Sunday, 24 January 2021



As a Coach and Mentor I often work with people to resolve whatever is holding them back. In one recent session the client described their life as entering a new chapter. The use of metaphors can be revealing and useful. We explored how the past, present and future chapters fitted together.  

We then talked about the issues that were making it difficult to more from the past to the future, and played with the chapter metaphor a little. We started by narrowing down what might be on a page and expanding out what might be the whole book. 

We agreed this approach was useful in putting the scale and pace of change into context. Is this a new chapter? Is it a whole new book? Or is it simply turning a page? 

We agreed it would be a great exercise to take three pages and briefly write notes on the past, present and future. The process translates thoughts and feelings into words which can more easily and objectively assessed, and also prepares the ground for future discussions. Conversations can be rehearsed in the script.

By chronicling the past and scripting the future my client was able to gain control over thoughts and feelings, and choose the direction of her story, becoming author for her life.


Apparently a form of brain washing of american soldiers was to get them to copy out texts that denounced americanism and capitalism. Whereas simply reciting words had no effect on the prisoners, apparently the process of copying text caused then to think about what they were writing. Their internal dialogue [what they said to themselves when they were writing] managed to convince themselves of things that their captors could not.

Writing, which inevitably involves self-talk, is a powerful way of surfacing and examining deeper thoughts in a process which explores meaning and truth before committing it to paper. This process is so powerful in self examination and reflection that story telling or narrative coaching is often used when coaching or mentoring clients about assumptions, ambitions and motives. 


Memories are not fixed or frozen. Every time we recall something from the past we examine it in a new context, and indeed may edit or update the memory with new meaning or purpose based on reflection or new data.  Memory therefore can be unreliable since each memory is a store of thoughts and feelings at one particular time, which might be potentially changed each time they are recalled.

For example, If you recite the story of that special day when you did that remarkable thing (remember that, that was huge!). Well the story will change over time. Maybe you add details or don't mention bits if telling your parents or partner or the people at work. Maybe that thing which was huge when you were 5, actually seems quite small now that you are a 5'10" adult. Or maybe that really nice thing looks very different with hindsight, now that you now know about that other thing, which you didn't know then.

It is a good thing to re-examine the past, but best done at a time and a place that does not distort the recollection and update with negative thoughts and feelings. The formula below hints at the problem of inaccurate memory.

Formula: Event + Data + Truth +  Experience = Reality

1) Event is vague: It may be what is, isn't or might or didn't happen (but you wanted it to)?
2) Data is uncertain: Did we get all the sights, sounds and signals?
3) Truth is variable: [1] what is, [2] what is perceived [3] what we noticed
4) Experience is subjective: thought & emotion can change because of circumstance and context

A good coach will help you identify, surface, recognise and navigate these elements.


Having a goal gives people something to strive for, a purpose. Typically this might be family, but not necessarily mother and father type family. It could be colleagues, club, community or country. But it could be artistic, scientifice, literary purpose. Whatever you can conceive you can believe, and if you truly believe that may be your purpose.

This purpose, if it has personal value, will motivate and engage our exploratory and pursuit systems and support that effort with dopamine and analgesia to help us with the pursuit. It is a high, a drive, a passion of positive emotion. We often see this with high performance athletes who push beyond normality and pain. 

We link memories together to form stories of our past. We may do a bit of editorial to make them coherent and flow: we do not like to think of life as random events so we use narrative to create logical consequence, because of this.. then that. We also like to think there is some fate to life: whether the locus of control is external [the world, God, work, politics sets my fate] or the locus of control is internal [I am the captain of my ship].

The result is that these short stories become your lifes work. As director or editor you get to chose the plot simply by deciding which scenes to keep and which to dump on the cutting room floor. If you create a story with purpose, a mission, or goal that transends the every-day (food, drink, sleep, consumption) then you can create and live with positive emotion, by taking responsibility as the screenwriter, director or editor for your life.

Tim HJ Rogers MBA CITP 
Adapt Consulting Company 
Consult CoCreate Deliver
Mob +447797762051

Tim Rogers is an experienced Project and Change Leader and an ICF Trained Coach as well as mentor for the IoD. He is a past curator for TEDx. Roles have included Programme Manager for the incorporation of Ports and Jersey, and Jersey Post, as well as Operations Change and Sales Support for RBSI/NatWest. He is also Commonwealth Triathlete and World Championships Rower. He has a passion for learning and has been a Tutor/Mentor for the Chartered Management Institute. He is a former Chartered Member of the British Computer Society, has an MBA (Management Consultancy) and is both a PRINCE2 and Change Management Practitioner.  


The True Story of Brainwashing and How It Shaped America

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