By Gerry Murray. 08-11-2020
(Scroll down for a laugh)

"In times of upheaval, people wish for nothing more than composure and sincerity.” ~ Martin Schulz

Last week I wrote about the challenges of having only one way of interpreting the world and how this can lead to polarisation. As I write this (it’s Friday) we can see this phenomenon playing out across the United States. 

However, it doesn’t take a Presidential election to create these situations in our everyday lives. So, when we’re confronted by others who seem to live at the extremes how can we process and deal with them, if walking away is not such a viable option e.g. a work colleague?

I turn back again to two more of the underlying principles of Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP). These principles form what in NLP we call pre-suppositions. They’re not necessarily true but they provide us with working assumptions that enable us to keep an open mind about people and situations. 

Everyone is doing the best they can with the resources they have available

Resources can refer to external factors such as money, time, etc but it more often than not refers to internal factors such as: skills, experiences, values, beliefs, attitudes, thinking styles, etc… all things that make up our model or map of the world. 

Therefore, if I have a narrow range of resources (a limited map) I will tend to draw on these to address all situations. And, they may or may not work. As Abraham Maslow once said: “If I only have a hammer, I treat all problems as though they were a nail.”

Flexibility and versatility become very useful in this regard. Indeed, the Harrison Assessments Paradox tools that I work with enable clients to see their versatility and to identify areas for improvement that may be impacting their work. It’s just one way to do this but having awareness of what’s working and what’s not working is better than not having awareness. 

So, rather than wonder about how could this other person think or behave in a certain way, it’s more useful to perhaps see them as doing the best they can with the resources they have available to them. 

There are no unresourceful people, only unresourceful states

I have found this particular principle to be a life-saver and it’s particularly relevant in corona times. In fact, it’s the one crucial thing that most people seem to miss when they train in NLP because they get caught up in the tools and techniques.

However, it forms the essence of everything we do. If we’re not in a resourceful state then it’s very hard to produce the behaviours that produce consistent results. 

Any athlete or musician will attest to the importance of being in the zone. 

We all know people who seem perfectly capable most of the time but they then lose it for no apparent reason. It’s not the skill or capability that they’ve lost - it’s the resourceful state that’s missing. They end up in a right state instead of the right state. Some people like to call it an emotional hijack. Others call it a flip. 

Once again, having tools to help people understand how they can end up in unresourceful states is invaluable for their growth and development. 

And, learning how to manage your state is a vital skill for personal effectiveness. 

What is a state? 

You can define your state as your way of being at any given moment in time. It’ll be a combination of your feelings, emotions, thoughts and physiology. 

What can you do? 

Taking the Harrison Assessment will help you understand the patterns in your life and what triggers off unresourceful states. 

However, simply learning how to check in with yourself will pay dividends.

Any practice such as meditation, mindfulness or yoga will help you develop your general abilities in doing this. But, it all starts with your ability to stop periodically during the day and just explore what state you’re in and asking yourself a simple question such as:

“Is this the most resourceful state for what I’m doing now?” 

If the answer is no, then explore whether it’s a feeling, a thought, an emotion or something physical that’s contributing to your unresourceful state. 

Then, having tools to get yourself into a more resourceful state will get you back on track. 

Just one more thing...

And, I’ll end with a third NLP principle: 

Everyone has all the resources they need to succeed and to achieve their desired outcomes

Sometimes, we just have to find and activate them…



Some European explorers were traveling through the Amazon rainforest with some natives as guides when they started hearing drums in the distance. Puzzled the Europeans inquired, “we hear drums? What does that mean?”

The Natives answered, “When drums stop, very bad.”

Reluctantly the exploration continues. After 5 minutes the drums had started getting louder and the explorers started getting nervous. “The drums sound closer, and we think they are getting louder! What does it mean?”

The Natives answered, “When drums stop, very bad.”

Doing their best to maintain composure the Europeans kept moving. About 5 minutes later the drums abruptly stop and the explorers panic. “The drums have stopped! What should we do?!”

The Natives answered, “When drums stop, very bad, now comes bass solo.”

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