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The Erickson Approach to Inspiring Change

written byMarilyn Atkinsonon 13/05/2019

Dr. Milton Erickson, the namesake of Erickson Coaching International, was an American psychiatrist working through the second half of the 20th Century. His healing abilities were world famous and he was widely regarded as a wonder-worker. As a young psychologist, I studied his approach to healing with great delight and personally discovered the power of his work as a doorway to professional love.

I discovered long-term legacy thinking through Milton’s examples. He was someone who took the time to carefully analyze his loving efforts and systematically test them. He took the time to organize professional working principles with Solution-Focused methods. Here was someone who turned love into sustainable professionalism.

Milton created working games for impactful life changes. The results were that the majority of his loving efforts not only landed powerfully, they created landslides of value and results. He could find strategies to deliver transformational changes that went far into people’s futures, and he did this both with his clients and later, with his students. His work inspired many others to develop principles and habits that could bring acts of loving kindness into their lives on a daily basis.

Example after example can be found in the stories of Milton’s client breakthroughs. One lonely woman discovered the joy of giving African violets to hundreds of people as her gift to the world, simply because Milton strategized some simple ways to move her from isolation to contribution. He continuously aimed for simple, Solution-Focused game plans that engaged people in profound, life-shifting approaches that contributed to their world. In this way, people moved beyond their difficulties in life.

Many have taken Milton’s examples to heart on a personal level. Love as long-term contribution is a powerful concept, and it is particularly impactful if we aim, as he always did, for the landslide effect – to create a system of professional kindness that simply goes on and on.

What if, on a global level, and perhaps using coaching, we can play Milton's game with much wider impact? We can use effective, professional, strategic thinking for a world development game. Ericksonian Principles can profoundly impact your ability to play a World Game – a legacy game that contributes strongly to your community. 

The Ericksonian Principles

The Five Ericksonian Principles are very important. With these principles, we respect each individual that we work with as a resourceful, well-meaning human being. We can learn to develop life and legacy games following the same principles of coaching, showing love as professionalism. To do this, we use the Erickson approach.

What are the Ericksonian principles?

  1. People are OK:
    Human beings everywhere are basically okay!
  2. People have real resources:
    They have many more resources than they know!
  3. Every person has a positive intention:
    Even if a positive intention is hidden, it can quickly be found.
  4. People do their best:
    They make their best choices each day with what they know about life so far.
  5. Change is inevitable:
    No matter how difficult, we learn, we grow, and we change. In this way, our acorn becomes an oak tree.

Milton Erickson was known as one of the great Solution-Focused strategists of the 20th Century. He liked to tell a story about the power of making a strong and firm snowball at the top of a mountain. He would describe rolling that snowball, gathering more snow, inch by inch, as he progressed to the edge of the cliff, then tipping it gently over the edge. Now past the tipping point, the snowball naturally moving downward expands quickly to become an avalanche.

Milton’s efforts in the field of psychology gently moved his clients to positive, Solution-Focused thinking. His story describes the qualities present in a true World Game approach because it was aimed directly at creating an avalanche of self-awareness in those he touched. His work created a landslide of advanced thinking and moved far past simple client healing techniques, toward developing new fields of counselling and human development. These included visionary, Solution-Focused family counselling and Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) which was 60% based on his techniques. When we give a gift that spreads in a tipping point fashion, from community to community, we have given a gift that has major significance. Milton's great work continues to spread!

Think about this Coaches: Together, we coaches form a powerful team assisting human emergence. With our clear, straight-forward coaching and self-coaching technologies, we are truly capable of starting our own Solution-Focused avalanche to a new level of congruent human life on Earth. What makes the most difference is the breadth of our aim. Our aim can be small–to assist one person in one moment–yet still, link into a much larger visionary effort to shift the consciousness of all humanity.

Once we set our focus, we can work person by person, yet we must expand our focus into the larger context for it to emerge. We must visualize from the big picture to start our avalanche. Hold the context: one person at a time; yet we are changing the world!

We are the ones, and the time is now!

Interested in becoming a coach? Discover how Solution-Focused coaching skills enable you to create transformational change in others.