...rather than Goal Setting?
Now here's a really interesting idea which turns some of the 'current wisdom' on its head...
The hard choices -- what we most fear doing, asking, saying -- are very often exactly what we need to do. How can we overcome self-paralysis and take action?
Tim Ferriss encourages us to fully envision and write down our fears in detail, in a simple but powerful exercise he calls "fear-setting." Learn more about how this practice can help you thrive in high-stress environments and separate what you can control from what you cannot.
NLP & Stoicism....
I'm in the midst of writing a new 'self-help-styled' book...
OH NO, I hear you say, NOT ANOTHER SELF-HELP BOOK!!!
Well, yes, but hopefully very different.
It will be s firmly based within the realms of evidenced based approaches, and may well challenge some of the fluffy ideas in some self-help tomes which I have come to think are part of the problem and do not really approach the personal solutions people are seeking.
But, more of that later...
In my pondering I have been considering the possible link between stoicism and some of the NLP presuppositions we all know and love.
Let's first look at Stoicism...
One of the definitions of stoicism is ...
the endurance of pain or hardship without the display of feelings and without complaint.
But that's perhaps an oversimplification.
Wikipedia reliably informs us that ...
Stoicism is a school of Hellenistic philosophy that flourished throughout the Roman and Greek world until the 3rd century AD. Stoicism is predominantly a philosophy of personal ethics which is informed by its system of logic and its views on the natural world.
Tim Denning notes that:-
Stoicism is focused on uncomplicated theories of life
– Stoicism is so clear that you can take action from the advice immediately
– Study is not required to understand Stoicism
– The most read Stoic is Lucius Seneca. Marcus Aurelius is also very popular
Denning points out in his excellent article (see reference below) that far too many self-help style writers focus on 'what is wrong' or the negative aspects of life. By definition, perhaps, the idea that someone needs to find 'self-help' suggests that something is 'wrong' in the rose garden.
Stoics do not suppress the thing that is wrong, but remind themselves they are actually 'in the rose garden' in the first place. Hence stoicism is about a state of mind, a way of perceiving things if you like. Those versed in NLP ideals may already be getting that tingling sense of familiarity.
Here are a few of the key ideas of Stoicism and, I suspect, the 'that's kinda like the NLP view' spider-sense will trigger for many of you.
Events are Events - It is the individual that gives them meaning
Where we focus our attention, our emotions and our actions create the definition of any event. The events are not YOU, but they can impact upon you. The degree of that impact is more about the personal relevance you place on the event rather than the event itself.
Shit Happens - things will disrupt our personal peace and tranquility.
A bit of a truism here. Bad things happen to Good people, and Good things happen to Bad people. (Note that here we are giving a value of good or bad to an event or indeed a person - such a value is a personal judgement). if you accept that things can disrupt your plans, then you can be flexible in your responses rather than spending time and effort trying to hallucinate the cosmic reasons for the shit!
Remember, what is shit to some is fertiliser to others.
If what you're doing isn't working - Do something else
As mentioned above, the ability to be flexible in responses - the law of requisite variety perhaps?
We always have choices
Whether times are 'good' or 'bad' we can still choose how to respond. When we feel we have no choice, then look again and create some.
Be reflective and look inward for solutions
In someways, perhaps, this is the ability to be present, mindful and soul-searching. This activity is about finding solutions rather than getting lost in a downward spiral of self-doubt and or regret.
Anger doesn't help & Being fearful and paranoid does not help you either
Self explanatory really.
It's good to emote and recognise those emotions rather than repressing them, BUT you have choices about how to express and not become them.
Seek not to impress others, since this takes you from your own path
Impressing others is the need of the ego, and perhaps not fully reflective of the nature of your own advancement
Your mind becomes the thoughts that you think habitually
Hey, it's the neuro-plasticity thing!
Is optimism and pessimism 'hard wired' or (and) part of the attitudes we allow to evolve?
Without proper training you're a fool!
As Tim Denning puts it - If you seek to master a skill, then without proper training you will (by default) rely on ignorance, and you’ll act in a way that lacks discipline and requires chance.
