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Archive for the ‘State Management’ Category

Lessons from the Cuckoo’s Nest

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Doug O’Brien sent me some AMAZING news: Andy Austin is coming to New York City!

IMPROV!: The Use of Improvisation and Drama in Slightly Crazy Environments

April 17th, 2009:

This introductory presentation will outline the “rules” and formula for successful and comedic improvisation.

As readers of The Rainbow Machine — Tales From a Neurolinguist’s Journal will be aware, I often like to utilize the building of humour, tension and drama into his change work sessions and rarely do I rely on any pre-set or rehearsed routines and scripts. Given my client group, often the client will bring their own drama and unique humour to the session and a high level of flexibility and responsivity is needed in such situations.

No previous acting experience is required and no one will be expected to perform in front of the group. Book early and hold on to your hats, because this will be a fun and fast paced evening.

LESSONS FROM THE CUCKOO’S NEST: Further Tales From a Neurolinguist’s Journal.

April 18 & 19th, 2009:

Working with other people’s madness isn’t always easy, and it isn’t always fun – but it can be. Psychological and emotional pain is rarely ever funny but I often question if change really needs to be serious. Far from joking at another person’s expense, during this weekend workshop you will be introduced to, and will explore, some therapeutic patterns and algorithms that I have found useful when working with challenging clientèle and serious mental illnesses.

I’ve learned a lot from Andy over the years, both in e-mail and on Usenet. Now I get to meet him and train with him. If I’m alive in April, I’ll be there!

Update: Here’s the link to sign up! There are discounts for signing up early, so go!

Written by Michael DeBusk

December 23rd, 2008 at 1:36 am

NLP ahead of its time: phobias

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Psych Central has some recent research that shows that mainstream psychology is finally catching up to thirty-year-old NLP:

According to a new study by University of Michigan psychologist Ethan Kross, the best way to move ahead emotionally is to analyze one’s feelings from a psychologically distanced perspective.

Go check out the article titled Analyze Emotions From a Distance and wonder what else we’re ahead of the curve on.

Written by Michael DeBusk

September 24th, 2008 at 6:37 pm

Failure is more than just feedback

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A little while back, BoingBoing pointed me to an article in Harvard Magazine. It’s a video and a transcript of author J. K. Rowling’s commencement address, and it’s amazing. One of my favorite parts:

…failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had already been realised, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.

Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life. I love it.

Go read The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination, and/or watch the video.

Written by Michael DeBusk

August 17th, 2008 at 3:23 pm

We’re ahead of the curve AGAIN, this time with music

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Over at the Art of Manliness blog (yes, I read it, and it’s very good!) there’s an article about how your life’s soundtrack influences your life, and how making targeted changes to it can make targeted life changes. (Richard has been touting that for ages.)

OK, it’s not that general. That wouldn’t be suitably manly, I think. It’s specific to exercise. We’re good at extrapolating from a good idea, though.

Go give 52 Workout Songs To Help You Get Bigger, Stronger, and Faster a serious read.

Written by Michael DeBusk

August 6th, 2008 at 12:53 pm


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If you aren’t a member of NLP Connections, you’re missing a great thread on forgiveness.

I’m just sayin’.

Written by Michael DeBusk

July 30th, 2008 at 3:11 am

How to Be a Rule-Breaker

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Dustin Wax over at has written another spot-on article, this time on the five rules for breaking the rules:

  • Break the rules as a last resort;
  • Rule-breaking gains its power from the strength of rules, not their weakness;
  • For every broken rule there are a dozen unbroken ones;
  • For every broken rule, there is a reason;and
  • Accept the consequences.

I must admit that I’ve followed these rules quite a bit in my life, and it’s worked consistently well for me.

How to Break All the Rules (

Written by Michael DeBusk

May 26th, 2008 at 2:51 pm

The War on Optimism

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It’s a small, private war. I sometimes think I’m the only one fighting it.

