7 steps of a transformational coaching conversation

7 Steps of a Transformational Coaching Conversation

I was so taken with NLP when I first came across it because it was clearly a powerful framework for creating rapid change.

I recognised this wasn’t just positive thinking or some tool or process, but a way of enquiry into the truth.  The more of the truth I saw, the more beautiful and compelling it became.

The 7 Steps for a Transformational Coaching Conversation, in a way recognises and works with the vulnerability in all of us, to create lasting and powerful change:

1, We acknowledge there is learning or change to experience for us – to be all we can be.

2, We look at the barriers to achieving what we want (our present state).

3, We unpack that present state.  This is about going deeper into how we are creating our current situation (be that being stuck, depressed, confused, unmotivated, unsure, unhappy etc).

4, By unpacking the structure of our present state (beliefs, internal strategies etc) we can become aware of, and acknowledge that where we are is a) not where we want to be and b) not fixed c) a part of the natural journey of maturation and learning.  Like a child learning to walk, we all need to fall over to learn to do it properly.

5, If it’s not where we want to be or fixed, that begs the question, what do we want instead?

6, When someone answers this question, the frame of the conversation has shifted from ‘present state’ to ‘desired state’.  From what we don’t want – to what we do.

7, And this is where as a skilled coach we create the space for, and offer feedback to the person to shift state; where they know (this is a belief change!) they can do whatever they want and have the strategies to achieve it.

If you would like to know more about these kinds of Transformational Coaching Conversations, or to have your own, send me an email here.

Love Tristan x

Freedom through NLP

To Be Free: Finding emotional freedom through NLP

When Sue, my mentor, said many years ago “Tristan, you have a great deal of freedom in your life” I understood what she meant but it didn’t really resonate with me. It made sense, but it wasn’t true for me.

Shortly before this, I had been running a successful business turning over £100,000 a month. I’d closed it down in the wake of the financial crisis in 2008 and had enough money to travel the world and do whatever I wanted for a few years.

On the face of things I was free. But underneath, emotionally, I was anything but.

It seemed that more often than not, my emotions and thinking were out of control and led me into states of anxiety and insecurity. It was like being a kid again, unsure of myself, what to do or who I really was in this often confusing and turbulent world.

And yet here I was, living most people’s dream. I was able to wake up when I wanted and do whatever I wanted each day. I was travelling the world, living by the sea and in the sun all year round.

It was around this time that I did my first NLP Trainer Training. I didn’t do it because I want to be an NLP Trainer. I did it because NLP training was the thing that had made the biggest difference in my life – be that emotional or financial – and it made sense to pursue that path.

The path as it turns out, has been and continues to be, a profound one. Gene Early, my coach and mentor shared with me a long time ago, that NLP training was ‘a way to live a profound life’.

He was right. It’s been a path of learning, revelation, healing and ever increasing freedom, passion, meaning, clarity and purpose – not bad for starting out on a journey of which I had no idea the destination. I just felt there was something (perhaps it was truth or love or a sense of freedom that came with it) in this NLP stuff. And boy am I glad that I embraced the journey.

For me, the heart of NLP is giving people choice – opening up possibilities where there are none. Bandler and Grinder wrote a book called ‘The Structure of Magic‘. Why? Probably because NLP uses structure in magical ways! It’s a world changing, dynamic methodology which presupposes that for each and every problem, there is a solution. Imagine that!

Freedom is different for everyone. What kind of freedom do you want? The freedom to choose, to change, to move?

What would it mean to you having already created the kind of freedom your heart longs for?

Nelson Mandela said that “to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”

It begins with us. Soon, as we discover more of our own freedom – be that emotional, financial or other – we find there is a limitless supply of freedom. The more we give it to others, the more we give it to ourselves.

“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” Winston Churchill



Untying the Knot

One thing I know for sure is that life is complex.  We are complex.  Of course the paradox is that amidst the complexity and confusion there is simplicity in life.  But just because it’s simple, doesn’t make it easy.

I sometimes liken it to untying a big knot.  At first it can seem overwhelming, hard work or even impossible.  As we persevere however, we find a way.  We can make make sense of, and unravel the complexities of life, which at first can seem daunting.  Ultimately the unravelling bring us great joy.

When you know what you’re doing, you can do what you want. Moshe Feldenkrais

We have strategies for everything we do.  When we understand these strategies, we come to know how we’re doing what we’re doing.  We can then do more of what we want.

One of the strategies I developed as a kid was having a sense of fearlessness in the face of aggression or violence. I unconsciously modelled that from my dad.  He was a violent man.

