Make Stress Management Personal with MindSonar

Make Stress Management Personal with Mindsonar

Whatever area of coaching you work in, at some point you will probably do some work to enable your clients to discover ways both to manage their current stress level and to become more resilient to stress in the future. MindSonar can help us do this in a truly client-centred way, by identifying the meta programmes operating when a client experiences stress, and so enabling change work to be focused on those which might be fuelling their stress response.

As always when considering a person’s thinking patterns, there are no intrinsically good or bad meta programmes – it depends upon the context and the way in which the meta programme is impacting upon on the way the individual feels and behaves. Therefore, it is possible that meta programmes which help the person in one context, could be causing a problem in another. Likewise, each meta programme of a pair could be unhelpful in different people..

To illustrate this, here are two simple examples from a couple of my clients of how either of a meta programme pair can contribute to stress – in this case, the perceived locus of control.  I’ve also included a brief account of the benefits that each client experienced from becoming aware of how they could change their stress level by changing their thinking

1. Very high Internal Locus of Control: this client spent a lot of time worrying about things which were completely out of his control. He was losing sleep over such things as world events and the future economy. He said that he often felt responsible for anything that went wrong around him at work and at home, even when he knew that he could not have influenced the outcome in any way. During coaching, he was able to identify some situations in which he was content not to be responsible (ie when he had more of a balance between Internal Locus of Control and External Locus of Control). He recognised that he was thinking differently in those contexts, and that he was more comfortable and less stressed in them. After that, he said could imagine how he would feel if he utilised that more comfortable thinking pattern when in the situations which were currently causing him stress. Therefore, he decided to utilise the more helpful style of thinking in relation to the things in his life that he tended to worry about.

2. Very high External Locus of Control:  in this case, the client felt completely out of control in the context of developing a business. The level of stress she was experiencing from this was stopping her from progressing toward this goal. She felt that so many external factors were in the way of becoming a successful business owner that she could no longer see any opportunities. By considering her score for this meta programme, she considered other situations in which she did feel confident and focussed on what she could influence. She then began to be able to identify the changes in her thinking that would enable her to move in the direction she wanted to, gaining in confidence as she did. The result was a business plan which enabled her to accept those factors which she could not control whilst taking decisions and actions on the factors that she could influence.


I believe that any meta programme can contribute to stress. I am still discovering how powerful a MindSonar profile can be for getting clients to understand both the impact that their thinking pattern can have upon their personal experience of stress and anxiety, and their ability to change that.

Let me know of other meta programmes that you’ve seen contributing to stress, whether your own or a client’s. Perhaps we can demonstrate how each meta programme can cause stress in certain contexts..


MindSonar – a good Tool for Coaching Artists

Previously, I’ve used MindSonar for business people and for individuals seeking coaching or therapy. Recently however, I’ve been thinking about the use of MindSonar for artists of various types. This arose out of my own personal experience. In the last couple of years I’ve developed hobbies in both art and jewellery making. As a result, I now know a number of incredibly creative people. As a person whose background is in science, this is quite a new experience for me and one which I’m enjoying learning from. As a MindSonar professional, I can’t help but notice how the different thinking styles of individual artists impact upon their work. For example, some artists produce works which are realistic representations of the subject, having focussed on the Specific details, whereas others produce representative works which are impressionistic or even abstract having focussed on the General appearance. Similarly, some spend a lot of time on the preparation and design before getting around to making a piece (Reactive). Others dive straight in and create as they go along (Proactive).

Such differences in the thinking styles they employ within the creative process can impact upon their success when they come to develop their work by using different media. I have encountered this myself when recently I decided to move from drawing with soft pastels (which can used to draw pictures quite quickly – ideal for those of us who are proactive) to using coloured pencils instead (which require more planning and the need to take a longer to build up layers of colours). Starting from my “pastel mindset” of Proactive, I initially found the switch frustrating. However, by changing my perspective and moving into a slightly more Reactive thought pattern, I began once more to enjoy the process.

The thinking style around creative work also impacts on the artist when they decide to advertise and sell their work. As a rule of thumb, artworks which arise from a Reactive and Specific approach take more time to create than those resulting from a Proactive, General approach. This then impacts on the artist’s pricing structure for their pieces.

