Tuesday, January 15, 2013

W03.02 What’s the part that’s distracting you from the whole?

Most days I sit down on a cushion for my morning hallo to me. As I am receiving all the information of my senses from the ongoing relationship of my moving parts - head to spine to arm and legs - I start my wake up call: “ok guys, let’s give you all a reminder request…” And off we go on an adventure into me.

Inevitable, some area is a little cranky and shouting out louder than the others: “Hey, what about me?!” It may be a sense of disconnection between my rib cage and pelvis, or an odd new ache in one of my vertebra, or even the beginnings of a headache. The temptation is always to go to that part, struggle to understand it, think up some specific solutions and keep working at it that way. It’s hard. Finally, my wise-friendly voice chirps in “Jerry, the whole.” And I stop being parts-focused and start becoming whole-focused. Like magic, I begin experiencing a mysterious cascade of kaleidoscope sensations enlivening my system - my sense of disjointedness gives way to blissful wholeness, and the troublesome part is forgotten. I guess it integrates - I don’t even have the focus to ask. I just am.

There’s an age old saying: “As above, so below.” As I do in my morning practise, so I do in my business: whenever I focus too much on one part, I struggle more. It feels difficult. Results come, but it feels as hard as dragging a kid away from Disneyland before closing time. What about the whole?

As I listen to Alexander Technique teachers struggle with your career not being as wonderful as you would like it to be, I notice that there is usually focus on one part. ‘My website needs updating’ or ‘my lessons are boring’ or ‘I live too far away’ or ‘I am not good at selling’ - all of these can be true, but it may also be true that there is nothing wrong with your teaching, or your way of selling, or even your website and where you live - it could be something completely different! First, you’ve want to ask: have I got all the parts? Second, you want to ask: are they all integrated?

This is about building something, not fixing a part. Too often teachers focus on fixing a part (I will build my website) without first thinking through the whole creation. Your problem may not be where you are looking - that may be just a symptom, not a cause. Sound familiar?

“As above, so below”

The human being is already a whole creation: all the parts are there, ready to work together. Your business is an uncompleted creation: like building Lego, start by checking if you have got all the parts ready to work together? If your business is not working, it is likely that something is missing. What is missing? As I go through the 12 steps - keep asking this question. Maybe this week’s “part” will be the eye-opener for you…


Yesterday I introduced the idea that “location” is not only geographic, it is also about community. To-day I want to expand on that with a practical example that may stimulate you to try something new, or structure this into your new Alexander Technique business.

At BodyChance we have experimented a great deal. At various times we have had up to 200 people attending our studio weekly - for private lessons and groups and ProCourse. We noticed over time that those in the private lesson stream tend to drop out after three months, whereas those in the group sessions tended to stay. Why?

The students in the groups made friends. Soon coming to BodyChance was not just about learning, it was about transitioning acquaintances into friendships. Based on these observations, we decided to try out a radical re-structure of our learning program. At the time of the experiment, BodyChance group sessions were for 2 hours. We cut them down to 90 minutes - but wait - we then added 30 minutes for tea and chat with the teacher. I gritted my teeth and waited for the complaints about lost learning time to come pouring in…

No-one complained. Not one. In fact - the opposite was true! We got feedback about how much people liked having this “social time.” We paid our teachers the same, but now their job was just to sit there, have tea, and chat with their students.

Tell me - how could you do that?

As I wrote yesterday, people want to belong, they want to feel they are part of something. Of course your devoted students will come lesson after lesson - they don’t need any additional inducements. I am not talking about those people. I am talking about the students who are “kinda” interested. They are not highly motivated to come, so they are easily distracted by events outside of your lessons.

Your job is to make their visits to you one of the highlights of their week. Why not enhance their experience with some “meet my students” events where they get to chat with other people who understand what they are struggling with in lessons. Take them bowling, and a coffee shop after. They can pay costs - you offer your time and expertise for free. Hey - it might even be fun for you too!

Insist on it when they join. Nod your head seriously, give a few authentic reasons (there are plenty) so you get them to sign on to it at least once. Initially, people are resistant to meet strangers, but once you break the ice with them, it could be a welcome weekly/monthly oasis in their stressful lives.

One more radical option that Kit Racette shared on my FaceBook page recently: ditch the private lessons! Move to a “groups only” practise. In fact, we did exactly that at BodyChance. Of course “private lessons” are still available, but now they are a premium service, not included in the “standard” package. Of course, you may find this concept ideologically challenging, so how about experimenting with a mix of the two?

Or not. Maybe there is another way you can do this?

I’d love you to share on FaceBook if you already have some system to answer your student’s deeper need to belong… These “borderline” students make the difference between a struggling practise and a successful one. You want to figure out how you can create a “place” that they want to keep visiting.

What can you do to make them coming to you fun?

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