Interview with Pete Cohen
How did you become a life coach?
I studied sports psychology because I’d always been fascinated by both sport and the ways in which motivation works in humans. Becoming a life coach was a way for me to put all the theory I learnt into practice and helping people in the real world had a strong appeal. It was the natural thing for me to do and I still love what I do.
Referring to your keynote publication, Shut The Duck Up, what is the ‘inner duck’ and why should it shut up?
The ‘inner duck’ is that negative voice telling us we can’t do the things we want to. Humans find it easier to be negative than positive and I believe that’s an evolutionary hangover in our DNA. In early human history, we were fodder for large predatory species and negativity was a handy trait as we tried to avoid crossing the path of a hungry saber-tooth or the like.
We don’t inhabit that world anymore but we’ve not yet evolved beyond that innate negative voice. Our quality of life is now often dependent on adopting a more positive mindset and grasping opportunities rather than shying away from them. That’s why we need to shut the duck up!
How much does humour play a role in your coaching sessions?
Humour is an enormously powerful tool for bringing about behavioural change. A good laugh makes us feel good thanks to the release of serotonin and endorphins and they serve to change our physiology. When our physiology alters, so does our psychology and as a consequence so too does our behaviour. Humour has great potential to change our behaviour and it makes sessions fun and easy to relate to for my clients.
Can you give us three tips for individuals struggling with self-doubt?
The first thing I’d suggest is looking at the lighter side of any issue and finding the humour in it. Second, I tell people they should talk about their self-doubt with other people – they often find people have similar fears and worries. Writing about problems, as a third tip, is a great way to vent feelings and it helps to rationalise things and clarify them in our own minds. Often we don’t do these simple things but getting it out there leads to greater self-awareness and gives us the opportunity to change our behaviour.
Do you have a favourite experience from your speaking career?
That’s a tricky question as I’ve had so many memorable experiences and get a real buzz out of seeing positive results in my clients, but, I have to say, my favourite was the time I spoke in front of over 10,000 people at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas. I was explaining many of the themes put forward by Napoleon Hill in his seminal 1937 book ‘Think and Grow Rich’.
He was one of the Great Depression era’s most influential thinkers, and an adviser to Franklin D. Roosevelt, and he’d studied the lives of hundreds of America’s most successful people at the time to uncover the secrets of their success. Rather than looking at business itself he focused on the psychology of success and showed ways people could overcome the barriers that kept them from fulfilling their dreams. It’s not only one of history’s best-selling books but definitely worthy of a read for anyone.