to produce their best music, he may suggest that they change things up, by turning off the lights, so they record a track in the dark. Or if they are struggling to write lyrics, he suggests they write just one line a day, rather than be overwhelmed by a seemingly impossible task.

Rubin may also invite a musician to imagine that it’s the last time they will sing a particular song, which can introduce a different energy to the music, or he suggests that the musician invites a few people into the studio to observe the recording process taking place, knowing that the presence of others can lead to greater focus.

Regardless of the method used, the intention is to switch things up, and use creativity to inspire new behaviour so that a person can improve what they do. By getting an outside perspective or interrogate your own work differently from an observer viewpoint, the self-discovery that comes from doing so can be remarkable.

One way is to ask yourself some different questions about what you do. For example, when creating a training course, consider the opposite of what you normally do.  ‘What would happen if we ran the course outside?’ or ‘if we used no slides and only had conversation?’ what if… questions can generate new ideas.

No matter what approach is taken, it’s always productive to step away from your own view of the world and consider what you do from a fresh perspective.


  1. Enabling Leadership Report, Association for Coaching, 2020

Sue Stockdale is an executive coach and polar explorer www.suestockdale.com

Sue Stockdale

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