Gotta keep up! – Who Says?

Peter just hasn’t caught up with the 21st century. He’s never sent an email in his life. He’s never browsed the internet. He doesn’t possess a mobile phone and has never used one. He doesn’t even have a television.

Peter who?

– Peter Higgs, the extraordinary scientist who won the Nobel Prize for Physics at the end of last year, following the discovery of his predicted Higgs boson using the Large Hadron Collider at Cern.

Just 50 years ago, Higgs returned to Edinburgh University from a camping trip in the Highlands with some new ideas, and wrote a short paper that was published in a European physics journal, Physics Letters. A second paper he wrote that same year predicting a new massive spin-zero boson was rejected by the journal as “of no obvious relevance to physics.” Higgs added a paragraph and sent the same paper to another leading physics journal which published it. This was the basic prediction for what followed.

The particle to match these theories was finally discovered 49 years later in 2012. In those 49 years, Higgs published fewer than 10 academic papers. Every year the university would ask its academics for a list of recent publications, and every year Higgs wrote “zero”. “I’d have been sacked into today’s academic system, I wouldn’t be productive enough,” he asserts.

Yet his discovery of the Higgs boson marks a massively important break through, its full implications yet to become clear. Quantum mechanics – the last great break through – led to the invention of the transistor – key ingredient for all modern electronics, the laser and other medical technologies – MRIs, PET scans etc. Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web at Cern, another major transformation of our lives. Who knows where this latest discovery will lead us? – For sure it’ll be huge.

January is often a time when I resolve to be more up with the times. Perhaps you write similar hopes yourself? “Keep up to date with my FaceBook page. Twitter more regularly. Get more savvy about social media. Read the latest publications. Get into shape. Throw out my old wardrobe …”

In the middle of all this insistent self-bluster, Peter Higgs is a comforting figure. He’s 84, and will leave behind an outstanding legacy. But he certainly didn’t “keep up” – ever. His whole life he followed his own beliefs and did his own thing, often to the detriment of his position in academic life. He hasn’t been blown around by opinion or fashion or fame. He’s far from arrogant and doubts that he deserves the Nobel Prize: “I’m getting the prize for something which took me two or three weeks in 1964,” he commented.

Do you ever have an irrational fear of somehow not keeping up and getting left behind? But I ask myself: Will the world really come to a standstill because I didn’t check my mobile before I went to sleep? Will I really stagnate in obscurity if I don’t post continually on social websites or mix with the ‘right’ people? It’s a media-fuelled fantasy. I’ve a feeling that an awful lot of energy is dissipated in such activities, and this new year I have various good ideas about how I’d like better to use that energy.

I do usually recognize the difference in myself between the urgency of that inner push to get more busy with business and outcomes, and the energy behind a little inner voice that nudges me that a certain move is going to be exciting and worthwhile. The little voice is extremely energizing and always leads to something good if I listen to it; the urgent nagging to greater productivity fragments and exhausts me.

So, Peter Higgs, you’re my mentor – you’ve followed your inner voice in science and in life. I like the idea of a mentor who didn’t even know he’d won the Nobel prize till a woman stopped her car in an Edinburgh street and congratulated him on the news. “What news?” he asked her, looking blank.

Higgs, you’re my kind of human being!

 

MY LATEST BOOK

My new book, The Art of Conversation, comes out in April. You can pre-order it on Amazon here. It’s been a fascinating book to write – conversation is the basis of so much in our lives! I hope you’ll enjoy it. (Cool hard-back cover!)

 

VOICE OF INFLUENCE WORKSHOP

If you want to communicate more confidently, be listened to, speak with more impact, connect better with people and build your confidence generally, this is definitely the course for you. Have a look at the testimonials from former participants here. They are absolutely typical of the feedback the course receives.

The next workshop is on 27-28 February. Get in touch with me (or book online) very soon if you want to attend on those dates as I’ve had quite a lot of enquiries.

NEW YEAR, NEW YOU

– and an event to recommend this week:

Thu 23 Jan, 7–8.45 pm, Global Cooperation House, London NW10 2HH. Meet two engaging and high profile women, Fiona Harrold, world-renowned coach and best-selling author, and Sister Jayanti, European Director of the Brahma Kumaris, international speaker and broadcaster. They will explore together how to energise and shift our way of thinking and being to be our best and create a better future. A free event, but you need to register herewww.bkwsu.org/uk/whatson/whatson

E-COURSES

Just a reminder that you can download my free e-courses on Dealing with Performance Anxiety; Raising your Profile; Speaking with More Authority, and an Introduction to NLP from my website – here.

Hope to meet some more of you this year!

