The incredible Dickens Process for massive personal transformation !

Hi there…a warm welcome from Changeworx !! Hey, are you having some real good fun this summer? Speaking of fun and summer vacations, have you come across people who SUDDENLY take off on a new direction in life? All of a sudden?…just like that? What makes them do that? To just take quick, bold and clear decisions that shape your life!Few days back I met this old friend Alex, who had suddenly quit this 15 year habit of smoking and even started exercising. Wow! So when I asked him, what made him take such a bold step so suddenly? And I will never forget what he told me… he said to me,

“listen, everyone is stuck in some space in life – bad health, relationships, low confidence, anger, negative beliefs…or unwanted habits. And they think nothing about it…because its been going on for a while and you’ve adjusted to it!

I was listening and imagining what is it that I am stuck with and simply procrastinating? Where did it all start? How has it impacted me sofar? What did it cost me already? What have I been missing out on because of this behaviour?

And then I floated forwards in time and imagined if I don’t change now, how will my life be 2 years from now still stuck…What opportunities will I have let go? Two years of unhappiness? Frustration? What could have been possible if I had chosen to act today to fix it? ”

Alex continued, “Now imagine looking at yourself in the mirror your life being stuck and not doing what you want to, like this, 5 years from now?”still living with that issue?!! And what ALL did that cost you? What price did that one laziness make you pay? In career? In relationship? In building your own confidence? In shaping your beliefs about your capabilities? In your health? Seriously think about that !! .

Just as this was beginning to sink in, Alex added, “Now imagine getting older stuck for 10 years? And 15 years? the costs and sacrifices, frustrations and health issues that engulf you” Infact, he added with a looooong pause, “you just finished yourself, by not doing anything to get out of your issues !!!”

What is the older you…20 years older, telling you to change which you failed to heed? Feel the pain and listen to the older you talking to you.

This is when I began to panic. We live life by the year…and never contemplate how our present limitations, negative habits and behaviour will grow into a monster that will swallow away our entire life before we realise it. Scary isn’t it?

Luckily it was only a bad dream. Nothing of that sort has actually happened !! Whew. Take a deep breath and relax. Alex was smiling, maybe even enjoying watching my reaction…perhaps my face was flushed and he could sense that when you actually go through this journey, being there in the future and look at the damage you have caused to yourself, something snaps in you and you feel this is it! I must take action now!! Absolutely now…come what may !!!

That’s when Alex jumped in and told me, “Now imagine what would change when you DO something to get over your issues?” Imagine all those goodies, those opportunities, those relationships, that self-confidence that’s bubbling inside you as soon as you take the first step…even before that issue begins to dissolve….notice how you begin to feel good.

Now fly into the future – 2 years from today how your life has positively changed as you got rid of that old personality and became a shiny new you !! How has that influenced your health? your well-being? Your relationships? And most importantly your confidence? Like that…just like that…watch and fly into a future 5 years…10 years…and 20 years from today and notice how this confidence has helped you transform your entire personality…your life, infact !!

In just a moment’s flight of fantasy you took control of your life…atleast in the imaginary world ! And it did feel good to be able to fix just one aspect of your behaviour and let is grow into a full-fledged new YOU !

When I went through the process, Alex asked me a this crucial question: What must you do NOW…literally right now…that will demonstrate that you are serious to take action to GRAB your future? For example responding to this mail? Or picking up the phone and making that call to someone who matters? Or just wearing your jogging shoes and take that short walk?

Take some positive action now…any action…however small it is. DO IT !! GO FOR IT !!!

You just went through an incredibly powerful NLP process called the ‘Dickens Pattern’…an incredibly powerful and heart-thumping process that initiates powerful actions from a state of lethargy and procrastination.

What is a Modelling Project?

Modelling is a process whereby an observer, the modeller, gathers information about the activity of a system with the aim of constructing a generalised description (a model) of how that system works. The model can then be used by the modeller and others to inform decisions and actions. The purpose of modelling is to identify ‘what is’ and how ‘what is’ works – without influencing what is being modelled. The modeller begins with an open mind, a blank sheet and an outcome to discover the way a system functions – without attempting to change it. [Note: We recognise this is an impossible outcome, since the observer, by simply observing, inevitably influences the person being observed. However this does not affect the intention of a modeller to not influence.]

Modelling is engineering in reverse. In forward-engineering, one designs a machine to do something; in reverse-engineering, one figures out what a machine was designed to do.

When ‘the system’ being observed is a person, what usually gets modelled is behaviour that can be seen or heard (sensory modelling), or thinking processes that are described through language (conceptual modelling). Figuring out how great tennis players serve is an example of the former, while identifying their beliefs and strategies for winning is an example of the latter.

The field of NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) was established as a result of several modelling projects conducted by Richard Bandler and John Grinder. They, in collaboration with Judith DeLozier, Leslie Cameron-Bandler, David Gordon, Robert Dilts and others, did much of the original work to codify the process of modelling sensory and conceptual domains.

Since it origins, through the works of Bandler, Grinder and their co-partners, the subject of modelling has evolved and improvised through subsequent researches by other eminent NLP practitioners. Today, while the original modelling work by NLP founders is still called as NLP Modelling, other improvised versions go by various names such as Analytical Modelling, Symbolic Modelling and also Behavior Modelling.

Definition of terms

Result The reproducible outcome which can be described in sensory specific terms.
The model An abstract formulation constructed from the information gathered from modelling the exemplar(s), which when actioned by an acquirer produces a similar class of results.
Exemplar The person (or group or organisation) that consistently achieves the results the modeller is seeking to reproduce. (In the early days of NLP, also sometimes confusingly referred to as – a model.). Some people also prefer to call it ‘Talent’
Modeller The person who gathers information from the exemplar, constructs the model, and tests its effectiveness, efficiency and elegance at reproducing similar results (usually by first acquiring the model themselves, and then facilitating others to acquire it).
Acquirer The person (usually including the modeller) who ‘takes on’ the model and attempts to reproduce results similar to those obtained by the exemplar.
Modelling The process of gathering information from an exemplar, constructing a model, and testing its effectiveness at reproducing similar results (which requires someone to acquire it).
Modelling project Both the plan for accomplishing the production and acquisition of a model, and the implementation of that plan. We distinguish five stages:
1. Preparing to model
2. Gathering information
3. Constructing a model
4. Testing the model
5. Acquiring the model
Self-modelling The process of a person constructing a model of how they achieve the results they get. Facilitating the exemplar to self-model in Stage 2 is often a very efficient way of gathering information. At Stages 3 and 4, the modeller self-models as a way of making explicit the out-of-awareness information they have gathered. During Stage 5, the acquirer can self-model as a way of monitoring their response to acquiring an unfamiliar model.

Fundamental or universal ways humans make sense of the world

‘Experience’ is a unified whole. Yet to be conscious of our map of the world we categorise, evaluate, compare, decide, reason, intuit, etc. All these processes require us to delete, distort and generalise (Bandler & Grinder). The most common way to do this is to make use of one domain – usually our everyday experience of the physical world – to make sense of another domain, usually the non-physical world, e.g Metaphors. Five Stages of a Modelling Project

Stage 1: Preparing for your Modelling Project

modelling-projectYour first task is to define your modelling project by specifying its:

Overall Outcome: What results have you noticed other people achieve in the world that you would also like to achieve?

Sensory specific evidence of completion: How will you know you have got these results?

(How will others know you have got these results?)

Scope, Time scale: Breadth of project – what is included and what is not

Contexts in which you (and others) want the results

Definition of terms the exemplar uses

Value to you: What’s important to you about being able to consistently reproduce the results specified above?

Exemplars: Who consistently demonstrates the results you want? How will you get access to such people?

Presuppositions: What are you presupposing to be true before you start?

What metaphors are you using to describe your project?

 

Stage 2: Gathering information from your exemplars

Types and reliability of information

It is important to distinguish between different types of information gathered from the exemplar. The following five are in descending order of reliability of information:

  1. Observed behaviour with sufficient repetitions to indicate a pattern

‘Relived’ descriptions or role-playing by the exemplar of what they do

  1. Explanation by the exemplar (i.e. the exemplar’s conscious model of what they do)
  2. Second-hand descriptions

Ways to gather information

  • ‘Live’ observation of exemplar achieving their results (by 3rd position observation and 2nd position shadowing)
  • Video or audio tapes, or material written by the exemplar which demonstrates achieving the required results
  • Face-to-face interview
  • Role-plays and mini-scenarios
  • Questionnaires
  • ‘Unofficial’ observations
  • Written information edited or co-written by someone else
  • Description by someone else, e.g. biography
  • The general rule is, the closer (and more often) you get to observe the exemplar achieving the results in their ‘natural habitat’ the better.

While gathering information it is preferable that you model the Talent’s behaviour and description so that you can ask questions from within the logic of their information.

High-quality modelling questions tend to:

  • Make minimal presuppositions about the content of Talent’s map
  • Be short and contain a minimal number of non-Talent words. i.e adopt clean language that doesn’t include words based on your interpretation of the Talent’s experience.
  • Be simple and ask for one class of experience at a time
  • Invite the Talent to remain in the appropriate state to demonstrate what they do, i.e. in the ‘perceptual present’
  • Relate to the project outcome
  • Invite the Talent’s attention to move towards the boundary of what they already know, and then to stretch the boundary into areas of yet-to-be-aware-of
  • Not ask the Talent’s attention to jump too far (in space or time)
  • Not get ‘no’ or disagreement for an answer.

‘Standard’ Modelling Questions

Every question directs the Talent’s attention to somewhere, when or what in their mind body map. So it is important to know the type or class of information you what (i.e. to have an outcome for each question) and to what your question is inviting the Talent’s attention to do. The following are examples of some commonly used modelling questions.

  1. Developingpre-existing information
    And is there anything else about …?And what kind of …?

    And where/whereabouts is …?

    And what’s the relationship between … and …?

  1. Context(s) where and when Talent commonly achieves the results?

    Where do you …?When do you …?

  1. Desired outcome(s) the Talent is attempting to achieve at the time

    (Also, how is the outcome represented?)For what purpose do you …?

  1. Primary and Secondary strategies performed internally and externally to achieve the outcome

    (Also, what inputs are attended to while performing these operations?)How specifically do you do that?

    What’s the first thing you do …?

    Then what do you do?

    What do you do next?

    And then what happens?

    And what happens just before you …?

    And what if this step X doesn’t get you the desired results…?

    And what if you realise at this point X, that you are in trouble with regards to your outcome…?

  1. Evidence criteria/ test of progress toward and completion of outcome

    How do you know you are achieving …?How do you know you have achieved …?

    What let’s you know to …?

    What determines when you …?

  1. Motivation for having outcome and enablers for doing the operations

    What’s important to you about …?What’s important about that [answer to previous question]?

    What makes it possible for you to …?

    And where does … come from?

  1. Range of choices available to the Talent

    (What does the Talent do in unexpected situations, when they encounter difficulties, interference or distractions – especially when these might affect whether they achieve their outcome?)What do you do if it doesn’t go well / doesn’t work?

    How do you know to stop trying to achieve …?

 

Stage 3: Constructing Your Model

When modelling multiple Talents for a class of experience, one process for constructing your general model is to:

  1. Describehow each Talent does what they do to get the required results from their perspective and in their words; i.e. construct a model using their representations.
  2. Evaluateeach model (to know what extra information to gather) for:

Completeness – It has all necessary distinctions/components (it’s ‘full’)

It answers ‘what else?’ questions with … “nothing “.

Coherency – The relationships between components adhere to an internal logic (they ‘cling together’).

It answers ‘why?’ questions from within its own logic.

Consistency – It does its job across a range of contexts and acquirers (it ‘stands firm’).

It can answer ‘what if?’ questions.

  1. Compare and contrastindividual models component-by-component, step-by-step and function-by-function.
  2. Design your own modelby one or more of the following methods.

(At this point you must separate the information gathered from the Talent: It is no longer their model, it becomes your model because you will represent the information in a different way.)

  1. Identify similarities across Talents and construct a compositemodel based on similarities.
  2. Use one of the models as a prototypeand improve it by adding/ substituting distinctions/ components/ steps from the other models.
  3. Deconstruct the individual models into the function of each component/stage and constructa new model from the bottom-up.
  4. Adaptexisting models from other contexts that are compatible with the model you are constructing, and use them as the framework for your model (e.g. ‘transformational grammar’ was the basis for the Meta Model, and ‘self-organising systems theory’ formed the framework for Symbolic Modelling).
  5. Evaluate and improveyour model based on the degree to which it is:

Effective – It gets similar results to the Talent.

