[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] Keeping your brain active

During lockdown, I’ve been chatting to my Mum on the phone more regularly than usual. Being over 70, she’s even more restricted than me in her daily activities. We’ve discussed a lot of different topics in the last three months and there is one subject that keeps recurring:

How do you keep your brain active if you can’t go out and get some exercise? We know that physical exercise is one of the best ways to protect your cognitive health, but when it’s been pouring with rain for a week and you can’t even go and push a trolley round the supermarket, what can you do?

It’s a serious question for many people. Isolation is putting a strain on mental health, we don’t want to add cognitive decline due to inactivity to our list of woes. Doing the crossword or logic puzzles can help, but we know that what really stimulates the brain is new experience and movement.

Which took me back to some work I did with my friend Jane Battenberg (www.changewithin.com)…

If you’ve been reading my newsletters for a long time you may remember some years ago Jane ran a couple of workshops for me around the subject of neural plasticity and its uses in coaching. She devised some wonderful exercises, many involving activities done with the non-preferred hand.

So, discussing this with Mum, we came to the conclusion that simply doing normal everyday tasks with the non-preferred hand could be good exercise for the brain. Mum’s somewhat ambidextrous – she’s always been able to write legibly with either hand, so we assumed that some tasks would be more challenging than others.

The next day, she reported that she’d washed up with the ‘wrong’ hand without any damage to the china or glassware. She’d also attempted to brush her teeth with her left hand and found that much more difficult. However, she did say that it made her laugh so much that she had to stop even trying to brush her teeth for a few minutes and I figured that had to be a good thing.

Now, I’m left-handed and also somewhat ambidextrous, so I thought that brushing my teeth with my right hand wouldn’t be a big deal. But I had to have a go! It wasn’t really difficult and I thought I was doing quite well, until I noticed that my left hand wouldn’t keep still. Every movement I made with my right hand was being mirrored by my left. It was almost as if my left hand was saying ‘oh, give it to me!’

This reduced me to fits of giggles. Again, I figured that had to be a good thing. We can all do with something to laugh about just now.

I’m still practising brushing my teeth with my right hand AND keeping my left hand still at the same time. Not easy, but if it’s giving my brain a workout and making me laugh (not to mention sparkling teeth!) then it’s got to be a good thing.

Over to you – are you up for the challenge? Can you brush your teeth with your non-preferred hand? Does it make you laugh?

I’d love to hear how you get on.

[Article] Lessons from Lockdown

It’s not over yet, but the lockdown that has seen millions of people all over the world confined to their homes for weeks on end has been eased in the UK and I’m happy to see that our friends and colleagues in many other countries are gradually regaining the freedom to leave their homes and spend time together.

In the early stages, psychological models relating to change, grief and uncertainty were relevant.  People went through predictable, but no less painful, experiences of shock, denial, emotional outbursts, depression and anxiety as the threat of Covid-19 led to governments around the globe imposing social distancing measures and the ‘stay at home’ directives that we came to know as ‘lockdown’.

It seems impossible to me that anything will return entirely to what we think of as ‘normal’.  We have been changed by this experience, individually, collectively and indelibly.  The nature of these changes, however, is different for each person and for each community, each organisation and each nation.

As I write, emotions are running high in communities, countries and on-line as the world reacts to the news of the death of George Floyd in police custody.  When I stand back from the emotions and view the scenes as a psychologist, I can’t help thinking that the weeks of lockdown are contributing to the depth of feeling about Black Lives Matter.  Those weeks of lockdown have affected everyone.

I live alone.  I’m accustomed to days I spend alone, working in my home office.

I’m not accustomed to whole weeks, months where I am ‘home alone’ and can’t go out.

As I’ve made my way through weeks of enforced isolation and a long list of ‘lockdown projects’ my mind flits between the experience and the analysis of the experience.  In NLP terms, I’m switching between 1st and 3rd positions.  At times I’ve been fascinated by my own – and other people’s – reactions to the situation, and at times I’ve simply been reacting.

