Perceptual Filters – a question and a story

First the question:
What colour are your glasses – the perceptual filters you wear every day?

Before answering, let me share a story with you. It is a true story, as told by my friend Ron. His business is training financial services professionals to pass their Canadian licensing exams.

Ron’s office is located in downtown Toronto and for many years he would walk over to city hall for his favorite lunch – a hotdog fresh from the cart of a very special street vendor.

Not only was this vendor an immigrant like many in our multicultural city, he also had the reputation of being a successful entrepreneur.

The local newspapers had even written about him.  How he arrived in Canada with only a few dollars in his pocket. Found his first job running a hotdog cart for another, quickly building up a legion of loyal customers. Friends really. He knew many of them on a first name basis. They shared news and stories about their families.

His customers were mostly executives working in highly stressful jobs ‘on the street’ in Toronto’s financial district.

They came to ‘Sammy’ as much for his good humor and stories as for the ‘dogs’ he served piping hot from the cart. The opening greeting was always the same from each customer.

“So how is business Sammy?” To which Sammy would reply “Terrific! Couldn’t be better!” And then he’d regale his customers with all the reasons why life was great and business was better.

It seemed no matter how down the spirits of his customers, they headed back to their desks with their mood brightened and feeling good about opportunities they could see more clearly. (Stay with me now … there is a purpose.)

‘Sammy’ was soon able to buy his own cart and it seemed like overnight he was a thriving entrepreneur with four carts and his own employees. And a son who he’d put through university – a first in his family. Life was good for a vendor of hotdogs. People even wrote about him!

And then something happened. A new customer stopped by his cart. Someone important, a man with a big reputation ‘on the street.’

“Sammy” he asked, “why are you so optimistic? Don’t you know the markets are on a rollercoaster. The world is uncertain and the future is looking gloomy.  Why are you so upbeat and positive?”

Well that set ‘Sammy’ back on his heels, gave him something to think about. He went home that evening and started looking for facts that supported this great man’s words. And sure enough he found them – the pessimists, the bad news bears – and he pondered their words.  

He began to ask his customers (friends by now) what they thought. “What about this?” he’d say pulling up all the negative news of the day. Soon these loyal customers drifted away.  Instead of feeling buoyed and ready to win the world after their noontime fix of hotdog and good conversation with ‘Sammy’, they felt heavy after their lunch, like the weight of the world was resting on their shoulders.

Within one short year Sammy was down to a single cart and his business was as depressed as he was. He declared he was days away from being bankrupt! And so he retired, to spend his days wondering how the good life had all gotten away from him. A sad story but true.

So what colour are your glasses? Consider this research:

People Who Wear Rose Coloured Glasses See More
“OUR STUDY shows that when in a positive mood, our visual cortex takes in  more information, while negative moods result in tunnel vision. The up side of this (positive moods) is that we can see things from a more global, or integrative perspective.”
Taylor Schmitz, 2009 University of Toronto Study

People who see through rose coloured glasses do see more – and in a positive light. They see opportunities in every economic market!

There are always new businesses, new managers, new players coming onto the scene. Growing and thriving in spite of the trends and the naysayers.  Who are these people in your business, your market? How can you recognize them?

What questions can you ask your customers and prospects that will help them discover opportunities waiting in their own backyard?  Because if they don’t, someone else will.

Something worth thinking about, don’t you think?

Wauneen McMonagle

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Beliefs Affect Results

No matter how tough an economic environment, look around and you will see people who thrive. They innovate, create and persist in achieving their goals.

So what is the critical difference? What predicts success? Beliefs!

Beliefs act as self-fulfilling prophecies. Our experience of life is literally created by our assumptions about the nature of reality. In technical terms, we delete and distort sensory cues for evidence of what we believe to be true. We create ‘proof’ that reality operates the way we think it does. Beliefs are the filtering processes that cause some people to miss the opportunities others see.

Do your beliefs support success or are they holding you back? Monitor your self-talk. When you think about goals or mentally rehearse conversations with others, are the words positive and encouraging, or critical – of you, the situation or others?

Here’s a quick way to test this out. Pick someone you are having a conflict with. For the next week, whenever you think about this person, make a point of switching your internal dialogue. Imagine this person giving you positive feedback and hear yourself appreciating them in return. Use this before sensitive meetings. We call it ‘acting as if’ and the results can be amazing.

