Notes from the NLP conference London 13-15 November 2009

Sessions Attended

  1. Keynote talk by Kris and Tim Hallbom - Dynamic Spin Release
  2. Paradox Coaching (first half)- by David Molden and Pat Hutchinson
  3. The Limitlessness of boundaries (second half) - by Susi Strang
  4. Energise your life through the power of thought - by Olive Hickmott
  5. Energetic NLP - by Art Giser
  6. What is Ecology After all - by Wyatt Woodsmall
  7. Selling with NLP surgery - by Bill Robinson
  8. Stone Age Excellence for a Modern World- by Greg Laws
  9. Engaging change in Organisations - by Sarah Frossell
  10. An Introduction to Photo Reading -by Michael Carroll
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General comment and guide to reading my notes

When I go to these types of things I practice a Not Me state and try things that I would not usually be drawn to. Over the years I have found that to be a genuine way of learning new things and challenging my presuppositions. Sometimes Me has good reasons(experience) for avoiding certain things; but by exploring, Not Me tends to have beliefs loosened and that leads to free thinking. It is in these sessions that I make the most copious notes, sometimes connected and sometimes entirely unconnected to the session.

In the above list there are a number of pearls and a number of lemons but I learned something from attending each session.

I am in two minds (what a thing to say in an NLP article!) as to whether to write these sessions up as opinion or just what was being proposed at the session.

I will tell you what both Me and Not Me has to say. My opinion is just my opinion and you should read it with scepticism.

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Keynote talk by Kris and Tim Hallbom - Dynamic Spin Release

The pitch:

"Dynamic Spin ReleaseTM (DSR) is a practical way to quickly help someone clear out their negative thoughts patterns and emotions, physical pain, limiting beliefs and imprints.
It makes sense from a quantum perspective that spin is so deeply woven into our consciousness and culture. According to quantum physics, the entire nature of our universe is based on spin. Hence, spin is an intrinsic property of all elementary particles such as quarks, leptons and bosons (which are the basic building blocks of our universe).

This sounded to Me like this would be a gathering of "Woo Woo" NLP types and I almost did not go. I hate seeing poor old Quantum being dragged out and made to dance to an inappropriate tune. Not Me decided that this reaction was a good enough reason to go see what it was all about.

Initially Me appeared to have been right. The stagecraft was good but the delivery was just a bit too bible belt for me with talks of gifts and angel wings. Not Me, however, gave it a chance.

The main message was that everything spins. The electrons, the earth and galaxy were summoned as proof. Quantum spin was incorrectly quoted as definitive and scientific evidence. The old "electrons at opposite ends of the universe know about each others spin" gag was dragged out to confirm that spinning is a new universal force up there with electro magnetism and gravity. It occurs to Me that people should really stop trying to use quantum physics as some sort of proof that everything is probable rather than just remotely possible at the subatomic level.

It appears that we wind feelings up in a clockwise direction and they unwind in an anti clockwise direction. Deliberately spinning things in the other direction can apparently cause all sorts of beneficial effects.

The discovery of Dynamic Spin Release:

Kris Hallbom had a headache and Tim Hallbom asked her to visualise it and tell him which way it was spinning. She discovered it looked like a large brain and was spinning in a clockwise direction. He told her to spin it in the other direction and left to answer his email. Kris spun it and some hours later the headache had mysteriously disappeared.

From this they deduced that there was a universal archetype of spin. (There seem to be more and more universal archetypes popping up every day). When they asserted that water flows out of a plug hole in different directions in the southern and northern hemisphere, in order to underline a point, even the Not Me crap radar started to twitch.

From Wiki answers: "there is a common misconception here......many think that the coriolis effect is what affects the way in which water spins down the plug hole making the spin in the northern hemisphere the opposite to that in the southern hemisphere. instead what determines the way in which the water goes down the plug hole is the size of the plug hole, the angle and shape of the sink running into the plug hole and the way in which the water entered the sink in the first place. "

Then they rescued it by showing us, what really did amount to, a neat little technique.

  1. Get the person to visualise the feeling, situation, pain, behaviour that is bothering them
  2. Observe which way it is spinning
  3. Spin it the other way until it explodes
  4. When it explodes what gift does it leave
  5. Send the gift on a trip through the universe to gather all the healing power etc
  6. When it gets back what has it brought
  7. Ask what this signifies
Leaving out the quasi religious language this turns into a rather nice experience and a way to have a snug little chat with the unconscious. During the practice session I was surprised by the clarity of the imagery and the power of the metaphors that surfaced, both as a practitioner and a client.

