Tuesday, 16 October 2012

The Colour of Birds

Well I tend to be an early riser, up about you know, six usually, and this time of year, summer time, in Connecticut especially very good reason for being up early.  Because I remember when looking for a home here coming across the description in the realtors catalogue of this property that we finally bought, it said two thousand three hundred feet of waterfront property.  And by golly it is amazing!  Because although most of it is absolutely unusable, in that you know, it’s steep wooded forest going down to the lake, it nevertheless provides a fabulous habitat for all sorts of animals.  And when you’re out early in the morning, we can go down to the lake, down to the dock, sit on the dock and actually if we’re very quiet and stay there for a while, sometimes you’ll see deer come down to drink form the lake, and it’s really quite magical.  And sometimes the ducks come by as well and I actually came across a book recently on bird watching.  Now I’ve never really had much interest in bird watching, I’m happy birds exist, I like to see them around, but that’s about it.  But I happened to open this and I was flicking through it and there was something that was really striking to me, it started to tell me about why birds are different colours, in terms of how colouration is so important for their protection.  Well obviously you know, you figure that birds have to use camouflage as most animals do and indeed a bird’s survival often depends on its ability to conceal itself, and especially of course females sitting on their nests.  So there’s this thing called cryptic colouration or protective colouring, which means the birds, if still, virtually disappear.  So here’s something that I think is kind of fascinating, when you see birds with streaked or striped feathers, you can be pretty sure that they live in grassy areas and that’s because the appearance is concealed, because the field grasses blend in with the colouration.  On the other hand, birds that have green feathers are likely to be up there in the tree tops and if they didn’t move around so much, you’d never see them- the green matches the leaves.  And then there are the birds with dark backs and light bellies, like sparrows for instance.  And you can be pretty sure any birds like that spend a lot of time on the ground, because the light underside breaks up the overall shape of the bird, so it’s less noticeable, whereas an all dark bird would be far more easily visible.  And of course you know the mottled grey or brown feathers of say an owl that mean that birds just blend into the bark as long as they don’t move.

So, suddenly I had this set of distinctions about ahh we can really understand different kinds of bird colouration here and what kind of habitat they probably inhabit.  And for me anyway, this was like making sense of something which previously had been you know, pretty random.  And I often think that when we can do that, when we can understand some working principles, things become both easier to understand, but I think often more fascinating as well, because it’s not just I don’t know, there you go, it just happens to be pure chance- nothing very chancy about evolution in one sense, because it really is about how you ensure your survival.

So I don’t know whether I’ll be going in for any cryptic colouration myself, I don’t think that’s necessary.  But just looking around the world and understanding it differently, has enriched my morning experience as I sit  on the dock and enjoy a cup of tea and look up in the trees and see the birds. 

So ‘til the next time.
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Monday, 10 September 2012

You, Your World and Your Brain

One of the things I’ve been doing a lot of in the past couple of months is talking with my colleague, Professor Patricia Riddell about the interrelation between neuroscience and change and indeed neuroscience and coaching and neuroscience and NLP and a whole bunch of other things too.  And the net result of this has been that we have both found this very stimulating and so this is the beginning of something which you will be seeing the fruits of certainly in the new year in the form of a major programme that is gonna be neuroscience the real deal. 

But right now one of the things that has really struck us is how there are these simple things that have come out of the neuroscience research that make an enormous difference on how people function and we just wanted to get some of those out.  So this coming week for instance, on Thursday, we are going to be talking for an hour and a half on some of these themes and we’ve been thinking about what would be an interesting sort of area to explore, well we started very detailed and then it became broader and then we ended up with You, Your World and Your Brain.  That’s our working title so we seem to be encompassing pretty much everything, not bad for 90 minutes. 

But there is a lot of correlation here between the way you use your brain, your sense of yourself and the world you create and it shows up in some interesting ways, for instance, one of the things we wanna touch on is how people are frequently much better at empathising with other people than with themselves.  Now you might think that that’s kinda odd, you know, surely you can understand how it is for you, well yes and no, actually the data is in, this is something which is very clear from the neuroscience research, people empathise with others much more effectively that they do with themselves.  Now that’s got a lot of implications if you wanna be effective for instance, because you would need to learn how to empathise with yourself.  And there are ways of doing that that have been tried and tested and surprise, surprise we find that there is a large overlap here with what we found works in NLP.  So there’s an example, that a very simple one but actually a rather profound one of how the way you engage with yourself effects the world you live in and understanding that your brain is not really wired for self-empathy means you can do something about that and your life will be, not only will you feel better, your life will be, I think, much better generally because you’ll be more capable of understanding what’s going on in yourself. 

So there’s a simple example and we are gonna actually explore that practicalities what do you do in order to be able to have that kind of empathy, how would you be able to best advise another how can you best advise yourself.  In the same way a lot of people have very uneasy relationships with their own internal dialog, you know I can think of many people I’ve worked with that have positively felt persecuted by their internal dialog, but another way of understanding those from a neuroscience point of view is that your inner voice is actually part of how you are enabled to ensure effective communication between one part of your brain and another.  You know there’s gotta be somebody who is introducing parties so to say and getting ideas across.  Now that is a completely different function for internal dialog and again that’s a learnable skill, but understanding why internal dialog would be really valuable again that’s kind of useful and knowing how to do it even more so, the research is there we already know this, so as Patricia and I talk about these things, it becomes very clear that there are a lot of practical pay offs.  And then there are others, we will get to these in the evening, but for instance have you ever had that experience where you recall something that happened that wasn’t so great and you feel excruciating embarrassment when you think about it and then you talk to someone else about it and they can barely remember it even happening?  Well there’s something going on there, that’s how your brain works and there’s particular attention to detail and we want to be able to show people how we can change this and get a radically different understanding of what’s going on.  

Anyway, all sorts of interesting things, I find it very stimulating and hopefully you will to.

So till the next time.

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Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Never Give Up

Well I’ve just spent an interesting hour casting my eye over the new edition of John Lofty Wiseman’s book, the SAS Survival Handbook, which is subtitled: How to Survive in the Wild in Any Climate.  On Land or at Sea. And it’s full of the most amazing information, that has actually saved lives, and is based on his own SAS experience.  So you know, if you’re ever in the Polar regions for instance, it will be kind of important to remember that if you’re travelling by sea, you do not use ice burgs or distant landmarks to fix direction, because guess what, flows are constantly moving, so they’re highly unreliable.  And so you know, desert, terrain, doesn’t matter, you name it- it’s in here, the way to survive.

But, what I found most interesting of all was the introduction, in which he has a pyramid divided into three layers, showing you what is most important.  And at the top of the pyramid, at the apex, there’s a little triangle and inside is written the word ‘kit.’  Referring to having the right clothing, the right tools ideally.  ‘Kit.’  Underneath that a big chunk, right across the pyramid ‘Knowledge.’  Meaning your skills, your know how, knowledge of the terrain, the lie of the land, anything at all that would be helpful. How do they do things round here?  What is edible?  Etc, etc.  But you know, at the base, is the third and most important area, it’s the one that he says is critical, and he calls it ‘The Will To Live.’ 

