Get Yourself Motivated is a method of self-coaching to help you explore your true and authentic motivations. With the insights gained, you will go on to transform your ability to make the things happen which you would like to have happen - whatever they may be.
If you ever ponder the question "What would you like to have happen?" about any aspect of your life then this course is for you.
The course is based on the pioneering work of David Grove who, whilst counselling people who had experienced trauma, realised that it's possible to gain access to our deepest, non-verbal feelings through interrogation of our metaphors and the symbols within them use in everyday language.
He developed a way of asking questions about the symbols we use which avoided any bias or assumptions being introduced into the process. This became known as Clean Language precisely because it does not permit any outside interference.
James Lawley and Penny Tompkins observed how David worked with symbols and codified his method into the technique we call Symbolic Modelling. In this course you will learn to ask yourself Clean Questions and to model the symbols which you uncover. In this way you will explore your own inner or what is often called, psychoactive landscape.
As you gain more insight, transformation will occur in your thinking and you will gain immense clarity into your ansers to the critically important opening question in Clean Language which is "What would you like to have happen?"
You will be introduced to examples of the process in action from the key texts on the subject. This will give you a good feel for the way you can ask yourself theses questions and model your own dynamic thought processes. Along the way there will be quizzes to test your progress.
At any point if you get stuck you are free to use the Send Message feature and we will get you back on track.
Simply listen to the examples given which will take about 2 hours and complete the quizzes. After that it's about practice and experimentation. For some people the breakthrough is immediate but as a general rule after 6 sessions of self-coaching something new and exciting will emerge.
We look forward to working with you when you take this course.
Introduction and desired outcomes
When it comes to getting and staying motivated we are all completely and uniquely different. This is why most motivational books, videos or workshops are not as effective as we’d like. They try to make sense of our drives by spotting general patterns when in fact none exist.
My guess is that you already have a stack of books (some unread) on this subject. You’ve probably tried several approaches but not yet found what works perfectly for you.
You might have trouble getting started. You might start but lose enthusiasm. You might start and succeed but then go back to bad habits. In this course you will come to understand your specific patterns and work out for yourself how to break them.
The subjective state of mind we label motivation is physically composed of billions of connecting brain cells which wire together depending on our DNA, varied experiences and cultures and like snowflakes no two structures are the same.
Concepts like motivation build up individually as the parts of our brain which deal with vision, motion, fear, reward, force, facial recognition and so on and so on link up until the connections are strong enough for us to be able to give them this name – motivation. We all do this in our own unique way.
We can only talk about complex concepts like motivation by reference back to the bigger neural centres from which they are constructed which is why motivation tends to link back to images, words and phrases involving vision and motion. We use words about paths and journeys and climbing which stem from our more ancient primary mental functions. Motivation is about the motive force getting us from where we are to where we want to be. We call this descriptive process metaphor. One thing, motivation, is being described in terms of another.
We teach you how to pay attention to and interrogate the metaphors and symbols which you use because they are conscious expressions of the way you think about getting from where you are to where you want to be. They are also the means of working out how you are going to get there.
We will teach you how to ask questions about the symbols in you metaphors as if they were real things In this way, fresh connections will get made between the centres in your brain which process your version of motivation. This rewiring is the physical aspect of the change in your thinking. In fact, if you think it and believe it you can achieve it.
It all starts with this question – “What would you like to have happen?”
My motivational state has gone up and down over the years and until recently I have not known why. At school, I was really driven and got myself straight A’s and want off to Oxford. At Oxford the motivation evaporated and I almost failed my degree.
I got work as a salesman and became really motivated again and was earning very well in my early twenties and then motivation for that drained away after a few years. This pattern repeated itself and I could not explain why successes tended to fizzle out every time.
I read everything I could on motivation, personal development. I practiced martial arts and got my black belt to discover if oriental mind control might give me insight. It didn’t give me what I was looking for.
After 14 years at Hewlett Packard and with motivation on the decline I branched out on my own as a coach with faltering success. I realised I needed help working out my path and attended a Meet Up on motivation and got my first introduction to the ideas in this course. In fact I paid for six coaching sessions in this technique but after four discarded it as nonsense even some metaphors had emerged
Then 6 months later completely out of the blue the significance of it all came to me. My symbols were a ship lost at sea, a coastal city and an island inhabited by hippy artists. A bridge materialised to link the city and the island and then the ship sailed to the North.
My inspiration was that the technique was the link between he conscious and unconscious sides of my personality- it was the bridge - and with that my attitude transformed. In fact, it’s now my passion and life’s work.
Since then I have studied hard and learned the method from experts. I started to have immediate success with my coaching clients. I now have a better understanding of what makes me tick and a more reliable way of remaining motivated to do coach people using these ideas.
