Coaching Tips from Ibsen and Erickson


Coaching Tips from Ibsen and Erickson

As couple of weeks ago in Oslo, Norway I visited the former home – now museum – of Henrik Ibsen, the great Norwegian playwright. As I noted in a previous blog post, Ibsen had a large portrait of August Strindberg  hanging in his studio. This is surprising because Strindberg was, in Ibsen’s words, his “mortal enemy.” Ibsen kept his portrait there to MOTIVATE HIMSELF to write.

I asked, in my previous blog post, what motivates you? What gets you up in the morning and motivated to work consistently and well? Sometimes we mistakenly think motivation has to be positive. Like IF we do a good job, THEN we’ll be rewarded. And THAT will be your motivation.

I remember years ago, before I started Coaching or doing NLP, I taught piano lessons for a living (among other things). I knew that, as good a teacher as I was – or as bad a teacher as I was – what was REALLY important to the student’s progress was his or her level of commitment to PRACTICE.

If you’ve read my e-Book about the E.A.S.E. method (“Step up to Mastery with EASE”), you know I’ve put a great deal of thought into getting practice to happen on a consistent basis.

So here’s this young girl, quite smart, quite talented, but who is at best very INCONSISTENT with the practicing. How do I find the key to unlock the mystery? So I asked her – just casually one day – how her parents get her to do her homework on a given d

ay if she isn’t getting it done. She says, “Well, my Mom will say to me ‘if you don’t do your homework, I’m going to STRANGLE you!'”

I said something like “Oh really? And that works?” She said, “Oh yeah. I go and do it right away.”

So that day, at the end of our lesson I reviewed with her what she was to practice and focus on that week and said to her, “Now listen. If you don’t practice EVERYDAY this week, I’m going to STRANGLE you!” and did my best to use the same inflection in my voice she had demonstrated in hers. She looked at me with wide eyes for just an extra second before her said “OK, I will,” and grabbed her books and left.

Guess what? It worked. She showed me her practice log we kept in the back of her assignment book and everyday was filled in. Not only that, it was clear from her playing that she’s really done it.

Milton Erickson once said that as a psychotherapist we must DISCOVER YOUR CLIENT’S PATTERNS OF HAPPINESS. This is some of the best advice for how to do effective psychotherapy ever given. It is, obviously, great advice for Coaches too. AND, in addition to that, DISCOVER THEIR PATTERNS OF MOTIVATION.

Don’t re-invent the wheel. UTILIZE what is THERE.

About Doug O'Brien

Doug O’Brien is a Master Practitioner and Trainer of NLP, and a Certified Hypnotherapist. In 1988, while assisting at NLP and NAC training seminars with Anthony Robbins, Doug achieved the designation of Master Trainer. He now conducts numerous seminars of his own around the globe (specializing in the “Sleight of Mouth” patterns of Robert Dilts, NLP Certification Courses, and Ericksonian Hypnotherapy) and helped found Columbia-Presbyterian’s Department of Complementary Medicine with Dr. Mehmet Oz.

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