Home, Away, and 6 Influential Books..
September 21, 2010 § 4 Comments
Since coming home from Barcelona to Oxfordshire last week I’ve been pretty exhausted; but not only exhausted, also somehow relieved, somehow compassionate for all the honest and hardworking people that have remained here the whole time; and also with somewhat of a sense of foreboding as there has been nothing concrete ahead of me. So I was Home in the shire after four-and-a-half years away, family abroad and friends mostly having flown the nest. You know how that feels? And where does one go next? Everything’s up in the air and open to adventure. Everything has to be created yourself. This is a location commonly known throughout traveling circles as Square One.
So I went to see friend and trainer Marian at Apricot Island, which is located in the south of England somewhere between Hayling Island and Wight Island. Marian ran a Personal Journey weekend, where three clients had two full days of facilitation and exercises designed to do a large piece of personal work. Now, Clean Coaching and Symbolic Modeling are Coaching tools based on the development on top of a huge history of psychological theory and practice with clients. In fact it’s one of the latest and most helpful kinds of work, but in the middle of an intensive weekend of the stuff it can all feel a bit woo-woo; a bit mumbo jumbo; with holes from your chest disappearing out of your leg, decisions around it being time to design a pot to piss in, and post-it notes and felt tip pens scattered around the room. It was nice to reconnect with Clean Language and its’ often entertaining way of procuring change in people, and by the end of Sunday I wasn’t only completely “full”, mentally, but I had completely formed a plan about a surprise journey to get me on my way out of Square One, which I’ll get to in a minute..
So, there’s been a huge shift in perspective and in total, it now feels invigorating to be home. The very damp and greenness of the atmosphere combined with the substantial-if-not-traumatic temperature drop seems to nourish the working attitude, and although wedged and working between a strewn out lifetime supply of clothes, notes and trinkets as I attempt to sling out overaged and unnecessary possessions in a break for a more minimal lifestyle (believe me, chucking is a challenge); movement’s in the making.
So I was toying on making my winter destination a surprise, especially since I’ve changed my target destination over the last few days, as well as moving from a vague dream to a plan in progress. However, given that I don’t really have the reader base to really toy with (yet) – and given the fact that I really need to lay out my plans on this website so that interested parties (here or there) can see, so as to entice their involvement – I’ll lay them out here. (They’re also laid out over at my new blog: a blog with a name, but we’re still not ready to discuss those details yet)..
So.. With all that in mind, I keenly present to you.. INDIA 2010/11 !
That’s to fly out of London on Monday, 15-November 2010, and to return in the week of 18-February 2011.
I will fly into Mumbai, travel eight hours south to world-famous Goa, explore Bangalore and the surrounding state of Karnakata, and continue deep into the south, journeying through Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and finishing my tour in Chennai…
… or something like that; remembering that by packing light, spontaneity and whimsical diversions are usually the greatest moments in foreign travel. But remembering also that this trip is being designed to fulfill certain professional and personal objectives:
Aim 1 – To take Clean Coaching to India. I’m not sure if there’s anyone doing it there already, and I’m researching people now for information, contacts and connections. I aim to share this approach to coaching, consulting and psychotherapy; to run some demonstrations and workshops in the different parts of India that I’ll visit, with a range of people from different professional areas and walks of like. I also plan to do a lot of outdoor sessions and workshops, inviting people from various communities as well as the so-called “spiritual tourists” to try out the magic of this work in Southern India’s fantastic natural settings. I could also train a couple of people to carry out this work autonomously, thereby leaving behind a legacy. Aim 1 is all about exotic work experience, and the dissemination of this marvelous work.
Aim 2 – To blog, report, and do some personal investigative journalism. Getting to the bottom of the places I visit is a huge value I have when I travel – both for personal curiosity and to present the findings to others. Mumbai is a fascinating city at an important stage of its development, and Bollywood for some bizarre reason allures me greatly. Goa, as the final destination on the old hippy trail must contain a million and one juicy legends, and is a highlight on any travelers’ map that I still haven’t visited or had any kind of experience of. But the number one thing that has piqued my curiosity is the culture of the Guru or “God-man” that hosts followers in their many ashrams in the South of the country. My aim, as someone who (is certainly not a guru or God-man but) certainly has effective help and psychological techniques to help overcome all kinds of problems and mental issues, is to understand the life and subjective experience of these people – if it’s possible to get close enough to them. Much of the guru scene is purposefully mysterious, as you’ll see by watching this perhaps overly hard-hitting documentary. It would also be entertaining to draw a parallel between the gurus I see over there in a spiritual context and the ones we find on a day-to-day basis here on the internet. What do they have in common in terms of what they give and receive, what they say and do, how they lead and how they manage and interact with their followers. Aim 2 is all about stories.
Aim 3 – To avoid a potentially miserable UK winter, enjoy the sun and the climate and bootstrap my burgeoning consulting business. Internet’s good in India, I can lifestyle design, meet others doing the same in their careers, and promote my work through this blog. India will also be an opportunity to improve my writing, and hopefully, as you would have witnessed, my paintbrush skills! Aim 3 is all to do with Lifestyle Design..
and Aim 4 – To do some tourism, tons of yoga and get some general ayurvedic massage and healing going on (my body’s taken a bit of neglection over the past few years on the road..). To enjoy the hot weather, foreign culture, beach parties, new people, and general chilling out and riding motorbikes. Aim 4 is about me :)
So what needs to happen for this trip to happen?
First of all I’m researching destinations I want to visit, but more importantly I’m looking for people to meet and connect with: people interested in Coaching, people potentially interested in Clean Coaching, and any number of open-minded people and lifestyle designers. I’m also looking for people with strong and informed opinions on various aspects of the life and culture in this part of the world, and I’m looking for people with experiences and knowledge about the whole spiritual and “guru” culture in this region. If any of these people sound like you or anyone you know, please get in touch! It would be fantastic to connect, talk, and share experiences together. The more of these people I’m able to meet, the more we’ll satisfy the above aims – Aims 1 & 2 being the most important.
