The power of imagination

I’ve been making more use of visualisation and metaphor in my one-to-one Exec Coaching work recently. It’s something that’s been in my toolkit for a couple of years but I’ve had a recent flurry of successes with it and so I thought I’d share them in case it could be helpful or interesting to you.

I’ve used images myself to prepare for coaching sessions. When I’m with a client I want to be calm, relaxed, focused on them not me, and feeling in an open and curious place. So the other day, while preparing for a session I decided to visualise what calm is for me – I have this image that sits right in my middle, around my diaphragm. A sense of deep calm and relaxation, yet at the same time feeling completely awake. If you’ve ever been to Ragdale Hall Spa, they have a relaxation room there, so in that space in my middle I can see me lying on one of the comfy beds with one of their amazing heavy duvets over the top of me. But unlike when I go there and nod off, in this image I’m completely alert.

Then in my mind, I can see me as a child – except it’s not really me because I have a straight bob and a fringe, which I’ve never had – but anyway. This is me. I have a skipping rope and I’m beside a beautiful calm lake. It’s daytime, the sun’s shining and I can feel its warmth. I’m skipping along beside the lake, stopping every now and then to look under rocks and dig into the earth to see what I can find. When I bring this image to mind I can’t help but feel happy and find myself smiling – the curious child in me.


As well as this for myself, I’ve helped a few clients to create images in the last few months.

One has an image of a board table in his head with all the different aspects of who he is as a leader being represented by different characters. He can use this to notice whether one character is unhelpfully taking over in any given situation when another would be more useful.

A second client now has an image of herself as the assertive version of her, right down to the detail of what her spectacles are made from. She’s already seen that she’s able to have a different – and still positive – impact with colleagues.

And a third client has identified a symbol for the version of her that she wants to be more of the time which she can call to mind when she needs to reconnect with her natural self – the self which is most at ease and therefore which does the best thinking, and helps her feel more congruent and settled – being who she really is.

I also have clients for whom images don’t work, and that’s fine too. We’re all different. That’s why I place such a high value on my eclectic toolkit – as my coach educators Barefoot would say – beware the man of one tool!

What about you?

Where in your work could you benefit from being a different version of you?

What does that “different” look and feel like?

If that was an image, what would it be?


This is me……


[Photo credit –]

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