There was a word of warning about ecology. Don't spin a person or a body part. It is disrespectful to do so. Find an image to represent the unhelpful feelings about the person or the trouble with the body part.

There was a short film about a lady who had used this to solve some quite serious communication problems. Her past history had involved a horrific accident and some major surgery. It was very convincing.


Well I have been using spinning since I heard about it on my master practitioner course and seen Bandler on video and in person using it to address all sorts of things. I use it to deal with confidence issues, migraine and sinus headaches, state changes and air and sea sickness. It works a treat in myself and in others. I normally just use it to locate the direction and spin of a state or feeling and either cancel or enhance it. So as far as spinning goes I was already convinced.

The technique was cool and I will probably use it as appropriate.

I would have a note of caution for the Hallboms dealing with a british audience but I guess they normally deal with US audiences and the language patterns, tones and imagery they use are within American norms. However to an NLP audience Kris saying "go ahead and reverse it" certainly caused Me something akin to an ice cream headache and Tim's "I had a woman come to me" was also giggle inducing to Not Me. Me had to give Not Me a stern talking to.

Even thoug they fall into the age old trap of making grandiose claims and make the whole thing into much more of a miracle cure than it really is, I have to say that I warmed very much to the Hallboms. They are an engaging couple and they are trying to introduce something new that on the face of it works well.

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Paradox Coaching by David Molden and Pat Hutchinson

(first half)

The pitch:

"In this session you will be introduced to the highly effective concept of Paradox Coaching based on the unique Harrison Assessment tool which is used widely in the USA, Asia and Australia and only just beginning to take hold in the UK."

Me thought that I needed to be entertained but Not Me wanted to do some work. Paradox coaching sounded like work. I went in with an open mind and introduced myself to the people around me. The presenters had a good style but sent Me out the window by attempting to explain what a paradox is by describing a dilemma. "What do you do when you have a choice between creativity and control?" Oops! I wanted to immediately point this out. Not Me told Me to shut up and listen.

I had already noticed that they were representing something called Quadrant One (Q1). I was a Systems Manager for long enough to realise when I am being sold to. All the old reflexes snapped into place when they started talking about online questionnaires which were certainly not psycho dynamic tests but that would tell you what your strengths and weaknesses are.

Q1 divides the world and everyone in it into 4 quadrants on the Yin/Yang axes. You answer the questionnaire which, it is claimed, can not be gamed. This gives you your position in the quadrants in respect to pairs of certain paradoxical character traits.

The traits are:

  • Gentle/Dynamic
  • Diplomatic/Frank
  • Open/Certain
  • Analytical/Intuitive
  • Risking/Analysing pitfalls
  • Self acceptance/ Self improvement
  • Self motivated/Stress management
  • Enforcing/Warmth
  • Persistent/Experimenting
  • Authoritative/Collaborative
  • Helpful/Assertive
  • Organised/Flexible
  • Optimistic/Analyse pitfalls
  • DrawObject

    Q1 claims that this tool can be used in coaching and in recruitment.

    I had a few questions to ask but as they were avoiding answering any other questions they were getting, I sort of wigged out and left the room mentally. While keeping one ear open I made about 4 pages of notes about the reasons I find using this sort of tool to recruit is a bad, bad, bad idea.

    Here is an extract:

    If the tool does not work well it is a waste of time and money.
    So, assume the tool works well and that it will accurately identify a people with the required traits.


    How do you know that the job really requires these traits? Who decides?

    My experience both as a consultant and a project manager within a big company looking for people through human resource has been as follows:

    The person doing the recruiting rarely knows what the job really is and does not talk to those who do. The result is usually a lot of people in positions that do not suit them or arriving on Monday morning with a set of skills useless to the project. Sometimes you get lucky and you get a talented person who has managed to sidestep the agency, the recruitment company and personnel and who has the skills and attitude you need. This sort of tool, if it worked, would remove that element of luck and you would never get anyone suitable because you would get exactly what HR looks for. You might never get a job to which you were well suited yourself because you would never get past the sphynx at the door.

    The other consideration is that measuring people in a system like this only takes a snapshot in time. In NLP we know that much of this is state dependent.

    In my opinion it is a cardinal sin to start talking about Visual Audio, Audio Digital or Kinaesthetic people. That can lead to the installation of limiting beliefs. You can tell people that they are exhibiting Audio Digital, Audio, Visual or Kinaesthetic behaviour but you must show them that they function in the other representational systems too and that they have to have resources there that can be accessed.

