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From NLP to the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. What could be a more beautiful transition?

I can’t actually remember if I’ve ever read ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’. But I loved the TV series. Hated the film though. So Eoin Colfer’s follow up, for the 30th anniversary, was a ‘must read’ for me.

Did I like it? Yes. Is it a great book? I’m not sure. I think Colfer suffers from the fact that he is emulating someone else’s originality. However, he seems to do that pretty well. It did take me a while to get into the book, just because frankly, it is a bit strange. But once my brain adapted, I found the story an easy and enjoyable read. The characters came back to life and it all just seemed to make sense. You have to know Douglas Adams’ work though, otherwise you really will be freaked out.

Froody.

It has taken me some time to get through this book. I’m not sure why as it is a really easy read. Probably my unconscious knows something it won’t let on….

So Richard Bandler and John Grinder are the founding fathers of Neuro-Linguistic Programming. This book is a transcript of a workshop they ran back in the 1970s. It is considered essential reading for those interested in NLP and so, having done an NLP Practitioner course last year, I duly obeyed.

The transcript format works really well. They do various demos and even though you can’t see what is happening, you can still understand what is going on. I wouldn’t say you need to read this book if you are interested in NLP but it certainly gives you an idea of what Bandler and Grinder were doing back in the 70s and how they dealt with skepticism.

Well I’ve done it. This week I’ve got my new website/blog ready, ordered new business cards and updated profiles on places like Linked In. You can have a look at the site at www.growinginsights.co.uk.

I’ve been thinking about whether I need to have a personal blog as well as the work blog. Many of the observations I’ll be making could sit on either. But then I thought, actually there might be things that don’t fit with the work side of things – like talking about why I’ve chosen to read certain books. So I’ll keep this one going as well for the moment.

On the book front, I have nothing to report because I seem to have been catching up on weeks of Saturday newspaper sections. Nearly there though. Might need to avoid buying tomorrow’s copy….

In a previous post I mentioned that I’ve been deliberating the next phase in my career. To help me in this process I’ve been reading two books ‘How to get a job you’ll love’ by John Lees and ‘ The Career Itch’ by Grace Owen. Lees’ book was recommended by a friend. And it really is a good book. It is packed full of creative exercises to explore career ideas and practical tips on the regular stuff like interview technique. Highly recommended.

I also chose to read Grace Owen’s book because we both do some work for the same consultancy and though I haven’t worked with her, I know she has a good reputation. She has self-published her book – the quality of the finished product is still high. I would say it is a much lighter read with more anecdotes than Lees’ book. I skimmed through it in a couple of hours. I’d recommend this as a starting point to get you thinking and Lees’ book as the one to really make you work on your career. With only £4 difference in cover price, Lees’ book is better value but it depends on what you’re after.

So, committing myself to the various creative exercises I came to my decision. Having gone round and round in circles I came to terms with the fact that what I want to do is freelance research and writing. I’ve known this for a long time but hid away from it for a variety of reasons (not least ‘But is that really a proper job?’). Everything else I looked at just seemed to be a smoke-screen. So, I have developed my action plan and I will be repositioning my business website. Now it is down to me to make this work. In the meantime I’ll still be doing a bit of training and today I just found out I’m going to be an Associate Tutor with the OU, which I’m really looking forward to.

An interesting experience in this process was thinking about the question my coach asked me last year ‘How do you make a decision?’ I realised, when I came to my career decision, that there is a big degree of intuition for me. When I really knew what I wanted to do, I had a strong sense of certainty, a solid and grounded feeling around my middle. I’ve had it before and I know that means I’ve decided. How I got to that is rather less clear but I suspect that somewhere in my subconscious there’s a lot of sifting of the output of my research and analysis. This isn’t always easy to explain to others who want to hear about logic – I just know.

