- Posted: May 2017
- By: Michael Carroll & John Thompson
When John Grinder got lost in London and Carmen broke her shoes
Here’s a great little story about when John Grinder got lost in London on his way to delivering an ’Evening with John Grinder’ event at the NLP Academy in 2003. We had 200 people waiting in the seminar room and no one knew were John was ...
This blog has been woven together from a conversation which was initiated on Facebook where Terry McCoy an attendee at the event recalled John’s response to a question that evening whether other NLP Associations recognise his work.
I’ll elaborate with the story of John getting lost that evening and John Thompson, who was working with the Academy at that time, has added his account of what happened when he went to find John.
So the stage was set, the cameras were ready to roll, 200 people were ready and waiting for the session ‘An evening with John Grinder’. There was only one ‘slight’ snag, John Grinder wasn’t there! I had never known John Grinder to be late, this was a first.
Rather than the usual pre-arranged driver, John decided to walk to the venue from his hotel which was a tricky 10 minute walk across Covent Garden’s small streets. The event was hosted in the New Connaught Rooms. John Thompson and I figured John Grinder must be lost in Covent Garden, time was ticking on so I asked John Thompson to go and look for John Grinder on the streets, en route to the seminar venue from John Grinder’s hotel.
Twenty minutes later the two John’s entered the seminar, and I have to say how pleased I was to see them both. I could have hugged John Thompson on the spot, I saved that for later. I was stunned to see John Grinder in a suit and tie, he seemed very relaxed after his Covent Garden diversion.
John was on red hot form that night. In the 15 years of working with John, it is the only time I have seen him wear a suit and tie for a presentation, and the only time he was late for an event. John apologised for the delayed start, and told the group he had had an entertaining time wandering the streets of Covent Garden which he thought all looked similar.
John Grinder smashed it that night with 200 people hanging onto every word. He stayed an extra hour on the stage and an extra hour after mingling with the people. It was truly magical stuff.
One of the questions that was asked that night, was ‘does the INLPTA (Wyatt Woodsmall) recognise John’s Trainers Trainings,’ without a blink John replied ‘I think your question is, do I recognise them?’ [INLPTA]
John went on to give us a first-hand description of NLP history, behind the scene happenings, what he is working on at that time and his views on the NLP Associations who are jumping on the NLP band wagon without recognising himself or Richard.
At the end of the evening, I said to John Grinder, I will arrange a driver for you to which he answered ‘I will walk Michael’. The look I gave him must have revealed what I was thinking as he replied ‘do you think I am stupid enough to get lost twice?’ I didn’t argue!
So off he went marching back into the Covent Garden night. I never asked if he got lost on his way back to the hotel, I doubt he did. The following morning he was at the venue 30 minutes early, no suit and tie, he was in his usual attire, interacting with people before the course began, it was like a seminar during registration.
That is a quality I admire in John, he is ALWAYS there for the people, before the course starts, during breaks and after he finishes. It’s like a series of mini John Grinder events through the day and people love it.
In those 4 days we had a magical time with John and Carmen.
Another unexpected event at that course was when Carmen jumped off the stage and broke her very high heal on her very expensive shoe. She continued without her shoes while John Thompson saved the day again and had the heal repaired quicker than you can say ‘New Code NLP.’
So this is what John Thompson has to say about finding John Grinder and fixing Carmen’s shoe.
“Back in the day, on that red hot night which I remember vividly, I was given a task in London town to find the co-creator of NLP as 200 people were waiting for him. This was not a task I wanted however, in those days it was part of the deal when working alongside Michael Carroll, John Grinder and Carmen Bostic St Clair, and I grew to enjoy the experiences. I never knew if the tasks (and there were many) were real or tests.
John Grinder would talk of the tests Erickson would share with him and Richard Bandler. So walking up Great Queen St pondering of the option to jump in front of a taxi (buses did not go up Great Queen St), I chose to let my unconscious take me on a route to John Grinder’s hotel, a guy who was lost may take.
Sure enough walking down Drury Lane like a Latter Day Dandy was the man himself, enjoying the evening air and void of any sense of time. He was grateful we met and walked calmly into the venue. John Grinder (along with Richard Bandler and Frank Pucelik) are men with history, stories and values that emerged and are emerging. Back in the seventies, (way before I knew about NLP) John and Richard had shared values, curiosity of what if and a sense of collaboration. That’s how it all started and that is how it should continue.
For me one thing I learned from John was the spirit of NLP which seems to be lacking in today’s world. In 2005, a few years after the New Connaught Rooms event, I was with John in Norway and he sent me an email with the title ‘Statement made by John Grinder’. It was a three paragraph communication about me from him to use as I wished. I have never published or used the statement in marketing as I took it as a personal gift. In relation to the comments above I was reminded of those two tasks Michael mentioned. John Grinder wrote “John Thompson is one of the few members of the NLP Community who I have observed and who is consistently effective in tasking - perhaps the single most powerful class of interventions in professional change work.”
Back to 2003, I never knew if John was really lost in London and if Carmen broke her shoes on purpose, but it didn’t matter. The spirit of NLP for me is how the creators are as people. I observed John Grinder help many in ways that made significant differences to their lives. He was humorous and humble and many of his qualities outside NLP are more powerful than the patterns of NLP. This I would imagine is true of the other co-creators.”
That’s how it was for John Thompson and me back then when we worked on big events with a small team. We all mucked in and there was a lot to do, and unexpected things occurred, which I also thought were tasks from John and Carmen. A key feature of their coaching model was tasking which is setting up scenarios for a person to manage a situation and solve problems etc. and to demonstrate state and integration of NLP patterning.
On reflection, there may have been one or two tasks to test our abilities and competence, I think most of what John Thompson and I managed were genuine events with John and Carmen. For example, they are incredibly creative and adapt seminars to fit with the audience. John and/or Carmen could have a new idea at breakfast, or develop a new pattern at dinner the night before. So when John Thompson and I would meet them, the plan for the day could easily change and the new ideas would need materials of all different shapes and sizes, and were not always easily sourced.
John Thompson and I always pulled it off. No matter what was asked for, we sourced it. No matter how many times the plan changed we rolled with it. Then there was the normal stuff; venues, sound systems and supporting participants. In some cases people were so out of their comfort zone through embarking on a Grinder- Bostic event, they needed support to reorganise their map.
So what has changed in 15 years? Well John Thompson is doing his own work with his own training school ‘NLP Metropolis’. John and Carmen now run NLP Practitioner, NLP Coaching and Trainers Training courses with the Academy and not just 4 day seminars as in 2003. And me, I am a co-trainer with John and Carmen on the certification courses which really is great fun.
Furthermore, I always make sure that John knows how to get to the venue.