Everyone needs a coach. We see this primarily in sports where every successful athlete has a coach. But the coaching phenomenon has gone far beyond sports and the term “Inner Game” originally coined in the 1972 book, The Inner Game of Tennis, by Tim Gallwey, has extended into our culture from sports to business and now to the relatively new category of Life Coaching, which for better or worse, has a bit of a spotty record of success.

In any event, the Coaching Movement has become ingrained into our culture. Non-athletes such as Bill Gates have coaches and if you do a search on Google you’ll be inundated by people who are giving all types of coaching with the promise of making you more successful, happy, attractive – well you name it and there’s a coach for it.

But, you might say, we who are involved with NLP are already in the people optimizing business. After all, don’t we have amazing tools to give people the resources they need to have happy and successful lives?

Of course we do. But sometimes I think we forget that the map is not the territory and for most of the world, we the NLP community do not exist on most peoples’ maps. So we can continue to work with a narrow range of people who have an interest in NLP either from us or from other sources or we can adopt the framework and tools of coaching that are much more familiar to the general public and introduce ourselves and the unique skill sets we have to give people the resources they need to optimize their lives.

Modern coaching concentrates on expanding peoples’ maps and showing them that they have options in their lives. As Blair Warren, the author of The One Sentence Persuasion Course writes: “People will sometimes believe what you tell them but they will always believe what they conclude,” by using tools such as the Meta Model we can ask strategic questions that lead the client or in coaching terms, the “Coachee” to conclusions that expand their map and therefore their options. How many times have we watched as Dr. Bandler listens to someone on stage and simply ask, “Has it ever occurred to you not to do that?” Usually the person laughs but really, most of the time they haven’t and by asking them that question, their map expands to include that possibility that apparently hadn’t existed before. Then we can use the techniques we regularly use such as time line, anchoring, visual squash etc. to reinforce these conclusions and put more things on the map.

For me, the simple coaching framework provides a bridge to a much wider audience and rather than fighting an uphill battle for acceptance we can showcase our skills on a bigger playing field. After all, rather than explaining what Neuro-Linguistic Programming means, I prefer to show them. Explanations can come later.