Lake DistrictWhen I was a teenager I hated silence. I’d have the radio on when doing my homework. Now, I, in the words of Depeche Mode ‘Enjoy the Silence’. And I’d like more of it. In fact, I’m finding in conversations with friends and colleagues others who long for more quiet in their lives. For me it is partly a desire for greater simplicity. Life is too complex, too fast, too cluttered now. And so much of what Sara Maitland writes about in this wonderful book reflects my own feelings.

Maitland has written a lot of books and I’ve read none of them. I came across this book when I was looking on the internet for books on the notions of silence. I’d been thinking about writing a book or an article on the subject myself. Except that what I would have wanted to write has been written, in A Book of Silence.

Essentially this is an account of Maitland’s own search for silence and solitude after years of being in the city and with a busy, noisy lifestyle. She interweaves her story with accounts from other seekers of solitude, such as hermits, and brings in religious, historical and social perspectives. She explores the different types of silence and solitude, cultural attitudes towards these experiences, and the challenge of finding space on your own in modern society.

At one point she talks about the way in which silent reading came about. That in the mists of time, reading and writing were social events. Once reading became a silent activity, this enabled independent thought. I’d challenge her comment that reading and writing are now private activities. They are for some to an extent. I’ve been intrigued by the growth of reading groups, for example. For me reading is private but the thoughts it engenders may be shared informally as part of day-to-day conversations (or in this instance, on a blog). But for others there is clearly a desire for some more formal vocal sharing of their reading, a social aspect to it.

I hope that more people read this book and use it as a way to reflect on their own engagement with the external world. I believe more and more that the almost constant requirement to act extrovertly and the ‘always on’ high stimulation culture we live in are contributing to mental health issues.

Reflect more, act slowly and do less. Only be warned, you may be seen as lazy, selfish or mad.

This week I’ve been getting agitated about calls by the media for certain things to be revealed ‘in the public interest’. Actually, I get agitated about this most weeks!

Which ‘public’ are we talking about? Are the public all of one mind? Unlikely. Most of the time this phrase is used, I don’t feel a need to know about what it is the media tells me I want to know about. I’m sure I’m not the only one.

Sadly these days, the more I watch the news the less I want to watch it. I can’t help having visions of laughing hyenas.

I’m mindful that I’m also lumping ‘the media’ together. So I’m just as guilty then.

You might be looking at this title and thinking what an intriguing combination of topics – or not. I’m not actually meant to be working at the PC as I’ve been osteopathed this afternoon and I’m meant to be treating myself with care. So I’m going to do a quick post whilst my brain is flying and then I’ll expand on the ideas another day.

I’ve just finished reading ‘A Book of Silence’ by Sara Maitland. So many times as I read this I thought ‘She’s describing how I feel’. Towards the end she talks about time for silence, amongst other things, being time to watch the sheep outside her cottage.

The sun was beaming this morning so I went for a short walk on the footpath near me. And I saw a Little Owl (I know this from checking in my bird book when I got back home). I stopped to look more closely at it sitting on a fence post, its head turned away from me. Unfortunately it must have heard me because it glanced round and flew off. Not only was the sun beaming, so was I.

I’m working my way through John Lees ‘How to find a job you love’. This afternoon I’ve been reviewing my ‘House of Knowledge’ and ‘Career Hot Buttons’. I like to think I already know myself pretty well – being the introspective sort -and indeed nothing new really came up. What it did do was emphasise even more my love of reading, observing, speculating and theorising. Oh yes, and that I don’t get to dance as much as I’d like.

Last night I watched ‘Revolutionary Road’. A beautiful and absorbing film. A young couple start out with high hopes and dreams. They find themselves in suburbia, 2 kids, him doing a job he doesn’t like. Then they decide to go live the dream but it doesn’t happen and ultimately their new enthusiasm for life turns to death and sorrow. The thought, you have one chance at life, do you take it or stay where you feel comfortable even if you don’t like it? The feeling, hopelessness. I cried.

On my walk I thought of an interesting title for a book or poem – Obsessions and deviations of the unfocused mind.

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