Wheel of Life

Wheel of life

When life is busy, or all our energy is sometimes focused in a particular area, it’s all too easy to find ourselves off balance, not paying enough attention to important areas of our life. While we need to have drive and focus if we’re going to get things done, taking this too far can lead to frustration and stress.

The Wheel of Life is a simple but powerful tool designed to help you get a graphical representation of the present balance between different areas regarding your personal life or organisation, and identify which will most benefit you by improving. Its typically been used in the context of “Life Coaching” but is equally relevant in all approaches to Coaching, especially at the start of a client relationship with clients who are facing enormous multiple pressures. It helps get people “into the helicopter” to take a step back and look at their lives as an overall entirety.

One of the great things about this approach is that you can use it to look at different areas of your life.You decide on your focus, for example your personal life or your business, and create your own headings to review.

The Wheel of Life example attached uses a typical overall 8 sections of your life; you score your sense of satisfaction for each category, with 0 being worst and 10 being best, and enter your score in the box adjacent to the relevant segment, or shade it in.

The Coaches role is then to work with the client what their scoring means, using the central metaphor of “if this wheel were a tyre on your car, how bumpy would the ride be?”

Anchoring Technique

Anchoring technique

“Anchoring” is one of the fundamental tools of NLP which can be powerful in helping you to have more confidence, enthusiasm and be more relaxed when meeting people.

Its a simple way to allow you to change an unwanted feeling to a resourceful feeling in a matter of moments. When you create an NLP anchor you set up a stimulus response pattern so that you can feel the way you want to, when you need to.

In NLP, “anchoring” refers to the process of associating an internal response with some external or internal trigger so that the response may be quickly, and sometimes covertly, re-accessed. Anchoring is a process that on the surface is similar to the “conditioning” technique used by Pavlov to create a link between the hearing of a bell and salivation in dogs. By associating the sound of a bell with the act of giving food to his dogs, Pavlov found he could eventually just ring the bell and the dogs would start salivating, even though no food was given. In the behaviorist’s stimulus-response conditioning formula, however, the stimulus is always an environmental cue and the response is always a specific behavioural action. The association is considered reflexive and not a matter of choice.

In NLP this type of associative conditioning has been expanded to include links between other aspects of experience than purely environment cues and behavioral responses. A remembered picture may become an anchor for a particular internal feeling, for instance. A voice tone may become an anchor for a state of excitement or confidence. A person may consciously choose to establish and re-trigger these associations for himself. Rather than being a mindless knee-jerk reflex, an anchor becomes a tool for self empowerment. Anchoring can be a very useful tool for helping to establish and reactivate the mental processes associated with creativity, learning, concentration and other important resources.

It is significant that the metaphor of an “anchor” is used in NLP terminology. The anchor of a ship or boat is attached by the members of the ships crew to some stable point in order to hold the ship in a certain area and keep it from floating away. The implication of this is that the cue which serves as a psychological “anchor” is not so much a mechanical stimulus which “causes” a response as it is a reference point that helps to stabilize a particular state. To extend the analogy fully, a ship could be considered the focus our consciousness on the ocean of experience. Anchors serve as reference points which help us to find a particular location on this experiential sea and to hold our attention there and keep it from drifting.

Imagine what it would be like if you could, in a moment, go from feeling anxious to feeling decisive and absolutely capable right in the middle of a stressful interview when all eyes are on you, or dealing with an individual you struggle to get along with.

The NLP Anchoring Techniques can be accessed here


Career Review Coaching Tools

Career Review Coaching Tools

Whether people have many years of experience or are unsure of their career direction, different career assessment tools can help them gain a better understanding of themselves, expand career options, find a good match with employers, and identify strengths for the ever shifting workplace.

Also see Career change article for further background on career change and the practicals of creating CVs and good interview practice.

The “Career Drivers Assessment”

The Career Drivers Assessment asks individuals to respond to a series of questions around the “drivers” for their career, looking at areas like material rewards, meaning, creativity and affiliation

Career Anchors approach

A “Career Anchor” is a combination of perceived areas of competence, motives, and values relating to professional work choices, developed by Edgar Schein. To help people avoid these problems, Career Anchors help people uncover their real values and use them to make better career choices and includes reviewing their talents, values and attitudes.

