The smallest steps lead to the biggest changes


If you're struggling right now...

I am reminded of the words of Kahlil Gibran.

"Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding".

Pain, particularly emotional, is a really scary place to be. We have generally been trained magnificently to avoid feeling it for any length of time, so we sort it. We fix it. A bit like the politicians are trying to do now with national and international economic systems.

But what if Gibran is right? What if pain is merely the shell, that encloses greater wisdom. What if, when we allow the shell to break, and really allow ourselves to experience the pain, our pain can be transformed into something magical?

Would that make it crazy to keep on trying patch up the old shell? Patch it up just so that we can stop feeling the pain of where we are, and the pain that has resulted as a consequence of our past decisions?

Maybe we would all benefit much more by allowing ourselves to experience pain, and through that experience allow our genius to flow?

New part of the team...

For years people have been asking us whether we could do an Art of Change coaching course for facilitators. There have been two major reasons why this has not yet been possible:

1) Our time has been so full with our family and clients and various projects  that we have not prioritised the time to create a course

2) It has never been clear as to how we could teach something which has little to do with systems, and much to do with just a way of life.

Our communication methodology, Non-Reactive Communication Strategy (NRCS), has certainly changed the second aspect.This simple yet powerful system, which crystallised after twelve years or so of coaching, is something which can be taught.  In fact we have been teaching clients how to use it to help transform relationships of every nature from business crises to self-confidence.

The first aspect still remains debatable. The teaching of a strong system doesn't necessarily make  a great coach, not unless that person is really walking the talk as well. We have always been told it has been our example as much as anything which serves to inspire.

So it is with great excitement that over the last couple of years, our radically unschooled eldest daughter Anna, has gently been questioning us and finding more out about our coaching work. This has stepped up over the last few months as we have started to train her fully in the use of NRCS.

She has now started her own blog at the link below and is going to start reaching out in particular to young people who would like to chat with another young person about their problems. Having someone your own age, or close to it, can help to create an empathy which is more likely to lead to open-heart communication in the first instance.

If you know of a young person who might be interested, please direct them to the blog link below which will give them a feel for who she is. Anna will have our back-up whenever she needs it - this is a new, and long-term, work in progress. It's very exciting for all of us.


Happy Advent

Been so busy, not really had time to update the blog. Lots has happened since the last time...

Barry did his first talk specifically on happiness about ten days ago in the wonderful surroundings of a fully modernised church crypt! The development was beautiful and over 50 people turned up to hear him talk on 'The Pursuit of Happiness - One man's journey into the unkown'.

For one of the first times, Barry used a powerpoint presentation to map a brief history of happiness and to bring to life some of his own experiences. The talk featured not only on identifying what happiness is and whether it is significant in life, but also on some of the ingredients required to create the perfect happiness recipe.

The room was buzzing with questions after the talk and we'd like to thank Wendy Kent, Anne-France Rix and the staff of Especially Health for making us feel so welcome and putting on such a well organised event.

It's also a very busy time for coaching -  as we near Christmas there is always much to discuss and reflect upon - even more so in these times of financial uncertainty. Great to be working with quite a few young people at the moment too - wonderful to see how quickly young people can adapt and modify their thinking when they think/feel there is a good reason. Winnie has been doing quite a few Past Life Regressions using the Dolores Cannon technique - she's learning much and getting some fascinating results with clients.

The fall-out of the financial world of course continues unabated- well, virtually. It's coming home a bit more for people in the street with the announcement of Woolies' impending demise. Our local town, East Grinstead, has a big Woolies at its heart in the town - if that store shuts it will leave a big hole in the centre. As communities we do need to start thinking about what heart we can replace these empty shells with...  

We're probably going to do a New Year sale of quite a few of our books and films and things, so watch this space...

World economy and the top down model

I've had quite a few great discussions with people since my post on the five stages and the potential link with the state of the global financial system. Lots of interesting reflections and questions/comments.

A couple of points worth bearing in mind. There is not generally a clear split between the different stages -  whilst generally one aspect will dominate at any particular part of the grieving process, other aspects may also feature to a lesser degree. So just because the global economy may be in a state of bartering for instance, it doesn't necessarily mean it is through with all its anger.

We also need to remember that we are dealing with a top down model here. This means change happens from the top down to the base - imaging a pyramid and you'll get the idea.

The true state of the financial model is known and experienced  first by those who are priveleged to be closest to it (at the top) - in our case the politicians and financiers that we have put in place to run the global economy. For many of them they will already have experienced many of the stages.

As the truth permeates down through the global organism (pyramid) towards the base, so the rest of us begin to go through our own grieving process. Right now, on the street,  there is probably still a fair amount of denial going on that anything needs to change; there could still well be a considerable amount of anger to come out when people start to feel the negative consequences of being encouraged to overborrow and spend and as we see the example being set that the way to get out of trouble is just to borrow more and spend more (have you heard Gordon Brown recently?).

There will be much bargaining going on as we try to correct the injustices, and even the most optomistic economists are preparing us all for a recession of intensity (aka depression).

