> > > Lynn Cox - Artist, coach and trainer
a photograph of Lynn and her guide dog in an office environment

Lynn Cox

Lynn Cox is currently on our Sync Intensives programme. She is an accredited coach, trainer and artist, often focusing on the visual arts.

Currently she is working with the German company Dialogue in the Dark, who provide training and experiences in total darkness as a way of building emotional intelligence, working with blind and visually impaired facilitators. http://www.dialogue-in-the-dark.com.

Lynn has written an article for Sync on The Power of Darkness - we wanted to ask her a few questions to delve deeper into some of her thinking. Luckily she agreed to be grilled by Jo Verrent and the honest and revealing results are below...

a blue sky with some clouds seen through a pair of glasses

Seeing the positive

Lynn, you have an amazing ability to see the positive in everything - and you talk about this in your article. Where does this come from?

Firstly, I don’t think I do always see the positive in everything. I usually come across a situation, have a 30 second panic and then get down to the interesting part of experiencing/solving. I do have to have that panic first!

Also, I don’t think it is always possible to be positive - sometimes you just have to wait for the mood to change or encourage it to by doing something like going for a walk.

However, coming back to your question of where my positiveness comes from. That’s a tricky one. I think part of it is bloody mindedness and part of it is still being learnt and encorporated into my life.

Since being a small child, I had so many people telling me I couldn’t do things because of my poor sight that I suppose I rebelled and tried to do them anyway - it’s amazing how many things you can do when you try, and you always learn something from your failures too.

I’m an accredited coach, so I suppose I practice what I teach. I build resilience into my everyday life. For example two 40 minute massages a month will prevent about three days worth of migraines, so it is a real no brainer to offset the cost of the masseur with the cost of three days earnings. Likewise, I tend to think positively and be as altruistic as possible, by helping others I feel good, so I help as many people as I can.

I’ve also found working to be a great confidence builder and once you have given birth then anything is possible!

an image of the sillohette of a woman in green and yellow - her arms are raised in happiness.

You seem to have a real understanding of the psychological nature of people. Again, where is this from and how do you use this in your work?

I believe that I’ve always been sensitive to people’s needs and intuitively known how I can assist them. I’m a natural observer, especially when I was young and had fewer opportunities to be the one doing exciting things. I have a very strong empathy quotient and can easily put myself into other people’s shoes, which is a great skill!

However, I do believe that I’ve got even better at understanding people since I undertook a coaching course with the Cultural Leadership Programme. At the time it seemed to be the natural progression for my career as I was enjoying my work as a mentor for disabled artists more than making my own work. So now I have a number of techniques that assist people to identify goals and actions and I work with everyone from CEO’s of arts organisation’s to students both in the UK and abroad (via telephone and Skype).

I do strongly agree with the statement that Believing plus Behaviour equals Becoming. All of my work, in the various areas, is assisting people to become who they want to be. I’m also becoming the person I want to be, so I’m trying to live a congruent life as authentically as I can.

Publicity from dialogue in the dark

You don’t seem afraid to put yourself out there. Tell us more about your confidence and how it fits with your different work personas (I know you work as a Coach/Mentor, Artist, Workshop Leader, Equalities Trainer, Access Consultant, Audio Describer & Speaker - because it says so on your Linked-In profile!)

Actually, I am afraid to get out there and promote myself and this is the hardest thing I do in my professional life. It doesn’t stop me doing it, but I have had to learn to build resilience into my life, in order to give me the confidence to do it. I do this by using a number of techniques including regular massages, meditation, long baths, time with the kids being time with the kids (so I’m always present in the current situation) and treating myself to beauty treatments that relax me and give me confidence in my visual look.

My many personas have naturally developed over the years as my career has progressed from artist, workshop leader, access consultant, equalities trainer, speaker, mentor, coach, audio describer (working with an accredited Audio Describer as an equal partner). I enjoy the variety of the work and find that becoming familiar with one area before gaining other skills allows me to have an interesting portfolio of activities.

It isn’t until now, 9 years down the line, that I’ve managed to combine a lot of the skills together and confidently use them as a whole to create the ‘Power of Darkness’ project.

a photograph of pink stillettos

I think you are also great at challenging stereotypes - I love your interest in clothes and in looking good, which many people wouldn’t expect from a blind woman. How did you ‘learn’ the importance of this - and what do you get from it?

Challenging stereotypes is integral to my role. It’s going back to this bloody mindedness. People think I can’t look good, know about clothes and sell myself. Well think again!

It has taken me many years to understand about looking good and appropriate for different situations. This isn’t totally due to my visual impairment, but also because basically I’d rather be in a pair of jeans and scruffy jumper than anything else, which I’ve been told I look awful in. However, since I’ve been working over the past nine years then I’ve learnt to dress both for my confidence (if I feel good then I work well) and appropriately for the situation (smart trousers and a simple neat top for art workshops and a suit and very high heels for presenting at a conference).

For example, for the Sync Intensives I wanted to look as professional as possible. For me this includes high heels - usually between 9 – 12.5 cm high (I’m only 157 cm tall and don’t like to feel too small in professional situations, plus the high heels make me stand more upright so I don’t slouch). Smart but slightly unusual clothes, I like to still show I’m an artist. Immaculate finger and toe nails, ideally with coloured gel on them that lasts about two weeks, but definitely manicured and pedicure to a neat standard. Sharp haircut, with the grey hidden - how vain is that! Simple and elegant jewellery. And I should also be doing make-up - but this is the one that I never quite get around too because I feel no make-up is better than mis-applied make-up (and though my assistant says I do it correctly most of the time, I would hate it even more if the rest of the effort was wasted by one slip of the lippy).

I’ve learnt all of the techniques over the years partly from trial and error, a lot of it is down to my assistant looking for clothes with the professional but slightly arty style, she also matches colours of clothes, varnish, shoes and make-up for me, I’ve also attended workshops on visual appearance and have a pretty clear idea of the affect I’m after from seeing in the past. Although this sometimes back fires because the last fashions I saw were from the 1980’s, so I rather like pink boots and white stilettos!

To read Lynn's article The Power of Darkness...


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