Jamie Smart has developed a clarity of mind which allows him to achieve ‘better performance and bigger results’, and in this book, he sets out to explain what he considers to be the essential foundations, deep drivers and way forward in the direction of focus, problem solving and success.
If you are looking for a book that investigates the process of thought; examines how we come to experience feelings as a result of our thoughts; and explains one man’s understanding of the discovery of his own innate capacity for clarity, then this is the book for you.
There are many points at which Jamie Smart and I agree and, as I re-read his chapter titles, I can see how the book appealed to my coaching curiosity: How Perception is Created; Habitual Thought Patterns; Creativity and Disruptive Innovation; Authenticity: Your True Identity; Capitalizing on Chaos, Complexity and Uncertainty; Living a Life You Love.
And, if I have a criticism, it is prompted by an admittedly very subjective sense of disappointment. It is true that this is a very interesting and thorough book. It is well written and the argument develops coherently. As a reader I am fully convinced that the clarity which Jamie, and many others, experience can make a profound difference to their lives. My disappointment lies in the author’s apparent conviction that his ‘understanding of thought’ is the only route to achieving the ‘necessary’ transformation.
Almost every chapter stirs my indignation with the author’s insistence. Here’s a classic example re Chapter 14, “The Power of Presence”. While I agree that you don’t need to be meditating to be in a meditative state, I can’t agree that “Deepening understanding of the principles behind innate thinking” will necessarily bring you more and more fully into the present. On the contrary, I believe that it is in fact being more and more in the present that will bring you still further into the present, and that the access portal is an experience of being in the present which can arise in an infinite number of ways, many of which involve no understanding of thought whatsoever.
I fully accept that my own response to the book could be described as being just a part of my own ‘story’. I can see that, in appearing to want to ‘defend’ NLP, Narrative Practice or any other ‘traditional application model’, viewed from the Clarity model, I run the risk of undermining my own argument and yet I believe I have something to offer in speaking my thoughts and do so from a position of open minded integrity.
It is not just that Jamie Smart seems to deny that a powerful Narrative Conversation, a significant NLP session, or a profound experience in any other context can be the experience that allows you to discover that you can let go of searching; that ‘getting’ of something clear and profound that lets you know you don’t need to improve yourself, you are already fine. No, it is the black or white, either or nature of the author’s view of the world. It’s either Clarity, by the author’s definition of the word, or it’s superstitious thinking.
Even while I agree with most of what I am reading, I am alienated. As I reread Chapter 21. Living a Life You Love, and experience a cumulative sense of free-flowing, in the moment, resilient, open, fearless, reflective, appreciative, innovative connection, by the end of the same chapter I am dismayed at its exhortation to ‘Keep increasing your clarity of understanding’. The clear message throughout the book is that it is only when you ‘make it a priority to increase your understanding’ that true transformation becomes possible.
Near the beginning of CLARITY I was assured I was going to ‘catch’ something. That it would ‘spontaneously result in “symptoms” of increasing clarity, resilience and peace of mind’. Towards the end of the book, I began to wonder whether it might be less the well-intentioned offering of a new way of experiencing life and more an exercise in the promotion of the Innate Thinking brand. That’s how I was disappointed. If I recommend this book it is with the proviso that, as you read, you engage your own vital and enthusiastic curiosity about what else might be possible.
To the author I would say, Yes, I agree that new thinking can show up at any moment and I invite you, from my Narrative / NLP perspective to consider a few questions.
What else might you discover if you were to also engage in not-understanding?
Might you have missed any possibilities about outside-in understanding?
What might an alternative 4th wave (thought revolution) be if it was not dependant on understanding the nature of thought?
If the 4th wave could include not only outside-in and inside-out understanding but also not-understanding, what might this make possible?
What might a 7th wave include?
What if, instead of a deeper, more profound understanding, we experienced a deeper acceptance of the mystery?
Might both be possible?
And what else?
I quote the lines that Jamie chose to end the book:
Live where you fear to live.
Destroy your reputation.
When I find myself reading a book with a pencil in my hand I know it’s a book worth reading, and reading CLARITY resulted in an entire notebook full of notes, arguments and questions.
It doesn’t get much better!