It’s the difference that makes the difference, as far as he’s concerned, in everything he’s seen.  Indeed he actually says that you know, if you’ve got the will to live, you can make all sorts of mistakes and still come through because you’ve got what it takes to keep going.   And I think yes, of course this is true in extreme conditions, when it is a matter of life and death, but it’s equally true in somewhat less extreme conditions, when in our ordinary lives, things seem to be tough, or on a knife edge.  And very often the question is do we have the will to live, to go through it and make it to the other side, to keep going?  And it’s why for instance, Churchill said famously at one point, ‘never, never, never, never give up.’  And why is that so important?  Because that kind of perseverance produces endurance and with endurance comes staying power to see it through, even if you don’t know quite how you’re going to see it through.  And so this can take a lot of different forms in everyday life.  And for instance, if you’re running a business, it may take you time to find a way through a particular situation, it may also take time to find the right people to help guide you through a transition or a change.  But if you don’t have the will to live, you probably will give up prematurely, and just in a sense, probably metaphorically, you’ll just lie down and you know, pass out, you’d go to sleep. You die.  But that doesn’t have to be the way it is, and it doesn’t have to be the way it is in pretty much any area of life.  So the question I guess, becomes can you cultivate that will to live?  Is that will a skill?  Is it a learnable skill?  And I think it probably is, because you can learn to become more resilient, you can learn to endure, you can learn to persevere and if you can do that, you guess right, yes, you get to stay alive and you then have the opportunity to come through.

So if times are tough, I think it’s worth remembering this, and that’s true  not just in extreme weather conditions,  but it’s also true in life as a whole.  It might be true in a relationship, it might be true in a personal challenge you’re facing, it might be true in a health crisis, it might be true in a business.  So whether or not you ever get round to reading the new edition of the SAS Survival Handbook, the will to live, which is at the heart of all successful survival, is something I think that pretty much all of us might want to remember and even take the trouble to cultivate. 

‘Til the next time.
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Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Wired and Tired

So the other day I’m standing in the supermarket line waiting to get some stuff with Paulette at the checkout. And there’s this guy in front of us loading on case after case of high energy drinks, and it struck me that there’s a lot of caffeine in there and of course these are whatever, however it’s tarted up basically high energy drinks are about getting a buzz, getting yourself on a dream surge, and all of that usually done through some form or another of caffeine, whatever the flavour may be. Anyway, we finish there, we go to the pharmacy, and there I see this person who’s getting their prescription filled for their sleeping tablets. And it just struck me, both of these products are in ever growing demand, certainly in the US. And so you’ve got these two kind of extremes, where people are getting ever more wired and on the other hand you’ve got people who can’t sleep and needing sleeping tablets. And I wonder if they’re all being consumed by the same people. We don’t know. Not necessarily.
Either way, it just set me off on a train of thought about sleep generally, and how it’s changed so dramatically since the invention of the electric light bulb. So much so that most people have no conception of how the human race has, for most of their existence, had a completely different sleep pattern to what we now take as normal. And you don’t have to go that far back to find out, to see examples of it. In fact, if you go back pre Industrial Revolution, it’s a very different world, specifically about how people would sleep. And the way it would work, there are lots of examples of this that make it very clear, how the pattern was once upon a time. And then, actually there’s one really good example of this, in the Canterbury Tales, in the Squire’s Tale, if I remember correctly, where there’s a reference to the woman having her first sleep. And then, what is her first sleep? Well that’s what used to be the norm, that the sun would go down and then a little while after the sun went down, you’d go to sleep. But you didn’t go to sleep and stay asleep right the way through the night, no that was your first sleep. You’d wake up quite naturally, spontaneously, somewhere about midnight or a little thereafter, then very common to get up do something for an hour or so, and then you’d go back to bed and have what was called your second sleep.

And that was the way it was, every day of your life. Your first sleep and your second sleep. And there are, there’s oh gosh, all sorts of interesting examples of what was associated with the space in between the first sleep and the second sleep. There’s there’s a medical book that was written about how it was a very good thing that you should sleep on one side for the first sleep and on the other side for the second sleep, and that the space in between the two sleeps were supposed to be particularly beneficial and indeed lots of people of course, would wake up, have sex, go back to sleep. And you’d be more refreshed after you’d had that first sleep.

Well that’s not the way it is any longer of course. But the interesting thing is, if you put people in environments where there’s no electric light, this is the pattern that will gradually appear again. And it’s also often found in tribal cultures that haven’t been influenced much by the West. So you get this completely different way of thinking about sleep, and quite, where does the siesta fit into all that? Well I don’t know, but again what’s the rhythm that would make it even easier for anybody to feel more relaxed, more energised, not just wired and tired?

And I think it may be useful for people to know that it’s absolutely okay to go to bed early, wake up, potter about, go back to bed, go back to sleep. If that suits you, feel free, go ahead. And the electric light bulb is what changed it all of course, because we just kept going until we passed out basically. But how odd it is as a way of functioning, for me was brought home when there was a power cut in LA, in I think it was 1994, and all the lights went out and people suddenly had a new experience of their world. And there were lots of reports to the police to report a giant silver cloud that appeared in the sky. And people were very concerned about what it was . And guess what it was. It was the Milky Way. No one had seen it before, because all the lights and suddenly the world opened up in a new way. Welcome to the Cosmos. Food for thought.

‘Till the next time.

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Friday, 17 August 2012

Olympic Life Lesson

So, the Olympics is over and a country that is roughly the size of Michigan seem to have come in third in the medal table.  Population of, what is it, sixty two million in the UK versus the largest nation in the world by population, China, second, and the US.  Not bad at all, to put it mildly. 

And is there anything we can learn from this?  Well, yes I think there is.  And it’s a kind of important lesson.  There may be many, but one in particular that I’m very struck by, because if we look at what happened four years ago in Beijing, British cyclists produced a pretty impressive performance then.  And it was said at the time there were reasons why, and Dave Brailsford actually talked about what he did that was different.  Nobody paid the slightest attention as far as I could see.  And lo and behold, when you get down to what made the difference, what he was doing was recognising that everything that addressed performance, even if it didn’t have a dramatic input, could have a cumulatively powerful impact.  What we’re talking about here is the power of incremental change.  So that could take many forms, you do a slightly different thing and you get a fraction of a hundredth of a second off total time.  Build those up over time, enough fractions of a hundredths of a second, you get improved performance. 

So does that mean it’s all about what happens on the track?  No it doesn’t.  Does that mean that it’s all about what you do in the moment when you’re confronting any kind of challenge in your life?  No it doesn’t. 