Efficient – It requires the least number of steps/components

Elegant – It is code congruent – the content of the model and the manner in which it is presented/ coded are congruent.

  1. Test, get feedback, adjust model, test again, get feedback, adjust …

More on Model Construction

Evaluate whether distinctions/components go into the model by the degree to which each is:

Effective – contributes to the overall outcome of the model

Efficient – serves multiple functions

Elegant – fits into the overall coherency (internal code congruency) and enhances the consistency (external code congruency) of the model.

Evaluate the completeness of your model by the degree to which it shows ‘Operational closure’:

  • When no new components or patterns emerge and the client’s descriptions add no further information about how that operational unit works.
  • When new components or examples continue to appear but they are isomorphic (have the same function or organisation) as previously identified patterns.
  • When the logic of the client’s description encompasses an entire configuration, a complete sequence or a coherent set of premises (with no logical gaps).
  • When the model enables you to predict ways of dealing with unexpected situations, difficulties, interference or distractions that have yet to be mentioned by the Talent.
  • When you repeat or demonstrate the operational unit to the Talent, they acknowledge that’s it, you got it .

Evaluate your model for its congruency with:

Stage 2: The Talent(s)

Stage 3: Itself

Stage 4: The context where it will be tested

Stage 5: The acquirer(s)

Talent’s cannot not do their patterns of excellence

A key aspect of modelling is to determine how an Talent keeps achieving the same results. How is it that they cannot not do it? How come they don’t forget to do it? How do they adjust for unfavourable circumstances so that they consistently get excellent results? In other words, how come it’s habitual? This information will not be in any of the components, but in the pattern of relationships between perceptual components. It will be the circular chains (Bateson) of relationships that keep the pattern repeating. And your model needs to have comparable circular chains.

Except when ..

Conditions are ‘extreme’ or ‘over thresholds’ or ‘off the scale’ and the pattern breaks down. What are those conditions and what do Talents do then? Considering ‘Is there any way I can I run this model and do something else?’ and ‘Under what circumstances would I not get the required results? ‘. Then adapting your model to take these circumstances into account will make it more robust, more consistent.

Stage 5: Acquiring the Model

Over the history of NLP the metaphors used to describe Stage 5 have changed from:

Installation of the model by the modeller in the acquirer to

 

Transmission of the model by the modeller to the acquirer to

Acquisition of the model by the acquirer (facilitated by the modeller).

Interestingly, these changes seem to parallel a general trend within NLP; that is, the focus of the practitioner-client relationship is moving away from the practitioner and towards the client. Continuing this trend, our preference is for the acquirer (to be facilitated) to self-model their own process of acquiring.

Acquiring presents a paradox: The Talent gets their results largely through unconscious processes, but the acquirer initially acquires the model and uses it consciously. This is a double paradox when the skill being modelled has to be unconscious, e.g. an intuitive signal.

Generalised process for acquisition

Starting with a thorough understanding and experience of using your model:

  1. Gather information about the acquirer’s outcome, the context where they want the required results, and their existing map in relation to the model to be acquired.
  2. Where possible, modify your model to align with the acquirer’s existing map.
  3. Design an acquisition process that includes multiple descriptions and is congruent with both the model and the Talent’s map.
  4. Facilitate (or make available) the acquisition process.
  5. Utilise acquirers responses – preferably in the moment – as feedback to adapt the process of acquisition to the acquirer’s existing model of the world and metaphors.
  6. Test: to what degree do the results the acquirers get match those of the Talents?

Some ways to present your model to an acquirer are to:

  • Enact the activity of each step of the sequence
  • Map components’ location and their relationships/functions
  • Chart the flow of information and decision points
  • Physicalise or using non-verbal metaphor (Dance/Movement)
  • Tell stories and analogies
  • Write description and examples

Facilitating the acquisition process

Your primary aim is not for the acquirer to acquire your model. Your model is only a means to an end. Your joint aim is for the acquirer to reproduce the specified results.

As much as possible the acquirer needs to fully experience the model as they acquire it. So pay attention to whether the acquirer is replicating the model in their own mind-space and body. i.e.

Do they describe it in the correct order?

Do they gesture, look and move as specified by the model?

Do they use the same or equivalent descriptions and metaphors?

Not all components of the model will be equally important for the acquirer to acquire. Often a single piece will make a big difference.

Acquiring is an iterative process. Acquirers need both big chunk information (how the model all fits together as a whole and its purpose) and small chunk information (what to do).

Different acquirers will prefer to start with different aspects of the model. For example, they might first like to get know all the bits and what they do; or how the bits fit together and relate to each other; or the order in which things happen; or where and how they can use it.

Time, repetition and multiple descriptions are useful allies.

Common responses to acquisition

According to Gordon & Dawes there are 5 common ways people do not acquire a new model (assuming they want to). In effect they indicate:

I can’t get out of my present model

I can’t get into the new model

I can’t make sense of the model

I am concerned about the consequences of taking on the model

The model does not fit with who I am

One way to respectfully respond to this type of feedback is to facilitate the acquirer to self-model what is happening that means they are not acquiring the model (including how you are presenting it):

  1. Fully acknowledge the way it is for them.
  2. Confirm that they still want to achieve the required results.
  3. Facilitate them to discover:

Where the mismatch between the existing and the new model is what is making that mismatch possible and what is maintaining it?

When they were in similar situations and how they resolved these.

What needs to happen to resolve it now.

Other metaphors/descriptions/representational systems that will enable the acquirer to achieve the required results.

What are other circumstances where they could use the model

What ‘platform’ knowledge, skills or experiences are prerequisites

Notes on Expert to Novice Acquisition (24 Nov 2006)

Almost by definition, Talents are experts, while acquirers are novices.

The model you construct will be of an expert who will have years of experience and lots of unconscious habitual strategies. With some much happening unconsciously, the Talent has spare capacity to pay (conscious) attention to other things that are happening. For example, comprehending is a completely unconscious process for a native speaker, and hence they can attend to puns, patterns, double meanings and all sorts of subtle communication that is not available to the novice second-language learner. (cf. Gregory Bateson: as behaviour is repeated it becomes ever more deeply embedded in the organism, i.e. pushed down the levels of organisation)

An acquirer does not have the same level of experience and so the acquisition process has to act as a bridge from the expert’s way of doing things and the novice’s. To do this you may well need to add in some extra steps that are not part of your Talent’s model (nor, if you have multiple Talents, your composite model). The NLP Spelling Strategy is a good example. This model includes a step where the acquirer spells the word they are learning backwards ( Joseph O’Connor and John Seymour, Introducing NLP (1990) page 182) despite the fact expert spellers never do this. So why is it is in the strategy?

When they first tried to teach the strategy to poor spellers, they found that even though they learned it, they did not believe this was enough to become a good speller. So someone had the bright idea of getting them to spell the words they were learning backwards on the basis that “If you can spell the word backwards, you know spelling it forwards will be easy.” So for the spelling strategy to be useful an extra ‘convincer’ step had to be added. (A second advantage of the backwards spelling step is that it allows the facilitator to very easily calibrate whether the acquirer is using the required visual accessing or reverting to the less efficient auditory method – with the latter it’s almost impossible to spell words backwards)

You also might want to add extra steps to prepare an acquirer to access a state that the Talent switches into naturally. For example, Penny Tompkins was modelled for her ability to “notice a client’s nonverbal cues and subtle presuppositions of logic” when she is in therapy or coaching mode. Penny can instantly “clear my mind” and be in a very open and receptive state. She suggested that if someone else wanted to acquire her noticing ability then they might modified the SWISH technique so that they could move away all the stuff that is present for them until it is a dot on the horizon, and in it’s place to bring back a “clear space” in which the client and their stuff can be situated.

MODELLING EXAMPLE

Outcome:What is the goal? Being the best trainer
Ability:What you need to do? Being able to deliver superb trainingsIn the context of psychology and NLP

Environment: Training center, new & experienced learners of psychology.

Examples 1.   The Corporate training I did for Truck Company2.   Practitioner workshop

3.   The 2 day workshop at Manchester

Criteria:What is imp to take from the ability 1)   Simple to understand by someone with no knowledge of NLP2)   Interesting from beginning to end. Not boring.

3)   Keeping it light and entertaining – videos, etc.

4)   Factual and authentic information. Audience should feel that.

Definition:Kind of experience that explains criteria ·  Even a person with absolutely zero knowledge, a dumb person who is not interested in psychology should find it easy to grasp and relate to their life.·  People should forget tea and loo breaks and urge me to go on without breaks

 

Evidence:What do you see, hear and feel? ·  Their facial expressions, head nodding, eyes going wide/ bright, smiling,·  Asking questions, sharing personal experiences, participating, discussing amongst themselves, laughing, exclamations, ‘ahaa’ moment.

·  Approaching me during break times for doubts and sharing experiences

 

Enabling C&E:Pre requisites ·  Must think through and chart my flow of concepts and points from beginning to end·  Rough sense of timing for each module and total time for the workshop

·  Examples for each concept

·  Rehearsal [if it’s a new topic]. Sometimes detailed, sometimes brief

·  Must have a clear understanding of relevancy of each concept to the audience

·  Courseware

 

Motivating C&E:Why is this imp to you?

 

·  Appreciation, Recognition. Being the most knowledgeable and experienced in NLP·  Satisfaction of bringing smiles and changes in people’s lives

·  Learning concepts better and remembering finer details through teaching

·  Learning new ways of applying NLP concepts in real world

 

Primary Strategy:How do you go about motivating yourself to go to gym? ·  Is it a new topic or something I have trained earlie?·  Do I have the program flow (from past) or do I need to create it. Revisit the flow again and again based on better understanding of the concepts

·  Read up information on the internet. Make rough notes. Read and re-read notes and more articles to refine my understanding of the concept.

·  How to make it simple for someone for NO knowledge of NLP? Break concepts down…simplify them…identify metaphors that are easy to relate for anyone.

·  Imagine audience members: do I see desired evidence? NO: more simplification, more examples.

·  Rehearse and dry run. Occasionally, keep track of time…how am I progressing during dry run? How do I modify the script to fit into available time?

·  Keep updating the flow

·  On the event day: quick look at the flow…”these people have paid money to get a fantastic experience of their life. I must give them more than their worth and expectations”

·  Be conscious of my own energy level, vocal energy and audience involvement.

 

Secondary strategy:What if primary strategy fails? ·  Do whatever level of preparations possible within available time. Quick look at the flow is a must.·  If running short of time, cover the concepts faster. Lesser exercises.

·  Stretch the event schedule and make sure people have grasped it correctly.

·  Ask questions to increase interactions with and amongst audience.

·  Ask one audience member to volunteer and explain concept to another person who hasn’t understood

·  Give more examples if audience hasn’t understood clearly

·  More demos

 

Signaling emotions:How do I feel when I am oncourse? ·  Discomfort when people look blank. Facial expressions not giving desired signals.·  Feeling worried when people look tired and drained

·  Energised and pleased when people are feeling energized.

 

Sustaining emotions:What feeling needs to be there throughout? ·  Powerful and in control·  Calm but energized – living my passion. “this is what I wanted so badly”
Behavior:What is my physiology? ·  Calm and slow pacing of the training floor·  Relaxed breathing

·  Loud voice – depending on the hall size and no. of audience members

·  Occasional deep breathing, to increases pauses and let the concept sink in.

·  Open hand gestures.

When are you Moving Your Chair?

An interesting story. Couple of days back, I met up with an old school friend. Talking about everything and nothing in particular, the discussion lazily drifted to how he is stuck in his career and unable to find a way out.The heart wants to escape the 9 to 5 job and do something that he really loves, the mind enjoys the security of assured income, the pride of a good position & role. He is worried about how he will cope up… how will his family take it… what will his friends think… and will he be able to make it to the other side?

Most people face such dilemmas in their lives. Unsure how to take a big step and steer their personal / professional lives into a new direction, or stay in the secure comforts of a cozy life that gives everything except happiness!! It could be that courage to speak up to a tough boss or partner… or breaking that habit of procrastination… or taking control of your relationships… or doing what your heart feels without worrying about what the world would say.

It takes a while, but people eventually realize that control over self comes from completely trusting yourself. Trusting yourself to be able to deliver to your own promise to self – not others. Now…take a deep breath and ask: “Do you trust YOURSELF to be able to deliver that goal your heart yearns to pursue?”. I am sorry to say, but don’t be surprised to hear a “No” from your unconscious.

