Coaching in Paradise

August 19, 2010 § Leave a comment

This is the second in a six-part series of a Lifestyle Design experiment en route to Montenegro in Summer 2010. Click for parts 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6.

Permission to include information about the essential mechanics and location of the coaching sessions discussed below was agreed by both parties concerned. I never disclose personal information about clients unless they give enthusiastic permission or decide to explain their process in their own words.

Part 4: The Wobble

Today’s going to be a beautiful day, a day that, the more distant into the future that you look back upon it, the more you will realize that it was a real game-changer: one of those experiences that comes out of nowhere and demonstrates that the world of possibilities can provide so much more than your preconceived plans that you just have to change how you’re thinking, where you’re going, and ultimately what it is that you’re trying to achieve.

At first blood it doesn’t look as if you’re going to accomplish much with the day. Last night you went out to party and you hit the Rakija, an Eastern European alcoholic drink that lives in the freezer and whose name was previously unknown. It’s fair that, under these premises, your logical brain leaps to the conclusion that your hangover’s going to be a killer but you’re astounded to realize that after juice, börek, a jump in the river and an easy half-hour, your hangover is null and void and your day is wholly alive. And it’s only eleven a.m.!

The elation of the surprise of your morning freshness is very welcome but it’s still not enough to shake the angst of having gone now very many days without really having done anything. You’ve been having marketing problems, communication problems, and in the light of yesterday’s little adventure, two problems that multiply themselves together to further compound and delay. It’s truncating this difficulty of not knowing how to transmit the panaceaic wonders of The Exercise in any way that brings in happy paying prospects. You vocalize these worries over breakfast and your friend and host tells you just to tell everyone that you’re a fucking guru and that you can solve all their problems. It’s ballsy, but recollecting the facts witnessed over the past week or so, the truth is that everyone he’s talked with about the nature and benefits of The Exercise has been immediately interested in your work; and has wanted to do it with you. You remember that thanks to him you’ve got three people waiting for some kind of confirmation email from you for private sessions when you get back from your last-minute sojourn, and a little later, when under the recent influence of said friend and host, you half-tounge-in-cheek announce to another friend that your job is in fact one of guru and she jumps at the chance of working with you.  You set up a session for first thing this afternoon, and when she’s ready she’s also as fresh as a daisy and you realize that it’s on! The day shall not go to waste – and work shall be done!

And this particular Exercise turns out to be a totally peaceful yet mind-blowing experience. You ask her, as you always should, where she wants to be and she replies, “across on the island”. Now, you’re living on a house that opens out to the river and is probably about 100 meters away from the delta, and consequently the beach. That’s over ten kilometers of sandy, sparse, blue-skied and kite-surfable beach. The island “across” is Ada Bojana, a sandy and forested equilateral triangle of three kilometers per side, wedged into the southernmost part of Montenegro and separating the former-Yugoslav territory from Albania. On the island are a few wooden holiday homes, and a nudist beach. You are taken over by your match-making agent/friend on a small electric boat, you buy some water from a little shop and walk along the nudist beach to the point where there are no longer any nudists and until you find a place that is “right”.

You set up temporary shade from three sticks of flotsam and a sarong and explain the mechanics of, and the experiences possibly aroused though, doing The Exercise. You’re a little preoccupied on the initial walk down there as to your ability to conduct a good session outdoors. You had read that the developer of the work you currently carry out with clients always liked to take people out into nature when he could; and you recognize that the psychoactive potential here is enormous, on this nudist beach, just 1500 meters away from Albania, in the afternoon sun, by the sparkling Adriatic sea. The only materials around had are a pad with two pens and the jetsam lying on the beach. After a bit of defining the issue at hand, your client writes some phrases in Serbian, declining to explain them, and on telling her to put that representation “in the right place”, she lays it to rest in the sea. She later tells you that she nearly cried at this moment, so powerful this action turned out to be. You work with her just as your training always said you should with a client, though through four rounds of questioning she doesn’t know anything. You’re relieved that through the fifth and sixth, now wading in the sea up to her thighs, she knows “a lot”. She doesn’t feel the need to reveal it to you though, and hence you can’t gage the effect of the session and you ask her some more questions back on the sand underneath your temporary umbrella until you’re sure that she’s in a good psychological place.

You ask her if there is a space that knows what action she wants to take and she goes back into the sea. You find yourself shouting the questions over the raucous volume of the crashing waves from the side of the beach like a real coach would shout to their team from the sidelines of the pitch. She’s not very forthcoming with the details of her plan but it doesn’t seem necessary: she’s smiling, a different sight from what you had seen from this client during the first two days that you’d known her. There are now no more tasks coming from that space in the sea and you let her know that she can take all the time she needs to be with her learnings.  She then strips naked and swims butterfly out into the calm mid-afternoon ocean. She later tells you it was a powerful process and that it really helped. How much it did help though you’ll never really know, especially in cases like these when the client keeps everything to themselves and you as the practitioner have nothing to go on. Fortunately you’ve been training your ego of late to not attach itself to the contribution to clients’ success, and you’re happy and completely respectful of this turn-out.

In fact that session, that day, is incredible. The more you recollect the experience the more you feel how simply amazing it was, and you already realize that you’re kind of tempted to take all your Coaching Exercises outdoors now, out into nature, and certainly to be a bit more ballsy about who you are what what you tell people you do.. It’s certainly more fun for you this working outdoors, seems effective for the client, and ties in with your personal values and aspirations… But hey, as satisfying as it all is, and satisfying it certainly is – endless the possibilities as they all are, and the possibilities certainly are endless – you now find yourself staring trancelike into the slowly cured eyes of the pig on a spit being prepared for you by your Danish neighbours, acosted with luke-warm beer and assaulted by Barry White and The Beatles in the half-gravel, half-jungled garden, as you prove your linguistic prowess to the local invitees.

And on the count of deset,
devet,
osam,
sedam,
šest,
pet,
cetiri,
tri,
dva,
jedan,

you find yourself tomorrow, heat of the day, down a long, dusty and winding path with another client – leaving anxiety, limply fluttering at the bottom of a tree, behind – whilst you together follow a herd of cows up the road toward fresher pastures..

Continue to Part 5.


N.B. I’m very reticent to go around calling myself a guru, and I’m very sober in explaining what I can achieve – just check my marketing on this website. And although a couple of friends regularly do talk about me and my work like this, I can’t really stop them.

N.M.B. After carrying out the two sessions depicted in the text, I seized the opportunity to share these experiences with trainers in the relevant coaching and psychotherapeutic field. They were very happy and supportive about what had taken place, and offered advice to help me further manage the infinite variables that taking this type of work outdoors can experience.

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