MA, PCC, ESIA, CEC, Mentor Coach and Diploma in Coaching Supervision
Jeanine: Good morning, good afternoon, good evening wherever you are in the world. Welcome to the Empower World Coaching and Leadership podcast. And today I'm in sunny Melbourne and I am meeting the amazing Lily Seto all the way across in Canada and Lily is here to support us today with a podcast around metaphors and coaching. So I was lucky enough to meet Lily on the supervision course that both Marie and I attended with Goldvarg Consulting Group. So both Marie and I have undertaken our certification in supervision and we were lucky enough to meet Lily as one of the facilitator's guests on the programme. So we are absolutely delighted to bring Lily on this podcast as she brings a wealth of experience in terms of coaching and supervision. I know she's an amazing woman but also there's a lot of travel across the world supporting people in both supervision and coaching. So before I say anymore, Lily, about you, welcome. And I'd love to hand over to you to be able to share with the listeners who you are and what your background is about.
Lily: Thanks Janine. I'm really excited to be here. Feels kind of weird you're kind of down on the other side of the world almost like 12 hours away. Exactly opposite and here I am sitting in my cozy little office talking with you in Melbourne. Kind of crazy when you think about it. There must be a metaphor in there somewhere.
Jeanine: Yeah it is. It is quite strange isn't it that we are on the other side of the world but it's still daylight in both our countries.
Lily: Yes and it feels like we're sitting side beside each other in the room.
Lily: I don't feel separation.
Jeanine: Yeah it feels fantastic. .
Lily: So yeah I've been coaching for about I guess 17 years or so and I also do mentor coaching for credentialing and took on supervision I was in Damien's class, we did it together. We weren't friends in class. Afterwards we became buddies. We started talking and dreaming and creating things together so that's been really exciting as well as part of what I do. And in my supervision course with the coaching supervision academy, I learned about metaphor magic and using symbols to represent things that are going on for us. And as I took that into the world, into our supervision, the coaches that I was working with were going like “hey can I do that too?”. And my leaders that coached and used it, they were like, “can I use it with my employees?”. So I've adapted the tools so that we can use it with supervision and use it with coaching and it's about what metaphor is all about for us. So metaphors can be words and phrases, they could be symbols, they could be pictures. whatever it is that will trigger something in your mind and take you to a place where it reminds you of something, basically is what it's all about. It could be hand gestures, so if somebody is talking in their heart.
Lily: That could be a metaphor symbolizing something. Or holding their throat, oftentimes clients will stroke their throat and what we discover is there's something about giving voice to the topic that they're talking about. And when we were able to access that kind of information it's quite powerful to realize what's going on for us.
Jeanine: Yeah. The metaphors are so powerful aren't they? And it's like the way I think of metaphors it's like bringing a whole lot of information, intuition, knowing altogether in this very quick snapshot that when we as coaches or supervisors get curious about our client's metaphors, it can reveal a whole lot of information that can support them.
Lily: Yeah, and everyone looks at something differently and often we will assume we know what they mean. So as you said we need to really get curious about what they mean when they put their hand on their heart, for example. I might say something about their heart thumping and they may be thinking “oh I've got to protect my heart”. So when I work with metaphors I'm not the one that puts the metaphor in the space. I ask the client if you were to use something, a symbol, a picture, a word, a song to represent what you're thinking, what might that be? Then once they identify that, then it’s how does that represent it? And then what else? Dig deep so that they can access both the conscious and their unconscious parts of their brain and emotions as well. I've watched clients where I’ll show an item and say what does this represent in a training course and some people will have a very visceral reaction and others will have really nice memories around it. So we don't know what's going to happen when we work with metaphors and that's the magic of it.
Jeanine: Yeah the beauty of it. And I've seen you, Lily, in our training using what you call the magic box. So based on that what I understand is that we as coaches can work with our clients, what the client comes up with or what they're sharing with us, so as you say, they could have their hand on their throat or on their heart, so we can utilize what's coming up but we can also bring in things that are external that they're not aware of like your magic box, for example, and ask them to reveal what that means to them. That's what I'm understanding from you?
