Free Videos


 

As I am now beginning to sort through and upload my new video series, Mind-Body Matters, I wanted to remind you that the videos page on my website is completely free and is about to expand rapidly with even more free training and educational videos on a variety of topics.

If there’s anything that you liked in particular let me know what it was that struck a chord with you, and if there is any subject that you would like me to cover let me know what it is and I will do my best to put something together for you.

In the meantime enjoy the videos and keep your eyes peeled for updates on the new ones.

Click here to access the Free Videos

Simon

 

New Mind-Body Matters Series Video 1: Mental House Cleaning


I have been working on a series of short videos that give you tips, tricks and mind games that help you to change your thoughts habits and behaviours. They will take practice to make them stick like glue and become second nature, and they will work with consistent practice.

Remember, you didn’t ingrain your current thought patterns, habits and behaviours overnight, you most likely developed them unconsciously over a period of time without realising it. So why not swap out the ones that you don’t want with new useful and productive ones that you do want, after all, life is challenging enough at times without sabotaging ourselves on top if it all.

I’m confident that you’ll find some really useful ideas in this series and if there is anything in particular you’d like me to cover then please let me know at simon@simonmaryan.com

Have fun

Simon

 

The Value of Your Values


I wonder if you’ve ever thought about what your personal values are? Not many people have¬†even considered it before, yet clarifying your personal values profoundly impacts career planning, decision-making, and the accomplishment of individual goals. There’s significant research over the last several years that indicates that clarifying personal values reduces stress, strengthens willpower, and aids in overcoming significant obstacles to achievement. Identifying your personal¬†values is an essential¬†and¬†vastly under utilised tool for personal and¬†professional development.

So How Do We Define Values?

Here’s one Definition: Values are deeply held beliefs about what is good, right, and appropriate.

Values are deep-seated and remain constant over time. We accumulate our values from childhood based on teachings and observations of our parents, family, friends, teachers, spiritual leaders, and other influential and powerful people.

Values can be defined as broad preferences concerning appropriate courses of action or outcomes. As such, values reflect your¬†sense of right and wrong or what “ought” to be. “Equal rights for all”, “Excellence deserves admiration”, and “People should be treated with respect and dignity” are representative of values. Values tend to influence attitudes and behaviour. Types of values include ethical/moral values, doctrinal/ideological (religious, political) values, social values, and aesthetic values. It is debated whether some values that are not clearly physiologically determined, such as altruism, are intrinsic, and whether some, such as acquisitiveness, should be classified as vices or virtues.

Achievable goals can only be established and pursued if they are in synchrony with your personal values.

You must be clear about your values because they reveal who you are and what values are directly related to the quality and depth of your self-worth.

Some typical values explored in coaching are: harmony, balance, loyalty, achievement, wisdom, integrity, honesty, acceptance, happiness, inclusion, freedom etc.

A Values Assessment Exercise can provide you with:

  • A clear understanding of what is important to you and identifying your guiding principles
  • A map as to where you are and where you want to go based on your values
  • A clearer understanding of why you do what you do
  • A better understanding of how you can best interact with others
  • Better control of your life and ability to succeed as you clarify your personal values

Why Values Clarification Helps

People who are confused or unclear about their values often have difficulty making important life-decisions, because they tend not to weigh what is most important to them. This is an especially urgent problem today, with all the choices, noise, and mixed messages pulling us in a thousand different directions. We are living in a world of infinite options, which can be wonderful, but also more than a little confusing.

Think about how many decisions, big or small, you make in a day. This choice overload can be utterly overwhelming, especially for someone looking for career direction. This is why a values-based decision-making paradigm is an incredibly meaningful alternative. For instance, if you value organisation, you will work best in an organised work environment. Using deeply held personal values as a life compass will empower you and your clients, if you’re a coach, to make career decisions that are right for the individual.

After surveying the workforce in 142 countries, Gallup concluded that only 13% of employees are engaged at work, and 87% of those surveyed dislike (or even loathe) their jobs. Why, when we now have more career options and resources than ever, are so many people simply going through the motions, and working for the weekend? Why do so many surveys indicate that people are truly dissatisfied with their jobs?

It’s because they are compromising their personal values, most without even realising they’re doing it.

We can truly do meaningful work only when we are living according to our core values!

If you’d like get clarity on your personal values, work through the simple values assessment exercise below:

First, take a few moments to read through the list of values and make an initial list of any values that stand out for you, this will be your baseline to start from and this list may be 15-20 and that’s fine as Steps 1 & 2 will help you cut the list down. I’d also like you to write down your observations, thoughts and feelings about these initial values and why you feel they are important to you right now. remember that this is just the beginning of this process and the list will shorten and change, possibly quite significantly too, so just go with it and see what happens.

Values List

Values Exercise Step 1:

What I Value Most…

Value Assessment: From your initial list of values (both work and personal) select the eight Рten that are most important to you. Feel free to add any values of your own to this list if they are not there.

Step 2: Prioritise

Now that you have identified your top eight – ten, write them in order of importance for you from 1 being the most important to 10 being the least important.

Now read the bottom half of your list out loud . If you were offered a job or told that these were the values you were going to live the rest of your life by, would it feel right?

Now repeat this with the top half of your list, if you were offered a job or told that these were the values you were going to live the rest of your life by, would it feel right?

If you chose the bottom half then you need to redo your list or re-prioritise it. This in itself is a very important discovery and helps you to really connect with what is truly important to you, and, you can apply it to anything in life such as a buying a car, choosing a holiday etc.

However, if you chose the top 4-5 as values you felt most comfortable living by then you have done an excellent job in prioritising your values list

Some Guidelines:

  1. Using the Values List – name 3 values that you move towards and that are important to you (e.g., freedom)
  2. Name 3 feeling states you wish to avoid (e.g., rejection)
  3. What values or feeling states do you need to create your destiny? (e.g., self-determination)
  4. Identify 3 people who have had the greatest impact on your life? What special advice or values remain with you?
  5. List 3 peak experiences that have profoundly shaped your life/career direction

 

I hope you found this useful and my next article will be about beliefs and how they are tied to our values.

To your success.

Simon

 

The Use of Metaphors in Coaching


The word metaphor is from the Greek metapherein, which means to transfer or to change. For the purpose in coaching, I use the term metaphor as a symbol that captures or represents qualities of my client and of the journey he or she is making. Myths, archetypes, natural phenomena, animals, and common objects may all serve as metaphors. By way of distinction, metaphors are not are adjectives, literal descriptions, judgments, or assessments.

Metaphor is the language of archetypes, symbols, and essence. Because it is a language that is representative in nature, it simplifies and focuses perception. Our culture uses metaphors abundantly to capture an idea or essence. For example, we say things like: She has stars in her eyes; we are drowning in data; and, here’s some food for thought.

A a coach, I have found that using metaphors can capture the essence of the client and the coaching issue in a way that descriptions, cannot, because metaphors hold within them worlds of association and information. The pictures that metaphors paint are, indeed, worth a thousand words, because the images stay with us long after descriptions or data have faded from memory.

Application

Although there are countless ways to use metaphors in coaching, I share my experiences with clients using metaphors in two primary application areas: assessment and practice design.

First, an important distinction: I¬†use metaphor to capture and explore the client’s issue, not the client as a person. A metaphor is but a lens through which to see. Just as it focuses perception, it also limits it (Morgan, 1996). If I¬†confuse the metaphor for the person, I¬†obscure from sight the person‚Äôs multidimensionality, the full mystery of who he or she is. When used as a lens on the coaching issue, the metaphor provides the coach with useful focus and depth.

Assessment

Metaphors have proven invaluable to me in gaining clarity about my clients and their coaching issues. For example, one of my clients had received feedback that she was seen as aggressive, arrogant, and prone to loss of control over her anger at home and in her workplace. Underneath this behaviour appeared to be an inability or unwillingness to yield, an orientation that she knew best and that her perspective was the right one. The metaphor we developed for the shift the client needed to make was to bring her from a dormant or dead oak tree to a weeping willow.

Another client came to me¬†for leadership coaching. He seemed very together but had received feedback that he didn’t play the game according to the rules of the culture and didn‚Äôt connect well with peers and superiors. His superiors, however, thought he had the makings of a good leader. It was difficult at first to get any other impression besides how smooth and together this client seemed. Diagnostically, I¬†used this feeling data” to uncover a metaphor that initially guided the coaching: tarp was the metaphor that surfaced. The shift that this client needed to make was to move from tarp: protective, tightly woven, and invulnerable, to tapestry: permeable, colourful, warm, yet solid.

