Tag Archives: personal growth

My daughter and I on a recent trip to Germany. Photo: Thomas Paul

Lets change some lives together…

Lots of people I talk to don’t know what it is I do as a coach, or who I can help. Can I clarify things for you, so you can help me spread the word?

I’m a little nervous about it. I’m not a fan of marketing spiels (and I’m guessing you’re not either). It is important, though, because I can’t help people who don’t know I’m here or what I do. And what I want to do most of all is to help more people. So, here’s the short answer:

I change lives for the better.

Every client I have worked with has left our coaching sessions a changed person, and it gives me so much satisfaction to think of the ripples of positive change that flow out from each of those clients. It’s my small way of changing the world, one person at a time.

“Really?”, you might be thinking. “That’s a big claim…”

Well, the magic of the transformative coaching technique I’m trained in is that it does what it says on the box – it transforms people. You can read my testimonials here and see for yourself the difference it makes. Here’s one client’s words that get right to the guts of it:

“My sessions with Lisa lead to life changing behaviour. In five weeks I went from frustrated and angry to calm and contented, and enjoying my job more fully than I have done for many years.”

As I work with my clients they shift perspective. They understand what is important to them, they see through the blocks that hold them back, and they learn new mindsets. The accountability, motivation and support I provide helps them make changes.

The added special sauce is the confidence and strength that comes from knowing they can rise above their own challenges and break through old limits. I don’t tell my clients what to do. I help them figure it out, and then do it for themselves, which is so much more powerful.

The result is long term, sustainable change.

“Yeah, but”, I hear you thinking, “I’m good. Coaching is not for me.”

Maybe so, but do you recognise yourself, or someone you know, in one of these statements?

  • “I hate my job but I don’t know what to do about it”
  • “I’ve got everything I thought I wanted in life – but why am I not happier?”
  • “My life is so busy – I’m cracking under the pressure.”
  • “I’m turning into a grouch and my family is hating it. It’s not who I want to be.”
  • “I feel frustrated and stuck and want to get back to loving life again.”
  • “I want to take on that next challenge, but something is holding me back.”

Coaching can help anyone who is stuck in their life and ready to fix it.

If that’s you, or someone you know, get in touch to book an assessment with me. No obligation. No cost. We can talk online, by phone or in person (in Rotorua).

Thanks for reading and passing this on.

Lets change some lives together.


Tiny Cass and Lisa Cover

Travel can open the mind, and shrink the ego

I’m back at my desk, at home in Rotorua, and loving getting my brain going again. It’s been wonderful, and challenging at times, to have seven weeks in Europe, much of the time alone with my girl.

The biggest challenges were days when my daughter recognised her introverted needs and demanded a day inside, away from all those people speaking another language. Got to respect a girl who knows what she needs! Even if spending a whole day inside role-playing with Playmobile figures was some kind of hell for me, most days I was all she had as a playmate, friend, mother and teacher.

Its been good for me to try and find joy in the things I usually think of as trials – to get to work re-writing some of my own stories. Anything is possible if we let go of expectations and choose to take delight in what is.

The story that I  found most challenging to let go of was that I need time alone to restore my energy and manage my well-being. While I certainly took off for walks on my own when I could, this wasn’t possible most days when my husband was working, However, I found I could work on finding a sense of calm while in the presence of others.

My natural state is to be highly aware of people around me, and this state of vigilance can become draining, hence my desire for restorative alone time. Developing an off-switch for this vigilance is a challenge, but I’m working on it. It’s kind of like practicing meditation. The big shift is changing my story so the door opens to the possibility of things being different.

So my reality right now is time to work alone or with clients while my daughter is at school. But I know that as I keep working on developing my vigilance off-switch, I can be less dependent on that restorative alone time, and be ready to take on new challenges.

Oh, in case you’re wondering about the pictures, Cass and I had fun exploring this magical playground in Freiburg, Germany. Thankfully the shrinking effect was not permanent. (Photo credits: Cassidy Berndt and Lisa Berndt).


How to grow a five-year-old


There is so much interesting information around at the moment about our brain’s ability to change at all ages of life. As a mother of a five year old I’m trying to get my head around how best support my daughter to grow into a confident learner. I’ve just been listening to a podcast from Radio New Zealand National’s Nine to Noon programme with parenting commentator Nathan Mikaere-Wallis about what 3-7 year olds need to learn. Fascinating stuff.

Research shows that a child’s belief in their ability to learn is the best predictor of success later in life.

How much they know and if the details are correct is not really important at this age. Cognitive learning, which is a more adult style of learning focusing on content and detail, happens from age 7. So at five, helping my daughter know she is capable of learning something new and encouraging her thinking process, not outcome, is most beneficial.

This lines up with Dr Carol Dweck’s research on mindset. People with a fixed mindset see themselves as having a fixed level of intelligence and focus on protecting their status. This mindset creates learners who avoid challenge for fear of failure. The alternative is having a growth mindset, where someone understands they are able to improve their level of intelligence through effort. Learners with this mindset look for challenge in order to learn more. Mikaere-Wallis suggests that the critical window for developing this mindset is between 3 and 7.

The kicker for parents and teachers is that these mindsets are influenced by how we praise.

So how can we use this knowledge to give our kids the best chance of success? Help our 3-7 year olds see themselves as good learners. Focus on praise for a successful thinking process, not a right or wrong outcome. Encourage imaginative, open-ended play and don’t worry if they haven’t got their facts straight or colour inside the lines. That stuff will come along later.