Here are a couple of the things that go with that kind of incremental mind set.  You pay attention to detail, you make very slight changes.  For instance all of the British cyclists have had hand washing lessons.  Why?  Because knowing how to wash your hands properly, is one of the best forms of preventative medicine that any human being can employ.  And that means that you get sick less often, which means you’re going to lose fewer days in terms of being ill.  And thus training can continue and you’ll be at a higher peak of performance.  Well how about this, whenever they travel, they take their own pillows.  Why?  Maybe it’s a comfort thing, no, well maybe it is.  But what else does it do?  It ensures that they have a comfortable pillow to rest their head on at night, so that they sleep better.  Little things. 

For years I’ve been saying to people never, never underestimate the power of incremental change.  And this is exactly the kind of thing that incremental change is about.  It’s not very dramatic, it’s not very impressive, no particular incremental change in itself is.  But the overall result for an individual and even more the overall result for a team is absolutely phenomenal, because it is cumulative it compounds over time.  

So I guess one of the things we could say is if we were looking for life lessons from the Olympics, well where might incremental change play a part in each of our lives?  Where might we be able to move in the direction we seek even if we can’t get there tomorrow?  Every slight change that takes us in that direction is moving us and creating momentum.  That’s the power of incremental change.  It’s also frequently part of what is true innovation.  Because innovation doesn’t just involve a brainstorming moment where there’s the eureka understanding of what is needed.  A lot of innovation comes about just by people making very slight changes which cumulatively result in something remarkably different. 

So what a great couple of weeks for people who have no interest in sport, because to me, whether you have an interest in sport or not, the Olympics are about, they’re a celebration of excellence.  Excellence in many different themes, with remarkable stories of people who demonstrate that if you really continue to persevere, if you really are willing to do what it takes, remarkable results can be achieved. 

That has to be a life lesson.  And a joyous one even.  For everybody.

‘Till the next time.  
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Friday, 10 August 2012

3 Labours of Love 12/03/2012

This past weekend, we were staying at a hotel, which is clearly a labour of love for the people who own it.  It is an Italian family, and they started with a run-down building, and have turned it into a beautiful hotel.  And they’re clearly proud of it, and it shows when you arrive, there’s a letter waiting for you in every room and personally addressed.  And in the letter it says ‘These bedrooms and facilities have emerged from what at times has been long and wishful thinking.  It has taken over fourteen years to transform what was once decrepit building into the lavish surroundings that you can see here today.  It was often difficult to see the floor for the number of carpenters, cabinet makers, electricians and decorators.  We have had many obstacles, and it has been an education beyond comprehension.’  And I just thought this was wonderful, truly a labour of love. 
And I come back and there’s an email from Jan Elfline, my colleague with whom I created the coaching programme, those many years ago.  And Jan is going to be doing a four day Master Class, and she has spent days and days, if not weeks creating a brand new kind of manual for it.  Which is a very visual manual, because the Master Class is on Visual Coaching, so you know, she was sending me the proofs and is just totally delighted with it.  And it struck me again, here is a labour of love and somebody just investing their time because they care. 

And then, yesterday, I was having a conversation with Robert Dilts, because he and I are very close now to being ready to launch our programme that will be on the internet, which is the Fellowship Programme.  And it struck me again, talking about a labour of love, we’ve been doing this for, I think it is just about three years, a mindboggling amount of time, and we’ve had a great time doing it,  but again we’ve really invested a disproportionate amount of time and energy into something that, well it matters to us, so therefore we do it.
And all three of these instances, seem to me to be examples of how if you do what you really love, if you do what you really care about, if you put the time and effort in, it may seem initially quite mad, and certainly to other people it can seem like, well ‘just what is going to be the return on this?’ But frankly the return is the satisfaction of the moment, the satisfaction of seeing what you wanted to come into being.  And that then, very frequently, engages others because somehow or another, what matters to you is conveyed, and it begins to matter to others. 
So I think it is a big mistake to question whether or not to follow your dreams, it’s actually more to the point to be able to realise them.  That may be in the form of a building, such as this beautiful hotel rescued from a pile of rubble.  Or it may be in creating something new which really interests you.  And that’s absolutely been the case with Jan.  She has been so taken with the notion of the visual being a component which really hasn’t had that much of a look in, in coaching, and yet, of course she comes from a visual background, having lectured in the visual arts, but it’s also that if you look at the tools that are most wide spread, and have come out of coaching, the Balance Wheel has to be one of them, and again, what is that?  That’s a visual tool.  And then with Robert and myself, what we’re really focusing on is, well, how can that fuller life, which is one that drives what we do anyway, namely a sense of being in service to something bigger than oneself, and honouring that, by delivering practical ‘how tos’ so that first ourselves can learn and then those who choose to engage with us, can learn the tools and techniques for bring a more, I think, spiritual dimension to life lived with purpose.  You know, that matters a lot.  Well, it matters a lot to us anyway.  And so, I’m left with the question, you know, what would it be like if everybody was engaging with their own dreams, and grounding them so that something tangible issued forth, which then everybody can benefit from and engage with.  So, that’s the question that I’m left with, and I’ll leave it with you. 

‘Till the next time.

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Ian McDermotts Understanding of Legacy

You know, it’s very striking to me how ideas have their time.  And it would seem that what I was talking about when I referred to your daily legacy and influence you have being your primary legacy, it would seem that that resonated with a lot of people.  It’s funny, because I can remember, ooh it must have been nearly fifteen years ago now, talking to a group of businessmen about the whole notion of legacy.  And I remember there being a kind of stupefied silence - they had not really the faintest idea what I was talking about.  Now, it may be because I just wasn’t able to speak in an intelligible fashion about it, but you know, I don’t really think it was that.  I think it was more that it, it was just outside their comprehension.  And so times have moved on and people, I think, have a different sense of possibilities of what matters, in a way that, for me, is enormously encouraging, because it makes new things possible.

So, to pick up some thread as it were by popular request, let me say a few more things about my understanding of legacy and what that can mean for each of us.  And so, the first thing of course is, as I was saying, you know, it’s not about after you’re dead.  You have an impact now, you have a daily influence and it’ll be for good or ill one way or the other, but it would be impossible for you to not to have an influence, because you’re encountering other people.  Even if you were to go through the world saying absolutely nothing, you’d still be someone in their awareness and possibly that would be a contribution or actually not - who can say?  But the thing about thinking of what you do as rippling out, as being you’re impact on the world, is that you begin to realise that there’s more to you than you may have thought. 

I’ve often had the experience of  clients I’ve worked with making reference back to something I’ve said many moons ago, and telling me that that’s a remark that really stayed with them.  Now there’s an example of influence and of legacy, because potentially, some of those things have enormous impact on the way people decide to go forward in their lives.  So it matters a lot, and it can be a simple thing.