The good news is we will all have the opportunity to engage with accepting that this is happening and THE WORLD HAS TO CHANGE. The sooner we can enter the stage of acceptance, really accepting that this old model no longer serves us, the sooner we can experience the magic that happens when we truly accept the death of an old friend.

We need to learn to value and honour our natural resources rather than fritter them away; we need to learn to value the absolute significance of life and relationship over material acquisitions; we need to remember that the most valuable commodity of all is a four letter word, and the second letter is 'o'.

No, not gold.

Love. Love of life. Love of breathing. Love of being here.

Sounds naff? Don't know what it means? Then go to a hospice and talk to any of the patients there about what they now value most...

The World Economy and the Five Stages of Death and Dying

Yep, the blog's about the economy again - and as you would expect, looking at it from a slightly different angle from the regular commentator...

In her 1969 book 'On Death and Dying'. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross suggested there are 5 stages through which people pass when dealing with grief and terminal illness. This assessment came after years of studying the cases of terminally ill people and their relatives. It is a model which is now commonly accepted as having great validity in any 'dying' process and can be helpful for plotting where a process is 'at'.

It is my assessment that our current economic model is indeed in a state of terminal illness - and that government and financial institutions are responding in a classical and time-honoured way as indicated by Kubler-Ross's model.

With that in mind, I decided to consider the financial model as one that is indeed in a state of terminal decline as it gives birth to a new system. Here's how it could be viewed in relation to Kubler-Ross's model.

I do not mean to make light of terminal illness in any way, shape or form in this blog. Having worked with various people through the last stages of their lives it is territory I am familiar with and I value the process immensely and have some understanding of the great sense of loss and pain that is often involved.

Stage 1 - Denial.

EG  'There's nothing wrong - everything is fine'.

Sound familiar? Yep, we've had years of it. Spend, spend, spend. And yet the warning signs have been there for years.

We've all been inundated for years with loan offers, credit card swaps, cheap mortgages, easy mortgages for people who can't really afford them. We've been in denial since the 80s - we have created a debit society (which has suited the banks whilst they were able to keep cash flowing into the market); a society where spending what you haven't got is the norm, and therefore the fear of never being able to repay becomes a dominant force.

It's a simple law of the Universe - you can't go on giving out what you don't have, and you can't go on taking what you can't give back. Somewhere along the line, the books always need to be balanced.  At some point that thing has got to come from somewhere - and that is what is now coming home to roost. That 'thing' (IOUs in the billions) is being called in; trouble is, those IOUs can't be serviced.

So, Stage 1 - Denial - yep we've definitely been experiencing that one for quite some time.

Stage 2 - Anger 

EG-  'That's not fair!' 'Why is this happening to me/us?'

Well, we've got so angry we've been throwing all the toys out of the pram. Rather than listen to what this is really telling us about our business model, we've just got all tantrumy, blamed it on US sub-prime mortgages and George Bush and Gordon Brown and Northern Rock. Or we've gone shopping or hurled some more money at the system.  When did you ever hear a top Bank official say in the last year "I can take responsibility for my part in this problem - and it is a problem, and I must stop my staff from lending money so easily". Nope. We've been so heavily into denial and blame/anger that we've refused to look at the very way in which we operate our economy.

Stage 3 - Bargaining

EG -  'If I promise to do this, just let me live to see my grandchildren grow up...' etc 

When people begin to take on board that they are terminally ill, they will invariably go through a stage of bargaining with God. We are currently doing the same in the economy. 'God, if we promise to put another £500 billion into the system, please just let it be alright'.

As a general rule, it seems that God doesn't generally stop all things from dying; death is not wrong (or, there is no death, depending on your spiritual beliefs of course), it just is. And just as there is death, so there is new life. If this model is right, then this bargaining will not produce the results so desperately sought, in the same way as chemotherapy will do nothing, other than cause further suffering, at a very advanced stage of cancer.

Stage 4 - Depression

EG - 'This is terrible, it's all wrong, I'm so upset...'

The IMF today predicted that the UK economy would plunge into deep recession over the next year. Other analysts have been warning of this for a while. A recession is a depression - although of course hopefully nothing like the great depression many moons ago. Again it seems, an inevitable stage of the dying process that our economy is currently experiencing.

Stage 5 - Acceptance 

'It's ok that this is happening - I'm going to be alright. Don't worry about me'.

Kubler-Ross's last stage. The magical stage of acceptance - the stage that if we could just allow our economies to experience, might just throw up some amazing and unexpected answers. This stage of acceptance is invariably reached by people in the very last stages of their lives - I have witnessed it myself many times. It is a time when we know there is nothing left that needs fighting - we just need to surrender to the inevitable death of a body.

In their last few days of life, individuals often experience a sense of serenity -- as if they know something better is coming. Suddenly everything becomes alright in the world. 

I find this model very interesting when observing the current events. It is my view that, the quicker we surrender to the truth that our current global economic model is indeed in the latter stages of the dying process and beyond the reach of any drugs or surgery, the less painful and drawn out our depression and the faster the new model can be born. For a new model there is, but it cannot show itself until the old has moved on...

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