Lesson 2

Lesson 2

In lesson 2, we take a deeper dive into what NLP is and setup some foundation knowledge for the rest of this course.

Length of course: 20 Minutes Lesson format: Reading

Imagine that you discover a time machine behind the stationery cupboard. You and your colleagues climb inside. It’s dark and a bit musty. There is a whiz and a judder and before you know it you are going back decades to a time when the punk movement was being born. You land in the year of 1976 in a factory situated on the site of your current place of work. Outside in the car park in designated spots there is a row of British Leyland Austin Marinas painted in a ‘light’ brown colour. And two Rovers belonging to the ‘big cheeses.’ You walk through the offices and into a factory producing pressings and machining components.

A strange figure greets you he is wearing a light grey suit with a gravy stain on his rather greasy tie. He introduces himself as Norman and says he is the foreman of the factory. He has a ‘number 6’ fag resting on his lower lip and black brylcreemed hair parted to the side. Norman has long given up any realistic hope of achieving company car status though each morning he admires his factory manager’s ‘turd’ coloured Marina. The truth is he feels he deserves it after 25 years loyalty to the company! ‘Time for a cuppa’ he mutters to himself as he wanders off to the canteen. ‘Norm’ one of his men calls after him, ‘we are late with the GEC order.’ ‘No worries Bob’ Norm replies ‘they can wait a few days, buggers were on strike again last week.’

You get back in the time machine and set the date for 1996. The building has been transformed. Some people are working at desks with PCs entering data and writing their own reports. Emails are just beginning to transform the work place. You notice it is after six o’clock yet there are still people in the office beavering away. You are witnessing the birth of ‘presentism’ and ‘busyness.’ As the people leave they are dressed in business suits. Some get into their company Ford Mondeo’s and others into their personal cars, many are carrying brief cases and lap top bags home with them. The ‘Norman’s’ have all but disappeared, or have they? One of your colleague’s comments on the ‘herd’ behaviour, she has noticed.

Finally, your last stop is ten years ago. The old building has been demolished, manufacturing has been ‘off shored’ a new suite of office blocks stands in its place. There are people gathering in open spaces talking loudly into their mobile phones as they eye their new BMW parked outside. They could have chosen the Ford again, but they want to show that they are going places.

Your colleague pauses as you exit the time machine. ‘Fascinating’ she exclaims. ‘What is?’ One of your other colleagues inquires. ‘Well’ she responds, ‘it is like I studied in maths, do you remember the bell curve and how it is a natural pattern in nature for everything to fall around the average?’ To which your other colleague looked at his feet and muttered about standard deviations and three-sigma, it was all too much, he had just scrapped through maths! ‘That’s right’ she replied ‘everything forms in a bell curve it is called a normal distribution with only 4 or 5% of people in the top or bottom of the range and obviously you don’t want to be in the bottom 2%! What I have observed is that the ‘average’ or ‘mean’ has moved since the 1970’s. People are working harder and smarter, competition is fierce but most of them still have the ‘herd’ mentality.’ Norm lives on, but he has evolved!’ ‘So, what is the answer?’ the other colleague asked. ‘Well I suppose we have to be a little bit different from the norm’ she mused ‘and make sure we are in the top 2 or 3%!’

I was once a Norm, for quite a long time actually and speaking as a former Norm I would like you to consider this.

If you are in your early twenties being forty seems like a long way off but it will fly by, not necessarily the days and weeks they could drag but the years will. If you are in a job that does not give you a buzz and you feel there is something missing, you have a choice:

Option 1

Accept your lot and become one of the Norms. Norms are ‘Normal’ people who are good at what they do but there are quite a lot of them around, some company directors and senior civil servants are ‘Norms’ Even Prime ministers can be ‘Norm’s (not Winston Churchill though) There are so many in fact that they represent the ‘mean’ or average of middle and senior management, they often went to a good school, have a (middle class) good ish job, they do ok, they probably have nice friends and live in a nice house. They could even be a successful scientist or engineer, a writer or a TV presenter! The point is not necessarily what you do for a living but HOW you go about it. A typical Norm may get a bit bored from time to time but it’s comfy. A Norm will book onto this course but not do anything with it.

Option 2

Alternatively, you could start from today being at your very best. Living life with a spring in your step, supporting, coaching and encouraging people around you, doing everything to the best of your ability and taking responsibility for what happens in your life.