I mean I remember one time, working with somebody and saying to them, because they told me that they really couldn’t make any changes, because they just wouldn’t feel like they were being themselves.  And I said to them, you know, ‘How you are used to being, is not necessarily who you are.’  And that was something that just caused a pause.  And you could see that it was just settling, and they thought about it for some while after.  So there are some words that actually gave them new options, and that was me creating a legacy, in them.  And here’s another aspect, we don’t just create a legacy on a daily basis with others, we do it with ourselves.  If you spend your time, on a daily basis, bitching about other people, trying to deceive them, undermine them, get one up on them, whatever, you know, over time that becomes a habit.  Then that’s how you get to be you.  That’s creating a legacy for yourself.  Well I’d rather not.  But on the other hand, if you do things that consistently take you in a particular direction, over time there’s a different kind of legacy.  And that’s a gift you make to yourself.  So, there are many kinds, it’s not just with other people, it’s also with yourself. 

Let me give you a really simple, mundane thing.  Suppose you were to floss on a daily basis, that is one of the things you can do that will have a measurable impact on your health, over time.  It’s just a really good thing to do.  It for instance, influences your heart health in ways that are in ways quite profound.  So what you’re doing is engaging in an activity, a practice which then has an impact on you, and you reap the benefits of it.  You’re literally creating your own legacy by what you do and the way you do it.  So you might want to choose some good habits, and then reap the benefits down the road. 

‘Till the next time.
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Wednesday, 8 August 2012

'What NLP means to me' - Ian McDermott

From time to time Ian McDermott is asked to provide a preface to the books of colleagues. Ian comments: "Often I find that doing this gives me an opportunity to reflect and speak quite personally and in a different way. This is particularly true in this case."

This is Ian's preface to The Sourcebook of Magic (2nd edition) by Michael Hall published 2004 by Anglo-American Books.

I can still remember how the change I wanted in my love life came about… While I was enjoying considerable professional success I didn’t feel particularly happy or fulfilled in my relationship. I was on an NLP training and reached a threshold: I became aware that I really needed to change some of my own personal history – or at any rate the meaning I had made of it. I needed to do this if I was going to be able to allow myself to have the loving kind of relationship I wanted.

Synthesising a number of NLP techniques I spent several hours with myself. I was ready and primed and that was the perfect time. Did it work? Perhaps the best way I can answer that is that within 24 hours a new woman whom I had never met before came into my life. And not just a new woman but a different kind of woman. She was entirely different to those I had known before. Generous in spirit, not so self-preoccupied and much more available. In fact it seemed quite magical.

So did we marry and live happily ever after? Actually no. For while what happened inside of me to make this possible was an extraordinary experience, it was not the end of the story. I had more to do. And that took time. Even with NLP, it took time. But this was the turning point and that relationship represented the next stage in my personal journey. From then on things only got better until eventually I did meet the woman I married - and am still married to.

Right now you are holding in your hands the tools that can help make such change possible. In this masterly and comprehensive survey of what NLP has to offer Michael Hall has made it easy to understand when to use what. Even so learning how to use these processes is best accomplished experientially. Because the learning is in the doing, if you want to get good at NLP I would strongly suggest you take an NLP training. (Choose an organisation that has a proven track record and trainers you can trust).
NLP is frequently referred to as a technology and – in part – it is. Those science fiction dystopias that depict a world where technology has got out of control remind us that while technology can make a very good servant, it makes a very bad master. The same could be said of any advanced technology – including NLP. You get to be in charge of this particular technology by being clear about what you want to achieve with it and then engaging with your experience. With its many examples this book will show what is possible.
The technology itself is rigorous, evidence-based and can be calibrated to each individual. However, if you were to ask me what is the most advanced and important application of this advanced technology I would have no hesitation in my answer. I would say that it offers the means to enhance and nourish that least attended to and most important relationship in anyone’s life – your relationship with yourself.

So often NLP is presented as offering invaluable interpersonal communication tools. And it’s true. In addition NLP practitioners have modelled human excellence in a wide variety of fields. In fact NLP can be useful to anyone who is interested in answering the question ‘just how do you do that?’ of any human activity. However, in the final analysis I believe the power of NLP derives not from how it can help us become more influential with others or even model excellence. The real power of NLP is that it can enable us to become more influential with ourselves. Over time, if we choose to cultivate this relationship with ourselves, and consistently use the many NLP tools described in this book we may even move beyond excellence to some smidgen of wisdom.

And then there’s the world of work. As a consultant I frequently find the methodologies, the techniques, but also just the way of thinking that characterises NLP, to be liberating and productive in organisations - and not just for managers. My strategic and systemic work with leaders is made much easier by being able to call on a variety of NLP models and interventions. Every business I work with wants to know how better to manage crucial relationships and maximise client satisfaction. NLP has specific tools to help achieve these goals. What organisation wouldn’t benefit from those within it knowing how to put themselves in others’ shoes, be they colleagues or clients? What employee wouldn’t want to know how to better manage upwards? Again, NLP has specific techniques that make these learnable skills.

Recently I have become aware that I am now seeing an increasing number of coaches coming to take our NLP Practitioner and Master Practitioner trainings. When I’ve asked them why their answers are remarkably consistent; because of its precision and techniques NLP means they can be more effective in the limited time frame of the typical 30 minute coaching call. Their other reason is very market driven. With so many people now calling themselves coaches, NLP enables them to deliver more effective results more consistently and so improve word of mouth referral rates.

This makes a lot of sense to me because NLP offers us the tools for understanding how we do what we do and what works - and also what is not working. Its range of applications will be limited only by the variety of people who get involved. In my office at home I have a special bookshelf reserved for the complimentary copies my students send me of the books they have written applying NLP to their own fields of expertise. These range from business, to athletics, to medicine, to headship, to equestrian excellence.

However, at its best it does so much more: it makes possible a practical compassion that enables us to effect profound structural change. At its best it is inclusive recognising that there may well be many ways of achieving a successful outcome. But it is also rigorous in delineating how some ways are much, much easier than others. Again at its best it is respectful and realistic because it acknowledges that we each have our own map of the world. It stresses we need to have that map honoured if we are to be available to new opportunities that take us beyond the boundaries of our previous thinking. I also value NLP because, at it’s best, it is demystificatory and democratic – using NLP you will find your experience has a structure. This means you can make sense of what you’ve been doing and change it if you wish.

For myself I work in the field because I have a vision of what is possible using these tools, this way of thinking - and what they ultimately can give rise to, which is a way of being. Potentially NLP is not just life changing but world changing. Sometimes it can even be the difference between life and death.

