Category: Coaching

Perception is projection

We can use NLP techniques to learn how we can change our projections if they are not resourceful for us.

The only way we experience the outside world, is through our perceptions. We perceive what is going on, what someone means when they talk to us, we perceive we know what their behaviour means. But we are not so much perceiving the external world as we are projecting what we carry inside, out onto the world around us. So the world is a reflection of our inner thoughts, feelings, values, beliefs. Pretty much everything is what’s inside of us. 

We can use NLP techniques to learn how we can change our projections if they are not resourceful for us.

So everything that we perceive outside of us is a projection of what we perceive inside of us. Our perceptions of events, people, whatever is happening around us, is a projection from inside of us, and probably at the unconscious level. When we look at the things in the outside world and we think “wow that is my projection and that’s really good. Cool. There might be other things we look at and we go woooah that’s my projection that’s not really good.”

So we can change, learn, and create more and more of what we want in our perceptions of other people and circumstances and situations. We see our own unacknowledged mistakes and blind-spots in others. This is abundantly clear in personal quarrels and in politics.

Carl Jung distinguished between passive projection and active projection. Passive projection is completely automatic and unintentional, like falling in love. The less we know about another person, the easier it is to passively project unconscious aspects of ourselves onto them. Active projection is better known as empathy – we feel ourselves into the other’s shoes. Empathy that extends to the point where we lose our own standpoint becomes identification


ICC Accredited Coach

Pleased to say I’ve now added accredited ICC Coach to my other qualifications as a trainer, mentor and coach for personal development. 
ICC (International Coaching Community) is one of the largest professional organisations for coaches around the world, with more than 12,000 coaches certified in 67 countries.

Pleased to say I’ve now added accredited ICC Coach to my other qualifications as a trainer, mentor and coach for personal development. 
ICC (International Coaching Community) is one of the largest professional organisations for coaches around the world, with more than 12,000 coaches certified in 67 countries.

How to do Mindfulness Meditation

This is a clear and simple instruction in meditation, thank you Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche.
“Mindfulness practice is simple and completely feasible. Just by sitting and doing nothing, we are doing a tremendous amount.”

“Mindfulness practice is simple and completely feasible. Just by sitting and doing nothing, we are doing a tremendous amount.”

Thank you Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche for your teaching.

“An important point is that when we are in a mindful state, there is still intelligence. It’s not as if we blank out. Sometimes people think that a person who is in deep meditation doesn’t know what’s going on—that it’s like being asleep. In fact, there are meditative states where you deny sense perceptions their function, but this is not the accomplishment of shamatha practice.

Creating a Favourable Environment for Mindfulness Meditation

There are certain conditions that are helpful for the practice of mindfulness. When we create the right environment it’s easier to practice.
It is good if the place where you meditate, even if it’s only a small space in your apartment, has a feeling of upliftedness and sacredness. It is also said that you should meditate in a place that is not too noisy or disturbing, and you should not be in a situation where your mind is going to be easily provoked into anger or jealousy or other emotions. If you are disturbed or irritated, then your practice is going to be affected.

Beginning the Practice

I encourage people to meditate frequently but for short periods of time—ten, fifteen, or twenty minutes. If you force it too much the practice can take on too much of a personality, and training the mind should be very, very simple. So you could meditate for ten minutes in the morning and ten minutes in the evening, and during that time you are really working with the mind. Then you just stop, get up, and go.
Often we just plop ourselves down to meditate and just let the mind take us wherever it may. We have to create a personal sense of discipline. When we sit down, we can remind ourselves: “I’m here to work on my mind. I’m here to train my mind.” It’s okay to say that to yourself when you sit down, literally. We need that kind of inspiration as we begin to practice.

Posture

The Buddhist approach is that the mind and body are connected. The energy flows better when the body is erect, and when it’s bent, the flow is changed and that directly affects your thought process. So there is a yoga of how to work with this. We’re not sitting up straight because we’re trying to be good schoolchildren; our posture actually affects the mind.

Often we just plop ourselves down to meditate and just let the mind take us wherever it may. We have to create a personal sense of discipline.