I learnt to have a fearless sense of adventure and willingness to take risks – some might say to my detriment.  I’ve nearly died on several occasions – while skiing, driving, riding motorbikes and even swimming.  I’ve set up and run numerous businesses, several of which ‘failed’.  I became a risk-taker, a real gift (and skill) I had learnt from my parents.  Thank you guys!

One of the many things that NLP coaching has given me is the capacity to understand and model out the strategies that create things like fear or fearlessness. That’s been life changing.

knot-5As I look back on my youth, more often than not my subjective truth (or experience) was informed by limiting beliefs and coping strategies set up in my childhood.  Along with fearlessness I learnt to be very fearful in certain contexts.  Context creates meaning.  However, from my very first NLP Practitioner course, through to my Master Trainer certification and beyond, what I’ve consistently done is to challenge and unravel those limiting, unconscious behaviours and beliefs. I’ve needed help along the way.

Untangling a big knot is very difficult, if not impossible to do instantaneously.  Over time however, if you pick a little here and a little there, it can become an easy process, even rewarding if we take it (and make it!) easy. This has been my NLP journey.

While I’ve had amazing and instantaneous breakthroughs and life changing experiences; while I’ve come away from courses and NLP coaching sessions with a profoundly different sense of what is possible and how I can make changes in my life – actually over time – many of the changes have happened at an unconscious level; easily, naturally, without having to even think about them or try.

That’s pretty amazing.  To think, that the human experience or evolutionary process has been designed to enable progress, learning and change.  In a way – less is more!  So the big knot has been untied over time with a lot of effort at certain points and much less so and more enjoyably at others.  As I look back and see how radically different my life is now, I can begin to understand and truly appreciate that the journey is significantly more important than any destination.

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.” Steve Jobs

I still have that capacity to slip back into depression or play the victim from time to time.  However, I recognise these patterns and address them much sooner than I used to.  I now know how I create these states, so I can do something different.

As Robert Dilts said – having multiple options is flexibility and having multiple perspectives is wisdom. This is accessible to all of us.

That’s our knot to untie – in a way to let go of the effort and our way of doing things and wake up to new possibilities, options and perspectives that free us to be fully ourselves; to be who we were born to be.

Most of us are not who we think we are. We are so much more that we could ever imagine. Yet who we think we are dictates our behaviour and how we show up in the world. Behaviour is an expression of identity.

The fullness of who we are stretches far into the past, the present, and our future. It ripples out into eternity without us ever really being able to fathom.

I’m still unravelling and accepting the mystery of who I am. Despite (and perhaps in part because of) the many challenges, it’s a pretty cool journey!

Will you join me on it?

If you’d like to, why not click the help button in the bottom right of your screen and we can have a chat…



A Way Out At Last

When I was a kid, like many people I had dreams of a life well lived – a life of possibility, freedom and unlimited joy. However, as I grew up I discovered that life was often harsh, people couldn’t be trusted and feelings of joy were often fleeting.

As children we tend not to be aware of what’s ‘normal’ or dysfunctional.  The older I got however, the more I realised that my dad beating my mum or me up for that matter, was not right or normal; that my dad being a con-artist, drug dealer and in and out of prison was not normal; that living with my grandparents (who were both Colonels in the army) from the age of seven and being sent off to boarding school – was not normal.  As a result, I grew up with a ton of limiting beliefs. I became angry, scared and violent.

“Action will furnish belief, but will that belief be the true one? That’s the point you know.”  Arthur Hugh Clough

Over time, I came to learn that beliefs are nothing but a feeling of certainty about what something means.  They are not truth.  However, we operate from these ‘truths’ – from the limiting beliefs we grow up with – as if they are truths. These beliefs are like glue holding our internal worlds together, often very shakily, or unhealthily in my case.  And because we act as if our outdated and limiting beliefs are true, they often become self-fulfilling prophecies.  The world is dangerous.  People can’t be trusted.  I’m not lovable.  These become true because we believe them to be true.  As we mature however, we all come to realise a deeper truth – that the world is both safe and dangerous.

When I entered my twenties and begun to hear of ‘depression’ it dawned on me that I was depressed.  I realised that I had been depressed for much of my life.  That’s not to say I didn’t have fun and adventurous times with my parents, at school or University.  I did.  But I had this creeping sense of unhappiness; like a dark storm brewing in the distance, covering the sun and never quite passing.  Beneath the mask of being ok, was a sense – that all was not ok.  I’m sure that many people read through it.

