"Not only do people have to be open to change, they must seek change."In one short sentence, NLP Master Trainer Dr Tad James sums up what is probably the single most challenging reality of our times - and provides us with a plan of action.
Speaking from his home in Los Angeles as he and wife Adriana prepare for their upcoming visit to Australia beginning later this month, Tad conveys his deep-seated conviction that each of us has the capacity to determine our future - and, more than that, we have the responsibility to do so. Lying around bemoaning our changing fortunes or, as Adriana graphically describes it, sitting in a frozen state for the next few years until "the good old times return" just doesn't cut it with this impressively motivated couple.
It soon becomes apparent in our lively conversation that it is their passionate belief in each person's innate ability to create the future they dream for themselves that has propelled their company to be the world's largest NLP trainer. After all, as I sit in my office on a Monday morning, they have set aside time on a Sunday afternoon so that we can bridge the time difference for our interview to take place. One senses their work is their passion and it remains undimmed even after 30 years.
Says Adriana, with what seems typical refreshing feistiness, "We're not passionate about a bunch of techniques. Anybody can teach a bunch of techniques. It's what people can do with them to change their life. This is what drives us. This is happening and this is marvellous."
It seems likely there will be a new focus in their workshops during this Australian visit as our lucky country tries to absorb a wave of job losses that is sweeping through many industries unable to adapt quickly enough to a changing world.
It's a pattern they have seen recently in the US where more people are taking their NLP and Time Line Therapy training courses to prepare them for a rapidly evolving job market. "Since last year, we have noticed more people are taking the training for the purpose of improving themselves so that they can get the job they want. They go for an interview and there are 300 people applying for the same job. So we teach them how to stand out in an interview," says Adriana.
Their frequent travels have heightened their awareness of how much alike we all are from one country to another: "They have different concerns locally but people generally have similar concerns," says Tad. And one universal source of anxiety, adds Adriana, is "because we are going though a major, major transition, not only in Australia but everywhere in the world."
She continues: "We can't consider ourselves isolated like, 'Oh I'm in my country here and I'm not in that country over there.' Whether we like it or not we are a global village. This is what is happening.
"Now this is a change in consciousness. It IS a change in consciousness.
"Many people are afraid, they are confused. They can feel it even if they are not necessarily consciously aware of it, they can still feel something is not the way it used to be.
"So what do you do to prepare? In the past people have placed a lot of trust and given up their responsibility to other people, to politicians, to corporations, to all sorts of institutions, to financial planners… what have you.
"We're talking about responsibility. This time of transition requires us to wake up and decide for ourselves. What do I want to do in these new times? Things are changing. Am I paying attention? What do I need to do in order to be flexible - a new word flexible - in order to adapt so that I am still successful, I am still satisfied, I am still happy and having a grand life?
"And change is not necessarily a bad thing… people fear change because they fear the unknown. But what if you could project - and I'm using this word on purpose - your future in your future timeline so that regardless of the changes that happen, you still end up happy, fulfilled and satisfied?"
Central to their teaching and a key pillar of the science of NLP is that our body and mind are interconnected and so our behaviour is determined by where we direct our focus. The Law of Attraction, however it is dressed up in the marketplace, is based on some impressive science, namely the extraordinary power of mind/body neurology.
"Focus," explains Tad, "means paying attention to what you want. Most people pay attention to what they don't want. For example, in terms of a job, I hope my boss isn't a mean guy, I hope I don't get fired. I hope the company doesn't go broke - those sorts of things.
"Focusing on what you want means you steadfastly refuse to consider the opposite once you've made your decision. But if you focus on something that you don't want, the paradox is that you might be even able to create what you don't want in your life, unconsciously attracting to you situations and events that you don't want. That's the problem with focus."
In their training, probably the most important technique for achieving whatever it is that you do want is Time Line Therapy, developed by Tad in 1985 and applied widely as a powerful therapeutic tool, including for victims of the war in Croatia suffering from post traumatic stress disorder.