These images were useful to me¬†diagnostically, because they crystallised and simplified my¬†understanding of my¬†clients’ issues. Perhaps even more important about metaphors, however, is how much information they give back to us about the client issue. The oak to willow image was, first, a useful handle on my¬†initial take. But what I¬†found most amazing is how delving into the image itself could actually deepen my¬†understanding significantly. For example, if we¬†work with the image of oak, what else is true about an oak tree that might be true of this client? The oak holds onto many of its leaves in winter and even in death. What might this client need to let go of? The oak tree is associated with tremendous strength. Might this client be too strong, too forceful, for her own effectiveness? Then look at the weeping willow image. It sways in the wind. What might our client need to let move her? The willow weeps. Might grief be a component of the coaching journey?

Following the same brainstorming process, I¬†began wondering about the tarp, metaphor. What was this image telling me¬†about what I was¬†seeing in this client’s dilemma? Tarp is efficient. This client was smooth, he did his job well, but he sensed that his superiors and colleagues were envious of him. How does that fit with tarp? That somehow they couldn’t relate? Couldn’t get through? Couldn’t see vulnerability? What else about tarp? It is useful when it is raining, but not that interesting to behold. Its texture doesn’t invite us in. What do tarps do that might relate to this client? It covers up, protects. Was this image pointing to the client’s need to raise the cover, go through life with less protection? Was this client efficient at the expense of being engaged in relationships? What is opposite of tarp? Tapestry. What does tapestry have that tarp, doesn’t? Rich texture, colour, a story, relief, warmth, weight. Can it still protect and cover? Yes, but in a different way.

As you can see, these simple images led me¬†to many questions that might never have been explored otherwise, for metaphor is the language of our intuition. At once, it both captures reality and reveals mystery. It mirrors back to us what we¬†already know about our clients’ issues and, yet, also shines a light on what else might be waiting to be discovered.

Practice Design
Metaphors have led me¬†to ideas about practices that my¬†left‚ÄĎbrain might not have revealed. For the first client, the oak‚ÄĎwillow metaphor itself was a very physical one and surfaced my¬†intuition that the client herself might be very physically oriented. Therefore, I¬†gave her the practice of learning aikido to give her a physical way to learn that meeting force with immovability was ineffective. In this case, I¬†shared the metaphor with her and explored the word arrogance in the context the metaphor provided, since that was a major piece of the criticism she had received about herself at work. Arrogance comes from Latin, meaning absence of questioning. I¬†asked her to look at the oak tree as more absolute in its stance and asked her to explore through the willow image where she might need to be more open to questioning her own assumptions or conclusions.

For the second client, the tarp, metaphor led me to develop a practice to help the client shed some of the protection that had been so vital to staying invulnerable. His first practice was a simple one of looking at the world through the eyes of others with whom he had significant contact each day. He was to imagine what they were feeling and to notice how he gathered clues about their reactions to him. He was also instructed to notice when he had a feeling connection to someone and to be as specific as possible in writing about how he thought that happened. As time went on, the metaphors proved invaluable, as I learned how much this client actually feared being in relationships with others and had found strategic ways to manage within them without giving himself away. The outcome metaphor, tapestry, helped me see a way to move forward with this client to help him create and embrace his own tapestry with its own rich colours, warmth, permeability, and stability.

The Metaphor-making Process
Metaphor making is fundamentally an intuitive process and for more intuitive coaches (for example, high Ns on the Myers‚ÄĎBriggs Type Indicator), metaphors may come naturally and easily. However, I¬†would like to make metaphors available to all coaches who would like greater access to their intuitive wisdom. The following five‚ÄĎstep process for accessing and working with metaphors id a great place to start.

Step 1: Be clear and open. The first step for any coach is to be clear and open when meeting your client. Listen, observe, notice your own internal reactions and what the client is not saying.

Step 2: Describe the client with regard to his or her issue. Bring the client to mind, and visualise them¬†in the domain of life in which they are¬†experiencing difficulty. Think about what they look like, sound like, and feel like to you. Think about their¬†gestures, their¬†posture, the sound of their¬†voice, what they evoke in you when they describe their issue or their¬†words. What three or four adjectives or phrases come to mind? If an image comes to mind at this point, you’ve got your metaphor. But if not, just work on getting a short description. Try not to censor what comes out. You’re done when you have three to four adjectives or phrases that feel like they really capture the client in their¬†struggle.

Step 3: Free associate images with the adjectives. When you picture the client and the adjectives you’ve described them¬†with, what images come to mind? Free associate. Don’t censor these. Note the first one(s) that come to mind. Try to work as little as possible in your rational mind. If nothing comes up, you can scan a few different areas: something from nature, characters from movies or books, myths from any culture, types of transportation, or household objects. Usually, your first images are good ones to work with. It often helps to come up with a ‘from’ image (one which captures the client as they currently relate to the world or their¬†issue) and a ‘to’ image (one which captures the client operating as they would like to).

