Working with Belief Clusters – Part 3: How Values Form Chains

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Working with Belief Clusters – Part 3: How Values Form Chains

Previously, I demonstrated how beliefs and values are related and how beliefs form chains. In this third part of the series, I show you how values also form chains – but only if you elicit them correctly…


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Working with Belief Clusters – Part 3: How Values Form Chains

There is a completely different way we can track the formation of chains – this time through the connections between values.

However, it’s really important to elicit the person’s values without imposing any sort of order on them.

In this instance, we’re just modelling the value structure and relationships that currently exist.

There are, broadly speaking, two formal values elicitation questions and both have different functions.

1 – “What’s important about X?”

This question identifies the values in a particular area of life, X.

For example:

“What’s important about relationships?” will tend to elicit a value in the context of relationships.

So far, so good. One way to progress from there is to keep eliciting values connected to relationships. The formal way to do this is to ask:

“What else is important about relationships?”. This will tend to elicit another value in the context of relationships. Then keep repeating this question until you get a list of values.

However, if this is the only type of question you ask, you will get a long list of values relevant to the context of relationships, but you will not have any information about how those values are connected to each other.

So the classic thing which is done in this situation (especially by life-coaches) is to impose a hierarchy. This is done by asking:

“Which one of those values is the most important?”
or
“If you had to do without one of these values, which one would it be?”
or
“List your values in order of importance.”

(It’s quite common to advise people to do this – just Google ‘NLP values hierarchy’ to see some examples.)

However, if you do this, you’ve just lost something really important and re-structured how the person perceives their values. This is bad.

I know – some of you may be thinking:

“But I’m sure values form a hierarchy. What about the ‘hierarchy of values’? and what about Maslow’s hierarchy?”

Firstly, the hierarchy of values. We made it up and it has lasted because it appeals to our need for simple order. That’s all. Elicit values cleanly and you won’t find a linear hierarchy. Just test it out and see for yourself.

This is not to be confused with a ‘hierarchy of criteria’, which imposes order on criteria (which includes, but is not limited to, values) in order to leverage aspects of that order.

Secondly, Maslow’s work has nothing to do with values whatsoever. Read up on that if you’re still not sure about it.

So you have a list of values and imposing a hierarchy is not going to show you how the values are naturally linked together. What do you do?

You ask a second type of values-elicitation question:

2 – “When you have [value] what does that give you?”

Or simply

“What’s important about [value]?”

This allows you to identify direct relationships between values and therefore you travel down the values chain, rather than across the surface.

For example:

“What’s important to you about work?”
– a sense of accomplishment

“ok, so a sense of accomplishment. When you have that sense of accomplishment, what does that give you?”
– it gives me satisfaction

“Ok. So when you get that satisfaction from your work, what does that give you?”
– a feeling of well-being

So far, we have identified the linear chain [accomplishment -> satisfaction -> well-being] Is it a hierarchy? It looks a lot like one until we keep going.

“What does that well-being give you?”
– a sense of accomplishment

What we really have here is a simple loop. This is not uncommon, by the way and there are other structures to be found too, if you elicit the values chains cleanly.

[By ‘cleanly’, I don’t mean use the ‘clean language’ approach, necessarily. Just stop assuming how the system is ordered and find out what is really there.]

Access the next part of this series to find out:

  • What other structures do values chains form?
  • What strengths and weaknesses does each structure have?

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Working With Belief Clusters 2 – How Beliefs Form Chains

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Working with Belief Clusters – Part 2: How Beliefs Form Chains

To create lasting change, we often need to look at the bigger picture, especially when working with limiting beliefs, which are connected into larger structures. In this second video in the series, I show four ways in which beliefs chain together.


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Working with Belief Clusters – Part 2: How Beliefs Form Chains

In order to identify clusters – complex structures with many linkages – we need to look first at simple connections. I call these ‘chains’. Let’s get started.

Working with the ‘If – Then – Means’ belief structure from the previous part, there are several ways that chains can form:

1. Cause -> Effect -> Further consequences

When we start with the cause and effect part of the belief, often the effect has consequences too.

if X then Y (means Z)
and
if Y then A (means B)

X -> Y -> A

For example:
If I try then I’ll fail (means I’m a failure)
If I fail then I’ll never try it again (means I’m a quitter)

These causes, effects and further consequences work like a row of dominoes.

2. Cause + Condition -> Effect

The chains can also branch, especially if multiple factors work together to create different effects.

