[Article] When goals are not enough

As I look around everyone seems to have such busy lives. Even schoolchildren have an endless round of after-school clubs, ‘playdates’ and parties. Business people race from one meeting to the next, with no time in between to think, plan or delegate tasks.

Small wonder that everyone seems to be reading email on the go (or in meetings). What did we do before we had smartphones?

Today’s problem is not about how to connect. Today’s problem is when to disconnect. We’re all overwhelmed with information, opportunities and requests. And many of us don’t have a reliable way of managing all this input. Marketeers tell us that in today’s world, most people scan an email, news item or reports initially to see if there’s a reason they can legitimately ignore and delete it:

“I’m on holiday that week.”  “I’ve passed that project on to my colleague.”  “I don’t use an iPad.”  “I’m not a frequent flyer.”  “I have to go to the dentist.”  “I looked at this 3 years ago and decided not to pursue it.”  “I’m self-employed.”  “I’m a manager.”  I’m too busy to think clearly?

While this kind of thinking can be helpful in scanning the ‘spam’ in your in-box, it can lead to overlooking or disregarding valuable opportunities.

That’s why goals are important. If you’re not clear about what you want to achieve, it’s very hard to decide what’s relevant and what isn’t. It’s hard to decide what to spend time on and what to avoid. It’s even harder to decide whether or not you’ve had a good day!

So, if you’ve got clear goals for the year, the quarter, the decade or your life that’s good. But is it enough to keep you focused and productive?

There is something else as well.

Maybe one of the greatest skills required in any job is being able to focus in on what matters and not get distracted by everything else. But a relentless focus on your goals can make you blinkered to other relevant opportunities as well as to the irrelevant distractions.

The latest neurological research shows that people feel most alive and are most motivated when they are learning something new. So closing down our field of vision in relation to our goals is counter-productive to that. It’s good to have focus, and it’s even better to balance that focus with times when you step back, look around and ask yourself, ‘what else?’

So as well as your current goals, how about allocating some time, space and energy to pursue something new, to take up one of those unexpected opportunities and to stop retreating into ‘I’m too busy’ when you can’t immediately see the benefit of doing something. You might be pleasantly surprised.

[Audio] It’s holiday season!

Last week I was interviewed on BBC Radio Coventry & Warwickshire. The subject was holidays and I thought you might like to have a listen too.

We had a wide-ranging conversation that included ways to avoid holidays causing you stress, how to decide what to do on holiday and how to avoid family arguments during the holidays.

[Article] Anyone for Cricket?

Over the past six weeks I’ve been introduced to cricket. Specifically, One Day Cricket and the ICC Cricket World Cup. It’s been an education. I wasn’t a complete novice – I understand the rules (no thanks to Douglas Adams!) and I have watched a few minutes of the occasional match in the past. And the highlights on the evening news. But nothing more than that.

What has been different this time? Is it the fact that I live with a man who loves cricket almost as much as he loves football and had the tv tuned to the cricket at every possible moment? Could be. Was it the fact that England were doing rather well for long sections of the tournament? Certainly that improved the experience. Not to mention that England actually won. But that wasn’t it.

So what was it that had me watching the Cricket World Cup Final and relegated the Wimbledon Men’s Singles Final to my phone?

Was it the orgy of statistics presented alongside the commentary of every game? Guilty. I love stats. Watching the cricket, I loved the constant updates of required run rates and remaining overs. I love seeing the batsmen’s strike rates and the bowlers’ economy; the past performance stats and the predicted scores. All those lovely numbers describing the game and all its variables.

And then there is the amazing technology that can show us ball trajectories and bowling lengths, batting angles and distances, so that every single ball can be analysed in multiple dimensions. All absolutely fascinating.

And then there is an interview with a player, who, asked about the game plan and tactics, gave a serious answer about tactics and playing style, then broke into a huge grin and said, “We have a lot of fun out there, when we play like that”.

So there it is, in a nutshell. There’s a time to analyse – and I’m sure all the teams have been poring over their technical stats and working out the best strategies. But there’s also a time to go out, give it all you’ve got and enjoy the moment.

And that applies to all of us – which are you doing today?

[Video] The truth about NLP Practitioner training

The modular way we run our NLP Practitioner training programme at Brilliant Minds means the course lasts for 20 days and is spread out over 5 months.

So at the end of the 10th day (about 3 months in) on our most recent course, we asked 5 people if they would tell us how they were feeling about the training, what they were getting out of it, and how it compared with what they thought they were going to get out of the course.

Then we went back to them right at the very end of the course, after 20 days, and asked them to tell us how they were feeling about the whole experience then.

This is what they said…

[Article] 7 Secrets of Self-Motivation

1. All motivation is self-motivation. Nobody else can motivate you. What they can do, however, is either support or distract from your own motivational process. Notice whose style adds to your self-motivation and who gets in the way of it. Consider coaching some of the key people in your life in how to enhance your self-motivation or in how not to derail your motivation.

2. Very few people can perform at their best all day. Keep track of the times of day when you are mentally most alert, when you are most communicative and when you are most creative. Wherever possible plan to spend time doing the kind of task that comes easily at that time. This avoids wasting energy to motivate yourself to go against your natural inclinations.

