by Azman A. Jalal

It seems to me that economic crises have a tendency to surface almost every ten to twelve years. And just like a phoenix rising out of the flame, every crisis builds one’s character – that brings about strength and courage in a person.

The downturn of 1985 has certainly been such for me.

It was a time when tens of thousands of workers were retrenched. And in a bid to save the economy, the government announced a CPF cut from both the employer and employee contributions from 25% to 10%. The National Wages Council (NWC) also recommended a zero annual wage increment for 1986. In 1987, the annual wage increment was 2%. Morale for many people sank to the deepest and darkest abyss. Another crisis in 1997 turned out similarly, where again the government took the measure to cut wages by 15%.

It was in 1987 that I saw a video tape of Sidney A. Friedman who said, “If it is to be, it is up to me.”

Since then, these ten two-letter words inspired me to take responsibility for my own actions if I were to make things happen. Then I read a book by Anthony Robbins titled Unlimited Power (which became the biggest impact on my life), that describes the tool for personal excellence and personal change known as Neuro-Linguistic Programming or NLP.

“If it is to be, it is up to me.”

Sidney A. Friedman

It dawned on me that it is not what happens to us that really matters.

It is how we deal with what happens to us that shapes our future choices and decisions. When you really think about it, events in our lives didn’t happen to us, but rather happened for us. And when we learn from them, it builds our character and we can create more choices to handle similar events in the future and expand our possibilities.

I began reading other books like The One Minute Manager series, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Seeds of Greatness, Principle Centered Leadership and Fit For Life. I noticed that my attitudes and perspectives changed as I began removing negative language from my conversations, including talking to myself. When you begin to take control of your behaviours and your emotions, you will begin to take control of your results or outcome.

I was able to ‘carry my own (emotional) weather’ wherever I go.

I’ve become a cheerful and bubbly person to the point where others find it difficult to understand the positive energy I radiate at a time when most of them constantly gripe, groan and whine about almost anything when a crisis hits them. They would blame the government, the financial institutions and everyone else but themselves for the predicament they are in.

Then the real test came.

The company ran a safety promotion campaign where we were divided into teams and were required to give a half-hour presentation on a topic relating to safety. There were more than forty teams, involving staff from all levels. The campaign was a directive from the Managing Director rather than of a voluntary nature, so most of the staff felt they had no choice but to do it.

I was armed with only what I learned and read (not formally NLP-trained yet). But I was really excited about this. My team comprised lab analysts, process technicians and three supervisors. Since our team did not have an engineer to provide explicit technical data to support our presentation on technical improvements, I convinced my team to present ‘Communication’ as our theme, and titled it “Communication in Loss Control Management”.

I created a very vivid picture in my mind of what exactly I needed to do.

I was determined to be among the top ten teams, in fact promising my teammates. They were, however, not in the least bit optimistic about it. Still, I was undeterred. I told myself “Half hour presentation, nine pages of script”. This was at a time when the 386 personal computer systems reigned supreme, but I didn’t even have access to a 286!

So I was ‘content’ to write all nine pages on a writing pad. The account of this event is a different story in itself so I’ll skip the details. Anyway, though we only had one rehearsal, we came in fourth, behind the third place by just three or four points. The team was very satisfied with the outcome. And the reward was S$300 travel vouchers for each team member. This convinced me that NLP is a powerful tool to achieving my outcome. If you begin with the thought that you will succeed, your behaviours will be adapted, geared and driven towards that goal. The root of every action begins with a thought.

In 1999, I finally got myself formally trained and certified as an NLP Practitioner.

NLP for me is the most empowering tool to manage our states of mind and thus our behaviours and our results. It enables me to create suitable responses to any given situation. There are no right or wrong responses. Only that when you do something and don’t get the result you desire, it is not that you have failed, it is just that the action is inappropriate and you need to do something different.

Many people entrap themselves in situations where they keep doing the same thing time after time and then groan “Why does this have to happen to me all the time?” Well, the answer is “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.” The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result.

Quite often I’ve been asked, “If you can control your emotions, doesn’t that make you a heartless, emotionless person?”

On the contrary, NLP enables you to increase the intensity of your positive behaviours and emotions so that they become more empowering in helping you achieving your desires, while you reduce the intensity or even eliminate your habits and limiting beliefs that have been the barrier to your life’s desire.

“If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.”

A simple technique for changing a limiting habit such as procrastination or nail biting is the Swish Pattern. The simple technique proves “what the mind can conceive and truly believe in is achievable”. It doesn’t matter whatever we are in life, we are always more than that.

Each of us has the resources we need to succeed.

And that resource is stored in a faculty located between our two ears, inside our cranium.


Mental Rehearsal, Visualization & the Swish Pattern are taught in our NLP Practitioner Certification Course. 

Meet with us for a complimentary 1:1 NLP Starter Session—learn more about maximising our NLP course for your development.
Whether it is personal development, improving communication skills, or you want to be a coach, you’ll find that NLP fits tightly into each area of application, because it all comes down to the optimisation of our Inner Programming.
Apply for your NLP Starter Session today!

Join our email list

Join our email list

Be among the first to receive our latest updates, unpublished email articles & NLP coaching resources.

You have Successfully Subscribed!