Nuggets April 2021
I want to start these nuggets with a pie chart. Because every March since 2005 I’ve been thinking about the day my friend Max showed it to me and until just now I could never find it again. Okay well, I should admit it never actually stayed important enough for long enough to spend more than 5min looking for it, but somehow, just now, I got a bit obsessed and invested WAY too much time tracking it down. I am proud nonetheless, and so with a drum roll and imagined cheer. here’s a slice of personal internet history due to current events here in the UK:
The sun is such a powerful energizer and I could immediately feel it all round. Tomorrow it’ll be -1 Celsius. “April, April, der macht doch was er will” (April does whatever April wants) my mum used to say. But to be honest, I’m done talking about the weather. While there may be a bunch of you who I’ve not had the pleasure to meet yet (we’re over 1000 subscribers now) and the weather is something “safe” to talk about while people check each others’ vibes out, I think we’re past this and I’ve got a few meaningful bits to share with you.
So without further ado about nothing, as always, here are a few Nuggets of what’s been going on for me this month, bits and pieces that I’ve come across or thoughts that have been on my mind, as well as a few fruits of that energy. If any of it resonates, make it swing! I’d love to hear from you 🙂
Of bubbles and breakups
It dawned on me when my friend told me that her and her boyfriend are currently on a break because she’s super careful not to catch the virus while he’s “over Corona” and started to see other people (pun intended). I feel incredibly grateful to have spent the last year in a bubble with my amazing wife alongside hours of deep and meaningful conversations with my clients each day. But as pandemic fatigue increases, more and more stories emerged of friends who had formed bubbles breaking up due to unfaithfulness, a breakdown of trust, or simply because your bubble partners would like to “see other people”. So many of the elements of a committed romantic relationship are at play here, only that it’s a lot more complex due to the lack of sex and the multitude of partners. “Have you been seeing anybody else?” is a question we ask each other a lot, and especially important when trusting a group of people with your life (potentially, but quite literally). I’ve not got a big conclusion or specific pointers here. I just thought it was so interesting to see the parallels and perhaps some of you may be find it helpful to think of your bubble as a committed short-term relationship (possibly with benefits) and perhaps it’ll get you thinking about relationships in general and how we approach them. And if you’ve got a good story to tell, I’d love to hear it!
Being is doing
A big thank you to my friend Carina who, back when I was 16, told me to shut the fuck up and just listen to her. It was one of those days she had poured her heart out to me about this, that or another (perceived) problem, and I, trying to be a good friend with arguably no clue what I was talking about, had been trying to fix it for her. I offered tonnes of good advice. Some of it may even have been actually good advice. But the kind of help she needed was not about doing anything. It was about being there for and with her, to listen, to hold the space for her to get this off her chest (which oftentimes turned out to be the solution to her “problems” to my then-astonishment). However, it turned out that for someone who loves fixing things and really wants to help (possibly also ideally to fix this quite quickly so we could go about whatever plans we had made later that day), it requires a lot of “doing” not to do anything and to just be there. And this is something I notice regularly with my coaching students. Here’s just a few things you do when you’re being there: not interrupting, bracketing your assumptions, resisting to think about solutions, pacifying your own curiosity and not asking that question bases on what you want to know. The list goes on. Try it out! Just be there with someone and hold the space for them. Just 10 minutes. Tomorrow. I dare you 🙂
The placebo effect
There are some people you meet on the path of your education journey that leave a lasting impact. For me, one of these people was Dr. Ashok Jansari, a renowned neuropsychologist and researcher who ran one of my undergraduate modules. I vividly remember the day he invited one of his patients with prosopagnosia (face blindness) to come talk to us about living with brain damage, and the day he showed us videos of his patient who found it nearly impossible to transfer memories from short-term to long-term memory (yes, the condition that the guy from the movie Memento suffers). He also impressed me by saying sharing exactly what he thought about the quality of your work. Not always comfortable, let me tell you, but I’d still much rather know where I’m at than having to scrape of an inch of sugarcoating and translate feedback for the hyper-sensitive into something I could constructively use for the next essay. Anyway, I respect Ashok a lot, he’s our most invited guest at Pub Psychology, and during lockdown he’s kindly been given a whole series of free talks via his social media channels.
His latest talk was about the placebo effect, which didn’t just feature a bunch of mindblowing research but also led me to find another few amazing examples, reminded me of how I started re-thinking my stance on marketing and got me thinking to what extent this plays a role in coaching and therapy.
Now credit where credit is due, it was Seth Godin who, in one of his books, told me the story of a famous high-end wine glass manufacturer who created the story of how wine tastes better in their glasses. Now I say “created” because none of their “science” actually holds up against double-blind experiments (fun facts: several sparkling wines from the South of England regularly beat Champagne in these kinds of tastings and there’s been a study that had professional wine tasters sing the praises of a white wine disguised as a quality red by using food colouring and the placebo effect). Usually I would have been up in arms against anything that offers false claims to make a sale. However, something shifted significantly when I had to recognize that by creating the story of how the wine tastes better out of one of their glasses, it actually created that reality: wine lovers judge the wine to be much tastier when they’re being told that the wine is expensive (or it is, you know, actually expensive) and when they’re being “sold” the story that the glasses make a big difference. The story literally creates the reality.
