Blog Other


I love stories and occasionally come across or write little metaphors and stories that have proved useful (or at least entertaining) giving a new perspective on an issue. Was it Gregory Bateson who said that everything is a metaphor for everything else? Or is that another story?

Just stepping out of the problem space and using anything that you perceive as a metaphor for your problem can provide a new perspective that allows you to see it in a new way. And NLP is all about new perspectives.

This is a growing collection of metaphors for use in NLP training. You may also find it useful for your NLP work with clients. Have fun and keep sharing those stories!

Brian Cullen

Contribute a metaphor to the collection (please – it’s nice to share!). If you’re not sure if your story is already in the collection, you can email it to me using the Contact Link at the top of this page.

Metaphor Index

  1. The General
  2. Balls and Cats
  3. Blind Men and an Elephant
  4. Plant
  5. Horse
  6. Caps
  7. The Tree in the Road
  8. Overflowing Cup
  9. Cleaning Lady
  10. Pickup in the Rain
  11. The Obstacle in Our Path
  12. Giving Blood
  13. Learning to Stand Up
  14. Computers Talking
  15. Thinking outside the box
  16. Exam Questions
  17. Two Wolves Within
  18. The Mustard Seed
  19. You Won’t See Another Sunset
  20. The Calf
  21. The Carpenter
  22. The Blue Butterfly
  23. Choosing the Emperor
  24. Rich and Poor
  25. Treasure
  26. The Necklace
  27. Writing Teacher
  28. The Four Minute Mile
  29. Half of What I Say is False
  30. The Little Boy
  31. The Hospital Room
  32. How Much do You Make an Hour?
  33. Sir Lancelot and The Essential Question
  34. Mountain Climbing
  35. changing behaviour
  36. How realistic is your goal
  37. The archer
  38. The Fisherman and the Businessman
  39. The Cinderella Communication Complex
  40. Krishna
  41. Starfish
  42. The Rose
  43. Alice and the Queen
  44. The story of the little hummingbird!
  45. The Egg
  46. The Key
  47. Good or Bad?
  48. Taming an Elephant
  49. That’s Right
  50. The Drum
  51. The Axe
  52. The Treasure Chest
  53. Knowledge
  54. Raining
  55. Certificate
  56. Thomas Edison
  57. The Peaceful Country
  58. The Lunar Effect
  59. 5 Balls
  60. The Farmer
  61. The Farmer
  62. The Priest and the Thief
  63. Centipede
  64. The Eagle
  65. The Edge
  66. The Bully
  67. The Plane Crash
  68. Tug of War with a Monster
  69. The Headache
  70. Two Monks
  71. Buddha and the Heckler
  72. Y2K
  73. The Moon and Me
  74. The Mirror and the Lake
  75. Iceskating
  76. Harvard Students
  77. The Beggar and the Judge
  78. Words of wisdom from the Hodja
  79. Educating the Donkey
  80. The Orange
  81. Learning From the Bands
  82. The Bear
  83. The Meaning of Success
  84. The T-Shirt Boy
  85. ZX81 Feedback
  86. Lottery
  87. The Optometrist
  88. Autobiography in Five Short Chapters
  89. “How are the children?”
  90. The boy who banged a drum
  91. True story
  92. Always Be a Deaf Frog
  93. Attitude is Everything
  94. The Giving Tree
  95. Software
  96. The Cracked Pot
  97. The Power of Listening
  98. The Car Dealer
  99. The Unbeliever
  100. The Mousetrap
  101. The Mule
  102. The Parable of the Porpoise
  103. Bleeding Badly
  104. The Jigsaw
  105. Easter Island
  106. Life Is Like a Cup of Coffee
  107. A turn of the screw
  108. Two frogs in the milk
  109. Muddy Water
  110. Rafting
  111. Virtually no competition
  112. The Wave
  113. The Car Breakdown
  114. The Eagle’s Egg
  115. The carrot, the egg, and the coffee bean
  116. The Sense of a Goose
  117. The Seeker of Truth
  118. A Meeting of Minds
  119. Heaven and Hell
  120. Dandelions
  121. The Two Drops of Oil
  122. Nothing is written
  123. Listening … at Christmas and always
  124. The Lake
  125. The Tower of Babel
  126. The Traveller
  127. Fish
  128. The Desert
  129. Gandhi and the Boy
  130. The Magus
  131. Swimming to Japan
  132. The Watermelon
  133. The Sailor and the Old man
  134. The Beast

  135. The General

    Once upon a time, a general led an army to invade the neighbouring country. The fate of the war was still uncertain when the general found himself separated from his army and on the run in a small town in the neighbouring country. Trying to escape from the enemy soldiers, he went into a shop where he told the shopkeeper to hide him in a safe place. The shopkeeper agreed to help the general and hid him in a small cellar below the shop.
    A few hours later, the soldiers did indeed come in search of the general and as they searched through the town, they finally came to the shop. Now, this put the shopkeeper in a rather interesting position. He could tell the soldiers that the general was hiding there and they would immediately arrest him. However, the final fate of the war still wasn’t decided, and if the general’s army eventually won the war, they would surely come to take revenge on the shopkeeper.
    The shopkeeper decided to say nothing about the general and the soldiers proceeded to search the shop. In the cellar, the general could hear the sound of the soldiers and his heart was beating faster and faster as he feared for his life.
    But finally the soldiers gave up their search and moved on and the general was safe to come up. Shortly afterwards, his own army entered the town and it became clear that the shopkeeper had made the right decision because the general’s army were clearly now in a position to win the war.
    The shopkeeper was honoured by the general for his brave act and he often talked with the general. One day, he asked the general, “How did it feel when you were downstairs in the cellar wondering if the soldiers would find you?”
    Suddenly, the general’s mood changed completely and he shouted “How dare you ask such a question to the general of the victorious army?” and he ordered his soldiers to take the shopkeeper out to the firing range to be executed for his impertinence.
    The shopkeeper was stood up against the wall and a cloth was bound around his eyes. The general ordered the soldiers to raise and ready their weapons. He waited a few moments and then came up beside the blindfolded shopkeeper. He removed the blindfold from the man’s eyes and said to him, “now you know how I felt.”

    Main Uses: : Pillars of NLP: Take Action
    Also Useful For: State
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen
    Source: Unknown
    Notes: *** This powerful metaphor is a fine way to remind people of the importance of experiential learning. People can read all about NLP, listen to audio programs, and watch videos, but it is only when they truly experience the powerful effects that it can have on their lives that they will really begin to understand the integrate the learnings.

    Balls and Cats

    It’s all about cause and effect, isn’t it? Are you in charge of events or are events in charge of you? The co-founder of NLP, John Grinder, said that if you kick a ball you can pretty much predict what’s going to happen based on the laws of physics.
    But what happens if you try to kick a cat? The cat might possibly get kicked the first time, but in future it is as just as likely to jump out of your way, dig its nails into your leg, or just avoid you–that cat is flexible enough to learn and to respond in different ways.
    In NLP, we say that a person is at-cause or at-effect. If you are at-effect, you believe that others are responsible for your success and happiness. If you are at-cause, you take responsibility for your own actions and results–you can put traumas or phobias firmly into your past, proactively improve your communication and relationships, and carry out realistic personal and professional goals to build the type of life that you want for yourself. Or as the other co-founder of NLP, Richard Bandler wrote in a recent book, you “get over it … get through it … and get to it.”
    The world is facing many societal and economic challenges and things could easily get much worse before they get better, meaning that a lot of people may get kicked by events that are outside their control. Perhaps the important question is whether you play the role of a ball or of a cat. You will never be able to control external events, but you can learn to take control of your own thinking and communication to achieve the best results in your personal and working life.

    Main Uses: : Being ‘At Cause’
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen
    Source: Adapted and extended from a quote by John Grinder

    Blind Men and an Elephant

    A Jain version of the story says that six blind men were asked to determine what an elephant looked like by feeling different parts of the elephant’s body. The blind man who feels a leg says the elephant is like a pillar; the one who feels the tail says the elephant is like a rope; the one who feels the trunk says the elephant is like a tree branch; the one who feels the ear says the elephant is like a hand fan; the one who feels the belly says the elephant is like a wall; and the one who feels the tusk says the elephant is like a solid pipe.
    A king explains to them:
    “”All of you are right. The reason every one of you is telling it differently is because each one of you touched the different part of the elephant. So, actually the elephant has all the features you mentioned.””[1]

    Main Uses: : The Map is not the Territory
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen
    Source: Wikipedia


    As you watch a plant grow, it would start from just a stem and growing leaves as it gets older. It doesn’t know what flower it will be all at once, but all the information for the plant is in the seed, so the plant will always know what to do, but only one leaf at a time.

    Main Uses: : Trust Your Unconscious
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen
    Source: Unknown


    Erickson was returning from school one day and a runaway horse with a bridle on sped past him into a farmer’s yard looking for a drink of water. The horse was perspiring heavily. And the farmer didn’t recognize it so we cornered it. Erickson hopped on the horse’s back. Since it had a bridle on, Erickson took hold of the tick rein and said, “”Giddy-up.”” Headed for the road, Erickson knew the horse would turn in the right direction. He didn’t know what the right direction was. And the horse trotted and galloped along. Now and then the horse would forget he was on the highway and start into a field. So Erickson would pull on him a bit and call his attention to the fact the highway was where he was supposed to be. And finally, about four miles from where Erickson had boarded him, the horse turned into a farm yard and the farmer said, “”So the runaway has come back. Where did you find him?”” Erickson said, “”About four miles from here.”” “”How did you know you should come here?”” Erickson said, “”I didn’t know. The horse knew. All I did was keep his attention on the road.””

    Main Uses: : Conscious and Unconscious Mind
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen
    Source: Erickson


    There was a time as a boy and as men when caps were an important part of life and you had one or two caps for life. When the boys used to run through fields and came across a wall or obstacle that couldn’t climb easily, they’d throw their caps over the obstacle. That way they knew they would make sure they’d have to climb it!

    Main Uses: : Commitment to a Goal
    Also Useful For: Doing whatever is necessary
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen

    The Tree in the Road

    Once there were two lands, connected by a single road. The land in the south was hard, barren, and difficult, and the people who lived there struggled even to be poor. The land in the north was rich and fertile, with abundant springs and deep soils, but the people quarreled and fought so much that in the midst of abundance they imagined themselves poor. And so they sent out raiding parties even to the south, to steal what little the poor southlanders had.
    The road that connected the two lands wound through steep mountains, and at its narrowest became a ledge barely wide enough for a single wagon, with a vertical wall of rock on one side and a thousand-foot drop on the other. At the south end of the cliff the road broadened into a meadow, with young woods on the precipitous slopes above and below it, and here the southlanders set the small garrison that was all they could spare to guard the road from raiders from the north.
    One spring a weeping boy came stumbling into the meadow from the south. His face was bruised, his cheek recently opened by a sword. He came to where a few scraps of cloth and burnt logs marked the garrison of the southlanders. He wept over the wreckage, and over the trampled, bloodied earth where his kinsmen had fought their last battle, trying to hold back the northland raiders. And there by the edge of the track he planted an acorn, just sprouting. “”Guard the road,”” he told it, weeping, and went back the way he came.
    The little tree took the boy’s words seriously. It grew branches into the road to entangle the raiders, but they swept them aside, or lopped them off, and once the little oak got chopped down for kindling and had to regrow from its stump. As it watched northland raiders return with wagons of booty, leading lines of wretched captives, it felt terrible that it could not stop them, but what could it do? It was just a tree.
    One day a wizard appeared from the south. He was a mere youth, but he pulled up the sapling oak as easily as if it had been rooted in water instead of earth and stone, and drove it into the center of the road between cliff face and drop-off, where the road was barely one wagon wide. The tree felt its roots drive a hundred feet into the stone of the mountain. A witchy light encircled it as the wizard cast on it spells to protect it from shovel and blade, fire and lightning, drought and disease. “”Guard the road,”” the wizard commanded, and went back to the south.
    The next party of raiders tried to hack off the tree, and when their blades broke, bent it double and drove their wagons over the top. But when they returned the next spring, the tree had grown too big to bend, and they had to leave their wagons and go ahead on horseback. This limited their raids, but not enough. The tree grew and grew, trying to block their way, until the bandits had to take the packs off their horses to lead them through the narrow way on either side of the tree, and reload the packs on the other side.
    In time, the raids ceased. In time, travelers appeared from the south and squeezed their horses past the tree, headed north. They spoke of the richness of the north, of what good lives people had there now that the northerners had stopped fighting. They went north, and few ever returned, and those that did returned smiling, and brought their relatives north with them again.
    But the tree still worried about raiders. It grew larger and larger, blocking more and more of the road — and no ax could cut it, no fire burn it, no shovel dig it free. In time only a pony could squeeze through beside it, then only a man, then a man only if he took his pack off and pulled it through behind him. Those few travelers willing to brave the rough track came from the south with what little wealth they had accumulated, and groaned to see the oak larger than the stories they had heard, blocking more of the way. A mound of abandoned possessions grew in the meadow, carts abandoned for rucksacks, treasures of a lifetime left behind with much wailing when their owners could not squeeze them past the trunk. Many people turned back rather than abandon what they valued most.
    Over time the travelers grew poorer, and fewer, until the tree only saw a person every few years, and then a long time passed when no one came at all.
    It was the autumn of the oak’s 500th year guarding the road. The woods were alight with fall color. The oak’s leaves had turned a wonderful copper-brown. One day a large band of travelers approached from the south. Some pulled handcarts, others carried packs, but it was evident from their ragged clothes and weary faces that life had grown ever harder in the south, and they were desperate to pass. They groaned when they saw the tree, for it had grown so large that only a child could wriggle past between tree and cliff — and legends told of the disasters befalling those who had attempted to pass by other means.
    But among these travelers was a wizard. He had been old when the world was young, and grown younger with time, until now he stood before the tree a man in the prime of life. He touched his staff to the oak’s bark, and said, “”Who are you?””
    “”I am the guardian of the road,”” the tree replied, astonished to discover that it had a voice. “”I protect the south from raiders.””
    “”I see by your girth that you have guarded the road for a long time,”” the wizard said. “”In all these years you must have gained the appreciation of countless people.””
    “”Not one!”” the tree exclaimed. “”Not once in 500 years has anyone thanked me!””
    “”Ah,”” said the wizard. “”But at least travelers are glad to see you, for you are a fine, strong oak,”” he said, admiring the mighty branches and copper-brown leaves, “”perhaps the biggest and most beautiful I have ever seen.””
    “”Travelers are horrified to see me!”” the tree exclaimed. “”They curse me with every breath!””
    “”Ah,”” said the wizard. “”But at least you defend the south. Why, you must have turned back countless raiders over the years!””
    The tree thought about this. “”The last raiders came by 410 years ago,”” it said.
    “”Yes, 408 years ago the north became peaceful,”” the wizard said. “”It turned into a rich and fruitful land where people from the south could find a better life — but the trail is hard, and a guardian blocks the way.””
    “”Someone must guard the road,”” the tree argued. “”What if raiders come again?””
    “”When you were planted, this was a young wood,”” the wizard explained. “”But wizards have worked in it, and the wood has grown up, and its magic is strong enough to defend against anything. Have you not noticed?””
    “”Two hundred years ago, a gang of bandits camped on this meadow with a captive girl,”” the tree mused. “”A bear chased most of them off that cliff, and a stag bore the girl south on its back, unharmed. One hundred years ago a woodcutter and a witch came to remove my spell and chop me down, and lightning struck them both. Yes, I think you are right: these woods can defend the road.””
    The tree looked at the ragged people behind the wizard. “”It would be good for these people to find a better life,”” it said, “”but I was put here by a many years ago by a wizard, and cannot be moved.””
    “”I can move you,”” said the wizard who had been old when the world was young. “”Why, there is a spot right over there by that spring that would be perfect for a tree such as yourself. Travelers would picnic beneath you where you could hear their conversation, and children would climb among your branches and tell their children about when they climbed the biggest oak in the world. Furthermore the soil in that spot is deep and rich; you would thrive.””
    “”That would be a good life,”” the tree agreed.
    “”But there is another possibility,”” said the wizard, for he was a good and kind man, and could see into souls, and know dreams. “”For five hundred years you have watched travelers pass by, and longed to travel yourself. You have watched friends pass by, and longed to know friendship. You have watched lovers pass by, and longed for love. You have watched adventurers, and longed to go adventuring. And you have watched magicians, and longed to do magic. If I make you a man, you can have all these things — and as a magician, you will live as long as a tree.””
    “”Yes,”” the tree said, rustling its copper-brown leaves. “”Yes, I would like that very much.””
    Then the wizard laid his hand against the oak, and its trunk opened with a sigh of release. The wizard reached into the tree, and drew forth a young man with copper-brown hair and eyes the color of the sky, and clasped his hands. “”Welcome,”” the wizard said.
    Then he reached into the tree again, and pulled forth boards that assembled themselves into wagons with wheels bound in copper-brown metal. He drew forth harnesses and saddles of copper-brown leather, and great muscled horses with copper-brown manes and hides the color of oak bark. And as he did this, the tree got smaller and smaller, until only a sapling stood in the road.
    “”What was possible is possible again,”” the wizard said, and as he spoke the great pile of moldering junk in the meadow turned bright and new. “”We will take these treasures with us, to the people in the north who valued them enough to bring them this far. They will serve us well.”” Quickly the band of travelers loaded them into the wagons, exclaiming over their beauty and value.
    Then the wizard put his hand around the sapling in the road, and pulled it out of the path as easily as the young wizard had planted it. As he pulled it free, it turned into a staff, with copper-brown metal at the top that held not so much a crystal as a space. Like the space held by a tree’s branches, whose emptiness calls attention to the many other ways the tree might have grown, or might grow still, this crystal held the space of possibility.
    The wizard handed the staff to the new man by his side. The man looked through the crystal at the woods, and saw all the ways that the magic woods could now defend themselves and guard the road. He looked ahead at the path, and saw the bright shining land of the north, and the wonderful future that awaited him there. He looked behind him at the travelers, and saw the connections to their many friends and relatives who were afraid to walk the road, and who might never know freedom so long as the way to it remained so difficult.
    Then the man who had been a tree thumped his new staff on the ground three times. With the last thump, the mountain moved — and the road that had been a narrow track, with hard stone on one side and a deadly drop on the other, became wide and welcoming, so broad that many wagons could easily move abreast along it with room to spare.
    “”Very good,”” said the wizard to his new friend. “”Let us proceed.””
    And they all moved forward together.

    Main Uses: : A Healing Metaphor
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen
    Source: Wilma Keppel

    Overflowing Cup

    The Japanese master
    A great Japanese master received a university professor who came to enquire about wisdom. The master served tea. He poured his visitor’s cup full, and then kept on pouring.
    The professor watched the overflow until he could no longer restrain himself. ‘It is overfull. No more will go in!’ ‘Like this cup,’ the master said, ‘you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you wisdom unless you first empty your cup?’

    Main Uses: : Be willing to learn
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen
    Source: Unknown

    Cleaning Lady

    1. Most Important Question
    During my second month of nursing school, our professor gave us a pop quiz. I was a conscientious student and had breezed through the questions, until I read the last one: “”What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school?”” Surely this was some kind of joke. I had seen the cleaning woman several times. She was tall, dark-haired and in her 50s, but how would I know her name? I handed in my paper, leaving the last question blank. Before class ended, one student asked if the last question would count toward our quiz grade. “”Absolutely,”” said the professor. “”In your careers you will meet many people. All are significant. They deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say ‘hello’. I’ve never forgotten that lesson. I also learned her name was Dorothy.

    Main Uses: : Sensory Acuity
    Also Useful For: Notice the small things
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen

    Pickup in the Rain

    One night, at 11:30 PM, an older African American woman was standing on the side of an Alabama highway trying to endure a lashing rain storm. Her car had broken down and she desperately needed a ride. Soaking wet, she decided to flag down the next car. A young white man stopped to help. This was generally unheard of in those conflict-filled 1960s. The man took her to safety, helped her get assistance and put her into a taxi cab. She seemed to be in a big hurry! She wrote down his address, thanked him and drove away. Seven days went by and a knock came on the man’s door. To his surprise, a giant console color TV was delivered to his home. A special note was attached. It read: “”Thank you so much for assisting me on the highway the other night. The rain drenched not only my clothes but my spirits. Then you came along. Because of you, I was able to make it to my dying husband’s bedside just before he passed away. God bless you for helping me and unselfishly serving others.”” Sincerely, Mrs. Nat King Cole

    Main Uses: : ??
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen

    The Obstacle in Our Path

    In ancient times, a king had a boulder placed on a roadway. Then he hid himself and watched to see if anyone would remove the huge rock. Some of the king’s wealthiest merchants and courtiers came by and simply walked around it. Many loudly blamed the king for not keeping the roads clear, but none did anything about getting the big stone out of the way. Then a peasant came along carrying a load of vegetables. On approaching the boulder, the peasant laid down his burden and tried to move the stone to the side of the road. After much pushing and straining, he finally succeeded. As the peasant picked up his load of vegetables, he noticed a purse lying in the road where the boulder had been. The purse contained many gold coins and a note from the king indicating that the gold was for the person who removed the boulder from the roadway. The peasant learned what many others never understand: Every obstacle presents an opportunity to improve one’s condition.

    Main Uses: : TOTE Model
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen

    Giving Blood

    Many years ago, when I worked as a volunteer at Stanford Hospital, I got to know a little girl named Liz who was suffering from a rare and serious disease. Her only chance of recovery appeared to be a blood transfusion from her 5-year old brother, who had miraculously survived the same disease and had developed the antibodies needed to combat the illness. The doctor explained the situation to her little brother, and asked the boy if he would be willing to give his blood to his sister. I saw him hesitate for only a moment before taking a deep breath and saying,””Yes, I’ll do it if it will save Liz.”” As the transfusion progressed, he lay in bed next to his sister and smiled, as we all did, seeing the color returning to her cheeks. Then his face grew pale and his smile faded. He looked up at the doctor and asked with a trembling voice, “”Will I start to die right away?”” Being young, the boy had misunderstood the doctor. He thought he was going to have to give his sister all of his blood.

    Main Uses: : ???
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen

    Learning to Stand Up

    We learn so much a a conscious level and then we forget what we learn and use the skill. You see, Erickson had a terrific advantage over others, he had polio, and he was totally paralysed and the inflammation was so great that he had a sensory paralysis, too. Luckily, however, he could still move his eyes and his hearing was undisturbed.
    He got very lonely lying in bed, unable to move anything except his eyeballs. He was quarantined on the farm with 7 sisters, one brother, two parents, and a practical nurse. So how could he entertain himself?
    He started to watch people and their environment. He soon learned that his sisters could say “”no”” when they mean “”yes.”” And they could say “”yes”” and mean “”no”” at the same time. They could offer another sister an apple and yet hold it back. And Erickson decided to begin to pay great attention to nonverbal language and body language.
    He had a baby sister who had begun to learn to crawl. Now he couldn’t walk – he couldn’t even crawl. So you can imagine the intensity with which he watched his baby sister grow from crawling to learning how to stand up. And you don’t even know how you learned to stand up. You don’t even know how you walked. You can think that you can walk in a straight line for six blocks – with no pedestrian or vehicular traffic. You don’t know that you couldn’t walk in a straight line at a steady pace!
    You don’t know what you do when you walk. You don’t know how you learned to stand up. You learned by reaching up your hand and pulling yourself up. That put pressure on your hands— and, by accident, you discovered that you could put weight on your feet. That’s an awfully complicated thing because your knees would give way—and, when your knees would keep straight, your hips would give way. Then you got your feet crossed. And you couldn’t stand up because both your knees and your hips would give way. Your feet were crossed—and you soon learned to get a wide brace—and you pull yourself up and you have the job of learning how to keep your knees straight—one at a time and as soon as you learn that, you have to learn how to give your attention to keep your hips straight. Then you found out that you had to learn to give your attention to keep your hips straight and knees straight at the same time and feet far apart! Now finally you could stand having your feet far apart, resting on your hands.
    Then came the lesson in three stages. You distribute your weight on your one hand and your two feet, this hand not supporting you at all. Honestly hard work-allowing you to learn to stand up straight, your hips straight, knees straight, feet far apart, this hand [right hand] pressing down hard. Then you discover how to alter your body balance. You alter your body balance by turning your head, turning your body. You have to learn to coordinate all alterations of your body balance when you move your hand, your head, your shoulder, your body—and then you have to learn it all over again with the other hand. Then comes the terribly hard job of learning to have both hands up and moving your hands in all directions and to depend upon the two solid bases of your feet, far apart. And keeping your hips straight —your knees straight and keeping your mind’s attention so divided that you can attend to your knees, your hips, your left arm, your right arm, your head, your body. And finally, when you had enough skill, you tried balancing on one foot. That was a hell of a job!
    How do you hold your entire body keeping your hips straight, your knees straight and feeling hand movement, head movement, body movement? And then you put your one foot ahead and alter your body’s center of gravity! Your knees bent—and you sat down! You got up again and tried it again. Finally you learned how to move one foot ahead and took a step and it seemed to be good. So you repeated it—it seemed so good. Then the third step —with the same foot—and you toppled! It took you a long time to alternate right left, right left, right left. Now you could swing your arms, turn your head, look right and left, and walk along, never paying a bit of attention to keeping your knees straight, hips straight.

