Posts tagged: 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!

Taking Shortcuts

What does this doodle say to you?

 doodle od a dark cloud gradually lifting to reveal the sun and the possibility of a short cut

Doodling is a great way to explore ideas without too much conscious attention. 

What does this doodle say to you? My guess is that it will say different things to different people. It depends upon your current experience, your thoughts and your mood or ‘state’ as we might label it in NLP terms.

Here’s a closer look…

a closer look at the image reveals that there is more than one way to reach your goal

sometimes a closer look reveals something unexpected

 

Click on the image to open it fully and look even more closely. begin to notice details that you hadn’t previously noticed.

I have shown it to a few people and asked the question… “If this doodle had a message for you, what would it be?” and got a surprising number of different replies:

  • “It’s about how the sun is always in the sky, even when all you’re thinking of is the clouds.”
  • “Even when you think you’ve solved a problem, something can come up that seems to set you right back to the beginning again and yet it’s not quite the same this time and you can keep going.”
  • “The clouds are your problems. The sunshine is feeling better, sorting something out.”
  • “Is it about depression and the depression can lift and come back and then lift again?”
  • “The arrows are all the different paths if you want to escape from something.”
  • “It’s about shortcuts. Sometimes you have to go the long way round to get out from under the grey sky but sometimes you might spot a short cut, and sometimes there’s an even shorter one.”

There isn’t a ‘right answer’. I was concentrating on something else at the time (my most interesting doodles seem to come during online meet-ups, TED talks or Tony Robbins videos). I would love to hear from you about what you make of it.

Better still, have a go yourself and maybe ask a few people what they make of your unconscious doodling.

Trying to Find a Way Out

At the heart of the maze lies a problem

Looking for a Way Out
Sometimes we find ourselves not knowing which way to turn. By allowing ourselves to consider different directions for our thoughts, we create new perspectives, find new pathways and allow possibilities to appear where none seemed to exist.

 

Acceptance
By accepting the specifics of a situation we can often identify a hint of the direction in which an answer might lie. The ‘W Questions’ can be a good starting point: Who, what, when, where, why. Ask yourself;
       Who is with me when this happens?
       What do I do specifically?
       When and where does it happen?
       Why does it happen?
Once you have the answers to these questions, consider what is possible for you to change. Even one small change in your thoughts, behaviours or actions can trigger further changes leading you in a new direction.         

 

Trying and Trying Harder 
The word ‘try’ is defined as ‘to make an attempt’ or to strive’. Both definitions imply the use of energy but not achievement. When we think of trying we often infer that we will not succeed. Trying harder suggests doing more of the same and if you keep doing what you’ve always done, you always get what you’ve always had. Replace ‘try’ with ‘do’ or ‘be’ and notice the difference.

 

A Part of Myself with Special Needs
Within the problem is a clue to something you need. By feeling for any emotional associations you may be experiencing you can identify what you need.  Identifying and giving yourself what you need can often be the answer.

 

Hear the message in a problem
What aspect of yourself is crying out for attention or has gone unnoticed, overlooked, forgotten or denied? Allowing a problem to be a pointer in this way can help you find a new direction where you might stumble across an unexpected opportunity for change.

 

Denial
Well if you were refusing to accept that there is a problem you probably wouldn’t be reading this post! Denial rarely leads to new possibilities and it’s new possibilities that make a difference.

 

Avoidance 
Choosing to ignore a problem can sometimes seem like a good way of dealing with it but of course this allows it to persist and its effect and influence spread. A different pathway is more likely to result in your discovering a way out.

 

Metal door in stone wall with NLP CREW graffittiSomething I haven’t thought of yet
There are always possibilities that haven’t yet occurred to us. Being curious and open minded, looking up and beyond ourselves are habits and practices worth nurturing because this is where we discover that the possibilities really are endless. 

