I am writing this letter to provide you with guidance and support on your exciting, upcoming, life-long learning and development journey as a coach, facilitator and mentor in your continuously evolving identity work with individuals and people who you will meet, exchange ideas and thoughts, interact and communicate with.
However important theoretical knowledge is I would like to pinpoint the fact that your role as a knowledge worker includes a number of factors that you might want to put an emphasis upon especially. After all, the greatest asset of someone involved in human/humanitarian work, is the ability, interest, and willingness to be involved with other social beings, who all have their personal beliefs, value systems, and minds. Becoming, and being a coach, facilitator and mentor is a calling, and although not comparable with the profession of a doctor or a psychiatrist, your work can greatly affect and influence those around you. Therefore, and because you have chosen to work with minds, there are certain aspects in your work that you should especially keep in mind. These include:
Your role as a coach, facilitator and mentor (one of these, or all combined), is not to force change in other individuals. Rather, your role is to accept people and individuals as they are. Depending upon the coaching/facilitating situation, and/or the group of individuals/people you are working with, you will have to tailor your work accordingly. There are differences between coaching, facilitation and mentoring situations/sessions, but you will always have to accept people as they are and not force change in them. Rather, seek to be a role model through your own behavior and through setting an example, and let individuals find in themselves the power to become who they were meant to be.
You will have to be in balance with yourself in order to create balance in your learning/teaching environment. Focus upon being in balance, and notice how you can affect your environment through the expansion of your personal energies.
Your work is all about communication, and about developing these skills in other individuals, including not only public speaking, but also non-verbal communication and listening skills. As a coach and mentor, you will have to develop your personal communication skills in order to create and get to desired results.
Life is not about finding yourself, it is about creating you. Creativity is the lifeblood of everything, so nurture, develop and make use of your creative potential and allow for others to express their creativity as well. There are many ways of communicating and expressing creativity – just let your imagination flow freely and do not be afraid of creating completely new paths through audio, visualization, or kinesthetic learning and development solutions.
As a coach/facilitator/mentor, you will not only deal with continuous personal development and learning, but most importantly, develop individuals and people who you work with. You will also learn to understand that development occurs at all times, although you may not always see the results immediately. Sometimes, it will take years to create and to get to the results that you seek to see through your work, but learn how to use certain types of tools for receiving feedback and making sure that at least some development is noticeable within a specific time frame.
Empathy and emotional intelligence
Empathy is part of emotional intelligence, but emotional intelligence stretches far beyond simply being empathetic. Your life work with human beings and individuals is all about social interaction and communication that require being emotionally intelligent. Developing emotional intelligence in your personal life and in other individuals is an essential factor in achieving success through your work.
As a coach, facilitator, and mentor you will get in acquaintance not only with your personal identity, but also with the identities of those who you work with. Teaching is identity work.
Improvisation, drama and theatrics are developing, learning, and teaching methods that allow creativity and imagination to expand. Improvisation is also sought-after, especially in unexpected circumstances and situations. If you have no materials to work with, improvisation allows you to create learning situations using your/your student´s minds and physical bodies to create completely new learning situations.
If not already, learn how to journal and write down your (learning) experiences, and teach the same to those you work with. A journal/learning diary may be expressed in many forms/ways. It may be very personal, or shared in public with others. It may be expressed in a number of ways, through creative writing, poems, audio, or video. Make it a regular habit, if not daily, then at least on a weekly or monthly basis.
Write a memoir about your life, and about your experiences. You can combine your journal/learning diary with your memoir, and keep it only for yourself unless you are/will be ready to publish it officially at some stage in your life. Writing/keeping a journal is a great way of learning/developing, and who will most benefit from your personal learning and development, if not you yourself, as well as your students.
Negotiation skills are essential in all areas of life, and business. Also in coaching and developing yourself, and other individuals. Be prepared to learn more about, and develop negotiation skills because you will need these in every aspect of your life, not least in coaching/mentoring situations.
Objectivity and open-mindedness
Being objective is perhaps one of the most difficult skills a human being can ever possess, since all our actions are based upon our personal beliefs, and value systems. As a coach/facilitator/mentor, however, you will have to develop objectivity and be open-minded.
Perseverance and persuasion
Coaching, facilitating, mentoring, and life in general, are all about learning how to persevere and to persuade. However, as already once mentioned, do not force your ideas upon other people. Rather, be a role model and allow them to tap into their greatest potential through acceptance, encouragement, and allowance.
Working with your personal mind, tapping into, and working with other individual´s minds requires for you to be spiritually open-minded and constantly open to spiritual development. Do not fear about creating and developing spiritual connections with people whom you work with.
