How to Get Unstuck during the Creative Process..

August 31, 2010 § 2 Comments

In this post I will outline how to get out of a sticky creative situation.  To bypass the story and skip straight to the model that details what to do, scroll down to the bold type at the bottom of the post.  The pictures that illustrate the exercise have words in Spanish, by reading the text their meaning will become clear..

The following model consists of 2 chunks each with three parts, followed by a pause, another chunk of three parts and later some revision.  I recommend closely following the structure of the model, not altering or leaving parts out as you may feel inclined to do.  The model may look rather simple once described in writing, but believe me, the feelings and motivation to act produced by following the steps are awesome.  I’d love to hear your feedback and experiences in the comments below.

How to Get Unstuck during the Creative Process..

(a.k.a. The Croquetas Exercise)

Croquetas, or crockets as I remember my mother referring to them when I was a kid, are some kind of delicious but not too nutritious conical-shaped food consisting of filling in the middle of a crispy battered coating. I always ate them with ketchup but in Spain that’s a crime. They eat them here with garlic mayonnaise.

But this is not a post for foodies, although I guess it could be if you’re a chef that’s stuck and looking for a resolution to a certain creative block. In this post I will outline how to get, and how I got – on my recent creativity and ceramics course – out of a sticky creative situation. The following is a model of three parts, with a bit of a follow-up. And each of the three parts, plus follow-up, are made up of three distinct stages. Allow me to set the scene, and please allow my story to act as a metaphor for your current creative situation:

We’re approaching the middle of the week of a seven day ceramics workshop. Some pieces so far seem successful, some have gone straight to the bin and a couple are loitering around, desiring to be finished but presenting difficulties. We’re told to choose one from this latter category.

I choose a boat that I’m working on. The boat is the product from an exercise focused on structure. I’ve obviously failed this exercise as the mast keeps falling down and it takes two people to move it from place to place on top of it’s construction board. I want to salvage the boat as there is something important to communicate in my making of the boat. But it is sick and needs treatment. We’re told to work in pairs.

1. Value what you have in hand.

We Start by looking at the value of the piece in hand that’s posing difficulties, from three different perspectives.

A. We Look at the piece Subjectively. I don’t like it because it’s spectacularly failed at the task in hand, the work on the structure on the boat is incredibly shoddy, born out of a desire to just play with the materials foregoing quality. After the initial rush of excitement to play with the clay, the paper and the bamboo has worn off, I notice just how clumsy my workmanship is in comparison to my daydream – the mental image of what I was going to create in this workshop. Apart from that, I do like some of the shapes I’ve used, and I’m very proud of the sail that I’ve started, which is neatly cut and features the flags of the countries and provinces from which the other coursemates are from. This is meant to be a piece that signifies unity for me, and unity for me and the group, as I had been rather quiet the previous day. But since the piece is, overall, rather shitty, I feel grumpy with it.

B. We Look at the piece Objectively. Without any projections of our feelings towards the boat, we look at it in light of what’s really going on. There is a part which is well constructed and has meaning. And there is a part that doesn’t fulfill its requirements, that is, it doesn’t work at all. So there is something both good and useful about this piece and there is something that can be thrown away. And already as soon as part 2 of the exercise a solution is emerging from this different perspective. If one part can be thrown away, “what else would have to happen to replace it/keep the project alive?” This is the question that meets my lips.

C. We Look at the piece Contextually now. Already I’m in a calmer state about the project as we value it in terms of what’s going on around us. We’re in a course, on day three, and it’s still one of the first times in which we touch clay, or any of the other materials mentioned. In real life, we don’t create stuff with our hands. It’s pardonable to be clumsy. We know that we’re given a variety of tests during the week to stretch us, our capabilities and our reactions. Let’s see what we can learn from this, I say to myself. We have a ceramics expert at hand, we also have some people around us that can possibly help. The other participants have produced some ghastly pieces, and that’s also okay, they’re also learning. We’re a little more than one hour into the task, we can refocus and really go in a different direction now, and in the grand scheme of things we haven’t lost too much time.

Having looked at the problem piece from three different perspectives, I start to feel different, more relaxed and more optimistic about the piece. From this, shall we say, more positive emotional basis, it’s going to be a lot easier to create and concentrate productively.


2. Now, taking this piece that you perceive as challenging you..

As we do from a more relaxed vantage point,

A. We Redefine the difficulty. So in this case, it’s not at all true that the boat is a piece of crap and would be best thrown away, it’s a case of me having dove in without considering the requirements of structure, but having fun and creating a basis and an embellishment that’s particularly likable. In that case it looks like a simple question of “how can we take what’s working, and improve what’s not working?” A “how can we keep the good part and improve the general structure with more care?”

