Career Story: The Architect Turned Life Coach

Richard Conner author and architect

Last September award winning architect Richard Conner former partner of Piercy & Company quit London and moved to Thailand in a bid to reconnect to his creative core. The journey and its discoveries along the way led to a series of inspiring best selling books on mindful reconnections to your inner creativity.

We ask the architect-turned-author-and-life-coach how fellow architects and designers can find inspiration in their daily work and personal life…

 

Why did you decide to leave your agency?

Neglect of my creativity. I had constant feelings and thoughts that I wasn’t doing enough, or contributing enough. It was like I was wasting my time on something that wasn’t really that meaningful for me anymore. I’d lost the connection to my ‘Creative Core’, I’d postponed what I wanted to do even though I didn’t know really what that would be until I had the time, space and energy.

Professional Career

Richard studied Architecture at Liverpool University and The Bartlett University College London (UCL). His professional career started with Nicholas Grimshaw and Partners (now GRIMSHAW) / Eden Project / Waterloo International Terminal / Berlin Stock Exchange.

He then went on to co-found Piercy Conner Architects (now Piercy&Company) / Turnmills / Martello Tower Y / East Village alongside graphic design and CG illustration and animation studio Smoothe.

How did you inspire creativity in your old practice?

By always encouraging the team to explore the narrative of the project they’re working on. While a design will always have pragmatic constraints and an anticipated programme, a story is required to hook people in so they can become emotionally engaged with it – whether they’re the client, the design team, the tenant or visitors to the piece of architecture. Stories communicate on many different levels and contexts and can be obvious or discreet – that’s the beauty of design exploration and continually asking ‘Why?’ and ‘What if?’ In the past, the marketing and promotion was an after-thought, but now it’s critical and key to the design. It’s as if the ‘communication’ of a building or a design has been turned on its head.

What advice would you give other designers/ architects on achieving better creativity in their work, and general life?

1. Prioritise your creative energy and focus. Question the bigger picture versus the detail. Ask the question, “Should I be spending my time doing little things that help a few people directly” (the door handle), or, “Should I be working on larger issues that help a lot of people directly and indirectly.” By creating an environment where doors become obsolete –  in terms of security,boundaries, public-private spaces –  and aren’t needed, then neither are door handles, and so why waste your time trying to improve something that’s no longer required? It’s an exploration of cause and effect. I advise looking into, questioning and working closer to the cause, rather than the effect.

2. Question everything about the design and creative process…But you must do this quickly, given the commercial imperatives and pressures at play in the design and creative industries. It really is a ‘watch this space’.

It’s also important to take time and space to sit and reflect on each stage of your creative process.

Did you ever struggle with creativity, and how did you overcome it?

Yes, of course. I had doubts about whether I’m good enough – if the client will like or reject my work. It took me a long time to understand that self-doubt is manifested by fear. I work on myself and do a lot of what I call ‘Inner Work’. This is recognising that all doubt is based on fear. Fear is an emotional blockage in the body, which leads to flawed rationalisation. By tuning into such sensations in the body, you can regain objective clarity on anxiety or discomfort and continue with the creative flow. Most things, like conflicts at work or in the home, are a lot to do with not recognising and letting go of such negative emotions.

I achieve my own clarity through a combination of disciplines. Sometimes I spend 10-20 minutes in sitting meditation, intense breathe work, or I’ll go inside a little and do a mental body scan. This can lead to significant emotional release and subsequent creative clarity and insight, I always feel much better, clearer and energised after this kind of letting go.

It’s also important to take time and space to sit and reflect on each stage of your creative process. Often sleep is the break required for the sub-conscious to do its work and it will tell you what to do when you wake up.

What spurred you on to write this book?

When I’d made space, after leaving my business, I started writing. I didn’t know really what it would become, so I just let it flow. I gave it, and myself, space and time for it to emerge and unfold as it wanted, rather than let it be filtered by what I thought everyone might think about it. Through my books I want to reach out to people struggling with time, stress and overwhelming issues, and introduce them to my ideas and concepts. The key message of my fist book ‘Breaking Your Busy’ is not to do more work, or more of the same, but to become more engaged with your work, and nurture creativity.

The-Seven-Works-richard conner

My aim is to help people ‘Change now’ and ‘Unlock time and creativity’

And now that you’ve reconnected to your creative core what’s next in your journey?

Well, I’m in the middle of launching book #2 called ‘The Seven Works’.  It digs deeper into the High Definition Life and the Idyllic Illusion and sets its sights squarely on the outdated post-industrial age concept of work-life-balance. After the launch, I have over 1000 pages of manuscript to continue editing. The next three books in the series are itching to see the light of day!

At last, I feel like I have a theme for my work and can finally start to put the pieces together into a more coherent whole that can offer some lasting value to those that come in contact with it. My aim is to help people ‘Change now’ and ‘Unlock time and creativity’. These first two books are my initial steps towards realising that vision.

 

Thank you Richard for inspiring others to craft their own career story x

 


 

 

As well as a life coach and author, Richard now works as a re-birthing breathworker, Master Practitioner of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), a hypnosis and creative business marketing consultant and coach.

Richard’s first book ‘Break Your Busy’ is a self help book about how to unlock your time and creativity and is available on Amazon. Richard’s latest book, The Seven Works launches on Saturday 29th April. Buy it at the special launch price of £0.99 until Saturday 6th May. Or get it for free when you join Richard’s Creative Core Readers List. To find out more, visit richardjamesconner.com/free-books

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