A quick reality check for your 2016 plans – 3 ways to seize control while there’s still time left

"So, Bookface, how are your plans for this year?" "Well, I filled my quota of cat pictures back in January..."Time for a quick reality-check. It’s now over a third of the way through 2016 – have your plans for this year materialised yet, or have you already told yourself “well, maybe next year…”

If that’s you, it’s time to be proactive and to begin designing your future.

Now, Woody Allen wasn’t far wrong when he said “If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.”

In other words, not all designs work out as planned, so I’ve provided some guidelines that successful people use implicitly and which you can begin to use explicitly.

These are:

While following these systems doesn’t guarantee success, they will definitely show you what is workable and give you ways to get started on your hopes and dreams instead of waiting and hoping.

That’s it. Be proactive – do something definite and do it today…

Getting Ahead in Business – Avoid This Mistake and Gather Influence

[how can I help?] [It's always 'Me, Me, Me' with you, isn't it?]

When thinking about influencing others in the workplace, most people start off by making the same cardinal error. Avoid making this mistake and you can begin to impress decision makers at work and take control of your ability to get ahead.

The mistake I’m talking about is thinking about influence from your point of view only. That’s a lot like asking “What’s in it for me?” each time a new task comes up. Now, there’s no need to become a selfless martyring type, but do you want to become known as someone who only acts in their own interests?

Think instead about ways you can anticipate the needs of those around you – and especially those above you in the hierarchy. Again, there’s no need to be a kiss-ass. Don’t ask for ways you can help, because it actually places a burden on others to find you something to do. Instead, do your research so you can anticipate what’s coming up and act accordingly.

If you do this correctly, it will show three things about you:

  1. You know your work
  2. You see the bigger picture of the business you’re in
  3. You’re highly capable and proactive

Additionally, you can quietly impress those around you without having to make a big deal about it.

That’s real, lasting influence.

Role 2: Role-modelling solutions

Now you’ve met your role model and had a taste of what it’s like to be them. Don’t you wish they were around when you needed their help of advice though?

Here’s a way you can have the next-best thing.

Role-modelling solutions

  1. Pick a situation where you would like the advice of a particular role model.
  2. Encapsulate the situation: Be sure where the experience begins and ends.
  3. Begin by running the experience through from your own perspective.
  4. Next, imagine your role model is present.
  5. As before, ask them questions and glean any advice you can.
  6. Now step into your role model and look at the situation again. From that perspective, what would you do differently? What would you keep the same?
  7. When you’ve gained all you can from that perspective, step back out, taking the knowledge with you.
  8. Now step back into yourself at the beginning of the experience. Given your new knowledge, how do you respond differently and how does the situation unfold this time?
  9. Cast your mind forward to a time in the future where you may encounter a similar situation. How does it play out in that instance?

In this way, you can draw upon a different, expert perspective for insight and problem solving. To gather further perspective, repeat the exercise with a second, different role model.

Interesting? Your questions and comments are welcome below.

(This is just one of the techniques you learn on our NLP Practitioner training. Go here to find out more)

Role 1: Who are your role models?

‘Role model’ has become a meaningless phrase, broadened to cover just about anyone who has something going for them. Whether it’s business leaders, teachers, athletes or rock stars, everyone is now considered to be a role model. The phrase ‘role model’ has become cliched and consequently lost all of its vigour.

That’s kind of a shame because the concept is really useful. I’m not talking about how it’s used traditionally either – you won’t need to slavishly mimic the attitudes and behaviour of someone you wish to emulate.

Here’s how to revive your role-model

First, you’ll need to choose someone you find inspirational or aspirational as your model.

What is it about them that inspires you?
What is it about them that you wish others could see in you too?

  1. Go to a room where you will not be interrupted for a short while.
  2. Stand with a clear space in front of you.
  3. With eyes open or closed, (whatever works best for you) imagine your role-model in front of you.
  4. Speak with them for a short time, asking them questions about the aspect of their life you’re interested in.
  5. In a moment, you’re going to step inside them to experience what it’s like to be them on the inside.
  6. Physically take a step forward into the space where you imagined them to be, allowing yourself to see through their eyes, hear what they’d hear and feel how they feel inside when they’re exhibiting the aspect you’re interested in.
  7. Take some time to just absorb this new experience. What are they saying to themselves on the inside?
  8. When you’re ready, step back out again, taking with you only the aspects that are relevant to you.
  9. Let the new knowledge and experiences settle in.

