Archive for NLP

Reflecting on Resilience

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on April 8, 2014 by racheljackson

I was looking back over my posts today thinking that it had been a long time since I found a moment to sit and write a blog.  I found this and decided to re-post it….

“A man found a cocoon for a butterfly. One day a small opening appeared, he sat and watched the butterfly for several hours as it struggled to force its body through the little hole. Then it seemed to stop making any progress. It appeared stuck.

The man decided to help the butterfly and with a pair of scissors he cut open the cocoon. The butterfly then emerged easily. Something was strange. The butterfly had a swollen body and shrivelled wings. The man watched the butterfly expecting it to take on its correct proportions. But nothing changed.Image

The butterfly stayed the same. It was never able to fly. In his kindness and haste the man did not realise that the butterfly’s struggle to get through the small opening of the cocoon is nature’s way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings so that it would be ready for flight.

Like the sapling which grows strong from being buffeted by the wind, in life we all need to struggle sometimes to make us strong.” – from Ack Paul Matthews

I am working currently at Colchester Hospital and we are going through what I hope to be a similar kind of metamorphosis. Having weathered the storms last year of Keogh and the CQC report into cancer data, we have recently enjoyed a week which has come to be known as “Time to Make Difference’.  Initiated by our interim COO Evelyn Barker, the week was set up as an opportunity for staff, managers, clinicians and consultants to take action on the things that they knew weren’t working and to try something else – something close to the NLP supposition of “If what you’re doing isn’t working – try something else”. 

Having spent many weeks meeting with and facilitating managers’ discussions around culture, leadership and change it has been incredible listening to the tales of red tape being cut through and patient care being prioritised over process and policy.  There has been a true spirit of innovation and improvement and the energy which has been generated across the Trust mirrors the story of the butterfly emerging from its cocoon.  This has been a tough, incredible, challenging and amazing year for me working with colleagues at CHUFT and I hope to continue being part of their transformation in the months to come.

On a similar note, I am doing my own little bit of transformation…discussions are just coming to fruition around working with resilience and stress management company InEquilibrium on a new contract supporting managers and leaders in a leading manufacturing firm to deliver Resilient Teams across their UK footprint.  It offers me the chance not only to spread my wings a little geographically, but also hopefully to work with a network of old colleagues whom I have missed since leaving the safe harbour of HayGroup. I am already working with InEquilibrium developing head teachers, social workers, housing officers and the like across various councils but I am looking forward to venturing back into private sector worlds.  


Life Coaching vs Business/Executive Coaching

Posted in On Coaching, On NLP with tags , , , on November 30, 2009 by racheljackson

I have just been reading through Alison Maxwell’s paper in the September edition of Coaching magazine from the Association for Coaching: “How do coaches experience the boundary between coaching and therapy/counselling?” and it got me thinking about a debate on this topic I had years ago when doing some coach training around NLP.

The debate arose out of Milton Erickson’s assertion that every client already has all the resources they need to be able to deal with their “presenting problem”.  Having tabled this assertion as part of the training we were challenged about the need to ensure that the client is in a “safe place” at the end of each session; Some of the coaches in the room were clinically trained and had a firm belief that business coaching should not enter the realm of clinical therapy or even dip a toe into it. Those that were not clinically trained were highly uncomfortable around “opening Pandora’s box” in a coaching environment and finding themselves unable to handle the results.

Whilst I wholly adhere to this degree of care for a client’s wellbeing and for the additional point made at the time that a coach must often work to the requirements of a business rather than simply an individual, I gently reflected the idea that in any relationship exploring performance or development goals through coaching, both parties have a role  in deciding which topics are discussed and to what degree they impact on the “presenting problem”. In Erickson’s view, this would suggest that the client will share what needs to be shared, and since they walked into the room with that psychological “weight” from their personal life, they are full capable of also walking back out with it.

“In all the years I have been coaching,” I suggested, “I have never met an executive who did not also live a life”.  It was often the case that weighty issues taking place outside the office had as much influence – and indeed learning to offer –  upon work-based performance issues as behaviour and events in the office. What I felt was most important, is that where discussion of outside work issues ventured into realms where professional advice or counselling may be required, this perspective should be offered to and explored with the client as opposed to those issues being directly tackled by the coach. This should not however prevent the exploration of pertinent home or deeper psychological issues in a balanced manner and in relation to their impact upon work performance.  Nor should it laden the coach with responsibility for extending to a 4 hour session in order to repack the emotional baggage brought into the session by the client. Whilst we all recognised that the whereabouts of the line to be drawn between therapy and coaching was not always clear, we could all engage in a healthy debate and agree that it certainly needed to be drawn.