So what options do you have, when your unconscious cannot trust you to deliver what you really want to do? Unfortunately you have lived your entire life, learning to doubt yourself. It has been a long and continuous process of brainwashing by your teachers, parents, friends and seniors. And that means, it will take conscious efforts and time to regain that trust back. And the best part is, it is easy to win back your faith in yourself, perhaps in tenth of the time it took to learn to doubt yourself.

Listen to my words carefully and read them again and again. You begin to trust yourself when you TALK WHAT YOU THINK and then DO WHAT YOU TALK. I encourage you to read this again, then cross your hand on your heart and ask, “Do I have the courage to talk my thoughts out and then DO what I say I will? And once that happens, no matter what the outcome is, you will have begun to instil faith in yourself.

But then, having lived your entire life learning to doubt yourself, do you think your unconscious can trust you right away to let you pursue those big goals? I suspect no. The fall out of pursuing such a behaviour (talking your mind out and then doing what you say), could often be appalling or overwhelming, right? And that’s the reason why our dreams remain, well, dreams. For example, being able to stand up for yourself in the face of criticism, or, saying no to a one-sided relationship and walking out of it, though examples of wonderful goals, demand incredible self-confidence and self-trust. Before letting you get a free hand at working on those big-ticket items, your unconscious mind wants PROOF that you can be trusted to deliver your promises. So, whilst most of us can immediately see several such areas in our life, taking up such ‘high-profile’ goals is probably the last place to start.

On the contrary, a good way to build that trust within yourself – to be able to say what you think and do what you say – is to start with the small, not-so-significant things in life. For instance, the next time when you feel like watching a particular TV program, SAY it to your friends/ family and THEN DO IT by switching the channel to that program… or when you would like to eat a particular dish, SAY that you are going to order it and THEN DO IT by ordering on the menu. OR, when you feel like sitting on a chair, SAY it aloud to others and THEN PULL THE CHAIR and sit on it.

It works like this: when you SAY that you will move your chair and DO IT by pulling it towards you and sitting on it, that YOUR unconscious mind begins to smile and warm up to the fact that you can be trusted with the bigger challenges in life. And whether you consciously notice it or not, deep inside there will be a feeling of goodness that begins to encourage you to take this experiment further into slightly bigger and more significant matters…and so on…until you might one day realise that this has become a part of your confident personality that operates in almost every area of your life !!!

How Can a Password Change Our Life?

What is your computer’s password? You must be wondering why I am asking you this question. What if I told you that your future depends on it?

 July 6, 1946. Due to a wrong gynecological procedure, a boy was born with one side of his face paralyzed. Born to a migrant family that had landed on the shores of North America just 16 years back and almost penniless, his father was a modest hairdresser and his mother had taken up astrology to make some income for the family. Within a year, his anxious parents had come to the painful realization that their little boy also suffered from slurred speech. At school, due to his middle class social background coupled with facial paralysis, he was always made fun of by classmates and seniors. He started body building to frighten off those who bullied him. As his body began to shape up and attract admirations from all, the young lad had dreams of making a career in movies. He took up acting and writing lessons to nurture this dream. His budding enthusiasm was untouched by the realities of the harsh world of cinemas and glamor. Around 1974, after years of trying and failing, with a pregnant wife, a dog he loved dearly and lots of bills to pay…success in the movie business had missed knocking his door.

The only thing he had going for him, was a strong belief in his dream and a clear idea of how it will appear when fulfilled. It was just a matter of time. Soon a time came when he was broke…so broke that he had to sell his wife’s jewellery and ended up homeless, sleeping at a New York bus terminal for 3 days. He was so poor by this time that on a cold New York morning he had to choose been his dog and paying the heating bills. Heartbroken and the fire of achieving his dream still burning strongly inside, he sold his best friend for a mere $50. Two weeks later, something inspirational happened as he was sitting at home watching a boxing fight between Chuck Weppner and Mohammed Ali. Weppner was getting absolutely slaughtered but kept holding his ground and coming back for more. This underdog was really fighting for it despite the slim chance he would even get close to winning.

This inspiration from Chuck Weppner spurred him to write the story of a boxer with a ‘never-say-die’ attitude. For over 24 hours straight this young man sat and poured his ideas on paper, writing down the entire script. After nearly fifteen hundred rejections, eventually he found a production house that loved it and they agreed to do the movie. They offered him $125,000 to sell the script. Despite his pregnant wife, pains and the lost dog…his dream was to star in that movie. But his facial paralysis and slurred speech clearly made him a wrong choice for the lead actor’s role.

They declined and told him he was a writer not an actor. He disagreed and told them he was an actor. The offer kept rising just so he would sell them the film without playing the part. The price eventually got to around $400 000 and he still declined. He was certain that he was actor and that was it, there was no compromise.

Eventually they offered a measly $25000 so they weren’t throwing their money away by having him as the lead role. He accepted. Then the first thing he did was go to buy back his dog.

He waited 3 days for the guy to come by and finally there he was with his dog. He offered the guy $150 to buy back the dog, the man declined. The offer kept rising, but again, he knew his outcome and kept pursuing his goal. It ended up costing him $15000 and a part in the movie to buy back his dog.

Incase if you haven’t guessed already, the movie was Rocky and this man in its lead character as Rocky Balboa was none other than Sylvester Stallone. Released in 1976, Rocky went on to become a legend, nominated for 10 Academy Awards including Best Actor and Best Original Screenplay for Stallone. It won the Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Direction and Best Film Editing. The rest, as we all know, is history.

I have a question for you. Take a deep breath and remember a time in your life when you wanted something so badly that you dreamt about it all day and even started leading a life assuming it was already available to you…and after sometime, as if by magic, it came into your life for real? Yes, all of us have been through some experience of that sort some point in time – a precious toy, a tough exam paper that HAS to go well, landing into that dream job, a college degree, a dream holiday, having someone special in our life…and so on.

For several decades now, psychologists have established a clear link between what we achieve and how strongly we believe we can achieve it. Some people call that the power of positive affirmations. The power of wishing something so clearly, seeing it unfold so vividly and believing in it so strongly that the entire Universe conspires to make that happen.

But what makes that happen?

It is widely accepted that our unconscious mind is the powerhouse behind everything we achieve. (it is also behind all that you fail to achieve, including your limiting beliefs and negative attitude) Modern research has isolated a critical weakness in the unconscious mind – its inability to distinguish between reality and imagination. Put simply, anything you fantasize in a manner that is as real as it gets, makes the unconscious mind lose the ability to distinguish between fiction and reality. It assumes the dream as real. Haven’t we heard that “you live every experience twice: Once in your imagination and once in real life”.

When uncontrolled, this phenomenon could have positive as well as negative fallouts. For example, when was the last time you woke up in the middle of the night from an unpleasant dream? Or when you wanted to sleep a bit more to lead a delightful dream to a beautiful end? Well, that’s what we are talking about! The reason why you woke up with sweaty palms, shallow breath and thumping heartbeat is because your unconscious mind assumed that dream to be real.

 

Here’s the point: Just as every weakness has an inherent hidden strength, you can train yourself to exploit this weakness of the unconscious mind by producing rich imagination and experiencing your goals and aspirations as if achieved.

In one of his books Antony Robbins explains a wonderful trick to create rich imaginations of our goals. He suggests that we describe a goal just as we would describe a lost article or pet to a police officer. For example, if your car was stolen would you describe it as: ‘A silver BMW Series 3’? And if you did, would the police officer be able to find your vehicle? I suppose, you would attempt to describe it in as much detail as possible, right? ‘a BMW 310i, silver colored, specific list of scratches and scuffs at specific places on the body, color of the seats, type of wheels, any stickers affixed, engine and chassis numbers, miles run, contents of the glove compartment, any other marks on its body…anything at all that would uniquely identify your lost vehicle from amongst the thousands plying on the streets. Right?

If you can go to such level of detail for your lost vehicle, what stops you from doing that for a cherished dream? The more detail you get into, the more your unconscious works to help you achieve it.

Where do you start? Positive affirmations are a good place to start, revisit and continue to revisit to help the unconscious mind track and seek your goals.

You see, though an affirmation usually is a one-line sentence, it captures the energy of your dream and helps steer mid-way course corrections as you progress towards it.

“I am always smiling”. Say this mantra 200 times each day for next 4 weeks. I encourage you to try this, even if you doubt.

A mantra is a classic application of the body-mind connection. You see, when we force our mind to repeat a mantra (which at that point is a physical activity, at best), the mind begins to believe it as true. All physiological and mental energies begin to magically align with your our mantra. The body nudges small progressive changes in the mental state whilst the mind pushes the body into physical congruency.

Chant your mantra anytime you are free; while travelling in the bus, driving the car, walking, jogging, before or after meals, washing dishes, even first thing in the morning after waking up and last thing before going to bed.

Create your own simple mantra. Keep it short and simple. Talk aloud…feel the tension in your vocal chords, vibrations in your jaw and the sense of exhaling air as you talk.

What’s your computer Password?

Now that leads me to another interesting and (almost) ubiquitous aspect of our life. For most people, the day begins and ends on their Computer. As soon as you switch on the computer, you are required to enter a password. And, if you are working in the Corporate world, chances are your password needs to be refreshed every 30 days or so, isn’t it? Coming up with a new password doesn’t seem to be big deal, unless you work for an organization that demands complex rules such as (i) a mix of alpha-numeric characters, (ii) uppercase and lowercase mix, (iii) atleast one character as symbol, (iv) atleast 8 or 10 characters long and (v) not repeating the last 3 or 6 passwords you had used….sounds familiar?

For many of us, inventing a new password that is also memorable, is an incredibly frustrating experience. The pain of forgetting it and getting the IT team to reset it all over…is even more irritating. So, how about converting this frustration and irritation into a life-changing experience? How about inventing passwords that are Positive Affirmations you punch in each time you login to your computer?

  • Quit smoking and set a password: Quit@smokng4evr
  • Cultivate an exercise regimen with: Myg00dhea1th@2015
  • Rejuvenate that relationship with someone special: f0rgive&Liveagain
  • Release yourself from toxic emotional baggage: Letitg0&Relax
  • Sustain your momentum and enthusiasm with: ImAwes@meNow
  • Working to loose weight? Try: ImSlimmer@2day
  • Getting past a negative experience? How about: Moving0n[n0w]
  • Feeling depressed? Try: F0ck_Dpress_i0N
  • Having a bad phase in life: Shit#HappenS

And…if you were an aspiring actor like Sylvester Stallone: iamanactor@hollyw00d

Remember:

  1. Make use of your password to pull you towards your dream…since you are using it many times in the day…and every day for atleast 30 or 45 days, make it count. Surround yourself with positive affirmations that propel you closer to your goal.
  1. Important: Make an advance list of HOW changes would look like as you progress towards that goal…and revisit this list each time you change your password. Compare the changes in your behavior against this list…
  1. Take time to introspect how far you have progressed in the direction of your goal and what needs to be done from here.
  1. Set new passwords that align with your progress and the way forward…use your new passwords as guiding milestones towards creating a NEW you.

Anything you use over and over again can be easily converted into a positive affirmation to propel you towards your goal. In today’s technology-driven world…log-in to a new life using your password!!

What is Your ‘Hireability’ Quotient?

Imagine you are unwell and need to see a doctor. And you can pick between a doctor who is straight-faced, dead serious and rough talking, but located right across the street Or a doctor who is jovial and sweet talking, but located few miles out…who would you prefer? Now, visualize this scenario: your car has broken down and needs a visit to the mechanic. Would you go to a mechanic who barely speaks more than needed or perhaps another one who takes interest in knowing how you have been doing…and the family…and talking about the weather as he fixes your car?Which service provider did you hire? My guess is, unless, the quality and reputation of the professional is outstandingly better than the frustration of dealing with them, most people might prefer to pick the second option. Right?

In a classic research conducted in the early 70s, psychologists closely studied the lives of people over few decades; from their University days as they progressed through their careers.

Sarah and Kim studied together at University pursuing a degree in Computer Sciences. Though classmates and also roommates, they had very distinct personalities. Sarah was scholarly, studious and academically brilliant. All through her career, she had bagged nothing but outstanding academic results consistently amongst the top 2% students in her class. Kim, on the other hand, possessed average academic credentials…not the worse…but certainly not the very best either. She was the type that burnt the midnight lamp just before exams and managed an average rank in her class. Certainly not the most brilliant academically.

