Friday, 31 August 2012

Emotions are for moving

Intense, vehement, profound emotions are disturbing. By definition. They stir up what's calm, they tip up what's stable, they roar through stillness. Iconoclastic, they break, pierce and shatter patterns of perception, visual and visceral.

Intense grief. Intense joy. I think it was Anthony de Mello who taught that these arise from the same place, and I think he's right.

We are taught to tame our emotions, to de-authenticate them by adhering to social mores of politeness and deference and this is a delicate balance. Coaching involves developing deliberate choice as to this balance. Deciding your balance for yourself. Man is a wolf unto himself. All we, like sheep, have gone astray. Honesty is the best policy. Look after the pennies, and the pounds will take  care of themselves. Penny wise, pound foolish. Rich Dad, poor Dad. Power is taken.

Make a list of the idioms and sayings you believe, and you'll read your balance there. I was pushed to believe what I was told to believe. It didn't work in the long run. Like Jung, I shy away from belief. I prefer to know. According to the defrocked priest, Hans Kung, belief has less to do with dogma and more to do with trust. No wonder he was defrocked. Dogmatic people need to trust at the verbal level, because the emotional level is either too complex or too threatening for them.

One of the most shattering dreams I've had was of a lion coming through the wall of my childhood bedroom. There was a split-second of a roar, a charge and I woke up at some height off the bed. I could still see the lion. The wall had kept the imprint of the fierce head and shoulders, but the charge had not broken through. I had learnt the meaning of the iconoclast. T.S.Eliot does the same thing, using the image to introduce the impulse that vitalises the image:

I am moved by fancies that are curled
Around these images, and cling:
The notion of some infinitely gentle
Infinitely suffering thing.

Emotions provide the gate for perceptions. And often, they're not allowed through, themselves. They should be invited sooner rather than later, since when the neural path dissolves, the imprint will persist. I have the idea that this is what grief is about. Profound, unverbalised recognition not only of specific loss, but of all loss, and with limited ecological intelligence, we, as a species, are helpless to understand that which we avoid either on purpose or by default.

What's your favourite feeling? Taking up the challenge? Alone-ness? Being part of the flow? Not being part of the flow? Creating structure? Creating chaos? The gratification of obedience? The defiance of individualism? You can reduce all the words of your philosophy to one true sentence about emotion, if you try hard enough.

On top of a Swiss mountain, outside a hospital, I read the words, in German: Father I do not understand You but I trust You.

That which moves us makes us who we are, and the movement persists further than synaptic milli-seconds: the connections between your fear in the last hour, and the dogged detemination of the your last decade and the hopes of your adolescence and the defining moments and patterns in childhood hold, and will yet influence the story of what's behind the gate, at the gate and through the gate of what impells you.

You should not have to believe, you should know you are not alone.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

A coach's perspective on advising the national spirit

When I began teaching in schools, my actual mission - although I wasn't capable of verbalising it to myself at the time - was to build spirit. Having grown up in a conservative Chrisitan home, and being exposed daily to exhortations to follow a spiritual imperative, I had the unusual advantage of being sensitive to spiritual movement and meaning before I learned to spell my name. It was entirely baffling, of course, since mixed messages abounded, and trying to find an exact fit between language and spiritual awareness is an extremely ambitious quest. Yet I strongly felt that within myself there was and still is a clear call, and answering that call is what my life is about.

I can't spell out that call in definite words because even the most abstruse, comprehensive and profound concepts available have not sufficed, and time is running out, and in any case, concepts aren't the bottom line, although the philosophers wouldn't agree. I have learned to agree with myself, and that's good enough for a very argumentative person.

I was taught about the call as an imperative that required truthfulness, faithfulness, obedience, and unfortuantely, tribalism. The worth of the first three are unquestionable, and the fourth, which is a crude way of describing the end dynamics of a fruitless church, is reasonably accurate. Important symbols, valuable rituals, profound naratives and group awareness should lead to discernible growth, which wasn't the case in my own experience.

It's wrong to judge Christianity on the basis of what happens in a local church, yet if there's a cover-up that goes a long, long way back, accountability also goes a long, long way back. And the long, long way back might refer not only to historical figures but also to current leadership figures. The spirit of any group is the signature of what the group means to itself and beyond itself, and narratives are the key to elucidating the signature. When the National Party was in power, the actual narrative was well hidden, though the signature was obvious enough. Now that the ANC is in power, the same dissonance is evident: the official narrative is that the country is improving, yet the signature declares the eaxct opposite.  Infrastructure, health, education, justice and social fibre are close to collapse, and the economy is used and abused by people who have contributed nothing to it.

I'm not a political commentator. My purpose here is to address the spirit of the nation, not the state of the nation. Patient as metaphor for nation: the patient is extremely ill, not yet at the point of death, and may possibly rally, but the possibility is remote. While there's life, there's hope, you say. Yes, but if you refuse to take your medicine, you're giving away, rather than giving up hope.

Here's a daring one, but I think it works: the worst of the Nats honestly believed that they were following God's will. The ANC doesn't care about God's will. Whether God is a supreme being or your ancestors is not the point: it's about being sensitive, respectful and co-operative with spiritual context, which has direct influence on whether you are sensitive, respectful and co-operative within human context. Coaching involves discerning the processes by which meaning and satsfaction are achieved. Perhaps it would be a good idea for a political incumbent (I hesitate to use the word "leader" as "political leader" is for the most part a contradiction in terms ) to be surrounded by a group of coaches rather than advisors, as truthfulness may have a better chance of being achieved.

It's a pity to watch a desert with oases turn into pure desert. Beautiful landscape doesn't ease the agony of dying of thirst.

I remember the day when Van Zyl Slabbert announced his departure from politics. He no longer wished to engage. F.C.H.Rumboll's advice to his students was "Rise above your problems". South Africa's problem is not one of lack of concern, it's about the vehicle of concern. A devious (read one minister one agenda) cabinet led by an unfazed president (another agenda) who all have their work cut out to win friends and influence people in the ANC, and nowhere else, are prisoners of and in the party vehicle. Jockeying to be drivers, navigators, engineers, they should realize that the tyres have been stolen. They fear no other vehicle because they assume that they're the only car on the road. I am of the opinion that this vehicle is breaking down. It has to break down, anyway, no empire has ever persisted forever, and the ANC hasn't the strength of solidarity.

