A long time ago, in galaxy far, far away…
I was spending day after day lying on the floor in a practitioner training program with Moshe Feldenkrais, thoroughly investing myself in the idea that someday, when I knew what I was doing, I'd be able to do what I wanted.
One afternoon, I went up to Moshe as he was leaving the room. I walked alongside him and said I'd just had a startling thought about doing what you want. He stopped short, and looked at me with fire in his eyes -- I could tell he was taking aim…
So I gathered up all my courage and told him that yes, it was crucial to know what you were doing, but it was even more important to know what you wanted.
That "I'll kill you before you can blink" look in his eyes softened to a twinkle and he said, "Now you're on the right track!"
Nearly four decades later, it's clear to me that this is the missing link for many practitioners who don't have enough clients…
… or who have plenty of clients, but feel like something is missing.
… or who have a lot of interests and the Feldenkrais Method is one of them, and they just don't seem to be able to find time to attract more clients.
… or -- you name it… it’s just not happening.
The most important element in getting what you want is to know what “what you want” looks like.
If you have that weird feeling about your practice in the pit of your stomach, or the back of your neck, or wherever those incongruent bits of yourself coalesce to try desperately to be heard -- I'll bet you dollars to donuts that you don't really know what you want.
And until you figure it out, you're doomed to taking what you get.
Since 2010, I've been helping practitioners build their practices, and I've now officially lost count of the number of conversations I've had about getting the practice you want!
If you don't know what you want, you’re in good company
I do know that when I say, "Tell me about the practice you'd like to have," the vast majority of practitioners respond with some variation of:
"Wow! That's a great question! … Ummm… Let's see… Hmm… I don't really know."
Why bother to figure out what you want, when it's so much easier to ignore the question?
There are a lot of problems with not knowing what you want
Well, for starters...
- You waste your energy. If you don't know what "it" looks like, it could be staring you in the face, and you wouldn't recognize it and you'd keep on trying to get "it."
- You waste a lot of time running in circles... trying something else. Is anything satisfying? Does it work? Can you repeat it? Is it helping you? Where is it taking you? You have no way to measure results.
- And maybe most distressing of all -- awareness becomes moot. No matter how much of it you have, you can't direct it usefully when you don't know what you need to become aware of.
I'm not so sure that any one answer to this question suffices, but I've noticed a trend among the practitioners I've talked to who are unsure.
Why is "what-you-want" so unclear?
Just imagine for a moment that you're like a lot of folks... you arrived at the Feldenkrais Method as a way of getting what you wanted for yourself.
Maybe you had an accident, or you want to stay active as you grow older, or you have a child who needs help. Whatever--you've got difficulties, and you've benefited from working with a practitioner. Now you're taking a training because you want more.
At this point, it's quite possible that you're not thinking about becoming a practitioner. But you know how it is: do something long enough and it starts to color your life.
One day, the idea creeps into your head that everybody else in the room is becoming a practitioner, and maybe YOU could be one, too. Add in the pressure that comes from knowing you're gaining skills that can help people -- and aren't we all supposed to give back?
But you've got conflicts.
Maybe you don't want to be self-employed. Maybe you don't want a business. Maybe you don't feel confident in your skills.
Maybe you don't feel comfortable around other practitioners and take that as a sign that you aren't really cut out to BE a practitioner.
Maybe you're really shy and would prefer to work only with people who contact you because the thought of speaking first terrifies you.
Maybe you don't want to work very hard.. and why should you? You might be comfortably retired. Or you've got a settlement from your accident. Or an inheritance.
It's nobody's business but your own -- and your gremlins' who take every opportunity to muddy the waters.
Get clear nowWhatever your situation, asking yourself the right questions helps you find clarity. Asking them with a partner you trust helps even more. These questions will get you started…
What do you get from Feldenkrais work itself that feeds you?
What do you get from practicing the Feldenkrais Method that feeds you?
When you think about "having a practice" --
A. How many hours a week would you like to work?
B. How much money do you need to earn in those hours?
C. When you divide B by A, the result is the amount you would need to earn in every hour, whether you are working privately or with a group. How does that number feel to you?
