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How to Learn More in Less Time...
And Have Fun Doing It!

A transcript from a live seminar with Rex Steven Sikes

The following is edited from a transcript of a morning session of live seminar in Milwaukee, WI with Master NLP Trainer Rex Steven Sikes. This workshop is the last weekend in a Practitioner Certification program where Rex was hired to test the students for certification and help them integrate the material.

We could conduct this weekend program the way you learned in school. We could set all the rows up a certain way. I could tell you to pull out a piece of paper and that we are going to have a test of all the things that you learned or didn't learn. And then I could give you a grade, colored sticky stars on the back of your hands, or red check marks. That's one way of learning. The kind of stuff we did in grade school, high school and college.

Here's why I don't do it that way. Statistics tell us that 95% of what we learn in college is forgotten within 6 months of graduation! Only 5% is all that is retained of what you spent more than 4 years studying. 95% is forgotten - how much did you spend on college... for that piece of paper? And if you went to a prestigious university it means you still forgot 95%, but you spent more money to do it.

The most pitiful thing is when people think there is nothing new to learn. There is always something new! Every day is a rare and unprecedented opportunity to learn and to have fun. The key to learning anything really well is to do it the same way as when you were a small child. You learned a thousand times faster back then - and it was a blast! If you are willing to play, to adventure, to explore like a child does - you can add to your learning in ways that might seem miraculous.

Children learn an incredible amount because they are open and unbiased. A child can play with a stick in total delight and all the while the child is learning - learning to move and to coordinate himself. He can watch the same movie over and over and still shudder with delight, still shiver with fear, and laugh with abandon - even though he knows what is coming. Children are learning machines until they are trained to behave like young adults and are confined to desks and told to act appropriately. While adults look for the pay-off, kids simply learn for the sheer pleasure it brings them. As adults we need to recapture the sense of joy and adventure we had as children, to rekindle a sense of growing and contributing.

When we teach our programs we get everyone from pig farmers and all types of other occupations because what I think people do when they discover NLP is go, "This is an opportunity to change and grow"... then they read the books and think it's only for therapists - we convince them that it's not... Because if it's not about putting a bigger smile on your own face and if it isn't about putting a bigger smile on the face of people around you, if it isn't about having a better experience or a more vibrant experience, if it isn't about enlivening yourself... than what is it for?

If what happens when you learn NLP is that it only serves to fit what you already knew, if it only goes to reinforce your pre-existing model of the world, then you haven't learned NLP. It is really sad when NLPers don't have resources or are blinded by beliefs, rules and adult prejudices. It is exciting when people reach deep into themselves and produce the results they want...on their own, without the therapy-stuff... and delight themselves and others.

One idea can change the entire world. We need a better class of thinkers and innovators - juicier people with explosive curiosity and creativity. Fun loving people who can change the world. Seriousness is truly a disease. We need giggles and shudders and risk takers. As Oliver Wendall Holmes said "A mind stretched to a new idea can never go back to its original dimension." Love learning - learn for no reason at all except the sheer joy of it. Love seeking.

When I train, I do something I call the Mastery Loop™.

What happens is that people first approach information. This is what I call the enlightenment stage. This is not the eastern concept of enlightenment and meditation, but this is where you are enlightened to a new idea. This is about approaching material and information. People come to NLP and it's new to them; people come to accounting it's new to them - whatever it is... in school or the real world... you approach something for the first time. Something you didn't know.

After the approach, comes the bewilderment stage. People go, "Oh wow, NLP", and they get a book and go "whoa, what the heck is this all about?". You get a little bit of it and it becomes confusing. That's because the "7-plus-or minus-two" conscious rational part of your brain is trying to understand the information, but it hasn't yet assembled it in a way that is useful for you. It's trying to grasp it and make sense of it before it is ready to be put in order. However, if you stick with it, stay with it, and you are really learning the material, then shortly thereafter it will become clear.

What happens in college and formal schooling is that right before or right after it becomes clear, they give you a test. And if it hasn't yet become clear, then you fail or get a low mark. If you are poor at the mechanics of taking an exam, you can get a low mark that means you didn't learn the material according to that institution. God forbid you should be good at the mechanics of taking an exam because that means that you pass without having an understanding of the material at all. Lots of us got through school that way, didn't we? (laugh) Then you go onto a new subject! "OK that's done - NEXT." That's when you begin to get more of what I call "just information", without behavioral competence.

