Thursday, February 26, 2009

Imagining new possibilities

There is something very appealing about new ideas. New is associated with fresh, with shiny, with clever. New feels like the sun coming up, or the grass turning green.

Well, the sun came up yesterday, too. And this is not the first spring for anyone capable of reading the blog post. New feels good even when it's old. New feels good even when we know - mostly - what to expect from it.

I just came back from a student production at McMaster. All the jokes about sex and death and dysfunctional families were new in the same sense that sunrises and spring flowers are new. Exactly the same sense. They were funny and energizing and silly and hopeful. Even though they were generally the same ideas that every generation of undergraduates discovers and calls their own.

To discover something entirely new would be a real adventure. Real adventures are frequently quite uncomfortable. They involve not knowing what to expect, and not being able to recognize exactly what we have gotten ourselves into. They produce glorious moments - and terrible ones - and a lot of slogging through. There's a lot of pressure in going somewhere entirely new.

Sunrises and crocuses that appear from under the snow are less unexpected. They are both hopeful and comfortable. They have an edge that is more clean than sharp. And they can produce a wonderful sense of possibility, a reminder that we have sometimes woken up and found that the day is better than we expected.

Why not wake up like that tomorrow?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

When you can't do one more thing

I suspect I am not alone in this feeling that my dance card is now entirely full. Possibly double-booked in places, but certainly full. My to-do list is beginning to scare me. It's been that kind of a winter.

Today, I read Seth Godin's 3000 blog post (I'm only just over 400) in which he encouraged readers to celebrate by posting something interesting on their own blogs. This is my response.

When you can't do one more thing, you can do the one more thing you really want to do.

Like taking a few minutes to connect with blog readers.

When you can't do one more thing, you are doing too many things that are draining you and not enough that are generating a wonderful buzz of energy and life.

Thanks for being my buzz this morning.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

If your cell phone rings during my class

One certainty in teaching a college class is that at least 85% of the students will be carrying cell phones (the percentage is sometimes higher). Another certainty is that - from time to time at least - someone's cell phone will ring during the class. There are a few ways of dealing with this.

Mine is to tell the class from the very beginning: if your cell phone rings during class, it should have an entertaining ring tone.

This changes a lot of dynamics in ways that might not be immediately obvious.

First, it changes the rules for students. If their cell phone rings, everyone will listen to hear how good their ringtone is. That poses much different risks than having people notice that they are getting a call during class.

It changes my relationship with the students because I am going to be interested enough to notice their ringtone. It's a fairly non-threatening way of acknowledging shared ground without threatening the us/them line between teachers and students.

And most importantly, it prepares my response when a cell phone goes off. After all, each class only hears my "rule" a few times but I hear it repeatedly. And each time I tell it to a class, I prepare myself to be entertained by the interruption the next time a cell phone goes off while I am speaking.

Cell phones are going to ring no matter how often we asked that they be turned off. That's not something that is likely to change.

What can be changed - with just a quick, repeated reframe - is how we incorporate cell phones into our relationships.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Check this out

I woke up today slightly agitated. My back was sore, I was tired. It was a big day. Have you ever had the feeling that you were about to find out something that had already happened? The only thing left was the act of finding out.

I have had friends, executives, who went to work with an abstract sense of something. When they got there, the only act for them was to find out they had been packaged off or that as a result of a merger they have to re-apply for their own jobs back.

I am curious, though, about some of you who have had that abstract sense that something had already happened and the only act was to find out it was something amazing.

For those of you who don't know, my dad was diagnosed with Cancer last summer and has been fighting it since then. He is 75 years old, spent ten hours in the operating room, ten days recovering and then back on his feet only to find out he had two tumours that represented two different kinds of cancer. One kind, the doctor referred to as "run of the mill". Still not sure what that meant when it comes to cancer. The other kind of cancer though was a rare form that they hadn't seen in many many years. It was so rare in fact that they had no statistical data to inform them on what medical interventions to suggest.

So today my dad and I were driving to get his first three month test results. Before we went in to see the doctor my dad said to me, "I feel good. I feel ready. I don't have a sense of whether the cancer is growing again. I just feel like it's ok."

So there we said, watching the doctor walk into the room with that folder. The folder of the test results. Two week old test results. The answer was already there we just have yet to experience the final act of finding out.