I have been inspired by my work with doctors and seeing just what is possible with the many NLP health applications that have been developed. I have felt humbled when one of my students, a barrister, tells me that he found his NLP skills meant he was able to counsel a senior Caribbean political figure who then commuted death sentences on a number of political insurrectionists. I feel new hope when another of my students starts using NLP in the restorative justice programmes he has pioneered with the police in the UK. Here crime victims and perpetrators come face to face and achieve resolution. The success of his work – as measured by a staggering drop in recidivism - sets me thinking, what if NLP was to be used in international mediation work? So I feel called to contribute when my Islamic students ask me to help them make NLP available in the Middle East. For me these and many other similar examples make the magic of NLP pale into insignificance when compared to the magic that people can do with it.

However, the best way to start changing the world is by putting your own house in order. Starting with oneself is a very good place to begin applying NLP if you want to come across as credible and congruent – and if you want to be successful over any length of time. NLP makes it possible to become aware of at least some of the presuppositions that are running our thinking and our behaviour – and hence our lives. It’s useful to know what yours are. It’s also nice to know that - as I can attest from personal experience - you can use NLP to change them if they’re not working for you.
So going back to my own romantic experience does this mean…‘I owe it all to NLP’? Er, no! Do we ever really owe everything to just one factor? If I was going to say I owe it all to anything it would be to taking charge of my inner life and changing what I believed possible. But what I would say is that, from my own experience, I can assure you that you can have the changes you want if you just start to build a better relationship with yourself and get clear about what you really want. And NLP is one very good way of doing this.
From such remedial beginnings are generative possibilities born. Often we can barely imagine what these might be. In my own case it meant finding there was something beyond what I had known. When I met Paulette, who later became my wife, I was challenged in myself to love differently and more deeply. That process I wouldn’t call magical. It is more mysterious still. It is alchemical and it changes you in a different way again. (But that’s another book).

Recently I received a letter from one of my students who had just completed our Practitioner and Master Practitioner training. In it she detailed the specific major new steps she was able to take after each module of these two programmes. These are the most profound changes to her life that she has ever experienced. Now 10 months later she has a new career, a new home, an apartment to let and is emotionally ready to share her life with someone. But her final line said more than all of this: “I’m so happy to be living life to the full now instead of just existing.”

I believe that, in the right hands, NLP has much to offer those who want to live life to the full and go beyond just existing. That’s why I think you owe it to yourself to read on. In this valuable contribution to the field Michael Hall has woven together the different strands of NLP and expertly delineated much of what NLP has to offer. I think you will find him enormously informative and trustworthy. I do. That’s why it’s a pleasure to welcome the second edition of this authoritative guide to the magic of NLP.

Ian McDermott

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Your Daily Legacy

Well I’m just back from Denver, Colorado, where I’ve been speaking at what is clearly going to become an annual conference, and it’s run by The Purposeful Planning Institute.  It’s actually a very lovely, rendezvous they call it, where advisors to high net worth  families meet to discuss ways in which they can better serve their clients and move in the direction of more purposeful lives.  So as you can imagine that gets my vote.  And actually, it started, the first rendezvous was last year, and in the run up to that, a year before that even, I was asked if I would come on the steering committee.  Well those of you who know me well, will know that a committee animal I am not really.  But in this particular case it seemed such an important initiative rather than just having advisors talk about tax plans and so forth, that I actually really did want to be involved and I was, helped make the first conference happen, and indeed spoke last year in Denver at the conference.  The result being that people were really very moved, because I was working with somebody and did a demonstration, and that’s something that these kind of people don’t see very often, if at all. 

So this year I was back and my theme was ‘how will you change the world?’ and talking about legacy.  Well a lot of people think that legacy, oh yes, that’s what dead people leave isn’t it? and you need lots of money to do it.  And what I was saying was that nothing could be further from the truth.  Really, each of us leaves a legacy, and it’s to do with the influence and the actions that we engage in.  the influence we have with others, for good or ill, we have on a daily basis.  You don’t have to wait until you’re dead good lord!  You can influence people moment by moment and there are so many examples of this all around us, indeed very often, I was telling them that when I’m working with clients, I’ll frequently give negative examples of influence, because then people can immediately appreciate how powerful influence is. 

Recently in the US a guy called Jerry Sandusky was indicted for multiple counts of child molestation and sexual abuse.  And he was a coach on a very prestigious football team.  The guy doesn’t have much money, but had the amazing ability to wreck a lot of people’s lives.  Now, that’s a legacy, it just happens to be profoundly negative.  And once people recognise that, gosh, yeah, I probably impacting people, it means that however much money you have is almost irrelevant.  You will be having an effect on people, for good or ill.  So the question then becomes, what sort of influence do you want to have?  And that there’s no point in just saying oh little old me, what can I do?  You know, if I was a billionaire I would make the world a better place, well that’s nice, but actually you’re doing things right now, the question is are they what you would choose?  Is the influence you’re having the one you would want to be associated with? 

So my basic suggestion to people was we create our legacy on a daily basis, and you cannot not leave a legacy on a daily basis.  I wonder, what will yours be today?  What was yours yesterday?  The last weekend?  Now, we’re not used to thinking like that, but when we do one of the things that happens is people realise that they had much more power and impact than they thought.  And this is true regardless of their income or their net worth.  ‘Cause it ain’t about money.  It’s about you.  And this year was a very lovely year, because I actually did a demonstration with the creator of The Purposeful Planning Institute and in the process, he was making connections with why he has the baggage he has, and how those had been with him pretty much all his life really, and it just strengthens people and their resolve and their clarity about what really matters and what do I want to be doing going forward in my life? 

So a very, very fulfilling weekend and I’ll tell you more next time.  

Listen to an audio version of this blog...

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Ian's Olympic Thoughts

You know in our personal lives, being able to step back is often a way of getting a different perspective and seeing thing in the round. And actually, the same is true for large events on occasion.  I’ve been very aware of this this summer, because I’m three thousand, five hundred miles away from where the Olympics are taking place.  And they look very different from outside. 

So, here I am this morning, I turn on the TV while I’m having a little breakfast, because I know there’s one particular American network that has the rights to the Olympics, and they, every morning, broadcast, of course they talk about what happened the day before and who won medals and so forth, but not just that, they also have very fetching backdrops always: Tower of London, Tower Bridge, the Olympic Park itself, whatever, whatever. And it’s an unbelievable PR exercise for London and the UK.  And I have to say, both are looking rather good.  Very favourable coverage, all sorts of things like you know, between talking about the events, they’ll be off on a little film report going down Portabella Road, going off to Borough Market, how to make cheese- British cheese making, and so on and so forth, Beefeaters, but then also the more serious side of ‘well what does it take to become a London guide?’ it’s actually really hard work, and they tracked somebody doing it.  Or again, one of the reporters remarked how, last night, they were walking around and noticed that near the Olympic Village, there was an old brick wall and it had bullet holes in it.  And they’re from the Second World War. 

