Playing To Your Right: Mastery In NLP and Life

In basketball there is a saying that you have to learn to play to your left to master the game.  This refers to the fact that most people are right handed and find it easier and more natural to play to their preferred side.  So for basketball players learning to have the flexibility to play to either side gives them a significant advantage.

What’s true in a game isn’t necessarily true in life.

A few years ago I was complementing a group at a training on their modeling project.  What I pointed out to them was that each had taken on the parts of the project where they already had particular skills to contribute, which made an otherwise complex project achievable.

Obvious, you say?  How many times in life are we encouraged, chastened, and bullied into “working on our weaknesses” (love the wording, don’t you?) doing “what’s needed” (in whose opinion?).  Or my current favorite in the self help movement, a book titled: “They call it work for a reason.” (presupposed: if it isn’t hard it isn’t work, if it isn’t work it isn’t valuable).  OK, I was somewhat influenced by the cover picture on the dust jacket which featured the ugliest pair of cowboy boots I’ve seen in fifty years of living in the west.

As we have been saying in NLP for 30 years, practicing what you do poorly just reinforces that (disappointing) behavior.  It’s a clear example of doing the same thing and expecting a different result.

Instead, for the most practical of reasons, you are far better off practicing what you do well, and getting even better at it.  Yes, a fundamental axiom in NLP is that anyone can do anything.  It’s not impossible to have a career in professional basketball at 5’8″tall.  It’s just quite unlikely; it’s simply not a smart way to bet.

What you are good at is also frequently something you enjoy.  It doesn’t necessarily follow that what you enjoy you’ll be great at, yet it does give you this major advantage:  you are much more likely to persist and pursue something you like.

You are much more likely to make whatever changes are necessary in your behavior, location, education, associates, and so on when doing so increases your enjoyment.  And if you don’t succeed at achiveing your particular goal, at least you spent your time doing something you enjoyed.  Not a bad consolation prize.

So everyone who loves golf should quit their day job and pursue a professional golfing career, right?

Not so much. However a much saner balance between what you enjoy and how much you do something just to pay the rent may be in order.  Americans in particular have been very effectively trained to be good little consumers.
We’ve been well trained to sacrifice enormous amounts of our lives in pursuit of the ability to buy more “stuff” that we’ve been convinced is going to make us happy.  How about skipping all those middle steps and just going directly for what satisfies you?

When I started studying NLP we spent a part of our course learning eye accessing cues and how to determine from those cues a person’s preferred communication style, decision and motivation strategies.

I didn’t happen to find that particularly easy.  I did, however, find it easy to track people’s use of language to achieve the same results.  I also found that I could then apply this whether or not the person was present – all I needed was a sample of their writing or speaking.

This played to my strength, was easy for me, and got the results I wanted.  So to this day I still pay little attention to those eye movements.  Instead I listen to what people say, and watch what they do.  Since there are multiple ways to asses people and influence them (and yourself) available in NLP, you can find one that is easy and natural for you.

Pay attention to that, use it, study it, apply it.  You’ll be on the high road to getting what you want from NLP.  When you’ve plumbed that well until it’s dry, then is a good time to explore “playing to your left.”

You can find multiple examples of ways to accomplish what you want with NLP in our NLP Library portion of our site, as well as The Store. You can also make a lot of progress rapidly by working with a skilled NLP Practitioner or through a good training program.

However you choose to proceed, pick the ways and means that use your strengths and talents to best advantage.  It’s the high road to achivement and satisfaction, mastery, in any area of life.

0 thoughts on “Playing To Your Right: Mastery In NLP and Life”

  1. I’m a Spanish team sports coach ( coaching, not training) and I’m looking for goods books on NLPapplied to Sports.

    Could you please recommend me someone?

    I saw the Joseph O’Connors books”NLP & Sports” but it seems not available any more…

    Than you vey much, Montse

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