So what have I learned?

  1. I’ve learned… that although we have all, in theory, been subjected to the same rules each person has had a different experience of ‘lockdown’.  If you have been at home with your family your experience will have been very different from mine.  Stressful for different reasons, enjoyable for different reasons.  People who are working at home have a different experience from those on furlough, which is different again from the ‘key workers’ who have been going to work as usual but dealing with unusual events. Lockdown means something different to each person.
  2. I’ve learned… that the experience and how we feel about it changes on an almost daily basis. The routine that felt satisfying and productive one day can feel constraining and pointless on another.  For no apparent reason, the whole situation can suddenly feel intolerable.  On another day it feels like a gift – a time to rest and re-think.  All of these reactions are valid.
  3. I’ve learned… that human beings are social animals and it’s not good for us to be isolated. There is a reason why solitary confinement is regarded as the most severe form of punishment.  It’s important we take care of our mental health as well as our physical well-being.  Pretending everything is ok and I’m coping isn’t a good strategy on days when I’m not.
  4. I’ve learned… that hugs are an important and necessary part of life. (I thought I knew that, but I know it in a new way now)
  5. I’ve learned… that the telephone is a wonderful invention and hearing the sound of your loved ones’ voices is precious.
  6. I’ve learned… that video conferencing is a great tool for all kinds of virtual social interaction – in the absence of REAL social interaction.
  7. I’ve learned… that some businesses have reported quicker, more focused and more productive meetings via video conference. Some workers are finding it easier to focus on individual tasks when working from home.  Some companies say that working from home has increased trust – in both directions – between workers and management.
  8. I’ve learned… that you cannot make eye contact on a video conference. That moment in a face-to-face meeting when you catch the eye of a colleague and affirm that your thinking is aligned on this issue?  It’s impossible via video conference.  You are alone.  No-one knows who’s looking at whom and you can’t create a private glance of complicity.
  9. I’ve learned… (the hard way) that days of back-to-back video meetings are even more exhausting than days of back-to-back meetings in person. Experts suggest that the extra concentration required to pick up non-verbal signals and the stress of constantly seeing yourself on screen contribute to this.
  10. I’ve learned… that I’m a reasonably good cook but my repertoire is in need of enhancement. I’m really looking forward to being able to visit a restaurant and enjoy a meal I didn’t have to cook myself. Even more, I’m looking forward to eating meals with friends and family.
  11. I’ve learned… (almost) that when the situation in my ‘locus of concern’ is hard to understand, fraught with uncertainty and full of emotion, my best strategy is to focus on my ‘locus of control’. When the going gets tough, I work on my projects.  I wrote my list of ‘lockdown projects’ in the early weeks, when it became clear that normal life was on hold for the duration.  I considered taking a rest.  The idea of metaphorically putting my feet up and resting for three months had a certain appeal (especially when I was still recovering from what was probably The Virus) but when I thought about the future I realised I wanted to be able to look back on this time and remember it with some fondness or pride in what I had achieved.  I knew I didn’t want to see it as a wasted opportunity.  So I’ve been working on all the ‘one day’ projects.
  12. I’ve relearned… that human beings are adaptable. Already, the ideas of going out to a bar or coffee shop, or inviting your friends over for a party seem almost unthinkable.  The return to some form of normality in terms of going out of the house and interacting with other people may be as disruptive for some as the original lockdown.  But after everything we’ve experienced over the past few months, I think we’re up to the challenge!

What have you learned, or re-learned, during lockdown?  I’d love to hear what insights you’ve been having.

[Video] Secrets of successful group training

I recently read a piece of research that suggested that group training programmes just don’t work – that they are ineffective and fail to deliver on the objectives that they were designed to fulfil. Now you can imagine, for me, that was quite disappointing research to read. Because my experience is that group training is actually a great experience for people and usually does deliver on exactly what it was designed to achieve.

