Tag Archives: aikido

What do you want?

14 Jun 16
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My exploration of Neuro-Linguistic Programming has been in service of one basic desire: I want to help make genius a choice. At least that’s how it started for me.

But what do you want?

Just because I’m interested in making genius a choice doesn’t mean you are! In fact you almost certainly don’t.

Sure, not everybody has explicit, well-designed goals with Gantt charts, identified resources and contingencies plans. But even in reading this article you have objectives. And we can use those to illustrate this aspect of NLP: What do you want to get from today?

As you take a moment to answer this question, please let yourself go beyond the first thing that comes to mind. You might want to write down your answers too.


For as long as I can remember, I have loved martial arts. Having trained in martial arts for most of my life, when I walked into my first Aikido class I saw things differently to the way many people might see things. I didn’t just see a bunch of people being thrown around the room: I saw some techniques I recognised from my previous training, footwork, presence and some things that seemed very strange. I enjoyed being there and decided that I wanted to start training myself.

From when I stepped onto the dojo the next session, I learnt many things. And one thing I realised very quickly is that this is not a spectator sport. Sure, you can enjoy watching the show as an observer. And you can get an important perspective from that angle. But if you really want to experience the Art and Science, you have to participate.

Most karate training remains a dynamic between “attacker” and “defender”. Somebody attacks. Then their partner practises defending against that attack, during which period the ‘attacker’ becomes little more than a crash test dummy. Sometimes in the same exercise, for example in sparring, you and your partner will alternate attacking and defending. And that is a simple dynamic that works well.

Aikido is very different.

Rather than the attacker-defender relationship we have the Uke-Nage relationship. The Uke might begin by grabbing or striking the Nage, in response to which the Nage will apply their chosen technique or strategy. And on the surface this looks much like the attacker-defender relationship.

However there is a big difference: Both Uke and Nage are learning and practising. To fully understand any technique it is important to understand the technique from the perspective of both Uke and Nage. And through experiencing these differences we are able to learn the essence of the technique itself.

Now, back to it: What are your outcomes?

Now that you have at least a few outcomes, let’s explore them in a bit more detail, perhaps starting with thinking about what seems to be your most important outcome:

  1. What do you want that for?
    If you had that outcome, what would that give you? And if you had that, what would that allow you to experience that is even more important still? Please be aware that I’m not asking you your reasons or causes or justifications for that outcome: I’m not asking “why?” While doubtless you have your reasons, I want to know your intention or purpose. You can repeat that line of questioning until you can’t go any further: See how far you can go. This could well develop into something of a hierarchy of intentions.
  2. How would it be if you had that?
    What would it look like? Sound like? Feel like? If you had your outcome, how would you even know? Feel free to describe with as much sensory-specific language as you can how you would know that you had your outcome.
  3. If you had those outcomes what difference would it make?
    Choosing any level of the hierarchy, what consequences would having that have for you? What would you do differently? How would you feel or think or behave as a result?

While these seem very simple questions, by thinking things through you might be able to better understand yourself. You can start defining your outcomes in a more achievable way. You might even recognise some resources, strategies of ways you have to get what you want sooner or easier or with fewer downsides.

Personal Development and Personal Evolution and Personal Innovation

28 Apr 16
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Many people want to learn NLP to ‘develop’ themselves.

Like maybe you want to enjoy better relationships. Or a more rewarding and fulfilling career. Or get to feel a greater sense of peace and meaning. You might have read a few articles – or even a book or two – about how you can make your life ‘better’, and discovered how NLP can help you enjoy more clarity, more congruence and even more freedom to feel, act and experience life the way you want it.

Personal-DevelopmentMany people would call this Personal Development.

It is even something that some people value. You might have met someone who explicitly values experiencing personal development in their life. Or in their relationships. And that way of thinking tends to lend itself towards setting and achieving increasingly challenging goals.

There is another terms that could be used in contrast to this that I’m going to refer to here as Personal Evolution.

EvolutionWhile Personal Development focuses on consistent, incremental progress, maintained by the development of more resourceful habits, I like to think of Personal Evolution as the concept of allowing ourselves to take things to the next level. Rather than getting better in our current job, recognising that the next phase of our development is to launch into a new industry, or go into business for ourselves, or start a family, or go back to school. Personal Development is valuable and helpful for almost everybody though the changes are of a different quality again to Personal Evolution.

(Dr John Grinder and Carmen Bostic St Clair led a workshop on this topic some years back, and the term has resonated with me ever since.)

There is a third concept I’d like to offer here: Personal Innovation.

InnovationInnovation is creating value from creativity. So in contrast to PD and PE, let’s consider Personal Innovation as a process of creating significant, valuable shifts in our personal experiences and performance. This could take the form of recognising that you can get paid more for doing similar work in a different company, industry or place. Or maybe by bringing together some of the diverse skills you have been developing to create a totally new value proposition for your personal or professional life.

I’m not sure if these terms are explained here in a way that is accepted by everybody. The probably aren’t. And I’ve restrained myself from doing too much searching this time since I suspect that they will be useful regardless of the answer 🙂

One of the things that I’ve been experimenting with recently is to notice how it feels when I think about something I am doing from the different perspectives. For example, I have been training in Aikido for several years now – and I really enjoy it. As I think about my aikido training in terms of my ‘Personal Development’, I think in terms of refining and polishing my skills, practising and striving for excellence. From a ‘Personal Evolution’ perspective, I think in terms of how the concepts of Uke and Nage have influenced my thinking, in martial arts, in my work and in my most intimate relationships. Yet as I think about aikido from the perspective of ‘Personal Innovation’, I think about how my aikido training synergises with other experiences, how my mistakes and challenges in aikido offer metaphors and lessons that I can harvest, and how I can use that synergy and harvest in new and different – even innovative – ways.

If you allow yourself to feel the terms – either in the abstract or applied to your life or some facet of your life – do they feel the same or different to you?

I wonder how you might represent them. I wonder how you might be already harnessing these concepts yourself.

If you’re familiar with NLP, do particular aspects of NLP seem more relevant to one or two of these frames? Of your favourite aspects of NLP, does distinguishing between PD, PE and PI make sense? Where are PD, PE and PI really just the same thing?

What do you think?