People who need to use a chair for meditation should sit upright with their feet touching the ground. Those using a meditation cushion such as a zafu or gomden should find a comfortable position with legs crossed and hands resting palm-down on your thighs. The hips are neither rotated forward too much, which creates tension, nor tilted back so you start slouching. You should have a feeling of stability and strength.
When we sit down the first thing we need to do is to really inhabit our body—really have a sense of our body. Often we sort of prop ourselves up and pretend we’re practicing, but we can’t even feel our body; we can’t even feel where it is. Instead, we need to be right here. So when you begin a meditation session, you can spend some initial time settling into your posture. You can feel that your spine is being pulled up from the top of your head so your posture is elongated, and then settle.

The practice we’re doing is very precise: you should be very much awake even though you are calm.

The basic principle is to keep an upright, erect posture. You are in a solid situation: your shoulders are level, your hips are level, your spine is stacked up. You can visualize putting your bones in the right order and letting your flesh hang off that structure. We use this posture in order to remain relaxed and awake. The practice we’re doing is very precise: you should be very much awake even though you are calm. If you find yourself getting dull or hazy or falling asleep, you should check your posture.

Gaze

For strict mindfulness practice, the gaze should be downward focusing a couple of inches in front of your nose. The eyes are open but not staring; your gaze is soft. We are trying to reduce sensory input as much as we can. People say, “Shouldn’t we have a sense of the environment?” but that’s not our concern in this practice. We’re just trying to work with the mind and the more we raise our gaze, the more distracted we’re going to be. It’s as if you had an overhead light shining over the whole room, and all of a sudden you focus it down right in front of you. You are purposefully ignoring what is going on around you. You are putting the horse of mind in a smaller corral.

Breath

When we do shamatha practice, we become more and more familiar with our mind, and in particular we learn to recognize the movement of the mind, which we experience as thoughts. We do this by using an object of meditation to provide a contrast or counterpoint to what’s happening in our mind. As soon as we go off and start thinking about something, awareness of the object of meditation will bring us back. We could put a rock in front of us and use it to focus our mind, but using the breath as the object of meditation is particularly helpful because it relaxes us.
As you start the practice, you have a sense of your body and a sense of where you are, and then you begin to notice the breathing. The whole feeling of the breath is very important. The breath should not be forced, obviously; you are breathing naturally. The breath is going in and out, in and out. With each breath you become relaxed.

Thoughts

No matter what kind of thought comes up, you should say to yourself, “That may be a really important issue in my life, but right now is not the time to think about it. Now I’m practicing meditation.” It gets down to how honest we are, how true we can be to ourselves, during each session.
Everyone gets lost in thought sometimes. You might think, “I can’t believe I got so absorbed in something like that,” but try not to make it too personal. Just try to be as unbiased as possible. Mind will be wild and we have to recognize that. We can’t push ourselves. If we’re trying to be completely concept-free, with no discursiveness at all, it’s just not going to happen.
So through the labeling process, we simply see our discursiveness. We notice that we have been lost in thought, we mentally label it “thinking”—gently and without judgment—and we come back to the breath. When we have a thought—no matter how wild or bizarre it may be—we just let it go and come back to the breath, come back to the situation here.

No matter what kind of thought comes up, you should say to yourself, “That may be a really important issue in my life, but right now is not the time to think about it. Now I’m practicing meditation.”

Each meditation session is a journey of discovery to understand the basic truth of who we are. In the beginning the most important lesson of meditation is seeing the speed of the mind. But the meditation tradition says that mind doesn’t have to be this way: it just hasn’t been worked with.
What we are talking about is very practical. Mindfulness meditation practice is simple and completely feasible. And because we are working with the mind that experiences life directly, just by sitting and doing nothing, we are doing a tremendous amount.”

From The Lion’s Roar.
ABOUT SAKYONG MIPHAM RINPOCHE

Sakyong Mipham is the leader of Shambhala, a global community of meditation practitioners committed to realizing the inherent goodness in humanity. He is author of several books, including The Shambhala Principle. His website is sakyong.com.

5 Paradoxical Ways to Capture the Elusive Art of Creativity

On the surface, the notion of “creativity” sounds elusive. Coming up with a unique insight to produce an idea, song, poem or solution to a problem feels like a task meant for a blessed few.

On the surface, the notion of “creativity” sounds elusive. Coming up with a unique insight to produce an idea, song, poem or solution to a problem feels like a task meant for a blessed few. We usually reserve the term for people of the ilk of Steve Jobs—the inventor, Ludwig van Beethoven—the musician, Walt Whitman—the poet, or Elon Musk—the problem solver.

