Showing posts from September, 2013

Manage pain with NLP: Simple, powerful, reliable

Pain is scary. It occupies so much of our attention that it begins to feel like nothing is possible beyond it. It makes it hard to connect with our best selves, our best help, and our best goals.

The best strategy for managing pain is to look beyond it, to know what you want more than you want to pay attention to the pain. This is true of emotional pain and of physical pain. Purpose trumps pain.

It's a big leap for most people from wanting the pain to stop to wanting to actually accomplish something satisfying. If you would like to help someone to manage pain, try 5 reliable steps:

1) Connect with their intention to be healthy and engaged. If they really don't want to heal, they won't connect. If they do connect, make sure your presupposition is that they do want to heal and to look beyond the pain to a more satisfying experience of themselves and the world.

2) Distract them from the pain. Pain only hurts while we it engages our attention, so the first step in teaching som…

Is certification important?

You want something more, a change in your thinking, an edge to motivate you. You've been exploring NLP because you heard something or read something. But it's complicated. It's almost overwhelming. There are so many different trainings with official-sounding names and long lists of techniques. How do you know what you need?

Here is one hard truth: anyone can print a certificate. Anyone can make up techniques and then give you a certificate to say that you were in the course.  If you are pursuing a certification to "prove" yourself or to find the difference that finally wins you the job or promotion, you will probably be disappointed. This is not what certification does well.

Here is what our certification in NLP does very well. It trains you in a set of techniques (sometimes called patterns in the NLP jargon) that allow you to change what you give your attention so that you can change the opportunities you see and the results you get. The certificate is not impor…

Are you bigger on the inside than you are on the outside?

It seems unlikely that people are bigger on the inside than they are on the outside. But if you've ever spent any time with a young child, you'll know they frequently carry more excitement, creativity, power and perspective than they could logically have based on the size of their bodies and the length of their experience. Children are almost always bigger on the inside than they are on the outside.

Sadly, adults are sometimes smaller on the inside than they are on the outside. Although they look like they are competent and energetic and capable of generating visions of the future, they know themselves to be weak, blind, and tightly bound by invisible constraints.  Although the rest of the world sees what they could do, they themselves are mesmerized by their limits.

No one can stay little for ever. We all grow up. A few people even manage to continue to get bigger on the inside even after their outsides stop growing. It's worth noticing them and wondering what they are do…

The power of the listener

We often assume that the person with a voice is the person with power: we equate holding the microphone with directing a meeting. There is some truth in this. The words we choose and the connections we make with them are great ways to influence what happens around us.

But having a voice is only one kind of power.  Who is most powerful? The one who talks or the one who influences the speaker?

We talk because we want to be heard. Our listener's attention acts, usually outside our awareness, to edit our speaking as we speak. Performers know that the quality of the audience changes the quality of the performance. This is true everywhere someone speaks and someone listens.

You have had experiences where you lost your voice because someone chose to hear something else. What I mean is this: there was a time you wanted to talk to someone but you couldn't capture their attention. You got frustrated and you stopped talking about the topic on your mind.

Listeners change what we can say b…

Thin slicing, leverage points, and elegant solutions to everything

In some ways, I have a mathematical mind. I love the idea of elegance, of solving a problem in the fewest steps.  This idea also appears in my work as leverage points, the point where the smallest effort results in the largest effect.  In Malcolm Gladwell's work, blink, he called it 'thin slicing,' the ability to make more accurate judgments from a select set of information than from more complete information.

I have always loved the moment when a slight pull unravels the whole of the knot.

My own work is about helping people connect the way they think with the results they get. I am always looking for the key criteria that I am actually using in training and coaching to allow clients to make the connections that allow them to solve their problems. Because I respect the research on how people think, I know that I need to discover my own process because it inevitably contains elements just outside of my awareness.

Today, I was reading a new book from my friend and mentor, R…

Uncover the urge to do better

What makes you want to improve? There's a lot of evidence that rewards are not the best way to drive performance. This is especially important news if you have been wondering why the treats you promise yourself so seldom lead to the discipline to make the changes you want to make.  Lots of people end up telling themselves that they did not really want the change or that the rewards were not worth the effort.

There are rewards that are always worth the effort. They are the changes that happen in your sense of yourself and the world when you are doing stuff that feels important. It may feel important because it is feeding your kids or maintaining your community. It may feel important because it connects you with other people in a bigger cause. It may feel important because it serves your faith.  All of these are motivations to do the hard work to do better.