In the time that has passed since that initial debate with a number of experienced executive coaches, the world of coaching has expanded exponentially and the market is now crowded with Life Coaches and Action Coaches and all manner of specialist coaches – some of whom have received not only very little face to face coach training, but absolutely no training in psychology or therapeutic intervention. Whilst I remain confident that every face around the table in that training session long ago would be totally capable of recognising an issue that they were not competent to explore and should refer to an outside professional, I am not entirely convinced that many of the lesser trained coaches would be able to do so.

I am a firm believer in the power of “helping by talking” as the paper coins the phrase. I actually think that in the vast majority of cases, simply talking to another, caring, listening human being and sharing a problem or issue is a hugely valuable experience.  What concerns me a little is that coaching is a privileged relationship.  From its roots in both psychotherapy and sports development, a coach has been seen in some way as an expert; a safe pair of hands.  Early therapists identified the phenomenon of transference to describe the symptoms of this sense of parental caregiving and reliance on another human being.  Whilst the psychologically trained coach is fully cognisant of this potential and aware of the point at which a referral is advisable to satisfy their professional obligations and the needs of the client, the freshly qualified life coach, accountable only to their client may neither recognise the signs nor know how to respond.  Filled with a desire to help and build their reputation in their new field, it is possible that this leads to a failure to refer and a missed opportunity to provide the client with the professional help they require.

Alison’s paper uses as a sample a number of coaches with a higher level of coaching and training than most and she recognises in her conclusion that she may therefore present a somewhat high benchmark.  I would however agree with her conclusion that “the personal and the professional are deeply intertwined in the coaching conversation, and attempts to compartmentalise these by either coach or client are unrealistic”.  She proposes that “a grey area exists” below the need to refer for clinical issues and above the merely work-based discussion where “serious ethical, moral and potentially legal questions” may arise from a lack of training or awareness in the coach. Perhaps this debate would be well considered by the ICF who are currently debating the unpicking of their graduated model for coaching accreditation so beloved by coaches across the globe. Although you could equally argue; does a long and  impressive coaching log make you significantly better at judging the need for clinical referral of a client…or significantly worse at admitting that need?

The Value of Coaching

Posted in On building my business, On Coaching with tags , on November 13, 2009 by racheljackson

There was a phrase I picked up during my NLP Master Practitioner training about 5 years ago; “When the pupil is ready the guide will appear”. I remember being extraordinarily comforted by this. In the weeks to follow I started to notice how often the newspaper I read, the book I picked up, or the person I met seemed carefully chosen in line with the questions I was grappling with in my own life.

Recently, having been exploring business development opportunities and marketing online, I have been buffeted by a quite alarmingly large number of loud-sounding emails telling me that “I could earn £30,000/£60,000/£300,000 as a life coach!”.  I even managed to sit next to a young lady on the tube the other day who caught my eye as she transformed herself from a just-woken-up-slightly-art-student look to a very attractive business-looking woman in front of the gathered travellers. As I glanced over her shoulder, she was reading the marketing blurb for one of the get rich quick models.

So, it appears that my guides have arrived…although as it turns out…I’m not sure I’m ready.  I feel a bit like Luke Skywalker must have felt when Yoda turned up as his guide; a little disappointed that this figure in front of him didn’t really look like the inspirational or powerful model he was after.  I can’t of course complain that my guides aren’t inspirational or powerful – they are practically evangelistic with their presentation.  I feel a slight failure already that I am not standing next to them on the podium!

So why is it, I’ve been asking myself, that I feel so uncomfortable about signing up to this get-rich-as-a-coach drive? Is it a fear that I’m not good enough?  A fear that I might have to face the competition head on?  Neither of these seems to fit, because it’s actually deeper than that: I feel uncomfortable that I should profit from the desire of others to get rich quick. I feel even more uncomfortable setting up a process by which the less able these people are to help themselves, the more I profit. It just feels all wrong to me – and believe me; I do like money and the making thereof.  That is not the reason behind this.

