Life…The Ultimate Game

(This Blog originally appeared on my other website;

I was watching my kids playing video games recently. I was complimenting them on their progress when I noticed that every so often one of them went to a PC, typed something, focussed on the screen before returning to the game and quickly hitting the controls in what seemed to be a very precise sequence. Their character on the screen went crazy, the level ended and much to their joy they moved to the next level of the game. When I asked what they were doing, I received a ‘matter of fact’ answer that they were getting ‘cheats’ from the Internet to help them get through the levels faster.

I watched with amazement (and a certain amount of awe at their level of IT savvy) as they raced through the various levels and eventually threw down the controllers and rose with a triumphant “Finished!”.

This got me thinking…

We live in a very fast paced world (and it is getting faster). We expect instant connections on our phones…

We demand instant downloads on the internet wherever we are (just look at the comments that are posted on sites like Facebook when the ‘system’ slows down)…

We expect instant service in shops and restaurants…

We demand everything ‘to go’ (so that we don’t have to sit still for a while), and…

We expect immediate replies to every question.

Are WE looking for the ‘cheats’ to keep us moving through this game of life as quickly as possible?

If I use the video game analogy, there are many ‘levels’ that we must move through as we play the Game of Life. We have to complete each level and gather the necessary tools, experience and Life-skill points before we move onto the next level. Yet, for most of us, we seem to be in a hurry to get to the end, we seem to be constantly looking for the ‘cheats’ that will get us out of this level and into the next. How many times have you heard someone say “they grow up so fast” when referring to children? It is true that children these days are much more informed and have access to technology that many of us could only dream about when we were their age. Technology has revolutionised our lives in every possible way, but at what cost?

Don’t get me wrong, I am a mega supporter of technology and the advances that we have seen over the last 5, 10, 20, or more years has been mind-blowing. But in our race for technology, have we inadvertently moved to a race to complete our ‘levels’ as quickly as possible and to move on in the Game of Life?

So What??…I hear you cry

Many of you will be familiar with the phrase that “Life is a marathon, not a race”, yet we appear to be moving to a sprint rather than a paced journey.

What would happen if we forgot about the race and concentrated on completing each ‘level’ before moving forward to the next. How many new skills and experiences would we pick up which could benefit us later when we get to the higher ‘levels’?

In the current economic climate, people are being forced to draw on their skills and experiences in order to reduce their spending and become more self sufficient and this is where the ‘cheats’ cause problems.

We joke about people being such bad cooks that they would burn water!! But if we have being rushing so much that we only nuke our meals in the microwave or buy our fix of coffee in a convenient plastic cup, then we are missing the skills we could acquire which would enable us to prepare our own food.

The result???

‘Game Paused’ while we go back and learn the skills we missed out on in our rush through the levels.

Why not do it right from the start. Just like in a video game, if we rush through it, we miss out on the fun we would have trying to overcome the challenges we encounter as we move through each level. In most video games, each level builds on the previous ones and increases the challenge. Isn’t this very similar to Life?

As we grow from Children into Teenagers and on into Adults we develop skills, knowledge and experience that we take with us and build on with each passing level.

Why not turn off the ‘cheats’ in your Game of Life?

It is time to slow down. It is time to use each day to learn as much as possible about our environment and ourselves.

Most important of all; IT IS TIME TO ENJOY THE RIDE!!

EQ-i as part of the Coaching/NLP Process

(This Article originally appeared on my other website;

(This article was submitted as part of the required course work for a Special Award in Emotional Intelligence at Carlow Institute of Technology, 2010)

The last century has seen significantly increased developments in the field of human psychology and our overall understanding of how we ʻoperateʼ as individuals and in our interactions with our environment. This assignment will examine the evolution of human intelligence as well as exploring how the modern concepts of Coaching, Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) and Emotional Intelligence (EQ-i) testing can be used in a clinical environment when working with clients.

