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DISCovering how to be an 'I' in the crowd by Robert Adams

Posted 565 Days Ago in: Coaching Articles

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It's a beautifully bright November morning, slightly crisp and chilly. The smell of coffee permeates the room, with an undercurrent of treacle from the tarts, somehow in keeping with the ornate splendour of the wall panelling. A hush descends and Bev James asks with a steely stare "What is your goal?". I'm shaking slightly and worry that the others will notice. But 'No' I'm saying to myself 'don't focus on that. I can do this' and so I start.

It’s a beautifully bright November morning, slightly crisp and chilly.

The smell of coffee permeates the room, with an undercurrent of treacle from the tarts, somehow in keeping with the ornate splendour of the wall panelling.

A hush descends and Bev James asks with a steely stare “What is your goal?”

I’m shaking slightly and worry that the others will notice.

But ‘No’ I’m saying to myself ‘don’t focus on that. I can do this’ and so I start.

“I’m going to write a book…”

but my mind is racing ahead of me. Do I sound pretentious, presumptuous, preposterous?
So instead of saying what I know I really want to say, my inner talk wins.

I pull back.

I don’t say ‘within a year’, but blurt out “…within the next 5 years.”

One of my colleagues stands up and declares “I’m also going to write a book, but I’m going to do it in a year.”

I groan and spend the rest of the day kicking myself.

I felt like I’d failed, at everything. As an artist, leader and manager. Most of all, after a spate of deaths including my dad, my step-dad and then my mum, as a son. My life just seemed to be rolling on, purposeless, unravelling to nowhere and my relationship was suffering. It was my partner who saw the advert for a 2-day Free Introduction to Coaching through The Coaching Academy and I went along in a rather sceptical manner. This led to a Diploma in Personal Professional Coaching, becoming a Licensed DISC Trainer and a real bringing together of all my DISConnected strands that I have now come to see as having so enriched my life.

When I first came upon DISC personality profiling I was blown away. It opened up an understanding of not just myself, my family and our dysfunctional past, of work cultures and the almost inevitability of the resulting successes and failures, but also of the whole gamut of interpersonal relationships we struggle with daily in our lives. It helped me understand my own and other people’s identities and behaviours, and gave me the route map to a transformed future.

It’s February, 9 months prior to my November session with Bev James. Its damp, dreek and drizzly outside. I can see the droplets running down the window panes. The grey sky hangs there brooding.

The overhead strip lights try to compete giving the room a bright, too bright, unforgiving aspect.

There are in excess of 150 people in the room and Dave Pill, our trainer for the day, who I have already pegged as Mr. Bubbly, has just asks us to go to one end of the room or the other, depending on whether we think we are more outgoing and fast paced or more reserved and considered.

I’m momentarily uncertain, but then I remember Dave’s instructions. It’s not about how we are feeling right now, but about getting back to our basic wiring, our core selves, although within a designated environment, probably the work setting.

And I find myself, for the first time in a long time, vaguely smiling.

I kind of remember who I am. I remember my core self is outgoing and fast paced.

Dave then asks us to stay at the end of the room we have chosen, but to go to one side of the room or the other, depending on whether we think we are more task or more people orientated.

My social life is non-existent. I’ve withdrawn. I’ve lost my trust, my interest and my engagement. And yet again I smile, because I look over at Mr. Bubbly and really do remember who I am.

I am people orientated.

Dave now explains we are in the four quadrants of DISC. D.I.S.C.

I have a cheesy grin all over my face that I know will be fixed for some time to come.  I AM an ‘I’.

Writing a book has been a dream of mine for decades and is the culmination of year and years of questioning and searching for some resolution to the individual and cultural conundrum; the chicken and the egg, which comes first? Coaching, in conjunction with DISC personality profiling, has been fundamental in reaching this goal.


It is recognised in the education sector that whenever Ofsted descend, it is just 4 weeks too soon. If only…

Nevertheless, Ofsted did appear and we were judged ‘good’ with some high praise for leadership interventions, safeguarding and aspects of teaching, learning and assessment. As the Inspection nominee I was pleased and relieved, and knew it was time to move on. I handed in my notice, set up my business, lifted up my ‘C’ and got down to writing my book.

In less than 6 months I had secured paying clients, consultancy contracts, completed the first draft of my book, and run half dozen DISC workshops, with the more recent one’s focusing on using personality profiling as a tool to support personalised learning targets. Who would have thought it?  Yet on reflection is that not what my journey illustrates?

I am now able to tap into my determined, decisive, doer secondary ‘D’ trait, while feeling an inspired, interested and at all time fun loving ‘I’, with a steadier, stable ‘S’ like approach that means I am now able to support my clients and others better. I’m not by nature a ‘C’ so I don’t believe in perfection, but I have lifted my conscientious detailed planning trait and put these to great use to challenge myself and my clients. Coaching and DISC have indeed transformed my life, and importantly transformed me in to the ‘I’ I really want to be.

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