As we think about how to coach best - and how to be a smart, empowered recipient of coaching - it may help to discuss our various conceptions of the role of the coach in the first place.
What Is the Job of the Teller?
For me, the immediate job of the storyteller, in the moment of telling, is to help listeners form a relationship with the story. (I am not talking about telling for the teller's sake here, such as when I tell a story for my own healing, but about telling for the listeners' sake.) If we think of the basic elements of the storytelling event, they form a triangle superimposed on the context in which the event takes place:
The two relationships we have any control over are our relationships with the story and with the listeners. But our goal, our listeners' relationship with our story, is beyond our reach to influence directly.
Therefore, we must influence it indirectly, by the thousands of decisions we make every second. Some decisions are conscious ("What story should I tell now?") and some are unconscious ("Exactly how long should I hold the second syllable of this word?").
To do the job of the storyteller, you must make those thousands of decisions, not with a checklist, but with what I call your creative intelligence
, your ability to make so many decisions in service to your goals for your listeners.
What Is the Job of the Coach?
Therefore, I believe, it is not so useful to think of the job of the coach as applying the coach's intelligence to the story
. Rather, the coach's job is to apply the coach's creative intelligence to the engaging and freeing of the teller's creative intelligence
If I think my job is to fix your story, I will coach a certain way. But if I think my job is to help free your creative intelligence so that you can more effectively make rapid decisions when I'm not there, I will coach differently.
How do you react, dear members of this Coaching Storytellers group, to this definition of the role of the coach? Do you see it differently? Would you amend it?
All the best,