Keeping Up With the Joneses

I am often asked what I think of such and such an idea, or the latest doodads in NLP development.

My answer is that is often interesting, but I don’t really care. Any more.

Let me explain.

Up to about 3 years ago I did my very best to “keep up to date” with latest findings, theories and teachings in NLP, psychology, semantics and related fields. This involved reading books and articles, lurking around internet forums (I have a pathological hatred of actually getting involved in those infernal things), listening to audio, watching DVD’s and even (occasionally) attending courses and seminars.

(That, in itself is a full time job! And anyone that can keep up with the rate of “development” really can’t be doing much else. I am too busy actually doing stuff to keep up to date with these theories, as I will discuss in a bit.)

But what I discovered was:

1) It goes round and round circles, often “new findings” are just rewording theories from many years ago. Ideas just go in and out of fashion.

2) Most of these “theories” don’t really help me in the “real world” and are just nice stuff that may be interesting, but only useful if I want to sound clever.


3) I have a natural distrust of “theories”, “models” and “concepts” (or “ideologies” for that matter), as they are not “real”. They are just someone’s interpretation of what is “real” and, no matter how accurate the model is, it will never be “real”. I don’t want a second hand experience; I want to experience it myself.

By relying on theories or ideas to support you, you essentially become a voyeur (one step removed from “reality”) and I have noticed people who overly rely on other peoples ideas often lack the confidence to act how they think they need to in a given situation.

Make sense?

It’s the same reason I don’t like techniques (trying to force the world into your structure of how it should be is just stupid. People like techniques because that are obvious and easy to do, but the amount of times I have heard some blame something other than the technique for the technique not working hurts my head), or psychometric tests (pigeonholing people into someone else MADE UP idea of the sort of the people we may be? Personally I am highly insulted that you think you can reduce me to such generalisations).

(Maybe it is the years I have spent being involved in the Buddhist methodology?)

Has my ability to help people and organisations change suffered because I have stopped looking at the latest findings? Has my ability to teach effective NLP suffered?

I don’t think so. In fact, in some ways, it has improved, because, rather than worrying about what the latest research or theory said, or trying to fit the latest technique into what I am doing it has freed me up to notice what is actually going on, uncluttered by concepts and just act accordingly.

To paraphrase a good friend of mine:

“I do what works. I don’t give a f**k if theories say otherwise.”


PS, If you are one of those pedantic folks who like to (unnecessarily) point out generalisations, deletions and distortions, best of luck in this blog post!

Categories: NLP

About Matt Caulfield