Creative Solutions – NLP and Creativity

Looking for solutions? Expand your creative skills on this 4 week course and save time, money and effort in the process

Creativity is the most prized ability in business today because new ideas can save you time, money and effort.

creativeDespite its great value, few people know how to become more creative, because many people think that creativity is an inborn skill. They couldn’t be more wrong.

Creativity is something we can all have, whether we realise it or not. It is a skill, an attitude and an outlook – all of which you can learn, perfect and train. For example, why do artistic people go to art college? They’re learning skills that will help them to better express their creativity.

There are two parts of the creative skill:

  • coming up with interesting ideas, new perspectives, or solutions to problems.
  • expressing those ideas in a meaningful and accessible way.

This training course focuses on the first part of creativity, which is arguably the more valuable one. Ask a painter how to paint or ask a writer how to craft a story and they will have plenty of practical advice to share. However, ask them – or any creative person – how they come up with their ideas and they will struggle to give you a practical answer.

They’re much more likely to tell you that ideas ‘just come to them’ or seem to ‘pop into their heads’. And that doesn’t give you anything you can use to duplicate the process.

Fortunately, there are ways of accessing that information. There is a structure to creativity, drawn from careful study of creative thinkers – a highly practical way of becoming more creative.

In this course, you will learn several simple ways to enhance your personal creativity.

Learn practical ways to:

  • Tap into your deepest creative resources
  • Synthesize new ideas and applications from existing ones
  • Use your resources to improve on past solutions
  • Take ideas from other areas and creatively “re-purpose” them

Through a series of simple exercises, you will learn four fundamental processes and begin to make creativity a part of who you are.

Go here to book your place and access the material straight away.

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)

Changing behaviour – Leveraging Values

In NLP, we talk a lot about ‘values’ – those ideas and concepts that hold importance for each of us.

It’s widely believed that knowing your values in a specific area of life, or for a specific outcome is a positive thing.

However, ‘leveraging’ values has received a lot of bad press, often described as manipulative and therefore given negative connotations (e.g. the usual approach to making a new law more palatable to the population is to tie it back into values – “putting your fingerprints on your passport is about security”. You’ve probably heard someone say “I don’t like it… but security is really important to me”.)

I like to give examples of how these tools can be used positively to create useful changes in behaviour, so I’ve included the video below which leverages ‘fun’ :

Why Discarding Solutions Can Lead to Better Problem-Solving

Imagine this: You’ve solved a difficult problem in an important area of your daily life. Is it time to celebrate? Of course.

However: Is it time to stop looking for a solution?

I’d like you to consider that the answer to that question may actually be ‘no’.


Have you ever wondered why so many of the greatest discoveries were made by accident?

Gunpowder, penicillin, electromagnetism, vaccination, x-rays, insulin – the list goes on. All discovered by chance. Of course, the true genius behind these discoveries was in realising that something unusual and potentially useful was going on.

On an everyday level, if you think this type of ‘happy accident’ is extremely rare, think again. It’s so common we even have a word for it – ‘serendipity’.

The real question here is: Why did it take an accident to make these discoveries?

One answer is that it’s part of our psychology. There is an effect known as ‘disconfirmation bias‘ which distorts our perception. Basically, we tend to criticise evidence that does not fit with our existing beliefs – we are biased against it and explain it away or ignore it. So it’s hard for us to see the difficulties with our existing theories until the evidence is overwhelming.

So the biggest obstacle to finding a good solution is finding an adequate one first.

deciding too soon
If we have found a solution and it’s the best one we can think of at the time, we tend to stop looking. The sense of closure and relief we can get from solving a problem can be seductive. Relatively few people will put aside a workable solution and
postpone the relief and comfort of closure to look deeper for an even better solution.

Creativity of this sort requires us to act against our natural instincts and think more thoroughly, for longer.

It’s rewarding to arrive at a quick and ready solution to everyday problems – but at what cost overall? Taking a little longer to get a better result will give gradual and steady improvements (the Japanese call this Kaizen). Those benefits add up quickly over a relatively short time. The result is a significant change without great upheaval.

So next time you find a quick and ready solution, put it aside and keep going. It’s likely there’s something even better just around the corner. And this habit will pay dividends.

