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NLP and reframing the impossible
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"The Impossibles"

Thursday, 2 July 2009

One aspect of NLP is the Meta Model, and one little piece of that is known technically as “Modal Operators of Possibility”, or “The Impossibles” as I prefer. These are things to watch out for in your own and others’ conversation, as they can be hugely limiting. As examples:

1) It cannot be done that quickly

2) It’s impossible to say how it will turn out

3) It simply won’t happen

A very real life situation arose for me recently, with the launch of a project to build a playing field for the local primary school, of which I’m a governor. As a simple soul, it seems a pretty straightforward process to me, and at a recent meeting I expressed my desire to get it completed before the Autumn term starts - giving us 8 weeks. A push, but possible...

The immediate response was a resounding impossible from pretty much everyone else. As the least experienced member of the group, it would have been very easy to accept this, but, understanding NLP helped me reposition this mentally, in the following steps:

a) Impossible means that there are no circumstances, ever, under which something could happen. By looking at the responses I got in this way, they seemed much less aggressively negative, but simply more un-thought-through. The challenge is to work out under what circumstances it would be possible, and then work to create those circumstances.

b) Someone saying that something is impossible is now a challenge to me to prove them wrong, rather than a statement of incontrovertible fact. I relish the opportunity to prove just how possible things really are...!

So, next time someone says to you that something is impossible, cannot be done, has no point, won’t happen, and so on, make a mental note to challenge this (even if just in your own mind) - are there really no circumstances in the enormous range of human imagination and creativity under which this would not be “Impossible”?

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