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The difference that makes the difference in NLP

June 13, 2013 — by Daryll Scott0

I’m often asked, “What makes a great NLP change agent?”

I have trained over 150 Practitioners of NLP, and many of them – although they had a great time on the course, learnt techniques, gained new awareness, challenged their beliefs, got loads of personal value – still didn’t really ‘get it’. At the other extreme, some took to it like a duck to water and their abilities had little to do with my training; I was simply a tour guide for discoveries they already knew intuitively.

I’m having a mini-integrity crisis and asking, can you really train NLP in a workshop?’ You can run a great course that blows everyone’s mind and they think it’s great value for money, but are we really inducting the awareness, understanding and instinct of a great change agent?

There is an observable difference, and it’s the topic of my next book. It’s as if the people who pick it up quickly think differently to the others.

Thinking about thinking is a particularly messy paradox*, – and that’s not a good description to use because I have no idea how another person thinks and I’m becoming more and more unsure about what thinking is**.

So to be more precise; most people seem to pay attention to the world in a different way to me. I’m beginning to get an idea of the difference. Let’s play a game:

Pick a manmade noun in your immediate vicinity. It can be anything; a chair, a pen, a bag; select something that you interact with.

Now define it. Answer the question ‘What is it?’ – describe the seemingly static qualities – dimensions, colour, texture, weight etc. What do you use it for?

Notice what processes of thought you evoke to answer the question. How does it feel – easy or difficult? Logical or imaginative? Focussed or a daydream?

Now ask a different question about the item; ask yourself ‘How?’

How do you interact with it? Think of all the small unconscious movements that are required to interact with it. How many different ways could you use it, and how would that work? How did it come to be here? How were the component parts manufactured, harvested, assembled? How many people were involved in getting it here? How many places did it pass through on it’s journey? If it’s a labour or energy saving device, how much labour and energy was required to get it here? How could it be better? How could you remove friction?

Again, notice what processes of thought you evoke to answer the question. How does it feel – easy or difficult? Logical or imaginative? Focussed or a daydream?

Somewhere in there is the answer to the question.***

*Logical type – Thinking is both the set (the activity) and the member of the set (the specific topic that you are thinking about).

**‘What is thinking?’ is a plug-and-play question that comes with a deeply unhelpful type of attention already installed. ‘What it is’ presupposes it’s a static thing, but it’s not a static thing, it’s a process. ‘How do we think?’ is a far more helpful question.

***Can you go one step further? – to remove the undefined label ‘think’? It’s not a thing, and there is such a variety of different processes that you would call thinking, and those different processes, the different qualities of thinking, don’t have names. Can you think of processes that you don’t even have a word for and then ask ‘how’?

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