"The finest success coach in the world today" - Paul McKenna
Introduction - A Different Way to Succeed
What if, regardless of your past history or the current economy, your dreams really could still come true?
What would you be most excited about having happen in your life over the next few weeks, months or even years? Would you like to experience dramatic breakthroughs in your career, business or finances? Deeper love and connection with your family and intimate relationships? How about seemingly miraculous improvements in your own level of health and wellbeing?
For the past 18 years or so, I’ve been a professional success coach – someone who gets paid to help make people’s dreams come true. In that time, I’ve learned that not only are there many different types of dreams, but there are also all sorts of different ways to reach them.
Whether you want to make more money, build your business, start a family or save the world, chances are that your approach up until now has been primarily practical – that is, focused on what it is that you want and what it is you think you need to do in order to make it happen.
If you’re a reasonably progressive thinker, you’re probably also aware that one of the reasons you want what you want is that you believe it will in some way enhance your experience of being alive. But as you may have already begun to realize, if you really want to have a more enjoyable life, reaching your goals is not enough. You’re also going to have to find a more enjoyable way of getting there.
This is a book about succeeding from the inside out. When you learn to live your life from the inside out, stress disappears and worry becomes almost non-existent. You realize that you were born happy and the worst thing that can ever happen to you is a thought – generally speaking, a thought about whatever you think is the worst thing that could ever happen to you. Things still won’t always work out as you’d hoped or planned, but that just becomes a fact of life instead of a problem to be solved. And since you live in a state of being full (of life, joy, love and peace), going outside yourself to ‘find fulfillment’ loses most of its appeal.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you won’t still do all sorts of weird and wonderful things with your life. It just means that you’ll be using what’s inside you to create things on the outside instead of doing them the other way around. So how can a coach help?
The Three Levels of Change
A COURSE IN MIRACLES
Traditional coaching takes place primarily on a horizontal dimension – coaches assist their clients in getting from point ‘A’ to point ‘B’. Yet lasting, sustainable change nearly always happens in the vertical dimension – a deepening of the ground of being of the client and greater access to inspiration and spiritual wisdom. While this has generally led to an either/or approach to success and personal growth and a sharp division between therapy and coaching, transformative coaching – or, as I like to call it, ‘supercoaching’ – uses the vertical dimensions to create change on the inside while you continue to move forward towards your goals on the outside.
The kinds of ‘vertical’ changes that transformative coaching leads to can be usefully viewed on three levels…
Level I: Change in a Specific Situation
This kind of ‘performance coaching’ has long been a staple of the industry, and long before ‘life coaching’ and ‘executive coaching’ became common terms, people were using coaches in this capacity to help change their point of view, state of mind or actions. At this level, people go from fear to confidence, from unease to comfort, or from inaction to action.
The impact of this kind of coaching is generally project specific. Once the difficult person has been handled, the interview completed and the race run, the person gets on with the rest of their life in much the same way as they did before.
Level II: Change in a Specific Life Area
Level III: Global Change
The ultimate level of change is transformation, or what I sometimes call ‘global change’ – a pervasive shift in our way of being in the world. At this level, it is not enough for us to develop a skill or change a feeling. It is our intangible ‘selves’ we want to change, and in so doing we change our experience of everything.
Each of the three levels maps across to a certain kind of intervention. When we want to make a change in the moment or in a specific situation, we apply a technique. When we want to make a change in a broader context, we work with installing new strategies. But when we want to actually change lives, we need more than just strategies or techniques, we need a whole new paradigm or perspective – a new way of seeing.
So which level of change is best?
It depends. While level III changes will ultimately make the biggest difference in people’s lives, sometimes a smaller difference is all that’s called for. For example, people heavily into the personal development movement sometimes get fixated on finding level III solutions for level I problems – they’ve got a headache, but instead of taking an aspirin they want to analyze the beliefs and lifestyle changes they need to make to become the kind of person who doesn’t get headaches. It’s not a bad idea, but it’s a lot easier to do when your head’s not hurting!
The Three Levels in Action
But let’s say I want more for Bob – I don’t just want to assist him in getting through this one situation, I want to help turn him into a more effective employee, one who can handle a wider variety of customer service situations. At that point, I could give him books like How to Talk So People Will Listen and Listen So People Will Talk. I could teach him rapport skills like ‘matching and mirroring’ so he could use body language to effectively allow people to feel more comfortable around him.
In time and with practice, Bob might well be able to turn things around and maybe even become the best customer service guy in the whole company. But in another way, nothing will have really changed. Because in order for something to change at a fundamental level, that change has to happen from the inside out.
At level III, our coaching interventions are no longer about the supplier from Dagenham or even about customer service. At level III, we’re dealing directly with Bob – the way he sees himself, the way he sees his job and the way he sees other people. And when any one of those things changes, Bob will not only become more effective at his job, he’ll also become more effective in his life.