Leadership coaching (this is really what we're talking about) shows that blaming is a fruitless exercise. You actually can't blame a party for being voted in. The triad of weird and evil sisters is population, party and party-leaders. If we refrain from political analysis and attempt a systemic analysis involving especially emotional patterns of proximity and distance between these three strands, we might sort out the difference between the lord of the flies, queen of the bees and the bugs of paradise.

Who are you going to blame for oppression in South Africa from the fifties to the eighties? The prime ministers, generals, apartheid, Afrikaners or whites? Pick on something or someone for the Holocaust: Hitler, Germany, Nazism, Germans, the generals. The whole is more than the sum of its parts, and the whole is closer to the spirit of the nation than any of the parts. If you break the parts right down to rock-face, they're you and me, and what we're going to do or not do in the next hour. All of these minutiae add up to the signature of the whole.

I aimed for the whole in those early classrooms, with the pupils' carefulness in language, meaning in lterature, growth in character. I continued with the same kind of mission at university, wanting to move beyond the motivation of merely attaining a degree to providing students with a vision of how they could contribute to a world by helping to create it.

The ANC is simply not the whole of the spirit of the nation, although its leaders would like it to be. There are other vehicles of transport, not necessarily clothed in the colours of politics. Wherever there's growth of awareness, there's the possibility of fruitful change. I don't think of God as an anthropomorphic supreme being: I would prefer not to use words, but to recognize a singularly riveting signature that stirs me as vividly as it alerts me. I would prefer God to issue forth a name rather than be given one. The national spirit cannot be claimed: it comprises, intransitively, spontaeously, limitlessly. I am reminded of something my Irish friend taught me, when I was about four or five years old:

He drew a circle that shut me out.
I was a heretic rebel, a thing of flout.
But Love and I had the wit to win:
we made a circle that drew him in.

Friday, 24 August 2012

An educational coach's take on Basic Education in South Africa

For international readers, Basic Education is a government department that regulates education in South Africa up to grade 12, the school-leaving grade. After that the department of Higher Education takes over.

Transformation is a key term that is bandied about, to justify what this department does. It was necessary to transform the old South Africa into a new South Africa after 1994, and education was an important aspect of this. The immediate priority was to de-racialise education (and everything else), so the leaders changed colour fairly rapidly. The insistence on this priority is still there. The policy of affirmative action smudges into ANC cadre deployment, so the suspicion that the Broederbond has been replaced by cadre deployment is not unreasonable. Then the grand strategy: outcomes-based-education was taken on: an over-ambitious, badly-advised choice which failed because it had to. It has been replaced by CAPS, a whipping-stock to turn gutter education into mediocre education, because no good teacher needs CAPS. Applied as it is at present, I anticipate that very few excellent teachers will appreciate being squeezed into a mediocre box, and thus, no educated, competent person will feel at home in a school before long. Whereas OBE pressurised teachers into an open-minded accountability, CAPS now pressurises teachers into a closed-minded accountability. Results achieved through curriculum and assessment. Just work, deliver, and don't think. This is not a good basis for growing awareness, reasonability or personal accountability.

I have heard that eighty-five per cent of schools and teachers in South Africa is dysfunctional. I haven't checked this figure for myself, yet what is evident is that the vast majority of schools and teachers is indeed dysfunctional. Effective leadership at any level of education remains a pipe dream while the politicians avoid serving the nation in any real way. It makes them stand out in the top echelons of the ANC, and as any school-child will tell you, standing out isn't cool.

What interests me is how people make sense of situations, especially young people, since life-long habits are formed early. Reading texts and reading situations are not dissimilar. The more proficient you become, the more acute becomes your sensitivity to subtleties. It doesn't take adolescents long to sass out what makes sense and what doesn't make sense in their school environment and to act accordingly. Unfortunately the older, wiser teachers in South Africa are prone to assuming that schools should still be the places they used to be: places where moral correctness was demanded, places where carefulness was instilled, places where respect was a norm. Not any more. School is a place you go to get your matrick. I'm deliberately spelling this incorrectly because it really is a trick. An illusion of education, because marks without related skills don't mean a thing. I'm really aghast at the way standards have dropped and marks have gone up, and both parents and learners are anxious to believe that that matrick will open doors on the way to survival if not wealth.

Soon there's going to be a crisis of credibility concerning the actual value of the matrick. Universities and employers won't be able to pretend that the matrick holders have the metaphorical hands to manage and accomplish what's required.

Enter the educational coach with the can-do proficiencies. The working, available model that replaces the plodding, boring, drunk, corrupt, incompetent or otherwise inept teacher who ticks all the boxes and stops there, happy to receive a salary for doing meaningless work that is deemed to be meaningful because it's dressed up in the trappings of formal requirement. Don't get me going on educational bureacracy.  There's a three-way relationship that is the real basis of meaningful education, and that's between teacher, subject and student. The rest is bureacracy, and best minimized as far as possible.

If I had my way, I'd set the students free with an ipad and an educational coach. What could be better than a comprehensive up-to-date encyclopedia in your hand and someone whose guidance clarifies and directs where needed?

Here's a truism: schooling tends to make us stolid. Education at its best frees us. We seldom realise what it is to be free. We seldom use our freedom for growth. At every point of our living we are influenced and entrapped by political and economic agendas. If I could sum up Nicholas Berdyaev's impetus in a succinct way, I would say, "Loose mankind's imperatives, and look for the spiritual imperative".

The coaching continuum reaches all the way to that which is spiritual. Under Chrisitan Nationalism, the curriculum of necessity included spiritual awareness, which was indeed contorted, but nonetheless aware. I doubt that state schools in South Africa will ever regain spiritual awareness in a social way.

Re-enter the educational coach. Rapport, focus and intent between people is a marvellous generator of fruitful energy.

In past decades, gifted child programmes and enrichment programmes were luxuries: I now perceive them to be basic, more basic than basic education. While the minister of basic education pulls the matrick results out of the envelope as well as the hat, and shows indisputably that more learners have passed than ever before, individual giftedness in whatever form it manifests dries in the sun of the classroom that isn't there.

National graphs mean little at the rock-face where the child or adolescent or adult hasn't stepped into a role of fruitful learning. These are political tools used to tweak perceptions.

My parting comment: go to school because you must and go to university if you should, and look deeply into what sets you free from imperatives you have not deliberately chosen with your whole being.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

The coaching continuum

The world with its sunrises, skyscapes, seascapes, landscapes, colours, storms and smells is a beautiful place. Humans are amazing: look at what they've done: violin, skyscraper, ipad, jet-engine, anaesthetics, g-string.