I found I could even ask myself the questions without the coach being there.
We call your desired outcomes “What you would like to have happen” and it sits at the heart of your motivation for everything.
We believe the following to be true.
People are naturally and uniquely creative and possess their own magnificent inner wisdom. In fact, we have all the wisdom we need to deal with anything but don’t always know how to access it.
Metaphors provide a way understanding information held at the sub-conscious level. George Lakoff, Professor of Linguistics at Berkeley, states that the neuroscience proves 98% of our thinking is sub-conscious. David Grove described metaphor as our “primary processing language.” Metaphors are the things that carry information between the conscious and sub-conscious mind. It’s hard to overstate the importance of that statement.
Clean Language and Symbolic Modelling are the means of exploration through metaphor and they help to create the conditions for change.
New insights and ideas filter through naturally if we explore in the correct way. This is known as emergent knowledge. Learning how to tap into the: subconscious through metaphor will transform your ability to become and to remain motivated.
Change is the natural by-product of the process. Trying to force charge is counter-productive. Any change will be unique to you and will reveal itself in the way which is most appropriate in all the circumstances.
Often you will sense when change is taking place but it’s not possible to predict when it will happen. In my own case the meaning in my metaphors matured into something I could make conscious sense of completely out of the blue 6 months after I had lost my enthusiasm for the process. Somewhere inside the wheels had been whirring and a life changing inspiration came to me. If you keep faith with the process and remain open to explore the dynamics of your inner thought life the creative inspirations will surface. You can rely on that.
The best way to start learning what we call Clean Language and Symbolic Modelling is to hear a coach working with a client. Here we can listen to James Lawley, one of the founders of this system, using it to help somebody deal with workplace stress. This short exchange gives a good impression of the pace of the questions and demonstrates how the client quickly and naturally begins working at the level of metaphor. This short introduction will give you a good impression of how to ask the questions of yourself or to help a friend ask them.
Listen to one of the experts in this technique describe how she started her journey of discovery when a stranger asked her four simple questions. Based on her experience it's clear to see that self coaching is possible and is one of the best ways to begin building confidence in the process.
The process always starts with this question.
“What would you like to have happen?”
The chances are that you will answer the question with respect to an aspect of your motivation but we can’t assume that. Notice that we make no assumptions about what it is that you would like to change. We don’t ask “What would you like to have happen regarding your motivation to stop smoking?” That question contains assumptions and steers your thinking which, even though it might be a good question, is not clean.
You might have come to the process with one subject area in mind but when you answer the question something else comes to the surface. That’s fine. The important thing is that you start and just trust that all will be will and trust your mind to take you where it wants to go. Go with the flow. Your sub-conscious mind really does want what’s truly best for you and that will emerge.
Perhaps you would like to write your answer down in the middle of a large sheet of paper - the bigger the better. You may also want to have some coloured marker pens with you as well. Alternatively you may want to work from memory. Do exactly what works for you.
What you first commit to paper is significant and you may be surprised by what you write down. Your response will fall into one of three categories which affect the next steps in the process.
Devised by Penny Tompkins and James Lawley, this test helps set you on the right trajectory after you answer “What would you like to have happen?”
The first thing to do is determine how you have framed your answer. There are three modes of response. They are Problem, Remedy and Outcome.
We are going to give you every opportunity to move your thinking towards an outcome orientation.
Outcomes tend to use expressions like “I want,” “I would like,” “I wish,” “I desire,” “I need,” or “I’d love to.”
We could define an outcome as something you would like and don’t yet have.
However, it is possible to hear the “I want” type of expressions followed by “not to have” terminology. “I want it to go away,” “I wish I wasn’t,” “I want to stop,” “I don’t want,” “I want to avoid.”
These statements are known as Remedies. They are things that you would like to not have. We treat them differently from outcome statements as you will soon see.
Problem statements represent things that you don’t like and have. They are identified by phrases such as “I’m scared of,” “The trouble is,” “My fear is,” “I hate,” “I’m scared of.”
We actively avoid working with problems until we have no other option than to examine them. We are always minded to draw attention to the outcome state and develop them rather than investing in building on the problem. As with David Grove’s trauma sufferers, too much time in the problem can effectively reinforce what we don’t want. To not want something is, of course, a form of motivation and it cannot be simply dismissed but as a general rule it is more productive to frame motivation in terms of the preferred future state of being.
People have a tendency to talk about and solve problems in the belief that once solved all will be well. However, solving problems does not necessarily result in any movement forward to an improved state of being. Indeed, it’s likely that habitual and problematic patterns of thinking and behaviour will reappear if the mind is not taken towards a preferred outcome.
