Genius and the Generative Self
Genius and the Generative Self
Interview with Robert Dilts
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 Neuro Linguistic Programming (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.
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?
RD:Integration, 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 better.
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 level
- 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 much difference.
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?
RD:NLP 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.
Sian Pope interviewed Robert Dilts on behalf of PPDPD. Sian is a personal development coach using NLP, business processes and a spiritual approach.