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Learn More–Outside of Your Comfort Zone January 25, 2008

Posted by cjescribano in Learning, NLP.
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In the Outcome Model of NeuroLinguistic Programming (NLP), one of the important questions to ask someone who needs help achieving a goal is:

What stops you?

One day when I was contemplating all my lofty writing goals, I asked myself that question and was surprised by the reply:

Comfort

What the….?

I decided that I must have heard myself wrong. But over the next few weeks, the truth slowly seeped into my brain. It was true: comfort was holding me back.

We live in a time when comfort is the ideal state. That’s partly why we’re fat and out-of-shape. It’s just SO easy to kick back in that Lazy Boy with the massaging cushions and eat our favorite snacks while watching our favorite TV shows. Sounds like heaven, right?  Who in their right mind would want to breathe hard or make their muscles hurt? Who would want to get up at the crack of dawn to think really hard?

But in the end, if you want to improve in any way, if you want to learn something new, if you want to reach that goal, that dream you’ve had since you were 7, you have to get up off that Lazy Boy and step out of your comfort zone. You have to write an extra hour in the evening. You have to do and think when you’d rather watch re-runs of Everyone Loves Raymond. You have to get up an hour earlier when you know you really need the extra sleep. And you have to put yourself in situations that scare the BeeGees out of you.

When most of us think about learning, we think of signing up for a nice class in a comfy classroom, where we can let the teacher do all the work while we fill up on free food at breaks and lunch. But we whine about situations where we’re really learning. You know those times when the challenges seem insurmountable, the clients are demanding, and we’re faced with long, hard hours of work, work, work. We forget that it’s during those times that we’re learning the most. Those demands and challenges are the catalysts we need to leap to the next level of performance.

So, the next time you’re feeling uncomfortable–scared, tired, burdened–be happy. You’re probably learning! And if you ignore that little voice in your head that’s begging you to run back to the safety of your Lazy Boy, you will reach your goals. And you will look back and realize that all those “hardships” were worth it, and you’ll start looking for more.

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Focus January 11, 2008

Posted by cjescribano in Learning, NLP.
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Anybody reading this blog is probably wondering–what the heck is it about? 

Honestly, sometimes I’m not sure myself. I’ve covered a wide range of topics in the last 11 days. But lifelong learning is a broad subject that can pretty much cover everything since we’re always learning whether we realize it or not. So, I end up writing about the things I’m learning and the things I want to learn about–whatever happens to inspire me on any given day.

Born to Learn
I was born to two teachers, and it appears that my mission in life is to teach. That’s what I do for a living, and also on Sundays at church. And when I’m not teaching, I’m learning. I think I’ve gotten more curious as I’ve grown up and realized that I don’t need to get good grades anymore. I can study whatever catches my fancy, and pretty much everything does. I can spend the rest of my life endlessly fascinated. Learning for me isn’t about knowing more than other people or earning degrees; it’s about the rush of that “aha” moment when you finally understand.

Logical Levels of Learning, Communication, and Change
That said, though, there’s a wonderful model developed by Robert Dilts, called the Logical Levels of Learning, Communication, and Change, which perfectly sums up all the different facets of learning.   Below is my crude rendering of this model.

 Logical Levels

What I love about this model is that it so simply pulls together all of the things that are important for learning (and communication and change). Typically, people just focus on one or two of these elements. One expert focuses on learning objectives while another focuses on competencies, and another focuses on testing and measurement.  I guess the subject of learning or teaching is too big to swallow whole. So, we chop it up into bits and then wonder why it doesn’t work.

Dilts’s model helps me to remember all the things that I need to keep in mind when I’m designing learning interventions. It forces me to look up from my learning objectives and realize that there’s a human being who has certain values and beliefs that may be in conflict with my learning objectives. And by the same token, it helps me to set up a classroom or an e-learning experience so that learning occurs.