Go well in 2014,

Judy

The old words are best …

‘I train and coach people in leadership …’  Cupcake
(just practising a spiel for the next
networking event …)

We all specialise in leadership these days – us corporate coaches and trainers. Management has slipped down the list, but leadership has more models of excellence than cup cakes have decorative designs (not that they aren’t slipping down the list too …).

Ever on the case, I asked a young friend who especially admired his boss, ‘What’s so good about his leadership?’

‘He’s kind.’

Kind?! What sort of a word is that? I glossed over it.

‘Yes right, but what about his vision, his ability to be ahead of the curve, his authority, strength of purpose, decision making …?’

‘Yes, I s’pose …’ said the young person indifferently, ‘But some of the others have that too. He’s different because … well, he’s kind.

I asked him to tell me more, and he explained that okay this leader saw the big picture, knew where he was taking the company, was indeed tough at times and had made hard decisions, but he didn’t do it from a distance.

He tried to make it clearer. ‘You know how warfare works now?’ he said. ‘The attacker, way up in a fighter plane, sees the target in the cross-hairs of his sight and presses a button. Then far away some buildings fall and people die. Well, he’s the opposite of that; he gets up close and messy, and we all believe that he cares. He knows exactly how people feel because he talks to us, so although he’s tough sometimes I think that it hurts him when he makes a decision that’s painful for people.’

After we’d spoken, I reflected on his word, ‘kind’ and decided I liked its humanity. We are after all ‘humankind’ and ‘kind’ has its origins in ‘kin’ – family. Maybe if leaders got up close enough to be able to see their people breathing – see all their stakeholders breathing … After all, if results aren’t ultimately about people on the planet, what are they about?

I took a break from writing on Thursday and walked in a country park. Climbing up the hill to the summit I thought, ah yes, big picture – I don’t forget I’m climbing up to the top of the hill, but I also notice, look, a miraculous wild orchid – flowering impossibly in autumn just on my path – and I watch where I put my feet.

Maybe it’s time us English speakers took a fresh look at the words we use? I’m getting fond of our oldest words, those short ones like the one my young friend chose. Forget the lengthy words that belong to cross-hair vision – strategy, implementation, quantitative easing (‘shurely that used to be called something else?’ Ed.) or my favourite from an unfortunate political friendship this week, ‘income that is not dependent on any transactional behaviour’; I’m now raising a cheer for our ancient monosyllables like truth, like, fair, guts, peace and yes, kind.

What’s on the next few weeks

Voice of Influence Workshop

Learn how to speak with confidence and presence in any situation – 1-2 December.

The group is always small – 1 place left. More courses in 2012. The last workshop at the beginning of this month attracted this written feedback from the participants:

* Memorable experience! Enjoyable experience…
*Everything helped me (and others I am sure) to feel more confident and leave feeling we had gained something important. A great course! …
*I feel I have acquired a lot of tools to improve my public speaking and in addition am a lot more confident in myself…
*How happy your clients appear when they leave at the end of a course. They are invariably smiling …
*Every exercise had a purpose … It was useful for each to have their own feedback during tasks from the trainer. The course was set and planned in a way which made me very comfortable and interested in taking in more during each day.
*I am pleased to develop a more ‘can do’ attitude and not be afraid to get things wrong…
*Challenging but beneficial and rewarding… would recommend it highly. Was very nervous initially, but by the end felt more empowered. …
*I am very pleased about my growth in confidence… A refreshing break from the presentation skills course I have come to expect! … Great experience!

Coaching the Human Spirit

Brahma Kumaris, Spirit of Coaching residential weekend for coaches – Fri-Sun, 28-30 October near Oxford

This was a beautiful and inspiring event last year. It’s waiting list only for this year, but book early for next! www.globalretreatcentre.org

Butterflies and Sweaty Palms:

– 25 sure-fire ways to speak and present with confidence

My latest book, illustrated by Rosie Apps, comes out in January, a month later than I said in my last newsletter, but worth waiting for. You can still pre-book it for a Christmas present! It’s direct and practical – based on the best of what people discover in my courses and coaching – invaluable to keep beside you if you have to speak in public. Available to order on Amazon.

NLP Conference

I’m speaking at the Education Conference and the Main Conference on 18-20 November. This is a great event to find out more about NLP and hear an interesting variety of speakers from over the world. Hope to see you there! More details at www.nlpconference.co.uk.

Go well!

Rosie the hen went for a walk…

Rosie the hen

across the yard,

around the pond

over the haycock,

past the mill,

through the fence,

under the beehives,

and got back in time for dinner.

–    –    –

Do you know the picture story “Rosie’s Walk” by Pam Hutchins? The delight of it is that the pictures tell a different story from the words. Rosie the hen takes a happy little walk, but in the pictures we the readers spot the wicked fox tailing Rosie. He pounces on her and misses, landing on a rake and knocking himself out. He tries again by the pond and falls in. He tries repeatedly to catch her – each attempt a disaster – until finally he lands in a cart which runs out of control into a beehive, setting off an angry swarm of bees.

