I understand Life (capital L) is shot through with challenges that have nothing to do with mental illness or self-pity. Suffering and disappointment are certainties at some time during life. So too are lack, loss and limits. It does not matter what other people think about our lives, when we are working our way through a struggle particular to our life, it can be taxing. As a life coach my role is to be a reliable catalyst and sounding board for professionals dealing with these challenges.
While in high school The West Australian was publishing articles by Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir. By year 12 I’d moved onto Sartre’s novels and what became a life long engagement with the existential problems of living. Foremost for me was how to go about developing an art of living. Like a lot of people who wanted a way of life with none of the dynamics of the religiously conservative people that blighted their upbringing, this proved to be much more difficult than I anticipated.
In my 20’s the human potential movement seemed to have many promising leads, as did Taoism and Zen. From those explorations I’ve only stuck with Tai Chi and float tanking, or podding as is now. Much of the rest of it fell away as philosophically untenable, or hopelessly confused in its relationship to science. It was also mostly incompatible with Australian society, anchored as so much of it is, in a materialistic view of the good life that embraces every new technology long before the impact of its use can be understood, much less regulated.
Then the world started going to sh*t. The economic policies of Ronald Reagan’s administration started blighting the planet. Just before that blew up the sharemarket in 1987, a hole opened up in the ozone layer, a very large hole. That was quickly followed by the first IPCC report on climate change. All of that was more than thirty years ago. The news on global warming and the monetization of what was once thought of as central platforms of our community has been consistently worse on every measure since that time. Including the number of people prepared to respond by changing the way they live.
Alain de Botton is right, there can be consolation in philosophy. Realities like global warming will not be changed – turns out Frank Fenner appears to have made the right call on that score. Living successfully in such a time demands personal re-evaluation of what we value and how we find meaning in our life. Life coaching can be the catalyst to clarifying what matters most to you in the decades ahead.
My initial foray into life coaching started while a PhD candidate at the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics in Melbourne. My research program centred on the question “how can we live an authentic way of life in the face of cultural obstacles.” That research finished in 2008 after learning how a practical philosophy can help us live with life’s challenges. The problem of what authentic living means is a challenge for many of us, not least the ramifications we face by creating a solution that is too deeply individual.
In personal development a common paradox we have to address is our need for fulfilling relationships, and on the other hand, what matters for each of us is often very different from even those closest to us. Contributing to the depth of this paradox is the certainty that our starting position in life – everything from our individual strengths and limitations, our personality, to what was going on in our family and community when we were a particular age – can have a profoundly singular effect on who we. Including:
- the values we form
- our understanding of who we can be
- and what we decide are the essential elements that will characterise our life as good.
Life coaching is the best modality I have found to support people exploring these issues. My coaching practice is grounded in the ecological approaches developed by the anthropologist and psychotherapist Gregory Bateson, and Urie Bronfenbrenner. It also continues to be informed by practical philosophy drawn from existential practitioners and a Stoic art of living.
An avid learner my education includes:
- a Bachelor of Arts and Honours degree in Philosophy from Murdoch University.
- 5 years of PhD research in Applied Philosophy and Creative Writing at the University of Melbourne.
- a Graduate Certificate in Career Development from the University of Queensland
- a Diploma of Counselling from Australian Institute of Professional Counsellors
My time now is dedicated to coaching individuals, writing and developing personal programs. I’m also working to develop a sound method for using journalling and flotation techniques so people anywhere can makes use of floating as a tool to help confront chronic challenges. I am a professional member of the Career Development Association of Australia, and support professionals through mid and late career transitions.
You can find more about my experience and qualifications at Linkedin.
If you are interested in learning more about the great Australian scientist Frank Fenner