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.

NLP – The Magic of Structure Part 1

(1) Do people have structured internal experience?

One of the presuppositions of NLP is that experience has a structure. This is a very useful thing to presuppose as it opens up clear channels of access to a person’s experience and enables us to have a means to re-encode it. This is the basis of many useful techniques in NLP, whereby we can reassign someone’s beliefs, their preferences and their hopes and fears in order to enrich their experience and improve the way they interact with the world.

However, if taken as an absolute law, this presupposition can be quite limiting. How so? The difficulty arises when one questions how much of that structure was there before you started and how much was ‘installed’ as part of an intervention by the NLPer. I see no problem in itself with installing temporary useful structure if there is none evident. The real problem is that when one believes the construct to be real, the structure can become limiting.

How do these frameworks become installed? When one pre-frames a technique and asks for structure as part of an elicitation, one tends to get what the language has set up as an expectation and continues to presuppose throughout the process. So what is really there?

What structure is commonplace?

So how can we tell what structure is present without elicitation? The structure we can observe analogs for from the outside initially seems like a safe bet. This would include sensory modalities, submodalities and metaprograms as well as a great many other things. If one can observe those in someone who has not undergone NLP training, then they must be inherent. And the place where you personally keep pictures of people you like must always be the same, right?

Now, how does this vary between individuals?

What structure is individual?

While many people exhibit similar eye accessing patterns and other structure, it is evident that many other patterns vary between individuals. As a simple example, both myself and the reader have a ‘location where I keep pictures of people I like’, but mine may be in a different place than yours. This is meaningful in that it suggests that this part of the structure may be flexible. Some constructs, such as that elicited in the submodality belief change, may be even more flexible – and it is important to realise that such structure may not be absolute.

In fact, one could usefully describe three different categories for structure :

  • Rigid structure (e.g. eye accessing cues)
  • Flexible structure (e.g. submodalities)
  • Arbitrary structure (e.g. concept/belief submodalities)

So, what use are these distinctions anyway?

Who needs the structure – the client or the NLPer?

It is reasonable to say that an awareness of such patterns is of great use to an NLPer and of lesser importance to the client. The structure is essentially used as a system of classification for the client’s current world-view, so the NLPer may reorganise items into more useful places – basically to reorganise their perceptual filters and associations more harmoniously.

Is it more useful to suppose that we, in fact, install a structure in order to sort their experience?

In the purest sense, it doesn’t matter whether we install the structure or not as long as we get the flexibility to rearrange any ‘inherent’ structure that is not geared toward supporting the change the client requires in its current form.

It is useful in that we get to choose and modify the structure at will. With this recognition that we can install useful constructs and sorting systems, one can pre-frame some very useful things and elicit exactly what one needs to in order to make a considerable change. It is possible to be free to generate more useful structures for change, creating a potential short-cut to a lasting solution rather than supporting the belief that ‘this is how that person is’.

Are many techniques just reorganising experience once it has been pigeonholed into the installed structure?

In the case of the submodality belief change and many other NLP patterns and techniques, this seems like a promising description of what actually occurs. The real potential is in understanding how one may reorganise the structure for greatest ease of operation and benefit to the client. Which distinct pigeonholes would you need to re-sort an experience beneficially? Why not just presuppose they exist and, within a good rapport, the may come into being! For how one rearranges current structure, see the next part of this series.

Questions and comments are welcome below.

Unconventional NLP Practice – Practical Issues

The final category of objections are all practical concerns.

  • People (will) think I’m weird
  • Didn’t work on ‘real’ people
  • No-one I know wanted me to ‘work’ on them

“People (will) think I’m weird”

When you think about it, some NLP-related behaviours can seem quite odd. Do you remember the first time you experienced ‘the swish’ for example? Or took someone into a hypnotic trance?

Those behaviours are okay within a seminar room or in a therapeutic or coaching environment. They are ‘formal’ change behaviours and belong in a formal setting. However, if you think about what is really going on in each case, you will probably realise that there are informal versions too.

Putting aside the techniques for now, think about all of the NLP skills – anchoring, meta model questions, eliciting states, reframing, etc, etc. All of those are natural behaviours we each do regularly. It’s just a question of practicing the skills in the right contexts. Then it will be more natural – for you and for others too.

“NLP didn’t work on ‘real’ people”

There’s a curious notion that the people you trained with are somehow ‘in on the secret’ and therefore more susceptible to NLP in some way. They are informed and therefore more at ease. They know what to expect and are therefore expecting the required result. This is true to some extent, but it’s not the whole story.

Many of the NLP skills work better if the ‘subject’ is not aware of them. Take rapport, for example. It works best as an unconscious skill that is directed consciously. You decide to get rapport, to fall into the same rhythm as the other person and trust your unconscious mind to do that. However, if you – or they – suddenly notice (“Good heavens, we’re walking exactly in step…”) it can weaken the unconscious effects of the rapport and suddenly you’re not in step any more.

Many of those who struggle with NLP outside the seminar room do so because they are creating a strange space for those with whom they are trying it out.

