Building Outcome Bridges

By Lynn Timpany

Once upon a time... there was a miner stuck down a mine shaft in a large and dark cavern. With absolutely no sense of which direction to go, to get out of the hole he was in, the miner could only see as far as the small circle of light projected by the lantern on his helmet. This particular miner was totally clear about his outcome, he wanted to out of there alive, preferably home in time for tea! It's easy to understand that if that miner stands there and waits till he's clear and sure about the direction of the exit before moving then he may stand there in the same place for an awfully long time!

Outcome setting is one of the fundamental first step processes in NLP. We understand that in setting a clear and sensory specific outcome we give direction to the automatic functioning of the filters of the unconscious mind, which is in itself a change process. Yet to me there seems to be some real limitations in the traditional goal setting models. Perhaps the setting of a fixed goal in the future may be one of the biggest nominalizations of them all!

At a recent practitioner training I was having a conversation with one of the participants who was extolling the virtues and dramatic impact that goal setting had on him. He told me that he was really clear about what he wanted to do in life and that he had a clear outcome for a healing center where people could come to be rejuvenated and revitalized and benefit from the wonderful tools that NLP has to offer. He was very excited and inspired. I said

"And what are you planning to be doing NOW about making that a reality?" (a denominalisation type question)

He looked at me in total bewilderment and aghast horror and said "Whaddya mean? Get a job!!??"
This person is just as disempowered as the miner who stands in the cavern waiting to know the way out before moving.

This lack of bridge between present state and desired state is particularly noticeable in the area of physical healing. I recently had a client who wanted to heal a long standing auto immune problem. Once again they were quite clear about the long term outcome in a traditional sense stating things like enhanced energy, pain free (restated as feeling comfortable in the body), being able to do a full days work etc. Yet when I enquired, "And what will you be doing and thinking differently in any now moment when you are totally aligned toward this outcome?"
The response was a typical one,

"I wouldn't have any pain, I'd be comfortable in my body."

Then I said, "What about before the discomfort disappears totally. If there was a lack of comfort in the body, how will you be dealing with that differently when you are totally aligned toward the outcome of complete healing."

Out of this Building Outcome Bridges type discussion emerged an incredibly valuable awareness of the daily habits required to align with the outcome of total healing. We were able to align any parts objecting to having those daily habits, to set detailed outcomes for those daily habits and future pace them, again, in detail.

Basically what we are doing is denominalising the outcome and bringing into present time in order to build a bridge to the desired future or:

Discovering what needs to be happening,
right now,
to be aligning with the outcome,
before the outcome exists fully in ones reality.

Basic Steps to a Building Outcome Bridges Discussion.

A. Set outcome in usual manner (SPECIFY or SMART)

B. Denominalise the outcome. i.e. ask a lot of questions that have a lot of "ings" in them, and combine the denominalised sense information with "being doing having" words.

For example:

You can also ask similar questions from different perceptual positions.

For example:

C. Devolve toward the short term by asking similar type of questions about the near future.

For example:

D. Build the Bridge! Devolve the outcome to now. The aim is to discover how the responses to the current situation, as it really is now, need to change to align with the outcome. So if someone feels they are failing and they want to succeed, then the questions will elicit how they will deal with current situations where there seems to be a lack of success differently, in a way that engenders and supports their succeeding

For example:

Elicit a full version sensory specific representation of this and future pace it. Followed by future pacing the successful completion of the intermediate steps and the final goal.

As the miner walks to the edge of the available light, from there he sees further.