Francis Lynch: My guest in this interview is Anne Courtney, who is a coach retreat facilitator and leadership consultant. In her past and has worked as a social worker and also led a small not-for-profit organisation and in recent years has been running her own business supporting people to deal more effectively with relationships in their families. Workplaces and communities. In this
Francis Lynch: interview, I’m struck by the changes that Ann has noticed in her life. How she has become more reflective herself over the years and has settled into a path of helping others to see the value of reflection and how it can facilitate more purposeful action. Ann’s also involved in training people to become ontological coaches, which is a process where she enables people to reflect and learn about themselves and how they can support other s to do the same. In this interview, you’ll hear Ann’s reflections on who she is. And how she has created opportunities to live out her purpose. Welcome, Ann. Thanks for agreeing to be interviewed as part of the living with purpose interviews. I’ve done a an introduction just before this and and given the sort of formal introduction for you but how would you describe yourself to, to me or to he listeners
Anne Courtney: Wow. How would I describe myself? UM. Well, I’m a woman in my early 50s and don’t have children working and primarily these days looking after my dad who has Alzheimer’s disease and various other health complaints. So like a lot of people my age, I suppose looking after my parents is a major priority and a major learning journey. Actually, I was just saying to my husband as we’re walking back from lunch. Given this as. Close to the end of the year, thinking about the year ahead and thinking I love planning, I’m a planner. I’m a Jay. I’m the Myers Brig. And because I’m largely caring for my father at the moment, I’m having to live with uncertainty and just say I really can’t plan the year ahead. All I can do is go with the flow and when things change as I expect they will. I’ll have to just. Change with it. So yeah, in terms of work, you wanna know about work,
Francis Lynch: yeah. What do you do?
Anne Courtney: what do I do? Well My parents have never understood what I do because I never seem to have a job where I could say I’m a teacher or I’m a this or that. The closest I ever got was when I could tell them I was a social worker and that was actually a profession. That you know. But when I think about what I. Do what I do more than anything else. Is for work is to really create reflective spaces for individuals and groups. And how do I do that? Well, I I I’m a. Coach. So I see people one-on-one give some time out of their busy lives. Their work lives, their personal lives to just come sit. Slow down. reflect. And connect with. You know what’s on their mind, what’s on their hearts, what do they want to be going better. In life. You know what do they want to explore? And then I probably do similar things then for groups of people, either in organisations, teams or running retreats. People either workplaces or we run public retreats where people come and take a weekend out or a day out. And again, it’s that just that time to slow down and connect with what’s going on for you. And then I also train people to be ontological coaches. And I know ontology is one of those. Words that my parents. Wish I had an ordinary job, but. This particular field of study that I’m involved in, it’s. Called ontology of the human observer. And it’s really about. Taking the lid off. Off the can or the the bottom off the the car and saying well, you know, how do we work as human beings? What drives us? So how it’s our thinking, our emotions, our bodies drive us and shape how we see the world and what we see is possible or not possible So yeah, and I do based on what I’ve just said, also do some work in the leadership development space with some of those principles. So it’s a very eclectic mix, Francis.
Francis Lynch: Yeah, it certainly sounds that. And and I know. That you do that in partnership with a. Lot of people as. Well, don’t you?
Anne Courtney: Yeah. One of the things I love about my work is that I work for myself. And I have all. The the freedom of that, and I know I began working for myself about 12 years ago, and I remember one of my colleagues and I began at the same time and she was an extrovert and absolutely hated it because it was way too much time on your own and I. I absolutely loved it, so I really connected with. The energy I get from having a certain amount of solitude, but one of my joys in life is, even though I work for myself, is working in partnership with a whole range of people, you know the support of other coaches just in cause coaching is very solitary, sort of. Occupation. I have one particular coach that we have a peer coaching relationship with Tony Plethrow and you know we support each other through life and work. And then I run retreats with a range of people, women’s retreats with Nicky Howe and Katherine Jules and Courage and renewal retreats and other sort of retreat. I run with Michael Prince and Sharon Cook. Yeah, so. I’m lucky enough to have the best of both worlds, I reckon.
Francis Lynch: Yeah. And is it something that like you’ve You’ve come to this place of having this mixture of things. Does it feel like it’s been by purpose like like it’s it’s come about through design or has it come about just through taking the opportunities as they’ve come?