When I discovered NLP techniques, I began to see that ‘depression’ wasn’t a thing.  It was a process. In other words, we have to do very specific things in order to feel depressed.  Yes, it’s a label.  But depression is more than a label, an idea or a disease.  We ‘play’ a part in it.  And if I played a part in creating my depressive states, then I must have some control over this ‘thing’ that had controlled me for most of my life.

There was a way out at last!  What I’ve learnt to do since (and this is the essence of NLP) is to understand HOW I do what I do (in other words how I got depressed) so that I could do more of what I wanted.

As Mosche Feldenkrais said “when you know how you do what you do, you can do what you want”.

I now understand how I get depressed, despondent or un-resourceful, so I go there much less often.  We have to do very specific things in order to get stuck.  In fact we are never really stuck.  We only ever think we’re stuck.

It is our thinking that creates stuck, unhappy or depressed states, just as it’s our thinking that creates joy and happiness.

We have to believe untruths in order to get into and stay in these kind of unresourceful states. I still have that capacity and to be honest, I still find myself in un-resourceful states more than I’d like to.  I’d like to live in perfect joy and harmony.  But if we’re human that’s a pretty tall order.

That said, I now have so many ways out of stuck states. I have choice.  We have choice.  The starting point is truth – that’s the difference between our distorted version of reality and reality in actuality.

This is the beauty of NLP.  It gives us a framework where there is always somewhere to go in our thinking.  And it is our thinking that creates how we feel, which drives our behaviour and ultimately the results we get in life.

As Michael Neil said, we feel our thinking.

This has profound implications. If there is always a way out of our stuck state, limiting beliefs or emotions, what then becomes possible?

Continue the journey… Untying the Knot


As they say.. there’s nowhere quite like home


Awakening Each Day

I was getting a coffee this morning, which I don’t do every day (though I have been know to!) and noticed something which I’ve never really seen in this way before.

It’s become a tradition – a way of life for us here in the UK – to have our morning coffee.

On the surface, there’s nothing wrong with this. I love starting my day with a cafe con leche when I’m in Ibiza. In the UK, its more likely to be a cup of tea… or two!

What’s interesting to me when I stop and think about it is, that it has become normal to start our day is with a stimulant. The long-term side-effects of this are pretty apparent, but what are the short-term effects? Well for me, apart from being an artificial way to change my state, after the initial delight of having warm caffeine soup, laced with sugar and milk slipping down my throat, I then start to feel a kind of transparent film descending over my pure consciousness. I’m awake, but not with the same kind of pure energy or consciousness I had as a kid.

Isn’t that an interesting way to start the day?

I recently rediscovered that reading and even writing in the morning, is such an energising way to start my day. It sets up a whole series of events, circumstances and states I experience, that replicate and expand that vibration or energy throughout my day. It doesn’t have to be writing, but for me – reading and writing transform my thinking and energy. Fundamentally. What does that for you?

I recently wrote a list of things that change my energy and therefore life – in 5 minutes or less – things like doing a bit of exercise, deep breathing, walking in nature or asking myself powerful questions (if you want some ask me and I can send you some!).

I’m not suggesting that we all wake as the sun rises and meditate or do yoga as some do in the East.. and even the West. What I am suggesting is that we meet somewhere in the middle. Rather than relying on stimulants and artificial ways of engaging in the world each morning, there is an alternative. There always is :)

Sunrise in Ibiza!

Sunrise in Ibiza!


Magical India – The Art Of Happiness

I’ve just ambled lazily back across the pristine white sand of a deserted beach in Cherai having been swimming alone in the Arabian sea – a beautiful luke warm bath with surfable waves apparently induced by the solar eclipse. Being back in India is like coming home!

Kerala Beach 1

Having grown up until the age of 7 with with my parents who were hippies, and having lived in more houses that I have lived years its pretty much indisputable that I’m a born nomad. And I normally feel very much at home wherever I am. I have been living in Ibiza since last summer which I consider to be my spiritual home, despite the reputation it has among many in Britain! But India feels as much a home if not more than anywhere else, and coming back here this year for a couple of months reminds me of how utterly special and unique this country is and how I want to keep coming back here each year – to this most rich, vibrant, beautifully alive and special place.

Today, the day of the solar eclipse, is a special day. Not just because of the eclipse but because I have committed to recognising and changing a pattern of mine which I know will have a profound impact on my life, and perhaps more importantly the lives of others around me.

In NLP there are what’s known as meta-programmes, or filters, which are our way of filtering information and making sense of the world… well I have added a new one today, an important distinction for me, and that is the notion of ‘input’ versus ‘output’. I love learning, in fact I am addicted to learning. A much better addiction than some things, but nonetheless an addiction. I love input, I love learning, I love finding out what others do, say and think and modelling their success. But today I believe its time that I reverse this pattern and now ‘output’ more than I ‘input’.

