"Genius and the Generative Self "
Interview with Robert Dilts
See also our Genius
and the Generative Self training seminar.
Steve Gilligan PhD and Robert Dilts were originally undergraduates together,
and were both in on the beginning of NLP with Bandler and Grinder. Robert
has gone on to develop his vision of NLP, working all over the world in
therapeutic, educational and business contexts. Steve apprenticed with Milton
Erickson and developed his own "Self-Relations" approach in psychotherapy.
Now these two pioneers of personal development are bringing together their
expertise, exploring exciting areas of overlap.
Sian Pope interviewed Robert Dilts on behalf of
PPDPD. Sian is a personal development coach using NLP, business processes
and a spiritual approach. She can be contacted on 0127 585 6537.
Q: -How do you feel about working with Steve Gilligan again in this
seminar "Genius and the Generative Self"?
RD: I love working
with Steve, I always grow the most when I work with him. I also love working
with others - for example, Judith DeLozier and Robert MacDonald. Steve is
probably among the most intelligent people that I've met. He's also one
of the most inquisitive, and driven by a deep desire to understand and help
people. That's something that comes through when we work together. Another
thing I particularly enjoy about Steve is his sense of humour. And he really
incorporates an aesthetic into the way he works - its integrated.
Q: It might be said that you have a more cognitive approach and Steve
a more Trance-like approach - how do you see that?
RD: In certain
areas Steve and I are similar and in others different, it's a fertile combination.
We both have a sense of mission on a spiritual level, which we've shared
for over 25 years. It is to do with understanding people, helping them improve,
and observing people. Also we were both brought up in the San Francisco
Bay area, both at boy's Catholic schools, we're approximately the same age,
so there are environmental similarities too. The differences between us
are echoed by Steve being more focused on hypnosis, having studied Ericksonian
methods, and I studied with Bandler and Grinder. Perhaps there is a kind
of right brain/left brain distinction. I tend to express that in NLP pragmatic
procedures, a bit more analytically perhaps, whereas Steve is more dealing
with the unconscious aesthetic aspect. He is very clear in his description,
not trance-like. Perhaps the distinction is more direct/indirect. Often
I'm coming out and explicitly saying something about what Steve is saying
indirectly. Perhaps it's to do with right brain/left brain. Or just NLP
being more cognitive and Steve being more Ericksonian.
Q: What might be an Emergent property of this particular combination?
wholeness, multidimensionality. We are both strong and clear in the areas
in which we are presenting - it's like having two eyes looking at the same
thing, in greater depth. Something we both value is this area of Sponsorship.
In the early days there were Bandler and Grinder, Grinder and DeLozier,
Bandler and Cameron, they were different from each other but talking about
something shared at the deepest level, their deeper goals. They had different
ways to do the details, the reinforcement of what's essential. Steve and
I are aligned around discovering what's essential, at the highest level,
to support a person at the identity level. We have core values around healing,
creativity (the aspect of genius), focusing on improvement, making things
Q: Could you say more about Genius and the Generative Self?
RD: We are both
interested in genius. We came upon our concept of two approaches to genius
from having done other workshops together - "Love in the face of violence'
"The skills of Sponsorship". Violence is about destruction, not sponsorship.
Genius is positive. Genius starts from the opposite of Violence. Genius
creates the integration of a positive self to bring healing. When you are
bringing these kinds of resources into a situation where you're not trying
to go away from something negative, you can really produce something above
average. We came upon these skills of sponsorship together, it's one of
the things we shared - this desire for innovation, creating something new
towards growth and development as well as healing and dealing with pain.
The end result is that the person grows in ways they hadn't even imagined
before. This is where the idea came from.
Q: How did you come to be fascinated by genius?
RD: I have been
interested in genius all my life, being attracted to/fascinated by people
that had done something to make the world a better place. My father was
a patent lawyer, so we were always exposed to new ideas and genius in the
technical world. As a young person I was attracted to the ideas of Leonardo
da Vinci - making something out of nothing, bringing something new into
the world. And I was sparked by the ideas of Albert Einstein in my college
years, I was intrigued about how do you come up with something so innovative?
Then, with NLP - Bandler and Grinder were getting special results and there
was something in the way they were working together- it was like a spark
to light other fires. That appealed to me, becoming a pioneer on the leading
edge. Innovation and genius are on the leading edge, pushing the edges of
the envelope. So Genius embodies one of my core criteria.
Q: What are the basic skills of Genius?
· To have a vision, to be able to look into the future. That's different
from just projecting into the future; it's not just perfecting
the past but seizing the future, being part of it.
· Reflection, in the notion of Disney's imagineering - the Dreamer, Realist
and Critic · The ability to take multiple perspectives
and integrate them, resolve them, bridging. This is the connection to the
generative self - an integration of seeming opposites.
Steve and I overlap in this regard.
· The ability to hold different perspectives without those becoming polarised
or in conflict. · A willingness to take risks - like leadership.
· An ability to operate at multiple levels, and to align things on a spiritual
· An ability to operate in a metaphorical world, to recognise and use metaphor
as non-linear thinking. Gregory Bateson said that everything
is a metaphor for everything else. Genius has always been about thinking
outside the box. Genius is about getting to somewhere
new, which Bateson talked about as learning IV. It's about giving someone
something brand new, something unprecedented. It's "awakening
to something that is new, not just recognizing something that is already
known". It's about evolution going towards revolution. Evolutionary is about
stepping beyond what already exists. Revolutionary is
about taking a quantum leap, shaking things up.