Lily: It could be words, it could be gestures, it could be the language that we use. I was working the client the other day… I'm just going to check I'm not revealing anything confidential, and she said “I just have to push through this meeting” so that's a metaphor. And when I got curious she's working on her leadership and showing up in the world and so I said “how does that support you in your stepping into your power”. And she right away figured that “wow that was a powerful metaphor and it doesn't align with who I want to be in the world”. And it wasn't for me to judge that piece, it was the language that she was using and we often see that words create worlds. So what are the words that we're choosing to use and what are they representing, either consciously or subconsciously.
Jeanine: Yeah. And based on that awareness she was able to make different choices about who she wanted to be.
Lily: And how it aligns with the goals and how she wants to be for sure.
Jeanine: Yeah. And so the magic box that you speak of Lily, maybe you could share more about that with our audience I know we've gone sort of...
Lily: To the wrong place.
Jeanine: Coaching and now supervision. But yeah it just seems appropriate to explore that.
Lily: Yeah. So it's based on sand play and symbolic modeling and constellation work, energy work, systems work. What I invite clients to do is to choose items to represent certain people in their lives or certain issues in their life and place them on a mat of some sort and then we unpack, what was it about a certain item that caused it to represent whatever it is they chose it to represent? And working with it and going deeper with simple words like “and what else?”, “go deeper and deeper”, they will reveal things that they weren't aware of. And I'm always amazed at the power. And when you're using symbolic metaphors as well, I won’t name the items. So if the client picks up an owl for example, I will say tell me about the item you chose to represent yourself? And they may say owl and they may not. They may say something like, I don't know, “elegance” because that's what it represents to them. So I'm really working at not influencing the system in what they're saying. Letting them figure out what it means to them. Because in one example somebody had a very visceral reaction to an owl because they’d had a scary experience in their childhood in the forest with an owl, and so when they chose the owl for them it meant a scary place for their client, that was swooping at them.
Jeanine: Powerful, so it really is all about our clients making choices. As to the magic box scenario and again just getting curious about what that means. So you can go deeper and deeper.
Lily: And not necessarily the magic box, you know the words that they use, their trace of language, their physical manifestations, I just ask if there is any meaning behind that because that allows them to access their inner world. So their thoughts, their feelings, their beliefs, their past experience, somatic information that becomes available to them. This is all information for them to move forward.
Jeanine: Yeah. And that's really coaching mastery. Isn't it? When you are getting curious about those all those clues that a client is providing.
Lily: There's something to be said for metaphors in that, I have this belief that they represent something and if they're out there and we're talking about that thing in front of us it makes it a bit safer I think, than having to talk about my feelings and what's going on for me inside, it's like oh the owl… This is how it represents me. I want to be wise in the world. I want to be majestic and I want to have presence. But I really I'm talking about myself but I'm projecting onto this little item.
Lily: So some of that I think is at play as well.
Jeanine: Yeah. So it's creating that distance isn't it?
Lily: A little bit of safety in saying that I'm talking about the owl not me, but really I'm talking about me.
Lily: And then at some point I can actually claim that. And say “OK. this is actually me”. I want to have presence that's wise and beautiful and soft at the same time.
Jeanine: Yeah. As you say it's providing that safe place to provide that distance between what's really going on but saying it from another perspective.
Lily: Seeing it out there.
Lily: And so I've worked with some school counselors that work with teenagers and they can't get anything out of them. Which you probably know for many of us, teenagers don't have more than five words in their vocabulary when they speak to adults sometimes. And if you worked with symbolic metaphors, you might even say something like "when have a career that's going to be the best for you, that's like what?". That opens a metaphor up and now we start exploring that metaphor. So they're talking about “Oh that's like that's running a race and feeling that adrenaline rush”. So there's your metaphor. What does that represent to this individual person? It becomes fun, it becomes playful and it becomes out there and it becomes creative. And so I think that's what cooks a lot of clients into this kind of work.