So my new blog and websites are being built and I am in the process of designing products and workshops to give others this rich, peripatetic, vibrant and fun life that I am so privileged to have, or whatever it is that they truly want!

Riding along the dusty roads today on my Enflield Bullet, the thud thud thud of the 350cc single cylinder engine attracting attention as if it were a pink tractor I realised just how lucky I am to have designed my life this way and I know have the desire to give others the gifts and leanings I have had along my journey.

Enfield 1

Its paradoxical in some respects that I am entirely responsible for creating my life in this way and yet at the same time there are unseen forces in the Universe that have helped conspire towards me following this path, to open up to and awaken to all the magical coincidences and synchronicities around me…. around us all!

And so riding along on my Enflied thinking about all this today, I became very grateful and excited. I also became aware of how I can tend to overcomplicated life. Life can be very simple. I know that from watching how simply people live out here.

The other day I asked Sajeen, an amazing and young yoga teacher in Cherai, “is life good”? to which he smiled and replied “of course” as if it could not be any other way and my question was absurd. Now, that is simplicity, finding love and joy in everything because you choose to!

It’s funny that somehow in the so-called civilised West many of us have come to believe, or been conditioned through advertising and cultural norms – that if I get x I will feel y. Whereas in fact we can feel any way we want whenever we want. And then enjoy the journey as well as the destination! Perhaps that is the secret, but of course knowing something and doing it are two very different things.

I heard Gary Vaynerchuck say earlier today “love what you do and if you don’t then STOP. There is absolutely no need to be not enjoying yourself in this day and age.”

And I concur. There is more technology, money, opportunity, information and wealth than at any other time in the history of humankind. If you are pursuing making money or a 9-5 and you’re not enjoying it, then you are doing yourself and humanity a disservice and going after success rather than fulfilment. And that to me is failure.

There are so many people with apparently so little who manage to be happy…. who manage to just be, and be happy, and I believe we can all learn the distinctions which enable them to live in that place. For me one of those distinctions is a commitment to daily practice every morning, which at the moment is yoga. As I sit on the beach now writing this blog, I am looking one way and then the other as far as I can see and there is not a soul… not a single solitary soul. I could be lonely but I am not. Because deep inside I am connecting to a place of love, joy and inspiration and that is open to all of us at any moment in time. And I’m outputting 😉

And it is in that connecting, that desire to connect into the bigger system, to output rather than input, that I believe is one of our greatest sources of sustainable joy. That is where we find happiness. The question then is, what do we need to focus on, to believe in and do in order to be in that place of joy? What do you need to focus on now?


Looking above me watching the eagles circling in the dense heat of the Indian sky, with nature all around blending seamlessly into an enticing array of colours, cows, cats, cockerels, ducks and dogs, I feel humbled as I reminisce on the rich and varied day I have had. I am humbled by the smiles of nearly every person I passed earlier today on my motorbike; by the simplicity and pace of life; by the acceptance that all is as its meant to be.

As I recall – the three smiling middle aged ladies in vibrant buttercup-yellow dresses, the pink and orange houses that I passed and the cows grazing peacefully by the side of the road – I am reminded that happiness is all we want. Happiness is all we truly want. And that is success.

Go follow your bliss!

With love
Tristan x


My life position as a victim

From almost as young as I can recall I’ve been a victim. I remember rushing out of the house, aged about 4 or 5, blunt butter knife pressed into my belly and threatening to kill myself in response to being ignored. My parents laughed, knowing not only that I couldn’t, but also that I wouldn’t.

When my parents vanished without trace a year or two later, I ended up living with my grandfather and step grandmother who were both Colonels in the army. I found this experience heart-breaking and debilitating on many levels. My response was to shut down emotionally, to stop trusting people and to get angry. I became a victim. I entered what you might call the drama triangle of Victim, Persecutor and Rescuer.   Drama Triangle

To this day I recognise this pattern underlying many of the experiences I find frustrating, challenging or unexpected. It’s a default ‘safe’ state to go to when I feel ‘at effect’ by what’s going on around me. I unconsciously choose to respond with anger if I’m playing the persecutor or despondency and depression, as the victim.

My personal development over time has helped me move out of the victim role. I live a blessed life. I run my own business, have a property portfolio and a large degree of financial freedom. I live in Ibiza, travel the world and help others to unlock their potential. On the face of it, I’m anything but a victim. I’ve created my life with a remarkable degree of freedom.