B. We List the possibilities that there are with the piece. The possibilities appear to be: to completely remake the bottom part of the boat so that it’s stronger, and keep the sail. And in fact, this resolution comes so quickly and strongly that we don’t bother to then list more possibilities that are there for the piece.  We later find that it would be wise to spend a little longer than planned in this stage and look for a couple of other possibilities, even if you do end up going with the first one.

C. We are then posed the question, What have you learnt? And the truth is much. Not only do we feel much better about the task in hand but we have a solution and some motivation to bring it about. Up until now we’ve learned that perspective is important throughout the creative act, and we’ve got an obvious possibility for the project’s development.

3. Now here comes the important part of the exercise: Let it Simmer.

And this is the reason for the reference to the croquetas. When cooking crockets (from scratch), we need to let the pastry simmer for a good amount of time because, if we cook things too quickly, the pastry will get burnt but the filling will remain cold. Conversely, if we cook things too slowly, well, nothing really happens. Nothing edible gets produced. Food is important to the Spanish, and food metaphors come up in daily conversation like sport analogies to a proactive male businessman. In real terms, this means that the exercise up until now has had the purpose of examining the difficulty, procuring a possible structure for its’ solution, and then resting or attending to something else entirely different.  This is to let the difficulty settle, to rest our attention and to allow room for insight, inspiration and emergence to take place.

We go back to the classroom to share what we’ve learned and share we do with gusto. I for one am pretty chuffed with myself because not only have I done the exercise as it was set out; I’ve managed to get to a conclusion and have formed a clear and actionable plan about what to do. Upon sharing this the trainer tells me that I’ve completely and utterly failed the exercise. This response, naturally, gets my attention and she proposes the explanation that:

The human mind is a resolutional organ, always trying to fill in the gaps in our daily and life experiences and trying to find explanations and solutions for problems.

I was then invited to, as I invite you to now, retain the solution to your creative problem out of interest, and out of curiosity.

Because, as I was about to learn, by charging forward and finding quick solutions, you truncate the possibility of other things, even better solutions emerging. And not only that, as a human being with a resolutive tendency, by not stopping your intent to solve one particular problem, you end up disconnecting from other areas in your life – such as health, relationships, money – all in order to solve the problem at hand. Something happens at work and you stay an extra two, three, four hours to extinguish the fire, often with alarming regularity.  Now being creative and talented you’ll end up solving the problem, but meanwhile you lose yourself in the vortex that is the mess of cleaning it up, foregoing a good balance between your creative work and other areas necessary to human wellbeing.

…And it dawned on me why those romantic relationships full of mystery and shallow on concrete statements of how you feel about the other are those that most suck you in (and damage you).

…And then in the very next moment I realized that that was again me, as a business, as a coach, as an entrepreneur, that I had completely lost my last two years here in Spain because of trying to solve the very tricky subjects of money and career progression. The whole problem of marketing, defining what I’m doing and my own search for experience and training had completely absorbed me and my mental energies to the extent that it was rendering me unable to participate in building relationships, parties or fun times in general, as a twenty-something should be doing. And this made me sit up and look and think, not from a theoretical basis but rather from real life experience – and from my own realizing, not from a comment from another – that I have a dangerously strong tendency to hyper-invest my mental energies in problems.

Now this is a great skill that one can have in certain contexts, but all things in balance, eh, because this very tendency has been driving me to really destroy my hopes of quality of life. Something so ironic it’s almost hilarious: as someone who studies coaching, pretends to be a coach, a resource of well-being, in a Mediterranean country, where one supposedly moves to “chill out” and avoid the rat race. Now Spain is not what it may have been 15-20 years ago in terms of tranquility, but that’s another story altogether. I’ve learned through experience, not through vicariously experiencing it by reading others’ blog posts, about the need to put limits on your workaholism/problem-solvaholism…

So..

3. Wait 48 Hours. Relax. Turn your attention and energies to something else.

This might be very difficult for some ;-)

In the meantime we all continue with the clay, creating different pieces with different reasons and purposes in mind.

It’s interesting to note that during this time I discarded my previous solution and a couple of days later came up with a fresh one, bearing in mind what had emerged on day 4 of the course. It was to be my most motivating and inspirational piece of the week, something that the whole group seemed to enjoy watching emerge.

4. To create, it’s important to have motivation.

So from another creative place entirely, we’re brought back to the situation with the difficult piece, the broken boat, and the croquetas, which are just about cooked and ready to eat. In order to get this project back off the ground and ready to start to complete, we are asked to:

A. Discuss the Reasons and Purpose of doing the task

Having half-forgotten the piece, at least consciously, it takes a moment for us to refresh what was happening before. And in fact, a lot had happened during those 48 hours and a new solution had emerged. The reasons were clear: that apart from being an exercise in a course that we had to do, it was an exercise in overcoming ourselves, overcoming old problems and producing something better than was ever before possible. For me, it was also about producing something that everyone on the course could enjoy seeing, a boat, representing our journey, and representing everyone here. That was the purpose: connection, and also surprise, as most of the others hadn’t previously seen the mast.

