As I was flipping through The E-Myth Revisited, I came across a quote by IBM founder Tom Watson Sr. It caught my NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) eye immediately because the quote laid out an obvious and elegant thinking strategy.
I decided to have some good old NLP fun and model his internal strategy for success that helped him build an huge company and make millions. Here’s the quote in The E-Myth Revisited (italics by me):
IBM is what it is today for three special reasons. The first reason is that, at the very beginning, I had a very clear picture of what the company would look like when it was finally done. You might say I had a model in my mind of what it would look like when the dream – my vision – was in place.
The second reason was that once I had that picture, I then asked myself how a company which looked like that would have to act. I then created a picture of how IBM would act when it was finally done.
The third reason IBM has been so successful was that once I had a picture of how IBM would look like when the dream was in place and how such a company would have to act, I then realized that, unless we began to act that way from the very beginning, we would never get there.
In other words, I realized that for IBM to become a great company it would have to act like a great company long before it ever became one.
From the very outset, IBM was fashioned after the template of my vision. And each and every day we attempted to model the company after that template. At the end of each day, we asked ourselves how well we did, and discovered the disparity between where we were and where we had committed ourselves to be, and, at the start of the following day, set out to make up for the difference.
Every day at IBM was a day devoted to business development, not doing business.
We didn’t do business at IBM, we built one.
The beauty of NLP is that it gives us an elegant model to make models of the world. One of the ways it does that is through sensory modalities; what you see, hear, touch, taste and smell.
Reading the quote above youâ€™ll notice that Tom Watson Sr. was very visual, using visual words like vision (duh), see, picture, look like, with fewer parts of the auditory and kinesthetic. Looking at his description of what he did, you get very nice steps to his thinking model for building success.
1) See your specific desired outcome as already achieved.
He started with a very clear picture of what the company would look like when success was already achieved. He began with the end in mind, and visualized in his mindâ€™s eye how success would look like, making very clear and specific pictures, not vague and general ones (more on setting specific goals).
2) Ask yourself how you would act once you have achieved the specific outcome. See the answer in your mindâ€™s eye.
Once he had that picture, he asked himself verbally how that company would have to act. So it wasnâ€™t just a matter of seeing what the successful outcome looks like, but seeing what successful behavior is too.
3) Begin to act in those successful ways, right now.
After he saw what the success outcome and behavior looked like, he realized that to achieve success he would have to act in those ways now to draw that success in.
4) At the end of the day, see how you acted that day in the way you wanted.
â€˜At the end of each day, we asked ourselves how well we didâ€™. By recognizing your own achievements, you not only build up your self-esteem, giving your confidence bonus points; you also let yourself know how much closer youâ€™re getting closer to your goal.
5) Now see when you didnâ€™t act the way wanted, and resolve to act in the desired manner tomorrow.
This is the feedback loop which lets you know where you are, where you want to go, the difference and the route to get there, so youâ€™re always checking and course-correcting yourself according to plan.
Now, is this the exact way in which Tom Watson Sr. thought? In NLP, we arenâ€™t pompous enough to say we can find out and model exactly how people think. By NLP standards, Iâ€™d have to go through as much of Tomâ€™s writings and interviews as possible to see if this strategy repeats itself often enough to be a model of the way he thinks.
There are also many levels of modeling possible from that one passage alone. I could model at the level of Tomâ€™s beliefs as well, for example, and draw the belief that unless you act like a great company/person before you are one, youâ€™ll never become one.
So even as important as it is to model with as much precision as possible, pragmatic NLP says a more important question is; how useful is it? And thereâ€™s only one real way for you to find out isnâ€™t there? Test it out!
Hereâ€™s the strategy again, with some additional refinements of my own.
Tom Watson Sr.â€™s 5 Steps to Creating Success
1) See your desired outcome as already achieved.
2) Ask yourself how you would act, what you would say, how you would walk, how you would handle problems, etc. once youâ€™ve achieved this outcome. See the answer in your mindâ€™s eye.
3) See yourself acting in those ways in your life now, and begin to do it.
4) At the end of the day mentally see how you acted that day in the way you wanted.
5) Now see when you didnâ€™t act the way wanted, and see yourself acting differently, in the way you want, in the future.
Relevant Link: Robert Dilts on NLP Modeling