As you reflect on your own desired outcome it’s worth reflecting on these four starting and ending positions.
1. You may know where you are, A, and know that you want to get motivated to go to where you know you want to go, namely B.
2. As you start moving from A to B and explore your motivation you discover that your real desired outcome is elsewhere, C, and you can alter the way you approach things.
3. You may know where you are and where you don’t want to go and through exploration using metaphor an outcome emerges which equates with what you do actually want.
4. You may be feeling very lost and have no idea where you are or where you are going but with time the desired destination will emerge along with insight into how to get there.
Of course it’s not going to be easy to address issues with motivation without considering problems but it really helps if you have a general sense of desired outcome before delving in and wallowing for too long there.
Depending on whether you framed your answer as a Problem, Remedy or Outcome you will ask yourself different questions. They are intended to draw your attention away from problem or remedy thinking and towards your desired outcome as it starts to emerge.
Write down your response to the question “what would you like to have happen?” Decide if you think it is framed as a problem, a remedy or an outcome.
If your response is clearly an outcome statement we will immediately begin using what we call the developing questions. We will examine these questions in the next section. An outcome statement regarding the motivation to stop smoking might look like this with indications of what the future state will have in it, namely fitness and improved breathing.
However you may have responded using “remedy” phrases. For example you might have answered the question,” What would you like to have happen?” like this.
So far there is evidence of what you would like not to have but nothing about what you do want.
Focus on the outcome (stop smoking) and envision the results of stopping smoking by asking “And when stop smoking then what happens?” or “What happens next?” as if you are envisioning the consequences of solving the problem. These questions are prompts to put more attention onto the outcome state. They advance the frame as if you were looking at the story board of a film and could see how the plot develops by asking about what follows smoking less. Attention is moved into the state of being free from smoking so much. It then makes more sense to start asking questions to develop the emerging outcome state.
An experienced coach would say it roughly like this, “And you’d like to stop smoking so much and when you stop smoking so much, then what happens?”
If you can, got into the habit of linking the elements of your response with “and” which focuses attention very specifically onto the words you will go on to develop.
This might prompt references to better health or lower expenses. These are outcome oriented thoughts which can be explored further.
Now imagine if the response was framed as a problem.
There is only one question to ask and it’s to repeat “What would you like to have happen?”
The response would likely be on these lines, “And you just can’t stop smoking and when you can’t stop smoking, what would you like to have happen?”
You may find that these answers come easily in which case your can move straight on to the process of developing your outcome. If not, spend some time musing on your response and keep coming back to it until you got more insight.
You may be faced with no option other than to start asking the Clean Questions about the elements of the problem which is not ideal. The fact that you are in this state of mind, may indicate that your thought patterns are in what is known as a bind. The process we are going to describe will help untangle the bind. However, you will need to do work on spotting the repeating patterns that holds you back, before moving on to then establish what it is that you do want to have happen. We are going to work with binds later but avoid the temptation to skip to that part or the course because you will need all the techniques we are teaching in order to be able to untangle them.
Whilst you are so new to this process you may wish to look at options for getting extra support. You have the option of using the message function (click on my picture and use the Send Message feature) or you could find me on Skype as peter.urey or email firstname.lastname@example.org and I will do my best to help you find your desired outcome. However, should you wish to have a coaching session there will be a fee for that work which we can agree depending on what’s required.
There are text books available which might help and the best ones are “Metaphors in Mind” by James Lawley and Penny Tompkins and Marian Way’s” Clean Approaches for Coaches.”
You might also be lucky enough to find a clean practice group in your area where you could get more support. Message me and will do my best to find local resources.
If you struggle to describe your desired outcome, don’t stop. Work on what came to you because the process itself will help focus your attention in the right direction even if you don’t start with outcome oriented phrases. What you say is uniquely yours and we recognise and honour that and can easily build upon it. Just be aware for now how you framed your answer.
Try to recognise the difference between a Problem, a Remedy and an Outcome after you ask "What would you like to have happen?". The distinctions are a bit blurred so try not to get too upset if you don't get the preferred answer first time. The quiz is designed to show you that there is crossover between the classifications.
To develop an outcome this process utilises nine questions. Two of them are used 80% of the time. The purpose of developing is to learn more about the outcome state and to discover the metaphors and symbols from which it is constructed.
The two major developing questions are, “Is there anything else about….?” and “What kind of…. is that….?”
There are subtle but important differences between “Is there anything more about that?” or” Tell me more about that.” They just don’t work as well as “Anything else” and “What kind of.” They are subtly directive which is at odds with the principle of allowing a person to explore without external pressure or bias.
