In NLP a strategy is a series and sequence of internal and external representations which consistently produces the same specific result.
In simple terms a strategy is a sequence of steps, much like a recipe, that we run through automatically in order to achieve a specific outcome.
I'd like to invite you to imagine for a moment that you’re going to bake a cake – you’d need to follow a recipe, right? The recipe would be broken down into a number of steps such as:-
- Gather ingredients
- Pre-heat the oven to required temperature
- Combine the ingredients in a specific manner
- Bake in the oven for a specific length of time
- Remove from oven and allow to cool
- Apply decoration
If you missed any of the steps or changed the order of the steps you wouldn’t get the desired outcome of the cake, right?
And even though you might not realise it people have recipes or strategies for every type of behaviour including:-
- Decision making
Strategies can be simple or can be quite detailed and complex and yet, amazingly, people carry out these sequences repeatedly and perfectly without any significant awareness that the process is even taking place.
In NLP the label given to these unconscious, automatic and consistent sequences of behaviours is Strategies. More commonly people describe this phenomenon using a different word – habits, and divide their habits into two main categories – good habits and bad habits.
When people talk about good habits they are usually referring to habits which result in a positive or useful outcome for them. Conversely, bad habits are generally considered those which yield negative or undesirable outcomes.
People often feel good about their good habits, actively perpetuate them and take credit for them and the outcomes that arise from them and thus place themselves at the empowering cause side of the cause / effect equation.
People are often less willing to take responsibility for their bad habits and instead they objectify the habit so that they can identify it as the cause of the negative or undesirable results that they themselves are producing. This behaviour is disempowering as the person is left at the effect side of the equation, where their outcomes are the effect of outside causes over which they believe they have no control.
Richard Bandler might ask ‘Who’s driving the bus?’ and the answer is ‘You are!’
The presuppositions of NLP tell us that we are in charge of our own mind and hence our own results, so we each need to recognise that we are driving our own bus.
Once we accept responsibility for our own results we move ourselves from the effect side of the equation to the cause side of the equation and we are empowered to make useful changes to our behaviours. The ways in which we can modify our strategies to enhance the results that we produce is limited only by the imagination.