NLP Techniques, Psychology and Problem Solving

Do you still try and solve your problems by replaying and analysing them? You may actually be intensifying the issue according to a recent study.

If something goes wrong, do you replay the experience over and over, trying to think of what caused the difficulty? This is the approach most people take to problem-solving in their everyday lives and at work.

However, there are certain obvious disadvantages to the analytical approach:

  1. it rehearses failure
  2. the context is frozen by any strong emotion in the experience
  3. the resources available are limited to those accessible in the negative emotional state

A 2008 study by Kross & Ayduk(1) suggests this approach (immersed analysis) may actually intensify the problem. The alternative approach they offer involves re-experiencing the event from a detached perspective, as though they took a step back from the situation (distanced analysis).

They found that those who used the distanced analysis approach focused on finding solutions rather than on recounting the experience. The emotional effect of the experience was greatly reduced – and that reduction was lasting.

Bear in mind that this approach makes it easier for people to face the reality of the situation in a new way, rather than just pushing their problems out of awareness or using distraction to cope.

These results agree with the distinctions made in NLP with regard to how you can re-experience an event in a different way. We refer to immersed analysis experiences as ‘associated‘ and distanced analysis experiences as ‘disassociated‘. In fact, these distinctions are used in many NLP processes, such as the fast phobia cure.

A host of additional distinctions (taught at NLP Practitioner level) exist within NLP to adjust the way a memory may be experienced, offering extra flexibility to those seeking to improve their ability to solve problems and become emotionally more resilient.


(1) Kross, E., & Ayduk, O. (2008). Facilitating adaptive emotional analysis: Distinguishing distanced-analysis of depressive experiences from immersed-analysis and distraction. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 34, 924-938.

The Problem with Polarity Thinking – Part 1

When you have a problem, where is the first place you look for a solution?

If your answer is that you look for the opposite of the problem, then you’re probably looking in the wrong place.

It’s a popular saying that a problem always contains the seeds of its solution. This is true. However it also contains the opposite of the problem, which is frequently mistaken for the solution.

This ‘polarity thinking’ is flawed. The opposite isn’t often the solution – frequently, it has the same structure as the problem itself.

For example, take someone who is shy – “I’m not going to talk to anyone because I’m scared to“. Compare that to the brash overconfidence created by polarity thinking – “I’m going to make a point of talking to everyone because I’m scared to“.

The problem hasn’t gone away. It’s still there in the “because I’m scared to“, so the solution isn’t in either the problem or its opposite. It is to be found beyond both of those.

Often people can only see beyond the polarities when they collide them and they cancel each other out. This collision of opposites is a mode of though employed by the philosophers of old and is the fundamental mental practice in yoga. (all of the physical stretching in modern yoga is somewhat peripheral to this aim, however)

Additionally, polarity thinking leads to overcompensation – the opposite of ‘not enough’ is actually ‘too much’ and the system in question will swing wildly from one extreme to the other until it eventually balances itself out.

Another example is the way that focus and feedback combine to create a spiral:

If you focus on noticing all of the things that are going wrong, you will notice them and as a result, you’ll feel worse. This will lead you to notice more of those things and will often reduce your performance, creating more negative signs. This is the start of a downward spiral.

If you instead focus on noticing all of the things that are going well, you will notice them and as a result, you’ll feel better. This will lead you to notice more of those things and will often pick up your performance, creating more positive signs. This leads into an upward spiral.

Notice how they’re both structured identically but are fuelled by different content. If you tend to spiral, good state control and a positive focus is a must if you want to stay on the up. This is often easier said than done. We all have bad days occasionally.

There are many things you can do to make it easier (a good NLP training will give you this info) or you can think a bit smarter and ask a better question instead.

Do you have to spiral at all? What if you could find a way to do something different instead? If you think that’s impossible then you’re stuck in the game, just like a gambler who continues to play “in order to win my money back“.

So just pretend you could stop and do something else? What is beyond the polarity?

I know that if you take the time to think this through, the answer you get will be both individual and interesting.

In Part 2, I’ll share an NLP technique that you can use to collapse polarities that are limiting you.