Yet there's a dreadful abbreviation of spirit, purpose and effect in the human world. Call it sin, stupidity or selfishness, it's a fact of life. It has to be dealt with, on a grand scale, modest scale and minute scale, if we aren't going to make ourselves powerless unto ourselves. Politics, economics and, previously religion, affect the grand scale. Education and social propriety used to influence the modest scale. In respect of the minute scale, you're in charge of yourself, and if you aren't taking charge of yourself, someone else is using you for their own purposes.

The continuum I'm thinking of begins with health coaching, moves on to educational coaching, then to life coaching, and comes to business coaching.

As a species we create an immense amount of stress for ourselves. I can't imagine wars in the animal kingdom, though famines are plentiful, and being eaten is rife. Certainly there's theft, but limited murder. There's deception, but not fraud. When it comes to emotion, animals are entirely spontaneous, I think. The humans are otherwise. They can be utterly devious, disgusting and downright evil. I admire people who decide that they want to grow and take active steps to do so. Eligo crescere. This is a perlocutionary statement. Growth is healthy. Stagnation isn't. And of course, loss, the kind that takes away that which you virtuously gained, and is akin to destruction, is what we have to fight against on a daily basis. Health is a balance, and the tightrope we walk grows ever more thin. The stress of pretence and acceptance of compromise is what makes us civil rather than savage. Yet civic sensibility doesn't equeal health. Cutting off your enemy's head is far cheaper and less time-consuming than going to court, and probably relieves a lot of stress as well, provided you have a clear conscience. And our core roles have changed quite dramatically from being villagers to ballooning as consumers.

The point I want to make is that health coaching is a stock-taking, a reconnaissance, applying ecological intelligence so as to restore necessary balance to our corporate and individual living before our physiological tissue takes the strain. An intial point in the continuum of conscious movement and movement of consciousness that can be called growth. I sound tedious to myself, but honestly, I get the idea that just about no-one listens to or sees the obvious. I'm fairly sure that everyone feels that he or she is alive, and that personal experience entirely influences what the base state is (NLP language). Yet few take decisive action to grow from the base state, because of being accustomed to the base state and because of not being alerted to the fact that growth from the base state is possible. Next step: educational coaching. The bell is ringing. The coffee is steaming. The red light is flashing. Alertness spontaneously increases. Attention focuses. Escape is possible. Movement is inevitable. Desire abounds and flows. Energy surges. Harnessing all these elements of active growth, change and transformation and condensing them into formation and information drops us into the tumult of education which, with a little coaching, can be clarified to carry us on life-long journeys, and beyond. We are not who we think we are. As Jonathan Jansen has said, You have no idea of the greatness that is within you. So we move to life coaching. Take on the challenge. Let desire, not fear, lead. Be the change you want to see. Just connect. Just do it. Speak to yourself in words that you will obey. Tools, not rules. Okay, now we've rocked, rolled, realised and released our greatness. Here comes the real hurdle to hold us captive: cash flow. Solution: business coaching. Whether in the form of  The Ten Day MBA (thanks, Steven Silbiger) or the Cash Flow Quadrant  (thanks, Robert Kiyosaki)
it's necessary. What food is to animals, money is to humans. You have to have an idea, a purpose, a plan and then persistence.

The essence of this contimuum, as I understand it, is energetic engagement with oneself and one's context. As a child I was encouraged to disengage. As children of God, we were to be separate from the world. Nothing could be further from the truth. Any number of carefully designed cogs spinning in isolation will never create a gearbox that delivers leverage. C.S. Lewis's defintion of love was "intelligence in action".

Coaching is not an ends in itself. It's a means to action, especially fruitful action. The actual means emerges by unpacking the mystique of the human spirit. An elusive story will drive curiosity mad, yet the human spirit is precisely that.  What is the story of the human spirit? Someone once told it to me, but I'm keeping it secret. I won't tell you.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Focusing on your allocation of excellence

Recently someone asked me for my definition of biofocusing. I have been shying away from providing even myself with a definition, because once you define something, it loses something. It loses the mystique of power. Power depends on the mystique of fear, embarrassment, whatever creates a sense of powerlessness so as to force capitulation, and for many, the sense of having such a handle is better than not having it. So handles are created, and the purpose of many systems i.e. handles is to guard power. Banks do it, governments do it, fathers do it, so do mothers. Many systems of communication are designed to impede, not assist communication. All quite strange.

I am going to try this statement as an accurate generalisation: each and every individual comes into the world with an allocation of excellence that often needs a nudge to come forth. I regard educational coaching as the activity of providing that nudge. Maybe your share of excellence is to write a novel, to lead a nation, to overcome a chronic disease, to design a new gearbox, to nurse a family member, to survive the pavements one more day, to look at an empty future and yet retain hope.

The nudge that came my way was from an older gentleman who went about campus talking to students. He was neither a student nor faculty, just someone who made it his business to nudge students, as God told him to. He was a Christian, and after having his quiet time in the morning, would go to the hostel, wake up some unsuspecting student, and say, "Come on, we're going to read the Bible and pray together".

In those days, I was deeply offended by what I had experienced from Christians, and while I found this gentleman affable, friendly and approachable, I would not have responsed well to an early morning call to devotions. I continued to be aware of what he was doing on campus for a couple of years.

One day as I was crossing the central point in front of the Jammie steps, he stopped me. "God spoke to me so clearly about you in my quiet time this morning," he said, looking at me very directly. "So we're going out for lunch. I'm taking you. We're going to a smart place, so put on a tie." It was a Friday, and going out to lunch seemed an excellent idea, even if I had to wear a tie. So, in due course, at midday, to lunch we went, and it was a good lunch. We ate, drank and spoke in general. Not one word about religion, Christianity or anything that related to reading the Bible and praying.

As we got to the end of lunch, and it was time to part, he simply said, quietly, "God needs chaps like you and me to work for his Kingdom".

That did more for me than all the sermons I have ever heard, and I'm sure I'll have the opportunity to thank him, in heaven.

You can use whatever words you choose, the bottom line is that you're here to learn and make a return of some valuable kind. And indeed, this will not come merely from you, but from God, too. Your allocation of excellence does two things at the same time: it builds God's kingdom on earth, and it often stands directly against what  people in the world build, as they attempt to serve their own greed and folly. You'll need plenty of courage, but that's fine because courage is a matter of the heart, and that's where you'll find your experience of God, too.

So here we go with the wheel of excellence, one more time...

and the view from the top...