    Executive recruitment tends to assume that leadership skills are about power and sang froid. The presentation has just turned to talking about intuition versus logic as if they were mutually exclusive."

    Okay. Paradox coaching is based on the Harrison assessment tool. Cannot seem to find out any more about who Harrison is or what work the tool is based on. The questionnaire costs 20 a pop for the basic and another 20 to get more detailed readings. You can buy them in blocks or you can become a reseller for a small fee yada yada yada.


    I absented Me and Not Me from the second half of this. I felt it had turned into an extended sales pitch for Q1 and their wares. To be fair I agree with their basic premise that many traits that seem to be contradictory do exist in the same person in differing and, possibly, measurable quantities. If you have read my book The Trousers of Reality you will know that I strongly agree that balancing these in people and in organisations is a very good idea.

    I went to talk to the presenters at their stall later in the day. They were extremely nice and welcomed feedback. I had quite a pleasant time talking to them. To my surprise they agreed with my ideas about recruitment. Their solution was to provide high quality coaching before during and after recruitment.

    The handouts are water marked "Do Not Copy" but there are similar notes as a pdf download at their website Download Q1 orange paper

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    The Limitlessness of boundaries - by Susi Strang

    (second half)

    The pitch:

    "This workshop is a forum for you to explore your limits and limitlessness. What are boundaries anyway? Do we need them? What happens if we don't have any?"
    As I sat talking to John, another delegate, discussing where to go after break, I asked him had he heard of Susi Strang. A passer by stopped and told us she was very good. So in I went to the second half of her talk.

    This was a tour de force performance and a merry romp through the Satir categories. These are based on Virginia Satir's family therapy work and they are outstanding. I read Virginial Satir long before I heard of NLP. Her book "The new people making" should be compulsory reading by anyone doing any type of therapy. She deals in systems thinking - looking at not just the effect of the therapy of the person being treated but the effect on the whole ecology of the person. I cannot stress enough how important her work is. Virginia Satir was modelled by Bandler and much of NLP springs from her work.

    Susi had my attention from the moment she opened her mouth.

    Here are some quotes:

    "Nothing is good or bad except that thinking makes it so."

    "Limiting beliefs are psychological spanx knickers."

    "Reality is a construct. If it is not working change it."

    "The sexual act is an act of logging on."

    I know that these are not all original but they were delivered in such a congruent style that I wanted to rush up and give her a free copy of my book. "See here" I wanted to cry "you are singing my song!".

    She talked about the Hawaiian concept that we have 4 bodies.

    1. Physical
    2. Emotional
    3. Mental
    4. Spiritual
    Each of these has its own kind of attraction
    • Physical - Differences
    • Emotional - Similarities
    • Mental - Differences
    • Spiritual - No distinction
    Think about this a bit and it makes a lot of sense.

    I made this drawing in my notebook to explain what she said next:

    Most of us start with physical relationships. When we get to the spiritual we see no distinction between ourselves and the other.

    • Relationships that start as physical relationships work their way to including emotional, mental and and spiritual relationships.
    • Relationships that start at spiritual relationships work their way to including mental, emotional and physical relationships.

    There followed excellent descriptions of the Satir categories followed by practical exercises.

    The Mercedes model was used to explain that there are meta messages when feelings, thoughts and behaviours are congruent. I.e. When our thoughts, feelings and actions are lined up we are more effective at communication.

    She explained that the blamer and the placater were a pair and that the computer and the distracter were a pair.

    The key point is that these are all about ways not to show your own lack of self esteem.

    Susi explained them thus:

    • Blamer - I can't accept responsibility so I will blame everyone around me.
    • Placater - Blame me for whatever you want but just don't leave me.
    • Computer - Feelings are painful so I will punish the world by never having another one.
    • Distracter - I am not able to handle it so I will distract onto something else.
    Finally we came to the Leveller. While all the others either invade, ignore or open up boundaries the leveller calmly explains where they are and opens dialogue.

    It was explained how all of the Satir categories were used in the preceding presentation and how they can be used to enhance communication.


    Susi came across as a brilliant, talented and amazingly capable person.

    I would have one note of caution and that is that her tendency to generalise about men is unnecessary for a person in her position. More worryingly, being such a powerful communicator, she is in danger of introducing, installing and reinforcing limiting beliefs in both men and women. The Blamers and the Computers were all "He". The Placaters and Distracters were all "She". When she was challenged on this she talked about her own divorce and that in the time of Satir that it was the norm that men were all blamers and computers and thus the cause of many of the family problems Satir dealt with. I am not sure Satir would be pleased with this reasoning.

