Showing posts from September, 2006

what's your story for the weekend?

It's Friday afternoon, and an exchange of emails has me thinking in particular ways about the stories we tell ourselves. This weekend, my own stories will be musical. I'll be listening to my son's jazz band, and to a concert performed in part by a singer I first met when she was about ten years old.

Sarah began by helping her mom and I lead the singing for our church school. Margaret and I were not musically accomplished but we had the one most important quality in church school music leaders: we believed the music could be fun and bring the kids closer to each other and closer to God. We believed this in the absence of any evidence or any particular talent. Sarah went to a Christian school and knew good songs to sing, so she helped us lead.

At the time, I did not think of Sarah as a singer - I knew she competed as a Scottish dancer. One thing led to another, and Sarah dreamed her dreams and graduated in music theatre and played a lead role on Broadway (and in Toronto, unt…

What's stopping you?

It's not the most important question you can ask, but it is certainly in the top three. You know that there are things that you want, things that would be good for you, things that would make a difference for you and for people around you. There are things you are not doing. What's stopping you?

My husband tells a story about his first day lining up at the kindergarten door - and about the friend who pushed him through that door and into kindergarten. He's still not happy about being pushed; he is happy about education (he ended up with a Master's degree). His journey began not with a step, but with a nudge in the right direction.

A nudge in the right direction is often the difference between knowing what we need and going to what we need.

The first car I ever drove was an old standard. In its final years of service, in the days when the rain came up through the floorboard, it was often hard to get it started. Sometimes it needed help, and I would be grateful to hear the…

inspiration and posting

It's been a week since my last post - but not because I have been uninspired. I have been running, and my inspiration has flowed - and flown - into other activities.

We ran an event on inspiration last weekend. No one is self-inspired - to breathe in, we must first be aware that the resources we need are outside of us. Most of what people consider dry spells or slumps are really just examples of looking for inspiration internally instead of externally.

Inspiration begins with noticing things outside our own skin and our own experience. We notice and then, as we do when we breathe, we make an exchange with what we have noticed. We take in some kind of energy or insight, and we send energy out into the world. That exchange sparks change and the change is either the result of our inspiration or the beginning of its manifestation.

The rest of dry spells can be explained as the "are we there yet" syndrome. The easiest way to make a journey last longer is to ask at regular, shor…

The problem with role playing

Much of training begins with some sort of lie - role playing and case-based learning both begin by asking people to pretend that they are in a situation that is significantly different than the training room. This has definite advantages - all stories have definite advantages. It also has definite drawbacks.

Many people will admit that they are more likely to tell the truth than lie because it is so much easier to keep track of the truth: when you begin to tell lies, it gives you much more information to track. You have to remember all the hypothetical context that you created when you created the original lie. Life gets complicated.

So what happens to students when we ask them to pretend to be someone they are not doing something that they are not really doing? We not only give them the task for which they are training, but the much more complicated task of pretending - of tracking all the information associated with a hypothetical situation. We give them the same problem that lies c…

The lag time in social learning

I have been taking a course designed for teachers at a local community college. There has been a nod to some social science research on generational differences and a general sense that teens and adults might learn differently. There has been no discussion of the neurological bases for those differences.

Every day (literally - I read several neuroscience blogs and they have lots of news) someone is learning something new about how our brain works and how that relates to how our minds work. Today I watched a video (on Google video) of a young academic discussing what neuroscience tells us about music and what music tells us about neuroscience. Brain scientists are at the beginning of a magnificent voyage: they send us tantalizing postcards.

None of these postcards are more dramatic than those describing the differences between the teen brain and the adult brain. It now looks like we do not fully develop an adult model of thinking until we are 25-30 years old. Until then, young people …

Be Inspiring/ Get Inspired

Below, I have copied the definition for inspire. It contains many variations on a single theme: to inspire is to put spirit/breath into someone or something. It is close to metaphors like "putting the wind in your sails." Breathing into someone inspires them - it gives them the most immediate stuff of life so that oxygen will circulate throughout their body, nurturing and maintaining their cells and giving them the capacity for action.

The length of the list of definitions suggests that most of us could use a little inspiration now and then. While we usually have air to breathe, often it feels like that air lacks the spirit that maintains and motivates us. We need someone else to add to our oxygen supply so that we can find our optimal state. You need inspiration and so do the people around you. You cannot inspire yourself (just imagine trying to add to your breath without breathing and you'll know why this doesn't work) but you can seek out people wh…

Taxonomies and learning

I have just spent the day with college instructors considering the fundamentals of learning. The facilitator was enthusiastic about Bloom's taxonomy - a hierarchy (it's in ranked levels) of cognitive abilities: from lowest level to highest it includes: knowledge, understanding, application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation.

