European Breakthrough: Coaching for Change completed

Dear reader,

It’s a week since we have finished our 10-day intense international training course in Solution Focused Coaching for youth workers working with disadvantaged young people.

Already a week passed and I’m still not catching up with what has just happened.

The training course brought alltogether 31 people from 11 different EU countries. I’ve worked with many groups before and have had many trainings behind me, however this group was something special. It was pure heaven.

The outline of our training was quite daring and demanding – not everyone is able to spend 10 or more days out in the wild, without shops, sleeping in a barn with about 25 other complete strangers, without a drop of alcohol and with an agenda of working whole day long from 7.30AM until 18.30PM. Further, we designed the training programme in a way that our participants first experience Solution Focused in action, before actually giving it a name and explanation. This has caused some frustration and confusion at first, as the group was shaken and irritated. But we did not want to provide the answers up front. We wanted them to discover it themselves. However we could not anticipate the story would unfold like this.

We were lucky. The group managed splendidly. They learned. Fast, incredibly fast. The level of energy did not drop throughout the whole training. They wanted more and they self organized in order to get more from us. It was a huge privilege to work with such a group and to see it’s caterpillars turning into butterflies, one by one.

At the end of the course I was extremely proud. Proud to have created an atmosphere for such intense learning. Proud to have been able to witness the group and individual’s progress. And grateful for this opportunity to bring Solution Focused training to the target group that would otherwise never experience it.

I think this training course is an important milestone. I learned so much. About the group’s dynamics, about Solution Focused Approach, about myself as a trainer and myself as a coordinator. The project isn’t over yet, just it’s main activity has ended. We have much more work to do to track and monitor progress and to prepare a short video about it. Since it’s start back in December 2015, the project has changed a lot. Also the crew has changed. We kicked off with seven facilitators and now we are three in the end. And those three will take the project further. It was a huge gamble and risk bringing together new people, new partners as well as a new training design. However for some reason, not many things went wrong. There were some lessons, as I learned to choose people to work with really carefully and we learned more about what works and what doesn’t. But the bottom line was that the only complaint we received was that people were getting fat. A justified complaint I should say, so compliments to our cooks!

I also learned so much from my colleague trainers and from our dear participants, and am really looking forward to our future projects. Not sure yet what they might be. Maybe Coaching for Change 2?

Dear Betül, Mounir, Natalie, Gaya, Moonika, Madli, Bori, Bence, David, Anna, Pompei, Foued, Sofia, Dejvi, Lauma, Giovanni, Tim, Kamila, Paulina, Maja, Tina, Tinka, Denis, Aixa, Silvia,  Ella, thank you so much for being able to get to know you better and to be a small part of your learning journey!

Naomi, Giulia, Raúl, Bea, Hannes, Finn, thank you for your support throughout the project and for your future ideas and inputs!

Matjaž, Mojca, Jana, Romana thank you for your logistic and tehcnical support!

Leah and Árpi, thank you for making this training excellent, outstanding and what it was – a miracle in action! I’m honoured to be your co-trainer and am looking forward to more!



Click here for more pictures.

Every exceptional person has had at least once a painful experience …

Dear reader,

I just came back from the UK again. This time it was a journey up North, with the main aim to attend and present as a speaker at the International Conference organized by the National Association of Disability Practitioners (NADP).

My workshop session titled “Having no support system being an advantage and free education being a disadvantage? Lessons learned from a Slovenian perspective” was about how easy, cosy student life hinders development of self-advocacy skills, self-determination and self-respect. I disagree with permissive student centred approach. I believe there should be challenges in the environment and support should be support as a side activity to help you grow, not a patronized shelter.

Ever encountered a situation where you had an almost perfect life, enjoyed it, had much fun and had most of the things you wanted, but you were not really proud of yourself? Ever felt like your achievements were actually nothing special and though you would never admit it, you are in fact only an average student, employer, friend or practitioner? That is maybe because you had it too easy. You always got what you wanted. You didn’t have to try hard enough to get it. This may not be what you needed, though it was what you wanted. It’s not the same thing.

Your achievements were nothing special, because you probably didn’t have to demonstrate any extra skills, didn’t have to invest much time or you had someone else who helped and did it instead of you. For example, if you wrote a seminar paper and constantly asked for advice, is that in fact your paper you wrote? Alternatively, if you really wanted to impress – did you do it by saying what you are and what you can do or was it by doing and demonstrating it? Does your CV contain positions that you never really mastered? Or even activities that you only did several times, but then quit? These flashy headlines may well persuade someone how amazing you are. However how can you feel self-respect and worth, when you know that all this is nothing special or not entirely true?

I believe that every young person needs tough lessons in their life. Maybe even painful ones. These are not unfair, mean or deliberate actions happening to you. They are lessons. There must be a good reason for it; otherwise, they would not happen to you. Character (a person’s moral worth) is shaped through tough times, and hedonism (with boredom and constant greed for more) is nurtured through pleasant times. Thereby, if you want to make a change in your life, don’t expect it to be easy. Or pleasant. If you truly want to be or achieve something special, prepare for hard work. As P. Coelho said: “Straight roads do not make skilful drivers”.

My clients come to me with all sorts of painful past experiences like messed up families, eating disorders, substance abuse, divorce, school retention, sexual abuse, depression, etc. I believe each of them has the right resources to convert this into a valuable lesson. As we work together, the path towards progress often resembles my path, so in order to protect client’s identities I’ll share my own story:

I remember when I was young (about 15-18), I didn’t suit the role of an average teenager. I didn’t like to go out. Didn’t like parties. I didn’t date guys. I didn’t like to talk about the latest hair style or discuss fashion, nor did I wear makeup. I didn’t want to live at home. I didn’t want to receive allowance, because I didn’t want my parents to buy me. I never went on holidays, because I had to work. I had to, if I wanted to be independent and free. Freedom comes at very high costs. I didn’t go to my prom party. And at the university later, I didn’t have a chance to see the world or to go on an international exchange or to afford holidays. I was working all the time. Sometimes I even had night shifts and went straight on to classes. It looks like I’ve missed many opportunities and joys in life. In fact, it is quite the opposite, now that I look back. I may have missed many hangovers, one-nightstands and hours of meaningless conversations. I may have missed all the main tourist attractions that I would probably not even remember today. I may have missed chances of building a network of influential people that would help me become someone. I may be hurt, abandoned, and hopeless as a result.

I value this lesson so much. Because I learned that everything I am today, is a result of past sacrifices in terms of time, efforts, energy, even health perhaps. And it makes me so proud, because I know that everything I did, I did it myself. I’m proud to be able to face the barriers and overcome them. I’m proud that I invested my efforts into knowledge, training and discipline. Even though my colleagues tried to persuade me to relax a bit, come to a party and just enjoy, I didn’t do this, because this was just not me back then. Though I did feel excluded and not a good asset. As if I was born in a wrong place, to a wrong generation, basically. Does that make me a victim? For all the things I didn’t have, all the opportunities I’ve missed? Because of what my parents did to me or didn’t do?


I’m a winner. And because I’ve fallen so many times and managed to get up so many times, I’m confident I can do it again. I’m so proud that I can firmly stand behind every line in my CV. I’m so proud that nobody just gave me anything for free. I couldn’t be more proud on the fact that deep inside I feel secure, accomplished and fulfilled. And that feeling didn’t come from the admiration or worship of others. I don’t need anyone to prove this to me. It came from within and the tough circumstances of the past have enabled this feeling to evolve.


Nobody can provide you with feelings of pride. It is your job to build it.