Well, well, it has certainly been a while since I wrote anything. That is not to say that I have been lying around lazily, I actually have been quite busy. Among other things, I am helping a friend launch a company for training people in NLP, hypnosis and Mind power. This is a very interesting venture for me, as I have worked mostly as a freelance trainer before, so now making all the “executive decisions” is tricky. One of the biggest ones is which type of NLP course to offer! “What do you mean, what type of course?” I hear you ask. Well, there is a debate raging in the (decidedly small) world of NLP, regarding the length of practitioner courses. Originally, NLP Practitioner courses lasted…
For some time, the personal development market and science have stood at opposite sides of a line, throwing stones at each other. While one claims and celebrates the power of the mind and personal power, the other one tries to define what is objectively possible and what is not possible. As such, many people will choose one of both extremes, where usually the scientific extreme is much harsher than the other one. Malcolm Gladwell, in his book “Blink”, claims that snap judgments can many times be better than long, deliberated decisions, when scientists call this humbug. So, what is what here?
The guard of a zen master in one of the most esteemed monasteries passed away. Once this happened, the zen master started looking for a replacement throughout the country, and several men applied. Once they had all gathered in the monastery, the zen master explained the following:”I am looking for a new guard. I will give all of you one test, a problem, and whoever solves it first will become the new guard”.
For some time now I have been reading Impro by Keith Johnstone, which is a book about the art of improvisation in the theater. Written in the 70s, this book is not only very entertaining, but also offers deep insights into human interaction and the human condition. Among many other topics, Johnstone mentions what is known as “Mask” acting. Masks form important part in pageants, rituals, ceremonies and festivals. They are used to embody an important tradition to the people, and form a central part in many religious ceremonies. For Johnstone, masks represent another way of activating creative resources within his students, and more than that, they get into the experience of trance.
One of the perks of doing what I do is that whenever you tell someone what I do, they tend to just go ahead and tell me their problem. This is true in every setting, whether it be in a quiet room, or whether it be after the third beer at 11 at night in the pub. While sometimes this is very unwelcome, it does give me a chance to really explore and see the maps of my friends. Among other things on the map are not only their beliefs and decisions, but also their values. Knowing other people’s values not only gives you unique insights into their psyche, but also let’s you fully appreciate how all of us are different, and are motivated by completely different things.
The other day I was watching a TV program concerned with “little men”. Note, they did not suffer from dwarfism, but were just small men (in case you were wondering, yes, there was nothing else on TV). During the course of the program several small men were interviewed, and they started talking about the problems being small brings with it. Among others, of course they believed that it impaired their ability to socialize. To counteract that problem, one guy decided to go through leg lengthening surgery. Not only is that a very long but also very painful process. While he was talking, he kept saying: “I have this problem” all the while moving his hand to about 3cm to the left of his head. He consistently did that. My bet is, his problem was right there too…
“Judge others by their questions rather than by their answers.”
What makes a good communicator? What makes a person innovative? What makes a good change facilitator? To all these, my personal answer is: good questions! We have been taught in school for many (maybe far too many) years, and spoon fed the knowledge we needed at the time to pass the courses, yet from a that I have to say that very little managed to stick in my mind. What did stick are the rare occasions when a teacher suddenly asked a question that required me to dig deep inside me for an answer. Questions in general, force the person you are talking to to actively participate in finding meaning and making meaning, even more so than just telling stories or giving advice. So then, what are these good questions?