And I saw a report, also on the TV, about the part of London, that is now the Olympic Village and what it was like, how it was bombed into the ground during the Second World War, and the kind of spirit of survival that captured the times, and saw people through.  Remarkable.  All of that courtesy of the Olympics. And the opening ceremony, well I don’t know, I don’t know what the overall take will be on it, but certainly from over here, it’s seen as more quirky British humour, which is just fine, and Bond and the Queen.  You know, forever going to be remembered, I think. 

So all in all, a very interesting experience, where there is a definite sense of celebration of the host country, as well as the events being well handled, you know, the logistics working, which is of course again, a good report card, it could be said.  And there are things like a thousand year old British pub, that they found, I didn’t even think there was one. 

So, a different take, and the Olympics, a delight to watch, and outstanding gymnasts, for instance, last night for me, the American Women’s Team, utterly dazzling.  But at the same time, an enormous amount of good will being generated, and even with the athletes saying things.  For instance, one of them was talking about the Village, you know the Olympic Village, saying how remarkable it is to be able to walk to events that you are participating in.  and that this is almost unheard of, so a certain village theme about it too.  Well, pretty good. 

So, a different take on the Olympics, and the games continue.  Good news!  ‘Till the next time. 

Listen to an audio version of this blog...

Saturday, 28 July 2012

NLP and Neuroscience

Well I’m mindful that two months have passed since the last audioboo, and it’s been an extraordinarily full time, a curious mixture really, but good to be back on track now. Of course, that period initially, with the death of my mother, and everything that goes with the death of a parent, and then moving into a whole raft of new developments, which I think will be just bearing a lot of fruit for a lot of people actually, and the one perhaps to begin by flagging would be the final coming together of NLP and neuroscience, which has been a dream of mine for longer than I care to remember to be honest.

It’s one of these curious things, you know, there’s been research taking place of neuroscience for certainly thirty years and it’s as if much of the work has stayed in the lab. Which is funny if you happen to be a researcher.

But there really is a practical dimension to understanding the way a brain works and therefore to neuroscience, because, hey, we’ve all got one and it could be kind of useful to have a more profound understanding of just what’s going on. And there are many examples, I think, of how more recent research could be extraordinarily beneficial if it was out there, if it was known about. So, for some years now, I have actually been actively looking for somebody who had the kind of background and credibility with whom I could partner to effectively begin the process of enabling both disciplines to come together. Because there seems to me, a lot of what NLP has done over the past thirty years is almost like applied neuroscience, without any science, you know, in the strict scientific sense of that word. If we’re talking about doing things that work, then NLP’s absolutely been right at the forefront delivering evidentially. However, I’ve been very interested in the conversations that I’ve been having more recently with Professor Patricia Riddell, who has been, herself, aware of what NLP has contributed to our understanding of practical technologies for change, and as a result of that we’ve been able to see how, you know, there really could be a way of integrating some of these elements, whilst allowing each to be its own province, its own field, of course, still.

And so, very recently, we actually did; well we do an open evening looking at habits, because there’s an area that is part and parcel of everybody’s experience. We have them or we like to acquire ones, you know, habits can be good, they can be bad. Or they could be things we would wish to have. But there is a structure to habits, which is how we come at it from an NLP point of view. And what’s going on in the brain is really fascinating, to enable one to understand how could you develop better habits, and how could you also become free of ones that are constraining.

So, we did this very brief opening really, which was received very well and we got very positive feedback about it. And in fact, come the NLP conference in November, we’re going to be doing something at somewhat greater length, focusing on exactly that area again, habits, and integrating what we understand from neurosciences, and what we now understand from the practicalities of habit change courtesy of NLP, and more recently, a couple of weeks ago, Trish and I did a one day event where we were starting to look at how could you take some of the basics of NLP and understand them through the filter of neuroscience. Well I have to say, it was an absolutely fascinating day. We were packed to the gummels, full house. And it was really very encouraging to see how there was benefits from both sides, and people were telling us that they had been looking for something like this… well no need to look anymore, there’s a lot more coming down the track. And we’re actually in process at the moment of, this summer, preparing new materials for new programmes. So I’ll keep you posted, but it’s good to be back, and there’s so much happening that you’re going to be hearing about very shortly.

So, ‘till the next time.

Listen to an audio version of this blog...

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Writer's Alley

Well its summer in Connecticut, and it’s that time of year that’s always a great pleasure for me, because I get to do a lot of writing. I also get to, sort of, step back, take stock and think about future possibilities and opportunities. But it is especially a lovely part of the world to be thinking about the next chapter, the next book, and as there are three on the go at the moment, that certainly is something I need some space for.

And it’s a curious thing, but for reasons I will never know, I seem to be in a part of the world which has become like writer’s alley. And it struck me the other day, when originally we bought the house. We bought it from a very talented children’s author and illustrator, Stephen Kellogg, who has written many, many children’s books that are extremely well known in the states, and have a great following. And the way we engaged was just a delight, because we talked about this beautiful property that looks over the lake, and from our point of view we were really just stewards. Yes, the deeds would be in our name, but the most important thing was just to preserve it. Because at one point there was talk of turning it into a marina, which was not have been a great idea. So, anyway, here I am, writing away, and recently I learnt that down the road, literally eight doors away, is Suzanne Collins. Author of, yes indeed, The Hunger Games. And she’s in her writer’s, not exactly garret, but nevertheless her special building, which she’s just had constructed, and no doubt working on the next best seller.

So all in all, an interesting part of the world. And I remember, at one point, talking with Stephen about possible things that could be done, because when we bought the property here, nothing had been done to it for years, so that it was in need of a lot of care and attention. And the possibilities were great, but so were the potential costs. And he leant forward to me conspiratorially to me at one point, and he said “write faster, Ian, write faster.”

So, can’t stop, ‘till the next time.

Listen to an audio version of this blog...

Monday, 23 July 2012

From Inner Game to Neuroscience

Earlier this year, the association for coaching asked me if I would be up for doing a workshop at a conference in Edinburgh, the title of which was From Inner Game to Neuroscience.

Now unfortunately, I was running trainings on the days in question, so it just didn’t arise and I therefore said I would love to but on this occasion I can’t. But I did congratulate them on the title of the conference, because it was a way of summing up the journey that has really characterised coaching over the past, say, decade or more; from that Inner Game model, which is absolutely relevant, to more the talk of what the neurosciences can contribute to our understanding now. I actually think there’s a danger of assuming that one is somehow surpassing the other, and nothing could be further from the truth.

Because, in fact, of course, all that neuroscience does is help us have a more profound understanding of our consciousness, which is the essence of the Inner Game anyway.

And I think, part of what is now so potentially rewarding in terms of the work that is being done, and certainly that I’ve been aware of and involved in with colleagues, is that we’re actually able to begin a synthesizing of the Inner Game approach, which is essentially based on paying attention to oneself, turning the attention from being outer-directed and taking an in the world out there, to being more self-reflexive, that is to say turning attention back on oneself, and paying more attention to, well, ‘just how do I do what I do?’ ‘Just what is going on?’ ‘How do I, on occasion, get in my own way, trip myself up?’ and ‘How do I move into an easy flow state?’ And one of the things which I think that neuroscience is being to help us understand is, not only what’s going on in your brain that makes the best times such experiences of flow states, but also, what can we do to stack the cards in our favour.

