Doing what works

Make the most of yourself, for that is all there is of you. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

I am currently in training to become a counselling psychologist. In my skills practice the other day, I got this feedback from my peer who was observing my session:

“I’m still unsure of your facial expression. I don’t know if it’s congruent with the gravity of the situation. The way you are really shouldn’t work here. But somehow, it does…”

Firstly I am grateful for their constructive criticism, it is the only way that I can build my skills and really know that I am presenting a spirit of openness and genuine concern to my clients and their concerns. Secondly, that statement really sparked something in my mind, a seed of an idea, that has taken root and started to bud towards becoming a central pillar in my practice and in my daily life.

In sharing with the class at the end, I offered this:

I know that we are given tools and rules for these situations. I know we must be mindful of so many things – body language, tone of voice, eye contact, open questions –  in order to ensure that the signals we send are clear to those we are trying to help. But I also know this for sure. By being told that what I do should not work, but does, I came to know that I had to remember to bring my unique self to the relationship. What I was being was congruent with myself, congruent with how positively I viewed this other person, even in light of their situation. I view humanity positively; I think, like Carl Rogers, that we do dream towards our best selves, and that we strive to the fullest expression of our individuality. Because of that, I do not frown or gaze intently at the other person. I wear my expression gently, even positively, and sometimes I even smile. I smile when the going gets tough, because I think ‘I am here for you. Know that I can bear it. Know that I believe that you can bear it. I will be present for you as you figure this out’. I believe, totally and completely, that I have to bring what is uniquely myself to the encounter, that I may have a personal and particular expression that I bring to the caring. And that is untaught.

It shouldn’t work. But it does.

What unique aspect of your self are you bringing to your difficult situation today?

Published in: on October 30, 2012 at 11:46 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , , ,

The Olympic Life – Part 2

You’ve stumbled on your skill, marched forward with your passion.

Now is the time to develop that talent.

Training is important, collecting knowledge that allows you to do what you love to do in the best way possible.

Should it be formal? Some people grow well in this way. They gain activity knowledge, aggregate wisdom from learned elders and utilise this in order to become an authority in their field. They repeat their learning, tirelessly, practising core principles, testing new methods, building their physical, mental and emotional muscles, repeating their received knowledge until it becomes their own. They also remember, successfully, one important thing –

Learning is what happens when people stop telling you the answers.

Can learning be informal? I have been on stage for over 28 years, an actor for 17 of these years. I have never been to a formal acting academy or college. I learn as I go, learn on the job, push towards encouraging people to give me the chance to do this.

Are there gaps in my my knowledge? Perhaps. When I encounter those gaps, I trawl my phone contacts, my library, theatres, the internet, my DVD collection, in order to fill them. I have been fortunate to work with some extraordinary mentors who share their knowledge, insights and criticisms freely. I listen hard. And I throw myself into the opportunity in order to fail big, so that the lessons impact me strongly, get drilled into my mind. There are no examinations which deem me fit or unfit before I try it myself. It is trial by fire, error in public and the experience is thrilling.

There are so many ways to get activity knowledge. The best way of all is to DO. If the opportunity for formal eduction is not open to you, then keep searching for ways to DO. Offer your own skills in exchange for mentorship. Read everything you can. Hang around the sage elders, show enthusiasm and an ability to grow, until they accept you and give you the chance. Learn what life teaches you and then sit quietly and see how that relates to your chosen activity, then implement those insights. Have a voracious appetite for learning. Do the thing you love everyday, find creative ways to do it, learn from your doing. Ask advice and hear it when it is given. Do not fear criticism, your most valuable learning can lie there.

Keep practising. Do not fool yourself into believing that because you are already ‘on the job’ , you already know all you need to know. You already know all you need to know to be where you are at that moment. To move forwards, you must continue to train, to learn and to grow.

Are you ready to commit to the arduous, continuous training that is necessary to be a champion in your field? What other creative ways have you utilised in order to get the training you need?

EDIT: Here’s a great blog article from Robin Sharma on Why Learning is an Act of Courage

Do visit his blog, it’s a fabulous place.

Published in: on March 29, 2011 at 2:03 pm  Comments (2)  
Tags: , , , , , ,
%d bloggers like this: