Wednesday, 8 August 2012

'What NLP means to me' - Ian McDermott

From time to time Ian McDermott is asked to provide a preface to the books of colleagues. Ian comments: "Often I find that doing this gives me an opportunity to reflect and speak quite personally and in a different way. This is particularly true in this case."

This is Ian's preface to The Sourcebook of Magic (2nd edition) by Michael Hall published 2004 by Anglo-American Books.

I can still remember how the change I wanted in my love life came about… While I was enjoying considerable professional success I didn’t feel particularly happy or fulfilled in my relationship. I was on an NLP training and reached a threshold: I became aware that I really needed to change some of my own personal history – or at any rate the meaning I had made of it. I needed to do this if I was going to be able to allow myself to have the loving kind of relationship I wanted.

Synthesising a number of NLP techniques I spent several hours with myself. I was ready and primed and that was the perfect time. Did it work? Perhaps the best way I can answer that is that within 24 hours a new woman whom I had never met before came into my life. And not just a new woman but a different kind of woman. She was entirely different to those I had known before. Generous in spirit, not so self-preoccupied and much more available. In fact it seemed quite magical.

So did we marry and live happily ever after? Actually no. For while what happened inside of me to make this possible was an extraordinary experience, it was not the end of the story. I had more to do. And that took time. Even with NLP, it took time. But this was the turning point and that relationship represented the next stage in my personal journey. From then on things only got better until eventually I did meet the woman I married - and am still married to.

Right now you are holding in your hands the tools that can help make such change possible. In this masterly and comprehensive survey of what NLP has to offer Michael Hall has made it easy to understand when to use what. Even so learning how to use these processes is best accomplished experientially. Because the learning is in the doing, if you want to get good at NLP I would strongly suggest you take an NLP training. (Choose an organisation that has a proven track record and trainers you can trust).
NLP is frequently referred to as a technology and – in part – it is. Those science fiction dystopias that depict a world where technology has got out of control remind us that while technology can make a very good servant, it makes a very bad master. The same could be said of any advanced technology – including NLP. You get to be in charge of this particular technology by being clear about what you want to achieve with it and then engaging with your experience. With its many examples this book will show what is possible.
The technology itself is rigorous, evidence-based and can be calibrated to each individual. However, if you were to ask me what is the most advanced and important application of this advanced technology I would have no hesitation in my answer. I would say that it offers the means to enhance and nourish that least attended to and most important relationship in anyone’s life – your relationship with yourself.

So often NLP is presented as offering invaluable interpersonal communication tools. And it’s true. In addition NLP practitioners have modelled human excellence in a wide variety of fields. In fact NLP can be useful to anyone who is interested in answering the question ‘just how do you do that?’ of any human activity. However, in the final analysis I believe the power of NLP derives not from how it can help us become more influential with others or even model excellence. The real power of NLP is that it can enable us to become more influential with ourselves. Over time, if we choose to cultivate this relationship with ourselves, and consistently use the many NLP tools described in this book we may even move beyond excellence to some smidgen of wisdom.

And then there’s the world of work. As a consultant I frequently find the methodologies, the techniques, but also just the way of thinking that characterises NLP, to be liberating and productive in organisations - and not just for managers. My strategic and systemic work with leaders is made much easier by being able to call on a variety of NLP models and interventions. Every business I work with wants to know how better to manage crucial relationships and maximise client satisfaction. NLP has specific tools to help achieve these goals. What organisation wouldn’t benefit from those within it knowing how to put themselves in others’ shoes, be they colleagues or clients? What employee wouldn’t want to know how to better manage upwards? Again, NLP has specific techniques that make these learnable skills.

Recently I have become aware that I am now seeing an increasing number of coaches coming to take our NLP Practitioner and Master Practitioner trainings. When I’ve asked them why their answers are remarkably consistent; because of its precision and techniques NLP means they can be more effective in the limited time frame of the typical 30 minute coaching call. Their other reason is very market driven. With so many people now calling themselves coaches, NLP enables them to deliver more effective results more consistently and so improve word of mouth referral rates.