 

Secrets of the NLP Masters by Judy Bartkowiak

 50 techniques to be exceptional

Metal door in stone wall with NLP CREW graffittiPrompted by my own curiosity and enthusiasm for exploration – described by Judy Bartkowiak as ‘key drivers of NLP’ – I opened this book enthusiastically, and I wasn’t disappointed.

 I like what I think of as ‘Pick and Mix’ books; books that can be read with both an open mind and, simultaneously, a mind ready to gather information relevant to my life and work; books that can teach me something fascinating. This book fits the bill perfectly.

 It is a book for everyone with an interest in change, overcoming obstacles or achieving goals. For the NLP practitioner the book is full of prompts and reminders alongside new perspectives on techniques you will already be using. For newcomers it is a comprehensive and readable explanation of NLP’s powerful insights into how NLP can make a real and lasting difference to your life. If you have children, or work with children, you will find much here to throw light on strategies and techniques that work well with young people.

Of course you can read ‘Secrets’ from beginning to end, it is interesting, informative and well written, but you can also flick through and find the part most relevant to your current experience.

Its style, organisation and layout make it stand out from many of the NLP technique books I have encountered. I particularly like the chapter numbers down the right hand edge meaning that you can open the book at any page and know immediately where you are.

Each chapter begins with a selection of well-chosen quotations from people generally acknowledged to be the ‘NLP masters’ such as Gregory Bateson, Sue Knight, Virginia Satir, Tony Robbins, and others from different contexts like Albert Einstein, Carl Jung and Helen Keller.

 ‘A few well-chosen words at just the right time can transform a person’s life’ Joseph O’Connor 

Repetition – so often the missing ingredient in books which set out to help us learn – is used with a light touch so that you don’t need to flick back through the book to find that neat ‘how to’ of a technique. At the end of each chapter you will find ‘Putting it all together’ and I suggest that if you read these first in the light of the chapter heading you will know how directly a particular chapter will speak to you.

If there was a single addition that would improve Secrets of the NLP Masters for me it would be an index. Children, beliefs, and goals, for instance, appear throughout the book and sometimes it would be helpful to be able to find them all.

The book ends with an Appendix perfectly placed to sum things up and be a readily accessible, and very visual, reminder of these two keys to being exceptional: The filters through which we make our own peculiar sense of external events and the logical levels which model the context in which it all takes place.

Knowing your purpose facilitates exceptional behaviour and if your behaviour disappoints you in any way then re-examine it in the light of your purpose. You could do well to take this book with you on the journey.

front cover of the book

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.

Looking at what it isn’t

outcrop

 

 

 

 

 

 

though your sorrows not…

“and rejoicing in
language universal
you gave to me
the sour taste of grief
though it is not mine”
I call to the mountain

shouting disillusioned
“you have left me more
in fear than ever found another,
though it is not mine”
at that flawed and fading
massif built in hurt

“one earth-bound life from
many lifetimes, you might
take from me” loudly
calls my (though it claims it as its
own) echo
and “it is not mine”

after
though your sorrows not

E. E. CUMMINGS

 

Looking at what it isn’t

spiral 2

Sometimes the best way to understand something is to explore what it isn’t.

When you want to know what you want, most people find it easier to say ‘What I don’t want is…’

When I ask you what something is like, you are quite likely to answer, ‘Well it isn’t like…’

If I invite you to envisage the future of your choice, you might reply, ‘All I can see is how it is now!’

This list of what you don’t want, what it isn’t like, or all you can see now, is the perfect place to start because it is literally where you are now. How could you possibly start anywhere else?

Once you have described where you are now in terms of what you see, hear and feel, maybe even how it tastes and smells, you can begin to ask the next question.

If not this… then what?

 

 national poetry writing month 2013

 spiral 1Today’s prompt for the last National Poetry Writing day poem is an old favourite; 

Find a shortish poem that you like, and rewrite each line, replacing each word (or as many words as you can) with words that mean the opposite.

