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Success or Failure: Rethink the Concept

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By Robb Whitewood

There is a famous story of a first grade baseball player. One day, he had an accident on the way to school which meant that he had to have his arm amputated. Despite having one arm, he decided that he was still going to become a professional baseball player and he did. He somehow figured out a way to catch the ball and swiftly place the baseball mitt under the stub of his missing arm so that he could quickly throw the ball with his hand. It got to a point where he could do this faster than many two handed players. He learned how to hit a ball with a bat and was a full member of a first grade professional team. He became an inspiration to many people. He didn’t care that most people thought you needed two arms to do it. He conceptualised a way to do it and he just did it.

“There is no such thing as un-resourceful people, just un-resourceful emotional states.”

You are in charge of your mind and your results. You are in charge of your goals and levels of happiness and motivation. Your job is to operate each of these inside your own head, so you must take charge. People have all of the resources they need to achieve their desired outcomes. There is no such thing as un-resourceful people, just un-resourceful emotional states. If you have seen something being done, you have the resources to be able to do that same thing. It boils down to whether you believe it or not. For example, most people know how the body looks when it is in the act of snow skiing, even if they themselves have never done it before. Stand up right now and act as if you are skiing down a mountain. Automatically you will start to do what a skier does even if you have never done it before. Just like Neo in the movie the Matrix, you already have that resource stored inside your brain in a particular area which then allows you to access it from memory and act it out. If we shifted that resource from that part of your brain which was directly attached to all of the muscles and feeling associated with ACTUALLY skiing, you would be able to snow ski!

Just to reiterate, people have all of the resources available in order to carry out behaviour. If you have seen it, you have had direct access to the resources. Where it is located in the neural real estate determines whether you believe it or not, whether it is tied into your physiology, or whether it is just a fantasy. When somebody uses the word ‘can’t’, they are lying at that moment in time. It might take shifting from one area to another and some practice, but fundamentally, if a thing or activity is possible for one human being, it is possible for another. As soon as you say you can’t do something that you have seen, it creates a block. Fundamentally, whether you can do the thing or not, boils down to belief. If you shift that to the area of the brain which says “I can do it,” all of a sudden, you start acting as if you can. This is some of the magic of NLP.

“You must believe that there is gold everywhere because there is. All you have to do is pick it up.” 

There is an amazing documentary about a young boy who was born blind. His mother brought him up as if he was a sighted person, so now he operates like a sighted person. He walks around the house, rides his bike and does all of the things that sighted people do with ease. He uses his mouth to make clicking sounds and these sounds bounce off objects, telling him where he is in any given location. This is called echolocation.  If you are broke and are constantly complaining about being broke, you will be broke. A person who is incredibly wealthy does not walk around with the belief of being broke on the inside of their head. You must believe that there is gold everywhere because there is. All you have to do is pick it up. The moment you start believing and acting as if there are opportunities for you to make money, the opportunities will present themselves because your perception has changed. People who are in poverty have been trained to be in poverty. Poverty is a behaviour, not a circumstance.

Everything that we do is designed to increase wholeness. If you look at computer systems, they work because of different parts working together as a whole. The more fragmented those parts are, the slower the system, the more integrated the parts are, the faster the system. This is true for most systems. When working with people in NLP, your goal is to bring together all of the parts that make them who they are in order to increase wholeness. When dealing with a person, it is important to bring all aspects of their personality together under one leadership in order to make the person work significantly better.

“If you do something and get a result that you don’t like, you change the behaviour in order to get a different result.” 

Most relationships occur externally however the most important relationship that you have is internal. There is only feedback. When you do something, you get a result. To every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. There is therefore, no such thing as failure, only results. If you do something and get a result that you don’t like, you change the behaviour in order to get a different result. You would then keep changing the behaviour until you get the result you desire. In life, the people that achieve are the people that persist.

Deepak Chopra spoke at a writer’s convention once. This is a man who is now world famous and a well-respected authority in his particular field. However, at the convention he spoke about the fact that when he first started, no one wanted to publish his book. He wrote the book and printed 1500 copies. He contacted 1500 publishers and no one was interested. He repeated the process and sent it out again and again. He refused to give up. He got to where he is now because of persistence. A lady that spoke at the same convention had a similar experience in that she could not get a publishing deal when she first started. She wrote a book on cookery even though she had no professional experience in cooking or writing. She contacted every publisher she could and got turned down by every one of them. Eventually, she self-published and took herself and her books on the road. She travelled from town to town doing signings in book shops. At last count, she managed to generate $6.3 million from selling copies of her book in this way. Eventually, she got a publishing deal with Hayhouse. That lady was Kim McCosker and the book was called 4 Ingredients.

