Monday, October 2nd, 2017 at 9:39 am

Who Makes the Rules?

Who makes the rules? Is it time to throw away your rule book?

One of the things I notice in coaching and listening to others is how we establish rules for ourselves and others around us. With an *N.L.P. background, I’ve found the language we use with ourselves, especially on a consistent basis and over a period of time, has a dramatic impact on our thoughts and behaviour. It can have both a positive and negative impact.

Take for example:

‘I’m 30 soon. I ought to have sorted out my life by now.’

‘I’ve always been shy and retiring so would never apply for that job.’

It’s just a thing I have about management – I have to rebel.’

‘If there’s a challenge, I have to take it.’

In N.L.P. terms these phrases are rules. Rules can dictate far more than just thoughts; they can impact on behaviour at a much deeper level. In a way it almost amounts to ‘brainwashing’ You feed yourself these thoughts and rules and find they have a big influence on the way life your life. It is possible you don’t even know you are doing it, however if you find you are using words such as ‘should’ and ‘ought’ and ‘must’ , ‘have to’ a lot then that’s a bit of a giveaway.

Take for example the first phrase ‘I’m nearly 30 I ought to have sorted my life out by now.’

Is this a rule that you have designed for yourself? And if so is it true? Finally – says who? Often looking at the root of these rules you find it isn’t your belief at all; you’ve adopted someone else’s!

Coaching can help with challenging these rules in a positive way and allow you to redefine them. So perhaps… ‘I’m almost 30 and I should know it all by now.’ could become…

I’m almost 30 – time for an adventure!’

If this sounds familiar and you’d like to throw away your rule book, do get in touch.

*Neuro Linguistic Programming



Wednesday, September 13th, 2017 at 10:41 am

Overwhelming Change

A good friend of mine (let’s call her Sue) has recently experienced a significant change at work. She is teacher in the public sector, and made the brave decision to leave a job she had outgrown, and move to new city, that being Bristol. As well as her job leaving her feeling unfulfilled, her home town was starting to become stifling and limiting. In short Sue had become stale and disillusioned.

So, this summer Sue put her belongings into storage, put her cat into a cattery and lodged with friends (us included) until her flat in Bristol became available. Whilst staying with friends, she started a brand-new job, in a new school, at a higher grade. I guess change does not get more stressful than that.

Sue had been so brave to make the decision to leave her home town, and take all the action needed to move to a new city. However, the impact of all this change took her a little by surprise. This proved to be a very emotional and overwhelming time and support from friends and family was invaluable.

During her first week in her new school, Sue and I spent a good amount of time together debriefing each day and breaking the day down into small milestones and reflecting on the micro ‘wins’. Luckily for Sue, I have the training and experience to be able to support her, however many of our wonderful friends and family find it hard to say the right things in times of stress.

The power of working with a coach, is that you get the opportunity to work with someone who is completely objective and detached from your emotions, but at the same time completely in your corner. To hear someone reflect back what has been running around in your mind, in a clear, succinct way can be exactly what is needed. A coach will help you arrive at your own ‘truths’ and think about things is a calm, reflective manner.

If overwhelming change is something you have been grappling with, then take a moment to write down your positive ‘wins’ over the last day or so. If you can’t think of anything, then maybe it’s time to think about getting some additional support.

Whatever you decide, greatness can only come from taking risks; sometimes we just need some help to manage the short-term day to day.



Monday, June 5th, 2017 at 1:05 pm

How movement can bring new perspectives in coaching

Whilst working with my coaching clients I often find that introducing a physical element into the session can really help to shift perspectives. Whether this is simply stretching, moving about the space, or coaching whilst walking, out and about.

One approach I have found to work successfully on a number of occasions is the physical exploration of Robert Dilts’ Logical Levels. Dilts’ model stemmed from the work of anthropologist, Gregory Bateson and provides a framework to help organise and develop ourselves. Whilst it’s great to be coached using the model, it’s a helpful tool to use on yourself if you’re stuck or trying to get a new perspective on something.

How does it work?

The model can be used like a ladder, or laid out as ‘stepping stones’ on the floor, with each marker representing one level of the ladder:

Robert Dilts









One way the model can be used is to explore the issue at hand from the perspectives of the different levels. For example, at the first level, you can explore the issue from the context of the environment, examining where you are and who is involved. Next, look at what behaviours are triggered by the issue, and then what skills you’re tapping into, and so on up the ladder.

What I’m often surprised about is how often the thinking has shifted as we come back down the other side of the ladder; asking on the ‘way up’ how things are now from these different perspectives, but re-framing this to ‘how things could be’ from on the way back.

There is something about the physical exploration of this framework which helps to develop new types of thinking, with often profound consequences when we reach the purpose level.

