Developments in my personal neuro-linguistic-program during 2022

Close up of ink on paper diagram and notes showing a crop of something on the theme of task size

This post developed out of something first noted on DC5B Described > Weekly update 2022-09-07. DC5B is my personal business for turning creative ideas into money. It's a project in its first year that I will grow alongside my work as a software consultant (business developer).

Between April and October I was getting coaching from a master of NLP (neuro-linguistic-programming) which focused on this hypothetical business exploration. Since the first few weeks it has been apparent that we would be working on a project that underlies the development of DC5B – how I plan, operate and improve in order to start a business. Clearly the answer to that question dictates the rest of one life. It doesn't just have the potential to change my life, it will be my life, whatever happens. Ok a bit to deep too fast? Let's have an example:

The process for building motivation around the business involves identifying what I want and how I'm going to get it. Getting skilled at asking and answering those kinds of questions is going to change what I can achieve for myself. I've set up a side-hustle and have a clear project plan for month ahead. It has also enhanced my ability to develop other peoples' businesses. My most recent engagement at work was without a doubt my most successful. The operation was efficient and effective and while I could see how the training I was doing in the background related to the speed at which we overcame obstacles and delivered on our objectives, keeping on track day-by-day, week-by-week and month-by-month. Everyone else could see the outcomes and appreciate the way of operating.

The breakthroughs that I have experienced in terms of clarity of thought, frank communication, extreme ownership of my feelings, actions and thoughts, and my ability to refactor my own neurological processes have been beneficial to many, professional and personal, aspects of my life.

At the time that of that weekly update I was working on what I termed my "operational guidelines". Guidelines for answers common working dilemmas. That feeling has remained as I've been putting the guidelines to the test. Rehearsing ways to organise, focus and make decisions at speed.

My primary focus at the time was some database work. I remained single threaded and goal minded. When it wasn't possible to work on it directly, e.g. during journey time without a networked computer, I transitioned to planning and design the next steps, or picking off small waiting tasks to I could retain plenty of time to focus on the primary task as soon as conditions allowed it.

I'll come back to that idea of primary and alternative focus after the image below.

T.O.T.E. Model

By “TOTE" I'm referring to “Test operate test exit”. I can't find a great link for explaining this so I'll describe what it means to me here:

I've been working with the idea of call-stacks to keep my low level goals in mind whilst working on high level details. Another analogy could be nested loops but I prefer software analogies at this time because they are kept warm by my day-to-day work.

The TOTE model gives us a process by which we work to satisfy a test. Once the desired state is the current state the test passes and we exit. In a call stack when a loop exits, or a “function returns”, we continue processing from the point at which we started the loop, or called the function.

The advantages are numerous:

  1. Knowing the desired state throughout keeps us on track,

  2. Knowing the point of the calling function shows us where to return to when we've achieved what we desired,

  3. We can go into detail to achieve a specific desire, whilst keeping in memory the sequential steps that led from and lead us back to the more fundamental desire.

Changing between primary focus, planning and reflection

In the above image I'm designing places for things outside of the primary focus. Recognising that the primary focus will get interrupted at times (e.g. when the database work needs me to be at a laptop and online), I'm offering options for what to bring into view when I put that to one side (e.g. while I'm on a screen break but otherwise ready to work).

Interestingly the closest options (left and right off the primary focus) are not alternative projects, they are reflection, planning and adhoc waiting tasks. I've found these to be easy to put-back-to-one-side when the primary focus is available again.

The main thread analogy

Last week I celebrated "keeping my main thread moving and directing arising thoughts to a background process". This week I'm talking about call-stacks, available resources and sub-routines.

These software metaphors really work for me because they provide simple but effective ways of being from a rich territory that is very familar to me. To note down distractings and consider them later is not rocket science but following this process rather than not has been massively effective.

As someone who uses this kind of language in my day job, talking about how operate myself like I'm running a carefully designed computer program encourages me to respect the process and to execute it without deviation. Basically, it works for me.

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© 2023 Laurence Lord