By Adrian Brown
I was speaking with another NLP Trainer a few weeks ago and the subject of people thinking that they know it all came up. This is often a barrier to learning that we often notice in others but don’t see in ourselves.
For example, I often meet people who say “NLP? I know all about that” and I always think “Oh really, you know all there is to know?”
I once met a Director of an organisation who said her staff were all NLP trained and showed me their training manual. There were only two pages on NLP, one on representational systems and one on rapport. This is a good start but the staff had the idea that this was everything, they didn’t realise there was a whole lot more.
In the learning model, this is described as Unconscious Incompetence, you don’t know that you don’t know. The material is out of your conscious awareness.
My point being is that people often think that they are aware of everything there is to know about a subject but often fall far short of what they could really achieve by not going further with the knowledge. Most areas of learning are like those Russian painted dolls that, when opened, have more inside.
I’ve found this with nearly every area that I’ve looked into: many people actually know little about a subject that they think they are well versed in compared with what they could actually know.
It seems like there’s a paradox here, the more you find out about a subject, the more you become aware of your lack of knowledge.
Take driving for example. Many years ago I and a colleague went on an advanced driving course and were amazed by all the additional things we were told about observation, acceleration, braking, weight distribution etc., none of which had ever been mentioned by the driving instructors who originally taught us to drive. After passing this course, we then went on to do further driver training and yet more was added and so it goes on.
So really, you never know everything, just enough to pass the current test you are taking or meet the higher standards that you have learned.
So what has this got to do with NLP and coaching?
One of the things that often comes up in people’s lives is that they are bored with what they are doing. They have done it for so long that they think that they have it all worked out and it’s no longer a challenge. Many coaches would suggest maybe a change of career or to enter into a different specialisation, but what if this is too radical, maybe we can just take a new look at what we are already doing.
How about applying this to ourselves? One of my own mentors once asked, “How can you add a new freshness to what you’re doing?” Great question.
When I learned more about driving, I started to really enjoy driving again, so where else can we apply this?
Just for fun, let’s take a look at something you do so often that it's now become second nature, something you do really well but mostly unconsciously and let’s see if there’s more to learn. This is often highlighted when people say, “I’m still very interested in the subject, but I’m quite bored by it."
Then find out what you don’t know that you don’t know. By the nature of the question, it will take a different approach to what you usually do so here’s some ideas"
The most obvious step is to find out if there an advanced course in that discipline. What often happens on more advanced courses is that they throw out what you learned at the most basic level in favour of a much more effective approach.
There’s always books and DVD’s, presentations from conferences etc. where leading authorities often present a different view than what’s presented in the mainstream. What is thought of as common knowledge often changes immensely over the years so, are you actually up to date on it?
I once spoke to a paramedic about the changes in emergency health care. Some of the procedures have changed so radically that they are in effect the reverse of what was being taught ten years ago. Also, ideas that were once thrown out are being brought back in. So knowledge is sometimes cyclical but we often act as if it’s set in stone.
If you think that you are already at the cutting edge, how about looking at the really old books on the subject, often there are nuggets of great wisdom in there. For me personally, I get some of the best insights and ideas from looking at very early research and the latest research and then comparing the two.
Remember, there’s often very good research done in previous years that just hasn’t been taken forward or simply ignored. How about considering it through your more experienced eyes?
These are just a few ideas and I’m sure you can come up with more. Whatever it is that you’re interested in, always remember that there’s always more to learn, it is basic evolution. Since you often don’t know that you don’t know, how about finding out?