So it got me thinking about why some training programmes might not work, when others do. And to be honest, most of what I came up with is nothing to do with what the trainers are doing, and very little to do with the content of the workshop. It’s actually all to do with the way it’s set up…

[Video] Why are women treated differently from men at work?

Sometimes people ask me why it is that women seem to get overlooked for promotions and why we have the gender pay gap in the UK that we have. As well as all those other questions about why women are treated differently at work.

I don’t have all the answers, obviously, but I do have some – and one of them goes back to a very fundamental principle which I think is often overlooked – and it’s this…

[Video] The power of storytelling

It was recently World Book Day and it gave me an opportunity – and an excuse – to run my fingers lovingly over my bookshelves and ponder on some of the books that have been most influential in my life. And some of the books I’ve just loved so much I’ve gone back to over and over again.

I started thinking about the whole issue of stories and why they’re so important to us as human beings…

[Article] It’s virtually the same

I’ve said on several occasions, that I’m not keen on the idea of running virtual training programmes and workshops.  I believe that when you all get in the same room and breathe the same air, something different happens, that is impossible to recreate through virtual media.

Having said that, I’m very mindful that this may the only option we have available to us for some weeks or months to come.  That getting in the same room may be impossible for a time.  Consequently, this conundrum has been on my mind.  Am I just being a bit of a Luddite?  Is it, in fact, perfectly possible to run successful workshops via virtual media?

The reality is, I don’t know.  But I’m about to find out.  I’m going to take the plunge and run some events on-line.  In the same way that I’ve had to run a lot of meetings virtually, that I would have preferred to do face-to-face.

What I’m hoping is going to happen, not just for me, but for everyone is this:

If we make more use of virtual communications technology, we’ll get more comfortable and confident with it.  And once we’re comfortable and confident with it, we’ll be able to distinguish between the kind of interaction that lends itself to virtual meetings and the interactions where we do in fact benefit form being together in the same room in reality.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, experiences and plans.

[Article] Working at Home

I asked my extended team for their top tips for working at home.  (Notice – ‘Working at Home’ not ‘Working from Home’ – at the moment there’s no ‘from’!) All of my team have offices at home and for many of us it’s part of our way of life.  Some people have decades of experience, others are newer to working at home.  I was going to distil all the contributions into a ‘top ten’ or something but having read them, I decided I wanted to keep each person’s individual voice.

In no particular order…

Neil says:

To my mind, there are the following considerations:

Space:
Have a designated space where you do work, that separates it from the rest of the home
Make it comfortable as an environment

Time:
Set some time periods and limits for working
Take breaks to think/drink/stretch/move

Relating to others:
Be clear with other house dwellers about your availability/unavailability and how they can ask if you are ok with being interrupted
Be empathetic without taking responsibility for how others are

Activities:
Establish an entry to work – getting yourself in an effective frame of mind
Get some routines

Neil is semi-retired and lives with his wife Pauline who also recently retired.  He loves to cook and also grows his own produce in the back garden.

Vicki says:

I would certainly echo Neil’s points.  I would extend the workspace point to include making it a pleasurable place to work, as well as comfortable.  To explain, I make working from home a pleasure – I light a scented candle, make a lovely drink, have some music in the background that doesn’t interrupt me too much (I am very auditory), or I work in silence.

I would add that getting outside for a period of time during lunch or during short breaks, however that continues to be possible in the current climate, is important.  Get out in the garden if you have one or take a local walk.

Know your work style – understand the time of day when you are typically at your most productive/creative and plan your day accordingly.  Save tasks that don’t require a lot of effort/thought for when you typically have your lulls.

Have an up-front conversation with your partner/whoever you might now find that you are sharing your home working space with and understand their work patterns and work preferences.  If childcare is involved, look at the day holistically and see how you can carve out time between you so that you share childcare and time away from the children when you can be dedicated to work.