Let’s explore option 2. We are surrounded by ‘Norms;’ the type of people who operate mostly on automatic pilot, rarely leaving their comfort zones. Whatever your role I’m suggesting that you can shine from the inside out. Rather than looking for what you can gain for yourself start with what you can give. It takes little steps to be more than the ‘average or mean’ a friendly smile, a cheerful disposition and performing at your very best. It means running a meeting starting the agenda with the positive results and team success stories. It means acknowledging problems but focusing everyone on coming up with solutions.

If you want a promotion, then it is no good saying to your manager ‘just give me the promotion boss then you’ll see what I can really do.’ The natural law of life seems to be that what you put in you get out. Norm’s tend to wait for the good stuff whilst being mediocre to good. However, this concept is NOT just about promotion it is about being better than average or the Norm whatever you do in life.

Ok so you have decided you don’t want to be a Norm, that is the very first step. However, every day you will have to remind yourself of your decision until you develop new habits. But not to worry this is not like a weight loss programme where you can’t eat chocolate or drink beer, actually it will be quite painless, all you have to do is follow some simple steps to re-programme your thinking.

You have already been your awesome self-many times. Can you remember a time when you felt really motivated, and full of energy with the attitude that you could do anything? When you felt like that did you discover that you were being more effective and achieving results beyond your usual norm?

There are a few simple techniques you can learn in order to achieve that great feeling more often and after a time they will become natural habits.

Let’s start by explaining neuro linguistic programming (NLP) – what does it mean and what are the fundamentals? Breaking down the acronym, ‘neuro’ relates to the brain, ‘linguistic’ is the language we use to others and our self-talk and ‘programming’ is all about the unconscious habits or patterns of learned behaviour that run our lives, a good example is driving a car, we don’t consciously think about dipping the clutch to change gear. NLP provides you with a greater understanding of the world around you enabling you to see events and people in a different light. NLP is about making changes from the ‘inside,’ to your habits, beliefs and behaviours to make you a more effective person. My take on NLP is that it like a ‘user’ manual for your brain, rather like a Smart phone with a whole host of ‘apps’, some of which, you may already possess but have not opened yet and some which can be down loaded. NLP is like a software upgrade for your brain if you make the changes to your thinking and self-talk.

‘Personal Leadership’ how to discover your inner blue print for enjoyment

It was a beautiful sunny (cold) February day right in the middle of half term. My 12-year-old son had asked me earlier in the morning if I fancied a kick around with him. This is something I’d got out of the habit of doing, these days he did it with his mates. Without realising I was doing it I fobbed him off with the classic, ‘Maybe later Josh, after I’ve finished this?’

I was working on an activity for a senior leadership conference. It was based on the ‘Norm’ concept and what actions they could take to become inspired and have a positive impact on their teams. I was getting very excited by this as I anticipated a room buzzing with energy.

And then it dawned on me! The fob-off from earlier had been the ‘Norm’ version of me who didn’t fancy a game of footy with my lad but the best version of me most certainly did. Josh and I spent an hour outside getting gloriously muddy doing cross bar challenges. It was the best hour of the day and yet so simple. It occurred to me that you don’t have to do much to be your best self and have fun.

So I have explained what NLP is, now let’s take a look at how it works and what to do; let us start with the process of reading a book, when you read the words on the page you picture the scenes and characters in your mind, you hear the voices of those characters and become deeply engrossed in the story, gripped by the tension of the plot. If it is a happy tale you smile and feel good. So words trigger pictures and these trigger feelings. It is the same with the words you use to yourself or what others say to you. If you use positive words to yourself, they are just good thoughts really, then the feelings generated will have a positive influence on your behaviour and attitude toward the world around you. So simply put what goes into your mind and what you THINK about can become a seedbed for positive results or infertile land that produces mediocrity.

Now let’s explore how your mind functions. Get ready for a life-changing journey through the operations centre of your mind and the way you perceive the world around you. You are about to experience a new and more exciting future.

The diagram below is a simple picture of what is happening in our mind and how what we ‘put in’ can influence our results.

Your Doorman

Have you ever bought a new car, not necessarily brand new but new for you? Did you notice how many other people there were driving the same make and model? They weren’t there before – or were they? Or if you and your partner are expecting a baby, suddenly there are people pushing prams all over the high street. It must be a baby boom! Or could it be that they were always there, but you did not notice them?

According to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi the Hungarian born expert on ‘Flow’ and happiness, we are bombarded with 2 million bits of information a second but the filters in our brain only allow 134 bits through.

