Friday, March 28, 2014

NLP when it is time for tears

This is Kylemore Patience. We called her Kylie. She joined our family just after Christmas in 2001 and she left us on Wednesday. She left gently and with grace, patient as her breathing grew more and more difficult.

She waited until my husband and I were both at home and then she let go.

This is a time for tears. She was just a sweet little dog who couldn't do much of anything anymore except let us know that she valued our attention. Every plan we made, every day, we thought about her and worked around her, and tried to keep her safe and well.

What difference does NLP make when it is time for tears? There is no affirmation or visualization that protects us from the day when someone we love leaves us. It doesn't happen because we are sloppy or negative. NLP does not allow anyone to outsmart life. Life still happens and tears still happen.

NLP helps. It helped me know on the weekend that it was okay for her to steal the giant bone (to which she was probably allergic) and really enjoy it for a few minutes. It helped me know what was happening as she neared the end and stay clear about what I wanted for her and for us as we said goodbye. It helped me have presence of mind as Kylie died and after, to think about what other people needed and to check in with what I needed too.

It helps me understand the effects of grief on my state and my thinking and know when I need to have someone check my work or back me up because my head isn't as clear as I would like it to be. It helps me to accept that every major shift begins with a period of integration and disorientation.

So I am a little lost today and yet I am also able to do what needs to be done to honour my work and commitments and to know that possibilities are unfolding now to be ready for me when I am ready to look up and look for them. I look at the places she was curled up last week and half hear her bark and know that these are patterns that are interrupted and until new patterns form, the edges will hurt.

I know, too, that every death reminds us of hard truths and that NLP is one way to heighten awareness and appreciation. Because all of our days are numbered and making the most of them changes us and lets us change the world, at least a little.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Stepping Away to Accelerate Progress

It's obvious to everyone that just before you drop, you should rest. Holidays are often seen as ways to ward off collapse from fatigue or burn out. When absolutely necessary, rest for a short time and then get back into the swing of things. This necessity arises at different times for different people in different kinds of work. For entrepreneurs, it arises just before they crash (if they're lucky).

This isn't the best way to think productively. If we use the word "creative" lots of people feel they can sidestep the value of rest because they do not see themselves as "creative." For many years, I thought that having a research degree in a competitive field meant that I was an analytical thinker. I am, of course, an analytical thinker but it turns out that in no way also prevents me from being the kind of thinker who produces stuff: words and ideas and motivation and innovation.

You might not be a creative person but it is likely that if you are reading this, you are a person who cares about thinking well and that, to you, thinking well means thinking so that you can have a tangible impact on other people or situations. You want something to show for your thinking. You want to think in a way that produces a desired result. That means you want to create.

The best creative thinking comes from taking a rest. Work really hard. Learn lots about the field in which you work or the problem you want to solve. Be analytical and rigorous and curious. Struggle.

And then walk away. Take a break. Do something active enough to distract you without generating a competing focus or more stress. Exercise or hang out with friends. Change the scenery.

This blog post is late because I took a weekend off to hang out with family and sip coffee (in the morning ) and wine (after noon) and enjoy food and conversation and games. I took the weekend off for fun but I also took it off because I need to produce material for the new online component of our NLP Master Practitioner programme. Thinking about it relentlessly would not get me there faster. The fastest route to developing better material is to step away and let the intention percolate in the background.

This will be a busy week. And I'll be ready.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Coaching is terrific, but how do you know when to challenge and when to support?

Yes. I am being pretty hard on you.

I said that to someone in a coaching session last night. He was curious about how I decide when to challenge and when to support. He'd watch me do some metaphor coaching, which probably looked like fun from the outside. It was about stepping into the body of a powerful animal and exploring a landscape to which that particular animal was well-suited. Compared to that, some probing questions that led to uncomfortable answers were rough.

The difference was that the first client knew what he wanted and so we were able to explore what he wanted using a metaphor. That metaphor protected his privacy while it allowed him to discover that he was stronger than he might have thought as he approached a challenge. The challenge was relatively well-defined, and since he picked the metaphor there was no danger that I was leading him to feel stronger than he really is.

He  felt pushed a little anyway. Coaching is not about letting someone sit with their limits and top-of-mind thoughts. It's about guiding someone to stretch and imagine and discover.

If the second client had been ready to move, the process would not have been perceived as "hard." He would have taken the first (or second or third) suggestion to tune in to what he wanted. He was tuning into what scared him instead. So I insisted that he move. What scared him was hypnotic and powerful. So I insisted that he choose between staying connected to me and staying connected to it.

I don't like to push. I don't like to challenge. I don't like to insist. I love to suggest, to guide, to explore. I love to play in a state of mind where it is safe to move with tiny, delicate, powerful steps. I like to chase away cobwebs with laughter or a surprising metaphor.

Sometimes, I have to be the metaphor, the rock beneath someone's feet. Maybe they skin their knees a little. Maybe they retreat to a gentler place. But they will not slip on uneven ground and fall over an edge. Not while I am giving them a solid path where they can test their footing.

Friday, March 07, 2014

How long can you go without a great cup of coffee?

It's not really about the coffee (although I believe this was really good coffee). It's not even about having someone pour you a little springtime in the middle of a very long, very cold winter.

It's about what changes in you as you make time and space to notice where and when you are as you sip the coffee.

Sometimes it's a great coffee because you need to create a treat for yourself, a moment to gather energy and let your thoughts rest. You might be sitting on a dock in the sunrise or in a busy crowd at a cool independent coffee shop or you might sit for a moment instead of running out of the place you always pick up a coffee for the road.

What makes it great is in the coffee and in you. It's the moment of "ahhh." And the next moment, when the satisfaction lingers and your mind moves on.

Sometimes it's a great coffee because someone on the other side of the table has all of your attention. You sip your coffees and talk or do not talk, but you are paying attention to each other. You are engaged and enriched because you are connected. For just a few minutes, you are content to be exactly where you are.

It's not really about the coffee.