Srini Pillay M.D. writes this blog about new research that can help you be creative. (From Debunking Myths of the Mind).

“Such people always seem to be far beyond the reach of the ordinary. Their inventions and creations appear to be inspired from a world beyond the reality that we know, and their creative talents seem mysterious, to say the least. Some may even opine that these people are born with a special creative ability.

Yet, recent research on creativity indicates that our genes account for only 10 percent of being creative. The rest of it is learned, acquired, or dared. And there are clues about how you can navigate the journey to this hallowed ground too. 

Abandon the question, “How?”: The first clue is a paradox unto itself, as it simply requires abandoning the question, “How should I become creative?” When you abandon this question, you stop trying to follow the way of others, and search instead for your own path to creativity. And you can start this internal search by building unfocus times into your day.

At baseline, your brain uses 20 percent of the body’s energy at rest—effort tacks on only another 5 percent. So when you’re sleeping, napping, or lying in a hammock,your brain is busy shuttling ideas around, recombining them, and setting you up to be the creative person that you can be. If you want to become creative, you may need to build more of these “off” periods into your day.

Going for a walk outside, and allowing your mind to wander will most certainly count. At lunch, after lunch, mid-afternoon or at the end of a workday, this will get your creative juices flowing as your brain will switch to “time machine” mode, activating old and intangible memories—even fragments of them—putting puzzle pieces together, and then creating a creative template in your mind that you can build on.

Make a commitment to non-normal: The norm is not that most people are not creative, but that they choose not to be. For that reason, abandon the idea of being normal. You don’t have to be abnormal. i.e. You needn’t go against the grain just for the sake of that. But if you search deep within, you will see that there are parts of you that don’t fit the norm—unique aspects of your life experience that are just waiting to jumpstart your creativity that I call “non-normal.”

In fact, research shows that people who commit to being “normal” are less creative. They do not possess a trait vital for creativity. Called “openness to experience”, this trait can only be activated when you unlock yourself from the chains of normality. This will activate the brain’s unfocus network, which is necessary for creativity.

While this may sound elusive at first, you can start with baby-steps. Call up an old friend, take a walk along an unknown street, sign-up for an event that interests you, or contact someone who interests you on LinkedIn. You’ll be surprised what this may lead to.

Surrender to chaos: Most people try to organize their days as much as possible. But there is reason to believe that too much organization will rob you of your creativity. Rather, start by saving an hour of your day for non-planned activities.

Perhaps you can enter keywords that interest you into a search engine. Then after a half hour, write them all down to see what your brain came up with, and write a story that connects all of them. You don’t have to be afraid here—studies have shown that 75 percent of all scientific findings are unexpected anyway. So your little experiments make sense.

But you don’t even have to create chaos—just wake up, and you will see that chaos awaits you in your inbox, home, and work. Rather than react to all of this by organizing your day immediately, let it be as it is for 30 minutes. Then, sit back, and ask yourself, “What is the opportunity here?” You will likely be able to prioritize the most important tasks, delay the others, and even ignore the tasks that have no relevance to your life. When you do, you will see that you’ve already started to be creative.

Surrender to Inspiration: When you’re inspired, you feel lucky. But inspiration doesn’t have to arrive by chance. You can actually create moments of inspiration if you build time into your day. And inspiration has a three-part architecture that you can construct.

It starts with an aesthetic appreciation of something. This is followed by mind-wandering, and finally, an act. To begin, find something online that you strikes you as beautiful. Look at it awhile until it gets your appreciation juices flowing. Thereafter, set aside 15-30 minutes to let your mind wander (Do you wish you had it?—Is there a way to get it? Is it just enough that you can see it?) Then, see what you feel motivated to do (Do you want to write a poem about it—Perhaps, print it out and add it to a journal without reason?) At the end of the week, you can contemplate where your unconscious mind may have been.

This kind of action usually reveals something previously unknown about yourself, but it is interesting to ask, “Why did I choose these seven images at the end of the week? What do they say about me?”

Practice abstraction: People, activities are in your life, tasks you have to complete, all lend themselves to being symbols. They could be “+” or “-“, or “LF” (life promoting) or LD (life draining). Or they could represent fountains (F) or drains (D), allowing you to more succinctly categorize them as useful or useless.

