Remote Year Ohana Week 5: Transition to Marrakech

Week 1 in Marrakech and I'm already in love with the city. It is a busy city yet the peacefulness and tranquility in the morning and evening is so beautiful. It also feels quite big, but inside the narrow alleyways of the old town, Medina as it's called here, it feels like a small town and brings you back to centuries ago. The city is colorful, vibrant, and has so much character and so much to offer. For some reason I feel a strong connection to the city and the culture, and on day 3 as I was walking home from the Medina I thought I could even see myself living here. My favorite moments this week were:


  • The whole Wednesday starting from the cultural breakfast in Atay Cafe Food in the Medina, to walking to and around the Medina, stopping by different cafes, to walking home and sitting on a bench in a park and snacking on the delicious Medina treats and feeling that life is just perfect in that moment.

  • Hiking the foothills of Ourika Valley in the Atlas Mountains, enjoying lots of special moments with the group, and having the most amazing homemade Chicken Tagine at the guide's home.


  • A great session with my coach and working through my feelings of rejection from a potential client and how I can truly embrace the phrase "I am enough".

  • Leading the Ohana "connect" event and creating the opportunity to further connect the group as a whole.


Monday, 2nd April: The first full day in Marrakech I already had one of the highlights from this week, which is a coaching session with my coach. It was so good to talk to him after a long break as he was on vacation. I originally wanted to discuss my coaching business, and he asked what is important about talking about it now? It's amazing how apparently simple questions like this can trigger so much, and this is what I have learned in my supervisions, to shorten my questions, resist the need the embellish the questions because that would be going against the most important cornerstone in Co-Active coaching which is "people are naturally creative resource and whole". My initial reaction in my head to my coach's question was, "I'm trying to build up my coaching practice so of course it's important to discuss it now." But my responses and his further questions led me to discuss my feelings around a potential client not going for my coaching saying that the fees are higher than what he can get in his country.

I reflected on why this simple rejection stirred up so much emotions in me, and it is probably because it makes me wonder: am I not good enough for him to see that I am worth the higher fees? But through further coaching we dug deeper and I realized I still have this deep seeded fear of not being good enough. Tony Robbins said in Unleash the Power Within there are two primary fears that people have:

  1. Fear of not being enough

  2. Fear of not being loved

These hold so true for me. Until I believe deep down that I am good enough, no matter how much anyone tells me or assures me that I am good enough it will never suffice. I will always crave more. There will always be people who don't like me, my services, or don't see the value I provide, but how I feel about it is completely up to me. I can either get down about it and think I am no good or I can be compassionate to myself and believe that I am good enough to me and many people and be accepting of others to have a different view. I know I am a good coach to the clients I do have and I know I provide them value. I don't need to be that to every person, just to those who see the value I bring. There are many of them out there, I just need to reach out to them.

My coach mentioned three sentences and asked me what I thought of them:

  • Nobody needs coaching

  • Everyone could benefit from coaching

  • Not everyone is ready for coaching

I think these are so true. Coaching is a luxury. It is not a basic human need, as in it doesn't fall on the bottom two levels of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs (it is one my favorite theories and I also discussed it in last week's blog). The bottom levels are essential human needs, which are physiological and safety needs. Coaching can be used to address the level 3 and 4 needs, social belonging and esteem, but coaching mostly addresses the level 5, top level need of self actualization. This refers to the person realizing what his/her full potential could be and the need to achieve that potential. That is exactly my goal in coaching my clients - to guide them to realize their full potential. But not everyone has this need or they meet this need through other means such as reading, studying, working, talking to others, traveling, attending training and seminars, meditating, or a combination of all of these and many more. My personal experience is that I was doing all these things but I was hitting a plateau and getting coaching training which in turn allowed me to get coached myself was the way that helped me break through that plateau. But everyone's need is different and they vary at different times of one's life. I'm really thankful for my coach for making me realize this, reflect on it, and be at peace with it.

Tuesday, 3rd April: Today I went to the co-working space, the Spot. It's much smaller than the one we had in Cape Town, but it's very cozy and nice, and I like it.

It has a lovely rooftop where we had the Morocco culture and language session, out weekly meditation, and a meeting to plan the "connect" event next week.

After all the meetings I took a walk to the Medina with Danche and Mary. This was the first time I went to the Medina on this trip. Last time I was here was ten years ago on a group trip during INSEAD. I loved it then and still love it now. So much sensory overload of all kinds and from all directions.

Beautiful Islam architecture filled with details, and cats everywhere!