Vicki has two young children and juggles her online coaching work with childcare.

Peter says:

In the past and under ‘normal circumstances some of the things I found useful were as follows:

  • Structure your day, have a plan, build a routine – separate work time from other personal or domestic time, establish some boundaries around this.
  • Agree some ground rules with family or people who live with you – make sure they understand what your work intentions and responsibilities are and establish some way for them to know when you are working and when you are available for conversation or other things.
  • Create a good physical space – make it comfortable, warm and free from distractions – if possible keep this space separate from other home activities and spaces, eg. using a spare bedroom or dining room. Set up the space so that you can become ‘anchored’ to this as a working space and ideally in a way that you can enter and leave it as you would for example in an office at work. Make sure that other people understand where your ‘work space’ is and ideally are able to leave it undisturbed.
  • Allow for interruptions and distractions – be prepared for them but establish ground rules so as to minimise these or at least make them fit into predictable time windows away from your ‘concentrating or focus time’.
  • Give yourself some ‘break time’ and use it wisely – take proper breaks (at least five minutes), move away from your work area, take refreshments, ideally move around, maybe take some fresh air outside, but avoid getting involved in other domestic or family activities.

However, under these rather extraordinary and restricted circumstances we find ourselves in right now, lots of other factors come into play.

Having worked in the areas of personal resilience, wellbeing and stress management for 20 years, the one really important thing I would add under the current restrictions is to really give time and priority to getting outside, exercise, fresh air and change of scenery. Going for a walk, run or cycle ride in a ‘natural environment’ is ideal. These things really help us to keep in touch with the long-term bigger perspective and are really important to build resilience, maintain mental and physical health…and most of all right now…they strengthen the immune system. Go well!

Peter started working from home over 20 years ago when his two sons were still in school and his wife Kim was also working at home. By 2020 he was more used to having the home to himself during the day…  Until Covid19 came along.

Sharon says:

  • Realistic expectations – for yourself and of your line manager
  • Carve out a space, if possible, where you can leave everything
  • Parameters for relatives/friends on when you are contactable – working from home doesn’t mean that you’re free for a chat when they feel like it
  • Take breaks and get some fresh air, if possible
  • Keep off social media – it sucks time
  • Try to keep work and home life separate – it can be great to have the opportunity to put on a load of washing/empty the dishwasher etc but this all distracts from your concentration and makes it difficult to keep focus
  • Arrange a catch-up call with colleagues, maybe each morning, as you would normally do face to face while making a coffee in the kitchen
  • Use the time freed up by not having to commute to do something different – not work!  Take the dog for a walk (if you’re not in lock down) or a play in the garden. Or spend some quality time with your spouse/children.
  • Aim for the work-life balance everybody craves

Sharon works as a virtual PA, supporting multiple clients from her home office in the barn beside her home.  Her two German Shepherds are her constant companions.

Denise says:

To be honest, and as someone who normally works from home, I am not finding this an easy transition. Isolation from loved ones is difficult. Especially if those loved ones are vulnerable.

In theory, I know that this is a time to focus on the important things but, in these times, what are they? I think the goal posts have changed. I saw a post on Facebook aimed at parents encouraging them not to over schedule their child’s day and to recognise that they, as well as ourselves, will be experiencing higher levels of anxiety than normal. Alongside the standard tips for working from home therefore (structure your day, create a working environments, take regular breaks etc.) I would emphasise the need to self care and attend to your important relationships.

There is no one size fits all. We are all different, are energised and stressed by different things. So number one for me is – Know yourself.

Maybe it’s time to dust off those personality profiles you have done in the past – be it LAB, Insights, MBTI – what did they tell you about how you best work and your likely stress triggers? For introverts working from home, the presence of others, interruptions and distractions will be stressors. For extroverts, it will be the isolation. Do you need to go for a walk on your own? Or do you need to find ways to reach out and connect with others?

