Creative Coaching

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What’s the best way to deal with uncertainty?

Free up your resourcefulness and evolve by getting comfortable with ambiguity

All organisations must evolve or die. The VUCA world is throwing up constant challenges - hybrid working, war, living costs, economic downturn, climate catastrophe. Becoming comfortable with the uncertainty of corresponding changes in our teams, clients, markets and the zeitgeist is crucial.

Creative Coaching is no exception to this process, and our programme director Melissa Mehta explores how we’re navigating that change for ourselves and our clients. 

As we mulled over how Creative Coaching might newly define itself, Tania came up with the phrase:

“We make the space for you to have conversations you’d never have unless we’re in the room.”

I’ve witnessed many clients exhale at the end of an intense session and say: “We wouldn’t have made that progress without you”. And yet these are intelligent, motivated, analytical people - board members, consultants, auditors, senior leaders, partners with ample capacity for rational and logical thought.

So why don’t these conversations happen without us? Why do they (you) need us in the room?

Part of the answer is discomfort with uncertainty. 

If we’re working with you around change, there is uncertainty about how the new world might work (or not). If we’re working with you around communication, there’s uncertainty about how people will respond when you start speaking with more authority and rapport. If we’re working with you around leadership, there’s uncertainty around how your vision will land and how you will rally your team.

And often we’re working with you on all these fronts, simultaneously. We’re helping you have the conversations you might not otherwise have, as they can be uncomfortable.

Uncertainty activates primitive threat/reward programmes in our brain that ensure our survival. As David Rock explains in his book Your Brain At Work, it's instinct, and unfortunately we can't just "turn it off.”

While we might not be able to turn it off - we are squashy, fleshy, humans and not robots - we can be better at living with it. The key is understanding and trusting the process.

What do I mean by that?

Well, firstly to understand that humans are hard-wired to find uncertainty uncomfortable. We prepare ourselves for flight or fight in response to uncertainty. Flooded with adrenalin, we experience the discomfort of an uneasy stomach, sweaty hands, elevated heart rate. This is caused by our blood rushing to our big muscles in anticipation of running away/fighting.

Creative Coaching cautions against running away/fighting in most situations. Instead we create an environment where uncertainty is treated as an opportunity. We guide you to trust the process, and keep you company through the discomfort of uncertainty.

If we can become accustomed to the feeling of uncertainty, we can better access the brain’s capacity for innovative thinking, problem solving or creativity. Stepping into uncertainty with a relaxed frame of mind allows us to be fully connected to our innate resourcefulness.  This makes it easier to come up with the next great idea.

With bright and analytical brains, trained and poised to crank out the right answer, accessing this open minded innovation can take some doing. Often the temptation to ‘work things out’ and ‘find the right answer’ by following old patterns is irresistible.

For example, last year at a strategy day a participant said:  “We need to be innovative. Perhaps we could look at what really innovative companies do and copy them”.

When we’re in the room, we gently (or forcibly when necessary) break those patterns.

Einstein said, “No problem can be solved from the same consciousness that created it.” Trying to think one’s way out of a problem doesn’t work, without a willingness to rise to a more expansive way of thinking. From here, the impossible becomes possible.

This is the value of making space for you to have those conversations, to become accustomed to the uncertainty, and to free up your organisation’s potential for fresh thinking and innovation.

Uncertainty, like death and taxes, seems to be the new certainty. How can you embrace this and be innovative? If you’d like to discuss how we might explore this with you, drop me a line on I’d love to hear from you.


Photo by David Clode on Unsplash

Posted on Thu, January 05, 2023 in General Leadership Organisational Development Personal Development
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