10,000 Hours of Work. In 100 Different Countries.

August 24, 2010 § 4 Comments

Hi! Welcome to this blog.

Before we kick off with today’s post I just wanted to give a little introduction and spell out what I hope for this blog. First of all, last week I gave a little self-indulgent story of creation, so to speak: a story of a “lifestyle design” working trip from France to Montenegro. I hope you enjoyed it, I certainly enjoyed writing it – not so say that it was any good! – and any kind of literary criticism would be welcomed in the comments.

Now this is, and it isn’t, a typical travel blog. It is and it isn’t a personal development blog, and it is and it isn’t a lifestyle design blog. It is and it isn’t factual as much as it is and it isn’t fictional. Well actually it’s pretty much all going to be factual, I just got carried away.  However, I hope that over the next few months I start to find my voice between all these distinctions so that I can provide you with something as appealing to fantasy as it is useful in your day to day life.

Now my intention for this blog is to find that sweet spot in writing about what I enjoy, what I work in, and what others can benefit from, in equal measures. I will be posting twice a week, every Tuesday and Friday, and from time to time there may be a surprise. Obviously I can’t tell you when they’ll be.

What I’d like to have happen with all of this is to, as Seth Godin firmly puts it in Linchpin, create stories, relationships and magic. That is, to create a community of people that can enjoy, partake in and support – either critically, emotionally, or economically – this mission of taking something incredibly interesting and useful to 100 countries around the world.

(And no, that something incredibly interesting and useful isn’t me, rather the work I’m relishing doing).

Get in touch.

Meat and Potatoes time: 10,000 in 100.

Yep, this is the goal. It’s pretty big but it’s incredibly motivating to work for. I want to achieve this with every bone in my body. However, not wanting to set myself what’s known as a toxic goal, an I’ll be happy when (and only when) I goal, this has been designed to improve quality of life today. A goal, by working towards which, one can hugely enjoy every minute of the process. Which is important, because this certainly ain’t no race against time.

If you’ve just entered this website at this page, allow me to reiterate. My mission is to spend:

10,000 hours of sharing The (little-known but very powerful) Exercise*, in 100 different countries.

Simple as that!

(If you want to know how and why I came up with this goal, you may be interested to read this, or about that road trip in its entirety).

But let’s have a look a minute, let’s break this down and see if it actually looks feasible. What will be required of me in terms of time to do this project? What will be required in terms of travel and communication? First of all it seems pretty necessary to see exactly how possible all this is.

Time:

How long does it take a person to do 10,000 hours’ work? Or, as Malcolm Gladwell spoke about, to get the experience necessary to become a world expert in their field?

Working a traditional 40-hour week, every week, with two weeks’ holiday a year, one could reasonably achieve 2,000 hours’ work a year. That would mean completing this goal in 5 years.

But hang on a minute, the nature of this job and the nature of the travel implications will make this much more difficult. For a start, I want more than two weeks holiday a year – to take in the sights and the cultures that I visit. Naturally. And there also exists the challenge of turning up in a new country and finding clients that are enthusiastic to work with me. I hope that in a couple of years’ time I will have built an international network of contacts that will be keen on working with me and will co-arrange certain projects in advance of my arrival, but at least for the first long while it’s going to be a case of building a reputation everywhere I go and gaining the confidence of local people to want to work with me from scratch. This may not be an easy task, but I do know that where many countries can be cold and reserved, many countries are very open and keen to share their culture with you, and keen to know what you do and what you can bring to theirs. I’ve been lucky to have had some very positive travel experiences up until now that make me feel confident abroad. I also guess that my generation (I’m mid-late twenties) is much more open-minded than that of my parents in many areas of the world, which brings me to another possible obstacle: language.

Again, whether you see this as a good or a bad thing – a symbol of the increasing intimacy within our global community or a destructive expansion of Western-led market economics – I certainly believe that you can find a sizable community of proficient local English speakers in more than 100 countries in the world. If I find it difficult to find certain people I can feel relaxed to know that I speak Spanish and Portuguese, and a very rude and rudimentary French. And if this is not enough to work in 100 different countries, I’ll have to learn more languages. There’s nothing else to it.

I’d want to stress that this is a goal set by passion and intuition. I really believe I can do it. And if it does ever get harder than what I before expected, I will just have to be creative and adapt. Learn languages, stay longer, travel deeper. Nothing worthwhile ever came easy, right?

So, back in time to the subject of time, I think that a still-hectic schedule would be five hours’ work a day, five days a week, forty weeks a year. That’s one thousand hours a year, and that’s a therefore timescale of ten years to achieve my goal. Now, that pace of work will vary greatly: sometimes I will do more than five hours a day, and often much less, but the estimate is there – this is a goal for ten years, maybe twelve. Or something just to roughly aim for by the age of 40. As I’ll explain in a minute, this is an aim that’s best not done rushed.