So next time you get stuck on a problem, I invite you to get physical with your thinking!

Harriet Attwood (Associate Coach)


Tuesday, May 9th, 2017 at 3:34 pm

What’s Your Strategy for…?

All of the coaching work I do is underpinned by NLP principles and practice. One of those principles is that we have strategies for doing pretty much everything. This could include the way we approach a presentation, recruitment, a management meeting, networking or an interview. It also goes much further than that. We have a strategy for other aspects of our lives too, such as how we cope under stress, how we interact with strangers, how we behave when challenged or how we can become anxious. Within that strategy are a mixture of behaviours and thoughts.

One of the aspects of coaching is exploring the way you do things well and looking at how this can translate to other areas of your life.  On the flip side we can also look at negative strategies and seek to undo them and shift them so, for illustrative purposes, an example:

How to get anxious before an event

  • Think about what is making you anxious, ideally quite a way in advance of the event happening.
  • When thinking, make sure that you are breathing short shallow breaths
  • Recall times when didn’t things go quite so well and focus intently on that
  • Forget times when things turned out well
  • Ignore times when you dealt well with the anxiety
  • Allow other negative thoughts to creep in
  • Make sure when thinking about the event you are using impactful language such as crisis, chaos, dreadful, awful etc.
  • Keep it to yourself. Do not share the anxiety with anyone else.

Funnily enough by looking at your strategy in this way you can begin to undo it.

If you are looking for help using those positive strategies elsewhere in your life or perhaps undoing some of the negative do get in touch!

Tuesday, April 4th, 2017 at 1:34 pm

Working at the boundary – Intuition


The ability to understand something instinctively, without the need for conscious reasoning.

synonyms: hunch, feeling, feeling in one’s bones, gut feeling, funny feeling, inkling

 Yesterday I attended a coaching workshop entitled ‘Working the Boundary’. It was a fascinating insight into how we can create breakthrough moments and deep awareness by really taking notice of our intuitive thoughts.

During the workshop we had great discussion about the ‘hunches’ or ‘gut feelings’ we might experience, but that we might hold back on acting on these feelings. This could be for a number of reasons; it could be that you need more evidence to back up your thoughts, you sense sharing your insights could damage a relationship, or realising that insight may be scary in some way.

What was very clear from this workshop is that our intuition is a hugely valuable asset which is often not given sufficient space in hectic, modern world. Every day we experience billions of bytes of information every minute, and our brains must filter out what is not important and filter in what is. In this process, awareness of our intuition can dip.

Most of my clients will come to coaching with no idea about what to do for the best, but finish coaching being clear. There are many things that contribute to this shift, however one key lever is for the client to notice their head, heart and gut feelings. My job as a coach will be to REALLY listen to you, to hone in on your slivers of intuitive thought which will shift your thinking from confusion to focus. Einstein has something to say about this subject to0!

April 2017 Image

Tuesday, February 28th, 2017 at 9:46 am

Have your beliefs gone beyond their sell-by date?

March 2017A common topic arising in my coaching sessions is around limiting self-beliefs. Most of us have an internal critic or voice which tells us how things should or must be, for instance, ‘I must always be on time’, or ‘I should deliver the perfect presentation’. When explored more deeply, these ‘shoulds’ and ‘musts’ are rules for living that we have imposed on ourselves, possibly since childhood, and may reflect beliefs and values that are no longer helpful for us.

Once we’ve worked to identify the limiting value or belief, it can be helpful to try to understand how it arose, and what purpose it once served. For example, the belief that ‘in order to succeed I must always put 100% effort in’ may have served a useful purpose in enabling someone to do well academically or survive school, but is not a necessary rule to adhere to in all areas of work, and can lead to constant pressure and high stress levels.

Having established the self-limiting belief and gone some way to understanding the purpose it once served, we can look at ‘de-bunking’ the myth, and finding out what belief or value might be a more helpful replacement. A part of the process is cross-examining the assumption – what evidence is there that says this rule must always apply? What would happen if you didn’t follow this rule? Who do you know who successfully lives by a different set of values?

What I like about this approach is that rather than demonising our old habits of thinking, and therefore attacking ourselves still further, we try to understand what’s behind the belief, before accepting that its purpose has been served, and may no longer be helpful.

Do you have any self-limiting rules that have out-lived their purpose?



Tuesday, February 7th, 2017 at 9:44 am

Light Bulb Moments

A blog for any of you who feel you are working very hard and not getting very far.

 ‘The light bulb did not come about by continuous improvement of the candle’ Oren Harari

Feb 2017

A friend was talking to me recently about her role as a governor in a school.  The staff were working very hard to make changes but things weren’t really moving or improving. All that was happening was that the staff felt completely exhausted and lacked energy and motivation. They were working even harder, filling in more forms, staying later, doing more marking and still things had not changed. Something different had to happen. I mentioned the above quote and she really took a step back, because it was true.

