The Myth Of Light Bulb Moments

Don’t you just love it when a client has one of those amazing aha-moments?

When you ask a killer question that seemingly destroys a previously held paradigm, or at the very least, massively shifts their thinking?

In that moment it seems you have done your job and crushed it.

But have you?

Have you really delivered a beneficial lasting change with a swift stroke of your mighty coaching sword?

Or, are you just working with a client who gets excited easily, who likes hyperbole and to talk in absolutes?

I was working with a client this morning who was concerned and discouraged that she wasn’t having enough clients making massive breakthroughs.

She thought that maybe she wasn’t doing a great job.

I went through that thinking a decade or more ago.

Why on earth weren’t clients punching the air more often whilst shrieking Eureka! and recognizing my undoubted genius?

I wondered if I sucked?

Or, if I was missing something?

Or, perhaps I wasn’t pushing them hard enough?

I have no doubt some of those reasons were applicable, but by and large they weren’t.

If you want to talk to people who have had amazing life-changing breakthroughs and seen the light in an instant, go and stand outside a Tony Robbins event just after it’s finished.

Stop a few dozen people and you will know what transformation really is because they will be bursting to tell you how much they have changed their lives over the previous 72-hours.

Nice, eh?

Then follow up with those same people 6-months later.

Ask them what is fundamentally different in their life now compared to their time shortly after bouncing up and down in a room with a few hundred like minded souls high on adrenaline and oxytocin before hopping over hot coals to prove they were invincible?

I’ve probably worked with at least 30 or more people who attended a Tony Robbins event and I don’t remember one not enjoying it – in fact most loved it.

Unfortunately, I also don’t remember one implementing anything remotely close to being beneficially life changing.

Not one.

Many left thinking a new dawn was opening up before them and some did make some short-term changes, but most were back where they started, just a few hundred, or even a few thousand, dollars lighter in the wallet.

I’m not knocking Tony Robbins, I happen to quite like the guy and if you bought me a ticket to one of his events I’d happily trot along.

But I’d have no expectations of my life changing in any meaningful way.

The kind of high intensity immersion training/event Robbins delivers has been proven to be highly ineffective when it comes to long lasting change.

Of course there will be exceptions and maybe you went to such an event that created a revolutionary change in your life, but you’re one of a tiny minority.

People talk about the moment a light bulb came on in their life and everything suddenly became clear, and those events happen to all of us.

The problem is however, because they are so instantaneous and remarkable we tend to remember them and think they are far more frequent and more important than they really are.

This is because of a cognitive bias called the availability heuristic that suggests the more easily we can remember something the more importance we ascribe to it.

But most change isn’t like a light bulb turning on, it’s more akin to somebody slowly cranking up the dimmer switch and as such it’s far less noticeable.

As a life coach it’s nice to have clients excited about rapid change, and indeed it can happen – I even teach some rapid change techniques to coaches for certain issue, but in the main they are less likely to be sustained.

Watching and encouraging gradual and consistent improvement is the real key to being a successful life coach.

But the problem is, it requires patience and being okay with not being seen to be a magician by your client.

And let’s face it, what coach doesn’t want a client taking they are a coaching genius?