One of the presuppositions of NLP is that everyone is doing the best that they can with the resources that they have available. In other words, our behaviour and the behaviour of others is the best that we can all do in that moment. This, quite frankly, seemed hard to accept when I see so many doing what I’d describe, generously, as second best. How can they really be doing their best when I know that they can do more, yet they’re doing so little? Equally, I know that at times I could have done better, so how was I doing the best that I could?
The presupposition is, of course, looking far beyond the action, which we can see, observe, and judge. The presupposition is considering the motivation, the state, and the attitude behind the action. It recognises that while we may have the skills, the ability and the knowledge to do better, we are, for a whole range of reasons, opting to access less. This in turn means that our actions are far from as good as they could be.
The reasons for accessing less are multiple. We may be tired, frustrated, or unhappy. We might be feeling put upon, undervalued, or disrespected. Our lesser actions could well be the only means we have to communicate what is happening for us. The list goes on. It means that at any time a whole range of factors can get in the way of us doing our best. Those factors may also mean that we choose to do less because that’s how we are able to express what’s really happening for us.
I now find myself questioning my actions when I know that I’m not delivering my best. It’s a clear sign that something is going on for me. It then helps to work out what that is. Sometimes, it’s fairly obvious. At times, it takes a bit of working out. There is, though, always something. Further to this, it makes me reflect on others and what’s going on for them. With my clients, when they recognise that they weren’t doing all that they could, it gives me permission to ask about what’s blocking their success.
So, the next time you or someone around you delivers second best, ask yourself what else is going on. Check to see if there is anything you can do differently. Find a way to challenge and check in with those around.
One final point. Recognising that someone, including yourself, is doing something other than their best is part of the process. Second best, or even less, may not be an issue. It could be, though, a massive issue which causes endless problems. Being unresourceful is no excuse for poor behaviour. It is, though, what you do next that matters. And you know this already, don’t you?