This, perhaps, comes back to the NLP dictum - Get It Right First and Become Artistic Later - when learning, experiencing NLP models and interventions?
The More You Learn, The More You Know You Don't Know
To once again quote Mr Denning...
The harsh reality is that many of us walk around as though we know everything. We know nothing of the infinite knowledge there is to acquire.
That sort of humbleness is where all the best learning starts from. Thinking less of yourself is the ultimate power: it’s where you can grow from and serve others. It’s this way of thinking that births leaders.
Focus on Building Character...
It's not about labels, stereotypes and other people's judgements - it's about you, your path and your choices. Your character is defined by the work you do on yourself each day and the person you become.
Mastery is a Journey not a Destination
You will never know everything about everything since change moves through all. The student never stops being a student. Even the teacher is still a student at heart.
When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive - to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.
Tim Dennings Article
NLP is, arguably, about creating models of behaviour; models of excellence.
It is also about creating choices.
I have heard people say to me that sometimes they have far too many choices, leading to choice confusion.
So here's a simple idea which could be called a model or approach.
Take ANY option you are considering.
Think about it in 'sensory based' terms.
Create a bright, vivid vision of what that choice/option leads to - what kind of future for you.
Then add sounds, feelings, thoughts to that internal 'movie' of the future created by that option/choice.
Spend time there in your mind; in your heart in your thoughts.
Then ask yourself..
"If I could have this TOMORROW would I choose it?"
You do not have to think about HOW it would happen. This is a MAGIC QUESTION.
If the internal response is an immediate YES, then perhaps this future is in line with your values, wishes and hopes.
If there is ANY HESITATION then it may be at some level there is a degree of resistance. It may be that the future does not match your unconscious values or attitudes.
It may be that at some level there are unconsidered 'down-sides' to this possible future.
The next step is then ..
To either move towards that desired future
Consider the possible blocks, what lies behind your hesitation.
In some ways this second step may be more likely to require the support and reflective questions of an external coach...
One of the interesting challenges NLP faces is that some of its detractors seem to want to accept that some of NLP's presuppositions are statements of fact or demonstrable truth.
In so many cases this is, quite simply, not the case.
Take for example the idea of Eye-Accessing-Cues; the notion that looking-up to the right means that someone is visually remembering something; down to the left means they are 'into their feelings'...
This oft-quoted model of the NLP Representational System is not really a truth and is indeed far from a 'fact'.
What has been observed, as long ago as the 1940's, is that when people think (internally process) their eyes move. This is demonstrable and understandable.
In NLP the generalisation of LEFT = Create and RIGHT = REMEMBER and so on, gained traction and popularity through the 1970's.
It is, today, an interesting idea which has a 'degree of truth' about it but remains as a model around which to base observations/calibrations of individual responses to questions which demand some degree of internal processing. It is, perhaps, better considered as a reminder to 'pay attention to the non-verbal communication patterns' of another.
To seek to prove or disprove the models actually validity (that eyes do move consistently to specific points), maybe interesting, but does not disprove NLP.
In a similar way looking at some of the 'behave as if frames' NLP promotes through a number of presuppositions, as statements of fundamental truth also misses the point.
To make the statement : "If one person can achieve a thing then potentially any one can" and see that as a statement of a truth NLP Practitioners promote misses the whole point about the discussion that such .a presupposition could promote.
To suggest that because Edmund Hillary and his pals climbed Everest means that I can do it is a vast over-simplification of what this presupposition is about. To me it forces me to want to ask questions about HOW HIllary did what he did; WHAT motivated him; WHAT training/experiences did he undertake?
It is not about undermining the achievement, but about celebrating possibilities.
If simply assume that Hillary achieved what he did because is 'more special than me', then I devalue both of us and our potential.
Imagine you were to give an empowering and inspirational talk and someone says you made that look easy. Are they recognising the work, effort and (possibly) natural communication skills developed over time or are they dismissing your efforts because you're 'good at it'.
The Behave As If Frame about each of the presuppositions is not about blindly accepting human potential; but honouring, exploring and learning from the achievements of other human beings.