Look at your schedule today. Which ones are “F” and which ones are “D?. Perhaps you have some which are FD? This will allow you to ask, “How do I build more “F” into my life?” You’ve symbolized your life, and activated your creative brain.

These methods, although seemingly elusive, are quite do-able. They require blocking off a period of time each day to do each of them. When you do, they will jumpstart your creative brain. Then you will see  that creativity was always at your fingertips—you just had to unfocus enough to see it.

If you are interested in more ways to be creative, get a copy of “Tinker, Dabble, Doodle, Try: Unlock the Power of the Unfocused Mind” (Ballantine Books, 2017). It was voted one of Coastal Living’s Best Books for the beach this summer. 

7 Listening Strategies for Better Business

WE’VE ALL HEARD THE EXPRESSION ‘KNOWLEDGE IS POWER’, BUT CONSIDER THE MAXIM ‘LISTENING IS POWER’ – THERE IS NO KNOWLEDGE WITHOUT LISTENING.

“Listen more than you talk. Nobody learned anything by hearing themselves speak.” Richard Branson.

WE’VE ALL HEARD THE EXPRESSION ‘KNOWLEDGE IS POWER’, BUT CONSIDER THE MAXIM ‘LISTENING IS POWER’ – THERE IS NO KNOWLEDGE WITHOUT LISTENING.

Thanks to ilume who I trained with last year, and Tim Parkman for this free guide to excellent listening skills, the foundation to business growth and success.  

Listening is how we acquire the facts that lead to good decisions. It can also build trust, reduce conflict and improve morale. If you introduce strategies to make your people better listeners, better business can only follow. At Ilume we know a lot about listening. It’s something we practice to the highest level each day. Drawing from our knowledge and experience, as well as recent research and insights from listening experts, we’ve assembled seven powerful pointers on listening.

1. RECOGNISE WHAT LEVEL OF LISTENING YOU ARE AT 

Here at ilume we recognise that there are 4 stages of listening:
HEARING This is the most superficial listening level, and it’s not really listening at all. Hearing registers the sound waves of the other person’s voice, but nothing’s getting through to you. You can hear someone talk and be thinking of something else, or even doing something else. When sitting at the breakfast table reading the paper you might hear the “chatter” around you but not really take it in. Think of the conversations you zone out of, and then a question is asked and you are trying to madly jump back in.

SELECTIVE LISTENING You’re listening with a story in mind – ‘what does this mean to me?”. When you listen to someone at this level, you’re trying to link their experiences to your own. What they say will trigger your memories. This level of listening is often employed in day-to-day conversations, particularly when stories are shared back and forth.

ATTENTIVE LISTENING At this level you’re specifically listening for something in what the speaker is saying, and you’re thinking and acting in ways that connect you with the speaker. This level of listening happens naturally when you’re very interested in what the speaker’s saying. Think about times when you are building a relationship with someone new and wanting to build on information, and connect in the best possible way.

CONSCIOUS LISTENING The deepest level of listening, conscious listening is also called ‘empathic listening’. You’re keeping yourself out of the way and listening with the minimum of judgement. There is almost no internal dialogue. At this level, you’re in the best position to understand and feel what the speaker is saying, and this level is often employed when you are dedicated to a totally open mind and perspective, controlling your attention and making people feel like they are the only person in the room.

2. USE CONSCIOUS LISTENING AS YOUR KEY BUSINESS TOOL
For business, the primary benefit of conscious listening is building stronger interpersonal connections, which can lead to getting a ‘yes’ when you need it. When people can see and feel that you truly understand them, and that you’re not passing judgement, they feel respected – and they’ll respect you in turn. In his white paper ‘Active listening’, James Clawson, Professor of Business Administration at the University of Virginia, likens conscious listening to a ‘magic wand’ – a hugely effective asset for business transformation. His tips for conscious listening include:
• Suspending judgement of the speaker
• Focusing on emotion as well as content
• Following, not leading, the conversation
• Accurately reflecting back to the speaker what you understand

Apart from improving your relationship with the speaker, conscious listening allows you to learn and grow. Unless we absorb other people’s opinions, experiences and knowledge, we’re doomed to get stuck in a thinking rut.

