Posts tagged: life coaching

Jamie Smart’s CLARITY – One Man’s Clarity and One Woman’s Response

A book offering clarity of mind lies on an empty beach

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:

Forget safety.
Live where you fear to live.
Destroy your reputation.
Be notorious.”

Rumi, Poet

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!

What is e-coaching and How Could it Help Me?

outline sketch of 2 people face to faceCoaching doesn’t have to be by the hour, face to face or a long drive away.

You may have been thinking ‘NLP sounds interesting’; ‘I wonder whether talking to a life coach might help’ or ‘Could a conversation about my story make any difference to my life?.

But… I can’t spare the time; don’t want to sit in an unfamiliar room with someone I’ve never met before, or don’t have the luxury of a car, train fare or live near a convenient bus route.

Increasingly I have been working with clients by email and telephone and via an Android App, and find that this way of working suits people for many different reasons and can have unexpected benefits. 

Both ‘phone (in which I include Skype) and email coaching can be a quicker alternative to face-to-face work.

Three 20 minute (or six 10 minute) emails can cover the same ground as an hour’s conversation, and more if your attention span is short or available time is limited.someone is typing a message

Email and Apps have a feeling of immediacy; you can refer to them whenever and wherever you choose.  It’s demand led coaching in the sense that you can email me instantly a thought occurs, view my reply at a time and place that suits you, take the time you need to consider and reconsider an exercise, and reply when you are ready.

This way of working can suit adults because it can easily be designed to fit around work, family and child-care arrangements. It is also particularly convenient for young adults whose anxiety might include unease about appointments, travel or meeting new people.  

Mobile phone Apps and text messages are a possibilityMeanwhile younger people are so comfortable and at-ease with their smart phones that they are already using the device for personal  development and self-help, so an App or coaching call is nothing out of the ordinary.

In a way e-coaching gives you more power and authority in the coaching process. You have more control over how much to say and when to say it. You can take all the time you need to think and rethink before responding to me. You can choose to include friends and family and extend the coaching through important conversations with the people who matter most in your life.

Some people report feeling safer because online they can cry in privacy or laugh without feeling embarrassed. This can be a significant factor in helping you feel greater equality in the conversation. You are the expert in your own life. 

So, if traveling to East Devon isn’t feasible, or one to one work doesn’t appeal, email or ‘phone me today and we will arrange coaching that really suits you and your lifestyle.

Through the Eyes, Ears, Nose and Fingertips of a Child – How Poetry can Set You Free

children jumping




Girls and boys come out today

see and smell 
touch and hear and feel
a couple of trees
a neglected hedge
a skyful of reeling birds
the after-rain air
the drip of a drop from a bud
the calls of an owl in love
the squelching or crunching or crack underfoot
the tickles, the pongs, the screeches and songs
the lumpy jumpy crawly things
the water the sap the blood

in the mud
in the grass
in the rain
in the tractor rut in the lane
in the park under a slide
on a pavement lit in the dark
by a blue puddle of moonlight

While foxes bark and Jack Frost bites
owls hoot at the moon
hedgehogs swim and spiders spin
frogs leap and croak and spawn
so when you wake
be sure to take
a look in the pond on the lawn

The world can be sticky or stony or mossed
it is damp by turns with dry
wind can be cool or warm and wet
time can stand still or fly
when you watch and wait for clouds to change
or for rainbows after the rain
listen for cuckoo
look for a hare
listen for lark
look for the dark
or wait for the rain again

Walk in the light bright world for a while
feel the touch of the sun
find leaves and stones and waterfall
now that something new has begun


national poetry writing month 2013National Poetry Writing Month 2013
Day 22 is Earth Day

The first Earth Day was celebrated in 1970 and is now celebrated internationally.
The challenge – write a poem in keeping with Earth Day.


Poetry and Life Coaching with Narrative NLP

One of the most inspiring ways of looking at life is to experience it as a child again, at a time before the first inklings of negativity have made a mark.  It may sound difficult to believe, but we can get back there.

Of course know that we are adults we can look back and see times in our childhood when something, and it is often love, seems to be missing. 

How would it be if, whatever you believe was missing in your childhood, you could go back now and give it to the younger you? What difference would it make to the child? And what difference would that make to you growing up with this new experience no longer missing, but present in your life as you matured? Imagine the difference it could make to how you feel right now.

The good news is that our brains don’t really know the difference between imagination and reality and imagination is always more powerful. So imagine yourself having had the childhood you would wish for yourself and notice the difference.

Writing this poem was a wonderful experience of splashing in puddles, pushing sticks into frogspawn and feeling the sun on my back.  It was exactly like being there again now.  I know there is still work to be done on it, and the best bit is that each time I revisit the poem, I will be revisiting my childhood.


Making a Fresh Start

bright sky after rain

Each morning we wake up to a choice; do we dwell on the past we know or look forward to a future that we can’t predict?

It’s sounds simple but that doesn’t make it easy. If we choose to focus on a future full of unknown possibility, it might feel like taking away some security.