These questions are deceptively simple but a lot of thought and experience has gone into them. They are free of any suppositions. These questions are the minimum required to draw attention to something without influencing the outcome. Even when you ask them of yourself, stick with the exact words.
These two questions prepare the ground for the question “And that’s like what?” This creates the conditions for describing what you’d like to have happen in terms of something else. This takes us from then level of working with hard to define concept words like motivation and into working with symbols which are specific and which have a form which can be visualised. We get a better understanding of the concept in this way.
The best way to illustrate how these developing questions reveal their underlying source in our primary processing language which is metaphor and symbol is with a short case study.
In her book “Clean Approaches for Coaches” Marian Way cites this example of developing an outcome into it’s representation as a metaphorical symbol with respect to a person seeking the outcome of being relaxed. We might say that they are seeking the motivation to achieve the state of relaxation as they alone define relaxation.
For the moment, as you listen to this example, pay attention to the repeating of the exact words and the use of the word “and.” These are very important when a coach is working with you and will help you when you start asking them about yourself. If you go on to learn to be a coach their significance will become very clear.
Marian starts with Clean Language’s standard opening.
“And what would you like to have happen?”
“I’d like to feel more relaxed talking to this group of people.”
The word relaxed feels as though it is the most “outcome oriented” phrase in the sentence so she, in the spirit of curiosity, asks the first developing questions.
“And you’d like to feel more relaxed talking to this group of people. And when relaxed, what kind of relaxed is that relaxed?”
“Easier. My body would be less tense.”
“And easier and body less tense. And is there anything else about "body less tense?"
“More fluid. I would move more fluidly.”
“And more fluid and move more fluidly and that’s move more fluidly like what?”
“It would be like a good dancer.”
The process we are going to teach you first took life in 1978 when coach and therapist, New Zealander David Grove, began working with people who had experienced trauma. He observed that when they retold their stories they were often re-traumatised but they could talk about what had happened to them, quite naturally, by using metaphors as an alternative to going back into their painful experience. By describing their experiences by comparison with something else, it was possible to work on the subject in a less challenging way which achieved miraculous results. The structure of the metaphor, (revealed by asking the question “and that’s like what?”) turned out to have the same structure as the traumatic experience but did not trigger any harmful associations.
In fact, he discovered that it is possible and beneficial to ask questions about the metaphors and the symbols within them as if they are real. By paying very close attention to the metaphors, people were able to gain access, at a deep level, to the structure and patterns of thinking that are running their lives. Every person has their own uniquely individual patterns and what is more, with exploration and insight these patterns will adapt and improve themselves. As the metaphor adapts, so does the reaction to the original trauma.
He also recognised that it was unhelpful and unnecessary for the person working with the coaching client to introduce any of their own assumptions, suggestions or beliefs about the way the mind is supposed to operate. He devised a set of questions which are free from assumptions and act merely as pointing tools to draw attention to aspects of the metaphors and symbols used in order to stimulate curiosity and further exploration.
As the natural by-product of this process, fresh ideas emerged and transformation followed. Although this was not always predictable it often happened during a coaching session or soon afterwards.
David described what he was doing as helping people to model their inner world. He called this their psychoactive landscape. This world has its own unique dimensions of logic, space and time and is susceptible to infinite creative redesign. In outer reality a tree is pretty much a tree but in the inner world a tree can instantaneously morph into something else without any sense of disbelief. My personal tree metaphor which emerged in a session, transformed into an image of the tree on a key ring which allowed me to carry the strength of the tree with me in my pocket.
Tapping into this capability is what the creative geniuses of the world manage to do. We can all do it once we learn this simple technique. As we gain experience, we do what David called “Self Modelling.” The aim of this course is to facilitate you into Self Modelling.
We are going to do this without the presence of a personal coach. There are obvious strengths and weaknesses in this approach. That said, this is a good way to raise your awareness of what can be achieved and as your interest grows you may acquire the desire to take action and talk to us about working with a coach.
David called his questions and process for accessing difficult to describe status of mind, Clean Language. This reflects the fact that no outside “contamination” is tolerated. Over time, James Lawley and Penny Tompkins, after observing how David achieved such great results, developed a method called Symbolic Modelling which made David’s process accessible to a much wider and non-specialist audience. We are going to introduce you to Clean Language and Symbolic Modelling and get you applying it to your own mind and motivation.
A short introduction to spotting metaphor, similes, verbs being used metaphorically and symbols.
Identify the word or phrase in the following sentences which most clearly tells you a metaphor is being used.
David’s experience with Vietnam Veterans who had suffered unbearable trauma was that they could talk about their experience when it was dealt with at the metaphorical level. To have brought unsettling ideas back into the fully conscious mind would have the effect of re-traumatizing. Metaphor make’s it safer to explore difficult aspects of our inner life.
