“Whether you think you can, or you think you can't—you're right.” - Henry Ford
Henry Ford captures the power of belief elegantly in this one statement.
If we think (believe) we can make it to the top of the mountain no matter what it takes, WE WILL. If we think (believe) we would need to refuel, rest and get a host of other things before we finish the climb, then - that's exactly what is going to happen. Except perhaps, once we take the detour to refuel and etc, the goal may seem less appealing and become less attainable.
The topic of BELIEF is VERY close to my heart, I could literally write a book on it. If you just took a minute to reflect upon our life, you too will find a few highlights where a change in belief changed an experience, outcome or even the way you think about the world.
Belief drives ALL our experiences (the good and the bad), and in my opinion, is the stuff that creates "MAGIC" and "MIRACLES" in our lives.
My first MIND BLOWN, complete paradigm shift moment, came when I was introduced to this documentary called "What the Bleep do We Know?". I was intrigued by what the scientists had to say.
For the sake of this discussion I'm going to focus on one whom I followed up with, Bruce Lipton. I bought his book, "The Biology of Belief" and dove deeper into the DNA aspects of belief. What was previously thought as a fixed blueprint, is now replaced with evidence on how our environment can influence genetic expression and even alter it. Several studies in recent years, reveal the same.
I am not here to write a review of these studies, but to discuss how BELIEF impacts our life on a regular basis. Before we talk about beliefs, let's look at how we arrive at a belief, and how that belief in turn impacts who we are, how we operate in the world and what untapped potential and opportunities it offers us.
So, let's look at a model that explains this succinctly. The Neurological Levels model adapted from Dilt's "Logical Levels" in Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) offers a good overview of how we arrive at our values and beliefs, identity, and our model of the world. From this, we see how this model of the world, which is unique to every individual, then influences all other levels as shown in the diagram below.
Let's begin at the basic level of learning, and that is through our environment. Whether in a classroom, playground, at home or at work, we learn through the context in which we live in. This can be through the actual setting itself, the people we interact with, the culture and the guidelines or expectations of being/functioning in that environment. A simple example would be behaviour of dancing. This may not be acceptable in a place of worship in some cultures, but acceptable in others. When the context/environment changes to a dance floor, this behaviour becomes completely normal and acceptable.
Behaviours are what we do (or don't do), what we say (or don't say). It is action based, or lack thereof. Behavioural level offers a huge learning opportunity as we receive feedback, results and interaction based on the behaviours we express. We also learn based on how others behave towards us. For example, a child that is repeatedly told to be quiet around adults may learn to become silent around people.
This level relates to the skills, talents, strategies and resources that guide our behaviour. These could also be improved upon by increasing or decreasing certain behaviours; refining our learning and competency. At a generic level, this simply refers to what we are capable of doing given the resources we have gathered over the years.
Attitudes and Motivation
Simply put, this is how we show up to a context, and the motivation behind how we show up. We could either show up with a positive attitude because we are excited by growth and exploration; or we could show up with a negative attitude because we don't like change and prefer the status quo.
Values and Beliefs
Everything that we have gathered from the environment, our behaviour, competency levels, attitudes and motivation; all form our values and beliefs. Values and beliefs, also trickle down and affect the afore mentioned levels.
If our value lies in learning and growth, then we would have a positive attitude and motivation to develop our skills and competencies by taking part in activities and discussions that promote this.
Refers to who we are, or rather who we THINK we are, and sometimes, who we think OTHERS think we are. Identity includes but is not limited to the roles we play in life.
Identity is an intricate and complex network of thoughts, ideas, beliefs, skills and behaviour that makes up who we are. We could believe we are just BAD at math, and not bother doing accounts or balance sheets, to one's detriment. We may believe that we are of weak constitution and not take up any sporting activity; and the list goes on.
Our identity is made up of HUNDREDS, if not THOUSANDS of beliefs. Our core values are very much instilled in here. Our cultural, ethnic and national identity is entwined into who we are.
Model of the World
How we see the world and how we choose to operate in it (consciously or otherwise) is based on the culmination of all the previous levels that form our filters, identity, values, beliefs. It is the map with which we operate in the world, hence it governs our choices, communication and behaviour.