Meanwhile Rosie, serenely unaware of these catastrophic events, trots contentedly back into the hen house after her walk. …

I know people that trail disaster in their wake blithely unaware just like that, don’t you?!

But how many times does any of us flap our butterfly wings and cause a hurricane elsewhere? Hard to tell! – we all wear filters. Becoming aware of these filters – and expanding our awareness – is one of the most useful insights I’ve gained from NLP.

Bird’s eye view

“Rosie’s Walk” already offers one excellent method to expand awareness – get a bird’s eye view. When you have an issue, rise above it in your mind – way up as high as the moon if you want – and witness yourself and the elements of the problem from there. Seeing the picture as a whole like that often gives you new insights. Crucially, it enables you to view the whole system – and that allows you to recognise more complex relationships between the elements and see beyond the obvious sequence of A causes B, or A means B.

In my own life, when I suffered terrible performance anxiety and failed an audition in a grand Italian opera house it seemed an utter disaster at the time. I gave the event a meaning, “Failure.” (capital F!)

But the bird’s eye view of a couple of decades later – seeing the event in context – makes me realise the wealth of learning I’ve picked up from that experience – about performance anxiety, resilience, humour, compassion, understanding of human nature and more. I use the rich learning from that “failure” positively every week. “Failure” has in fact become “Resource”.

If you stick to one view like “Rosie” or a single label like “Failure” you often miss the bigger picture. Some people do that with their whole life by giving it a label such as “Life of a Victim” or Life of a Loser;” and rather than gradually growing a fresh wider perspective, life events are instead forced to fit the constricting old label.

So how can you adopt the bird’s eye view?

For some it comes naturally – they take different views of a situation as a matter of course. They are the people to model!

For me, it’s about deliberately making space every now and then and stepping out of the fully absorbing colourful business of living.

A friend of mine just says a loud internal “STOP!” ever so often, and this makes him pause to look at the system that is his life. He says his life is like a tangled ball of string, “But tangled or not, on those occasions I look at it as a whole and see that it is a perfectly shaped ball!”

Useful insight!

Play

If you took a large sheet of paper and ‘put’ your life on it – filling the page freely with pictures or words to illustrate all the different parts of your existence  – and then, having put it away for a day, looked at the whole paper afresh – bird’s eye view – I wonder what connections would occur to you …

… quite a few I would I imagine …

Perhaps you’d like to let me know!

Hottest day of the year since 2006 this week – wonderful summer,

Go well!

Judy

Gannets

In this newsletter

  • A Gannet Story
  • New excellent funding stream for training
  • Book for autumn now – New NLP Practitioner opportunity!
  • Recommended books

GannetsGannet

Gannets are on my mind this week. Sometimes a bird just gets a bad press. Until a few days ago I thought I knew all I needed to know about the gannet; i.e.

gannet – ˈɡanɪt/ – greedy bird (what my own mother called me when I purloined chocolate cake) which breeds in overcrowded quarrelsome colonies of hundreds of thousands on remote island rocks off Scotland.

That was before I saw a film recently of gannets diving for fish. Suddenly I was witnessing something astonishing. A handsome bird with an almost 2 metre wingspan hovered a 100 feet in the air like a kite or an eagle and then performed a spectacular nosedive at 60 miles per hour into the sea, becoming streamlined like a torpedo just before entering the water. Somehow it then turned again from torpedo into bird to beat its way out of the water into the air again with a fish in its beak – Watch it here.

What grace and power! Completely awe inspiring to watch.

That wasn’t the end of my gannet week though. The next gannet event was ridiculous. I saw a clip of young gannet fledglings on the high rock where the birds breed. At some point the fluffy young bird had to summon up the courage to jump off the cliff. It was too heavy to fly, so it half fell, half fluttered, banged itself on rocks, miraculously got up again, fell again, hit rocks again and bounced, got up again, fell again, and eventually dropped into the sea hundreds of feet below. How it survived I have no idea. What a scene of tragic-comedy!

So three different views of a bird:

  • On its breeding cliff greedy and everyday-quarrelsome
  • Diving into the ocean – powerful and extraordinary
  • Jumping/falling off the cliff – vulnerable and absurd

By the way, re the last clip the bird commentator added the postscript that the young bird – afloat for the first time in its life – would now swim to Norway – swim to Norway? – and when eventually it had the strength to take off in flight (another new skill!) in a couple of weeks it would migrate thousands of miles south, even as far as West Africa…

It struck me reading the week-end papers at leisure last week-end how much we are presented with just one view at a time. A while ago we had pictures of a strong leader with statesman-like pose meeting other world leaders at an international event. This week-end the news is of an evil tyrant and every photo shows the man with an evil expression – same man, different moment, different view. It’s the stuff of soap operas of course, perfect for keeping a story going. We thought she was a ‘goody’; but oh no! she’s a ‘baddy’ after all!