B. Identify the Resources and Difficulties, both Internal and External, that you currently have and predict encountering during the completion of the project.

This was a pretty simple task, although once we realized that it wasn’t worth skipping over lightly, new things did come into our awareness. The resources were a new boat that I had created into which to plant the mast, a new ability in precision and craft that I’d refined over the last couple of days, plus a strong vision and desire to complete something of quality. The difficulties would mainly be internal: to do with my patience around completing the boat should it turn out to be difficult. The mast was also much bigger than the new boat so sizes had to be compared. Basically I had to be flexible in order to complete the project – to not get too obsessed with my current image of what was to be. But I realized I had friends and support, plus a good day and a half of access to the ceramics workshop.

C. And of course, ask yourself, What have you learnt?

Now at this point both my partner and I experienced a surge in motivation. Everything was so clear and we both leapt to the task in hand. I had given myself a deadline of the following midnight by which to have finished my catamaran, but given the breakthrough afforded by the exercise I had done the bulk of the work in an hour and a half. I then added an extra element of design and beautification that I hadn’t originally planned, and barring researching a couple more Spanish regional flags from my coursemates to draw onto the sail the following day, I had finished the task inside of three hours. Never mind midnight, I was having my gin and tonic by half-past eight!

5. What are you learning?

Now there was another step, about an hour into this last segment of ceramics workshop where we were asked to identify what we were learning, what we were learning about our way of learning, and if there was anything else about that. My colleague and I had a conversation that got rather Eastern, rather Tao and just a little bit Wu Wey

Other questions posed during the length of the course about anything and everything – and therefore perhaps being of use to you throughout your creative process – were:

  • What have you learnt about yourself and/or about your way of learning through doing this?
  • How and where can you apply this?
  • What new possibilities do you now have?
  • What other question would seem useful right now?

In Conclusion

This exercise not only proved incredibly potent for this particular creative exercise, but I learnt something huge about myself and about how my brain, if left unattended, works. Now I can’t continue my life trying to solve problem after problem, allowing myself to get burnt on the outside before being ready on the inside. I have to learn to relax sometimes, and trust to a large extent that I will arrive at suitable and workable solutions for the challenges that I face. On the other end of the scale, I certainly cannot just chill out and let everything happen for me, because then I’m just not in control of my life. The croquetas will not cook at all.

48 hours was the suggested amount of time.

***


The Model, In Brief:

1. Value what you have in hand.

  • Look at the piece Subjectively. Do you like it?  Why?  Why not?
  • Look at the piece Objectively. What are it’s strengths and weaknesses, seen from an outsider’s perspective?
  • Look at the piece Contextually. What are the challenges and difficulties implicit in this creative work, as determined by external factors?  How do you relate to your work now?

2. Now, taking this piece that you perceive as challenging you..

  • Redefine the difficulty. What is the real issue here?  Whereabouts are the important details to attend to?
  • List the possibilities that you have with that piece.
  • Ask yourself, What have you learnt?

3. Let it Simmer.

  • Wait 48 Hours
  • Relax
  • Turn your attention and energies to something else
  • Retain the solution to your creative problem out of interest.
  • Don’t get stuck thinking about it.  Carry on with the other areas of your personal and professional life.
  • Have fun and enjoy yourself.

4. Create, and get Motivated..

  • Identify the Reasons and Purpose of doing the task
  • Identify the Resources and Difficulties involved, both Internal and External. Think about how you can best make use of them, or to best fill the gaps.
  • Ask yourself, What have you learnt?

5. What are you learning?

  • What have you learnt about yourself and/or about your way of learning through doing this?
  • How and where can you apply this?
  • What new possibilities do you now have?
  • What other question would seem useful right now?

***

To resume, the model consists of 2 chunks each with three parts, followed by a pause, another chunk of three parts and later some revision.  I recommend closely following the structure of the model, not altering or leaving parts out as you may feel inclined to do.  The model may look rather simple once described in writing, but believe me, the feelings and motivation to act produced by following the steps are awesome.  I’d love to hear your feedback and experiences in the comments below..

Procrastinating?  Pick up your Free Workbook and overcome that habit, today.

Advertisements

The Summer Courses, 2010 (Intro)

August 27, 2010 § Leave a comment

I take a Masters, called Personal Coaching with NLP and DBM in Málaga, Southern Spain.

(That’s Neuro-Linguistic Programming and Developmental Behavioural Modeling to the uninitiated. Basically both are systems to improve a persons’ psychological wellbeing and learning ability.)

In fact, I’ve taken this Masters twice, completing it once last year and doing it again this year in order to really understand and have control of the different models and ways of working that it presents. And that’s so as to really serve my clients better. Plus it’s fun to do.