For beliefs about self-concept and beliefs limiting your performance Innergize offers the Breakthrough Coaching process.

Recognizing Hidden Opportunities

Some people say ‘luck is opportunity meeting a prepared mind.’

So how do you prepare your mind?

What are people who experience more of life’s lucky breaks doing differently? ‘Lucky breaks’ like synchronicity, being in the right place at the right time, bumping into the right people.

How are they thinking and behaving that sets them apart?  

Results from long term studies¹ show they share the following behaviour patterns. (Brain-based science explains how these behaviours work together. Let me know if you’d like more on the research.)

1. Connecting with people

  • Even during casual encounters like sharing an elevator, waiting in lineups, ‘lucky break’ people are more likely to exhibit non-verbal cues others read as being responsive and approachable.
  • They smile and initiate conversations, use gestures and physiology perceived as open – palms up, legs and arms uncrossed – and maintain twice as much eye contact.
  • Because of these behaviours, they build more successful, long lasting, trusting relationships. 

Steps you can take
Think you’re more comfortable with goals, tasks and data, than relating to people? Or you’ve been an introvert from birth? Does this mean you’re out of luck? No!

With a little practice and coaching in the basics of non-verbal communications, you’ll be surprised by how comfortable you can be … connecting with others whenever and wherever you chose.

You will need hands-on practice for this so take a workshop if at all possible. The benefits will impact all areas of your life.

 If you have NLP training
 Practice the A-R-T of rapport; use pacing and leading.

 Bonus
 Research on consumer behaviour² shows: the non-verbal sensory cues people experience during business and social interactions are mostly unconscious, yet they create the feelings people have about their experience. Those feelings have more influence on future (buying) decisions than facts or product features.

 2. Expect the best

Once you set your outcome, believe in it. Always expect the best, even when a goal is a stretch. At the very least, you’ll get valuable feedback. Plus you’ve heard those stories about overnight success … usually preceded by years of collecting feedback.

There is a wealth of research demonstrating the power of expectations, like the placebo effect in medicine, and studies on the expectations of teachers affecting the results of their students.

Steps you can take

  • Be curious. Examine the unexpected.
  • Use quirky humor (brains hate being bored.)
  • Use questions that help you see from different perspectives. For example, many NLP techniques were developed by changing perspectives on problems. By saying: “This is cool!” and “What else can I use it for?”

Other questions you can play with:

  • “What did I expect to happen?” “What really happened?” “What can I learn from this?”
  • “What if ….?” “What else can this mean?” “What question haven’t I asked yet?”

We can all learn from the processing pattern called dyslexia. People with dyslexia naturally see from many perspectives. It’s like their mind’s eye moves around seeing things from all sides.

  • Take an object you can hold in your hand and check it out from all sides. Now add a second object. Shut your eyes and imagine moving around the two objects so you can view them from both sides, top and bottom. Next think about your situation and view it from different perspectives by adding different elements and actions.

Many people with dyslexia have used this talent to innovate and lead brilliant careers. (Today there are also ways to harness dyslexia and make school easier as well.)

If you have NLP training
 Use Perceptual positions, Reframing, Chunking Up then lateral and down, Anchor creativity and solution states, neutralize stress with Time Based techniques.

 ¹Richard Wiseman and the Perrott-Warrick Research Unit, Hertfordshire University in the UK. 10 year study on luck;
 Kashdan, Rose and Fincham, 2004, Curiosity and exploration–facilitation positive subjective experiences and personal growth opportunities; K Anders Ericsson, Florida State U., 30 years research on expertise, various fields. 

²Consumer Behaviour Research (neuro-science)

  1. When asked about product choices, if people don’t know consciously, they will make up salient, plausible and socially acceptable reasons for what they do.¹
    In other words, customers will tell you what they think they should want, based on social influences – a tendency that has led to some costly miss-takes in consumer research.
  2. While features and benefits supply the rational reasons to justify a decision once it is made, the unconscious sensory elements of an experience have a far greater influence (positive or negative) on emotions, buying decisions and customer loyalty.¹
  3. Non-verbal cues and linguistic markers provide the most accurate information about what people want and intend to do, because they are largely unconscious. ²

¹ J. Le Doux, Center for Neural Science, NYU, Your Emotional Brain 1989
² J. Kagan, Harvard Mind:Brain:Behavior Initiative, 2002

Achieving Goals With Help From Your Mind’s Eye

The February issue of Fast Company has a piece on the role visualizing plays in goal achievement. If you found the two posts on Beliefs, Wishes and Goals useful, then Make Goals Not Resolutions may be worth a look.  The second page has a simple but powerful example of the process in action and the benefits. 