He stated that metaphor mediates the interface between conscious and unconscious processes. Metaphors take us into the underlying structure of experience. They manage to embody the pattern of what’s happening at the conscious level with uncanny accuracy. This is substantially more effective than trying to works with concepts at the surface level. In fact, when experts consider this subject they recognise that concepts like relaxation or motivation can only be understood by reference back to the experiences which we hold as inner images and talk about by saying “It’s like…” and then compare what we are talking about with that mental picture.
Once you get into the spirit of working with metaphors as if they were literal you can start interacting with your own inner world and create a 3D landscape from the symbols within. David Grove called this becoming psychoactive. In this state it’s possible to self model the dynamics of your mental processes with amazing potential for fresh inspiration and transformation.
Metaphors, often expressed as mental images and gestures are very memorable. We have infinite memory for pictures. Not only that but recall of a metaphor even after a long period of time, can bring back all the associated symbols and patterns. We can park an issue and come back to it months later without loss of clarity.
Metaphor is the perfect medium for accessing abstract concepts like motivation, confidence, purpose and meaning.
Once an idea has been given form within the metaphor then it can morph creatively in ways that ideas do not have the capacity to do because they do not have form in the way that an image has form. Just consider how weirdly common things behave when you are dreaming. Most importantly, when the metaphor changes so does one’s relationship with the outside world. This is where breakthrough takes place.
Metaphor is something we use all the time without being aware of it. To be frank, it’s impossible to communicate without metaphor and once you allow yourself to run with the process that will become crystal clear.
Try and define these words without using the expression “it’s like” - happiness, anger, philosophy, justice. It’s not easy is it?
As a simple rule of thumb, once you can draw a simple sketch of the phrases emerging from the Clean Questions, then you will have unearthed metaphors and symbols.
As an exercise ask yourself these questions and reflect upon your answers. Notice when the language shifts into metaphor. It you remain at the level of concept that’s not a problem. You can ask Clean Questions about concepts but the exercise is designed to draw your attention to metaphor and their value in the investigative process.
“For me, when I am a…. at my best, that’s like what?”
Insert these words in turn:
We’d love to hear from you the kinds of metaphors which emerge.
Could you draw a quick picture to capture your answer?
Are you getting the hang of moving from concept to metaphor and back again?
If you were to take what you hear literally (for example “I’m between a rock and a hard place”) then you do know that you are not actually in that position but where you are has that structure and feel. This sort of reality check tells you when metaphor is in play.
In the example from Marian’s book where we moved from “relaxed” to “easier, less tense” and then to “more fluid,” we arrived at “like a good dancer.”
It’s now much easier to visualise a “good dancer” and make a simple sketch than it might be to represent a more abstract concept like relaxation.
We now go on to develop the dancer in a literal way using the same questions.
“And what kind of dancer could that good dancer be?”
“Not a ballet dancer but with their own natural style.”
The metaphor symbol is gaining in definition. It already has form and by asking “where is?” we can give it location, as well.
“And where could that dancer be?”
“In my chest.” (This is unique to this client’s experience and logic. For this client, relaxation like a good dancer is held, in his chest. In this technique we take a comment like this at absolute face value and pass no judgement upon it.) Ideas are embodied and our language captures this well (“He is a pain in the neck”) but they are so familiar we don’t pay attention to them.
“And whereabouts in your chest?”
“At the bottom… where my ribs meet.”
“And when dancer in your chest at the bottom where your ribs meet, is there anything else about that dancer?”
“It’s expansive. Big…. with wide flowing movements.”
“And is there anything else about those movements?”
“They’re self contained, not for show. It doesn’t care what other people think.”
We have asked a small number of very basic exploratory questions and discovered that somewhere within his mind this client holds an image of relaxation as if it were a dancer. We can give this symbol the name dancer. We also know that for this person, and this person alone, the notion of this symbolic representation has a location at the bottom of his chest, were ribs meet.
Alongside name and location, we also have some attributes for the dancer. Dancer has its own natural style, is expansive and big, wide flowing movements, is self contained and doesn’t care what other people think.
In this example the client brought his attention to the element of movement. Another client might focus on the physical dimensions or clothing of the dancer or have located them on a stage or whatever. The responses are idiosyncratic and there is a personal logic and pattern underlying these choices. Only the client can finally make any overall sense of what it means. Until the connections get made we keep curious and keep on asking questions.
Your way of processing what you call motivation follows this process.
For the moment we can move on from this enquiry and move onto developing another element of the response to “what would you like to have happen?”