Step 4: Turn your focus away from the client and fully explore the metaphor. Now that you have your metaphor(s), forget about the client for a minute and simply delve into the images themselves. List all the attributes you can about them, What are the characteristics of your metaphors (for example, tarp and tapestry)? What characteristics distinguish the first image from the second? What would help something transform from the first state to the second? It is helpful to speak these associations out loud with a partner or write them down without worrying about making sense or expressing yourself eloquently.

Step 5: Bring the client back into focus. What did following the metaphor tell you about your client? In what new ways do you see the client and how you might work with them? What are the metaphor’s implications for the self‚ÄĎobservations and practices you will design?

Conclusion:

In working with metaphors, I have found a rich way to assess situations and design practices to help my clients. I have also experienced some lessons learned that I want to share with you.

First, be aware that the metaphor helps you to create a hypothesis about the¬†client’s situation. It is not an absolute. As a coach I¬†cannot claim to know what is best for my¬†client. My¬†job is to offer possibilities to my¬†client. Sometimes the client rejects the possibilities that I¬†offer them, and there is data to be¬†gained from that experience. More metaphors may surface for you. Follow your metaphors confidently but lightly.

Second, to share or not to share?. I¬†don’t suggest that you always share your metaphors with your clients. I¬†don’t always share mine. In deciding to share, base your criteria on what will be useful for the client. In the oak‚ÄĎto‚ÄĎwillow work, I¬†shared the images and they were useful. In the tarp‚ÄĎto‚ÄĎtapestry work, I¬†did not share the images.

I have shared metaphors in a few different ways. Once, I wrote a poem about a client. The metaphors surfaced in the writing. Sharing the poem with the client seemed a natural thing to do, for it opened possibilities for them. Sometimes I ask the client to watch a movie that has the metaphor embodied in a character or situation the movie depicts. I often ask my clients to read books for the same reason. Sometimes we draw the images that show up for us. Sometimes we just talk about them.

Third, if you use and share metaphors that are within your client’s current world, you may run into trouble. Why? Because the client may make it more literal than is useful. Also, you run the risk of swirling in the loop that had them stuck in the first place.

Fourth, the metaphor does not have to work completely to be useful. For example, when I thought¬†of a weeping willow, I¬†thought of grace, flexibility, air, and movement. That was as far as I¬†needed to go with that metaphor as it related to that client. There are other properties of the willow, however, that may not lend themselves to understanding this client’s movement.

Fifth, it helps to talk through your metaphor with another person. I have found that my understanding of my clients and my own approaches deepens with each metaphor conversation I have. I make time to do this and it has proven to be incredibly productive for me as a coach and also as a parent to two young kids.

If you haven’t deliberately used metaphors yet, I highly recommend beginning to practise creating and applying them as often as possible and notice what effect they have on your conversations. Most of all, have fun with it.

Simon

PTSD Treatment Research Project


As you may well know, I am a therapist, coach and trainer based up in the North east of Scotland and run a private clinic that specialises in trauma and PTSD. I have worked with people from all walks of life and helped them move beyond the PTSD and onto a happy and satisfying life again. PTSD is not restricted to purely the military, it affects anyone that has experienced one or more traumatic events regardless of who you are or what you do and the great thing is that it does not have to last forever, there are ways to resolve the trauma and live a normal life. It is through retraining your brain to process these memories differently that dissolves the physical and psychological symptoms that are caused by the psychological injury that results from the traumatic event/s.

I am now in the final stages of designing a PTSD Research Project up in Aberdeenshire to document the treatment method that I have been developing based on the outstanding work of various leaders in the fields of psychology, psychotherapy, NLP and Neuroscience. My ultimate aim is to have the project independently assessed and use the evidence to generate funding locally in order that the project can then be replicated around the region and help as many people as possible.

I am now starting to look for volunteers for this project and keen for a wide spectrum of volunteers from military and civilian populations. I am very keen for volunteers from all emergency services, however, if you or someone you know would like to participate and receive free treatment for existing PTSD, this needs to have been diagnosed, and I will need your permission to discuss this with your GP and mental health professional if you are currently in their care.

Please email me at simon@simonmaryan.com to arrange an initial meeting to assess whether your participation is beneficial for you or if there are any contraindications that could exclude you from the project.

I will update again when the project is ready to start and provide dates etc.

Simon