Teach the Little Ones Well

November 5, 2013

Me and my Ted

It is interesting that those in charge of our children’s education are planning to re- introduce the old exam based style of obtaining GCSE. I guess things go in cycles and we should be willing to revisit the old ways willingly.

I think that given business and the economy have a lot to say on what they need in order to further the English Gross National Product. That sadly is what our children primarily seem to represent; their ability to consume and produce. The simple fact is without both those abilities our economy fails to grow and it seems our social structure then collapses.

It has been muted that the Government wishes to measure the nations success on the basis of happiness. That it intrigues me, like many others, with the question ‘what is happiness?’ I am not sure.

What I am clear on is that us adults, which presumably includes the Educational Services, should be seeking to produce healthy youngsters, who are prepared to leave the nest by being;

Self directed, goal seeking and able to form and sustain relationships. They should be curious about others and the works they live, be persevering and preserving, whilst being capable of being reasonably resilient, most of the time. This means that despite life’s challenges, they are resourceful, flexible and persistent.

Of course that’s what we all need in order to be contented, to produce and consume sensibly.


You The Prisoner?

July 14, 2013

Very often, we are the judge, the jury and the guards creating the prison of our own purpose or essence. This essence is simply who were are designed to be (some call it soul). It can not be harmed, but it can be placed in the protective (or constrictive) custody of our well honed personality or the patterns of thoughts, feelings and behaviours we adopt. This personality might be likened to a space suit (at least Earth suit?) of our body, built for our soul to dance in. It reminds me of the old tale.

Once there was a young Sufi who was captured by the police and falsely accused of theft. Despite his protests of innocence he was convicted and sentenced to three years in jail. His guards were assigned to keep him enclosed night and day, preventing him from using his full range of skills. He was a skilled metal smith and could make the most wonderful of trinkets, tools and talents.

He had a loving wife who visited him every day, who pleaded with the Caliph to allow the Sufi to have a prayer mat. This was a legitimate and lawful request which was permitted by the overly strict, but well meaning King.

A kindly man, the Sufi spoke with the impoverished guards, who by the nature of their limitations had been compelled to guard the prisoner and stay in the compound 24-7. They were prisoners too, just with TV to watch, wine to drink and girlfriend’s to see. They had simply fashioned distractions to cope.

The Sufi just had his prayer mat, his dedicated focus and prayer. Three times a day he would unroll the carpet, then kneeling and bowing down, he would pray. Weeks and months passed in this manner.

Then, befriending the guards, he persuaded them to bring in tin and the Sufi crafted trinkets, tools and talents, which the guards sold and shared the profits of. With new wealth the guards realised they too were trapped by the prisoner and could not spend their wealth freely. The Sufi just prayed, kneeling and putting his forehead to the carpet, three times a day.

One day the intricate pattern of the carpet’s weaving caught his notice. There was something unusual about it. Still, day after day, he prayed and gradually the intricate detail of the carpet began to make sense to him. As the days passed and he continued to pray, the pattern resolved until one day it was clear to him. The pattern in the weaving was the design of the lock on his prison door. Using his new knowledge he fashioned a key from tin and escaped to the arms of his wife.

Freed and wealthier, the Guards lived happily ever after.


Reflections: Counselling, Teaching, Healing and Coaching

March 20, 2013

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I have trained in a various disciplines and in a number of different methods. I enjoy the challenge of continually learning and experiencing, and in the process sharing that and knowledge with those I work with. If we wish to be practitioners in the arts of counselling, teaching, healing and coaching, we need to be clear on where our values and beliefs stand.

As I have considered that, meeting and being taught by experts, exponents and influential thinkers, it has become apparent to me that any attempt to isolate mind, body and spirit into component parts or to insist that there are clear boundaries between counselling, teaching, healing and coaching, is normally done to suit the needs of the practitioner and not the client.

I often hear such statements as Business Coaches don’t do therapy!” or “The Executive Coach fee needs to be very high otherwise they are no good!” and Spiritual stuff is fluffy mumbo jumbo” (by the way the Vatican is the most effective, resourceful and business like organisation in the world!) and I am advised to behave to the norm to sell myself; that is to be clinical, business minded and charge a large fee, whilst denying my core understanding that all individuals need an individual and personal approach. What they believe, think, feel and what to say is vital.