This makes a lot of sense to me because NLP offers us the tools for understanding how we do what we do and what works - and also what is not working. Its range of applications will be limited only by the variety of people who get involved. In my office at home I have a special bookshelf reserved for the complimentary copies my students send me of the books they have written applying NLP to their own fields of expertise. These range from business, to athletics, to medicine, to headship, to equestrian excellence.

However, at its best it does so much more: it makes possible a practical compassion that enables us to effect profound structural change. At its best it is inclusive recognising that there may well be many ways of achieving a successful outcome. But it is also rigorous in delineating how some ways are much, much easier than others. Again at its best it is respectful and realistic because it acknowledges that we each have our own map of the world. It stresses we need to have that map honoured if we are to be available to new opportunities that take us beyond the boundaries of our previous thinking. I also value NLP because, at it’s best, it is demystificatory and democratic – using NLP you will find your experience has a structure. This means you can make sense of what you’ve been doing and change it if you wish.

For myself I work in the field because I have a vision of what is possible using these tools, this way of thinking - and what they ultimately can give rise to, which is a way of being. Potentially NLP is not just life changing but world changing. Sometimes it can even be the difference between life and death.

I have been inspired by my work with doctors and seeing just what is possible with the many NLP health applications that have been developed. I have felt humbled when one of my students, a barrister, tells me that he found his NLP skills meant he was able to counsel a senior Caribbean political figure who then commuted death sentences on a number of political insurrectionists. I feel new hope when another of my students starts using NLP in the restorative justice programmes he has pioneered with the police in the UK. Here crime victims and perpetrators come face to face and achieve resolution. The success of his work – as measured by a staggering drop in recidivism - sets me thinking, what if NLP was to be used in international mediation work? So I feel called to contribute when my Islamic students ask me to help them make NLP available in the Middle East. For me these and many other similar examples make the magic of NLP pale into insignificance when compared to the magic that people can do with it.

However, the best way to start changing the world is by putting your own house in order. Starting with oneself is a very good place to begin applying NLP if you want to come across as credible and congruent – and if you want to be successful over any length of time. NLP makes it possible to become aware of at least some of the presuppositions that are running our thinking and our behaviour – and hence our lives. It’s useful to know what yours are. It’s also nice to know that - as I can attest from personal experience - you can use NLP to change them if they’re not working for you.
So going back to my own romantic experience does this mean…‘I owe it all to NLP’? Er, no! Do we ever really owe everything to just one factor? If I was going to say I owe it all to anything it would be to taking charge of my inner life and changing what I believed possible. But what I would say is that, from my own experience, I can assure you that you can have the changes you want if you just start to build a better relationship with yourself and get clear about what you really want. And NLP is one very good way of doing this.
From such remedial beginnings are generative possibilities born. Often we can barely imagine what these might be. In my own case it meant finding there was something beyond what I had known. When I met Paulette, who later became my wife, I was challenged in myself to love differently and more deeply. That process I wouldn’t call magical. It is more mysterious still. It is alchemical and it changes you in a different way again. (But that’s another book).

Recently I received a letter from one of my students who had just completed our Practitioner and Master Practitioner training. In it she detailed the specific major new steps she was able to take after each module of these two programmes. These are the most profound changes to her life that she has ever experienced. Now 10 months later she has a new career, a new home, an apartment to let and is emotionally ready to share her life with someone. But her final line said more than all of this: “I’m so happy to be living life to the full now instead of just existing.”

I believe that, in the right hands, NLP has much to offer those who want to live life to the full and go beyond just existing. That’s why I think you owe it to yourself to read on. In this valuable contribution to the field Michael Hall has woven together the different strands of NLP and expertly delineated much of what NLP has to offer. I think you will find him enormously informative and trustworthy. I do. That’s why it’s a pleasure to welcome the second edition of this authoritative guide to the magic of NLP.

Ian McDermott

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