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The Axes of Change: part 2

Summary: The Axes of Change model describes change-embracers and presents an eight-step process of change. Yet it is not a linear process at all, but a non-linear one, a systemic process, a process that’s more like a dance than how we think about a “strategy” in NLP. The Axes of Change model is derived from the premises and principles that arose in the Human Potential Movement. Many of these principles were incorporated into NLP as the NLP presuppositions, especially the idea that people have all the resources they need and people are basically oriented to doing things from a positive intention of adding value to their lives.

You can continue reading Part Two below or download the full article here

Introducing the first purely Coaching Change Model in the world

Coaching is about change and a coach is a change-agent par excellence. In the first part, we describe the need for a new change model in the field of coaching, one that is not based upon the premises and techniques of psychotherapy. We also described in some detail the component variables that we have designed into the Axes of Change model. We based this upon eight meta-programs as well as the natural change/ transformation process that well-adjusted and self-actualizing people experience. In this second part, we will detail out the facets of the Axes of Change model (for more about this see Coaching Conversations, 2004).

How does change work for change-embracers, that is for self-actualizing people who are not afraid of change and who do not resist it, but on the contrary, embrace it? Having modeled it in people who easily and enjoyable change, and who change without a lot of fanfare or emotional struggle, we discovered the key components that we mentioned in the first article in this series. These differ from psychotherapy-based models which start from the assumption that people will resist change and relapse back to old patterns, that people are coming from need rather than want, deficiency motivation rather than growth motivation (Maslow).

The Axes of Change Model

What are the specific meta-program continua which make up the Axes of Change? In brief there they are as follows.

1st: The energy, emotional, or motivation meta-programs of Toward / Away From


  • What do you want?
  • What have you had enough of?
  • What values or experiences are you motivated toward and what are you motivated to move away from?

This creates the push-pull energy, the propulsion system that plays off of attraction / aversion and pleasure / pain. The poles on the continuum between away from and toward relate to how much energy we have in feeling pulled or pushed and what’s our favorite or dominate focus of attention.

Valued Experiences

  • Away From: Pains— Aversions Pleasures (the push away from)
  • Towards: Pleasures – Attractions (the pull toward)

2nd — The response meta-programs of Reflective, Inactive, Active


  • How do you respond or act when faced with information or a request?
  • Do you first reflect upon things?
  • Is your first response to take action and then ask questions?

The poles on the continuum between active and reflective provide the oscillation between thinking something through to have a well-formed plan or idea in our heads to just acting on something and seeing what happens.

Response Preference and Style

  1. Reflective: Thinking, Feeling, Imagining, Analyzing. Inwardly focused in responding to data or challenge
  2. Active: Acting, Doing, Taking Action. Outwardly focused in responding

3rd — The frame of reference meta-programs of Internal / External.


  • Where do you focus most of your attention, on your internal frames or on external frames?
  • Are you more or less aware of your internal frames, understandings, thoughts?
  • Are you more or less aware of the outside world and what’s going on there?

The poles of the continuum between internal and external lies at the source of our oscillation between being mentally-and-emotionally inside or outside. It governs where we go first and where we feel most comfortable.

Reference Focus

  • Internal: Internal maps and frames of the Game. Ideas, Thoughts, Words. Representations in the Movie in our mind. Strategy for how to do something
  • External: External actions of the Game. Sensory Awareness and Calibration. Present on the outside.

4th — The relationship meta-programs of matching and mis-matching.

Relationship Style

  • Matching for Sameness: Witnessing and noticing what fits, Looking for matches between new Game Plan and external actions
  • Mis-Matching for Difference: Mis-matching for what differs, determining strengths and weaknesses. Monitoring and identifying what needs to be brought up to standard.
Coaching States or Roles within the Axes of Change

What are the coaching states that a coach is called upon to access and use as he or she moves through the change stages and processes with a client? What states do we dance in and out of as we follow the energy and facilitate the desired transformations for the client in each Axis?

Axis I: The Push-Pull Dance

This dance stirs up energy as it exposes consequences, awakens dreams and visions, and loosens the current frames. It covers the pre-contemplation and contemplation stages of change. For this we dance between the poles of Awakener and Challenger.

  • Awakener: This is the role of inspiring, standing in awe of the magnificence of our clients, inviting new possibilities, seducing to what’s possible, evoking dreams and wild imaginations.
  • Challenger: This is the role of evoking current reality and highlighting its pain and distress and where it will take one if continued. In this role we confront, get in the client’s face and challenge to create a felt gap.