Friday, 17 August 2012

Biofocusing, educational coaching, NLP and what to do about folly.

Living on a continuum between wisdom and folly, what do you do? Let's define terms: wisdom is about using your mind i.e. your thinking, feeling and power of choice to best advanatge (what does best mean?) and folly is choosing not to do this. The power to cancel power.

Why would anyone cut off their own hands? Why would you set fire to your only sail when you're in the middle of a quiet ocean?

Lack of intellectual capacity means that one is disabled, not foolish. Foolish is when you make a bad decision because of rash feelings or inadequate thinking. You needn't have made that mistake. So, don't do it again, and you're not such a fool. You can be taught. You're a fool when you make the same kind of mistake again and again on purpose, and refuse to learn to change this pattern.

People do this all the time, though, being creatures of habit, preferring this habit to that, the more immediate outcome to the deferred outcome. It's far more comfortable to come home to warmth, supper, family and rest than to go out on a quest for your personal grail. In fact, far easier to allow warmth, supper, family and rest to be be the grail. There's nothing wrong with that, many folk don't have even these simple joys.

Yet even the most ordinary person has a calling to extend an allocated quota of excellence into the immediate environmnet. Don't ask me to define excellence. We read Plato's Meno for a whole year, and still, like true philosophers, couldn't reach consensus.

We tend to think of fools as extreme cases. Not me, I'm no fool. One moment, though: all your fruitless habits are evidence of folly. All your moments of misdirection add to the world's misery. My purpose here is not to moralise, but to awaken. I'm less interested in the mistakes that you're aware of making, and more concerned with the mistakes you keep on making quite unconsciously. Your patterns of permanent pointlessness. I earnestly recommend that everyone should go through a course of NLP. It's the most efficient and kind way I've found that alerts you not only to fruitless and destructive patterns of mind (include thinking, feeling and deciding) but also provides pretty rapid solutions.

There's not too much reality, as a given immutability in the material world. Even faces can change, and I'm not talking about cosmetic surgery. Bitterness can turn to peacefulness, and grief can turn to joy. I'm not talking about positive thinking. I like what Demartini says about positive thinking. It can't be done on any permanent basis. If you go through the exercise of what he calls the quantum collapse you'll come out with something fruitful, whatever the experience.

I came to the idea of biofocusing - one of the many stations - by pondering the term proprioception. Sansonese in The Body of Myth spends a chapter on this one, explaining awareness, consciousness and focused yet ultimately extended attention: awareness external, internal and beyond the body. We have unworkable concepts of living, since we are held in the limiting confines of the material universe, but that's only for a few decades for each of us. A concept is merely a matter of stabilised intellectual energy, an idea that you can pass on. Emotions, hideously labelled and presented as nouns, are far more fluid and brief than that, yet profoundly intense and exciting enough to change a life at any moment.

So the responsibility of choosing fruitful patterns of living lies with the individual, which is probably what humanity is for, in contrast to to zacunanity, that other species on a different planet, far, far away. They have a different lesson of cosmic proportions to learn. The individual had better get on with it, then, by learning sense, learning how to speak it, and learning how to speak it in such a way so as to be clearly heard. The good news is that this will work, the bad news is that you may be the only person to hear what you're saying. Nonetheless, do it. This is the antidote to folly, because at least you will have decided to make a commitment to wisdom. Frankly, I don't expect that you'll be the only one to reap the benefit of your own better patterns of purpose. Wisdom, movement and growth tend to work together. Perhaps there's not just one great tipping point, but many small incremental decisions adding to the sum.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Educational coaching and fear

Here in South Africa I'm picking up an interesting vibe: if you're a teacher in the department of basic education, the system wants you to be scared, very scared. You must do exactly what you're told to do, down to the last detail of task, rubric and mark. You must do this because the system, if obeyed in this slavish way, will save the department from being accused of anything, and the educands cannot do anything except flourish. Teachers, don't use your minds, don't even think about thinking, just do what the system requires. Do all tasks, fill in all rubrics, and please present you file neatly typed out and with everything in the right order. Don't look for sense, reason, motive or meaning, just fulfill the requirements of the system, and you will be fully supported in this endeavour. On the other hand, if anything is missing or can't be verified, your work is questionable, your professionalism suspect.

I'm exaggerating a little, just a little, to make the point.

Christian Nationalism worked this way, too. Even if your thinking didn't tally with what the system wanted, you'd be walking either a tight-rope or the plank.

Fear. The hallmark of a system, any sytem, from a currricular system to a theological system to a financial system being manipulated for purposes that prefer not to be challenged. Yet education and intimidation do not go together very well. If education is about freeing the human spirit to perform with excellence in human affairs - which is what I think and feel it to be - natural fear has little motivating influence here. I don't like fear. If anyone tries to intimidate me, my automatic, instinctive response is to kill. I don't go that far, of course. Emotions can be extremely volatile, and while coaching has numerous ways to tame fierce emotions, formal education can do little other than study the behaviour of the neuron and neuro-transmitters. You can't take out a tyrant by writing a thesis. One of the simplest, most pithy statements I've come across says "Power is taken".

I'm afraid that South Africa will soon see more and more of a bullying attitude from the top. I'm told that Zuma is a charming, firendly man when you're up close, and I can believe it. I'm told how P.W.Botha sent defence force generals packing from his office in tears, and I can believe that, too. I remember well the continuous sense of threat that hovered over the South Africa that I knew before democracy, and I begin to feel the new teeth that would prefer wisdom and clarity to back off. If you work for government, just do your job, keep your head down, be thankful for your pay, and don't try to stand up for or against anything that would make government uncomfortable.  A bit like peasants in mediaeval centuries. So much for formal education. In fact, educated people will soon find no welcome in state schools. They won't fit into the system, and thus the system won't want them. This is one reason why educational coaching has a great opportunity to grow in South Africa, and I encourage teachers who want to have more fruitful influence than CAPS offers to study NLP, to practise biofocusing and apply this to learners. You actually don't apply NLP and biofocusing, you invite and participate. You're a willing partner, not a paid employee.

The system that uses fear - and there are plenty of them - needs the Irish retort. My Irish friend told me all about it. "What did the first Irishman say when he landed in Ireland?" he asked me.
"I don't know," I said, expectantly.
He beamed at me. "Tell us what the system is, because we're against it!"

