NLP a Revolution or a Disruptive Technology?

It’s funny, when I first began NLP, hardly anyone to whom I had spoken to had heard about it. Yet 15 years on and nearly everyone I speak to has either heard about it, been on a course, read something or knows someone who’s done it. The only common factor between today and all those years ago is that people still call it something else i.e. NPL or MLP and still can’t say the acronym (neuro-linguistic-programming)!

“A Cult I said, it’s a Cult”

For something that during my time was seen as a cult, connections to some form of neo-religion, pop-psychology and brain washing, it has not only stood the test of time but become popular and is just now entering the consumerist level.

So do we assume that for something to become popular it must have a bad name, be difficult to spell and pronounce and be related to some cultish movement?
Let’s put it into some perspective, many achievements have started in a similar way; there is a pattern to their success. What appears (and I use this term loosely and with the ambiguity implied) for something to be a success or a great achievement that the start seems at first to be greeted by the masses with absolute scepticism and distrust. Only a handful of people (the early adopters and mavericks) will see something of value to their needs, and they too, will be branded by the masses. “The outcasts have stepped forward!”

Adoption and then wider acceptance to everyday use goes through this cycle of distrust, dislike and scepticism to consideration then adoption by the masses. The minority is now in the camp of dislike, distrust and are sceptical to the value offered.

Nothing to Hero – or were they?

To illustrate this, think in terms of some now famous bands or musicians, like Queen, David Bowie, Madonna, The Spice Girls, go back even as far as Amadeus Mozart. The pattern is similar. I am sure you can think of other examples. Look into business, early adoption was slow with Microsoft’s DoS product and only really became successful after the Windows 95 Launch (windows 3.1 was still successful but not as much as 95). Their original product was not considered to be useful or relevant outside of the business market – International Business Machines ‘IBM’ to whom it was originally made for.

The interesting point here is, at what point does a product, service, technology piece of entertainment etc reach critical mass and become popular? In NLP this is what we look for to change behaviours. In fact this is also what happens when behaviours do change. There is a point where the mass becomes critical and the behaviour switches and changes.

Change is simple – Reach a Threshold

Naturalistic examples of this are when someone who smokes or drinks is finally given a warning by their GP that they will now have some v.serious problem if they continue from this day forward, and that’s why so many people decide to stop smoking. Or if they are a little too late, some other warning has taken place, heart attack, stroke etc that has now forced them, (the critical mass has been reached) to change.

People talk about Disruptive Technology, that is a technology that disrupts, imbalances the current trend, way of thinking, modus operandi. That this new technology provides a new way forward, to achieve better, greater results, faster with more value than before. That this is not evolution but revolution.

And it is probably from here that the reasons some things are harder to adopt are because they are perceived as revolutionary and not evolutionary.

Organic food is not a new invention – but is perceived to be

Evolutionary trends occur as a natural result of an organic process over time, whereas revolution appears to have just happened in the here and now. What punctuates the two is ‘time’.

The TV was and is still considered to be revolutionary, yet in fact if we take the ‘time’ continuum further back, the TV was a natural by-product of various investigations into the field of electromagnetism over at least 100 years.

The car, the same, over quite some time from our beloved horse and cart to the steam engine to petrol engines. These products evolved through time. The revolutions were the moments of intense creativity where the solution to the problem occurred – only because – other factors, creations were there already that allowed the solution to arrive. The car could not exist without the invention of the wheel, or the understanding of how pressure can drive pistons. Bohemian Rhapsody would not exist without their being classical and country music. Evolution happens. Revolution is a slice of evolution.

History has a way of making things…un-original

NLP followed the same path. It could not have happened without many of its predecessors work in Systems Thinking, Artificial Intelligence, Transformational Grammar, Behaviourism, Family systems and therapy, Hypnosis etc.

What made it revolutionary was just a change in question – Why to How. Yet it is still an evolution of many different disciplines. And yes, it was and still is a disruptive technology that will remain in the annals of changing the way we think about ourselves and the way we think about how we think.

It is interesting to know at what point does a disruptive technology become or start to become accepted. This is when it starts to move from adolescence to maturity. It is at this stage of maturity we see wider adoption because it has gone and been through the testing process and trials by fire, where its success is the handing of the keys to the later adopters.

It will mature like a good wine: On its own

So with all these years later I still wonder at the changes people get from having spent time on our courses and also the fact that they sometimes like myself mispronounce the name. So it’s not all about whether you can pronounce something or not that will make it a success it’s about understanding whether what you have is a disruptive technology and if so, how will you get it to maturity? What else needs to be there to do this? Who are the early adopters?

Because it’s when we think in terms of ‘when’ rather than ‘if’, that our ideas come alive and take shape.

But to get here, a technology, science, piece of music must go through the iterations of impurity and rawness to arrive at the time when it learns elegance. It is at this point of elegance where maturity is taking place and wider adoption sets in.

This is what we do on our NLP Programmes; we provide a context where the mass effect of learning propels people across the threshold to change and where elegance and mastery come through time. Our programmes are unique, we don’t teach NLP or NLP techniques, we let people learn the artistry of themselves and how to apply these new skills into their lives. NLP is the frame and backdrop to learning something much larger and more elegant.

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