I've been on so many life coaching courses and NLP courses, met a lot of life coaches and even more NLP practitioners. But very few of them could tell me exactly what they do. And when I ask, they find it difficult to express. It's not that they don't know what they're doing. It's that maybe; and I'm just speculating here, they can't articulate it because of all the confusion. And that unfortunately is causing more confusion.
So what is life coaching?
Ask this question to 10 life coaches and you'll very likely get 10 different answers. Here's number 11 from a London life coach:
The way I see it, life coaching:
1- Assesses your current situation.
2- Helps you identify a specific goal you want to achieve.
3- Gets you to realise the exact steps to achieve this goal.
4- Guides, motivates and leads you to taking the necessary steps to get tangible results and achieve your goal.
5- And it does all this in a holistic manner so that your life stays in balance.
Think about it this way. If you're in London and you want to get to Cambridge, what do you need to input into your sat nav? Your exact location in London and the exact destination in Cambridge. The sat nav will then show you exactly how to get there. If any of these variables is missing, you'll either end up going around the world a few times; to all the places you don't want to go to, before you arrive to Cambridge by accident. Or you simply won't make it. In life, you're your own sat nav and a life coach is there to make sure you're inputting the right information. But surely inputting information in the sat nav of your life is easy and you don't need a life coach for that! Right? Remember to answer this question yourself after you've finished reading.
Albert Einstein said: "You can't solve a problem with the same mind that created it"
Coaches and NLP practitioners refer to this as the scotoma i.e. blind spot. It's when you've been thinking about a problem too much, you're getting nowhere and you feel stuck and eventually give up. It is why dreams get abandoned. But then a friend comes along and asks you a simple question that opens a door to new possibilities. An efficient life coachis like that friend coming in and asking just the right questions that will challenge you and get you thinking using your problem solving mind instead of your problem creating mind. And once you become conscious of all the present opportunities you become motivated to seek the solutions and take a step further to achieving your dreams. This is a continuous process that could last from a few sessions up to a life time.
Got it! So what is NLP?
Luckily there's much less confusion about what NLP is as compared to life coaching. The history, origins and applications of NLP are very well documented and it will be pointless revisiting it here. In a nutshell, it is a set of specific techniques that aligns the conscious mind with the unconscious mind so as to positively restructure the brain's thinking and the body's behaviours. It does so utilising the five senses, the language we use to encode our representational systems and the habits and patterns that we run. NLP is mainly used in conjunction to hypnosis in a therapeutic manner. It rids people of negative emotions, limiting beliefs, limiting decisions, phobias, changes their habits, changes their emotional and physical responses and much much more.
An effective NLP practitioner and a hypnotherapist self esteem and confidence usually aims to rid someone of a core problem in no more than three sessions.
Got it! So why is everyone confused then?
Not every life coach is an NLP practitioner. However it's an undisputed fact that every effective life coach will have a sound understanding of at least the basics of NLP. Advanced life coaches understand how powerful NLP is and they use it in helping others move forward towards their desired goals. It's not necessarily used in a therapeutic manner, although that would help. A life coach could use concepts such as eliciting values, reframing, quantum linguistics, spin patterns, setting goals, creating outcomes, modelling etc. all principles of NLP. This can all be applied to loosen someone's model of the world and get them viewing things from different perspectives so they are no longer blinded by their scotoma.