This story is about a client I had a few years ago who came to me for some coaching because he had got himself into a career cul-de-sac. He had been the Finance Director for Purchasing in his organisation for quite some time, everything was running smoothly, but basically he was the only person who really understood how it all worked.
There is a basic principle of NLP that says ‘the mind and the body are all one system’. So as well as taking care of your mindset, how about taking care of your body?
It’s probably all too familiar to you that it’s hard to do your best work or make good decisions if you haven’t had enough sleep, had too much alcohol or you’re suffering with some physical ailment. Most people will do the ‘sensible’ thing and go to bed early the night before an important meeting or event.
How often though, do you take care of yourself simply to face an ordinary day in the office? And do you know what physical factors make the greatest difference to your overall well-being? For example, lots of people drink several cups of coffee in a day. For some, that’s fine. For others, who are not aware of their sensitivity to caffeine, those regular cups of coffee could be causing a level of physical stress that would be a barrier to working effectively.
Some people work in cramped conditions, huddled over a laptop in a corner of the dining room or spare bedroom. If that’s you and you don’t remember to stretch regularly, your mind will become as cramped as your body.
So today, take stock of how well you’re treating your body and become aware of how you can enhance your mindset by boosting your physical well-being.
This Presupposition of a Brilliant Coach is important because there is often the feeling amongst coaches that you have to finish the process and make sure your client leaves with a solution rather than saying: “That’s your time up for today”.
This article was written 20 years ago and published in ‘Success Now’ issue 14, August 1999
Have you ever been in a business meeting with a colleague and afterwards commented on how well it went? If your colleague looked at you in amazement and said it was a complete waste of time you may have found yourself wondering whether you were in the same meeting. The NLP answer is that you were in two separate meetings, because you were each filtering the experience differently.
A basic principle of NLP is that everyone has their own unique ‘map of the world’, and that everyone’s map is equally valid. Put another way, our experience is filtered through our beliefs and values, memories, language and cognitive processes in such a way that the resulting perceptions are highly individual.
Imagine a person who regards himself as very objective, scientific and down-to earth. We’ll call him John. John believes that there is a ‘rational explanation’ for everything and that anything that can’t be scientifically proven is not true. Suppose John goes to a party and gets into a group of people discussing UFO’s and aliens. The person beside him turns to John and says, “I was abducted by aliens.”
How do you think John would react? Is he going to say, “How amazing! I didn’t think that was possible. Please tell me about it.” Or is he more likely to conclude that this person is lying, drunk, attention seeking or otherwise mentally defective? The latter seems more likely, doesn’t it? John will make sense of this person’s behaviour in the light of his own belief that what they are saying cannot be true.
So, what we believe tends to shape our perception of reality. The old saying, “I’ll believe it when I see it”, would actually be more accurately expressed as, “I’ll see it when I believe it.” Some people have more open minds than others and can challenge their beliefs, but we all have beliefs that we REALLY believe and would never think to challenge.
Often, when someone behaves in a way that we find unacceptable or incomprehensible, it is because we are attempting to make sense of that person’s behaviour using our own filters. This is often noticeable when dealing with people from other countries and cultures. Since common values can be expressed in diverse ways, we often find that people in other countries don’t do what we expect and it’s a common mistake to assume that they don’t share our values.
For example, time is valued in many cultures but the way the value is expressed can be different: In northern Europe, people demonstrate their value of time by not taking up your time. In southern Europe, people demonstrate the same value by giving of their own time. So, when a northern European businessman visits colleagues in southern Europe and is taken out for a long, leisurely lunch, he may conclude that they don’t value time because they are taking up his time with what he regards as an unnecessary activity. They may feel insulted if, when the return visit is made, he responds with cold sandwiches during a meeting. He is not giving his time and therefore gives the impression that he does not value his colleagues.
Sometimes, there are fundamental differences in the values. Last year I visited Singapore, to co-train with a friend. He had warned me that the temperature was 30 degrees, humidity was high and that I should bring my thinnest clothes. I was very surprised then, to spend every training day shivering with cold, because the air-conditioning was turned to around 18 degrees. It took me a week to figure it out; a week of going outside to get warm; of watching in amazement all the locals bringing sweatshirts to class. Finally I understood – if you live in a cold climate, as we do in Britain, you grow up with a fundamental value that warm = good. In hot climates the reverse is true, cool = good. It’s that simple. So when my friend comes to England to work alongside me, I shall be telling him to bring light clothing, because it may be cold outside, but our training rooms are warm – especially in the winter!
So, to understand the behaviour of others, it can be helpful to ask yourself, “What must that person believe, in order to behave in that way?” Or you could ask the person, but they may not consciously know the answer. So stay open to ideas, beware of forming negative judgements, especially in foreign countries. Give yourself a new filter – “Everyone has positive intentions” – and look at their behaviour in a different light. Above all, remember that even the person who grew up next door to you has had different experiences and developed different values. Fundamentally, everyone’s a foreigner!
One of the things I know from having been around a lot of coaches over the years is that it’s not uncommon for people to come to you with issues that have also been relevant to you. It doesn’t always happen when you’re in the middle of it – although it can do…