But at the deepest level I’ve still been playing a victim.

This recently surfaced in the way I was feeling ‘at effect’ in my relationship; unable to share how I was feeling without creating conflict or feeling despondent and unhappy with ‘no out’.

So my work now is to rise above the victim which I developed in childhood and carry with me to this day. It served me as a child and of course brings with it benefits which I must now be willing to let go of. Ultimately this is a decision that means the outside will not rule my inside world. It means I must move out of my life position of being a victim at the deepest level. But how?  How do any of us do this?

Like many others, I’ve learnt to compensate for my victim-hood very well. I found NLP techniques, Feldenkrais and any other number of methodologies that have given me hope. The hope is essential, but it doesn’t solve the problem.

The problem is resolved when we make a decision at the highest level that we are responsible. We choose how we respond and feel in each moment. We make an overall decision to this effect, that is irreversible.

This could be one of the single most important decisions of our lives. It has far reaching implications for us and the world around us.  Of course we’ll go ‘off track’ sometimes, that’s normal. But to recognise it and get back on track, that’s the work.

One way of doing this is to change the internal dialogue from that of the victim to “I have chosen this feeling of… despondency, stuck-ness, frustration, anger” or whatever it is. At the deepest level, this is owning that every thought, word or action is our choice.

The truth is that we are not at the mercy of our environment unless we allow that; unless we subscribe to and agree to live as victims.

As Jack Jezreel, founder of JustFaith puts it, “The world cannot be changed by love to become just, unless we are changed by love to become whole. But we cannot be made whole without engaging in the work of making the world whole. Personal transformation and social transformation are one piece.”

I believe that my questions are in fact our questions…

So, when will I take full responsibility for every thought, word and feeling I experience?  What will it take for me to take responsibility and commit fully to my personal transformation (through love) and that of the world?

As David Orr said, “the plain fact is that the planet does not need more successful people. But it does desperately need more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of every kind. It needs people who live well in their places. It needs people of moral courage willing to join the fight to make the world habitable and humane. And these qualities have little to do with success as we have defined it.”

Perhaps it’s time to redefine success as engaging in the work of making the world whole as we make ourselves whole; as we learn to love ourselves and the ‘inner’ and ‘outer worlds’ beyond our own.


What do you think?

The content of our thoughts is as different as night and day. We have different thoughts, fears and dreams. But the structure, or the way of organising our thinking, is the same.

One of the presuppositions of NLP is that ‘we have within us all the resources we need’.  What this eludes to is that we can organise our five primary senses in an infinite number of ways.  We have within us an infinite number of ways to organise our thinking and therefore our internal experience.

As you’re reading this, you’ll probably be talking these words though in your internal experience. Are you? That’s an internal auditory way of thinking.

Each word will create some sort of picture or movie in your mind’s eye, though often at an unconscious level. The way we see things, in our mind, or our internal visual experience is another way of thinking.

Then there are your feelings. Or yourkinaesthetic sense, which is another way of thinking or processing experience.
These are the three primary ways we as humans think or process our experience; visual, auditory and kinaesthetic. And of course we can also process through smells and tastes.

You can then chuck into the mix all the other structural components of thought that make up the cake of thinking. These range from values, memories, attitudes and beliefs, to our perception of time and space. There are thousands of these kinds of distinctions that give form to our thinking.

But the essence, or structure is visual, auditory, kinaesthetic, taste and smell. These are our senses; how we think, process and make sense of our experiences. And they make a monumental difference to how we structure and experience our lives.

“What we see and hear is what we think about. What we think about is what we feel. What we feel influences our reactions. Reactions become habits and it is our habits that determine our destiny.”  Bob Gass

Using questions as a way to thinking through our perceived barriers

Here are some questions for you to ponder to change your thinking around whatever you have perceived as a barrier in your life.

I’d encourage you to take a few moments out in peace and quiet and write some concise answers to these questions.

Once you have answered a question, move onto the next question. You might want to try limiting the response to just 8 words, you’ll be more aware of your thinking and the power of keeping things simple.  You’ll also be aware of the visual, auditory and visual components of the words you choose.

So feel the response after you answer each question. Notice what you say to yourself and what you see as you answer. This is thinking. And your thinking is what changes your life.

  • What would it mean to you having already moved beyond this barrier?
  • So this change is in order to do what?
  • And for what larger purpose?
  • Looking back from the future having already made this change, what were you doing to accomplish this?
  • In order to…?
  • And what’s the next step?
  • Starting when?

I’d love to hear your feedback and experience so feel free to share.

Love, Tristan


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