    Main Uses: : Sensory Acuity; You have all the resources you need
    Also Useful For: Importance of practice; a disability may give an advantage
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen
    Source: Milton Erickson

    Computers Talking

    What do we have here?
    Two computers who won’t talk to each other, yet they are side by side. 2 1/2 inches separate them. One has a file that is needed by the other, but ne’er the twain shall meet, right?
    If it wasn’t for the fact that one file needs to pass from one to the other, it wouldn’t even matter just where they are in time in space – what links them, and makes that distance appear, is a common task that requires both to communicate.
    But hey! There’s help at hand. Both are connected to the Internet. So we can send our file to the third party server. Which lives in California, on this occasion, and happens to be 5456 miles (8781 km) (4741 nautical miles) from where the two computers are sitting near London, 2 1/2 inches apart from each other.
    So the file travels 5456 miles (8781 km) (4741 nautical miles) as one computer uploads it to the server, and then 5456 miles (8781 km) (4741 nautical miles) back again as the second computer downloads it from the third party location.
    Now, the task has been accomplished; the journey is at an end.
    And the moral of the tail?
    In this case, the shortest distance between two points which were 2 1/2 inches apart, turned out to be 10,912 MILES.
    And that is either a useful neurological NLP metaphor, or just simply, the story of my life …

    Main Uses: : Well-Formed Outcomes, Logical Levels
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen

    Thinking outside the box

    One day a little teddy bear was sitting by a lake… quietly watching what was going on…. just enjoying being relaxed and calm… the little bear had one or two good friends among the birds and the other animals… but never really felt part of it…. like an outsider…. and didn’t know why…. whenever a big important animal came along … the little bear got flustered or embarrassed or said the wrong thing…. never knew what to do.
    And the bear was thinking about this when a voice said “”What would you like things to be like?”” The bear looked around startled… and saw a cat with big floppy ears sitting on a low box, watching, the way cats do.
    “”Who are you?”” said the bear.
    “”That’s not important””, said the cat with the large ears. “”Do you know who you are? That’s what’s important””.
    “”How did you get here?””
    “”That’s not important, either.”” the cat said, smugly, and began to nibble a tadpole.
    “”That’s a funny looking box you’re sitting on.”” said the bear, at length.
    “”Oh this – it’s not a box, it’s a book, actually.””
    The bear looked at the book for a while and said “”It doesn’t look very comfortable. “”
    “”It’s not meant to be comfortable. It’s meant to let you do what you want.””
    “”Wow”” said the bear, impressed. “”Anything you want?””
    “”And would it let me do anything I want?”” asked the bear, hopefully.
    “”Sure,”” said the cat, who was now deep in the weeds at the edge of the water searching for another tadpole “”Just imagine what you want and the book will open at the right page.””
    The bear thought and thought… and looked hard at the book over there… there was something the bear had always wanted to do…. but never dared… it wasn’t possible, was it?…. or was it?… or maybe not… and while the bear’s woolly mind was busy wondering if the book might… could… the book suddenly flipped open.
    “”Ah…”” said the cat through a mouth full of goldfish “”I see you’ve managed to get it working.””
    “”But I’m not sure what to do next.”” said the bear, nervously.
    “”Simple. Just look at the instructions, and apply them.””
    The bear peered at the book, and sure enough, there were the exact instructions needed. The bear was elated. It was so simple. Just do as the book says. It was obvious what to do. So with a quick “”Thanks, whoever you are!”” the bear was off down the path to try it out.
    And just a few steps down the path, a family of ducks turned up, complaining noisily about missing goldfish. And then all twelve baby ducks started crying and carrying on and in all the fuss and noise the bear forgot the instructions.
    So the bear turned back and found the cat lying down contentedly scratching his belly with a stick. And the book was closed.
    “”What do I do now?”” wailed the bear.
    “”Why not think of something else you would like to do?”” said the cat.
    So the bear thought and thought, and was busy trying to decide whether to ask about this thing or that thing, when the book popped open on its own. Surprised, the bear went over and peered into it, and again the exact instructions were right there…. how to do an even more important thing the bear needed.
    Quick as flash the bear set off again down the path…. determined to ignore all distractions… bustling along as fast as possible… and tripped over a tree root. “”Oh dash and pepperpots!”” said the bear. “”Why does this always happen to me? Why isn’t the path kept clear the way it’s supposed to be…”” and going over those same old complaints soon drove the instructions clear out of that silly bear’s head.
    “”Back again?”” said the cat, busy carving a flute out a fish bone. “”Well, you should know how it works by now. You don’t need me to tell you. “” and left the bear to get on with it, blowing a few experimental notes on the flute all the while.
    The bear had hardly begun to think when the book flipped open again, so hard that it spun right round before settling back on the ground. “”Goodness, I am getting good at this.”” thought the bear and in a moment was scurrying down the path again, pushing leaves aside and being very, very careful about roots. The bear was making good progress, getting on towards doing the most important thing of all….when it began to rain…. and that silly bear started to think about getting home and worrying if the windows were left open or not…. and before long was trudging back up the path again, dejected and miserable and now wet as well.
    The bear found the cat settled comfortably in front of a cozy fire under a little shelter and trying out a new tune on the flute. And as the tune faded away… a few damp notes still hanging in the air… the cat looked over, took a long lazy stretch, and said…
    “”You know, I wonder if maybe you are making an assumption here?””
    And the bear thought about it, and realised the cat was right.

    Main Uses: : Well-Formed Outcomes, Beliefs, The Map is not the Territory
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Teija Barr
    Source: Unknown

    Exam Questions

    There was a student who was talking to her head of department outside the library one day and the Head asked her how his Economics course was going. The student replied that it was no problem and that she was sure she would do really well in the test because she knew all the questions.
    The Head was very surprised and asked what the questions would be, and the student listed 10 questions that she said the teacher would ask in the test. The Head went straightaway to the teacher and started to berate the teacher for giving out the questions before the exam. The teacher protested, saying that he had not given out any questions, but when the Head listed the questions that the student had said, they were exactly what the teacher had written down for the test on the paper that was in his office.
    The Head and the teacher decided that the student must have slipped into the office and copied the paper, so they called the student up in front of a committee on charges of cheating.
    The student protested her interest and said that the teacher had said there would be ten questions on the test and had made clear what questions they would be. The teacher protested loudly, “”I never said what questions would appear on the test.”” The student replied, “”Oh yes, you never said it, but you showed it clearly. When you were talking about a topic that would appear as a question, your voice changed and you moved to a different part of the room.”” So I simply put a star next to those topics, and that’s how I knew they would appear on the test.
    The whole committee agreed that the student had done nothing wrong, and was in fact to be congratulated on her careful attention to detail, so she was told that she didn’t need to sit the test at all and would receive full marks because she had already shown how well she knew the material.

    Main Uses: : Beliefs, Sensory Acuity
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen
    Source: Unknown
    Notes: This is particularly useful as a metaphor for the power of developing your sensory acuity.

    Two Wolves Within

    An old Grandfather said to his grandson, who came to him with anger at a friend who had done him an injustice:
    “”Let me tell you a story…
    I too, at times, have felt a great hate for those that have taken so much, with no sorrow for what they do.
    But hate wears you down, and does not hurt your enemy. It is like taking poison and wishing your enemy would die.
    I have struggled with these feelings many times.””
    He continued: “”It is as if there are two wolves inside me.
    One is good and does no harm. He lives in harmony with all around him, and does not take offense when no offense was intended. He will only fight when it is right to do so, and in the right way.
    But the other wolf, ah! He is full of anger. The littlest thing will set him into a fit of temper. He fights everyone, all the time, for no reason. He cannot think because his anger and hate are so great. It is helpless anger,for his anger will change nothing.
    Sometimes, it is hard to live with these two wolves inside me, for both of them try to dominate my spirit.””
    The boy looked intently into his Grandfather’s eyes and asked: “”Which one wins, Grandfather?””
    The Grandfather smiled and quietly said: “”The one I feed.””

    Main Uses: : State Management, Reframing, Parts, Beliefs, Talking to the Unconscious
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Alexandra Steverlynck (Ally)
    Source: Cherokee legend

    The Mustard Seed

    THERE was a rich man who found his gold suddenly transformed into ashes; and he took to his bed and refused all food. A friend, hearing of his sickness, visited the rich man and learned the cause of his grief. And the friend said: “”Thou didst not make good use of thy wealth. When thou didst hoard it up it was not better than ashes. Now heed my advice. Spread mats in the bazaar; pile up these ashes, and pretend to trade with them.”” The rich man did as his friend had told him, and when his neighbors asked him, “”Why sellest thou ashes?”” he said: “”I offer my goods for sale.””
    After some time a young girl, named Kisa Gotami, an orphan and very poor, passed by, and seeing the rich man in the bazaar, said: “”My lord, why pilest thou thus up gold and silver for sale?”” And the rich man said: “”Wilt thou please hand me that gold and silver?”” And Kisa Gotami took up a handful of ashes, and lo! they changed back into gold. Considering that Kisa Gotami had the mental eye of spiritual knowledge and saw the real worth of things, the rich man gave her in marriage to his son, and he said: “”With many, gold is no better than ashes, but with Kisa Gotami ashes become pure gold.””
    And Kisa Gotami had an only son, and he died. In her grief she carried the dead child to all her neighbors, asking them for medicine, and the people said: “”She has lost her senses. The boy is dead. At length Kisa Gotami met a man who replied to her request: “”I cannot give thee medicine for thy child, but I know a physician who can.”” The girl said: “”Pray tell me, sir; who is it?”” And the man replied: “”Go to Sakyamuni, the Buddha.””
    Kisa Gotami repaired to the Buddha and cried: “”Lord and Master, give me the medicine that will cure my boy.”” The Buddha answered: “”I want a handful of mustard-seed.”” And when the girl in her joy promised to procure it, the Buddha added: “”The mustard-seed must be taken from a house where no one has lost a child, husband, parent, or friend.”” Poor Kisa Gotami now went from house to house, and the people pitied her and said: “”Here is mustard-seed; take it!”” But when she asked Did a son or daughter, a father or mother, die in your family?”” They answered her: “”Alas the living are few, but the dead are many. Do not remind us of our deepest grief.”” And there was no house but some beloved one had died in it.
    Kisa Gotami became weary and hopeless, and sat down at the wayside, watching the lights of the city, as they flickered up and were extinguished again. At last the darkness of the night reigned everywhere. And she considered the fate of men, that their lives flicker up and are extinguished. And she thought to herself: “”How selfish am I in my grief! Death is common to all; yet in this valley of desolation there is a path that leads him to immortality who has surrendered all selfishness.””
    Putting away the selfishness of her affection for her child, Kisa Gotami had the dead body buried in the forest. Returning to the Buddha, she took refuge in him and found comfort in the Dharma, which is a balm that will soothe all the pains of our troubled hearts.
    The Buddha said: “”The life of mortals in this world is troubled and brief and combined with pain. For there is not any means by which those that have been born can avoid dying; after reaching old age there is death; of such a nature are living beings. As ripe fruits are early in danger of falling, so mortals when born are always in danger of death. As all earthen vessels made by the potter end in being broken, so is the life of mortals. Both young and adult, both those who are fools and those who are wise, all fall into the power of death; all are subject to death.
    “”Of those who, overcome by death, depart from life, a father cannot save his son, nor kinsmen their relations. Mark I while relatives are looking on and lamenting deeply, one by one mortals are carried off, like an ox that is led to the slaughter. So the world is afflicted with death and decay, therefore the wise do not grieve, knowing the terms of the world. In whatever manner people think a thing will come to pass, it is often different when it happens, and great is the disappointment; see, such are the terms of the world.
    “”Not from weeping nor from grieving will any one obtain peace of mind; on the contrary, his pain will be the greater and his body will suffer. He will make himself sick and pale, yet the dead are not saved by his lamentation. People pass away, and their fate after death will be according to their deeds. If a man live a hundred years, or even more, he will at last be separated from the company of his relatives, and leave the life of this world. He who seeks peace should draw out the arrow of lamentation, and complaint, and grief. He who has drawn out the arrow and has become composed will obtain peace of mind; he who has overcome all sorrow will become free from sorrow, and be blessed.””

    Main Uses: : Reframing, Beliefs, The Map is not the Territory
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Cella van der Staak
    Source: Dalai Lama

    You Won’t See Another Sunset

    As I lay in bed that night, I overheard the three doctors tell my parents in the other room that their boy would be dead in the morning. I felt intense anger that anyone should tell a mother her boy would be dead by morning. My mother then came in with as serene a face as can be. I asked her to arrange the dresser, push it up against the side of the bed at an angle. She did not understand why, she thought I was delirious. My speech was difficult. But at that angle by virtue of the mirror on the dresser I could see through the doorway, through the west window of the other room. I was damned if I would die without seeing one more sunset. If I had any skill in drawing, I could still sketch that sunset.
    R: Your anger and wanting to see another sunset was a way you kept yourself alive through that critical day in spite of the doctors’ predictions. But why do you call that an autohypnotic experience?
    E: I saw that vast sunset covering the whole sky. But I know there was also a tree there outside the window, but I blocked it out. R: You blocked it out? It was that selective perception that enables you to say you were in an altered state?
    E: Yes, I did not do it consciously. I saw all the sunset, but I didn’t see the fence and large boulder that were there. I blocked out everything except the sunset. After I saw the sunset, I lost consciousness for three days. When I finally awakened, I asked my father why they had taken out that fence, tree, and boulder. I did not realize I had blotted them out when I fixed my attention so intensely on the sunset. Then, as I recovered and became aware of my lack of abilities, I wondered how I was going to earn a living. I had already published a paper in a national agricultural journal. “”Why Young Folks Leave the Farm.”” I no longer had the strength to be a farmer, but maybe I could make it as a doctor.

    Main Uses: : Well-Formed Outcomes, Reframing, Beliefs, Talking to the Unconscious
    Also Useful For: Hypnosis
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen
    Source: Milton Erickson
    Notes: This version is from Wikipedia.

    The Calf

    My first well-remembered intentional use of the double bind occurred in early boyhood. One winter day, with the weather below zero, my father led a calf out of the barn to the water trough. After the calf had satisfied its thirst, they turned back to the barn, but at the doorway the calf stubbornly braced its feet, and despite my father’s desperate pulling on the halter, he could not budge the animal. I was outside playing in the snow and, observing the impasse, began laughing heartily. My father challenged me to pull the calf into the barn. Recognizing the situation as one of unreasoning stubborn resistance on the part of the calf, I decided to let the calf have full opportunity to resist, since that was what it apparently wished to do. Accordingly I presented the calf with a double bind by seizing it by the tail and pulling it away from the barn, while my father continued to pull it inward. The calf promptly chose to resist the weaker of the two forces and dragged me into the barn.

    Main Uses: : Strategies, Beliefs, If you want to change something, take action, There is no failure, only feedback
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen
    Source: Milton Erickson
    Notes: This is a good metaphor for introducing double binds and other Ericksonian techniques.

    The Carpenter

    The carpenter, who has always had a great reputation, decides to retire. Boss asks him to build one more house. Reluctantly, he does.
    Heart not in it, does sloppy job cos he wants to finish. Goes to boss, I’m done! Great. Let’s go see the house. They do. Boss says, “”To thank you for all these years of great work, we’d like to give you this house. Here are the keys””. i.e. always do your best.

    Main Uses: : Reframing, Values, Life and Mind are Systemic
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Ben Backwell
    Source: Unknown

    The Blue Butterfly

    A wise, old man lives in a village. One day 2 boys catch butterfly and go to his home. He sees them coming and welcomes them but they rebuff him saying they just want an answer to the question is the butterfly held in their hands alive or dead. Old man thinks about it for a long time
    Finally he says. The answer is in your hands.

    Main Uses: : Reframing, Beliefs
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Ben Backwell
    Source: Unknown

    Choosing the Emperor

    It was time for the Emperor to choose the next emperor. As a test, he calls young people to his castle. gives each one a seed. One young man takes his home, plants it, takes care of it. He hears that others’ seeds are growing beautiful plants. He’s sad. One year later, everyone assembles at castle to show the emperor their plants. Only this young man has no plant. Emperor chooses him because “”Your next emperor will be an honest man.””

    Main Uses: : Reframing, Values, Strategies, Behavioural Flexibility
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Ben Backwell
    Source: Unknown

    Rich and Poor

    Young couple living in Beverly Hills raising a young son. Want him to know that they don’t live like many other families do. (Want to teach
    him to understand about poverty.) Driving across the country, stop at a restaurant in a poor town. Converse with family at next table –
    they invite the B.H. family over. Son goes to play with the kids, goes swimming in the river. Later, time to leave. Parents ask their son, ‘What did you learn today?”” “”Mom, dad, we have trees and shrubs around our back yard… they have the whole horizon. We have a swimming pool, they have a river. We have the lights at night, they have the stars. Thank you for teaching me how poor we are.””

    Main Uses: : Reframing
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Ben Backwell
    Source: Unknown


    A long ago, a rich man lived in a city in Japan called Nagoya. The economy was not in a good state, and the rich man was losing money. But every night, he had the same repeating dream that he would find great treasure in Hiroshima so finally went there in search of treasure. He spent a night in a temple and that night the temple was robbed. The police suspected and arrested the Nagoya business man. When taken to the judge, he was asked “”why did you come to Hiroshima?”” He replied “Because I had a dream about finding treasure here”. The Judge replied,”You’re crazy, never believe your dreams they aren’t real. I had a dream that if I went to Nagoya I could enter a rich man’s empty house and find great treasure under his fountain in the garden, but it is just a dream.” The businessman was released and rushed home to Nagoya. He dug under the fountain in his own garden and found great treasure. i.e. our greatest treasure is at home, inside us.

    Main Uses: : Values, There is no failure, only feedback
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Ben Backwell
    Source: Unknown

    The Necklace

    An exquisite necklace was displayed in a store for a long time because nobody seemed to notice and to want to buy it. While rearranging the exhibits, someone accidentally added a figure in front of the number representing its former price. And the jewelry was bought.

    Main Uses: : Reframing, Values, Beliefs, If you want to change something, take action
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Anca Rugina
    Source: From my friend Ugesh

    Writing Teacher

    When I was near the end of secondary school, what would be called senior high school in some parts of the world, our English teacher assigned us the homework to write an essay. And I was inspired – totally inspired – actually inspired to the point where I didn’t read back over my essay after I scribbled it down because I was convinced that it had come to me in perfect form from the muse herself.
    When the teacher handed back the essays, mine had many many corrections and big red question marks. But I was most surprised by the comments at the end, “”What is this nonsense? You are such a good writer that it really is a shame to see you produce something like this.””
    For about 5 minutes, I was angry that the teacher hadn’t recognized my inspired genius, and then for some reason I felt really good and wanted to write much more. In fact, I even considered becoming a full-time writer.
    And for a long time, I thought that my new-found interest in writing was to spite the teacher, to make me able to say “”Hah, I showed you – I became a writer.”” And then many years later, I realized what had actually happened. The teacher had criticized my behaviour (“”what is this nonsense””) while simultaneously praising me at the identity level (“”you are such a good writer””) and although the Identity level statement passed by my conscious mind, that was what my unconscious mind accepted and it was exactly that statement that made me become much more interested in writing.

    Main Uses: : Neurological Levels (Robert Dilts), Logical Levels, Talking to the Unconscious, Separating Identity and Behaviour
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen
    Source: Brian Cullen

    The Four Minute Mile

    People used to believe that it was impossible for a person to run a mile in under 4 minutes. For decades, people tried to achieve this record, but experts agreed that it was impossible. Then in 1954, Roger Bannister ran a mile in 3 minutes and 59.4 seconds. So, he beat what people believed was impossible by 0.6 seconds.
    But what is really interesting is that just 46 days later, Bannister’s record was broken by a man called Landy who took an additional amazing 1.5 seconds off the record and achieved a time of 3 min 57.9 seconds. Then later in the same year, Bannister again smashed that record by running a mile in 3 min 43.8 seconds.
    Within a few years, hundreds of other runners had also broken the previously impossible 4 minute mile limit and changed people’s beliefs for ever.
    Bannister himself left us a lovely quotation.
    “”Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a lion or a gazelle–when the sun comes up, you’d better be running.””
    Incidentally, and interestingly for NLP folk, Bannister went on to become a neurologist for 40 years and considered his work in this field to be far more important than his amazing achievements on the running track.

    Main Uses: : Beliefs
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen
    Source: Historical, told by Brian Cullen

    Half of What I Say is False

    The scene is a lecture room in a Medical Faculty of a University. The eminent Professor of Medicine is addressing the students at the end of the last lecture before their final exams. “”Ladies and gentlemen,”” he says, “”I congratulate you all on completing my course of lectures. I wish you all well in your future honorable profession. That leaves only two more thing to say.
    “”The first is this. Half of the things I have taught you as medical facts are, in fact, false!
    “”The second is that neither I nor anyone else today knows which half!””

    Main Uses: : The Map is not the Territory, There is no failure, only feedback
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen
    Source: Dylan Morgan

    The Little Boy

    A six year old boy asked his mother, “What is NLP?”
    His mother answered, “I’ll tell you in a moment, but first go and ask your grandfather how his arthritis is today?”
    The little boy went over to his grandfather and asked the question and his grandfather replied, “oh it’s terrible, my legs and hands are very painful today. It’s very hard.” And as he spoke, the little boy saw his grandfather’s face grimace and wrinkle in pain.
    So the little boy went back to his mother and asked again, “What is NLP?”
    His mother said, “OK, I’ll tell you in a moment, but first go and ask your grandfather what is the funniest thing that you ever did.”
    The little boy asked the grandfather and immediately his grandfather’s smile broke out into a big smile. “Oh that’s easy”, he said. “I remember when you and your brother decided to play as Santa Claus and you decided you needed snow. So you put white talcum powder all over the bathroom and made it completely white! That was so funny.” Grandfather looked so happy and then said, “Or maybe it was the time that you were singing in the street as we walked together and a stranger asked you to be quiet.” You turned to him and said “If you don’t like my singing, you can just stay at home. Oh yes, you were a funny little fellow. So grandfather continued smiling and laughing to himself and looked so happy and the little boy went back to his mother and asked again, “What is NLP?”
    His mother replied, “That’s NLP – with just a few words, you completely changed how your grandfather felt.”

    Main Uses: : State Management, Reframing
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen
    Source: I read a version of this in a book by Joseph O’

    The Hospital Room

    Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room. One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain the fluid from his lungs. His bed was next to the room’s only window. The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back.
    The men talked for hours on end. They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement in the military service, where they had been on vacation.
    And every afternoon when the man in the bed by the window could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window. The man in the other bed began to live for those one-hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and color of the world outside.
    The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake. Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats. Young lovers walked arm in arm amidst flowers of every color of the rainbow. Grand old trees graced the landscape, and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance.
    As the man by the window described all this in exquisite detail, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine the picturesque scene.
    One warm afternoon the man by the window described a parade passing by. Although the other man couldn’t hear the band – he could see it in his mind’s eye as the gentleman by the window portrayed it with descriptive words.
    Days and weeks passed. One morning, the day nurse arrived to bring water for their baths only to find the lifeless body of the man by the window, who had died peacefully in his sleep. She was saddened and called the hospital attendants to take the body away.
    As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the window. The nurse was happy to make the switch, and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone. Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the world outside. Finally, he would have the joy of seeing it for himself.
    He strained to slowly turn to look out the window beside the bed. It faced a blank wall. The man asked the nurse what could have compelled his deceased roommate who had described such wonderful things outside this window. The nurse responded that the man was blind and could not even see the wall. She said, “”Perhaps he just wanted to encourage you.””

    Main Uses: : State Management, Rapport, Reframing, Values
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Brad Deacon
    Source: Unknown

    How Much do You Make an Hour?

    With a timid voice and idolizing eyes, the little boy greeted his father as he returned from work, “”Daddy, how much do you make an hour?”” Greatly surprised, but giving his boy a glaring look, the father said: “”Look, son, not even your mother knows that. Don’t bother me now, I’m tired.”” “”But Daddy, just tell me please!? How much do you make an hour,”” the boy insisted.
    The father finally giving up replied: “” Twenty dollars per hour.”” “”Okay, Daddy? Could you loan me ten dollars?”” the boy asked. Showing restlessness and positively disturbed, the father yelled: “”So that was the reason you asked how much I earn, right?? Go to sleep and don’t bother me anymore!””
    It was already dark and the father was meditating on what he had said and was feeling guilty. Maybe he thought, his son wanted to buy something. Finally, trying to ease his mind, the father went to his son’s room.
    “”Are you asleep son?”” asked the father. “”No, Daddy. Why?”” replied the boy partially asleep. “”Here’s the money you asked for earlier,”” the father said. “”Thanks, Daddy!”” rejoiced the son, while putting his hand under his pillow and removing some money. “”Now I have enough! Now I have twenty dollars!”” the boy said to his father, who was gazing at his son, confused at what his son just said. “”Daddy could you sell me one hour of your time?””

