Stories are at the heart of all our businesses - the creation stories, the product/service stories, the growth stories, the people stories, the change stories, and our own leadership stories.
My world is also one of story, seeing life in terms of story – peoples’ stories and the choices we make both in living our stories and also in what we wish them to be.
I started out studying business (during which time the advent of punk music seduced me into buying a drum kit) and began my working life with one of the old, blue-chip life assurance companies – Equity & Law. Promoted young, given lots of responsibility. But the drum kit needed playing and I started to lead a double life as a musician. At the age of 22 I went to the theatre for the first time in my life and over the next few years an inner voice started to get louder…
Turning ‘What If’ into Reality: Part 1
“What if I followed my heart and allowed my creative side to come to the fore? What if I gave up a secure job and what seemed (at that time) a secure future? What if I didn’t have any skills or talent to make a creative career?” I had no answers apart from one strong feeling: I didn’t want to turn my back and never find out what could have been, to end up at some point in the future saying to myself ‘if only…’ I realised the creative part of me had to be given its head, so I took a deep breath…
“You make me feel that the focus is on me and on how I can work towards getting to where I want to be in my life”
Jim McFarlane, Founding Director
Theatre, Jimmy Boyle and Boilerhouse
At age 26 I embarked on a theatre degree. Met an inspiring (and infamous) Scotsman called Jimmy Boyle, started working with him in his centre The Gateway Exchange. Became a theatre director and founded the professional company there - Boilerhouse.
Running a Business and Having a Blast
Over the next 20 years the company grew into one of the main national theatre companies in Scotland. As CE and Artistic Director I helped to produce, write and direct most of our work. These took place in a range of extraordinary locations both local and international ranging from a Pacific oceanfront to the glamour of the Formula 1 circuit in Monaco (and taking in the bowels of Glasgow’s Kingston Bridge along the way), and include the largest ever single audience for a Scottish theatre company (11,000 people on a very warm night in Angers, France).
My last artistic project was the creation of Feet First for Edinburgh’s Hogmanay with over 175 artists contributing to an evening of outdoor entertainment for 15,000 people in Edinburgh’s Old Town.
Turning ‘What If’ into Reality: Part 2
Whilst all the above was happening I was invited to become a business mentor for Scottish Enterprise in 2000, which in turn introduced me to the whole world of coaching. After a few years this once more prompted that inner voice: ‘What if I stopped doing theatre; i.e. what if I stopped creating fictional theatre stories and instead worked alongside people creating real stories – in other words the lives they were living and helping them get to the next level? But what if I didn’t have any skills or talent to make a career in this field? What would it actually look like anyway?”
Brightspace and Vistage
At age 46 I undertook Postgraduate study in Executive Coaching at Strathclyde University and in the same year - 2006 - formed my own coaching and development company Brightspace. Four years later I was appointed as a Vistage CEO Group Chair for Scotland.
I believe in helping people to the clearing in the forest where the sunlight filters through and they can see all the paths they can take.
My singular, unusual background and experience offer fresh and uniquely different perspectives that enable me to both challenge and inspire my clients in equal measure.
“The experience of working with Paul is one of going into the zone. Paul arrives, and the stressful world gradually fades away. Things that seemed all consuming just an hour ago suddenly seem smaller and more manageable. You experience a sense of flow. Issues are discussed from all angles. And those angles dig up the root of the problem right where you didn’t think it was. The questions are expected and yet their content unexpected and the results even more so. The solutions that bubble up are new, better, deeper and typically let me make a very valuable course correction to the business every month.”
Kevin Miller, CEO