Practical Developmental Ideas #B6 May 2006

The flame and the fog

Everyone has a flame.This is your unique strength, talent and purpose. The fog of our self defeating habits and limiting beliefs can obscure our flames. This note shows how to strengthen our flames and reduce the fog so we, and others, can shine more brightly.

What is your flame?

We all have times when we know we are remarkable and have a unique talent and purpose. Think of those times or moments when you felt completely alive, fulfilled, in tune and connected to a higher purpose. Everything goes wonderfully well. Then you know you are being the real you. These moments are so attractive and important that if your life only consisted of those moments, it would be a good and rewarding life.

In these moments, you are being your flame and everything is so easy and rewarding. It is possible to be in your flame more of the time! The rest of this note shows how.

How can you strengthen your flame?

Think about those peak moments

You can think carefully about your peak experiences. What do they have in common? How can you have more of them? Talk about the experiences with a friend or colleague who listens well. If you pay attention to positive and rewarding events, you will have more of them!

Seek positive feedback

Ask people what they value about you. Find out what they see when you are performing at your best. When you are performing at your best, you are in your flame. This will help you understand it better. We all have blind spots about our strengths as well as our weaknesses.

After a meeting ask people what went well. You can ask what people have valued about your contribution. The more you acknowledge strength, the more you have to use.

Focus on your successes

It is much more rewarding to think about our successes and cause of success than to dwell on failure. You can build on what led to success to have more in future. Your flame is operating in all your successes so by understanding them, you also come to understand your uniqueness. Then you can use it even more creatively in future.

Connect your flame to others

Everyone has a unique flame, just like you. It is very difficult, perhaps impossible, to be as effective as another person who is working in her or his unique and different flame. A team of people, who trust each other, know, and value each other’s flames, will help everyone burn brightly. The joint flame of the group will be amazing.

Discover your Core Process

Your “Core Process” is a pair of words that describe what you are doing when you are at your best. This is your central strength and purpose and the reason you are on the planet. You get to it by sharing your peak experiences and distilling down what you were doing to two words that you remember forever. It is almost impossible to do this on your own so much easier with a trained helper.

Here is one comment from a client.

“Discovery of my Core Process has been the best self development thing I have ever done and it has made a huge positive impact on me as a person. I can break the benefit down into to the two areas of my life which are very important, work and family. 

Work: I can’t remember being this relaxed whilst working, I can deal with the dishonest/not straight/political things far better and with less emotion.

Family: I am more patient and considerate with all the family. Given I am travelling so much these days, it makes the home time great because even if something does occur, I know how to deal with it better. ” 

Ian Plumbley, Inspiring Honesty – MD, Kazco Ltd – Mar ’06

What is the fog?

Most of us know we could be much more than we are. Fog hides our flames.

Painful memories of old hurts limit us. If you have tried something and had a disastrous failure you are less likely to try it again. Unfortunately, this can happen unconsciously as well. We literally record everything that happens to us. Then when we get in a situation with common elements from a recorded painful situation, we may lose our ability to think clearly and may be ineffective.

We can get hurt repeatedly or severely that we limit our ability to think about that subject. This installs a self-limiting belief. For example, perhaps teachers and fellow pupils ridiculed you and put down repeatedly at school because you found a subject or activity difficult. Even years afterwards you will avoid it or try and fail because there is a “tape” in your head that says “I can’t spell or sing etc”

Self-limiting assumptions can also block us. If you assume something is unlikely to work, you don’t try very hard and then of course, it doesn’t work! Discouraging painful experiences can cause this.

Most infants will try anything if we get out of their way.

How to shift fog

Focus on the positive

You can decide anything, including paying attention to positive things or the positive learning from negative experiences. If you think about or talk about the terrible way you X treated you, you may end up feeling sad, angry, resentful or hopeless, unless you can also fully express those feelings. If you think and talk about your resourcefulness and courage in dealing with X, then you will end up feeling powerful, intelligent and competent.


Life is very complicated and fired at us “point blank”. It is truly amazing that we achieve anything at all. So there is always something, however small, to celebrate. Every time you celebrate your successes and the skills and strengths you used to achieve them, you build your capacity to have more successes. Look for the route causes of success and build on them.

Get a good listening to

When you talk to a good listener, your thoughts get clearer. When you feel safe enough to express your feelings fully, it goes even better. Painful emotion holds in place our limiting assumptions, doubts and self-defeating habits. When you express those feelings, to someone who is listening you are able to re-evaluate your experience and move on.

A good way to organise this is to take turns.

Next ezines

If you have any ideas of what you would like me to cover, please let me know. I had thought to write the next ones ways in which different methods can support each other. I have just done some work that combined appreciative inquiry and cocounselling that may be interesting.


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Best wishes


If you would like help using this idea, or have any comments or questions please contact me. Thanks, Nick