Monday, December 30, 2013

Difference is a breeding ground for opportunity

I wonder what you really think when a work or social situation puts you into a connection with someone who is quite different than you in some way. Even if they are different in a way you admire, it might be hard for you to relate. You might find that you are quickly bored or tongue tied or simply unable to get any traction with a conversation.

If you can only connect with people who are already like you, how will you ever have the different ideas needed to produce something better than what you already have?

It takes work and practice to connect with the expectation that difference often leads to opportunity. You need to put yourself in a position to interact with different people and expect opportunity to arise from difference over and over again, tweaking your ability to connect until you reliably generate opportunity from difference.

How do I know this works? It is one of the things I train people to do. I attract different kinds of people to the same courses and put them in interaction in controlled exercises until they begin to notice that difference can generate something more than awkwardness. It can generate new thinking that leads to new possibilities.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Moving beyond NLP to incorporate new models for positive change

As 2014 approaches, I am aware that I must soon sit down and put together my year end video. It's often a little unnerving to look ahead, especially since by the end of December I am tired and ready to climb into a burrow for some quiet alone time. I think winter brings that out in a lot of people.

My job is to tempt people out of their burrows so that they forget to think about being comfortable and think instead about what could engage their full attention in a way that is satisfying and productive. Life is less about being and more about doing and I work to get people very busy being more fully alive. This means that I only get to retreat into a burrow when it is to be very engaged with deep, internal process that will eventually break through to cause more action.

I have been reading other people's NLP practitioner manuals and guides, and I still believe that everything I teach is compatible with the best in NLP practice. Not everything is the best, and not everything is necessary. Our processes at NLP Canada Training have been streamlined to work in the spirit of NLP and with practices that resonate with observations of how people work at their best. I read science, business and the arts to find multiple descriptions of people who are fully engaged in satisfying lives and work. What I find, I bring back for discussion and exploration with training partners and a community.

This means that some people in NLP would not recognize what we do, and others would recognize the skills but not the means by which we are developing them. That's what it means to be on the leading edge: no one else has the clarity that comes with looking back at the work you do. It's harder than being in the middle of the pack, doing work "that all others could understand or share" (to paraphrase my favourite poet).

When you train with me, I cannot draw neat lines between my training in metaphor and story, narrative therapy techniques (themselves derived from story techniques), NLP, solution focused brief coaching, the Enneagram and interesting thinking from behavioural economics, psychology and business. My job is not academic: I am not interested in generating theory. I am continuously, restlessly engaged in tweaking the perceptions of those around me so that they become more engaged, more innovative, and more energized.

So my year in 2014 is likely to be about fighting for more clarity about how to grow my business by reaching more people who, like me, are tempted to burrow down for quiet but are willing to reach out for the ideas and perceptions that have the power to stir them to action.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Making a gift for Christmas

It's Christmas for lots of us. Even if you don't celebrate a religious holiday at this time of year, you might be sharing in bright lights and gift giving and food that satisfies your favourite memories. For me, it is Christmas and it is complicated and lovely and hard work.

One of my favourite things to do at Christmas is to make things for people. I bake dozens and dozens more cookies than I could eat. I put together multi-course meals and I decorate the house. And in the years where I am smart and lucky, I make a gift for someone.

This year I made a gift for the people in my NLP community, the people I have trained, and the people who read my newsletter and the people who know those people. It's an e-book and I took the pictures and did the formatting with the same care and the same pleasure I used to take in making books of poetries and stories with my kids. The book is about layering good states with such precision that you cannot help but get off to a great start in 2014. You might even find that you have planted seeds that sprout at times you would not have expected throughout the year.

If you are reading this and you are curious, then this gift is for you, too. You can unwrap it by clicking here.

It carries a Creative Commons license that encourages you to share it (with attribution, without changes, and you can't sell it). If it feels right, please send it to others who will enjoy it.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

3 Ways to Avoid a Shipwreck

On land, we look for car crashes and train wrecks that happen when people get off track. At sea there are no tracks and ships can be wrecked by what happens on the surface or by dangers under the surface. Knowing roughly where or what those dangers are is not enough to stop a wreck.

How can you avoid a shipwreck?

You could hire and train the very best of crews. They would be able to respond to dangerous conditions more quickly and with more skill than others. They would be committed to their own safety and to keep the ship afloat and moving in the right direction. They would start with state-of-the-art skills and deliberately practice to stay sharp and keep improving.

The ship might sink anyway. The sea is notoriously unpredictable and unseen dangers remain unseen. You would have improved the odds by hiring the best, but would that be enough?

Maybe what you need is a stronger, faster more agile ship. An unsinkable ship. Like the Titanic.

The best solution is not found on the ship. It's found on a point of land near to the site of previous disasters. The best way to avoid shipwrecks is to build a lighthouse. While a lighthouse doesn't remove the unseen dangers, it does offer your good sound ship and your expert crew the information they need to navigate around them.

Where will you build your lighthouse and who will you trust to keep the light shining?

Friday, December 06, 2013

Storywork: What to hear in a story about being lost

If I asked you if you like being lost, you would probably say no. Lost is one of those words with a built in set of feelings and "like" is not part of the set.

If I asked you to tell me about a time you got lost, your story might tell me something different. It might tell me that you like to explore, that you enjoy being on your own and self-reliant, or that you are excited by new possibilities.  We would probably laugh, especially if the story was about a time when you were scared. Our fears often make us laugh, after they have passed.

If I listened to your story about being lost, I'd have a very good idea of what it would be like to work with you through a new challenge. I'd know how likely you would be to cross edges, shake up patterns, or strategize through a situation with no clear paths.

Monday, December 02, 2013

How do you know you have a purpose?

How do you know what your purpose is? That's a big question. The answer begins with an equally big gateway. You begin by knowing how you know anything.

How does your brain work with your mind to produce that mental sensation of knowing something? You might never have thought about it. I know is both a concept and a feeling. You know you have the right answer when you get the desired result and, often before that, when you have a feeling that the answer is right. Knowing is more than thinking: it is thinking with your whole self - brain and body and mind.

This is how you know your purpose. It's not a matter of putting it into a slogan or motto. Those have their uses, but they are never a complete statement of what you want to be and to do. Purpose is the big container that lets you know whether a goal is right for you or just a distraction. Purpose is the path you are walking, even when it takes strange turns and you're not sure where it is leading. Purpose is the feeling that you are doing the right thing, especially when that right thing is a hard thing to do or when other people are not so sure you need to do that thing at all.

If I move your attention just a little to one side, if I ask, "Have you ever done something on purpose?" you will answer "yes" before you have time to wonder whether or not you really believe in having a purpose. A purpose isn't something to believe. It's something to intuit as the cause of the tangible results you see or hear or feel in your life. As you allow yourself to notice that you have sometimes done things "on purpose" you can become curious about what more you can learn about this desired future that contains all the effects you will have on the world.