In coaching, we deeply respect one's model of the world. Each person is unique and what is true for one is not so for another. It is also empowering because we respect each other for the way we see and interpret things.
The Power of Belief
Expounding now on the earlier discussion on the power of belief; upon discovering how our thoughts influence our biology (and in that neurology too), my entire model of the world changed.
This does happen to us across the span of a lifetime, we experience loss of loved ones, tragedies, and life altering moments that changes our beliefs, attitudes and everything we once thought to be true and dear to us.
In this case, it was information that completely changed my perspective. I researched deeper into the topic and worked on changing my behaviour and beliefs. I learnt skills to recognise these belief patterns and how I could effectively impact change.
This knowledge was put into practice when I met my spiritual coach who switched me from seeing is believing. to BELIEVING is SEEING. I am continually called to and sometimes reminded, to design and co-create through empowering beliefs. Operating from this level has opened up many opportunities to experience things I never thought possible.
“Some things have to be believed to be seen.”
― Madeleine L'Engle
As a result, it has changed the way I think, speak and act - PERMANENTLY. I am aligned at all levels of my internal framework / neurological levels.
In coaching, the power of transformation lies in first creating awareness for the client; specifically of the gaps that are preventing them from achieving what they want. This is followed by empowering the client to create change and discover new possibilities and realities in their world, given that the solutions are directed from the right framework.
So, why are Neurological Levels important in coaching? Let’s look at a case study.
A client felt she was failing at her waking up early goal. This is a worthwhile goal to aspire for. However, she was feeling bad about not achieving it. When asked why this goal is important, she responded by stating it is necessary to be productive in a day. The client felt she wasn’t motivated enough.
She also went on to state that she felt like a “lazy” person. Upon further investigation however, it was revealed that the client is highly productive and functioning quite well. This helped reveal the discrepancy between the actual level of competence of the client and her defined identity what a productive person looks like. It turned out that the client was comparing her identity with that of others.
This influenced how the client viewed the world and how she SHOULD operate in it, whilst beating herself up for failing at it. As we moved down the levels, we discovered that the client is indeed able to wake up early, but her habits were getting in the way of having a schedule that supports waking up early.
In this case study above, although the client seemed to be feeling bad about her attitude and motivation, OTHER areas and levels were the real culprits affecting the outcome. With faulty beliefs, and an identity mismatch, it was hard for the client to align with the goal. Also, believing oneself to be LAZY hinders one from believing they are productive and high functioning, diminishing their belief in themselves, discounting their strengths and focusing instead on the problem (at the wrong level).
Finding that the REAL gap at the behavioural level, helped design a solution that aligned with the rest of the client’s neurological levels - that she is indeed a hardworking, productive and highly motivated individual who just needed to change her habits.
I was the client in the above case study, and I was working with my mentor coach, Mel Leow to understand how my neurological levels were impacting me. What a revelation it was! Got some habits to change, and feeling more empowered!
In coaching, the levels serve as a guide and entry point to understand where the client may feel stuck, it is not information that is revealed directly to the client, but helps create awareness and alignment. A client might SEE themselves having a gap in one area, whilst their internal framework may reveal that the solution may in fact lie elsewhere.
When one’s neurological level is ALIGNED at ALL levels; change is sustainable. Beliefs, values, identities, models of the world, competencies, behaviour and environment ALL lined up internally; support a transformation that STICKS!
"I was exhilarated by the new realization that I could change the character of my life by changing my beliefs. I was instantly energized because I realized that there was a science-based path that would take me from my job, as a perennial “victim” to my new position as “co-creator” of my destiny.”
― Bruce H. Lipton Ph.D.
**Note: This blog entry is to meet Catalyst Coaching Certification course content of FLOW5 C.O.A.C.H Process on the Awareness module: "COACHING THROUGH NEUROLOGICAL LEVELS TO GREATER AWARENESS, INSIGHTS & SUCCESS!"
**Disclaimer: Although I have placed a few reference links in the blog above, I am NOT promoting these sites/channels. They are there as a matter of information should anyone wish to pursue their curiosity further.
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