At the end of our recent NLP Practitioner course one of our students asked a wonderfully crafted question. I can’t remember it exactly but it went something like this –
If you were to cast your mind back to when you were on your first NLP course assuming you had the knowledge and experience you have now, what advice would you give that ‘younger you’ to help them as they embarked on their journey as an NLP Practitioner?
Apart from the fact that it put me in a seriously DEEP state of trance! I thought it was a terrific question.
On further reflection I think the following advice is what I would give. (I also think it’s useful advice for people who have a casual interest in NLP but have not yet done an NLP Practitioner course)
The advice is this —
Change doesn’t always HAVE to happen fast!
There’s a bit of a myth in the NLP world that some people seem to have bought into that change HAS to be super fast or NOT AT ALL. Almost like a boom or bust, black and white kind of mentality.
Now don’t get me wrong here, I love and believe in fast change and think it firmly has a place in NLP. Phobias can generally be overcome in about an hour and emotional issues can often be released in anything from one session to five depending on the person and situation. Fast, flashy change is great and one of the reasons why NLP attracts the huge attention it does.
Without negating the usefulness and validity of fast change, I personally think the most useful and powerful type of change is the gradual and more sustainable one you make over a longer period of time. For me, who you become over a matter of months and years as a result of deepening your NLP skill and applying the tools and techniques to your life on a continual basis absolutely kicks the ass out of fast change any day.
I found out recently that in pretty much every culture there’s a variation of ‘The story of the fast and the slow’, ours in the UK being that of ‘The Tortoise and the Hare’.
The moral is of course that in life there can often be two types of people. Those who sprint off in a blaze of glory stealing all the limelight and those who take their time, not appearing to be doing much at the micro level, but in the grand scheme of things making steady consistent progress.
The former in the story, as we know, starts to believe in their own hype, rests on their laurels and eventually becomes complacent. The later continues to plod along making gradual but significant progress until, to everyone’s sudden surprise, overtakes the sprinter and finishes first in the race.
Stories like this aren’t just cute little parables that families all around the world tell their kids at night time. They are cultural memes that act as vehicles for passing on important and useful historical learnings. Story telling acts as a ‘time-binding’ function, helping pass on the learnings of the past to the next generation and the fact the story of the ‘The Fast and the Slow’ has been told for many generations across many different cultures suggest that there could be something important to learn from it.
I know we live in a time where people want things NOW! In fact sometimes YESTERDAY! But it’s simply not useful to invest so much of your energy into the concept that change HAS to be super fast or not at all. A far more useful approach is to look at where you want to head over a longer period of time and then make gradual but significant progress towards getting there. Sometimes you’ll get a big breakthrough and sometimes it’ll feel like change is taking a little longer. Sometimes you’ll want to make a quick, dramatic impact and sometimes you’ll find it works better to steadily work away at making more subtle improvements.
Hey sometimes it’s fun to be the hare for a while. To arrive in a blaze of glory, to show off and bedazzle. It’s exciting and dramatic but if that’s all you’re about then you’ll wake up one day and realize that there’s a whole bunch of tortoises staring back at you from the finishing line with contented smiles you can only pretend to have.
Making an instant impact is important but don’t forget the longer and ultimately more important game. Life is as they say – A marathon not a sprint.
All the best…