Now every summer, the same good people at the school, Coach Creativo, put on a couple of intensive courses of the same methodology taught in the Masters but for people looking to explore and improve their abilities around their creative process, and around the area of their personal relationships.

Being a part of the school for a couple of years now, I wanted to fill these gaps in my understanding of Coaching, Creativity and Relationships – and of course, any excuse to improve myself in these areas was too good an offer to pass up.

In the following few posts I want to share some models and some personal learnings that have proved absolutely vital to me, really affecting me in a positive way. I have listed the way in which these models work and what you have to do so that you can use them yourself should you find a relevant topic. I’ve also included my personal story from my creative process to illustrate how the models impacted me and also to share some real pearls that I learnt.

You can skip straight to the models by clicking the links here:

1. How to Get Unstuck during the Creative Process.  (The Croquetas Exercise).

2. The Difference between Excelling and Innovating.

3. How to Know if Your Lover is Right for You.

4. The Scenario: a.k.a. “Improve Your Relationships by Harnessing the Power of Freaky Synchronicities”

I hope that these prove in some way significant to you. If you have any questions about the models or about anything else to do with Coaching, NLP or DBM that you may want to investigate, please get in touch with me at jordanlukecollier (at) googlemail (dot) com.


La Cartuja de La Cazalla

Before launching into the course and the exercises themselves, I’d like to take a moment to walk you around La Cartuja. Now, from what I understood of the history lesson that did go on for a long, long time, the Cartujos were monks from Grenoble, Southern France, that wanted to expand, shall we say.  They wanted to continue their way of live further away from their origin so that they could be free to create art, and to generally be free and at one with themselves and with their faith. Much more I can’t really divulge as this is not a history blog and the ire of ardent cartujanos would be too much to bear should they choose to get involved with this very public mangling of the facts.  (Plus the homework would just be too long and enduring to do). But let’s just say that this Cartuja, some one and a half hours’ north of Seville, deep into a barren land of nowhere and a certain magical wonderland of nightmares, is psychoactively organized to freak out even those of you with the sternest of stomachs.

Now exactly why this place will freak you out has not been fathomed at time of writing. It could be that the nearest inkling of civilization is fifteen kilometers away, and between us and them live wild boar, which the townsfolk deliciously fry up and serve with chips or in a stew. It could also be that the insanely hot Andalucian days and the cool almost desert-like nights play with your biological regulatory system to such an extent that they stir your insides up and set you off on strong and passionate emotional black-outs. It could be that the unerring clear sky turns one hundred shades of blue and red until it blackens for many hours, allowing the full moon that seemingly happens twice a month here to shine all the more fervently, turning the permanent dwellers in these few buildings into unpredictable werewolves should you request the wrong thing at the wrong moment. It’s also possible that the course we’ve chosen to partake in, hypnotically designed to draw you under and prod around with the most sensitive parts of your unconscious mind, is the culprit. Or it may be that simply, over the course of seven centuries, many people have arrived here with their issues, and that many people have left, well, different.  Now that’s not always good different nor bad different.  I guess it has to be experienced to be known.

There is a huge creative tendency around the many buildings, quarters, centres of prayer and ruins that scatter the site. These people, ailingly arriving, put themselves to paint, to sculpt, and to play with ceramics. (If there is a verb to go here, let me know). They probably wrote, related and sang, but of this remains no trace. However what is evident of the creations here are their stangeness, their suffering, and their incompletion – three elements I take as mirrors that can really arouse a severe discomfort within a visiting and struggling creative.

These traits are not limited to the bizarre pots and paintings that adorn every uncovered angle of the spacious premises. Unlike it’s lucky neighbour located within Seville’s city limits, La Cartuja de La Cazalla has been unfortunate not to profit from well-funded architectural refits. Severe mishmashes of style, material and workmanship are to be found right throughout the site, intermingling with the artwork and serving an unknowable maze of an indecipherable intricacy of laze and incompleteness, and out the back, bare-faced ruin.

In fact, there is a certain wrongness to the construction and artwork of this place that’s perfectly described by the following anecdote that arrived to me halfway through my first week here. As a place a little left of centre and a little out of town, many of the expositions are put on specifically to challenge, antagonize and shock the visitor. When a Japanese comic book display of genocide, torture and pornography was placed along the inside walls of the actually operative chapel in the summer of 2008, religious tourists that drove to the Cartuja from as far north as Burgos left in disgust.

It’s easy to forget that as both inhabitant and expressive Cartuja-owner, your obtaining of heritage funds is dependent on the accolade and admiration given to your site by it’s visitors. And when people visit monasteries, sadly enough as is the current case in this world, people more often than not want monasteries.

