“Traditionally, philosophy and psychology search for answers to the questions ‘why?’… ‘Why’ does not give step-by-step instructions on how to deal with a problem – we’re looking for answers to the question ‘How?’ Ours is a practical solution” – Michael Hall.

South African society is in transition, and has the potential to release an enormous pool of untapped human capability. One way of fast-tracking this growth is by using personal development training, a field of specialisation that has exploded in countries such as America and Australia, but has yet to make its mark on South African society.

Michael Hall, Jim Brush and Michelle Duval, neurosemantic experts from the USA and Australia, have recently been in South Africa, holding a series of coaching seminars. The courses that were offered are based on Hall’s model of neurosemantics, and are designed to teach people how to take charge of their lives and ultimately fulfil their potential.

Neurosemantics is a behavioural science and simply means felt meanings. “Traditionally, philosophy and psychology search for answers to the question ‘why?’ but ‘why’ does not give step-by-step instructions on how to deal with a problem,” says Hall. “We’re looking for answers to the question ‘how?’ Ours is a practical solution”.
“A person with a phobia for public speaking does not only fear the act itself, but also the thought of it. So, the problem isn’t the event, it’s how you think about it. The person will have a picture in his or her mind of speaking in public with the audience responding negatively. A skilled public speaker will have a picture in his or her mind of a friendly audience.”

Michelle Duval, a personal development expert from Sydney, Australia, applies neurosemantic principles in her coaching, which she defines as “the art of science of being able to help people be more productive and efficient.” Her stated aim is to help people become all that they can be. “I want to give people the opportunity to find themselves mentally, emotionally and spiritually, so that they can experience more satisfaction and meaningfulness in their lives.”

“For people who use it in their lives, coaching may be about enhancing communication skills, improving their relationships with others or finding a new relationship. If someone already has the skills and resources, coaching is about being able to maximise them. If somebody doesn’t have the resources or skills, training may be more appropriate for them, to be able to teach them these skills.”
“Coaching is a conversation, a very special, fierce conversation, like no other that you have ever had. Someone asks you questions like you’ve never been asked before. Often things come out that people didn’t even realise were important to them. The coach, who works either with an individual or within an organisation, is completely dedicated to that person or organisation’s well-being and success and becomes involved in his or her dreams and visions.”

Duval believes that there is a great opportunity in South Africa at the moment for individual coaching, which allows people to step back and deal with differences objectively. “Coaching gives us the opportunity to deal with differing cultural perspectives.”

Duval believes there is huge potential in South Africa for the development of the coaching industry as a whole. “In 1999, coaching was recorded as the second fastest growing industry, following close behind the information technology boom in the United States. What this means is that people who have a passion for helping others, have a very big market for coaching as a business.”

Jim Brush, a neurosemantics specialist from San Diego, USA, teaches the ability to choose one’s own direction in life. “The way we use language influences the way we think and the meaning that we give to life. The neurosemantics model provides us with a tool that we can use to describe our experiences in a different and positive way. Beyond that, it allows us to operate with awareness, which is significantly different from what we normally experience. 94% of behaviour people of people comes from the sub-conscious mind, and most people are not even aware of this.”

Brush has had personal experience of the results of the application of neurosemantics in business. “I’ve worked with a company called QualTrack, an engineering concern that was started by a husband and wife team who operated out of a garage. They had developed products, but didn’t have the other skills necessary to market and sell them or deal with the administrative side of the business. At the time I came in to coach them, they had sold $710 000 worth of products, by advertising in technical magazines. After applying the neurosemantics programme, they hired a team of people just out of college who had no experience, but plenty of potential. They created a mentoring and training programme, as well as an environment where learning could take place. Five months later, they had achieved sales of $3.4million. At the end of the five-month period, the company was bought for US$15million. Seven months later the new company went public, raising capital of $65million. Today they are part of IBM.”

Brush notes that most money spent on training still goes towards teaching people practical skills. He believes that in today’s rapidly changing world, this should be the first step towards maximising efficiency within a company, but that the process should not stop there. “Because of the globalisation of the world, we need to tap into an even greater resource – that of attitude. Sometimes this is done right at the top of an organisation, but whichever way it’s implemented, it definitely needs to filter all the way down to the bottom of the company.”

Brush says that estimations of the financial rewards based on training only result in 20% return on investment. “In other words, individuals are working at 20% of their potential capacity,” he says. “A combination of training and coaching together can result in a return of between 60% and 90%, which is a significant improvement.”

“People need to realise that they have a choice. You can let life act on you or you can choose to act on life, and to create your own reality. The apartheid system deprived many people of the opportunity to develop. However, at this stage, the responsibility for development lies with the individual. If you are not proactive, you get nowhere.”

The fact that neurosemantics focuses on the central issues of communication, relationships and moving towards your goals, makes it an ideal tool for use by personal coaches. The Institute of Neuro-Semantics Africa in Midrand will be holding a new series of workshops in 2004. The Institute can be contacted on (011) 805-2939.

Article 2: Succeed Magazine – Jan/Feb 2004