The subject of Psychology has been studied since ancient times. According to Charles Abramson and Craig Satterfield (2004) the first recorded psychological experiment was conducted in Egypt by Psamtik I in 700 BCE. Dr. Jonathan Plucker (2007) highlights the various ʻagesʼ in the evolution of Human Intelligence as follows:

  • Historical Foundations. This period includes all early foundation work ranging from Plato to Itard.
  • Modern Foundations. This is the period when Psychology began to separate from subjects like Mathematics, Philosophy and Biology and includes the works of individuals like Locke and Charcot.
  • The Great Schools. This period marked the advent of many of the great European Schools in Psychology. Many of the famous American Psychologists studied in Europe and later returned to the US and opened similar facilities there. This period also marks the increase in popularity of the study of Intelligence, bolstered by the work of Wilhelm Wundt, James McKeen Cattell, G. S. Hall, and Hermann Ebbinghaus.
  • The Great Schoolsʼ Influence. This period marked the increase in the level of theoretical and empirical investigations in intelligence. One of the greatest milestones of the period was the US Armyʼs Alpha and Beta testing program which were developed under the direction of Robert Mearns Yerkes. These programs provided the first Group Intelligence Tests and were the basis for all subsequent testing.
  • Contemporary Explorations. This period continued to build on the work of the previous period. New Statistical methods helped to make standardised testing of intelligence and achievement a way of life in most Western countries.
  • Current Efforts. Current developments in intelligence theories particularly in the formation of more complex multiple intelligence theories have resulted in a de-emphasis on the use of traditional standardised test methods. Technological advances have also enabled the development of new test methods. Finally this period has also witnessed the emergence of new area of study in which environmental, biological, and psychological aspects of intelligence are studied simultaneously. This has been brought about by the development of new genetic and neurological methodologies.

Emotional Intelligence testing (EQ-i) has its genesis in the current ʻeraʼ of psychology evolution. EQ-i tests, such as the Bar-On method measure the “emotional-social intelligence as a cross-section of interrelated emotional and social competencies, skills and facilitators that impact intelligent behavior” (Bar-On, Reuvens (2007)).

Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) began in the 1970ʼs as a result of the work of John Grinder (Linguistics) and Richard Bandler (mathematics and gestalt therapy). According to the NLP University (1999), ʻNLP is a multi-dimensional process that involves the development of behavioral competence and flexibility, but also involves strategic thinking and an understanding of the mental and cognitive processes behind behaviorʼ.

NLP presupposes that:

  • As human beings we experience and respond to the world around us through our sensory representational systems. It is these experiences that give us our ʻrealityʼ. In turn the ʻrealityʼ that we experience determine how we behave.
  • The processes that take place within us (intra) as well as between us (inter), other human beings and our environment are systemic. Together these processes form a network of complex systems and sub-systems which interact and influence each other.

In his book ʻLooking for Spinosaʼ (2003), Antonio Damasio separates emotions from feelings and suggests that “..emotions are actions or movements, many of them public, visible to others as they occur in the face, in the voice and in specific behaviours”. He further suggests that “Feelings are always hidden…playing out in the theater of the mind”.

Throughout his book, Damasio echoes the theory put forward by the philosopher, Spinosa in the 17th century that link the processes of the body and the mind together. This view appears to support that of NLP.

The profession of Coaching has its origins in North America in the 1980ʼs when a former Financial Planner, Thomas J Leonard recognised the need to provide professional coaching to help people. He developed his skills over the next ten years and set up the Coaching University in the early 90ʼs. Since then coaching has evolved as a global profession.

Coaching focuses on helping the client to determine and achieve personal goals. It is a thought provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximise their personal and professional potential. Because the coach works with the client, the coach/client relationship must be a partnership in order to be successful. Because Coaching focuses on working with people to identify and achieve future personal goals, it deals a lot more with emotions and feelings.

What we have seen is that in the latter part of the 20th Century there has been considerable movement away from the traditional practices in psychology towards a ʻsofterʼ approach which looks more to understand how we perceive and interact with our surroundings as well as ourselves.

In the next section, we will observe how the three distinct practices of Coaching, NLP and EQ-i could be combined to form a very effective method for helping people identify and overcome many issues.

Coaching, NLP and EQ-i as a Clinical Process:
We have seen how the three distinct processes of Coaching, NLP and EQ-i developed, particularly over the last 30 years or so. As we enter the 21st Century, the ability to combine the processes of all three and use them to effectively help an individual must be considered.

Coaching and NLP have been used both separately and together since they began. Potential clients will find Practitioners who use either or both during their sessions. In reality, Coaching is the basis for working with clients.