Saying all that, the place is not uncomfortable, and it’s certainly not ugly. Just take a pic-nic and a bottle of wine to the edge of the ruins on a starry night and you will not feel ungrateful for being here. Stroll along the dewey grass in the early morning, drink freshly made juice from the fruit that grows within the compound, and dive into a natural and algae-infused freshwater swimming pool to cool down after a sweaty half-sleep, and you cannot fail to feel invigorated.

But do not wander off too far on your own. Do not try to escape the grounds in your pyjamas in the middle of the night, especially if there’s hootin’ or howlin’ afoot. And do not even attempt to stub out your lit cigarette in the grass out back; certainly not that long, dry grass that adjoins onto the forest, Henry.

With all that in mind, I want to add that I did in fact do the Creativity and Ceramics course in 2009. I don’t know why but I was sick for three days and three nights straight.

And three days and three nights after I got home after that, I left home and got to Barcelona three days and three nights after that. I have never been the same.

Exercises start on the following page.

Enjoy.

Procrastinating?  Pick up your Free Workbook and overcome that habit, today.

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.


Epilogue, and Prologue..

August 22, 2010 § Leave a comment

This is the epilogue to a six-part series of a Lifestyle Design experiment en route to Montenegro, Summer 2010. Click here for parts 123, 4, 5 and 6.

After 6: Action Space

If you’ve just arrived at this page, welcome to my personal mission for the next decade or so. If you’ve arrived here after reading the first six chapters of this story, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for indulging me.

The truth is, although a disaster in terms of what I expected to achieve at the start of the trip, these two weeks out of my general routine allowed for certain perspectives and experiences to happen that would forever change my objectives for both my career, and life. In essence, this little story is turning out to be pivotal, and although not having completed much in accordance with the “traditional” work model I was previously imagining, this trip to Montenegro, a certain gift from a friend and host, has designed the blueprint for a future lifestyle: managing to marry together all of my passions and aspirations.

What I’ve realized is, no matter how effective I may be in my work or how much training I’ve received in order to do it, I’m far from wanting to set up some kind of “serious” business for myself, that would involve hiding underneath a veil of engineered professionalism and conservative clothing. I want to coach, I want to help people overcome difficult problems in a huge variety of settings, and in real geographic settings too – not some office with grey overtones and not all day long in my house over Skype. Although it does inspire a certain pleasure this working with clients in your underpants without them knowing it, I want to be with real people in the flesh! I want nature! I want varied and difficult experiences! I want to live!

So what I take from this trip, with all the thanks in the world to my friend and host, to client one and to client two, is a goal, an objective. Something to set my mind towards and something to help inspire. To become world class in the field that I’m in and to fulfill all my lifestyle ambitions, I hereby set myself the goal of completing:

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

Now this is no mean feat, and I expect it to take some ten years to complete, and that’s allowing for unpredictable moments in terms of interested clients, and unpredictable cultures that just may not need anything that my work can offer them. Ten years, that takes me up to about 37 years of age. Maybe then I’ll start a serious business.

But this goal, I promise you, dear reader, is totally serious. 10,000 hours, I confirm to you, is the chosen objective, because, as noted my Malcolm Gladwell in Outliers from other psycho-cultural research, 10,000 is the amount of working hours necessary to take a person from zero to an absolute world expert in their field. And that’s who I want to be, someone effective, someone who can, nearly every single time, make enormous differences to people’s lives, increasing psychological well-being and general happiness, by carrying out his daily work.

And to do it in a style that’s completely true to who I am, not having to censor certain personality traits, not having to censor the fact, that as a 27-year-old male, I like a cold beer on a hot night or a holiday romance. The truth is that I deliberated a good while before deciding to publish this story – in all of it’s PG-Gonzo glory – given some kind of perceived fear about how the “serious” world would react. But in the end, integrity comes from within and from how you carry out your work, not from how you perceive that you’re perceived by people you don’t really know.

So, it’s going to be a hell of a ride – in fact, it’s already being one. And with that in mind I cordially invite you to follow my journey, to contribute to the story and mission, and to support, if you should so desire, someone who wants to help people to improve their lives, in one hundred countries around the world.

Jordan Luke,

Barcelona, August 2010.

*The Exercise, so that you know, is an amalgam of psychotherapeutic processes developed my 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 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.

Procrastinating?  Pick up your Free Workbook and overcome that habit, today.

The 6 Irrefutable Laws of Lifestyle Design

August 21, 2010 § Leave a comment

This is the final part of a six-part series of a Lifestyle Design experiment en route to Montenegro in Summer 2010. Click for parts 123, 4 and 5.

The following is dedicated to all you out there in the blogosphere who just love 3-10 point instructional/advisory posts. And it’s especially dedicated to those who may be offending rule #5.

Part 6: Out Of The Ashes

Zadar, July 22nd.

Hell yeah! you say to yourself, stoked. This is what it’s all about!