For the moment we park the dancer symbol and leave it as an aid to memory for later. When we come back to it we could quickly sketch a picture of a dancer with some idea about its attributes and be able to recall the exact words used by the client.
Other developing questions include “Does…. have a size or a shape?” which encourages the client to think of the symbol in an embodied way.
“How many….are there?” is a good question to ask if a symbol appears which has multiple parts. For example the client says, “It’s like apples in a bowl.” In the spirit of curiosity we could ask “And how many apples are there?” This may or may not lead to any new insight but we can never know.
“Is…..on the inside or the outside?” This is a good question for exploring the way in which an idea is held within a persons system of thinking and being. We do a great deal of our thinking through reference to our bodies. Once the process of discovery is underway it feels very natural to position symbols within or just outside the body as well as at any point in the Cosmos.
The important thing is to use the precise wording of the questions because they are designed to be so assumption free that they do not distract you from their state of inner exploration.
“I’d like to feel more relaxed talking to this group of people.”
We can now explore other elements of the Desired Outcome statement. In the example we are using here from Marian Way’s book, she decided that the words “group of people” would be the next best place to explore. She asked “is there anything else about this group of people?” and the client did not have an answer.
When you are going through this process on your own it’s likely that some lines of inquiry (even questions you ask yourself) will be answered with “I don’t know,” and that’s fine and normal. It just means that for now it’s time to move onto the next words to stimulate exploration.
Marian then elected to consider the word “talking” with the question set up in the following way. She recaps the original outcome statement linking the newly emerged symbol of the original question with the intended outcome. .
“And dancer and you want to feel more relaxed talking to this group of people,” and “is there anything else about that talking?”
Marian acknowledges that she assumes that in order to be relaxed he will need more trust but can’t know that for sure. She asks move developing questions to test her assumption.
She decides to focus her and the client’s attention by asking:
“And when more trust, whereabouts is that trust?”
“Again in my chest.”
“Whereabouts in your chest?”
“Slightly above the dancer.”
“And when that trust is slightly above the dancer, does that trust have a size or a shape?”
“It’s the size of a fist. It’s a hand. Sometimes it’s open and sometimes closed.”
The size or shape question is intended to reveal the form of the symbol because once it has form it makes more sense to then ask the “that’s like what?” question.
Marian, who has been working with this client for some time decides to explore the “sometimes open and sometimes closed” aspects with the question: “And when “sometimes open and sometimes closed” is there anything else about that “some times open and sometimes closed?”
“It’s a rhythm of opening and closing.”
“What kind of rhythm?”
“A natural rhythm.”
At this point Marian makes the connection between the “natural style” of the dancer and the “natural rhythm” and suspects that she might be able to explore the relationship between the two symbols using the questions we will go on to teach in the next section.
Before we can relate it’s obvious that we will need at least two symbols. In practice we would probably develop more symbols before moving on to consider relationships between them.
The precise wording of developing questions is very important. Spot the Clean Questions from those that sound as though they might be clean but aren't.
So far we have taken a brief look at a desired outcome and by exploring it with Clean Questions a metaphor and symbols have emerged and more will emerge as we continue the process. In fact we use this developing technique whenever a new symbol enters the landscape. However, David Grove stated that, “the relationship between different symbols is what is important.”
The relating questions are also very obvious and assumption free.
“And when (symbol 1), what happens to (symbol 2)?”
” And when symbol 1, where is symbol 2?”
“And when symbol 1, is there anything else about symbol 2?”
There is also:
“And is there a relationship between symbol I and symbol 2?”
Be careful not to ask what the relationship is because that is suggestive (it is suggesting that there might be a relationship when in fact none exists).
A useful clarifying question is:
“And is symbol 1 the same or different from symbol 2?”
For example, in the previous example, was natural rhythm the same or different from natural style?”
As we look for relationships, it’s important to be aware that the process might reveal a problem, a remedy or a new symbol. If a problem appears the question to ask is “What would you like to have happen?”
With a remedy we focus on the outcome component, and leave out the “don’t want” prefix and ask:
“When…. Then what happens?”
With symbols we ask the developing questions to discover a name, location and attributes.
Once the landscape is populated with developed symbols the relationship between them across time becomes fascinating and helps point the way towards the desired outcome state and what night need to happen to get there.
It’s helpful to think about the time related questions as if you are building up a story board as if making a motion picture.
The questions are:
“What happens next?”
“Then what happens?”
“What happens just before?”
“Where could / does … come from?”
These questions interlock neatly at the right time with questions about the necessary conditions under which the “desired outcome” frames of the storyboard come into focus.
The questions are:
“What needs to happen for…..?”
Going back to Marian’s example of the person seeking to be more relaxed like a dancer she uses the time question to build up the story as each symbols has its affects on others.
