Saturday, March 13, 2010


A NLP anchor does for our mind state, what a ship anchor does for a ship. Once the ship anchor is dropped, it keeps the ship in a specific place – no matter what direction the current or wind is heading. In the same way, once a NLP anchor is triggered, we enter into a specific mind state (e.g. confident, calm, happy, anxious) – no matter what situation we are in.

NLP anchors come in many forms e.g.

Visual - The sight of any Chevy Chevette (even a picture or a toy Chevette) will trigger memories of the little acts of kindness many years ago from total strangers whenever my Chevette broke down.

Auditory - Whenever I hear Belinda Carlisle’s hit song “Summer Rain”, my mind instantly returns to the cheerful and bright summer of 1990 – it always brings a smile on my face.

Olfactory - Whenever I catch a whiff of tomato from a freshly opened bottle of ketchup, I am instantly transported back to my first delightful encounter with the sauce, when I was a toddler. Images of the place (in Toa Payoh, Singapore), and the people (my family) will appear vividly in my mind.

For people who are not NLP practitioners, most if not all, their anchors were built up by chance throughout their lives. These are known as automatic unconscious anchors. Of these randomly set anchors, some put us into a good mood, some bad ... some make us feel motivated to do one thing or to do another ... feel confident and resourceful, or anxious and lost.

This little toy car that sits on my dashboard is my anchor that motivates me to show a little kindness whenever my patience is being tested by reckless or inconsiderate drivers on the road. It is an example of an automatic unconscious anchor. (Fortunately for me, this is one that puts me in a better state.)

Before I proceed further, let me ask, have you ever experienced a small act of kindness from a total stranger that changes your lookout for the rest of your lives?

What does it take to leave someone you meet, feeling more resourceful, happier, more hopeful, more positive, or more inspired?

A small act of kindness is often enough.

This little toy car on my dashboard reminds me of my first car when I was an undergraduate in Canada. It was a three year old Chevy Chevette. It wasn’t that old, but it wasn’t pretty and it was unreliable. I had more than my fair share of car trouble but it gave me opportunities to experience the (life changing) kindness of Canadians.

Not long after I bought my car, the car stalled along the road when I was on the way home from school. I pulled the car over to the side of the road. Almost immediately, a passing pickup truck pulled over on seeing my predicament. A quick check revealed that it was a bad battery. The young man asked if I had a jumper cable which we could use to jump start the car using his battery. Unfortunately, I didn’t. He immediately asked me to wait while he would go home to fetch the cable. And off he went.

Almost immediately, a car pulled over, and the driver asked me what my problem was. I explained that it was a bad battery. This time the man had a cable in his car and we jump started the car without any difficulty. He then drove off.

I waited a few moments and the driver of the pickup truck returned with the cable as promised. I thank him for the help and explained that my car had been restarted with the help of another driver while he was away fetching the cable.

I do not know who these people were, who stopped to help me that day, but my little toy car reminds me of the invaluable lesson they taught me that day – that it only takes a small sincere act to make a big, lasting impact.

Beside battery problems, my car regularly overheated even during the very cold Canadian winters. I am forced to lift the car hood to cool the engine whenever I stopped the car.

One winter when my father was visiting us, I stopped the car outside a Chinese diner to buy some take out barbequed ribs. As usual, I lifted the hood to cool engine. My father waited for me while I dashed inside the diner to buy food. I must have been inside the diner for about fifteen to twenty minutes.

When I came out, a man was standing next to my car. It was snowing, the wind was gusting, and it was freezing. My father told me that the man tried to talk to him but my father could not understand English. My father told me that the man had been waiting for me in the freezing cold, the entire time that I was in the diner!

I then spoke with the man and realised that he, on seeing that the hood of my car was up, had asked my father whether he needed any help. Realising that my father could not speak English, he waited for me to come back to the car to find out what help I needed.

I explained that I was just letting the engine cool, and that everything was fine. Only then did he leave.

I don’t know who this man was but my little toy car reminds me of his valuable lesson to me - he taught me that small acts of kindness are actually pretty big. We remember them forever, do we not?

In another episode, we were on the highway in Quebec looking for a famous shopping mall – reputedly the largest in the country. However, we lost our way on the way to the mall. A driver noticing that I was driving an out of province car, pulled up beside me and shouted to me, “Do you need help?!” I replied that I was looking for the famous shopping mall – I have forgotten the name.

He shouted: “Follow me!”

I followed him on the highway. I realised that the mall was not, just along the way or around the corner. It required several turns and long stretches of roads. It required a 15 minute detour before the mall was in sight!

The driver only left when he was sure that I had found the mall, and I signalled that I was OK.

I never knew who that driver was but my little toy car reminds me of his kind smiling face, and I find myself still smiling as I recall the moments.

My little toy car is my kindness anchor – it reminds me that small acts of kindness can make an indelible positive impact. It constantly reminds me to make it a point to leave people whom I meet feeling more resourceful, happier, more hopeful, more positive, or more inspired.

What does it take?

Like my tiny toy car, a small act of kindness is often enough.

Try it, and you will realise that it is easy to make the world a better place.

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