Friday, 28 March 2014

On 16:16 by Victoria Stanham in ,    No comments
When you embark on a process of change (that is, in any learning process) you’re taking a step into the unknown. You entering new territory, where there’s no trodden path to follow.
The problem here is that, quite often, this is scary. Where do I start? Which way do I go? What’s the shortest path to my goal? And the safest? What monsters and dragons will I find down this road?
Although you may have a compass & map to navigate, it is never the same as actually knowing the territory. And sometimes, the mere fact of being alone in that vast and desolate place can discourage you from taking the next step… so you turn round and return to where you came from; only to live eternally with the question “Who would I be today if I had taken the leap of faith and walked the path of change?”
Do not despair. You are always on time to take up the road again and start walking. What you need is a guide; someone who already knows the place and can walk with you a while and show you the main features of the territory and introduce you to its inhabitants… Until you feel confident enough in the new place to blaze a trail on your own, courageously fathoming the unknown.
So, the question now is: how do I choose a good guide?


Sometimes you don’t have much to choose from, for you know only one inhabitant of this new place, and all you can do is accept his guidance or walk alone (and sometimes it’s better to walk alone).
Other times, there are so many available guides that you don’t know which one to choose, nor which criteria to use to make your choice. All offer something of interest and value. Which is the best fit for you?
Choosing a good guide can make all the difference when it comes to actually enjoying the process of change. The best guide for you might not necessarily be the most versed in the new territory, but the one who knows how to adapt the best to changing circumstances in the new territory, and can therefore show and model the process of adaptation that you need to undergo.
Although it is imposible to be infalible when making your choice, I venture to give you the 8 tips that I use to recognize a good guide. Use them as a checklist for when you’re choosing a teacher, guru, leader, mentor, facilitator, coach or therapist; that is, when choosing any person who’ll show you how to start your journey through the new territory.
1) Around him/her you feel safe. If you’re in any way worried about protecting or defending yourself against the behavior of your guide you are in no place to absorb new information: all your focus is directed towards survival. Feeling safe is a direct result of your ability to self-regulate, and a good guide can help you with that when he/she had developed that ability in themselves.
This is the MOST IMPORTANT point; all the following tips are useless if this first point is not satisfied. Moreover, all following tips are just different variables that allow you to feel safe around your guide.
2) Knows how to listen. A guide may know the whole breadth, width and depth of the territory and every available road within it, but if he/she can’t listen to what you’re asking, he/she might lead you astray. Of course, it’s your responsibility to ask a clear question to get a clear answer. However, the best guides are also able to help you clarify your question if you’re not even sure what that is in the first place.
3) Knows a little bit more than you about the territory. He/She does not need to be an expert in the matter. Sometimes all he/she needs to be is a step ahead of you, so that he/she may leave a footprint that shows you the next step on your journey.
4) Gives clear explanations. It is important that your guide is able to explain to you the next step in a way that you can understand and that captures your attention. We all learn in different ways, and a good guide knows how to adapt his/her explanation to suit yours.
5) You share principles. Every guide bases his/her work on certain key principles or fundamental beliefs about ‘how things are’, which underlie his/her explanations and concrete methodology. If you want to enjoy the journey he/she invites you on, it is important that you resonate with his/her philosophy.
6) Walks the talk. You want a guide that acts and lives in coherence with what he/she teaches. A guide who only knows the theory of the problem and solution is useless for all practical purposes. Only a guide who walks the talk will be able to understand the obstacles your face at each stage of the journey.
7) Takes responsibility for his/her role. This means that he/she is conscious of his role in your life and acts in consequence, accepting the responsibilities that come with the role, and never misusing the power that comes with it too. His/her idea of what this implies will be based on his/her principles (see item 4).
8) Is flexible and humble. As you advance in your journey through the unknown, you’ll become confident enough to elaborate your own ideas as to where you’d like to go and how you’d like to get there. A flexible guide allows you to freely express your burgeoning curiosity and supports you in your forays into the unknown. A humble guide knows when your questions, interest, or needs go beyond his/her resources or would be better satisfied by another guide. The best guide is he/she who will then bless you and allow you to fly free to look for another guide, happy that his/her mission in your life has been successfully completed.
Tu sum up, when you choose your guide make sure that at his/her side you feel that you can unfold your full potential, the whole span of your wings. We are all different and different things make us feel safe; therefore there is no one guide who is the best for all. The supreme guide is within you, it’s that voice that tells you, “Follow this person for a while, he/she has the next piece of the puzzle to your journey.”
Nevertheless, a great guide can’t ensure your success. If you don’t take the chance to walk a bit on your own, at least in those stretches of road that you have already walked with your guide, in order to habituate the new patterns, you’ll never be truly free in the new territory. A guide is not meant to be a crutch for life, he/she is meant to be a trampoline into it!
How is it that we achieve this freedom in the new territory?
Next blog we’ll explore the 3 basic tools you need to make the new territory your new home:
1. The role of the guide (pushing the limits of the unknown)
2. The role of the practice group (practicing the tools to successfully live within the new conquered territory)
3. The role of your personal practice (securing the conquered territory and giving birth to new questions that will take you onto new discoveries)
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Image credit: pixabay

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