3. TURN OFF LISTENING BLIND SPOTS
Real-world ‘power influencers’ Mark Goulston and John Ullmen say we all have blind spots in our brains that distort our ability to listen without judgement. Our own needs, biases, experiences and agenda get in the way of truly understanding what the speaker is trying to express. To listen beyond your blind spot – even when you find it difficult to concur with the speaker – you need to be able to temporarily turn your own beliefs off.

eg If you’re listening to a proponent of public transport who wants to axe company cars, but you’re an avid motorist who detests bus rides, your blind spot makes you less inclined to appreciate the speaker’s points. You’re not consciously listening, because your brain is too busy actively assembling an argument against public transport to defend your driving agenda.

4. TWO EARS, ONE MOUTH
So use them in that order. When you dominate conversations and interrupt often, it’s easy to make the other person feel unimportant. Your ears will always be a more effective tool than your mouth, especially if you’re a manager trying to win the cooperation and commitment of an employee. By saying less, using effective listening skills and asking open questions, leaders have the power to raise the motivation to work effectively.

In his article ‘Motivating Employees by Using Effective Listening Skills’, author Brian Tracy talks about holding staff meetings where everybody gets airtime. He learned to do this because his previous approach had been to use staff meetings as an opportunity to hold forth with his ‘fascinating ideas, opinions and advice’. It eventually dawned on him that he was abusing his leadership position, wasting the time of his employees and diminishing their passion for work. David Staffer’s article ‘Yo, Listen Up’ in Harvard Management Update paints a portrait of the manager as a good listener: • You’re looking at the talker, asking probing questions and giving him or her more than enough time to answer. • You’re clearly communicating the importance of every word you hear by taking notes, leaning toward the talker and nodding to show you understand. Ask yourself: Are you leading by listening? Or are you holding forth, determined to speak your own truth?

5. RESIST FORMULATING AND SPOUTING A SOLUTION
Thinking about solutions is a mistake that many of us make while listening to somebody else’s challenges. It’s essentially multi-tasking, because instead of simply focusing on what the other person is saying and feeling, you’re trying to come up with answers. Leadership guru Peter Bregman says problem solving to make people feel better can have the opposite effect. It can even lead to an argument: He goes on to say that “sometimes, just listening is problem-solving”. eg If you’re listening to a proponent of public transport who wants to axe company cars, but you’re an avid motorist who detests bus rides, your blind spot makes you less inclined to appreciate the speaker’s points. You’re not consciously listening, because your brain is too busy actively assembling an argument against public transport to defend your driving agenda. “ Most of the time when we try to make people feel better, we end up arguing with them because we’re contradicting what they’re feeling. Which, inevitably, makes them feel worse.”
As a listener, remember that your objective is to understand and empathise, not to fix. By being allowed to express themselves without input or judgment, the speaker is often working towards a solution.

6. KNOW THAT BETTER TIME MANAGEMENT MAKES LEADERS AND MANAGERS BETTER LISTENERS

Quoted in a Harvard Business School newsletter, sales training guru Bill Brooks says the most overlooked reason for poor listening is poor time management. People simply don’t take time to receive and understand messages. He goes on to say that many who don’t open their receptors are stuck in an ‘activity trap’. Their immediate tasks, however trivial, are stopping them from paying attention. And the worst thing about this is that the stress generated by poor time management means that “people will listen mainly to their own voice” – the one that’s whinging constantly about having too much to do. This nugget of wisdom suggests that one answer to improving listening skills within your team is to provide them with time management coaching. It’s a lateral approach that’s likely to have many other positive spinoffs for your business.

7. QUALITY LISTENING COACHING DELIVERS QUICK PAYBACK
An increasing number of enterprises have recognised that excellent listening skills are foundational to business growth and success. At every level of an organisation an investment in listening coaching can result in better interpersonal relationships, both internally and externally, which has a flow-on effect all the way to an improved bottom line. Think about it this way: if you deliver effective listening coaching before a conference or any other kind of training or development, all the learning that comes after will be better-absorbed. That’s a quick payback.

