Your Career Survival ToolKit

“Being able to learn faster than your competitors is the only sustainable competitive advantage.” Arie de Geus

The world of careers has changed completely. The idea of a job for life or even a career for life ended a long time ago, but right now even bigger changes are taking place. In this post ‘economic crisis’ world of fast evolving technology you need much more than the normal skill set to survive and develop in business. You need the skills and strategies that give you the edge over your competitors.

You need a career survival toolkit!

What Is NLP and How Can It Help You?

NLP is so often sold as either some wishy washy self help “think good thoughts!’ type training or as an alternative therapy. In actual fact it is so much more than that, with its roots in cybernetics, systems thinking and cognitive psychology, it offers some of the most pragmatic skills and strategies available to improve your thinking.

It gives you the essential toolkit you need to survive in the modern business world.

Increase Productivity, Focus and Flow

The management consultancy firm McKinsey found that executives in “flow state” – often called the “Zone”, where you have increased awareness, focus and speed of thinking – are five times more effective than their peers. NLP looks at your mental state and teaches you to control and change you state at will.

Vastly improve Your Critical Thinking and Problem Solving Skills

Thinking, in particularly critical thinking, could be simply described as a process of asking yourself and answering questions. To get a better answer, you need a better question. NLP gives you better questions.

Speed Up and Improve Decisions Making

“Intuition is recognition” – NN Taleb

By clarifying purpose and helping you understand what drives your decision making, including your cognitive biases, NLP can help you develop your intuition. This means you will making faster, more accurate decisions that will lead the greater success.

Accelerate Your Learning and Skills Acquisition

NLP was never a therapy, it was a teaching tool. It looked at ways to help people learn better behaviours and thought processes. These ideas have been applied directly to education and developed such things as the “NLP Spelling Strategy” and can be used to help you accelerate your learning ability.

It allows you to “model” people who have excellent skills and abilities and learn those skills yourself.

This is the closest you will get “uploading” skills, like in the Matrix.

Improve Your Creativity and Lateral Thinking

NLP has modelled such geniuses as Walt Disney, Nikola Tesla and Mozart, and uncovered the structure of creativity. By applying these strategies you can think of new solutions and create brand new, better ways of doing things. It will also, if you so wish, improve such creative skills as painting, musicianship, etc.

Make You a Much Better Communicator, Compelling Speaker, Persuader and Negotiator

Two of the most powerful models in NLP are communication models. They will help you ask better questions, create more compelling persuasive arguments and help you gain rapport quickly and with more people.

It is not surprising then that a recent survey suggested that up to 75% of Bluechip companies are looking for NLP as core competency in their staff.

Partners and Clients Logos No Header

NLP training has been carried out by Barclays Bank, British Gas, nPower, Jaguar Land Rover, Johnson Controls, House of Frazer, John Lewis, Severn Trent Water, Natural England and the NHS to name just a few.

How Do I Get This Toolkit?

The best way to learn NLP is by attending an NLP Practitioner training course. To see my upcoming dates, click here.

I have been re-reading “Neurolinguistic Programming v. 1” recently (I tend to go round in circles and take the time to revisit and revise my NLP skills on a regular basis), this has rekindled my interest in cybernetics and systems theory. NLP did not spring fully formed out of nowhere and one of it’s major influences, particularly on the strategies of NLP, was the cybernetic theories of Gregory Bateson, Stafford Beers and William Ross Ashby.

Ross Ashby, in his seminal book “An Introduction to Cybernetics” introduces one of the fundamentals of cybernetic thinking “The Law of Requisite Variety”.

The Law of Requisite Variety states:

The larger the variety of actions available to a control system, the larger the variety of perturbations [changes or alterations] it is able to compensate.

It is oft quoted but rarely understood, so here is my attempt to help you understand it and, most importantly, put it to practical use.

What is The Law of Requisite Variety and Why is it Important?

In its most basic of interpretations, on a behavioural level, the Law of Requisite Variety states that the person with the most variety in a system will control the system. I am sure you have noticed that, no matter what field you are in, the top people are those that have the most flexibility in their behaviour (one of Dilts’ Four Pillars of NLP). They seem to have an ability to react and respond to differing situations easily and take everything in their stride.

Practicing Strategies with The Law of Requisite Variety

To embed an NLP strategy (a skill) you need to have repeated the process enough times, with enough variety to be able to apply it to different situations, context, frames and stimulus. To give yourself requisite variety and flexibility in your behaviour. Many of the mental strategies people use, because they share the same form, can be used in variety of situations; the process you go about to get yourself up in the morning can be used to motivate yourself to do just about anything. Yet people rarely generalise useful strategies in this way.

How can you create the desired flexibility?

Malcolm Gladwell, in his book “Outliers: The Story of Success“, states that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to get effective at a skill or process. I don’t think 10,000 is the absolute rule, it is more a guide, a metaphor, for doing it LOTS of times!

Not just doing it lots of times, but to vary the way in which you do it to build variety and flexibility into the strategy. Take for example a footballer (soccer player for any American’s reading!) who practices day after day to kick the ball into the same place in the goal from the same spot on the field. They would build an excellent strategy, but that strategy would become useless if he had to strike from an alternative spot or aim for an alternative target. Compare that with the footballer who practices every day to strike the goal from different locations, at different distances and angles. Who has most variety? Who would be the better footballer in general terms?

When doing strategy instillation it is essential to build enough variety into the process to allow the person to start to generalise that new thought process or skill across as wide a range of contexts and frames as possible. That, simply, is the Law of Requisite Variety.

In my previous post here I spoke about the “7 steps to be excellent at anything”, which I hope you found useful to achieve your goals.

The step I didn’t mention at the time and the one that is really is key to make sure you succeed is:

keep it simple…

In my experience, whether you are setting up a business, learning a new skill, doing a therapeutic or business intervention, or anything else, the people who succeed are the people who keep the plan simple and then work very hard at it. The people who are excellent at NLP are the ones who study the basics and get very good at them. Some of the best musicians I know do basic chord work every day for hours on end…

“it can’t be that easy?”

Often when you start something (and I am very, very guilty of this, so I speak from experience!) you think it must be complicated or hard to do, so you start to overcomplicate your plan, get it more and more detailed and harder and harder to achieve, until you are in such a mess you don’t know what you are doing or where to start.

This is when I apply what I like to call the “Ramsay Strategy”. Let me explain, do you ever watch “Kitchen Nightmares”, where the chief Gordon Ramsay goes into failing restaurants and shouts at them? Well, in every single episode I have seen, all the restaurants I have seen are doing exactly the same thing: Too much! They have overcomplicated menus, lavish seating arrangements, everything. The first thing Gordon (or Chef) Ramsay does is cut everything back to the bare minimum.

what absolutely has to be there?

To steal a quote from Michael Breen “we are not doing grand operatic interventions, we are not putting on a production of Aida with a choir of 50 elephants”, ask yourself “what absolutely has to be there for this process to work?”

the 80/20 rule

One of the most powerful principles of productivity is something known as the Perato Principle, which states “80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes”. Find what 20% is working for you and focus on that alone and cut out the 80% that isn’t yielding you the results you want.


When we want to achieve something we are often, understandably, anxious to get there, we have a tendency to rush and do too much at once time, this often means we don’t do anything properly and get overwhelmed.

Before you even start doing anything, you need to organise and priorities and do one thing at a time, until you complete it or are proficient at it. It may seem a bit dull, but you need to do it.

The reason most people fail to succeed is because they get bored, jump around and over-complicate things. Keep it simple, keep it focused, remain motivated and tenacious.