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The 4 Main Modes of Human Existence (Part 2)

In part 1 of this I covered the theory of the above approach to human existence. During that piece I promised a coaching case study that would illustrate what I covered. The following is absolutely true and I hope some of it may resonate with you.

I had just set up my coaching business when I received the following phone call so it was probably late 90's.


"Is that Neil O'Brien the confidence coach?" She said.

"Well yes, confidence is part of what I do, why do you ask?"

"I need some help with it and you've been recommended" she said.

"Ok good", I said. "How about you give me some background on what

you'd like us to cover and I can respond with the approach we might take"

"Well" she said, "I'm stupid and I'm ugly and it's affecting my confidence and my work"

"Bloody hell!" I said, "Why would anybody call themselves stupid and ugly? Please explain..."

"Ok" she said, "That's easy, I'm ugly because half of my face is covered with a port-wine birthmark and I'm stupid because I keep making ridiculous mistakes in work over and over"

"Ok fair enough, let's meet, make a start and see where we go with this" I said.

So referring back to part 1 of this piece it seems to be clear that Claire is struggling with poor self image (defining herself as ugly) and perhaps low self worth (none of us are our mistakes). So, before she arrived, I planned to start with some low level confidence building (self esteem) over a few weeks and see if we can create some room for her to change her view of herself.

The doorbell rang, I opened the door to see a really attractive person standing there with no birthmark! 'Hi I'm Claire" she said as she stepped confidently into my office. It took me a few minutes to compose myself, she settled herself into her chair and, unable to resist I said "You look fantastic (I know, very unacceptable by today's modes of behaviour).

"Oh" she said, "I've got very good at covering up the birthmark with makeup but if you look very very closely around the edges you'll see it's there". "Claire I would see you in the street and would never know".

"Yes" she said "but that's not the point, the point is..." she continued.."I know it's there!".

This first session went very well. We talked about confidence, mood, self image, self worth and about her hopes and dreams for the future. She left the session with a practical 3-week confidence building workout. We agreed to meet then to review.

Three weeks later Claire was back for session 2. She seemed in better form. When we discussed work and the simple mistakes she was still making she wondered aloud about something. She had recently heard about something called 'dyslexia' and maybe she has a form of it. Remember this was the 90's so there wasn't much about it then and I wasn't sure.

While she was with me I phoned a friend who had researched all about this topic so he could help his son. I asked if there is a test you can do to find out? So again, being the 90's, there was nothing available online etc but there was somewhere you could go to do the test in person. We agreed that this would be her 'homework' from this session - take the test!

I was very aware that this could be a high risk strategy: if she is not dyslexic it might reinforce her beief that she 'is stupid'. However, as her self worth was on the increase she might be able to deal with the result whichever one she gets.

Two weeks later Claire is due any moment, I knew she had been for the test the day before.

The doorbell rang, I opened it, Claire bust in through the door, gave me the biggest hug I've ever got and sid through tears of joy -

"Great news! I'm not stupid, I'm just dyslexic!"

"And, in other news..." she said, "I'm beginning to think I'm not ugly either!"

We sat and laughed and cried and laughed. She talked about her hopes and dreams for the future, all of which had now changed. Claire's legacy to us is: make a small simple practical improvement in one of the 4 modes and the chances are the other 3 will improve too. It may involve a risk or two but the deal is - whatever the result, you'll handle it!

Must fly


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