I'm angry about what I see happening in formal education, especially in respect of the department of basic education. The truth, unpalatable as it may be for some, is that before democracy, education in the nation was a matter of oases in the desert. Democracy has not helped the development of education one bit: soon the oases will have vanished, and the desert will be be the sole reality. Try to prove water from a graph, grow food from baking sand. Cranking up marks while lowering standards and ignoring actual and critical  social situations do not produce highly - performing individuals.

Fortunately, educational coaching is a clear way to counter this dismal future by addressing what's actually present with what actually works. I can't see this happening in state schools, so I expect private strategies and innovation to help the educands to get to where they need to be. Biofocusing is one of these options.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Living as investing

I don't mean this in the short, medium or long term. I mean this in the ultimate term. This might seem a bit intimidating, but it's what I grew up with. You don't end with a preposition but with your investment. Noun.

Be brutally honest with yourself. What have you tried to get out of being alive? Career, money, sex, reputation, relationship, friendship, recognition, respect, fun...insert your true word(s) here.

I invested in clarity, career and courage. I had thought that love is something understandable, and that by searching, you can find it, but it's not as easy as that. This word is a vague one. C.S. Lewis wrote about the four loves, someone whose name I can't remember but whose book I have wrote about love therapy, and the Bible has plenty of directives, the most helpful one of which, for me, is that "herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He first loved us". Humans aren't the originators, and that's a relief, because we aren't so good at the love activity.

Clarity I needed for survival: I really didn't understand why any individual would go to heaven or hell on the basis of another individual's breakfast, and I was greatly relieved to learn that this perception was apprehension rather comprehension, and thus unnecessary as most perceptions are. Career I sought in terms of learning as much as I could about the freedom you must find in your own heart before pursuing freedom in the human world, and courage was what was required every step of the way, and I am thankful that courage is not merely a determination but essentially a gift.

Just as with financial investment, one's living investment is crucial. It comes back. I love these cryptic sayings because so much is packed into them.

A German engineer was once having breakfast at Saint du Barrys, our guest house. He was alone for breakfast, travelling on his own. He seemed happy enough with his own company, and I was intrigued by his way of talking quietly to himself. I wasn mystified, however, when I heard him mutter, in quite a perturbed way "It goes down on the middle!".

I hovered around the dining room wondering what it could mean, and presently, he pointed to our long dining room table with all the breakfast things, and said again, "See, it goes down in the middle, almost a centimetre". When I bent down, and looked to where his finger pointed, I could see it: the table bent, long, slow, indeed, it went down in the middle.

Well, your investment, it comes back. Maybe in your lifetime, maybe in your children's lifetime, perhaps in your grandchildren's lifetime. But come back it will, and sometimes this realisation terrifies me with its implacability.

Where your heart is, there is your treasure. The "bio" of biofocusing is the stretch of your heart to the more of the most that you desire. The sounds like e.e. cummings, and indeed, he knew about eyes of the eyes opening, ears of the ears hearing, and no doubt, the heart stretching into more of the most that can ever, and then leap on, unbaffled.

The ultimate return is stern. Does it mean living has to be timid, careful, deferential? Those who are under thirty have no idea of what I mean, here. Those who are under fifty and older than thirty had better remember, and  act with courage tomorrow and tomorrow, and those who are under any other age and older than fifty, your courage, and especially the courage of your parents has made the world what it is, and what it needs to be guarded for.

Every living moment is investment in one attitude or another, one kind of energy or another, there's an outcome, and nothing is about just you. The cycle moves, the gift is given, the heart grows in ways unfathomable.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Biofocusing, health coaching, educational coaching and the significance of the individual

I've often wondered why consciousness and awareness seems to be so centred in the individual. I know I'm aware and conscious, so do you, but by definition we don't share each other's privacy, and never will. I once wrote a poem which has a brief look at this mystery:


Many leaves, one tree
many people, one poem.

We have things in common, but there's a discontinuity. The discontinuity may be ironic: in The Bond Lynne McTaggart goes the other way, showing how we are programmed for kindness and mutuality rather than ultimate separation.

For me, there isn't a huge gap between health coaching and educational coaching. A truism that's lodged in my understanding says that the meaning of healing is the healing of meaning. This sounds glib and trite, but a moment's reflection ought to register more. The heart of educational coaching deals with meaning, the heart of health coaching deals with healing. The two overlap quite a lot, but the initial point isn't the same. When I began studying at university, I was very driven to find what meaning was about. Alas, not one teacher or book could I find that addressed the vehement need of my soul or intellect in this regard. Problem was, in retrospect, that I didn't know what I meant myself, in my quest for meaning. Eventually I came across Viktor Frankl's logotherapy, and began to get a handle on the felt concept of meaning, a handle not merely cerebral, but both cerebral and visceral in register.

This may begin to clarify why the individual is so central: there may be collective and spiritual Mind, but there's definitely  singular cerebrum, cerebellum and medulla. There may be holistic Soul, yet there's no getting past the adrenal gland, the short and long intestines, the stomach, liver; in short all the guts it requires to live one day at a time.

Decision and choice are invested in the individual for the purpose of responding to the here and now.. Purpose positions the individual somewhere in the circle of life and sphere of influence.To choose to walk the path of education is to decide to open the mind, conceptually and to be emotionally receptive. To choose health is to be purposefully balanced and sensitively aware of physical signals, signs and messages, which are not only internal but also ecologically contextualised. Living under high voltage pylons is not a good choice to make. Loyalty in an abusive relationship, while noble, is not wise. Sticking to fruitless prejudices born of traditional mindsets is a recipe for repetitive patterns called problems.

The individual is like a stargate for change. This makes coaching for leadership almost unavoidable for any kind of coaching. If you know how to lead yourself, you'll soon find yourself leading others.

The stargate for change fascinates me: Lord Shaftesbury, for example, Hitler as another: change that turns the world around notwithstanding morals or ethics. Vocation, calling, profession, daring and above all, the decision to stand for something rather than be swept along. What is it that produces significant change? I'd hazard a guess in respect of individual character that rises to a particular context.

Rising through the ranks is one thing, rising to the occasion is another. I like the randomness of what comes through the stargate, like a cat emerging unexpectedly from the chimney. Move over, Father Christmas.  Each individual that I face is an invitation to exciting movement, a privacy that holds great possibility. I am reminded that coaching is not a patronising relationship but one of humble recognition.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Biofocusing: actions to do this

You're focusing, so you're getting something clear. The feeling of freedom and the feeling of clarity are linked. I've just looked at a picture of a dog running. The caption read " live like someone left the gate open". No way to stop that dog.

You're insisting. Living isn't polite. You want, you're acting to get, you're intent on achieving and obtaining. Put the steps on place and take them, and don't say sorry.

