“I can’t wait to figure out what’s wrong with me,
so I can say ‘This is the way that I used to be.’ “
John Mayer, Split Screen Sadness
I want to tell you about a really good day. One of those experiences that lingered and energized me for several days that followed.
It’s hard not to be inspired from the moment you wake up to a perfect Colorado Fall “Opposite” day: Crisp AND warm. Trees a beautiful gold AND you ache because summer’s over. A day that makes you pay attention and be present and forget the bad cooties in Washington and Wall Street.
On this day, I’m driving to Boulder with a good friend who is a Master NLP Trainer, famous author, and the principal in a highly successful corporate consulting practice. Some of you may remember him – Gerry Schmidt. Gerry is a Pied Piper. Masterful in relationship and communication skills. People feel affirmed and at peace in his presence. In our circle of corporate consultants, he has developed a reputation as a “magician” – talk to him, and your dramas and issues and limiting stories change forever.
He also happens to be my business partner. And, primarily because of this reputation, we found ourselves – on this perfect Fall day — seated on the patio of the home of two senior HR executives of Fortune 50 companies. Our purpose was to explore the unique value of the NLP model and toolkit in today’s very challenging business environments.
Next to us sat the NLP Living Encyclopedia, the tool these two executives have chosen to learn NLP.
Over the next several months, we will meet in a casual environment for “Conversations about NLP”, to assist them in translating the concepts from the NLP course directly into their work and lives.
As we conduct these conversations, we will share them with you and ask for your stories. This is how NLP works best – using real-life situations and examples and modeling HOW you do what you do well, and specifically HOW you can improve.
Here’s the recap of the first of these conversations.
We began at the beginning: The presuppositions (Page 5 of Living Encyclopedia, for those of you who own it). Gerry stated, “I came to see NLP as a set of tools to embody these very powerful beliefs and principles about human beings (the presuppositions). When we embody them fully, techniques become less important, and relationships and communications are naturally more effective.”
We explored two examples:
“Every behavior has a positive intent.”
“If one person can learn to do something, anyone can learn.”
If you take these at their literal meaning, you can easily find counter-examples (which some people love to do).
But how are these “presuppositions” useful in business relationships? The pattern Six Step Reframing – which Gerry used thousands of times with individuals in his private practice – helped him learn at the deepest core of his being, there is ALWAYS a positive intent. When you really believe that, conflict, competing agendas, and people in business take on new meaning.
The ability to automatically separate behavior from intention – and BELIEVE it – diminishes the “on guard” undertow that creates tension in relationships – especially with difficult people. It gets replaced by an attitude of problem-solving, curiosity, perhaps even service. Instead of figuring out how to manipulate or control someone into behaving or following the rules, you are wondering:
“What does that person really want, and how can I help them get it?”
As I listened, I began to wonder: What would happen in today’s businesses and families if everyone carried that as the central question in their mind throughout their day?
Gerry brought up an example of a senior executive he was working with. This executive oversaw a budget of about $1 billion. He had important insights and expertise on how to architect a major strategic win in the business. Unfortunately, nobody at his level or above could really hear them. He was viewed as “cold” and “self-serving.” He had a habit of talking over people. Gerry had just spent about 6 hours in “deep initiation” of the coaching relationship, uncovering his positive intention and core belief — which was largely unconscious: “In my world, you get further by being right than by being liked. Being right is the pathway by which you ascend in the corporate world.”
So instead of being the heir apparent of a multi-billion dollar enterprise, his adolescent programming was about to cast him aside to the corporate version of Siberia. He holds a key to the future success of the business, but arrogance and renegade behavior is deafening his message.
Positive intentions are funny little beasts. They powerfully perpetuate adolescent behaviors by masking them with social graces (or not). It’s like the “software update” for a particular module of our operating system was never installed. We can see what we do doesn’t work, but we cannot see how to change it.
This individual really wanted his company to be successful. He had studied leadership from all the great sources. He was smart and sophisticated. He didn’t get to the top levels of the boardroom in a company such as this by being incompetent or inept. His intention was strong but his attention was imbalanced – like yin and yang, he over-focused on one side of the equation.
Following is an excerpt from the actual coaching conversation, about what happens when he is presenting his ideas to peers and senior members of his company:
Coach: When you replay the situations where you know you’ve just “blown it” in your mind, what do you remember?
Client: I see the people’s faces tuning out and their body language shutting down.
Coach: Where are you?
Client: I see myself trying to peddle faster. Trying to re-gain the ground I’ve lost by adding more convincing facts and defending my position.
Coach: What happens if you step into the movie and see it from your own eyes?
Client: I feel anxious and increasingly frustrated.
Coach: OK, step out. Now, pretend you’re the director and could re-shoot the scene. How would you change it?
Client: I would ask questions sooner.
Coach: What else?
Client: I would sit down and put myself on their level, and listen to what they had to say.
Coach: What else?
Client: I would stop staring them down with Vulcan-eyes and soften my voice tone; smile and nod.
Coach: Then what happens?
Client: The conversation takes a whole new turn.
When he realized that he primarily conducted his life from a “dissociated” places, the place. He is educated enough that very little about his world provided new insight. NLP broke through.
This simple conversation worked so well because Gerry carries no judgment, only curiosity. “Teach me how to be you” is his mantra – playful and profound at the same time.
Why was this such a good day, that the afterflow lingered into my week?
A day of being “on-purpose” and living one’s mission is the very best life has to offer. To help the leaders of our complicated world own concepts like positive intent and expand their mind to brand new points of view is a gift; the spark that creates a flaming fire of effective action.
You share this mission in some way too. And if you resonate with it now, take a few minutes to share your experiences about how positive intent or “points of view” have created breakthroughs in your life or the lives of your clients.
We raise the universe up when we create a community of learners.
Gerry’s work with his client referenced in this blog, drew from Living Encyclopedia tools:
1) Perceptual Positions & New Behavior Generator — Section 1: DVD #3
2) Six Step Reframing — Section 6: DVD #5