Posts tagged: Narrative NLP

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!

It’s Who We Are Being that Matters


When you say ‘I understand him’ or ‘she doesn’t understand me’, what do you mean by ‘understand’ and how do you ensure that I share that meaning?

Here is today’s poem for National Poetry Writing Month


Not Being Able to Speak the Language

We think we use the same words
but know they fell together
through different history.

Geography played its part.
Geography lies in the heart.
The mind thinks it knows better.

The mind knows when we were born and where
who taught us and what was said
in the languages spoken there.

In your search for clarification
look into my eyes
maybe the time, the place or the lesson
is where the confusion lies.

Words may not be the answer
deeds can confuse us too.
It’s who we are being that matters.
It’s who we are being that’s true.


Poetry and Coaching

However hard we try we will never have access to another person’s thoughts. What they mean by a word will almost always be different from ours however similar the language sounds.

Poetry acknowledges that each of speaks our own personal language.  That’s what gives metaphor its power.  It’s why haiku are so simple and yet so profound. Poetry relies on the mystery of language.

One of the things that Narrative NLP Coaching offers is the opportunity to look at your beliefs as if you learned them from someone whose language you didn’t quite understand.

What difference might it make?

And what might that make possible?




Playing with Words

Yesterday I tried too hard to write for National Poetry Writing Month so this morning I decided to be more playful.  I picked a lovely word (I collect words.  If I hear one I like, I save it at the top of a blank word file) and just let my mind wander. This is where it led me…


I approach the boundary
when liminal guards are slipping
into nocturnes of their own
somnambulently trusting.
Beyond them lie notions
whose scope is universal
whose reach profound.

Like creatures under rule of ocean
declining to be found
they lie beyond compare
beyond perception
of me
as I of them.

The facade of wakefulness
until I reinstate
the mist cloud
at the night garden gate.


Life Coaching with Narrative NLP

So what does this have to do with life-coaching, Narrative Practice and NLP?

Sometimes it’s useful, as well as fun, to simply play with words for a while without worrying about things ‘making sense’; ‘sounding right’ or ‘meaning’ something.

Playing is a useful way of learning; children do it all the time but as adults it may not be something we allow ourselves to ‘indulge’ in.  I suggest we do exactly that, indulge our inner child and we might learn something surprising; confirm something we suspected or affirm a positive belief.

This morning I let myself play because yesterday had seemed like hard work. What I discovered was that I don’t have to make life difficult for myself in order to achieve.  That may sound simple but many of us hold ourselves to account by demanding that we live up to words like hard-working, doing what’s right, should, must, always, never.  What words would you add to the list?

Discover your own expectations of yourself and then set yourself free from them for a while.  You may well be surprised.

If this sounds risky then a session with a creative life coach could provide you with the safe environment for your exploration.

If it sounds like fun but you don’t know where to start you could try Beyond Expectations.  It’s a Narrative NLP coaching App which gives you weekly prompts or exercises that will help you find your own luminescent mist cloud.


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

From present state to desired state via stories

A little boy bites his nails while adult lives are dominated by irrational but all-encompassing fears.

I’ve been watching LinkedIn conversations in coaching and NLP groups with interest recently. Many of the questions asked there revolve around the selection of techniques to address specific problems.  Questions along the lines of “Any suggestion for nail biting in a 6 year old?”; “How do you approach phobias?” and “I have a 30 year old client who is afraid of driving over bridges, what would people recommend?”

These questions are all about real people experiencing real difficulties, but the focus is on the problems.

Interestingly I have been working with two clients looking for the same outcome; “I just wish I had more confidence”.

With the first I found myself working with her internal dialogue, meta-positioning conversations both with herself and others, and re-generating positive messages she may have forgotten, disregarded or ignored in the past.

With the second, a single piece of timeline work released him from the hold of an experience that dated back to before he started school.

These were my NLP structured, intuitively accessed pathways for their journeys from present state to desired state and both were narratively influenced. Their present state view of themselves had been strongly informed by power they had inadvertently given to their “lack of confidence”. One of the many possibilities released by our conversations was that they could have been confident since childhood if they had picked up different messages.

Once these messages reappeared from wherever they had been hidden, overlooked or disbelieved, they began to gain strength.

Both clients have reported significant changes in their own view of themselves and both are exploring and nurturing their new confidence.

Narrative NLP is not about the problems. It is about the story you have been telling yourself.

So my answer to the technique questions is always the same; I don’t know what I will say or do until I have listened to your story.



A Personal Singularity

where past, present and future are collapsed togther we create a unique momentNarrative NLP = an experience in the moment + freedom from the hold of an acknowledged past + a future of unexpected possibility

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