And the differences in their personalities didn’t end here. Sarah tended to live mostly by herself giving others the impression that she is snobbish and arrogant. (do you recall such students from your college days?) During class discussions, she would typically avoid answering questions even though she knew the answers. She stayed clear of team activities and her life revolved around her classes, library and her apartment. Kim was an altogether different personality…very social and a natural in bonding with people, empathizing with their issues. When not studying or preparing projects, she enjoyed hanging around with friends…and she had a large friends circle…even participating in other projects, generally curious and outgoing.

Sarah had the kind of CV that would impress any employer and deservedly so her CV was pre-selected for interviews by 9 out of the top 10 organizations that came for campus recruitment that year. Given her average grades, Kim was shortlisted by just 4 organizations. In the end though, BOTH got 3 job offers each.

What made Kim get selected by 3 out of the 4 companies that interviewed her, even as her academic credentials were not as glorious as those of Sarah? Moreover, in the years to follow, Sarah rose up to various technical positions, whilst Kim got into the leadership track and quickly took executive leadership roles.

Does the story of Sarah and Kim resonate with people you know at workplace? There are those who tend to maintain a low profile, talk less during meetings, maintain limited interactions with colleagues…but absolutely mind-blowing in subject matter knowledge?

Psychologist Daniel Goleman talks about THREE qualities that make people successful and valuable at work:

  1. IQ or cognitive intelligence – a person’s ability to learn through pattern recognition using logic, analysis of events, mathematical computations and language. Typically (but not always) reflected by their academic merits.
  2.  Expertise or energy – the motor skills a person possesses to demonstrate physical capabilities to do a task. The sheer physical stamina and capabilities needed to do the task.
  3. Attitude – Some label it as hard work, but we can ask what makes people put in that hard work? It is sometimes also defined as will power, tenacity, grit or determination, etc. which is largely governed by the person’s emotional connect to that task.

The question is, how do some people manage to soar in their careers despite being academically average, or even poor and also possessing limited skills necessary for the tasks? Do you know people who have switched to an entirely new career option and yet made it big? This question led psychologists to investigate the crucial role of attitude in spring-boarding a person over toughest challenges. The research showed an interesting trend: people with positive attitude demonstrated a high levels of a quality called emotional intelligence, compared to Cognitive IQ (i.e academic prowess) or physical skills. They tended to connect with the right mental state at the right time to deliver the task at hand.

The word ‘right’ here suggests just the emotional connect needed to take them through the actions needed to accomplish the task, but stops short of going overboard. Period. Too much emotional connect can blind a person to the risks and perils associated with that task, unable to see the points of failure…or worse, unable to cope with failures. They eventually get frozen in their past, unable to move on.

Daniel Goleman defined this ability of a person to ‘inject’ the right amount of emotion to a task – being able to apply ‘thinking’ and ‘feeling’ equally to take optimal decisions, being able to connect and enlist others to their task, as Emotional Intelligence.

And why is E. I so valuable? Through extensive research he established that, for simpler job roles, the performance of top 1% E I people was 3 times the performance of bottom 1% E I people. The results were even more startling for complex job roles where the top 1% E I people outperformed 12 times more than bottom 1% E I people. Sales people with higher E I tend to stay longer, put up higher resilience to pressure and are able to think much more creatively. Attrition is lower and overall organizational maturity is higher.

This mind-blowing analysis rests on the simple theory that our mind tends to produce an emotional state for every event unfolding before us. Our actions in the external world are a direct consequence of our internal state. So being able to notice and regulate your mental state helps you to be ‘At Cause’ instead of being ‘At Affect’ in that situation. Being ‘at affect’ is when the circumstances affect your mood and actions…whereas being ‘at cause’ is when YOU cause the circumstances to happen. Quite obviously, people with high EI are able to (i) notice how situations affect their mental state and (ii) regulate their mental state to redefine the situations.

Individuals with high E I have a natural ability to make friends and build positive relationships. No wonder then, barring certain extraordinary contexts, organizations usually unconsciously gravitate towards individuals who demonstrate good emotional intelligence.

In most organizations, as you grow senior your ability manage relationships, engage and inspire people become more critical than technical knowledge or physical stamina. The senior the role the greater the preference for executives with high EI compared to their academics or skills. Perhaps this could be the reason why academically brilliant people who often get a better head start early on in their career, tend to report in to colleagues who possess more E I as they grow within organizations.

Infact, a study at UCLA showed that intellectual ability counts for just 7% of leadership development while emotional intelligence counts for 93%. Emotional Intelligence has a profound and powerful influence in the building- blocks of leadership such as: building trust, loyalty, creativity, resilience, customer satisfaction and turnover…amongst many other parameters.

Now here’s a TWIST !! The reality though, is not quite similar to theory. A study of over 1 million people across various organizational levels by Forbes, uncovered a rather interesting trend. They found that while the E I scores of individuals rose in correlation with their job titles, they peaked at middle management level and then, startlingly began to drop down for higher levels. Alarmingly, the CEOs showed E I scores that were lower than ‘individual contributors’ who worked under level 1 supervisors. Infact Middle Managers, V.P and Directors demonstrated the highest E.I scores.

Why should this happen? Psychologists associated with this research at Forbes noticed that, the higher a person grows above the middle-management role, the more they focus on metrics-led performances whilst taking decisions on hiring, promotions and raises. Even worse, few companies tended to promote people into key roles based on their tenure, skills / knowledge rather than their ability to inspire and lead others to actions. Another interesting find they made is that the best INDIVIDUAL performers (e.g best sales person, best project manager, etc.) showed disturbingly poor E I scores whereas average individual performers-turned-Managers showed higher E I scores. Now, does this remind you of someone who was an amazing individual performer, but failed to deliver as a Manager?

So how does one improve emotional intelligence? Remember, high E I equals better hireability !! Whether they realize or not, employers unconsciously gravitate towards people with high E I quotient.

And you can easily track that by monitoring few key parameters with respect to everyday situations unfolding around you. Remember, its not being emotionally sensitive to the situation, but being able to think and feel at the same time…and so associating the right degree of emotion appropriate to that task.

  • Personal intelligence: A passion to work for internal reasons that go beyond money and status. Which in turn brings clarity of what is important in life, a joy in doing something, curiosity in learning, a flow that comes with being immersed in an activity and yet being able to multitask several activitiesFew questions you can ask yourself:
  • Are you clear of your work-life priorities and doggedly following a strategy to maintain that balance? OR are circumstances pushing you to work commitments that conflict with personal life?
  • Can you wage bets on delivering your promises?
  • When faced with difficult situations, do you tell yourself “there must be a better way…somehow?” OR do you concede “this is the best way”
  • When faced with setbacks, do you attribute them to specific circumstances and apply its impact to a narrow context in life and for a short time? High E I people attribute failures to a very narrow and specific context and foresee their impact for a limited period of time. i.e setbacks are temporary and limited in range.

 

  • Interpersonal intelligence: Proficiency in managing relationships and building networks and an ability to find common ground and build rapport. Few questions to ponder about:
  • Do you listen to respond…or to understand? Do you go after just facts or just feelings or both when associating with people?
  • What part of your daily efforts go towards serving others?
  • How easily can you notice the strengths in people and link them to common goals? A good way to start would be to list 5 positive qualities of every person you work with.
  • How good are you in mirroring and matching your state with others’ state? E.g showing enthusiasm when the other person is also enthusiastic, showing concern with concern, etc.
  • Do you like to jump into conflicts with the intent of resolving them amicably? OR do you shun conflicting situations?
  • How many people can you count to enlist whole-hearted support…anytime and every time? Do you take conscious efforts to contact and connect with them? Do you take efforts to stay in touch with more people each year?

Do you have big network of weak-connections? These are people who are not related or connected with your daily work or passion. They are those coming from diverse fields and maintain occasional touch points with you? High E I people have plenty of such weak-connections.

Don’t Wish for it. Work For it

Twenty years ago a young man brimming with hope and enthusiasm applied for a seat in a top Business School. The course and the college was much-sought after by thousands of young, talented students holding dreams of a successful Corporate career in their eyes. Infact, it would not be entirely incorrect to say, bagging a seat there was an assured ticket to success and Corporate glory. But the road to winning this envious seat was strewn with thorns and barbed wires. Imagine thirty thousand hopefuls vying for a clutch of just 100 seats ! The process involved a tough qualifying exam, two grueling rounds of team presentations of business ideas under the harsh scrutiny of professors who seemed like they have come to attend a family funeral and finally an interview with a senior faculty. The objective was clear: find a way to reject 97 out of every 100 applicants. The young man was determined, quietly focused and didn’t hesitate to take chances. He had managed to reach the last 300 shortlisted candidates, with just the final interview between him and the seat ! The equation had now boiled down to selection of one out of three applicants. That young man was me.While this story was unfolding in my professional life, another story completely un-related and purely by chance, was evolving in my personal life. For nearly three years before that day, I had been attending Karate classes three evenings a week. It was just a fun hobby. Starting from the entrée level White Belt, I had gradually climbed my way up, earning the Yellow and Green Belts and hoped to eventually earn the Black Belt too, one day. That didn’t happen unfortunately. But who could have imagined that this Karate training would come to my help at the right moment and secure that seat in the MBA college?

On that critical interview day, as I sat before the Professor of Corporate Law, he casually inquired about my life outside work. On hearing about my Karate classes, he couldn’t hide a smile and asked cynically “how will Karate help you with MBA studies and your professional career?” Closing my eyes for few seconds I introspected deeply and then replied, “When you are face to face with the risk of physical injury or even death, the danger of being hit by a hard kick all of a sudden, your mind is at peak concentration, your senses on high alert, willing to take risks, looking out for the split second opportunity and the belief that attack is the best form of defense. These qualities apply in Business too”. Though my words didn’t make much sense to me then, it surely impressed my Professor. I was selected and a month later found myself sitting in the MBA class alongside 90 other lucky students.

Mental change starts easily with physical change!

Here’s a question: Those of you who regularly hit the gym, how much importance do you give to ‘increasing the weights’ while working out? Or perhaps increasing the complexity and level of difficulty in a sport you play? Or the more difficult Yoga asana? Now let me, at the outset itself, confess that I am no fitness guru. But the connection between fitness and psychology has always been a subject of fascination for me.

fitnessWell, here are 5 psychological reasons why you should consider constantly ‘upping the ante’ – increase the weights in your gym routine or walk/ run longer and faster or cycle longer distances…