What is important to you? Jeremy talked about how making a difference is important to him and is finding creative ways to do this. I can resonate with this and will be spending time thinking about how I can meet this need in me, regardless of financial recompense.

Finally, stay in the present, look for the good things in each day, focus on the things you can control and influence (your own actions and mindset) and, think holistically. Alongside the intellectual, we are spiritual, emotional and relational beings. All aspects are important when it comes to self-care.

Denise lives with her husband Richard, who is retired and busy ‘doing up’ their home.  Until recently, she was not a fan of virtual technology, but is now leading the way for us on all things Zoom!

Jeremy says:

Having had my work base from home since 1999, and having coached since then, here are a few tips for effective home working, especially for people who may not be used to it.

Space / environment:

  • Have a clean, tidy and ordered working space
  • Keep a clear desk as far as possible

Time & energy:

  • Even if you have children / a family, have sufficient time when you are working without interruption
  • Take breaks
  • Eat and drink healthily to maintain your energy

Targets:

  • Set targets to achieve specific tasks, so that you can look back at this period without work-related regrets
  • Be mindful that we will get back to ‘normal’ once the Covid-19 situation has passed, and we want to use this time wisely. It is not a holiday!
  • Consider doing tasks that you have been putting off. (My office is tidier than it has been for ages, and I have thrown out a load of papers (more to do). I’m sorting out my Inbox too!)
  • Set daily goals/tasks.
  • Consider having a ‘buddy’, so that you can both tell each other your respective daily / weekly / monthly goals, and hold each other to account
  • Create tomorrow’s To Do list at the end of each working day. If helpful, not only list the tasks but do a timed schedule.

Know yourself and your family:

  • Take time to reflect / discuss what would work for you (e.g. do you need lots of people interaction, do you prefer quiet time, do you need to move frequently, do you prefer to communicate by phone or see the person etc etc). Organise your working routines to take this into account.
  • Agree with people living with you, especially your partner if he/she is also working from home, how you can respectively support each other while getting done what you need to do.

Mentality:

  • Stay positive. This situation will end.
  • Take the opportunity to re-evaluate your work and your life.
  • Ask for help / support if you need it.
  • Take time to help others, which paradoxically helps us too.

Jeremy has been working – and coaching – from home for over 20 years. He says he’s missing his active social life and the opportunity to participate in a form of exercise other than running.

Debbie says:

Debbie had already put together her 21 top tips for working at home.  There’s a bit of duplication here, but I thought it would be best to keep it all together.

Debbie’s 21 Top Tips for Working from Home

Technology

  1. Make sure you can use your employer’s chosen means of virtual communication effectively/stress free. Sign up for/ask for a tutorial if you’re not sure of some of its little quirks or added benefits.  One of the biggest stresses in my last job was getting to grips with this – one casual conversation with a guy from IT later and everything fell into place.
  2. Remember to smile if you’re on camera.
  3. Again, if you’re on a video call, think about the background – if you don’t want your clients or your colleagues to see those family pictures on the wall or cringe at your choice of wallpaper, check whether your software has an option to blur the background.
  4. Body language and tone of voice as just as important when you’re on video – talk to the camera lens as you would do to the people in the room.

Relationships

  1. Be sensitive about time zones when scheduling online meetings.
  2. Remember that we’re all human with real lives going on and that this may be an alien situation for your colleagues and your clients too. It’s OK to be transparent about your home situation and that you might be juggling work, children, pets and negotiating with a family member about the use of the home office/kitchen table.
  3. Schedule time for social chat with your colleagues using technology to help you. Try posing a question or a topic for a quick informal discussion.  Access online calendars where possible and schedule a coffee break for you and a few colleagues via a video call.
  4. Use technology to ‘see’ people as well as hear them. You might not want to use video for every conversation but it aids communication and helps to maintain relationships.