    Main Uses: : Values, Neurological Levels (Robert Dilts), Beliefs
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Brad Deacon
    Source: Unknown

    Sir Lancelot and The Essential Question

    Part I:
    Many years ago, in England, there was a castle-town called Camelot. One day Sir Lancelot went out riding on his horse from Camelot. Sir Lancelot was not very smart and so he forgot to take his sword. Suddenly on a narrow path, the Black Knight appeared. The Black Knight was Sir Lancelot’s enemy.
    He said, “You have no sword. I could kill you easily now. But I am a playful fellow. So I will give you a question. If you can answer this question, I will not kill you. But you must promise to return here soon.” Sir Lancelot agreed. The Black Knight then said, “The question is, ‘What do women want most?’”
    Sir Lancelot didn’t know the answer. But he had lots of friends back at Camelot and they were always talking about women. So he thought surely they would know. So he turned and started riding back to the castle.
    Suddenly on the path an ugly old woman jumped out and stopped him. She said “I heard your conversation with the Black Knight and know the answer to the question. Find me a husband and I will tell you the answer.” Sir Lancelot felt she was right but said, “Excuse me” and he rode around her and went on to the castle.
    At the castle he asked all the fellow knights “What do women want most?” They all had different answers, some said chocolate, some said money, some said diamonds, some said “me”. Sir Lancelot was not very smart, but he did have good intuition and his intuition told him these answers were not right. His intuition also told him that the old woman he met on the path really did have the right answer.
    Lancelot said to the knights, “The person who I think really knows the answer is an ugly old woman. But she won’t tell me the answer unless I find her a husband. Would any of you marry her?” Immediately all of their heads dropped as if a teacher had asked a difficult question in a classroom. EXCEPT one. Sir Gawain was a very nice fellow and he stood up and said, “If it will save your life, I will marry any woman.” So the two of them rode out to the forest. They found the old woman and quickly told her that Sir Gawain would marry her. Then Sir Lancelot said quickly, “Please tell me, What do women want most?”
    The ugly old woman said, “Women want _______.”
    [STOP HERE. Ask as many people as possible the question “What do women want most?” ]
    Part II:
    So there was Sir Lancelot and Sir Gawain in front of the old woman waiting for an answer to the question, “What do women want most?” The old woman said, “Women want . . . [pause] . . . choice.” Both Sir Lancelot and Sir Gawain were confused by this answer but they accepted it. The old lady and Sir Gawain then went back to Camelot to get married. Sir Lancelot went to meet the Black Knight. “What is the answer?” said the Black Knight. “Ch Ch ch ch choice?” said Sir Lancelot stuttering in fear. “Damn! You got it right. How did you know?” “Oh, I’m just smart” replied Lancelot.
    Then Sir Lancelot rode back to Camelot. The old lady and Sir Gawain had just gotten married and they went up to the wedding room at the top of the castle. The old lady jumped on the bed, and Sir Gawain went to the window to get some fresh air. Suddenly, there was a very sweet breeze that came through the room and he turned and he saw that the old lady had turned into a young beautiful woman. “What happened?” he wondered.
    The young lady explained that a wicked witch had put a spell on her and that the only way to break the spell was to marry a knight. Gawain was very excited and started toward the bed, but the young lady said, “Wait, it is not completely over. I can be beautiful like this only half of every day. Do you want me to be beautiful in the day or in the night? The rest of the time I will be that old lady.”
    Sir Gawain thought long and hard. And finally he said, ”___________________”.
    [STOP here and ask the people you tell the story to what they think he said. What would they choose? And what would you choose?]
    Part III:
    Sir Gawain didn’t know what to say for the longest time. It was hard to choose between night or day. Finally, he said, “I don’t know, you decide!” And suddenly ZZZAGABOOM! Lightening struck the castle and . . . the young lady said to Sir Gawain, “You did it! You gave to a woman what she wants most: CHOICE. Now the whole curse is off of me and I can be beautiful both night and day as long as I live and for as old as I become!”
    [Part IV: Optional]
    Now some people say that’s the end of the story and the beautiful woman and Sir Gawain lived happily ever after. But others say that Sir Gawain thought things over and he realized that the woman had had no CHOICE when she married him. And he too came to think that CHOICE was important, for women and men. So he decided to get a divorce and give her the choice of meeting him if she wanted to.
    Some people wisely end the story here, leaving listeners the choice to imagine their own ending. Some unwisely continue and say these two dated, got married, and had a son that they, strangely enough, named “Knight.” When he grew up, he became a knight, of course. So they called him Knight Knight. And the other Knights were always teasing him in the evening by saying “night-night Knight Knight.”
    (At this point the story-teller begins dodging rotten eggs and tomatoes thrown by the audience! )

    Main Uses: : Values, Sensory Acuity
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Brad Deacon
    Source: Unknown

    Mountain Climbing

    Two old mountaineering friends, Simpson and Yates decided to climb a dangerous mountain together.
    On the fourth day the pair were stuck in a very bad situation. They had run out of food, there was a terrible snow storm and many miles from the nearest house. They were tied together by a rope but suddenly Simpson slipped and fell off the side of the mountain. Simpson could not climb up the rope, Yates could not pull him back up, and the cliff was too high for Simpson to be lowered down. They remained in this position in the powerful storm for some time, until it was obvious that the snow around Yates was about to give out. Because the pair were tied together, they would both be pulled to their deaths. Yates had little choice but to cut the rope.
    When Yates cut the rope, Simpson plummeted down the cliff and into a deep crevasse. Exhausted and suffering from hypothermia, Yates dug himself a snow cave to wait out the storm. The next day, Yates carried on descending the mountain by himself. When he reached the crevasse he called for Simpson and hearing no reply, Yates was forced to assume that he had died and so continued down the mountain alone.
    Simpson, however, was still alive. He had survived the 150-foot fall despite his broken leg, and had landed on a small ledge inside the crevasse. When Simpson regained consciousness,he realized that he had to save himself. Simpson spent three days without food and water, crawling and hopping the five miles back to their base camp. Exhausted and almost completely delirious he reached their tents only a few hours before Yates planned to return to civilization.
    Simpson’s survival is widely regarded by mountaineers as amongst the most amazing pieces of mountaineering lore. He did it by knowing his overall goal but focussing on each stone ahead of him and just getting to that one. When he reached that stone he would focus on the next one ahead of him and slowly but surely he got home.

    Main Uses: : Well-Formed Outcomes, Chunking, Strategies, Beliefs, If you want to change something, take action, There is no failure, only feedback
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Ben Backwell
    Source: Historical

    changing behaviour

    We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them

    Main Uses: : Reframing, Perceptual Positions, Beliefs
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Fíona Mc Cann
    Source: Albert Einstein

    How realistic is your goal

    How do you eat an elephant?
    one piece at a time

    Main Uses: : Well-Formed Outcomes, Reframing
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Fíona Mc Cann
    Source: Joseph O’Connor
    Notes: From O’Connors NLP Workbook

    The archer

    When you’re betting for tiles in an archery contest, you shoot with skill. When you’re betting for fancy belt buckles, you worry about your aim. And when you’re betting for real gold, you’re a nervous wreck. Your skill is the same in all three cases – but because one prize means more to you than another, you let outside considerations weigh on your mind. He who looks too hard at the outside gets clumsy on the inside

    Main Uses: : Reframing, Life and Mind are Systemic, Sensory Acuity, Behavioural Flexibility
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Fíona Mc Cann
    Source: Chuang Tzu

    The Fisherman and the Businessman

    There was once a businessman who was sitting by the beach in a small Brazilian village.
    As he sat, he saw a Brazilian fisherman rowing a small boat towards the shore having caught quite few big fish.
    The businessman was impressed and asked the fisherman, “How long does it take you to catch so many fish?”
    The fisherman replied, “Oh, just a short while.”
    “Then why don’t you stay longer at sea and catch even more?” The businessman was astonished.
    “This is enough to feed my whole family,” the fisherman said.
    The businessman then asked, “So, what do you do for the rest of the day?”
    The fisherman replied, “Well, I usually wake up early in the morning, go out to sea and catch a few fish, then go back and play with my kids. In the afternoon, I take a nap with my wife, and evening comes, I join my buddies in the village for a drink — we play guitar, sing and dance throughout the night.”
    The businessman offered a suggestion to the fisherman.
    “I am a PhD in business management. I could help you to become a more successful person. From now on, you should spend more time at sea and try to catch as many fish as possible. When you have saved enough money, you could buy a bigger boat and catch even more fish. Soon you will be able to afford to buy more boats, set up your own company, your own production plant for canned food and distribution network. By then, you will have moved out of this village and to Sao Paulo, where you can set up HQ to manage your other branches.”
    The fisherman continues, “And after that?”
    The businessman laughs heartily, “After that, you can live like a king in your own house, and when the time is right, you can go public and float your shares in the Stock Exchange, and you will be rich.”
    The fisherman asks, “And after that?”
    The businessman says, “After that, you can finally retire, you can move to a house by the fishing village, wake up early in the morning, catch a few fish, then return home to play with kids, have a nice afternoon nap with your wife, and when evening comes, you can join your buddies for a drink, play the guitar, sing and dance throughout the night!”
    The fisherman was puzzled, “Isn’t that what I am doing now?”

    Main Uses: : Well-Formed Outcomes, Reframing, Metaprograms, Values, Neurological Levels (Robert Dilts), Beliefs
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen
    Source: This version is from Paolo Coelho. There are many similar versions of the story around the world. I first heard it about a Mexican fisherman.
    Notes: This is always a popular story that people refer back to later.

    The Cinderella Communication Complex

    Before we begin, I’d like to tell you a story because stories are wonderful for teaching, and wonderful for learning. In fact, research has shown that people learn 25% more when they relax before learning. And when I was growing up, my uncle used to tell me stories all the time, down by the sea, where the wind and the salt water would sometimes get in your eyes and make you blink. And blink again with the freshness and new feeling. Now he felt that stories were at the heart of communication, and he said that his grandfather told him the same stories. And his grandfather would always begin a story by saying, “Let your eyes grow sleepy now as you listen to this story that comes to us from a far off place now.”
    And to really understand this story, you might want to really imagine it and the best way to do that is to just step into the relaxed feeling of letting your mind really flow with the story. So as you really enjoy that feeling, you might like to take the chance to relax even more so you can let your unconscious imagine the story really well and let yourself remember it at an even deeper level.
    You know the story of Cinderella, don’t you. How it came to be that the Prince found Cinderella by placing the glass slipper on the foot of every woman in the city. And they lived happily ever after.
    Or did they live happily ever after?
    They got married in the winter, you know, and those first couple of months were wonderful as they gazed into each others eyes, listened to beautiful music together, held hands on their long walks, and talked late into the night.
    When Spring came, they were discussing what to do for on one of the few free evenings that they didn’t have an official royal function.
    So on this free night, the Prince said: “Cinderella, let’s go out to meet everyone and have some drinks under the cherry blossoms. There’ll be a great atmosphere down there tonight.” Later we’ll go dancing at the Undecided Fairy club and we’ll have a real ball.”
    “Really?,” said Cinderella, doubtfully. “Actually, I was just hoping that we could just sit in and read this evening. I’m feeling a little tired. We could take a walk through the blossoms tomorrow – just the two of us. It’ll be lovely and peaceful then.”
    “Hey, we’re going to have a great time,” he said. Come on, Cindy. What you really need is a good night out to energize you.”
    And they just couldn’t seem to agree. So they had an argument, their first if the truth be told, and the truth is always told in fairy tales.
    Spring drew to a close and the weather became warmer and warmer. And by summer, things were again fine between the loving couple. The weather was just glorious, so the King asked the Prince and Princess to host a great beach party for all the children of the country.
    “Oh great”, said Cinderella. “We’ll have to order lots of buckets and spades. Let’s get the order in today to make sure that they arrive in plenty of time. And transportation – we’ll hire a team of buses to get them all down to the beach. Hmm, one last thing – oh yes, the weather. Can you talk to your fairy godmother and arrange some sun for the day?”
    “Wait a minute, Cindy. Not so quick. This is a really interesting opportunity. Let’s think about all the possibilities for a while.”
    They talked for a couple of minutes and Cinderella began to get hot and bothered. “Why can’t he just make a simple decision? We have to act now. It’s so simple and we just need to get to the point. Obviously, we just arrange some simple buckets and spades and set up a sandcastle building contest”
    Meanwhile, the Prince was thinking, “why oh why can’t she see the big picture? This is such a wonderful opportunity for development for these children. There are so many possibilities and we really need to think through each one before we reach a decision.”
    Within just a few minutes, they were screaming at each other, and then shouting all sorts of silly stuff that they had kept bottled up inside.
    In early Autumn, they had again forgiven each other, but they didn’t quite understand the other’s point of view. It was worrying both of them quite a bit, especially now that they were trying to make an important decision together: choosing the location for the new palace. The real estate agent took them off to see the location and explained all the great features. The Prince was really impressed. It was on a great hill with a fine view. The rock was solid enough to be a strong foundation and there was no history of earthquakes in the area. They wandered around the site and the Prince was delighted. But Cinderella didn’t look quite so happy. Finally, she said, “yes, I know that it’s a very logical choice. Everything seems right, but it just doesn’t feel right.”
    “Doesn’t feel right?! Here we are making the biggest purchase of our lives and you’re just worried about your feelings.”
    “Exactly,” said Cinderella angrily. “We’re going to live here, so it has to feel exactly right.”
    “It will feel right”, said the Prince. “Because all the right features are here. Just look around you and use your head.”
    So they had their third argument, the biggest one yet.
    But they didn’t quite understand how the other person was thinking. Everyone has arguments, but these seemed to go right to important issues that they needed to sort out.
    When winter came to the land, they decided to plan their honeymoon. They had been so busy with royal duties and the wedding and officially opening statues of glass slippers that they hadn’t had time to go on a honeymoon.
    “Where shall we go?”, asked the Prince cautiously. He was being careful tonight after all the arguments. He was going to let Cinderella have her way as much as possible. After all, she was the woman and the honeymoon would be more important to her.
    “Oh, I don’t know”, answered Cinderella. How about just taking a couple of horses out and heading down south for a couple of weeks?
    “What do you mean?” This is our honeymoon!,” stuttered the prince. We’ll have to book the hotels and arrange for the carriages and notify all the towns in advance so that the people can come out to wave at us.”
    “We don’t need to worry about any of that stuff. Let’s just go with the flow. I don’t like to plan too much. It just gets in the way of having fun.”
    “Gets in the way of having fun?! How can we possibly have fun if we don’t know what we’re going to be doing?”
    Oh dear, yet another argument.
    They say that you shouldn’t allow any communication strain in a relationship last more than a week without addressing, so they decided to call on the Wizard, a great counselor who could surely help them to save their marriage. After all, it would be embarrassing if they had to get a divorce after the fairy story books had already been written.
    So off they went to the wizard’s den where the wizard asked them to tell him about the problems between them.
    The Prince said: “Wizard, we need your help. She is just incomprehensible. Take out your wand. We need to change her into a normal person.”
    “What”, cried Cinderella. “You want to change me. I’m the one who’s normal. You’re the crazy one. Wizard, get out your wand and change this man into something that I can understand, a frog, for example. ”
    “Oh dear,” said the wizard. “I see that you two really do have some problems understanding each other.
    And then he said something really strange, so out of the blue that it made them really curious about what he was trying to communicate.
    Because communication can be strange sometimes, can’t it? Sometimes, we have real difficulty in understanding someone’s else view of the world.
    For example, I read a funny story about teaching the other day.
    There was a rather eccentric lecturer named John Moffit. John was known for his strong view about the role of the teacher. One of the other lecturers arrived at work on this particular morning and passed by the main lecture theatre on the way to his class. He happened to glance in, and saw John Moffit giving a most rousing lecture from the front of the room. John was gesturing enthusiastically, and eagerly writing on the board. But when the other lecturer looked around the lecture theatre, it was totally empty. A little concerned about John’s sanity, he decided to raise the matter gently at morning tea later on.
    “John,” he observed “I saw you teaching over in the lecture theatre this morning.”
    “Yeeees.” John replied with a wide smile.
    “But John, I must say I noticed that there didn’t seem to be any students there.”
    “Yes, thet’s right. No-one turned up this morning.”
    “And I noticed,” the other man continued, “that you were still teaching.” He waited hoping for some simple explanation.
    Sure enough, John replied “Yes, thet’s right. Well, they pay me to teach, and that’s what I was doing!”
    “It was at this moment”, the other lecturer told me, “that you realize that teaching and learning are two separate things”.
    And you realize that people’s attitudes to teaching and indeed their attitudes to the whole world are completely different. And that’s where Metaprograms come in. Because you’ll also notice when you look at people that some people are different in the same way. In other words, their differences show certain patterns. And these same differences are metaprograms, and I think they are very useful for thinking about teaching and learning, and in fact in all types of communication. You can think of metaprograms as strategies that we use to put our values into action. Because when we are trying to communicate, we are trying to open up communication channels, to engage in communication, not necessarily trying to persuade or accept another person’s values.
    So the wizard said to Cinderella and the Prince: “I see that you two really do have some problems understanding each other.
    And then he said something really strange, so out of the blue that it made them really curious about what he was trying to communicate.
    Alright, both of you, please take off your shoes.”
    “Our shoes?!”
    “Yes, yes, quickly take off your shoes.”
    Looking very confused, the Prince took off his great big black size 11 hunting boots and Cinderella took off her beautiful, dainty size 5 glass slippers.
    “Now,” said the wizard. “Put on each others shoes.”
    “What?”, said both of them together.
    “They’re too big and horrible,” shouted Cinderella just as the Prince was shouting, “they’re much too small and dainty.”
    “Quiet, both of you,” said the wizard sharply, “or I really will use my wand and change you both into pumpkins and eat you for my supper.”
    So the Prince and Cinderella looked at each other worriedly and quickly put on each others shoes.
    “Now,” said the wizard. “Walk around the large courtyard past the fountain and don’t even dream of coming back before you have finished.”
    So the Prince got up and promptly fell over as his huge size 11 feet slipped out of the dainty glass slippers. And Cinderella landed down on the ground next to him as her tiny size 5 feet got lost in his big black size 11 hunting boots.
    “Up, up, and out of my sight,” shouted the wizard, waving his wand and shouting out a strange incantation: “Tea-a-me-Ton-a-me, Got-a-be, Song”.
    Seeing and hearing this, the Prince and Princess scurried out of the wizard’s den, half crawling, half walking, fully annoyed at the crazy old man.
    “He’s mad, you know,” said the Prince. “We should never have gone to him. He’s gone and cast some crazy spell on us. I should have listened to my friends. They said he’s completely flipped since the territory war with the Fairy Godmother.”
    “Oh shut up and leave her out of it.” said Cinderella. “Let’s get this over with. How on earth do you walk in these things? They are so ungainly. I never knew that you had such big feet. You must trip over yourself all the time.”
    “Trip up? What are you talking about? I’m Prince Charming, you know. You didn’t notice me tripping up when we were dancing at the ball, did you?”
    “Well no, I guess not,” said Cinderella.
    “And how do you get around in these tiny things? They’re made of glass, you know. Aren’t you afraid of breaking them?”
    “Of course not. They’re absolutely perfect for me. Just you be careful with them.”
    “I am being careful, really careful”, said the Prince. “It’s funny. They seemed so odd to walk in at first, but it is becoming a little easier now.”
    “Yes, you’re right”, answered Cinderella. It is funny that these boots aren’t quite as bad as they were before. With a couple of weeks of Sunday newspaper supplements stuffed in the toes, I could probably wear them comfortably enough. But of course, I wouldn’t want to.”
    “No. That would be silly,” said the Prince, “but I do know how you can like these slippers. They are awfully pretty and they suit you.”
    And as the couple walked around the courtyard, they talked more freely than they had done in months. It felt like they were actually communicating again and they even started to laugh at their own predicament.
    And by the time, they came back around past the fountain, they were hobbling along hand in hand, laughing and giggling like two little garden gnomes.
    “Hey wizard, we’re back”, called out the Prince when they turned the corner and saw him waiting at the door of his den, a peaceful look upon his old face.
    The wizard gestured to them to sit down and poured them some tea.
    “So you two seem to be getting on a little better.”
    “Yes, what was that spell that you cast on us when we left?”, asked Cinderella. “It must have been very powerful to work so quickly.”
    “Spell?”, asked the wizard. “I didn’t cast any spell on you. I just cast a spell to boil water for the tea. I can’t use my wand to bring you two back together. That would be a breach of ethics and the Merlin league would throw me out right away.”
    “So what did you do,” asked Cinderella.
    The wizard laughed and answered, “I just wanted you to remember the old saying: ‘You’ll never really understand someone until you walk in their shoes for a mile.”
    The couple looked at each other in confusion while the wizard continued: “You two, more than anyone else in the country should have realized that. Cinderella, don’t you remember that your shoes were created by magic. They were created just for you. And my noble Prince, I thought you would have remembered how everyone has different feet. How many ladies did you try to put that same glass slipper onto?
    “Oh hundreds and hundreds,”answered the Prince, “but Cinderella is unique. She’s completely unique. That’s why I love her so much.”
    “And you’re unique, too, my great bigfooted Prince. How many other guys would have been so patient? You’re completely crazy, but I love you so much.”
    And so the wizard showed them how they could understand each other and experience the world in a different way by wearing different shoes.
    And just before they went off to live happily ever after, the Prince turned back and said to the wizard, “thank you so much wizard, you really do have powerful magic”.
    “Of course I have magic,” snorted the wizard. “We all have magic in every word that we say. But everyone responds to that magic in their own unique way. You can be a wizard. Just learn the structure of magic.”

    Main Uses: : Metaprograms
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen
    Source: Brian Cullen
    Notes: This is a story that I wrote for a seminar on metaprograms that I carried out a few years ago for a teacher training session. I can’t remember where the story in the middle about the teachers came from. I may have written it myself or adapted it from somewhere else.


    A widow from a poor village in Bengal did not have enough money to pay for her son’s bus fare, and so when the boy started going to school, he would have to walk through the forest all on his own.
    In order to reassure him, she said:
    ‘Don’t be afraid of the forest, my son. Ask your God Krishna to go with you. He will hear your prayer.’
    The boy followed his mother’s suggestion, and Krishna duly appeared and from then on accompanied him to school every day.
    When it was his teacher’s birthday, the boy asked his mother for some money in order to buy him a present.
    ‘We haven’t any money, son. Ask your brother Krishna to get you a present.’
    The following day, the boy explained his problem to Krishna, who gave him a jug of milk.
    The boy proudly handed the milk to the teacher, but the other boys’ presents were far superior and the teacher didn’t even notice his.
    ‘Where did you get that jug?’
    ‘Krishna, the God of the forest, gave it to me.’
    The teacher, the students and the assistant all burst out laughing.
    ‘There are no gods in the forest, that’s pure superstition,’ said the teacher. ‘If he exists, let’s all go and see him.’
    The whole group set off. The boy started calling for Krishna, but he did not appear.
    The boy made one last desperate appeal.
    ‘Brother Krishna, my teacher wants to see you. Please show yourself!’
    At that moment, a voice emerged from the forest and echoed through the city and was heard by everyone.
    ‘I can’t! He doesn’t even believe I exist.

    Main Uses: : Beliefs
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen
    Source: Unknown


    An old man walking along a beach at dawn noticed a young man ahead of him picking up starfish and flinging them into the sea. Catching up with the youth he asked what he was doing. “”The starfish will die if they are still on the beach when the sun roasts them with its mid-morning heat,”” came the answer. “”But the beach goes on for miles, and there are millions of starfish,”” countered the old man. “”How can your effort make any difference?”” The young man looked at the starfish in his hand and threw it safely in the waves. “”It makes a difference to this one,”” he said.

    Main Uses: : Reframing, Values, If you want to change something, take action
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen
    Source: unknown

    The Rose

    Once upon a time, there was a rose that longed to meet some bees. Because as you know, roses and bees have a special relationship. But although the rose dreamed day and night about the bees, no bee ever came to see her or to rest upon her petals. Yet, the rose continued to dream, always in hope, that one day a bee would come to her. Even during the long nights, she imagined a sky-full of bees, all gazing down upon her, and some of those bees coming to kiss her. And it was perhaps only this hope that kept her alive and helped her to last until the next day when the sun came again and she opened up her beautiful blossoms.
    On one of these nights, the moon (who had seen her longings for many a long night) spoke to her and said, “”You must be so tired of waiting – would it not be easier for you to just give up?””
    “”Oh yes, I am so tired and so lonely,”” said the Rose, “”but I will keep trying and trying.””
    The moon laughed in an unpleasant way and said, “”Why bother?””
    And the rose answered, “”Because if I don’t remain open, I will simply fade away.””

    Main Uses: : Sensory Acuity, Open
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen
    Source: I read a version of this in a book by Paulo Coelho

    Alice and the Queen

    “”I can’t believe that!””, said Alice.
    “”Can’t you?””, the Queen said in a pitying tone. “”Try again – draw a long breath and shut your eyes.””
    Alice laughed, “”There’s no use trying,”” she said: “”one can’t believe impossible things.””
    “”I daresay you haven’t had much practice,”” said the Queen. “”When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes, I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.””

    Main Uses: : Beliefs, Behavioural Flexibility
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen
    Source: Lewis Carroll
    Notes: Alice in Wonderland is always a wonderful source of linguistic riddles and metaphors.
    Here are some other wonderful quotes from Lewis Carroll that are relevant to NLP:
    “”Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end; then stop.””
    “”‘But I don’t want to go among mad people,’ said Alice. ‘Oh, you can’t help that,’ said the cat. ‘We’re all mad here.'””
    “”Everything’s got a moral, if only you can find it.””
    “”I can’t go back to yesterday – because I was a different person then.””
    “”If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.””
    “”It’s a poor sort of memory that only works backwards.””
    “”Take care of the sense and the sounds will take care of themselves.””

    The story of the little hummingbird!