Anne Courtney: I remember when I was young, feeling very. Envious of people who knew what they wanted to do. When they grew. Up and I was never one of them. And I had a vague idea. Well, no, I didn’t even really have a vague idea what I wanted to do, but. If I reflect. Back on my youth. The things I knew for certain that I was interested in passionate about. Well, probably two things and two kind of different things. So one would be spirituality being reflective.About life being. More than just about you and material things. But also that there’s more inside to you than the the superficial stuff as well. So the spiritual stuff was important to me and. I was brought up. A Catholic. So my early formation I suppose, was within that tradition, and as I’ve gotten older, that’s broadened quite a lot. And then the other passion I’ve always had is, I guess just a a passion for. Injustice and making things. Better for people. Being aware that you know it’s really just a fluke of history that I’m here and that I live in a wealthy country and came from a relatively wealthy well, compared to the world family. So yeah, that’s those two were always my passion. Not that I knew at the time. It was just I I. Did a dance between these two things. And if I look at my early jobs, you know, I as you will know, cause you and I share this together, but work for a youth organisation that had a Christian basis to it but also very social justice focused and about action reflection. And then took a social work route, just like you, Francis.
Francis Lynch: Absolutely Well, we, I mean we the listeners might not know, but we’ve known each. Other for about 30 years so.
Anne Courtney: Yes, we’re both wearing glasses now. Yeah, and look, so that just took me on that route of. Being involved in social work, working for different organisations, being an activist, I suppose when I was younger involved with the Philippine Action Support Group and the Cambodian Support Group and always involved in something to do with Aboriginal people, various groups.
Francis Lynch: I remember that just there was a a point where you lived in a in a house with a group of other people as well. Where you’re my mother said. About I can’t remember.
Anne Courtney:Yeah, that was fantastic. I mean, it was a blood bath. Because it was a community of young people. Well, it was wonderful really. It was a group of a small group of us who, I mean, I was in my early 20s as extraordinary, but we decided that we wanted to take in homeless young people
Francis Lynch: That’s right.
Anne Courtney: And so and I don’t know why we got so elaborate? I think because we started renting and that was so insecure. And we needed big houses because there. Was already like four of us. And then we would have like one or two young homeless. Young people live with us. And so we formed a company. There were some people who were a bit older and wiser than us, that helped. Us do this. We formed a company and bought a house, loaned the money from the Catholic Church. And bought a house and. And yeah, ran this house for a couple of years and had different young people coming to live with us for different amounts of time. One girl lived with us for quite a long time, actually. And yeah, she was a lovely girl. She was. Really finishing high. School and and, you know, pretty not. That complicated, but other people who had, you know, significant like trauma, I suppose that.
Played out and how they behaved and. Yeah, I remember an attempted suicide and all sorts of things, theft and all that sort of stuff, but also lots of wild, funny times and. Yeah. So look, I love that about being young. You know, the idealism that we can do this. And but when I say it’s a bloodbath, it too, cause, you know, we’re at that age and we’re all falling in love with each other. And no one loves the right. Person and you know, you know you don’t have all those skills for navigating all that stuff. So it was a bit of a blood bath as well. I’m glad I did it. I’m glad I Did it.
Francis Lynch: so who? Who do you think are the people who’ve influenced you over over your journey over your time?
Anne Courtney: Such a lot of people, and I think one of the themes that’s come. up for me? Thinking about this interview has been you know how you start somewhere in life and then as you go on it, it can get just broader and broader. So for me, you know, my early influences were very much from Catholic. Christian tradition. Particularly people involved in kind of radical care for the poor or social justice. I remember I went to see Dom Helder Camara 8 times when he came to Australia and he actually touched me on the shoulder. So he was a Bishop that was working with most the poor in Brazil. I think it was. And people like Dorothy Day.
Francis Lynch: From the worker movement.
Anne Courtney: From the Catholic worker movement in the us who set up houses for hospitality, which is actually what our house that we had when we were young was supposed to be based on, I’m sure she had as much of a blood bath as. We did as well. Apparently she was a fierce woman. So so people like that. But then, you know, there was local people who really emulated that as well. I’m. I’m not sure if it I should mention all their names,
Francis Lynch No, No it’s up to you
Anne Courtney: But you know But you know there was, you know, I mean, people you and I both know. But you and Neville Watson and Peter Stewart. Cheryl Carmen. The sister Bernardine and Bernadette Kennedy, they’re all doing quite radical things with, you know, going out on a limb, being with people who are marginalised and. Yeah, I felt so lucky that I knew these people as a young person, you know, they gave you. Such, well, a sense of possibility of there being other ways of living, you know, and. Yeah, but there isn’t just the one. The one way to live where you get a professional job and earn a lot of money and get your. House and, you know, go on holidays. Really. So yeah. So look, it’s it’s started there. And then as I’ve gotten older, it’s it’s become more broader than I remember. My next step out of that sort of influence was someone like Joseph Campbell, who’s an American comparative mythologist.
