NLP Liverpool

Coaching Tips

Setting Direction.

Part 1 – "The Big Question".

“Brains aren't designed to get results; they go in directions.
If you know how the brain works you can set your own directions.
If you don't, then someone else will.”

Richard Bandler

A picture of globe on the beach and the words - The World is your Oyster.
The World Is Your Oyster.

Is your life mapped out and going the way you planned?

Are you heading where you want to go or are you at a crossroads?

Are you, or someone you know, about to make what could be big career decisions?

My clients in HR and recruitment tell me August tends to be quiet and they often wait until autumn to fill positions. During the summer, people have time to stop and think about their careers, and start to seek new opportunities for change or development.

At this time of year, fresh graduates and about half of school leavers are ready for the first step in their career.

August is also the time when exam results come in and big decisions are made. Some head off to their first choice university, others may be disappointed or even devasted and have to stop and reassess where their life will take them.

For those of us who’ve reached a certain age, we can look back over our careers and realise that the direction we started in, may not be where we ended up today. Circumstances change, industries change, technology creates new opportunities (social media manager wasn’t even a thing until 2010) or perhaps we were inspired by something along the way.

We took decisions, we pursued opportunities and here we are.

If we’d asked our younger selves, 30, 20 or even 10 years ago “What will you be doing in 2023?” would the answer really be, what you are doing right now?

For some, it will be the same, for many, I suspect the answer to that question is likely to be very different.

Nearly 40 years ago I started my working life as a shepherd!

So with the benefit of hindsight, we recognise that careers develop along the way. For many people, their lives are influenced by circumstances rather than good decisions.

It’s a bad decision to do nothing or stay put when we are going nowhere, be it in your career or in your life in general.

So, what stops you (or your clients) from taking matters into your own hands and setting a direction?

About twenty years ago a 30-something client came to see me for a coaching session and I started with the question I usually ask a new client.

Me “So, what are you after? How can I help?”

Client “I don’t know, I feel I’m at a crossroads in life, and I don’t know what to do.”

Now, I knew I must help the client set a goal for herself, but how to word the question to motivate and inspire her to find a goal she’d be drawn to. So I thought about what she actually said and I wondered what would happen if I turned her answer on its head, and explored that instead.

So I asked her “If you knew you couldn’t fail… what would you do?”

After sitting back and relaxing, she defocused her eyes and raised them towards the ceiling. Her eyes darted back and forth from left to right for nearly a minute, until she finally answered – “I’d be a writer, an author… ever since I was a little girl, I’ve always wanted to be an author.”

The change in her demeanour was dramatic, her face was glowing, she was filled with energy and was excited by the idea. Of course, I needed to explore this goal further and help her make this an achievable prospect. (We’ll cover this in another article, for the moment we’ll stick with the “Big Question”…)

The BIG question

“If you knew you couldn’t fail… what would you do?”

So, what did the question actually do?

Firstly, it removed, if only momentarily, any limiting beliefs she had about herself. She had to see herself succeeding at whatever it was in order to answer the question.

Secondly, it brought back memories of her dreams and desires for herself as a little girl. A time when she could dream big, a time when anything was possible. From there, we could mould and shape it, examine the resources she had available to achieve the goal and create a timeline for the goal to be achieved. (She is now a published author.)

How can YOU help people at “big decision” time.

The trick is, to find out what fires up our clients.

What gets them excited?

What did they dream of doing as a child?

What motivates them now, as an adult?

Perhaps they always wanted to be a firefighter, a train driver, a midwife, or a judge. Maybe they always had a passion for wildlife, music or food, perhaps now is the time to pursue that business opportunity they’ve always dreamt of.

Whatever it is that inspires and excites them if they are looking for their next big goal, ask them “The Big Question”.

Try it yourself now, … ask yourself… “What would I do, if I couldn’t fail?”

The answer might surprise you.

Next time, we look at the questions to ask to make this goal an achievable prospect.

© NLP Liverpool Limited 2023

A picture of old keys -The Keys to effective coaching
The Keys to effective coaching