After coming back from the Medina, Jill and I went to dinner near the co-working space. Many others recommended a place that served healthy salads but we stumbled upon a local hut-on-the-side-of-the-road type of place that Jill went to the previous day. It didn't have an English menu and we hardly knew what we were getting except that it's called Mkila, but it turned out to be one of the most delicious things I've ever had. We could choose the meat, I chose liver since I hadn't had it for a while and thought I'd have it for the iron (so glad I'm eating meat again especially in Morocco), and it's mixed with tomato and egg, all stirred up in a hot skillet. OMG, deliciousness!

For one plate of Mkila each and a soup shared between us it was 25 MAD each, or less than 3 USD! Delicious food and value for money, I felt like I was in heaven.

Wednesday, 4th April: 72 hours in Marrakech, I have officially fallen in love with the city. I had the most perfect day. It started with a morning run in the cold and crisp air where I got a chance to discover the surroundings of the apartment by myself. I felt so uplifted and alive from the experience. (Later I found out the building I got to is Koutoubia Mosque.)

Coming back I did some stretching and push-ups by the pool, then got ready to go a "plus" event organized my Remote Year - Cultural breakfast in the Medina. Being in the old Medina early in the morning was so magical. On my last trip to Morocco we drove around so much throughout the country but I remember loving Marrakech and wishing I had more time here. Now my wish came true!

The traditional local cafe in the old town is exactly how I remembered it. The breakfast was so lovely and the cold crisp air added even more charm to it. It was a breakfast of traditional Morrocan tea, coffee (it was so strong! I got wired up for the entire day!), and orange juice, traditional bread served with butter, olive oil, and honey, and omelette. Our city manager Maha also bought us a roti type of pastry that we ate with cheese.

Everything was delicious and the best part was being in that magical setting with this group of lovely people.

After breakfast we went back to the apartment and I met with the growth tribe to update them on what Danche and I discussed the day before regarding the "connect" and "grow" event. I then had my certification call with two of my group members where we practiced one of the principles in Co-Active coaching called Balance. It is used when the client is stuck or when they can't see beyond their current perspective on something. We took turns being the coach. I felt quite good about how I did and it gave me the assurance that I am improving as a coach. I felt more at ease, asking shorter and more concise questions, taking more charge in service of the client, and able to better use my intuition at the same time drop it quickly when the client doesn't resonate.

After the call I walked to the Medina again to meet Susan and Susanna. I took the long way and took a while, but I enjoyed the walk so much. I couldn't stop smiling the whole way through as I felt an immense sense of happiness and fulfillment. Maybe it was the run in the morning, or the strong coffee I had at breakfast, or the good practice coaching session, or it's magic in the air of Marrakech, but I felt absolutely amazing. I had felt this way before, usually when I'm on a good trip, when I'm totally in love with a city and the people. This is why I love traveling - this sense of aliveness is unlike anything else.

When I got to the cafe that Susan and Susanna were at they had already left. So I walked around the old town a bit more, sat in one cafe, then went back to the Cafe des Epices.

I started leaving just when it was getting dark. Getting out of the Medina it was still another 2km walk and I recognized the park that I ran to this morning. There was a public bathroom and I decided to use it since it was going to be long walk back. Even though it wasn't even clean I was still so happy. The old man who was at the entrance signaled to give as much as I would like - so much kindness everywhere around the city.

Coming out of the bathroom my heart was filled with love, gratitude and joy. It's so weird to say that but that's how I felt. I was amazed at how much happiness I could have from such seemingly unexciting events, which made me realize again that happiness is truly a choice. I needed to use the hand sanitizer so I sat down on a bench in the park. A little boy approached me asking for food and money. I can't tell if he is homeless. At first I said no but he pointed to the box in my hand and I thought why not? So I opened the box of sweets, he got so excited, I signaled you can take two, he signaled four and we agreed on three. He so happily took three pieces and said thank you. That made me so happy. Sitting there in the middle of this park right next to a busy street just outside the Medina, having just given food to a boy, with a man sleeping on the next bench over, another one sitting under a tree not sure doing what, other people walking around, I felt this overwhelming sense of happiness, love, and gratitude that I can't even describe. I was amazed at how safe I felt in the middle of all of this seeming chaos and how I absolutely loved it. It was such a perfect moment where I felt exactly where I was meant to be. I had this overwhelming sense of gratitude for where life has taken me, for coming on this trip, for feeling safe, for the nice weather and this beautiful city. It's moments like these - simple yet perfect - that makes life what it's all about.

Walking back home I started thinking about the podcast or webinar that I want to do with Richard. I also continued to admire the beauty of this city and started thinking, I don't know which city I will live in after Remote Year. I didn't feel like I could live in Cape Town - it was beautiful but I didn't quite feel a connection to it - but now three days in, I feel that maybe I could live in Marrakech. This is surprising me as I don't speak the language, I don't fully understand the culture, but there is something about the city that makes me feel so at ease, happy, and alive.