  1. Increased Focus and meditative silence: Irrespective of what task we undertake, our mind evaluates the perceived risks and damages involved and prepares us against them. The higher the (perceived) risk, the higher our concentration and focus. Worth noting that, these are perceptions and could change as you start facing them.Coming back to the gym, irrespective of whether or not you succeed, the prospect of lifting heavier weights, activates the mind’s survival strategy rallying every muscle, fiber and cell of the body as a unit, into the act. But what happens if you were to lift the same weights each day for weeks? You get bored, don’t you? It no longer feels exciting because your mind has got accustomed and it no longer poses a risk.Most people hold the notion that to exceed your limits, you must learn how to focus. The reality is that pushing yourself beyond limits makes you focus with a still mind, and not the other way round. The challenge automatically makes the mind focus on the task, like nothing else. Each day, as you challenge your physical limits, you are also silently training your mind to stay still and focused. For most people this cool habit disappears gradually dampening their motivation as they grow older and prefer a routine life.CAUTION: Please don’t try this out in risk-to-life activities like driving, swimming, etc.
  2. Developing a habit of staying motivated and considering risks with a positive mindset: To be the best in any activity we do, always feels great, isn’t it? Being mediocre just doesn’t cut. Whilst pushing heavier weights does shape up your body, unknown to you, your mind is training to accept challenges (instead of avoiding them) and take them on.How does that work? To trace the source of motivation, let’s begin in the brain where neurotransmitters spark chemical messages to keep us alert and on task. It is a well-known fact that exercising produces Endorphins the feel-good neurochemical that sedates the pain. One specific neurotransmitter that plays a role in motivation is dopamine. Dopamine’s impact on the body is felt in many different areas, including motivation, memory, behavior and cognition, attention, sleep, sex, mood, learning, and oh yeah, pleasurable reward.The brain can be trained to feed off of bursts of dopamine sparked by rewarding experiences. You create the dopamine environment and the brain does the rest. According to neurologist Judy Willis, setting incremental goals, like increasing weights at the gym or running that extra 500 meters is a cool way to trigger dopamine release and prepare your day feeling motivated and considering risks with the right attitude.In essence, what you are doing is rewiring the brain to attach a dopamine response to the task you want as a reward. Allow yourself to experience frequent positive feedback as you progress through a series of goals.
  3. Muscles decay when not used: Lets face it. You either keep building it or lose it !!!Within a month of not working out, your veins and arteries stiffen, which could make your blood pressure rocket like a space shuttle off Cape Canaveral. Within two weeks of going on a gym sabbatical, the amount of oxygen your working muscles can use decreases by something like 20 percent. In addition to the possibility of having less grey matter than someone who works out routinely, your ability to grow brain cells may decrease as well.Routines install fear of change. When you stop pushing yourself, your psychological ability to face unknowns begins to diminish. It is only when you keep pushing your limits that your fears stay at bay. So when you are afraid of taking decisions that you used to take comfortably before you got into that monotonous phase in your work, don’t be surprised. It is the routine that killed the curiosity. Research indicates that as people approach their forties, the desire to follow a routine, comfortable lifestyle becomes too tempting to resist causing their risk taking, creative thinking abilities to decline. This should, ofcourse be taken as a general observation and not a rule of sorts.
  4. Full Body workout ensures every part is fit: Whether you follow a full body workout (i.e entire body in one go) or a split muscles routine (i.e focusing on specific muscles at a time), ensure that every muscle of the body is equally worked out as a holistic approach to being healthy and strong.What lesson does this give us? OK, so this is not about increasing the weights, but still an important aspect of psychological wellbeing. Every muscle and tissue of our body is interconnected with other systems to operate as a single unit. Have you experienced what happens when just one muscle of your body is out of action temporarily – say, due to an injury? It doesn’t just affect your movements but also plays on your mood, your confidence in performing certain tasks, concentration and energy levels.At any given point in time, our mind juggles to achieve a delicate balance between several issues – finance, relations, career/ business, education, family, vacations/ leisure and many more. What would happen if you focused on just one – say, Career? The ecological fallout (i.e how one area of your life affects other areas) of disproportionate important to career would take a toll on the relations, perhaps health and more areas of our life. Unknown to our conscious selves, our unconscious mind – protector of our core interests, knows about this damage and will do whatever it can to sabotage our single-minded focus on the career. How will it do that? Well, it can achieve that in more than one ways – the most common being physical ailments like chronic backaches, diabetes, insomnia, blood pressure issues and more… It is that unconscious mind signaling us to balance life. Focusing on just one at the cost of all others is more damaging than beneficial – we know that.
  5. Variations make exercises more fun and effective: Whether you are into gym or any other form of physical sport, experts’ advice regular variations in your exercises for a fitter lifestyle. Cardio at times, weights on other days mixed with Yoga and perhaps an occasional sport (tennis, badminton, swimming, etc.) on a rotation is a wonderful way for holistic health. Hey, did I mention, trying out those fun exercises waiting at the airport for the flight? Or in the office?How do variations contribute to increased challenge? Our brain is one of the finest and cleverest efficiency optimization machine. As you head to the gym, mentally preparing for the exercises and the weights you would lift, your brain is already planning for the lowest risk and most efficient mechanism to handle that goal. These include, what muscles to load, rate of metabolism, motivational state, etc The reason for this is that whilst your brain has to comply with fulfillment of your exercising goals, it also has a background responsibility of conservation of energy and least damage to muscles and tissues.It is like making one part of our mind (with the goals of conservation & protection of body) working against another (wanting to push the body beyond its limits). Who will win? BOTH. As a result, IF you maintain a fixed workout regimen, be sure that within a short time, your brain will devise internal control mechanisms that ensure minimal consumption of energy to achieve that goal. Changing your routine is an easy way to ‘surprise’ the brain and make it work more. Besides, it also ensures that the motivation and ‘feel good’ chemicals are produced in good quantities.

In Conclusion:

“Exercise is something that psychologists have been very slow to attend to,” agrees Michael Otto, PhD, a professor of psychology at Boston University. “People know that exercise helps physical outcomes. (However) there is much less awareness of mental health outcomes — and much, much less ability to translate this awareness into exercise action.”

Researchers are still working out the details of that action: how much exercise is needed, what mechanisms are behind the boost exercise brings, and why — despite all the benefits of physical activity — it’s so hard to go for that morning jog. But as evidence piles up, the exercise-mental health connection is becoming impossible to ignore.

Starting out too hard in a new exercise program may be one of the reasons people disdain physical activity. When people exercise above their respiratory threshold — that is, above the point when it gets hard to talk — they postpone exercise’s immediate mood boost by about 30 minutes, Otto says. For novices, that delay could turn them off of the treadmill for good. Given that, he recommends that workout neophytes start slowly, with a moderate exercise plan and keep increasing the challenge level gradually.

“Many people skip the workout at the very time it has the greatest payoff. That prevents you from noticing just how much better you feel when you exercise,” he says. “Failing to exercise when you feel bad is like explicitly not taking an aspirin when your head hurts. That’s the time you get the payoff.”

Building Timeproof Habits

HABITS AND LOGICAL LEVELS OF LEARNING
Problem Statement: Barely had the sounds of the New Year chimes and fireworks subsided, my phone rang. It was an old friend calling in to wish me a Happy New Year. I casually inquired what his New Year resolutions were. “None” he said dejectedly. “what’s the point of setting resolutions? I barely manage to follow them for a month. Somewhere down the line, the steam is lost and the resolution is gone for a toss”. Hmmm…isn’t that a very commonly observed phenomenon?

At some point in our life, all of us have, and also know people around us who have embarked on new habits or rituals aimed at ringing-in a positive change in our/ their lives. Going to the Gym, a jog every evening, adopting a radical diet, quitting smoking/ alcohol, meditation every night, rock climbing, expanding our social network, spending more time with the family, etc. etc. etc. We’ve all been there and tried that, right?
Most habits start with loads of enthusiasm, energy and motivation. However with passage of time, somehow the fizz dissipates and the new habit suffocates under numerous other priorities. For some people, this eventually becomes so discouraging a pattern, that they stop setting resolutions. So how can one ‘time-proof’ a new habit and make it a long lasting activity?
NLP offers an interesting insight into how people fail to ‘time-proof’ new habits. In order to understand this better, we must first revisit the modest, unassuming and often under-emphasized concept of ‘Logical Levels of Thinking’. This incredible model sadly occupies very little space, time and relevance even in formal NLP training programs.

NLP Logical Levels of Thinking: The NLP Logical Levels is an invaluable tool for organizing our thinking, information gathering, communication and behavior.

Developed by Robert Dilts and Todd Epstein, based on the original work of Gregory Bateson, the Logical Levels is one of the most useful of all NLP models.
Using the model enables us to understand in a clear and structured manner what makes a person ‘tick’.
Human behavior (which in turn is a function of their internal beliefs and personality) in a given context, can be driven by one or more of the following six factors: Environment, Behavior, Capabilities, Beliefs & Values, Identity and finally Purpose.
Let’s say, you want to inculcate a habit of regularly going to the Gym. As per the model, for this activity to start, it would need to satisfy certain conditions:
• Do you have the environment at home/ work or Gym offering you the opportunity to exercise? This would include the physical set up – equipment, air-conditioning, music, etc. that sets the ‘right’ mood.
• Next, is that environment sufficient enough to generate the desired behavior in you? Have you noticed what happens to your behavior when the air-conditioning suddenly stops working or the music goes silent in the gym?
• Next, do you have the physical capabilities/ skills to perform exercises? Illness or permanent physical limitations, lack of knowledge of workouts that prevent a person from performing all or certain exercises.
• Next, what are your beliefs about exercising and its benefits/ risks? Do you believe in the pains and gains it would bring? What about exercising is important to you?
• Next, what does all of this (the act of exercising) tell you about who you are? Who you are not? Who you see yourself as, in life?

Environment: This level is all about the external landscape presented to the individual at any given point in time.

Behavior: This level is concerned with what people do (or how they react) to an environment. For any given environment situation, there are a choice of behaviors a person can pick from. Such as thinking, speaking, silence, listening, reacting, running away, etc.
Capabilities: This level relates to the skills, strategies, talents and resources that a person possesses to pick the most appropriate amongst available behavior choices. It also includes any specific physical capability/ limitations the person possesses. Capabilities align the behavior you choose as response with your beliefs and values.

Beliefs and Values: In the context of a (desired) behavior X, if you ask the question “What’s important to you about this new behavior X?” and for the answer you get, repeat the same question couple of times, you will come face to face with the core Values at play behind the scene. What you hold dear in your life and the beliefs you create, influence the way you act in a given situation. If you want to run good meetings, you must first notice what’s most important to you about holding good meetings (such as self-respect, recognition, self-worth, etc.), then instill a strong belief that you can, learning the required skills and setting the right environment to achieve that goal.
Identity: In the context of adopting the new behavior X, who would you like to be known as? This is all about getting a sense about who you are (in the context of certain behavior) and also who you are not. What does that identity mean to you? Depending on the behavior, you could assume any of hundreds of identities such as Mr.Good-Coordinator, teacher, Ms. Braveheart, honest Abe, working-mother, full-time parent, CEO, Sex-God, a Go-Getter, patient person, etc.

Purpose: This level is about your higher purpose in life and what you have to offer to the society and world at large.
Habits and Logical Levels: You might now wonder what has the Logical Levels model got to do with ‘time-proofing’ habits? Precisely how do we utilize the wisdom of this model in creating long-lasting behavior?
The secret recipe of the sauce lies in recognizing the logical level you are operating from when it comes to any behavior. Got it? No? Let me explain more…
All behaviors are a result of the identity that plays in a person’s mind. Your current behavior is simply a reflection of your current identity – which YOU have chosen to hold in YOUR mind. For example, if you see yourself as a teacher (and a person of high respect), your behavior automatically reflects this identity drawing you to talk about the subject, refer to books and other material that further enhance your knowledge, act and behave with people as a teacher. Over time, the response you receive from people, could possibly further reinforce this identity making you take even further steps to act in line with this identity. You won’t even realize at what point, the act of learning and teaching became a habit!
Go inside your mind now and check for the most prominent of such identities you currently hold, notice how they unconsciously shape your beliefs and make you act in the external world – including deliberately seeking out the right environments to suit the identities.

Therefore, to create a lasting habit, we must begin with creating an identity of ourself that aligns closely with that habit.
By contrast, go back to a time when you decided to adopt a new behavior/ habit and failed to continue with it for long. As you recall that futile effort, go once again inside your mind and think of the motivators that prompted you to take up that behavior in the first place.
• Habits motivated by external appearances and their influence on how you will look in the eyes of the external world, typically reside at an environmental level. Its focused around the way the world perceives you.
• Habits motivated by what you can possibly do in terms of skills, typically reside at a behavior and capability level. Its mainly focused around what you can do based on your previous experiences or perhaps advice from others.
• Habits that are motivated from what think you can do and what is the right thing to do typically reside at a Belief and Value level. At this stage, the focus is primarily ‘inward’ on you, instead of ‘outward’ on what the world wants.
• Finally, habits motivated from the person you believe you are, stem from an identity level. At this point, you are already seeing yourself as a XYZ person, living that identity.
Long lasting habits are fuelled by a burning desire to fit into an identity. So if you change your identity (the type of person you believe you are), its lot easier to change your actions.

The reason why we find it so hard to stick to new habits/ behaviors is because they are usually motivated to achieve an appearance or performance.

For e.g: If your goal for exercising is to lose 10 Kgs, look slimmer and get the appreciation of friends – your goal is plugged at an Environment level.
On the other hand, if your goal is to run 2Kms every day and then increase that to 4Kms in 3 months’ time – your goal is plugged at a Capability level. It is very likely that soon after you have achieved that milestone; it may cease to motivate you. Can you recall setting goals which, when accomplished, no longer excite you to maintain continuously?

Instead, if you assume the identity of a ‘Patient and Tough’ person who believes that good health is great for the body and mind, chances are you will start small…but the identity will hold you and keep pushing you on target each day. The best part here is, the more you stick to this identity, the more you go on as there are no specific milestones to cross…but simply reinforcing your identity of being ‘patient and tough’. Makes sense?

