NLP language patterns help us to understand that there are times when we are inspired to by our ambitions and we have a strong desire to move towards our objective.
On other occasions we feel more driven to move away from a difficult situation rather than towards a particular goal.
Use what language you will; you can never say anything but what you are
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Although those attitudes are reflected to some extent in each of us, our overall personalities tend to be governed by what is described in the NLP metal model as a “towards” or “away from” pattern.
Do you think on the whole you are a “towards” person or an “away from” person?
If you fall into the “towards” category you will see the benefit and be motivated by your goals.
You will be thinking about pleasurable activities, achieving in sport or other fields, perhaps gaining promotion or starting a business.
So you will be thinking positively. You will either know what you want, or have a good idea about it, and go about doing what is necessary to get there.
On the other hand, if you are more of an “away from” person you are likely to be on the lookout for perceived threats or challenges, you will be particularly aware of pitfalls and might have a tendency for seeking solutions.
You will be wanting to avoid disasters, challenges, crises or even difficult situations.
There is room for both points of view which can be effective in their different ways.
Listen carefully to the words that your friends, relatives and colleagues use.
Do they tell you about their dreams and what they are looking forward to achieve? Do they say things like: “I am working and saving hard for a new car” or are they more likely to remark: “I shall be glad when I don’t have to walk or take the bus any more”?
Large organisations will wish to employ people who are motivated to achieve but are also keen to avoid.
They will wish to attract upbeat, innovative, positive types who can identify what is required, will see where it is and will go directly for it.
The downside of that is there may be an inability to spot what may go wrong.
So they will also need people who can spot the obstacles, steer clear of mishaps and put the organisation in a position to avoid crises.
Of course, you wouldn’t want the “away from” people to be leading your projects because there is likely to be prevarication and delay, and decisions will be left until the absolute deadline approaches.
They will not feel there is anything to be gained by hurrying along with the job, but as the deadline looms near, they will be motivated by the problem of avoiding it.
I went to University as a mature student. I knew I wanted to obtain a good law degree in the three years available, go on to law school for the final part of the professional qualifying examinations and then to be a practising lawyer in the quickest possible time.
I had a wife and two small children to provide for, and I wished to do that in the best way and as quickly as I could.
My approach, therefore, was to pre-read the subject before lectures, to prepare for tutorials as soon as the work was assigned and to make sure I got my essays in early.
I revised through the holidays and was well-prepared for examinations. You might say, therefore, that I had a “towards” mentality.
Compare that with the students who weren’t sure why they were there yet.
Some didn’t quite know why they were reading law or what they might use the degree for when they got it.
They’d turn up to lectures seeking a good set of notes from the lecturer, but if the professor was one who expected the students to do the reading first and just talked around the subject, they were lost.
The very same students arrived ill-prepared for tutorials, got their essays in late (if at all), and were revising all through the night before the examinations. They, you might say, had an “away from” mentality.
We had a pretty good soccer team in my last year at school and we had a great coach with a towards attitude.
Come the last home game of the season we needed just a draw to win the championship title.
But the team we were playing were second in the league, needed to beat us to win the league themselves, and had inflicted our only league defeat earlier in the season when we visited them and lost by their five goals to our two.
A coach with an away from mentality would have been likely to have told us in the pre-match team talk to have shut up shop, do our best to make sure that we didn’t concede a goal and aim for a 0-0 draw. Fortunately, he wasn’t like that.
As we huddled around him before the game started he said, “You’ve had a good season but at present only one of you is in line for colours. You need a draw to win the league, but if you go out there and beat this team you will all deserve your soccer colours and you will get them.”
I remember now, all these years later, feeling fired up when I went out on to that soccer field and I could feel the same from the rest of our team. We performed better than in any other game that season and ran out 6-1 winners.
I am as proud of those soccer colours as I am of any other academic or professional qualification I have achieved in my lifetime.
Always remember that you tend to get what you concentrate on.
If you apply your mind to getting what you want, plan and apply yourself sensibly, my own view is that is a healthier state of mind.
I believe you will be happier and more successful. If you are one of those people who see only what can go wrong, you may tend to be pessimistic, suspicious and unhappy with what you perceive as your lot in life.
Is it better to board an aircraft wondering if the pilot had a good night’s sleep and is fit to fly, whether the aircraft has been properly serviced and what are the chances of survival if the aircraft crashes; or is it better to think about enjoying the journey and looking forward to having a wonderful time when you reach your destination?
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