As a cash flow coach, you will find yourself engaged with clients in assisting them set and achieve personal performance goals. Goals that can be challenging because they require the application of combined mental, emotional and behavioural components for realisation. In working with clients, you will notice that in some areas, improvement comes with simplicity and ease whilst other concepts and tasks are extremely difficult for clients to conquer. And these differ from client to client.
Neuroscience tells us that the primary reason for this is brain dominance, a principle that supports that the brain is composed of different parts (sides, hemispheres, quadrants etc.) and that each part has a functional speciality. All clients have a more dominant part of their brain, which influences their thinking and learning styles.
Effective cash flow coaching recognises this and promotes whole-brain thinking by integrating non-dominant skills into coaching conversations and the client’s journey.
Left and Right Brain
One of the common theories for separating the brain’s functions is - right brain/left brain. Research has established that all humans use both of these hemispheres and that they complement each other.
The left hemisphere of the brain works in details, facts and memories, and is analytical, logical, linear and controls verbal dialogue.
The right is intuitive, holistic, non-linear and visual. It deals in imagination, emotions and gives things meaning.
The Importance of the Right Brain
When clients first meet with a cash flow coach it is because they are seeking change. A way to approach things differently to achieve the personal goals or outcomes that have eluded them to date. Ultimately, they want future satisfaction and financial security.
Change requires a new way of thinking, which in turn determines behaviours, choices and outcomes. As such, the most powerful cash flow coaching tools challenge clients to embrace, expand and open up to new perspectives and possibilities.
The left brain’s approach to details, facts, analysis, structure and logic are critical, however, they do not naturally move a client beyond where they are. The left brain is governed by rules, routines, familiar structures and what it already knows, to answer questions. These are not necessarily conducive to change.
On the other side, the right brain is open to new possibilities and exploring the unknown. It possesses the ability to connect old information to new concepts and come up with multiple possibilities. It is responsible for mapping new neurological paths that the brain needs to grow and expand. In short, the right brain is creative.
A definition of creativity is
the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships or the like to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc.; originality, progressiveness or imagination.
All clients have a creative impulse. As children, they would have demonstrated creative thinking without awareness and effort. However, school systems and education methods promoted left brain thinking which, in most cases, limited an individual’s right brain or creative capabilities. Part of a cash flow coaches role is to assist clients to activate the more expansive and creative modes of right brain thinking. This can be quite difficult as there is a natural tendency to fall back to the familiar left brain thoughts and habits of part experiences.
Creativity relies on letting go of existing attitudes, habits, beliefs, schedules and external pressures, and moving beyond conventional thinking and exploring new and numerous perspectives. Obstacles to being creative stem from stress, workloads that zap mental and physical energies and being caught in deep-seated routines.
The linearity of the left brain, conditions clients to adjust to their environment, which is a very important ability to have – it can be a life-saver. The holistic right brain allows clients to change their environment, which can be life-changing.
Cash flow coaches have a variety of tools and techniques to encourage more right brain processing, including: -
Six Hats Thinking (Edward De Bono)
Remembering that a whole-brain approach also recognises the left brain’s role in analysing options and determining the most appropriate course of action. Without this, clients can be all ideas and no action!
Right brain thinking and creativity should be introduced to the client conversations early. Creativity is normally associated with problem-solving. However, creative thinking starts with formulating the problem or issue and defining the desired future state. By first questioning the obvious, not rushing to define the situation, considering multiple explanations, causes and possibilities and testing assumptions, you will open up the client’s creative right brain. This fosters a natural progression to creative problem-solving.
Cash flow coaches that create an environment of creativity with their clients also find it fast tracks rapport building and builds the working relationship between client and coach. Cash flow coaches that enthusiastically embrace challenges are willing to appreciate complexities and acknowledge failures promote and support expressions of creativity in their clients.