Here’s another example, one that might hit closer to home. Imagine you are having difficulties with your resident teenager. You want them to help out around the house and be more respectful towards you and your partner, but they seem determined to set a new world record for ‘most dirty clothes piled up in one corner of a bedroom’.
At level I, you could go in guns a-blazing and order them to pick up their dirty clothes ‘or else’. You might even try a subtler approach – the dangling carrot of a trip to the cinema or a shopping trip to the local high street in exchange for a cleaner room.
At level II, you would read parenting books that would tell you how to handle discipline problems with teens, or even one on how to handle difficult people at work in hopes you could map it across to your own children at home. (Of course, if you come across a copy of What to Do When You Work for an Idiot in their bedroom, chances are they’re planning a little level II intervention with you!)
But at level III, you would know that what’s called for is a shift in perspective – a new way of seeing the situation.
When my daughter Clara was six, she went through a period of violent temper tantrums that frightened her teachers at school to the point where they were considering either putting her on medication or kicking her out of school. My wife and I hadn’t a clue what to do about it, so we turned to one of my mentors, supercoach Bill Cumming.
He helped us by approaching the situation on all three levels simultaneously. At level I, he would continually check in with us to ensure that we were doing OK within ourselves – that is, we were getting adequate sleep, food and exercise and doing whatever else we needed to do for spiritual self-care.
At level II, he taught us some wonderful strategies for dealing with difficult children. The one that sticks in my mind is the two Cs: clarity and consistency. We got clear about what was and wasn’t OK and we were consistent in our enforcement of those rules.
However, what made the biggest difference, and has stayed with us to this day, was the level III intervention. In working with Bill, we came to realize that the only reason someone would behave in the way that Clara was doing was if they felt unwell within themselves. As we began to see the discomfort in Clara that was leading to her acting out, it became much easier to not take her behaviour personally, as if it was her way of punishing us for our parenting failures.
More importantly, any catastrophizing we’d been doing in our heads about how this would be a problem for the rest of her life and if it was this bad now ‘imagine how bad it will be when she’s a teenager’ fell away. We began to see her as a little girl doing the best she could to control her environment and knew that when she had better strategies at her disposal, her innate wisdom and common sense would guide her to use them. That made it easy and natural to feel the full force of our love for her, even when she was behaving in ways that were shocking and at times a little bit frightening for us.
Instead of sending her to her room when she had a tantrum in a behaviourist effort to ‘extinguish’ the unwanted behaviour, I began to go into her room with her and just quietly be with her as she worked through whatever it was she was working through.
At first, she didn’t seem to like our new approach. Instead of simply putting holes into the walls of her bedroom, she seemed hell-bent on putting a few into my head. But within a few tantrums, she somehow recognized that she was safe with us – and that feeling of safety allowed some protective mechanism inside her to let go and allow her natural wisdom to come back to the fore.
Now, five years later, Clara is more secure in herself and her thinking than most adults. And while we may well butt heads at some point during her teenage years, it’s far more likely to be due to something triggered in us than in her!
Ten Sessions to Transform your Life
themselves up and continue as if nothing had happened.’
This book is laid out in ten coaching sessions, each one built around a ‘secret’ understanding about life. We could call these secrets ‘principles’, in the sense that they will reliably guide us through the uncharted territory of life; we could also call them ‘understandings’ in the sense that once you understand them, you will never relate to your problems, goals or the people in your life in the same way again.
Each session is designed to be a catalyst – something which will spark your own insights about your work, your finances, your relationships and yourself. An insight is something which once seen (by looking within, hence ‘insight’) can never be unseen. That is why there is nothing here to master and no particular skills or techniques to learn. This insight-based approach is another difference between level I and level II change, which often involves hard work and disciplined practice over time, and level III transformation, which is seemingly effortless in its application yet profound in its effects.
What makes most change seem difficult is that we are trying to do it from the outside in – that is, to change our external behaviour without making any change in how we’re seeing the situation on the inside. Because there is no internal basis for making the change, we need external motivation, reminders and any other threats and bribes we can think of in order to get us to consistently behave in the ways that we or someone else has decided are good for us. But the moment we see things differently, either because we have more information or we have had some kind of insight, change is natural and inevitable.
Let’s imagine for a moment that you travel to work each weekday morning. And let’s pretend that it’s a fairly unpleasant commute – it takes upwards of an hour there and back, and there’s either a lot of traffic at that time of day or the train is inevitably packed or both. Now, let’s say I happen to know a shortcut you could take that would enable you to bend the laws of physics and get you to work and back in no more than five minutes. Better still, the journey would be pleasant, uncrowded and rather beautiful. How many times would I have to show you the new route before you began taking it as a matter of course?