Communication

  1. It can also be helpful to create a spreadsheet with your manager and the rest of your team, where you each outline your emergency contact information and your availability for virtual meetings.
  2. As a team talk about what’s going to work best for everyone. This might mean more frequent, but casual meetings, or it might mean fewer meetings altogether.
  3. Schedule – what works for you? Talk to your manager about working hours to fit around your family, or when you find your energy levels are at their best.
  4. Share your schedule with other people sharing your space so that they know that today’s the day you have that crucial conversation with the boss or someone significant at work.

Well being

  1. Remember to take regular breaks and a proper lunch break. Fresh air is also great but difficult if you’re confined to the house.  If you’re sharing the space with a loved one, can you coordinate breaks? Either to eat lunch together or work around each other’s meetings to give each other privacy.
  2. If your IT has such a function, remember to set “Away from the desk” “In a meeting” etc as appropriate so that you’re not disturbed on a break and/or colleague aren’t frustrated because they can’t reach you.
  3. Try to maintain normal work hours or a new routine that works for you and your family and enables you to step away from work.
  4. Get up, shower and get dressed as if you’re going to the office. Wherever possible, set up a work area at a table. Working on your laptop whilst sitting on the sofa dressed in your pyjamas won’t be good for your posture and working in a defined ‘office’ space will help you to avoid distractions and be more productive.
  5. If it would be good to have some thinking time on a project, walk the dog, empty the dishwasher, sort laundry, etc, but make sure you set a time limit for such activities.
  6. When you’re working from home, it’s easy to skip lunch or fill up on unhealthy snacks. How can you prepare ahead?  Can you make a packed lunch the night before or ensure that there are appetising leftovers from yesterday’s dinner?  If there’s any food left in the supermarket, buy fruit, pots of yoghurt, and healthy snacks to keep you going for those times when someone schedules a conference call that coincides with your hunger pangs.

Kids

  1. Have plenty of quiet activities kids can do alone, if they are at the age where this is possible – books and puzzles, without over-reliance on technology – save your bandwidth for the important stuff! Try new activities. Fun toys and games that kids haven’t played with before will keep them entertained longer. Time-consuming projects, like crafts, stickers, puzzles, and Lego, are sure to buy you some time.
  2. Mix up your hours. If your job allows for it – especially with companies being more lenient around COVID-19 – try to squeeze in work when your baby or toddler is asleep, like early morning, nap times, and at night. It’s not ideal, but you’ll be more productive if you have quiet time to yourself.
  3. Set boundaries with the children – how will they know when it’s OK to disturb you and when it’s not?  Especially if you have to work from the kitchen or a bedroom because you don’t have a designated office space or you’re sharing the one you do have. Stop/go signs or thumbs up/down.

Debbie lives in Zürich with her partner, Pete.  He’s also working at home now, so those tips about co-ordinating with your partner are based on real experience.

Dianne says:

Words of wisdom from my team!  One thing I would add, is to be realistic.  As Denise said, there’s no ‘one size fits all’.  I’m not a ‘routine’ sort of person – that’s why I love consulting work – so having a daily routine during lockdown isn’t going to work for me any more than it did before.  So, don’t expect yourself to develop a whole new personality for working at home.  Focus on the ways you can make it easy for you to do what you do best for a few hours every day.  Three hours of really concentrated, focused application is better than ten hours of pretending to work and interrupting yourself to deal with household matters.

It really doesn’t matter how you organise yourself as long as you deliver what your employer expects and you keep your sanity.

It seems to me that this experience will change us and it will change our behaviour.  The question we can’t answer right now is HOW it will change us.  There has never been a more important time to remember that we have choice about how we think, what we think, what we do and what habits we cultivate.

Now that we’re over the first shock of the changes to our lifestyles, it’s time to plan what we do with this opportunity.

[Article] Stop the world – I want to get off

Have you ever thought – or even said – “stop the world – I want to get off!”?

I remember when I had a demanding corporate job involving lots of travel and some weekend working as well as a responsible role in a voluntary organisation, I would sometimes wake up in the morning, mentally review the day ahead and feel completely overwhelmed.