People protesting in the streets wear identical face masks of a certain politician bearing the same fixed expression – just one view. There you are, you can see that he’s not to be trusted, he has the ‘not-to-be-trusted’ expression fixed and unchanging on his mask of a face!

Great for soap operas and Mills and Boon; not so good for understanding people well.  When I’m coaching someone, sometimes they present to me an image of ‘vulnerable and absurd’ and tell me silently to believe it. But I don’t, because I know that hidden in them somewhere is also ‘powerful and extraordinary’; I believe in its existence even if they don’t themselves quite yet – and bit by bit, being seen, it finds the space to emerge.

I was inspired by the coach Tim Gallwey one year when he spoke about this very thing at the ICF Conference:

“The person is much bigger than what you see.  As a coach I believe in the existence of potential beyond what I see.  I see withdrawal, shutdownness, but I do not believe it.  You can’t do this just mentally. You’ve got to look for it, see it through the veils, through the acts people have on them to make us believe they are wonderful that’s covering their wonderfulness.  Good self images are the hard ones – an image is an image.  What about the thing being imaged.  You?”

ICF Conference Speech 1999

I like the last bit about images of being wonderful hiding a person’s wonderfulness – I know people who do that, don’t you?

I experience within myself too this limitation in viewing. One day I’m struggling with a fault on the computer and my overwhelming feeling is ‘vulnerable and absurd.’ I shout downstairs for assistance with helpless sighing and blue language…

The answer comes back up, “Just take it easy, I’m sure you can solve it.”

More blue language; more helpless sighing. ‘Vulnerable and absurd’ feels like the whole of me, I’m quite incapable of seeing beyond it.

And then – sometimes! – I look inside and discover ‘powerful’ and a whole new way of feeling and being. This allows me to take heart and proceed resolutely to resolve what is only a technical blip after all.

We are people of parts. There’s almost more – beyond what we believe to be there.

Wouldn’t it be great for the media in the 21st Century to mature into a greater appreciation of the multi-dimensionality of people – less of the cut-out 2D image, more of an exploration of the amazing amalgam we all are? They might think we’d hate it. I think we’d find it riveting.

Media are you listening?!

There’s always more …

Me and you – are you listening!

New funding for training

Check out this new funding stream if you are interested to apply for my NLP Diploma, Practitioner or the Voice of Influence course next autumn – it could save you considerably. The new Government Leadership and Management Advisory Service is offering funding for leadership and management skills for small businesses. Further details here.

NLP Diploma

The next NLP Diploma starts in October. Please see ‘Testimonials’ on my website for some of the comments of recent recipients of the award.

NLP is the great confidence builder – the Diploma offers six days of rich practical learning over a couple of months. People find it difficult to put NLP in a nutshell, but what you will certainly get out of the Diploma is the ability to be a more effective communicator and get on better with everyone, surer direction in your life, greater self awareness – including liking yourself better! – more influence and increased success at work and outside.  This makes it a great leadership course – a multi-dimensional package!

The price is again just £850 till September! To get this full 40%+ discount when booking on-line proceed as follows:

i. Book each of the 3 modules individually but at the same time (the discount only works if you book all three at once). Booking all three automatically triggers a 30% discount to start with.

ii. In the Voucher box, insert VOI SPECIAL. That will give the additional discount, bringing the price of all 3 workshops booked together to £850.

Alternatively, just fill in the booking form and email to me!

NLP Practitioner – register now

New opportunity! People have been asking me if they can continue on from the Diploma to the full NLP Practitioner and the answer – this year at least – is yes! If you already have my NLP Diploma or plan to take it this autumn, with three extra days of training in January 2012 plus a coaching session and individual study you can become a qualified NLP Practitioner through group coaching by February 2012. It’s an exciting course and probably the best value Practitioner you can do anywhere!

If you are interested please let me know immediately at judy@voiceofinfluence.co.uk.  I will send you further details for your final decision very shortly.

Voice of Influence Workshop

Book early for the next one – 30 September to 1 October.  More details at www.voiceofinfluence.co.uk

Books for Dummies

Finally, I’d like to highly recommend two fascinating books in that great ‘Dummies’ series by friends of mine.

Happy summer days to all!

Go well,

The shortest distance between two points is a straight line – isn’t it?

wavy line illusionSome things are obvious.

It’s obvious that the lines on the right here are curved.  (they’re not – they are all straight and horizontal)

arrows illusion

It’s obvious that the horizontal green lines below are of different lengths.