    I think it is dangerous for such a skilled and charismatic NLP practitioner to take this public stance, particularly as she risks installing her own beliefs. Even if it is her experience that men are aggressive as Blamers and Computers and that women have to adopt Placater and Distracter as defences, it is unhelpful to compound the stereotype and propaganda. Even if it were true that men are bullying brutes, which I contend is not a fair analysis, the job of NLP practitioners is to change limiting beliefs not reinforce them. Even if were the current social norm that women are more empathetic, men would need to be invited into the soft skills rather than told they are brutes.

    Naturally there were some women (and a man or two) in the audience all to willing to share their stories and prejudices to strengthen this stereotype, or universal archetype! I did look about and saw a few others that wore expressions that could be read as being concerned at this turn or events.

    All this said, it was a great presentation. It was effective as both an introduction to the Satir categories and a refresher. I would listen to Susi speaking again on practically anything.

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    Energise your life through the power of thought - by Olive Hickmott

    The pitch:

    "Energise your life through the power of thought"
    This was a lunchtime session. Me wanted to just go for a walk and find a strong coffee. Not Me was still enthusiastic. A friend was going to this one so we went in together.

    It all went south almost immediately for Me. I was expecting something about using states to conserve energy or how to access energy through energising states. I was thinking of energy as enthusiasm and pizazz. It turned out we were talking chakras and meridians. As a trained masseur I am aware of these concepts and I find them useful. They make useful metaphors.

    Olive asked what people knew about energy and started talking about negative energy. She was unfortunate to have a physicist in the audience who pointed out that energy is energy, neither negative or positive. At this stage I would have advised her to gracefully admit that this is true and that the idea of negative energy is a metaphor for the unhelpful use of energy in hating, worrying, fretting or limiting yourself and your resources. Olive stuck to her guns. It turns out her talk and her belief system depends on this view that there is such a thing as negative energy.

    Me wanted to go, Not Me wanted to stay. We stayed.

    Let me be clear about this. Olive struck me as a genuine person who wants to help people. There are people with a specific model of the world who may be helped by what she is doing. She also specialises in helping people with ME, ADHD and learning disabilities, which is laudable. Let all of my comments be viewed through this lens.

    The question was asked as to how much of our energy we thought was ours. I will not spoil the exercise by telling how much people guessed and how much Olive said was a norm. Let us just conclude that they were a lot different.

    The idea is that as you go through life you pick up other people's energy and you give away your own. If the energy is not yours it is not a lot of good to you and cannot be used effectively. You pick up other people's energy if you are a therapist. You pick up other people's energy if you are in a situation where there is an abundance of an energy you are sensitive to. Olive told us a story of visiting a war museum and being assaulted by a wall of energy which did not affect her husband.

    The trick is seems is to dump energy and replenish it from an energy source which you can imagine to be a glowing ball above your head.

    We were told to imagine our body energy system as a set of christmas tree lights - if one light is damaged the energy will not flow past it to the others later in the system. This is a metaphor for meridians and chakras. Quite a neat one actually. It is also a limiting belief unfortunately.

    There are a number of things, according to Olive, that damage our energy systems. Medical procedures and operations are among them. Indeed this is how Olive found her way to this therapy model. Suffering a sort of chronic fatigue syndrome she encountered Art Giser and learned this technique which turned her life around.

    She was a health worker and continues in this role as a health, wellness and energy coach.

    A person in the room asked how long it takes to restore energy flow after an operation. She was told perhaps never. Me and Not Me exchanged worried looks, on the metaphorical plane of course. It was explained that with Olive's help energy flow was guaranteed to be restored.

    We were walked through a visualisation of a very strong magnet which resides at the bottom of a very deep lake or body of water. Our negative energy was sucked down to the magnet, cleansed and released for use by the earth. New energy was called to fill the vacuum in us from a golden ball above our head or a source deep beneath it.

    I kept thinking that this was a no-win-no-fee metaphor since it is actually a fact that all energy on this planet originates or has originated from a golden ball above our head called the sun or from the geothermal energy from the core of the earth.

    I do not think that is what Olive had in mind, although I could be wrong.