Chronic Habits: In my experience as a therapist dealing with smokers keen to kick the habit…it is not uncommon to hear stories such as;
(i) The person tried to gradually reduce her intake each week with the ultimate goal of completely going off the habit. But ‘somehow’ that didn’t work! This is a classic case of setting your habit at a Performance (i.e Capability) level.
(ii) The person simply stopped smoking one fine morning, trashing the pack of cigarettes. Underneath this drastic action, often lies a belief such as “Enough. This is taking a toll on my health and its time I did something about it. Smoking is damaging my health”. No marks for guessing this ‘Belief’ level connection to a new habit. Chances are, this model will lead to long term stickiness to the new habit.
(iii) Probably even unknown to them, somewhere deep inside, the person has created a new identity of being a ‘Fighter’ in the context of this situation, complete with linkages to incidents in her past where such an identity has helped her overcome stubborn habits/ serious challenges that life posed then. Quite by magic, this new identity, brings forth all past experiences that reinforce it further and lead to a belief that “I did it in the past (in some other context equally stubborn), I can do it now!!”. Some people choose to label this new identity as ‘will power’, but I personally don’t prefer that term. I feel will power is like an elastic rubber band that is stretched when you use it…sooner or later is has to give in.
Word of Caution: It is important to point out that, the Logical Model has cascading effect in both directions.
For example, an environment can trigger a behavior, which in turn, aligns to the comfort of the individual’s capabilities. Capabilities are developed through time over a platform of beliefs created by what the person thinks he/ she IS (i.e Identity).

Interestingly, the model works in the opposite direction just as well. So, if you see yourself as a fit, patient and resilient person (identity), it would automatically sprout corresponding beliefs that propel you with increased motivation and will power (beliefs) to take up some activity however trivial (capability) that you can do within available constraints of time, location, etc. (environment).
Conclusion: When you want to become better at something or start a new behavior, proving your identity to yourself is far more important than going after awesome results. The results will flow in automatically. Motivation originating from appearances and performances are quite short lived. Those driven by a new identity coupled with new beliefs, go on and on…until they become a new YOU !!

NOTE: All examples as well as scenarios in this article, are one of many possible responses in real life situations and simply meant for illustrating the concept.

Changing Beliefs Conversationally

Often times we come across people expressing frustration, anger or resentment for being the way they are and being unable to pursue their dreams and desires. It seems as if they are bound in chains and handcuffed against their free will to do what they don’t really enjoy doing, yet, looking longingly outside their ‘mental’ prison through the windows of their eyes to a world that they so dearly want to go to.

You will come across hundreds of expressions that demonstrate this. Some illustrative samples;

– I am not good enough
– I don’t think I deserve this job or role
– I don’t think I can ever get my boss to appreciate me
– I won’t ever become a X
– Wish I had Y
– I cannot Z
– Etc. etc.

You may have already noted that I have consciously kept focus on issues related to the individual (i.e I or me). This is because, all issues related to others (i.e you, they, he, she, my child, etc.) can always be pointed back to the individual using the NLP presupposition “the meaning of your communication is the response you get”. In other words, one can eventually turn any external facing statement into something to do with them.

So, if you believe, “my boss cannot ever appreciate me” [external referenced], you can always reframe that into internally referenced and say “I don’t believe, I can ever get my boss to appreciate me”. Now how does that sound?

NLP offers several options to deal with the process of belief change. Timeline regression and resolution and designer swish among others. Any therapist would know that this requires one or more committed sessions to achieve. Perhaps 3 to 6 hours for a lasting change in belief?

But, what if the Client experiences such limiting beliefs in the midst of a critical work process? Say, you on your way to appear for the most important job interview of your life and on the way, you keep getting this worrying thought that goes “you cannot ever clear this interview…its too good to be true for you…” and so on.

Or, if you are a therapist and dealing with a Client who is located remotely and in deep trouble owing to a limiting belief? Someone who has relationship issues with their spouse and now on their way to see them after a long gap and mustering loads of courage…and pop comes this thought “…you are doing a big mistake. He/ She is never going to accept you back no matter what you do…turn back…now!…”

In such situations, I have found some conversational interventions extremely powerful and potent in busting limiting beliefs that people harbor. Infact, these are questions you can ask yourself to bust those beliefs that cripple your fledgling initiatives. At the very least, I can guarantee you that they will cast an element of doubt in whether that belief is indeed worth listening to? Imagine if you can atleast begin to doubt that old belief that you can never start your own business, leaving a cushy job that pays well but leaves you highly unsatisfied, dejected and bored?…

STOP reading from here if you don’t feel comfortable changing your limiting beliefs.

But before I go forward, let me tell you an interesting analogy that Antony Robbins used to explain a belief. A belief is like a table-top resting on the four legs of your interpretation of certain reference experiences in your life.

For example; if a certain boss visits your office and you overhear him shouting his head out to a colleague for poor work. Few days later, you hear story from another colleague about how that boss made her the day miserable. And you begin to think..”hmmmm…..”. Couple of weeks later, you hear him speak at a group meeting in a tough and business-minded tone. And just few days later you receive a mail from his office setting up clear, specific and detailed performance metrics.

Now, we have all the ingredients to build a belief about impressing this boss. The four legs are ready to hold the belief ‘table-top’. What would you put here?

One person can install a belief that “this boss cannot be impressed and its best to steer clear off him”.
Could you also consider an alternative belief that “this boss is very clear about what he wants, clearly setting parameters for measurements. Just show how good I am in those specific areas and its worth a try to impress him”.

The first belief freezes you in time. The second one galvanizes you into a scientific strategy of action.

Changing old beliefs is all about knocking off one of more legs of that table so that the table looses its stability and eventually falls over. As soon as the table becomes ‘shaky’, your belief also looses its strength and eventually lets you challenge it.

Fortunately there are ways where you will ‘break the legs’ by asking yourself few questions using simple language patterns.

Think of a belief that you wish you could get rid off to experience a more fruitful life. It could be anything really. For example “this boss cannot be impressed and its best to steer clear off him”.

Question 1: How would you know, OR, how many ways you could know that this belief is not true at this moment in time?
– Someone has been able to impress this boss and enjoying his affection.
– There are loads of people directly working and associating with this person already.
– He is not expressing his appreciation but is noticing the efforts and the good work secretly.

Question 2: For whom would this belief not be true?
– Its not true for John and Natasha who have quickly aligned with this boss’s views
– Even Shirisha, his PA, seems to resonate well with his thoughts and strategy. She’s not scared of him.

Question 3a: When was it not true for you? Here you can think of similar or identical experiences from your past where this belief didn’t turn out to be true.
– During school days, I had an extremely tough teacher but managed to impress her, whilst most of the class was struggling to meet her expectations
– Couple of years back I briefly had a very difficult boss and managed to impress him.
– In college I was the captain of the cricket team and put into challenge by a team that had an undefeated run for past 15 games…but I managed to defeat it.

Question 3b: How many times has this happened? I will be surprised if you came up with less than 10 such experiences!

Question 4: So, now that you think about these experiences, in what ways do you now know that the old belief you had isn’t entirely true now? Now you can start listing out potential ‘holes in the armor’ that the old belief was wearing.
– There are ways to defeat even the most formidable opponent through careful planning and lots of courage.
– I don’t really know this person well enough to make a judgment about him.
– Everyone’s experience and knowledge is different and I haven’t yet tried using mine with his boss.

Question 5: What would like to believe in instead? List out alternate beliefs that you’d now like to have instead.

– Its best not to judge someone based on other’s experiences. Everyone responds differently.
– Give it a good shot using calculated information and knowledge.
– If most people are scared, I can actually take advantage of this opportunity to rise and shine.

Question 6: When did you have such a belief and proved to be correct?
– My school teacher, old boss, wife when we went for our first vacation,…
– Many examples…

Question 7: As you now think of a situation [related to the issue] coming up in the immediate future, how differently would you act based on this new belief?
– Act with courage coupled with knowledge and intelligence
– Unfazed by his criticism and use it as input for improvement so I can impress him in time.

As you can see, by asking few simple questions, you can bring about a complete U-Turn in a person’s belief system.

If this were a coaching situation, you may even throw in few questions to ensure that the new belief integrates with other beliefs and the overall identity of the person. You can also ensure that the new belief is ecologically healthy for the Client as well as their environment. And finally, also take care of any parts of the Client’s mind that have objections to this new belief.

This process ensures that you (or your client if you are a therapist) are able to bring about a permanent change in the limiting belief that was restricting you from pursuing your dreams.

ALL THE VERY BEST !!

Exam Stress? Manage It Smoothly and Magically

Anil is a bright 12 year old boy with keen interest in studies, socializing with friends and watching cartoon on TV. Though quite studious and hardworking, he didn’t get good grades in his school exams. His parents were worried, especially since his 16 year old sister was exactly the opposite – a bubbly, playful girl who never seemed to take studies too seriously and yet managed to score very high grades in all exams. They tried all possible remedies to help him do well in exams – sent him to tuition classes, arranged private tutors and more. But these methods only made Anil’s condition worse. Finally, after months of keen observation and gentle persuasion, they discovered that he used to suffer from acute exam anxiety that made him ‘forget’ all that he had learnt and prepared as he walked into the exam hall. The situation went worse as his parents pushed him further into tuitions and private tutors.

Quite contrary to what we would like to believe, the issue of exam anxiety is more common than we think. Infact, with increasing competition and the mad rush to get into popular academic courses, students these days are going through unprecedented stress to deliver extra ordinary performance during exams. Interestingly, whilst the child understands and recalls all answers at home, something dramatically changes as he/ she approaches school and enters into the exam hall. Suddenly questions flash in their mind to which they struggle to find the answer. Their minds jump from one possible answer to another. “Was it this? Or that? Or perhaps it must a mix of this concept and that?”. Then comes those unpleasant thoughts in their minds “Oh…my God…I haven’t prepared that topic X well…will I be able to get good grades in this paper?” As they experience these thoughts, their palms become sweaty; their foreheads develop beads of sweat, their mind desperately struggling to recall answers then switching off and suddenly all their preparations go blank. Does this look like a familiar picture?

In my work as a therapist, more than often I come across Parents and Teachers who are keen to get their kids into a positive and relaxed state of mind as they sit for their exams. Because all the sweat and blood, the mid-night oil burnt for past several weeks or months, is brought to display in those 2 or 3 hours of an exam. A calm and relaxed mind is open to creativity. And a creative mind magically comes up with answers to even the most unheard of questions by joining the dots of learnings from same or other subjects. Surprisingly, such commonsensical creativity often churns up logical and correct answers that deserve good marks.

So how can a student get exceptionally high grades in exams? Are there natural and easy techniques to improve performance dramatically? I am sure you are curious to know…
For any student, the experience of learning rests on three legs:

1. How do I get incredibly excited learning a subject – instead of forcing myself to pick it up?
2. How I memorize the topics naturally and easily?
3. How do I stay totally calm, cheerful and focused on the exam day? Making exams a fun experience and bringing out my creative best at play?

Fortunately NLP (Neuro Linguistics Programming) offers powerful, simple and rapid techniques to assist students through all of the above issues. For example; by using NLP’s accelerated learning techniques, anyone can develop powerful remember and recall strategy for any subject. All this, in less than 30 minutes’ practice! And don’t we all know that any subject that comes across as FUN is the one where we remember the topics easily and recall quickly? It fuels our hunger to know even more and also a desire to be tested – so everyone (and we) knows our knowledge.

Are you the type of person that relishes the challenge an exam brings, or does the very word ‘test’ send you into a frenzy of worry? Many intelligent people simply freeze in exam situations and information that was readily available to the mind before the exam is suddenly locked away. In this article, I will outline easy to use NLP tools that, when adopted, will take the stress out of exams, making it easy to pass.

As human beings we face our first tests at a very young age. Tasks like singing a song in front of relatives, performing the new dance maneuver in front of Mummy and Daddy and simple arithmetic and spelling tests are examples of early tests. Some children thrive on showing everyone how good they are and as a consequence grow older with a positive association to tests and exams. Others feel embarrassment, perhaps are ridiculed and end up with a negative association to tests.

From the associations formed with early tests, we create generalizations that either support us in exam conditions or bring us out in a cold sweat.  When we create such mental filters that define our experience, in the present day we run the mental programs for exams and generate the same old response. The output will be exam anxiety or exam confidence (or perhaps somewhere in the middle) depending on the individual. Generally exams and anxiety don’t go well together. There are several NLP techniques that help dissolve this anxiety, but lets look at one that you can apply quite easily.

Using this technique, you will be able to instantly achieve a state of calmness and creativity anytime, everytime. Infact, the more often you use, the more powerful it gets!! Ready? [For best impact, ask someone to read this out, while you concentrate on the process]

Step 1: Find a quiet place to sit comfortably, switch off your phone, make doubly sure you won’t be disturbed for the next 20 minutes. Ensure that the place is has a comfortable temperature too.
Step 2: Now close your eyes and think of a time when you felt completely relaxed and calm. It can be any time from your past and any event not even connected with your studies. E.g a place of worship or in someone’s arms…anything that makes you incredibly calm.