You're enheartening. At least to yourself, and hopefully to plenty of others. The opposite is to discourage. That bubble of hope and expectation must balloon, lift, float and fly. The outcome won't be what you expect, but the movement is what counts.

You're determining. One real movement, instead of looking out of the window thinking of movement, like opening the window and shouting to someone; one real bit of a movement, and things happen. They can't not. Whwn you act, you determine.

You're progressing. Movement, per se, can be fruitful, destructive or meaningless. You respond to storms, good winds and the doldrums. If you're dealing with, you're going forwards and onwards. If you're not dealing with, or don't know how to deal with, you're luffing in the wind, not singing in the rain.

You're stetching. To reach beyond what you are, what you know and what you feel is to grow towards destitny.

You're touching. Tangible landings are good news. New territory. More adventure.

You're exploring. New focuses, full attention. Who can say what will be found?

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Focusing, biofocusing and bureacracy

You get bureacracy and bureaucracy. I've had to stand in really long queues with horrible service when I got to the front, and I've sung through some usually difficult processes like renewing my passport or driver's licence. I've contended with various educational bureacracies, and I have come to think that bureacracies are formal clothing. You can't think of a naked body as formal. It is what it is, usually better off clothed. But if the clothing doesn't fit, is inappropriate to the weather, or otherwise unsuitable, it becomes obvious. But tell this to the wearer? Mention to the emporer that he's actually naked? Dare to suggest that Zuma's fly is open? The desk, the pen, the file, the glass window, the "no abuse will be tolerated" are all there to intimidate the meek public. A bureacracy that's intent on service is one thing (and I've had the benefit of this experience) and a self-serving bureacracy is another.

If your focus is on doing business, be sure that bureacracy is there as the teeth to take a bite out of your turnover. States have never had any capital of their own, and yours is a natural target. If you focus on a profession as a prime love, you will soon become proficient at finding the way into relevant registrations and certifications.  Bureacracies have various purposes, the main one being taxation in creative forms by regulation.

However, the heart cannot be regulated. It remains wild and will never be tamed. It's the quickest, sharpest, toughest human core that we are. There's a sign on our front door that says "When the heart speaks take good note". It's also the most impassioned, tender and dynamic centre of awareness and consciousness. People of my generation were taught to focus on politeness and decency, often not saying or doing what should have been said or done because of good manners and deference. Cleanliness and good manners were next to Godliness.

There's a whole lot more freedom now. Since no-one has any socially sanctioned obligation to pay attention to God, where's the ultimate regulator?

I would say, take a step closer to the living heart, your vivid core of the present, experienced and realised moment, and feel and see that which ultimately can't be verbalised in a bureaucratcially driven atmosphere but is most certainly more relevant to you than any law.

Your heart is in no defined time and place, yet is has the ultimate authority to address whatever's happening in your time and space. Standing up to bureaucracy that is designed not to be stood up to is a battle I tend to omit. Discretion is the better part of valour.

But don't get me going on educational bureacracy. This is a hideous matter in South Africa, because what they're saying is that if all the admin boxes are ticked, we have a functioning education system. So somehow, those boxes get ticked even if the people who are required to tick them haven't got pens. Or even if the boxes are printed upside-down on the wrong paper, supplied after the deadline for submission has passed. Heaven knows what stories will emerge from under the piles of dumped textbooks in Popoland.

As I said, don't get me going.

Biofocusing, that is, with and on the heart, takes you to a different destiny. I liked the cartoon of Steve Jobs looking at Saint Peter paging through the big book at the pearly gates, telling him "I've got an app for that!". 

Guard the heart, especially from bureaucracy. The emporer wants your money and doesn't care about any coziness except his own. Does he have a heart? This is a good question, and food for another blog.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Biofocusing, educational coaching, mainstream and individual light.

Mainstream, norms, averages, bell-curves, objectives and curricula are not words I would easily associate with educational coaching. Although the idea of educational coaching applied to groups makes some sense to me, individual growth and excellence remain the prime focus.

I have never yet found the main stream in the ocean of education. Strong political and economic currents, yes, philosophical tendencies, check, cultural imperatives, certainly, even strong school traditions and social unity at local level.

At the coal-face, you have faces, eyes, body language, personal stories, nanno patterns of belief and expectation, and rarely do these fit into any box of premeditated purpose. Just yesterday I bumped into a student of almost two decades ago. We were both buying chocolate. He recognised me. I remembered his name and where he sat. He had become an engineer. When I think back to the immense bureacratic machine which processed him, I can't think that it had any lasting effect on him. The machine itself has plenty of new operators, and is unrecognisable. He's found his way, has done pretty well, it seems. They'll have a baby sometime soon.

How long does it take to become an expert? Ten thousand hours, if I remember correctly, as explained by Malcolm Gladwell. Find what you want to do, do it for ten thousand hours, and you're the expert. Hope you enjoy, because what else is there?

I've been an individual for more than ten thousand hours, and there's much that I enjoy, and much that makes me viciously impatient. My light is imperfect. I've always wanted to be part of more wattage and voltage, but somehow my details have escaped the mainstream.

There's a light in every individual. I have never been an advocate of cosiness - life's a surfboard until you fall off and have to swim - yet this many-light-studded humanisphere (I think I've just coined a term?) gleams like a dashboard of daringness, because that's what humans are. Not a mainstream, because how can you have a mainstream of daringness?

I listen to Mike and the Mechanics. A Time and Place? Is that the title? "You have to step outside the line..."

Many do, even if clumsily, and that has to be honoured and recognised, otherwise the movement dies.

Formal education doesn't step outside the line because it's paid for within the line. Jonathan Jansen intrigues me because he's trying to speak from within formal education, yet he wants to say real things.

Here in South Africa, the educands have a hard task: they have to look for a way to connect to something bigger, without being given a vision of something bigger.

A goat's pupil is horizontal in its eye, and expands to become a block, I'm told. I haven't looked intoa goat's eye to see for myself. Focusing left to itself, which is a significant part of biofocusing, will always elucidate, at least.

I'm thinking of what experience has shown me: teaching English to Nama adolescents, who sang songs to me in exchange for goodwill, teaching life to poor white kids who taught me about humility and compassion, teaching intellectual muscle to boys in a prestigious school the focus of which was rugby, teaching poetry, postmodernism and common sense to university students who were baffled by the requirements of intellectual prostitution: I'm free to teach and learn whatever I want, and so is everyone else. So the mainstream of premeditated purpose disappears, and the landscape of requirement (thanks Ridley Beeton) becomes apparent.