When Harland David “Colonel” Sanders retired, he realised that he did not have enough money to live on. As a consequence, he decided to try to licence his secret chicken recipe to various restaurants in order to make a living. He went from restaurant to restaurant, living in his car. He got rejected over and over again, but every time he got rejected his skill grew. Harland David “Colonel” Sanders idea for a secret chicken recipe eventually grew into what became the world famous Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise.

“The world is full of unemployed geniuses and people with potential who are broke.” 

The world is full of unemployed geniuses and people with potential who are broke. The one thing that drives the bus is persistence. You fail till you succeed, not the other way around. Every time you fail, you learn something which will fast forward your success. Have your dream and keep going for it. Get in and start failing with gusto! The more you do it, the more you learn. Dick Smith is a multimillionaire. He went bankrupt three times before he made it. There is a millionaires club in the USA which will not allow you to become a member unless you are a self-made millionaire and you have been bankrupt at least twice! In their books, unless you have been bankrupt, you are just not playing the game.

Successful people fail more than their unsuccessful counterparts. Babe Ruth was a baseball player who is famous for hitting more home runs in one season than any other baseball player in history. In that same year however, he also had more strikeouts than any other player in history, a fact which is often conveniently forgotten when talking about his success. There was not a single season in which he did not strike out more than he hit home runs!

It appears on the surface that most famous people out there are overnight sensations. This impression is supported when suddenly, seemingly overnight; the media latches onto someone and spreads the word of their fame. However, often these celebrities worked tirelessly, continually failing for years before achieving success. The classic example of this is Willie Nelson. He used to write a song every single day! He was extremely disciplined. If you look at the top 40 songs over the last say 40 years, it is Willie Nelson whose name keeps cropping up time and time again.

“The meaning of the communication is the response that you get.” 

What we have been indoctrinated to believe is that failure is bad and when you fail you should give up. All of these examples prove that actually, failure is just a learning process and there is nothing bad about learning. The meaning of the communication is the response that you get. If I go up to a pretty girl and tell her that I am in love with her and she smacks me in the face, what is the meaning of the communication?  It has nothing to do with my intention, but everything to do with what came back at me. It’s as simple as that. If I say I love her and she kisses me, then that is what I love you means for her. If I say I love her and she starts taking her clothes off, then that is what I love you means for her! There is no argument, no dispute. We can foolishly be so arrogant in what we expect from our communication.

The law of requisite variety states that the person with the most flexibility within a system will control the system. This is one of my favourite assumptions of NLP. It doesn’t matter how intelligent you are, how ugly you are, how big you are, or how beautiful you are. None of those things matter. The person who has the most flexibility is the one who will gain control. Sheep dogs are able to control sheep even though strangely enough, their level of intelligence is about the same as the sheep. It’s because they are more flexible around the middle. They can turn around much faster than sheep.

“The law of requisite variety states that the person with the most flexibility within a system will control the system.”

Many behaviourists will tell you that humans control the planet because they have opposable thumbs and larger brains. I believe it is primarily because of our stomachs. We can pretty much eat anything. In addition, there is no specific mating season for humans! There exists an interesting documentary in which a Chinese zoologist talks about the demise of the panda bear. The translation is that they had done everything they could to keep the panda bears alive and that if they went extinct it was their own fault. There were a number of reasons for this. First, it is extremely difficult to work out the sex of a panda making it even more difficult to get them to mate. Maybe they themselves are confused about their sexuality! Second, they only eat one or two special types of bamboo plant which are found in a very specific region. If they eat such specialist food which is only found in one place and they hardly have sex, the chances of them surviving in the wild is pretty remote. They are like a biological dead end. They are restricted in terms of where they can live because of what they eat. Human beings, on the other hand, can live anywhere from the Arctic to the most tropical regions in the world and everything in-between and we can reproduce at any time we please.

It is important to understand the power that we hold within our own minds. Each thought that we have will determine our progress or outcome. Instead of looking at the results of our choices as either being a success or a failure, realize that it is simply a measurement of the thoughts and actions you have taken. You can then go and adjust your thoughts and actions to create a better-suited outcome which you may want to call that success. Either way, you have always had the power within you to create the outcome you wish. It is just a matter of fine-tuning your thoughts to get closer to your desired outcomes. Sometimes it is really just a matter of seeing it and then believing you can do it too.

Learn just how much power you already have in Robb’s NLP Practitioner course! Start living in a resourceful state today by enrolling via the home page.