    The rainforest of Brazil is a beautifull forest. It is an important forest too, as it keeps the world in an ecological sound balance, providing a.o. the oxigen the humans and animals so desperately need.
    One day there is a big fire in the forest and all the animals instinctively flee. And so does the hummingbird. At least…. That is how it looks like.
    But if you were to fly over that area, you would see the little hummingbird flying from the fire to a little lake. Diving into the lake, taking a drop of water in his beak and flying back to the fire dropping this drop of water upon the fire.
    And over and over again he flies back and forth with this little drop of water in his beak to drop it on the fire.
    Another little animal, who from time to time stops to check and look around whether he is still going in the right direction, sees the hummingbird and wonders what it is doing.
    At some point both the animals are taking a short rest, and they found themselves on the same spot.
    So the little animal looks at the hummingbird saying: I see you flying back and forth. I don’t understand, you could have been out of here a long time ago. What are you doing?
    The little hummingbird looking at the animal says simply: ‘I am doing my part’

    Main Uses: : Reframing
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Cella van der Staak
    Source: unknown

    The Egg

    The Egg By: Andy Weir
    You were on your way home when you died. It was a car accident. Nothing particularly remarkable, but fatal nonetheless. You left behind a wife and two children. It was a painless death. The EMTs tried their best to save you, but to no avail. Your body was so utterly shattered you were better off, trust me. And that’s when you met me. “What… what happened?” You asked. “Where am I?” “You died,” I said, matter-of-factly. No point in mincing words. “There was a… a truck and it was skidding…” “Yup,” I said. “I… I died?” “Yup. But don’t feel bad about it. Everyone dies,” I said. You looked around. There was nothingness. Just you and me. “What is this place?” You asked. “Is this the afterlife?” “More or less,” I said. “Are you god?” You asked. “Yup,” I replied. “I’m God.” “My kids… my wife,” you said. “What about them?” “Will they be all right?” “That’s what I like to see,” I said. “You just died and your main concern is for your family. That’s good stuff right there.” You looked at me with fascination. To you, I didn’t look like God. I just looked like some man. Or possibly a woman. Some vague authority figure, maybe. More of a grammar school teacher than the almighty. “Don’t worry,” I said. “They’ll be fine. Your kids will remember you as perfect in every way. They didn’t have time to grow contempt for you. Your wife will cry on the outside, but will be secretly relieved. To be fair, your marriage was falling apart. If it’s any consolation, she’ll feel very guilty for feeling relieved.” “Oh,” you said. “So what happens now? Do I go to heaven or hell or something?” “Neither,” I said. “You’ll be reincarnated.” “Ah,” you said. “So the Hindus were right,” “All religions are right in their own way,” I said. “Walk with me.” You followed along as we strode through the void. “Where are we going?” “Nowhere in particular,” I said. “It’s just nice to walk while we talk.” “So what’s the point, then?” You asked. “When I get reborn, I’ll just be a blank slate, right? A baby. So all my experiences and everything I did in this life won’t matter.” “Not so!” I said. “You have within you all the knowledge and experiences of all your past lives. You just don’t remember them right now.” I stopped walking and took you by the shoulders. “Your soul is more magnificent, beautiful, and gigantic than you can possibly imagine. A human mind can only contain a tiny fraction of what you are. It’s like sticking your finger in a glass of water to see if it’s hot or cold. You put a tiny part of yourself into the vessel, and when you bring it back out, you’ve gained all the experiences it had. “You’ve been in a human for the last 48 years, so you haven’t stretched out yet and felt the rest of your immense consciousness. If we hung out here for long enough, you’d start remembering everything. But there’s no point to doing that between each life.” “How many times have I been reincarnated, then?” “Oh lots. Lots and lots. An in to lots of different lives.” I said. “This time around, you’ll be a Chinese peasant girl in 540 AD.” “Wait, what?” You stammered. “You’re sending me back in time?” “Well, I guess technically. Time, as you know it, only exists in your universe. Things are different where I come from.” “Where you come from?” You said. “Oh sure,” I explained “I come from somewhere. Somewhere else. And there are others like me. I know you’ll want to know what it’s like there, but honestly you wouldn’t understand.” “Oh,” you said, a little let down. “But wait. If I get reincarnated to other places in time, I could have interacted with myself at some point.” “Sure. Happens all the time. And with both lives only aware of their own lifespan you don’t even know it’s happening.” “So what’s the point of it all?” “Seriously?” I asked. “Seriously? You’re asking me for the meaning of life? Isn’t that a little stereotypical?” “Well it’s a reasonable question,” you persisted. I looked you in the eye. “The meaning of life, the reason I made this whole universe, is for you to mature.” “You mean mankind? You want us to mature?” “No, just you. I made this whole universe for you. With each new life you grow and mature and become a larger and greater intellect.” “Just me? What about everyone else?” “There is no one else,” I said. “In this universe, there’s just you and me.” You stared blankly at me. “But all the people on earth…” “All you. Different incarnations of you.” “Wait. I’m everyone!?” “Now you’re getting it,” I said, with a congratulatory slap on the back. “I’m every human being who ever lived?” “Or who will ever live, yes.” “I’m Abraham Lincoln?” “And you’re John Wilkes Booth, too,” I added. “I’m Hitler?” You said, appalled. “And you’re the millions he killed.” “I’m Jesus?” “And you’re everyone who followed him.” You fell silent. “Every time you victimized someone,” I said, “you were victimizing yourself. Every act of kindness you’ve done, you’ve done to yourself. Every happy and sad moment ever experienced by any human was, or will be, experienced by you.” You thought for a long time. “Why?” You asked me. “Why do all this?” “Because someday, you will become like me. Because that’s what you are. You’re one of my kind. You’re my child.” “Whoa,” you said, incredulous. “You mean I’m a god?” “No. Not yet. You’re a fetus. You’re still growing. Once you’ve lived every human life throughout all time, you will have grown enough to be born.” “So the whole universe,” you said, “it’s just…” “An egg.” I answered. “Now it’s time for you to move on to your next life.” And I sent you on your way.

    Main Uses: : Reframing, Values, Beliefs, There is no failure, only feedback
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen
    Source: Andy Weir
    Notes: This is one of my favourite stories. It is a beautiful reframe of so many things.

    The Key

    A drunk is searching the ground under a street lamp. A friend gets there and asks him what he is doing. The drunk slurs, “”I’m looking for my key.”” The friend helps him search every where. Half an hour later they still have not found the key. The friend asks, “”Are you sure you lost it here?”” “”No,”” replies the drunk, “”I lost it inside my house.”” “”Then why are you looking here?”” “”Because the light is here.””

    Main Uses: : Well-Formed Outcomes
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen
    Source: Sufi

    Good or Bad?

    Many years ago a wise peasant lived in China. He had a son who was the gleam in his eyes and a white stallion which was his favorite belonging. One day his horse escaped from his grounds and disappeared into the fields outside the village. The villagers came to him one by one and announced their condolences. They said, “”You are such an unlucky man. It is so bad.”” The peasant answered, “”Who knows. Maybe it’s bad, maybe it’s good.”” The populous left. The next day the stallion returned followed by twelve wild horses. The same people returned and told our wise man about how lucky he was. “”It’s so good.”” He replied once more, “”Who knows. Maybe it’s good, maybe it’s bad.”” As it happens, the next day his one and only son was attempting to break in one of the wild horses when the horse fell down and broke his leg. Once more everyone came to condole him. They said, “”It’s so bad.”” Again he replied, “”””Who knows. Maybe it’s bad, maybe it’s good.”” Three days passed and his poor son was limping around the village with his broken leg, when the emperor’s army entered the village announcing that a war was starting and
    they conscripted all the young men of the village. However, they left the son since he had a broken leg. Once more, everyone was so jealous of our man. They surrounded him talking about his shier luck. “”It is so good for you,”” they said. He answered all thus, “”””Who knows. Maybe it’s good, maybe it’s bad.””

    Main Uses: : The Map is not the Territory, There is no failure, only feedback
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen
    Source: Sufi

    Taming an Elephant

    In India elephant keepers train baby elephants to stay put by tying a rope, with a stake on the one side, around one leg and placing the stake into the ground. The baby elephant pulls and pulls on the rope to no avail. This teaches the elephant that no matter what he does he cannot get away when attached to the rope. Later when the elephant is grown up and the keeper wants the elephant to stay put all he does is to tie a small piece of rope on that leg and the giant elephant is held to the spot by his own mind.

    Main Uses: : Behavioural Flexibility
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen
    Source: Unknown

    That’s Right

    Once upon a time, a wise man was acting as the judge and arbitrator in a dispute. First the advocate of the first side gave an eloquent discourse advancing his claims. The wise man who had been listening intently agreed and said, “”That’s right.”” Next it was the other advocates turn and he was just as erudite. Once more the wise man agreed adding, “”That’s right.”” His clerk listening to the wise man’s pronouncements commented, “”They can’t both be right.”” “”The wise man agreed by saying, “”That’s right!””

    Main Uses: : Logical Levels
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen
    Source: Unknown

    The Drum

    A long time ago, a man was beating a drum as hard as he could. The neighbors were fed up at the racket and asked him what he was doing. He replied, “”Keeping wild tigers at bay.”” A neighbor shouted, “”But there are no wild tigers within a thousand miles of here.”” The man smiled and replied, “”It works, doesn’t it!””

    Main Uses: : Strategies, Beliefs, Behavioural Flexibility
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen
    Source: Unknown

    The Axe

    A man was using a rusted axe to cut a huge oak tree. A friend was passing by and saw that the man was make no progress at all. At this rate it would take him years to chop the mighty tree down. He said, “”why don’t you sharpen your axe?”” The man replied, “”I can’t afford the time. Must cut this tree by tomorrow.””

    Main Uses: : Logical Levels, Behavioural Flexibility
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen
    Source: unknown

    The Treasure Chest

    A guy felt unlucky. Whatever he did ended up wrong and he never had enough money. He saw this wise old woman who gave him a tiny little locked treasure chest and told him it had an exotic magic object inside which would bring him luck. She told him to take it with him everywhere he went and shake it three times whenever he entered a new room. So the guy took the treasure chest everywhere and he started noticing things. As he shook his treasure chest and paid attention, he noticed an opportunity here and a danger or pitfall there. A year went by and his luck had totally changed. He went back to the wise old woman and asked for the key to the lock. The old woman at first refused but eventually acquiesced to his pleas and opened the treasure chest. The man looked inside and there was no magical object within.

    Main Uses: : Talking to the Unconscious, Sensory Acuity
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen
    Source: Sufi


    When Avicenna (Ibn-e-Sina), the great Iranian physician and philosopher, was young, one day he was traveling to another city. He was riding a mule and had all his books loaded on another mule. As it happened he crossed the territory of a band of brigands. The bandits saw the lone rider and the two mules as easy prey and attacked and overcame the hapless scholar. They robbed him of all his belongings and the two mules. Avicenna pleaded with the chief of the outlaws to let him have his books back since they were no use to them, but they were the sum total of his knowledge. As it happens the head bandit was a wise and insightful person and could tell that this young student had much potential. He gave him a single mule and his books back and told him, “”Remember only that knowledge is yours which is contained in your head.”” Avicenna headed the thief’s advice and was on his way to becoming one of the greatest physicians in the history of humanity.

    Main Uses: : Strategies, Talking to the Unconscious
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Anonymous
    Source: unknown
    Notes: I’m not quite sure why I like this story so much. perhaps we rely on the Internet and books too much for our extended cognition, yet it is really only within our own minds that the most important connections can be made unconsciously.


    It is there but is it available?
    Today it was raining cats and dogs… Thank God I had my umbrella and my raincoat with me. However, my umbrella was locked in my car’s trunk and my raincoat locked inside my car. I was thinking about this as I was running to my car and I was getting soaked. I realized that this was a wonderful metaphor for the way we pass through the tempests of life: each one of us has the inner resources needed to face up with whatever life has to throw in our path. The problem is that often our resources are locked up inside where they cannot immediately do us any good. One of the best ways of freeing our inner resources is through hypnosis and NLP.

    Main Uses: : Talking to the Unconscious, The Map is not the Territory, Accessing Resources
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen


    You don’t have to spend a lot of money on incentives; self-made certificates can be more effective than anything else.
    Twenty years ago, I when I was an aide at the school I work at now, I used to manage the Writing To Read Computer Lab. I was just 18-years-old and could not afford expensive and fancy incentives for the 130 students that came to my lab, therefore I made certificates on the computer. Every Friday I would give 5 certificates to those students who showed some growth or finished a specific journal. There was a special girl who came from a poor immigrant family who lived across from the school. She was in 1st grade when she came to my lab. Of course, she was one of the certificate receiver (they all were, sooner or later).
    Seventeen years later, I was invited to her wedding ceremony, held at her small house. As I walked in the door, I was in awe to see her hall of fame. Between her high school and university degrees, in the biggest frame, was the faded, old Writing To Read certificate! I could not believe my eyes, seventeen years later and she still had the certificate I had given her. (Well, I shouldn’t be shocked, I am currently 38 years old and still have my elementary school certificates.)
    Her mother later told me that she treasured that certificate more than any other because that was the one that gave her the confidence and strength to continue with her studies.
    At that time, I realized that candy, stickers, and other fancy incentives work well for the moment, but nothing like something written on paper to make a lifetime impact. Plus, let’s face it, on a teacher’s salary, I still can’t afford the expensive, fancy incentives. Nonetheless, nothing could be more rewarding than knowing that you made a difference in at least one student’s life. That is the best pay one could receive.
    Keep empowering students!

    Main Uses: : Chunking, Moving in the right direction
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen
    Source: Adapted from a story by Maria Aceves
    Notes: This story reminded me of some of my old students who met me years laterLitl and told me of some little thing I had done that made a big difference to them. Li

    Thomas Edison

    It is said that Thomas Edison tried three thousand different materials in search of the perfect material for the filament of his light bulb. When none worked satisfactorily, his assistant complained, “All our work is in vain. We have learned nothing.”
    Edison replied very confidently, “Oh, we have come a long way and we have learned a lot. We know that there are two thousand elements which we cannot use to make a good light bulb.”

    Main Uses: : There is no failure, only feedback
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen
    Source: Historical

    The Peaceful Country

    The Peaceful Country
    Once upon a time there was a country, a very young country. It was idealistic, and the people in this country had great dreams about what the country would be like. It would be a country without war. It would be a gentle country. They wanted to live together in cooperation and peace.
    Unfortunately, in the early history of this country, there was an unexpected attack from outside. And not just one attack, but several.
    The people of this country didn’t know what to do. They didn’t know how to respond, and the whole of the country was thrown into turmoil. They wondered what to do, to deal with the situation in the best way that they could. Someone suggested,
    “”Lets ask for volunteers, and then we can set up a small group of people inside the country, and this small group can be in charge of defending the border.””
    And as they didn’t seem to have very many choices just then, and at least this way most of the people could carry on living their normal peaceful existence, they agreed that this is what they would do. So, they sent the small group out there, to the border, to defend it.
    The small group knew that they were there to control the border. That was their job, and they wanted to do it the very best way that they could, and you did… you know.
    Now, after a while very disturbing news began to come back from the border, news of what was going on over there. The news was, that the small group over on the border was causing chaos. It was doing things that the people in the centre didn’t approve of at all. Things that were damaging to the community.
    Naturally, the people in the centre were really concerned about this. They just hadn’t seemed to be able to find an ecological solution, you know… one that works in all ways.
    Time went on… and unfortunately more problems occurred. They started getting messages from the small group, messages saying that to defend the border more territory was needed. The group at the border wanted to control more of the country.
    At first the people in the country agreed, but they thought… well, that this could go on and on. And they began to wonder… who is really in charge here.
    They had to really consider what to do.
    So they organised a meeting with the people out on the border, and they called in a negotiator to assist them. The people from the centre, the small group and the negotiator begin to communicate.
    The people from the centre said that some of the things going on out there at the border really concerned them, and they wondered if the small group had a good reason for it. And it was very important the way that they said that, you know, because they really wanted to understand the small groups highest intentions, and they were careful to express it to them in a way that showed that.
    So they asked the small group about their intentions, and the group said that of course they were defending the border. They had to get tough they explained, because it was so critical that this was done well.
    And then the negotiator asked them what they were wanting to achieve by defending the border in just that way. If the border was defended fully, what would they have through that, that’s even more important than the defence itself.
    And they said that the country would be safe, and that’s what they’re trying to achieve.
    Then the negotiator asked what would happen, as a result of that safety, that’s even more important than the safety itself.
    And the small group thought about it, and explained that then they would be able to live in peace, harmony and cooperation.
    The people from the centre said that now they understood what had been happening, and explained
    “”That’s what we want too.””
    So they were able to really begin to cooperate and find ways that they really could begin to have more peace and harmony, because, you know the really important thing about this story?
    The most important thing to know is that the attack had been finished years ago.
    That’s right…
    … it’s been over for years.

    Main Uses: : Parts, Talking to the Unconscious
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen
    Source: Richard Bolstad
    Notes: This wonderful story is by Richard Bolstad and appears in a longer article about parts integration at:

    The Lunar Effect

    Nearly fifty years ago, at the height of space exploration, many astronauts were documented as having profound, transformational experiences as a result of looking at the Earth from a distance. This became a well-known side-effect of space travel and was labeled by journalists at the time as the ‘Lunar Effect’. This is an extreme example of what can happen when you get far enough away from your situation and can see it in the context of the much bigger ‘universe’ of reality. Problems become smaller, priorities become larger and clearer, and the interconnectedness between all aspects of life take on a deeper meaning.

    Main Uses: : Perceptual Positions
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen
    Source: An internet newsletter

    5 Balls

    Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling some five balls in the air. They are Work, Family, Health, Friends and Spirit, and you’re keeping all of these in the air.
    You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. But the four others – Family, Health, Friends and Spirit – are made of glass. If you drop one of these, it will be scuffed, nicked, damaged, even shattered. And it will never be the same.
    Work efficiently during office hours and leave on time. Give proper time to your family and friends, and take a decent rest.
    Value has a value only if its value is valued.””

    Main Uses: : Values, Life and Mind are Systemic
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen
    Source: Jim Dyson, chairman of Coca Cola

    The Farmer

    His name was Fleming, and he was a poor Scottish farmer.
    One day, while trying to make a living for his family, he heard a cry
    for help coming from a nearby bog.
    He dropped his tools and ran to the bog.There, mired to his waist in
    black muck, was a terrified boy, screaming and struggling to free
    Farmer Fleming saved the lad from what could have been a slow and
    terrifying death.
    The next day, a fancy carriage pulled up to the Scotsman’s sparse
    surroundings. An elegantly dressed nobleman stepped out and introduced
    himself as the father of the boy Farmer Fleming had saved.
    “”I want to repay you,”” said the nobleman. “”You saved my son’s life.””
    ”No, I can’t accept payment for what I did,”” the Scottish farmer
    replied waving off the offer.
    At that moment, the farmer’s own son came to the door of the family hovel.
    “”Is that your son?'””the nobleman asked.
    “”Yes,”” the farmer replied proudly.
    “”I’ll make you a deal. Let me provide him with the level of
    education my own son will enjoy. If the lad is anything like his
    father, he’ll no doubt grow to be a man we both will be proud of””.
    And that he did. Farmer Fleming’s son attended the very best schools
    and in time, graduated from St. Mary’s Hospital Medical School in
    London , and went on to become known throughout the world as the
    noted Sir Alexander Fleming, the discoverer of Penicillin.
    Years afterward, the same nobleman’s son who was saved from the bog
    was stricken with pneumonia. What saved his life this time?
    Penicillin. And the name of the nobleman? Lord Randolph Churchill
    … His son’s name? Sir Winston Churchill.

    Main Uses: : Values, Life and Mind are Systemic
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen
    Source: Unknown

    The Farmer

    His name was Fleming, and he was a poor Scottish farmer.
    One day, while trying to make a living for his family, he heard a cry
    for help coming from a nearby bog.
    He dropped his tools and ran to the bog.There, mired to his waist in
    black muck, was a terrified boy, screaming and struggling to free
    Farmer Fleming saved the lad from what could have been a slow and
    terrifying death.
    The next day, a fancy carriage pulled up to the Scotsman’s sparse
    surroundings. An elegantly dressed nobleman stepped out and introduced
    himself as the father of the boy Farmer Fleming had saved.
    “”I want to repay you,”” said the nobleman. “”You saved my son’s life.””
    ”No, I can’t accept payment for what I did,”” the Scottish farmer
    replied waving off the offer.
    At that moment, the farmer’s own son came to the door of the family hovel.
    “”Is that your son?'””the nobleman asked.
    “”Yes,”” the farmer replied proudly.
    “”I’ll make you a deal. Let me provide him with the level of
    education my own son will enjoy. If the lad is anything like his
    father, he’ll no doubt grow to be a man we both will be proud of””.
    And that he did. Farmer Fleming’s son attended the very best schools
    and in time, graduated from St. Mary’s Hospital Medical School in
    London , and went on to become known throughout the world as the
    noted Sir Alexander Fleming, the discoverer of Penicillin.
    Years afterward, the same nobleman’s son who was saved from the bog
    was stricken with pneumonia. What saved his life this time?
    Penicillin. And the name of the nobleman? Lord Randolph Churchill
    … His son’s name? Sir Winston Churchill.

    Main Uses: : Values, Life and Mind are Systemic
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen
    Source: Unknown

    The Priest and the Thief

    One evening as the Buddhist priest, Shichiri Kojun, was reciting his sutras, a man with a knife crept up behind him.””Give me your money!”” the man threatened. Without turning his head, Shichiri answered, “”Do not disturb me. You will find the money in the cupboard near the wall.”” And then he resumed his recitation. A few moments later, Shichiri paused and called: “”Don’t take it all, though. I need to pay my taxes tomorrow.”” The man returned a few coins to the cupboard and started towards the door. As he opened it, he heard Shichiri say, “”Thank a person when you receive a gift.”” The man called over his shoulder, “”You are thanked,”” and he fled into the dark night. Within a few weeks, the man was arrested for theft. At his trial, Shichiri appeared with many others who claimed that the man had stolen from them. When it was Shichiri’s turn to testify, he was asked if the accused man had stolen anything. Shichiri replied, “”No. He entered my house. He asked me for money. I told him that it was in my cupboard. He took some. And then he thanked me for it.”” When the man finished his prison term, he went to Shichiri and became his disciple.

    Main Uses: : Modelling
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen
    Source: Japanese Folk Tale
    Notes: From:


    The Dancing Centipede
    Once there was a centipede who delighted in dancing. At night when the moon began to rise and shed its soft light onto the grassy slope below, Centipede would stretch one of her several beautiful long legs. “”Aaaahhh…”” she would sigh into the cool night air. And then, she would close her eyes and begin to sway to the music of the nearby stream as it splashed over the pebbles and stones. Slowly, at first, her numerous dainty feet started to move by two’s and four’s and ten’s in a carefully choreographed pattern, faster and faster, until she found herself framed in her spotlight from the moon. Head thrown back, legs outstretched she belted in true Ethel Merman fashion “”I’m just a Broadway Baby… 100 legs-each kicking higher than the last, “”Struttin’ my stuff…”” 100 feet , each encased in a tiny gold slipper, “”All over the earth to-night.”” Now swinging from the branch of an abandoned hut, Bat wanted to join her – Top hat, tails, and all – but the movements were so … amazing! So brilliant! So dazzling! So absolutely out of his league! He would have to settle for admiration only – and a dream. From the water’s shallows, Frog ribbeted appreciation and Cricket chirped as Centipede executed one multi-legged split after another, finally concluding with a twisting top spiral balancing herself deftly on the tips of her 50th right and left legs, all 98 others tucked one round the other. Goose was absolutely energized by the evening’s performance and couldn’t stop honking “”Bravo’s”” as she waddled over to where Centipede paused still lost in her moment of artistic brilliance. “”Simply stunning,”” Lizard hissed and whistled. “”Oh, please, show us how you do it,”” cooed Dove from a branch. “”Yeesss, pleeaassee,”” they all shouted. “”Tell us! Which foot do you start with? And which foot do you end with? How do you know what to do?”” “”Quiet, everyone,”” said Centipede confidently untwirling herself with ease. Everybody moved closer to hear her words of wisdom. She smiled at the admiring audience in front of her, took a deep breath and said, “”Well, first I…”” She paused, looked at her feet, moved several of them this way and that.””I…””And, then, she wobbled – ever so slightly – and a curious, confused expression came across her face. From that night on, Centipede never danced again.
    (Adapted folk tale)
    Although the talented Centipede was baffled into paralysis by questions exploring her technique, had she studied NLP, she probably would have danced after that night and,what’s more, she could have learned how to share her skills with others. How can this metaphor be useful for teachers to learn about NLP and to share insights about behavior? Many teachers-and students-are like both the Centipede and her Admirers. They have a special skill (the Centipede) and, still they desire something more (the Admirers). They have a knack for doing some things well but suddenly become confused and stumped when trying to explain or analyze performance. What does that imply about skill or talents and, also, the thinking processes? How conscious are we of what we do? Is a particular skill inspired by the gods or is it a habit developed over time by persistence and practice? Viola Spolin, the American artist-educator and author of several books on improvisational theatre techniques for children and adults, strongly objected to the concept of talent as a special genius. Spolin insisted that each of us, at birth, has a capacity to experience and as we progress through life, we either expand that capacity or we limit it.

    Main Uses: : Strategies, Modelling, Talking to the Unconscious, Sensory Acuity
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen

    The Eagle

    Oh to be an eagle
    And swoop down from a peak
    With the golden sunlight flashing
    From the fierce hook of my beak.
    ‘Oh to be an eagle
    And to terrify the sky
    With the beat of wings like thunder
    And a wild, barbaric cry.
    ‘Oh to be an eagle…but why keep dreaming?
    I must learn to be myself,’
    Said the rubber duckling sadly
    On its soapy bathroom shelf.

    Main Uses: : Responsibility
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen
    Source: Richard Edwards
    Notes: I like this story because it reminds me of the need for self-responsibility and recognition of the limits of the self. While NLP can help us to transcend many limiting beliefs, the rubber duck can never be an eagle and there are things that we can probably never be, no matter how much modelling we do.

    The Edge

    “”Come to the edge!””
    “”Tis too high!””
    “”Come to the edge!””
    “”We might fall!””
    “”Come to the edge!””
    So they came to the edge and
    He pushed them and

    Main Uses: : Beliefs, If you want to change something, take action
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen
    Source: Guillaume Apollinaire

    The Bully

    Our minds are like school playgrounds that are surrounded by secure high fences – they keep children in, and others out. Any bullies in that playground mean that the other children can’t escape for long. This particular bully uses verbal abuse, shouting, teasing, and threats (rather than physical violence). The children are all fenced in together, and ideally, they have just got to learn to accept and learn to be with each other. So neither can we escape our thoughts, we cannot stop them, but perhaps we can learn to live with them by seeing them differently. Along comes bully, and takes on 3 potential ‘victims’ who all react differently.
    Victim 1 – believes the bully, distressed, reacts automatically (bully carries on)
    Victim 2 – challenges the bully “hey I’m not stupid, I got 8 out of 10 in my spelling test this morning, you only got 4” (bully eventually gives up)
    Victim 3 – looks at the bully (acknowledges the thought), then walks away and goes off to play football with his mates (dismisses the thought), then changes their focus of attention.

    Main Uses: : Behavioural Flexibility
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen
    Source: Hannan & Tolin

    The Plane Crash

    Not so long ago, a plane landed seemingly miraculously on the River Hudson. All 155 people came out alive. What did those 155 people feel as they stood on dry land and realized what they’d been through? Would they all have had the same reaction? Absolutely not! Many would have felt very distressed and upset – they nearly died, and they might decide never to fly again as it’s clearly too dangerous. Others might been overwhelming relief and happiness at having survived. Some might decide to live life to the full as a result of their experience, and be determined to fly even more. There could be 155 different reactions. Same event, different responses. It’s not the event which causes our emotions, it’s the meaning we give them. Those who interpreted the event as terrifyingly dangerous may feel very distressed, and be too anxious to fly again. Others will feel ecstatic as the meaning they gave the event was that they were incredibly lucky to survive.

    Main Uses: : The Map is not the Territory
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen
    Source: Ayres 2009

    Tug of War with a Monster

    Imagine you’re in a tug of war with some huge anxiety (depression etc) monster. You’ve got one end of the rope, and the monster has the other end. In between you, there’s a huge bottomless pit. You’re pulling backward as hard as you can, but the monster keeps on pulling you ever closer to the pit. What’s the best thing to do in that situation?
    Pulling harder comes naturally, but the harder you pull, the harder the monster pulls. You’re stuck. What do you need to do?
    Dropping the rope means the monster’s still there, but you’re no longer tied up in a struggle with it. Now you can do something more useful.

