What I Learned From Dr. Richard Bandler

Hi there,

What’s the Story?

It’s a hectic month so far; launching the new season of the podcast and brand new video upgrade (check it out here), traveling to Europe and back to New York for training. This week I’m off to Florida for a few hours for a keynote and doing all with a healing broken arm. It’s fun though!

Yesterday’s episode is an incredible interview with Dr. Richard Bandler. Thanks to so many of you for reaching out and sharing how much you enjoyed it. Next Monday, we have a ridiculously valuable podcast all about how to stop thinking negatively. It’s packed full of useful techniques and strategies!



What I learned from Dr. Richard Bandler

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes 24 seconds

Almost thirty years ago, I found myself sitting in a big hall listening to Dr. Richard Bandler for the very first time. My face hurt. I was laughing so much that the muscles in my face were paining me. Richard told stories that captivated us all. He brought us on a journey to San Francisco in the 1970s and explained how he co-founded the field of Neuro-Linguistic Programming or NLP as it’s known.

One of the things I distinctively remember was the first time I heard about Richard’s work with schizophrenics. He explained if someone isn’t in touch with reality, change reality.

When somebody believed they were Jesus Christ, Richard showed up on Good Friday with nails and a cross. They suddenly weren’t as convinced. When somebody saw figures coming out of the television, Richard asked ‘Does the Playboy channel mean anything to you?’ This approach fascinated me.

How I Started Working With Richard

I was a teenager back then. I was easily the youngest person in an audience of hundreds. I had already qualified as a hypnotherapist insanely young and had just started working with clients.

I began assisting NLP courses with Richard in London in the late 1990s and started to get to know him. In 2002, when Richard was living on the west coast of Ireland, I began to visit him. We started the process of co-authoring books and are currently working on our eighth project.

NLP is one of the most useful tools that has helped me over the years. I spent years studying everything I could get my hands on and applying it as often as I could. While it’s now one of many tools that I use, the lessons I’ve learned from Richard have influenced me profoundly and helped me massively in my personal and professional life.

Nowadays I spend most of my time developing the field of Belief Leadership where I work with organizations and the leaders to cultivate belief in ideas worth having. I apply psychology to help people handle, navigate, and drive change.


The Lessons from a Genius

There are several incredible learnings that I’ve gotten from Richard over the years. Here I want to share some of the standouts.

Do as many different things with as many different people in as many different places as you can.

This quote was the most impactful quote on my life. I began to travel the world. I retraced Richard’s steps in India and met the gurus he met. I explored the globe visiting more than 100 countries.

I embraced challenges, change, new ideas, and new experiences. As a result, I had the greatest education I could ever possibly hope for.

Real problems require real solutions. Imaginary problems require imaginary solutions.

This is one of my favorite Richard quotes. So often we believe that the solutions we need to employ are always real-world solutions. We tackle the problems in our lives with the same question ‘What do I do?’ Sometimes, it’s important to realize that the real question is ‘How do I think?’ for many of our problems we create through thinking and therefore must be solved in the same realm.

People say that one day you’ll look back at this and laugh. I say why wait?

That first experience I had at an NLP seminar with Richard wasn’t just fun. It changed how I felt about a lot of things. It’s not just about techniques… it’s the attitude. Learning to laugh about problems is one of the single best ways to deal with them.

Most people believe they think negatively but they’re not even thinking. They’re remembering. Instead, they need to learn to think on purpose.

In our book ‘Thinking on Purpose’ which we authored with Dr. Glenda Bradstock, Richard shares this key idea of not being in automatic mode when we are thinking.

This idea is similar to the concept of mindfulness as described by famous psychologist Ellen Langer. The problem is that we tend to run our lives on automatic pilot and, as a result, fail to benefit from the incredible thinking power we have… if we could only use it on purpose.

The best way to predict your future is to create it.

Our brains are prediction machines. They are constantly trying to figure out what is going to happen next. While this quote by Richard is incredibly simple, I love the way he puts it.

We need to remind ourselves of the capacity we have to determine what we will have in the future. Far too often, it can be easy to live as a victim of your circumstances and your reality as opposed to figuring out how you can influence it.

The only way to have a better past is to change the way you remember it.

The research out there in the area of memory formation suggests that our memories are notoriously unreliable. While false memory syndrome is a thing, (we can sometimes completely invent memories) something far more common is our tendency to adjust our everyday actual memories.

The way we feel and our beliefs interpret the experiences we go through. Then, after the experience, the way we feel and think influences the way we remember that experience. So it is filtered twice at the very least.

This quote from Richard is so profound because he is explaining the power that we all have to remember differently… since we are going to anyway. So many people feel limited by their past. Richard is suggesting that we actually can change the past… in our minds at least which I love.

If someone isn’t in touch with reality, then change reality.

This quote from Richard very much informed how I worked with clients early on in my career. He used this to describe when he would work with psychiatric patients. While this certainly helped me back then work with clients, it’s extremely relevant today.

In the polarized world we live in, we often find ourselves speaking to other people who see reality very differently from us. Arguing with them usually leads nowhere. They have convinced themselves of a story as to how things work. They can’t hear anything else.

Instead, we have to change reality so we can effectively get through to them and then lead them towards thinking differently. It’s the only shot we have.

When I think back on the last thirty years since I first got introduced to the work of Dr. Richard Bandler, I can’t help but feel extremely fortunate that I got to meet him.

Many people have said to me that I was so lucky to be given the opportunity to collaborate with him. I don’t feel lucky though in that sense. In our recent interview, Richard explained why he decided to work with me so much. I earned that.

Why I’m fortunate is to have met Richard in the first place and get the chance to learn from him. The lessons above are only the tip of the iceberg.

The work he has created has made a huge difference in my life and helped me get through some very tough times and challenges. I am grateful to have him as a mentor and a friend and to still visit him regularly to this day.

We are collaborating on our eighth project together currently and as always I am very excited to be a part of it.

For more information about learning from Richard, you can find details on his website www.richardbandler.com and of course, you can get his books online too.

If you’ve been impacted by Richard, please share your favorite Richard quotes with me by email.

To check out our fun interview together go to video.owenfitzpatrick.com



The Brain Prompt

When I spoke to Richard in the interview on the Changing Minds Podcast, he said something that got me thinking.

“You want a good life? Get a good imagination. All reality is built from imagination. That’s what it’s built out of. This house, somebody imagined it, and then they built it. Tall buildings, bridges, monuments, pyramids, bridges across giant rivers, everything that men and women have accomplished since the beginning of time. There weren’t enough caves for everybody to live in, and somebody thought, we could buy a bunch of rocks and make our own cave. House number one.”

Dr. Richard Bandler

It is so easy to take things for granted in the world but when we start to think about how incredible everything is; it can remind us of the power of our imagination.

And, maybe, just maybe, you might consider what you could start to do with your imagination.

If you know someone who would enjoy this newsletter, please send it on. They can sign up at owenfitzpatrick.com/newsletter.



P.S. To check out this incredible interview in full, go to this week’s Changing Minds podcast episode. You can watch it here.





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