I’m reading…

On Tyranny: 20 lessons from the twentieth century, Timothy Snyder (2017, Penguin Random House) Profound lessons for the Trump-era, such as: stand out, believe in truth, listen for dangerous words, do corporeal politics (ie get out there and be public for what you stand for)… inspirational stuff.

The Body Keeps the Score: Mind, Brain and Body in the Transformation of Trauma, Bessel van der Kolk (2014)

The find of the year – I’m so glad I was pointed in the direction of this book. The title says it all: this books explores the mental and physical impacts of significant trauma and how healing can be found; as one reviewer writes, the book is “a brilliant synthesis of clinical cases, neuroscience, powerful tools and caring humanity”. I find links in it both to my coaching practice and to my own understanding of myself.

“The Body Keeps the Score” confirms my personal conviction that the body often keeps the score in all sorts of ways in relation to strong experiences, whether happy, difficult or extreme. I know this from my own experience. In response to a very challenging work situation a few years ago, the best advice I found was not just to listen to my mind, but instead to use the wisdom of the body in finding a way through. This led me to opportunities for private moments of forgiveness of self and others, taking up painting, and using running as a way of processing thoughts and feelings.

Van der Kolk writes: “Trauma is not just an event that took place sometimes in the past; it is also the imprint left by that experience on mind, brain and body … For real change to take place, the body needs to learn that the danger has passed and to live in the reality of the present.”

At times it feels like there’s too much in the world that needs healing. But if executive coaching can help people understand difficult or apparently inexplicable events at work (again I’m not referring to medically-traumatic episodes here), then maybe coaching can also result in some form of indirect healing?


The Silo Effect: Why every organisation needs to disrupt itself to survive, Gillian Tett. Some great examples here, especially of overcoming silos. Tett is a financial journalist, and she writes with pace and clarity.

Note: There are alternatives to buying online through Amazon – for books, DVDs, games, music…  Amazon takes its place amongst the list of biggest tax-avoidance companies. For books, if you up for good quality secondhand copies, two sites to consider are www.betterworldbooks.co.uk and http://www.biblio.com 

I’m watching…

…at the cinema: Walk With Me. An insight into the world of mindfulness and the Zen Buddhist master Thich Nhat Hanh.

I’m attending…

Go with the Slow: Supervisory Presence with Robin Shohet, organised by the Association for Coaching.

I’m painting…

Two of my paintings are hanging at Friargate Quaker Meeting House, York:


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