Francis Lynch: Ohh OKAY.
Anne Courtney: And so, you know, I started sort of going beyond the bounds of just Christianity as a philosophy or basis for my life. And so, you know, he compared, you know what, what was the essence of a lot of different religions? And one of his famous sayings is follow your bliss. So that sense?
Francis Lynch: OK, I’ve heard them say, but not not him.
Anne Courtney: So yeah, that. Yeah. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, that’s right. So so I was. When I was young, I was trying to read all these things, which were way beyond. My understanding. And then. Probably after that, people like Father Richard Raw, who again is a Catholic priest, but one of the things I really liked about him was how he was able to give. the message of Christianity without all the baggage, without all the institutional baggage, and then moving on to people like Parker Palmer, who’s been. Quite a big influence on my life the last few years. Who’s a Quaker American Quaker, and he has written quite a lot. But really, really about the soul, in a way which isn’t limited to any religion. It’s not trapped in any baggage, and it’s very accessible to people. the retreats I run up are s based on that one sort of retreat I run. And then look, right now I’m listening to a lot of Buddhists actually, so. I’m. I’m listening a lot to Pema Chodron as I drive up and down the freeway to dance to try to avoid and ignore people who are driving like crazy people.
Francis Lynch: Pema Chodron. I’ve never. I haven’t heard of them. Is it him or her
Anne Courtney: it’s her. Her. It’s an American Buddhist nun.
Francis Lynch: Ohh OK.
Anne Courtney: She’s had a family and everything. I don’t actually know a lot about her story, so they just began listening to her. But you know what’s coming up for me? What’s influencing me about people like her? Eckhart tolle. It’s another one is just that whole notion of of accepting life as it is and being able to live with discomfort and pain, which is not my natural bent. Yeah, sort of, I suppose. You find the people that somehow speak to where you’re at, and I’ve always been a searcher, so I keep buying CD’s and books and they keep speaking to me and, you know, not necessarily all religious either. You know, lots of people are recently speaking to me. Harrison Owen, who’s written a lot about. Open space philosophy and that whole notion of really accepting the way things are and things aren’t going to happen unless someone has the passion and wants to take responsibility to do something about it very much. You know, like a lot of freeing up of very rigid, strict ways we have of doing things.
Francis Lynch: And not assuming that I mean, one of the things with Harris. And Allen, I think. It’s not assuming that the old ways are the only ones, and that there are other ways of organising and and relating.
Anne Courtney: And trusting people. You know and trust in life, really. Like, you know, don’t force things, see where the energy is and go. With it so. Yeah, look. I think I should stop answering that question now because I could go On forever?
Francis Lynch: do you? Do you have a sense for yourself Now of of what your your purpose is?
Anne Courtney: Because I knew you were gonna ask me that question. I have thought about. That there is. Something that Parker Palmer writes, and this is probably not an exact replica of his quote, but it’s something like before you tell your life what you want to do with it. Listen to your life telling you. Who you are. And for me if. I think about that journey I just described to you. It was really an. Unfolding bit by bit of who I really was. Yeah. And what I’ve learned, and again, Parker talks about this is that when I was younger, I was very inspired by ideals. You know, I love the ideals of people. Being courageous and standing up for people who don’t have a voice, who are marginalised and doing all sorts of, you know, incredible things. And and you know, I try to emulate that in some small way. But the older and older I get and the more I actually get to know myself. You know, after 20 years as an adult thinking I was a raging extrovert, only to discover that the entire childhood I spent as introverted was actually who I really am. Yeah. You know, friend made a comment to me once. Sort of took me on this journey of rediscovering who I really AM. And so you know, while all those things being an activist, being a social worker are all noble things, they actually really drained the hell out of me and they didn’t work for me. Like I did. My best trying to do those things. Well, and you know, I think I did do them well to a certain extent, but I don’t think they were really who I am and. What I have to offer. So my sense of unfolding purpose is keeping in touch with who I am, so relearning that I’m an introvert has had a huge influence on what I do now. And that’s why, you know, for me. I spend most of my times in quiet, reflective spaces with people and the people I choose to work with, you know, are not the big corporates who are gonna pay me a fortune, but are people who are on the coalface and living that ideal who are social workers or activists or, yeah, this people in some sort of service role, you know they’re trying to do something good in the world and supporting them by creating those spaces for them. And that’s. Probably the best thing I can do is be who I really AM and and offer what I can offer into that.
