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Transform Your Life With The 5 Chairs – Exclusive Interview With Louise Evans

Louise Evans is the creator and founder of The 5 Chairs, a highly powerful and widely-acclaimed behavior-changing tool designed to unleash people’s finest qualities and help them manifest their very best behaviors. 

Combining her passion for people with her skills in the performing arts and drawing on 30 years of experience as a behavioral agility coach, global leadership facilitator, author of ‘5 Chairs 5 Choices’, and TEDx speaker, Louise has founded The 5 Chairs Academy to take her methodology into as many organizations, schools, homes, and communities as possible across the world to guide and nurture people on a pathway to personal excellence and success. 

The 5 Chairs is often referred to as a journey of ‘self-awareness on steroids’ because of the powerful transformation people experience going through it. 

In her spare time, Louise travels. She travels far and wide. She loves to encounter the unknown and sit in the mindset of curiosity, her sweet spot. She has traveled to seventy-five countries across 4 continents and attributes much of her own inner transformation to these deeply life-changing adventures. 

Her mission is to touch as many lives as possible with her 5 Chairs model and help spark a revolution in transformative behavior to elevate humanity. 

Photo of Louise Evans

Louise Evans, Transformational Coach, Leadership Trainer & Behavioural Changer

What is the 5 Chairs framework and how did you come to create it? 

The 5 Chairs is actually the result of many years of my own soul-searching work. I was in a somewhat dysfunctional love-hate relationship with my mother which was affecting my overall sense of self-belief and happiness. I realized that instead of trying to change my mother, I needed to address my own behaviors and work on myself. This decision led me to the teachings of many extraordinary human beings, in particular Krishnamurti, Thich Nhat Hahn, Eckhart Tolle, and Marshall Rosenberg, who all left an indelible mark on my life and to whom I will always be truly grateful. 

Having experienced profound change in myself, I wanted to help others experience the same level of transformation, but in less time! I wanted to create something very practical, easily accessible, and memorable; a universal tool for use on a daily basis to help us elevate the quality of our conversations, relationships, and daily lives. The result was the 5 Chairs. 

The framework is built around 5 real Chairs, which are the protagonists of all our training programs. Each chair has its own color, name, object, animal metaphor, and set of human behaviors and attitudes. They embody different emotional and mental states that we move in and out of as we navigate our daily lives. 

The ‘Jackal’ Chair is red and represents our more toxic, unproductive thoughts and behaviors which commonly lead to alienation and separation from one another. 

The ‘Hedgehog’ Chair is yellow and represents our self-doubt and self-blame which typically leads us to self-sabotage and self-denial. 

The green ‘Meerkat’ Chair is the pivotal chair where we move from our more dysfunctional behaviors into a higher state of self-awareness, curiosity, and centeredness. 

The ‘Dolphin’ is the blue Chair where we come into our personal power and learn to assert ourselves and speak our truth with confidence and courage. 

The last chair, the purple chair, is the ‘Giraffe’ Chair, a truly noble chair where we access and leverage our empathy, compassion, and understanding in order to connect across our differences. 

For a presentation of the Chairs, see my TEDx.

As we move through our daily lives, these 5 chairs act as a sort of mirror, reflecting back our conversations and behaviors, providing us with a clear and tangible way of categorizing them so that we can then pause and choose our responses in a more conscious and thoughtful way. 

In practice, this means reducing the time we spend in the Jackal and Hedgehog chairs and choosing to live life more productively from the Meerkat, Dolphin, and Giraffe chairs where our behaviors are conscious, positive, noble, and empowering. 

Whilst developing The 5 Chairs, I was particularly inspired and guided by Viktor Frankl’s belief that between stimulus and response there is always a space where we have the power to choose. This is our call to action in every moment. This is our responsibility. 

Many people struggle with changing ingrained habits and behaviors. How does the 5 Chairs facilitate transformative self-awareness and self-regulation? 

One of the core strengths of the 5 Chairs is the speed at which individuals become aware of the impact of their own automatic reactions. By physically visualizing these choices as chairs, people can literally 'sit' in their chosen behavior and understand the impact it's having. This visceral aspect of the model provides a powerful catalyst for change and helps people develop much more constructive habits in less time. 

Being aware of our inner saboteurs and familiarizing ourselves with all our negative mind loops as we catastrophize and exaggerate into the world is part of the process of freeing us from those mind mechanisms and radically improving the way we talk to our brains. 

Can you share a compelling case study or story where the 5 Chairs methodology dramatically improved an individual's or a team's communication and leadership skills?

Seeing participants grasp this concept has been incredibly rewarding. People often declare that the 5 Chairs give them a new lens with which to approach their daily reactions and interactions.