You get off an absolutely stunning eight hour bus ride up the Croatian coast from Dubrovnik to Zadar, and the whole thing was better than a movie. Luckily you pitched up early at the bus-stop, and boarded the bus when it still had a full window seat on the coastline side available. You took it, even though your seat number was different, and you survived several bitter-looking attempts from angry gringos to de-seat good view-hunters like yourself. The result: cramped legs from the rabid necessity to be in reaching range of your full array of electronic media products and hours of shoddy video camera footage, but a general sensation of relaxation and contentment nonetheless. You probably already know, but feel it fitting to remind yourself, that aside from the bluest seas imaginable to man, Croatia has over one thousand islands off it’s dramatic and rugged mountainous coastline. And when the bus momentarily turns inland, you’re refreshed by a vegetational expanse of green more succulent than a Sunday Roast resplendent with an overabundance of runner beans.

The ancient walled city of Zadar is splendid and inviting, you witness the sunset, and amble past the several watering holes and trendy pizza joints in sight. It takes a while to find a non-ripsy, non-fast food joint for dinner, but after some meandering deliberation you have a table, beside a stone wall in a dimly-lit alley, with jazz music piping through from the neighbour and a large, cold Karlovačko. A mixed grill of random Croatian meats and sausages is on the way. This is what it’s all about.

In terms of work, you feel satisfied to know that you got a fair bit done on the bus – you finished off an audio course that was sticking around too long and caught up on a couple of tele-classes for your current Masters programme, taking notes on the way and ready to e-mail in your feedback on the ideas presented. But the pièce de résistance came whilst reflecting over your experiences of the last two weeks. You realize you’ve completely experienced the six definitive and most difficult things about work on the road, and thus your hyper logical and super resolutive brain jumps to define and proclaim The Six Absolutely Irrefutable Laws of taking a Lifestyle Design work-trip to the world:

1. Think About Sartre. (Is Hell Really Other People?)

From the couple of cuties liable to chat you up on the bus at the beginning of the trip to those neighbours that invite you for beer brunches and cognac at every hour of the day, other people can really be a limitation on you and your getting work done. Can you refuse and block them out? Of course, but there comes a point where there are people in your own house, shouting your name and filling up the fridge with beer. And given that you’re invited away by a friend in the first place, there is no way of permanently avoiding hell, you mean, other people.

But this whole equation flips on its head at the end of the working day, and you’re glad that there are other people around for a very satisfying happy hour. This pattern flips itself again onto its other head when you realize that another issue you have to contend with are wild, late nights, and consequently late mornings.

But it is certainly possible that other people turn out to be pivotal, not just in your ability to have fun, but also for work. Friends you meet and friends of friends can end up being clients and working directly with you – and other contacts you may make could be waiting for a phone call as soon as you get back. The idea is that, as good as solitude is for some kinds of creative work, no man is an island, and it’s exactly this social circle that can help you flourish in much more exciting and unpredictable ways.

Now all things are worth evaluating in context, particularly when it comes to relationships on the road. And although your friends on one trip can generally be supportive and leave you alone if asked, it’s true to say that not all friends would be so understanding and could be a real detriment to your objective.

In other words, other people create business and create fun. If the other people around you don’t look like either, 80/20 them. (That means, kick out the 80% that are not helping you with your aim).

2. The Simple Should Never Be Underestimated.

Also known as: Plan ahead. Before leaving home, ask yourself, what’s likely to happen on this trip? And then, do your research.

In other words, where are you going? When? Where are you going to sleep? If you want to get quality work done, you need a good night’s kip. If you want to work efficiently and effectively, this may be difficult in temperatures over 35º. What is the climate of the place you’re going to? Is it peak season or low season? Are you going to be out on the road for a while? And do you have any need to use the phone or internet during this time? Find quality advice, preferably from people who have recently travelled to your destination, on exactly how good the services in your destination are and how you can find them.

Another point crucial to consider is that mentioned in part three, that it’s good to know the road ahead. Something unpredictable and overly delightful can make you want to live the moment and not miss out by concentrating on work. Perhaps, if you need to get a lot done, it’s better to go somewhere you already know somewhat. Perhaps, it’s better to stay in a city or a town that acts as a base-camp, some kind of hub settlement between more interesting places in which to pass the weekends.

When you don’t know what’s ahead it’s best to make the most of the certainties when they do arise. If you are to have, for example, an 18-hour ferry trip, it could be a good idea to get some stuff done rather than stare vacantly at the sunset and eye up the opposite sex.

3. The Hammock And The Margarita Is Just A Marketing Con.

Now it’s certainly possible that a five- or even four-star resort in the Caribbean or Dubai has a wi-fi signal that stretches to the swimming pool bar. However the world, in 2010, contrary to the bubble in which you’re probably sat now suggests, is not well interconnected. Not even by half. And certainly not by dongles.