Visualize this situation in your mind’s eye. If you happen to see yourself in this movie (like seeing from the lens of a security camera on the wall) then gently slip into your body so that you are now in that movie watching through your eyes. Take time to look around you in 3D. Now, notice if there are any sounds in this movie. Pay attention to these sounds. Next, feel inside your body for the sensations of calmness you are experiencing. Where in your body are these sensations located? Are they still or flowing in a particular direction…what is the speed of that flow? Is it fast, medium or gentle? If you have to give a color to that flowing sensation, what would it be? Now…apply this color to that flow and watch how that appears as it flows through your body.

Now, make that picture more colorful, sharper and watch it expand…stretch it from all corners so it becomes bigger. Make it little brighter. Imagine an HD quality movie – clear, richly colored and brighter !
Feel the flow of the feelings inside you intensified. Make the flow faster…make it 10 times faster now…zipping through your body at speed.

Step 3: As you experience this intense feeling of calmness…squeeze your palm into a fist and hold it there for 5 seconds.
Now open your palm. Open your eyes and think of something totally unrelated. For e.g what did you have in your last meal? What did you speak with the last person you spoke to yesterday? Count down from 10 to 1. Spell your name backwards.

Step 4: Now we test if the installation of calmness has happened properly. So, close your eyes and squeeze your palm into a fist (the same palm used last time) and notice the feelings of calmness spread across your body. Be sensitive to the speed and the direction it is expanding through your body…making you increasingly calm.
Release/ open your palm and squeeze once more. Again, notice how this instantly makes you calmer. Repeat this 5 times noticing each time how much more calm you get as you repeat. Ensure that you break state (i.e think of something totally different) after each time. This is very important.
Step 5: Now imagine a time or experience in your life when you demonstrated incredible creativity. New ideas that brought you appreciation and gains in life.
Repeat steps 2, 3 and 4 again. Squeeze your palms into a fist at the point when the feelings of creativity are extremely intense and also note the flow of the feelings as you experience creativity.

Step 6: If you have followed the instructions properly, you should now get combined feelings of calmness and creativity surging through your body when you squeeze the palm into a fist.

You can keep practicing this process 4 – 5 times, until it becomes natural and automatic.

Step 7: Now think of an exam that is coming up in the near future. If you don’t have any exam coming up soon, then fantasize one. Or make one up in your mind – preferably of a subject that stresses you the most.
Imagine in your mind’s movie that you are walking into the exam hall. See the movie from your eyes in 3D and fill in all details. E.g what are you wearing? The books/ notes in your hand, people around you? The building and hall you are walking into – color of the walls, the tables, chairs and other fixtures in the room. The lights in and outside the room? Any sounds you hear…and more.

Now notice the stress or tension in your body (the way it usually does).
At this precise moment, squeeze your palm and hold it there for 5 seconds. Notice how you are soaked in feelings calmness and creativity…notice the feeling begin to spread across your body.

Step 8: Think of another exam coming up a little later in time. And repeat Step 7.

As you keep repeating this process, it gets unconsciously programmed in your mind for good. You can use it as often as you like and for any situation that produces stress – not just for exams.

TIPS: The secret to ensure guaranteed results from this technique can be summarized as ‘I-TURN’.

I: Intensity of the original experience of calmness/ creativity. The stronger the intensity, the better. Pick the right experiences.

T: Timing – of squeezing your palm should be precisely when the intensity of the feelings is at their peak.

U: Uniqueness of the action. Squeezing fist is typically associated with a ‘winning’ sentiment.

R: Repeated use of exactly the same action in the same manner. The same amount of pressure each time.

N: Number of times practiced, especially in the initial period. Do this 10 – 20 times each day gradually reducing it to few times later. Imagine your stressful situation each time you practice and eventually do it in a real situation.

In Pursuit of Happiness

I have a vision for you… When you get up in the morning, you are energetic, cheerful, your face lit up with a beautiful smile and singing your favorite tune, as you jump off the bed. And as you go through your day, you are radiantly alive and experiencing this refreshing feeling several times through the day !!

On that critical interview day, as I sat before the Professor of Corporate Law, he casually inquired about my life outside work. On hearing about my Karate classes, he couldn’t hide a smile and asked cynically “how will Karate help you with MBA studies and your professional career?” Closing my eyes for few seconds I introspected deeply and then replied, “When you are face to face with the risk of physical injury or even death, the danger of being hit by a hard kick all of a sudden, your mind is at peak concentration, your senses on high alert, willing to take risks, looking out for the split second opportunity and the belief that attack is the best form of defense. These qualities apply in Business too”. Though my words didn’t make much sense to me then, it surely impressed my Professor. I was selected and a month later found myself sitting in the MBA class alongside 90 other lucky students.

Now, tell me honestly, how big an ask could this be? Really? And if your life isn’t like that today, then I humbly request your attention to my words over the next few minutes.

Ask yourself: Would it be fair to say that in some shape or form you are devoting your entire life in pursuit of happiness? Everything you do – your job, family, friends, activities, etc. is a quest for happiness. Now would that be a reasonable assumption?

I want you take few moments, think through carefully and answer the following question;

What do you need to do or, have to get in order to be happy?

  • A trophy spouse?
  • Vast wealth?
  • Maybe a beautifully sculptured body? Or perhaps, generally good health?

Respect and admiration from society?

Next, I want you to consider this statement: “Anything that you can get in life, you can also ‘un-get’ just as quickly, or in some cases even quicker”

Sept. 24, 1988: Ben Johnson became a newly-minted Canadian hero and an internationally-recognized track superstar. He had endorsement deals, admiration from his peers and a promising future. But winning the gold medal at the Seoul Summer Olympics had made him an absolute megastar. But that was on Sept. 24. Just three days later, Johnson was a national disgrace and a symbol of everything that was wrong with track and field. Shockingly and very suddenly, an event that was one of the shining sporting moments for a country of 25 million turned into an embarrassment.

Take the case of Rajat Sharma. This ex McKinsey CEO and once the most influential and powerful financial advisors in the world, took well over two decades to earn that name, power and reputation. And it took just few months to wash away everything that he had built. Or Lance Armstrong – who ruled the world of professional competitive cycling for over a decade. Having retired once in 2005, Armstrong couldn’t resist the temptation to race and joined back the professional circuit to win more accolades between 2010 and 2011. It took mere months to wipe out almost everything he had earned over 14 years. Everything.

Closer to home, look back at your own life and you will be amazed to notice miniature instances of this phenomena occurring on a regular basis. You sweat out for weeks or months preparing for a college exam and just couple of hours of the actual event seals your future.  A small accident or a sudden heart attack and the good health and beautifully sculptured, gym toned body is easily reduced to nothing in no time.

The fact of the matter is, it takes years of hard work, meticulous planning and careful execution of a strategy to make it big. And guess how long does it take to watch that wealth, respect or health evaporate? Yes, that’s right. Haven’t we all heard of rags – to – riches – to rags stories?  Now, some motivational experts reframe such stories as inspiring metaphors of having a ‘never say die’ attitude. These stories motivate us that a positive mindset helps people to rise again and again from the ashes and win the battle yet again. I personally have no objection to that perspective. Hidden inside every failure is a feedback that can take us to a new height of achievement.

But the fact still remains that “Anything that you can get in life, you can also ‘un-get’ just as quickly or in some cases even quicker”.

So, if whatever you have to get to make you happy, can disappear in no time where does that lead you to? Not in a nice place, right?

Can I ask you to consider a different proposition? There is nothing you have to get, be or do in order to be happy !!What if you were to accept that Happiness is your innate nature? It is hardwired when you were born.  Infact, you cannot NOT be happy.

Now, I know that you are laughing and wondering, “if happiness is my innate nature, then how come my life sucks?”, right? The answer to this question is simple: “You have spent your entire life, learning how to be unhappy”. And the way we develop this unique ability to stay unhappy is by buying into a notion of the way the world works.  For example; all of us have different notions of how to find a job, how to be successful in our work or relationships, what restaurant to pick to eat that gives us immense pleasure, what to do when we are sick, etc, etc.

Now let me ask you another question here…if you were to recall a list of all the things that you had set out to accomplish 10 years back, where do you think you are today in terms of closing those goals? 30% or 40% or even 60% targets achieved? Even if you have achieved 90% , are you feeling happy? You know the answer don’t you? Here’s an interesting secret. We have managed to achieve an incredible mastery in training our minds to focus on what has not been accomplished and completely ignore what has been achieved. This notion of focusing on the ‘gap’ rather than the road crossed almost always leads to trouble.

The problem is not that we have these notions, but that we don’t even know that we have such notions. The more we invest in these notions, the more we believe and convince ourselves that this is the way the world works.  And the structure or process of these notions is that we have to do something to achieve something in order to be something. Now, try this model on for few areas of your life and let me know if this is incorrect or true? You know the answer, don’t you?

All of this, infact, is a variation of the IF – THEN model of behavioral dynamics. IF I achieve this goal THEN I will be really pleased, ELSE I will feel dejected. And if I do manage to achieve that goal then I need to focus on another one, ignoring what has been achieved. Does this sound familiar?

So let me take you through an idea that could change the way you view goals. What if we train our mind to accept that everything we do in our life results in an outcome – some outcome. And I want you to think about this: actions are within our control, however, outcomes are completely out of our control.

For example, how often have we experienced that when we set goals and work towards achieving them, sometimes we achieve some parts of those goals and sometimes we end up achieving exactly opposite of what we had set out to achieve? Nod your head if you recall such experiences, now. Right?

The thing is, we live in a thought paradigm that says “Here I am…and here’s where I want to go…and these are my steps to deliver that!”“And if I achieve, all is well. But if I don’t I have failed”. WE INVEST OUR TIME AND OTHER RESOURCES IN PURSUING THIS ACHEIVEMENT. Modern psychology defines ‘goal’ as something we set that is measurable, quantifiable at the end of a set period of time. ‘Strategy’ is the list of steps, actions and resources we use to achieve the goal. If the final achievement meets that measurable set parameter then we smile in satisfaction. But here is an inherent problem in this way of thinking: If you have, for example, set a goal to earn $5000 in 3 months and manage to make $4500 at the end of this period that still means you missed your target. This leads to disappointment and negativity. And introspection about what went wrong!

As you set out to execute your strategy, you are constantly welcomed by ‘outcomes’. And an outcome is….well, an Outcome. That’s all. For anything you do, you cannot not have an outcome. The interesting thing about ‘outcomes’ is that for most situations, they are emotionally neutral or at best (or worst, depending on the context) evoke a mild emotion. Failure to hit a goal, on the other hand, is most likely to generate regret, resentment or frustration. Whilst achievement against goals is measured only when that time frame has crossed, resources utilized or results achieved, outcomes happen all the time and offer a constant source of navigation. Most people find viewing outcomes thought provoking and intellectually engaging. They get ideas and insights into their next steps.

How about looking at an alternative mindset? Say we invest our resources on the process instead of the end-achievement? I once had the privilege to work under Sudhir, a tough task master who also happened to be an incredibly brilliant human being fostering a challenging yet positive atmosphere in the entire Sales team. He used to say to all his team mates “In the end, when its over and you look in the mirror, did the person you see there do the best she or he was capable of doing? And if you did the best you are capable of doing, then the result can but only show you a direction where you need to change”. Infact as I think of this guiding philosophy, I can’t stop myself from thinking about two fundamental NLP Presuppositions:

  • There is no failure – just feedback. If you treat each setback as a message to chart your course in a new direction, you can only learn to become better.
  • People do the best they can in a given situation with the resources available to them at that time. If they fail to any extent, it only means it is time to identify what new resources are needed and pull them out.

And what he said next was even more though-provoking  “If you genuinely did the very best you are capable of doing, then I suspect that the result would usually be to your liking”

That, is investment in the process. Now, lets look back at some of those goals we never met and experienced a sense of regret and disappointment. Unknowingly, we usually end up investing in the final Goal and don’t give a dime about the long string of outcomes on the way. Now, before you protest, let me clarify that setting focus on the Goal is great. It gives us a sense of long term direction.

But invest your resources in the process with a child-like curiosity for the outcomes along the journey. The important change now is that you are measuring success in each step of the journey. You cannot not succeed to get an outcome, right? So in the example above, you got an outcome of making $4500 and atleast that seems more motivating than thinking that you missed achieving your goal by $500. And, now you have a new starting point from the last successful step.