Movement: Country Stats Until Now..

Time is one axis of this goal, the other is movement. With aeroplanes we all know that we could in theory set foot in one hundred different countries in one year alone; spending two or three nights in each before jetting off to the next. But where’s the quality in that? How much can you enjoy or really learn about a place by traveling like that? So let’s have a look at my current habits, a rhythm of work that I feel pretty comfortable with.

Since having taken formal training in March 2010, I have done The Exercise in two different countries:

  • Montenegro
  • Spain

And not even in my native England. It’s looking bleak..

At the rate of two countries every six months it’s gonna take 25 years to arrive at my goal! I’m not completely adverse to that, but it would be both nice and comfortable to do it in half that time.

So let’s just see if there’s any kind of international focus going on already that could throw us a motivational lifeline. Up until August 2010 I have done The Exercise with people of the following nationalities:

  • Argentina
  • Brazil
  • England
  • France
  • Italy
  • Mexico
  • Morocco
  • Rep. of Ireland
  • Scotland
  • Serbia
  • Spain
  • The United States
  • Uruguay

Which is a pretty reassuring 13 different nationalities in six months: not bad for having done nine of those in one office in central Barcelona, two more whilst comfy at home and two more on a beach in Montenegro. At this rate I could achieve my goal in around four years.

But you know what? Sat here, clicking away at the world map like a kid playing Risk or some kind of multinational CEO made me feel a little uncomfortable. It gave me a certain twang of dehumanising these sessions and interactions by turning human clients into statistics, and this is certainly not how I feel about these people or about the work that we have done together. Now I’m not going to change my goal here as I really see it as something good: a win-win situation for everybody involved. But what I guess I’m trying to say is that my work has the responsibility of getting down to the bottom of people’s most tightly-kept personal problems and solving life-long limitations and difficulties. I don’t want to cheapen the Coaching or Therapeutic experience for anybody just because I have a personal goal of ticking 100 countries off on a list. So I want to declare here and now that nothing is more important to me than my client’s wellbeing, that my client and their needs always come first during a session or a Coaching relationship. And if for any reason I’m noting that I’m in a country or offering someone the chance to do The Exercise with me, and that my own aspirations of conquest are first in mind, I will not go ahead. I do not and cannot jeopardize in any way somebody else’s process for my own agenda, and I also do not want to jeopardize my own reputation or self-worth by acting in this way. This is a goal that’s there do be done slowly, naturally, ethically, ecologically, and in a way that exudes professionalism and integrity.

So maybe more like fifteen years then..

The results of this current “audit” show that I have to travel much much more, which for me is always a pleasure and never a chore. (Apart from going through airport security which quite frankly gets more depressing every year). But my ability to mix with and work with people from other cultures and countries looks good, which inspires confidence.

However, looking back over my goal I can see that there’s room for interpretation. Without fully considering all the permutations when I set the goal, I’ve aimed to work in 100 different countries. And although mixing with and finding foreign clients hasn’t been difficult, it’s not the number of nationalities that’s important – according to that little word in, it’s the traveling I’ve got to do.. (Damn!)

So, in order to make this clear – because I could quite possibly pull a fast one, and get one very keen client and give him telephone sessions from call boxes five continents over, in order to get the number of countries’ goal – I’m going to amend my original aim by adding that:

I aim to work 10,000 hours with people of at least 100 different nationalities in total, within 100 separate geographical countries.

There we go..
Current score 2/100, 13/100. And some 9,900 hours remaining..

Bring on the next trip!

*Postscript: After a recent practice session of something new with a better-established industry colleague, it came to light that even her 340 hours a year of Coaching were considered a lot. In that case, either I’m going to be working much, much harder than normal, or I’m going to take those 25 years (or more) after all.

But if something’s really worth doing, it’s worth doing well. And as long as this goal remains worthwhile and relevant, I continue, undeterred.

*The Exercise, so that you know, is an amalgam of psychotherapeutic processes developed by New Zealander David Grove. Now beginning to be applied to the areas of Personal and Business Coaching, these processes include Clean Language, Clean Space and Emergent Self Knowledge among others. These processes and exercises are particularly effective in the resolution of long-standing psychological obstacles, as they, respectful of Einstein’s insight, resolve the problem at a different level of thinking that created it. A client generally feels a stronger notion of empowerment and motivation at the end of a Clean process as the client, rather than the facilitator, is completely in charge of their own healing or coaching, and the unique source of any kind of action they want to take.

To find out more about Clean Coaching, the process I nickname The Exercise, or about my travels and plans over the coming months and years, contact me at jordanlukecollier (at) googlemail (dot) com.

For a more in-depth scientific discussion of the techniques and theories applied, a wealth of information is available at Penny Tomkins and James Lawley’s excellent Clean Collection website.


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