Coaching as a career is so rewarding because it is such an enabler for change for people. As human beings we all experience the disappointment of failure at different points in our life and it is critical to be able to manage our inner critic in these times. A strong internal negative voice can become a very debilitating trigger for shame and self-blame. If we listen to that voice it will have an enormous impact on our self esteem and resilience. We can start to worry about failing again and rather than face our fears of failure, choose to stay in our comfort zones.
Success in life requires us to override our anxieties and keep focused on learning. One of the first principals you learn if you study Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) is that there is no such thing as failure only feedback. We have to consciously and consistently override feelings of doubt and anxiety and accept them as normal functions of the brain to help us in survival.
There is a great acronym for fear. FEAR – False Expectations Appearing Real. It is incredibly useful to recognise that if we live based on our fears, we limit ourselves.
When we understand as a coach how to liberate people from their fears we can watch them glow with pride as they achieve things that previously they did not think possible. One of my recent sessions with a client was to address her phobia of heights which meant that when her team relocated offices from the ground floor to the 18th floor she would not sit with them. Her manager and team were unbelievably supportive in their offers to always accompany her in the lift but nothing would shift her from the ground floor. After only 2 sessions we rode the lift to her new offices and walked in with her acknowledging that she was not totally comfortable but she did it!
It was wonderful for her to be so warmly received by her team who I could see were just so happy that someone had the skill to unpack her phobia.
When we work with people to overcome fear we have to shift the part of the brain they are constantly accessing. My client’s pattern of tracking to the negative had become so ingrained that accessing and visualising the possibilities for her future seemed impossible. This is where the power of being able to shift someone from emotional processing to visual processing can be so profound. Every time my client went back into the story of the fear I asked her to close her eyes and look up, and remember a time when she had been confident and free of fear.
We all need to build on our neural circuitry if we are going to expand our reality. The nature of how our brain works means that we can’t notice what is creating our reality. So much is going on at an unconscious level and until we start to understand that the brain directs the mind even trying to practise mindfulness may seem frustrating. My client obviously was incredibly self-conscious of the fact that meetings had to be managed around her inability to go upstairs, but did not know how to create the change. That is the frustrating thing about fear. We may know it is totally irrational but that has no impact at all on creating change.
When we understand that the brain keeps us safe by storing memories of what hasn’t worked in the past, what caused us pain and how we suffered, we can start to employ different strategies. We need to bring to our attention the “default networks” and start deconstructing and reconstructing the scaffolding of our mind. Changes in the parts of the brain we access lead directly to changing the way the mind creates meaning.
“Your brain is like Velcro for negative experiences and Teflon for positive ones -even though most of your experiences are probably neutral or positive… It typically takes about five positive interactions to overcome the effects of a single negative one (Gottman 1995) ( p 41 Buddha’s Brain Rick Hanson & Richard Mendius)
We always have choice. Our choice to become coaches involves trusting that the client has all the creativity and resources they need to resolve their own issues.
When my client stepped out of the lift after our third ride up to the 18th floor and beamed with pride I had full evidence that she had shifted from “I can’t” to “I did”
There is amazing joy when we achieve and experience what is truly possible.