Career Coaching Tool

The Career coaching tool can be used to explore how an individual’s interests align with their skill set.

Ideal “Job description”

The IDEAL JOB DESCRIPTION exercise inverts the normal way of matching individuals to jobs advertised, and instead asks to identify the key characteristics or attributes that they want to see in a future role for themselves.based on their current transferable skills and attributes they want to see in a future role in terms of areas like working in a team, autonomy, creativity as well as practical considerations of salary and travel.

Mind Tools Personal Development Plan workbook

The Mind Tools Career Personal Development Planning  workbook is a comprehensive workbook covering sections on; understanding yourself, defining your career objectives, and the creation of a personal development plan.

The “Drivers” Tool

The “Drivers Tool”

A “Driver” is an important concept in Transactional Analysis. It was created by the American psychologist Taibi Kahler and is now used worldwide.

By identifying and overcoming Drivers people can significantly improve their wellbeing as well as their effectiveness, creativity, communication and relationships.

The concept of Drivers is a powerful tool that can help achieve personal growth and change.

The 5 Drivers are:

  • Please Me!
  • Be Strong!
  • Hurry Up!
  • Try Hard!
  • Be Perfect!

Drivers are messages we receive from our parents and incorporate as dysfunctional problem-solving strategies during childhood. We activate them when we feel challenged as to our basic OK-ness in order to regain our balance, but the result can lead to problems in the short or long term.

Descriptions of the Drivers

  • Be Strong, leads to an attempt to solve problems by being strong, carrying heavy loads, to put up with more or less unbearable conditions, etc. The internal message that you give to yourself is that you should not let others think that you are weak. People with Be Strong Drivers often does not always see themselves as fully responsible for their thoughts and – especially – for their feelings. Still the person often appears rational on the outside.
  • Please Me. A person that is in an active Please Me Driver often cares more about others and other peoples needs than about him or herself.  The internal message is that one can be good enough only by taking care of others, and that doing so will make others appreciate you – the main goal for a person in a Please Me Driver! People with this Driver tend to see themselves as responsible for how other people feel.
  • Hurry up, can lead to rushing things when it is not necessary and sometimes even when it would be better to take ones time. The internal message that people with Hurry Up Drivers gives themselves is that they will be late for something (makes you think about the Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland, doesn’t it?). Maybe a person with ‘too much time on her/his hands’ is perceived as idle? Anyway one feels that one is not good enough when not in a hurry.
  • Be Perfect. This driver makes a person seek perfection in one or several ways. Often in terms of maintaining a completely flawless exterior, maybe in trying to achieve  ‘perfect’ speech, ‘perfect’ arrangements etc. The internal message is “You ought to be better”. One is not good enough if one happens to make a mistake. Instead a person with this Driver will constantly try to improve himself/herself hoping to one day become accepted. By whom? We do not know, but in order to be perfect one should probably be accepted by all.
  • Try hard is ruled by the motto that it is the effort that matters. People with this Driver feel OK when they work very hard, whether they actually accomplish something or not. At least they tried. They have a tendency to make things complicated and to lose themselves in details instead of seeing the broad outlines.  The basic message is that you are not working hard enough.


Using the Tool

From a Coaches perspective, its useful as a tool perhaps at the “reality” or story telling part of the Coaching journey, along with supporting clients to reflect on when they might exhibit these behaviours and how to work on this. From a clients point of view, it may well help greater self awareness of “liability type” behaviour, along with a responsibility for tackling the worst excesses.

The Drivers Working styles questionairre and summary can be accessed here and saved as a word document.The concept of ‘driver’ behaviour was developed by two transactional analysts, Kahler and Hedges (TAJ 4.1 p.32), and written about by Mavis Klein in “Pain and joy” (Boyars 1993). This questionnaire was created based on the work of those authors by Mary Cox, and due acknowledgement is given here.

CBT Coaching approaches

CBT Coaching approaches

Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapeutic treatment that helps individuals understand the thoughts and feelings that influence behaviours. CBT is commonly used to treat a wide range of disorders including phobias, addiction, depression and anxiety, and has a good evidence base on its efficacy.

