Monday, April 14, 2014

Intention, Structure and Practice: My Writing Process

My friend and colleague, Sheri Andrunyk (an NLPCT Master Practitioner) has been developing a wonderful partnership publishing program at IC Publishing. Sheri Andrunyk is the founder of I C Publishing and the I C Bookstore, entrepreneur expert, and author of Working From Home & Making It Work and Hearts Linked by Courage; and she is extremely passionate about providing more choices and high level support to other writers, business professionals, wellness coaches, and spiritual mentors.

Sheri is an expert is getting the word out about independent authors and publishers. She invited me to participate in a virtual book tour and I am delighted to blog the results.

What am I working on?

At the moment I am in the final proofs of my most recent book, Living Your Purpose: The Heart of NLP. It is that stage most hated by authors, the one where I have to do one more brutally detailed reading and decide the book is ready to be released into the world.  As soon as I do, I will be doing a rewrite of my first book, Shiftwork, to prepare a new edition and then I can't wait to start the next one: Storywork.

In the meantime, I blog, write newsletters and our website and I'll be writing a new, improved course manual for our certification in NLP: The Art of Change on Purpose.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

NLP books tend to be a mixture of textbook-sounding works and transcripts of courses. My own work is quite different: it's a set of coaching conversations trapped between the covers. I mix metaphors, stories and a fluent, conversational style with information and exercises. My hope is that readers will keep the book handy when they need a shift, a change in perspective that creates new energy or new choices.

It's also different than many other psychology books because I come from a background in literature. I believe in using the simplest words that will carry my meaning and that sentences should sound lovely even when they are carrying concepts and research and facts.

Why do I write what I do?

I believe that the work of the human mind is to learn as much about itself and the world as it can. Doing this means capturing moments and slowing them down to learn from them and appreciate their complexity and precision and beauty. I write what I do so that I can capture moments in time in a way that allows me to engage with them and appreciate them and open up new connections between them and the questions that other people may be asking about their thinking or their lives. I also write so that I can shift my own perceptions and live better.

How does my writing process work?

When I am writing short pieces, I start with the intention to give my readers something they can use to make a difference in the way they think or act. Reading is one of my practices for living better: I believe that it creates tangible difference in what I choose, what I communicate and what I do. I think the same should be true for people who read what I write. They should find enough detail so that they can imagine making a difference by accepting or arguing with what I have said.

When I am writing a book, I begin with the bones. I find a structure and then I sit in different parts of the structure and build something to fit the space I have outlined. The goal then is to have small units that create experiences that can be changed together so that they also build experiences out of the relationships between them.

I don't usually write because I am inspired. I usually write because I need to inspire myself in some way and the words that come and the shapes they make will show me something I need to know.

Let me introduce another friend and NLPCT Master Practitioner 

Noreen is a MYSTIC, a perpetual SOUL searcher, an ENTREPRENEUR, an NLP MASTER Practitioner, a LIFE coach, a POET, a personal TRAINER and metabolic balance NUTRITION coach. Enjoy meeting her at The Noreen Project.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Should you manage time, attention or results?

I am in one of those periods when I am beyond busy. It happens to me from time to time: I have lots of commitments to lots of people (including me) and I really, really need to produce a lot in a limited amount of time. Some of what I need to produce is not especially fun.

What do you do? I recently received coaching emails from a well-known expert that talked about getting rid of wasted time and managing time in 30 minute increments. It's easy to agree in theory, but I don't think I do.  Agree, I mean. I also don't manage time this way.

Who are you when you know yourself? What's important to you? Some of the things that are important to me are a belief that the arts make us smarter and an equally powerful belief that God (substitute the universe if you are more comfortable with that) doesn't punish us for being present with people who need help or support or just to have company. So I fit music and art into my schedule even when they don't fit. And I sit with people who don't need me (but maybe they do need something) even when I have lots to do.  I also work to honour my commitments (even the one that says that once a week I pick up my 2 year old niece early from day care.)  I do not know how cause and effect works all the time, but I know these things to be right and important in my life.

Everything else is up for negotiation. Sometimes I let myself get really tired. A little sleep deprivation actually helps me stick to boring tasks that have to be completed on a deadline. Sometimes I cycle through social media in the hope of a breath of fresh air (it's not often there). What I don't do is make statements like "schedule only 60% of your time" or "stop wasting time."

Just be the best person for you as often as you have a choice to make.