3. If there a task you must do that doesn’t appeal to you and keeps getting put off, ask yourself, ‘What will it do for me when I’ve completed this?’ Focus on the bigger picture, rather than the actual task and you may find that it’s easier to get it done.

4. If you work well to deadlines (or to put it another way, you tend to leave things to the last minute!) then make life easier by keeping your diary clear in the run-up to important deadlines. That way you can focus on the work that has to be done for the deadline and not be distracted by other projects until it’s finished.

5. Take regular breaks. You probably know this, but do you do it? The natural rhythm of brain and body means that few people can focus on the same thing in the same way for more than about 45 minutes. When you start to feel restless, that’s a good indicator that it’s time for a change of pace for a few minutes. Check your email or make a phone call or get a glass of water and then you may be surprised how easy it is to return to your original task.

6. Set yourself clear goals – long term, short term, weekly, daily. Having clear outcomes is the greatest aid to motivation. The NLP well-formed outcomes pattern is probably the most useful aspect of NLP in all situations. Practice it until you can’t not do it.

7. Stimulate your brain. Low motivation often comes from the stress of boredom and lack of opportunity to achieve something new. Exposure to new ideas and different perspectives can create a new level of engagement with familiar tasks by prompting you to review your purpose, revise your approach or raise your standards.

[Article] This and That

Have you noticed how a small change in language can make a significant difference to attitudes? I’ve been musing on this and that. Literally. ‘This’ and ‘that’. And what I’ve noticed…

I can change my attitude to a task by shifting between ‘this’ and ‘that’.

Try it:

Pick something from your ‘To do’ list. Anything at all. Some filing, an email to write, a call to make, a report to write or anything else.

Say to yourself, “I must do that filing/email/call/report” and notice your attitude to the task.

Say to yourself, “I must do this filing/email/call/report” and notice your attitude again.

Is it different?  Mine usually is!

You see, for most people, ‘this’ creates an associated representation of the task. That means that you see it in your mind’s eye as being close to you, part of you.

In contrast, ‘that’ creates a dissociated image – the task is not connected to you. For most people it’s much easier to ignore ‘that’ than to ignore ‘this’. For you and I to motivate ourselves to do a task, it helps if it’s ‘this’ task rather than ‘that’ task.

But what about goals?

There is a ‘rule of thumb’ in NLP:  Present state associated, desired state dissociated. We keep our desired outcomes dissociated to create tension, and hence motivation, between where we are and where we want to be. ‘That’ goal is more motivating than ‘this’ goal. ‘That’ goal gives you and I something to work for.

And ‘this’ task is the way to get started.

It’s so simple.  And easy to use for yourself or when you coach someone else. I’d love to hear about your experiences of this and that.

[Article] Reflections from the NLP Conference

The first time I was asked to speak at the NLP Conference was in 2004.  I arrived on Saturday morning, delivered my session and went home again. That set the pattern for many subsequent years, in fact every year except 2014, when I was ill and couldn’t deliver my session and 2017, when I decided to take a year out and didn’t submit a proposal.

In 2018 I decided to go for the whole event. A full day Masterclass on the Friday, followed by four sessions per day on Saturday and Sunday, with a choice of 6 sessions in every time slot. I was exhausted by Sunday evening! I was also impressed by the improved quality of the event and decided to improve the quality of my participation accordingly.

As a result, last weekend four of us from Brilliant Minds attended the International NLP Conference and the NLP Awards Dinner on Saturday evening. We had a stand in the exhibition area and I presented a session on Saturday morning.

Here are some of my highlights…

  1. There were delegates at the conference from more than 20 countries including USA, France, Italy, Germany, Netherlands, India, UAE, Malaysia, South Korea, Turkey, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Brazil, Nigeria, South Africa, Spain and Portugal. It was lovely to meet so many people from around the world and to know that we are part of a truly global network.
  2. Experiencing Judith Lowe and Judith de Lozier presenting one day of their ‘Passion in Action’ programme. I had not seen either of them work before – even though they are ‘NLP Royalty’ and have been working in the field for decades.  The content of the workshop was as thought-provoking and stimulating  as their double-act was warm and encouraging.
  3. Having dinner on Friday evening with my team plus the wonderful Shelle Rose Charvet.
  4. Joining the session presented by Ian MacDermott on Saturday morning. Back in 1992 I did my NLP Practitioner training with Ian and it’s still a great pleasure to learn from him.
  5. Presenting my session, ‘The Presuppositions of a Brilliant Coach’. The room was full, in fact we had to get extra handouts photocopied! Despite very fierce air-conditioning in the room, I received a warm welcome and great response to the session.
  6. Seeing Robert Dilts – ably supported by Robbie Steinhouse – talking about his Neuro-logical Levels model. I’ve used that model for years but never heard Robert explain its origins before.
  7. Getting dolled up for the Awards Dinner and spending a lovely evening with Peter, Denise and Maria, my team of associates.
  8. The performance by the London Show Choir as we had our pre-dinner champagne.
  9. Seeing Judith de Lozier receive the Lifetime Achievement Award.
  10. Arriving home, tired and contented, having spent a great three days with lovely people, working with the toolkit we all share and making a difference in many different ways.

Next year’s International NLP conference is on 15-17 May 2020 and the Friday Masterclass will be presented by Connirae Andreas (did I mention NLP Royalty?) Tickets go on sale on 31st May 2019. Will I see you there?