I spent 10 days in Santa Fe, New Mexico at a workshop.  A very intensive course dealing with the art and science of human transformation.

Via the brain… Neuroscience!


The workshop was attended by other coaches from around the world and led by Ursula Pottinga and Ann Betz, founders of BE above Leadership. https://www.beaboveleadership.com




It was fabulous!  I won’t go into all of the details in this course, I’ll save that for my clients.  But I will give you some takeaways.


First and foremost I must say the following;

Our brains are so fascinating and complex that my fear is that my interpretation and understanding of it is well, quite possibly, elementary ?

So I apologize to all my brothers and sisters out there in neuroscience-land ahead of time.  My intention is not to offend you by dumbing it down enough for me to translate.


As a business and life coach I try and build contrasts in my coaching so as to create different perspectives.

My overall goal is helping my client know themselves on a deeper level, so they can move more powerfully towards what they want.

…It’s a choice, their choice.  Knowing how your brain works, and how you are wired, is foundational in helping my clients create new beliefs.

This workshop gave me the tools I need to show them how coaching can create new neuropathways and strengthen new habits.

The old adage that you cannot teach an old dog new tricks is just not true anymore for old dogs like me.




The brain can stay flexible, healthy and cognitively sharp, especially through aging and stress by being well balanced with the following;

  • Exercise
  • Sleep
  • Food
  • Novelty
  • Focus and Attention

The enhancers to these points are;

  1. Relationships
  2. Mistakes
  3. Humor/Play
  4. Muti-Sensory Input

I love the enhancers.  They resonate with my core values.

All of which help me stay engaged and keep me in balance.


The overall goal, for each of us, is for Integration.  The Brain above and below the line.  And this is where it gets technical, and kind of clunky for us novices.

Ann and Ursula use many resources but this one is from Dr Dan Siegel;

Integration = the linkage of differentiated parts.


Lower levels of effectiveness/consciousness are correlated with less integration of the brain.  (The person is less aware or even unaware of what is happening in their brain and what has been activated or triggered.  Thus, it can take over without the person’s conscious awareness or ability to recover.)


Higher levels of effectiveness/consciousness are correlated with increasing integration of the brain.  Areas are understood in terms of their value and purpose, as well as they are activated or triggered.

Key areas are more linked.

The person is more able to use the areas of key linkage at the same time (such as right/left hemispheres) and/or consciously recover (as with the prefrontal cortex to the limbic system)  or switch as needed.

This is increasingly the case the more above the line one goes.


Hang in there, I promise to put a bow on this ?…

While there are many areas that can be integrated we focused on 3 key pairings…

1. Prefrontal cortex and the limbic system.  In other words, our highest, most evolved brain in charge of executive decisions, and our less evolved, more reactive brain, implicated in the fight-flight-or freeze responses.

  • Below the line…susceptible to amygdala hijack, activation of sympathetic nervous system, increase adrenaline, cortisol, sweating
  • Above the line…increased ability to recover from stress, amygdala hijack, anti-inflammatory hormones such as oxytocin, immune system boosted, metabolism and endocrine system more balanced.

2. Right and left hemispheres.  While both hemispheres participate in almost everything we do (for example the left is active in creativity, which tends to be associated only with the right, and the right in math, which tends to be associated with the left), each hemisphere sees the world differently and holds different functions.

  • Below the line…Right Hemisphere = Chaos

Left = Rigidity

  • Above the line…Right Hemisphere = Freedom and meaning

Left =Structure and Focus

3. Task Positive Network (TPN) and Default Mode Network (DMN).  We all have a default mechanism in our brain that the neuropathway takes us when in stress.  The TPN tends to be concentrated in the Prefrontal Cortex, while the DMN is distributed more widely all over the brain.  The TPN is active when focusing on external information and tasks, the DMN when our brain is at rest (but still awake), and not paying attention to anything in particular.  When one is active it shuts the other down, so we have the effect of (for the most part) only using one of these networks at a time.

The belief of this instruction is all areas of integration happen organically as one increases in consciousness/effectiveness, and, that consciousness/effectiveness increase with more integration.


Here’s where it gets cool.  BE above Leadership have developed a snap shot of how we can go from below the line to above the line.  Called the Seven Levels of Personal, Group and Organizational Effectiveness ™









I was talking to Ann Betz about this blog and she quoted, “The 7 levels are so simplistic, but incredibly complex.”

Yes!  It is simple and it is so complex.  My aha came on about day 5 when I realized my default in stress was hopelessness.  We all have one, and according to this model it’s hopelessness, fear or frustration.

Knowing how you are wired will help you “recover” faster.  For me, shame is a trigger that takes me out of my power, and below the line like this model suggests.  My amygdala hijacks me from creating what I want.


Look at this model.  Courage is actually the line between being frustrated/betrayal, in fear/abandonment, or the shame of hopelessness.

I love this model because it mirrors my coaching practice.  The bottom of the page mirrors the top.

When I have someone in Hopelessness I must “meet them” with love, Synchronicity.

If a person is in Fear they will be more easily approached with new perspectives, and Innovation.

And if I have a client that is angry or Frustration is present, I can challenge them with goals and kick start them into Engagement.

The gateway to all of this is Courage.

(This was my experience to the model.  I recommend you read Ann’s book, blog’s or listen to her audio. )


I could go on and on but I don’t read long blogs so I’m already wondering if you are reading this one.

Let me finish with this.

Your brain is capable of more than you think.  Your brain is flexible and ready for use, no matter your age.

Neuroplasticity is a 6 syllable word for HOPE.

My hope is that you “wake up” to the reality that you have all that you need, right between the ears, to create what you want.

Blessings to you and your family!