Barbro Teir
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What can they be, the existential perspectives? In this blog I take experiences from everyday life and let existential philosophers and psychologists inspire to reflection.

The ultimate existential

He woke up, looked at us one at a time, his gaze was steady but empty. Maybe he wasn't awake anyway, maybe he was in another sphere.
Then he closed his eyes and continued to breathe deeply, rattling a bit. Heavy as if he were working hard.
A while later, the breath became quieter, shorter. His flat chest moved less and less. Something was different after the last days, weeks, months, actually years' cramped grip on life. The fight against the disease, the refusal to let go, the hardness – breath by breath they ran out of him.
He went so easily, so calmly.

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Once upon a time there was a CEO

Once upon a time there was a CEO, who executed everything like nothing had happened. You could hardly see that his wife was seriously ill, that the company was in a financial crisis, and that the staff was running hard, but unfortunately in many different directions.

“My first reflex after being a leader  and having carried responsibility for decades was that I’ll manage, I have the answers, I’ll fix it, I’m responsible. Suddenly I noticed, though, that I might not manage, I don’t have the strength to give all the answers, I no longer can take care of everything. The burden of the responsibility was getting to heavy. I needed help.” So the CEO writes when asked to tell others about our coaching-process.

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My first quarterly report

And so the first three months as an entrepreneur lie behind me. What I sell? Time for reflection for those who, alone or in a group, inspired by existential philosophers and psychologists, want to give themselves the possibility to ponder on where they stand and where they will go. Our starting point is that there is no manual for how life should be lived, there are no given answers that work for all of us. Everyone may seek their way to their own choices, find the courage to make decisions and act upon them.

Now I give myself the possibility to reflect on two questions: What is it like to be a new entrepreneur? What do I want to achieve during the next months?

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The ideals rule

What drives a person to rob a lorry and drive it straight into a crowd of people, with intention to kill? What drives an other person to give the order to shoot 59 missiles towards an air base, with intention to kill? A third person to order chemical weapons to be used on defendless men, women and children, fully aware that it means a dreadful death?

In times of despair I turn to existential philosophers and psychologists. They help me to find some kind of order in chaos, find the human in the barbarous.


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The meaning of work

Only 24 more days left to the retirement!

They will propably try to get rid of me next year, then I can make a really good deal!

Eastern is coming soon, then it’s only two months until my summer vacation – oh dear, am I counting the days!

The longing for freedom – or at least freedom from work – meets me everywhere I go this week. I have been thinking about my own life during the last years, how work occupied almost all my time and energy. That was quite alright, since my job was meaningful, important, challenging. Paradoxically, it still was a relief to quit.

Now, building my own business, I’m so inspired that I could work around the clock. The meaning with work is crystal clear to me.

That is not the case for everybody.

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Who benefits from this?

Let me introduce you to Mick Cooper. I met him in Stockholm a couple of weeks ago, when he held a one-day-workshop for people using existential approaches in therapy, coaching and healthcare.

Cooper is a professor of counselling psychology at the University of Roehampton, UK. He is called the coming man in the second generation of existentialism. One reason for this is that he has focused on customer satisfication, which is a little bit provocative in this field. Cooper is passionate about research on how different therapies help people to live better lives; why they work well, or not so well. His findings can be applied on existential coaching, as well.

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What is it?

Referring to the ancient Greeks is not one of my habits, but the British author and lecturer Martin Adams describes what existential counselling is so beautifully that it just has be quoted:

”In Greek , the word philosophy means ’love of wisdom’ and existential counselling is a contemporary form of applied philosophy that seeks to assist people in acquiring the wisdom to understand and live their lives with a greater sense of meaning and purpose.”

That is the ambition of existential coaching, as well.

Introducing something new, like this form of coaching in Finland, requires a lot of explaining. How does it differ from therapy, life coaching, or business coaching?

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Getting richer

Last year I had the privilege to dream.

When I left the job as CEO for a mediabusiness I gave myself some time to think about one question: If there is at least 15 years more left for me to work, which I hope, how can my contribution serve growth the best? By growth I don’t think about money, but all those other aspects of life that make people richer.

First, my thoughts could only focus on the things I do not want. The existential psychoanalyst Otto Rank calls aversion the first step to strengthen a person’s will – protesting, critizising, being negative towards others and what they represent. This ”no-will” is one way of starting to rule out your options. For me it was also a way of getting to grips with what kind of things I didn’t want in my life anymore.

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