What I do is skip the clear stage and go right to what I call the "mining for gold" or the drill stage. That means you approach the information, get bewildered and begin to practice or drill what it is you are learning. You will actually get hands on practice so that it assists you in becoming more clear about what it is you are learning. You do exercises to actually wire in the behaviors you are learning, you get to look at eye accessing cues and practice language patterns, and do anchoring with the others in the room so that you have the experience of doing it. What is valuable about this is that you do the exercises during the workshop time.

After you have drilled and practiced thoroughly, then you enact the material. I have a saying that the workshop begins when the breaks begin. That is your golden opportunity to remember to use what you have been absorbing during class practice time. When you enact the material, you use it in your daily life, refine it, and use it during real life situations.

When you take these skills into your daily life, then they begin to fuse - they become a part of your everyday behavior; you integrate them. This is where it becomes habitual. You develop "unconscious competence" (like riding a bike) and have them as part of your behavioral repertoire for the rest of your life. This is where it become so much a part of your behavior that you find yourself using the skills without always having to think about it. This is when you have truly integrated it.

As it fuses, it becomes a part of your everyday life. This is at the point where you will become creative with the material. This is where you will use it in ways that you or I could never imagine. It is at this point you begin to discover your personal genius with the material. You will find applications for it, design new things and make your life really a party. This is when you look at a problem, and instead of going "this is going to be a difficult problem", you go "this is going to be a real piece of cake".

For an NLP practitioner, the appropriate behavior is insatiable curiosity. To continue to learn, grow and evolve... not stop at quick fix techniques... but to evolve and become more compassionate and joyful and wondrous. In other words, to make life a celebration and not just put a Band-Aid on an oweee. Remember exploration is the doorway to adventure!

Some people are technique junkies who give you books that go this is step 1,2,3,4,5 - the correct procedure. But if you miss a step, they go "You missed step three... You only reframed five parts... (participants laugh) you didn't follow the correct procedure". If you know anything at all about NLP, you know that it is in diametric opposition to any kind of step-by-step technique because a fundamental presupposition is that everybody has their own unique map of the world, therefor no single technique will work all the time. There is no single magic-bullet-Band-Aid-technique that when applied to everyone all their problems will disappear. Yet there are people who still look for the magic bullet.

I believe in 16 step Reframing. (participants laugh) You think I'm joking? I think we should have so many steps to Reframing that no one ever does it again. (participants laugh) Just say, "Sit down go inside and three weeks later emerge (participants laugh) having integrated all of your parts" because I don't even believe in Six Step Reframing. I think you should align your conscious and other than conscious resources but you don't have to go through all that crap to do it. And at the same time, it is a valuable technique, but somebody will try to reframe everything in life.

See, the thing about the technique is not to become enamored by the technique. It is about being creative and becoming an explorer on your own. Act as if you didn't know Reframing... then what would you do? Because you have the technique, you have certain things... what are you going to do if you can't use it? If tomorrow I come in here and go "you have eight hours to do something to let me know you understand NLP and I'm just going to sit here", what would you do?

What I am asking you - and this is a request - is how much fun can you have, how much curiosity can you have, how much wanton desire and passion can you bring to having a good time during the training here? Because if you can do it here, regardless of challenges thrown your way, you can do it anywhere.

Here's some exercises for making learning fun and having novel experiences:

Take a walk somewhere you always go except this time walk as though it is totally new. Pretend you are an anthropologist doing an ethnographic study, making it elusive and bewildering. See what you notice that you didn't before. Ask yourself questions you might never ask about obvious things. Then just be silent while you walk and look without internal dialogue. Slow down your gait or speed it up to notice what you have missed before. Smell the smells you may not have noticed.

Do the same thing with driving home or riding a bus. See if you can open your powers of observation to take in more than you ever realized was there before. Venture into new realms. Take a different route to work. Do something now, do anything now that's different. It may seem uncomfortable at first, but realize you are interrupting patterns and causing your mind to be stretched in delightful ways. Go back and enjoy a children's book you once read. Go back and review.

Listen to the same CD over and over - only each time pay attention to a different instrument - how do they intermingle, compliment each other, support each other, what are they accomplishing together?

