My daughter loves to sing and her favourite song at the moment is Judy Garland’s ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ from The Wizard of Oz. it’s a beautiful song of wishing, dreaming and wondering why, oh why, can’t I? As a coach, this is a sentiment I hear all too often.
I took her to see the West End musical Wicked over the summer holidays and, apart from being a fun and entertaining show, it was a wonderful example of ‘fixed’ realities and what happens when the story we know to be ‘true’ is viewed from a completely different perspective. Once a story is experienced from a new viewpoint, further perspectives and realities open up for us just like the pot of gold at the other end of the rainbow.
In my experience, answers always come to clients when they begin to question, play with and rewrite their pre-defined stories about who they are, how other people think and react, how the world around them works and how their character is expected to act and react within this script.
Sounds simple, doesn’t it? But don’t underestimate just how fixed our personal realities are and how blind we can be to them. How often do you hear (or say), “They’re always…, It’ll never.., Life is like that.., Everyone knows.., That’s just the way the world works…” I’m certain that you can think of many more examples of how our thoughts and beliefs become words that colour our actions, decisions and relationships. If you can’t think of anything for yourself, try it out first on how you see other people’s behaviours, beliefs and reactions limiting their view, perception and understanding of a given situation. That’s much easier, isn’t it..?
Three primary colours make up the seven colours of the rainbow and these seven colours make all other colours possible. Our upbringing and experiences are like spectacles with lenses that block out and intensify some of these colours. We become colour blind and colour sensitive to different things, people and situations.
There is nothing wrong or right about the lenses we have learned to see though, it is simply part of being human. This doesn’t mean that we deliberately choose the learned reality that we experience as true, but rather that no one is able to see a complete picture if we only get to experience it through one set of personalized lenses from only one angle.
Unfortunately, this is true for every one of us, yes-even coaches, leaders and mentors, as it is virtually impossible to notice and change the things we can’t see and aren’t aware of. The best we can hope for is a gut feeling that something is ‘off’ even though we can rarely put a finger on what that ‘off-ness’ might mean.
Fortunately, the process of coaching holds up a no-judgmental mirror of reflection, awareness, challenge and choice that gives us control over the learned reality we often find ourselves stuck in.
With the Wizard of OZ, Wicked, and plays in general, the audience gets to see more than one side of a story. We see, and often sympathise with, the characters’ limited information and blinkered understanding while we, the audience, have the privilege of seeing scenes playing outside of their awareness. This is the basis of every comedy and tragedy since the beginning of stories and the reason we enjoy them so much is that we all know what can happen when we are unable to see the full picture.
In order to bring more awareness to your script, character and role, try thinking of your story as fairy tale with your character taking the key role. Step right back from the emotion of being caught up in the story details, take the position of a non-judgmental author and write in the third person simply telling a tale where, “Once upon a time, there was a…”
I created the R.A.I.N.B.O.W. acronym as a starting point for stepping away from the stage and the emotions of the role you are in so that you can join the audience up on the balcony for a wider and clearer picture of what your character’s script is, what might be going on behind the scenes and what the audience are aware of that your character currently isn’t.
Consider the answers to the questions below in order to identify key identities, behaviours, repeating narrative motifs and cycles.
Taking the author’s pen for yourself and consider what your character and situation would represent if it were part of a fairy tale script.
The majority of an iceberg lies under the waterline just as the subconscious lenses we grew up wearing.
Give this some thought and time or speak to your coach, as it isn’t easy to see beneath your character’s waterline.
When this is the story you are in, this is the identity of the character/role you play and these are the reoccurring behaviours associated with who your character is, what is the outcome?
Spending the time and effort to reflect on these points will help you to move from the pre-defined script, reactions and emotions that your character is currently playing out on stage up to a balcony position as a member of the audience. I spent most of my life believing I knew the reality of the story, plot and characters in The Wizard of Oz. Now, I see a completely different reality, not for one character, but all of them.
Work with your coach to create your own fairy tale with you as the main character and your life as the storyline and plot. It will take some time but working together is so much more fun and definitely easier with someone you trust holding a mirror up to your story lenses.
Once you have written your story it’s time to read my next blog in this series –
In part two I will show you how to get creative and experiment with all the possible colours your rainbow has to offer, how to turn your rainbow into a solid bridge and how to turn your pot of gold into a realistic and achievable goal. In short, how to write the next chapter of your story the way you want it to be.
Don’t hesitate to get in touch if I can support you with this fun challenge and I look forward to meeting you back here for the next blog.