D. If it feels great -- that's terrific! If not, are you open to making the internal shift it takes to bring everything into alignment?
Make a list of the things about practicing that you don't like, or feel uncertain about, or have questions you'd like to ask about having or building a practice.
- Do you see any trends? For example, they might cluster around confidence, being self-employed, money issues… or something else.
- Do you want to do anything about these things?
- If you do, what are some reasonable steps you could take to start changing your situation?
- Are you willing to take those steps?
You might include family, hobbies, other work…
Make a list of all the things in your life that compete with having a Feldenkrais practice.
- Rank your list in order of importance to you personally.
- What would have to shift in order to decrease the competition with your practice, so that you could have the time, energy, money, and mental space required to develop the practice you want?
- Are you willing to make that shift?
What’s your bottom line -- do you want a practice?? Are you willing to do what it takes to get it?
The gift hidden in clarityEarly on when I started helping practitioners build a satisfying practice, I got an email from a very enthusiastic participant. She was writing to thank me because she'd discovered that she didn't want to be a Feldenkrais practitioner!
You can imagine that I was totally bummed. Despite the exuberance of her email, all I could think was that what I'd offered her backfired. It was a while before I understood that letting go of "a practice" left her free to move toward what was truly meaningful to her.
Over time, I've heard this from others... and I've come to realize that one of the gifts clarity brings is being able to let go of what you don't want... because it makes room for what you do want.
When you're unclear, you can't let go of a hobby in favor of your practice... and you also can't let go of having a practice in favor of something else that calls you more deeply.
Becoming clear about what you want is the catalyst that allows you to focus on getting whatever "it" is.
You don't have to beat yourself up if discover that you took your training for yourself. If you don't want work with people, rejoice in the knowledge -- and welcome the space you've created to let in what makes your heart sing.
On the other hand, if you discover that having a practice is what makes your heart sing, then fully flesh out that dream and commit to doing what it takes to realize it -- no matter what that looks like for you.
There's room in our work for everyone, and every one of us brings a unique combination of gifts, talents, and life experience that speaks to the people we are here to help.
We’ve got room…
It's possible to make your practice as you want, and reap the rewards of using your knowledge and skill to help people that ONLY you will reach -- simply because of who you are.
The operative word is WANT -- find out what you want, so that you can work toward getting it in a meaningful way.
Because YOUR people are hurting, and no one can help them the way you can.
When you uncover and acknowledge what you want, knowing what you're doing has true meaning in your life!
Next time… What is “Meaningful Action?”
To have an effective business, you need to know what’s essential and what’s a waste of your time. When you are able to choose meaningful actions, you see results sooner and develop an appreciation for the value ‘business’ has in your practice. Join us to find out what’s wasteful and what’s meaningful!
Allison Rapp is a Feldenkrais Practitioner and Trainer. She’s also a business coach and Perceptual Style® Coach and since 2010, she’s been helping practitioners embrace their strengths, get more clients, and make all their marketing feel easy and natural. For more information, visit http://AllisonRapp.com
10/27/2015 1:34:20 PM
I enjoyed your thoughts and would like to hear future ideas.
8/23/2015 9:42:56 AM
Thank you so much for getting us started on this crucial work. Setting the groundwork will help me alot.
8/22/2015 11:26:15 AM
i stopped practicing over the summer because i didn't want to do it anymore. feeling poorly about my unwillingness to engage online and "develop a website", as others all around me are doing. i missed the income but not that much.
i started doing atms and explorations frequently, really enjoying myself. i began working intensively with a dear friend with problems ande found i really was enjoying myself again. was reconsidering how to gear up again, when unaccountably, 4 new students showed up, by referral or self referral.
so i am 'having fun exploring and inviting learning for myself and the student. and i've sent an email to a few students and likely candidates, to begin 2 atm classes weekly also. with a fresh thoughtful approach.
there is real deep magic in this life. thank you for all your assistance over the years, allison.
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