Neuro-linguistics offers some excellent techniques for fine tuning the qualities of your mental images. Qualities or visual distinctions you can use to support new behaviours, change beliefs about your own capabilities, and strengthen your confidence and other resources. 

The same qualities or distinctions can also be used to render those unhealthy foods we find way too tempting into something less attractive. Think of dressing up your favorite food, perhaps chocolate, so that it becomes as compelling as liver. Hummm … perhaps not. What about seeing it as something you can enjoy, just in small quantities.  Better!

Beliefs, wishes and goals – part 2

Testing your goals – how committed are you?
You have plans for 2008, important goals you want achieved.  Yet have you given any thought to how much of your success will depend on what you believe? And the strengths of those beliefs? 

More important than the level of your skills
What you believe about your ability to go out and make those goals happen will impact your results. What you sort of believe doesnt count! Maybe doesn’t count! Only firm beliefs will give you the determination and conviction to keep going when you hit resistance. Or obstacles. Any goal worth achieving will have a few obstacles.

What self talk reveals …
Listen to the questions you ask yourself.  The questions that dominate your self-talk shape your future.  Are your questions loaded with why? Why did this happen, why didn’t that happen? 
Questions like …

  • Why didn’t I get that opportunity when I worked so hard for it?
  • Why did that person fail to recognize the value I offer?
  • Why do I always seem to lose my focus just when things are going well? 
  • Why do I find (fill in the blank) so intimidating?
  • Why did I make such a (fill in the blank) decision?

Why questions focus on the past – the one thing you can’t change! Better to focus on now and the future you want using what and how questions. 
Questions like …

  • What do I want to create? 
  • How am I going to do it? 
  • What do I already have going for me that I can build on? 
  • What is the best next step? And how can I accomplish that?
  • What positive outcome could that person be trying to achieve by doing that behaviour? And how can I help them to be more effective? 

Driving with one foot on the brake
Finally, if you’re feeling a little stuck when logically, rationally, you have everything you need to get going? Perhaps it’s time to consider a coach.  There are comfortable, quick and effective ways to get you moving when you’re ready.

Just a suggestion
A coach trained in neuro-linguistics can help you turn weak beliefs and wishes into conviction, share a nifty technique for handling competing priorities, and align the values driving your goals for maximum motivation.  However you do it, here’s a wish that you get your 2008 off on a running start and have a terrific year!
 

Beliefs, wishes and goals!

A new year, a fresh start …
And I’ve decided I’ll be a more consistent blogger. Perhaps not better. Practice doesn’t always make perfect, but it’s at least a step in the right direction. 

Have you decided where you’re headed this year?
So, do you have plans? Important goals for 2008? And are they really big enough? Because if you shoot for the stars and fall a little short, at least you’ll land on the moon.

Can you get there from here?
Will what you’re doing now move you forward fast enough and in the right direction? If not, what are you planning to do differently?  I have a friend who is fond of telling his team 
If things don’t change around here, we’re going to end up where we’re headed!” And he could be right. So be sure that where you’re headed is where you really want to go!

Do you really believe you can do it?
Believing you have the ability to make it happen is essential. Do you think you should be able to achieve your objective because others have done it, but you’re not absolutely sure? Then it’s a probably more like a wish than a belief.

Beliefs – a call to action
If it’s just a wish masquerading as a belief you’re unlikely to make the consistent effort needed to achieve your goals.  Action level is the true measure of the strength of your beliefs. Do you act as if they are true? 

Test yourself – belief or wish?
Ask yourself, if you truly believed your plans were going to come to fruition, what would you be doing right now?  What one idea can you begin to put into action now, that gets you started?

Next up
What your self talk can reveal about beliefs. Or is it only a wish? Coming soon (see opening paragraph.)