For example:
If I try then I’ll fail (means I’m a failure)

If I fail and I’m stressed then I’ll never try it again (means I’m a quitter)
or
If I fail and I’m not stressed then I’ll try it again (means I’m learning)

This way, we get a complete and more complex structure.

X -> Y
Y + stress -> A
Y (no stress) -> X

Notice how ‘trying it again’ loops back round to the start (X)

3. Cause -> Effect 1 + Effect 2

There can also be multiple consequences to a cause-effect.

For example:

If I try then I’ll fail (means I’m a failure)
If I fail then I’ll never try it again (means I’m a quitter)
and I’ll get depressed

In this case, getting depressed is a second effect of failing, rather than a consequence of never trying it again.

4. Cause 1 or Cause 2 -> Effect

The or structure demonstrates that some effects can stem from a variety of causes.

For example:

If I try then I’ll fail (means I’m a failure)
or
If I don’t try then I’ll fail (means I’m a failure)

If a condition or its opposite create the same effect, as in the example, this is a bind, which is a special condition of this structure. In general, limitation is what happens when the flow from cause to effect narrows rather than branching.

From all this, it’s clear that cause and effect chains can form complex structures. However, those structures can be extremely unwieldy and when creating change, it’s sometimes difficult to know where to focus your efforts.

So we need to have a way of targeting the crucial areas. Values can help with this.

Access the next part of this series to find out:

  • How to identify and elicit values chains
  • how to elicit values without damaging the chains

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Working with Belief Clusters – Part 1

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Working with Belief Clusters – Part 1: Beliefs and Values

Beliefs aren’t isolated things, so they shouldn’t be worked with in isolation. This is the first in a series about working with beliefs as clusters. Part 1 describes how beliefs and values are connected.


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Working with Belief Clusters – Part 1: Beliefs and Values

Many people talk about beliefs and how they form into ‘clusters’, yet they only work with single beliefs when they want to create change.

They don’t describe:

  • how beliefs cluster,
  • why that is important,
  • how to identify the beliefs in a cluster,
  • or how they are interconnected.

I’m going to answer some of those questions in this series of videos, so when I’m finished, you’ll have some simple theory and some actionable knowledge too.

Values are an interesting place to begin, because

  • they’re easy to identify
  • they’re interlinked
  • they relate directly to beliefs
  • they focus you on the areas which are most important

Again, many people elicit values in a particular way that imposes order on them and will prevent you from seeing how values interlink.

So before we get into values, let’s look at how they’re related to beliefs.

Values and Beliefs – Relationship

First, some basic information about how a belief is structured:

It can be useful to look at a belief as a meaningful system of cause and effect.

Robert Dilts* uses this useful structure to map beliefs onto:

if X then Y means Z

where X is the cause
where Y is the effect
and Z is a value judgement

How is this useful?

Firstly, you can also use the ‘If – Then – Means’ structure to make sure you have identified all the elements relevant to the belief you’re examining.

For example: (If I try then I’ll fail, which means I’m a failure)

‘trying’ is the cause.
‘failing’ is the effect.
‘failure’ is the value.

So we can use this structure to identify values from looking directly at beliefs.

If we’re already working with beliefs, why bother with values?

Well, we can backtrack from a value to identify a belief, or set of related beliefs.

How?

In this case, we ask about the rules surrounding a value.

Suppose, for example, we elicited the value ‘failure’.

You can ask:
“How do you know when you have failure?”
and
“How do you know when you haven’t failure?”

You might get the answers: “I know I have failure when I try something and fail (don’t succeed)” and “I know when I don’t have failure when I try something and I succeed (don’t fail)”.

Again, it helps to use the ‘If – Then – Means’ structure to make sure you have the structure of the whole belief.

So that is how values and beliefs are connected.

To summarise:

Working between beliefs and values is useful.

From beliefs to values:

  • What does it mean when X causes Y?
  • If X leads to Y, what does that mean?
  • If you Y because X, what does that mean?

From values to beliefs:

  • How do you know when you have Z?
  • How do you know when you don’t have Z?
  • What makes you Z?

Access the next part of this series to find out:

  • How to identify and elicit belief chains
  • how belief chains can branch and loop

*Dilts, R., Sleight of Mouth, (1999)

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Value, self investment and self-development

Value and self-investment is a fascinating topic to study.

Since I sell my own self-development courses, I’m ideally placed to experience how people express the value of their own development. This is especially so

In some cases, I’ve seen faulty thinking, mental evasions and other expressions of inner values in conflict.