It is a favourite for me because it works equally well with both poetry and coaching. 

By looking at every word and finding its opposite, you discover far more about the meaning encompassed in a word. Your every word can tell you something about yourself when you learn how to listen effectively. And it’s not just the words themselves; in the way you phrase your language, in your pauses, your emphasis, your laughter or tears, there is meaning.

Like the layers of an onion, you can keep peeling away your language and discovering more about yourself.  This is where the Linguistic appears in Neuro-Linguistic Programming [NLP] and it is also where we find the stories so important in Narrative Practice.

And, of course, in poetry, take a short poem and rewrite it replacing each word with a word that means the opposite and, like those old magic painting books, something that was once invisible will reveal itself.

 

Found inTranslation

Dream French

 chateau with maze

 

I slept in a chateau

and dreamed d’escadrilles

I awoke et je pourrais voler

believe me now I understand

les oiseaux pourraient chanter

parce qu’ils ont la clé du ciel

 

 

Found in Translation

Today’s prompt for National Poetry Writing Month was to include at least five words  in another language. 

My initial response was to think, ‘this time they have come up with something that isn’t going to work for me’.

However, if there is one thing I’ve learned from NLP it’s the question ‘And if you could do it, what would you do?’

And, if there’s one thing I’ve learned from Narrative coaching it’s that ‘It’s who I am being that makes the difference’.

So, I answered both questions by being someone who does something even when I don’t know what to do. 

It was a delightful experience: moving from one language to another; playing with translations; discovering unexpected rhymes; and finding that sometimes a mistake can lead to something unexpected.

Sometimes what we are doing in life coaching is a form of translation – moving between ways of being, and, in that translation, discovering that we can be someone we would wish to be; someone who is simultaneously ourselves and someone we did not know we could be.

 

 

national poetry writing month 2013 

 

This is my penultimate poem for National Poetry Writing Month. It has been a bit of a marathon but I have learned a lot about myself and my writing and I’ve had some fun along the way.  

I’ve also had a lot of interest and support, for which I am grateful.  it makes a lot of difference to know that someone is listening and has heard what I have said. Of course this is true of coaching too.  What makes the difference in any situation will almost always come down to a conversation. Conversations can take many forms and sometimes it helps to have someone listen.

Thank you for listening 🙂 

  

Lighten up

toilet

 

Proper Plops

Mummy’s on the internet
Daddy’s on the loo
I don’t know where to go
because I need a poo.

Sometimes when I need a wee
walking down the street
I don’t know how to say
I’ve got wet feet.

Granny says I’m sensible
Grandad says I’m dotty
but when I want to poo or wee
I don’t want a potty
I want a blue step
to climb up to the loo
then I can do proper plops
just like you.

 

Sense of humour

Sometime it can all get a bit intense.

Stress, anxiety, or just plain trying too hard, can creep up on us, as if in a blind spot. In NLP we talk about ‘state’ (we might call it ‘state of mind’) and can devise ‘break state’ strategies to help you break out of a particular mood.  This can be helpful in coaching because it;
     1 – enables you to step out of one way of feeling into something more positive
     2 – gives you an opportunity to stand back and look objectively at what was happening
     3 – allows you to experience the possibility of instant transformation
     4 – teaches your unconscious mind that change is achieveable

sponge star toy

Star jumps are a quick and easy way of breaking state.  Stand up now and do 3 star jumps – notice the difference! Play, laughter and foolishness are good for you. Letting go of a negative state of mind, even just for a few minutes,  can be the beginning of a transformation.
Give it a go.
Notice the difference.

 

national poetry writing month 2013

 

Today is day 26 of the challenge to write a poem every day for a month, and, yes I was beginning to feel it was getting a bit intense.  I had begun to take myself a bit too seriously so when I woke up early this morning, I decided to let go of my ‘proper poetry’ state of mind and the silly phrase ‘proper plops’ appeared at the top of the page!

