Saturday, January 05, 2013

W01.05 My 12 Case Studies of Real Live Alexander Technique Teachers…

Franis Engel is a brilliant interpreter of Alexander's discoveries - she writes lucidly; she has a deep, long-term commitment to the work; she is smart, flexible, curious - and yet she only manages to collect one or two students a month - what’s going wrong?

Franis is trying to be a supermarket, when she needs to be a small business. She is making the same miscalculation that I think most Alexander Technique teachers - including my Self - have been doing for way too long. Rather than trying to sell everything a person might need, we all need to try opening a small bakery first. What that bakery could for Franis be I will reveal tomorrow…

From the early beginnings of BodyChance, I miscalculated that way. Eventually I made a list of the all the niches BodyChance was attempting to attract: there were 19 different categories, with countless micro niches inside each of those! In 2011 I decided to direct our focus towards only three: Classical Musicians, Alexander Technique, Neck and Back Pain. That’s still huge, but then BodyChance has 7 full-time staff and over 20 part-time staff, so we have the resources to manage it.

The second striking feature of the information Franis supplied to me came in one short sentence toward the very end of what she had written: “But I am not driven to support myself with lessons.” Wow! I am not sure of the deeper meaning of that sentence, but my intuition tells me that is the place to start. This week I have written extensively that being (unfocused - uncomfortable - unmotivated) to make money out of teaching is a core issue for many teachers. Resolve this and you create what I call a “success driver.” I had a lot of garbage in my mind around money once, and I suspect a lot you reading hold on to similar, unproductive stories.

Right now Franis does not even have “official” certification - which does not trouble me in the least. That is one reason I choose her to start my 12 case studies: Franis epitomizes the renegade, pioneer spirit that first gave birth to the work we now call Alexander Technique. I personally don’t belong to any Society - I eschew institutions whenever I can, while actually being in the process of building one of my own! It’s complicated.

My overwhelming impression of Franis and most Alexander Technique teachers is that you need business focus - pick a niche that matches your personality, think through all the steps necessary to build that business, undo any garbage in your mind that would not let you be as magnificent as you are, find people who can mentor you as you go, then finally dig in deep and long (we’re talking years, not months) to build a business around Alexander's discoveries; a business strong enough to sustain itself long after you rest in your grave. Do that, and you will leave this work in a better place.

Remember what Alexander said: “They will see it as getting in and out of a chair the right way. It is nothing of the kind.” Well - I claim a similar thing: The 12 case studies I will publish over the next three months may be seen as the right way for that person to go ahead. It is nothing of the kind. My intention is to demonstrate a way of thinking, not hand out a proscriptive formula. To offer anyone meaningful advice specific to their situation, I would need to collect a lot more information. I would want to meet personally with you and just listen: learn more about your niche compatibilities and location, understand the dimensions of your personality and then ask questions that I could only formulate after doing the aforesaid!

My intention with these case studies is to present the same ideas in a different light. How many times have you been taught something along the lines of “Head leads and body follow”? You’ve lost count, right? My favourite right now is “Head movements govern vertebral co-ordination” but I am sure that will change again. Every time you revisit an idea you thought you understood, you can discover something new and exciting. That is my hope from writing these.

TOMORROW: I publish the first case study, working the 12 steps with Franis Engel.
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BTW: There are still a few slots available - do you want your own case study done? Then send your answers to the 12 questions in my Jan 1st blog to the email shown in that blog.

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