Showing posts from May, 2007

Who owns the way you think?

Businesses and economies are living in interesting times. As more and more of what we exchange is not stuff but thoughts, we need not only to assign value to those thoughts, but to assign ownership. It looks like value is the easy part of the assignment.

It may seem evident to you that you own the way you think. We are, after all, talking about something that no one else in the world can produce. You are the only source for the particular blend of experience and expertise that you bring to your clients or employers. Since no one can tell you what to think, it seems to follow that no one can tell you how to think - and therefore that you are the only person with ownership of how you think.

There are two problems with this. The first is that your clients may be paying you for what you think, but your employer almost certaintly believes that it is paying you for how you think. As an employer, if you don't own the process by which you produce the goods/services you sell, you are in a sh…

My hard drive failed this week

One minute I was listening to Gershwin and writing email and the next minute - nothing. The computer no longer listed the hard drive as a possibility. I took the computer to the shop (this is a plug for Canadian Computer in Oakville - they have excellent service).

It turns out that the hard drive has failed and must be replaced - but since it's Memorial Day in the States, I might be without my main computer for another week. Apparently, this is how hard drives often fail - suddenly and without warning.

So I am suffering withdrawal and mild panic - only mild, because I ran a complete backup Monday evening and, with any luck at all, I will be able to restore most of the system mostly without effort (with luck, because I've never done it before). This also explains why the blog has been silent for so long this week, and why I won't be able to update my website for another week.

If you are an NLP Canada Training client, spread the word. We will have to reschedule the event on Jun…

just three things

1. Human beings work best when minds and bodies are engaged simultaneously.

2. Although models may differ on what we should be learning, it is clear that the purpose of the human organism is to learn.

3. Learning is movement - you can do it automatically or you can pay attention to shape and direct your learning.

Wake up and smell the coffee

Slang is arguably the most alive form of language - it has a vividness and an energy that is often lacking in more formal speech. Think, for a moment, about the phrase "wake up and smell the coffee" -

Notice that the phrase describes what language does - it doesn't describe what your senses do. What I mean is, reading the phrase "smell the coffee" wakes up the appropriate centres in your brain, and allows you to choose to intensify your attention on the smell of freshly brewed coffee. This is the opposite of what happens in life - it is the smell of the coffee that causes us to wake up.

Notice that someone else has made you coffee - or that you set the coffee maker to automatic - so that you will wake up pleasantly at precisely the right time.

Notice that smelling the coffee is a nice way to wake up - it's much better than the cat/dog yowling and jumping or the alarm crashing into your lovely morning dreams.

Notice that if you want someone else to wake up, yo…

If you're in the Toronto area, come out and play

Most of the people who read this blog have participated in one of our training events. We would love to see you again. Some of you have never met us in person. We would love to meet you. Come out and play.

When you join one of our evening or weekend events, you will stretch, relax, and see the world just a little bit differently. It's a lot like taking a vacation - whatever our topic, we provide an opportunity for all of us (participants and trainers) to laugh and learn with great people.

Visit for a list of current and upcoming courses and events.

Happy Mother's Day

Spring is a good time to think about models of power - we never celebrate either mothers or fathers without at least the hint of an edge. The edge comes from the power our parents have over us long after we are adults ourselves. Some part of us continues to believe - with small child intensity - that our parents know more than we do, and that their judgments of us are accurate. Long after the conscious mind declares this nonsense and recognizes the limits of our parents' wisdom, some part of us continues to believe in the way they describe us to ourselves.

This, as much as food and shelter, is the most basic thing that our parents do for us. From the time we are born, they define our edges. They are paradoxically closer to us than any other human beings and unimaginably different. Babies know their mothers (from the inside out!) and do not know their mothers at all (cannot possibly understand any element of adult experience). Mothers (and only a little later, fathers) teach us that…

Spring Cleaning

As the sun begins to shine and the world comes alive with colour, we begin to look through our windows more often. Often that means that we also begin to look at our windows more often. We see the residue of winter dust on the inside, and winter weather on the outside. It's time for spring cleaning.