Cognitive behavior therapy is generally short-term and focused on helping clients deal with a very specific problem. During the course of treatment, people learn how to identify and change destructive or disturbing thought patterns that have a negative influence on behavior.
The underlying concept behind CBT is that our thoughts and feelings play a fundamental role in our behavior. For example, a person who spends a lot of time thinking about plane crashes, runway accidents, and other air disasters may find themselves avoiding air travel. The goal of cognitive behaviour therapy is to teach individuals that while they cannot control every aspect of the world around them, they can take control of how they interpret and deal with things in their environment.

CBT in Coaching

Creativity 1CBT has an excellent record in achieving long lasting changes within an individual. Although CBT, as the name suggests, is most often associated with ‘therapy’ it is well known that its philosophical stance and powerful techniques can be applied in many different areas. Cognitive behavioural approaches to coaching are now well established and it is one of the most researched, effective and extensively used forms of coaching. It is now widely believed that CBT not only works ‘best’ in the therapy room but it is also ‘best’ in business coaching.
• CBT has been consistently proven to work in assisting individuals to achieve their potential and reach their goals.
• CBT challenges debilitating beliefs, enhances motivation, self worth and problem solving abilities.
• CBT is consistently goal orientated and aims to promote new thoughts and behaviours to the point where they become internalised as new helpful habits.
• CBT meets the demands of the highly intellectual client as well as being able to cater to the needs of those less academically inclined.
• CBT importantly enables the client to achieve independence from their coach by teaching them to ‘coach themselves’.

CBT Coaching applies the techniques of CBT in a non-therapeutic way to the problems of every day life enabling individuals to rapidly and efficiently reach their goals.


A Coaching CBT Model

The CBT Coaching tool works on the basis of helping individuals to:
• Generate awareness of their potential for distorted thinking or “cognitive distortions”
• Provides a tool to “track” when these distortions happen, and ways in which to think in a more realistic way.

There is also a really useful CBT 5 PART MODEL that takes people through a situation, thoughts, emotions, physical state and behaviour to help them understand a difficult they are facing better.


Johari Window

Johari Window

I was looking through some Coaching resources recently, and came across the Johari window as a possible coaching tool. Like many, I know of it, but couldn’t quite remember all the 4 quadrants, and re-appraising was a good exercise.

The Johari window is a useful tool to apply in coaching work . It can be helpful in explaining to a client how they can sometimes limit their self-knowledge and restrict their own understanding of their potential.

Perhaps the thing we most remember is that its named after the juxtaposition of the first names of its inventors, Joseph Luft and Harry Ingram. As a model it can help people understand elements of their behaviour, what they see of themselves, how it could be perceived by others and what isn’t being seen by anyone.

The 4 Quadrants

We all behave in a way that is visible to both ourselves and others.
This is our ‘Open Area’…the face we present to the world. This is constrained by our beliefs, values and social norms but allows us to function in the world.

We do, however, hide some of the things we believe (our personality and our desires) from other people and this is the ‘Private Area’.
This often protects both ourselves and others from perhaps harmful thoughts and comments. This is normally hidden by the facade that we present in our ‘Open Area’.

Good examples of this behaviour are how we limit what we say and perhaps tell little ‘white lies’ to protect the feelings of others, like saying we cant make a meeting because of a clashing committment, or the “creation” of another meeting.

People’s behaviour can often be interpreted in a manner different to what was intended. That area is called the ‘Blind Area’, visible to others, but blind to the client.

A coach, along with others will be able to see and comment on both the ‘Open Area’ (behaviour that the client exhibits) and this ‘Blind Area’.
This ‘Blind Area’ is the area that is open to interpretation or behaviour that the client cannot personally see or misinterprets.

This is typified for example by the Manager who thinks they are helping, but the staff member just sees it as over controlling, micromanaging and interfering. This is an area that a coach can be helpful in, as the feedback from a coach is provided without any agenda other than to benefit the client.

The final area is the ‘Hidden Area’. This is hidden from everyone, and is the region that a coach will help a client explore. This is where a client can find new resources, new values and potentially some very powerful insights into who they are and what it is that they want.