Francis Lynch: So yeah, so it sounds like it it it’s your your space within that purpose or activism or is is really to support those who are who are doing a lot of the work. And I think it it it the way you’re describing it to is is real. The pointing out that that sort of misunderstanding, I think of introverse introvercy being an introvert, which is is not about whether or not you can have a good conversation with someone or whether you’re happy to talk with people, but more about that. Where do I get my energy from? How do I replenish myself
Anne Courtney: Absolutely, yeah,
Francis Lynch: and and do I need Time and and solitude to do that, which is what introverts we need or or do I get it by, you know, going out and engaging with people and yeah.
Anne Courtney: Yeah. And so for me, when I didn’t know that and I was you. And I was doing, you know, working with families as a foster carer, a social worker or whatever. Yeah. Yeah, I I didn’t know how draining that was on me, and it really did. It really just kept wearing me down until really I changed directions around the age of 40. And you know, I actually wasn’t terribly conscious of changing direction it, you know, sometimes you just act into things before your brain kicks in about what you’re doing. Yeah.
Francis Lynch: One of the things I suppose that you are also describing in in the last 20 minutes is is possibly some change around how you’ve seen purpose over those years. So if you were to go back and. Sort of say. You know what? What do You how do you really want to express? Your life, you know, ten years ago or 20 years ago, do you think that’s been consistent or has it changed?
Anne Courtney: I think it’s been a massive change. In the last few years, actually. I think probably the last 12 years I’ve changed direction, but I haven’t really known why I’ve changed direction. I just intuitively changed direction from more of the outer work stuff being out there in the world, you know, fixing people’s problems and all that sort of stuff to actually. being more reflective, but it’s probably been really. Only the last few years when I’ve connected with the worker Parker Palmer, where I’ve really understood what was happening, which is I’m reconnecting with who I really AM. So he has his term of connecting. Soul with role.
Francis Lynch: OK.
Anne Courtney: And there’s I think. There’s a quote by Rumi, something like that. If you are not here. Faithfully with us. Then you’re doing terrible harm. And I think it’s that notion of. You you know. The best thing you can give is who. You really are. No matter what lofty ideals there are. In the world, but to. Do your bit of it. The best thing you can. Offer is your real gift.
Francis Lynch: And as opposed to. That that notion of doing real harm as. Well, is is. What I took when you said that was is I can do harm to myself
Anne Courtney: Yeah, yeah, definitely.
Francis Lynch: if I’m not really doing what I’m I’m going to be best placed to do. Like you’re really trying to be something that you’re not.
Ann Courtney: Yeah, exactly. It takes it. It harms us and potentially harms others. Yeah. So there’s a lifetimes learning of that for me and I’m still learning.
Francis Lynch: So do you. So it sounds like you know some of those opportunities or experiences of. Of working with the Palmer Francis Lynch: Parker Parker J Palmer isn’t so his material it isn’t him is it
Anne Courtney: Yeah
Francis Lynch: So that’s making sense perhaps. Of some of where you’re at now. Do you think that? If if you were to look forward, I don’t know if. You do but. Do you have a sense of what What the next 10 or 20 years are gonna be for you and. And how? You know, are you just gonna continue what you’re doing, or can you see Change coming?
Anne Courtney: I’m sure there’ll be new opportunities and new expressions, but I think. I think it will be what unfolds in me in the next 10, 15,20 years, because I think my understanding is now is what unfolds in me will affect the way in which I see what opportunities and possibilities exist. So that’s the connection I make. So I I haven’t got a grand plan that in 10 years I want to be here or doing this or doing that. I’m really content doing what I’m doing now and content to seeing what unfolds really. So that’s as. Good as my future planning gets, which is shocking for a Jay on the my bricks.
Francis Lynch But it but it. Sounds as though there is a. The consistency or a A or a a commitment to. Be true to yourself. So so to to notice what’s going on and to to go. Where you feel drawn or what feels right. So to stay connected is part of what you’re really. Wanting to be.
Anne Courtney: yes, absolutely. I think I have a clearer sense of. How what I do? It’s influenced by. How much I keep in in contact with myself? You know, there’s this lovely. Simple little ritual that Joe, my husband and I often do, we don’t seem to spend much time at. The moment. Living between households looking out for my dad. And everything. But it’s by the the limbs, LIM’s and. They’ve got this little book called Sleeping with bread. And every night or anytime you can do this with your children as well. But it’s a daily reflection of, you know, what gave me energy today. And what drained my energy? If you if you link it with a religious thing, it’s like I think the points of consolation and desolation. I think which is an ignation thing, and it’s really about connecting with, you know, what gave you energy and what drains your energy. And if I think back now to years and years and years before that, when I was connecting with Joseph Campbell, follow your bliss. It’s all the same thing, isn’t it? Being connected. Go where the energy is. Go where the life is for you.
