There is a vegetable spread called Marmite which plays on the fact that people either love it or hate it. On TV adverts people gush about it, or end up hitting the poor man inside the giant Marmite jar. Such has been the reaction to Going Mental, the new NLP coaching book from Jakob Lovstad. People either love it, or they hate it – nothing in between.
It should not have been a surprise for us as a publisher. The author himself warned us when we first read the manuscript that some of his views could be considered ‘harsh’ and indeed when one of the founders of NLP, John Grinder, reviewed the book [his review appears on the back of the book in full] he echoed Jakob’s words that opinion on the book would be polarised. Grinder did say that the book was a must read for all NLP practitioners as it prompts people to look at things in a different way – you may not agree with Jakob’s opinions [on things like religion for example] but you simply cannot argue with his results.
Going Mental is in the author’s own words an alternative to all the ‘pat on the back’ type motivational coaching that has become the norm in NLP. Jakob trains MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) fighters for a living, and he’s not a bad fighter in his own right. One reviewer of his book comments that when not achieving your goal means a foot in your neck you’d better get your coaching right – and this is how Jakob approaches NLP, with a kind of zero tolerance for failure. It’s this bluntness and lack of nurture that is one source of the ‘haters’. Another is quite simply more rooted in snobbery – that an MMA fighter can write an NLP coaching book has annoyed some of the hierarchy of NLP. One review on Amazon starts “I haven’t read the book, but……” and its this positioning that is way off.
I had the pleasure of meeting up with Jakob in Stockholm (he’s from Norway so a short jump across to Sweden was a good place to meet up) to interview him ahead of the launch. I’ll admit that first impressions go along with the tough man persona – he’s deceptively big coming in at around 2 metres tall and with a fully shaved head he strikes a very intimidating figure. He later explained the lack of hair was due to the ‘no rules’ version of MMA they have in the Nordics where even hair grabbing is allowed.
The minute Jakob engages you in conversation though you see straight away what a highly intelligent and articulate man he is. In addition to being university educated at the Norwegian equivalent of MIT, he also did several years of a doctorate before the opportunities in MMA drew him away. In his book he explains the life changing introduction he had to NLP coaching. Following a terrible defeat his coach, blaming his lack of mental preparation, sent an injured Jakob to an NLP coach and he’s never looked back. He began adding NLP into the coaching of his fighters and found that physically and mentally trained fighters did so much better in the cage. He then started to apply the same techniques in his business coaching – and that’s where it really started to get interesting.
Entrepreneurs and business leaders, to be successful, display many of the characteristics of an MMA fighter, and Jakob has tapped into that. Drive, determination and critically preparedness play a big part in being successful – not just in business, but also in life Jakob argues. Before NLP Jakob admits he wasn’t a particularly nice person to know – post NLP he is more centred, has a long term partner [instead of the playboy he was before playing off his MMA fame] and is enjoying life a lot more. These days his time is split between mostly working with business people to still being involved with MMA.
If you want to comment on his book direct to his face [and are brave enough to do so] then in the spirit of openness that runs throughout his work Jakob has a Going Mental Facebook Page. It does have some of the top MMA fighters in the world as fans though, so make sure your comments are constructive.