Friday, 3 August 2007

How Changing One Word Can Save Your Sanity

Hi guys

Hats off to Nikki Owen (Uber-assistant of my company, Salad) who saved my bacon (and quite possibly my sanity) this week with some classic Real World NLP.

A bit of background: I used to work managing large, mission-critical business projects for publishing companies. While I was good at my job, there was a minor problem: I really didn’t like it! So I quit my job, learned NLP & created Salad so I could do what I love.

So far so good.

The problem started when we set some new business goals, and I decided that we needed to use a ‘project’ to make them happen. We duly started having meetings, creating plans, and generally doing all the things you need to do when running a project.

And I started getting tense. Then I started getting tenser…

It came to a head the other day when Nikki told me that for the past week or two I’d been snippy with the people on my team. Now here’s the thing: I have an amazing team at Salad, and the last thing I want to do is be snippy with them.

Plus, being snippy totally messes with my preferred self-image as a wise and serene leader! We had to do something fast.

That’s when Nikki had one of her (not uncommon) flashes of brilliance: “Instead of calling it a project, we’re going to call it an adventure.”

Now, I know you may be saying “That’s just changing the name”, but it’s actually doing much much more.

You see, words don’t start at the mouth. When you hear or say a word, loads of associations are brought into your mind. If the words have quite a narrow focus (Eg. iPod, chair, towel) then the range of connections in your mind is typically quite small. But for words with a broader focus, or where you have a lot of emotionally-charged experience, the range of connections is much larger. (To learn more about how this works and how you can use it to your advantage, check out Watch Your Language, an article I wrote a few years ago).

In my case, describing something as a project activated certain skills & abilities (useful) and a whole bunch of unpleasant memories & emotions (less useful). In my mind, the word project was associated with a bunch of images, sounds, smells, tastes & feelings that was something like this:

The word adventure, on the other hand, was associated with a bunch of images, sounds, smells, tastes & feelings that was something like this:

Aaaah. And relax.

Now that I’ve finally figured this out, I’ll do some NLP to get access to all the project skills & other resources, while leaving all the nasty project feelings & associations in a box at the bottom of the ocean.

But I’ll keep calling it an adventure. After all, anything worth doing is worth getting excited about!

1 comment:

Bob Collier said...

Hi, Jamie

Thanks for the link to Watch Your Language. Just the job. I'll include a link to it in the next issue.

Bob Collier

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