I think the assumption that “everything will work out for the best” is delusional. Optimists ignore the things that are going poorly rather than dealing with them, so as to perpetuate their delusion.

Keep in mind that I hold the same sort of opinion of pessimism. Pessimists ignore what is going well, thus failing to build on success. I don’t fight a war on pessimism because most of Western culture already does that:

P: “Keep sailing toward that waterfall and we’ll all die!”
W: “Oh, stop being so negative!”

Each side has advantages. For example, optimists keep going in the face of adversity, and they therefore win more often; pessimists give up too soon. Pessimists tend to be right more often, and when they’re wrong they get to be pleasantly surprised rather than disappointed.

It’s fortunate for me, since I disagree with both, that they aren’t the only two available options. It’s possible to take the strengths from each while leaving their weaknesses behind. I’ve taken to calling it “paying attention,” but I’m sure there’s a more interesting label. Take this excerpt from John Morgan’s recent article, If It Could Only Be Like It Never Was:

Each time you pretend the dirty clothes aren’t there, the pile gets bigger until you have a dreaded mountain of clothes to wash. If you wash clothes every day, you’ll never have a pile bigger than your perceptions can handle. The same is true for life’s dirty clothes. They do exist and they need to be acknowledged. When we practice washing them on a regular basis, the quicker they wind up in the clean pile.

(Thanks for the tip to that article, T.)

My personal hero in this arena is my old friend Quentin Grady. Few have gone through, and responded thoroughly to, the adversity he’s faced while maintaining a determination to bring out the good in himself and in others. I aspire to be like him in that aspect, and I love the guy. In a manly, macho, we-play-on-the-same-rugby-team sort of way, of course.

So… hope for the best and prepare for the worst. Pray to God and row away from the rocks. Build on success and mitigate losses. You can choose both.

Written by Michael DeBusk

May 19th, 2008 at 12:34 pm

Being a good customer

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As it came to be my turn in line at the grocery store today, the cashier gave me The Standard Greeting (“Hello, how are you…” delivered in a lifeless monotone and with eyes down) and I responded as if she’d really meant it.

“I’m good! How are you doing?!” I said.

When she sneaked a slightly-off-balance look to make sure of me, I met her eyes with an expression that sincerely invited her to come on over and play in my sandbox. (Thanks, Jonathan Altfeld, for that frame!)

It was a tiny and fleeting grin she gave me, but I felt like I’d won a prize. 🙂

Written by Michael DeBusk

March 25th, 2008 at 11:30 pm

Emotional states and decision-making

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Jennifer Lerner of the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University heads up their Laboratory for Decision Science.

A recent interview with Ms. Lerner outlines her research on the effects that different emotional states (specifically, fear versus anger) have on the making of decisions:

We hypothesized that fear and anger would actually have opposing effects on people’s risk perceptions. In particular, we predicted that fear would lead to a pessimistic outlook, while anger would lead to an optimistic outlook when it came to risk perception.

In our early laboratory studies, we found that experimentally induced fear and anger did indeed have these opposite effects on risk perception.

Read the interview: Jennifer Lerner on Emotion, Judgment and Public Policy

(Hat tip to Security guru Bruce Schneier)

Written by Michael DeBusk

March 23rd, 2008 at 3:07 pm

Better Focus and Concentration

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By way of Lifehacker I found a really cool article on how to exercise your mind:

You can find strong powers of concentration in yourself. When you are decisive and sincerely want to excel in your studies, pass an important exam, or playing one of your favorite games; the power of concentration becomes available to you. This kind of concentration is raised because of some need, or desire. Increasing it in a systematic way, brings it under your control, and grants you the ability to use it easily, with no exertion whenever you need it. Real and good concentration is developed slowly, through daily work, and with special exercises. It has to be approached in a reasonable and practical way.

Read more at the EgoDevelopment blog, and see also my recent reference to a great DVD on the subject.

Written by Michael DeBusk

March 7th, 2008 at 7:39 pm