As the coaching process works towards recognising and achieving personal goals, it is a forward looking process. People choose to work with a coach for a number of reasons which include:

  • Work and life are out of balance
  • The client wants to change an element of his/her life
  • The client wants to map out a career path
  • There is a gap in knowledge, skills, confidence or resources
  • The client wants to identify his/her core strengths
  • The client desires his/her work life balance to be simpler and less complicated
  • There is a lack of clarity and there are choices to be made

To be successful in the application of coaching, the coach must focus completely on the client. In order to do this he/she must:

  • Believe in the fact that clients hold the key to enable them to move towards their desired goals.
  • Be willing and able to challenge the client in a way that will help them develop a new path to their desired goals.
  • Fight the impulse to offer advice, the client already knows what to do.
  • Listen completely to the client, i.e. to what the client says, doesn’t say and how the client acts.
  • Become a “mirror” for the client so that the client can see and hear themselves in the actions of the coach.
  • Remember at all times that it is the clientʼs agenda which must be followed. The coach is merely the guide to ensure that the client adheres to his/her agenda and that the agenda only changes with the agreement of the client.

The biggest issue with the coaching process is the elicitation of what the client wants to tackle. While there are tools to tackle this issue, this is the area where EQ-i testing could be of enormous benefit. Using a tool like the Bar-On EQ-i test method would have a very positive effect on the entire coaching process.

The Bar-On test is an on-line questionnaire type document that respondents self complete in the comfort of their own home (or work). It is also available in paper form but is much easier to complete on-line. The test covers five key areas of emotion which in turn contain a total of 15 sub sections. The Scales are listed as follows:

✓  IntRApersonal

  • Self-Regard
  • Emotional Self-awareness
  • Assertiveness
  • Independence
  • Self-actualisation

✓  IntERpersonal

  • Empathy
  • Social Responsibility
  • Interpersonal Relationships

✓  Stress Management

  • Stress Tolerance
  • Impulse Control

✓  Adaptability

  • Reality Testing
  • Flexibility
  • Problem Solving

✓  General Mood

  • Optimism
  • Happiness

The test produces a score for each of these headings as well as overall scores each of the key areas and for the test as a whole. From a Coaching perspective, this is an ideal way of establishing initial indicators for areas that the client may like to look at for improvement. Because the test is taken by the client when the client wants to take it, there is less pressure to ʻcome upʼ with something to be discussed. The various validity controls that are built into the scoring mechanism of the test ensures that any attempt by the client to give an overly positive or negative impression will be caught and can be questioned by the Coach when going through the results.

Furthermore, as the test is scored after completion, there is little opportunity for the client to measure his/her responses to balance the result. So how could the Bar-On EQ-i test be used as an indicator for the Coaching process?

To demonstrate how the test might be used in the Coaching process we will take an example using possible scores for Self-Regard, Interpersonal Relationships, Stress Tolerance and Happiness.