Anything preceded by a statement like “let me try out this really cool mind thing on you – it’s NLP” is naturally going to create a strange atmosphere. With that strangeness can come discomfort and a degree of resistance.

By contrast, suppose they practiced eliciting states instead – by telling funny stories until they got a laugh or even a smile. Or suppose they used their meta-model questions to clarify what was going to happen later that evening. No strangeness, no resistance and no problem. Just common-sense NLP.

“No-one I know wanted me to ‘work’ on their therapeutic issues”

This practical concern is a subset of the ‘NLP is Therapy’ misunderstanding I dealt with earlier. To stop thinking about NLP as a series of therapeutic techniques is possibly the most powerful shift in thinking you can have from that point.

Put the techniques aside for now and focus on skills because it should now be really obvious that opportunities to practice your NLP skills are literally everywhere.

What Next?

In response to these common needs, I’ve created a series of simple exercises which you can practice in the background during your day. The focus will change each week, so your skills will continue to sharpen.

nlp-skills-chart

How Exactly Does It Work?

It’s really simple:

  • There is a new area of focus each week.
  • You will get a short review lesson of the relevant background information on Day 1.
  • Each weekday you will receive an email which briefly outlines the exercise of the day.

The initial version of the program is called NLP Practitioner Integration. It lasts eight weeks and you can sign up here: http://www.nlppracticegroup.com/nlp-practitioner-integration/

Enjoy your practice!

Unconventional NLP Practice – Ethical Objections

Many people avoid certain types of NLP practice on ethical grounds. Before I really get into this, I must first say that (in my opinion) there are unethical applications of NLP. However, there is nothing inherently ethical or unethical about NLP itself.

Think of NLP as a set of tools. The ethics are dependent on the choices and intention of the person applying them. For example, a knife can be applied to prepare dinner or may be used to save a life during surgery. Or it can be used as a lethal weapon. The application itself is key.

Let’s look at some examples where a misunderstanding or misreading of the situation can raise unnecessarily limiting concerns:

  • not safe to practice NLP informally
  • unethical or manipulative to practice NLP on unsuspecting people

Informal NLP

NLP can be used to create powerful change. It’s quite natural that this should be treated with due care. However, I think it’s going a step too far to think that it’s only safe to practice NLP in ‘formal’ settings. Here’s why.

Think about this: where did NLP come from in the first place? If your immediate thought was ‘from modelling therapists’, you’re thinking too specifically. More broadly, it came from modelling effective human behaviour.

If the only applications of NLP were therapeutic, I could understand keeping such behaviours within a strict formal setting. However, what would be the sense of limiting how we apply effective behaviours? Especially considering how many of those behaviours occur naturally outside the therapy room.

Part of the goal of NLP training is to integrate the skills into your everyday behaviour. Some of the skills are already present in virtually everyone to some extent, yet are perhaps selective in their effect, or somewhat unreliable. For example, most people can get some rapport with some people. To integrate the NLP rapport skills would allow them to get rapport with a greater range of people in an increasingly reliable way – conscious access to a more reliable unconscious process.

And rapport is a skill you exercise virtually every day. Further, people anchor each other fairly frequently. Just watch some people in a cafe, bus queue or bar and you will notice this.

However, it’s much better to be aware of when we are and aren’t anchoring someone, so we can be sure our behaviour is guided by positive outcomes, rather than accident. So restricting NLP practice to the therapy room could actually be considered unethical.

And if you stopped doing all of the NLP-related behaviours in your daily life, it would be really hard to communicate with anyone or achieve anything worthwhile. So the more responsible choice is to bring NLP awareness and skills into every area of your life and move towards positive, ethical outcomes.

‘Covert NLP’

I’ve heard it said that it’s unethical or manipulative to practice NLP on unsuspecting people. I’d suggest that there is an ethical boundary here, rather than a clear yes or no. What it all comes down to is the purpose behind the use of NLP and the desired outcome.

Working towards mutually agreed outcomes is obviously ethical. And it’s not always necessary to explicitly agree the outcomes. Somebody might state their wants and you might see a win/win. The intervention itself need not be explicit in a “now I’m going to do some NLP” way. The outcome could be easier to achieve if done subtly.

If the NLP is used only to the benefit of the NLPer and against the interests of the other party, then it’s really not ethical.

Fortunately, this deliberate self-centred influence isn’t as effective as many people think. So many NLPers are caught up in the intricacy of the technology that they do not stop and realise that most people can spot a hidden agenda without taking any NLP training. Most people will know when there is something wrong, or they will intuit that the person is untrustworthy.

With that said, the full range of NLP skills are at work in many areas of daily life – and that means in the area of influence too.

For example, if you’re seeking a promotion, is it ethical to try and influence the interviewer? Before you decide, think about this: When you go for an interview, you tidy your hair and dress to impress. Isn’t that an attempt to influence the interviewer? Add in NLP skills too. Suppose you’re really good at getting rapport. Is that a fair advantage or an unfair one?

Overall, it’s a question of where you draw the line, so I’d suggest you don’t rule out using your NLP skills to mutual advantage, or in areas where you use such skills already.

 

Let me know what you think in the comments below. The final part comes tomorrow.