The point is, freedom to learn has never been greater. That's an amazing blessing at this stage of human history.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Connecting, reconnecting, focusing, biofocusing

The sense of connecting and the sense of focusing are connected.

I have a problem with language: When you try to use it to explain something real, it's a bit like a snake with its tail in its mouth. Try again.

This reminds me of a once upon a time very senior colleague who stammered. He was addressing senate and his tongue began to lose what he was saying. He simply stopped, and said, in Afrikaans, "probeer weer'" which means "try again". I remembered that because it was such a simple, thoroughly effective, admirable strategy.

But how often, in experience, when the issue is critical, do you get to try again?

I think of pilots. surgeons, dentists, chefs, and  so many other professionals who will never get another try if they fluff what's in front of them.

Quite frankly, I think of every moment of awareness, and the consequences of somehow missing something crucial. This is compulsive behaviour, and I don't recommend. Yet, through all of human history, why have we failed to move ourselves to anywhere that's an effective team, group, movement, kingdom, nation, empire, decisively and irreversibly changing human awareness for the better?

Historical gleams have never revealed lasting treasure. Empires, nations and movements have come and gone. Look at the solitary individual, staring into the fire, regarding the connecting strands between finitude and infinitude.

It comes to you. This is a merciful, generous, beautiful, friendly universe. In charge of it, there's an action that demands the foregoing, and there's the rub.

If you don't go with the better embrace, you create a really stupid anti-stream, a pathetic movement that might swirl with conviction, and die with corruption. Gatsby's dream taught me about this: the dream isn't about the dream, and Shakespeare taught me about  the aftermath: love is not love which alters when it alteration finds.

Connection seeks. Reconnection knows. Focusing recognises. Biofocusing realises.

There's a lot of work to do...but how do we know what to do?

Friday, 3 August 2012

Planning your growth: the focusing in biofocusing

Sorry, it can't be done. You can choose to grow, but you can't control the experience. When you open the window when the wind's blowing, air you will get, but you can't select the air molecules. You may get smoke in your eyes. Freud postulated the ego, Jung wrote about the undiscovered self, more theories about how awareness and consciousness are structured abound.

Certainly, you can turn your head, look forwards, backwards, sideways, select to watch the clock, the TV, the window, listen for the kids, stroke the cat, yet you can't control what's around you, or the scope of what your eyes might see. If you're in New York, you'll have to see Johannesburg in your imagination.

NLP refers to beliefs as permissions. I find this very useful, but I still want to know more about fruitfully decisive action, in the subtlest sense. I can control my physiology to a very limited extent, I was forced to learn how to control emotions to a much greater extent (this topic will pop up later in the context of educational coaching), and I learned how to act on the basis of commitment which was fundamentally based, but could turn on a tickey. By this seeming contradiction, what I mean is that you may be committed to practising medicine, but at a moment's notice, you drop a lucrative private practice, and head off to Bongoland to do what you must because you know you have to. Perhaps Eric Pearl can tell us something about this.

The focusing of biofocusing is difficult to explain, and easier to do live when I have another living being with me. It's less about controlling the details, and more about finding or creating the motivating energy, which you don't contemplate but do.

Focusing on your soul? Focusing on your living? Do the details come to you, or do you come to the details? And what is this "you" but a construct of which "you" are a construct yourself?

I gave up words for a while, but now that I've returned to them, I know that they have to be dealt with summarily and descisively. One of the worst bits of academia I have come across is lit. theory. Let the critics come.

So you want to grow? Open your mind and open your heart and accept what comes. Try your best to bypass language, but chances are, silence is not for you.

Biofocusing, health coaching and the heart.

When I first started putting the concept of biofocusing together, I was influenced by a number of things I had learnt about: I had studied and qualified in homeopathic medicine, I had gone through the training offered by Quantum Touch, an energy medicine approach, I had read widely in connection with CAM, motivational and inspirational leaders, and had the background of an education in humanities.

I was impatient to get to the heart of the matter, by an Hegelian movement, the ultimate overview, which was beyond me.

The starfish strategy, the one-at-a-time approach began to appeal: one concept, just one, as a point of entry to growth and health that anyone could use.

My own heart, as I had learnt, was an energetic structure throughout the body, requiring continuous charging and balancing advanced by natural influences, greatly assisted by my mindful co-operation.

I had more or less given up on words, which is a serious thing for a registered poetry therapist to do. Having discovered how wordless meditation and prayer produce powerful shifts of realization, the best advice, succintly, to anyone, would be to go pray and meditate. But such brisk and brusque advice is too quick to be noticed let alone taken.

Once I had the concept of biofocusing clear, I began to word it.

The background to the efficacy of homepathy is well documented by Lynne McTaggart in The Field. Recently the Swiss goverment has produced an report on homeopathy which I haven't read yet (I learnt of its existence a couple of hours ago: check Bornhoft and Matthiessen 2011, the name of the book wasn't given). The schism between medical science and CAM ought not to exist, in my opinion. It seems to be driven by two forces: pseudo-orthodoxy and economic interest. The health and the wholeness of the patient are one and the same thing, and both are affected by endogenous and exogenous factors, a good few of which have not yet been discovered.

The heart of health coaching, as I understand it, is to be found in individual case and context, thus linking singular consciousness and behaviour to social awareness and practice. Plenty of info out there: check 

As for my heart, the one made of muscle tissue, it could stop beating in two days or twenty years. There's nothing wrong with it, but as one gets older there are no guarrantees. I have no doubt that my living will go on after that - the continuing bio of biofocusing. Bodies die, people don't. I understand grief to be our most salient symptom of knowing unknowingness, the exact opposite of where scientific methodology has attempted to bring us. As for the focusing of biofocusing, we're all free to choose on what, with what and the style of our focus. All the time. This is a demanding responsibilty, one that deserves a good night's rest every night so that body and mind can regroup and touch up the paintwork of daily experience.

From one perspective, this:

from another, this:

yet, for both, the continuing heart is the same.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Educational coaching, biofocusing, truth and language

Let's assume that education, that is, the spontaneous formation of consciousness facilitated by various agencies, doesn't happen efficienly and fruitfully in formal contexts. The big thing is, you have to want to be formed, and you have to know as precisely as possible how and why you want to be formed. If you want something as urgently as this, the when usually means right now.