Q: Could you say more about Sponsorship from your perspective?
RD: It is Steve's
notion, drawn from therapeutic sponsorship. It is similar to one I had drawn
from coaching and mentoring - I realized that mentoring had elements of
sponsorship. It occurred to me that coaching is on a behavioural level,
mentoring on a beliefs and values level, sponsorship is on an identity level.
Steve wasn't making these distinctions, just labeling something that he
saw as part of change. It resonated with me. I've generalized it beyond
the therapeutic, into companies and organizations. You could say we have
been working in a similar space. Defining Sponsorship is about the identity
level, looking beyond the environment, behaviour, capabilities, beliefs
and values - to see the person and sense them somehow. It's about acknowledging
and recognising the essence of another person. Typical Sponsorship messages
are " I see you, you have value, you have something to contribute, something
special and unique, you are welcome". This has great importance and relevance,
and is the foundation of everything else - without it the rest doesn't make
Steve and I have daughters of a similar age, and
we could see that in our relating to them. Those messages are among the
first ways of interacting with a child, when they don't have cognitive or
other capabilities, but they do have an identity or spirit or soul that
you can connect with. However, with an adult Sponsorship does not get expressed
in many typical ways. You can find this aspect of being present all through
your life, which we call the self. We talk about self-esteem. This is the
notion of genius, if it's felt strongly, if it's a felt sense of Sponsorship.
It's an ability to be free to be oneself in all respects. In my own work,
every relationship, if you can start with Sponsorship, everything else is
more powerful. You can extend the notion of Sponsorship from a person to
an idea too- acknowledge its existence, bring it to life, help it to come
into the world. In companies, there is the notion of Corporate Sponsorship,
which has been in use for many years. It acknowledges the value of something.
Not just superficially, on the level of financial backing, but can involve
giving something a blessing. It is often the key element in something being
effective and taking off. Every new initiative needs a Sponsor.
The same thing is true for a person. We can contrast
it with what we call negative sponsorship, which would be messages like
- who cares about you, you're not important, you don't matter. You don't
foster genius in that environment. There can be three situations: no sponsorship,
negative sponsorship, and positive sponsorship. Evidently, sponsorship is
going to produce the best results, no matter which field you are in - sports,
business, science, health, and writing - you need to get the most from each
individual. These are the roots of sponsorship, which extend to co-sponsorship
and self -sponsorship. These give the maximum possibility for growth. Co
sponsorship is about sponsoring one another. Breakthroughs often come from
pairs - eg Bandler and Grinder, Watzliak and Jobs.
Self-Sponsorship is necessary for the foundation
of genius, recognizing your own value, seeing yourself, honouring yourself,
and welcoming yourself. Genius is about taking risks, going into a new area
where no one else is supporting you. For example - da Vinci's notebooks
were written on his own, Einstein's ideas came from his own contemplation,
and that was similar for Mozart. People can be in an unsupported environment
and think they have the gift or magic to be able to sponsor themselves.
Children can learn self-sponsorship by themselves, from other sponsors,
modeling it from others. As a parent one's job is to recognize that you
help your child to get along without you, to recognize their own value.
You need to not only sponsor your child, but to teach by example. When you
can consciously model it for them and give them conscious competence, it
makes it more likely that you can get it across successfully. My wife and
I have always tried to be conscious parents, knowing that what we do affects
our children - not being analytical or anal about it, but just aware. Both
NLP and Ericksonian approaches give ways to accomplish that common goal.
Q: Steve has said that he feels like an eccentric uncle to NLP, and
that you being open to working with him and bring that openness to NLP is
very healthy. Have you any comment to make about that?
is already all of the good things come from a quality of openness. NLP is
about the integration of linguistics, neurology and computer science, and
then the integration of psychotherapy, I have personally always valued inclusiveness
rather than exclusiveness; it's the place where you grow. It's the nature
of the generative self. It's not schizophrenia or jumping round between
different personalities to preserve differences in your identity, by differentiating
yourself from something else. The generative self is strong enough to know
who you are - be open - growing and evolving without losing hold on who
you are. Then growing becomes something more rather than something different.
When everyone else was rejecting NLP Steven
was open to embrace it. He looks for what helps, for what has value, rather
than excluding something that has value just because it doesn't fit into
an existing framework. What he and I are both looking for is "what has value
here"? I'm clear about who I am, and Steve's clear about who he is - so
there's no arguing, no protecting. We can say - where shall we go from here
- we can go beyond.
Self-Sponsorship, being self centred and
centred in self - it's a paradox that leads you to knowing you're not your
prime concern. If you get the sponsorship done first then that's not what
you need to keep getting done all the time. One area for the future is working
with Terrorism - that's where people are saying " see me, value me, I'm
here". In a strange way, sponsorship could eradicate the need for terrorism.
I fully believe that if people felt valued there would be no need for terrorism.
Sponsorship is one of the most significant
things in a world for healing and going forwards.
The seminar "Genius
and the Generative Self " will be hosted in London by PPD.
Dates: 31st January - 2nd February 2003 Venue: Central London