This was my first Northern Taste of Clean experience. Caitlin Walker and Shaun Hotchkiss hosted the event, and hospitality is something they do wonderfully well.
I was expecting an interesting, perhaps challenging experience, maybe a way to develop useful skills. And what I got was a (big) houseful of extraordinary people. Gorgeous food, great music. A proper buzz, but one that I expect to develop and mature long after the weekend is over. Skills definitely, and something more...
Here is a short review of the sessions I attended:
Introduction and Improvisation with Caitlin Walker and Remy Bertrand
It was a brilliant idea to set the tone with a whole group improvisation session. The skills and culture of improv theatre have much to offer the world of personal development. From prolonged eye contact to word-free conversation and singing, this was hardcore nonverbal bootcamp, led with charm and skill. (Not getting to Remy’s second session was one of my biggest regrets of the weekend.)
Clean Creativity with Emily Walker and Jackie Calderwood
During this session we did a rapid prototyping exercise, producing physical objects to represent something we wished to work on. Then we used a highly focussed set of Clean questions to ask each other about what we had made. This was simple, elegant and powerful – perhaps the most potent experience of the weekend in terms of looking at my own stuff.
Clean in Business with Simon Coles
Really, really really useful. Simon embodies clean approaches to communication in Business. The toughness and resilience of his thinking made a very interesting contrast to the speakers from more therapeutic backgrounds. Simon asked us not to publish details of his session and I can understand why. Not that there were any unethical tricks involved, quite the opposite in fact, but there was gold-dust, and it would not do to give gold-dust away. Competitiveness and compassion without compromise. Clean in the real world.
Whirlygig with Shaun Hotchkiss
This is an attention-grabbing and thought-provoking technique, and probably also the point at which I began to look beyond the technique. I got a huge load of stuff that I didn't know I was looking for. That's what I was looking for.
Book Launch with Caitlin Walker
“From Contempt to Curiosity” is Caitlin's new book, and the first physical copies arrived just in time for the launch on Saturday evening. Just the sort of thing you'd expect really – toasts, slightly embarrassed speeches, applause, signings. One more thing was in the room though; love. Not the air-kissy mwah-mwah darling kind but the daring to change your life kind.
Music with Vinny
The right man, in the right place, doing the right thing. Vinny's own songs were beautifully crafted and his generosity of spirit made for a very enjoyable singalong that kept the good times rolling.
Head, Heart and Gut with Judy Rees
The importance of the large amount of neural tissue in the thorax has largely been ignored in conventional medicine and psychology. It is useful to think of a heart mind and a gut mind as well as a brain mind. These may be metaphors, but they also reflect physical realities. I already knew this stuff. I've already banged on about this stuff. I didn't have such a beautiful tool to do stuff with this stuff. I do now. Thanks Judy
Looking for Literacy with Cricket Kemp
Cricket talked about the importance of modelling good reading rather than just good spelling and this made good sense to me. The session was cogent and profoundly insightful. I've come across work based on Robert Dilts' model before, but this took my understanding to a more fundamental level. The idea that reading develops prior to speech came as something of a "mindquake". If genius is not being blinded by the blindingly obvious, and having the courage to act accordingly while everyone else is stumbling in the dark, this was genius.
Observing One-to-One Symbolic Modelling sessions with Marian Way
What a privilege. I literally can't say how useful this was because so much was about the exquisite non-verbal example. And of course it gives me a model of verbal excellence to aspire to. A big thanks to the clients too. Your courage is appreciated.
Food from Shaun Hotchkiss
Taste the Love! My mouth is watering before I have thought of anything to say. Emblematic of the experience as a whole; it's not just about the words or ideas, it's a whole way of being. And when it tastes this good, there comes a time to stop talking and just enjoy.
The next Northern Taste will be in June 2014.