At Ilume, our specialty is designing and delivering effective executive coaching and development of senior leaders. More than 20 years of experience in Australia and New Zealand has given us the ability to deliver listening coaching that sticks. We also offer accredited training programmes that would enable you to develop your own listening coaches. [email protected] Level 6, Rabobank Tower,

Best Advice I Have Ever Received…

The sentiment in this Blog is great. (Editor disclaimer I took out the expletives) And I’ve had lots of clients coming to see me about how to stop procrastinating….how to get the courage to leave a secure job and start a business based on a personal dream.  Results vs Excuses. What is it that makes us stop making excuses….? Go for results instead. If you make excuses you’ll always be right 🙂 It has to be about taking responsibility and understanding what this means on a deeper level. My life starts with me!

Thanks Brad Brad Bruce, over to you:
“I have no money to start. I don’t have all the knowledge. I have to do research. It’s bad timing etc. 

He looked at me and said Brad… Shut up and listen to me. You’re gonna go home and purchase your URL and you’re going to start TODAY. 

He said you don’t find yourself and what you are before hand. You find that out during the process. You can do all the mu*king around and researching for years before you make that decision. JUST START and the rest will fall into place.

So there I was scared as shit no jobs coming on the horizon and broke. I took his advice and jumped. THIS IS THE BEST ADVICE I HAVE EVER RECEIVED. PERIOD.

Since then it’s been an amazing trip. Was it easy? No. I have worked my ass off to get where I am but it is paying off far greater than I could ever imagine. 

The thing is he was absolutely RIGHT. I did not know who I was or what I was yet and just by starting and taking that leap I had found exactly who I am and what I am through the the process. 

So if you’re struggling to take that jump. Take that jump NOW, TODAY… Jump or spend the rest of your life in regret and not live your life to your full potential. Believe in you and your vision…..

 

The Dis-ease of Being Busy

How is the state of your heart today?
Let us insist on a type of human-to-human connection where when one of us responds by saying, “I am just so busy,” we can follow up by saying, “I know, love. We all are. But I want to know how your heart is doing…..”
A great blog written by Omid Safi, columnist for On Being, three years ago, but even more relevant today.

How is the state of your heart today?
Let us insist on a type of human-to-human connection where when one of us responds by saying, “I am just so busy,” we can follow up by saying, “I know, love. We all are. But I want to know how your heart is doing…..”
A great blog written by Omid Safi, columnist for On Being, three years ago, but even more relevant today.

“I saw a dear friend a few days ago. I stopped by to ask her how she was doing, how her family was. She looked up, voice lowered, and just whimpered: “I’m so busy… I am so busy… have so much going on.”

Almost immediately after, I ran into another friend and asked him how he was. Again, same tone, same response: “I’m just so busy… got so much to do.”

The tone was exacerbated, tired, even overwhelmed.

And it’s not just adults. When we moved to North Carolina about ten years ago, we were thrilled to be moving to a city with a great school system. We found a diverse neighborhood, filled with families. Everything felt good, felt right.

After we settled in, we went to one of the friendly neighbors, asking if their daughter and our daughter could get together and play. The mother, a really lovely person, reached for her phone and pulled out the calendar function. She scrolled… and scrolled… and scrolled. She finally said: “She has a 45-minute opening two and half weeks from now. The rest of the time it’s gymnastics, piano, and voice lessons. She’s just…. so busy.”

Horribly destructive habits start early, really early.

How did we end up living like this? Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we do this to our children? When did we forget that we are human beings, not human doings?

Whatever happened to a world in which kids get muddy, get dirty, get messy, and heavens, get bored? Do we have to love our children so much that we overschedule them, making them stressed and busy — just like us?

What happened to a world in which we can sit with the people we love so much and have slow conversations about the state of our heart and soul, conversations that slowly unfold, conversations with pregnant pauses and silences that we are in no rush to fill?

How did we create a world in which we have more and more and more to do with less time for leisure, less time for reflection, less time for community, less time to just… be?

Somewhere we read, “The unexamined life is not worth living… for a human.” How are we supposed to live, to examine, to be, to become, to be fully human when we are so busy?

This disease of being “busy” (and let’s call it what it is, the dis-ease of being busy, when we are never at ease) is spiritually destructive to our health and wellbeing. It saps our ability to be fully present with those we love the most in our families, and keeps us from forming the kind of community that we all so desperately crave.

Since the 1950s, we have had so many new technological innovations that we thought (or were promised) would make our lives easier, faster, simpler. Yet, we have no more “free” or leisurely time today than we did decades ago.

For some of us, the “privileged” ones, the lines between work and home have become blurred. We are on our devices. All. The. Freaking. Time.

