It’s a question I often get asked but to be honest I have great difficulty in answering until now.
You see, since my first encounter with NLP in 2003, not a single day has gone by when I have not purposely and intentionally dipped into my NLP personal development toolbox. In fact, so much so that as I look back on who I was and how I acted before 2003, there is hardly a single aspect of my life and career that has not been impacted and transformed by these tools and techniques.
So, today I decided took look back and compare and contrast how I saw myself back then and how I see myself today, with a very different perspective on my life and reality.
Prior to 2003, I grew up as a technologist and developer, and lived through the dot-com boom. I had my own start-up, a tourism portal which I setup with a colleague, I had lectured in the university for several years and knew myself to be an intelligent, energetic, personable and dynamic person. I was young, free and single, lived in a lovely apartment and had a new shiny Black Renault Megan with go-fast red-strip. I had a girlfriend and I had cash in the bank. On the outside I was a man of great confidence, of great potential, destined for success, a success story ready to be written…
But on the inside, I was a very different person. I was a shy, introverted boy, with no presence and no confidence. Despite being a lecturer for 2 years, I would get stomach cramps every day before every single lecture – each lecture was 2 hours long. I would spend 10 to 15 hours preparing EACH lecture because I was so fearful of screwing up, and because of my fear and anxiety I would talk too fast and usually end up finishing my lectures early because I was not able to pace myself.
I don’t even want to know what my lecturing style was like back then – but I did know I was passionate, I enjoyed telling stories especially of my experiences in the subject matter, and I would chalk-and-talk and usually end up with my clothes covered in chalk dust and white chalk marks on my forehead as I worked out problems on the board.
I think a lot of these concerns around confidence stemmed from my first public talk when I presented a paper at an international conference to a large group of over 500 Scientists, Professors and Ph.D students. Again, I spoke too fast and ended my talk early, so the Chair of the conference decided to open up the floor to questions. I almost died when he said this. I could barely answer any question. I froze and I prayed for the floor to swallow me up. It was dreadful. Time stood still and my heart raced but somehow I got to the end and walked off stage before collapsing into a heap in an arm chair off stage. “I’m useless” I would say to myself, echoing the words of a school teacher I had hear at 5 years of age…
An experienced practitioner of NLP and Time Line Therapy® will straight away identify half a dozen unresolved negative emotions and limited beliefs I had back then, and my discovery of NLP allows me to identify and remove these as obstacles in my life. Compare that today, where I lead meetings, I run workshops, I regularly speak at conferences, workshop and talks of all sized, and when I start, I am relaxed, confident and prepared, even for spontaneous meetings where I don’t have notes or a slide desk. The contrast is unbelievable to me and so very empowering. A different person. This one aspect of my experience was probably the easiest to change with the greatest impact on my life. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but believe me it’s a big deal to me.
Here is an another experience that to this day I still can’t explain scientifically. I had asthma since my teen age years. and I smoked. when I was out socially, I would often smoke twice as much. I would have to take an inhaler perhaps twice or three times a day. After I completed my NLP Practitioner training, I stopped using my inhaler. It wasn’t a conscious choice. I must have misplaced my inhaler on returning from the week long training but didn’t experience wheeziness so didn’t need the inhaler. I actually didn’t realise that the symptoms of my asthma had disappears for several months, because you don’t often notice the absence of symptoms only the presence, until one day I realised I had not being using my inhaler for months. To this day I have not had to carry an inhaler. The ironic part was that I did not give up smoking during this period. It was several years later that I decided to give up smoking. Again I can only postulate on why the symptoms of asthma could have disappeared, such as removing unresolved fear, discovering deeper states of relaxation, but in the end all I know is that symptoms disappears, and I don’t know why nor do I care. I’m not saying this could happen to anyone else, this was a study with a sample size of 1, so don’t take this as a recommendation or promise, Just my experience and one I can’t explain.
But the big wow for me was realising I had the ability to create the future the way I wanted it. It may sound like another “yeah, whatever” marketing statement, but it’s true. I’ve had this experience again and again over the years. What I came to realise is that in life I had always set two types of intentions: Firstly, Intentions that I knew I could definitely turn to a reality, and others that were unrealistic wishful thinking that would never happen. I managed to distil down what worked and what didn’t and the NLP Keys to Achievable Outcomes alongside the Time Line Therapy® process of setting a goal in my future were simple and easy tools that made this so clear and simple for me. It was like everything I had done in my life up to that point was based on just Luck and Hope, and from the moment I discovered the process of proper goal setting, I discovered how to take back control of my future and destiny. The irony is that I have shared the key principles with many people, but most don’t follow the principles, because they say things like “It can’t be that easy”. I guess it’s an evolving process and all the different tools and techniques of NLP, Time Line Therapy® and Hypnosis all work together to make goals a reality. I guess selectively picking out just a few principles like an a la carte menu without understanding all the core foundational principles just makes it less effective.