You know, there are certain ways of engaging with ourselves, which will help more than others, and certainly some of the work that I’ve been recently involved in doing with Patricia Riddell, who is a professor of applied neuroscience, is coming to an understanding in new ways of how certain processes actually relate to what goes on in our brain.

And I’ll give you an example, that I found absolutely fascinating, which is, upper section of time. Now, you know, time is something which is kind of fundamental, and being able to differentiate between what happened yesterday and what happened twenty years ago is sort of useful. And the question sometimes arises, well how do we do that? And indeed, do we get into a muddle sometimes about the order in which something occurred and how does the brain do that?

Well it’s an interesting phenomenon, certainly that NLP’s been exploring for years, and I think devising very helpful techniques in so doing. You’ll see them in timeline work, for instance and Practitioner training.

The understanding that has arisen is that the way the brain codes time has a lot to do with how it organises things spatially. And so you have this fundamental distinction between looking at time going forward and putting the past behind you.

Notice how these are descriptions of place, spatial organising. The forward, looking forward, past behind you. And actually, what we know from neuroscience is that people are not that good at gaging spatial differences when they look directly ahead. But they are much better at gaging differences when they’re able to look from left to right. And what we find is in timelines, people that organise their timelines from left to right are very good at determining what goes where and finding a place for everything and having everything in its place.

And people that tend to organise time in a linear fashion, going out from right where they are in front of them , day by day and into the future, they have a much tougher time organising themselves sometimes. And we can actually learn more about what works and how to do it better. We can teach these skills and what we’re doing is coming to an understanding of ‘what do I do inside and what does my brain do? And hey, how about us getting together and doing this better?’

Until the next time……..

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Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Exciting news!
We are delighted to announce that ITS have a brand new training venue.

From September 1st 2012 all ITS programmes will be held within The Academy situated at The London Kensington Forum.

The Academy offers excellent facilities and is located in the European flagship Holiday Inn Hotel which is to be found in South Kensington.

The Holiday Inn London Kensington Forum has recently gone through a £6.5 million refurbishment as part of the global relaunch of the Holiday Inn brand. Amongst other things this has meant new beds and carpets in all 900 bedrooms. Then six months ago the hotel had a further £4 million investment as they built a brand new Gym, Business Lounge, Executive Boardroom and of course The Academy.

We recently held our sell-out one day NLP & Neuroscience workshop within The Academy and can confidently say you'll enjoy both the training rooms and the coffee lounge. We hope you will agree with us that it's a great learning environment.

To find out more click here.

The ITS Team

Thursday, 24 May 2012

What is NLP?

NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) began in the early 1970s when a mathematician called Richard Bandler and linguist John Grinder asked themselves a simple but fascinating question: “What is it that makes the difference between somebody who is merely competent at any given skill, and somebody who excels at the same skill?”

This simple question engendered a model to understand how we as humans perceive the world, how we organise our thinking, feeling, skills and behaviour. It is a field that is continually innovating and developing.

NLP is essentially a model of excellence and achievement, or ‘what works’. It is a set of guiding principles, attitudes, knowledge, skills and techniques.

How will you benefit from discovering more about NLP? NLP can be used remedially so that if you are not getting what you want out of life, it can enable you to uncover, change or transform what is holding you back.

NLP can also be used generatively to enable you to make far-reaching positive changes beyond the initial problem. NLP offers you some of the most powerful communication skills available. Much of our success in life depends on our ability to communicate effectively – NLP will show you how.

We are often told that our brain is the most amazing computer on the planet – but nobody ever gave us an instruction manual on how to use it. NLP offers you that information, enabling you to take more control over your thoughts, feelings action and life.

NLP offers the tools to make excellence more easily attainable because if someone is achieving excellence in any field it can be modelled ­ detailed, replicated and taught to others.

Finally, NLP offers many people a doorway to something far deeper. Once you know more about how you, as a human being work, you can use NLP to answer some truly meaningful questions, to help you more fully understand your mission in life and some of the answers to true happiness and fulfilment.

NLP … affords the opportunity to gain flexibility, creativity and greater freedom of action than most of us know how …
Training and Development Journal 

NLP could be the most important synthesis of knowledge about human communication to emerge since the sixties
Science Diges

Monday, 21 May 2012

Ten Essential Strategies For
Turning Vision into Action

By Ian McDermott

Many of us have a vision, how do we make that vision come alive? Here, Ian McDermott, Master Trainer and NLP Coach will tell us more ...

Start Being Who You Really Are

Those rare individuals, who create lives which are the picture of their dreams and visions, are at home in themselves. At the times when you are turning your vision into action, you will be ‘being you.’ So by contrast, it can be really useful to look at the times when you are not ‘being you’ to be clear about how you are selling yourself short.   You can then use the tools of NLP and the skills of Coaching to make any changes in the areas that will make the journey from Vision into Action; easier, faster and more rewarding.

2. Decide How Much Your Vision Matters

Turning your vision into action should not be a struggle. There may be obstacles to overcome. Those who achieve are driven by a strong desire to take action. The strength of this desire is directly related to how much your vision matters to you. If your vision does not matter deeply to you, is it any surprise to find yourself un-motivated to take the action?  If taking action is a problem for you, you may want to go back and check the vision. Maybe it requires fine tuning. Perhaps it's time for a new vision. Either way, a vision that matters deeply to you is a pre-requisite for significant action.

3. Face Your Fears

It’s useful to distinguish between ‘fear’ and the natural concerns and hesitations that we all experience when doing anything new and significant. If you take off in an aeroplane on a windy day, you may have some moments of ‘doubt’ but you probably just buckle your seat belt, take a deep breath and get on with it!

There are also times when you know deep down that fear is an important message. In particular, appreciating the positive intention of the fear and using NLP can rapidly reduce or eliminate it all together. In fact, when fear is the major obstacle stopping us turning vision into action, it’s time to get excited, because once you deal with the fear; you open the door to your potential.

4. Check - What Are You Voting For In Your Life?

With every minute, we choose to do one thing rather than another. Every moment we do this we are voting with our time.

On any given day we have a finite amount of energy. We can spend it wisely – or not.

5. Check – Will You Collaborate With Others?

Many people are anxious when it comes to working with others; that they’ll be done down or undermined in some way. Others are not sure how to find allies. Whatever your vision, it is almost certainly the case that at some point you’re going to need to be collaborating with others.