So, your brain acts like a Personal Assistant filtering out what it thinks is unusable data and allowing through that which is useful to us. This is all very well and stops from you from becoming blitzed with a sensory overload, but its current settings might be filtering out some good stuff too! Our filters are made up of several things including our beliefs, values, attitudes, memories and our language. Like the nightclub doorman, who only lets in people on ‘management’s’ list, your ‘internal doorman’ only allows in information about the stuff that you are interested in or which you are already aware of.

This is useful in two ways; firstly, when we set goals our doorman will accept through information which is around us, but which is out of our conscious awareness, however if it is relevant to our goals we will become conscious of it. It operates in the same way you notice the cars which are the same make as your own. Secondly if we have an opinion or make a ‘judgement’ about someone then information supporting that opinion or judgement will be what filters through. For example, if you think a colleague is negative then that is what you will notice about them. In order to make sense of world we ‘generalise’ which means that one or two behaviours someone displays can cause us to make a judgment about that person. If a manager behaves in a ‘directive’ manner and lacks emotional intelligence, we may call them a ‘poor manager.’

The Doorman analogy allows your brain to filter through all the data so that you can make decisions quickly for survival and protection. It works by a combination of deleting, generalising and distorting information.


Practice using your doorman; observe all the good things that are happening in your team at work. Make a note of only the good things you see happening. When you do this, you will notice an immediate positive change in the way you regard people around you.

Let’s explore these concepts in more detail building your knowledge and demonstrating how you can utilise it in your life.


We delete the 2 million bits of information into around 134 bits a second so that we don’t get a sensory overload but some of the information could be very useful to us. This simple example illustrates my point:

Try counting the letter Fs in the following Sentence.


If you have not seen this before you probably said three. If you have seen it before you may have said six but there are seven in this version. In the English language we pronounce the word of with a ‘V’ sound therefore deleting the three of’s.

Without looking at it I would like you to draw your watch face on a piece of paper. If you are not wearing a watch draw a clock face, which you are familiar with. Now compare your drawing to your watch, do you see any differences? Some people draw in numbers, but their watch has Roman numerals or only has four numbers, for example: 12, 3, 6 and 9. So if you did not draw your watch correctly why was that? The answer is quite simple, when you are looking at your watch you are only interested in the time, the detailed design is less important so is filtered out even though you look at your watch many times a day you can’t remember what it looks like.

By now you will have deliberately noticed people doing good stuff at work by focusing on the positive? Have you noticed your attitude towards people and teams changing for the better?


When you were first learning to talk you probably pointed to a chair and your mum told you it was a ‘chair’ and you repeated the word ‘chair.’ Then you will probably have pointed at the table and said ‘chair’ ‘No darling’ replied mum, ‘it’s a table.’ So pretty soon you learned about types of furniture so when you saw a different chair you knew it was a type of chair. Now when you meet up with someone who says they analyse tissue and fluid samples. You probably haven’t got a clue what they are on about, but you know they are a type of laboratory worker or scientist.

So, generalisation is useful to build rapport and to understand the world around us. However, it is important to remember that we generalise and can form opinions about people, teams or customers and suppliers based on just one or two behaviours or events. A good leader (You may not have leader in your title, but you are a leader!) will invest in building relationships across teams and departments and will be aware that what they see in a person is not everything there is to see.

For protection we have an in-built tribal instinct to stick with our own pack, superstitious of those from other ‘tribes’ such as the sales department! We notice when they do things that don’t quite fit with our view of the way procedures should be followed. We form opinions and make judgements and then delete all the good stuff they do such as bringing in new business and only focus on the one or two behaviours we don’t approve of. This judgement is an example of generalising and it can be damaging to the effective running of an organisation. So, what can you do to improve relationships between teams? My advice would be to recognise the good work of others and focus your colleague’s attention on the good things other departments are doing in the same way I asked you to do with your team. Being mean spirited and judgemental are behaviours that are alien to top leaders, we no longer need those instincts that protected us 40 000 years ago. The finance department are not going to raid your office, wielding calculators!


In the picture above can you see a white triangle? Actually, there isn’t a white triangle there, but your brain distorts the image to make it fit with what it thinks it is or expects to be there.

Let’s look at a simple example of what can happen in an everyday situation. Have you ever arrived at work a few minutes late and noticed your manager look up and may be you thought ‘she’s noticed that I’m late.’ But maybe she got distracted and was deep in thought. Your ‘script’ or model of reality is telling you it is bad to be late, so it tricks you into reading the situation in a way that fits with your belief.

We read from our script and compare anything we perceive to our current script or to use an NLP term our ‘model of the world.’ So information is distorted to make sense with our script. And other people do the same thing, which can lead to misunderstandings and disagreement.