As I listened to his examples of how this model opens up the teaching of skills and information, I thought about Maslow's hierarchy of needs and wondered what would happen if we applied it instead. For those of you who need a refresher, it moves from a base to a peak: you can't move up the pyramid until the needs below are satisfied. They are (from the base moving up): physiology; safety; love; status; actualization. Isn't it worth asking to which of these needs a particular course will contribute? Isn't it worth asking how teaching and learning together should be contributing to each of these needs?

It turns out Bloom sets some of the gro…

Don't take any training if these apply

There are people who are guaranteed to not love training - ours or anyone else's. If you are one of these people, save your money. Not only will you be happier - so will your prospective classmates!

Don't take training if:

1) You are unwilling to learn. Training is not an opportunity to say "I told you so" or "I knew that before you were born." (Where, exactly, would you want to say those things?) If you already know everything you need to know, then take a bow (not a course).

2) You want something that you know is going to screw up your life. Perhaps you are looking for someone to tell you that this is the perfect time to have a fling - or to fling yourself out of a plane (with or without parachute). Training is not good for this. All training (especially ours) is about paying attention to all the information you have - even when it contradicts what you think you want.

3) You really don't like other people. Technically, I suppose, you could do correspond…

Experiencing NLPCT

I have been reading marketing blogs talking about customer experience. It makes me think about the experience that our customers have as they make their way through our certification trainings. What is it like for the people who really love what we do? What is it like for the others?

I'll deal with the others in another post - there are reasons for people to benefit hugely and not particularly enjoy the experience, and for people to enjoy hugely and benefit. This is about the people who are the best possible fit for what we do.

First, the training is different from what they have ever experienced in a classroom and strangely familiar all at once. That's because we push hard for people to pay attention to what and how they are thinking (that push is not always obvious; it's always there). So our training is like meeting someone for the first time and realizing that after a half-hour you feel like old friends.

And. . . people who take our training get very, very curious. There …

growing great on long timelines

This is a picture of the Cathedral in Florence, popularly known as the Duomo. It is a wonderful, wonderful building. And it took more than 150 years to build, at a time when that represented at least three lifetimes. Most of the great cathedrals were built over similar periods.

It's hard to us to imagine conceptualizing work that spans many generations. We think of ten years as long term planning. As I grow older, I realize that ten years goes by far too quickly to qualify as long term. Ten years ago, I was raising little boys. I still see their eyes when I look at the young men who now (sometimes) occupy their rooms.

I wonder how their lives would be different if they were required, as part of their education, to conceive and begin a project that would be completed by their children's children. I wonder how their sense of the world would change if they had to make real, practical plans to begin something on that scale. I wonder how their sense of happiness would change if it …

get involved, get working, get results

Three steps to a terrific day on this last day of summer:

1) Get involved in the moment. Here you are. These are the people around you. Become curious and passionate and awake. Right now.

2) Do something. Anything. And do it with your full attention. Do it as if it really matters. Whatever you do uses up some of your time on the planet. Whatever you do produces change in yourself and the people and stuff around you. Whatever you do matters.

3) Notice what you've done. Become as energized and interested in noticing your results as you were in doing the activity. Just notice what happens when you do this one thing. Notice what changes inside you and what changes outside you. Notice that doing something gets something done.

Get moving. It's going to be a great day.

coming out as Christians

My partner, Chris, and I believe that the stories we tell about ourselves convey more information than we consciously place in them. They are important revelations of how we have integrity, and of what is integrated within us. Much of our work invites people to consider new stories and all the different possibilities they hold.

We talk about the many different reasons why we hold this belief: I frequently refer to business books or psychology books or websites on the power of story and storytelling. I am interested in narrative - including the narratives held in business plans and narrative therapy and narratives in the arts. This is all true, and all well-documented. It is only part of our story.

When I met Chris, I was in the process of being certified as a candidate for the Presbyterian ministry. After one year of study towards my Master of Divinity degree, I came to a decision that God was calling me in a different direction. I began to work with Chris at NLP Canada Training. I cam…

be one of the first to check out our new stuff online

The graphic redesign won't launch for another month, but the site has new pages and navigation as of tonight. Blog readers can go to and be among the first to get the updates on our new courses, prices, and online resources.

It will give you something lovely to think about on this rainy long weekend.