When do we shift from the Push-Pull dance and axis as Awakener and Challenge? When there is enough energy to explore one’s Matrix to understand the current box within which the client is embedded. To that we ask:

  • Is the person energized to explore?
  • How’s the motivation level to face reality as it is?

Axis II: The Decision Dance between Readiness and Leverage

This dance seeks to find and/or create the leverage point for change that leads to the decision to do it. Here we seek to facilitate the client to identify the highest frames of intention, the key to his or her Matrix, and the structure of transformation for this client at this time. Does he or she have permission to change? Does he believe that change is a possibility for him? Does he believe he deserves it? It is to evoke the beginning of an attractor frame in the system.

  • Provoker: This is the role for teasing, provoking, and playing to get the client to turn up the push—pull energies to see just how ready the client is and if there’s sufficient energy to actually make something happen. We provoke the commitment. As provoker we challenge as in the first axis, yet the push is different. We are pushing now for probing inside for the frames of mind that will make the difference, and that will lead us to commitment. Before, we pushed and challenge for motivational energy around our Vision.
  • Prober: This is the role of exploring like a detective with total curiosity and persistence and tenacity until we find or create a frame of reference that will completely transform life. First we probe the existing Matrix to understand what it is, how it works, its structure, processes, and leverage point. This invites blinding awareness of current reality. Oftentimes a painful awareness of how we have created a non-productive pattern in our lives. As we do we will be wondering about what frame of mind would bring about a complete transformation? In the role of Prober we search and research, we put the spotlight on the unstoried features of our experiences, and we tease out the higher frames of mind.

When do we shift from the Readiness—Leverage axis to the next axis? When there is an awareness of the problematic frame, when there’s the discovery of the possibility of the leverage frame, and when there’s a readiness to do the Inner Game Work. Ask:

  • Do we know the frame that has created your current situation and state?
  • Is the client ready to change those frames?
  • Is the client committed?

Axis III: The Dance of the Inner and Outer Games

In this dance we move with the client to create the Inner Game and then translate it into the performance of the Outer Game. This dance helps the client to close the Knowing-Doing Gap and to put into practice the know-how of the new game that the client wants to play. Here we dance to co-generate with the client a self organizing energy that will become self-generative in the client. This is the experimenting stage for change.

  • Co-Creator: This is the role of co-creating with the client the actual meanings of belief frames, decision frames, identity frames, etc. that make up a new Game— the Inner Game. In this role we are co-developer with the client, we nurture and support the client, perhaps challenge the ideas and frames to make them realistic and tough and practical. In this role we work to solidify the frames that will map a new reality.
  • Actualizer: This is the role of coaching to bring the Inner Game out in terms of actions in the outside world. It’s the role of making the actions real (i.e., actualizing) and experimenting to see how the actions work in real life. This is the Action stage of change.

When is the Inner—Outer Game over? When the client has created a new game—has a new map with new resources and rules for how to play that game and has specific actions to do in the outside world, and when the client has successfully translated the actions to the outside world. Ask:

  • Does the client have a new game plan?
  • Does the client have an action plan?
  • Is the client motivated and aligned with the new game?
  • Is the client willing to be held accountable?
  • Has the change occurred?

Axis IV: The Dance of Solidification through Reinforcement and ongoing Testing

In this final dance, we move with the client to solidify the new Inner and Outer Game so that it not only is implemented in everyday life, but that it becomes more and more integrated in every aspect of the client’s life. We do that by setting up a recursive process that facilitates continual improvement through continual learning and continual feedback for more and more refinement of the new actions. This describes the Maintenance stages of change.

  • Reinforcer: This is the role of providing reinforcements or rewards to the actions through supporting, celebrating, nurturing, validating, cheer-leading, acknowledging, etc. This role can be gentle and nurture or racus and “partying on.” The reinforcing can occur through one’s person, through a supportive community, through accountability structures, or through the person’s own acknowledgments. In doing so, the behaviors become anchored and more solid.
  • Tester: This is the role of testing to see how strong, robust, real, workable, and ecological the new behavior is. In testing, we feedback the changes and the results, we evaluate what’s working well and how to make it work even better, we set up accountability structures, we look for problems, we trouble-shoot, and we cycle back to the co-creating stage.

When is the solidifying dance over? It’s over when the client has so well integrated the new game that is has become a part of his or her way of being in the world. Now the client has the change and feels totally confident to keep the change. Ask:

  • Does the client have access to the new behaviors and game at all times?
  • Is the client continually learning and improving?
  • Are there accountability structures in place?
  • Does the client know how to reinforce, support, and nurture the change?
  • Does the client feel confident of keeping the change?
Continue reading The Axes of Change: part 1
Continue reading The Axes of Change: part 3