Of course NLP skeptics will now simply throw back the challenge that if these 'models' are not 'claims' but just questions about possibilities, how can NLP be 'tested'?
However the same could be asked of other therapeutic approaches...
How can we test the validity of Carl Rogers' Core Conditions in counselling?
Clearly, lots more to think about...
In simplistic terms Emotional Resilience is the ability to adapt to stressful situations, personal crises or change (unexpected, traumatic or undesired).
Well over a decade ago, Hara Estroff Marano, Editor-at-Large for Psychology Today, wrote in an article “The Art of Resilience” in which she identified 'ten traits' of emotionally resilient individuals.
In summary these were;
1. They know their boundaries. Resilient people understand that there is a separation between who they are at their core and the cause of their temporary suffering.
2. They keep good company. Resilient people tend to seek out and surround themselves with other resilient people, whether just for fun or when there’s a need for support.
3. They cultivate self-awareness. The self-aware are good at listening to the subtle cues their body and their mood are sending.
4. They practice acceptance. Pain is painful, stress is stressful, and healing takes time. When we're in it, we want the pain to go away. When we're outside it, we want to take away the pain of those who we see suffering. Yet resilient people understand that stress/pain is a part of living that ebbs and flows.
5. They’re willing to sit in silence. Being in the presence of the moment without judgment or avoidance - a practice we'd now think of as mindfulness.
6. They don’t have to have all the answers. They find strength in knowing that it's okay to not have it all figured out right now and trusting that we will gradually find peace and knowing when our mind-body-soul is ready
7. They have a menu of self-care habits. They have a mental list (perhaps even a physical list) of good habits that support them when they need it most.
8. They enlist their team. The most resilient among us know how to reach out for help.
9. They consider the possibilities. We can train ourselves to ask which parts of our current story are permanent and which can possibly change. Can this situation be looked at in a different way that I haven't been considering?
10. They get out of their head. When we're in the midst of stress and overwhelm, our thoughts can swirl with dizzying speed and disconnectedness. We can find reprieve by getting the thoughts out of our head and onto our paper. As Dr. James Pennebaker wrote in his book Writing to Heal, “People who engage in expressive writing report feeling happier and less negative than before writing
These seem to sound aspirational, attitudinal and behavioural approaches - ones we can cultivate in our own lives.
Edith Grotberg provided us with another way of thinking about the issue of resilience.
She took a I Have, I Can and I Am approach to the question. Her researches and surveys guided her to define these 15 attributes, beliefs and attitudes that served for the development of resilience
I HAVE …
People around me I trust and who love me, no matter what
People who set limits for me ….
People who show me how to do things..
People who want me to learn to do things on my own.
People who help me …
A person people can like and love.
Glad to do nice things for others and show my concern.
Respectful of myself and others.
Willing to be responsible for what I do.
Sure things will be all right.
I CAN ...
Talk to others about things that frighten or bother me
Find ways to solve problems that I face.
Control myself when…
Figure out when it is a good time to talk or act…
Find someone to help me when I need it.
These can be summarised as:-
I HAVE - Love/Trust, Boundaries, Role Models, Initiative, Advocates
I AM - Self Worth, Empathy, Respect, Responsibility, Confidence
I CAN - Communicate, Think, Be aware of my Emotions, Make Decisions, Share
All of which hints at the notion that those who are unable to develop emotional resilience may be lacking in one or more of the above 'internal', social, emotional or environmental 'attributes'.
Those who have not had the benefit of being in and within supportive or positive relationships or have not developed any meaningful understanding of their own self and self-worth will, it could be argued, lack some degree of emotional flexibility.
Restoring emotional balance; supporting the development of resilience has mental, physical, emotional and spiritual components.
“I am, I have, I Can: What Families Worldwide Taught Us About Resilience” by Edith Grotberg. “Reaching Today’s Youth”, vol.2, Issue 3, p. 37, Spring 1998
It is interesting to reflect that over the last few years Inspire NLP has been working to ensure that our courses not only meet the needs of the learner, potential practitioner and practitioner (CPD).