(they’re not; they are all of precisely the same length.)

It’s obvious that when something is wrong it needs to be put right. That’s exactly what happened in the following three real life examples:

After a bomb was planted by the IRA in the Tower of London in 1974 action was taken to prevent the recurrence of such incidents. The solution was found. For the next 10 years visitors to the Tower were subjected to a search of their bags. I visited the Tower over 50 times in that period and the searching of bags was regular and thorough.

Nobodyeven if wearing a voluminous coat with pockets large as those of Fagin in Oliver Twist – nobody ever had their pockets searched.

When Lonhro took over The Observer newspaper in 1981, they suspected that money was being lost through some journalists exaggerating or cheating on their expenses (where have I heard that before?). The solution was found. Measures were taken to prevent this dishonesty. Journalists were requested to fill in expenses claims for every single item of expense, and unenthusiastically they complied.

What happened was that journalists who had previously been quite careless in claiming were forced to think about every item of expenditure. With such attention on the subject (and the lack of trust) even those who had been quite casual before began to register every expense and claims increased. Lonhro discovered that their costs, far from coming down, went up enormously.

After the costly Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989 (where have I heard that before?!) a solution was found for the future. Many coastal states enacted laws to place unlimited liability on the tanker operators to ensure safer operation.

As a result, the huge Royal Dutch/Shell group began hiring independent ship companies to deliver oil to the United States. These tended to be fly-by-night tanker operators with leaky ships and iffy insurance, and thus the probability of spills increased and the likelihood of collecting damages decreased.

Beware of the obvious.  

Those of us that read our newspapers are given a daily training in black and white thinking: bad things need to be got rid of, people are good or bad; either it’s OK or it isn’t; the shortest distance between two points is always a straight line. All obvious.

Masters of the subtler martial arts tend not to use a straight block to an attack that’s the way people get hurt. Instead they employ circles that join the direction in which the opponent is already going and then continue in a circle until the direction is that which the master wants. When I met the elderly Maruyama Sensei, a famous master of the art, he sent a person flying across the room with the smallest of movements as his arm swept down in a circle. No effort, just gravity, the natural path of the circle and relaxation. Skill – that looks like pure magic. Watch 22 seconds here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7VM_Guh5Mrs

systems circleI first explored in NLP the fascinating concept that for activities that involve humans the circle is usually more useful than the straight line. Any single action may have one obvious effect – A causes B – but that action in fact creates effects in many directions at once. These effects in turn have their own impact – often less obvious – on many other factors. This was illustrated to me by Robert Dilts as in this diagram.

The French economic journalist Frederic Bastiat back in the early 1800s wrote:  “There is only one difference between a bad economist and a good one: the bad economist confines himself to the visible effect; the good economist takes into account both the effect that can be seen and those effects that must be foreseen.”

We need to explore the system. Success lies in recognising and taking note of all the connections including unintended consequences, payoffs and by-products.

NLP has many elegant processes for exploring systems and they allow for emotional and other human elements as well as logic. They are invaluable for designing strategies. They also work on the simplest interchanges:

  • I’m doing it this way, says A.Blocking diagram
  • No, (blocking) do it this way, instructs B (pushing straight back.)
  • Don’t want to, (resisting back) growls A, digging heels in.
  • I’m doing it this way, says A again.
  • That’s interesting, comments B. Show me how it goes (continuing round the circle).going with diagram
  • A shows, feeling listened to (going with the energy)
  • That’s great, says B. And if we veered then a bit this way with this result, how would that be? (They are already travelling in the same direction so it is easy for A to accept the steer.)
  • That’s interesting, says A. Let’s try it.

The concept of systems as explored in NLP is an important one for our present climate of drastic change – how many times is the baby thrown out with the bath water by straight line thinking?

I always find that people are excited and amazed by NLP training – first by how much they discover that is new to them; and secondly by the sheer range of applications in their work and home life. If you decide to put your toe in the water I’m sure you will discover the same.

NLP Diploma

My next NLP Diploma starts very soon – on 17-18 February – in Hammersmith, London.

You can apply for the full Diploma – three 2-day modules between Feb and April – and the special offer of £850 for the whole Diploma continues this spring.

Or you can apply for individual modules – the first workshop, Communication and Relationships is on 17-18 February.

The Leadership and Influence module is on 17-18 March, and the Coaching and Change module is on 14-15 April.

More info at www.voiceofiinfluence.co.uk or from me – 07 515 717 611, judy@voiceofinfluence.co.uk.
There are also generous terms for people in particular circumstances. If you are hesitating because of funding – just contact me.