Note: I’m not saying that everyone needs, or could benefit from, learning NLP, for example. What I am saying is that some people have a strange mindset when it comes to money and value. (I’ve written about this before here).

For example, one of the most common excuses for putting off learning NLP is that “there just isn’t the money for it“. Those are the facts as they experience them.

What is really going on in their mind is far more interesting:

  • Learning a skill-set, mindset and taking on a powerful new worldview is scary
    For some, it’s stepping into the unknown. “What will it be like? Will it be better or worse than I imagine? Will I be any good at it?” It’s easy to see that none of these questions are answerable at the outset.My advice is this – take a chance. Achieving the best is within your personal control if you’re prepared to take the time and put in the effort. The only way to stop the unknown from being scary is to make it into the known. Take that step. Do that thing you’re afraid to fail at – and you can make sure you succeed.
  • Will I change?
    Some people think that developing themselves means becoming ‘someone else’. They ask the question “If I learn this, will I still be me?”Yes, you’ll still be you. Think about this: were you ‘you’ ten years ago? Are you ‘you’ now? I’m betting that you’ve changed in some ways in the last ten years. Despite that, you have been ‘you’ right the way through, so you can learn and grow as an individual without having to become ‘someone else’.
  • They haven’t ‘joined the dots’ between learning and earning
    When I ask people why they’re interested in self-development, they have lots of answers. When I then ask what they’re going to do with the new knowledge to achieve that, the result is often a confused look.I think that any good investment will pay you back, so I’m basically asking them “how will this investment in yourself pay you back?”If you’re thinking about investing in your own development, you need to ask yourself that question too. And don’t be vague.Ask:

    “How specifically will this investment in myself pay me back?”
    “How else will it pay me back?”
    “what else specifically will it do for me?”
    “How else will I benefit?”

    If you’ve really thought it through and haven’t got good answers to the questions above, then don’t do the course until you do.

    It’s up to you to make those benefits tangible, because only you know your circumstances, your willingness to learn and where you want to apply the insights or use your new abilities. A good trainer will act as a sounding board and help to coach you through the options and possibilities. Only you can predict how exactly you’ll benefit.

  • They think that if they invest in a course, that money is gone forever
    This is the mindset of scarcity. It amounts to thinking that if the money is spent on X, then there will be no money for Y. That if the money is spent on self-development, it can’t be spent on a new TV. So the decision is: self-development vs. a new TV.This is what Economists call ‘fixed pie’ – if you take one piece of the pie, that’s one piece less for everything else. We have a saying that expresses this mindset: “You can’t have your cake and eat it”. If you think like that, of course, you won’t.But self-development is an investment in the future of your self and as I said above, a good investment pays you back, with interest.So the decision is different: what future will I have from self-development vs. what future will I have from getting a new TV?And be honest – if you know it’s not going to improve your future, don’t do it. But if you can see the benefits you will gain, go ahead.

Sometimes it helps to go at the question from a different direction.

Ask: “If you could change or improve one aspect of your life, which one would create the biggest positive difference?

What would it be worth to have that?

If some self-development can help you to achieve that, would you do it?

Take some time to think it through because only you can know the answer.

Terms Which I Question – Metaphors part 1

While words themselves can’t hurt us, we must be careful of the metaphors we use because they often have hidden implications. The danger here is that we may unconsciously be directed or limited by those implications.

What is so important about the metaphors we use and what makes them different from other pieces of language? Metaphors are interpreters of context, so often correlate with high level change. We write the stories of our lives through our use of concepts within the limitations of our contexts, so where better to look for change than in our metaphors?

The implications of some ‘popular’ metaphors are less than useful, so it’s worth examining them here:

  • work/life balance
    The implications here are many. Firstly that ‘work’ and ‘life’ need to be in equal balance, i.e. that work should be given as much time and energy as everything else put together. Secondly that work and life are the only two areas of focus to have a harmonious life. Thirdly, that work and life do not overlap and are exclusive concepts.

    If you think that last one is a stretch, let me tell you a story that underlines the point. A while ago, I was at a friend’s barbecue and was introduced to an acquaintance of his. He was struggling with his workload and was near burnout. Part way through the conversationI noticed that he was treating work and life like opposites, rather than overlapping concepts.

    So I asked him what the opposite of work was. “Life”. And then what the opposite of life was. At this point he went a little pale. He realised that throughout our conversation he had been telling me that he was only ‘living’ when he was not working! Understanding this, he was able to begin finding ways to see work in a more positive light.