Friday, April 04, 2014

What's so great about grit?

I took this picture last week as a reminder that grit happens. As the snow melts and the seasons change, the first result is grit: on the sidewalks; on the melting heaps of snow; in the mess of the gardens. Spring begins with robins and crocuses and grit.

We often confuse what is pretty with what is useful. Bunches of tulips in the grocery stores and florists are pretty. They are a sign that spring has arrived somewhere. Mucky puddles with salt and sand left over from colder days are a sign that spring is creeping up on you.

When you think about it, you might find that many changes begin like this. Grit happens whenever you want something bad enough to be willing to produce some grit to make it happen. Grit happens when you look at what you have just written and erase it all to make it better. Grit happens when you follow the instructions to the letter and it doesn't work and you start all over again. Grit happens when you are used to feeling good at something and you risk being bad at it long enough to grow your skill.

No one loves grit. No one buys mussels for the sand in the shell and no one has a baby just so they can change diapers. No one wants to look at grey and dreary and mucky and damp.

But there is magic on the other side of grit.

Friday, March 28, 2014

NLP when it is time for tears

This is Kylemore Patience. We called her Kylie. She joined our family just after Christmas in 2001 and she left us on Wednesday. She left gently and with grace, patient as her breathing grew more and more difficult.

She waited until my husband and I were both at home and then she let go.

This is a time for tears. She was just a sweet little dog who couldn't do much of anything anymore except let us know that she valued our attention. Every plan we made, every day, we thought about her and worked around her, and tried to keep her safe and well.

What difference does NLP make when it is time for tears? There is no affirmation or visualization that protects us from the day when someone we love leaves us. It doesn't happen because we are sloppy or negative. NLP does not allow anyone to outsmart life. Life still happens and tears still happen.

NLP helps. It helped me know on the weekend that it was okay for her to steal the giant bone (to which she was probably allergic) and really enjoy it for a few minutes. It helped me know what was happening as she neared the end and stay clear about what I wanted for her and for us as we said goodbye. It helped me have presence of mind as Kylie died and after, to think about what other people needed and to check in with what I needed too.

It helps me understand the effects of grief on my state and my thinking and know when I need to have someone check my work or back me up because my head isn't as clear as I would like it to be. It helps me to accept that every major shift begins with a period of integration and disorientation.

So I am a little lost today and yet I am also able to do what needs to be done to honour my work and commitments and to know that possibilities are unfolding now to be ready for me when I am ready to look up and look for them. I look at the places she was curled up last week and half hear her bark and know that these are patterns that are interrupted and until new patterns form, the edges will hurt.

I know, too, that every death reminds us of hard truths and that NLP is one way to heighten awareness and appreciation. Because all of our days are numbered and making the most of them changes us and lets us change the world, at least a little.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Stepping Away to Accelerate Progress

It's obvious to everyone that just before you drop, you should rest. Holidays are often seen as ways to ward off collapse from fatigue or burn out. When absolutely necessary, rest for a short time and then get back into the swing of things. This necessity arises at different times for different people in different kinds of work. For entrepreneurs, it arises just before they crash (if they're lucky).

This isn't the best way to think productively. If we use the word "creative" lots of people feel they can sidestep the value of rest because they do not see themselves as "creative." For many years, I thought that having a research degree in a competitive field meant that I was an analytical thinker. I am, of course, an analytical thinker but it turns out that in no way also prevents me from being the kind of thinker who produces stuff: words and ideas and motivation and innovation.

You might not be a creative person but it is likely that if you are reading this, you are a person who cares about thinking well and that, to you, thinking well means thinking so that you can have a tangible impact on other people or situations. You want something to show for your thinking. You want to think in a way that produces a desired result. That means you want to create.

The best creative thinking comes from taking a rest. Work really hard. Learn lots about the field in which you work or the problem you want to solve. Be analytical and rigorous and curious. Struggle.

And then walk away. Take a break. Do something active enough to distract you without generating a competing focus or more stress. Exercise or hang out with friends. Change the scenery.

This blog post is late because I took a weekend off to hang out with family and sip coffee (in the morning ) and wine (after noon) and enjoy food and conversation and games. I took the weekend off for fun but I also took it off because I need to produce material for the new online component of our NLP Master Practitioner programme. Thinking about it relentlessly would not get me there faster. The fastest route to developing better material is to step away and let the intention percolate in the background.

This will be a busy week. And I'll be ready.