I have been and can be the hard-nosed business coach (and person), especially if that is what my client needs, I will match them. I understand that people often have hurts and anguish from the past or about the future, and I will stand there with them and offer comfort, reassurance and timely observations on how to move on; some call that healing, which they think that coaches should never do it (or worse that it is invalid). That’s not my experience.

Of course healing approaches vary; some peers need simple first aid, a sticking plaster approach others need or wish for something more and deeper. Consider how frequently the news is full of the costs to the work place of stress or how emotional and mental health issues adversely affect us in society. It wont take much to link the different needs.

The research also shows that those who have some form of faith, tend to be more mentally and emotionally resilient. My understanding is that when we have a belief in something bigger than we are, it keeps us psychologically healthy. That often is a religion, but need not be. Some people wish to explore their spirituality and I have enjoyed working with all faiths and beliefs – they have a tremendous amount of similarity and often are best explained in simple terms – those practitioners wishing to support their clients need to have explored, concluded and yet remain open minded and open hearted in supporting their clients.

For me, Spirit is about direction, growth and energy, whilst Soul is about our depth of self knowing, meaning and the mysteries of what we do not yet know.

My core approach is to teach personal democracy, that the client is responsible for themselves and for how they use their resources (which are many and varied). I also understand that all of us need help sometimes; to feel cared for, supported, to experience healing , to be taught and shown and sometimes to be encouraged and challenged by a counsellor, teacher, healer and coach. Why do we not deserve that? We all have different issues, different needs at different times in different situations – yes we deserve it!

What should the price be? A fair rate that reflects my training, experience and willingness to keep doing so, treading the paths before my clients have and adding value to the help they need. It’s a price that enables me to meet my living costs and keeps me fresh and available for my clients. It’s not a marketing ploy to flatter egos of those spending other people money (normally shareholders). It reflects the value that my clients receive and in that way it is win-win.

That done, it’s a living that provides sufficiently allow me keep doing the work for as long as it is of use.


“Let me tell you a story …….” – Archetypes in and at work …..

January 10, 2013

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As my career developed, both as a senior director and as coach, I became increasingly aware of the different roles that I, my staff and my clients played in their lives. That understanding grew as I learnt more about psychology, the human spirit and what moves (and blocks us!).

Yes I learnt all about Force Field Analysis, looking at the factors (forces) that influence a situation, either work or social and I looked  at forces that are either drive (helping forces) or block movement (hindering forces) toward a goal.  It has, and continues to be helpful.

But it seemed still seemed so many of those forces were ‘below the surface’, hidden and not apparent to the MBA manager.

I also noticed that some the constant change in an organisation, often necessary due to outside pressures on the system, exhausted staff and brought to the fore resistances that were not previously obvious. I wanted to be a better manager, to help staff and people transits’ through make change, cope and more, become resilient.

I listened, learned and I started to understand how important stories were, not just in communicating to each other, but also in understanding and expressing ourselves. The myths we tell and the roles we played all formed part of the forces that either hindered or drove on the change programs, personal or organisational.

I was reminded of the work of the psychologist, Karl Jung (whose influence extended to all of the personality trait systems now used (Myers Biggs, Enneagram, Prism) who talked of ‘Archetypes’ to describe these different roles or characters we play in our own myth. The best way for me to describe an archetype is as the pattern of behavior that we adopt and use, sometimes without even consciously knowing it.

And even though we do not consciously know it, because these roles and patterns are so ingrained in the human psyche, those around us (who form part of the system we work in and the forces that are applied to us) will even know ‘unconsciously’ too that we are playing those characters; they will respond in kind. Jung called this common understanding, irrepressible out playing of roles that we all have bought unwittingly into, the ‘collective unconscious’

In particular, I noticed that when working on a project that I could be an MBA and apply Belbin’s team role theory (see below), but that rational approach masked the impact that the hidden, sub plot many played out alongside their overt team role.

I came to understand some of these roles as the Victim, Saboteur, Child and Prostitute. Then I begun to understand more about the more hidden, or deep forces to our project(s) and its development.  I found coaching my clients around these initial archetypes moved them on.