Performance Breakthrough Coaching Or NLP Practitioner

So I had this call …
Since it’s Practitioner Season, no surprise that was the subject of the discussion.  The bottom line question was ‘should the caller take the Practitioner program starting September 25, or go for the Breakthrough Coaching?’ A great question.

How Would You Decide?
Sometimes the best answer to a question really is another question.  In this case, there are three I ask.

  1. Are you feeling stuck in some area of your life right now?
  2. Do you have any behaviours, habits, or beliefs that are blocking your success, happiness or satisfaction with life?’
  3. And most importantly, if you answered yes to either of these, how urgently do you need to move on?

I have had people call me and say ‘I’ve been given 30 days to change (my behaviour/my attitude/my results) or I’ll lose my job.’ 

Many times the very people who are most competent, even brilliant in their own area of expertise, have the least easy time integrating into some work environments. 

When it’s 30 days or else
Sometimes it’s a job-fit issue (think hiring miss-take), or interpersonal conflicts (read lack of attention to soft skills.) Or it could be timing as in over due for a change or stressed out.  Whatever …. These are all good reasons to go for the Performance Breakthrough Coaching.

Breakthrough sessions are a quick and very dependable way of changing habits, beliefs and behaviours in a short period of time.  They’re easy to schedule around your time and my availability, because they’re one-to-one sessions.  Just remember that rather than learning new skills, you’ll be getting results.  Even in extreme situations.

When evolution works
If life is going smoothly right now and you’re just looking to pick up the pace, the Practitioner program is well worth your time.  Because dollar for dollar, hour for hour, it is one of the best investments you can make in the rest of your life.  (Well I would say that wouldn’t I?) But wait …

I can’t tell you how often participants take me aside half way through the program and say ‘I’ve been meaning to take this training for years … just never got around to it. Now, I wish I’d learned this stuff 20 years ago. What a difference it would have made in my life!’ 

So you decide
When change is no longer an option, take the Breakthrough session.  You can always come back for the Practitioner training later (and around 50% of my clients do.)  When you want all the NLP tools, and you’re curious about experiencing the world from different perspectives, you’re ready for the NLP Practitioner  certification program.

The Gap Between Knowing And Doing

The previous post suggested that most people already have a wealth of knowledge that if applied, would make them more successful.  The real question becomes what prevents us from doing what we know? Using our knowledge consistently? While answers may seem as unique as each of us, there are some themes.

Take my friend Paul who faithfully followed techniques recommend in the current success literature (media really.)  This new and improved version of positive thinking adds emotions as a critical part of the mix.  

All well and good. But as time passed Paul failed to make any progress in his life.  Even though he was working harder, he said it felt like taking one step forward, two steps back.  Know the feeling? 

Insights from neuro-science 
Doctors Joseph le Doux and Antonio Damasio, are respected neuro scientists working to understand how the brain processess emotions.  They now estimate that up to 95% of our emotions, decisions and behaviours are the result of unconscious mental processing.  Think about that.  Emotions, decisions, behaviours, running automatically without our conscious rational thinking.  

One step forward, two steps back  
Back to Paul who was using his new positive thinking + feeling techniques to achieve a very specific goal.  Here’s what a couple of questions revealed:

  • Although Paul had the skills to achieve his goal and knew others less knowlegeable who were succeeding, he still wasn’t sure it was possible for him.
  • He wanted to believe it, wished it was possible, but just wasn’t sure.  
  • The more he effort he made to move forward, the more stumbling blocks he seemed to find. The harder it was.

The fix
Once we discovered his lack of conviction, a fear lurking behind a wish, we used NLP to make the change.  Paul was able to unplug the fear, neutralize it and reconnect to a strong inner belief in himself that fully supported his goal.

We didn’t waste any time trying to figure out what caused Paul’s lack of conviction.  We simply updated his belief using a technique for working with the unconscious mind.  Neuro linguistic programming (NLP) has been teaching people how to work with their own unconscious mind for over 30 years, long before many would even acknowledge the concept.

Today Paul is seeing the results of efforts, he’s working smarter, has more energy and says he’s having more fun too!

Tomorrow ….  another theme, one that can cause you to to spin your wheels between competing priorities.