Francis Lynch: Are you ever surprised where the energy comes from?
Anne Courtney: Not really.
Francis Lynch: So you sort of know how you know what? What is energy giving for you now you’ve sort of understood what that is.
Anne Courtney: Yeah, because I think I do reflect a lot on what gives me energy and what drains my energy.
Francis Lynch: So what? Tell me a little bit about. That what? What’s? What helps you keep? Being ready and energy. Like having the energy to to do the work. That you do.
Anne Courtney: Yeah. Well, number one would be solitude. Because I’m an introvert. And without that I can get lost and I can start doing things that are very disconnected. So I need to have a certain amount of solitude and to be honest, my current lifestyle with my dad, who spends most of his. Time asleep is giving me a lot of. Solitude. So I’m doing very well there. And mixing that with. Nature for me is really good for the soul. At the moment if I can go to the beach in the morning while Dad’s asleep with my 2 cute little dogs and we can just walk on the beach and right in the early morning. That’s just beautiful. So nature for me gives me energy. And then. The colleagues that I was talking about earlier, like having people to create things with, I think creativity for me is very energising. So Michael, Sharon and I and Nikki and and Catherine, we’re organising our retreats. You know there’s such a lot of creative energy that. Goes into what are we gonna do and how we’re gonna do it? And what are we gonna bring to it? You know, poetry and activities and music and all sorts of things. And design of it. You know, I love that that really energises me just creating something. And I was thinking recently too that you know you’re in the right place when the work itself gives you energy. So i find I get a huge amount of energy from. Being with people. Yeah, on A 1 on one level. With when I coach individuals. I get a huge amount of energy from. Knowing I’ve created a space for someone where they can let their defences down. And, you know, sometimes even with a new client, one or two first session, sometimes the second session, you know, people often just drop down into a different space and they really uncovering their soul and letting you in, which is a massive privilege and sometimes a lot of emotion comes with that lot of tears. Yeah, but for me it’s the the trust in you to let you in. And the energy I get from knowing that if they just had the space and they get the space to connect with themselves and their own inner wisdom, they do actually know the answers themselves. So that gives me enormous energy. And that happens at a group level. When I run retreats.
Francis Lynch: Yeah. And and. Im glad that you said that about the coaching sessions and and the the way that you create the space Francis Lynch: because I was actually thinking that just before you said it because it is a creation it it’s not like there is a you know. There is a creativity that you express by being able to allow for that to to be brought forth or However it happens
Anne Courtney: You know, and my belief. About that, Francis cause you know there’s so many types of coaching and types of coaches and I’m sure they all have a. A part to play, but I think what I’m trying to bring to it is being real, that none of us has it all together. I don’t have it all together by any stretch. Of the imagination. And I wear that. Out loud and proud. Or maybe not so proud, you know. But we’re all in this, we. All have our version of struggling with life and we all have our giftedness. And for me, creating a space where someone can really get in touch with both of those things, you know, where am I really limiting myself You know, what are the old stories Im in that really, maybe I’m not aware that I’m in them. You know, I’ve certainly been in stories for a long time without knowing. I’ve even had a story. You know, what are the spaces I’m in that I’m trapped in without even knowing it. And you know what are the things Me, my passions and interests that you know, really do. Give me life and I really wanna do something about them. So creating that space is fantastic. I love that people paid me to do that. I Love that
Francis Lynch: but but for you, I think that what I’m hearing is, is that it’s really important for you that that it is at the service of the person you’re with and that they’re able to to actually understand. And connect with. What’s going to help them move forward.
Anne Courtney: Yeah. And as a coach, I love to be in that at the service of them. But being a real human being, yeah, not being some hollow sort of image of success or perfection or. But actually, I’m just a fellow traveller. who at this moment is offering you my time and presence. And you know, in support of your journey. But I’m on that journey as much as anyone else. I’ve got my own coach. Thank you very much. In fact, I’ve got several.
Francis Lynch: So what I mean sometimes. You know whether it’s in coaching or whether it’s just in in relationship with people, you know, there are the the times where discussion is about, I don’t know what I’m doing. You know, somebody might be having a a conversation with you and and saying. You know, really wondering why they’re doing what they’re doing or what their purpose is or you know, how am I going to to make sense of. All of this do you do you How do you how do you work
Francis Lynch: With that, how do you sort of? How do you respond, I suppose. Is is when people are really questioning their path and where they’re going?