    This was an interesting session even though it was a flavoured by a kind of fervour and belief system. I was alarmed at the installation of limiting beliefs around recovery and healing and the idea that other people's energy is somehow damaging to us. It contradicts many things I have discovered for myself. An example would be the practice of Tai Chi and the wonderful effects of shared enthusiasm and energy. Another would be the wonderful way I feel both giving and receiving therapeutic massage or how meeting the right friends can make you feel on top of the world and full of energy.

    I notice from the advertising handout material that this technique is used to help people with ME. In that, I find a lot of virtue. From a purely NLP perspective, visualising used energy being removed, washed and recycled and fresh new energy running into a person with this condition sounds like a good idea.

    I also subscribe to the idea that we still have a lot to learn about the healing power of the body and the part the mind plays in that. The key is that we have a lot to learn. Ideas as proposed by Olive and later that day by Art Giser, are a bit uncomfortable to me as they tend towards a single truth or one true view of the world perspective. If you have read any of my writings you will know that this is a call to arms for me.

    Add to this that I felt that this was a sales pitch by the end. This impression was compounded when one of the delegates asked for a copy of the technique and was refused.

    I like to leave on a positive not so I will say again that I have friends with ME and chronic fatigue syndrome. I will suggest they try some of the techniques I learned from this session and from the later session with Art Giser.

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    Energetic NLP - by Art Giser

    The pitch:

    "Everyone was born with the ability to see, hear, feel, and transform the human energetic system. It is only a matter of clearing the unconscious and energetic blocks that stop you, and then opening and strengthening your natural abilities. In this workshop you will not only learn concepts and principles of Energetic NLP, you will learn powerful techniques that you can put into use immediately."
    As a friend said later, the talk of energy and energetic systems should have warned you off. Unfortunately Not Me was being allowed to drive and while Me would have skipped merrily over to Lisa Wake's talk on Assessing clients for coaching Not Me insisted that we must do the uncomfortable thing and hear Mr Giser out with an open mind.

    Art Giser is an engaging and thoroughly pleasant man. I liked him on sight and even more when he started to talk. He had written on his flip chart "Who is running your life?".

    He started by asking us to imagine someone we really trusted and now to imagine that this was a whole room full of that person. Nice.

    He told the old story of the six blind men and the elephant, set up a bulls eye metaphor and told us all to pretend to be 5.

    He asked us to be open minded but not to believe anything he said. Hmmmm.

    Some quotes I took down "Energy will follow thought. Think about energy and it will flow."
    "You evolved to work with the energy field around you."

    He appeared to be talking about gravity and electro magnetism and mentioned them by name. So far I was going along with it. Even when he started to talk about the electro magnetic fields of other people's bodies I was there, thinking about articles I had been reading and thought experiments of my own.

    "Energy contains information."

    Followed by an excellent example of wi-fi and mobile phone.

    Art had us creating a purple cave of amethyst to protect ourselves from outside energy and protect the outside from all the energy we would be releasing. A fine metaphor, I was thinking.

    Then he had to go and start talking about channelling spirits. Apparently Art's latent power was awakened by a visit to a party where there was a spirit channeller who repeated back Art's deepest darkest secret to him which he had told to nobody then and nobody since.

    There followed years studying under said spirit channeller. Musha musha, as me granny would say, more to be pitied than laughed at.

    He asked people to have a guess at their energy level. People started off with 60% and Art looked at them with a shrewd look as if reading the meter under the stairs. "No, you are about 3".etc. Amazingly the people in the room started to get closer estimates after a few readings from Art.

    As with Olive the exercises were good. Art had more magnets in front, behind above and below.

    We were asked to visualise a drop of our energy and tell Art about it. This resulted in a plethora of teardrop images, diamonds, quartz, (whiskey in my case) and liquids of all sorts. This so amazed Art he declared he had never had that teardrop image ever before. Had I not been a student of hypnotic language I might just have been impressed. Imaging our essence followed.

    Three people in one row had the same images of quartz and diamond and it was declared to be energy sharing. There was a lot of emotion in the room already when Art invited us to think of our mother's essence. One gent broke down when realising that his mothers essence was so different from how he had imagined her to be. The images and metaphors got artistic and clever as people found it important to show Art just how special they were. Me had retreated compassionately to a safe corner before the aura washing started. We all took our bodies apart, metaphorically, and washed them under an energy waterfall. Not Me joined Me for one more verse of a grand old Girshwin hit sitting up on the amathyst.

    The last note I have in my notebook is "Regardless of what I think, this is a good metaphor. To say hello to a person's essence rather than their appearance or behaviour is constructive and resourceful." This came from Art saying that we had to learn to say hello to each others essences.


