Within each person, lies a complex web of thoughts, values, beliefs, attitudes that in turn affects their behaviour, identity and world view. I know this, because I have been trying to understand myself for the past 41 years of my life. Neurological levels has been likened to an onion… there are many layers, and every time you peel a layer, you discover another layer. As I grow older, I experience success and failures in different areas of my life. All these experiences shape my thoughts and the story I tell myself. It’s that inner voice that dictates my movement.

A few weeks ago, I faced a number of challenges at work that made me really upset. From the failure of a team member to perform, to failure of technology, to events not going well… I took on all these responsibilities upon my shoulder and felt really awful about it.

The narrative I told myself was “I can’t be successful when things don’t go smoothly at work.” This statement was filtered through past experiences of failure, insecurity and the desire to remain at the top of my game.

Using Robert Dilts’ neurological levels graph below, I tried to analyse my narrative into the 7 layers.

I can’t be successful when things don’t go smoothly at work.”

Environment – Work (This is a very important space for me… a good work environment with a great team will help build a successful business)
Behaviours – Things (Referring to processes, events, tasks and responsibilities that I am in charge of)
Competencies – Don’t go smoothly (Relating to the skills, capabilities and talents that were sub-par in my opinion)
Motivations & attitudes – successful (I strive for success in everything that I do)
Values & beliefs – can’t (This limiting belief about my inability can be crippling and ripple downwards to everything I do or don’t do.)
Identity – I (Probably the layer that hits me the most… I am led to believe that I am a failure at work for not performing.)

Level Unlocked

This is so complex, my brain is running on overload. But I understand how an awareness to these layers can release coachees from the things that hold them back. As an aspiring coach, my challenge is to be sensitive to the different areas of emphasis so I can identify which layer the coachee is speaking from, and ask relevant questions to unlock that stage.

Almost sounds like a computer game.

Questions to get a coachee unstuck

Environment (When / Where = Time / modality) – What kind of environment would you like to have?
Behaviour (What = Actions / responsibilities) – What needs to happen here?
Competencies (What / How = Skills / strategies) – How would you change this?
Motivations and attitudes (How much / fast = Quantum / intensity) – What needs to happen for you to achieve this?
Values & Beliefs (Why = Motive / intention) – What’s stopping you?
Identity (Who = Being / doing) – Who do you need to be?

Coming back to my example above, when I experienced those thoughts and emotions, it was real to me. That was my reality at that time. But when I could peel the layers to identify the areas I was stuck at, I realised that I shaped my identity on my team’s success. I also realised that one failure does not mean I am a complete failure at life.

Bam, level unlocked.

Cover image credits: Photo by Paul IJsendoorn from Pexels

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