The eyes are not only the windows to the soul - they're the windows the soul looks through at the world. They need spring cleaning, too. Fresh growth deserves a fresh perspective.

We're offering one day and evening programs all through the month of May. It's our way of helping people do their spring cleaning. We add energy, light, and new growth, and let clients sweep away the grimy residue that's distorting their view. When they freshen their eyes, new opportunities are suddenly visible - sometimes close up and sometimes on the horizon.

5 Ways to Enjoy Spring

1. Notice the sunshine, and the colours, and the feeling of skin uncovered.

2. Notice that some days are better than others, and that's okay.

3. Bounce a little - spring in your step - spring ahead - spring up.

4. Learn that light makes everything brighter - and makes long days into a good thing.

5. Allow winter turn into energy that animates and excites and brightens - it's happening all around you.

sales and the organization

How do you feel about sales?

When I tell people - whether they are business students or entrepreneurs - that everyone in business is in sales, many of them tense up. They do not want to see themselves as sales people and they do not want to have to sell. Yet without exchange, there is no business. And whatever our role in social systems (from education to retail), we are in the business of making exchanges with other people. The nature of these exchanges has to be that they leave most of us better off most of the time - otherwise we would stop making them.

What sales people do is not different in nature than what the rest of the staff is doing - it is different in frequency and in effectiveness. Practice makes perfect, we say - and so practice in sales leads (more often than not) to better results. Sales people are often good at getting what they want. When their needs or vision conflicts with that of others in the company, sales people have at least three advantages:
1) they have pract…

Another description of how metaphor works in influence

More from The Art of Changing the Brain by James Zull. Writing about the amydala as a center for detecting danger and responding with fear (especially to potential loss of control), Zull comments:

"In some situations the amygdala becomes less active than normal, and negative emotions seem to diminish. . . .[this] seems to happen when the cortical brain becomes involved in cognitive tasks. For example, if someone puts her mind to solving a puzzle, the amygdala becomes less active."

Perhaps this is part of the reason that telling a story is so effective at both minimizing conflict and increasing influence. One of the basic explanations for the role of metaphor in increasing suggestibility has always been that it keeps the conscious mind busy so that the unconscious mind is more open to positive suggestions.

In biological terms, the amygdala produces our unconscious response (fear, for instance) which is then transmitted to our conscious minds as the feelings associated with the …

Understanding how the brain works is useful

I have just started reading a book called The Art of Changing the Brain, by James Zull. He begins by saying that he started with hopes that his book would be brilliant - then he raised the stakes and set a higher goal: he hopes the book will be useful. His more precise goal is to be useful to teachers.

Teachers change the brain by prompting learning. You also change brains - whenever you sell, manage, develop or communicate. Knowing how the brain works is part of knowing how to do your job if your job involves any thinking or any interaction with other people. Since jobs are part of economies and economies are systems of interaction, it is likely that your job involves some exchange with other people. That means you are a professional learner and a professional teacher (you get paid for changing your own brain and the brains of other people).

Zull opens his book by describing the experiential learning cycle proposed by David Kolb and showing how it is the product of the actual working s…

Knowing what no means

The Tom Peters Time e-newsletter has this to say about the difference between selling to men and selling to women:

One classic example is the term still used today called "handling objections." Sales training still teaches that if you get a "no" from a buyer, you should go back, sharpen your pencil, come up with a new deal, and go make the pitch one more time. Now, you have to realize that this is how men sell to men, and most sales training is taught by men on how to sell to men. The truth is that this doesn't work when you are selling to women. To women (now read this very slowly), "No means No!"

I'm not sure this is always true - it might also be a matter of time frames. Peters goes on to say that women want to build a relationship with a product or company, so it may mean that no means not now - give me some time to get used to the idea.

There's certainly a differen…

A fascination with roads

I have always admired roads - the winding, twisting-narrow-lane kind of roads one finds outside the city that lead to very specific places (often not where I thought I was going) and the broad, safe, smooth roads that give us passage from one city to another. Some of them are blasted through the thick walls of the Canadian Shield; some follow rivers through valleys; and some have been cut through miles upon miles of forest. Roads amaze me (sometimes they also form mazes for me).