Zig Ziglar suggested that many of us have a narrow view of who we are and how we see ourselves. He described himself as an optician who could fit you with a ‘new’ pair of glasses so that you would see yourself in a new light. Zig also suggested that we don’t necessarily need ‘rose tinted’ glasses to see the world around us but we should definitely not be wearing ‘woes tinted’ glasses. Taking the theme further Jamie Smart suggests that at certain times we are looking at the situation with the wrong pair of glasses. I’d like to build on that concept a little.

Imagine if you had several pairs of glasses with which you could view the world from different perspectives: Your sun glasses would make everything a little darker, the ‘rose tinted’ ones would offer a more optimistic view of life. You could have a set of ‘Coronation Street’ glasses that would make your life look like a ‘soap opera’ where there are several crisis going on each week and life becomes like a bit of a drama that gets upsetting and makes you feel stressed and anxious. How you perceive the ‘reality’ of what is happening depends on which set of ‘glasses you are wearing at that moment.

They distort events and often magnify threats making you feel bad. I’ll let you into a secret. I expect you’ll get it ‘intellectually’ but you won’t really get it until you start applying it. How you feel comes from your physiology and your THOUGHTS or your self-talk. Your feelings DO NOT come from the world around you, they can only come from your THOUGHT. If you are feeling lousy or worried about something you probably have your ‘Corry’ glasses on. You can change your glasses by acknowledging your feelings are coming from your THOUGHTS or the way you are thinking about something. Your script will trick you into thinking that something OUTSIDE of you is making you feel this way. I’ll keep coming back to this concept until you can apply it habitually.

I rather like the acronym of FEAR. ‘False Evidence Appearing Real.’ This is where our mind distorts information based on our belief system or script and we perceive it to be negative and that is where we can start worrying.


Notice your ‘take’ on information, are you worrying about something that has not occurred yet? Or are you only looking at the ‘numbers’ on your dashboard (budget) that are not on target whilst ignoring all the good things that are happening?

So, we have explored our filters and how they delete, generalise and distort information, next we will look at what happens to that information.

Like a television, which can be altered in colour, contrast, brightness and sound. We too have an internal sensory system, or ‘internal telly’ that displays pictures, sounds, tastes, smells and touch. Earlier I suggested that words on a page trigger images and they in turn trigger feelings. In NLP terminology, this is your ‘internal representation.’

We agreed that when you are feeling good and positive, you tend to approach the day differently and generally get some good results. So now we are going to look at some useful ways that you can improve your state.
When you watch sport on the television they always have a commentator – and so do you – your internal dialogue or ‘self-talk’. Everyone talks to themselves (it’s called ‘thinking’). Now that voice inside your head is YOUR voice, right? What I am going to do is show you how you can make that internal dialogue a lot more positive so that it works for you.

There are unconscious thoughts that influence the internal representations in our internal telly and therefore our state, then there are the thoughts we are conscious of in the moment which have the same impact and there are the words we use consciously when we talk to ourselves. These can be either negative or positive it’s your choice! But whichever you choose will have an impact on your state and therefore on your behaviour and actions.

So, we can worry and paint negative pictures on our telly and experience a negative state and possibly a negative outcome, or alternatively we can talk to ourselves positively and we will feel much happier and more confident about the situation. Be warned it takes practice!

Your Inner Architect – The way you talk to yourself

Muhammad Ali’s assertion that, “I am the greatest!” worked well for him, his ability to predict which round his opponent would go down in was legendary “Archie Moore, you’ll be down in four!” His self-talk was spoken out loud to spook his opponents and to delight the spectators. But he worked hard in the Gym and on the road to prepare physically. His mental preparation went hand in hand with the miles he covered. The preparation was what made him successful not just ‘dancing under the lights.’

Ok I don’t expect you to go into a meeting with your colleagues and say out loud, ‘I’m a winner, that new contract is mine for the taking!’ I do want you to be aware of what you are thinking and saying to yourself.

Positive self-talk takes practice. It changes your internal representation and your focus. It also paints pictures of the outcome you want. An architect creates plans and uses models of the building they are creating but it starts with their imagination. Your self-talk creates small mini goals and pictures of the steps towards the results you want.

Good examples of positive self-talk are:

‘I can do this’
‘I expect a good result’
‘This is going to be a great day’
I’m really up for it’
‘I’m going to play really well today’



Start using positive self-talk and be aware of your thoughts, if they are negative turn them into a positive.