Changing your mind. Using NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) and other tools to succeed in business – ace transformational coach, Dr Yvette Ankrah MBE explains

What is the one thing that will enable you to succeed in business? It’s not extensive business knowledge (although very useful), it’s not an unlimited pot of money (which does come in handy). It is something often overlooked but is at the heart at whether you will be successful in business or anything else. It is your mindset.

Your mindset is a collection of beliefs that you hold about yourself and the world. These impact on your behaviour and how you show up in different situations.

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Imagine two women – one believes she is brilliant, confident, is well-liked and sees failure as a growth opportunity. The other believes the exact opposite.

They both have an important meeting to attend. The first woman’s belief about the meeting is that it will go well, they will like her and there will be a deal done today. Now imagine she is walking into her important meeting. When she walks into that room, her head is held high, she oozes confidence and feels great. The meeting goes well, however the deal is not made. She leaves feeling good and reflects on how she can make the next meeting better.

The other woman has low expectations from her meeting, she’s been here before and she’s been told ‘no’, so she expects this will be much like before. She enters the meeting not feeling confident and when they say ‘no’ she feels validated. As she leaves the meeting, she reinforces her beliefs with negative self-talk – ‘I knew this would happen, not sure why I bothered’.

Dr Yvette Ankrah
Yvette in action at a conference


Your beliefs impact your thoughts and your thoughts lead to your behaviour. Neuro-linguistic programming works to address how you can look at thoughts and language to change behaviour. We all have stories we tell ourselves and these have been learnt from caregivers and society. When these stories are unhelpful and impact our behaviour, it is time to look at ways they can be changed.

There are many ways that you can tackle issues which prevent you from moving forward. These often stem from fear which is represented in different ways. This could be ‘doubt,’ the feeling of being an imposter, low self-esteem, negative self-talk and worries around failing or even succeeding. When you run your own business. The buck stops with you. You’re responsible for the decisions. You are responsible for the success or indeed its failure and that can be a heavyweight to carry. However, by building resilience, adopting a growth mindset you can ride through these things. Irrespective of whether it succeeds or fails, you can grow, accept criticism and challenge, step up and move forward. There is no issue with making mistakes, making mistakes is part of learning.

However, if you have not adopted a growth mindset, mistakes may affect how you feel about your self-worth and your abilities. That growth mindset sees mistakes as part of the learning and growing process. The actual mistake is not an important issue, it’s how you rise from the mistake. As a coach using NLP and performance coaching, I work with women in business, to help them remove these limiting beliefs, to help them build that resilience, to grow, and move forward. The NLP work that I do works on the core space of identity, beliefs and values, deeply addressing who you are and what has gone into making you who you are and how that shows up daily.


There is a range of techniques I use to do this, the first is rapport – learning how to connect with another person. This is about body language, tone of voice and choice of words, you can learn a lot about people by observing and listening! The quickest way to get into rapport is to match body language – think about being with a friend or a loved one, how often are your legs crossed in the same direction or hands held in the same position? We naturally do these behaviours! Rapport enables us to connect and be open with each other. Even in the age of video calls we can still connect and create rapport.


Another tool that you can use is called reframing. It changes your perspective and how you look at a situation. By changing the perspective of how you view the situation you can change the meaning of it.

Negative thought                      

I always get it wrong  

I can’t do it  


I sometimes get things wrong, however, everybody does

I can’t do it, yet…

Reframing enable you to change how you respond and behave in a situation.

The words you use can act as blocks too – can’t, must, should, but – are all mental blocks. Be aware of the language you use.


Another tool I use is teaching clients how to use their breath to help manage their state, how they feel in that moment. Simply focus on your breath going in and out. Focus on the feeling of your body as it expands and contracts, notice the warmth or coolness of the air as you breathe in and out. This can be grounding and bring peace as it takes you away from worrying and brings you back into your body. Being connected with your body is important as mind and body work as a whole unit – your body will tell you when something is wrong or right.


Studies have shown that women particularly are more affected by stress than men, stress impacts physical and as well as mental health and wellbeing. Stress, fear and anxiety all have an impact on our outcomes. The imposter phenomenon (often described as a syndrome) is something that is felt acutely by women and can cause high levels of stress and anxiety. It is the feeling of not belonging to spaces, the feelings of being a fraud and that you will be ‘found out’ It is often a reaction to finding yourself in a specific situation, for example, a woman looking for funding and finding herself in an all-male environment, speaking in front of an audience or being the only woman of colour in meetings.

The Rose Review (2019) found that 1 in 3 entrepreneurs is female and they are less likely to receive funding for their ventures. It is not a level playing field! It is no wonder that these things show up when you are a female entrepreneur. Your race and class will also impact those thoughts and feelings. Outside of my work as a coach and consultant, I’m an academic who studies race, class identity and belonging.

Focusing on your achievements, setting goals and changing negative self-talk are all ways you can build confidence and resilience and combat the Imposter Phenomenon. Entering important meetings, heading onto a stage or speaking up and using your voice to impact change can all feel daunting. Building that resilience will enable you to manage situations better and respond from a place of strength.

Working on your mindset does not eliminate fear, as we need fear to keep us safe, it is learning how you manage that fear, go forward and still create the change that you want to see in your life and the world.


Dr Yvette Ankrah MBE is a transformational business coach, consultant and recovering overachiever! She works with high achieving women in business to get success without the burnout.

She has over 20 years of business experience and is an accredited NLP and Performance coach. She won a Microsoft/O2 award for business in 2013, was shortlisted for Best Coach at the Best Business Women Awards, 2015 and was awarded an MBE for her work with women in business in 2017.

In 2019 she was awarded a PhD in sociology and specialises in identity, class, race and belonging.


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