    Main Uses: : If you want to change something, take action, There is no failure, only feedback, Behavioural Flexibility
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen
    Source: Harris 2009

    The Headache

    A man on a street had a really bad headache and was clearly in pain when two women walking by stopped to see if they can help.
    The first woman said “I can help you, but first we need to get to the core issues underlying the headache. It’s clear that you’re suffering from stress or a chemical imbalance, and there is no point just addressing the symptom without getting to this core issue. However, the man simple groaned and says that he is in pain and he doesn’t want to think about anything else.
    The second woman stepped up to the man and opened her purse. “Here, take this aspirin”, she said. In just a few minutes, the pill started to take effect and the man looked visibly better and thanked the woman profusely. Then the second woman said, “now that you feel better, would you like to take the time to talk about anything that may be causing this headache. That will help you avoid having pain like this in the future. The man readily agreed.

    Main Uses: : Well-Formed Outcomes, State Management, Strategies, Sensory Acuity, Behavioural Flexibility
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen
    Source: Unknown

    Two Monks

    Many many years ago, two monks were walking through a town where a great rain had fallen and the main street of the town was flooded. A beautiful lady in her best clothes was trying to cross the road, but couldn’t cross because she was afraid that she would damage her clothes.
    The older monk looked at the lady, and despite his religious vow to never touch a woman, he gently lifted the woman off the ground and carried her safely across the flooded street to the other side. Then he returned to the younger monk.
    The younger monk said nothing, but had a look so fiery on his face that it could have boiled the water around their feet. All day, they continued to walk, and the younger monk continued to display his angry face.
    Finally, the younger monk stopped, turned to the older monk and said:
    “How could you have done that?”
    “Done what?”, said the older monk.
    “How could you have carried that woman like that? You know that our vows forbid us from touching a woman.”
    The older monk smiled gently and said,
    “I carried her for one minute a long time ago. Are you still carrying her in your heart?”

    Main Uses: : Values, Beliefs
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen
    Source: Unknown
    Notes: I can’t remember where I first heard this story. I often use it with people who have trouble letting go of anger or guilt.

    Buddha and the Heckler

    Buddha was giving a talk one day underneath a tree in front of a group of people. Many of the people were already believers, several were interested in hearing what he said with an open mind, but there was one man there who had already made up his mind that he was right and that Buddha was wrong.
    All during the Buddha’s talk, the man interrupted and heckled rudely. The Buddha simply responded to each interruption calmly and quietly and despite himself, the man began to become impressed by the Buddha’s words and attitude.
    After the talk, he went up to Buddha and congratulated him on a good talk. Then he asked,
    “Why didn’t you respond to my heckling – usually people get very upset or start arguing back at me.”
    Buddha smiled at him and asked the man a question in return.
    “When a person offers you a gift and you refuse that gift, who does that gift now belong to?”
    “It belongs to the other person.”
    “That’s right,” said Buddha. “And so I left your gift with you to enjoy as you see fit.”

    Main Uses: : Values, There is no failure, only feedback, Behavioural Flexibility
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen
    Source: Unknown
    Notes: I heard this story somewhere many years ago and occasionally use it to help people remember that the map is not the territory. It is how we respond to events, and not the event itself, that is really meaningful.


    Worry is a useful signal. It’s like a telephone call from your unconscious mind. So it’s good, of course, to notice the call and answer it. That allows you to make the proper response. I mean, you don’t want the phone to keep ringing. Once is enough. So just make the appropriate response immediately and then the ringing will stop.
    During 1999, a very bizarre fear and worry filled the newspapers every day. It was called the Y2K problem. The year 2,000 sounds a little ominous, of course, and people may have been looking for it to have a special meaning or even to mark the end of an era in a really obvious way. Or perhaps, Y2K was a serious fear for people.
    It’s interesting to consider how this problem began before we look at its more interesting consequences today. Back when computers were first invented and developed, computer memory was really really expensive. And so programmers would try to save bits and bytes wherever possible. So when a programmer was entering the format for the date, he decided to use “55″ instead of the longer “1955.” By doing this, he could use half as much memory to encode the data. Saving two bytes may not sound like much, but when a program used a date in hundreds or thousands of places, this could add up to big memory savings.
    Of course, the programmer didn’t imagine that the computer and his program would still be in use in the year 2000. Back then, people imagined the year 2000 as having flying cars and amazing anti-gravity devices. Although the world has progressed enormously, it is amazing how some things can still stay around much much longer than people imagine. And that’s what happened with the code that the programmer wrote. Just like a person can keep snippets of memory from long long ago, in the same way, snippets of code can stay around in newer systems long after could be imagined.
    And of course, those snippets continue to play an important role in the system. So in the year 1999, people began to worry very much about the effect of all these old snippets that remained in the system. Because what would happen when the two digit representation of the year 1999 changed into the two digit representation of the year 2000? What the programmers had never imagined – 99 would change into 00 right at the first stroke of the clock in the year two thousand.
    Let’s think about this to show what it could mean. Supposing a bank is calculating your interest according to how many years you have had it on deposit. For example, let’s say that you deposited $100,000 in the bank at a simple interest rate of 4% per year.
    Interest = (99-60) * 100,000 * 4% = $156,000
    So far, so good. But let’s look at the calculation when “99″ changes into “00.”
    Interest = (00 – 60) * 100,000 * 4% = -$240,000
    Yes, that’s right, instead of being ahead by about one hundred and fifty thousand dollars, your account is suddenly going to be massively depleted and you’ll be in the red by two hundred and fourty thousand dollars. That’s an overall loss of almost four hundred thousand dollars. For any investor, that is going to rate as a pretty bad one-second loss.
    So it’s clear how financial institutes were worried by Y2K. But everyone else started getting worried, too. A lot of the old American military systems were also using very old snippets of code. What would happen if a nuclear missile computer got the date wrong. If the distance of a potential incoming missile were to suddenly become a minus number, would that mean that an attack had already occured and automatic retaliation was required?
    Y2K was the worry of the decade and it showed. People started stocking up on food. They bought guns and gas masks. They expected World War Three, an earthquake, a famine, and a tornado to all hit simultaneously.
    All the computer experts got paid huge sums of money that year to sift through these old snippets and to find any potential problems. People even worried that programmers might introduce new problems as they tried to Y2K-proof old code that was difficult to understand.
    And at midnight 1999, many many people were very scared and very worried. What happened?
    In a word – nothing.
    Worry is a useful signal – a way of helping us to check that we have done things right and that we are prepared. But most of the time, nothing happens. The horrors that we can dream up are generally far worse than reality. So the next time worry comes to you – remember that it is like a telephone call to your unconscious mind. Go ahead. Answer the call. Check that things are ok. Make the appropriate response and then move on to a new exciting era.
    ©2010 by Brian Cullen

    Main Uses: : Reframing, Talking to the Unconscious
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen
    Source: Brian Cullen
    Notes: I wrote this story years ago and have often found it useful to tell to people when they are overcome with worries about the future. We often suffer much more in our worries about possibilities than in actual events.

    The Moon and Me

    I looked at the moon through the tall buildings of the city. And the moon looked back at me, not a full moon – just a crescent – and the beauty of that moon in the center of the city lifted my spirits for a few moments before the reality of the ugly buildings returned to my mind.
    Yes, moon, I can see you. You’re a beautiful thing in the middle of all this barren concrete, but you are so away from it all, and I am stuck right in the middle of it.
    And the moon looked back at me and spoke gently.
    The difference between you and me is indeed one of perception, but perhaps not one of distance because I am just as far from you as you are from me. And perhaps I see the ugliness of the city as much as you because I can see it as it spreads its cold concrete upon the earth.
    Rather than distance, we differ in another way; you see only the bright side of me – the face that I show to the world illuminated by the sun and full of beauty. Yet I know and accept that a full half of me is hidden in darkness from you. I accept that dark half of me because it is part of who I am.
    You, too, have a dark half and you try to learn more, to see further, so that you can push the darkness away from yourself. But just like me, the darkness is a part of who you are. You can adventure in the darkness and try to extend your light, but as you extend your light you will find that you also expand your darkness. As knowledge and understanding grows, so its shadow grows alongside.
    I still did not understand and asked the moon “And should I then simply live in the darkness for it shall always be part of me?” The moon replied:
    As you grow and learn, the things that you do not know and understand will grow alongside. But the world cannot see your darkness anymore than it can see mine. Although your dark side is an invitation to learn more and to expand your wisdom, it is your growing light that shines. You shall always be half in darkness, but you shall truly be a greater light for the world.
    A passerby saw me gazing and talking to the moon and muttered “another beautiful moon and beautiful lunatic.”

    Main Uses: : Perceptual Positions, Parts, Talking to the Unconscious, There is no failure, only feedback
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen
    Source: Brian Cullen
    Notes: The seeds of this story came to me as I came home one evening and spotted the moon shining out from behind a building near where I live in central Nagoya, Japan. It’s hard to hide some things of beauty – even behind all the ugly edifices we build.

    The Mirror and the Lake

    A few nights ago, I had a dream about a mirror. Very strange vivid dream in which I was looking for a mirror. And then the next day, as so often seems to happen these days, something related to my dream took place – I met a friend who was carrying six small mirrors. They were beautifully made in a hexagonal form. I told him about my dream and he immediately gave me one of the mirrors. He had just had them made, and he figured that one of them was meant to be for me.
    Mirrors are amazing things. They remind people what they look like, and in this case the mirror also reminded me of a story – an old Irish story about a monk called Kevin who set up a monastery called Glendalough in the remote hills of Wicklow. Kevin, or Saint Kevin, as he is known today was a very pious man who believed that the first step in loving God was to love yourself. He didn’t mean for people to be arrogant in any way. He simply meant that you should respect and love yourself, accept yourself as a wonderful creation of God’s love. Once you are able to love yourself, then you can choose to show your love for others through devotion, and finally you can begin to truly love God.
    The monastery of Glendalough is in a beautiful setting, surrounded by woods inhabited by the native red squirrels and the bluebells that dance among the trees. Kevin originally went there as a hermit to live alone and to worship God, but slowly stories of his piety attracted many monks and the monastery grew and grew until it became the structure that lies in ruins today, with the round tower acting as a beacon for more pilgrims and travellers in the Wicklow hills.
    One of these monks who caused problems was a man called Tomas. Tomas believed himself to be a pious man, but often when night came, he would creep out of the monastery and head for the local tavern where he would drink during the night and engage in rather un-monklike activities.
    It wasn’t that Tomas really planned to go out and do these crazy things. It was just that sometimes he forgot himself and slipped out, thinking that it was just this one time and that no harm could possibly come of it. And so he would go out and do things that aren’t really suitable for a person who loves himself or herself.
    When the man returned to the monastery, bloated and tired, he would always have to sleep down by the lake because Kevin always locked the monastery at night to ensure that everything was safe and the integrity of the monastery would not be threatened in any way. And when the man awoke by the lake in the bright light of morning, he would realize that he had done it again and be disgusted at what he had done, feel very guilty and head back to the monastery. Sometimes, he even thought of just quitting the monastery because he thought that he couldn’t live up to the goals, but eventually he would always go back – knowing that he might fail again.
    Now, Kevin knew all about Tomas’ antics, even though he pretended that he knew nothing at all. Because whatever we do, people always know about them somehow. And there are no real secrets in a monastery. Each part of the monastery eventually is influenced by every other part.
    So one morning, Kevin went down to the lake and saw Tomas sleeping there, tossing and turning with guilt in his dreams in the midst of all that fabulous scenery. For Glendalough is a truly beautiful place where even today people take long walks in the mountains and woods and walk from the higher lake to the monastery at the lower lake. Kevin hid himself carefully in a tree where Tomas would be able to hear his voice but wouldn’t be able to see him, and he called out to Tomas who was still sleeping. Kevin spoke in a beautiful soft voice like an angel.
    “Tomas, why are you here?”
    Tomas heard the strange voice of the angel calling and startled up, thinking he was having a strange dream.
    “I must return to the monastery,” he said to himself aloud. “Oh my God, I have done it again. I hate myelf for what I have done.”
    But then the angel’s voice came again, “But Tomas, if you return to the monastery without learning to love yourself, you will do this same thing again and again.”
    Tomas looked around again to try to see who was calling and realized without a doubt that he was in the presence of an angel.
    “So what should I do? Should I leave this monastery?,” he cried, truly upset because he really did want to achieve his goal of being close to God.
    The angel said, “If you really want to be close to God, you know that you must do as Kevin has said and learn to love yourself.”
    “So what should I do?,” asked Tomas. “I really do want to achieve what I set out to do.”
    Then the angel said, “Go to the lake and look at the place where you see yourself in the water.”
    For the lower lake of Glendalough is truly a beautiful place, one of those mysterious waters where you the surface of the lake is almost like a mirror in the still cold mornings of the Wicklow hills.
    The angel continued, “Go to the lake and gaze upon your own face in the reflection of the mirror of the lake. See and know yourself. Look at yourself and say ‘I accept and love this person.’ And each morning at this hour, return to the lake and once again gaze upon your reflection in the mirror of the lake and learn to love yourself so that you can love others and learn to love God.”
    And the monk, Tomas, did just as the angel had said, and he gazed upon his own image in the lake and new understandings came to him. He began to understand and respect the person that he truly was in new ways. And each day as he returned to look upon his face in the mirror of the lake, he began to change his way, to develop a true love and respect for himself, and the more he truly respected and loved himself, the more he was able to devote himself to his true purpose and respond to his true calling.
    And as the years went by, Tomas became the abbot of the monastery of Glendalough and was known far and wide for his resourceful wisdom and lore, but above all for his love. And when he was asked for advice by the novice monks, he always replied, look upon yourself every morning in the mirror of the lake and learn to love the face that you see. For when you look upon your face, you can see the greatness of God himself.
    And when I told this story to the friend who gave me the gift of the hexagonal mirror, he laughed and said “perhaps you will remember this story when you see this mirror and remember that you have many more sides than the six sides of the hexagon.”

    Main Uses: : Perceptual Positions, Talking to the Unconscious, There is no failure, only feedback
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen
    Source: Brian Cullen
    Notes: I have always been hugely impressed by the beauty of Glendalough in County Wicklow, about 20 miles or so from where I grew up. The lakes have a wonderful mystical feel about them and I quite understand why Kevin set up his monastery there.


    Recently I decided to start iceskating and I went to the icerink with a friend. When I got on the big bulky boots, I could hardly stand and as soon as I went out on the ice, I slipped and fell on my ass. So I eventually stood up again, but this time I held on to the railing.
    Meanwhile my friend, once he got on his boots, he immediately pushed himself off the wall and skated right out into the middle. Of course, he fell down, too. And getting up was a little more difficult for him. But he got help from some people and when he stood up again, he immediately skated off again. And then he fell down again. And he kept doing that all day, and it’s funny but by the end of the day, he had learned to skate pretty well.
    Meanwhile, I was still holding on to the wall, afraid to let go of the wall. And I never did learn to skate. Because I was too afraid to fall.
    But my friend wasn’t worried about making mistakes. In fact, the more mistakes you made, the more you are able to learn from your mistakes. Mistakes are little learning steps.

    Main Uses: : Beliefs, If you want to change something, take action, There is no failure, only feedback
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen
    Source: I heard this originally from Richard Bolstad and was reminded of it recently by Ben Backwell.
    Notes: This is a very useful metaphor for teachers using NLP in the classroom.

    Harvard Students

    There were only two real differences between Harvard students and students at much lower-level universities. First, the Harvard students had a very strong self-belief. They really believed in themselves, and when they made a mistake, they simply tried again and learned from the mistake. Second, the Harvard students were willing to ask questions. Sometimes, they asked questions to the teacher; sometimes they asked questions to other students; sometimes they asked questions of the Internet or textbook; and sometimes they just asked questions to themselves. And it’s interesting, when you ask a question, you often get an answer. In Japanese, there is an expression: Kikinu ha issho no haji. In other words, if you don’t ask, you will never know and you will be ashamed all your life. So it’s good to ask questions, isn’t it? And maybe those wonderful students at Harvard were really following Japanese tradition. And if they can follow Japanese tradition, it’s much easier for you, isn’t it … to become a wonderful student, I mean.

    Main Uses: : Modelling, Beliefs
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen
    Source: I heard this originally from Richard Bolstad and was reminded of it recently by Ben Backwell.
    Notes: I use this one with my EFL students in Japan. It is very effective in helping them to try on more empowering beliefs about learning English.

    The Beggar and the Judge

    The Smell of Soup and the Sound of Money
    A beggar was given a piece of bread, but nothing to put on it. Hoping to get something to go with his bread, he went to a nearby inn and asked for a handout. The innkeeper turned him away with nothing, but the beggar sneaked into the kitchen where he saw a large pot of soup cooking over the fire. He held his piece of bread over the steaming pot, hoping to thus capture a bit of flavor from the good-smelling vapor.
    Suddenly the innkeeper seized him by the arm and accused him of stealing soup.
    “”I took no soup,”” said the beggar. “”I was only smelling the vapor.””
    “”Then you must pay for the smell,”” answered the innkeeper.
    The poor beggar had no money, so the angry innkeeper dragged him before the qadi.
    Now Nasreddin Hodja was at that time serving as qadi, and he heard the innkeeper’s complaint and the beggar’s explanation.
    “”So you demand payment for the smell of your soup?”” summarized the Hodja after the hearing.
    “”Yes!”” insisted the innkeeper.
    “”Then I myself will pay you,”” said the Hodja, “”and I will pay for the smell of your soup with the sound of money.””
    Thus saying, the Hodja drew two coins from his pocket, rang them together loudly, put them back into his pocket, and sent the beggar and the innkeeper each on his own way.

    Main Uses: : Values, The Map is not the Territory, Sensory Acuity
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: The Beggar and the Judge
    Source: Unknown

    Words of wisdom from the Hodja

    Once long ago, the Hodja stood in his pulpit and looked out at his congregation. They were filing slowly into the mosque, ready for prayer and wisdom. The Hodja shook his head in wonder as he watched them. He wondered why they seemed so eager to hear his words.
    As the congregation settled down, all eyes turned to face the Hodja.
    He looked at his people and said, ”True believers! I ask you, tell me please if what I am about to say to you, you know already.”
    The congregation was silent, for they were not certain they had understood the Hodja’s question. At last they stood and answered, altogether, ”We do not know what you are about to say to us. It is impossible for us to know.”
    The Hodja sighed. ”Ahh, then, what is the use? What use would it be for me to speak of a subject unknown to you and unknown to me?” And with these words, the Hodja descended from the pulpit and walked out of the mosque.
    The congregation sat for a long while, thinking over the Hodja’s words of wisdom. They offered their prayers and then rose and returned to their homes. The whole week long, they spoke of little else but the Hodja’s words.
    The next week, the congregation was larger than it had been the week before. Everyone wanted to hear what the Hodja had to say, for word had spread of his wisdom. Again the Hodja watched his congregants enter the mosque. He could see the anticipation in their faces and in the way they walked quickly to their places.
    The mosque was nearly full. The congregation looked up at the pulpit and the Hodja began. ”True believers, tell me, and tell me truly, if what I am about to say to you, you already know.”
    This time the congregation was ready for the Hodja’s question. They wished with all their hearts to hear the Hodja’s words, and so, without hesitation, they rose and called out as one, ”Yes, Hodja, we know what you are going to say to us.”
    The Hodja sighed deeply. He raised his head high. ”Then there is no use in my wasting precious hours in speaking to you. There is, you will agree, true believers, no sense in telling you that which you know already.”
    Once again the Hodja descended from the pulpit and walked out of the mosque. The congregants offered their prayers and looked around at one another. Every congregant had questions in his heart and on his lips. Still, all remained silent for a long time. At last they rose and returned to their homes.
    The whole week long people spoke of little but the Hodja’s words.
    The following week, the Hodja stood again in his place. This time the mosque was overflowing. The air inside was thick and hot with anticipation.
    ”Oh, true believers,” the Hodja began, ”I ask you to tell me, and tell me truly, if what I am about to say, you already know.”
    Everyone in the congregation had rehearsed for this moment. When the Hodja stopped speaking, half the people rose. ”Yes, Hodja,” they called, ”we know what you are going to say to us.” And then they sat and the other half of the people stood and said, ”Hodja, how could we ignorant people know what you would say to us? It is you who are wise.”
    The Hodja looked solemnly out at the people. He looked at the first group — the people who knew what he was going to say. He sighed. He looked at the second group — the people who had called themselves ignorant. He sighed more deeply still.
    ”A fine answer, my people,” the Hodja said softly. ”And now I know precisely how to help each and every one of you. Listen closely, true believers.”
    Everyone leaned forward.
    ”The half of the congregation who knows what I am going to say will now tell the other half exactly what that is. For this you have my blessing.”
    With that the Hodja nodded solemnly and descended the pulpit. Slowly he made his way out of the mosque.
    Afterward the people spoke of the great Hodja’s wisdom. The people who said they knew nothing sought the knowledge of those who said they knew everything. There was no need for anyone to trouble the Hodja. And that was ”hak,” as the people said, or, in our language, that was truly just.

    Main Uses: : Logical Levels, Parts, Beliefs, Talking to the Unconscious, Confusion Technique!
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen
    Source: Unknown
    Notes: I love this story more each time I think of it. It can be used as a metaphor for two parts within the same person, or realizing that the resources you seek are available in some form.

    Educating the Donkey

    The wiser the Mullah grew, the less food there was on his table. The more he taught the less he got.
    Something had to be done to make both ends meet. Nasreddin thought that he could at least teach his donkey to eat less. So, he will spare some money.
    Day after day, little by little, he would give the animal less and less barley.
    The donkey did not seem to mind, on the contrary its temper improved, he became tame and slower, careful to keep on the road.
    Seeing such good progress, Nasreddin went on with the diet until the donkey only had a handful of fodder and some water for the day. The villagers were impressed.
    One morning the Hodja looked into the stable and run to see his neighbour, lamenting:
    “”Misfortune! Everything was going so well and now, just when I taught him not to eat at all, the donkey died.

    Main Uses: : Strategies, Beliefs, Working hard to achieve a goal
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen
    Source: Unknown
    Notes: This metaphor can be used to remind people of the necessity of taking care of themselves in any particular way. For example, I have used it with students who do all of their homework at the beginning of the semester, but then skimp more and more as the semester goes on. By the time they are at the end of the semester, they are like the donkey – and just as likely to get a good grade!

    The Orange

    Two children are fighting over an orange. The mother takes on the role of a judge. She splits the orange in half and gives one half to each child. Both children start crying. Now, the mother takes on the role of a mediator and asks each child why they wanted the orange. It turns out that one child wants to make orange juice and the other child needs the orange peel in order to make a cake. Now the mother realizes that a solution could be found only by considering what satisfies each party.

    Main Uses: : Well-Formed Outcomes, Perceptual Positions, Beliefs, Sensory Acuity
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Anke Stein
    Source: Unknown

    Learning From the Bands

    A friend of mine is a musician and always seems to be learning new instruments, new tunes, and new ways of making music in cool ways. At the weekend, he loves to go into Central Park in the center of Nagoya during the daytime where lots of Japanese bands perform. Now, some of these bands are really really good, and some of them are – how shall I say this – a little less good. One of the things that my friend likes about watching all the bands is that it is free! And as he says to me, “”Because something is expensive, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s good… and if something is free, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it has no value. You have to listen and look yourself and find out what is valuable for you. And of course, as you listen and look, you may learn very different things to someone else.””
    So my friend goes every week when the weather is fine, and he says that he learns something from every single band! When he watches and listens to the really good bands, he says that he learns new riffs from the guitar player and cool rhythms from the funky drummers. I guess that it’s not surprising that you can learn a lot by watching excellent performers.
    But what’s really interesting is that my friend says, “”You can learn by watching and listening to the bad performers, too. When I watch a bad performer, I think to myself – wow, that’s another thing that I’m not going to do.””
    So my friend gets better and better, learning from both good and bad performers. And he says that “”you can have so much fun learning and improving in ways that you never even imagined!.””