The doctor, sounding surprised said, "well, the result are good. No cancer. We'll see you again in three months."

So when you notice that you are experiencing a state you want to be free from, feel free to wake up the next day awaiting the final act of your unconscious mind notifying you that you no longer need that state now; you can take that next step toward what you want.

Today's etymological word is congruent. One of the most famous NLP words in the field. What's great about this word is that it was first introduced into thought and language around the year 1432. That means its meaning is strong and resonates deeply with people. It has been known for many centuries as the process of coming together, agreeing, corresponding with. In terms of our lives and our internal process and our relationships, it's a great feeling to have the experience of being congruent.

This is one of the primary activities NLP Canada creates in people during our practitioner training...

People always love it.

See you soon


Sunday, February 08, 2009

Where to go from here

Way back in the beginning of NLP, there used to be a belief that in order to spring board forward one had to resolve the past. Linda and I have been playing with the idea of how far back do people go to spring forward. Especially in tough times.

Are these tough times?

They say history repeats itself, so I figured that maybe we should go back and find out how to repeat what works.

It's amazing how time can change things, forward and back. Take the word 'Art': in the year 1225, Art meant - skill as a result of learning or practice. What did you think Art was? Because when we go back to 1225, we are all artists then. Think about all the things you have learned and practiced.

Yeats said this about Supreme Art - "Supreme art is a traditional statement of certain heroic and religious truths, passed on from age to age, modified by individual genius, but never abandoned. The revolt of individualism came because the tradition had become degraded, or rather because a spurious copy had been accepted in its stead."

For some of us it will take weeks to figure out what he meant...

The next thing I decided to do was go back and look at the most famous words used in NLP and Hypnosis. How old are those words. What did they mean back then? It feels as if the older the word the closer to actual experience it feels.

Stay tuned as I go over some of those words and how they can shape using deep tradition to understand what's happening today and how we can springboard forward solidly successful.

Till then stay safe and have some kind of fun.


Tuesday, February 03, 2009

A very powerful question

How would practice change the way you handle this?

Say, for instance, that you are managing someone who is declaring that the sky is falling because the market has changed. Ask that sales rep: "What would be different if you already had lots of practice in handling these conditions?"

Say, for instance, a new parent is frantic because s/he had no idea a baby would be. . . a baby. Ask that parent, "What would be different if this was your third baby?"

Say, for instance, someone close to you has just been laid off, someone who has never before lost a job. Ask that person, "What would be different if you had been laid off in the last recession? What would you know or do that is different now?"

Here's how the question works. First, it normalizes the situation as something that one could expect to have 'practice' handling. We practice things that occur regularly and are therefore not entirely unpredictable. Second, it is a tricky way to ask someone to jump into the future when s/he will have handled the problem and then look back from a position of strength (survivors all have a kind of strength). Third, it suggests that handling the situation is not an act of will or character, but a skill that can be practiced and improved.

There is no shortage of people who think they are in crisis. You'll have lots of chances to practice this question.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

3 Questions for Moving Past Worry

Lots of people will suggest that you deal with worry by asking yourself "what's the worst thing that could happen?"

Unfortunately, the worst thing that is likely to happen is that you will choose a bad moment to ask the question and use it to generate dozens - maybe hundreds - more things to worry you.

Here are three other questions you could ask instead. Each will lead to a different perspective and a renewed sense of control.

Ask yourself:

• Exactly how bad will it be if this doesn't work out the way I want? The word "exactly" does a remarkable thing: it asks you put limits around the experience you are describing. Since most of our worry is generated by the way worries snowball, it's really helpful to put boundaries up.

• How close am I to turning this around? This one works by forcing you to imagine things turning out better than you expect, and then moving back to the current situation. It doesn't make any promises; it just opens a door.

• What's the one thing I need to do now? Again, this does not ask you to accept that the situation might be within your control after all. It just causes you to think and act as you would if the situation were within your control. It creates a wonderful, manageable focus. And you can just keep getting smaller and more specific until you are sure about the one thing. For instance, you might not be able to "make a sale" immediately if you don't have a prospective client at this very moment. So you can just keep asking "what's the one thing I need to do now?" until you get to something you have the skills and resources to do at this very moment.

Yes: if you change the pronouns you can use these questions to help someone else on the verge of panic. If you want to practice, just look around. There are lots of people on the edge these days. You do not have to be one of them.