The term ‘Last Successful Step’ is quite motivating in itself. Doesn’t it automatically and instinctively open up your mind to a new ‘set-point’ to progress the journey from? Plus, it helps you maintain sight of each successful milestone in the process. Now pick a goal you failed to achieve and scan through all your outcomes until you find the last successful outcome. How does that make you feel about that goal now?

In my next article, I will explain the process of setting up ‘clever’ outcomes that offer a simple, yet, foolproof process to achieve your Goals.

NOTE: All examples as well as scenarios in this article, are one of many possible responses in real life situations and simply meant for illustrating the concept.

 

Achieve What You Really Want to

Change your questions, change your life. By the way, hope you haven’t missed out the first of this two part series titled “In Pursuit of Happiness”? Incase if you did, go and grab it here at in-pursuit-of-happiness-2. This is the sequel.In that article I spoke about few concepts worth a revisit.

  1. In some shape or form, everything you do – your job, family, activities, social circle, etc. is a quest for happiness. Nod your head if you agree.
  1. Secondly, whatever you can get, you can also un-get just as quickly or perhaps even faster, right?
  1. If you turn back and look at the goals you had set 10 years back and where you are today in terms of achieving them, I bet even if you say you have accomplished most of them, you still don’t feel happy. Is that a correct guess?
  1. I ask you to consider this alternative proposition: There is nothing you have to be, do or get in order to be happy. Being happy is your inherent nature. You are hardwired as a child to stay happy. Worse, you have spent your entire life learning to be unhappy.
  1. What if we train our mind to focus on the outcomes as we progress along the journey of pursuing our goals? The ultimate truth is, for anything we do we cannot not have an outcome. And although outcomes are completely out of our control, the mere anticipation of an outcome from every action psychologically prepares us to (a) accept it more positively and (b) take it as an interim input for navigation to a more favorable outcome next time.

Therefore the first question you should ask yourself is not what should my goal be, not even what will my steps and milestones be but, What Do I Want? This basic question will tell you the ‘outcome’ you are working to achieve. Remember, ‘the Goal is not the Activity’. Once you know what you want there will automatically appear several options of activities to choose from. What is the result you are after?

People often confuse between outcomes and goals. Outcomes are intimately personal accomplishments that associate with achieving the goal. What about that goal is important for you? For example,

Goal: I want to get that promotion at work, OR I want to win that deal.
Possible Outcome: I want to earn more respect, fame, and reputation or job security?
Goal: I want to make more money
Possible Outcome: I want more security or happiness or comfort in life?
Possible Outcome: Freedom to travel whenever, wherever or, more respect in society?
Goal: I want to stop eating Chocolates
Goal: I want to meet win that deal
Possible Outcome: I want to win the trust and confidence of my employer/ customer.
Goal: I want to build a habit of going to the Gym
Possible Outcome: I want to become healthy and fit?
Goal: I want to buy a new car
Possible Outcome: I want to look and feel good, gain appreciation of friends, improve health.

So you see, Goals are external visible means to achieve your inherent internal outcomes. But what happens when you miss your goal? You feel miserable, frustrated, angry and unhappy isn’t it? Now, if I were to say that even these feelings are outcomes? It eventually brings me to the concept that you always succeed in getting some outcome, irrespective of the route you chose to achieve the goals.

When you focus on the outcome, your brain will come up with activities to achieve them, I promise you. 80% of success is based on clarity of outcome, 20% is based on clarity of actions. So instead of thinking about getting that promotion at work (or winning that deal), you work towards earning the respect, fame and security at Office – now how does this change your thought process? Does this new way of thinking offer you more choices to go after? Maybe even set out different threads of activities for each of the outcomes. Actions for gaining more respect (for example become an informal mentor a group of people helping them perform better), jump into activities for feeling more secure at work  (perhaps participate more often and actively in meetings, become more visible in a positive way, work smarter, etc.). If you continued pursuing these actions, chances are you will get the promotion without seeking it. MORE importantly, even if you get it, it won’t matter much because it is the outcomes we are after and not goals.

You see, humans are naturally driven by Outcomes and not goals. Infact achieving just the goal but not the outcome leaves us feeling empty and incomplete.  Can you recall a time when you got what you wanted but still felt unhappy? Say, you got the deal from your Client, but left you with scars of internal criticism for poor profit, high risks and generally lack of judgment? Even after achieving that deal do you feel happy? Lot of celebrities who seem to have the whole world at their feet are still left with vast emptiness in their lives.

I want you to play this concept in your mind, for other areas of your life. Instead of setting a goal “I want to go to the Gym everyday”, you decide upon an outcome of “staying fit and healthy” – does this now offer you many choices of actions? Though you may still choose the Gym atleast you don’t feel imprisoned or trapped by this notion. It sets you free to explore alternatives like: good diet, Yoga, learning Martial Arts, go for a swim or simply spend an hour playing Football with the kids. Thinking in terms of outcomes sets you free to explore numerous possibilities of achieving the same goal.

And it gets even better from here. There’s another advantage of thinking in terms of outcomes: If your outcome is to gain respect at work, as soon as you make some progress it will keep you motivated to work harder. In outcome based thinking, your mind unconsciously gets tuned to watch out for early indicators as soon as you start your activities. And if the outcome was not as you expected, the mind instinctively alters actions and change course until it senses the right path. Thinking in terms of outcomes unconsciously keeps you motivated looking at the progress made instead of the gap left behind (which happens when you focus on a Goal).

Unlike goals which are set in the beginning, modified in the middle or perhaps lost towards the end, our brain monitors outcomes as a continuous process. Other than actually achieving their goals, the thing that motivates people is the progress towards achieving their goals.

But is it enough to set generic outcomes like; “I want to be happy, secure, respected, fun-loving, extrovert, etc.” What happens whenever we set, or know someone who has set such objectives? No marks for guessing. You are right, usually people have no clue where to start and what to do next.

For outcomes to transform into meaningful actions, they must be crystal clear to our mind – to the last detail. Pay good attention to what I am going to say next, because THIS is what determines the success or failure in achieving your outcome from your actions.

Rule 1: State your outcome in positive language.

Well, psychological research suggests that our mind cannot properly process negatively worded statements into concrete motivational actions. When you say, “I don’t want to stay fat”, your mind doesn’t know what to do with that statement. However, when you reframe that to “I want to become fit”, the mind instantly fires neurons that convert this statement into a visual, audio representation of what you would look like and what people will say once you become fit. It also instantly makes you feel good and bring a spark in your eyes. Try it…it always works !!

Positively framed outcomes are like the airstrip from where your flight to actions can take off. But some of you might argue, what about the specific direction that the flight needs to take? what height should it cruise at? What about the weather conditions? Where are we going to and what place shall we land at? This leads me to the next point.

Rule 2: Be Specific In Defining Your Outcomes.

Clarity is Power ! The more specific you are in articulating what you want, the faster your brain can build an action plan to go for it. There are several ways you can get specific about your outcomes:

See, Hear and Feel your outcome as if already accomplished: An ace salesman who had won numerous accolades from his clients and own organization, shared an amazing secret. Each time he won a deal, he could SEE, HEAR and FEEL the customer’s concerns, his organizations’ concerns, words of appreciation and even the feel of the Purchase Order in his hands well before it actually happened. And whenever he couldn’t do that, his success rate was awfully low.

Go back to a time in your own life when you pulled off what others considered impossible…and notice if this phenomenon was also true for you. Did you already sense as if you had achieved that goal before you even commenced, or perhaps as some point through the journey?

The secret behind this magic is the way our unconscious mind works. Our unconscious mind is incredibly powerful in building a plan of actions designed to meet any challenge. However, it has one weakness: It cannot distinguish between imagination and reality. It lives through an imagination just as if that is really happening. This probably explains why we sometimes experience a dream as if the event was really happening, haven’t we?

Convert all ‘Be’, ‘Have’ and ‘Know’ into DO: This is where the action starts. When you direct your mind to state your outcomes into ‘do-able’ statements, it begins to get a sense of specific direction to drive your resources and energies. In a way, this is also where your Outcomes begin to take shape of goals and actions.

I want to know how to become a good Project Manager, converted to:

  • I see myself interacting atleast 4 hours each week with 2 senior project managers in my circle.
  • I see myself enrolled in 3 internet forums related to Project Management skills and spending 4 hours each week reading and interacting with people on that forum.

As soon as you transform your ‘be’, ‘have’ or ‘know’ statements into DO, a shift begins to happen inside your mind. It starts constructing a chain of activities that drive your behavior.

Rule 3: Carving out only that part of the outcome whose actions are ENTIRELY owned by You.

Successful outcomes involve things over which we have entire control to run with. The question to ask is “what part of my action plan is owned by me and me alone?” Commit to actions that are owned solely and entirely by you alone. This has the psychological effect of setting the mind into a concrete action oriented plan that is immune to variables outside. In most cases people will perceive this as your passion and lend support to your Outcome.

If your outcome is to build a bond with someone, you know it is quite impossible to control their schedule. But you can, with some planning, control your schedule such that you can spend more time with them.

If your outcome is to win a deal, be sure to encounter actions that you cannot possibly control. But are you willing to own actions that are entirely in your control? E.g pushing your internal teams to deliver the best quality proposal, rejecting anything not good or right, interacting more often with customer to gauge their interest and concerns, spending time researching what the market wants, etc, etc.

You will be surprised how often the end result will be so much to your liking when you follow this rule, despite many factors outside your control.

Oncourse Navigation and Feeling Good: Having embarked on your action plan, your mind also needs to set ‘indicators’ to track and assess the progress each day, week, month and year. If your outcome is to feel ‘secure’ at your Job, how will you know it is working when you start taking appropriate actions? What needs to change from how things happened earlier for your mind to verify that the outcome has begun to happen? How will ‘happiness’, ‘security’, ‘comfort’, ‘peace of mind’, ‘fame’, ‘popularity’, ‘being healthy’, etc. appear, sound and feel like as you take actions?

The truth is, whether you know or not, whether you acknowledge or not, you mind is constantly looking for signatures to verify that the new actions are producing the desired outcomes. It does so by looking around for minutest changes in old patterns of activities, watching people’s response, internal sensations and a lot more. If you feel more cheerful, more energetic, generally pleased with yourself, feel like taking up a task that seemed like a drag earlier, feel like interacting with someone who didn’t matter earlier…all of these and more are beacons of unconscious signals that your mind is processing and comparing against how life was before you took those actions aimed at progressing towards your outcomes.

Whenever we attempt to change our behavior our biggest friend and also our biggest critique is our own internal Beliefs. These beliefs are strange companions. Until you change them, they will staunchly support your old (undesired) behavior and pull you down each time you attempt to change. Our new behavior and its resultant outcome sow seeds of the new belief. Our beliefs drive our behavior and our Outcomes shape our beliefs. As soon as the outcomes happen, a new belief begins to replace the old one. Once you manage to sow the seeds of an alternate belief, it will begin to take roots and propel you with incredible energy and unbelievable enthusiasm towards your outcome.

In conclusion:

Feeling happy is an innate thing that we are born with. As we grow up, we start equating happiness with our ability to achieve our goals. Achieving goals makes us happy and failure to do so makes us dejected and frustrated. Most people mistake actions for achievement. However that is not true.

There is an alternative way to be happy and stay that way – and also achieve your goals as a bonus. All you need to do is train yourself to start thinking about what is it you want ‘internally’ in a given context (work, personal life, relationship, money, etc). These internal gains are your outcomes – that make us feel good and give us a sense of happiness and accomplishment. Focus on your outcomes and work backwards to set up goals and actions to progress towards those outcomes. There are many advantages in this approach:

  • Outcomes are what we are eventually after. And focusing opens up a wide range of options for setting Goals. Actions come intuitively once you are clear of the outcomes. But the reverse flow doesn’t work equally well.
  • No matter what action you take you cannot not have some And your brain is wired to notice these outcomes and compare against what it wants. Constant course correction happens at an unconscious level to ensure your efforts are directed towards the desired outcomes.

However, merely setting high-level outcomes won’t lead you to a well-thought out action plan. Qualify your outcomes by being very specific about precisely what you want, experiencing it as if achieved through all your senses and defining actions for those parts that are fully owned by you and you alone!

When actions begin to lead you towards your Outcomes, notice how effortlessly your goals begin to get achieved and keeps you always motivated and happy !! And last, but not the least, Celebrate as you progress towards your outcomes. It is the only way your brain understands consciously that things are working for you.

NOTE: All examples as well as scenarios in this article, are one of many possible responses in real life situations and simply meant for illustrating the concept.