In order to experience life integrally, often clients need to build their competence at using all their senses. Using metaphors as distinctions enables the Executive Coach to expand possibilities for the client. This also amplifies the shift needed in order for the client to move from ‘current narrative’ to ‘future narrative’.
Let’s look at an example of a metaphor used with one of my clients. First, I need to provide some background. I went to stay with my cousin Bonny who designed and established the Camelot Spa at San Lameer, South Coast KwaZulu-Natal from scratch. During our conversations I was fascinated to hear about some of the decisions she needed to make in order to enhance the total ‘spa’ experience. This involved maximising the sensual experiences for her clients and staff. For me, this became a great metaphor for self-observations and practices for a client who needed to develop his appreciation of his sensory capacity.
For Bonny, optimising opportunities from the beginning to the end of the spa experience, using multiple sensory inputs, was a huge challenge. For example, in developing the spa, the perfume used needed to be appealing to a wide range of people – old and young, male and female, those wanting to relax and those wanting to get fit. The spa includes a gym. It also had to provide a positive connection for people of different cultural groups. It needed to be consistent yet be a perfume that people didn’t become tired of. The levels also had to be perfectly subliminal. The staff would be exposed to that perfume every day, too. And of course, the allergy factors needed to be considered. Some perfumes are more likely to trigger allergic reactions and that would not be conducive to building customer loyalty!
After a great deal of thought and testing, ‘Frangipani’ was chosen and integrated into the spa brand. It would be a perfume that would remind clients of those surroundings.
Then there were decisions around the sense of taste. Many elements were considered. Which teas should be served? And which biscuits would seem most healthy and also taste the best?
Sight involved the visual impression of the whole spa and also of each part of the spa. Incorporating the beautiful view of the lagoon from certain areas was important. And there were questions around the colour of the décor, chairs, the best colour for staff uniforms. And what about the gowns worn by clients? What colour should they be?
In certain areas, the music could be changed to suit the clients. But what should the sound of the spa be? In addition to the trickle of water, what music should be played. It had to appeal to a wide range of South African and foreign visitors. And of course, it needed to be conducive to bringing out the best in the staff.
And how could a feeling of peace be created if the flooring echoed with a ‘clackety-clack’ as staff or others walked through various areas on arriving. Certainly once clients had changed, slippers could be worn and this would reduce the disruptive impact of noisy floors. But the floor finish was a critical element in decisions regarding the sound in the spa.
The sense of touch was important, too. Obviously therapists are people who enjoy working with their sense of touch. They have to feel what they are doing. However, they need to be ‘in tune’ with clients and apply the right amount of pressure at the right time. To clients the feeling of the gowns also plays an important part. And the temperature in the different rooms needs to be perfectly set.
These are just a few of the myriad of decisions made in planning and opening a spa from scratch. So, how can we use this metaphor in becoming more aware of our own senses and finding ways to develop our competence at using our senses? A good integral coach can help you to do that. If you are an integral coach, I invite you to consider using this metaphor with clients who need to become more competent at using their senses individually and to enhance their ‘way of being’. Questioning around the metaphor adds interest to coaching conversations. It also enhances reflection and journaling.
For more information on Executive Coaching, please contact Brenda on firstname.lastname@example.org or +27 82 4993311.