The implications for MindSonar professionals is to consider how we might work with artists who are looking for coaching to help them develop either their art or their business. An artists who feels that they are not progressing as well as they want to could be helped to identify whether they would be helped by changing their balance of Specific to General in the context of their work: strengthening general if they are aiming to be more abstract, or their Specific if they wish to do more detailed, realistic works. If an artist spends so long planning and designing that they create only sporadically, they might benefit from strengthening their Proactive metaprogramme.

There will, of course, be other metaprogrammes at play in a person’s creativity and I’ll be looking out for them the more I spend time within the creative communities to which I now belong. In particular, I’m interested in those artists who have achieved a balance which enables them to be commercially viable whilst still doing the style of art they enjoy. If you coach creative people, or are an artist of any sort yourself, let me know which thinking styles you notice as you work. I think there’s real scope for MindSonar to be helpful in this area.

Discovering your Mission – a powerful and inspiring use of MindSonar

Clients often approach me wanting to find out what they could do to achieve a feeling of satisfaction with their life – a sense that they are doing what they are “supposed” to be doing. It’s a big ask! Until I trained as a MindSonar professional, it was also a tricky thing to work upon with clients and often took a lot of time to even get close to.

I was therefore very interested when I spotted in the MindSonar training course, the exercise entitled “Exploring Your Mission”. I have to admit I was also a little sceptical – it’s quite a claim for a single exercise.

I found the preparation work for the session very intriguing. It included questions about the things I’d enjoyed at various stages of my life and for three “heroes or heroines” of mine. It asked about the emotions and values I achieved from them.  I was intrigued by the questions, especially as several were of things I’d not considered before and so were very thought-provoking. By the end of the preparatory work I was asked to complete the following statements:

A metaphor for “I am a kind of ...”, “I am like a …

I believe in … 

My contribution to the larger whole is to …

I then completed my MindSonar® profile in the context of “Fulfilling my mission” and was ready and looking forward to the exercise itself.

The process of exploration, reflection and discovery that takes place within the exercise was fascinating. It provided an opportunity to discover far more about what the experiences, emotions and values identified in the prep work meant to me. I began to see how they fitted together to give an understanding of the commonalities in the seemingly disparate things I’d enjoyed at different stages in my life , and of the things and characters which I admired.

The discoveries I made about myself through this exercise, combined with my MindSonar profile, came together in an incredibly powerful way. I came to understand a lot more about situations in which I felt stuck and I identified ways in which I could change some aspects of both my business and personal activities to make them more fulfilling and less stagnant. I felt genuinely inspired and enabled to make really positive changes to my life.

I would recommend this exercise to anyone looking to improve their feelings of overall satisfaction or to discover their direction in life. As such it will be particularly useful for people who are at a crossroads in life such as career change, post-divorce or retirement.

If you’ve already done the MindSonar “Exploring Your Mission” exercise please share your experience of it in the comments section. If you haven’t and would like to, then get in touch with your local MindSonar professional to find out more and to arrange one – it’s definitely worth it!



Improving Motivation and Job Satisfaction – the importance of the Graves Drives

One valuable use of MindSonar is to identify a person’s motivators.  For example, this is important when designing recruitment and retention strategies for an organisation and for individual teams, and when coaching individuals who want to achieve a long-term goal which will take time and dedication.

In using MindSonar for these purposes it’s important to look at the Graves Drives within each profile.  These will tell you a lot about the values that matter most to the individual – the things that they need to get from the given context in order to feel fulfilled and motivated.  By looking at the Graves Drives of the individuals concerned, it usually becomes apparent that, even in the same context, different people have quite different values.

For example, in people considering changing jobs in a particular sector, I have seen some who prioritise the Graves Drives Powerand Competition, and others for whom Learning and Order are the priorities. Similar differences can exist even between members of the same team.

By knowing this and by being aware of the impact of not enabling individuals to obtain them (namely, dissatisfaction and demotivation) managers and coaches can develop a more tailored approach to motivation.  This could be by using different language when describing the opportunities available – emphasising those aspects which match what is important to the individual, or (for larger organisations) it could be about providing a more varied range of any optional benefits available to staff.

Without the information that is provided by the Graves Drives as identified by the MindSonar profile it is all too easy to fall back on the assumption that all people are motivated by the same things. Such an approach can lead to poor recruitment and retention results for companies, or to coaching clients becoming disenchanted with their progress towards major goals.

Of course, the whole profile should be taken into account as thinking styles are also an important consideration, but without an understanding of the individual’s values, much could be missed.

