Feedback versus Failure

As I continue to explore the NLP pre-suppositions it is interesting to reflect on how some of them can be misinterpreted. This next one has been worded in  a number of different ways, for the purpose of discussion I will use:

“There is no such thing as failure only feedback!”

Let us first consider what this NLP pre-supposition does not mean! Sometimes people
unwittingly cause themselves unnecessary grief by misunderstanding the message and positive intention behind it.

The NLP pre-supposition does not mean that if things don’t go as well as expected
that we ignore the result. Some people inappropriately use this NLP pre-supposition as permission to take a position of denial.

Other people get angry with the idea of “no such thing as failure.” This will happen in particular with people who hold limiting beliefs about their own identity that are connected with failure.

As a practitioner it is very important to remain sensitive in such situations. To glibly trot out the NLP pre-supposition may feel like a put down or discount of the client’s feelings and experience.

Finally in terms of misinterpretation, it is okay to be disappointed or upset if things
go pear shaped! In life we all experience set backs from time to time and sometimes we feel pressured to stay positive. I think this is one of the unintended consequences of the positive psychology movement.

We need to honour our feelings, accept them and then move on at a pace that is appropriate for the individual. Sometimes that means we get to even feel emotions of failure from time to time. NLP will then help us when we are ready to move on.

So what is the purpose of this NLP pre-supposition, I hear you ask?

It is all about mindset. If we focus on what went wrong we tend to get caught into the details of the problem. This narrows our focus and we may get stuck.

If instead we consider the problem from the point of view of feedback we start to open up possibilities.

What does this mean?

Anthony Robbins has a great approach to this, he talks about the importance of asking ourselves intelligent questions. His suggestion is that most questions about a problem are questions we ask ourselves. Our unconscious mind will attempt to answer the questions we pose.

For example, if we just keep asking ourselves questions like “why does this always happen to me?” our unconscious mind has little to go on and will just come back with reasons why we are to blame. Unfortunately there is not always an answer and when that is the case we may just become doomed to repeat the experience until we get it.

If instead we ask intelligent questions such as:

  • What can I learn from this?
  • What do I need to do to prevent this in the future?
  • How can I turn this around?
  • What can I do to solve the problem right now?
  • What improvements can I make?
  • How can I adjust my approach?
  • What other strategies could I use?
  • What else could this mean?
  • Who can I ask to help me?

And my personal favourite;

  • What’s really funny about this right now?

You know that old saying, one day I’ll look back on this and laugh! Well if that is really true why would you want to wait?

By asking ourselves intelligent questions, as Robbins suggests, we are engaging in a positive mindset that is likely to increase our creativity. This creativity will boost our problem solving abilities and also contribute to resilience or the bounce back factor.

So bottom line with this NLP pre-supposition, treat even poor results as feedback. Use that feedback to develop new approaches and strategies. Keep going until you get the results you are looking for.

I would also add to this that if you are finding it less than easy to do that ask yourself the question, “who can I ask to help me?” Sometimes we just need someone else to give us another perspective or maybe a coach to help us get clear about the lesson to learn.

Next week we will explore the concept of “positive intention.”

Do let me know what you think of the series so far and if you have any particular questions about NLP pre-suppositions.

About Melody @ GWizlearning

Melody spent fourteen years gathering experience of the business world working in banking, telecommunications and the public sector before co-founding The GWiz Learning Partnership in 1993. Melody has a Masters Degree in Applied Positive Psychology, a degree in Psychology and a diploma in Psychotherapy. She is an NLP Master Trainer which allows her to run NLP Practitioner, NLP Master Practitioner and NLP Trainer Training courses certified by the Positive School of Intrinsic Neuro-Linguistc Psychology. She is also a qualified Myers Briggs practitioner and EI practitioner and added to all this is five years Transactional Analysis training, meaning she is able to help organisations access the hidden potential in their staff. She is also in demand for her work in transforming average or even troubled teams into high performers. Melody is a visiting lecturer at University of East London, teaching "Wellbeing and Positive Psychology" to undergraduates. Additionally, she is a member of the CIPD and is ILM accredited. Melody's interests are many and varied. She has a keen interest in personal development, canine and wolf psychology, conservation, movies and running. She also enjoys western horse riding, walking the GWiz dogs, nature watching and stage combat (particularly sword fighting).
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