This is a challenge for me. I know I am, at heart, a fixed mindset learner (although I am now working hard to shift to a growth mindset). For me this means that my model of how to deal with learning and knowledge is firmly based in being correct. Information is right or wrong. All of my scientific training has reinforced this belief. I have in the past looked outside myself for someone else to validate my intelligence by giving me a grade or a ‘well done’ pat on the head. This mindset got me a long way in the knowledge-based world of scientific research, but its not so useful in helping me to think outside the square and be creative as a coach and business owner.

As a mother it is a definite liability. What I’m learning as a mum is that my intuition can be relied upon. That no one else has the answers for how to best support and grow my own child. Experiential learning is necessary. I need to be with my child and learn her rhythms. I need to help her understand how to maximise her strengths and accept and work with her weaknesses.

So my daily challenge is to listen to what I say to Cassidy and learn how to say things that help her recognise her own power to choose to be great in the world. To practice opening my own mind to possibility so I can demonstrate to her that limits only exist inside our own heads. And most of all to help her enjoy being a kid and not to take on the pressure of the structured, performance-driven school system too soon.


Life Coaching – a Path to Authenticity

Authenticity quote

I’ve just about finished an amazing coaching course on Transformative Coaching, taught by Ben Koh MCC (Coach Masters Academy, Singapore), Sarah Devereaux PCC and Jo Lanigan ACC (Empowered Leadership, New Zealand). Our last assignment is a research paper on what coaching is and how it works. My first question, as a well-trained scientist, was do we need to include references? No, its not that kind of research paper. Easy then. I’ll write it for my blog.

So I’ve been pondering this topic for weeks now, and I’ve realised that, for me, coaching is about authenticity.

For me to coach well I need to be connected to who I am so I can be authentically present for the client. For the client, the process of coaching is increasing their self-awareness and teaching them ways of thinking and being that move them closer to authenticity.

“What?” you may well ask… “I thought coaching was all about helping people achieve their goals in life? What’s authenticity got to do with it?” True, the coach does partner with the client in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximise their personal and professional potential (to paraphrase the International Coach Federation definition). But the way this is best achieved is through helping the client connect more deeply with their authentic selves.

OK, so here’s my theory on why this works. Philosophies, religions and spiritual traditions over the centuries have proposed the idea that we all have a number of versions of our self within us. Anyone who pays attention to their inner narrative will have experienced this first hand. At its simplest, there’s the external self we present to others and there is the deeper sense of self that we often struggle to connect to.

The former, let’s call it our ego self, develops in childhood as a way of gaining necessary resources from our parents in the face of sibling competition. This personality might be the attention seeker, the clown, the people pleaser, the perfectionist, or the aggressor. This ego self might have been useful in a competitive family environment, but as we age the habit of behaving this way lingers and may become embedded as our dominant way of being.

The second sense of self I mentioned is what I like to call the true self. It’s the feeling that deep down we know what we need and who we are. In my personal experience it’s the gut feeling that helps me make the right decisions in life. That inner sense of knowing. I believe this true self is always present within us, but is usually overtaken by the ego self in childhood and early adulthood.

To summarise my non-scientific and un-referenced model of selfhood, the ego self dominates the true self during childhood and into adulthood. As we deal with life’s challenges and gain experience toward middle age, our true self comes to the fore more frequently, creating a sense of dissatisfaction. This is due to a disconnect between who we truly want to be and the ego self we present to the world. At heart we all want to be seen and appreciated for who we are and what we bring to the world, yet so often we are afraid to truly show who we are to others for fear of being judged.

This sense of dissatisfaction drives some people to self medicate with addictions and distractions, but for others it inspires them to seek something more meaningful in life.

To me, this is the process of letting go of the dominance of the ego self and learning to let the true self shine through. This is authenticity.

There are a number of skills that help with the development of authenticity, and they are also the skills that a professional coach can help you learn. Self-awareness and emotional intelligence are key: noticing your own behaviour and impacts on others, owning up to your weaknesses and taking full responsibility for your own mistakes. A critical requirement of learning these skills without faking it is self-compassion. If you notice you made a mistake, and then punish yourself with self-criticism, you will undermine your sense of self-worth. Feeling good about who you are is fundamental to authenticity.

When you truly value yourself and accept your failings as part of being human, your inner confidence shines through.

We all know people who are well connected with their authentic self. They are confident without being a show-off. They express themselves assertively, placing their own needs on par with the needs of others. They are comfortable in their own skin and don’t need to seek approval. They have mana.

For me as a coach, the more connected I am to my true self, the easier it is to help the true self of my client emerge. And this is what I love about having found this profession of coaching: it requires me to live up to my own inner drive to be more authentic, and to create a business and a lifestyle that supports me in this. I know I’m succeeding when I feel the magic of deep connection during a coaching session.

In doing some research for this blog I came across an article on the five steps to authenticity, by Athena Staik, PhD . These are: a deep understanding of self; a full acceptance of self; unconditional love of self; courageous expression of self; and that love for self and love for others are inseparable. This last one is really important. We are hard-wired to seek connection with those around us (we evolved as a communal species after all), but we often hold ourselves back from being that vulnerable. We fear judgement or rejection of the inner self we don’t really like. Once you truly accept yourself for who you are, vulnerability doesn’t seem so scary after all. When you can be vulnerable with someone you can truly connect.

Through coaching you can learn to tap into this true self and express yourself more authentically. This deepens connection and increases your sense of satisfaction with life. A relationship with the right coach is a training ground to explore your vulnerabilities and experience connection on a deep level. At its best, coaching will help you achieve your goals and maximise your personal and professional potential by teaching you how to live a more authentic life.