Also, a couple more coaching clients wouldn’t go amiss in terms of funding, so if you’re interested in Clean Coaching, over the short, medium or long-term, get in touch and we can come to some kind of agreement ;)
Secondly, you may have read of plans to work in Brazil this winter in the about me page. This trip has been postponed until April 2011 for two reasons: firstly, Christmas combined with Summer holidays combined with Carnaval makes Brazil a difficult place to seriously work in during these months; and secondly, I’m currently applying for help for this trip from a certain dead Prime Minister. I have a worthy project in the balance, and hopefully going the “official route” by soliciting both funds and moral support from the British establishment would add some stability and authority to the project, thereby improving its chances of success. Stay tuned for more on that one..
So that’s my story of Square One – didn’t spent too much time there, and I didn’t just start working on one plan, but two. There’s a lot of great stuff to do in this world, my my..
And all this begs the question: have you ever been back in Square One after a certain failed dream? How did you get out of it?
Are you in Square One now? What needs to happen for you to get out of it? Your answers and comments will be eagerly discussed in the section below..
Continuing with the theme of home, as an added bonus – since this is a new blog for both you and for me – I’d like to complete this post’s role as something of a home-page and share some resources with you. As this moment in time expresses for me both a homecoming and launchpad into another direction, I hope that the following can help you start moving out of your Square One, if you’re in one, or at least point you in the direction of some interesting and influential stuff..
The following are six books that I’ve found central for my development as a person, a traveler and a coach over the last four-and-a-half years:
(It’s important to note that none of these books comes as close to influencing me as my experiences and journeys themselves, nor the great friendships that I’ve made)
- The Inner Game of Tennis, by Timothy Gallwey. The connection between body and mind, conscious and unconscious has been tackled from many different angles in the worlds of coaching and NLP, but it takes this allegorical account between our two “sides” that really brings home the importance and the methods we can adopt to become better performers. Gallwey was in fact a tennis coach, whose methods brought about huge and rapid improvements in his students. Between him and John Whitmore, this work and this book is the cornerstone of this translation of sports coaching into the world of executive and personal coaching. A fascinating book with wonderful secondary benefits for the passive reader.
- On The Road, by Jack Kerouac. This is a famous book that most backpackers read at some point. I read it just before leaving for the second time to South America and what got me were the emotions, the excitement and raw thrill of just being on the road. Travelers often love to talk about what they’ve done and why they’re so unique, but in On The Road, Kerouac narrates with an incredible sensory passion the highs and lows of his travels around two countries and many cultures that nowadays plainly do not exist. This for me is travel, the feelings, the moods, the nostalgia, the excitement, the sadness – not the photograph at the top of Macchu Picchu.
- The Magic of Metaphor, by Nick Owen. Throughout 2008 and 2009 I read a lot about NLP, influence and personal change. Most of what I read was at best a little freaky and at worst downright manipulative. That stuff’s good to be aware of (especially since we’re bombarded with it every day), but the one thing I did take away from that world was the idea of the story or metaphor. When in the middle of a story a person sits back and relaxes, and messages, values and beliefs are inferred by the person from the story and taken on board. Thus the story is one of the greatest transporters of education and culture, and tales and values older than Greek mythology are still around with us today. Nick Owen collects 77 different short stories in this edition, that are useful for coaches, teachers, and budding writers that may want to show, not tell.
- Marco Polo Didn’t Go There, by Rolf Potts. Rolf seems to be the de facto travel writer commonly shared around Lifestyle Design circles, usually for his generation defining first book, Vagabonding. But I haven’t read that, nor feel I need to, but this compilation of stories depicts Rolf’s style not only of searching out more “authentic” travel experiences than the hordes, but of expertly tying his experiences together with his personal philosophy, competent narratives and a sense of humour. In short, Rolf makes me want to become a better writer.
- The Power of Six, by Philip Harland. A document that teaches, tells and illustrates the workings of possibly the latest and most curious coaching/psychotherapeutic technique in the world today. Reading this book gave me the possibility to really do more profound work with my clients, and really achieve big results around sticky situations where seated conversation doesn’t quite cut it. This book has served as the base for my outdoor coaching, as well as most of the Clean Coaching that I’m using now with great success. An incredibly motivating and fascinating read.
- Leaving Microsoft to Change the World, by John Wood. Does what it says on the cover. NGO boss John Wood tells his story, and if you’re on the edge of what you can take in your cubicle or corporate job, Leaving Microsoft demonstrates how it might be for you to take the plunge and do something passionate. If you agree with this book and can overcome your fears, needs and ego, perhaps you won’t go back to work on Monday morning. (& the very inclusion of this book in this section of the post could indicate a future possible direction for my work..)
- Amazon, by Bruce Parry. Available in hardback or as a 6-part documentary shown on the BBC, Bruce Parry completes a mouthwatering journey through a vital area that I’ve been lucky enough to experience with a balanced and compassionate style that has helped change my view of documentary forever. Whereas many people look from afar and comment from their preexisting ideas and prejudices about a certain issue, Bruce spends six months in the Amazon, talking, working and celebrating with illegal loggers, cocaine manufacturers, ordinary jungle dwellers, transvestites and of course, local and little-exposed tribespeople and their shamans. What exudes from this fantastic piece of work is documental rigour and heaps of understanding. I have this in mind whenever I travel and whenever I seek to report.
Enjoy, and please, leave your comments below – about your Square One’s, the India Project, or your comments on the books and resources shared..