Sometimes it’s that feeling of security, feeling safe, that holds us back. When you choose to let go of the past you open up the future and discover a sense of freedom, right here, right now.  You may feel a little dizzy; it’s unfamiliar so it feels strange, and that’s perfect.

Life coaching with Narrative NLP offers you a safe place in which to explore possibilities that, until now, you haven’t allowed yourself to consider.


national poetry writing month 2013



I wrote this morning’s poem for National Poetry Writing Month with a couple of old beliefs trying to reappear in my head;

You can’t write poetry to order” and

If you write from someone eles’s prompt, it’s not really your own work“.

I decided to go ahead, look at a prompt from the NaPoWriMo site, and write something anyway. Here’s the result.

when I wake up
I will remember dreams
and know that they are yesterday’s

Writer’s Block

What might I ask someone who is stuck?

It’s not unusual for a client to say “I just feel stuck.”  It might be ‘Stuck with my relationship’, ‘Stuck with my job, my writing, my art’, or ‘Just stuck in life generally’.

People will say “I have tried everything I can think of to make changes in my life but nothing has worked”.  One of the things we can do together is come up with some new ways of looking; new perspectives; and instead of thinking about difficult times, things other people have said, or things that  happened in the past, I might ask you to think of a special place.

Place is often overlooked and yet often there will always be places that are important to us.  If I say to you, “Think of a place that is special to you”, you will probably go somewhere in your imagination, you have probably gone there now. With a little coaching you will find that what that place says can be profound, moving or just plain fascinating.

National Poetry Writing Month button


I decided to use this as a starting point for myself this morning’s poem for National Poetry Writing Month.  Here’s the poem and you will probably see how the sense of place triggered an important message for me about my writing…

Looking out of a window onto a winter scene

You came here to create
discovered death and left
and now the hour is growing late.

There is no time to waste.
This is not time to rest.
You came here to create.

Test the hours and feel their weight,
embracing life, embracing death,
now the hour is growing late.

Draw a line and draw it straight
embrace the seasons’ warp and weft.
You came here to create.

This is not destiny or fate.
I do not doubt that you have wept
but now the hour is growing late

and you know what this indicates.
Don’t waste the time that you have left.
You came here to create
and now the hour is growing late.

Change work

Day two of the challenge to write a new poem every day for a month.

To give the whole exercise relevance to my coaching I have decided to offer some commentary on either the content or the process.  I’m hoping you will find this interesting and it might answer some frequently asked questions such as; What is coaching?, What questions might a coach ask?  What can poetry tell me about myself?  What is Narrative Practice and how is it used in coaching?  How will coaching help me to change?

What is particularly interesting for me from a Narrative NLP perspective is to watch out for themes and then to take a step back and look at the process as an observer.

Questions I might ask as coach could include:

What does this tell you about yourself?
What surprises you?
What doesn’t surprise you?
What might surprise a significant other person in your life?

Here’s the poem.  What questions would you ask me?



As cliff drops stone
to be pummeled by wind and waves
pebble piles on pebbles piled on pebbles
hiding strength.

In full sight of the enemy
they mutter in their shifting
a muffled murmuration promising
the secret agency of change.



Beyond Expectations

Moving Beyond my own Expectations

Beyond Expectations book

I have always thought of myself as a writer and assumed that this meant that, one day, I would ‘be published’.  What I hadn’t realised, in spite of my NLP and Narrative Practice training and experience, was that I was holding myself back.

The clue lies in the phrase, ‘be published’. With hindsight I now see that I was waiting; waiting for someone to come along and publish me.  Having discovered this blind-spot, I have re-framed my interpretation of those words and now see myself as author rather than character in my own story.  What may sound like a small change in my thinking has made a significant difference to who I am being and it suddenly makes sense to publish my own work.

Once I achieved this seemingly small breakthrough, several interesting things occurred: I recalled being published in a small magazine while still a teenager; remembered that I’ve had poems published in a well respected poetry magazine; and acknowledged that, while magazines and websites have published my articles and book reviews, I have not allowed myself to interpret these facts as evidence of my being a published author. I already am published but had somehow failed to allow myself to notice the fact!

It’s fascinating to think that I have spent so much time waiting for something that had already happened.  The story that I was telling myself, my ‘Waiting to be Published’ story, was preventing me seeing the story I wanted to see – my ‘Published Author and Poet’ story.

We can all have unconscious expectations holding us back. Once we see the possibility of a different story for ourselves, all sorts of new possibilities open up.

It was working with my son, writing and launching my life-coaching App ‘Beyond Expectations’ that triggered this amazing bit of self-discovery and prompted a re-authoring of my own story.  In creating a series of coaching exercises to help you let go of your own limitations, I was unconsciously coaching myself, letting go of some of my own, invisible and self-limiting expectations.

Have a look at Beyond Expectations here It is a 4 month course of coaching exercises based on the Narrative NLP principles that inform my work with clients.

Later this year I will be publishing the material in book form. Watch out for my novel and a poetry collection too.

Once you let go of whatever is holding you back, there will be no stopping you!



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