    Main Uses: : Modelling, Beliefs, Sensory Acuity, Behavioural Flexibility
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen
    Source: Brian Cullen

    The Bear

    Once upon a time, a long long time ago, in a great forest, there lived a bear. Have you heard this story? Good, good. Now I can’t remember the bear’s name, so we’ll just call him … “the bear”.
    Now the bear, he had a good life, he had a good job, he worked at a great company. But then you know, he started having problems at his company and things started becoming more difficult for the bear. And he thought, “I really need to do something”, because his boss was not nice to the bear. His boss was so strong and the bear thought “Oh, I’m so weak. I can’t do anything. I want to be strong.”
    So that night, the bear prayed to the god of the Bears, and he said “god of the Bears, please please, make me strong.”
    And the next morning he woke up, and the most amazing thing had happened because the bear had changed, he was no longer a bear. He had been transformed into a great mountain. A great mountain high, so high he almost touched the sky. And as a great, great mountain, he could really begin to feel his own strength. He was made of strong, strong rock that could stand up to anything. And he looked out upon the land and he felt so good.
    You know, he really enjoyed being a mountain because mountains are strong – they are really centered. Nobody messes with a mountain. So he enjoyed being a mountain for a long long time and his life was much easier when he was a mountain. But you know, things began to change at his job and his life, as things always do eventually change. His work and life were changing and there were new things that he had to learn. Now a mountain is very strong, but a mountain is not very open to change. A mountain just stays one way for a long, long time.
    So one time, he realized that he had to learn to be more open and to react, to respond to change. So what could he do?
    He prayed to the god of the Mountain. Of course, he wouldn’t pray to the god of the Bears because he wasn’t a bear anymore. So he prayed to the god of the Mountain and he said, “god of the Mountain, please please, help me to be more open, to be more creative, to be more flexible.”
    And the next morning, when he awoke, it was very strange because he had changed. He was no longer a mountain. What had he become? He had transformed into a wind. Yes, the mountain who used to be a bear had now become a wind. And being a wind is pretty cool, you know. Because when you’re a wind, that means that you can go everywhere. If there is something in your way, if there’s an obstacle, you can just go around it, or under it, or over it. There’s always a way for a wind to go.
    And the wind felt wonderful and blew the clouds around the sky and went dancing with the rocks and the fields and so much more. And he came up with amazing new ideas and went to amazing new places – very playful and creative – open to so many new possibilities and ways of navigating the world.
    And for a long long time, the wind had a wonderful life. Yet eventually, the wind who used to be a mountain who used to be a bear found that although he was very open and creative and playful, he was perhaps just a little bit … shallow. He felt that he was not really aware of what was going on at a deeper level. He just blew in from one place to another, and then blew out to another without really being able to become aware of things at a deeper level. He felt his existence in each place was too brief, so one night he prayed. He prayed to the god of the Wind, and he said “god of the Wind, please please, help me.”
    And the next morning, when he woke up, he was no longer a wind. He had been transformed, completely changed … The wind who used to be a mountain who used to be a bear had now become … the sea … the great sea … the great sea that goes so deep, that goes right down to the heart of the world, the great sea that reaches out to vast continents, being aware of the whole planet … so present … the great sea is aware of everything. The great sea has all the knowledge, can see everything, can hear everything, can feel everything. All through the bright day and dark night, the sea is alert and awake, aware of everything in all senses at such a deep level.
    And for a long time, the sea was very content and peaceful, simply being aware of everything around. But as the sea, he slowly began to realize that although he was aware of everything, he wasn’t really connected to everything at all. Sometimes, it was as if he was an acute observer of the whole map of the world, yet he was not really … connected to the parts of that world. In a way, he felt a little isolated – he was the only great sea. So one night, he prayed to the god of the Sea. And he prayed, “god of the Sea, help me.”
    And when he awoke next morning, transformed and changed, he awoke not as a sea, but he awoke instead in the state of a being who connected the land to the sea… he awoke as one who dances with the wind… he awoke as one who connects all the way from the strength of the mountain right down to the depths of the sea as he danced with the wind in his journeys through the land. He awoke as one who is truly connected – for he awoke as a river.
    And the sea who used to be a wind, who used to be a mountain, who used to be a bear… now he was that river. And the river is a wonderful thing. For the river starts with the strength of the mountain, flows down easily and enjoyably right down to the sea, connecting the mountains and the peace of the sea. And on the way, the river dances with the wind, always playful and open, the wind dancing with the water. Dancing together.
    And for a long long time, he was happy as a river because a river could connect all of these things. Everything was really good, but you know, eventually he thought, “it is great being a river, being connected… yet it was also great to be a mountain, to have all that strength and centeredness… and it was also a fine thing to be a wind, to be open and creative and playful… and then it was wonderful to be the great sea, to be aware and alert and deep in knowledge.”
    So one night, he prayed to the god of the river, “help me.” And the god of the River replied, “well, this is an interesting situation, and I’m curious to know the solution, aren’t you.” And the god of the River continued, “I can not help you on my own, yet there are other beings in other states who may be able to help us to find the best solution for you, the river who used to be the sea who used to be a wind who used to be a mountain who used to be a bear.”
    And then the god of the river called upon the god of the sea and the god of the wind and the god of the mountain and the god of the bear. And they each came from their own states, and the five gods decided to go for a quiet drink in a local bar to find the best solution. And the quiet drink turned into a long night and many drinks as the gods all discussed “what are we going to do to integrate all these beautiful things that have been found.” And what do you think was decided?
    After the long discussion of the gods, they said, “what we’re going to do is … we’re going to transform you back into who you really are … you will once more become a bear … and live a bear reality … but with some important differences … for you are indeed a special bear.”
    And the god of the Mountain said to the bear, “Because you wanted to have the strength of the mountain, so down in your feet, centering you down to the ground, I will give you the strength of the mountain. And whenever you feel your feet supported by the solid earth below you, you can remember, remember the strength of the mountain and once again feel the centeredness and strength of that mountain within.”
    And the god of the Wind said to the bear, “And I will give you the openness and flexibility of the wind, the ability to be open and play, the creativity of the wind. And I will put this all around your center, and whenever you become aware of the center of your body, then again you will be open and playful and creative in so many ways.”
    And the god of the Sea said to the bear, “And I will give you the awareness and peace of the sea, inside all around your heart, all around your head. Whenever you focus on this area, you can have that peace, that awareness, that deep deep knowledge and alertness.”
    And the god of the River said to the bear, “Well your body is now full – full of centeredness, openness, and awareness! But I will give you the connectedness of the river all around and beyond your body. Above you, below you, all around. Whenever you become aware of the areas around your body, you can again easily feel that connectedness with all living things and all the resources that are available to you.”
    And there was one more god, wasn’t there? Do you remember? Yes, of course, there was the god of the Bears.
    And then the god of the Bears said to the bear, “Well, I want you to be able to remember all of these things because in everyday life and when problems arise, a bear can bearly remember sometimes what is important, and a bear needs a little help to help you remember, don’t you? Because sometimes, you might not consciously remember that you have the strength of the mountain within you, or that you do indeed have the openness and creativity of the wind, or that the great awareness of the great sea is always within you, or that the connectedness of the river is available all around your body, waiting for you to embrace all those wonderful resources that you are connected to.”
    “And so I want you to remember, if not even consciously, that all of those resources are available to you. So what I will do for you, my bear, is that every time you bring your hands (or your paws!) together, yes – that’s right – as you bring your hands together now – all of those things will come back to you and you will feel them all again in your body and around your body… integrating in exactly the ways that are most appropriate for you … growing and spreading in ways that support your excellence … and knowing that you can easily access all of these wonderful learnings in your future by simply bringing those hands together.”
    And the next morning, the bear woke up and he was transformed, changed completely, and the god of the Bears spoke to him and said, “yes, indeed you are a bear, a very special bear, yet at a very deep level you will always remember all of these important things that you have learned … and learned to use in ways that are most appropriate for you … the mountain, the wind, the sea, and the river are all part of you now.”
    © Copyright 2012 by Dr. Brian Cullen

    Main Uses: : State Management, Modelling, Behavioural Flexibility
    Also Useful For: COACH state
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen
    Source: ©Copyright 2012 by Brian Cullen
    Notes: I wrote this for my students when I was introducing the idea of state management, especially the COACH state by Robert Dilts. It is also a useful metaphor for modelling, showing how we can learn from everything and how different facets of excellence can be modelled from different people/things.

    The Meaning of Success

    When you are four years old, success means not pee-ing in your pants.
    When you are 12 years old, success is when you have friends.
    When you are 18 years old, success means having a driving license.
    When you are 20 years old, success means having sex.
    When you are 35 years old, success means having money.
    And when you are 50 years old, success means having more money!
    When people retire and reach the age of 65 or so, success often means having friends.
    At 75, success means having a driving license.
    At 80, success means having sex.
    And of course, at 85, success means not pee-ing in your pants.

    Main Uses: : Well-Formed Outcomes, Reframing, Values, Beliefs
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen
    Source: An audio NLP program that I can’t remember!
    Notes: This is a nice story to frame the idea that success is different for everyone, depending on our values and much more.

    The T-Shirt Boy

    Many years ago, I visited Thailand – a wonderful country. The people are so friendly, the prices are reasonable, and the weather is great.
    One evening I went to a little outdoor market where a small boy was selling t-shirts. He couldn’t have been more than 6 or 7 years old, but he was a fine little salesman. He was jabbering away in Thai to a couple of folks when I arrived and they both bought a t-shirt. Then there was a Japanese guy in front of me, and the little boy switched to Japanese – not good Japanese by any means, but he was able to say a few words – enough to get another sale.
    When I came up, he saw my white face and he immediately switched into English.
    “”Hello Sir, how are you Sir. You like t-shirts, Sir?””
    And within just a couple more minutes, he had sold me five t-shirts and given me this story and lesson free.
    He was flexible – he could jump from one language to another to match the customer, and even if he only knew a few words, he was flexible enough to use his gestures to get the rest of the meaning across. That little kid could change his behavior to be flexible to sell just about anyone!
    You could see that this little guy was thinking about how his current goal fit into the rest of his life. Selling a t-shirt meant getting money and that was a very good thing. Sure, he made mistakes in his communication, but he didn’t lose anything by making mistakes. In fact, it was an opportunity to improve his language skills, too!
    He was in a good state. He clearly enjoyed selling those t-shirts and his face was wearing a beautiful smile throughout. Sure it was work – but he enjoyed it – he was relaxed and focused and in a good state.
    And he had a very clear outcome had a clear goal of what he wanted – he wanted to sell t-shirts, as many t-shirts as possible and that outcome was in the front of his mind at all times.
    The little kid was also paying very close attention to the reactions of his customers and potential customers. When the Japanese man looked away for a moment, that kid noticed and made sure that he changed his behavior to get his attention back again. And he seemed able to look in all directions for potential customers and somehow draw them in to his stand.
    Finally, that kid was a do-er. He had decided that he wanted to sell t-shirts, and that is exactly what he was going to do, so he took the appropriate actions to sell those t-shirts.
    ©Copyright 2012 by Brian Cullen

    Main Uses: : Well-Formed Outcomes, Rapport, Sensory Acuity, Behavioural Flexibility
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen
    Source: Original Story by By Brian Cullen
    Notes: I use this little metaphor (which is pretty much a true story) to explain the pillars of NLP which I teach using the following mnemonic that I came up with a few years ago: BEYOND.
    Behavioural Flexibility
    Your State (Be in a resourceful state)
    Outcome (Have a well-formed outcome)
    Notice Your Results (Sensory Acuity)
    Do Something (Take Action)

    ZX81 Feedback

    When I was about 12 years old, I started to program on a little computer called the ZX81, an amazing machine that had just been released. It was the first really popular home computer and by today’s standards it was ridiculously limited. A modern computer has about 4 Gigabyes of RAM or more, and often has a hard disc of 1 Terabyte. In contrast, the ZX81 had the tiny RAM working memory of 1K and no hard disk at all.
    Now, a RAM of 1K is tiny, so small that the computer had to compile each line of code as you entered it. On a modern computer, you would enter all the statements of the code and then compile it using today’s enormous RAM. You only know that you have made a mistake in your syntax when you compile it.
    On the ZX81, if you made a syntax error in a statement, the computer told you as soon as you pressed the Enter key! And it told you very clearly with a big “”SYNTAX ERROR”” message.
    Life is like that, too, you know. You always get immediate feedback, even if you don’t notice it at the time. When you really begin to notice the feedback that you get after each step, you’ll realize that those things that used to seem to be limits were actually not so limiting at all.
    I loved that old computer. It ran a version of Microsoft Basic, probably the best Microsoft product that I ever used and certainly the most reliable 😉
    It didn’t seem limiting at all. On the contrary, we wrote whole games within that 1K and had such fun and creativity flow.

    Main Uses: : Beliefs, Sensory Acuity
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen
    Source: Original Story by Brian Cullen


    In Ireland, there was a survey among people a few years ago asking them about their greatest wish. More than anything else – much much more, people wanted to … win the lottery.
    And it is interesting to consider whether winning the lottery makes people happy. Research shows that the answer is a very restricted … yes. It makes them happy for a short time.
    However, studies have shown that people get much more satisfaction by earning their money than winning it. In addition, the boost in happiness from a lottery win has been shown to dissipate over time. Studies of past lottery winners shows that happiness levels typically return to where they were prior to the big winning.
    Even more surprising, one man who won $315 million in a lottery reported significant unhappiness and feeling of being “”cursed.””

    Main Uses: : Well-Formed Outcomes
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen
    Source: Unknown

    The Optometrist

    For the “”Eliciting Values”” part of “”AIM HERE”” mneumonic device, “”Examine order”” reminded me of an optometrist, as they change the lenses, asking: “”Which is better, 1 or 2? Now, how about 3 or 4? OK, now, how about 1 and 3?”” . If you wear glasses (corrective lenses) you probably can sympathize with this situation… Therefore, I will now refer to this activity as “”eye doctor””, ha ha!

    Main Uses: : Values
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Paul Crane
    Source: Paul A. Crane

    Autobiography in Five Short Chapters

    Chapter 1
    I walk down the street.
    There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
    I fall in.
    I am lost … I am helpless.
    It isn’t my fault.
    It takes forever to find a way out.
    Chapter 2
    I walk down the same street.
    There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
    I pretend I don’t see it.
    I fall in again.
    I can’t believe I am in the same place.
    But it isn’t my fault.
    It still takes a long time to get out.
    Chapter 3
    I walk down the same street.
    There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
    I see it is there.
    I still fall in … it’s a habit.
    My eyes are open.
    I know where I am.
    It is my fault.
    I get out immediately.
    Chapter 4
    I walk down the same street.
    There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
    I walk around it.
    Chapter 5
    I walk down another street.

    Main Uses: : If you want to change something, take action, setting goals, belief systems, taking responsibility, Being at the cause, awakening
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Goreti Lima
    Source: Portia Nelson

    “How are the children?”

    Among the many accomplished and fabled tribes of Africa, no tribe was considered to have warriors more fearsome or more intelligent than the mighty Masai. It is perhaps surprising then to learn the traditional greeting that passed between Masai warriors. “Kasserian ingera”, one would always say to another. It means “How are the children?”
    It is still traditional greeting among Masai, acknowledging the high value that the Masai place on their children’s well-being. Even warriors with no children of their own would always give the traditional answer, “All children are well”.
    This meant, of course, that peace and safety prevail; that priorities of protecting the young and the powerless are in place; that the Masai people have not forgotten their reason for being, their proper function, and their responsibilities. “All children are well” denotes that life is good and that the daily struggles of existence, even among a poor people, include the proper care of the young and defenseless.

    Main Uses: : Belief systems and core values, identity, mission, sponsorship, archetypal energies
    Also Useful For: 3rd generation of NLP
    Submitted By: Goreti Lima
    Source: Olsen and Sommers, Center for Cognitive Coaching

    The boy who banged a drum

    Once upon a time, there was a small boy who banged a drum all day and loved every moment of it. He would not be quiet, no matter what anyone else said or did. Many “wise wo/men” were called in by the neighbors and asked to intervene.
    Lots of good ideas were proffered. The first wise person told the boy if he continued to play the drum by that fashion he would break his eardrum. This reason was too advanced for the child, as he was neither a scientist nor a scholar. The second told him that drum-beating was a sacred activity and should be carried out only in special occasions. The noise continued. The third offered the neighbors plugs for their ears. The fourth gave the boy a book; the fifth gave the neighbors books that described a method of controlling anger through biofeedback; the sixth gave the boy meditation exercises to make him placid and explained that all reality was imagination… the noise continued. The seventh brought education. The boy then taught he had a disease and still banged on the drum.
    Finally, and adult passionate about his efficacy with children came along. He looked at the situation, handed the boy a hammer and chisel, and said, “I wonder what is inside the drum?”

    Main Uses: : Metaprograms, Leadership and levels of change
    Also Useful For: 3rd Generation of NLP
    Submitted By: Goreti Lima
    Source: Adapted from the Sufi tradition

    True story

    There is a story about Thomas Watson Sr., the first president of IBM. A young worker had made a mistake that lost IBM one million dollars in business. She was called in to the president’s office, and as she walked in, she said: “Well, I guess you have called me here to fire me.” “Fire you?” Mr. Watson replied, “I just spent one million on your education!”

    Main Uses: : Reframing, There is no failure, only feedback
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Goreti Lima
    Source: ?? from a training somewhere in Hong Kong or Guangzhou

    Always Be a Deaf Frog

    Once upon a time there was a race of frogs. The goal was to reach the top of a high tower. Many people gathered to see and support them. The race began.
    In reality, the people didn’t believe that it was possible that the frogs would reach the top of the tower, and all the phrases that one could hear were of this kind:
    “What pain!!!. They’ll never make it!”
    The frogs began to doubt themselves. The people continued:
    “What pain!!!. They’ll never make it!”
    And the frogs, one by one, admitted defeat, except for one frog that continued to climb. At the end he, alone, and with an enormous effort, reached the top of the tower.
    One of the quitters approached him to ask him how he had done it, to actually finish the race. And he discovered that the frog was deaf!
    Never listen to people who have the bad habit of being negative…because they steal the best aspirations of your heart. Always remind yourself of the power of the words that we hear or read – THINK POSITIVE!
    Conclusion: Always be deaf to someone who tells you that you can’t and won’t achieve your goals or make your dreams come true.

    Main Uses: : setting goals, focus, belief systems, intention, states, strategies, thinking styles
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Goreti Lima
    Source: From Suzy Smith’s “”Red file””

    Attitude is Everything

    Jerry was the kind of guy you love to hate. He was always in a good mood and always had something positive to say. When someone would ask him how he was doing, he would reply, “If I were any better, I would be twins!”
    He was a unique manager because he had several waiters who had followed him around from restaurant to restaurant. The reason the waiters followed Jerry was because of his attitude. He was a natural motivator. If an employee was having a bad day, Jerry was there telling the employee how to look on the positive side of the situation.
    Seeing this style really made me curious, so one day I went up to Jerry and asked him, “I don’t get it! You can’t be a positive person all of the time. How do you do it?”
    Jerry replied, “Each morning I wake up and say to myself, Jerry, you have two choices today. You can choose to be in a good mood or you can choose to be in a bad mood. I choose to be in a good mood. Each time something bad happens, I can choose to be a victim or I can choose to learn from it. I choose to learn from it, Every time someone comes to me complaining, I can choose to accept their complaining or I can point out the positive side of life. I choose the positive side of life.”
    “Yeah, right, but it’s not that easy, ” I protested.
    “Yes it is,” Jerry said. “Life is all about choices. When you cut away all the junk, every situation is a choice. You choose how you react to situations. You choose how people will affect your mood. You choose to be in a good or bad mood. The bottom line: It’s your choice how you live life.”
    I reflected on what Jerry said.
    Soon thereafter, I left the restaurant industry to start my own business. We lost touch, but I often thought about him when I made a choice about life instead of reacting to it. Several years later, I heard that Jerry did something you are never supposed to do in a restaurant: he left the back door open one morning and was held up at gunpoint by three armed robbers. While trying to open the safe, his hand, shaking from nervousness, slipped off the combination. The robbers panicked and shot him.
    Luckily, Jerry was found relatively quickly and rushed to the local trauma center. After 18 hours of surgery and weeks of intensive care, Jerry was released from the hospital with fragments of the bullets still in his body.
    I saw Jerry about 6 months after the accident. When I asked him how he was, he replied, “If I were any better, I’d be twins. Wanna see my scars?” I declined to see his wounds, but did ask him what had gone through his mind as the robbery took place.
    “The first thing that went through my mind was that I should have locked the back door,” Jerry replied. “Then, as I lay on the floor, I remembered that I had two choices: I could choose to live, or I could choose to die. I chose to live.”
    “Weren’t you scared? Did you lose consciousness?” I asked. Jerry continued, “The paramedics were great. They kept telling me I was going to be fine. But when they wheeled me into the emergency room and I saw the expressions on the faces of the doctors and nurses, I got really scared. In their eyes, I read, ‘He’s a dead man.” I knew I needed to take action.”
    “What did you do?”, I asked. “Well, there was a big, burly nurse shouting questions at me,” said Jerry. She asked if I was allergic to anything. “Yes”, I replied. The doctors and nurses stopped working as they waited for my reply.. I took a deep breath and yelled, ‘ Bullets!’. Over their laughter, I told them, “I am choosing to live. Operate on me as if I am alive, not dead.”
    Jerry lived thanks to the skill of his doctors, but also because of his amazing attitude. I learned from him that every day we have the choice to live fully.
    Attitude, after all, is everything.

    Main Uses: : State Management, Metaprograms, Values, Neurological Levels (Robert Dilts), Beliefs, Talking to the Unconscious, Beliefs systems, focus, thinking styles
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Goreti Lima
    Source: Francie Baltazar-Schwartz

    The Giving Tree

    Once there was a tree and she loved a little boy.
    And every day the boy would come, and he would gather her leaves and make them into crowns and play king of the forest.
    He would climb up her trunk and swing from her branches and eat apples. And they would play hide-and-go-seek.
    And when he was tired, he would sleep in her shade.
    And the boy loved the tree… very much.
    But time went by and the boy grew older. And the tree was often alone. Then one day the boy came back to the tree and the tree said, “”Come, Boy, come and climb up my trunk and swing from my branches and eat my apples and play in my shade and be happy.“
    “”I am too big to climb and play,”” said the boy.
    “”I want to buy things and have fun. I want some money. Can you give me some money?“
    “”I’m sorry,”” said the tree, “”but I have no money. I have only leaves and apples. Take my apples, Boy, and sell them in the city. Then you will have money and you will be happy.””
    And so the boy climbed up the tree and gathered her apples and carried them away. And the tree was happy.
    But the boy stayed away for a long time . . . and the tree was sad.
    And then one day the boy came back and the tree shook with joy and she said, “”Come, Boy, climb up my trunk and swing from my branches and be happy.“
    “”I am too busy to climb trees,”” said the boy.
    “”I want a house to keep me warm,”” he said.
    “”I want a wife and I want children, and so I need a house.
    Can you give me a house?””
    “”I have no house,”” said the tree.
    “”The forest is my house, but you may cut off my branches and build a house. Then you will be happy.””
    And so the boy cut off her branches and carried them away to build his house. And the tree was happy.
    But the boy stayed away for a long time.
    And when he came back, the tree was so happy she could hardly speak. “”Come, Boy,”” she whispered, “”come and play.””
    “”I am too old and sad to play,”” said the boy.
    “”I want a boat that will take me far away from here.
    Can you give me a boat?””
    “”Cut down my trunk and make a boat,”” said the tree.
    “”Then you can sail away . . . and be happy.”” And so the boy cut down her trunk and made a boat and sailed away.
    And the tree was happy… but not really.
    And after a long time the boy came back again.
    “”I am sorry, Boy,”” said the tree, “”but I have nothing left to give you –My apples are gone.”
    “My teeth are too weak for apples,”” said the boy.
    “”My branches are gone,”” said the tree.
    “”You cannot swing on them””
    “”I am too old to swing on branches,”” said the boy.
    “”My trunk is gone,”” said the tree.
    “”You cannot climb””
    “”I am too tired to climb,”” said the boy.
    “”I am sorry,”” signed the tree. “”I wish that I could give you something… but I have nothing left. I am just an old stump. I am sorry…””
    I don’t need very much now,”” said the boy, “”just a quiet place to sit and rest. I am very tired.””
    “”Well,”” said the tree, straightening herself up as much as she could, “”an old stump is good for sitting and resting.
    Come, Boy, sit down. Sit down and rest.””
    And the boy did.
    And the tree was happy.

    Main Uses: : Neurological Levels (Robert Dilts), having the resources, sponsorship, neurological levels, cultural maps, mission
    Also Useful For: 3rd Generation of NLP
    Submitted By: Goreti Lima
    Source: Shel Silverstein


    Many many years ago, back in the 1970’s when computers were so big that they could take up a whole room, the president of a large company came to see a computer specialist called Peter.
    “”So how can I help you,”” said Peter.
    “”Well I’m a bit confused. I have all this complicated computer equipment sitting in my company.””
    “”I see,”” said Peter, “”and what are you using it for?””
    “”Well, that’s the problem. We’re not actually using it for anything useful at all. It’s just sitting there taking up space. It doesn’t seem to do anything useful.””
    “”OK, so you’ve got this amazing machine. When did you get it?””
    “”Oh we got it years ago. You see, I was out with the president of another company and he was telling me about his computer. His computer can do all kinds of amazing things to help him increase productivity. So I got one of these computers, but it just sits there doing nothing all the time. It seems like a waste, doesn’t it?””
    Peter thought to himself, “”yes, I’ve heard this kind of story before. People get all kinds of amazing equipment and never really learn how to use it.”” But he just asked the president a simple question: “”What kind of software are you using?””
    “”Software? What is software?””
    “”Well, your computer is the hardware – and it’s amazingly powerful. You can do all kinds of things with it. And the software is what actually makes it useful. The software are the programs that you run every day that help you to get things done.””
    “”Hmm, programs … I see. I guess we never thought of installing useful software.””

    Main Uses: : Strategies
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen
    Source: Original story by Brian Cullen
    Notes: When I was about 12 years old, I read a true story where a president of a company had ordered one million dollars worth of computer equipment but didn’t have the budget for any software! I based this story roughly on that memory!

    The Cracked Pot

    An elderly Chinese woman had two large pots, each hung on the ends of a pole which she carried across her neck.
    One of the pots had a crack in it while the other pot was perfect and always delivered
    a full portion of water.
    At the end of the long walks from the stream to the house, the cracked pot arrived only half full.
    For a full two years this went on daily, with the woman bringing home only one and a half pots of water.
    Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it could only do half of what it had been made to do.
    After two years of what it perceived to be bitter failure, it spoke to the woman one day by the stream.
    I am ashamed of myself, because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your house.
    The old woman smiled, ‘Did you notice that there are flowers on your side of the path, but not on the other pot’s side?’
    That’s because I have always known about your flaw, so I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back, you water them.’
    For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate the table.
    Without you being just the way you are, there would not be this beauty to grace the house.’
    Each of us has our own unique flaw. But it’s the cracks and flaws we each have that make our lives together so very interesting and rewarding.
    You’ve just got to take each person for what they are and look for the good in them.

    Main Uses: : Values, There is no failure, only feedback
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Sarah Mulvey
    Source: Unknown

    The Power of Listening

    A friend of the author’s was going to a party where he would be meeting his wife’s coworkers from her new job for the first time. He felt anxious as the time for the party grew near, and wondered whether they would like him or not. He rehearsed various scenarios in his mind in which he tried in different ways to impress them. He grew more and more tense.
    But on the way to the party, the man came up with a radically different approach, one which caused all of his anxiety to melt completely away. Find out what he decided to do, and how it all turned out, in this true story that could serve as inspiration for us all.
    He decided that, instead of trying to impress anyone, he would spend the evening simply listening to them and summarizing what they had just said. At the party, he spent the evening listening carefully to everyone, responding with phrases like, “I understand what you’re saying, you feel strongly that. . .” and “Let me see if I understand what you mean. . .” He also avoided voicing his own opinions, even though at times it meant biting his tongue to keep from doing so.
    To his amazement, he discovered that no one noticed or remarked on the fact that he was just listening. Each person he talked to during the evening seemed content to be listened to without interruption. On the way home, his wife (whom he had not told about the experiment) told him that a number of people had made a point of telling her what a remarkable person he was. The word “charismatic” was used by one person to describe him, while another said he was one of the most “articulate” people she had ever met.
    Could it be that charisma and brilliance have as much to do with how we listen as what we say? Imagine a world where people actually listen to one another, rather than just waiting for the other people to stop talking so they can give their opinion.