    During one of the exercises we were told to throw away any images we did not want, to put them in a computer recycle bin to be deleted. Art then displayed that he does not know how computers work by telling us that when something is put in the waste paper basket that portion of the disk is cleaned so that it can be reused. I felt like a right nerd knowing that when something is put in the recycle bin it is just marked as being in the recycle bin. When the recycle bin is emptied only the identifier (or the pointer in the File Allocation Table) is deleted. The space is flagged as available. The information stays on the disk until the space is reused. It is written over. There is no cleaning process. I wonder if that is what really happens to people. Do we just reuse resources as and when we need them. Have we evolved an automatic system that does not need us to consciously clean our energy, or in the case of Olive, break off mid sentence to clean her energy. Do we automatically just direct resource toward high priority processing. I usually find a good nights sleep or a change of activity resets my energy levels to optimum.

    My own overview is that this is okay as a metaphor to help people let go of stress, worry, guilt, anger and all those things that limit us. I am not so sure at all about the belief system and fear of so called negative energy that goes with it. Sounds like the basis of a phobia to me.

    It is pretty obvious that I thought Art was artful. My impression is that Art is a skilful NLP practitioner. I still liked him by the end of the session but I also thought he had a grand wheeze sorted out for himeself. Being able to see things no one else can endows a sort of mystical aura on a person. Most people were curious and perhaps hoping they would be the one shining beacon of pure energy that a true seer would recognise. I don't know. Anyone who tried to object was seen by Art as having a huge energy blockage in their neck. He started coughing and as this cough caught on he declared it to be a sign of energy obstructions clearing. People who felt better were getting more energy, people who felt worse had let go of other people's energy, people who felt nothing had an energy blockage. The hysterical and the excited were doing great energy work. The skeptical had a bad case of energy constipation. Only Art could see the real picture.

    Nice work if you can get it. (With apologies to Gershwin).

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    What is Ecology Anyway - By Wyatt Woodsmall

    The pitch:

    "In NLP 'ecology' is used to evaluate outcomes.Unfortunately the NLP approach to ecology is usually grossly oversimplified. This skill shop will trace the development of ecology from the biological sciences through system's theory and how this relates to its use in NLP."
    Wyatt is the masters master. This talk was not for the novice or the fluffy. Me said that I had heard Woodsmall talking before and I should go see somebody else. That was more than enough for Not Me to spring into action and take me pronto to room 2 where the great man was about to pontificate. Wyatt's wisdom takes thinking about and self application. He does not give sugar coated messages and he expects you to be able to think. He starts several levels above where most others finish.

    It was like a vitamin filled meal after eating junk food for a fortnight. My whole system had to adjust and was in a state of disbelief and confusion for the first couple of minutes while it calibrated intake to full speed ahead.

    On the whiteboard was the message "You can do whatever you want. All that you must do is accept the consequences."

    He kicked off with a Little Magi story which had so much wisdom in it for the conscious mind that one can only wonder what the unconscious learned. If you have never heard Wyatt tell a Little Magi story you have missed something rare and special. They are teaching stories of great depth and wisdom. If you have, will you for goodness sake join with me in begging him to both publish a book of them and record a disk of them for us.

    He talked about the criticisms of NLP that we work ecology rather than ethics. He then pointed out the problems of working with ethics and not ecology.

    He ran through systems thinking and the law of the minimum (in my book I refer to it as the theory of constraints).

    Here was talk of energy that was not mystical and all the more mystical for it.

    "Life binds energy to the system."
    "Stealing from the future is dangerous."
    "The question is not how much life the system will support but what will the quality of that life be"

    My physicist would be happy. Here in this room energy is the energy of physics. The resources of the planet. The resources of the person. The resources of the system, any system.

    He gave us a question about a shipwreck - which I will not spoil on him here. He let us grapple with it then he gave us some tools based on the work of Ken Wilbur, Clare Graves and himself.

    He gave us one final tool for solving the conundrum - set of 2 questions:

    1. Where do we draw the boundaries of the system?
    2. How do we trace consequences?

    He took us on a canter through Clare Graves levels.

    here is a very simplified table:

    • Beige - survivalistic
    • Purple - tribalistic
    • Red - egocentric
    • Blue - obedient to authority
    • Orange - strategic
    • Green - egalatarian
    • Yellow - systemic
    • Turquoise - holistic
    He was making the point that people and societies progress along this continuum. Many of the problems we face in todays world are because people and societies have not yet evolved enough to a level that is really concerned with consequences. He explained how people on different levels thought that the values of the other levels were immoral, insane and criminal. He told us that ecology is a Through Time process and that tells us much about why we have a planet wide ecology crisis at present. People and businesses are stuck in an In Time state and are more or less saying that the consequences will not hit on their watch so party on.