  • Leadership of self
    The key implication here is that we have an ‘internal leader’ – and an internal ‘follower’ too. Leading and following is a two-role process, so ‘leadership of self’ indicates some sort of internal division or conflict, in my opinion. I’d use a different metaphor which implies internal integration and cooperation.

A better metaphor
My purpose here is not to create “word fear” or the sort of internal censorship that came with “political correctness”. I’d prefer you examine the implications of the metaphors you use in everyday life, especially in areas that you consider less than optimum. And through such consideration, choose to live through more empowering contexts and narratives.

Boundaries and Values – Part 2

The value of ‘free’

I’ve written about the ‘value of free’ before, though a recent experience has brought this back to the forefront of my awareness. A complete stranger contacted me several months ago about one of my training programs. They had decided they would “quite like to be a life coach”, so could they please attend my NLP Practitioner and Coach certification course (a £1749 value) for free!

Besides having a hell of a nerve, I think that people in that ‘free’ mindset somehow don’t understand that this business is my livelihood as well as my passion. Try pulling that sort of manoeuvre with your landlord or your bank manager and I guarantee you won’t get very far.

As I see it, there are several things wrong with the ‘free stuff’ mindset:

1) ‘Free stuff’ is less valued

In my experience, those who come to a paying seminar have invested something in themselves and are fully engaged in the process. They’re more motivated, tend to get better results and – most importantly – are inclined to practice. Those who have booked on free events I’ve run in the past are less likely to take the material seriously or even to turn up.

2) Investment constitutes a firm commitment

For example, those who invest in themselves take a therapeutic process more seriously. Statistics show that subsidised ‘free’ treatment has more no-shows than paid treatment.

3) Those who invest in themselves tend to be more involved and have specific outcomes

For example, training people within a business shows a great contrast with those who choose to attend our public courses. And the greatest contrast can be experienced when talking about outcomes. Many people treat a business training course as a ‘day away from their desk’ and that often translates into either a day off work or wasted time – neither of which is a positive way of engaging with the material. Needless to say, it’s good to get this out of the way beforehand.

4) ‘Free’ is a game that everyone has to play for the system to work

The ‘free’ mindset can be a tad selfish – “what can I get for nothing?” – but it’s important to look at the whole system to check the ecology. I would be perfectly happy to work for free if I can get free rent, free food, free clothes, transport, heating, electricity, water etc. and can live tax-free. I somehow can’t see that happening any day soon 🙂

5) There’s no such thing as a free lunch

Free material can sometimes have value, but it’s not motivated by altruism. It’s there to promote, to pitch, to up-sell, to build brand awareness or to educate, so your mileage may vary. In short, there is a lot of dross out there. Personally, I follow a principle I learned from marketing expert Mark Joyner – Don’t give something away that you couldn’t otherwise sell. It’s not a ‘free lunch’ but it does have substance – and is therefore a win/win.

Value, substance and standards

I think it’s vitally important to have standards. I feel great after delivering a training because I know that my trainees all measure up to a high standard of ability. Most of them don’t quite realise how high those standards are, because the training experience is so relaxed and fun. However, they consistently stand out from the crowd and I’m proud we could accomplish that together.

Naturally, I’m keen to promote more of that, so I’m done with ‘free for the sake of it’ and when it comes to my values, compromise is inappropriate.

As I said in Part 1 of this article, Life can be something of a teacher. However, it’s up to us which lesson we learn from life.

Is Fate holding you back?

There are several common mental pitfalls that we have to avoid throughout our personal evolution.

Many of these result in the Big Questions that we all pursue at some point. To the experienced eye, these questions serve as great examples of someone stuck in a model – trapped by a way of thinking that had previously been useful and liberating.

It’s important to remember that your model of the world isn’t reality and that it’s on the inside of our heads. Sometimes we outgrow our current model of the world and don’t yet have any better reality to replace it with. So these Big Questions basically translate into “help me, I’m stuck”.

Fortunately, help is at hand. There are a number of presuppositions involved in these Big Questions which can hide a solution. When learning, those presuppositions form the domain within which one can comfortably grow and develop. Sooner or later, you will outgrow that domain. It’s only natural. The presuppositions must then be redefined or removed at that point for growth to continue.

The model that binds many of us at one point is the notion of Fate, usually resulting in the question “What is my Life Purpose?” Let’s look at the presuppositions involved in that statement.

To read more, go here:

The Myth of Fate