So, what goals have I set? what goals have I achieved.
My First Big Goal that I set was to run an NLP Practitioner Certification Training just weeks after completing my Trainers Training. That was totally wild. I completed my Hypnosis Trainer Training in April 2005, my NLP Trainers Training in July 2005, and my Time Line Therapy® Trainers Training in Orange County, USA in August 2005, and ran my first NLP Practitioner certification training in September 2005 with 9 students attending. For me it was totally living the experience of acting-as-if an outcome was definitely going to happen. I booked my first student onto my course in April 2005, before I had completed any of my certification trainings, but I had totally faith and congruence that I would be qualified in all three certifications before my first Practitioner Training in September. It was a total success and I had 100% conversion to my Master Practitioner Certification training on the following March. It really felt like dreams come true.
Another of my favourite Goals I like to share was a goal I set to work for a “Large Financial Institute or Bank” in the city of London. It was something I had often aspired to do years previous but never though it would happen. With my new goal setting skills, I though it was worth revisiting. I gave myself 6 months to make this goal a reality. To give some context, I had never worked for a financial institute or bank before so I certainly didn’t have the prior experience, but I had experience in related disciplines and my language skills allows me to reframe questions that could show that I was the right person for the job. When I set goals using the process outlined above, one of the steps is to create a picture of the last step before you know your goal is realised. So, for me the last step was walking onto the floor of an open plan office and sitting at my desk on day 1 of the job. But since I had never seen the inside of a financial institute I had to totally “make up” what this environment looked like. Within 4 months of setting this goal, I got a contract working for the London Stock Exchange. The eery thing is that on my first day, the layout of the open plan office was exactly as I had “made up” right down to colour style and monitor layout. Coincident or Manifestation? No idea, but it worked. Within 18 months I had complete this goal of making in excess of a 6 figure income in a single financial year, and I left the job to take 3 years mini retirement break and to follow another passion – Kundalini Yoga.
I have lots of little goal stories I love to share too. One was to be an international renown yogi and teach across Europe. I became certified as an Instructor of Kundalini Yoga, and Practitioner of Sat Nam Rasayan and over the next 3 years I taught Kundalini Yoga classes & workshops across Europe from Ireland, Northern Ireland, UK, Sweden, Germany.
Since this time, I have been taking mini-retirement break every 18 months or so, to skill up in new areas and to sharpen the saw and I continue to work in personal development and in financial software development. I have my ups and downs like everyone else, but I don’t let these get to me, and it allows me to live a life that I can only describe as a dream come true. Yes, there are definitely aspects of my life I want to change, and others aspects that I would like to have more time to dedicate to, and I guess it’s a constant evolving journey, but overall I am so grateful of my experiences to date and for all these amazing tools that I have learned and that every single day I still get value from that first investment over 10 years ago.
However, There was something much more important that I learned from the models of NLP and Time Line Therapy® techniques. Something that has nothing to do with success. You see, a lot of marketing material I see about nlp talks about how the tools and techniques can make you more successful, happier, and richer, and the reality is that nothing is further from the truth. Learning a bunch of NLP techniques does not guarantee that you will be happy, or successful or even rich.
What it does guaranteed is that if you understand the core principles of NLP, that you will develop a feedback system for correction. That’s the promise. We all make mistakes, and NLP does not inoculate you from making mistakes, what it does do is give you a set of tools to help you correct your mistakes.
Now, if you choose to ignore the facts and allow your ego to drive all your decisions, you will still screw up and nothing is going to prevent that. Another fallacy of the NLP marketing material is that you will be happier.
You have a free choice to do what you want in life, but if you choose things that are hard, and difficult and put you in places that you don’t want to be, and with people who you don’t want to be with, you can be pretty guaranteed you won’t be happy.
NLP does not inoculate you against screwing up. What it does do is give you the tools to cope if you do screw up, and to learn something from the experience so you can get back in the driving seat and go for it again. Maybe that’s the biggest thing I have learnt: That it’s not just about the journey, it’s about learning how to incorporate feedback into the journey to make it better every day.
This is what I call personal evolution. Maybe that’s the true offer of NLP. It’s the user manual for Personal Evolution. But if you don’t open the manual you won’t know what’s inside.
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