    Main Uses: : Sensory Acuity
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen
    Source: Read more:

    The Car Dealer

    In the late 70s, when American cars were not in such a great demand, this guy owned a Chrysler dealership in a small town in the Midwest. This guy was not doing so well. He saw his competitors, selling Hondas, Toyotas and other Japanese cars, with customers lining up to buy their small gas efficient vehicles, while he whiled away his time pining for even one person to enter his dealership to examine his gas guzzlers. Anyway, one day he went fishing and caught this little goldfish who, to his surprise, said, “”Please sir, I am a special fish with magical powers. Let me go and I’ll give you one wish.”” The guy thought to himself, “”What have I to lose?”” and let the fish go free. The fish thanked him and told him to write his wish on a piece of paper and put it under his pillow and sleep on it. In the morning his wish would be fulfilled. So that night the guy wrote, “”I wish to own an foreign car dealership in a large cosmopolitan city.”” He put the paper under his pillow and the last thing he thought of before going to sleep is, “”Here goes nothing.”” Next morning he woke up in Tokyo owning a Chrysler dealership.

    Main Uses: : Well-Formed Outcomes
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen
    Source: I heard a version of this on a tape by Richard Bandler. This version came from:

    The Unbeliever

    Ali, the prophet’s cousin, son in law, and the bravest of all Muslim’s had caught an evil unbeliever and enemy of the faithful. He drew his scimitar and was about to chop off the infidel’s head when the evil one spat in the face of the most just of all. Ali paused and placed his scimitar back into his scabbard and left. The infidel ran after him and asked, “”You were about to kill me and I spat in you face and you left. How come?”” Ali replied, “”When I drew my scimitar I was going to execute you for your crimes against Islam and all the Moslems you have murdered. When you span in my face, I became angry. If I had killed you I would have murdered you for the sake of my ego.”” The former infidel fell upon the ground upon hearing this and accepted God and Islam. He was now a totally changed man and became a great Muslim saint.

    Main Uses: : Values
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen
    Source: Traditional

    The Mousetrap

    A mouse looked through the crack in the wall to see the farmer and his wife open a package. “What food might this contain?” the mouse wondered. He was devastated to discover it was a mousetrap.
    Retreating to the farmyard, the mouse proclaimed the warning: “There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!”
    The chicken clucked and scratched, raised her head and said “Mr. Mouse, I can tell this is a grave concern to you, but it is of no consequence to me. I cannot be bothered by it.”
    The mouse turned to the pig and told him “There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!” The pig sympathized, but said “I am so very sorry, Mr. Mouse, but there is nothing I can do about it but pray. Be assured you are in my prayers.”
    The mouse turned to the cow and said “There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!” The cow said “Wow, Mr. Mouse. I’m sorry for you, but it’s no skin off my nose.”
    So, the mouse returned to the house, head down and dejected, to face the farmer’s mousetrap alone.
    That very night a sound was heard throughout the house – like the sound of a mousetrap catching its prey. The farmer’s wife rushed to see what was caught. In the darkness, she did not see it was a venomous snake whose tail the trap had caught. The snake bit the farmer’s wife. The farmer rushed her to the hospital and she returned home with a fever.
    Everyone knows you treat a fever with fresh chicken soup, so the farmer took his hatchet to the farmyard for the soup’s main ingredient. But his wife’s sickness continued, so friends and neighbors came to sit with her around the clock. To feed them, the farmer butchered the pig. The farmer’s wife did not get well; she died. So many! people came for her funeral, the farmer had the cow slaughtered to provide enough meat for all of them.
    The mouse looked upon it all from his crack in the wall with great sadness. So, the next time you hear someone is facing a problem and think it doesn’t concern you, remember: when one of us is threatened, we are all at risk. We are all involved in this journey called life. We must keep an eye out for one another and make an extra effort to encourage one another. Each of us is a vital thread in another person’s tapestry.

    Main Uses: : Values
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen

    The Mule

    This parable is told of a farmer who owned an old mule. The mule fell into the farmer’s well. The farmer heard the mule praying or whatever mules do when they fall into wells. After carefully assessing the situation, the farmer sympathized with the mule, but decided that neither the mule nor the well was worth the trouble of saving. Instead, he called his neighbors together, told them what had happened, and enlisted them to help haul dirt to bury the old mule in the well and put him out of his misery.
    Initially the old mule was hysterical! But as the farmer and his neighbors continued shoveling and the dirt hit his back, a thought struck him. It suddenly dawned on him that every time a shovel load of dirt landed on his back, HE WOULD SHAKE IT OFF AND STEP UP!
    This he did, blow after blow. “Shake it off and step up…shake it off and step up…shake it off and step up!” He repeated to encourage himself. No matter how painful the blows, or how distressing the situation seemed, the old mule fought panic and just kept right on SHAKING IT OFF AND STEPPING UP!
    It wasn’t long before the old mule, battered and exhausted, stepped triumphantly over the wall of that well! What seemed like it would bury him actually helped him . . . all because of the manner in which he handled his adversity.
    THAT’S LIFE! If we face our problems and respond to them positively, and refuse to give in to panic, bitterness, or self-pity.

    Main Uses: : Strategies, The Map is not the Territory, If you want to change something, take action
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen

    The Parable of the Porpoise

    The following story/parable outlines some potential parameters of a new paradigm for leadership and management. Anthropologist Gregory Bateson spent a number of years studying the communication patterns of dolphins and porpoises. He reports that, in order to supplement their scientific studies, the research center he was involved with often put on shows for live audiences using these animal sometimes as often as three times a day. The researchers decided to demonstrate to the audience the process of how they train a porpoises to do a trick. A porpoise would be led from a holding tank into the performing tank in front of the audience. The trainer would wait until the porpoise performed some conspicuous behavior (conspicuous to humans, that is) – say, lifting its head out of the water in a certain way. The trainer would then blow a whistle and give the porpoise a fish. The trainer would then wait until the porpoise eventually repeated the behavior, blow the whistle again and give it a fish. Soon the porpoise had learned what to do to get the fish and lifted its head quite often, providing a successful demonstration of its ability to learn.
    A couple of hours later, however, the porpoise was brought back to the exhibition tank for a second show. Naturally, it began lifting its head out of the water as it did in the first show, and waited for the expected whistle and fish. The trainer, however, didn’t want the porpoise to do the same old trick, but to demonstrate to the audience how the porpoise learns a new one. After spending roughly two-thirds of the show repeating the old trick over and aver, the porpoise finally became frustrated and flipped its tail at the trainer in disgust. The trainer immediately blew the whistle and threw a fish into the tank. The surprised and somewhat confused porpoise cautiously flipped its tail again, and again got the whistle and the fish. Soon it was merrily flipping its tail, successfully demonstrating again its ability to learn and was returned to its home tank.
    At the third session, after being led to the exhibition tank, the porpoise began dutifully flipping its tail as it had learned in the previous section. However, since the trainer wanted it to learn something new, it was not rewarded. Once more, for roughly two thirds of the training session the porpoise continually repeated the head lift and tail flip with growing frustration, until finally, out of exasperation, it did something different, such as spinning itself around. The trainer immediately blew the whistle and gave the porpoise a fish. Alter some time it successfully learned to spin itself for the audience and was led back to its home tank.
    For fourteen straight shows the porpoise repeated this pattern – the first two thirds of the show was spent in futile repetitions of the behavior that had been reinforced in the previous shows until, seemingly by “”accident””, it engaged in a new piece of conspicuous behavior and was able to complete the training demonstration successfully.
    With each show, however, the porpoise became increasingly disturbed and frustrated at being “”wrong”” and the trainer found it necessary to break the rules of the training context and periodically give the porpoise “”unearned fish”” in order to preserve his or her relationship with the porpoise. If the porpoise became too frustrated with the trainer it would refuse to cooperate at all with him or her, which would create a severe setback to the research as well as to the shows.
    Finally, in between the fourteenth and fifteenth session, the porpoise would seem to become almost wild with excitement, as if it had suddenly discovered a gold mine. And when it was led into the exhibition tank for the fifteenth show it put on an elaborate performance including many completely original behaving. One animal even exhibited eight behaviors, which had never before been observed in it’s species.

    Main Uses: : Neurological Levels (Robert Dilts), Logical Levels, Relationship
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen
    Source: A Gregory Bateson story as told by Robert Dilts
    Notes: At his trainings in NLPU, Robert Dilts has participants give each other ‘fish’ – little supportive notes or feedback. These are cute little notes with a fish drawn on one side of the paper.

    Bleeding Badly

    One day Dr Milton Erickson’s young son, Robert, fell on the sidewalk out side their home. He cut his mouth and was bleeding heavily when his parents arrived on the scene, alerted by his cries of pain and fear.
    Erickson immediately said, “”Robert, it hurts. It hurts real bad. Real bad. I wonder when it’s going to stop hurting. Right now it hurts; it just hurts. When is it going to stop hurting?”” This caught Robert’s attention.
    At first, he was only attending to the pain, but now he also began wondering when the pain would stop. He stopped crying as he wondered about that. By that time, his parents had gotten him to the bathroom, where they were washing his mouth so Erickson could determine whether or not stitches would be required. As the blood ran from Robert’s mouth into the sink, Erickson said to his wife. “”Look at that blood, Mother. That’s good red healthy blood! That’ll clean that wound out really well. Look at the color of that blood.””
    Of course, Robert was also looking at the blood. Instead of being captured by his pain and fear, he was fascinated attending to his “”good red healthy blood.”” After the wound was washed out, it became clear that Robert would need stitches.
    So Erickson began to tell Robert that he needed stitches and reminded him that his brother had gotten stitches last year when he had been hurt. “”I wonder whether you are going to win the stitches contest, Robert, and get more than your brother got. He had six stitches. All you would need is seven to win the contest.””
    When they arrived at the emergency room, the attending physician was amazed at how quietly this young boy sat while he was being cleaned and stitched up. All Robert said through his stitched-up mouth at the end of the procedure was “”How many stitches did I get?”” “”Nine,”” he was told. And
    he gave a lopsided smile through the wound.
    That is the power of changing your attention.

    Main Uses: : Rapport, Reframing, Values, Talking to the Unconscious, The Map is not the Territory, Hypnosis
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen
    Source: Milton Erickson

    The Jigsaw

    A father was busy at work and wanted to keep his young son busy so he quickly made a home-made jigsaw. He found a complex map of the world in a magazine and tore up the page into many pieces. He told the son to come back to him when he had managed to figure out how the world fitted together properly.
    Just a few minutes later, the son came running into his father and said that he was finished. The father was amazed and asked how he did it so quickly.
    The son replied, “”on the other side of the page, when I turned it around, I found a picture of a person, and when I started to notice how the person fit together, it was easy to notice how the world came together in the right way, too.””

    Main Uses: : Sensory Acuity, Behavioural Flexibility
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen
    Source: I read a version of this in a book called Peak Performance.

    Easter Island

    Most people have heard of the Easter Island statues – the huge mysterious heads carved out of stone that stand on a remote island. Such power and mystery in those heads. There are hundreds of these statues, some standing over 30 feet tall and weighing several tons. There are all sorts of theories about why and how they were conducted. Because the making and movement of these statues must have required the cooperation of all of the people on the island, the people probably believed that their gods required them to build these statues. They carved the statues out of a volcano and then dragged them long distances. Many of the statues were abandoned along the way, but others succeeded in bringing the statues all the way to the desired destination. Of course, some people believe that aliens or some other force were involved, but really when people decide to do something, no matter how difficult it may seem at first, they really have all the resources that they need to succeed.
    Recently, scientists have discovered something amazing. Although outside visitors have been able to see the heads since the island was discovered by a Dutchman in 1722, nobody realized something very important until quite recently. Below the head is a body! And that body is really important. Each head on Easter Island has a huge body underneath it, and archaeologists and other scientists are now beginning to understand that there are many important symbols and meanings within those bodies.
    Even though the people buried their bodies, at some level, they realized that their bodies were really important and were sending out messages and maybe even receiving messages from outer space or the gods.
    The heads look out upon the strange sights of the world, noticing so much, yet in a way, they are not connected or complete without the forgotten bodies.These bodies also store many important meanings. They store many of the beliefs and values that these people considered to be important in the form of carved symbols. Now that we know that there are bodies below the heads, we can get extended cognition … of the world … and thinking of these people.
    The feast of Easter is a celebration of rising from the dead, and it’s interesting to see these bodies and all the beliefs and values that were hidden for so long … come to life again.

    Main Uses: : Talking to the Unconscious
    Also Useful For: Useful for emphasizing that NLP is not merely cognitive and head-based, but rather is related to the neurolinguistic programs that run throughout our whole bodies.
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen
    Source: Original story by Brian Cullen
    Notes: Many people are unaware that the Easter Island statues have torsos. A Google search will reveal many pictures. One discussion is at:

    Life Is Like a Cup of Coffee

    A group of alumni, highly established in their careers, got together to visit their old university professor. Conversation soon turned into complaints about stress in work and life.
    Offering his guests coffee, the professor went to the kitchen and returned with a large pot of coffee and an assortment of cups – porcelain, plastic, glass, crystal, some plain looking, some expensive, some exquisite – telling them to help themselves to the coffee.
    When all the students had a cup of coffee in hand, the professor said: “If you noticed, all the nice looking expensive cups have been taken up, leaving behind the plain and cheap ones. While it is normal for you to want only the best for yourselves, that is the source of your problems and stress.
    Be assured that the cup itself adds no quality to the coffee. In most cases it is just more expensive and in some cases even hides what we drink. What all of you really wanted was coffee, not the cup, but you consciously went for the best cups… And then you began eyeing each other’s cups.
    Now consider this: Life is the coffee; the jobs, money and position in society are the cups. They are just tools to hold and contain Life, and the type of cup we have does not define, nor change the quality of life we live.
    Sometimes, by concentrating only on the cup, we fail to enjoy the coffee. Savor the coffee, not the cups! The happiest people don’t have the best of everything. They just make the best of everything. Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly.
    –author unknown

    Main Uses: : Values, Beliefs, The Map is not the Territory
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen

    A turn of the screw

    There was an industrialist whose production line inexplicably breaks down, costing him millions per day. He finally tracks down an expert who takes out a screwdriver, turns one screw, and then – as the factory cranks back to life – presents a bill for £10,000.
    Affronted, the factory owner demands an itemised version. The expert is happy to oblige: “”For turning a screw: £1. For knowing which screw to turn: £9,999.””

    Main Uses: : Reframing, Chunking
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen
    Source: Oliver Burkeman in “”The Guardian Weekend””, 13 August 2011

    Two frogs in the milk

    This is the story of two frogs. One frog was fat and the other skinny. One day, while searching for food, they inadvertently jumped into a vat of milk. They couldn’t get out, as the sides were too slippery, so they were just swimming around.
    The fat frog said to the skinny frog, “”Brother frog, there’s no use paddling any longer. We’re just going to drown, so we might as well give up.”” The skinny frog replied, “”Hold on brother, keep paddling. Somebody will get us out.”” And they continued paddling for hours.
    After a while, the fat frog said, “”Brother frog, there’s no use. I’m becoming very tired now. I’m just going to stop paddling and drown. It’s Sunday and nobody’s working. We’re doomed. There’s no possible way out of here.”” But the skinny frog said, “”Keep trying. Keep paddling. Something will happen, keep paddling.”” Another couple of hours passed.
    The fat frog said, “”I can’t go on any longer. There’s no sense in doing it because we’re going to drown anyway. What’s the use?”” And the fat frog stopped. He gave up. And he drowned in the milk. But the skinny frog kept on paddling.
    Ten minutes later, the skinny frog felt something solid beneath his feet. He had churned the milk into butter and he hopped out of the vat.

    Main Uses: : Beliefs, If you want to change something, take action
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Anonymous
    Source: Unknown

    Muddy Water

    Once Buddha was walking from one town to another town with a few of his followers. This was in the initial days. While they were travelling, they happened to pass a lake. They stopped there and Buddha told one of his disciples, “I am thirsty. Do get me some water from that lake there.”
    The disciple walked up to the lake. When he reached it, he noticed that some people were washing clothes in the water and, right at that moment, a bullock cart started crossing through the lake. As a result, the water became very muddy, very turbid. The disciple thought, “How can I give this muddy water to Buddha to drink!” So he came back and told Buddha, “The water in there is very muddy. I don’t think it is fit to drink.”
    After about half an hour, again Buddha asked the same disciple to go back to the lake and get him some water to drink. The disciple obediently went back to the lake. This time he found that the lake had absolutely clear water in it. The mud had settled down and the water above it looked fit to be had. So he collected some water in a pot and brought it to Buddha.
    Buddha looked at the water, and then he looked up at the disciple and said, “See what you did to make the water clean. You let it be … and the mud settled down on its own – and you got clear water… Your mind is also like that. When it is disturbed, just let it be. Give it a little time. It will settle down on its own. You don’t have to put in any effort to calm it down. It will happen. It is effortless.”
    What did Buddha emphasize here? He said, “It is effortless.” Having ‘peace of mind’ is not a strenuous job; it is an effortless process. When there is peace inside you, that peace permeates to the outside. It spreads around you and in the environment, such that people around start feeling that peace and grace.

    Main Uses: : Hypnosis, Behavioural Flexibility
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Anonymous
    Source: Traditional


    By good fortune, I was able to raft down the Motu River in New Zealand twice during the last year. The magnificent four-day journey traverses one of the last wilderness areas in the North Island.
    The first expedition was led by “”Buzz””, an American guide with a great deal of rafting experience and many stories to tell of mighty rivers such as the Colorado. With a leader like Buzz, there was no reason to fear any of the great rapids on the Motu.
    The first half day, in the gentle upper reaches, was spent developing teamwork and co-ordination. Strokes had to be mastered, and the discipline of following commands without question was essential. In the boiling fury of a rapid, there would be no room for any mistake. When Buzz bellowed above the roar of the water, an instant reaction was essential.
    We mastered the Motu. In every rapid we fought against the river and we overcame it. The screamed commands of Buzz were matched only by the fury of our paddles, as we took the raft exactly where Buzz wanted it to go.
    At the end of the journey, there was a great feeling of triumph. We had won. We proved that we were superior. We knew that we could do it. We felt powerful and good. The mystery and majesty of the Motu had been overcome.
    The second time I went down the Motu. the experience I had gained should have been invaluable, but the guide on this journey was a very softly spoken Kiwi. It seemed that it would not even be possible to hear his voice above the noise of the rapids.
    As we approached the first rapid, he never even raised his voice. He did not attempt to take command of us or the river. Gently and quietly he felt the mood of the river and watched every little whirlpool. There was no drama and no shouting. There was no contest to be won. He loved the river.
    We sped through each rapid with grace and beauty and, after a day, the river had become our friend, not our enemy. The quiet Kiwi was not our leader, but only the person whose sensitivity was more developed than our own. Laughter replaced the tension of achievement.
    Soon the quiet Kiwi was able to lean back and let all of us take turns as leader. A quiet nod was enough to draw attention to the things our lack of experience prevented us from seeing. If we made a mistake, then we laughed and it was the next person’s turn.
    We began to penetrate the mystery of the Motu. Now, like the quiet Kiwi, we listened to the river and we looked carefully for all those things we had not even noticed the first time.
    At the end of the journey, we had overcome nothing except ourselves. We did not want to leave behind our friend, the river. There was no contest, and so nothing had been won. Rather we had become one with the river.
    It remains difficult to believe that the external circumstances of the two journeys were similar. The difference was in an attitude and a frame of mind. At the end of the journey, it seemed that there could be no other way. Given the opportunity to choose a leader, everyone would have chosen someone like Buzz. At the end of the second journey, we had glimpsed a very different vision and we felt humble – and intensely happy.

    Main Uses: : State Management, Rapport, Talking to the Unconscious
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen
    Source: Roger Darlington

    Virtually no competition

    While professional soccer is still struggling to find a firm foothold in the United States, in the 1970s the North American Soccer League marked the brave first attempt to introduce the game to American sports fans. While most teams had only limited success at best, one did manage to break through to genuine mainstream popularity – the New York Cosmos.
    It was the brainchild of Steve Ross, a passionate soccer fan who was also a major executive at Warner Communications.
    Max Ross told his son Steve: “”In life there are those who work all day, those who dream all day, and those who spend an hour dreaming before setting to work to fulfil those dreams. Go into the third category because there’s virtually no competition””.
    Source: “”Once In A Lifetime – The Extraordinary Story Of The New York Cosmos”” by Gavin Newsham

    Main Uses: : Well-Formed Outcomes
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen
    Source: Roger Darlington

    The Wave

    The story is abut a little wave, bobbing along in the ocean, having a grand old time. He’s enjoying the wind and the fresh air – until he notices the other waves in front of him, crashing against the shore. “My God, this terrible”,the wave says. “Look what’s going to happen to me!”
    Then along comes another wave. It sees the first wave, looking grim, and it says to him: “Why do you look so sad?” The first wave says: “You don’t understand! We’re all going to crash! All of us waves are going to be nothing! Isn’t it terrible?”
    The second wave says: “No, you don’t understand. You’re not a wave, you’re part of the ocean.”
    Source: “”Tuesdays With Morrie”” by Mitch Albom

    Main Uses: : Reframing, Values, Chunking, Neurological Levels (Robert Dilts)
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen
    Source: Roger Darlington

    The Car Breakdown

    At the beginning of my 8:00 a.m. class one Monday at University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV), I cheerfully asked my students how their weekend had been. One young man said that his weekend had not been very good. He’d had his wisdom teeth extracted. The young man then proceeded to ask me why I always seemed to be so cheerful. His question reminded me of something I’d read somewhere before: “Every morning when you get up, you have a choice about how you want to approach life that day,” I said to the young man. “I choose to be cheerful””. “Let me give you an example,” I continued.
    The other sixty students in the class ceased their chatter and began to listen to our conversation. “In addition to teaching here at UNLV, I also teach out at the community college in Henderson, about seventeen miles down the freeway from where I live. One day a few weeks ago I drove those seventeen miles to Henderson. I exited the freeway and turned onto College Drive. I only had to drive another quarter-mile down the road to the college. But just then my car died. I tried to start it again, but the engine wouldn’t turn over. So I put my flashers on, grabbed my books, and marched down the road to the college.
    “As soon as I got there I called AAA and asked them to send a tow truck. The secretary in the Provost’s office asked me what had happened. ‘This is my lucky day,’ I replied, smiling. “‘Your car breaks down and today is your lucky day?’ She was puzzled. ‘What do you mean?’
    “‘I live seventeen miles from here.’ I replied. ‘My car could have broken down anywhere along the freeway. It didn’t. Instead, it broke down in the perfect place: off the freeway, within walking distance of here. I’m still able to teach my class, and I’ve been able to arrange for the tow truck to meet me after class. If my car was meant to break down today, it couldn’t have been arranged in a more convenient fashion.’ “The secretary’s eyes opened wide, and then she smiled. I smiled back and headed for class.” So ended my story to the students in my economics class at UNLV.
    I scanned the sixty faces in the lecture hall. Despite the early hour, no one seemed to be asleep. Somehow, my story had touched them. Or maybe it wasn’t the story at all. In fact, it had all started with a student’s observation that I was cheerful. A wise man once said, “Who you are speaks louder to me than anything you can say.” I suppose it must be so.

    Main Uses: : State Management, Values
    Also Useful For: Be the change that you want to see
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen
    Source: Author: Lee Ryan Miller – story from his book “”Teaching Amidst the Neon Palm Trees””

    The Eagle’s Egg

    Once a farmer found an abandoned eagle’s nest and in it was an egg still warm. He took the egg back to his farm and laid it in the nest of one of his hens. The egg hatched and the baby eagle grew up along with the other chickens. It pecked about the farmyard, scrabbling for grain. It spent its life within the yard and rarely looked up. When it was very old, one day it lifted up its head and saw above it a wonderful sight – an eagle soaring high above in the sky. Looking at it, the old creature sighed and said to itself, “”If only I’d been born an eagle””.

    Main Uses: : Modelling, Beliefs
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen
    Source: Source: an adaptation from an Anthony de Mello story

    The carrot, the egg, and the coffee bean

    A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling.
    It seemed that, as one problem was solved, a new one arose. Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to a boil. In the first, she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans.
    She let them sit and boil, without saying a word. In about twenty minutes, she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl. Turning to her daughter, she asked, “”Tell me, what do you see?””
    “”Carrots, eggs, and coffee,”” the young woman replied. The mother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. She then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, she asked her to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma. The daughter then asked, “”What does it mean, mother?””
    Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity – boiling water – but each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak.
    The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior. But, after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened! The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.
    “”Which are you?”” the mother asked her daughter. “”When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?”” Think of this: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong but, with pain and adversity, do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength? Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit but, after a death, a breakup, or a financial hardship, does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and a hardened heart? Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavour.
    If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you. When the hours are the darkest and trials are their greatest, do you elevate to another level? How do you handle adversity? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?

    Main Uses: : If you want to change something, take action
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen

    The Sense of a Goose

    Next Autumn, when you see geese heading south for the winter, flying in a “”V”” formation, you might consider what science has discovered as to why they fly that way. As each bird flaps its wings, it creates an uplift for the bird immediately following. By flying in a “”V”” formation, the whole flock adds at least 71 percent greater flying range than if each bird flew on its own.
    People who share a common direction and sense of community can get where they are going more quickly and easily, because they are travelling on the thrust of one another.
    When a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of trying to go it alone and quickly gets back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird in front.
    If we have the sense of a goose, we will stay in formation with those people who are heading the same way we are.
    When the head goose gets tired, it rotates back in the wing and another goose flies point.
    It is sensible to take turns doing demanding jobs, whether with people or with geese flying south.
    Geese honk from behind to encourage those up front to keep up their speed.
    What message do we give when we honk from behind?
    Finally – and this is important – when a goose gets sick or is wounded by gunshot, and falls out of the formation, two other geese fall out with that goose and follow it down to lend help and protection. They stay with the fallen goose until it is able to fly or until it dies; and only then do they launch out on their own, or with another formation to catch up with their own group.
    If we have the sense of a goose, we will stand by each other like that.

