It’s taken me a few years to work out what I like at work and other places in my life. It recently struck me that a theme is emerging.
I really like learning. I also like frameworks for thoughts (as life is confusing) and I like learning about ways of thinking.
As the song goes – these are a few of my favourite things.
I also like projects that change things and designing/making new things and… I like people that want these things and want to make them better.
That’s why I like NLP and UX and Kung Fu, as examples of positive ways to understand the world and ultimately to get things done, make things work, make stuff better.
To understand what I’m on about, let’s take a structured look at each of these structures for thinking and doing.
Let’s start with why I like NLP. Neuro Linguistic Programming is it’s an amazing set of tools or insights into different ways to handle information. It contains some great tools to get to know yourself, like work I have done on values, identity and information preferences and it helps you deal with being You (sometimes a confusing place) and being in the world, which is definitely a confusing place.
NLP, I would also add, covers such a broad set of tools and one of its challenges is that it has so many principles and tools, it’s hard to remember them or keep track of them. It has a rubbish name from a marketing perspective, but it does say what it is, albeit with a rather fancy tone of voice.
If it has a downside as a framework, for me – it’s that it’s techniques don’t fit in a memorable hierarchy or obvious set of tidy boxes. It’s probably why it was hard to patent or package as a set of teachings by the creators (Bandler and Grinder). What NLP lacks in tidiness, sparkle and commercial packing it makes up by being intriguing, useful and fascinating to learn.
Another upside of NLP is… it’s variety of content and small techniques. This has helped it spread, made it accessible with something for everyone AND fueled its wider adoption into other more packaged toolkits for head management.
It’s also hard to describe completely, which is a reflection of its richness and intensity. It’s one of those things that’s more than the sum of its parts. Worth the effort to understand. Who wouldn’t want something that helps your brain serve you better, right?
So.. the next step is to look at UX or User Experience design. Initially the purpose of UX seemed to be to slow down digital delivery by asking some annoying questions like Who is this for? What is their need or task? What is the problem this application trying to solve? What’s the user journey?
UX is about putting the What and the Why before the How. It’s about starting with the customer, getting second person perspective and testing a small prototype to REALLY understand that group of users and behaviour.
Turns out good UX is really about using the Perceptual positioning model of NLP. Design by knowing P2, the user. Validate from P3, by going to their place and watching them use the product
UX design is doing your NLP homework to make something people will love. And you haven’t just visualised, you’ve efficiently tested the product to avoid user and supplier disappointment.
So where does learning Kungfu fit in? It’s not something I do at work (unless it’s a really bad day) , but it’s another complicated framework (of movement and self defense) that I’m drawn towards.
Wing Chun Kung Fu and probably most martial arts are a broad system of techniques that help you to handle something (in this case, a physical attack).
Again, like NLP, a wide selection of techniques are used. To help you remember, they are packaged into forms (like Katas) to help group them in a contrived sequence. So content is wide but packaging is grouped and hierarchical.
Like UX (and NLP) the techniques have to work, they have to answer a question of How do I? How do I deal with? How can I manage this?
The What of Kungfu is a force, a kick or a punch or a push, but all the parts have a purpose, a tested function (thankfully someone else did the testing…).
The system as a whole however is hard to describe. It doesn’t look pretty, but it’s about substance, effectiveness and putting yourself in a good position with the most choices. Every movement is purposeful, reactive, as a response or to answer a question.
So – three frameworks for doing in my life. I’m probably a massive structure geek of sorts for learning them!
One more thing in common, they all take time and require effort and practice to get return. Kungfu means best effort based on practice. It’s your best work from what you’ve grafted and learned and tried and failed and practiced. The reward for your efforts comes in that moment when your abilities are tested.
So that’s important too. None of these things offer the student instant returns. You need to put the time in to improve and become a competent practitioner.
In my view, learning a framework or new way of thinking is an amazing way to spend your time. It’s not just isolated learning, it’s an experience that adds up to change your view of the world.
Gain new tools for dealing with problems. Push your brain to learn new techniques. Put the time in and you’ll gain a different perspective. Maybe your problems aren’t what you thought they were… It’s time well spent.