A major step forward was the accreditation by AptEd of NLP at level 2, 3 and 5. When AptEd amalgamated with another OfQual regulated provider we started a second process of academic qualification.
In the mean time our courses received professional accreditation from NLPEA, IAH and IIHT.
This can be seen to create a bit of a dilemma for those wishing to start out on a path towards professional practice.
Which is best, an academic accreditation or a professional association accreditation.
In many of the more standard therapeutic modalities there is a clear set of training opportunities which provide both, but for NLP and similar therapies the choice is not so clear cut.
TODAY we received 'equivalent level accreditation' from an independent self regulated professional body of qualified Counsellors, Coaches, Psychotherapists and Hypnotherapists. In effect this body examines course content, materials and learning hours and issues an 'equivalent level' qualification' so indicating the academic level of the courses offered.
We can announce that we have received the following accreditations. for our courses
Level 3 CERTIFICATE in NLP
Level 5 DIPLOMA in NLP
Level 5 DIPLOMA in Hypnotherapy
Level 5 Diploma in Spiritual Coaching
This linked with courses offered through QA cic creates a powerful path way for those seeking professional training, CPD and personal development in these areas.
The Small Print ...
Course Accreditation by ACCPH
At the end of approved courses successful learners will receive a Diploma from ACCPH and one from Inspire NLP.
This means that the said courses have undergone a quality check to ensure that they and the courses/programmes offered, meet specific quality criteria as required by ACCPH. The learning outcomes of the course have been benchmarked at levels against descriptors published by OFQUAL, ODLQC and other organisations to indicate the depth of study and level of difficulty involved in successful completion by the learner.
The completion of this course does not lead to an OFQUAL, ODLQC qualification.
The course itself has been created by Inspire NLP and partners to meet the specific requirements of their students and those of ACCPH.
ACCPHs’ accreditation involves a robust and rigorous quality audit by their inspectors to ensure the minimum quality is met at all times. A regular review of courses is carried out as part of the endorsement process.
In all another exciting development for Inspire NLP.
NLP - Legs and Pillars
There is a lot written about NLP. Some of it is useful, some of it fanciful and some of it, to be honest, misleading.
Once branded as a kind of 'magic wand' NLP has done what NLP had to do - and that is 'evolve'. However, at its core, there are some long-standing ideas and principles upon which the approach is based. These have been called by previous writers - the 'legs' and 'pillars'.
The 'legs' upon which NLP stands or falls can be summarised thusly...
Outcomes : Sensory Acuity : Behavioural Flexibility
NLP has an 'outcome' driven philosophy. Simply put it is an approach which relies upon the creation of clear goals and targets for any behaviour or practice. This principle which is directed towards future outcomes can also be directed towards the past. By reflecting upon past outcomes (results) it is possible to explore the thoughts, feelings and behaviours that produced them.
Sensory acuity is simply about the ability to notice changes within the physiology of self (and others) which are linked to shifting emotional, mental and behavioural states. NLP describes behaviour and indeed targets in sensory based language.
In general terms the individual with the ability to adapt to change is likely to be the most successful. So developing behavioural flexibility is clearly an asset.
These 'legs' upon which NLP stand are probably best seen as the key attributes of the NLP Pracitioner in that they have the ability to guide their clients into defining 'well formed outcomes' through their use of sensory based descriptions and observations whilst, at the same time maintaining a high degree of fexibility in their own approaches and behaviours.
The Pillars of NLP, derived from the above, can be described as the foundations upon which NLP is based; the key steps towards personal success.. .
YOU - your emotional state, your resources and your skill level, an awareness of which is a vital starting point
The PRESUPPOSITIONS - The Principles of NLP, the ethos or philosophical attitudes within NLP. We will explore these elsewhere, but include ideas such as 'the map is not the territory'; 'people have all the resources they need within their own physiology' and so on.
RAPPORT - The quality of relationship with yourself and your world. Rapport can be considered as a 'state' of conscious and unconscious connectedness.
OUTCOME - Knowing what you want, and being able to state it clearly which allows you to define actions. A clearly defined target, without any clearly defined actions is simply an idea waiting to be born.
FEEDBACK - How you know you’re getting what you want; evaluating outcomes based on action.