 

Negative Capability

slanting horizon

 

 

 

 

 

 

tide

bluster and tide
dawn
harry and chafe

rock pool and tide
sun
scour and comb

strandline and tide
gull
rope shell and line

river and tide
night
starless and black

rock fall and tide
moon
roll and return

recall and tide
thought
mind and remind

 

Negative Capability and Coaching

John Keats used the term negative capability to describe the artist’s receptiveness to the world and its natural marvel, and to reject those who tried to formulate theories or categorical knowledge. In a letter to his brothers he explained it as being, ” when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason.” Keats was talking about the artist’s ability to be simply receptive without prejudgment in order to be open to that which we don’t yet know.

For me this is a perfect description of the role of a narrative life coach and of the NLP Practitioner.  When we accept that our view of life is, necessarily, limited, and that there are possibilities of which we are unaware we open the doors of our perception to new, unguessed at futures.  This is a process of letting go.

Coaching can help us let go of whatever has been holding us back. Without realising it, we tend to become attached to limitations which we have created for ourselves.  

Often we develop these tendencies in order to protect ourselves from something and than practise them over and over again until they become ‘second nature’.  In other words they continue to drive us long after we are aware of them and long after they are actually helpful.  In fact they often become very well hidden barriers to our success.

Coaching can help you reach that state of mind; that negative capability, where it is possible to see that the seemingly impossible can be within reach.

 

national poetry writing month 2013

 

 

It’s day 25 on National Poetry Writing Month and today’s prompt suggested writing a ballad.  I have enjoyed writing ballads in the past and was happy to give it a go today but each attempt left me feeling frustrated.

It was as if the ballad form was getting in the way of the poem that was waiting to be written.  i had no idea what i wanted to write about and so I called upon my own state of negative capability, trusting the process of writing ‘without any irritable reaching after fact and reason’.  The poem above was what wanted to be written!

  

Finding themes, habits and tendencies

apples bucket

 

Remains

it’s up to you to fill in the gaps

it rained today
the mist cloud luminescent

in the tractor rut in the lane
abscondees have flown the burrows

at night the moon becomes a friend
and singularity

waiting for birdsong and light
I thought of breaking through

everyone in this house has dreamed of flying
but hasn’t looked up for years

unripened apples predict
but know they fall together

like light in mist
the arrow’s lost its point

pebble piles on pebbles piled on pebbles
I should thunderbolt you now

the red morning sun
discovered death and left

falling apart
before I leave
I miss you

napo2013button2

 

For day 24 of National Poetry Writing Month, I followed a prompt from The Poetry School suggesting a found poem. Found poetry, according to a Pulitzer Remix is the literary version of a collage, where authors excerpt words and phrases from existing texts and rework them into new pieces

 

Personal themes, habits and tendencies

In NLP we speak of meta-programs.  These could be described as a set of unconscious and deeply held convictions which influence how re receive information through our senses and thus drive our thought patterns, actions and reactions causing us to behave in ways which we rarely question.  Although they are unconscious, they can be revealed, particularly in our use of language.

The challenge to create a ‘found poem’ seemed to present a golden opportunity to put the spotlight on my own linguistic tendencies. As you know, I have written 23 poems this month so I decided to re-read them and take, from each, the line which suggested itself and use the resulting 23 lines to create a new poem.

This kind of self-reflexive narrative is doubly interesting because it offers opportunities for both objective and subjective consideration.  I could ask:

What does this poem tell you about me; my tendencies and themes?
What can I learn about myself from the themes that have emerged?
What does your response to the poem tell you about yourself?

It is not only with poetry that we can step back and gain new perspectives on what drives us to think, feel and behave as we do.  The life story you tell me in a coaching session offers a perfect opportunity for identifying your own habits and tendencies. With new insights into what has been driving you in the past, you are much better equipped to make different choices for your future.

 

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