During your career, your will have to experience, and deal with a number of situations, requiring for you to be tolerant with how things, and people, behave and unfold. However much acceptance and tolerance you will have to develop in yourself, you also will have to learn how to draw boundaries and protect yourself from certain kinds of behavior. You will also have to learn how to develop a thick skin, unless you have developed this in yourself. Be tolerant, yes, but make sure to know how to act in challenging situations.
You are a unique individual, working with other unique individuals/personalities. Always have respect for your uniqueness, but also respect the uniqueness of others.
As a coach, facilitator, mentor, or all of these, you will have to have vision in the work you do, and help other individuals tap into their vision in creating their futures.
It may take a lifetime to develop true wisdom, something that only experience can teach us. However, seek to develop wisdom in yourself and in your students because wisdom allows us to raise our vibrations and evolve into human beings with a higher spiritual consciousness.
Everybody is (has) a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid (Albert Einstein)
Learning disabilities are a wide spectrum of various learning problems that a surprisingly high amount of individuals (2-20 % of the total population in Finland only) are affected by, including difficulties in e.g. one of the following: language/communication/speech, reading (dyslexia), mathematics (dyscalculia), writing (dysgraphia) caused by various disorders in the brain’s ability to receive and process information.
An individual with a certain learning disability may be classified as having dyslexia, or motor skills disorder, but also fall into one of the following categories: ADHD, ADD, Asperger syndrome, autism, Down syndrome among a number of other learning disabilities. In Finland, even especially gifted individuals (an estimated 2 % of total population) are regarded to belong to the group of individuals in need of special support in education, because these exceptionally intelligent individuals may face difficulties in adapting to “normal” learning conditions which, to them, offer no challenges.
As part of my studies in pedagogy, I recently paid a visit to Luovi Tampere Unit, a vocational college aimed at young students with various kinds of learning disabilities. Luovi (www.luovi.fi/en/) is a vocational college offering vocational education to young individuals with various kinds of learning disabilities in 20 different locations across Finland. All teachers are trained with focus upon teaching students with special needs, and teaching is naturally somewhat different from the various methods used in “normal” (vocational) educational institutes. My visit to Luovi widened my understanding about learning disabilities, and one of the things that astonished me especially was to learn that each year, Luovi welcomes at least one fully normal student who has been bullied at school and has no longer been capable of attending normal school due to bullying, shockingly enough.
Learning disabilities, and disabilities in general, can teach us much of value. To learn more about one learning disability, Asperger Syndrome, please watch the following YouTube video (See the world through her Asperger eyes: Wendy Lampen at TEDxDelft):
One short post is not enough to dig deep enough into the world of differences, or learning disabilities, but it may be enough to awaken further interest into learning more about these.
Learning disabilities, and differences between individuals can teach us much of value, including:
– Never judge a person by his/her exterior. Learn to know them, and to understand their journey.
– Our world is not black and white, but rather a rainbow filled with a wide spectrum of different kinds of individuals. It is important to be open to learning, to seeing, and tolerating differences.
– If everyone/everything were identical/similar, the world could not spin around. We need differences in every aspect of life/society.
– Differences can help us develop/evolve into seeing things from a wider/higher perspective.
– We do not have to understand everything that we sense, but rather be tolerant and understanding in our approaches.
– Bullying is always wrong. It can lead to severe consequences, not only for the individual being bullied, but for society in general. Bullying should not be tolerated, nor covered by anyone. Bullying is a fearful action.
– Life offers us many surprises. Be open to them.
– Minds are different. The fact that somebody functions/thinks different from us, does not signify that they are wrong.
Another example about a difference in learning, seen from an autism point of view:
The problem is not the person ́s disability, the problem is society’s view of the person’s abilities.
Thank you for reading, commenting, learning, and for being open to differences.
In 2012, I quite spontaneously decided to book a flight to Phnom Penh, the capital of the Kingdom of Cambodia in South East Asia, also known as the Pearl of Asia. The reactions of people close to me, as they heard about my upcoming trip, were quite astonished and anxious, with comments such as “How do you dare to travel so far away alone?”, and “What will you do there in the month of July, is not it a rainy month in that part of the world?”. The first leadership lessons I learned through my own actions, as well as through the reactions of people around me were: wow, I am fortunate to have the opportunity to travel, I am courageous enough to do so (on my own), and, I can listen to people around me yet I am the one who decides what to do with my life.