  • Self-Regard. This measures the clientʼs ability to accept him/herself as basically good, accept limitations and measure his/her feelings of selfconfidence, self-adequacy etc. Let us imagine that the client scored low under this heading. This can indicate that the client has low self-esteem, lacks confidence or he/she is unhappy with their physical appearance. Issues with self-regard can have a detrimental effect on a persons overall optimism, happiness and self-actualisation. From a Coaching perspective, a client with self-regard issues needs urgent and careful attention. In a normal coaching session (without EQ-i Testing), it may take several visits to fully establish that the client has self-regard issues. This is because the Coach has to work with whatever the client tells him, whereas using the test highlights the matter immediately. By using effective questioning and listening skills as well as various NLP techniques (such as Time-line Therapy), the coach will be able to take the client through a process which will dramatically improve his/her image of themselves.
  • Interpersonal Relationships. This measures the clientʼs ability to develop and maintain mutually satisfying relationships with others. A low score in this area can be an indication that the client is a loner, does not like intimacy or is not able to share feelings. This can affect their overall happiness and levels of optimism as well as affecting their overall independence. Working with a client the coach will develop a plan to improve their ability to interact with others. This process may involve some NLP techniques and questioning to establish the root cause of the problem followed by developing new beliefs that will help the client to become more confident and more open to interaction. The final phase will be to anchor the new beliefs and actions so that the client will be able to continue to develop the new skills after the coaching process has finished.
  • Stress Tolerance. This is possibly one of the most worrying (and life threatening) issues. This scale measures the clientʼs ability to withstand adverse events and stressful situations without falling apart. A low score here could indicate that the client is reactive, fearful or has high anxiety levels. Ultimately, poor stress tolerance can lead to a number of health issues if it isnʼt tackled, including High Blood Pressure, Heart Attack or nervous breakdown. As in the case of Self-regard, the EQ-i test can highlight a potential issue here faster than through a normal coaching process. The low score can be due to a number of external factors which the Coach will seek to establish before beginning to work with the client to overcome the problem. Once again, through the use of various Coaching and NLP techniques, the Coach will be able to improve the clientʼs belief system for dealing with stress as well as anchoring the new beliefs so that they become the norm for the client.
  • Happiness. This scale measures the clientʼs overall level of satisfaction with his/her life. A low score here could indicate that the client is dissatisfied with life, depressed or they tend to look for the negative rather than the positive in life. This can be a very heavy burden for a client to carry. Again, by using the test, the coach is more likely to spot a potential issue with the clientʼs happiness level than if the had to rely on more traditional methods. This is simply due to the fact that a client can feign happiness during the session and (if they are good at it) may block, or suppress, any negative thoughts during the session. Once the issue has been established the coach will be able to challenge the clientʼs perception on life. it may be necessary to use NLP tools such as Time-line Therapy to take the client to a memory that has sparked the current outlook and thereby adjust the belief that has come from the memory. Again, the Coach will use Coaching and NLP tools to verify the indicated score, to challenge the clientʼs beliefs regarding their happiness and to develop new Neuro links with the new beliefs and improved happiness levels.


The last 30 years have seen some dramatic breakthroughs in our understanding of human psychology, intelligence and in the area of Neuro-science. There is now a greater understanding and acceptance of human emotions as a critical aspects of human behaviour. The evolution of therapies such as NLP and Coaching have demonstrated the power of the human mind and the control we can have over all aspects of our neurology. The availability of EQ-i tests such as the Bar-On test method offer enhanced certainty to current coaching and NLP processes and will ensure that clients will be able to approach the overall coaching process with significantly less worry and stress.

Clientʼs regularly state that the most nervous part of the Coaching process occurs in the lead up to the first meeting. This has been due in part to the fact that the client has to think about what they wish to discuss, i.e. they have to identify the ʻproblemʼ area on their own. Using the EQ-i test methods removes this worry and has the added benefit of providing accurate results and a solid starting point. It is a little bit like enabling the client to avoid the possibility for the coaching version of ʻwhite coat syndromeʼ.

Coaches and clinicians now have the tools to provide the absolute best possible service for their clients in a ʻlow impactʼ and stress free format. The ability to utilise all three ʻsystemsʼ will also open a number of new opportunities for further research.


Abramson, C. & Satterfield, C. (2004)
Bar-On, R. (2007)
Damasio, Antonio (2003) Looking for Spinosa
MHS (2006) EQ-i Certification & Training Workbook
NLP University (1999)

Winnie, Dublin

…I was at a turning point in my life and just could not get round that corner! ….After 2 sessions I understood what it was that was stopping me from doing the things I wanted in my life. Denis, with a remarkable intuitive sense, knew how to ask the most powerful questions and genuinely wanted so much for me to achieve my desires and wishes…I always felt relaxed and comfortable during our meetings and looked forward to our sessions…Its been 6 months since our sessions and I still feel its effects in my daily life, I would definitely do it again and would recommend everyone to give it a try…

Toni, Hawaii

Denis is a great inspiration to me, usually when I need it most. His advice, reminders and insight has helped me to stay the course in my own company and to find those doors that need to be opened for my success. He is not a just Coach, but a partner who cares about your personal and professional success. I’m honored to have him as a personal friend, and thankful to know him in his current professional position. It is exciting to see what Denis will do next to provide life reminders and business help to others throughout the world.

MD SurveyGuru

I recently availed of Denis’ packaging expertise on a research project. He produced the
goods in a timely, crisp,clear & imaginative way. An utter professional – use him!

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