Must the show go on?

Just back from a weekend with the Godfather of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), Dr Richard Bandler and the NLP master hypnotist Paul Mc Kenna.  At one point during the weekend, the song “The Show Must Go On” popped up in the back of my mind … funny how that happens … Undoubtedly this maxim pervades most entertainment circles.  Does it transfer to business I thought?  I felt a certain unease.  Let’s check Queen’s classic anthem before deciding:

I’d argue vigorously that the maxim is at least unhelpful and possibly dangerous in some circumstances.   One of my great business heroes Tom Peters, points out that one of the hardest things to do in business is press the STOP button.   In rock circles, my friend Bill Nelson has a maxim for reinvention that says “Do not be afraid of the off switch”.  Had Michael Jackson written the song “Wanna Be Stoppin’ Something” instead of “Wanna Be Startin’ Something”, it would have probably not been a hit however 🙂

But the STOP button is vital in some circumstances.  Kodak would have probably avoided Chapter 11 bankruptcy if they had made the switch from analogue to digital film sooner.  Sony might have avoided a steady decline from being one of the most celebrated innovation companies if they had recognised the advent of downloading and done something different with their record company.

In our personal lives, what things are we doing that we really should not, just out of habit?  I can think of quite a few things that need to go in my ‘life laundry’.  And you?   A periodic pause for reflection before moving on is a healthy part of any smart person’s business and personal life.  Contact me for a free consultation if you need to do your personal or business life laundry.  “STOP in the name of life” may not have been a hit for Diana Ross but it may improve your bank balance!

Some questions to ponder:

  • What activities and habits are you pursuing that are past their sell-by date?
  • What ‘dark alleyways’ do others lead you down that do not contribute to your overall life purpose?
  • What relationships or tasks are you pursuing that are not based on a sense of equity / reciprocity?  How can you change them so that they produce better results for all concerned?

Just for fun, and having spent quite a bit of the weekend in light to moderate trance (my wife says there’s nothing new there …), here’s a humorous insight into the hypnotic world of Paul Mc Kenna:

Postscript:  This post has caused some controversy from people who rightly dislike the manipulative end of NLP.  From my direct experience I can say that Richard Bandler may swear a lot in his seminars but his ethics for using NLP are absolutely in the right place.  People cite politicians and bad sales people as examples as what is wrong with NLP.  If you put good tools in the hands of bad people, bad shit happens … Is that down to the tools or the people?  I leave you to decide.


12 responses to “Must the show go on?

  1. Peter,

    Your blogs come like a breath of fresh air – keep them coming.

    Sometimes I try to click on the links and they don’t work.

    The link inserted seems to be incomplete – see the screenshot (in the yellow rectangle x-msg://1278/) of what I get when I get my mouse over a picture with a link:

    I am sure other users have the same issue and it is important that you are aware of this.



  2. Hi there. Love the McKenna clip! Had quotes from restaurant owners who say the same – stop and regroup when it all goes wrong. Like shutting the kitchen for 15 mins when orders have piled up. Counter intuitive to most other organisations – usually we throw more resources (people and money) at a problem. Cheaper to stop and fix it…


    • Some hints were dropped re Grinder – easier to discuss than write here – The Derren Brown thing seems to merely illustrate just how many varieties of these disciplines exist and people seem to find the need to align themselves with one rather than take the best of all of them in my humble opinion.

      p.s. Mc Kenna has become quite ‘Hollywood’ since the last time I saw him.



  3. Totally agree with you about using the stop button more. I once stopped a whole bunch of training programmes that were adding no value.
    I’m afraid I’m no fan of NLP though; I pushed my own stop button for that field a few years after taking the practitioner training.


      • I did my training with NTS and Ian McDermott, and at the time I liked it. Then a few years later I got a job as a senior lecturer on a business degree course. I did a lot more reading up on the learning process, and about facilitation. And one day it suddenly hit me that what helped me be good at really truly communicating well with students (and of course other people) was to be me and to have as much integrity as possible. I found that totally forgetting about the NLP stuff, techniques, theories, etc, helped me to be a whole lot better at my job.
        And I got more interested in psychology and neuroscience.
        And then I read Donald Clark’s critique of NLP, and that was that for me.

        But, each to their own. I know plenty of people who find it v helpful.


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