I have trouble with words

Today’s guest blogger is Linda Hunter. Linda is a coach, working with people and teams across the Scottish Government, sharing her experience and building other’s capability to make change centred on people and outcomes. Linda has been part of the Scottish u-lab community for 2 years and has been busy this year bringing together her coaching, drawing and u-lab practice.

I have trouble with words.  When I go looking for a simple sentence to describe something new that’s bubbling up for me, I often get lost. When someone asks for my thoughts, instead of saying ‘I don’t know,’ I trip over a tangle of ideas unable to present themselves in a neat line of logic.

I’ve tried becoming clearer, more articulate, by sheer force of will. PREPARATION.  PREPARATION and BREATHING will do the job. And so it does. When I know what I want to say before I say it. And that doesn’t happen so often.

And NEVER at a u.lab hub. Showing up was all I managed at first. In fact, showing up and showing myself up felt like the two positions I toggled between. I worked hard at being present. That hard work showed me I was stuck, but no way through. I still didn’t have the words I needed to work it out and move to action. I felt angry.  Well, huffy is more accurate.

Being in a huff, I decided to try blaming my parents and education. That had worked in the past and seemed worth a go. I settled on ‘It’s a result of my upbringing and a lack of quick thinking! I should have debated more at high school’… and ‘did you know I grew up in a nightshift house? It was all sharp glares and vigorous shushing ‘you’ll wake your dad!’ instead of reasoned sense making and way finding.’

After a few repetitions, I got bored of this story. Like any good blaming, it was neither accurate or getting me anywhere. So I chose to remember other times. Like the time my mum spent drawing and painting with me in the quiet. How we listened and worked in the silence with loud lines and ideas.

No big bangs, but I did choose to draw again. Chose to start. Nothing more than that. Slowly at first with the kids and eventually as part of my sense making journey through the U. I found it helped me understand and make sense of things and a way to share and explore ideas with other people. The stuff everyone else seemed to do so well in words.

Generous people encouraged me to share what I was doing and helped me understand that drawing could capture the un-said in important ways. I also started to notice that sitting side by side with someone, looking at a picture with pens in our hands, opened a whole new way to speak and generate ideas together.

With a lot of cheering and support from folks in u.lab Scotland, people very good at noticing and encouraging, I toddled off to Kelvy Bird and the Presencing Institute’s Visual Presencing Programme in July. Kelvy and the team helped me practice and offered a name and structure for how I listened and drew. I practiced drawing big scale and to look for the truth instead of perfection and pretty images. I met other amazing people on the same path.

It feels like I’ve found my way to navigate the U and that it’s not just my way. Working with the u.lab community in Scotland, and all the amazing doors which have opened for me since, means  I now draw every week. With groups, teams and people working to make change. I get to draw with people, not for them.  But best, I get to draw with people who haven’t quite got the words. Yet.

Find me and share your pictures with me on twitter @lidnastitt . I’ll also be live scribing at the u.lab Open Gathering on 14 December.  If you can make it, book your free space here.

Would you like to share your story?  We are currently gathering stories of the impact u.lab is having for people across Scotland.  If you’d like to be part of helping the community see itself, either through a conversation or writing a blog post (or making a short film), get in touch with Keira at ulabscot@gov.scot


2 thoughts on “I have trouble with words

  1. This chimes so very well with my coaching circle today. We took a walk to an art gallery doing it and the noticings about drawing shared in the group became a sudden prototyping which your post will help us bring to life. Many Thanks

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