Nuggets September 2018:
I believe in putting your thoughts, questions and experiences out there. You never know what these ripples may turn into or who you might connect with as a result. So here’s what was on my mind this month. If any of it resonates, make it swing! My doors are (almost) always open and I’d love to hear from you.
What I’m reading
Michael Pollen’s new book “How to Change Your Mind” is quite a game changer. As a thorough science journalist with a healthy skepticism towards psychedelic ‘drugs’ he soon realized that there is a world of potential waiting to be discovered. After Timothy Leary was thrown out of Harvard, all research halted for decades. But recently we’ve been witnessing a real renaissance of exploring the application of LSD, psilocybin (the active ingredient in magic mushrooms) and other substances such as MDMA in therapeutic settings. To get an idea of the impact that this new research is likely to have in the near future, consider the words of renowned psychiatrist Stanislav Grof, who wrote that the “potential significance of LSD and other psychedelics for psychiatry and psychology was comparable to the value the microscope has for biology or the telescope has for astronomy.” An excellent read (or listen) by an excellent and respected writer that guarantees to throw up a lot of questions.
What I’m equally excited and terrfied of
The topic of (or rather our future with) AI for me is as exciting as it is terrifying. Nobody knows how it’s going to turn out. It could elevate humans 100-fold or wipe us all out in a not-too-distant future. Elon Musk gave me the shivers at a pretty constant rate throughout this conversation with Joe Rogan. What I like about Joe’s show is that it is completely unedited. Check it out. I’d love to hear what you think.
What I’m pondering
At a recent conference I made an encounter that got me thinking about free speech again. One of the participants really liked what I presented but (or rather because of this) took me aside afterwards to give me a kind but very stern warning that I might want to avoid swear words (she counted 3 during the 3 hours) or otherwise risk being ejected from/asked to leave the conference. This has happened before apparently. Regardless of where we draw the line, the fact that people seem to get offended more and more easily is concerning.
On a broader scale we have seen censorship on a far more complicated playing field: the Internet. Surely we want ‘hate speech’ and ludicrous conspiracy theories banned from YouTube and Twitter. Or do we? The now very popular Jordan Peterson (mentioning him rarely seems to fail to spark a good debate) is caught up here in a pretty weird exchange with conservative political commentator, actor and comedian Steven Crowder posing as a hardcore liberal.
What I’m proud of
It’s done! September saw me handing in the manuscript for my book An Introduction to Existential Coaching and I couldn’t be happier with the results. Thanks to everybody who made suggestions for the resource section following the last nuggets. I’ve decided to turn this into a public project and also to share all references and suggestions for further reading. You can have a look and contribute even more here. Feel free to share!
Oh and two of the studies I contributed to were published in the International Coaching Psychology Review. Kudos to my former students and cherished colleagues Carley Sime and Maya Mattar.
What I’m coaching
I remember watching “Exit Through the Gift Shop” which Banksy concluded by saying that Mr. Brainwash (the movie’s main artist) “broke all the rules in a game that was never meant to have any.”
Coaching seems a bit like that and I regularly meet amazing practitioners who feel somewhere between uneasy and outright tormented about the way that they work, questioning whether it is okay to do what they do and still call it coaching when, for example, exploring at depths or giving advice. In an unregulated profession there isn’t really a right or wrong. While I am somewhat attached to semantics and would certainly feel better if we all meant the same when we use the term “coaching“, language and meaning are constructed by people; and that’s a really beautiful thing about coaching. It’s free to work in whatever way you think will be useful. And as long as you’re providing a sufficiently clear framework for your clients to be able to give you informed consent to work with you, I don’t see an ethical problem. I think it’d be easier to sell coaching if we all meant the same thing, but it is just not a the reality of the profession.
So as long as you are open about the way you work and your clients see the value in it, I believe you are free to call yourself whatever you want. Don’t let your school, your supervisor, the ICF or that blog post you’ve read about how you’re doing it wrong interfere with good work. It can be tough to be different but doing it your way will always pay off. Embrace your funk! Just make sure your clients understand what they’re getting themselves into and make sure they’re safe (and you too!).
As always, I’d love to hear what inspired you this month, what you’re reading and what you’d like to see me share in the future. I’d also love to know which kind of nuggets you’re most interested in and which ones you’d like to have more of or less of.