Don’t get seduced by your desire to just get away: do your homework on your destination’s ability to connect with the outside world. As experienced on this trip, not only is there not internet access nor a working telephone along a ten kilometer strip of beach, one has to travel a further 5km by car to find an internet café which is just impossible to use. Perhaps in a few years time it will be a reality to consult over skype from the edge of nowhere, but until then.. know the frontiers of the digital community. If this is key to you, stay within them during work time.

In other words, a person usually goes on holiday to forget about the world outside. Montenegro’s great for that, because, thanks to it’s unconnectability, thinking about your clients and even getting hold of them is virtually impossible. However this is no place to do “business”.

4. Know Thyself. (And Make Thyself Strong).

Are you trying to trick yourself? What are you missing from your own behaviour?…

Watch out for those unconscious business blind spots. What this is trying to say is “don’t be scared to check the facts before you go”. And if you find yourself avoiding the facts, give yourself a business slap and check those facts before you go.

When you meet interested potential clients on the fly, move hell and high water to consolidate that job or that contact. Don’t just limply give up in the face of a challenge that may be more uncomfortable than hanging out in your hammock. Getting stuff done does in fact energize, equally or even more so away from home than at.

Be aware enough to notice and ask yourself: what kind of work are you actually doing? If it’s passive, catching up on information or other procrastination, again, give yourself a business slap and 80/20 it. When you do work when away from home, make sure that it’s money related tasks. And if you’re not doing money-related tasks, make sure you’re making the most of your time traveling.

Be strong. At home it’s easy to control your working environment so as not to fall into bad habits. i.e. banish the TV, don’t put chocolate chip cookies in the cupboard, whatever. Away, you’re going to be surrounded by temptation again and again (unless of course you go to a “dry” country). Keep healthy food and drink around and enforce a pub law: i.e. no partying until a certain amount of work has been achieved.

5. Keep Things In Perspective.

And Get Laid.

If there’s the possibility that you’re a little too involved in your internet start-up project: Don’t be a geek and internet your life and experiences away. Don’t get sucked into the vortex..

At almost every juncture you’re passing up a good opportunities for romance with cute members of the opposite sex, and cursing everyone else around for sucking face.

Too much thinking of work, too much planning and trying to solve problems that potentially don’t exist turn you into an overinflated head perched atop a limp and dysfunctional body.

Get real, if you’re reading this you’re probably young.  Allow the good stuff to happen.

If you haven’t got laid in a while you’ve probably forgotten just how energizing it is, and just how much perspective it affords to how you’re spending your time and what’s fun in life.

Not only that but when you’re satisfied sexually you’re much more attractive, not just in a sexual sense but in every sense of the word. Other people smell the confidence and the relaxed concentration you exude. And this leads to more business deals as well.

Now, back to the marketing..

6. To Be (And Not To Be).. A Niche Artist.

Be ballsy about what you do, be general, and communicate in a language that the people you’re talking to can understand..

In other words, you were probably told that on setting yourself up for online business success, it was good to find a niche, something very exact, something very small, and something you could dominate the world at..

And if working with pre-established clients the world over one can wholeheartedly agree. But decide how you want to work whilst away, especially if you want to engage with local people and find clients from other cultures.

Because it’s very likely that your tightly-wound area of expertise just doesn’t fit into that society; that there’s no-one suffering with the frustration you serve, and if the chips are down and your business fails whilst romantically stuck long-term overseas, you’ll quickly find yourself with no work and useless, needing to your way up from janitor with a long and slow journey ahead.

Be general, open up the possibilities of things that you can do, and as the interested party gives you more specificity as to what kind of service they’d buy, go matching your offer to their needs.

And as you sit reflecting upon these learnings of the last two weeks, and however disastrous you perceive this trip as having been once considered in light of the milestones you set yourself at the very start, you’ve learned and realized things much bigger than the imaginary productivity vacuum caused by your relative “inaction” on holiday. Um, working trip. You can turn to the next chapter to learn more..

But enough diary for now.. Meat’s arrived!

Continue to After 6 – Epilogue, and Prologue (Action Space)

Procrastinating?  Pick up your Free Workbook and overcome that habit, today.

Discos and Windows

August 20, 2010 § Leave a comment

This is the fifth in a six-part series of a Lifestyle Design experiment en route to Montenegro in Summer 2010. Click for parts 123, 4 and 6.

Part 5: Crash and Burn

Crash and Burn. The time has come, for Crash and Burn. Work, projects, getting stuff done – the entire crux for you coming on this adventure, however rickety its’ progress has been up until now – is now truly and utterly out of the door. And how. Paying attention to and concentrating on work has been challenging up until now. But now it’s downright impossible. You don’t much care however..

Now, you didn’t see this coming, but you’re very glad it dad. Because, let’s face it, the Lifestyle Design blogs you’ve been immersed in over the last six months or so talk of adventure, social media hustle, long long days on powerbooks with wifi, and never about this. In fact, from what you’ve seen and heard, Lifestyle Designers are some kind of asexual breed, immersed not in reproductivity but only in productivity, and somehow you had subconsciously castrated yourself at the embarkment of the bus back in Estación Nord.