Smart phones and laptops mean that there is no division between the office and home. When the kids are in bed, we are back online.

One of my own daily struggles is the avalanche of email. I often refer to it as my jihad against email. I am constantly buried under hundreds and hundreds of emails, and I have absolutely no idea how to make it stop. I’ve tried different techniques: only responding in the evenings, not responding over weekends, asking people to schedule more face-to-face time. They keep on coming, in volumes that are unfathomable: personal emails, business emails, hybrid emails. And people expect a response — right now. I, too, it turns out… am so busy.

The reality looks very different for others. For many, working two jobs in low-paying sectors is the only way to keep the family afloat. Twenty percent of our children are living in poverty, and too many of our parents are working minimum wage jobs just to put a roof over their head and something resembling food on the table. We are so busy.

The old models, including that of a nuclear family with one parent working outside the home (if it ever existed), have passed away for most of us. We now have a majority of families being single families, or where both parents are working outside the home. It is not working.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

In many Muslim cultures, when you want to ask them how they’re doing, you ask: in Arabic, Kayf haal-ik? or, in Persian, Haal-e shomaa chetoreh? How is your haal?

What is this haal that you inquire about? It is the transient state of one’s heart. In reality, we ask, “How is your heart doing at this very moment, at this breath?” When I ask, “How are you?” that is really what I want to know.

I am not asking how many items are on your to-do list, nor asking how many items are in your inbox. I want to know how your heart is doing, at this very moment. Tell me. Tell me your heart is joyous, tell me your heart is aching, tell me your heart is sad, tell me your heart craves a human touch. Examine your own heart, explore your soul, and then tell me something about your heart and your soul.

Tell me you remember you are still a human being, not just a human doing. Tell me you’re more than just a machine, checking off items from your to-do list. Have that conversation, that glance, that touch. Be a healing conversation, one filled with grace and presence.

Put your hand on my arm, look me in the eye, and connect with me for one second. Tell me something about your heart, and awaken my heart. Help me remember that I too am a full and complete human being, a human being who also craves a human touch.

I teach at a university where many students pride themselves on the “study hard, party hard” lifestyle. This might be a reflection of many of our lifestyles and our busy-ness — that even our means of relaxation is itself a reflection of that same world of overstimulation. Our relaxation often takes the form of action-filled (yet mindless) films, or violent and face-paced sports.

I don’t have any magical solutions. All I know is that we are losing the ability to live a truly human life.

We need a different relationship to work, to technology. We know what we want: a meaningful life, a sense of community, a balanced existence. It’s not just about “leaning in” or faster iPhones. We want to be truly human.

W. B. Yeats once wrote:

“It takes more courage to examine the dark corners of your own soul than it does for a soldier to fight on a battlefield.”

How exactly are we supposed to examine the dark corners of our soul when we are so busy? How are we supposed to live the examined life?

I am always a prisoner of hope, but I wonder if we are willing to have the structural conversation necessary about how to do that, how to live like that. Somehow we need a different model of organizing our lives, our societies, our families, our communities.

I want my kids to be dirty, messy, even bored — learning to become human. I want us to have a kind of existence where we can pause, look each other in the eye, touch one another, and inquire together: Here is how my heart is doing? I am taking the time to reflect on my own existence; I am in touch enough with my own heart and soul to know how I fare, and I know how to express the state of my heart.

How is the state of your heart today?

Let us insist on a type of human-to-human connection where when one of us responds by saying, “I am just so busy,” we can follow up by saying, “I know, love. We all are. But I want to know how your heart is doing.”

Using NLP to fly how you want in any situation

NLP provides lots of tools and techniques for personal development; it’s great for creating change simply through conversation, such as to my friend on the plane who had a limiting belief that he could never sleep on a plane.

I was queuing to enter flight 443 from Auckland to Dubai, and I had a conversation with the person next to me. He said, “It’s a 17 hour flight; I never sleep in a plane, so I’ll be exhausted when we get to Dubai.”
I asked him: ‘Never’? ‘Could you?’ In NLP we call this a ‘limiting belief.’ So I said: ‘What could happen to make you sleep if that’s what you want?’ He considered whether he could change his view and try some different things. 