Thursday, 5th April: Today I started a new workout routine that Brittany suggested, 30-day Killer Workout. Last month I did the Kravis Ting push-up and pull-up workout and it was great, since I've been in Marrakech I haven't been able to find pull-up bars, so thought another workout to keep fit would be good. It's basically squats, push-ups, abs, burpees, jumping jacks, and mountain climbers. After the workout I bumped into Danche and had an impromptu coffee at Victor. I love one-on-one catch-ups, even more so when they are spontaneous. I also love the mint tea in Morocco and they always serve it in such beautiful teapots.

In the afternoon I had my weekly call with Millennium leadership and my monthly connect with the Singapore Co-Active group. It's always good to connect with the people that graduated with me in Co-Active training. We shared our experience coaching in the last month and did some practice coaching by breaking out into two groups.

Friday, 6th April: In the morning we had a couple of Ohanas in the group making traditional Jewish Passover breakfast of Matzah with scrambled eggs. It was nice morning getting together with the group.

After that I led the first Ohana "connect" event with the wonderful support from Danche and others in the growth tribe. I used a technique I had used before for group check-ins, we didn't have cards that I normally use but Danche suggested using magazine cutouts which worked amazingly. Everyone was asked to pick a picture that they resonate with, whether it's how they feel now or a story from their past, and share it with the group. Once everyone shared I asked people to tell others if they resonated with their story. I was very pleased that most people seemed to like the event and we all got to know each other a bit better.

In the evening we had the first track event which is a dinner in the home of a Moroccan family where the daughter and the mother made some amazing food including homemade bread.

It was a really interesting and authentic Moroccan experience and everything was so delicious. I'm starting to be really glad that I'm eating meat again because the chicken tagines here are just to die for! The vegetables dishes are amazing too, especially the ones with eggplant.

Saturday, 7th April: Today was another highlight of the week. We had the most magical day hiking the Atlas Mountains on the foothills of Ourika Valley. It's about an hour outside Marrakech and the natural beauty is absolutely stunning. The morning started out rainy and cold and we almost wondered whether we would be able to do the hike. Great that we did, because the day cleared up quickly and it was one of the best hikes I've ever done. It was just the right difficulty level, we were able to enjoy the beauty of the mountains, valleys, waterfall, and cherry blossoms, and also had a lot of bonding time as a group.

For lunch, the guide took us to his home in the mountains and we had the most delicious homemade chicken tagine and vegetables.

Walking down from the hike we had to capture the beauty of the mountains one last time.

This google video capture our day really well. I'm constantly amazed at the google photos' ability to make great videos from the pictures and video I take.

Sunday, 8th April: After sleeping in this morning I was going to go to Victor next door to do some work but bumped into Mario, Joanna, and Teresa who were heading to the Medina so I went with them. On the way there I had a really good conversation with Mario about the "connect" event we had on Friday and about coaching and life. When we got to the Medina we tried to find the cafe where we had the cultural breakfast but ended up in the square where Cafe des Epices is, and since they don't have any seats on the rooftop we went to Nomad across the square. Luckily we got a table and it turned out to be a really nice lunch. I had the Zucchini Fritters, and tried some of Teresa's Vegetarian Pastilla and Joanna's Calamari, all were excellent and tasted really healthy.

After lunch I went to Cafe des Epices to do a bit of work. In the evening we had a group dinner with the supperclub that Susanna organized at Cafe Clock. The restaurant had Rock the Kasbah live music, which was interesting and loud, but quite fun, especially towards the end when all of us started dancing with the performers. I went up to the rooftop while waiting for the food and caught the most beautiful sunset over the Medina. It's amazing how such a busy city during the day can turn into such peace and tranquility at night.

For as popular of a place as it is, the food was so reasonably priced. Five of us shared five dishes - Kech Platter, Falafel, Couscous with Chicken, Lamb Tagine, and Chicken Rfissa - all were delicious. This city is really getting me to start loving olives and chicken.

For dessert they ran out of the sticky date pudding which we really wanted, but the chocolate orange mouse and sorbet were also delicious. The short walk in the Medina after dinner was so peaceful and gave us a completely different view of the city compared to the day.


First week in Marrakech was amazing to say the least. I fell in love with the city on day 3 and had the most amazing time walking around the Medina and a moment of pure bliss sitting on a park bench in the evening snacking on Moroccan sweets and taking in and appreciating everything about that moment. I also had some delicious Moroccan food, a beautiful day hiking in the Ourika Valley, and a lot of personal and professional growth from coaching and leading a connect event within the group.

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