Voice of Influence Workshop

We have just had the latest Voice of Influence Workshop where participants achieved some great results. Here are snippets of the written comments from last week to give you a flavour:

Undoubtedly 2 days of my life well spent…  truly inspirational!  … I had real trepidation about this course but ended up having a really fun time … a wealth of voice and NLP experience to help you to achieve real improvements in how your present yourself to the world … Keep doing what you’re good at, as you’re truly amazing!!! … it was so much better than I ever imagined … we all gelled and felt really comfortable … you have given me confidence … so exciting, and so uplifting … I thank you with all my heart …   I have felt a load been lifted …  It’s been really fantastic  … content was clear, well-paced …  safe environment to stretch and learn and do it in such a seemingly effortless way … I was initially terrified … Relaxed, fun, interesting and I think eve ryone ‘grew’ quickly …  come away really wanting to put my hands-up for speaking gigs … quite a turnaround in two days! …  master at this topic and generously imparts her knowledge … subtly inspiring great shifts in her clients’ confidence … the workshop had a great flow … very relevant with lots of practical exercises that were imaginative and fun to do … really helped get the subject into my “muscles” … really interesting and enjoyable … a very authentic, attentive and skilled trainer … great role model …  2 really worthwhile days that have given me more awareness, skills and confidence … I have learnt a lot … really enjoyed the structure of the course … Really enjoyed the course … you attract some very kind and positive people … that is a great testament to you …

There is one more Voice of Influence Workshop this spring – on 31 March –
1 April. It is almost full, but there are still a few spaces. You can apply directly on-line or contact me. Is this your moment for finding your voice and your confidence?!

Look at the website

As usual there are lots of valuable resources on my website – have a look for free e-courses, my book Voice of Influence, articles, information about one-to-one coaching (the best thing of the last 20 years!) and more.

And a famous word on inter-connectedness:

A human being is part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.  Albert Einstein

Warm good wishes

Playing with words

Language shapes our thinking – can you only think what you have words for?

 SnowmanWhat times we live in! I am struck by the contrasting ways in which human behaviour is described. That useful magazine “The Week” publishes extracts from newspapers of every complexion, and repeatedly you can find a single topic described in wildly different ways. “Hurray for openness!” says one commentator; “Terrible leaks!” wails another. “Personal responsibility”, states one; “savage cuts” complains another. “Freedom of self-determination” shouts one; “Terrorism!” proclaims another.

Abstract nouns! NLP has quite a bit to say about these. It calls them ‘nominalisations’ and nominalisations are famously slippery, elusive and vague.

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.”
“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things
.”�
                                                                                                     Lewis Carroll: Through the Looking Glass.

Well, you certainly can if you use abstractions!

“Love” is a particularly vague abstract noun as it makes do for such a cornucopia of different emotions: parental love, sexual love, love of chocolate brownies, love of taking long lunch-breaks in the pub … Two thousand years ago the Greeks gave us a wise lead by employing four different words for love –  agape–affection, eros-desire , philia-friendship  and storge–family love. But the English language did not go the way of the Greeks …

Nor of the Eskimos: the author Edward De Bono describes the rich vocabulary of love among the Inuit people who use subtle distinctions to manage relationships in the confinement of their long snowy winters. He refers to one of their words for love that translates as “I like you very much, but I would not go seal-hunting with you”. Now that might serve as a useful comeback at a party this Christmas!

One suggestion NLP makes to help unravel the meaning of abstract nouns is to turn them into verbs or “action words”. Our “love” then becomes the process of how we love each other, and our “relationship” becomes the process of how we relate to each other. It’s often easier to understand the meaning of a situation when an abstraction is turned into a process.

The linguist Benjamin Whorf argued that the fact that the Eskimos have 200 words for snow indicates that they have a much richer thinking on the subject.  So what about our more limited language for the idea of love – or indeed, given the season, love, joy and peace? Are we impoverished by having “one size fits all” for such concepts?

When we turn these abstract nouns of love, joy and peace into processes (noun into verb) we can see more clearly their limitations. It involves a bit more grammar but for a purpose!

Verbs are either transitive (which means they have an object; for example “I hit you”); or they can be intransitive (which means there is no object – for example “I sleep”; “I sleep you doesn’t make sense). An intransitive verb describes a state of being rather than something that is done to someone else.

So love, joy and peace

If we play a little with these words as processes, love is already a transitive verb:  “I love you. I love my fellow man.” But there is no intransitive equivalent to describe loving as a state of being – “I am loving” gets quite close to it, but a verb meaning “I am love-ful” would really good to add to our vocabulary.

What do you do, where do you go, what do you remember in order to enter the state of feeling “love-ful”?

For joy, we can “enjoy”, but it would be useful to have the more generative verb meaning “I am joy-ful”. And it would also be good to have a transitive verb “to joy” to express the concept of spreading or extending joy to someone.

I can “hurt you”. What would it mean for me to “joy” you?