In this way, you can gather crucial information that is in a mental ‘blind-spot’ – namely, how they experience the world on the inside. What does this do?

You’ll gain insight into what makes them the way they are – deep motivations and ideals that drive them.

You’ll also pick up some of that too – by experiencing it for yourself, it becomes a choice you can take and a set of behaviours you can draw upon to expand your own growing capabilities.

Look past the cliche and become inspired again. Who are your role models?

(This is just one of the techniques you learn on our NLP Practitioner training. Go here to find out more)

Unlock Your Personal Creativity

Do you think you are a creative person?

If not, I want you to think again. Your personal creativity is probably locked up in how you define ‘creativity’. That’s not a simple case of semantics though. It’s about how you define yourself and the things you can do.

For example, are you creating a life for yourself? Or making a family? Do you have unusual ideas, make things or solve life’s little problems as you go through your day?

You might be wondering whether any of those things are really creative.

Creativity is often confused with originality – in fiction, there are really only 8 stories. However, writing is still considered to be creative. So creativity doesn’t need to be making something original.

Creativity is often confused with artistry – as though only painters, writers, sculptors and musicians could be creative. Engineers and artchitects make beautiful things, which are definitely creative, but rarely considered artistic.

Perhaps it’s time to admit that you are creative and let that aspect of you come to life.

How to Kill Procrastination

Question: What plans do you have for yourself that you’ve just been pushing into the future?

You probably know the type of plans I mean – the good stuff that seems to be always a few months out of reach.

If that’s you, congratulations – you’re just in time to prevent some regrets.

Think about this: do you really want to be in this exact same position this time next year? How would that feel?

You might tell yourself that a year can seem like a long time. One thing I do know is that time passes quickly when we idle away the moments. Procrastination – the failure to move into action – is not a modern problem either.

“I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.” – Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519)

Listen to da Vinci. Information is not enough. Intention is not enough. There’s something fundamentally different about action which greatly outstrips mere knowledge or willingness.

Some of you might think that da Vinci sat around all day figuring things out. Far from it. He accomplished an immense amount in his lifetime.

So what causes procrastination and how do we solve it? How can you learn to move into action more of the time?

Where people fail to act:

  • Being unaware of choices
    There are certain things we’re culturally conditioned to decide and most of them aren’t really that important when you look at the bigger picture.There are other decisions that are invisible to all but the top 0.1%, the ‘great achievers’ of our age.These are the things that you ‘can’t’ or ‘aren’t supposed to’ decide.For example, you could just decide that this is going to be the year in which your life becomes transformed – the year your dreams and plans become a glorious reality.When you consider that, what did you tell yourself? Many people think “but I can’t just do that!” then reason away their future with faulty ideas about luck, random forces or what they think they deserve.
  • Being ‘all talk’
    There’s an old saying – “talk is cheap”. It’s a sad fact that talk doesn’t necessarily transform into action.The paradox is that when you get into action, you have something to talk about.
  • Being purely theoretical
    Pure theory involves plenty of supposition and no experimentation. It’s a world-view that only builds on existing assumptions. The only testing is for plausibility (i.e. does this match what I know?). As you can probably imagine, it’s possible to build towering edifices of theory on top of faulty assumptions.Good theory is intimately linked with action – and thus learning occurs. Books aren’t great for learning unless you test the knowledge presented there. Otherwise, the only exercise is one of memory.“Life is so unlike theory.” – Anthony Trollope
  • Being too clever
    If you’ve ever seen a doorstop with built in alarm clock radio, you’ll know that it’s possible to be a bit too clever. Unfortunately, this apparent exaggeration is not far from the truth in many cases. Complexity is not a virtue. To me, the truly clever people are those who can make a seemingly complex idea easy to understand. I’m not talking about ‘dumbing down’ ideas. I’m talking about good communication and the elegance of simplicity. Wallowing in apparent complexity is a great way of avoiding action.“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” – Leonardo da Vinci
  • Being a perfectionist
    The act of perfecting something can take a long time. The standard of ‘perfection’ is, by definition, extremely hard to achieve. And often unnecessary. To wait for perfection is sometimes to wait forever. Sometimes good is good enough. Then you can act. Remember the saying “perfect spoils good”.
  • Anticipating failure
    Many people fail to act because their experience tells them that it just hurts too much to fail. This is a double whammy. Firstly, the focus is on pain and failure and you will tend to get what you focus on. Second, there is the barrier of ‘being safe’Isn’t it safe to begin living your dreams? The (often faulty) assumption of safety is that it’s safest to stick with what you’ve got and do nothing new.In many cases, ‘safe’ is like sitting in a car which is rolling towards a cliff. Everything is perfectly okay until that inevitable moment…