    We have a lot of social problems because in general people are not aware of consequences. We have problems with criminal recidivism Criminals are In Time and that explains recidivism because deterents do not work for In Time people. Science has gone probalistic and taken away certainty leaving huge loopholes of understanding that that the deterministic universe had previously given us.

    He told us that value is a desired outcome and that belief is the path to it. (He was using value and belief in the NLP sense).

    He talked about levels of ethics

    1. Social : you say excuse me.
    2. Moral: what ought I do?
    3. Ethical: what criteria?
    4. Post ethical: Why be ethical?
    In the Graves model morality starts at blue. Children do not reach blue until early teens therefore they can sometimes show no remorse when occasionally a minor is caught doing something dreadful.

    He moved through talking about the duty of a therapist to be willing to fire the client if what the client is doing violates the therapists ethics.

    He kept coming back to his main point that ecology is a function of systems. To be ecological you must define the system's boundary and trace consequences in the system.

    He quoted someone, I did not catch who, I think it may have been Aldous Huxley; "High ecology requires accurate prophesy."

    He talked about the requirement to be able to envision alternate pathways and how business was following military thinking into detailed planning, which provides a strait jacket.

    Outcomes require an evidence procedure. You need to have indicators of alternative outcomes in place.

    The harder you push the system the harder it pushes back.

    He talked about Virginia Satir and how she looked at the system of the family not just the individual.

    His conclusion was that both ecology and ethics are required. Either on its own is just half the story and will continue to drag NLP into disrepute. We must be system thinkers and we must always ask those questions:

    • Where are the real boundaries of this system?
    • How do I trace consequence?


    Woodsmall is indeed a deep thinker. A sentence or two from him are worth many others talking for weeks on end which is why I have not cluttered the above with my opinions. There are enough ideas there to keep most people busy for quite a while. I wish I had taken more notes but I was too busy listening. These notes do not do the talk justice.

    I know Wyatt has read my book and I would like to think that in what I wrote there he finds an ally in his ongoing quest to rescue NLP from fuzzy thinking and the purveyors of fairies, angels and rainbows.

    I agree with him on just about everything he said and I agree that it must be said, resaid and then repeated by all those who understand it. The study of consequence is what will differentiate the good from the truly excellent in NLP and in everything else. My training as a systems analyst and programmer makes this grist to my mill. My hat is off to Wyatt and I wish him well. They say the definition of a sound man is one who says what you are thinking - Wyatt is a 'sound' man. Sound like a rock.

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    Selling with NLP surgery - by Bill Robinson

    The pitch:

    "Selling with NLP surgery."

    Things about marketing and selling rarely turn me on. Not Me decided this was just the opportunity to learn something and learn something I did.

    This was a fairly informal gathering and Bill still managed to pack a lot of ideas in.

    "To be effective you need to operate in the client's mind."

    I was immediately interested. He began by telling us that most people have a stereotype Salesman in mind but that the stereotype is inaccurate.

    Truly good salesmen are not oily oiks trying to beat you over the head to make you buy something you don't want. Truly good salesmen find out what you want/need and give it to you.

    He said that they need to be aware of two distinctions:

    1. Needs: immediately apparent
    2. Deficiency: A need you are unaware of
    The question to as as a sales person is:
    "What do people need? Where is the centre of discontent?"

    Benefits are what people want. Sales people need to ask very good questions to find this out.

    There are, Bill told us, two schools of thought.

    School one:

    It is a numbers game. For every hundred people we pitch to we will sell to two. So get lots and lots of people to pitch to.

    It is soul destroying and a waste of resource.

    School two:

    Get in front of the people who want to buy from you. This is called high probability selling. He quoted a book by Chet Holmes called Ultimate Sales Machine.

    At any given time only 3% of the population is looking for your product and 7% could be persuaded to buy it. 90% is just not interested.

    You eliminate by asking questions. You do a lot of perceptual positioning.

    He said that sales are rarely about price. Procurement managers are trained to make you think it is.

    The secret of working with a big organisation: Try to understand how they work - especially if they don't. Large organisations will not be talking to each other. The point of contact is not the company.