Anne Courtney: Yeah. Yeah. Well, I think the number one thing I’d say and you know cause I train coaches as well, you know when you get this, I’m what’s my direction. I’m not sure if I’m in the right. Job or whatever. That can be extremely scary because
That’s A big question.
Francis Lynch No , it’s not all.
Anne Courtney: That’s a little question. So in the courage, work, courage and renewal work we have this lovely saying, which is called at a slant. So instead of hitting things directly, you come at it from different sides and part of the philosophy behind that is the soul is shy and isn’t going to just doesn’t respond to being hit over the head. Yeah, you know, it’s hides away. So for me it’s about. Gently helping : people connect to what gives them energy. What drains their energy, what in their life or work you know, does either of those things and. You know what and listening really. For what Where are the sparks of enthusiasm Of passion, of interest and. And you know what? What? Actually closes them down? So you know, it’s just that I think it’s just starting with getting them to connect themselves. And then often you know that opens up well. You know, I’ve always really wanted to do this, so I really love t hat about my job, but I don’t love. That about my job or, you know, people’s wisdom kicks in and they’ll say, look, I’ve been in this job this long. I’ve got a feeling it’s time to move on somewhere else, so I never have to have the answers. One of the things when you’re a coach because we don’t give the solutions if you get it at a question like that, you can go into a. Panic because you.Don’t know what sort of question is
Anne Courtney: You know you. Can’t possibly,
Francis Lynch: No
Ann Courtney: no way. So it’s really trusting. That person. That they will actually ultimately know, not necessarily what the big plan is, but what the. Step is. So I think that the big thing is don’t get too big
Francis Lynch: And it sounds for even just hearing your reflection on your journey is that you know you’re talking about there being a shift 12 years ago is that that wasn’t. As a result of, you know, there being a plan for the next 5 years or 10 Years it it was. You know an emergency. It was a it was a shift that happened. Any reflection you can see that but. It didn’t necessarily if you’d seen the consequences. Of your actions you may have. I don’t know, I mean. Would it have Would you have perceived, you know, 12 years ago that you would be here where you are now?
Anne Courtney: No, not at all and. I think you’re right. It is about emergence, which is a slow process. Says and the. Key thing for me around emergence is noticing. So you know in ontological coaching, the key thing you’re saying is that what we’re trying to help ourselves and others do is become more powerful observers of ourselves. And so when I think back to my shift around that time. 12 years ago. it started with reading a book by a coach. Actually Cheryl Richardson. Take time for your life. You know, I’ve read it. I’ve been in my job managing a a not-for-profit organisation for seven years and it was all about, you know, reconnecting. To yourself. So you know, I was probably in a position where intuitively I’m, I’m starting to think this is winding down for me and I have no idea what’s coming next. So just reading that book got me thinking about ohh I didn’t even know there was this thing called coaching. What a great thing, because I’ve always been really attracted to. Kind of spirit. The idea of spiritual direction without religion, which is sometimes what I think coaching is, so
Francis Lynch: I’ve never heard. I’ve never heard is said that way.
Ann Courtney: really well. I was so excited when I discovered coaching cause I thought at last spiritual direction without religion. How perfect. And so that led me, so that was just a little emergence and I noticed my connection with it. And then the next thing I’m hearing that someone I know is starting a coaching programme and so I’m booking into that programme and after the first workshop I’m in love. I love it. You know, it’s speaking to my soul. It’s me. I love it. The same time I’m doing a A. Starting a masters of leadership and management, which you know I actually found quite helpful. But it didn’t. Sing to my soul like the other. Thing did. And so from that I got into coaching. And then from that I got into ontological coaching. And then from that. I started being interested in retreats and you know it just the ball just keeps rolling and you just gotta keep noticing what’s next and what comes up for you and who the people you said, you know, work with other people. Yeah, absolutely. Part of it is saying, you know, what is it We’ve both got in common that we’re really passionate about what we. Could we do together? So with my mate Nicky Howe, who you’ve also interviewed. You know, we both. Are ontological coaches and wanted to bring that to women in, you know, kind of a group setting. And we just started doing women’s retreats. We’re really, Nicky got us started five years before I. Would have started.
Francis Lynch: And and I think I mean it’s. Interesting for me, knowing Nicky and knowing you it’s you’re quite different people.
Anne Courtney: Absolutely opposite. We still love each other.
Francis Lynch: Oh yeah and obviously you work well together.