FLEXIBILITY - If what you are doing ain’t working do something else. Albert Einstein is widely credited with saying, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” - whilst the word insane may be a bit strong, such a belief is one doomed to create frustration.
10 Things you need to know about NLP
1) NLP stands for Neuro-Linguistic Programming
- Neuro refers to the neurological pathways in the brain
- Linguistic refers to the primary way we, as humans, share experience
- Programming refers to 'repeatable' behaviours (generally of an unconscious origin)
2) NLP is about Subjective Human Experience
How individuals respond to the 'reality' that is 'out there', turn it into a reality which is 'in here' (pointing to my head) and relate to that experience is the primary interest of NLP
3) NLP was created by John Grinder and Richard Bandler
For the most part this is true, if an oversimplification. NLP refers to the set of tools and approaches defined and collated by Bandler and Grinder in the 1970's which were directly influenced by behaviourist approaches to human learning; post-modern philosophical ideas like radical-constructivism and the Human Potential Movement.
Key in the development of early NLP 'models' were Milton Erickson, Virginia Satir and Fritz Perls whose technique and communication patterns were studied by Grinder, Bandler, Pucelik and others.
4) NLP is about Change
Change is the only constant in the universe. NLP is about supporting change within the individual, change in their behaviours and change in the way the relate to themselves and others. The various NLP tools and approaches support the individual in exploring how their beliefs, attitudes and attitudes drive their perceptions and responses to the world.
5) NLP is about 'excellence'
NLP practitioners often talk about excellence and the notion of 'modeling' it. There is a presupposition that if one person can do something, finding out about HOW they do WHAT they do could be of benefit to others. By modeling communication patterns, behavioural responses and thought processes insights into effective and affective behaviours can be gained.
6) NLP makes broad sweeping generalisations
This is true in as far as the presuppositions which lie at the core of NLP are simply statements of possibility. They are ideas about the nature of perception, behaviour and the way the world works. They are linked by a question which seeks to discover "what would happen if this generalisation were true...?" or "what other choices would be possible if this were true?"
7 NLP is Solutions Focused
NLP is not about the historical causes of a particular issue or challenge, it is about the current responses to it and the changes that could/can be made to reach/define a more desirable outcome. In this respect NLP challenges current attitudes and possible resistance to change and helps chart a course to a more resourceful future.
8 NLP is about questioning
One of the 'key' models in NLP is called the "Meta Model". This is a framework which is used to connect what is being said by a person to the deeper meanings or truths not stated and the implied values and belief systems. What we say is a short hand version of what we could say or might want to say, feel or would like to feel, think or might want to think. An experienced NLP Practitioner will ask a series of questions, some playful some provoking a lot of thought. in order to connect the 'words' with the 'internal experience'. In doing so the individual can explore the choices they make and the behaviours they adopt.
9 NLP is generative
NLP is always about creating choices and exploring those choices. There is the fundamental belief that the person with the greatest behavioural flexibility will perform better in a range of tasks, challenges and situations.
10 NLP is Holistic
NLP considers the link between Mind and Body; Emotions and Experience; Behaviours and Values. As such it recognises the importance of an individuals belief system. As an approach it will support the individual in questioning any limiting beliefs, behaviours and attitudes and defining empowering beliefs, values and attitudes.
NLP in the therapeutic context can help support people who have a range of behavioural challenges - these would include issues surrounding habits, phobias, self-confidence, inter-personal communication skills, dealing with emotions (anger management) and so forth.
NLP in the coaching context can support individuals, teams and organisations in managing and inspiring change. It helps define targets and goals and the behaviours required to meet those targets and goals.
NLP in the educational context is about teaching, learning, memory and thinking. It is about being able to ask questions, motivate learners and define outcomes.
NLP in the business context is about communicating values, messages and ideas to others in effective, relevant ways.
NLP is an attitude to life - a way of thinking about the world which encourages reflection, focus and action.
