“The enemy is fear. We think it is hate but it is fear.” - Mahatma GandhiWhile the Rio Olympics had both its high and low points, some memories will remain indelible - the extraordinary “all time great” feats of Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps, an Aussie pentathlete who jumped from nowhere (well, training for three years in Hungary away from her family) to a gold medal, long distance runners who picked each other up off the track so they could both finish their race and, most poignantly, the appearance of the first ever team of refugee athletes to compete at an Olympics.
In every case, and this last most of all, it represented a triumph of determination and willpower, as well as some God-given talent no doubt.
Such feats seem a very fitting backdrop to my conversation with Perth-based NLP practitioner couple, Alana Diebel and Jeremy Hills. We’re all enthused by what we’ve witnessed in recent days.
As Alana says, “It’s very exciting to see people who have just given their all and every decision they’ve made has led up to that moment. It’s all about determination and focus.”
The couple are both internationally certified trainers in NLP, Time Line Therapy and Hypnosis, having undertaken their training with The Tad James Company, the world’s largest NLP training organisation, before setting up their own business, Results with NLP, in Perth. While Jeremy has been coaching for the past decade after leaving a career in teaching, Alana has been a practising NLP trainer for the past seven years - having been drawn to the field after attending a personal development weekend course that set her thinking about her life and career despite her initial reservations about such courses as being “way too intense”.
That was back in her native Vancouver, Canada and despite Alana’s self description as being “timid and quiet and trying to fly under the radar, she found herself asking,“What if there is more? What if you’re not supposed to just do what you were told for your entire life?”
Sensing change was in the offing in her life, she quit her job, went travelling to Europe for a year and, on returning to Canada, undertook all the available NLP training courses in a year, from Practitioner through to Train the Trainer level. Most people would spread such intensive training out over a longer period but Alana recognised the strength of doing it intensively: “It seems daunting before you start and then you realise the value of doing it all at once because then you are immersed in that mindset.
“It’s so hard for people generally to break out of their old patterns but when you put yourself in an environment where everybody is so motivated and so wanting to be convinced that this can work and be shown that this can work, the longer you can spend in that environment to break your old patterns, the better.”
As a native West Aussie, Jeremy is very familiar with the pressures the state’s mining culture have imposed in so many ways, including escalating housing prices. “I started looking for ways to have a work life balance without having to work ridiculous hours. And I also wanted to be able to educate people and help them along the way,” he says.
The couple have noticed more students and people who’ve recently lost their jobs signing up for their courses in hypnotherapy and NLP.
Paradoxically, now that the mining boom is over, the skills that Jeremy learnt to develop a new, more balanced, career path for himself are in demand from others who’ve fallen victim to changed economic circumstances. The couple have noticed more students and people who’ve recently lost their jobs signing up for their courses in hypnotherapy and NLP.
As Alana says, “NLP is a coaching system so you can go out and start coaching people or, as Tad and Adriana always say, don’t discount your previous skills.
“Even if people have been made redundant at a certain job they can always use those past experiences to reformulate how they want to present themselves in a new way. So, for example, if a personal trainer has been laid off, they could always start their own business as a personal trainer, as well as helping people getting their mindset right.
“I think a lot of people who’ve been made redundant feel they’re not useful any more. So a lot of what we do is helping people realise that no one can take away your experiences and your own resources.
"You just have to focus on what you want to do in this circumstance and not be as influenced by outside forces, as hard as that is today.”
A common response to an immediate crisis, says Jeremy, is to try to change things by working longer and longer hours or going back to university. “But they find they can’t change their identity. They’ve always been a miner or a schoolteacher and they feel that’s the only thing they can do. They can only see this one way of doing things.
“We can build their resources and their confidence to become the person they need to be to adapt to the new situation. So we focus on aligning their thoughts and feelings to their goal, rather than just changing their actions.”
“The most common thing we do we is to help people believe that what they want is actually possible,” adds Alana.
“We help them realise that, for example, if you really want to be a painter then you should do that. It starts with you believing it really is possible. It has very little to do with what’s going on in the “real” world and has a lot more to do with your resilience and you building up your own belief because that allows you to have more flexibility in the environment in which you find yourself.”
“The most common thing we do we is to help people believe that what they want is actually possible.”
The couple agree in unison with an emphatic “Yes!”when I suggest to them their experience indicates people really need to follow their heart in career and life choices. Jeremy explains the importance of aligning feelings with thoughts, heart with mind, in order to achieve what you desire. “You are more likely to achieve your goal when you are congruent in body, mind and soul,” he says.
A common pitfall that still exists in the holistic and alternative fields is the belief that if something is from the heart it shouldn’t involve making money - a perception the couple are keen to overcome because it just stands in the way of happiness and fulfillment. “If in your heart you want to be a lawyer, for example, we both believe you should go after that goal with everything you have because you are going to be best aligned and have the most energy to achieve that goal if you’re being truthful with what you really want,” says Alana.
Their practice in Perth has given them many examples of clients who have turned their life around after undergoing their courses. Jeremy recalls a young man who lost 15-20 kgs and changed his degree course from one suggested by his father where he was just scraping past, to one he was passionate about where he achieved high distinctions. Now, several years later, he is setting up his dream business, all possible because he started to live his own values rather than those of his father. Another client represented a common scenario of working harder and harder to improve his financial situation but instead found himself going backwards. When he was helped to recognise that negative emotions and poor self worth were causing him to take setbacks personally, his fortunes improved, says Jeremy.
“We were able to build up enough resilience in him so that when a small obstacle or loss came up he could see it as just part of the process.”
An artist client of Alana’s found herself unable to ask for payment for her work because she didn’t feel she could expect to be paid for something that had given her such joy to create. “Artists are such emotional people and it takes so much courage to live that way. But imagine a chef thinking I get so much joy out of cooking let’s just give it all away for free.” Such a down to earth yet compassionate approach has worked wonders and a month or so later Alana received one of her pieces in the mail as a thank you.
The couple exude a refreshing upbeat energy that obviously ripples out to influence those they meet in business and in life.
Alana recalls the famous quote by Gandhi, “The enemy is fear. We think it is hate but it is fear.”
“If we focus on what frightens us, we just get crippled. But if we systematically choose, ‘No I’m going to focus on possibility and the things I love and start spreading that’, then at least we have options.
“And what if everybody just did that? It doesn’t take very much to tip the balance.”
Margaret Evans has a background in teaching, journalism and publishing. She is the editor of NOVA Holistic Journal.