Now after last night’s pig party you’re persuaded to help take half of your friend and host’s music studio down to the beach bar to mix up some of the more bizarre and eclectic selections from deep within your iPod. Your funky pet favourites produce some silly fun in the rackety-blue-wooden-not-even-half-full disco, and you have an entertaining time. In fact, as you relax from your ear-damaging performance up on the stage and share a couple of beers down in the bar, it’s not long until things start progressing and you have the best experience one can have on such a trip abroad; the absolute icing on the cake. You meet somebody new, and you have a holiday romance.

Over the next 48 hours, professional development gets tossed to one side as you find something much more interesting to get your teeth into. And bloody welcome it is too.

Now, not being one to spill too many beans, you’re going to stop the gossip here. But you think it’s worth taking the time to acknowledge, for if a certain person should read this very sentence, that those two days were the type of days that can absolutely change the way one looks at relationships forever. And that you feel totally awestruck at just how direct, honest, open and enjoyable a relationship, however short, can be.

It’s either Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday when you say a very sad and grateful goodbye to your friend and host, to client, and to holiday romance. The temperature’s still hovering at around 35 degrees and you’re still both breakfasting and lunching on beer and börek. As you make your way up the Montenegrin coast, laptops and projects come out, but it isn’t long until drowsiness takes over and you find yourself asleep. When your eyes do momentarily open you notice just how stunning this piece of coast is and just how vindicated your friend and host was in investing in a highly risky property here. The sea has a rich shade of blue only before seen in photoshopped work, and the neat and uniform development wedged into they bays between the large and striking black mountainside suggests that in this part of Europe they’ve learnt from the tourism mistakes that have dogged other cities back in Spain. You pass the island of Sveti Stefan, an exclusive and fashionable former fishing village that occupies an entire island just meters off the mainland coast. You also, to your delight, circumnavigate the entire lake of Kotor, a natural wonder of this part of the world, and something you can imagine compares to a Norwegian fjord or a summertime alpine lake.

Work thoughts are now thousands of miles away as you drift in and out of consciousness and in and out of peaceful, romantic and nostalgic thoughts about the wonders, sights and successions of the trip in total. In fact, you feel so enamored at the thought of it all that whilst half asleep in the mid-afternoon sun with your forehead touching the window, you realize, in your infatuated haze, that your head is making rested and comfortable contact with something sturdy to the left. When you begin kissing the glass, it takes another few seconds until the haze fully lifts and you realize that the window panel is not in fact your holiday romance.

The next time you manage to put pen to paper is in Dubrovnik, waking up in a gorgeous family apartment that could not be any closer to the tourist action. And as you note to yourself throughout the evening and following morning, the tourist action here is absolutely gorgeous..

In fact, this city is again an absolute museum. Stone streets that are so clean and shiny you could walk around all day barefoot and go to bed at night with cleaner feet than you would have if you’d worn your flip-flops. You’re still kept company by the South American boys, and in the evening time you go out for a couple of tinnies down by the docks as you watch beautiful yachts of all styles and sizes go in and out of the city as people meander past and the sun goes down. Croatia is a yachtsman’s paradise, this is for sure, and does nothing to stop this emergence of a calling from the sea that’s steadily begun to grow since the start of the trip. You talk love and plans and philosophy and life until well into the evening, and later as it’s hard to energize yourself for a couple of drinks and a tour of the city’s bar scene, you retire to the family home in which you’ve found a room back by the central plaza for a good night’s sleep in a civilized bed. Certain members of the family are awake watching TV in underwear and flip-flops, but as enthusiastic as their smiles and nodding can appear, they don’t have too much desire to really engage with another tired and sweaty gringo.

The next morning you set out early and say goodbye to your travel companions. You’ll see them again soon enough in another part of the world, you confirm, and you walk Jesus-like through Dubrovnik centre to the bus station bus, forgiving from your grateful and satisfied holiday glow everyone who cuts into your path and screams in your earhole. You have really had lifestyle over the past couple of weeks, you mention to yourself over and over again, although in terms of work you’ve done no serious marketing or guru session since wandering up that dusty path a few days ago. For all good intentions, and they really were good, you reason with yourself, it’s been absolutely impossible. But as people from Ralph Waldo Emerson to Paulo Coelho, and any number of mythical fantasies between are liable to, quote, that “when you want something badly enough, the whole universe conspires to make it happen.”

In that case, you ask yourself, what was it that you actually wanted then?

Continue to Part 6.

Procrastinating?  Pick up your Free Workbook and overcome that habit, today.

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.

Procrastinating?  Pick up your Free Workbook and overcome that habit, today.