I vividly remember an instant when a female manager, Valentina, returned after the first day of training with tears in her eyes to tell her story. The day before we had been examining the impact that behaviors have on other people. Valentina had realized that so often she would return home and ‘dump’ her work stress and discontent on her husband and children, poisoning her home environment. This time she made a choice to do the contrary. By managing her own emotions and consciously bringing loving care to her home, she was overwhelmed by the ease with which she alone could generate a nurturing family atmosphere. This is the power we all have at hand in every moment and it must never be underestimated. 

Another case involved a leadership team in which the senior executives were struggling with their own internal team conflicts. We used The Chairs to create a non-threatening environment and a safe place for self-discovery. Slowly, the managers were able to open up to each other and take ownership of their behaviors. This led to a series of healing conversations and a level of courageous vulnerability which rebuilt the team trust. 

Photo of Louise Evans

In today's globalized world, understanding and integrating diversity is crucial. How does the 5 Chairs address these challenges within organizations and communities? 

The 5 Chairs is an excellent tool to encourage us to be more appreciative of different perspectives and to help us understand that my ‘normal’ is not another person’s normal. 

We have tested the 5 Chairs in many countries across the world and have found it to be highly universal. We are nonetheless careful to tailor the program to cater for cultural nuances. Whether in Europe, Asia, or the Americas, we adapt our workshops to reflect the local cultural, corporate, and educational contexts. For example, in western Aristotle-oriented cultures, direct ‘Dolphin’ communication is generally appreciated for its intentional transparency. However, this can be misinterpreted as being rude in the more Confucius-based Asian cultures where collectivism takes precedence over individualism and indirect, nuanced communication is often preferred over the explicit. With these differences in mind, we adjust the emphasis to suit the needs of local cultures. 

You have successfully implemented the 5 Chairs in educational settings with children. What changes have you observed in their behavior and social interactions, and how does this shape their future potential? 

Children adore the 5 Chairs. They fall in love with the animals and often make huge stuffed puppets of them to remind themselves to correct their behaviors both at school and at home. They learn to identify and manage their emotions and adopt the language to communicate with each other in tense situations. Teachers and school Principals who have adopted The 5 Chairs methodology report notable improvements in classroom behavior with increased empathy among both students and teachers, and also an important reduction in bullying. 

We have projects in schools across the world from Canada and Australia to Ireland, Romania, and Italy, where we are creating mini-5 Chairs communities where teachers, students, and parents share the language of the model to elevate each other's behaviors. 

Could you talk about how the 5 Chairs has been integrated into corporate training programs and the impact it has had on corporate culture and performance? 

In the corporate world, we concentrate on enhancing human behavior across the whole corporate culture, starting with the C-suite who act as our sponsors, then moving down into the organization across the functional teams and beyond. The simplicity and versatility of the framework ensures that it can be scaled up or down based on the size of the group and the depth of the training required. This scalability makes it an excellent choice for organizations of all sizes—from small teams to large multinational corporations. It is also uniquely positioned to address a wide range of training topics, from leadership and communication to diversity and inclusion. This is one reason why it stands out as a methodology. 

Photo of Louise Evans

Looking forward, what are the new frontiers or potential developments for the 5 Chairs methodology? Are there any new projects or expansions you are particularly excited about? 

For the corporate world, we are developing a powerful hybrid learning platform in order to be more efficient at scaling the methodology across larger numbers of people to elevate human behaviors more effectively. 

We are also in the process of writing the official 5 Chairs school curriculum, ready to present to the world of primary and secondary education based on all the collective experiences gathered from our various projects worldwide. 

And even more excitingly, we are embarking on a film project to bring the message of The 5 Chairs to an ever wider audience. We’ll keep you updated!

As the creator of the 5 Chairs, what has been your most profound learning from teaching and applying your own methodology? 

The 5 Chairs is a way of life. Teaching the 5 Chairs has made me a better person. It has also reinforced my deep belief in the power of conscious choice. It's shown me that change is possible in every conversation, in every interaction, and that by choosing our behaviors wisely, we can lead lives that are not only more fulfilling but also deeply impactful on our collective consciousness. 

For readers inspired by this conversation and eager to start their journey with the 5 Chairs, what first steps would you recommend? 

Ito the readers, I invite you to watch my TEDx talk and ask yourself these two questions: 

‘In which chair do I spend most of my time?

In which chair would I like to spend more time?

Then if you’re interested in some deeper self-reflection, for those of you who prefer video, I invite you to indulge yourselves in my video course and those of you who prefer the written word, I suggest my book ‘5 Chairs 5 Choices’. I am truly grateful for any interest you might have in further exploring The 5 Chairs and hope that it might in some way contribute to a greater well-being and happiness in your lives.

Read more from Louise Evans



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