I have to admit myself that traveling to Asia by myself for a month was something that made me feel very excited, especially after hearing the concerned comments of those closest to me. I do not even remember why I decided to go on the trip in the first place, but I guess it was the adventurer and explorer in me that needed to get away from the daily routines and to expand my knowledge about the world. It was not my first time in Asia, since I had traveled to Thailand many times; although never before alone. I had also read about Cambodia beforehand, and borrowed some travel books in my local library in Finland to plan my tour. I was going to tour around not only Cambodia, but also the neighboring countries Laos and Vietnam. The preparation also required a visit to the doctor who wrote me a prescription for malaria medication. Vaccinations against hepatitis and other diseases I already had from earlier trips.
My anxiety vanished as soon as I arrived at the airport in Phnom Penh. Instantly, I met another woman, who had arrived with the same connecting flight from China. While waiting for our luggage, we started an interesting conversation. She told me that she had been in Nepal with her mother prior to her arrival in Phnom Penh. Since we were both heading in the same direction, we decided to share a taxi. Arriving at the hotel I had booked for the first two nights, everything was dark. It was about 2 a.m., so I had to ring a doorbell. I had informed the hotel staff about my late arrival, so it was no surprise for them. Soon after ringing the bell, someone came to open the door, checked me in, and gave me the key to my room. After a long journey, I slept very tight that night, and felt relieved as I woke up to the sunlight and tropical weather the next morning.
After spending a day and another night in Phnom Penh, I took a local bus to Sihanoukville. There are no railways in Cambodia, so the only way of traveling from a place to another is either by bus or by taxi. Sihanoukville is a small town located in the very south of Cambodia, directly at the Gulf of Thailand. After two days of diving in the waters surrounding Sihanoukville, I left this backpackers paradise and headed towards Siem Reap. The local bus trip from Sihanoukville to Siem Reap was supposed to take eight hours, but the reality was very different. We left early in the morning, driving through Phnom Penh again, and from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap. A few days before another tourist that I had met had told me about his travel experiences, and suggested that I under no circumstances would take the bus to Vientiane (Laos), due to the fact that the roads are very bumpy, and the number of mosquitos in the bus was everything but pleasant. I took his words seriously, especially when personally experiencing the bumpy bus trip from Sihanoukville to Phnom Penh. Despite of making acquaintance with interesting people during the bus ride, I was exhausted as we arrived in Siem Reap late that night. The bus ride had taken about 13 hours, instead of the eight hours indicated on the schedule, with most of the ride being extremely bumpy (the roads in Cambodia are not in excellent condition, at least not in 2012). At this point I realized that taking the bus from Siem Reap to Vientiane would take ages, and the only reasonable way to get there would be to fly directly from Siem Reap. This, however, is another story, or a continuation of the same story, perhaps to be told at a later point.
The journey to Indochina, including the bumpy bus ride, taught me many things about myself, and about leadership:
If you never step out of your comfort zones, you will never grow as an individual/as a leader.
To become a better leader, learn how to handle and respect yourself first.
Leadership is hard work. If you want to grow as a leader, you have to be prepared to “get your hands dirty”.
Whenever you meet new people remember, we all have a personal story to share. Instead of judging others, be compassionate and try to understand the other person.
Not everyone has to travel across the world to become a good leader, yet, seeing different countries and learning about other cultures is a learning experience, and great leaders never stop learning/growing! Traveling is an eye-opener. If you do not have the possibility to travel in “reality”, there are other ways of learning about different cultures, e.g. by reading and/or watching documentaries.
Pushing your personal boundaries will be worth the effort. Always do something to overcome your fears. However, never do anything that would harm you or anyone else!
Leadership is not only an external journey, but also a willingness to go inward, into your own mind, without fears. I met a local man on the bus ride, who had been a monk for some time before returning back to “normal” life. Hearing his story was fascinating. There are times for solitude. Never be afraid of being alone and tapping into your inner wisdom.
Great leaders are great listeners and observers.
Always be open for surprises and for changes. Planning is important, yet, the only thing that is constant is change. Do not fear change, instead, embrace it! It will make life much more pleasant for both you, and those around you. Great leaders are always willing to lead change.
Success is about overcoming your fears, and losing unnecessary boundaries. Leadership always requires some risk-taking and being capable of tapping into unknown territories. Brave leaders are both open and willing to expand their horizons.
You are never alone in this world, and the possibility of traveling is also a possibility of personal development, and growth. The more you know and understand about the world, different cultures, and people, the more abundant you become. I was surprised at noticing how many people travel alone in South East Asia. These countries are a paradise for backpackers, many of whom are very young and traveling even for months alone.