Self Reflection potential

Awareness of the framework can help individuals build effective communication with others, such as:

  • Asking for Feedback – so others know the individual cares about what they think and that their opinion and views are taken seriously
  • Self-Disclosure – taking opportunities to share things about oneself with others: being prepared to be vulnerable, so people can come to understand
  • Self-Discovery – As people share things with others, this is  a good time for them to find out more about themselves. As people self reflect more and share more about themselves, they grow as individuals
  • The opportunity to work on things together as a Team. Some of the research was originally done in application to team theory, and it can be done as a powerful team exercise

Using the model 

An awareness of the Johari window framework can allow a client to understand, that they sometimes interpret their behaviour in an entirely different way to the way that of others interpret that behaviour.

Secondly, a discussion about the ‘Hidden Area’ can often allow the client to accept that there are elements of everyone (including themselves) that are hidden from everyone, including themselves.

This allows the coach to them move the client into the frame of mind that allows them to start considering what possibilities are hidden away, just waiting to be discovered and exploited.

This approach can be a powerful way to help the client see that there is more untapped potential within them, accept that is the case and then agree to spend time looking for that untapped potential.

Personality Traits

Personality Traits


“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to a better understanding of ourselves”. (Carl Jung)  

Have you ever wondered why you get on really well with some people, and why you struggle with others?  There can be a multitude of reasons for this related to shared experiences (or lack of them), values and background, but it’s always worth considering respective personality traits as part of the mix. Continue reading

Values and beliefs Tools

Values and Beliefs Tools

Values represent your core beliefs. What is important to you? What drives you? These create the building blocks for everything you do. These create your base. Everything grows from here. At their heart, they are fundamental “policies” that define who we are. Continue reading

Self confidence in Coaching work

Self confidence in Coaching work

Self-confidence  refers to a feeling of trust in one’s abilities, qualities, and judgement. Confidence” comes from the Latin fidere, “to trust.” To be self-confident is to trust in oneself, and, in particular, in one’s ability or aptitude to engage successfully or at least adequately with the world. A self-confident person is ready to rise to new challenges, seize opportunities, deal with difficult situations, and take responsibility if and when things go awry. Another way of putting is about individuals having a deep conviction and feeling in their own importance and value as a person, irrespective of their performance and behaviour. I understand none of us are immune from others opinions, but generally self confidence is like a well rooted tree of self awareness and a positive view of self.

A few overall thoughts on self confidence in relation to coaching;

  1. The first thought building on the definition of self confidence is that the highest form of self confidence is from the inside out, rather than the outside in. If a person needs validation from outside all the time they look to others too frequently for affirmation, recognition and approval. They gain their confidence through a sense that others are approving of them, their choices and behaviour. One of the the main issues with needing external validation is just how tiring it can be to have to perform for others all the time. This isn’t to say that we don’t need an awareness of others, but a sense that we are filling our own reservoir, with a bit of top up from others, not the other way round. In coaching work this may be looking at how much internal reflection and self compassion the individual gives themselves.

2. I am struck in coaching work in self confidence around the idea of authenticity and values. Having authenticity is about having a good degree of self awareness and making choices that align with knowing who you are, your strengths, your challenges, and ultimately, your values. Values represent your core beliefs: what is important to you? What drives you? These create the building blocks for everything you do (there is more around values and coaching tools for these here). These create your base. Everything grows from here. At their heart, values are fundamental “policies” that define who we are, and when we wander too far from them, we can lose a sense of our core. Sometimes people haven’t ever had the opportunity to look at what their underlying values and purpose are , particularly professionally.

3. The next thought is being able to embrace our vulnerability. I sometimes reflect when I see behind individuals intricately built and outwardly effective screens/masks, how much they are struggling with feelings of low self esteem and “imposter syndrome”. One of the key principles of vulnerability expressed in Brene Brown’s work is to understand that we are not alone; there is a universality to feelings of periodic anxiety and vulnerability that others feel too, and it can help to be able to share these feelings with trusted others that somehow help us to overcome and defeat them over time.


4. Finally, holding onto our resilience. The whole area of resilience is an important constituent of self confidence. None of us sails through life without tough stuff happening. Resilience is the ability to recover quickly from setbacks and adversity: to stay committed and increase our efforts when the going gets tough, and have a well developed “bounce back facility”.This coping may result in the individual “bouncing back” to a previous state of normal functioning, or even using the experience of exposure to adversity to produce a “steeling effect” and function better than expected. For me its linked closely to self confidence, as it provides us with the faith that we will steady the ship, that even in the midst of tough times, we will emerge out the other side intact and have gained a lot of learning from the experience. The encouraging thing about resilience is that if we know what to work on to build our self resilience reservoir, we cal learn to do this.