So I suggested: ‘How about putting on an eye mask when it was sleep time?’ After all our brains keep time, with  the circadian rhythm tracking a standard Earth day 24 hour cycle. That’s why most of us fall asleep when it’s dark, and wake up when it’s light. What’s incredible about this biological clock is that it can adjust to new cycles of light and dark. I believe mimicking the dark on the plane will help us sleep, and certainly everyone will recover from jet lag as this light and dark cycle slowly alters our internal clocks.

I suggested he wear headphones for more quiet on the noisy plane. And to stay hydrated, drink lots of water. As we entered the plane the passenger said he would try these things including changing his attitude to believe it was possible to sleep.

People often ask me what NLP is all about and how it is useful. NLP provides lots of tools and techniques for personal development; it’s great for creating change simply through conversation, such as to my friend on the plane. It’s helpful for sale skills as we can quickly observe what makes a person tick in their decision-making and then utilise that information to help persuade their choice. NLP supports building leadership and communication skills, and every type of interpersonal skills.

So I decided to come up with 10 specific things to adapt to any situation to achieve the results we want.

Don’t settle

The possibilities are endless. No matter what is happening we can make our lives, and the lives of others around us, and the planet, better. It’s up to each person to be the best they can be. If what you are doing isn’t working then recognise it, and have the flexibility to change your actions. 

You get what you focus on.

You are in charge of your mind and you are responsible for training your mind to deliver what you want. Why focus on what you don’t want? If you focus on being poor, have negative self-talk and make internal pictures of experiencing lack, this is what you will get. If you focus on abundance and success, you will create a positive state of mind and you will much more likely to achieve what you want. You can set an intent to further guarantee achieving the results you want.

Beliefs are simply what you hold in your mind to be true.

They are decisions that we make about what is true for us. If you believe something to be true then it will become fact for you. So consider your beliefs – like, can I sleep in a plane? Do I get jet lag? Or what I want in life. Can I start my own business? Can I speak in public and become a magical presenter? Is it realistic? Ask yourself, can you do it? And if not, what would need to happen for you to change this belief?

Be persistent

Often people give up on their intent when they feel they have failed. The different between a successful and unsuccessful person is that a successful person does not give up. They shake themselves off and get going again. I like to say ‘there’s no such thing as failure, only feedback.’ Acknowledge when something is not working, fix your course, and go after what you want.

Find the right question

My meditation teacher used to say that finding the right question is the key. Get to the heart of what you really want. Perhaps you have you no longer want. Have you had that experience when you define for yourself the right question and then everything becomes clear, you go into a flow where everything seems possible? Ask what specifically do I need to do? What resources do I need? What do I need to learn? What skills do I need to develop?

Take action

In business we create a strategy and an action plan. It’s no different in our day-to-day lives: make a strategy, and move from the realm of thought to follow through on your intent. No outcome is achieved without a plan, followed up with action. Plan a programme of deliberate practice and then develop the skills that you require to achieve the goals you set yourself. Put in the hard work and be persistent to achieve exactly what you want.


Be kind and respect yourself


Self-doubt and worry won’t serve you, worrying is simply an old habit. We need to ask ourselves why focus on worry and beat ourselves up for our shortcomings, rather than focussing on our strengths and skills and abilities. If our actions are ‘ecological’ – that is good for ourselves and for other people – then we can make the decision to stop worrying and get on with it. We release hindrances like personal doubt.


Find a role model.

Do you know someone who has what you want? Find out what they did to get it. In NLP we call this modelling. Find out specifically what they had to do, both in terms of thought processes and the actions they took to achieve what they wanted. And remember other people look to you as a role model, so be a giver rather than a taker, and help others to progress. You will be amazed at how this will unlock your own success.

Everyone needs a Coach

“Everyone needs a coach” Bill Gates & Eric Schmidt

There are as many definitions of coaching as there are approaches. Combined together, Coaching and Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) is a powerful and empowering way to achieve long-lasting changes in the way you think, feel, and act. Coaching is very much a partnership between coach and client. At the heart of coaching is helping a person change in the way they wish and to be a ‘freedom fighter’ for them. Coaching supports a person at every level to become the best they can be and achieve the results they want whether in their personal or professional life.
Today Executive coaching is recognised as one of the most effective ways to create dynamic, focused individuals and organisations.

“Everyone needs a coach.” That’s how Bill Gates starts off this TED talk….

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