Something Ian McDermott, my trainer, said brought this question back to me on Sunday – “If you know what works, it’s your role to share this with as many people as you can”.  I considered this question carefully against my reactions to the get rich quick model.  In many ways, that is exactly what these guys are doing; along with most of the people in this world, they are selling something they know how to do, to others who do not, to the benefit of all.  But no..that sense of discomfort hasn’t gone away and now I really do feel like I have some “issues” to explore around my own values. Is it the fact that my reading on these models suggests that people are required to keep their secrets secret – thus clashing with the sense of sharing what works.  Or is it simply the aggressive marketing approach that accesses my natural defence mechanisms against the too-good-to-be-true.  I don’t know…but if you could all send me a fiver, I’ll go along to one of the lectures and find out.  I won’t be able to share with you what I learn, but I will get commission if I rave so much about it that you want to go too 😉

Back to Derbyshire – Resilience

Posted in On building my business, On Resilience with tags , , , , on October 12, 2009 by racheljackson

Well…after a few more networking activities down in London with the Ogunte network for women in social enterprise roles and with my old colleagues network ParslowNet, I have made it back up north for what appears to be a bit of an Indian summer. Glorious sunshine has poured in through my windows for the last 3 days and I have spent much of that time in front of my PC setting up and learning how to use Skype (I’m getting pretty techno-advanced these days!), coaching and being coached by the people on my NLP course, reading evermore about dialogue and filling in the gaps by finally getting around to learning Italian. Clearly there has been a weekend as well

Last week was very intense on the networking front and it has taken some time to get up to speed on all the actions falling out of that work. I now have two exciting meetings set up next week to discuss new business ideas and the beginnings of a plan for a training programme design perhaps for a public audience rather than corporate clients forming in my mind. The huge amount of coaching I received and delivered last week helped me to crystallise in my mind some of my own thoughts about business development and new business creativity and I am learning to give myself sufficient space to allow ideas to form and sufficient connections with others to allow them to grow. This is not an easy process for me. I am not renowned for my patience with my own sense of underperformance or for my preparedness to ask for and accept help and I still find both these activities difficult to endure – but I am learning and the feedback loop suggests that the benefits are mutually felt. Andrew Shatte and Karen Reivich in their book “The Resilience Factor” talk about about the practice of “Reaching Out” being a key element in building your long term capacity to weather life’s storms – taking calculated risks and reaching out to new opportunities and relationships. Well….time for me to practice what I preach and do just that…

A weekend filled with Dialogue!

Posted in On Dialogue, On NLP with tags , , on October 5, 2009 by racheljackson

I am exhausted!! I have just finished my first module of the ITS NLP Coaching Certificate. Having been coaching for several years and started to see the slowly constricting legislative belt around the practice, I felt it was long overdue to get myself the tick in the box. More importantly, it has been a little while since I immersed myself in the intense, eye-opening, warm embrace of the ITS training programmes and I wanted my fix. I certainly got it 😉

ITS is the only NLP certification programme I know taught to 100+ pupils at one time using 1/2 speakers and around 7 assistants. When I first did my Practitioner training back in 2001 (my my is it that long ago?) I found it not dissimilar to my first experience of Glastonbury – the requirement to become close to and form some kind of bond with a vast array of faces in a very short space of time. It was exhausting. The model is based on the concept that the presence of such a large group both extends greater potential to learn from others, and broader experience of the wealth of human diversity. I still have many good friends from those weekends in the Polish Centre in Ravenscourt Park – and a huge store of good memories too. Whilst the course has its critics (often non-ITS trained Practitioners – loyalty in these courses grows fast!) I went back in 2004 for my Master Practitioner and on Thursday I re-entered the fold and began my route to ICF Certification. After 5hrs a day of listening, watching, feeling and practicing, plus an extra 2 hrs spent networking, co-creating and generally meeting an endless stream of new faces I have a to do list as long as my street and a buzzing energy to move forward…coupled beautifully with the desire to sleep for about a week 😉
And just in case I had not spent enough time during my days in focussed attentive learning, I chose to spend my tube journeys reading the full text of David Bohm. This has by contrast to the ITS sessions required the dislocation of my normal attention to detail and the ability to let my mind enter the wide and fast flowing stream of consciousness that is David’s way of writing. To attempt to correctly position every concept and each connection is to condemn oneself to eternal mental spaghetti…which given my days’ activities is not far from my state anyway!!
So for all those with whom I interact and connect with over the next couple of days…my profuse apologies if my eyes seem a little glazed and my handshake a little flimsy…I am still hearing you and I am still with you – its simply the fluffy clouds of exhaustion I am peering through. 😉