Mark Andreas is a nonfiction author and life coach who helps people resolve limitations using NLP, Core Transformation, and other methods for personal transformation and development. He wrote the books Sweet Fruit From The Bitter Tree and Waltzing With Wolverines.
What was your childhood like? Any particular experiences/stories that shaped your adult life?
My childhood was filled with wilderness growing up in the country, which is something I’ll always be grateful for. Climbing trees, rolling rocks down the mountain, lighting the back yard on fire for an “agricultural burn,” with my brothers. It was a great childhood.
Our parents taught us a lot about evaluating our own sense of safety and our capabilities and the risks involved, and how to plan for those risks, which allowed us a great deal of freedom and no accidents that caused long-term damage.
What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?
Wow there are lots. Here’s a big one though, “You just need to love yourself.” No, instead discover and do the things that are aligned with your values. See the book “Transforming Yourself: becoming who you want to be,” by my father Steve Andreas. This is along the same line as positive affirmations, which only create more internal conflict if the positive affirmation isn’t congruent with your experience. If I say, “I am a strong, confident, happy person,” but my experience is that I’m weak and miserable, then saying this affirmation will only make me feel worse.
Tell me about one of the darker periods you’ve experienced in life. How you came out of it and what you learned from it?
I’ve led a pretty blessed life. I was bullied in a minor way in 8th/9th grade. It was a big deal to me at the time of course, as I was in a small private school where my class was my whole social world, but it was really minor compared to what a lot of people have had to deal with growing up.
Still, I have my own small experience of what it’s like to be bullied and how arbitrary it can be and how powerless the person in the experience can be to do anything effective about it.
I think a lot of parents and teachers don’t realize this, they often put the responsibility for the solution on the victim, who is the one person who can’t do anything about it.
I’m passionate about offering effective models for creating healthy social systems in groups and classrooms, which you can read all about in my latest book “Waltzing with Wolverines“ a collection of stories and principles for working with youth based on my time leading groups of at-risk teens 24-7 for three-week shifts at a wilderness therapy program in Colorado.
What is one thing that you do that you feel has been the biggest contributor to your success so far?
If an opportunity knocks, I take it. If someone offers to help me, I accept it. If someone is interested in learning about me and what I do and wants to publish it, awesome!
What is your morning routine?
Eat breakfast, check email for anything timely to respond to, such as clients, then begin my day which looks different depending on if I’m seeing clients right away, or working on writing or other projects.
I struggle with eye strain, so I’ve learned to be very disciplined about taking breaks to walk, run, eat, etc. every hour or so.
What habit or behavior that you have pursued for a few years has most improved your life?
Probably being forced to take breaks due to my eye strain. If I wasn’t forced to take breaks I would probably have ended up secluding myself for days on projects and that likely would have led to a less balanced life which I think would have made me less happy.
When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, or have lost your focus temporarily, what do you do?
Go for a walk or run in nature.
What’s a book(s) that have influenced your life the most? Why?
- Manufacturing Consent by Noam Chomsky – talks and writings about politics and power structures. Hugely enlightening to me about how the world actually works, as opposed to what a lot of the dominant culture assumes it works or would like it to work.
- A People’s History of the United States: 1492 to Present by Howard Zinn – Excellent history book written from the point of view of the losers.
Obviously, the NLP books by my parents, which are filled with most of the tools I use in my private NLP coaching practice.
My own books also had a huge influence in my life through the process of collecting other people’s incredible stories of transforming conflict, for my first book, and my process of putting my own experiences and learnings into written form for the second.
- Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card – Brilliant book about the tension between peace and conflict. About bullying and overcoming enemies through empathy. About being a brilliant leader. Such a great book.
Do you have any quotes you live by or think of often?
“As a man’s real power grows and his knowledge widens, ever the way he can follow grows narrower: until at last he chooses nothing, but does only and wholly what he must do…” ― Ursula K. Le Guin