I was once summoned by a guru in Taipei. I was at a conference and chatting to a colleague who, as the evening wore on, excused himself as he had a meeting with his guru. Ten o' clock at night seemed an odd time for a meeting with a guru, but that wan't my business. Next morning at the conference, the colleague rushed over to me, looking quite dishevelled and said that he had been thoroughly blasted by his guru for wasting time; the guru had been expecting me, and I should attend without delay. This seemed most interesting, so I agreed to go along with him, that afternoon, accompanied by an interpreter to find out why the guru wanted to see me. The meeting lasted for all of eight hours, so I have to condense. Was I attending the conference solely for academic puposes, asked the guru, through the interpreter. No. Was I interested in learning the truth? Yes. Had I been interested in learning the truth for a long, long time? Yes, indeed. With a gleam in his eye, the guru proceeded to attempt to teach me the truth. I was a bad student. The guru said truth is the most important thing. No, I said, love is. We argued about this for a couple of hours, assisted by many cups of tea. Yet, step by step, he led me towards  non-conceptual truth, while I spoke up for inconceivable love. At one stage we stopped for a review, and he asked, through the interpreter, what I had learned, so far, about the truth, and whether I had yet grasped that truth was more important than love. "To learn the truth," I replied, "you must love it." He heaved a big sigh, and said we would take a short break.

Fast forward to the end of the meeting. Fortunately I was fairly well read in Zen Buddhism and Taoism to have some idea of where the guru was leading me, so when we got to the crunch, I thought I would try to communicate with him at his level.
"The guru wants to know if you have now learned the truth," said the interpreter.
"Tell the guru I have learned the truth," I said.
"You have?" asked the interpreter.
The interpreter spoke to the guru. The guru leaned forward, sensing something coming.
"Tell the guru I can show him the truth," I said.
"You can?" asked the interpreter.
"I can."
He spoke to the guru once more, and now the guru sat on the edge of the chair, regarding me intently out of eyes and a face full of attention.
With as much attention as I had, or would ever have, I picked up a pencil lying on the table and looking into his eyes, passed the pencil into the guru's hands.
I have never forgotten his expression. Perhaps if I try really hard, I can word it, but I don't think I want to.
He sat back, and began to clap.
The interpreter needed to go to the toilet. My colleague was sound asleep.

Change the story: many years ago, I think it was 1982, I was browsing through UCT's library, in a place which has surely been demolished and rebuilt, when I came across a book called The Yin and Yang of Langauge. This idea of language has been immensely helpful to me. Language doesn't mean too much unless it embraces that which embraces it. When you language something, thoughts need to be felt, and emotions should be thoroughly engaged. In other words, as much attention as you can muster - not merely cogitation but also motivation, as well as the tension between fixation and fluidity in the moment - permeates the activity of utterance to make meaning tangible and fruitful.

Enough about language. If you do the tautology of attending to attention (mainly by meditation) and become increasingly aware of being alive, your consciousness changes and grows and connects. It's always amazed me that this is not wanted by everybody. Apparently it's not a comfortable feeling for some: better for them to select parts rather than be whole.

That's okay: what I like about coaching is that it's entirely voluntary. Nothing more fruitless than unwilling kids in a classroom or students who want the degree but don't care much for the subject. Another thing I like about coaching is that it's non-judgemental. Biofocusing thrives on being alive, not on having the security of being right.

When you come to your tired limits for conceptualizng, when you pass your feared boundaries of intense feeling, when the crossroad parts into far too many ways, what do you do as you take the next step?

You clear everything in yourself, it doesn't matter what you think or feel and the decision has been made by your metaphorical feet and another new wholeness you hadn't expected is upon you.

And it won't be the last time.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Biofocusing and educational coaching in South Africa

The definition of educational coaching hasn't yet been nailed down to any one statement, and the applications thereof are varied, ranging from leveling the playing fields in education for the disadvantaged and disabled to assisting instructional interaction in institutionalised ways.

These are very useful activities and they assume that formal education in a given context works.

Here in South Africa formal education has long lost any ability to create a coherent national consciousness.
"Education has always been a handmaiden for the politicians," said the Scottish school inspector, sitting on the table, swinging his legs, during a seminar I attended in Cape Town in 1983. So perhaps one shouldn't be too hard on Zuma's folly, Angie "textbook" Motshega or any of the other political leaders. Instead of disparaging the politicians, one might look for strong educational leadership. Not commentators, just, but those who are actually in the lecture-halls, classrooms or institutional management offices. And definitely not the departmental minions who are more interested in self-serving reputation than reality.

Every forty minutes I face another group of thirty-five human phenomena. They come and go in cycles of eight periods over eight days. We talk, we open a few books, we write. We actually achieve very little other than a shaky relationship the evidence of which is that typical handwave when we pass in town. That's the formal outcome.The non-formal (better word than informal) dynamic goes further: I put just enough weight on the trap-doors of their alarmed awareness, so that when the anticipated intensity of alarm occurs and the door plunges helplessly down, the words and ideas that will help will be remembered and used to regain a stable place to stand, and try again. This, maybe in thirty years when one of them picks the final fight with the spouse. Perhaps in twenty-eight years, for another, when the child doesn't come home, ever.

But for now, they wait for their time lines to bring them, urgently, to social events, break-time, cell-phone time, and the king of them all, rugby-time. This is reality. If I stood on my head and sang to them, it would hardly be worth a passing glance.

What I'm saying is that with one foot in the world of the university, another foot in senior school, and yet another foot in coaching, the best place to put a foot is in entrepreneurship, here in South Africa. Meaningful work, personal energy and money don't separate easily in my understanding. These things don't come together in schools. They come together in a world where survival is not a given unless you're working for real.

So what does it mean to work for real? First, you have to sort your mind, so that you know what a real platform for your work is, then you join (or create) that platform, then you make sure the platform and your work make economic sense, especially in the short term, and definitely in the long term, although you will probably have to change platforms, and probably even stations, to keep up with the pace of change. To do all this you will need to train your emotions, thinking patterns and decisive strengths to realize your purposes. If you're any good at leading yourself, you may soon find yourself leading others. And this isn't just for young people, it's for people of any age. Burt Goldman who sends me emails encouraging me to do quantum jumping claims he's at his best, now, in his eighties. I'm still checking quantum jumping, but I think he's right about not stopping, ever.

When I coach in respect of education, using the motivating force of biofocusing, the first simple message is "take charge of your own life, all of it". If you ask "how do I do that?", I don't think I can help you. But if your first question is "okay, check, now what do I learn?" you're well on the way.