I longed for a few days where nobody was expecting anything from me, so I could stop, breathe and relax.  That didn’t often happen, and I ended up working myself to a complete standstill and having an enforced rest for six weeks. I learned a lot from that experience and it was one of the turning points that resulted in me starting my own business.

It’s been a few years since I had that ‘stop the world’ feeling, but I was reminded of it when the world did indeed come to a stop and I had the opportunity to ‘get off’ the never-ending cycle of business and housekeeping.  Of constantly feeling a bit behind with everything and often failing to achieve everything I’d planned for a day.

Yes, I can get like that.  Despite all my training, I’m not always gliding through life with everything perfectly under control!

And so here we are….

I’m confined to my home like millions of others.  I’ve had flu symptoms and felt really unwell for most of two weeks and when I finally felt that I wanted to work again, the world had changed.  (I almost wrote ‘the world had moved on’, but it doesn’t feel like that.  It feels like it’s stopped.)

At first, it’s a shock.  You don’t have to leave the house.  You can’t leave the house.  You have time.  You have time to do whatever you like.  All those hours you would have spent travelling, in meetings, working.  There isn’t enough to fill all the hours you have now.  What are you going to do?

I like to read.  I’ve read a lot of books since all the events in my calendar were cancelled.

I’m meeting my team via zoom once a week.  That’s a novelty – and it’s reminding us why we like to work together.  We actually like each other and we get along well.

And yet…

There is a question lurking in the back of my mind that won’t be ignored:

Is anything ever going to be the same again?  It seems impossible that we can emerge from this unaffected by the weeks of enforced isolation.  It seems impossible that we will be able to pick up where we left off.  We have all learned something about ourselves.  We’ve noticed what’s really important.  We’ve missed some people and haven’t missed others.  We’ve learned to do business using virtual tools.

When this is over, how do you want your life to be different from the way it was before?  If your habits are inevitably going to change, how do you want them to be different?  If you’re gong to emerge from this and look back on it fondly, how are you going to spend your time whilst we’re in lockdown?

I’m not saying I’ve worked out the answers to all of these questions for myself yet, but I’m sure that I don’t want to look back on my period of enforced isolation as a wasted opportunity.  I don’t want to look back and think, “I could have used that time to…”

I’m determined that I’m going to look back on this and think, the world stopped, I was allowed to get off for a while and I came back refreshed, prepared and a better person for the experience.

Now more than ever before, I think it’s important to remember that we have choice.  We can choose what we think about.  We can choose how we behave and we can choose our attitudes to what’s going on in our world.  Choose wisely!

[Article] Reflections from the NLP Leadership Summit meeting

When the NLP Leadership Summit was founded by Michael Hall in 2013, the intention was simply to provide an opportunity for the leaders of NLP to ‘associate’ with each other.  And that’s what we did.  More people who met the membership criteria were invited to join the Summit and now there are over 150 members.  About half came to the third bi-annual 3-day meeting in Alicante.

Here are some extracts from my notes during the 3 days:

Day One

Michael [Hall] and Heidi [Heron] welcomed everyone.  There were leaders present from 27 countries, including UK, USA, Russia, Australia, Venezuela, Pakistan and most European countries.

Each person was invited to identify themselves and state their intention for the 3 days.  Mine was to ‘talk NLP’ with other Trainers.  Often the conversations at the NLP Leadership Summit meetings have been about the bigger picture, about creating better relationships between Associations, about how to promote the excellent academic research that has been done in our field and so on.  This time I was keen to ask people, “How do you teach…?”  the Meta Model or Anchoring or Re-framing or any other part of the Practitioner or Master Practitioner syllabus.

Later in the morning session I was pleased to hear that in the UK, some work has been done with OfQual to develop academic standards for NLP that relate to our current levels of qualifications.