With regard to peace, we can express a state of being in the three words “I am peace-ful”. But what about a transitive verb “to peace someone”, meaning to spread or extend peace? As of now I can “fight” “attack” “assault” “combat” or “assail” you, but I have no verb to affect you with “peace”. The media use battle words constantly: to fight terror, fear, poverty, injustice, extradition, apathy, disease …

(Who said “Whatever you fight, you strengthen, and what you resist persists”? Ah, that was Eckhart Tolle.)

If we use war-like words we are liable to see life as a battle.

What would it be like to have an active sense of “peacing” the people you spend time with?

If we are missing the language does it matter?

Does it matter that we don’t have words for things we might want to say? Yes, I believe it does, because language shapes the way we think just as much as the way we think shapes language.* If we haven’t got the words for it we are unable to think it.

So what about going about your business in the next couple of weeks and having fun with made-up words: use love in the intransitive – to love, be love-ful, and joy and peace in the transitive – to joy and peace each other.

Love-ful, I joy and peace you all!

* (If you are interested in the concept of language shaping our thought have a look at Lera Boroditsky’s article, “How does our language shape the way we think?” at http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/boroditsky09/boroditsky09_index.html)

E-zine Articles – a wealth of interesting short articles can be found at www.ezinearticles.com – you might like to type in “Judy Apps” for a few of mine!

NLP Conference – London 2010

NLP Conference 2010

The NLP Conference looks exciting this year – an especially impressive line-up of speakers and topics. It’s always a great opportunity to hear some of the best NLP trainers and developers in one place.

My own session – “Hypnotic Voices” – looks to psychotherapy for new learning. Successful  hypnotherapists use the voice with particular skill and provide excellent models of vocal magic. But their techniques will also be of great interest to coaches, teachers, public speakers and all who use language to ‘take people to a different emotional space’.

I talk about techniques – but it’s much more than that. To make vocal connections on a deeper level requires physical, emotional and holistic alignment. This is what makes the learning so fascinating and  the ability so fulfilling.

The Hypnotic Voices session is on Saturday afternoon at 4.15. The Conference Brochure says:

Hypnotic Voices

The spoken voice has a considerable effect on other people, more than we are aware of consciously. If you are a hypnotist, therapist or coach you want to use the spoken word to influence your client yet maybe are not sure exactly how to do this with the voice you’ve been given. This session will introduce you to three key techniques for using your voice in trance work and generally for influencing people beneath their conscious awareness. The session is of special interest to those who work in the fields of hypnotherapy, coaching or clean language and is also suitable for everyone who wants to be able to exert more subtle influence with their voice.

To Book log onto:  www.nlpconference.co.uk

 Let me know if you are planning to be at the Conference and I’ll hope to meet you at my workshop.

 See you there!

  Judy

Tibetan Singing Bowls

Singing BowlHave you come across a singing bowl? I bought one when I went to Kathmandu. It is a metal bowl that sounds like a bell when struck with a soft mallet and it is the most remarkable object.
Antique singing bowls were made of alloys containing up to seven different metals – for example copper, tin, zinc, silver, gold, nickel and iron. Some bowls even contained a most prized metal they called “sky iron” which came from meteorites such as found in Tibet.
There is something quite extraordinary about the sound these bowls make. The different metals within the bowl produce different harmonics so that a well-made bowl produces several tones at once, resulting in a sound that is rich, full, harmonious, complex and enchanting. The oldest bowls have a specially warm and peaceful tone that creates a meditative calm when you hear it. The tone lingers for quite some time and you can feel its effect within you.
Monks in Buddhist monasteries used such sounds in meditation. The sound vibrations promote wellness and balance. Sound being one of the spiritual paths to enlightenment the bell also reminds them to be mindful in meditation.
Striking the outside of the bowl with a mallet is one way to produce the sound; but the bowl furnishes its most incredible tone when played in a different way. You hold the bowl freely on your open palm and rub a mallet lightly around the rim of the bowl. There gradually emerges from the silence a continuous singing tone, a complex chord of harmonic overtones, which develops into a surprisingly powerful sound. If you’d like to hear and see how to do it go to Joseph Feinstein’s demonstration at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5eioe67FZJs&feature=related

