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Problems and Creations


I love the work of Robert Fritz who wrote The Path of Least Resistance which is all about finding our creativity. Fritz is a musician. He contrasts the composer of music to our lives asking if a composer about to embark on a great work looks for a problem to solve. No she builds a picture in her mind of a beautiful end result and then starts with a blank sheet of paper filling in the gaps between the current reality and the picture in her mind.

In a recent newsletter Fritz quotes Carl Jung as saying:

"All the greatest and most important problems of life are fundamentally insoluble... They can never be solved, but only outgrown. This "outgrowth" proved on further investigation to require a new level of consciousness. Some higher or wider interest appeared on the patient's horizon, and through this broadening of his or her outlook the insoluble problem lost its urgency. It was not solved logically in its own terms but faded when confronted with a new and stronger life urge."

I love this quote because it ties in so well with the work I have done using scenarios in Executive Coaching. Scenarios are a bit like chess, you can learn how to work with them in a few minutes but it will take a lifetime to become a master of your own scenarios.

One of the seminal works on coaching is John Whitmore's Coaching for Performance . He has just released an updated version of his book and I'd say that it is the work that best represents my thinking about coaching. Whitmore is the originator of the GROW model for coaching. GROW stands for:

Reality or current reality
What are you going to do?

As with most powerful models, it is very simple. It is powerful in that it is a process that can be followed by individuals either on their own or with a coach. I find it useful for myself and also when working with the most senior executives.

Goal's are self explanatory and when that is contrasted with the current Reality you have what Robert Fritz calls "structural tension". There is tension between where I would like to be and where I am now. This is the starting point for creation.

Fritz differentiates between problem thinking and creative thinking. Unfortunately most of the world works in problem / solution mode where we see something as a problem and then set about fixing it. With this approach our level of thinking doesn't ever raise above the level of the problem.

With creative thinking we get clear (or as clear as possible) on what our future vision is, acknowledge where we are currently and then allow our brain to kick in and find solutions drawing from a creative universe which is far greater than simply attempting to resolve a problem.

Options are the scenarios for our lives. We know what we will get if we continue with our current course. If we project forward three years, is this where we want to be? What are the biggest uncertainties we face and how do they influence the possible future stories for our lives. We are now in the creative zone where the structural tension can be released.

The What brings the process back to earth by asking, "What will you do differently now that your awareness is broader?"

This is the process of personal growth.

So in which areas of your life do you need to CREATE new solutions?