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NLP and the Stoics

A hunger for knowledge makes me read numerous books. I don’t mind whether they are philosophical, mindfulness, NLP, scientific neurology books, or lighter pop-psych books. One that I picked up recently “The Obstacle is the Way” by Ryan Holiday had me gripped. I read it in two sittings. The journey to Venice and on the plane returning home again.

One of the stories Ryan quotes is about a couple of rival fruit companies wrestling with the complexities of doing business in South America.
Each of these fruit companies wanted to get their hands on a prime area of land for growing rainforesttropical fruit, however the legal system of this area, combined with the land being between Honduras and Guatemala, meant it was nigh on impossible to identify exactly who owned the deeds to the land. In the end it boiled down to two possible owners, neither of which were relinquishing their claim on the land.

Fruit company A (by far the larger of the two, and one of the most powerful corporations in the USA) decided to commission the best lawyers and specialists in the USA to research and identify who owned the land. These lawyers went off in search of every file and paper that referred to this land, and were ready to pay whatever it cost.

Fruit company B, a much smaller start-up, adopted a totally different approach. They simply sat down with both possible owners, and bought the land off each of them.
Yes, fruit company B paid twice for the land, but the job was over, and this valuable land meant company B had a very real asset. It also took a fraction of the time, cost and effort to achieve the result, by focusing on the end desired result rather than “how” things should be done.

Now Ryan Holiday’s book is very much focused on the Stoic approach of turning every obstacle into an advantage.

Stoicism is a philosophy of the Ancient Greeks including Marcus Aurelius, Seneca and Epictetus, amongst many others. And although Mr Holiday never mentions the term NLP or Neuro Linguistic Programming within the book, I’m now putting it on my recommended reading list for NLP Practitioners.

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