NLP - The Dark Side
As mentioned in an earlier article on Mind Control, talk to people about NLP long enough and you'll soon hear comments about the so called 'negative' aspects of 'mind manipulation' and 'mind control'. Such comments usually tinged with Orwellian inspired conspiracy do produce fear on some and reservation in others. The fun Jedi-Mind Tricks of the NLP Practitioner could soon be seen as the Sith tactics of the Dark Side of The Force (to steal a Star Wars analogy).
This is certainly the stuff of fear and as we know "fear is the mind killer"
(he says stealing with Sci-Fy nerdiness from Frank Herbert's Dune)
Since NLP is about aspects of human behaviour and beliefs and attitudes shape subjective experience it follows that a student of NLP can shape the behaviours, beliefs, attitudes and experiences of others.
This of course is true!
It's called Therapy and/or Coaching!
The fear bit comes from three key sources in my opinion...
1) People can be afraid of their own dark side, their shadow - so dealing with it can be a fear-producing thing
2) People are fearful of those who they perceive and being able to reveal their shadow, to see through the mask of persona
Both of these fears could be seen to stem from those who are either hiding something from themselves or who are seeking to hide something from others.
How many times have you heard someone say that they can recognise and value the individual who is 'secure in their own skin'?
So the question becomes would such a person have any fear of being exposed to themselves or others?
What about the third source of this fear?
Well surely that is in the possibility of being 'influenced' or 'manipulated' by the Machiavellian or Svengali-an abilities of a Master of the Mind.
I was talking to a trusted colleague and fellow trainer recently who had been in a session led by someone who claimed NLP qualifications and, indeed, 'mastery'. This session, which itself was aimed at trainers and according to my colleague was 'filled with clumsy rapport building and obvious anchoring' which became at first laughable and eventually annoying.
Clearly this particular trainer was exhibiting a deep level of in-congruence in their own behaviour. They were aware of process but like that learner driver had not moved from conscious competence (or perhaps incompetence) to unconscious competence.
It is such mis-appplication of process and mis-undertsanding of technique that can lead some to dismiss NLP as Jedi Mind Tricks (at best) to dangerous Mind Manipulation (Sith Inspired) at worst.
NLP Mastery is about developing unconscious competence in terms of technique whilst having the ability to review interpersonal and intra-personal communication with conscious competence.
(Is this a description of mindful learning?)
Just as in the Star Wars Movie 'The Dark Side' attracts followers because of its promise of power, so to do some NLP Trainers and Training Courses who promise mastery over others; covert influence and persuasion...
In terms of buyer-beware, instant enlightenment of any flavour or colour is best considered as a dubious if not false promise.
NLP is about mind control - it is about personal mind control and personal development.
Read any book on self and personal development and you will read of the importance of setting targets...
Read any book on personal and spiritual development you will read of the importance of living in the now...
Are these ideas mutually exclusive?
If we look at one of the most popular exponents of 'being present', Eckhert Tolle, you will immediately recognise that his lectures on 'being in the now' are powerful and resonant. However, step back a for a moment and we realise that lecture tours and books have to be planned - and perhaps planning (or goal setting) is not a NOW thing!
The key thing, perhaps, is balance.
There are times in your life, there are decisions you make, futures you wish to create which do need to be planned. This is where target setting becomes a relevant and important skill. However this does not mean that we have to put ourselves on a constant treadmill of moving from 'target' to 'target' - life is much more than that.
There are times when it is vital to be 'in the now'.
Achieving targets does not necessarily result in leading a happier of more fulfilled life - it may do, but often achieving one target leads too the creation of another - and another .... and pretty soon we have to ask ourselves whose targets and aspirations are we really working towards?
Being present means that we can lift our heads up from the road towards success (however that is defined) and be in our lives, in the now and enjoying that moment.
Each of these approaches relate to the stories we tell ourselves about what makes us 'happy' and what 'we need'.
Whose narrative are we following?
The script prepared and written by our parents, our teachers, the society we are part of or the social group to which we aspire?
Are these stories really our own?
Of course each story defines a perspective, which defines a thought, which shapes a perception that informs a behaviour. This being the case is it not a good idea to reflect upon the stories we tell of and about ourselves?
Perhaps it is less about positive thinking but more about effective story telling.