Anne Courtney: Yeah, but it’s finding that common passion. What you what you can bring to it and then working with the diversity. Which, like anything, isn’t it? It’s not always easy. Yeah, but there’s gotta be. Enough to keep you there.
Francis Lynch: Yeah. So I mean the question I asked about, you know, what would you say? I mean really it is about know yourself it is, you know, come to to understand.
Anne Courtney: What is it you Have to offer what you know. And sometimes I think, you know we. Can judge people for you know. Ohh I remember. When I was in, I was the coordinator of the One World Centre, which is. Involving global education, looking at Aid and Development, I noticed, you know, can be a lot of judgement about the right way to do. Things, and this is the. Best approach or you wanna help these people or not those people or you wanna help people or animals but you know for Me it’s like if. Everyone followed what they’re passionate about. Well, there would be a lot better place because someone would be looking after the polar bears and someone else would be looking after, you know, something else you know. I don’t know, Jeffrey Sax wrote. Well, was his book the End of poverty? You know, thank God, someone followed their passion. But you know, I’m glad the polar bears are getting looked after, too. But whoever’s passionate about them.
Francis Lynch: Yeah. So there’s space for everyone and their passion.
Anne Courtney: Yeah, I think so, yeah.
Francis Lynch: So do you have any you’ve? Mentioned a few things along the way in terms of books and and people who’ve influenced you. Are there any other sort of suggestions that you would have in in terms of. Things that might be of interest. To to other people?
Anne Courtney: Well, I’ve mentioned Parker a lot. The the two books, I think of the books. I give away a lot for. People to read. Number #1 book I give away people to read is park apartments. Let your life speak, which is really about the notion of joining soul and role. So it’s about he’s very candid. Sharing of his own journey with depression and with coming to understand his gifts. And you know how how he could both best be expressed in the world in a way that’s really accessible to other people. The other book of his which I really love is. A hidden wholeness. Which is much more about how we can be with each other in a way that is allows each person’s soul inner wisdom to guide them without needing to be judged or you. Know debated by everyone else so he they’re his two favourite books of mine, a book I give away a lot to my clients is because this is another one of my passions is nonviolent communication by Marshall Rosenberg. So, you know, there’s a lot of beautiful stuff in there about some very basic. Ways that we can communicate with each other. In ways that don’t violate each other, you know that’s what I love about the courage retreats, their spaces that allow people who can be really religious, complete atheists to be sitting in the same room together respectfully, which I think personally is the root of all peace and non violence. So that’s that. I haven’t mentioned Alan Siler, who in Australia really is the person who’s brought together all the material around ontology of the human observer. I would recommend a good place to start is with his website where there’s a lot of free articles. You can download, so that’s http://www.newfieldinstitute.com.au. And similarly, the carriage and renewal website which is based in the US has some nice resources on it and then look other people. I’ve been enjoying people like Brené Brown, who’s written a lot about. She’s got very amusing Like Ted talks. Picked up on her as a shame and vulnerability researcher and as someone who hates being vulnerable. Very funny, but very, very good. And she’s written quite a few things now too. The gifts of imperfection, daring greatly, some lovely things.
Francis Lynch: I keep hearing her name. I I listen to podcasts a lot, and I think in the last fortnight I’ve heard about half a dozen people talk about Brene Brown.
Anne Courtney: yeah. Well, it’s really worth watching her Ted talks cause they’re quite funny, but also very poignant. And you know, that whole thing of vulnerability is. No, I really like to do it can be useful for real relationships. And who else would I recommend? Well, of course, my favourite at the moment is Pema Chodron and I’ve been. I haven’t read anything of hers. I’m sure she has stuff, but.
Francis Lynch You’ve been listening to us for, say days, yeah.
Anne Courtney: I’ve been listening to. CD’s. There’s a website called Sounds true. Which has a lot of these sorts of people on it, so I could go on, but I’ll stop.
Francis Lynch: OK. You’ve mentioned that you do retreats, so where do people find the information about those?
Anne Courtney: Well, you can go to the carriage and renewal website for the carriage and renewal retreats, which is W don’t
Francis Lynch: it doesn’t.
Anne Courtney: Don’t Do it you don’t want me to
Francis Lynch: Well, no, no. No, but. What I was gonna say is this, I’ll. Put Knights up on the web page for the so. If you don’t get it absolutely right, it’ll be on. The web page in two months.
Anne Courtney: OK, well I know it’s http://www.couragerenewal.org
Francis Lynch: OK.
Anne Courtney: But yes, put it up on the website and this is all in my website too, which is http://www.annecourtney.com.au which has my women’s retreats and the courage from your retreats.