Here we pick things up later in the dialogue.
“And when the dance takes on the rhythm of the hand then what happens?”
“They are both dancing.”
Now we can develop and explore the effect of one symbol relating to the other with the developing questions.
“And is there anything else about “both dancing?”
Listen to the dialogue unfold to get a feel for how the questions flow.
The time questions are great for revealing recurring events or sequences.
She uses the example of a person being made aware of their process for being in a determined state of motivation with “then what happens?” and “What happens just before.”
Marian presents a dialogue which only develops by asking “then what happens” and “what happens just before?”
She was talking to a client who described a metaphor for determination as “a light focuses on a single point.”
“A light focuses on a single point.”
“And what happens just before light focuses.”
“I twiddle a switch on my forehead.”
“And when light focuses, then what happens?”
“I clinch my fists if I need too.”
“And then what happens?”
“I enjoy my life and get what I want.”
“And what happens next?”
“A new problem or idea comes to mind.”
“And then what happens?”
“I weigh up ideas in my head, making sure I cover all bases.”
“And then what happens?”
“Gradually a plan forms.”
“And then what happens?”
“I twiddle a switch my forehead”
And so the recurring cycle is revealed. Only 2 questions have been used to reveal the pattern of thinking which constitutes determination for this person and only this person.
However, in this cycle the symbol of a switch emerges. This can be explored and developed using the singe question:
” Where could / does switch come from?”
“Logical and strategic head.”
”Where could logical and strategic head come from?”
“I was born with it.”
“And where could that come from?”
“It was a gift. I was tapped with a determination wand.”
Once again we can see how the repetition of a very simple question can take us into a much deeper understanding of the notion of determination for this particular person.
The point or the exercise is to encourage change to occur in our ability to become and to remain motivated.
If you have been exploring the dynamics of what motivates you in order to enjoy healthy and sustainable motivation then recognising when change is taking place is very important. We are thinking here about the sort of change or breakthrough that will lead to achieving the desired outcome. After exploration it is not unrealistic to encounter inspiration. Explorers embark on their journey for that very reason, to find some thing new. It’s important that you do not overlook the moments when charge occurs.
Here are ways in which you might notice change when practising with yourself.
Something shifts for one at the symbols. Or a new symbol emerges. For example a boat drifting on the sea might sprout sails and travel to a paradise island. A flimsy bridge might suddenly turn into a six lane mega-structure. Classically, a caterpillar might metamorphose into a butterfly. Metamorphosis is hard to define but easy to recognise. The shifts of form are stunning because a wiggling earthbound caterpillar is totally different from the airborne butterfly but we accept that shifts of this magnitude can and do take place without us having to suspend our disbelief.
Verbs will change, “I would” or ”it was” changes to “I will” or “is.” Verbal shifts may be difficult to spot but when the shift takes place there is likely to be a corresponding change in physiology. Your shoulders may lift, breathing might feel deeper and relaxed or you may find yourself looking in another direction as your internal perspective changes. Vocal tone and speed of speech can also alter as the change impacts your physical body.
Notice change and then ask the Clean Questions:
“What just happened?”
“What’s happening now?”
Once the change is recognised then we can begin the process of developing or maturing the change. Again, we do this with the standard developing questions and the relating questions. The aim is to develop the change into metaphors and symbols and to incorporate them into the emerging psychoactive landscape.
To explore the necessary conditions for a change to take place use this question:
“What has to happen for?”
This draws attention to the possibility of imminent change. As such, it should not be used too early in the process. A good indication that it may be time to consider using this question is when you start to use the phrases “need to” or “have to.”
The stipulation to remain Clean means that you should only ask “What needs to happen for…?” about the desired outcome which you have stated and not about any assumptions about what you think should happen or you think other people might want to happen?
It’s really a variant of “What would you like to have happen?”
Gauging the effect of a change is almost conversational and works in much the same way as you might ask if you were catching up with people you had not met for quite some time. You would want to know what happened before and what’s going happens next because you are naturally curious.
If you are experiencing difficulties with motivation then there is a possibility that you are dealing with a pattern of thoughts which hold you back from reaching your desired outcome.
Binding patterns, which are complex things, tend to reveal themselves in metaphor because it’s the only way to get understanding of something so complicated without the metaphorical shorthand. When you hear them, be ready to start work on exploring the bind and on your desired outcome.
Verbal clues include phrases like:
“I’m between a rock and a hard place.”
“I’m going round in circles”
“I’m trapped in a cage with no door,”
“I’m lost in a maze.”
“On the one hand I want… but on the other hand I want….”
“All roads lead to hell.”