Creative Thinking Techniques
As mentioned above there are numerous techniques cash flow coaches can use when working with clients and helping them access their right brain creativity. The techniques you use will differ from other coaches and should be varied depending on the thinking preference and brain dominance of your client. A brief outline of the above-mentioned techniques is as follows: -
Six Hat Thinking
Introduced by Edward de Bono in his book “Six Thinking Hats”, this technique delineates six different thinking perspectives and then asks the client to focus on each one of them at a time. The client is asked to consider their situation or problem from each of the following perspectives: -
Facts and figures
Emotions and feelings
Cautious and careful
Organised focused thinking
Cash flow coaches know that clients have the answers to their own questions and it is their job to help them surface. Preparing questions that are powerful enough to prompt responses that will help clients realise their goals and affect their future state, are at the heart of coaching. When the brain is posed with a question, it proceeds to find an answer and the way the question is posed can determine which brain processing is engaged.
The Question Thinking technique requires the coach to frame questions in a way that elicit perspectives and possibilities not previously considered. You are asking the client to question their thinking. This technique is invaluable in accessing right brain thinking.
Visual Thinking/Mind Mapping
The right brain is non-verbal, it thinks in pictures and visuals. When posed with a question or challenge, it uses spatial representations to process and solve. Asking clients to visualise their context or situation stimulates their right brain creativity. Visualising encourages clients to think past routines and habits and develop connections, sometimes between seemingly non-associated concepts.
When clients create diagrams or pictures that group related themes, patterns can emerge that reveal strengths, weaknesses and areas of opposition and resistance. These type of exercises can also demonstrate the dynamic relationship between a client’s short-term actions and long-term goals. Mind Mapping, as an example, asks the client to generate multiple perspectives and explore their connections and use, in achieving their desired future state.
Another approach, to open up a client’s thinking to new ideas, concepts and methods, is Brainstorming. While primarily designed for group problem solving, the cash flow coach can act as the catalyst for creative thinking by asking elemental questions and using the Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How frames. By breaking down the problem or issue into multiple parts and looking at the situation from different perspectives, new cause and effect bases can become apparent.
Whenever using questioning techniques, the cash flow coach needs to restate and reframe questions from a negative point of view into a positive one. Our brains are conditioned to respond faster and more fluently when faced with chasing rewards rather than avoiding threats.
Divergent Thinking challenges clients to associate concepts or ideas to thoughts that are unrelated or opposite in some manner. A cash flow coach can stimulate such lateral thinking by prompting random associations and asking for analogy or metaphor. A client’s fixed expenses account may become related to a child’s lunch box, and ‘dipping’ into it for discretionary spending is akin to taking food away from them!!!
The purpose of divergent thinking is to reorganise thinking so that new things can emerge. The greater the variety of unique and original ideas, the more diverse the creative solutions are.
The Creative Process
In the early twentieth century, Graham Wallace defined a creative process that has been used as the basis by many other sociologists since. He noted four stages of the process that are all vital in assisting clients to achieve the creative solutions needed to achieve their desired outcomes.
Preparation – during the first stage, coaches and clients gather information to define the current state and determine the areas to address. Again, while this seems a left brain, fact and figures, logical process, it is extremely useful to supplement these with a creative approach to truly define you are working with client’s underlying issues and not their presenting problems. Questioning and active listening are the keys during this stage.
Incubation – Having clearly defined the situation, the coach should instigate strategies and techniques to generate creative ideas. Part of this stage is giving clients permission to experiment and explore options, ideas and concepts and move away from past experiences. Noting that this means they don’t need to answer questions and come up with approaches immediately.
Illumination – This stage requires the shift to the analytical left brain, and determining which of the many solutions defined are the most appropriate to move forward with.
Implementation – As well as putting things into place, this stage includes critical evaluation and refinement. This means cycling through the right brain creative option creation, as well as submitting possible changes and new methods to left brain for analytical thinking.
The important role of the right brain is being evidenced by the increasing awareness, resources and skills being devoted to developing this area of our brain, in both work and social environments. By assisting clients to look at things from multiple perspectives and seeing more options, cash flow coaches are using a holistic approach and promoting client whole-brain thinking.
elevateB provides the training program as well as support and ongoing development for certified cash flow coaches. Individuals who choose to work with a certified cash flow coach are better placed to achieve financial independence and security. If you would like to make a difference and help everyday Australians be more financially prudent and savvy, consider becoming a cash flow coach today. Click here.