Act As If January 11, 2008

Posted by cjescribano in NLP, state management.
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There’s a strategy in Neuro-Linguistic Programming called Act As If. The idea is that if you behave in a certain way for long enough, your mind will begin to believe it.

For the past few days, I’ve been acting as if on a very deep-seated belief to see what will happen to it. I know at an intellectual level that it’s a silly belief, but acting as if has exposed its flaws even more.

I feel silly stating this belief, but maybe it’s one that others have too. You see, I’ve pretty much believed my whole life that no one could ever really like me. So, I spent a lot of time trying to get people to like me. And then when they did something that hurt me, I would say, “See, I knew they didn’t really like me.”

But now I see how destructive that belief was. It made me defensive, and sometimes mean in a “hit them before they hit me” kind of way.

Maybe I’ve finally come to a point in my life where I like myself enough to believe that others like me. The acting as if has been easier than I thought it would be. It’s actually been fun. I find that I enjoy people more when I’m not worrying about whether or not they like me. I can focus on being interested in them and liking them.

Every now and then, the old pattern emerges. Someone hurts me, and I equate it with “He doesn’t like me.” But since I’m paying attention and acting as if, I can stop that pattern and make a new choice. And as I walk along the path of that new choice, I can look back and see how silly the old choice was, how it led me to exactly what I was afraid of. Basically, I was creating my own den of dislike. What a waste of my time!

Managing My State of Mind January 3, 2008

Posted by cjescribano in NLP, state management.
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An Unresourceful State
As I transition from holiday mode back to reality mode, I am especially aware of my state of mind, which this morning was definitely resistant. After about 10 days of sleeping in, moving slowly, eating whatever I wanted, and doing whatever I wanted, my whole being was fighting the pull back to routines and responsibilities. I was in what Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) experts call “an unresourceful state.”  That is, in my resistant state, I wasn’t going to be too productive. But it was time to get back to work, so I had to change my state.

You Can Change Your State of Mind
Many people don’t realize that they have the power to change their states of mind. They don’t have to be stuck with “I just don’t feel like it.”  They can create a state where they can achieve what they want or need to. So, here’s what I did this morning to get myself into the right state:

1. Take care of the physical state.
Face it, very few people jump right out of bed when that alarm goes off. I need some time and movement to wake up. I like to get up early and have a half hour to do some yoga or meditation. There’s something about a Sun Salutation that lets me know that it’s time to get down to business.

2. Let routine carry you through
After my body is awake, I want some time to work quietly at my desk–thinking, writing, getting a project done. In order to have this time before the household awakes, I have to get up at 4:30 a.m. Oddly enough, I actually feel better when I follow this routine everyday. My body gets used to it, and I don’t even have to think about whether or not to push the snooze button again. Also, I get so much done in that first hour of the day that the routine is reinforcing. The more I follow it, the more this routine becomes my signal to myself that it’s time to get busy.

3. Create a sense of urgency
One thing that really gets me going is having a specific goal and a deadline. If my only goal is to be at my desk “working” because I have to “put in some time,” I’m going to procrastinate. So, even if I don’t have a customer anxiously waiting, I have to give myself a specific goal (finish that blog post, do a first draft of that presentation, sketch out a first-draft of a design) and a specific time to finish it. The best thing is for me to write these goals and deadlines down on a sticky note the night before, so they’re waiting for me when I get to my desk. Usually, when I first start working I think I have all the time in the world. The stickies remind me that I’ve got a lot to do, so I better get going.

4. Challenge your thinking
I’ve learned to recognize the whiny voice that undermines my best intentions. And when I hear it, I start asking it questions, like: “Is sleeping really more important than writing to you?” or “At the end of this day, what do you want for yourself?”. It’s amazing how quickly all those whiny excuses cave in when you challenge them.

So, you don’t have to be a slave to your “unresourceful states” anymore. Just figure out what state you need to achieve what you do want, and then take some steps to create that state for yourself.