"Everyone has inside them a time line," he explains. "If I were to ask you where is your past I have an idea you would point in a certain direction as if it were spatial.
"At the unconscious level you have a time line that puts together the events of your life in the past but also in your future. What is not immediately obvious is that you can change that future timeline. In fact, it's your responsibility - it's your right and your responsibility - to change it and make it the way you want it."
Wow! While I'm impressed with this power couple and their easy interaction with each other, I'm beginning to feel a little inadequate in my projections for my future and make a mental note to step up, especially when Adriana adds that as our future memories are part of our future time line "they are bound to happen".
"And so we had better be very careful what we focus on and what our future memories are, because once they are in our timeline, their chance of becoming reality increases exponentially."
When we discuss NLP's power to take negative beliefs, many of them sitting in our unconscious, and turn them around to make positive statements about our future, our talk turns to children - and immediately stirs Adriana's passion.
"I can't believe how many examples we see in every training of this kind of thinking. For example, a child who goes to school and is bored and starts playing up is immediately labelled ADHD or dyslexic as if it's some sort of disease. God only knows - there are so many labels these days!
"But really maybe that child is so intelligent and so capable that what he learns in that particular class bores him or her to tears."
As her husband drily observes, "School is much less interesting than the iPhone."
"Now we slap a label on the forehead of this child and if they begin to believe that for the rest their life, they will actualise that and they will never achieve what they could normally achieve in life because they now believe they are less than other people, that there is something wrong with them."
Adds Tad, "The problem with the label is that it becomes self actualising. What do you expect from me? I can't do any better than this because (add your own label) I'm a dyslexic or I have ADD.
"It becomes their identity."
In fact, children as young as nine are among the couple's brightest beacons of success in their training courses. The nine year old boy was the youngest client ever - "We allow young people to come to training if they can behave like adults," explains Adriana -, surely an achievement in itself. "And he did very very well," so much so that he perplexed his adult training partner.
Another, a 15 year old student at a Florida tennis academy, took three levels of NLP up to Trainer's Training and performed "flawlessly". She then returned to her school and shared her training with her fellow students to, as Tad puts it, "help them let go of their limiting beliefs and limiting decisions in becoming great tennis players."
And NLP has its success stories at the other end of the age spectrum as well. Tad and Adriana delight in the story of a woman living in a retirement village who celebrated her 70th birthday during the master practitioner training. She took the course, she says, because she saw "people around me sitting on the couch and freaking out about the future.
"Now I know what I'm going to do with them. I'm going to do Time Line Therapy with them and get them unfrozen from their fear and their anxiety because every one has some skills and gifts so they can do something and become active again."
Says Adriana, "And what she added really touched me because she said, 'It's better me being in control of my future than anyone else.'"
The common thread linking all age groups and situations, from small businesspeople through to employees in large corporations seeking to rise up the ladder, is that they want some change in their life. And, says Tad, the awareness of NLP's power to bring about that change has grown to the extent of knocking on the door of the mainstream - "There has been a big shift that has occurred regarding NLP."
As only to be expected, he has an inspirational word for NOVA readers who may be feeling that imperative for change in their own lives: "Here's the important thing - you don't have to be a prisoner of your past limiting decisions. If you think that you're not intelligent then you're not going to be intelligent. But you can change that thinking and become intelligent and make good decisions and create the kind of life that you want.
"The second part is you don't have to be a prisoner of your negative emotions. Some people grew up with anger or fear or sadness or guilt and they think that's who they are. The fact is you are not your negative emotions, you are not your limiting decisions. You are a magnificent being who has a choice. And you have a choice at any moment.
"All we have to do is show you the techniques and you can be in charge of your life."
Drs Tad and Adriana James invite you to join them with your questions for a FREE Live Vid Chat on Friday March 21 at 10am (AEDT) Visit: http://www.nlpcoaching.com/vid-chat-march-2014/