It wouldn’t matter if you had been doing things in the old way for years, or if you had low self-esteem or had had a difficult childhood. The moment you saw that that this new route was a genuinely better way to get where you wanted to go, you would begin to take it. The entire experience would have been effortless, because the external change – your new behaviour – would be the natural fruit of the internal change – your new understanding of what was possible.
In a similar way, each session in this book will enable you to see a number of ‘shortcuts’ to happiness, success and well- being. And as your understanding of what’s possible grows, your life will begin to change for the better, all by itself.
How to Use this Book
Perhaps the most effective way to use this book would be to read it through from cover to cover, then to go back and spend a week or so playing with the ideas in each session. But then again, perhaps not.
Each person is unique, and the value you will get from reading this book will be found more in the insights it provokes than the actual content or exercises. In other words, you may get everything you need in one reading, but if you find yourself wanting more, it’s designed to stand up to deeper inspection and introspection.
In this book I will be sharing a few strategies and techniques that my clients and I have found effective in creating more and more wonderful lives. But by and large I will be focusing on new perspectives – new ways of seeing that will lead to seeing new possibilities and taking new actions in your life and the lives of the people you care about most. At the beginning of each session, you’ll find a story.
These are written for a different part of your mind and are there simply to be enjoyed. Don’t worry if you can’t figure out why a particular story is at the beginning of a particular session – if it matters, the connection will come to you, and if it doesn’t matter, well, it doesn’t matter!
You will also find two kinds of exercises throughout the text:
In my work with private clients and discussions with readers and students, I have come to recognize that the journey to effortless success takes people through three distinct stages of development. While the length of time it takes a person to go through each of these stages varies wildly, the stages themselves appear to be quite consistent…
Stage 1: Learning a New Way to Drive
Similarly, when I begin work with a new client, they often come to me with a list of goals they want to get started on immediately. Yet inevitably our first few sessions together are spent clearing up loose ends in their life and building a foundation which will ultimately support their dreams. The general report from people in this phase is a sense of ease and wellbeing that begins to permeate their life, coupled with a sense of surprise that things have begun to shift in their circumstances ‘all by themselves’. This can be unsettling! As one client said to me with great concern in his voice, ‘The problem is, I don’t have any more problems.’
When you are in this stage, you may find yourself worrying about not being worried and being a bit upset about the fact that nothing seems to upset you anymore. As another client told me, ‘It feels like something is missing from my life.’ When we explored this statement further, it turned out that what was missing was all the stress!
While for some people the relief of reaching this kind of equanimity is success enough, I’m interested in complete transformation. Some of my clients were already pretty far down the road to success when they first hired me, but after a while it’s as though they’ve learned to drive in a whole new way. That’s why for me, peace of mind and greater contentment and happiness are not the end of the road but the place where the journey really begins…
Stage 2: Driving Daddy’s Ferrari
At this stage, people often go back and forth between being thrilled with the way that their life is unfolding and terrified that ‘the magic will stop working’ and they’ll go right back to how things were before we started.
One day a client explained this feeling to me by saying, ‘It’s like I’m driving my daddy’s Ferrari – it’s incredibly fun and I’m really moving forward, but every time I start to feel that I’m going too fast, I slam on the brakes because I’m terrified of crashing the car!’
My explanation for this is simple:
creating effortless success is all about being.
It’s easy to track the cause and effect with a doing-based model – the more you do, the better the result. But in creating effortless success, you do less and achieve more. People often get uncomfortable in this stage because they haven’t yet seen the connection between how they’re being in the world and the results they’re producing.
Amazing things happen at first, but the results begin to diminish over time. It seems as though things aren’t working as well as they used to, or that the ‘magic’ only works on the small stuff.
Sometimes, the discomfort can get so, well, uncomfortable that people would rather go back to doing things the way they used to. Even though it’s harder and less sustainable, at least it makes sense to them – at least they feel they have some control.
But for those people who stick with it, there is a third stage, the most wonderful stage of all…
Stage 3: Owning the Garage
In this stage, you realize it’s not daddy’s Ferrari, it’s yours – and that it’s just one of the wonderful cars you have in your garage. There’s no fear that ‘it will stop working’ because you realize that ‘it’ never worked – the power to create the life you wanted to live was inside you right from the very beginning.
What seems to facilitate this transition is a new level of understanding of how it all works – an insight or series of insights into what’s really going on. And whether that understanding is triggered by a coach, a seminar, a book or even a casual comment by a friend, once you really see it, you can never lose it. Because the realization comes from inside you, it’s yours to keep.
So let’s look directly at you for a moment. Which stage of development does it seem that you’re currently at?
Wherever you currently are, you can use the ten sessions in this book to assist with your transition – either from struggle to ease or from ease to peace. As you set your direction, stay with your good feelings and listen for the whispers of wisdom, you’ll be amazed at how easy that transition will be.
Your journey begins just as soon as you turn this page…