s Taking your own medicine - training advice on 'focus'. Management training blog from Simon Roskrow
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Taking your own medicine

Monday, 20 July 2009

During my recent NLP practitioner course, I had the privilege of meeting and working with some fantastic people, and I’m constantly being reminded of things that happened during the exercises we took part in.

One such exercise was in helping people to understand how to do a specific task, using what NLP’ers term the TOTE model (or TATE model). I had the opportunity to work with someone who wanted to improve what they saw as their very limited ability to ride a bike, and wanted to learn from me, as it’s something I do regularly.

Initially, I had a slight confusion, as I was working with a guy who struck me as pretty active, pretty sporty, fit and healthy - indeed, one of those potentially annoying people who you imagine can turn their hand to just about any sport and beat most people after a couple of attempts. He, however, was convinced he was a “wobbler”.

The approach we took was to focus on what your eyes are doing during exercise. I learnt the enormous value of this from my motorbike instructor, who, in no uncertain terms, said that if you look at something too long or too hard, you’ll hit it. His approach was therefore to simply focus on where you want to go, and, as if by magic, you and the bike will follow. The good news is that it worked.

This was a great exercise for both of us - as a reminder for me, and , with some walking-based practice, as an aid for my colleague. As most of us tend to do, I felt good about having helped someone, and had a bit of a personal boost from it as well.

However, there can be a world of difference between giving advice, and taking it, particularly when it comes to taking your own advice. It seems so easy to see “the problem” with others, but much harder to see it in yourself. NLP techniques help with this, by managing to create distance between you and your behaviours (parts negotiation and so on), but there are sometimes some really simple things to do as well.

At the weekend, I was playing a little cricket with my son in the garden - he was bowling and I batting. Once I was out (which didn’t take long - I was never a fan of playing cricket), it was my turn to bowl. I opened my mouth to say how terrible I was, and then proceeded to bounce the first ball off the kitchen window. But there was a sudden flashback...

My advice, which I believe, and which I’d happily given away, was to look at where you wanted to go (or in this case, where I wanted the ball to go). I started applying this by looking at the stumps, and then refined it to start looking at where I wanted the ball to bounce. And, to my complete lack of surprise, it worked! I’m not going to be joining the Ashes winning England team anytime soon, but I’m much, much better!

There were two main lessons for me from this experience:

1) Take your own advice seriously. it’s not just for other people, it’s for you as well.

2) Because it is generally so much easier to advise others than to advise yourself, find a technique that works for you, to abstract yourself from the situation and question how you would help someone else who was in the same situation.

If my bowling has improved 10,000% in one hour, imagine what the possibilities are!

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