Permission to Doodle




by Ginger Cockerham, MCC

As a lifelong doodler, I am fascinated with recent research on the value of doodling. I remember being scolded as a teenager when I doodled all over the bulletin during a church service. My father said, “You didn’t hear a word the preacher said because you were drawing the entire time.” As dad was driving home, I started sharing all the key points of the sermon from start to finish.” He was astonished and told me I remembered a lot more than he had!

I have continued to have permission to avidly doodle in meetings and presentations throughout my life. I am delighted with all the recent research on how doodling engages the brain and helps doodlers remember much more information than non-doodlers.

Doodling made world-wide news in 2005 at the Davos economic summit when reporters gathered up some papers presumed to be left behind by Prime Minister Tony Blair. Among the papers were several pages of doodles. The media reported that instead of listening, Blair was engaged in doodling. Several days later it surfaced that the doodles were not Tony Blair’s at all but Bill Gates’. Gates readily acknowledged they were his doodles and that doodling helped him stay connected to information that was sometimes boring but something he needed to know. He also uses doodling as a creative outlet for expanding ideas and possibilities during presentations.

Dr. Jackie Amgred from the UK has done extensive research on the brain and boredom. She asserts that it takes a lot of energy to concentrate when we are bored, and it is much easier for the brain to wander off in a daydream which takes us completely away from our focus. Her research shows that doodlers remember much more than non-doodlers, in fact as much as 29% more. So instead of being a distraction, doodling allows us to focus, concentrate and remember. You have permission to doodle away.


So the next time a coaching client shares with you a habit that doesn’t, on the surface, make sense, get curious. Explore with your client how their particular habit might serve a function that is key to their effectiveness. As you coach, you will discover many ways that your clients have used their natural talents and skills to achieve great outcomes. We can support, celebrate and encourage clients differences and discover through inquiry what has worked for them in the past and how they can take those past experiences and translate them into present success.




Ginger Cockerham, MCC, is an Executive Business Coach, who has an international group coaching business that includes executives and professionals in the financial, legal and service industries. She is the author of Magnificent Masters in Financial Services, and her CD series: Creating, Collecting and Coaching Groups is a best seller in the coaching industry. She has been featured in The Chicago Tribune, For-Worth Star Telegram, Richmond Times-Dispatch, and Health Magazine.

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