Neuro-Linguistic Programming
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by Jeff Napier, copyright 2011-2013

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A Metaphor for Long-Term Persistence

One of the techniques we have learned in NLP is speaking metaphorically. Telling someone they 'ought' to do something, even if it is in answer to a specific plea for coaching, tends to be less effective than spinning a metaphor. This kind of metaphor is typically a short story about someone who is similar but different, facing a similar but different situation. The person in the story just happens to take whatever the programmer thinks is the 'right' action, and the story ends in success.

Metaphors don't always work. You need to watch your subject's physiology to see if the metaphor 'went in' or not. And, it will often bump against the ecology of childhood traumas, family inheritance, neo-Reichian rights and so on, but then again, sometimes a metaphor is just the right medicine.

So, here's a metaphor promoting long-term persistence. This is for the subject who needs some coaching to follow through on a project. To keep going when it seems - to the subject - like there is no hope. This is also good for someone who keeps doing the same thing, and expecting different results.

You can use this for yourself just by reading and absorbing it. You can use it with your own clients. You can even spin your own custom version of this story.

This particular story happens to be true. I won't mention the name of the person who is involved, because even though it happened a long time ago, he may or may not want to be associated with it. He told it to me in front of some other people, and it wasn't in an NLP session, so I think it is OK to tell you.

It seems this fellow really, really wanted to be a successful science fiction author. Somehow, he figured he had to co-write. He contacted some of the best names in the business with his ideas, and ended up co-writing books with Larry Niven, Robert Heinlein and many the biggest sci-fi authors of the day.

Each book he co-wrote died in the market. They never made any significant royalties beyond the initial small advances. He kept trying to co-write these books for 18 years, while he supported himself as an English professor at a junior college.

After all these non-successes, none of the big names would co-write with him anymore. His name became like poison in the science fiction business. They figured, write with him, and your book will die for sure.

So, in desperation, he wrote a book all by himself, and submitted it to editors at the various publishers. One of them picked it up, and within months, it became an international best-seller.