- Posted: December 2016
- By: Michael Carroll
Getting clarity in the uncertainty of life
As 2016 draws to a close, the events of the year have given many people a roller coaster ride. With so many unexpected deaths of celebrities including George Michael, Rick Parfitt, AA Gill, Prince, David Bowie and Caroline Aherne, it’s understandable that when the famous people we grew up with pass, we begin to wonder about our own mortality.
Behind this, each of us will experience losses closer to home as well, as well as unexpected challenges in our relationships, family life and career. For me I lost three close friends this year, I would say all before their time to lesser or greater extents. No matter how we prepare for a year ahead, there will always be changes; it just seems that 2016 brought us a lot of change.
Who would have thought a year ago Teresa May would be the Prime Minister of the UK and Donald Trump the next president of the USA? Probably least of all May and Trump themselves! Who would have thought the UK would be setting up to leave the European Union, Nigel Farage himself had serious doubts whether this could be achieved, but was committed enough to keep pushing for his dream. David Cameron, the UK Prime Minister, a year ago probably thought that remaining in the UK was a safe bet and he would go down in history as the man who settled the UK European membership once and for all, he did, but not the way he was planning.
It most likely seemed a safe bet for Mr Cameron a year ago, and that’s the problem with playing as if it’s a safe bet. You drop your guard, you’re not as hungry and in ‘NLP speak’ your senses are not turned up to their full level, and thus you do not have the levels of calibration for what is happening around.
In the USA, Mr Trump was fully awake, he never missed an opportunity to get his message out. He never once, failed to respond, even if his responses were cavalier and sometimes outrageous to many. He never saw a failure as a failure, he turned his mistakes around and when many thought he was out of the game, he kept coming back and surprised everyone with his victory. I am not advocating Trump politics here, I am pointing to strategy that got an outsider by far into the White House, a strategy of self belief, not giving up, and being flexible enough to anything that came up, even if that flexibility by many was considered bizarre.
So what does 2017 have in store for you? You simply do not know, and if 2016 was anything to go by there is most likely to be uncertainty. We all could face bereavement, political upheaval, relationship difficulties, job loss, health challenges to name a few. Wow, you might be thinking, this article is a bit gloomy and uninspiring, the new year hasn’t even started yet and where most articles in the personal development field focus on the magic of creating a great year ahead, this article seems to point to death, job loss, relationship challenges and health issues.
Of course as an NLP Trainer, I want to inspire you to have your best year yet. I will add the caveat in the grown up word, everything is not sugar coated, in the real world, we all face challenges that come out of the blue, and the only way I know to be successful is to have a strategy to deal with the unexpected so you can continue to achieve your goals. The NLP ‘Principles of Success’ come to mind when I think of how to positively set up the year ahead, the month ahead or week ahead
The 5 Principles of Success
1. Know your outcome
Step 1 in the five principles for success is to really know what it is that you want to achieve or what you want your outcome to be. Recognise the outcome is the ‘start’ place, you give it your hundred percent. It’s important you put your attention on what you want and stay focused on the goal, it’s often the high level focus on the goal that gets you through the challenges you face as you progress on the journey. As Henry Ford famously said ‘obstacles are only obstacles when you lose sight of your goals’ .
2. Take action
I like the butterfly effect metaphor from chaos theory , where it said (metaphorically) that a hurricane can be influenced by minor perturbations such as the flapping of the wings of a butterfly thousands of miles away weeks earlier. The butterfly effect describes the sensitive dependence on initial conditions in which a small change in one state of a deterministic, in a nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state. In every day behaviour, such as goal setting, this translates to taking action right now, no matter how small and then continuing to take those actions towards your goal.
This small action strategy breaks the procrastination associated with overwhelm frequently associated with bigger goals. Sitting around, waiting for the law of attraction to kick in will not help you achieve your goals. Action and more action is the route to success. So when you set your goal take immediate action, no matter how small that action may be. It gets you committed and gets the ball rolling.
3. Have sensory acuity, use your senses with precision.
Many people are oblivious to what is going on around them and therefore are missing important feedback regarding their goals. This means they are walking around with their eyes and ears closed to the signals in their immediate environment and are unaware of their gut feeling which is giving unconscious feedback on what is being absorbed in the other senses. When en route to a goal, like an explorer, it is important to track where you are at all times. If you are off track, you get back on track, if there is an obstacle ahead, rather than colliding with it you work away around it. If you have a strange feeling, investigate the possible messages that feeling is communicating. Have your sensory awareness tuned to a very high level.
4. Have behavioural flexibility
In NLP there is a presupposition borrowed from cybernetics which says ‘the person with the most flexibility will have the most control in the system’ I prefer to say ‘the person with the most flexibility will be the catalyst in the system’ . So what does this mean? Many people set a goal and think there may be only one route to achieve that goal, or maybe not recognise when it’s time to take a different approach or modify the goal.
The business world is full of stories where ‘start ups’ take a different approach to business than the established companies. The established companies being so successful fail to calibrate the change in the market or a hungry young competitor that is barking at their ankles. In a relatively short period of time, the hungry young competitor is leading the field through the initial flexibility in their approach.
The same is true in sports where the underdog is underestimated and through behavioural flexibility is victorious, and more recently we have seen this in politics, who would have thought that a proactive and sometimes aggressive Social Media campaign would be the difference that made the difference in the US elections. Like it or not, Donald Trump became the US president, not on policy but on flexibility. Many people set out with the goal to set out to President, and after the primaries, there were two candidates with the same goal, Trump was more flexible. I am not advocating Trump policy here, I am pointing to the form inherent in behavioural differences and the willingness to break from the tried and tested approaches.
5. Operate from a physiology and psychology of excellence
So what do we mean by a physiology and psychology of excellence in NLP terms? How you stand, how you breathe and how you carry yourself creates a physiology and psychology of excellence. States of excellence are communicated in your body and voice tone as well as the words you use. Adornments such as the clothes you wear also communicate powerful messages. Have you ever heard the saying ‘there was something about that man/woman that makes them different and stand out’. Such sayings are usually attributed to posture and walk.
Our internal dialogue determines our individual psychology. If you have negative internal dialogue talking about difficulties, you will find it difficult when you face unexpected challenges and could talk yourself out of success. Additionally negative internal dialogue will correlate directly to your physiology, which is more likely to be shoulders hunched, spine curved and general tension. Such physiology will sponsor tiredness and weakness.If you have positive internal dialogue and positive personal psychology , your body is more likely to be upright and without tension giving you energy to focus, work through challenges and achieve your goals. A useful NLP pattern is the ‘Chain of Excellence (Grinder and Bostic 2001) whereby when facing a challenge dominated by negative internal dialogue, you adjust your breathing and then posture, which will influence your state and ultimately your performance.
Breathing – Physiology – State – Performance
In this article I have documented some of public changes that seemed unlikely a year ago. You probably had unexpected events more closer to home. Life brings change, it’s how we adapt to changes that determine our personal happiness. The 5 Principles of Success is an excellent way to set up your 2017 and go for your goals with passion, offering strategies to deal with the unexpected which is sure to occur.
I wish you the best for an amazing 2017