Always do some research before “jumping” into something. This applies to everything: business, relationships, traveling. Use your common sense, and learn from those with more experience. If there is no time for research, listen to your INTUITION. Your intuition will know what is the right thing to do. And, if you feel insecure about your intuition, do use ethical and moral codes before jumping into any conclusion/decision.
Always respect different people, and cultures, and be willing to adapt to local conditions.
Be grateful and thankful for all the experiences that life gives you. Hardships and obstacles are usually our best teachers.
Great leaders have patience. And if not, they exercise patience.
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”
This time of the year days are getting shorter and shorter in the Northern Hemisphere, as we are heading towards midwinter. In Lapland this is a time of polar nights, when the sun does not rise at all over the horizon north of the Arctic Circle. Further south, the sun rises for a few hours, shining its light on the winter landscape. Adaptation to this darkness may seem overwhelming for many, even for northern citizens. The lack of light in the winter months makes it essential for northern citizens to intake extra D-vitamin. Many people plan a winter vacation to a sunny destination. Others spend the whole winter at home, adapting to the climate and darkness. With snow this time of the year, many people enjoy cross-country skiing, but when no snow falls, this is still an excellent time for running in nature.
Running, as any other exercise, in darkness, is a way of strengthening one´s intuition. With no artificial light, one needs to rely completely on sensing the path. Of course, training in darkness requires some caution, and is not recommended in unfamiliar terrains where different kinds of hazards are possible. In fact, this reminds me of a holiday in Cambodia, where I toured the huge temple area of Angkor Wat by bike. Just before sunset, I wanted to visit Ta Phrom once more, but a local guardian firmly stopped me at the gate, suggesting that I would leave the area. With a slight feeling of disappointment, I climbed upon my bike and soon realized why he had asked me to leave. Darkness falls very quickly in Cambodia, and there are no artificial lights in the temple area, which is surrounded by jungles, home to many reptiles and snakes, something that we do not need to be cautious about in the North.
During the same holiday, I went night diving through a local dive center. A few years earlier I could never even have imagined that I would, some day, travel to a country far from home, get dressed into a diving suit, and actually go diving after sunset. The night before, the local Dive Shop in Sihanoukville had taken us to the island of Koh Rong Samleum, where we spent the night sleeping in a diver´s bungalow located directly at the beach. I remember lying awake in my bunk bed, unable to fall asleep because of listening to the heavy monsoon rain falling during the night. The experience of sleeping under a mosquito net in an open bungalow, on a peaceful island far away from home, with the proximity of the huge ocean, is unforgettable. As was the dive after sunset. Led by a qualified instructor, we anchored the boat somewhere in the middle of the ocean. The captain stayed in the boat, while me and my instructor, and another instructor with his student, prepared to dive into the darkness. As my instructor jumped into the water, I simply followed her, quite excited, but fully trusting her expertise and guidance through the water. We were both wearing torches supplying us with some light in the otherwise completely opaque water. Our bottom time was 45 minutes, and the maximum depth was 6,5 meters, with a visibility of about three meters thanks to our torches. Night diving in itself is not the most beautiful diving experience due to the fact that during daytime, the underwater landscapes have so much more to offer for the eyes. However, as an overall experience, it is essential for any diver willing to develop, and to expand their minds. Hadn´t I taken my basic diving course in Finland a few years earlier, where waters often are opaque even during daytime, I would probably have been even more excited. With some previous diving experience, and the fact that we had dived earlier during the same day in almost the same area, I knew what was awaiting me.
Scuba diving is not an extreme sport, but it is important to learn the technical skills and always remember the basic rules. As any other activity, scuba diving is not suitable for everyone, or not every body and mind is suited for scuba diving. The same applies to all sports, and activities, wherefore why it is so important to learn to recognize what kind of activities can help you personally to develop, grow as an individual, and to expand your mind.
Why is this important?
Continuous learning and challenging ourselves is essential for our development.
“The day we stop learning is the day we stop growing, or even worse, it is the day we start dying”
(Dr. Anthony Gambale)
Quoting Oscar Wilde: “I am not young enough to know everything”.
It is an amusing quote, but also very innocent. There is nothing wrong with staying connected to the child in you, always open to learning and developing new skills.
Tips for expanding your mind and strengthening your intuition:
Practice some kind of physical or recreational activities regularly.
Train your mind through various activities, such as meditation and yoga.
Focus on surrounding yourself with positive energy. Listen to your feelings – they will guide you in the correct direction. Life is too short to be wasted.
Make a list of things that you want to learn, create, or develop your skills in.
Cleanse your mind every day, and keep it positive.
Focus on your goals, and learn how to overcome obstacles.
You never know what you are capable of, until you have given it a try.
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