Know, Grow or Borrow: How to Find Strengths When You Need Them

Can you help someone find what they need to get through a problem?

In NLP, it's called eliciting resources.  We start with the belief that everyone has available to them a strength, skill or perception (called resources in NLP) that would help them solve the problems that matter to them. If they are not using that strength, skill or perception, then it's because they don't realize they have it. As a coach or influence, you can help them recognize that they already have what they need to move forward.

Why don't we know that we have something we need?  There are 2 reasons. The first is that our brains hold way more information than we can process in our conscious attention. We have to "forget" most of what we know to think clearly, since clear thought means processing only a few things at a time. The second reason is that we are social animals and we can access attitudes, experiences and skills by connecting to them in other people. We might not have what we ne…

Learning is not necessarily boring, scary or unfair: it just seems that way in our memories

The easiest way for me to limit registration in a course or workshop is to put the word "learn" in the title. I've struggled with this for a long time: learning means acquiring the skills or information we need to do things we have never done before. It's hugely important in both innovating and adapting to change around us. But people cringe a little when they see it. It's like offering a course on flossing your teeth or giving up sugar.

I should not really be surprised. I was a full-time student from grade one through dissertation. I had some wonderful teachers and I loved to learn. But when I think about my earliest memories of school, this is what comes up for me. The class had behaved badly in some way (not me!) and the teacher made us sit on our hands until they hurt. And I was asked to be the demonstrator student for some new standardized tests, which meant I did all my tests in front of a room full of teachers. I don't really remember that part: I reme…

How "but" allows other people to kill your joy

Are other people killing your joys a little at a time? When you look at the picture above, you might be someone who says, "Spring at last! What a great day!" But what if the person next to you replies, "At least it's finally sunny again. But won't it be great when it's warm too?"

Look back at what I did there. Even in the example, the "but" steals away the joy in the moment. And then I layered in another "but" in the quotation. Two buts in one sentence is a lot of crossing out what came before. In NLP and hypnosis courses, people are often taught to avoid the word "but" because it creates a cognitive problem. It's complicated to understand something and then have to go back and cross it out and revise your understanding.

It's not just a thinking problem. It's also a feeling problem. You don't want to be the person who crosses out someone else's joy. When you look at this picture of spring, you know that…

How to discover what you really want

Has someone ever asked you: "What do you want?" and left you stumped? Most of us have gone through short or long periods where we were not certain about what we wanted. We are torn between different options, or we might feel that we're not good at getting what we want (so what's the point)? It's easy to convince ourselves that life would be better if we just made the best of what we have.

There are two problems with this: One is that if you don't believe the world has anything new and good to offer you, it probably won't offer you anything new and good. We find what we look for.  The other is that not wanting anything doesn't give your mind enough to do. The human mind is naturally active. If it doesn't keep busy imagining good stuff, it's likely to keep busy imagining troubles.

So how do you decide what to want? You've decided before: you made a decision to read this, for instance. Even someone who is really sure they don't know what …

If you could choose one superpower, what would it be?

Have you played this game before? If you could choose one superpower what would it be? Would you predict the future (awkward!) or fly without a plane? Would you move faster than light or would you be able to stretch to meet every requirement?

I would learn.  If I could choose a superpower, I would choose learning. Learning drives everything.

Test it out.  Can you be learning and be unmotivated? If you are learning, curiosity has kicked in and curiosity is the best form of motivation. Curiosity keeps you trying one more solution to that problem or turning one more page or walking to the next turn in the road. And don't even try to be depressed while you are learning. You can't be focused on the next page, the next answer, the next turn and be stuck.

Can you be learning and not be creative? I don't think so. Learning thrives on novelty and connection and those are the two ingredients of innovation. When you are learning, you're willing to consider new possibilities - or …

Treat Yourself Like a Partner, Not a Servant

Some of the most important work I do at NLP Canada Training involves convincing people that they don't need to control themselves. They need to develop a respectful relationship with themselves that allows them to negotiate, collaborate and sometimes even disagree with the part of themselves that is unconscious, fast and powerful.

It's hard to get past all the voices in our heads that tell us that self control is a good thing. After all, when we compare it to being controlled by someone else, self-control is better. The problem is that we are often trying to have one part of ourselves control other parts, and the part that seeks control is not always the strongest, most accurate part of us.

Every human being has a limited ability to process information consciously and a much stronger, faster system that processes information outside of conscious awareness (your brain interacts with the world and makes connections between new stimuli and stored information and it does it much f…

Sharing a story outperforms delivering a message

Do you meet people at events and wonder "so what's their story?" You might even ask. What you expect in return is not a fairy tale. It's not a presentation. It's an account of what matters to them and why it matters.
"What's your story?" is how we say: "We see you have an emotional investment in something here. What matters to you and why?"
Do you know how to answer the question. You can just tell people: "I'm here because this matters to me because. . ."  You might even say out loud "this matters to me and I think it should matter to you, too." But you might not. Because we want to be invested but we also want to be cool. We want to be passionate, but we also want to be inoffensive. It's hard to tell your story without caring about what the other person is thinking.
That's the brilliance of telling a story instead of giving a speech. If you answer the question (real or implied) with a story about how you c…