If ain’t broken, fix it quickly

April 8, 2015

Anyone well trained in NLP will recognise these idioms as lost performatives, this is where a guiding principle is adhered to by an individual or group and the source of the original statement is unknown or long forgotten.

Such lost performatives can be severely limiting, on the basis that people do not challenge them and act as if they are true. In my opinion, it’s worth exploring how lost performatives influence your life and whether you are accepting such statements with no challenge.

For now let’s explore ‘if it aint broken don’t fix it’ lost performative. There are wonderful examples in sport, business and history when a situation was working perfectly well and nobody tried to change it. Frequently when something is running perfectly well, the people involved stop using their senses with precision to detect when a change has occurred. In such cases there is no calibration point to when whatever is working well ceases to be effective. Often this is because the changes are subtle and occur under the sensory perception of many people. It is the changes that are easy to detect and the slow incremental shifts that go unnoticed.

Health is a classic example of people ‘not paying attention’ to small signals that indicate change. People live on autopilot, and with no obvious sign of ill health there is nothing to fix in the system. With nothing to ‘fix’ the individual carries on as normal. Eventually the body will give a signal that there is something to pay attention to and now what needs fixing could be serious. The counter example to this is be aware of the small body signals that are there from the unconscious mind to let you know there is an imbalance in the system so you can fix that imbalance before there is a health issue.

Bill Gates’ (Microsoft) has dominated the technological world for thirty years. Microsoft became dominant in the world of personal computing when the CEO of IBM infamously claimed there would not be a market in personal computing. This is a classic example of the ‘big boy’ in the computing world being so comfortable with their dominance, that they missed the massive market Bill Gates opened. IBM were totally stuck in ‘if aint broke’ thinking and Bill Gates as the new boy was totally absorbed in finding a new and different way.

The thinking of Bill Gates & as well Steve Jobs are totally in alignment with the co-creators of NLP, who at the same time were challenging the said world of psychology and therapy, finding newer, faster and more effective ways of helping clients change, than had been there previously.

Some people reading this may remember MSN Instant Messenger as an online tool for staying in contact with friends and sharing media with them. For many it seemed unthinkable that MSN would ever fade into oblivion, yet slowly but surely MSN Messenger went out of date in the same way corsets for ladies did. No one really noticed MSN disappear.

Seven years ago, people who liked to communicate electronically started sharing elements of their lives on a new platform called Facebook, yet messaged each other on MSN Messenger because the facebook messaging system was not very effective at the time. Microsoft was asleep at the time on the basis that nothing was broken, the social media revolution was born and now a billion people use Facebook and the company is worth billions of dollars.

You might be wondering, how is this relevant to your life. The chances are right now you are on autopilot in many areas of your life. With nothing broken there is no fix required. I propose a different way of thinking, if it isn’t broken make sure you find plenty of alternatives. This way you have lots of choice and will not become a victim of your own success. I suggest a personal inventory of all the things that are going well in your life and even those that are going excellently.

You can ask yourself questions like,

  1. How long has this situation/behaviour been working so well?

  2. What is my intention in doing this?

  3. Does the behaviour(s) ever limit me?

  4. What would be evidence procedure if what I am doing ceases to support the intention?

  5. How would I know if it was redundant?

Questions for change

  1. What new choices (behaviours) could I elect that could work EVEN better that also satisfy the intention?

  2. What is the intention on the intention?

  3. What is the most radical change I could effect in this context?

  4. What if I went for total redundancy on the current choices and picked an extreme?

  5. What is the smallest unit of change I can pick, that is not radical but does make a difference?

  6. What would happen if you do nothing differently?

The questions for change are designed to get you thinking about new ways of performing in the situation where you are performing well. Remember, doing nothing different is a choice; a radical change is a choice as is a subtle change. NLP is about choice and in this context you are exploring different ways so you won’t be stuck in your success and open to change.

If you find the ideas in this article interesting, I will be running an open evening on this subject at the Practice group on 2nd April. During the evening you will be invited to explore your successes, and where your life is going very well.

You will be invited to explore the areas of life that are not broken and not in need of solution. You will then create solutions to find new and different ways of performing in different areas of your life. A key element of the evening is developing a sensory scanner so you can detect difference in your environment so you will never be in a situation where you were caught sleeping because there was not a problem to fix.

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