Success is in the mind

Know a successful person? Well, the best thing you can do is key into their mindset and copy them, writes Anne Fuller-Good
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The Independent Online
WE HAVE all met people who seem to achieve what they want. They have wonderful careers, get promoted easily, are slim, rich and have caring relationships. They are well liked and seem to live charmed lives.

But what is it that helps one person develop a successful and loving relationship with a partner, or another maintain a slim figure, or yet another achieve success and enjoyment while participating in a sport? In the work environment how is it that one salesperson consistently exceeds target, while another seems to have difficulties simply getting started?

The answer is that people who achieve success consistently not only use the skills or external behaviours that produce results, but also hold a set of beliefs and values that ensure this success happens. These beliefs support the outcomes to be achieved so that a person's identity seems almost to be linked with the results that he or she is achieving.

Take a person - let's call her Jane - who wanted to live a life of happiness, free from illness. She had spent years grappling with clinical depression. Most of the time, if she took her anti-depressants, Jane found she felt pessimistic. Occasionally, her depression became a clinical illness. At this point, she would avoid the people around her, have difficulty sleeping, eating and concentrating, and find that her job and personal life became filled with almost insurmountable obstacles.

When Jane approached us, she wanted to create her vision that her life could be filled with freedom and joy. Using the idea that it is possible to "blueprint" the essence of another person's experience and transfer this blueprint, we talked to people who seemed to live with the feelings of freedom and joy. From each of these hour-long modelling sessions, we created a single blueprint that contained a model of the beliefs, values, strategies and emotions that seemed to result in joy-filled lives. Finally, using change and counselling techniques, we helped Jane to adopt the blueprint. The results have been spectacular. She told us she feels more positive about herself and her life. She finds it easier to laugh and socialise, and has a new sense of freedom about making decisions. Using that blueprint she was able to take on a whole new way of being.

You might be wondering how this kind of change works: Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) offers one answer. Sometimes called the psychology of excellence, NLP is the study of how language, both verbal and non-verbal, affects our nervous system. Our ability to do anything in life, whether it be playing a great game of tennis, giving an inspiring speech or simply reading these words, is based on our ability to control our nervous system by communicating to and through it.

Richard Bandler and John Grinder, who undertook to model people who were successful communicators, developed NLP in the 1970s. It is a science that studies how people are able to communicate with themselves to produce optimal results and the greatest number of behavioural choices. It offers us a framework for managing our own brain in an optimal way, to produce the results we desire. As a result, NLP's tools and tech- niques enable us to create powerful changes for others and ourselves.

One of the presuppositions of NLP is that we all have the same neurology. It follows then, that if someone is able to do something, anyone can. They simply need to manage their neurophysiology in the same way, to get the same results.

Leaders and gurus are professional modellers. They have mastered the art of learning everything they can from other people's experience. They have also mastered the art of integrating this learning into their own way of doing things. Most modelling, however, focuses on the external behaviour and skills being demonstrated. It is successful if the modeller holds similar beliefs and strategies to the exemplar or person being modelled.

Our group, Focus, has adapted NLP's modelling techniques and created a new approach called "Blueprinting Excellence". It enables anyone to take an area of focus and seek out people who demonstrate mastery of the skills, behaviours and internal strategies. Once the blueprint has been created, it is easily adopted by anyone wishing to duplicate the results. This has implications for people wanting to acquire excellence.

Consider the story of a salesperson, Jim, who used Blueprinting Excellence as a way of increasing his sales results, his income and his self-confidence. Jim was offered a position as salesperson for a large entertainment organisation. This fulfilled a long-held dream that he could move from a customer service role into a sales position, where his pay packet would reflect his ability and hard work.

It soon became clear as we talked that Jim had all the required skills. It was his beliefs, values and emotions that were getting in the way. The strongest of these was his feeling that he was subservient or inferior to his clients. He found he was battling with deep-seated insecurities at sales meetings.

He had difficulties around having money. When we probed, it became clear that to him this meant he had to take responsibility for himself and his life. Jim began to realise that this was the issue that prevented him closing sales. He would often sabotage himself by not calling the client after the first meeting.

We worked to help him adopt a blueprint that involved some fundamental belief changes. Jim learned he is operating on a level playing field, where he and his clients are equal in all respects except that Jim has the product and industry knowledge his clients need. This new belief enabled him to ask questions so he knew what his clients needed from him, and to offer information clearly and with considerable confidence.

We helped Jim to understand more about his own sense of self-worth and how this impacts on his ability to earn money by closing the sale. He developed the new belief that he is worthy of earning and having money. As a result he is improving his meeting-to-sale ratio. The result is success and recognition for him and his firm.

These results obtained through "Blueprinting Excellence" have a great deal of significance. They show that it is possible to ensure a person develops not only the skills they need to achieve a result, but also the beliefs, values and identity that will support the change and ensure it is applied over the long term.

Anne Fuller-Good is an NLP master practitioner and co-founder of Focus Group, a company that provides a range of management and team solutions.

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