For much of the rest of Day One I was occupied with a working group on Standards.  One of the challenges in NLP as a field of study is that it can be applied in many different contexts and the skills a person needs in each of those contexts to be regarded as a competent practitioner can vary widely.  We are in continual discussion about how we can create a coherent framework of competences that enable potential students/customers to make decisions more easily about the training they need.

Various working groups reported back to the meeting…

Phil Parker has launched a podcast of interviews with leading researchers into the Placebo Effect and the Mind/Body connection.

https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/mind-body-connection-with-dr-phil-parker/id1493527932

There is also a major project on treatment of PTSD using NLP protocols.  It was fascinating to hear how military veterans are being assisted to move through their trauma with a process known as Reconsolidation of Traumatic Memories (RTM).  This work was pioneered by Frank Bourke, who is a member of the NLP Leadership Summit and several other members who work in a clinical context have been involved.

www.randrproject.com

Day Two

The second day followed the ‘Open Space’ process for facilitating a meeting.  It was led by Ueli Frischknecht from Switzerland.  I had heard of this process, but never experienced it before.  I was impressed with the process and the atmosphere it engendered.  Small groups of people gathered to discuss topics they had chosen and other people flitted from group to group.

In particular, I liked the four ‘rules’

“Whoever comes are the right people

Whatever happens is the only thing that could have happened

It starts when it starts

When it’s over, it’s over.”

I was also happy that there was no pressure to attend a session if nothing was of interest.  We were assured that even if we chose to sit and drink tea, or retire for a nap, we were still part of the process!   Many of us took advantage of that ‘rule’ at some point in the day.

Lunch was a very enjoyable couple of hours spent in a restaurant on the marina. We had grilled vegetables, bread, cheese and a little glass of wine whilst enjoying the sunshine and the view as well as a great conversation.  I should mention that the mealtimes and evenings spent chatting are as important a part of the Leadership Summit meetings as the organised sessions.

Open Space beckoned us back and I hosted a session in the afternoon under the headline, ‘How do you teach…?’ We enjoyed a lively discussion of ways to teach the Meta model, Reframing and Modelling.  I will be using some of the exercises that other trainers generously shared.  It may also be the start of something bigger…

Day Three

A highlight of the final day was Robert Dilts sharing some of the work he’s been doing with Ian McDermott on ‘intentional fellowship’.  This featured at the NLP Conference in 2018 and they continue to develop the ideas.

In a busy world, where many of us have close friends we can only ‘see’ and speak to electronically most of the time, Robert and Ian have been modelling how they have maintained a friendship and working partnership over several decades, despite not often being able to be in the same place together.

One idea I especially liked was to arrange the time for the next call BEFORE you get caught up in the current call.  I can see how that gives a greater sense of continuity to the interaction.

I could go on…

However, if you’ve read this far, well done!  It’s probably not as engaging to read about as it was to be there but I’m happy answer any questions you might have about what’s going on in the world of NLP.

[Article] Nothing is good or bad

‘Nothing is good or bad but thinking makes it so’ according to William Shakespeare (Hamlet Act 2 scene ii)

I really think the Bard knew what he was talking about here. The way we think about things makes them what they are to us. Specifically, the way we describe things in words makes them ‘good’ or ‘bad’ in our minds. Or anything else – interesting, boring, useful, beautiful or inspiring.

In case you haven’t heard me say this before…

There’s always more than one way to describe a thing.

If the way you currently describe something means that you don’t feel good about it, how about experimenting with different words. Not to change the meaning, just to shift the emphasis.

For example, the complaint,

‘I’m not happy about that’ could be re-worded to, ‘I’m not totally happy about that’. How does that shift your thoughts?

Or the try this one: ‘I’m not good at that, I can’t do it’ transformed to ‘I haven’t discovered the easiest way to do it yet’.

In NLP this is usually described as re-framing. You could also call it taking control of your thoughts. I think of it as shifting focus using language.

But like I said, there’s always more than one way to describe a thing.