The following pair of remarks were made by Lara Ewing as part of the NLP Master Practitioner training I went through in 1992 from NLP Comprehensive. They seem to have some relevance to several of the issues discussed recently in sci.psychology.psychotherapy.
Robert Dilts and I have a mock battle that we've been conducting for years. Robert Dilts says that NLP is a science (or technology). I say that it is an art. And so we fight about this, although of course both metaphors are really simplistic bullshit.
For me, though, esthetics is the very highest criterion, and I move through my life with the notion of, ``What's beautiful?'' Those things which create a sense of beauty for me are the things I move toward. And this guides my behavior a lot -- maybe even when it shouldn't!
So here's the way I think about my own work in NLP: I would love to be the Baryshnikov of NLP.
Baryshnikov is a man who has such discipline and for years has practiced the basics so diligently and with such presence and such consistency that his technique is so impeccable that it leads to this result: when Baryshnikov jumps, everything moves up. Not one cell of his body is gravity-bound.
Now it's that ability to know his technique so thoroughly that allows him those aerodynamics. Every part of him is congruent in that upward movement. It's based in technique, but it's about art, it's about self-expression.
Once you've mastered the technique, what's beautiful is the way you can use it creatively -- the improvisation.
You know, years ago I got the opportunity to go to Moscow with John Grinder and a bunch of trainers. And I was very excited, because we got to go to the Moscow ballet. (It wasn't the Bolshoi, it was the Moscow City Ballet.)
Now the first thing that struck me in the theatre was the architecture. We were here to witness art. And yet -- literally -- the boxes in the theatre were built out of concrete blocks. It was square -- in every respect.
And I asked myself the question: ``What was the criterion that the architect was going for in this building?'' It was clearly not beauty.
And the only thing I could come up with was that the criterion had been: ``I don't want to do anything that's going to get me in trouble.''
And then we watched the performance. And I have never in my life seen such technical mastery as was demonstrated in that performance. Technically, it was impeccable. Better than Baryshnikov! Better, I thought!
And the friend I was sitting with and I agreed that we were absolutely blown away by ... the fact that we were utterly UNmoved by this performance. I mean intellectually, I was impressed. But ... nobody was home!
There was only one man in the entire company of about 55 dancers who was having a good time. And during the moments when this one man was on stage, the theatre lit up. But other than that, it was a demonstration of physical prowess and the ability to choreograph exercise to music.
So as far as I'm concerned, the goal in NLP is to master the techniques so well so that when you work with somebody, your whole being is expressed in what you do. It's about jumping like Baryshnikov, using what you've learned here.
The purpose of learning slight of mouth [the topic for this morning] is to give you that technical base. What you do with it has to do with expressing your heart, and your identity, and all of who you are.
John Grinder said once that in order for a change to happen you need three things.
You need congruity on the part of the operator. So you personally, as the therapist, have to have integrity in such a way that it is perceptible to the client. And that includes things like believing in what you're doing, and having your heart involved, and knowing that you can make a difference in the world. Those things are important when you do a piece of changework.
The second thing is relationship. So you have to behave in such a way that the person or group you're working with can recognize value in what you do. That's rapport -- and over a long term, it's relationship. So that you produce value, in a recognizable form, and in terms of the criteria of the people you're working with.
And the third thing that you've got to have in order to produce change is ... a hell of a good ritual!
And that (Lara continued) is what all these patterns you're learning are: they are exceptionally *cool* rituals. They are brilliant rituals, and they are nothing more than that. They are a set of steps very much like the rituals that a shaman engages in. They are a symbolic way of addressing the set of relationships inside the person.
An illustration of this is the following: at the end of many practitioner trainings, we do an exercise in which you are asked to gather information from your partner and design the very best intervention that you can come up with to give them the change that they've asked for using the fewest possible steps, most effectively and elegantly. Then you describe that intervention to the trainer or one of the assistants.
And the trainer congratulates you, tells you that your intervention is wonderful, and then instructs you to go back to the client and use anything else except the intervention you designed.
And you know what? It works just as well!
Congruity, relationship, and a damned good ritual!
And, you know, I think that often the choice of the ritual has as much or more to do with what's going on inside you than with what the client needs. And that's fine. It still works.
The best thing about being an artist, instead of a madman or someone who writes letters to the editor, is that you get to engage in satisfying work. -- Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird