Advice to a New NLP Coach

(this was an email pep talk I sent to my NLP Coaching graduates… this is what separates Coaching from Therapy and NLP Coaching from all other types of Coaching: Specific, Achievable, Measurable, TASKable Outcomes)

Hey there. We need to talk.

I am so proud of you and how each one of you has taken setting up your Breakthrough so seriously – getting them done in record time.

(one of the TASKs that each graduate leaves with is to give and to receive a Breakthrough – the full Coaching process that they learn at Practitioner’s training – within 3 months of graduation)

I’m writing to you to clear up something that I’ve seen again and again in the reports of how the ‘Breakthroughs’ went.

I’m hearing things like ‘it kinda worked’ and ‘I still feel something’…

… let me be very clear that THAT is not a Breakthrough.


There must be a problem that is no longer a problem.


You can get together and do all sorts of techniques and feel connected and feel like you did a great job… that is not a Breakthrough.

You can TLT the heck out of them… that is not a Breakthrough.

(by the way, on another note: The Time Line Therapy Techniques™ are THE MOST POWERFUL change techniques I have ever encountered so please take them seriously and get those LDs down to a 0. It’s not gone until it’s gone and that means 0.)

A Breakthrough is ONLY a Breakthrough when the client has their Outcomes.

A Breakthrough is ONLY a Breakthrough when the problem they were having is GONE.


And that means you need to get very specific about what it will look like when the problem is gone.

Get Specific About the Success Criteria and TASKs

“What will the client be doing or not doing that is different than they are doing or not doing now when the problem is totally gone?”

‘I won’t be procrastinating…’ – not specific enough

‘I’ll be making more money…’ – not specific enough

‘I’ll love myself more…’ – not specific enough

‘I’ll set better boundaries’ / ‘I’ll make $5000 per month’ / ‘I’ll have sex with my husband’ / ‘I’ll write my book’ / etc. – none of those are specific enough.

They MUST be specific, TASK-able, GOAL-able OUTCOMES that you have written down. They must be Action Steps.

I would suggest you get 5 or 6 of them.


What’s the problem? I procrastinate.

Great. And when the problem is gone?

I won’t procrastinate anymore.

Great! And when you’re no longer procrastinating, what will you be doing or not doing that is different than you are doing or not doing now?


  • write my book.
  • earn $5000 per month.
  • keep my house clean.
  • get my hair done.

Great! Now that’s a HUGE amount of change so let’s narrow it down to one area of your life. Where do you want to focus first?

(you can use the Wheel of Life to find the areas that are lowest and change those first, if you want)

I really want to change my physical environment by keeping my house clean.

Dig Into Their Very Real Reality With Them

Great! Now let’s get really specific about that and dig into it.

(Use the Well-Formedness Conditions and Keys to an Achievable Outcome. These are two of the first pages in the NLP Practitioner Manual you receive during training.)

When you are keeping your house clean, what are you doing or not doing that’s different than what you are doing or not doing now?

I have a filing system that is labelled and I clean my desk at the end of each day.

Great! What else?

(and, yeah, I would dig even deeper into this to get a clear plan of what the labelling would look like and a SWISH to clean the desk off each day! So, let’s do that in this hypothetical…)

Sooooo… walk me through it. What exactly does your filing system look like? Do you have a filing cabinet now? What needs to happen here?

I have a filing cabinet.

Great. Is there space for new files?

(we always need to make space in the old before we can add the new – cool metaphor, huh?)

No, it’s over-flowing. Stuffed with old papers.

Oh! Okay! So, we need to clean that out before you can set up the filing system?

Yeah. I really need to do that.

Great! We’ll make that a TASK. What else?

Get Even More Specific

So, then, I imagine these really pretty file folders with flowers. And, every one is  labelled with my clients names using a label-maker. I have the ones I need on my desk. I have an Inbox for the beginning of the day and an Outbox for the end of the day. And at the end of the day, I get up and walk over and put the files away.

Wow! That’s really specific! Awesome! Do you have a label-maker and pretty file folders and an Inbox/Outbox?

No. Not yet.

Okay! Great! We’ll make those TASKs too. How much fun will that be?! Looking for pretty file folders and buying stationery?

(see how I’m recruiting them into their own dream here…)

I never really thought about it that way. Maybe it could be fun…

We’ll get it to fun, for sure! Okay what else?

I clean out the kitchen sink after dinner every night and make sure the dishes are done and the lights are out.

Great! What else?

(yup, you could go deeper here, too)

I hire a cleaner to come in every two weeks and do a whole-house clean.

Great! What else?

… and you keep going until you have a list of do-able tasks that you can then assign as tasks and check in on and coach to and consequence until they are complete.

(and here’s the real magic of well-chosen Outcomes: they create massive momentum and do most of the work of the Breakthrough for you. Why? Because the client is visualizing success – visualizing their desires – in exquisite detail. Which means it’s getting programmed into the Conscious and Unconscious Minds… ooooh!)

… and then, Narrow It Down

And, if you end up with 10… or 30 possible Outcomes and TASKS, that’s too many. Narrow down the scope of your Breakthrough so they don’t get overwhelmed and sabotage the whole thing. Change is what we do. But, it has to measured carefully.

For instance, it’s became pretty clear in the example above that just organizing the office would be a HUGE win so that could be a Breakthrough all on its own.

Remember, this is your first one, make it small and make it successful.

And then, you use the techniques to clean up Sub-Modalities and release Limiting Beliefs and negative emotions around the Outcomes. Then, you’ll install new Strategies. Finally, you’ll come up with goals and TASKs to get the client to success and then you’ll coach them there.

Cool, huh?

So… for everyone who has already done their Breakthrough exchanges and for everyone getting ready to do them, ask yourself…

Do I KNOW EXACTLY what it will look like for them when this problem is gone?

Do I have a LIST of 5-6 Outcomes that we have agreed upon that will be accomplished when this problem is totally gone?

Did I TASK my client and come up with goals and plans to meet those very specific Outcomes and Consequences if they didn’t and did I accountability coach them to succeed?

Did my Client accomplish their TASKS?

Were we able to check them off the list?

Did they say, “Wow! We did it! This is amazing!”

If Yes, then, “Congratulations!!”, you’ve done your first Breakthrough!!! Woot!

If No, then you haven’t completed your first Breakthrough.

Now, you have to decide what to do.

You might want to start again with a clear set of Outcomes OR you might want to go back and tweak and put the Outcomes and Consequences and Goals and TASKs in place so that your Client gets success.

And, remember that your Client MUST FOCUS ON WHAT THEY WANT.

That’s the 3rd Requisite of Change and THE MOST IMPORTANT THING.

If your Client does not focus on what they want – and that’s why we do all the change work, to make it easier to focus – then they aren’t a client.

You can do this.


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