Jeanine: Yeah. Thank you for sharing that, Lily, because I'm sure the parents that are listening to this podcast will like that piece of wisdom and perhaps utilize that to open up the worlds of their children.
Lily: Yeah, for sure.
Jeanine: And I know that there are a number of listeners on our podcast that are also interested in coaching with kids, so again this would be a really powerful way of supporting children with their metaphors.
Lily: And it feels so respectful because we're working with their metaphors in their world not our metaphors. And I've also had leaders who, when I've worked with them they'll say “oh this will be useful for my direct reports when I'm talking about their careers” or something. What would be a metaphor, what would be something to represent where you want to be in three years from now? And again we're talking about this item or this phrase or this… I try not to use the word metaphor, because not everybody understands that word. I'll say “what would represent this?”. In one of my workshops I was asking “what would be a song that represents who you are in the world?”, “or an animal?” and it can be very creative and fun.
Jeanine: Yeah. And a great anchor to support the client, ourselves, especially when we're going through a challenge to have that metaphor which could be, as you say, in the form of a song or a gesture or saying that guides us.
Lily: Sometimes my clients will find… like I had one client she said that some type of bird represented who she wanted to be in the world and she went through looking for one of these charms on Etsy and she found one. She put it on a chain and she wears it to remind herself that this is kind of how she wants to be in the world. And it's a powerful reminder, as you say.
Jeanine: Yeah it's so simple isn't it? Yet, potentially many of us don't, or maybe many of us do, utilize.
Lily: I think we don't realize how many times we use metaphors, in a minute and an hour, in a day.
Lily: So if someone were really paying attention to us, they can really mind some of this language that we use.
Jeanine: Yeah or gestures or the songs that we sing or whatever it may be.
Lily: And there's also a piece around the psychology and the neuroscience behind this and the safety, the psychological safety that needs to be created for us to work with clients. because I know that it can open up things that we don't expect and so I'm always inviting coaches or clients if something comes up afterwards, think about the support you need. Whether it's a professional or you can come back to me to have a conversation. Because we don't want to leave people with unresolved issues or things that have come up afterwards that they think about that impact them. And that’s in supervisors as well. When I’ve trained supervisors it's like okay if something comes up and you want to process it, let's talk about it. Let's make sure that our clients are safe.
Jeanine: Yeah beautiful Lily, and as we wrap up our podcast together. It's around 17 minutes, that’s gone so fast.
Lily: There isn't a metaphor. That's crazy.
Jeanine: Yeah. Say more about that Lily and what that means for you?
Lily: That's great. There you go, see!
Jeanine: Yeah beautiful, lovely seeing you smiling there. So really wrapping up, what would you impart to the coaches, listeners, leaders that are listening to this today what final words of wisdom would you like to share?
Lily: Final words of wisdom… Is that the owl showing up again?
Jeanine: It could be, say more about that.
Lily: I would encourage and invite you to listen to the language of your clients and your employees and children you work with and be curious about it. Be curious, as you said about what is that gesture? Was there anything behind that? What information is available to your client or your employee or whatever it is, based on something that you're noticing? There is a saying that says "words create worlds." So what are the words were using and how are we using them to mean whatever we want it to mean.
Jeanine: Yeah great advice. Thank you so much Lily. Thank you for joining us today and I was going to ask you if you had a metaphor for Batman who we heard in the background of the podcast today. So I'm glad he was able to join us.
Lily: I think Batman is the metaphor.
Jeanine: Yeah I like that. I like that. He's become famous in our podcast. So he's certainly a changer for the good.
Lily: Very cool.
Jeanine: Yeah. So thank you again. We really appreciate your time with us today. I know Marie does too she wasn't able to join us today but we are both highly very appreciative of you joining us here and we hope we can bring you on board again to support our listeners. So thank you.
Lily: It's my pleasure and thank you wherever you are in the world.
Jeanine: Thank you for listening and we hope you join us next time. Thank you.