Working with low self confidence issues isn’t uncommon in Coaching. If I reflect on client work over the last few years, I can hardly think of a instance where self confidence hasn’t been part of the coaching work in some form or other. There are a number of possible tools that may help identify the causes of low self esteem, and some that help “find” or bolster self confidence that has temporarily been lost.

Diagnostic Tools

These are tools that help the client and the coach identify in more depth the issues and challenges the client is facing with self confidence, before moving onto possible ways to understand where things go wrong, and how they can react differently (click on the blue highlighted words to go to links/downloads of the tools) :


  •  Asking someone starting work in Coaching about the whole of themselves is a useful and probably essential part of the initial session. The “whole” person has evolved from life experience, so for both the client and the Coach, telling and hearing the life story is one way to begin to understand the client’s world.
  • It’s important to take care with this tool, and not to stray too far into interpretative aspects, but it can unearth important aspects of where aspects of low self esteem originate from, whether recent or longer standing
  • It’s also important to stress the Coaching approach here, rather than more of a therapeutic approach. In the latter, it may be enough to bring issues around low self esteem to the persons awareness to be able to “work through”, but in a Coaching context its more about an action orientation; e.g. using CBT techniques in troubling situations the client faces
  • For more information on how to use the AUTOBIOGRAPHY tool click on the highlighted word

Self confidence assessment

  • A series of questions to help the client (which could be done at a session or independent of a session and brought to talk through)
  • Covers areas such as: what is self confidence; where do you struggle with it? What are your coping mechanisms?
  • To view an example template of the Self Confidence Review, click on the highlighted words
  • Or alternatively, complete the Mind Tools self confidence questionnaire

Practical Working exercises

Psychoach : the ABDCE way of thinking

A CBT technique that helps clients challenge difficult situations they encounter by taking them through a 5 step process of challenging negative thoughts and feelings, and thinking about difficult situations in a more balanced and realistic way

The Confidence Wall

  • To convince yourself that you’re a successful person who can continue to achieve great things, it may be helpful to take some time and reflect on all your achievements and what matters to you. This exercise commits people to acknowledging their achievements through looking at their values, their skills and attributes, and tangible and intangible achievements
  • Part of the sustaining part of the work is for the client to keep the exercise close at hand to refer back to over time

NLP Anchoring Techniques

The Anchoring technique works on the basis of using an “anchor feeling” of positivity, especially when faced with a difficult situation. It requires the client to select a feeling they would like to have in a particular situation and create a physical “anchor” of that feeling that they can go back to when they need to



Drivers Working Styles

  • A driver is a part of us that believes if we behave in a certain way then we will do well, avoid problems and earn the respect of others (e.g. hurry up, be perfect, please people). There are five characteristic working styles, called “Drivers”, and each of us tends to have a preference for one or two particular styles, taken from Transactional Analysis theory
  • Whilst our driver can sometimes be strength, under stress it can severely limit our capacity to be effective. The more stressed we get, the more we get locked into compulsive driver behaviour. This exercise requires people to find their key and secondary driver, and work out some improvement strategies


The Autobiography approach

The Autobiography approach

Asking someone starting work in Coaching to take you through their background is an important part of an initial session. It establishes rapport and interest in the whole person, not just the work person. The “whole” person has evolved from life experience, so for both the client and the Coach, telling and hearing the life story is one way to begin to understand the client’s world Continue reading

Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP)

Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP)

Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) is a controversial approach to psychotherapy and organisational change based on “a model of interpersonal communication chiefly concerned with the relationship between successful patterns of behaviour and the subjective experiences (esp. patterns of thought) underlying them”. Its also referred to as “a system of alternative therapy based on this which seeks to educate people in self-awareness and effective communication, and to change their patterns of mental and emotional behaviour”. Continue reading

Transactional Analysis overview

Transactional Analysis overview


“The eternal problem of the human being is how to structure his/her waking hours” 
 Eric BerneGames People Play

Transactional analysis, commonly known as “TA” to its adherents, is an integrative approach to the theory of psychology and psychotherapy. It is described as integrative because it has elements of psychoanalytic, humanist and cognitive approaches.

Continue reading