Decision is very often the process of cutting away all lesser options. Here’s how:

Exercise for moving into action:

  1. Identify: Where is your ‘theoretical’ knowledge?
    1. Imagine it’s true
      Close your eyes. Imagine and experience the actions that go with understanding that. What do you see, hear and feel?
    2. Imagine it’s not true
      Imagine and experience the actions that do with discovering that. What do you see, hear and feel this time?
  2. Integrate: Allow your unconscious mind to sort and combine all the information from both experiences.
  3. Action: What is the easiest way that you can test your theory in the Real World? Go now and do that before moving on.
  4. Fuzzy proposition: Few practical ‘facts’ are completely true or completely untrue. There are ‘degrees of truth’ to almost any statement based on the situation and circumstances. Based on your Real World experiences, decide where/when it’s true and where/when it’s not true.
  5. Learning: What did you learn from your ‘test actions’ that was not in (i) or (ii)? This is where learning expands through experiential knowledge.

NOTE:
It’s important to take any pain out of the learning process. Make it so experimentation feels neutral and successes feel good. Give yourself a little rewarding glow every time you do something surprisingly right or good or excellent.

It’s like being in the supermarket looking through oranges to find the best ones. Dented or unripe oranges don’t feel bad. It’s more of a neutral experience. The good ones feel different though, don’t they? Make your action steps feel like this and you’ll succeed more of the time.

Summary

This is how we kill procrastination.

The true test is in the testing – da Vinci knew this because he was an experimental sort. He was constantly modelling the world around him, testing and refining those models through action.

It’s time to take action now. Otherwise, all you can hope for is regret.

Assumptions and Faulty Thinking

Lately, I have found myself thinking about the assumptions that we make about the world around us. The world can sometimes be a complex place and the assumptions we make are an essential tool in simplifying things.

Very often, these assumptions are useful and we move forward quickly because of that. One can safely assume that gravity will always work and that rain is wet. You can assume with a high degree of certainty that your front door opens the same way as it did yesterday and when you wake up in the morning, you’re still in the same place where you went to sleep.

However, many of the assumptions we make are on much shakier ground. Have you ever found yourself anticipating that a task will be difficult? Or that a person will be unreasonable? Or that everyone else sees the world like you do?

This last assumption – that we all live in the same world, following the same ‘rules’ – is the cause of more conflict and unhappiness than just about any other premise.

It’s good to test your assumptions once in a while – or more often. And some faulty thinking is really silly. for example:

“Racing cars are fast and they have stripes, therefore putting stripes on my car will make it go faster.”

It’s a funny example, I know, yet no less valid than many of the assumptions we make every day.

If you’re NLP-trained, these concepts will be familiar to you – it’s possible to identify and break down such assumptions with the meta-model. From this, life flows more smoothly – and it can be much easier than you previously thought.

What Henry Ford Taught Me About Success

Henry Ford famously said that “Getting ready is the secret of success

While some people believe that this quote is about expectation – that is, you should ‘be ready’ for success to happen to you – I think that misses the point.

Ford is really saying that success isn’t due to a single masterful action. You need to pave the way carefully, and only that preparation makes the action decisive.

In short, the focus here is on what happens before the master-stroke.

Every joke has a set-up before the punch-line and every sale frames the deal before the clincher. Ford understood that success is no different.