If you’ve done a MindSonar profile, have another look at your Graves drives and think about how they are influencing you in that context – could you improve your own motivation by taking them more into account?  If you haven’t done a profile yet, then why not contact a certified MindSonar Professional to arrange one – it could make all the difference to your success!

Listening with Meta Programmes – the key to successful communications

How many times do you, or those around you, complain that people just don’t listen or that they ignore requests and instructions? It seems to be a common source of stress and conflict in the workplace and at home, and a problem in public places where signage about use and safety are needed. So often, messages just don’t get through to the intended recipient.

Most of the time, the blame for the miscommunication is placed on the ithe listener (or reader) and so little thought is given to the original communication itself. However, very often the problem would be resolved if the wording of that communication were changed. If the focus moved from wishful thinking about the audience suddenly changing their response, to ways in which the communicator could change their messaging so that it would be heard by more people, then perhaps success would be more likely. It is also an important thing to consider when producing marketing materials for anything from business services to health advice.

One way to do this is to review the communication for the Meta Programmes that are behind it and then consider versions which come from other Meta Programmes. Here are some examples that come to mind:

  • Please put your refuse in the correct recycling bins”. This comes from a Matching Meta Programme, so risks not being acknowledged by those with a strong Mis-matching thinking pattern. Simply adding something like : “Putting materials in the wrong bin prevents proper recycling” might address this.


  • If possible, avoid calling between 1 and 2 pm as this is our busiest time”. This will be heard more by those with an Away From thinking pattern than a Towards. Therefore adding “To receive a faster response, please call before 1pm or after 2pm” might reach more callers.


  • Contact us now to book your holiday” is very Proactive. Using the phrase “Call us to discuss how we can find the ideal holiday for you” will attract the Reactive thinkers.


  • Similarly “Call us now for information” might appeal more to those with an Internal Locus of Control, whereas “Call us now for advice” might attract those with a more External Locus of Control.


There are, of course, many other examples, and this exercise can be done with any communication. The more that is known about the audience for a communication, the more it can be refined. Understanding the Meta Programmes of the audience can make communications so much more effective.

I commonly came across these sorts of mis-communication when managing complex projects, particularly between the policy people (General, Activity) and the mathematicians (Specific, Information). Often it was as if these two groups spoke entirely different languages, so common were the mis-understandings.

This doesn’t mean that every sign and communication has to be written in a lengthy and multi-optional way, just that consideration of the audience is vital, particularly when miscommunication is occurring frequently.

Perhaps you’ve experienced this problem, or have observed it in your environment. I’d love to hear of examples and possible solutions – so let me know in the comments box please.

Money Mindset Problems in New Businesses

When working with clients who are on the brink of becoming freelance or self-employed in a services business, I often come across a particular mindset about money which is holding them back or which, if not addressed, will lead to them not being able to have a sustainable business.

This mindset is connected to how they perceive the value of their own time and skills, and prevents them from asking a fair price for their services, particularly for their time.

I’m finding that a MindSonar profile can really help such clients to identify which thinking patterns are at play in this situation.  The strength of MindSonar is its contextual nature, so it can be used to focus in on the problem area and the relevant thinking patterns.

In the clients in question, MindSonar helps identify how their thinking about charging for their services differs from their thinking around the other aspects of their new business.

For example, often a person who has decided to be self-employed might have a combination of the following Meta Programmes in the context of their business as a whole:

  • Internally Referenced
  • Internal Locus of Control
  • Proactive

However, when they consider pricing they move to the following combination:

  • Externally Referenced (“what will others think about these prices, when I’m only just starting out?”)
  • External Locus of Control (“I just can’t ask that much because the economy is not good, so no-one will be able to afford me”)
  • Reactive (“I keep thinking that there are some  businesses charging less, but I also think that I’m offering a better service, so maybe I can charge more…”).

Working with these clients to develop a realistic business model in which they charge the true value of their services usually involves some general coaching around self-worth, confidence, etc.  With MindSonar, it can also enable very targeted coaching on the relevant Meta Programmes.

Different clients might identify other Meta Programmes which are causing the problem, and I’m looking forward to uncovering which ones as I use MindSonar more in this context.

What are your experiences – have used MindSonar in this context yet? Perhaps you struggle with charging a fair price for your services.  If so, contact your local MindSonar Professional who will help you get your business in a healthier position.

Please let me know your thoughts on this in the comments section below.