I like to think of the singing bowl as a metaphor for coaching. First of all – like the people you may coach – every bowl is different; each has its own shape, its own size, and its own individual combination of metals. And each responds to the player in different ways, and responds to each individual player in a different way.
The bowl only sings when it is supported so that it can vibrate. Nothing is forced; sound emerges from the light touch around the centre. The touch needs to be subtle, like connecting with something alive. The swashbuckling actor Errol Flynn when asked what is the proper way to hold a sword replied that you should hold it like a small bird: “If you hold too tightly the bird dies and the life is lost. If you hold too loosely, the bird escapes and flies away, and you’re left with nothing” So too with the singing bowl. And so too the relationship with someone you coach – not too tight and not too loose: too much control and many possibilities escape you; too tentative a connection and you fail to hold a supportive space that engenders change.
As a coach you hold the space as a bowl surrounds the emptiness within it. The old monks meditated on the “voidness” in the bowl – it is from that unknown space that truths and insights emerge. If we think we know what is inside we make mistakes or force conclusions. We don’t know before we start; it emerges as we work together with someone. What we do know for sure is that the person, like the singing bowl, is extraordinary and exceptional: a unique voice that wants to be heard.
Here are some more glorious vibrations created by Tibetan singing bowls for you to enjoy. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bcka0wrn1ok

Life Force, Wimbledon & World Cup

Laura Robson

Laura Robson

Well it’s that year and that time: we are in the middle of the World Cup and Wimbledon has started.

I had the pleasure of watching the British 16 year old, Laura Robson, play her tennis singles match earlier this week. She lost the match but her playing was an inspiration. In someone so young it is particularly easy to perceive the difference between her playing a shot excellently as she has been coached to do and giving it the full 100% – as she did three times with match point against her. At that very fearful point of death (well – losing) she threw her absolute all into the moment with searing cross-court shots that astounded the crowd.

You would call playing a shot excellently 100% if you hadn’t the real 100% to compare it with. When you do compare, the difference is huge. In the first you witness excellent play, well-executed preparation, signs of forethought and good physical execution – you see someone doing the right thing. All fine. But in the second way you are in the presence of intense relaxed concentration, deep breathing and extraordinary power, focus and follow-through. The second example declares silently that there is no way this point is going to be lost – and we all feel it. It’s not doing the right thing; it’s going all the way for its own sake, for the joy of bringing 100% to it. It’s like saying, “All or nothing at this point? I choose All!”

What we feel as spectators is the excitement of witnessing someone intensely in the now, their physical well-being and enjoyment, their creativity and powerful intention. It energises us in the most exhilarating way. I call that difference life force.

Down in South Africa we see the same force in action with the football World Cup. We watch some matches where the England team play is of a high calibre; the footwork is mostly fast and skilled and the running and passing are carried out with panache yet you feel that the players are making the effort to get it right – getting it right as in not getting it wrong; there is fear there – of just that – getting it wrong, of failure, of censure, of letting people down, of looking bad. Today the English team won their game against Slovenia and the first comments of the delighted England Manager Fabio Capello were about freedom:” There was freedom. There was not fear … there was enjoyment …”

Freedom allows a performer the opportunity to seize the moment and give 100% for the passion and joy of the thing. You see that 100% in some of the South American players – that heart-lifting passion that has us spectators rising from our seats in excitement. I hear in my imagination a player with the ball saying: “Never mind what’s happened so far; never mind what happens later – it’s about this! See this! – mind and body working together with finely tuned attention! Isn’t that wonderful to share this moment?! – to trust this life force?!”

We have the opportunity to bring our life force to anything we do. And if we do it transforms it and everyone notices the difference. It thrives on technique but is much more than technique. It looks like concentration but is more than that too. It emerges where we trust ourselves to the present moment, where we forget ourselves and give our all spontaneously to the activity – whatever the outcome.

You will have examples of times when you are absorbed in the moment during some enjoyable activity. At such moments you are unaware of the passing of time as you live in the pleasurable concentrated moment of whatever it is you are doing. There is no unhelpful tension or stress in you and if asked about it afterwards you would say that you felt immensely alive.

Deepak Chopra has this to say on the subject:

“When your internal reference point is the ego, when you seek power and control over other people or seek approval from others, you spend energy in a wasteful way. When that energy is freed up, it can be rechanneled and used to create anything that you want.  When your internal reference point is your spirit, when you are immune to criticism and unfearful of any challenge, you can harness the power of love, and use energy creatively for the experience of affluence and evolution.”

Can you learn such things? I think you can learn anything. Your life force flourishes when you learn to trust yourself, so it means working on your beliefs. It requires you to be in the moment, so you learn how to focus and stay present. It requires you to be in your body as well as in your head, so you learn balance. It sometimes needs courage, so you learn to step into the unknown.

This kind of learning has the great bonus of applying to everything you set your mind to, be it leadership, presenting, communicating, creating a connection with others, working at any sort of project or creating change. That is why it is so worth learning – you light many candles with the one flame.

What has the NLP Diploma got to do with this? Well, that is a place where you can learn such things – in a down-to-earth way!

I like this question from the poet Mary Oliver I read recently:

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

I didn’t know for twenty years of my own wild and precious life but it’s certainly worth finding out – the sooner the better – and life force comes into it!