Seeing and looking, steps towards creativity

IMG_5021I call myself the Creative Coach, but I have said little about what I think creativity is. Is it really a flash of inspiration, a lightbulb moment? I think those brief moments of insight only come from long looking and seeking.

I revisited the Hotel Biron, Auguste Rodin’s museum in Paris last month, where I was struck by a sculpture of a dancing couple, The Waltz, created by Rodin’s mistress Camille Claudel. It caught the pair in a flow of movement, the metal more like water than bronze.… Read the rest

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Ideas, salvation and imagination in America

“An idea is salvation by imagination” : Frank Lloyd Wright

Ideas, imagination and salvation feel necessary in America in the time of Donald Trump’s presidency. Where they will come from I cannot yet tell. But a weeklong visit to Chicago and a reunion with some old friends reassured me that hope lives on. My long held image of America as “the shining city on a hill” might be tarnished, but is not lost.

Summer is the best time to visit Chicago, when the breeze blowing off Lake Michigan cools rather than chills.Read the rest

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Picasso’s Guernica still speaks 80 years on

IMG_4334I made a pilgrimage to the historic town of Guernica on my first visit to Spain in 1981. But I’m embarrassed to admit I’d never yet made the journey to see Pablo Picasso’s painting, created in response to the first aerial bombardment of civilians on 26 April 1937. It would have been easy enough: the painting came home to Spain from New York, first to the Prado in 1981 and then to the Reina Sofia Museum in 1992.Read the rest

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Exposure and honesty in three continents

Chicago Sunday 3Exposure, that’s what we all fear. Being caught on camera when you haven’t had time to think about what to say, let alone compose your face, is hard for everyone, from business school students to charity executives. It’s hard to watch yourself back and know just how much better you could have handled it. But it’s easy to learn a few simple techniques to make the most of whatever time you do get to prepare.

So when the iOpener Institute asked me this spring to work with students from an international business school on three campuses in London, Chicago and Hong Kong, it was a challenge I was keen to accept.Read the rest

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Sights and sounds from a South African journey

It was my third trip to South Africa, and  it always exceeds expectations, it never disappoints. Last time we’d explored the lush Garden Route, this time we headed north towards the arid lands. Even before we got to Springbok in Namaqua, I was wondering just how desperate and just how determined the Voortrekkers must have been to even attempt farming in such a harsh landscape. The nomadic life of the Nama and San peoples they displaced was much better adapted to the heat and the dry.… Read the rest

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Opening the closed doors on domestic violence

I was surprised to get a Whatsapp message from a former coaching client a couple of weeks ago announcing the publication of her first book. It is just over two years since we worked together, but I’d never known she wanted to write a book, our coaching sessions had been about getting out of a dead end job and finding work that gave her more challenge and more space to be herself (which she’d achieved already).Read the rest

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Drawing on nature

The cold holds the gardens as if under a spell. Mist hangs over the walks where the weak sun breaks through. Each blade of grass across the lawns is rimed with frost. And along each bare tree branch there’s a tracery of ice. It’s so different from the familiar bustle of Kew with pensioners, babies in prams and toddlers all out for an airing. IMG_3785

I walk towards the pond in front of the Palm House and it is frozen: not quite solid but the ducks and seagulls skitter across the hard bright surface.… Read the rest

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What my inner teenager teaches me

I knew what I was signing up for, or so I thought. The retreat was an opportunity to focus on what my body was telling me and how well I integrated that into my daily life and work, hence the title “Self as Instrument”. I am well aware I live too much in my head and don’t pay enough attention to my body. There was little detail about what and how we would explore over the three days, but I knew the lead facilitator and I trusted her to create a safe space for me to challenge myself.Read the rest

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Recovering memory from landscape

img_3428Returning to the Spanish mainland for the first time in over 20 years brought back a tide of old associations. The last time I was in Madrid I was working with John Nicholson, now an SNP MP, then a Newsnight reporter, on a story about devolution Spanish style. But on my first visit, many years before, I’d been in the Plaza Mayor waiting to hear the venerable Communist leader Santiago Carrillo when the rally was suddenly cancelled.Read the rest

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How to see

The ramp into the Musee de Quai Branly was a river of words, light and colour projected onto the smooth white surface, words in languages and scripts from all over the world, a bold declaration of the museum’s global intentions. At the top of the ramp, a huge wooden statue with his hand raised as if in greeting. It had taken me the ten years since the museum’s foundation to visit it, and I felt welcome.Read the rest

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Creative Insights

A rich mix of thoughts about careers, coaching and recovering your creativity in nature


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