Similarly, working with a coach will be much more effective if you believe it to be helpful, compared to being sent to a coach and you’re doubting that they’ll be able to help you in any meaningful way. Now some coaches spend a lot of time and effort building a brand or story around themselves that will create this reality for their clients, and you may argue that this is in the best interest of the client. Ashok told us how patients with Parkinson’s disease who received a stem cell transplant but didn’t think it would help them benefitted less than those who received a fake surgery (yes, that’s a thing) but believed they had gotten the real thing! Bigger pain killers with the same dosage killed more pain and colour matters too but changes based on cultural or personal associations. In another documentary, a knee surgeon (visibly shaken by the ethics around the experience) pretended to operate on a number of patients suffering from severe arthritis, who then went on to report significant reductions in pain and tremendous increases in their quality of life. One even took his wife out dancing when before he could barely move due to the pain!
Now that said, where’s the line? Does this justify making shit up in order to harvest the benefits of the placebo effect? What about homeopathy for example, which to date has no evidence supporting its actual effects in blind experiments, but with a large following swearing that it has helped with a variety of ailments. We can literally get drunk if we think we’re consuming alcohol. But we can also get sober momentarily by someone telling us the truth. It’s incredible what the mind can do. I’ll leave it at that.
Coach Training Galore
You will likely have seen or heard me or others rave about the ACIC, so I won’t say any more at this point other than that the School of Positive Transformation is currently offering an additional 20% discount on the already incredible price. Deadline is Wednesday 7th April 6am GMT+1, so if you or someone you know always toyed with the idea of adding coaching skills to your repertoire, just use discount code “EasterSpecial” when you check out at https://bit.ly/CoachingCertificate. Their similarly amazing Positive Psychology Practitioner Certificate is also on offer and well worth checking out!
There’s another coach training programme, an online course that teaches coaching skills to personal trainers, yoga instructors, martial arts sensei or other professionals in the fitness and wellness industry. I had actually written and produced this a while ago together with personal training legend Dan Roberts of Dan Roberts Group (check him out, he’s quite something). Due to some rather tragic personal events in Dan’s life we’ve had to put our project on ice for quite some time, but I’m very proud and excited to say that we’ve just re-launched, together with well over an hour of free content as a teaser to the course. If this is you or someone you know, why not (have them) check out:
Quote I loved
“We’re all dying, one breath at a time” someone once said to me. I can’t remember who it was. Might have been a book, might have been a conversation. But one common conclusion that we may draw from it, which in turn offers quite a significant source of energy and motivation, is captured in this beautiful quote by Werner Erhard, a prominent self-help figure in the 70s and 80s:
“Live as if your life depended on it.”
With a bunch of inspiring conversations still on the shelf, I’ve decided to hire an editor to get them out into your eager minds. Here’s the first one, episode 4 of my deep dives into one topic or person, complete with new intro and outro and a wonderful conversation partner.
I’m talking to Eric Larson, coach of 15 years with over 10.000 coaching hours on his back, and founder of the Coaching Dojo. We’re exploring the importance of play in coaching both as a technique as well as a rich metaphor for how people approach life. We talk about finite games, infinite games, how to figure out the “rules” and lots more.
If you want to see Eric in action with a client, as a member of Yannick’s Coaching Lab (a place to be a fly on the wall for a 45min live demo, Q&A with the coach and client, followed by experimental breakouts) you can re-watch the recording of his exceptional session including the conversation that ensued.
Become a member: https://bit.ly/CoachingLabMembership
Future Coaching Labs: https://bit.ly/FutureCoachingLabs
Catch me live
- 6th April: Coaching Lab 13 with Dr. Natalie Lancer – Be a fly on the wall for this live coaching demo focused on helping a client through inertia and stuckness on a BIG project (Tickets from 20£ via MeetUp & Eventbrite). 20% discount on annual membership with access to all our recorded sessions!
- 15th April: Pub Psychology – The Woke Debate. “Wokeness” seems to have gotten out of control, to a point that our language is being stretched, changed and often misattributed in a way that almost anybody can take offence, everybody and their mum is getting “cancelled” and the intent for whatever one was trying to communicate seems to matter less and less. What do you think? Are we doing a good job cleaning up how we speak in an honourable attempt to eliminate hidden bias and discrimination, or do we need to stop being so goddamn woke? We’ll be arguing all sides and welcome you to contribute.
- 19th April: The Positivity Prescription with Dr. Suzy Green – Suzy is a true pioneer in the field of Positive Psychology Coaching and I’m honoured that she’s invited me to be a guest on her podcast talking about meaning and meaning-centred coaching. The line up of her first season was very impressive and while I don’t think this one will be streamed live, I’d recommend you keep an eye out for the publication or check out some of the past episodes.
- 29th April: An Introduction to the ACIC – In case you’ve missed the last webinar I ran introducing our ground-breaking new coach training programme (you can watch the recording here) or you’ve got questions I didn’t answer, I’ll be running two more at the end of this month, one at 6:30pm GMT+10 and one at 6:30pm GMT+1. Best way to get the link will be to sign up to the School’s mailing list.
- 4th May: Coaching Lab 14 with Dr. Magdalena Bak-Maier – And a heads up that we’ve got a very special Coaching Lab in May featuring one of my personal favourite integrative practitioners with a gift to see people. Don’t miss this one!
- 9th June: WBECS Summit – Another heads up that I’ll be presenting at the next WBECS Summit, both at their free Summit on the 9th June as well as their paid Summit on 27th January 2022.
That’s it! If you’re reading this, I appreciate that you’re still with me and I hope you enjoyed reading my Nuggets. Again, if any of it resonates, make it swing! I’d love to hear from you 🙂
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