The staff were following the same processes and methods, even doubling their efforts with ever increasing frustration and exhaustion.  Sometimes, what it takes is a complete sideways step and a chance to look at the situation in a new way without bringing along what worked previously.

A little history….

Candles were quite a brilliant invention, they seemed to be developed in several countries at different times, but more than likely dating back to 200 BC and the Qin Dynasty in China. Jump forward around 2000 years and you will find Edison and his contemporaries looking at another source of light. The light bulb, whilst generally credited to Thomas Edison in 1879, was probably conceived as an idea much earlier by Italian Alessandro Volta in 1800. He observed that copper wire glowed when an electrical current was passed through it.  As the ideas developed over the century it is certain these brilliant minds were not looking at candles and how to improve them.

So how is the history of candles and light bulbs relevant for you? Are you wanting to make improvements and changes but still using the same skills and tools?  It often takes more than just ‘let’s do it in another way’. It takes a required leap of faith, a genuine desire to leave behind what doesn’t work anymore and a will to embrace the new.

Coaching is a great way to make shifts and changes and start new habits, change behaviours and thoughts with the support of an objective and trained coach. It can offer you a chance to see things in a whole new light and from a very different perspective that will help move you forward.

Do you need a chance to look at things in a new way? Are the previous tried and tested methods no longer working and tiring you out?

Do get in touch.

Tuesday, January 10th, 2017 at 5:02 pm

Year of the Rooster

Year of the Rooster

Well… what a year 2016 has been. Brexit, the new US president elect, and the devastating Syrian crisis. We have also lost so many iconic talents last year too; David Bowie, Prince, George Michael, and Victoria Wood to name but just a few, and of course the tragic loss of Jo Cox. On a happier note, the Rio Olympics were very successful for many of our athletes, and I was delighted the women’s hockey team won gold.

When I reflect on the last year, personally it has been a year of many contrasts, with some wonderful highs and challenging lows, but a year when I have gained some very valuable continued personal growth. I think one of the most impactful experiences last year was a live performance I attended in Bristol of a young poet and musician by the name of Kate Tempest. She certainly has a big heart and a seemingly bigger message. Her edict invites us to examine this time in history when the world appears to be so divided, yet there is infinitely more that connects us. Her vision is for us to connect, and to love more and harbour less hate.

In preparing this blog, I reminded myself that it is the Chinese year of the Rooster. If you are born in the year of the Rooster, the predictions are that 2017 will be a good time to earn money and get married! I also found a local publication called B24/7 which shared what some local people were most looking forward to this year. Contributions included strengthening professional relationships, embarking on new business challenges and roadworks in and around Bristol disappearing!

Thinking forward to 2017, perhaps you too could take a few moments to think about what you are looking forward to most. The chances are that if you are reading this, you are considering working with a coach to help you figure out your plans, so maybe take a look at this link for inspiration

Whatever your wishes for 2017, I wish you a very happy, healthy and peaceful year.

Monday, September 7th, 2015 at 10:38 am

September Sunshine

For many of us, September heralds the new year, a time for a fresh start. For a recent example, Cancer Research have launched the ‘Dryathalon’ for Dry September to re-balance all those nice cocktails you may have enjoyed on holiday. Once the suntan lotions have been packed away, and warmer jumpers have been pulled out of the wardrobe, your attention may start to focus on a new start for you. It may be a fresh look at your career, or making positive changes in your personal life.

We have very busy and often frenetic lives, and having clear thinking time can feel like an elusive slippery eel. Like looking at a masterpiece of art at a very close distance, it can be very difficult to see the whole picture and gain a proper sense of perspective. Gaining clarity, getting perspective, and identifying your priorities is exactly what I provide as your coach.

So, if you feel coaching could be something that might help you, you have the opportunity to have an initial complementary coaching session with me. If our connection feels right, and I’ve got clear about your coaching outcomes, then you can take things from there.

Otherwise, take a look at the free resources on this website, or at least bookmark this website for a later time.

Whatever you decide, my best and kind regards

Monday, January 5th, 2015 at 2:28 pm

What have you got to lose?


This month’s blog is short and sweet. If you are reading this page, the chances are that you have been reflecting over the Christmas and New Year break and are wanting something different from 2015.

If you’ve had a look at my website and can’t quite decide if I’m the right coach for you, or if it’s the right  time for coaching, just give me a ring or email anyway. You can book an initial complimentary consultation. There is no obligation or expectation for you to continue with you, but at least you will have taken some action.

At the very least bookmark this page and come back to me later.

Wishing you a very happy and prosperous New Year.

Kind regards


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