I also made use of this principle when using NLP to model excellence. In fact, when Bandler and Grinder undertook their first modelling experiments, creating the foundations of NLP, they used this principle too.

They video-taped sessions with Virginia Satir and when they observed a change in a client, they rewound the tape to find out what Virginia had done to pave the way for that change.

I have also found this principle to be useful for Public Speaking though not just by rehearsing. Preparation is a well-understood part of athletic performance; everyone expects that athletes have undergone a rigorous and thorough training program before competing.

Success is no different, yet many still expect it to be a one-shot deal – they try once or twice, fail and then give up. Now imagine a complete novice learning the high-jump. Is it reasonable for them to give up after only a few days of failing to break the world record? That would be foolish.

Getting ready requires preparation, practice and learning. However, it doesn’t need endless repetition.

What series of exercises can you do to prepare yourself for success? To ‘tone your mental muscles’ so to speak?

Take some time to think about that and you may find your own answers. For those who want a short-cut, I’ve created my Mastering Success course and written my Goal Mastery book as a compilation of those methods.

That’s why I think this quote from Henry Ford is so important. It shows a successful man letting you in on his secret. Isn’t it time you got yourself ready too?

NLP Word Power 2 – Words That Lend Influence

Some words can be used to ‘lend’ influence to others. In this pattern, two things become linked in a person’s mind. There are various simple words to do this, words that you use every day.

Linking with a simple conjunction, such as ‘and’, can be very powerful, because we tend to consciously ignore small words.

At this point you might be thinking “seriously – ‘and’ ? That’s it?” Bear with me.

Because we ignore words like ‘and’, we need to sharpen our awareness to notice the effect of this linking.

How it’s misused:

For example, think about the phrase “health and beauty”. We see this fairly often and don’t question it, but do the two necessarily belong together?

Are healthy people necessarily beautiful? Are beautiful people necessarily healthy? I’m sure we can agree that the link between the two is nowhere near as definite as the phrase might imply. How about “health and safety”? Again, the link is tenuous at best. This is true of many statements which are linked with the word ‘and’.

How about an advertising example: Have a coke and a smile

How you can use it powerfully:

On the upside, this language pattern is really easy to use. Just link something together with something else using ‘and’. Here are some examples.

“relax and enjoy yourself”

“have fun and do well in your interview”

“take your time and come up with the right answer”

It’s really simple and you can test it out for yourself.

Summary:

To add borrowed influence to an idea, use simple linkages like ‘and’.

How to Stop Wasting Your Time With Repetition

Many people seem to misunderstand the purpose of repetition in learning.

They seem to think that repetition is about ‘getting something into your memory’:

  • memorise your study notes in school through endless repetition to ‘learn’ them
  • go through endless repetitions of physical movements to ‘get them into muscle memory’
  • go over scales again and again in music to ‘key them into memory’

The trouble with repetition as a learning device is that it doesn’t actually do anything very fast or very well.

Repetition is really about refinement.

  • learn the physical movement, then run through repetitions (with a high quality reference experience) to refine it.
    This actually makes use of our ‘learning and refinement’ loops
  • learn the musical scales to educate and strengthen the necessary muscles. Repeat until they ‘sound right’. Refinement.

Repetition is learning only if you are refining what you have learned.

To embed learning, it must be memorable in some way. No amount of repetition can substitute for this.

I remember my Chemistry teacher giving us silly songs and rhymes to remember certain scientific principles. There wasn’t much repetition involved at all. At the time we absolutely hated it, but I can still call those principles clearly to mind twenty-five years later. They made the learning memorable.

If learning is fun, exciting, silly, shocking or fascinating, it is more memorable because the most accessible memories tend to be coded emotionally. We also tend to learn more quickly when emotion is present.

Repetition runs our learning through refinement loops until it reaches a stable conformation, where we meet some kind of internal standard (good enough) or match the quality of the reference experience we are trying to emulate.

So repetition without refinement isn’t really learning. It is a misuse of our most valuable resource: time.

To Summarise:

When you learn, get out of the repetition trap by asking yourself what the purpose of the repetition really is. If it’s about ‘getting the information into your mind or body‘ then stop and make the learning memorable. Then only use repetition to refine your experience.