Quinn Simpson is one of the most inspiring and dynamic people I’ve met. She radiates energy and positivity. Her coaching workshops have taught me a whole new way of relating to people, of understanding those I love and have made me a better writer too! I can’t wait to do a special feature with Quinn on how writers can coach their characters to get to know them better and, as a result, write stronger novels. Watch this space!
Over to Quinn:
When I look at people, I see potential. I often see people as bigger and better than they see themselves. Coaching is about evoking change and transformation, and it starts with helping someone see their own potential. My interest in helping young women develop confidence in themselves is what initially brought me to coaching in 2007.
When I was in Ghana two years later, running my first charity project for Akosia (the charity I co-founded), I then saw that you could teach a child to learn something by coaching them. This is when my eyes opened – coaching, itself, has more potential than I had initially realised.
The led to starting Graydin – an organisation with a focus on transforming education. Bringing coaching into schools and evolving the role of the teacher is, and always has been, about transforming the lives of young people. I want to live in a world where people believe in themselves with roaring self confidence. I choose to say yes in life, I choose to figure out how something can work rather than seeing what is not working. I choose opportunities and help others do the same. If you want to learn more about me, you can find me on Linkedin.
What three words would you use to describe yourself?
Positive. Energetic. Warm
What kind of child were you?
I was the kind of child that did not follow the rules. I wanted to be me and was happy with how ‘weird’ that was.
How would you define coaching?
The most positive form of helping someone move from where they are to where they want to be.
What do you love most about being a coach?
I love watching people learn to love themselves more. I love seeing positive change. I love watching people be go beyond what they thought was possible.
What do you find most challenging?
What is most challenging in coaching is that the coachee must believe in themselves first. It’s critical that the coach views the coachee as capable and whole, but until the coachee does, change is less likely to occur.
What’s been the highlight of your career so far?
There isn’t just one moment from my career – there are hundreds of small moments. These are the “‘Aha’ , I totally get it” moments that participants have on our courses. They make my work worth doing.
If you could coach any famous person living or dead, who would it be and what do you think would have resulted from the session?
I would coach my father. He passed away 8 years ago and I would have loved to coach him on his relationships with his five sons. I think a conversation about values would have helped him connect to what is most important and perhaps change his actions and perceptions of what a son/father relationship could look like.
I gather you’ve been working on a book – could you tell us a bit about it?
McKenzie and I have been writing a book called Start with Heart, which explores decision-making that follows three stages – heart, then head and then step. Through coaching we have found the best decisions and subsequent steps come when the coachee connects with what is most important to them – their values, dreams, desires and passions – then to think that through with the head to find the best next step.
If you could have a superpower, what would it be?
If I could have one superpower it would be the ability to fly above the clouds and gain perspective. Being with the blue sky, literally above the clouds, whether that is in a plane or on a mountain, is my happy place.
What are you reading for pleasure at the moment?
What’s your favourite word?
My favourite word is “Gezellig.” This is a Dutch word that encompasses cosy and warm. It applies to people, places, things and situations. It is what my whole life is based around having at all times. In fact, answering these questions is quite gezellig.
What’s the most important lesson life has taught you?
You always have you, you only have you, so you better like ‘you’. I learned this first when I was seven years old and continue to be reminded of it everyday.
Who or what inspires you?
People who live with intention.
What’s your Desert Island book?
Tell us about an exciting project coming up for you.
The most exciting next step is bringing coaching into more schools around the world. We hope to bring coaching to schools in South Africa, China and Australia in the next few years.
What do you do when you’re not coaching?
I write, I think of amazing projects and solutions to problems and find ways of making them come to fruition. I love being with people who bring energy and warmth into my life.
As writers, we’re a pretty odd breed and we tend to be riddled with neuroses. How do you think we could benefit from coaching? Would coaching help us be better writers?
Coaching is an eye opening experience for everyone. It allows someone to breath and find the space within their own mind. Writing requires time, space and patience. It’s a natural fit.
We’ve talked about the relationship between coaching and storytelling – how do you see the connection?
Humans create their own reality through the stories they tell themselves in the moment, after the fact or when dreaming about what is to come. We are our stories. In the industry of storytelling, coaching can help deepen the characters understanding of themselves and subsequently, deepen the story itself. As a writer, coaching can help you get clear on who you are and the stories you find most poignant, thus making your storytelling more real, more consistent with who you are and more connected to the heart.
I can’t wait to work with you on a feature about ‘coaching your characters’ as a way to help writers get to know their fictional characters better. Could you give us a glimpse of what that might involve?
When you Start With Heart and coach someone to effectively articulate their deepest and core values, you evoke what is going on inside to come out and play. There is uniqueness to each human being, and each character. Coaching your characters will allow their inner most desires to be heard and therefore, acted upon. The richness of story is in the richness of the characters.
What three bits of advice would you give anyone who is trying to understand themselves, others and the world better?
- Ask questions. Every moment is an opportunity for learning so I like to ask, “What can I learn from this?” Even when you are standing in a queue, bored, irritated, or happy to have a peaceful moment, you can ask, “What am I learning?” or “What is important about this moment?” There is always more to life than we can see on the surface.
- Say yes, with intention. When you say yes, you are automatically saying no to something else. Therefore, do not blindly say yes to everything but recognise that when you say no, you are actually saying yes. It’s just a yes to something more important to you.
- Create opportunities. There are a lot of options, roads, paths and opportunities available to you. Yet, often the one that you really need to take isn’t there. You have to create it.