is Neuro-linguistic Programming (NLP)?
Programming is a unique approach to learning
live in a cul-de-sac and many times we have had many children riding their
bikes, scooters, skateboards, while others played handball or tennis or
On one particular day two, preteen sisters, of one of the families that
have often visited one of our neighbors, were riding Ripsticks. A Ripstick
is a skateboard like device that has only two castor wheels that swivel
and the two ends of the stick are joined by a spring. It is different
to a skateboard in that to stay upright one must keep moving. Forward
motion on the Ripstick is achieved by moving your body and either moving
the ends of the board in opposite directions which moves the castors in
opposite directions or riding the stick like a skateboard which makes
the castors turn in the same direction.
I watched in fascination as the two girls stood upright on the sticks
and through small, opposite movements of their feet they propelled themselves
and traveled around in a large circle, over and over again, at the end
of the cul-de-sac. My eldest daughter was also watching the girls on the
Soon Christmas arrived and my brother bought my daughters Ripsticks. My
eldest daughter was soon up and Ripsticking and her movements were exactly
like the two sisters that we had observed earlier; standing upright and
propelling herself forward with small opposite movements of her feet…
no variation… and tracing exactly the same circle. Hmmm…
After Christmas we made our way up to my brother’s place on the Gold Coast.
This particular brother of mine has surfed for many years and has a lot
of skill in this sport. When he saw my daughter’s Ripsticks he quickly
hopped on one and, with only a few words of instruction from myself, who
had not even ridden one at that point in time, was soon carving his way
up the sidewalk as if he had been riding Ripsticks for years. He was surfing
the Ripstick with tight turns as his body twisted and spun in the air.
His range of body movement changed often and dramatically from almost
upright to almost squatting. What he was doing on the Ripstick was very
different to what the two sisters, whom I had originally observed, were
doing when they were riding theirs.
My eldest daughter also watched my brother on the Ripstick.
After having watched the two sisters, my daughter and then my brother
it was time for me to have a go.
I jumped on and immediately started to twist and turn my body exaggerating
every move and over-muscling all of my efforts for what seemed very small
rewards. Yes, I was moving forward and I was turning where I wanted to…
and it all seemed like it was just luck. I was doing so much and yet my
progress, my forward motion, was not anywhere near as fluid or as speedy
as my brother’s performances. For two days I over muscled all my moves
on the Ripstick and my skill level did not progress.
One evening, when we got back home after our holiday with my brother and
his family, there was a multitude of kids playing in the cul-de-sac. They
ranged in age from fours years to mid teens. My daughters brought their
Ripsticks out to play with the other children. One of the teenage girls
asked for a ride on one of the Ripsticks and proceeded to ride with the
most elegant and fluid movements that I had yet seen anyone do on a Ripstick.
Her movements were beautiful; she made it look very easy. So… I observed
her and I emulated her movements with tiny micro-muscle movements as I
watched. I kept my movements small and eschewed any attempts to understand
how she was doing what she was doing; I simply mimicked her movements.
That night I only observed and didn’t get a chance to hop on the Ripstick.
A few days later my daughters and I went out to the end of the cul-de-sac
to ride scooters and bikes and Ripsticks. I thought I would give the Ripstick
a go and hopped on expecting myself to over do it again. To my surprise
I shimmied and turned and carved my way down the cul-de-sac with an ease
and grace very similar to what I observed the young girl demonstrate only
days before. My movements were very much unconscious and when I did try
to consciously analyse what I was doing, how I was doing it, my movements
become jerky and over-muscled again. So I quieted the conscious analysis
and found the rhythm and ease again.
I stopped and picked up the Ripstick and laughed at myself. I had been
doing NLP and didn’t consciously know it.
is NLP too
a story about John Grinder, co-creator of Neuro-Linguistic Programming
(NLP) and a world-renowned communication trainer that goes as follows:
John’s daughter, at the age of about 8, asked him,
“Daddy, what is NLP?” Rather than give her a technical explanation, John
did something more practical: he gave her an experiment to try. He said:
“Go and ask Grandma (who was in the next room): ‘How’s your arthritis
today?’” John’s daughter went next door, and returned a few minutes later.
“Well”, said John, “Did you ask her?”
“Yes”, replied his daughter.
“What did she say?” asked John.
“She said it was good of me to ask, but that it was really hurting”.
“And what did you notice: how did she sound?”
“She scrunched up her face and sounded like she was in pain”.
“Go back and ask her this”, said John. “Ask: Grandma, did Daddy ever do
anything really funny when he was a little boy?” Again, John’s daughter
went next door, and returned a few minutes later, this time with a grin
on her face. John grinned in response. “Well”, said John, “did you ask
“Yes”, replied his daughter.
“What did she say this time?” asked John.
“She told me this really funny story about how silly you were when you
were little, Daddy!” replied his daughter.
“And how did she look and sound this time?”
“Oh, she was laughing and she seemed happy”.
“So, different from the first question?”
“Oh, yes, completely different”.
“That difference is NLP”.
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