    This was an excellent and useful session. I will be seeking Bill out. He convinced me to liberate the inner salesman and that I would not be developing cravings for Porsches and Saville Row suits.

    His main message was that selling is about finding solutions for people and in that sense providing a service. I know it is hard to let go of the image of the salesman as a trickster but Bill did it for me. Selling can be ethical and in fact, if you are to believe Bill, if you want to be good at it, it must be.

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    Stone age excellence for a modern world - by Greg Laws

    The pitch:

    "Step back In Time, way back to the Stone Age. We present the results of two years of research from our Master Practitioner courses into the livelihood strategies of Stone Age people from the Kalahari Desert in Africa."

    I decided to give me a treat and go to something that just simply attracted me. Since reading Laurence Van Der Post (Although he is no longer considered to be the sage he once was) I have been fascinated by the Kalahari Bushmen. I think they have a great deal right that we have confused and I wanted to have this view ratified.

    Greg is an environmentalist and social ecologist. He is immediately likeable and unstuffy.

    He said the bushmen had the easiest living on the planet. Their world is one of limited wants and unlimited resource.

    For the bushmen god is in the world. God is nature. Their ancestors are still around - death is just a different state.

    They think our science is suspect. We don't understand something so we make up a lie. Greg says that they know a huge amount about their environment and that they deal in facts.

    The bushmen are in-time. They are probably more advanced on the graves scale than most people in the western world.

    Greg offered the opinion that the story of Adam and Eve is a metaphor for the end of the hunter gatherer way of life. The apple represents possessions. Cain was a tiller of the ground and Able was a herder of sheep. Cain killed Able over a disagreement over how possessions should be handled.

    When the bushmen hunt they run with the Kudu (Antelope) for hours until they become the Kudu. Then they tell it to stop. They tell it that it has been given to them by nature and when they kill it they follow respectful ceremony.

    They have stong communities of children and elders who are well looked after. They never discipline their children yet have intelligent and well behaved children.

    He said that for the bushmen love holds the world together. They see everything as an expression of love.


    This talk contained fascinating ideas but started to go down the exercise route and and into pretty basic stuff. I just wanted to hear about the bushmen and what NLP had made of them from someone who had something to say. When Greg threw the room open for opinion after only 30 minutes I decided to leave rather than sit and listen to uninformed opinions. I was tired and Greg, although a charming man, needs a bit more practice at speaking. I felt like standing up and telling him to trust himself a bit more. He had a wonderful subject and an engaging personality but he was telling us about the mechanics of his talk. He continued to explain logical levels, modelling, spiral dynamics and Graves and Maslow rather than the subject of the talk itself. Perhaps there were people there who needed these things explained but the slot had been advertised as requiring some knowledge of NLP.

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    Engaging change in organisations - by Sarah Frossell

    The pitch:

    "Organisations going through change need to make things happen quickly and effectively. We are in a world where the only constant seems to be change, where living with, enjoying and grasping the opportunities that come from living with change and ambiguity have become a core competence for anyone in a leadership role."
    This was the end of the day and I was interested in what Sarah might have to say. This is my area of expertise after all. To my very great annoyance I had no more than sat down when she decided to take a poll on what people wanted and it was tending toward some self discovery exercise. I made a mumbled excuse and left. There are times for naval gazing and polling opinions from the informed, uninformed, trenchant and expansive. This was not one for me, I wanted to hear an expert talking about something they knew about. I had come to hear Sarah not hear her gather material from her audience.

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    An introduction to photo reading - by Michael Carroll

    The pitch:

    "PhotoReading is the fastest way to read anything. With PhotoReading you can accelerate your reading to amazingly fast speeds and have increased recall. This may sound outlandish, fantastic or even a bit weird, yet thousands of people have dramatically changed the way they read by learning to PhotoRead."

    I escaped down the hall to the nearest plausible sounding thing. I whispered my way into the back row. I listened with mounting disbelief.

    I was shocked. This was an outright plug for training. In my opinion what Michael was doing was a pattern I had seen throughout the weekend and was getting tired of. Some people try to introduce limiting beliefs in order to unveil their product as the panacea. I am sure that when Bill Robinson was talking about finding out what they want and giving it to them he was not suggesting that you tell them what to want then give it to them.

    I lasted about 15 minutes of being told I had limiting beliefs around my reading that had been installed "like this" at school. Then I ran out into the night. It felt like the end of Catch 22.
    "Jump, Yossarian, jump. So Yossarian jumped."