“I’m stuck and there’s no way out.”
“I’m banging my head against a brick wall.”
None of these conditions are literally true but they capture the essence of where you are.
Being trapped in a binding pattern can feel hopeless and helpless. You will wonder how on earth any more of these Clean Questions can possibly help.
Your desired outcome will feel unreachable or you may not be able to easily remain engaged with it. Whilst you might very well be able to envisage the outcome a problem gets in the way of reaching it.
Recognition of the binding pattern is the cue to begin exploring the dynamics of it. This is suspiciously like modelling a problem. We certainly do not want to reinforce the problem but we do want to understand it with the intention of continuing along the path to the desired outcome.
Working on the bind usually requires that you repeat the questions about the relationship between the symbols until the bind is explicitly recognised and the pattern is understood.
Given that you are dealing with a problem the “what would you like to have happen” question will be used a lot. We will ask this about each symbol in the pattern. “What would…(symbol) like to have happen?”
We can ask the same question about the competing and mutually exclusive outcomes. “And when outcome 1 and outcome 2 what would you like to have happen?”
Useful approaches include zooming out from the hind and observing its operation in the whole it’s possible to ask “And all that’s like what?” This way we elicit a metaphor and symbols for the pattern which we can develop and from which a creative insight and transformation can occur.
Physically drawing the dynamics of the bind can stimulate insight. Attention can move across the symbols and their relationships.
The emotional and physical sensations of being in the bind can be strong and painfully present. The questions: “What’s happening now? ‘and “What just happened?” can be helpful at this point.
The sequence of the bind using the “What happens before?” and “Where could…. come from?” question can take us back to the source of the symbols and desired outcomes. Along the way resources and insights can emerge but may require some time to come into conscious recognition.
From personal experience though, I have found it helpful to keep a copy of the questions in front of me as I ask thems about myself. You can download them as part of this lecture. The beauty of this approach is that there are no wrong answers. You might go into a blind alley with an answer such as “I don’t know” but that’s the worst that will happen.
You may decide to ask questions about every single word in your desired outcome statement. You are likely to be surprised by the responses four give to yourself.
My personal technique is to highlight individual words and then create a miniature wind map for each word and to record the question asked and the response until a location, name and attributes emerge. Some coaches can go through the process without taking any notes at all.
We can recap the process as it runs in repeating steps.
Identity the desired outcome by asking “What would I like to have happen?”
Ask yourself if you have stated a Problem, a Remedy or an Outcome.
Ask “What would you like to have happen? again, if you framed a problem.
Ask “Then what happen?” if you framed a remedy. Remedies include “I want less of” phraseology.
Once you have some desired outcome words in your response, start to develop then them until you got a name, location and attributes. 80% of the time you will ask “What kind of?” ‘and “Anything else about?” 80% of the time.
Once symbols emerge, they will be the solid objects in the metaphor, relate them in time and space. Explore the sequence and source of the emerging story.
When relating over time ask:
“What happens next?”
“Then what happens?
“What happens just before?”
To get to the source of a symbol ask:
“Where does/could….come from?”
Should a change occur go through the entire process again.
As a change occurs ask yourself “What just happened?”
It problems emerge ask “What would you like to have happen?”
If remedies reappear ask “Then what happens?” about the outcome element.
If a binding pattern emerges, zoom out until the pattern can be described at the metaphorical level and begin developing it again.
In a bind explore the relationship between symbols and encourage ask what each symbol would like to have happen once they hare acquired a presence in the landscape.
Relationship questions are:
“Is there a relationship between…and…?”
“When….what happens to …?”
“Is…the same or different to…?”
To explore Necessary Conditions:
Occasionally and sparingly ask “What needs to happens for…?” if you sense that a transformation might be possible.
In the end, there is no substitute for practice so try out your own response to the following outcome statements to discover how your mind would guide you to proceed next.
An improvised self-coaching session kept to a manageable length which gives you an impression of how you will work with the questions on your own. What questions came to mind as you heard me exploring my own motivations?
This is VERY subjective but gives you some practice in the technique. The answers are subjective because they are the questins I'd be most likely to ask and you are entitled to be curious in your own way. Message me if you have bette atlernatives you'd like to discuss.
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About Peter Urey.
Trained to advanced level in personal coaching techniques including Clean Language and Symbolic Modelling, Hoshin Planning, Business NLP and HP's Leadership Development Programme.
Experienced coach for Hewlett Packard, Symantec, Canon, Epson plus many more.
Educated in Law at University of Oxford.
Aged 56, married 29 years, 3 adult children.
Student of Clean Language and Symbolic Modelling under Marian Way, author of Clean Approaches for Coaches.
Black Belt in Karate.