Try tasting your food in new ways. Tiny bits, savor each morsel, really chew it thirty-two times. Discover how you can delight your senses.

Take a luxurious bath, uses different scents, candles. Anything that enlivens you and makes you feel better.

Read a novel you normally wouldn't read. Get a biography of someone you never felt interested in. Talk to someone repulsive and take their point of view temporarily. Step inside them and see if you can imagine how it would be that they would hold views contrary to your own. You don't have to keep them! Just try them on to get a different perspective from your own.

Do something you would absolutely never do (keep it legal and safe!). Go beyond your own limits. Push yourself, but do so with a sense of adventure, joy, fun, harmony, health and well being.

Watch the same movie a dozen times, or an NLP tape. Each time approach it fresh and new. You will learn something. When I lived in California and worked in the motion picture business, I would go to the same movie 4,5, 10 times. First, I would just watch it. If I got hooked into it emotionally, I considered it a good picture. Then I would go back and watch for the way the director constructed it all. Then I would see it again to concentrate only on the writing, then the acting, then the cinematography and production values. Each time, I came away with something I hadn't noticed before. With new intent, I noticed new things. By asking myself different questions, or causing my mind to look in a new direction I noticed more and more nuances than I could have ever imagined.

Think about it - two people go to the same movie and one loves it another hates it. Are they really talking about the movie? No. They are sharing with you what they paid attention to. They are letting you know how their mind works. No movie is universally good or bad, there are things about it one likes while another may not. Of course the more sophisticated knowledge someone has about what they are discussing, or the more nuances, perhaps the better to make assessment, but it is still only an opinion.

This is why recapturing the joy of learning, reading, listening to tapes, attending seminars, going for walks, playing with children, is so vital because it enriches an individual and enables one to pay attention to nuances. Immerse yourself. If you learn just one new concept or idea - it can be monumental. You can become more creative... you can begin to open doors that you didn't even know existed. Discover if - by trying some of these things - we can't enliven ourselves to all the opportunities around us we could be missing out on. Find out if we can do better in business, make change more dynamically for ourselves and clients, spice up our relationships with more passion and ecstasy, have more intimate times with our children.

Fun-loving, exciting people can change the world. With so much in the news that could discourage us, we need to become beacons, lights that glow in the night that show the rest of the world that we can be more alive, more in love, have greater well being and riches, use our brain power more efficiently and most importantly - live joyously. Perhaps if we were all just a little more joyous even in the face of adversity, we will make the world a better more wondrous place.

Because the truth is, the world is already a wondrous place - the sad part is that too many people miss it. Recapture the awe struck wonder of a child in whatever you do. Bring this spirit to all of your learning and all of your endeavors and you will soar as never before. You will reach untold heights when you break old patterns and habits that have prevented you from being open to new experience.

Too often we have nominalized a learning or an experience with 'Well that's just X' or we say 'There is nothing new in that." Yet every moment is new, even an old hand me down cloth is new to someone, often times rare and priceless antiques were discovered by people who knew what to look for when others had considered it only junk. Sometimes subtly and layers hides the core of its value and only to the eye of a trained observer will one begin to notice what is really going on, or what the real value is... to the child, it doesn't matter. It is all wonderful even if it seems old to us.

My nephew Michael, who is three, has just completed watching Beauty and the Beast once a day, sometimes twice, since it came out on video. That is somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 - 70 times! He still wants to watch it and he still delights every time he does...

Come back tomorrow and expect to have fun, expect to learn, and let's find out what we discover together because wherever I go, I learn from you guys. This is not about imparting something - but about what can we learn together. Let's find out how we can have a ton of fun - let's see if we can put the pedal to the metal and really play, learn, incorporate and integrate the skills that you already have.

...because a very wise person once said, "you can light a million candles off just one"... but your candle has to be lit first. If you light up, if we light up all of our candles while we're together here, then we can spread a conspiracy of ecstasy.

Rex Steven Sikes is the vice president of IDEA Seminars in Milwaukee, WI, a center for personal growth and communication. He is developer of Mind Design™ and The Mastery Loop™, a new teaching method that incorporates accelerated learning and brain based learning. IDEA Seminars provides certification programs in NLP. Please see our course schedule at this site or contact us to get a free information package and catalog.

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