Ramesh Prasad who was the Master Trainer at the 2-day NLP training will probably wince when he comes across ‘Some Bitter Pills’ in the heading of this post. Like Caesar he may want to cry out, “Et tu, Babu?” For NLP practitioners, it is a cardinal sin to be flippant with words or sit in judgement.
I have just completed a two-day NLP workshop and my language reflects a throwback to the old patterns. For one thing, I am sure Ramesh will not wince. Instead, he would probably ‘invite’ me very politely to phrase it differently and to be factual without using colouring, distorting words. In fact, he may even find the word ‘distorting’ too harsh a word to use. Secondly, he certainly won’t compare me to the dishonourable Roman, Brutus. Looking at the word, ‘sin’ he would likely suggest in a very kind way – there is no sin, no failure, but only feedback and learning.
Unconsciously, what I have just done is modeling excellence which is at the core of NLP. I have, based on the exposure I had to Ramesh during the last two days, tried to recreate his style of thinking and feedback. Successful people behave in certain ways and when we consciously model them, we create changes in our neural pathways and in the process imbibe excellence as a way of life.
I found the initial one hour of the programme very intriguing. Ramesh was asking people to introduce themselves and as they were warming up with their interesting life stories, he would press the ‘pause’ button and enquire about certain patterns of word usage, about how their hands and eyes expressed or did not . What he was trying to drive home was that we most often are prisoners of conditioned responses and patterns. It is possible, by observing our individual choice of words, body language and their patterns – quietly, in a kind, non-judgemental way – to create a new vocabulary, new language of the body and a new way of living.
Initially, I found Ramesh’s style of training too very strange. The training programmes I have gone through in the past and particularly those in the recent past – rely on entertainment to a great extent to capture and hold attention. Here it was very different, in fact just the opposite of what I am used to. Just as someone in the group was in the middle of narrating some juicy, meaty aspect of his life, Ramesh would cut him or her off, very politely, to discuss and analyse the hidden patterns he observed. He just skimmed over the ‘massala’ in anything or anyone.
Yet, hidden behind the patterns he brought out, I saw a dance of ideas and discoveries. The dance was beautiful because of the openness involved. There was no airs about Ramesh and neither did he encourage anyone in the group wearing masks. What therefore ensued was nearly all the participants freaking out – almost naked – in a figurative way of speaking.
As the day wore on, I saw strengths in people, each one expressing their truth and their reasons in their unique ways. They all had wonderful stories of courage, perseverance and dreams to tell. A sense of closeness developed out of respect for their humanness and strengths.
Here is a thought that is challenging me now, as I write. Would I respect and hold other lives dear, even if I did not see them participating in the feast of life with as much vigor and zest?
Towards the end of the day, a few incredulous people asked me about what motivated me to run 21 km. I spoke to them about how I have plumbed the depths of despair and failure for more than a decade. And how everything I touched turned to gold once and then how everything I came in the vicinity of just crumbled. I told them it was time to redeem myself. I also explained that it meant a lot to me to be an effective trainer for which it was necessary to fill the chasm between what I preached and what I practiced. I thought the story was inspirational enough at least to deserve a pat.
Ramesh did nothing of the kind. He wrote on the flip chart, ‘goals’ or something similar and before that he wrote about my current limiting beliefs and wrote the word ‘elephant’ on top. He explained that I had great outcomes or objectives, but I was also carrying an elephant representing past failures and fears along with me as I traversed the distance towards my goals. All I could tell during those embarrassed moments was that there seems to be some truth and I will be more aware…..
It seemed strange that what I thought was my moment in the sun was invaded by midnight in a trice. Yet that was a moment of truth and recognition. Carrying the elephant of failures and despair along with me as I travel towards my goals, will see me producing the same results. To make progress, I have to leave the elephant behind.
To have my ego shattered in front of others is not very easy to swallow. I felt the pain for a while. Then I knew that I was also very authentic the whole day with the group and significant learning resulted. That is the natural state to be in and a measure of one’s courage and the reason for being on earth.
And all through the day, I could sense a creeping in of admiration and fondness from the group and Ramesh, for me. I basked in it and was happy and grateful that my presence in the group made a difference.
I do not give myself enough credit at times. I have to find some way to fall in love – with myself.