6. Get The Right Balance Between Vision & Action

We’ve all met individuals who live in the land of amazing ideas. They spend most of their time fantasising over their visions. The problem is their visions are just that – fantasies – because they lack an effective strategy to take action.  The opposite extreme is the individual who is so busy ‘doing’ that they never step back to consider what they are doing – and most importantly why they are doing it. Such people certainly get a lot done, but often not the things that will lead them to fulfilment.

So the key is to find a balance between vision and action.

7. Make A Phased Transition

Beware the motivational speaker who tells you to ‘just go for it’ and throw away the day job. You need to build time into your planning for turning vision into action – enough time to manage any major transition and enough time to ensure that if you meet unexpected setbacks you will not be thrown off course.

8. Decide - Are You Willing To Pay The Price?

The gold medal winning Olympic athlete is often cited as a metaphorical example of what you need to do to turn vision into action. They visualise success, they set goals they are passionate about what they do, they are able to enter ‘the zone’ etc etc.

True enough. But there is another factor in the athlete’s success which is not mentioned as frequently, because it is not quite as appealing. They are willing to pay the price. They are willing to get up at 5am every day and practice in freezing temperatures. They will endure frustration, failure and sometimes physical injury.

Hopefully turning your vision into action will not be quite as arduous. But if you are going to accomplish anything of significance, there will probably be a price to pay. It may be small or large but part of achieving that goal involves deciding that you are willing to pay the price.

9. Learn How To Tap The Wisdom Within

Many people wonder whether they can turn their vision into action without realising that they have vital resources to do so already within them. These resources are available once you know how to tap the wisdom of your unconscious mind.

Developing this ability to tap into your own inner wisdom will lead you to make better decisions.

10. Know What You Want Your Legacy To Be

Those who achieve are invariably driven by a vision that encompasses some larger or even higher purpose. Often, they will talk of what they want to leave behind, of ‘creating something more than me’ or ‘creating something that will live on after me.’ Your vision will be easier to achieve when you know what you want your legacy to be. When you turn your attention to what your legacy will be, you are taking an important step in turning your vision into action, because you are creating an incredibly strong reason for your behaviour.

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Real Leadership By Ian McDermott

If you were to ask the average man or woman in the street what makes a good leader, the majority, I think, would put forward qualities such as strength, determination, courage and, for many, ruthlessness. If you were to ask how many people demonstrate such qualities, our fictitious survey group might cite Napoleon, Churchill, Margaret Thatcher and some leaders of industry such as Richard Branson. Leadership is perceived as being in short supply.

However, in fact, we are all leaders some of the time - and not just in special
circumstances. A parent needs to lead his or her children. A partner within a
relationship will, if the relationship is to be balanced and work, have times of being the leader and other times of being led. Even though leadership may not be a full time occupation, we will all have moments when others look to us for direction, guidance and support.

My experience as a trainer, a mentor, a consultant and a coach has made me very aware that each involves a different leadership role at times. Becoming clear about my own style of leadership has been very important for me both personally and professionally.

Leadership, I have found, is like charity - it begins at home. To be a good leader of others you first need to know how to lead yourself - and when you can lead yourself, you can lead others.

I think you need to be clear about the journey you wish to make, the speed at which you wish to travel and the beliefs and values that will guide your path. In the training courses that I run, we call this process pacing yourself. In other words, being true to yourself and not trying to force yourself to be anything that deep down you know isn’t really you. It is about becoming the leader that is already within you.
 So often when I’m coaching executives my function is to draw out what they have not recognised that they have within themselves. In the context of training, this means allowing the leader to come out as opposed to teaching slick tricks or having to stick ‘leadership’ on from the outside (much as you might stick wall cladding on a house to cover up cracks).  Leadership, when you are true to yourself, flows like a river and is without effort. It emanates and radiates – and it has strong attractor properties.

Put another way, leadership is about personal congruence. And the key to personal congruence is being able to pace yourself. To pace yourself you need to be able to honour and acknowledge the different aspects of yourself whether your conscious mind likes them or not. You will also need to address your own particular habitual patterns and experiences. If this sounds like a tall order, the good news is that the ways to achieve this can all be taught.

In addressing these areas I have found myself personally changing and becoming more aligned. It is like the different parts of me are all going in the same direction. The pay-off is enormous as you are truly able to walk your talk, to practice what you preach and to do what you say. It produces a particular kind of leadership style - leading by example. This is about leading by being: being one whose behaviour is naturally aligned with who you are and what matters to you. My experience is that once people know they can have this, they want it very badly because it is profoundly healing and very empowering.

Leading in this way whether at work or in your personal life means acting with
personal purpose stemming from a centred sense of self. It is centred because it steers a safe course between grandiose self-promotion and punitive self-criticism. Too often people oscillate violently between these two extremes.

This really is empowering and it’s good news for others.  Leaders who are empowered have as a high priority the empowerment of those they lead. Expect such people to be: (i) clearer about what matters to them and more able to be themselves; (ii) not just confident but truly competent; (iii) creative because they are able to adapt.

Once you can pace yourself you are ready to lead yourself and others. The more competent the person becomes, the less they need to dominate, whether as a trainer, a parent, a consultant, a manager, a coach or indeed a human being!

My research suggests that the most effective leaders are motivated by a vision that is allied to their mission. Their mission is an expression of who they are and as a result it is not just a bunch of words, it manifests from within and is an expression of that individual’s identity.

Unfortunately, many find themselves in businesses and organisations, in positions where they are expected to demonstrate a leadership style which is not really them, a cultural ‘norm’ that just doesn’t fit. Over time this can eat away inside you, and at your success, like a corrosive acid. As one executive I was coaching said, “On the outside I’ve got it all, but inside I just feel hollow.”

To enhance someone’s ability to be a leader in their life, one must first enhance the individual who will be that leader. There is no better way to do this than to draw out of an individual his or her own unique vision and mission. Why? Because these are born of that person’s identity. This is Leadership Coaching.

I have found that to identify one’s mission in life is a very profound experience. It matters a lot to people and stays with them afterwards. This is because they have achieved a high degree of integration and as a senior executive said to me this morning by way of finishing our coaching session, ‘Now I know what my purpose is.’

It also has two remarkable and often unexpected side effects. People begin to become more successful. They also become more creative.


So being a leader is not about commanding vast armies of people, nor is it about having power over others. People who seek power over others are usually chronically disempowered individuals themselves. Nor is leadership about control: the better you are as a leader the more you are able to influence. The more influential you are, the less you need to try to control.

Once your sense of self and your mission are aligned with what you do, you become unstoppable. How could you not do your mission if your mission is a natural expression of who you are? In the words of another coaching client, ‘Now I can enjoy doing me’. From my own experience in aligning my behaviour with my mission I can vouch for the truth in this.

The Difference That Makes a Difference

ITS  is at the forefront in applying the latest research in the neurosciences to better business practice.

A primary resource for over 100 of the world’s top companies and organisations, ITS also offers individuals the opportunity to apply what we now know to improve their own performance.

ITS specialises in growing leaders.