The intersection between academics, entrepreneurs, and innovation
I was recently asked to be on a panel about the intersection between academics, entrepreneurs, and innovation as it applies to the coaching industry, specifically family life coaching. To help us prepare, the conference organizers gave us some possible questions, assigning each person as a “lead” on a particular question. I was assigned to the entrepreneurship questions, which tracks on a surface level, given that I do own my own business. But I don’t *just* consider myself an entrepreneur.
I own my own business, yes. But I am also an academic. It’s been a while since I was tenure track faculty at an R1 institution, but having worked in education for 20+ years of my career, the identity of “academic” is firmly established as a part of me.
We aren’t singular beings. We are multi-dimensional.
And that’s the key—a part. We speak of our different parts often—“a part of me wants to…a part of me believes….” Having various inner parts is a tenet of psychological and philosophical belief systems across time. We aren’t singular beings. We are multi-dimensional. But we forget that. From the second we start learning schemas as young children, we begin categorizing ourselves and others into monoliths, stuffing the parts that don’t fit back into the shadows. It’s easier to have a more singular identity–hence the struggle we feel finding the answer to: “What do you do?” We do allow ourselves to say we wear “different hats,” but this language feels so external to ourselves. It doesn’t reflect the “I am.”
I am an academic. I am an entrepreneur. I am an innovator.
I am an entrepreneur. I am an academic. And I am, by all means, an innovator. To help me answer this question, in fact, I pulled three tarot cards (the Elder of Cups, the Star, and the Moon, in case you’re wondering). I use tools that are “empirically validated” and ones that have yet to be sanctioned (but does that make them any less valid?).
The intersection between academia, entrepreneurship, and innovation as it applies to coaching
So why is it important to recognize and support the work in family coaching that sits at the intersection of academics, entrepreneurs, and innovation? It’s because we are so much more than one facet. And more importantly, our clients are more than singular beings. To come at them from one direction ignores their multi-dimensionality and inhibits potential for growth (both theirs and ours).
And even if we lean heavily on one aspect of the three, we can invite splashes of the other into our lives. We can use tools that are tried and true and dabble in the unknown. We can invite our clients to look within and come up with their own homework using tools they enjoy and find meaningful. To say that one way is the answer is restrictive and, frankly, elitist. It’s saying that what we believe to be true is the only perspective to consider.
Curiosity is the intersection
Leaning only on one perspective erases the very element that lies smack dab in the center of that intersection—curiosity. That’s the element that first led to the theories exalted in academia. It is what prompted entrepreneurs to explore starting their own businesses, and it’s the spark that leads to innovation. Recognizing and supporting curiosity is what helps us be successful as coaches, regardless of our primary stance. Stay curious—that’s where the magic lies.