As I teach, I’m taught

Winning SA Water Polo team

As I teach, I’m taught

– By Wesley Kew Clinical Psychologist and Master Practitioner of NLP

Growing up I was surrounded with bits of knowledge randomly scattered around without the appreciation of how valuable they were. At times I too did not always fully appreciate how valuable these pieces of knowledge were or how effective they would be when adequately understood and applied to my daily thinking and functioning. Regardless I used them more often than not. One of these tit bits was taken from the immortal words of bob Dylan “…there’s no success like failure and failure is no success at all”. More about this later.

water polo south africaI recently had the honour of working with the South African U/17 girl’s water polo team that were to represent South Africa at the European championships. As it was my first time working with a national team I was bursting with excitement and wanted to do the best job imaginable. I prepped, I read, I rehearsed, I consulted and and and. So when my time came I was as ready as I could be.

As the time drew closer to our first meeting I begun to relax more and more; reminding myself to stay in my NOW state, to focus on the process and not the outcome and respect others model of the world. The vast majority of the athletes were unfamiliar with both NLP and Psychology. From the out set their “life-sentences” and plethora of limiting beliefs immediately struck me. I shed light on the fact that these athletes had achieved national status by just ‘being’, thus I emphasized to them the potential and resources that lay dormant within each of them and how much greater they would be; given the appropriate mental skills and ability to debunk limiting beliefs.

12417878_1521835304789821_6649975270275662476_nAs I began highlighting the life sentences each athlete was ascribing to and explained how limiting beliefs are used as ‘cover ups’ to more deep-seated fears and hurt; the girls began to shift from resistant to confused to curios (as I have come to learn, being confused is at times the right place to be). Rapport was growing and soon trust began to grow. Following a four-hour crash course and a two-hour practice match the girls had bought into the NLP way of thinking. Soon most of the girls began inundating me with questions and queries about how to improve, how to challenge beliefs and how to “go deep” as they liked to say. Ironically the more I tried to explain to them that each one of them had all the resources they needed to succeed and achieve their desired outcomes the more they sought input.

I began to understand the needs of the girls and the time limitations (collectively only had 8 hours of contact) thus, I felt that the most useful presupposition and most relevant to the ‘girls model of the world’ would be “there is no failure only feedback”. I was again met with confused looks and questions at times. I began to think what is so difficult about this simple of concept? It is here that I began to recall how much time it took me to make sense of Bob Dylans words “…there’s no success like failure and failure is no success at all” and ultimately through my NLP training THERE IS ONLY FEEDBACK.

At times I had to reign myself back in and meet the girls where they were and not where I wanted to be. After all, this training camp was not about me and what I wanted to accomplish, it was about facilitating the athletes in gaining new mental skills that would enable them to achieve heights they may have previously been afraid to dream of! I reverted to my now state and reminded myself of how the now state facilitates rapport and helps me to make sure that I am working at a pace that is comfortable for the client.

In the end the girls went on to become the first South African water polo team to win a gold medal at the European championships! Added to this Rome was not built in a day.

Upon reflection I recalled that I am still trying to fully come to terms with the intricacies of NLP’s ‘presuppositions’. Was it realistic of me to expect that a group of 16 year olds would ‘get it’ in eight hours? I became aware that my desire to do a great job might actually have fostered the exact opposite! I’m left wondering what this team could accomplish with adequate time to learn a few more presuppositions and other NLP skills (dare I say world domination)?

under 17s water polo SA trophyIn closing it was a wonderful education and honour for me to be part of this teams growth and development. Mostly I got to lean many valuable lessons and became a little more experienced. What lessons did I learn; I’m so glad you asked. Don’t focus on the goal; focus on the process needed to attain your goal. The law of requisite variety and there is only feedback have become that little bit more clear to me!

You can read the media coverage of the event here

Email Wesley Kew