If you want to make a change in yourself or your habits, begin by thinking about that bigger purpose that feels important to yo…

We shape our responses so we can shape ourselves

I just dropped all the work I had planned to do to watch a livestream of a Theatre Sheridan performance of Come From Away. I had meant to attend the performance live last spring, but you know how it is.  My back was bad; work was busy; I didn't follow through.

It's the story of how the town of Gander responded when dozens of flights and thousands of people were stranded there when American airspace was closed on 9/11.  If you think the musical sugar coats the story, take a look at what Snopes has to say about the events. Sometimes, under the most difficult conditions, people choose to be amazing.

Do you remember the choices you made on 9/11?  Choices about what to tell your kids, or whether to change your plans, or how to feel about crowded spaces? I remember standing with my kids and their friends in our family room with the news playing endlessly.  I remember that we decided to go ahead with the first youth orchestra rehearsal of the season that evening. I remember sitting a…

What does restless mean to you?

There are many Mastermind groups out there. I want to create a group for restless minds. I do not aspire to the mind of a master: I want to continually renew the mind of the beginner, to be as curious as a two-year-old. I want to surround myself with people who are not satisfied unless they are growing, learning, moving in a new direction.

There has never been a time when I was surrounded by curious people that I was not fully engaged, alive, and full of both ideas and the resolve and energy to keep moving. For restless minds, good enough is a place to start, not a place to sleep. It's not that restless minds are not able to value what they have: it's that they know that change is inevitable and living their values means continuing to learn and explore and make changes.

I love restless minds and I love what happens when they gather and share and provoke and create.

Taking the equipment seriously: state-based performance for everyone

When do you need to be at your best? Is it okay for you to be at work and be distracted or impaired? Most of us would say that we need to be consistently clear and competent, and to be at our best for tasks or events that will have a significant impact on us or on our organizations.

Are you at your best when you are stressed or sleep deprived? At home, you probably know the answer is an emphatic "no." You probably know you are at your best when you are clear-headed, well-fed and well-rested. You probably know that regular exercise improves your mood and makes it more likely you will be clear and able to connect with those around you. At home, you know what the experts say is right: human beings rely on their bodies to support their performance and their bodies require predictable things to function optimally.

Too many workplaces function as though an adrenalin rush were the same thing as optimal clear thinking. Too many workplaces think that you function without sleep or exe…

Success, achievement, results

I have been wondering about the words success, results, and achievement.  Which do you think best describes what you have accomplished when you get what you want?

I think people like the word success because it takes the stress off the action and places it on the person. this corresponds to the way most people think. When we succeed, we feel that it is because of something we have done, but also it is somehow because we deserve to succeed. When other people succeed, we look more closely at the way a situation rewarded an action, and sometimes that leads us back to the conclusion that success is a matter of personal quality. Some people are just lucky. We deserve success because we are good and we do good work. These attitudes are so basic to human beings that they are called the fundamental attribution error.

It's useful to believe that we deserve our success: it encourages us to persist in our efforts until we get a result we like. It keeps us motivated, and that increases our ch…

What kind of first impression do you want to create?

What comes to mind when you think of making a good first impression? Do you start with a word one description of an impression?  We often begin with abstract thinking: People who make a good impression are: attractive, confident, welcoming, etc. Then we might begin to tailor the word to a particular situation. The first impression we want to make at a party might be different than the first impression we want to make on our child's teachers.

It's hard to live up to a one word description. It's easier to step into a connection with someone we know who has made a great impression on us. When we think of situations we will encounter, we could begin by thinking, "who do I know who would be great at this?" As you think of that person and the kind of impression they make, it's possible you might start changing some of your attitude, your expressions, your movements to be more like them.  It's possible that just paying attention to a person who made a great impr…

The parents in your head

I wonder if you've ever told yourself how different you are from your parents. I wonder if there's been a time when you heard your mother's voice or your father's voice come out of your own mouth and immediately stopped, shocked. "I am not my mother," you said. "I am not the father that my father was."

You're right. You are not your parents. It's possible that your parents are not even the same parents you carry around in your head. It's possible that the voice you hear is the voice your mother had several decades ago. She has learned and changed and maybe softened. But the old voice surfaces with a commentary on your choices and abilities that your real mother would no longer share.  It's possible that your father's voice is different now too, with less of a young man's anger and more of a grandfather's concern.  But the voice in your head is still a demanding, commanding authority.

What will you do with the parents in y…