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  • Writer's pictureSue Schleifer


Sometimes there is a spark. Something triggers an idea or an image and if we allow ourselves to trust in that moment, it takes us on a journey. That spark might take us down different paths than the one we started on, and sometimes it can lead us to surprising places.

Karen Pryor is a woman I learned about from listening to the Hidden Brain podcast, When Things Click: The Power of Judgment-Free Learning. She didn’t consciously decide to pursue a career training animals. When Pryor was a young mother, her husband needed help with his new business. He gave her an article to read in hopes that she would be enticed to help him. Something clicked for her in what she read. This was the spark that she needed to set her on a path to learn how to train dolphins.

Likewise, I didn’t consciously decide I wanted to write plays. Yes, I had acted in plays when I was a teenager and have enjoyed seeing plays throughout my life. Yes, I like to write, but I had never even thought about writing plays. But when a woman, whom I had never met before, suggested at dinner the first night of a writing conference that the story I told her might make a good play, something clicked. I didn’t know at that time, almost five years ago, that her idea would inspire me to head down a new path.

Did I know how to write a play? Not really. Did I go back to school to learn? No, though I have audited a couple of classes at my local university where I am reading lots of plays and learning to analyze them. I just decided to jump in and give it a try. And, it has been fun, a great learning experience, and sometimes discouraging. I have met so many new and fascinating people. I have read and seen a wild array of plays, some provocative, some disturbing, and some that have touched me deeply.

Am I earning a living as a playwright? No. This is a new avocation that has given my life a spark. It is my creative outlet for expressing what is on my mind. It has also enhanced my coaching practice. I feel more alive and connected, and I think that this has made me a better coach.

Karen Pryor read a small book and then went on to develop a technique for training animals, first dolphins and then dogs using a clicker method. This became her lifelong career. One of the topics I often pursue with my clients is how to notice and follow their sparks. What ignites their imaginations; what taps into their strengths? We explore how they want to spend both their leisure time and their work time so that they feel fulfilled.

What sparks your interest? How do you follow those sparks? How might I help you in your journey?


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