Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Can hypnosis make you a better innovator?

What makes people innovative? Different kinds of innovation all depend on the ability to apply imagination in practical ways. Yet many people believe that imagination is a talent - if you are not born with it, you have to live without it. Developing a new imagination seems as unlikely as growing a third hand.

Growing a third hand is relatively easy, however, if you are following the suggestions of a master hypnotist. When Mike Mandel takes the stage, he showcases the universality of imagination. Inevitably, the volunteers who join him on stage become wildly inventive. Under Mandel’s direction, people suddenly see landscapes or insects, become immersed in adventures, or find they have an unexpected talent for Spanish dancing. They take a few words from Mandel and create complicated, very funny experiences.

Mandel’s stage show is so completely entertaining that it is hard to believe that it also provides real learning about what it means to practice innovative thinking. Mandel’s expertise as a hypnotist is developed on the same three abilities that drive innovation. The keys to success in both are:
1) looking at the past to reinvent the wheel in profitable ways
2) paying attention to clients to uncover hidden needs
3) predicting the future to anticipate trends.

Watch Mandel on stage and you see all three keys at work. Mandel plays with the best traditions of stage hypnosis; he apparently reads the minds of the people on stage, and he predicts effortlessly what will happen next. The skills he uses on stage are precisely the skills that lead businesses to connect with client needs and reinvent processes and products for new success. More than this, he makes it look so easy that it seems everyone in trance is a natural innovator.

People who want to know more about their hidden talents often explore hypnosis. Trance is a state of focus in which it becomes easier to isolate and identify qualities in themselves that normally fly under the radar. People can become aware, through trance, that they have more imagination than they thought they had. They gain even more from learning how to do hypnosis for themselves and others. Mandel is as passionate about teaching hypnosis as he is about practicing it. Twice a year, he leads students through a program that explores hypnosis as a way of facilitating change in oneself or others.

Participants in Mandel’s classes explore their own abilities to imagine, focus and influence. They learn some of what thirty years of practice have taught Mandel: to focus their attention intently, to observe others with new levels of perception, and to combine the two in ways that produce remarkable results. Based on the work of the world’s greatest hypnotherapist, Milton Erickson, the techniques Mandel teaches allow people to practice the skills of innovation. They focus better on their objectives: they notice more about clients and circumstances; and they anticipate change with greater accuracy. It’s not magic: it’s a disciplined process that uncovers abilities that are latent in all human beings.

Mandel’s own process for teaching and performing looks absolutely natural. It is natural and it is also the product of many long years of practice, polish and analysis. As he gets better and better over time, Mandel demonstrates that nothing creates natural talent as effectively as attention and practice. He is Canada’s most accomplished stage hypnotist precisely because he has that most prized of business abilities: he can innovate continuously without losing track of himself or his audience.

Watching his stage show is a unique opportunity to laugh out loud while practicing the kind of thinking that is likely to drive your success. It’s not really about the people clucking like chickens. It is about the magic that happens when people realize they have what it takes to enter their imaginations and bring back something that connects with clients or coworkers.

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