Francis Lynch: Right. OK, alright. So that that sounds like the best place to go then
Anne Courtney: yeah, yeah, I have everything there.
Francis Lynch: Don’t we all
Anne Courtney: Ohh my god what have we become?
Francis Lynch: If somebody told you 12 years ago that you. Had a website with you.
Anne Courtney: Well, it took me 11 years to get a website, so I’m a little bit behind you, Francis.
Francis Lynch: So we’re sort of drawing towards the end. I’m wondering is there. I’m wondering whether I’ve asked the right questions really, so there’s something that you know you’ve you’ve been sparked with while we’ve been talking that you haven’t actually had a chance to say.
Anne Courtney: That’s a good question. No, no, I can’t. Think thing I I think just the one thing I haven’t said probably much about is. You know, so much of this stuff. I’ve been talking about. But creating. Spaces and I mean this like in everyday life as well. How we come together and allow each other to be who we are without having to invade that space with our opinion and our judgement. A lot of you know, sometimes I think a lot of what I do at a really mine you level is about creating spaces that aren’t violent. You know, and you. Just you know.Every week you just hear horrible things on the news, you know? Just horrific thing. Things, and I do think that some of it is just this really basic thing that it’s, it’s not so different from what a lot of us do. In our lives, and I’m including me in this, you know, we can really be violent when we think that our way is the highway, that our truth is the truth in simple little everyday, you know, family, friends. So yeah, look, that that’s just becoming more and more apparent to me just the importance of really. Listening to other people listening to ourselves firstly, but listening to other people and allowing people to be different from us, you know, why do we think we have to You know that our way is the only way of seeing things, just not how the world works. That’s my last little thing I wanted to say.
Francis Lynch: And it sounds as though that’s been a sort of a gradual understanding and and or a relearning and learning again. And I mean it’s it’s. It’s eternal vigilance, I suppose.
Anne Courtney: Look it is and cause one of the things that frightens me a bit is, you know, you hear about terrorist attacks and you hear about gang rapes of women in India. And yeah, I’m sure it’s all over the world, and it seems so vile and so completely opposite, and a a burnt. You know, so removed from. Us. And yet the seeds of. Violence in my mind. Are always planted whenever we just think that we know better than someone else, and that our way is the way. And you know, we just add a bit of force and. And a bit of you know, whatever to that. And that’s when you have horrible violence, but it’s all on a continuum as far as I can see. And we’re all guilty of it because maybe it’s just a natural human thing. I don’t know. But I think that’s something we all need to learn.
Francis Lynch: And and I think it’s also you know the. Allowing you know, I think individually we can allow those sorts of behaviours or experiences to happen and say nothing or you know, everything from the small to the large. But you know by by saying nothing we’re saying something and so. Yeah, yeah, I think it is. Hard to be congruent or or to to say oh, you know, it’s all out there. When I think absolutely what you’re saying is is, you know, the seeds of that are in, in each Francis Lynch: of us in our relationships in the way that we talk in the way that we behave. the way that we allow. The things to happen around us.
Anne Courtney: Absolutely. And you know, because most of the people I see come to me because of their workplace, the workplace, paying for me to see them. As a coach. You know, I hear a lot, a lot, a lot. A lot of stories about, you know, bad relationships and bad communication and bad ways of treating each other in organisations. The same thing happens. In families, but at the end of the day. It’s people. Doing it and sometimes it’s us doing it. Yeah, you know, we’re creating it. So if they’re, I suppose, actually. Just thinking about my purpose, there is something that I’m passionate about helping people understand that there is no need to have to do that. You know you can actually live with diversity of opinion.
Francis Lynch: So is it choice?
Anne Courtney: I think so. I think so. I. Think I think we all have to learn it. Because it doesn’t come easily for any of us, I don’t think. Because we do really like the world to be the way we think the way it is. But you know, not sure that’s working for us as as a as a world, yeah.
Francis Lynch: Well You’re world can be like that and your world can be different
Ann Courtney: exactly, exactly.
Francis Lynch: Look, it’s been a really. So I was going to say that it’s been a, a, a good experience, but it’s actually been a really. I’ve I’ve had a good experience to sit down with somebody who I’ve known for a long time and to just hear the conversation and to hear some of your views. And it’s been a privilege.
Anne Courtney: Thank you, Frances. Thank. You always lovely to be interviewed by. You and you know, they say. Questions are more important than answers.
Francis Lynch: Ah, yeah, that’s true. Thanks.
Anne Courtney: So there you go. Thank you. For the questions. Francis Lynch: Thanks Ann