Lara Khalaf interviewed Steve Chapman at TedX Tunbridge Wells 2017


Lara Khalaf: Very good morning. Very good morning. We're here in Tunbridge Wells and welcome to Business First TV. My name is Lara Khalaf for Business and Leadership Code and I'm very excited to have our guest today here, Steve Chapman. Steve.
Steve Chapman: Hello.
Lara Khalaf: Welcome to the show.
Steve Chapman: Yeah. Well, very glad to be here.
Lara Khalaf: I'm so glad, so tell us. Who are you?
Steve Chapman: So I'm Steve Chapman. It's my first TED talk in about 45 minutes.
Lara Khalaf: Oh wow. Okay.
Steve Chapman: So perfect time to get me because I've got to do something with this energy.
Lara Khalaf: Okay. Excellent.
Steve Chapman: So I work for myself. I run a business called Can Scorpions Smoke Change and Creativity Limited, which is deliberately long and slightly weird. But my interest is in creativity as a force for good, as a force for change. So I work with individuals and organisations to do that type of work. 
Lara Khalaf: And how do you do that?
Steve Chapman: That's a good question. At the heart of all of this work, society's got a weird definition of creativity, that it's a superpower some people have and other people don't, which just makes people give up, I think.
Lara Khalaf: Yes.
Steve Chapman: I remember I gave up art at school. I gave up a lot of things at school actually, which is the opposite of what school should do.
Lara Khalaf: Yes.
Steve Chapman: But I think creativity is a psychological and social process, so the way in which I attempt to do that work with people is to start to broaden the permission they give themselves, to be a bit more mad, bad, and wrong, to think differently, to say yes to things.
Lara Khalaf: Yeah, so from your experience, what are the things that are stopping people from being creative?
Steve Chapman: I think the corporate world in general is predisposed to stifle creativity. I'll say I haven't worked in the corporate world for 20 years. Accidentally. It's not some evil conspiracy I don't think. But there's very little time. There's lots of structure. There's lots of hierarchy, all of the things that are the mortal enemies of discovery and spontaneity.
Lara Khalaf: So let's go back to the talk today. What are the main points that you want to share with the world?
Steve Chapman: Yes. That's the scary prospect. Share with the world. Well, my talk is about shaming the inner critic.
Lara Khalaf: Wow.
Steve Chapman: So that self limiting voice, I don't know if you relate to it, where you might come up with an idea and you think, "Yeah. I'm gonna do that," and then this voice or this feeling comes up and goes, "Oh, that would be terrible. You'd be rubbish at that," so my whole talk is faced on telling my story of my ongoing dance with my inner critic, how it catches me out and how I found ways of dancing with it really, rather than facing it.
Lara Khalaf: May I ask you, how do you dance with it?
Steve Chapman: Yeah, so I think the default way that we go about change and working with the inner critic is to try and prove it wrong. There's lots of macho stuff written about fight your inner critic, slay your inner critic. But the very act of trying to do that plays the inner critic's game because we try and better ourselves, which it's all about. But it's not a real thing. It's a psychological structure, superego. So to dance with it is just to get to know it for what it is.
Lara Khalaf: Yes.
Steve Chapman: It's this Tai Chi instead of boxing, so yeah. You're using that energy and dancing with it and the way that I've done that is using creativity, which the inner critic hates as a way of getting to know it.
Lara Khalaf: Yeah.
Steve Chapman: So I paint my inner critic regularly or I've made a mask of him. I'm warts and all sharing it with the audience today .
Lara Khalaf: You use only use NLP, Neuro-linguistic programming techniques here?
Steve Chapman: No, not for me. I'm familiar with NLP. I'm trained in Gestalt psychology and various other things and Gestalt, I think, NLP drew a lot from Gestalt.
Lara Khalaf: From Gestalt, yeah.
Steve Chapman: One of the core principles of Gestalt that you might be familiar with is the paradoxical theory of change, which is we get more change by becoming more aware of who we are rather than striking to be something else. A lot of coaching is set up, I'm gonna just upset all the coaches in the world now, a lot of coaching is set up to set a goal that isn't already you, which I think is helpful. But if we become over attached to that, we don't change, so the Gestalt principles really are about deepening our awareness of what is.
Lara Khalaf: Okay.
Steve Chapman: I have a zen practise as well. I'm not a religious person, but I have a zen practise, which is very similar to Gestalt in terms of bearing witness and accepting what is. Does that make sense?
Lara Khalaf: So let's talk about your business. Who do you like to work with?
Steve Chapman: I like to work with other people that have a similar interest and want to go on an adventure together. I'm less interested and in fact not interested at all in people saying, "Come in and deliver something that's gonna be a fix, a utopian solution," 'cause they never work.
Lara Khalaf: Right.
Steve Chapman: So maybe individuals or even businesses that are up for the long game just partnering on something. We try something out and it might work or it might not work. We amplify the stuff that works and dampen the stuff that doesn't. That long term partnership is what really excited me. There's a few big companies that I work with like that, but showing up and doing a quick fix, I don't think anyone really enjoys that in the long term.
Lara Khalaf: And can people contact you then?
Steve Chapman: Best way to contact me is ... There's too many means, isn't there? Twitter is probably my best way, which is @stevexoh
Lara Khalaf: What's your Twitter handle?
Steve Chapman: It's @stevexoh, which is actually pronounced Steve Zo, but that's a long story.
Lara Khalaf: Okay.
Steve Chapman: Or my email address is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
Lara Khalaf: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Fantastic. Best of luck today, Steve. I believe that you are about to go on stage. Is that right? In a few minutes.
Steve Chapman: Yes. Very shortly.
Lara Khalaf: Fantastic.
Steve Chapman: So this has been a good way to use up my time.
Lara Khalaf: Good, good, good and thank you so much for watching us.
Steve Chapman: Cheers. Thank you.

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