    Main Uses: : Modelling, Teamwork
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen

    The Seeker of Truth

    After years of searching, the seeker was told to go to a cave, in which he would find a well. ‘Ask the well what is truth’, he was advised, ‘and the well will reveal it to you’. Having found the well, the seeker asked that most fundamental question. And from the depths came the answer, ‘Go to the village crossroad: there you shall find what you are seeking’.
    Full of hope and anticipation the man ran to the crossroad to find only three rather uninteresting shops. One shop was selling pieces of metal, another sold wood, and thin wires were for sale in the third. Nothing and no one there seemed to have much to do with the revelation of truth.
    Disappointed, the seeker returned to the well to demand an explanation, but he was told only, ‘You will understand in the future.’ When the man protested, all he got in return were the echoes of his own shouts. Indignant for having been made a fool of – or so he thought at the time – the seeker continued his wanderings in search of truth. As years went by, the memory of his experience at the well gradually faded until one night, while he was walking in the moonlight, the sound of sitar music caught his attention. It was wonderful music and it was played with great mastery and inspiration.
    Profoundly moved, the truth seeker felt drawn towards the player. He looked at the fingers dancing over the strings. He became aware of the sitar itself. And then suddenly he exploded in a cry of joyous recognition: the sitar was made out of wires and pieces of metal and wood just like those he had once seen in the three stores and had thought it to be without any particular significance.
    At last he understood the message of the well: we have already been given everything we need: our task is to assemble and use it in the appropriate way. Nothing is meaningful so long as we perceive only separate fragments. But as soon as the fragments come together into a synthesis, a new entity emerges, whose nature we could not have foreseen by considering the fragments alone.

    Main Uses: : Chunking, Perceptual Positions, Sensory Acuity, Behavioural Flexibility
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen
    Source: Roger Darlington

    A Meeting of Minds

    Martin was returning to work in his London office after spending two weeks with his brother over in New York. He was coming back with a heavy heart. It was not just that it was the end of a wonderful holiday; it was not just that he invariably suffered badly from jet lag; it was that Monday mornings always began with a team meeting and, over the months, he had grown to hate them.
    Martin was aware that colleagues approached these meetings with hidden agendas; they indulged in game-playing; and he knew that people were not being honest and open. The meetings themselves were bad enough – but then there was all the moaning afterwards. “”The usual people saying the usual things””. “”I could have improved on that idea, but I wasn’t going to say””. “”I was thinking of making a suggestion – but I couldn’t be bothered””.
    As this morning’s meeting began, Martin braced himself for the usual moroseness and monotony. But, as the meeting progressed, he became aware of a strange background noise. At first, he thought that he was still hearing the engine noise from the aircraft that had brought him back to London – he had had to sit over the wing and the droning was terrible. But, as he concentrated on the noise, it became a little clearer.
    He realised – to his amazement – that he could hear what his colleagues were thinking as well as what they were saying. As he concentrated still harder, he found that he could actually hear what they were thinking at the same time as they were speaking. What surprised him, even more than the acquisition of this strange power, was that he discovered that what people were saying was not really what they were thinking. They were not making clear their reservations. They were not supporting views which they thought might be unpopular. They were not contributing their new insights. They were not volunteering their new ideas.
    Martin found it impossible not to respond to his new knowledge. So he started to make gentle interventions, based more on what he could hear his colleagues thinking than on what he could hear them saying. “”So, John are you really saying ..”” “”Susan, Do you really think that …”” “”Tom, Have you got an idea on how we could take this forward?”” He was aware that his colleagues were unsettled by how insightful were these interventions. They looked at him mystified. In truth, he felt rather proud of his newly-acquired talent.
    Emboldened now, Martin forgot his usual misery at participating in such meetings and began making comments of his own. However, he became aware that some of his colleagues were looking at him quizzically. One or two even had a gentle smile playing on their lips. Only gradually did it dawn on him – they could hear his thoughts and he was not really saying what he was thinking.
    As the meeting progressed, Martin became aware of changes to the tone and style of the event. It was clear to him now that, one by one, each member of the meeting was learning how to hear the thoughts of all the others and this was subtly changing how they inter-acted with one another. The game-playing started to fall away; people started to speak more directly; views became better understood; the atmosphere became more open and trusting.
    The meeting ended. As people left the room, Martin found that he could still hear what they were thinking. “”That was the best meeting we’ve ever had.”” “”All meetings should be like that.”” “”In future, I’m going to say what I think””.
    Author: Roger Darlington

    Main Uses: : Rapport, Sensory Acuity
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen

    Heaven and Hell

    A woman who had worked all her life to bring about good was granted one wish: “”Before I die let me visit both hell and heaven.”” Her wish was granted.
    She was whisked off to a great banqueting hall. The tables were piled high with delicious food and drink. Around the tables sat miserable, starving people as wretched as could be. “”Why are they like this?”” she asked the angel who accompanied her. “”Look at their arms,”” the angel replied. She looked and saw that attached to the people’s arms were long chopsticks secured above the elbow. Unable to bend their elbows, the people aimed the chopsticks at the food, missed every time and sat hungry, frustrated and miserable. “”Indeed this is hell! Take me away from here!””
    She was then whisked off to heaven. Again she found herself in a great banqueting hall with tables piled high. Around the tables sat people laughing, contented, joyful. “”No chopsticks I suppose,”” she said. “”Oh yes there are. Look – just as in hell they are long and attached above the elbow but look… here people have learnt to feed one another””.

    Main Uses: : Rapport, Teamwork
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen


    A man who took great pride in his lawn found himself with a large crop of dandelions. He tried every method he knew to get rid of them. Still they plagued him.
    Finally he wrote to the Department of Agriculture. He enumerated all the things he had tried and closed his letter with the question: “”What shall I do now?””
    In due course, the reply came: “”We suggest you learn to love them.””

    Main Uses: : Reframing, Values, The Map is not the Territory, There is no failure, only feedback
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen

    The Two Drops of Oil

    A certain shopkeeper sent his son to learn about the secret of happiness from the wisest man in the world. The lad wandered through the desert for 40 days, and finally came upon a beautiful castle, high atop a mountain. It was there that the wise man lived.
    Rather than finding a saintly man, though, our hero, on entering the main room of the castle, saw a hive of activity: tradesmen came and went, people were conversing in the corners, a small orchestra was playing soft music, and there was a table covered with platters of the most delicious food in that part of the world. The wise man conversed with everyone, and the boy had to wait for two hours before it was his turn to be given the man’s attention.
    The wise man listened attentively to the boy’s explanation of why he had come, but told him that he didn’t have time just then to explain the secret of happiness. He suggested that the boy look around the palace and return in two hours.
    “”Meanwhile, I want to ask you to do something””, said the wise man, handing the boy a teaspoon that held two drops of oil. “”As you wander around, carry this spoon with you without allowing the oil to spill””.
    The boy began climbing and descending the many stairways of the palace, keeping his eyes fixed on the spoon. After two hours, he returned to the room where the wise man was.
    “”Well””, asked the wise man, “”Did you see the Persian tapestries that are hanging in my dining hall? Did you see the garden that it took the master gardener ten years to create? Did you notice the beautiful parchments in my library?””
    The boy was embarrassed, and confessed that he had observed nothing. His only concern had been not to spill the oil that the wise man had entrusted to him.
    “”Then go back and observe the marvels of my world””, said the wise man. “”You cannot trust a man if you don’t know his house””.
    Relieved, the boy picked up the spoon and returned to his exploration of the palace, this time observing all of the works of art on the ceilings and the walls. He saw the gardens, the mountains all around him, the beauty of the flowers, and the taste with which everything had been selected. Upon returning to the wise man, he related in detail everything he had seen.
    “”But where are the drops of oil I entrusted to you?”” asked the wise man. Looking down at the spoon he held, the boy saw that the oil was gone.
    “”Well, there is only one piece of advice I can give you””, said the wisest of wise men. “”The secret of happiness is to see all the marvels of the world and never to forget the drops of oil on the spoon””.

    Main Uses: : Values, Chunking
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen
    Source: Unknown

    Nothing is written

    My all-time favourite film is “”Lawrence Of Arabia”” and, if I have a favourite scene from the movie, then I guess it is the one of Lawrence’s triumphal return from the Nefud desert, having gone back to rescue the Arab Gasim. The crossing of the Nefud desert is considered impossible, even by the local Arabs, but Lawrence persuades them that, in this way, they can take the Turkish port at Aqaba from the rear.
    Having carried out the superhuman feat of traversing this furnace, it is discovered that one of the Arabs, Gasim, has fallen off his camel and is no doubt dying somewhere back in the desert. Lawrence is told that any idea of rescue is futile and, in any event, Gasim’s death is “”written””. When Lawrence achieves the impossible and returns with Gasim still alive, Sherif Ali admits to him: “”Truly, for some men nothing is written unless they write it””.
    As an impressionable teenager when this film was first released, I was stunned by Lawrence’s courage and unselfishness in going back into the hell of the Nefud to attempt to find a man he hardly knew among the vast expanse of a fiery terrain and I was so moved by the sense of purpose of a man who is determined to take nothing as “”written”” but to shape his own destiny. This sense of anti-determinism and this belief that anything is possible has stayed with me always and continues to inspire me in small ways and large.
    Author: Roger Darlington

    Main Uses: : Strategies, Modelling, Beliefs
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen
    Source: Roger Darlington

    Listening … at Christmas and always

    A few years after I left my secondary school in Manchester, I was invited to help out with the school’s Christmas Fair and I decided to have a go at being Father Christmas. I had recently grown my first full beard and thought that I would enter into the role by rubbing flour into my growth. Though I say it myself, I looked rather splendid and certainly I attracted lots of custom.
    I was enjoying myself enormously, bringing a sense of magic to so many young children, but I was mystified by one young boy who paid for a second visit and then astonishingly for a third. The presents on offer were really pretty pitiful, so I asked him why he was coming to see me so often. He answered simply: “”I just love talking to you””.
    It was then that I realised that, in many households, parents do not encourage their children to talk and really listen to them. This was a lesson that I have taken with me throughout my life. So, at home, at work, socially, always encourage family, friends, colleagues to talk about themselves and their feelings – and really listen.
    Author: Roger Darlington

    Main Uses: : Rapport, Listening
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen
    Source: Roger Darlington

    The Lake

    And the surface of the lake was calm, a deep deep calm, and the people loved to gaze upon the calm surface of the lake knowing that it was merely the face that overlay a depth of calm. But that was before the rain.
    Then came the rain, and the people saw the hundreds and thousands of ripples upon the surface of the lake. Many believed that the treasure at the heart of the lake would be disturbed and even destroyed by the rain as it pelted down upon the surface, continually sending out new disturbances on the surface of the lake. Yet when the rain had come and the rain had gone, the lake stood as before, calm at its surface, and more importantly calm down in its very heart.
    And the avalanche came crashing down from the mountain, carrying monstrous rocks from on high that broke through the surface of the lake. All those watching feared for the destruction of the lake, yet when the avalanche had come and gone, the lake had absorbed the might of the avalanche, swallowed up those rocks and let them too become part of the lake.
    And the river flowed into the lake and beyond the lake, carrying parts of the land into the lake and part of the lakes out beyond the lake into new rivers, new waters, and eventually all the way down to the sea. The people watched and feared this new power that threatened the integrity of the lake – threatened to change it from what they all knew and loved into something completely different. And the lake did indeed change, yet at its heart it was still peaceful and calm and powerful, able to absorb the new currents of change, and to pass on – to recycle parts of itself onto the world beyond. And the river flowed through the lake and the lake itself grew as it changed.
    And a boy threw a single stone into the water and it sent ripples out upon the lake and the ripples spread underneath the sun shining down on the water, each ripple lighting up in a glorious display of silver and gold. For each disturbance on the lake is simply a way another way for the lake to live, to change, to learn, and to love life itself.

    Main Uses: : State Management
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen
    Source: Original story by Brian Cullen

    The Tower of Babel

    After the great flood, the people of the world grew in number again and they all shared a single language.
    After travelling, they came to the land of Shinar. And there, the leader of the people who was called Nimrod, decided to build a great tower that would reach high up into the sky – so high that its top would be in the heavens..
    And God looked at the people and at the great tower that they were building and he said, “”You are one people and you have one language, and you will be able to achieve whatever you put your mind to.””
    So God decided to confound their speech – to confuse the tongues and the minds of the people. And the people became so confused by the multiple languages that they could no longer communicate easily with each other, and as a result they abandoned their efforts to build a great tower, and they abandoned many other things, too. They even began to forget that at one time, all people could communicate easily and that people can achieve whatever you put your mind to.
    And much of communication turned out to babbling, little more than the sounds that a baby makes to pass time through the day. And so the tower that was never finished was called the Tower of Babel.
    There are many stories of the Tower of Babel in different cultures, Indian, European, Hebrew. Perhaps one of the most interesting is the Kaballah story which tells us that …
    … one third of the Tower builders were punished by being transformed into semi-demonic creatures and banished into three parallel dimensions, inhabited now by their descendants.
    And when we see, hear, or feel the problems in our communication today, perhaps we are also living in three parallel dimensions.

    Main Uses: : Representational Systems
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Brian Cullen
    Source: Original story by Brian Cullen based on the traditional story of the Tower of Babel
    Notes: The three parallel dimensions are of course Visual, Auditory, and Kinesthetic.

    The Traveller

    One day a traveler was walking along a road on his journey from one village to another. As he walked he noticed a monk tilling the ground in the fields beside the road. The monk said “Good day” to the traveler and the traveler nodded to the monk. The traveler then turned to the monk and said, “Excuse me, do you mind if I ask you a question?” “Not at all,” replied the monk. “I am traveling from the village in the mountains to the village in the valley and I was wondering if you knew what it is like in the village in the valley?” “Tell me,” said the monk. “What was your experience of the village in the mountains?” “Dreadful,” replied the traveler. “To be honest I am glad to be away from there. I found the people most unwelcoming. When I first arrived I was greeted coldly. I was never made to feel a part of the village no matter how hard I tried. The villagers keep very much to themselves; they don’t take kindly to strangers. So tell me, what can I expect in the village in the valley?” “I’m sorry to tell you,” said the monk, “but I think your experience will be much the same there.” The traveler hung his head despondently and walked on. A few months later another traveler was journeying down the same road and he also came upon the monk. “Good day,” said the traveler. “Good day,” said the monk. “How are you?” asked the traveler. “I’m well,” replied the monk. “Where are you going?” “I’m going to the village in the valley,” replied the traveler. “Do you know what it is like?” “I do,” replied the monk. “But first, tell me, where have you come from?” “I’ve come from the village in the mountains.” “And how was that?” “It was a wonderful experience. I would have stayed if I could but I am committed to traveling on. I felt as though I were a member of the family in the village. The elders gave me much advice, the children laughed and joked with me, and the people generally were kind and generous. I am sad to have left there. It will always hold special memories for me. And what of the village in the valley?” he asked again. “I think you will find it much the same,” replied the monk. “Good day to you.” “Good day and thank you,” replied the traveler, smiled, and journeyed on.

    Main Uses: : Rapport, Beliefs, Sensory Acuity
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Anonymous
    Source: Sue Knight


    There existed a psychotherapist who believed that many of the problems people brought to him were characterized by the existence of ‘fish’ in their dreams. One day a client came to him and was discussing the problems he had. ”Tell me,” said the psychotherapist, “did you dream last night?” “I might have done,” replied the client. “And tell me, in this dream was there a river?” “I don’t think so,” replied the client. “Well, was there any water, if not a river?” “I guess there might have been.” “And was there a pool on the ground?” “I couldn’t be certain but it’s possible,” the client replied. “And in this pool could there have been a fish?” “I can’t rule out the possibility that there might have been a fish.” “Aha!” said the psychotherapist. “I knew it!”

    Main Uses: : Beliefs, Presuppositions
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Anonymous
    Source: Sue Knight

    The Desert

    One day a man was tending his garden, which bordered the desert in Arizona. Dusk was descending and he heard in the distance the sound of motorbikes. A gang of Hell’s Angels rode up, attacked him, tied him to the back of one of the bikes, and drove him into the desert. There they left him barely alive as night fell. The man survived the night and began to regain consciousness as the sun appeared above the horizon. He knew that the sun in the desert means certain death. Without food, water, or shelter he stood no chance of survival. Then at his side he noticed a small bush. He crawled underneath and curled up using the little shade there was to protect himself from the burning rays of the sun. He felt despair—no one knew where he was. Just at that moment he saw a falcon landing on the branch of the bush. To the man’s amazement the falcon spoke and asked, “Can I help you?” Shocked, the man replied, “I am dying of thirst, my mouth and tongue are swollen. To survive I need water.” “Look behind you,” said the falcon. “There is a snake. Follow the snake, for it knows where the water seeps out of the rocks.
    There you will be able to drink.” The man returned to the bush, and the next day the falcon came back. “How are you?” the falcon asked. “I have drunk but I need food to survive—water alone is not enough.” “Stay quiet and wait until the antelope passes by. When it does, follow it—it can show you where the cactus plants are whose flesh you can eat.” Sure enough, when the man followed the antelope he found food and was able to eat. Feeling fitter, he returned to the bush and once again the falcon arrived. “Can I do anything for you?” it asked. “Yes,” replied the man. “Although I have drunk and eaten I still need salt to survive. How can I get the salt I need to live?” “Have no fear,” replied the falcon. “The fox also needs salt. If you follow the fox you will see where it finds the rocks to lick that will give you the salt you need.” The man did as the falcon said and the next day returned to find that the bush under which he had sheltered was burned and charred. “What will I do now?” asked the man. “I have no shelter, I will burn to death.” Then the man realized he had been out in the desert each day following the animals. He had learned how to find food, water, and salt. He knew how to survive. He noticed the rich colors of the sky as the sun dipped low on the horizon, the blues, the purples, and the gold of the sun itself. He heard the exquisite songs of the birds in the distance and he felt an inner peace and joy. “Shall I show you the way home?” asked the falcon. The man thought for a moment and then said, “I think I’ll stay a little longer.”

    Main Uses: : Strategies, Modelling
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Anonymous
    Source: Sue Knight

    Gandhi and the Boy

    A woman took her son to see Mahatma Gandhi, who asked what she wanted. “I’d like you to get him to stop eating sugar,” she replied. “Bring the boy back in two weeks’ time,” replied Gandhi. Two weeks later the woman returned with her son. Gandhi turned to the boy and said, “Stop eating sugar.” The woman looked surprised and asked, “Why did I have to wait two weeks for you to say that?” “Two weeks ago I was eating sugar,” Gandhi replied.

    Main Uses: : Congruency
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Anonymous
    Source: Sue Knight

    The Magus

    Once upon a time there was a young prince who believed in all things but three. He did not believe in princesses, or in islands, or in God. His father, the king, told him that such things did not exist. There were no princesses or islands in his father’s domain, and no sign of God. The young prince believed his father. One day, the prince ran away from his palace to the next country. There, to his astonishment, from every coast he saw islands, and on these islands, strange and troubling creatures whom he dared not name. As he was searching for a boat, a man in full evening dress approached him along the shore. “Are those real islands?” asked the young prince. “Of course they are real islands,” said the man in evening dress. “And those strange and troubling creatures?” “They are all genuine and authentic princesses.” “Then God must also exist!” cried the prince. “I am God,” replied the man in full evening dress, with a bow. The young prince returned home as quickly as he could. “So you are back,” said his father, the king. “I have seen islands, I have seen princesses, I have seen God,” said the prince reproachfully. The king was unmoved. “Neither real islands, nor real princesses, nor a real God, exist.” “I saw them!” “Tell me how God was dressed.” “God was in full evening dress.” “Were the sleeves of his coat rolled back?” The prince remembered that they had been. The king smiled. “That is the uniform of a magician. You have been deceived.” At this the prince returned to the next land, and went to the same shore, where once again he came upon the man in full evening dress. “My father, the king, has told me who you are,” said the young prince indignantly. “You deceived me last time, but not again. Now I know that those are not real islands and real princesses, because you are a magician.” The man on the shore smiled. “It is you who are deceived, my boy. In your father’s kingdom there are many islands and many princesses. But you are under your father’s spell, so you cannot see them.” The prince returned pensively home and when he saw his father he looked him in the eyes. “Father, is it true that you are not a real king, but only a magician?” The King smiled and rolled back his sleeves. “Yes my son, I am only a magician.” “I must know the real truth, the truth beyond magic.” “There is no truth beyond magic,” said the king. The prince was full of sadness. He said, “I will kill myself.” The king, by magic, caused death to appear. Death stood in the door and beckoned to the real prince. The prince shuddered. He remembered the beautiful but unreal islands and the unreal but beautiful princesses. “Very well,” he said. “I can bear it.” “You see, my son,” said the king, “you too now begin to be a magician.”

    Main Uses: : Beliefs
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Anonymous
    Source: John Fowles

    Swimming to Japan

    Once upon a time there was a couple who had achieved many of their ambitions in life, yet there was one main goal outstanding: They wanted to swim to Japan. They reflected on this goal for a long time and one day they set off. They were not used to swimming so they found it difficult. They were aware of how heavy their limbs felt. They ached with the constant effort, especially when the strong current was against them. Gradually, however, their bodies got used to swimming and they developed a style that became effortless and rhythmical. They began to notice the water around them, for example how it changed color as the days went by. In the early morning it would be clear and blue and in certain lights it sparkled emerald green. As the sun set it developed the rich warm colors of the evening sky. And they became aware of the creatures in the water, the small silver fish that swam with them in the day, the dark shadows that skimmed by them in the deep. They became aware of how the sound of the waves changed as the water lapped their ears and they felt the subtle changes of the weather as breezes turned into winds and died down again. They learned how to find food in the water, how to nourish themselves, and how to use their bodies effortlessly. They developed a refined sense of smell so that they could detect changes in the environment by the scent carried to them on the breeze. They swam for days and weeks with no sight of land. One day they saw the dark profile of land on the horizon. They swam on and they recognized the shoreline of Japan. As they approached they became quiet and eventually they looked at each other and they knew. At that moment they turned back to the sea and swam on.

    Main Uses: : Well-Formed Outcomes
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Anonymous
    Source: Sue Knight

    The Watermelon

    Many years ago in the hills of Patagonia there was a village. Its inhabitants were starving. They lived in fear of a dragon that they had seen in their fields and they would not go to harvest their crops. One day a traveler came to the village and asked for food. They explained that there was none because they were afraid of the drago
    n. The traveler was brave and offered to slay the dragon. When he arrived at the fields he couldn’t see a dragon, only a large watermelon. So he returned to the village and said, “You have nothing to fear; there is no dragon, only a large watermelon.” The villagers were angry at his refusal to understand their fear and hacked the traveler to pieces. Some weeks later another traveler came to the village. Again, when he asked for food he was told about the dragon. He too was brave and offered to kill the dragon. The villagers were relieved and delighted. When he arrived at the fields he also saw the giant watermelon and returned to the village to tell the villagers that they were mistaken about the dragon—they need have no fear of a giant watermelon. They hacked him to pieces. More time passed and the villagers were becoming desperate. One day a third traveler appeared. He could see how desperate they were and asked what the problem was. They told him and he promised he would slay the dragon so that they could go to the fields to harvest their crops. When he got to the field he too saw the giant watermelon. He reflected for a moment, then he drew his sword, leaped into the field, and hacked the watermelon to pieces. He returned to the villagers and told them he had killed their dragon. They were overjoyed. The traveler stayed in the village for many months, long enough to teach the villagers the difference between dragons and watermelons.

    Main Uses: : Rapport
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Anonymous
    Source: Sue Knight

    The Sailor and the Old man

    Many years ago there was a sailor who had traveled to many different countries around the world. He had been to many places and seen many different sights. One day as he was sailing across the seas he came upon an island and decided to rest there for a while. He moored his boat on the shore and began to look around. All around the island was a beautiful white beach and behind the beach was dense tropical jungle. All was quiet until… He thought he could hear a faint noise in the distance and tilted his head to listen. He sensed it came from within the jungle and walked closer. Sure enough, once again he heard this faint noise in the background. He started to hack his way through the foliage in order to make a pathway. The more he moved inland the louder the noise became. He continued to cut his way through until eventually he reached a clearing and there in the middle of the clearing he saw an old man sitting crosslegged on the ground. The old man had his eyes closed and was chanting “Mo, Mo, Mo” in long, soft tones. The sailor stood and watched and listened. “Mo, Mo, Mo,” continued the old man. Eventually the sailor approached the old man and tapped him on the shoulder. The old man turned slowly around and smiled. “Excuse me,” said the sailor, “I think you have made a mistake. I think you should be saying ‘Om, Om, Om.’” “Oh,” said the old man, smiling. “Thank you so much,” and began to chant, “Om, Om, Om.” The sailor felt pleased with himself and made his way back to his boat. He began to sail away, and when he had sailed for a while he felt a tap on his shoulder. He turned around, surprised to see the old man, who said, “Forgive me for interrupting your journey. Could you please remind me what the chant should be?” The sailor, in a state of shock, said, “Om, Om, Om.” “Thank you so much,” said the old man and walked back across the water to the island.

    Main Uses: : Anchoring
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Anonymous
    Source: Sue Knight

    The Beast

    Many years ago there existed a village, tucked away in a remote part of the world. The village was in a deep valley surrounded by gentle green hills. The vegetation was rich and fertile and everyone wjo lived in the village had all the food and water they needed. The animals that belonged to the villagers roamed free and the children palyed happily in the warm sunshine.
    One day, a strange beast crept over the top of the hill. The villagers had never seen such a weird creature before and they threw spears at the creature, to no avail. The creature stayed where it was until dusk when it sloped away into the dark.
    Everyday at the dawn the beast would reappear and sit at the entrance to the valley. And every day at dusk it would return to the hills.
    Over time the villagers grew used to the beast and they would feed it as they walked to work in the fields with their children. The children played happily in the fields, laughing and shouting. Gradually they approached the beast, and pushed and prodded it. The older villagers warned them to stop but they took no notice.
    One day a little girl threw a large rock at the beast, who howled in pain and turned and ran off to the hills. It did not return. The villagers became silent and sad and the little girl was upset.
    Several years passed. The villagers had almost forgotten about the beast when it reappeared, bigger and older, lumbering over the hill and into the valley. The villagers were glad. When the little girl saw the beast again she ran up to it and kissed it. She knew exactly what she would do next…

    Main Uses: : Talking to the Unconscious
    Also Useful For:
    Submitted By: Anonymous
    Source: Sue Knight

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *