Think Outside The Box: What is the Law of Requisite Variety?

You want to know one of my biggest pet peeves? When someone relatively new to NLP uses one concept to attempt to get others to do something they don’t want to do. Key word “attempt.” (Please keep in mind that my first NLP training was in 1982, so after having been in this field for 30 years, many people I meet are relatively new…)

 

To begin, The Empowerment Partnership has been in business now for 30 years. I have been working here for 20. I have been in charge of the company for 15, and been the owner for 10! We could not have lasted this long in the seminar business if we did not operate with integrity and ethics.

 

My word is so important to me. And when we say something to one student, we make it the same for all. Do things in life change? Does Shift Happen? You bet, and when things do change, so do we. And, with some things, we need to be consistent.

 

Case in point: I have already let some students know that there is a cut off for enrollment into a specific class. This has been announced and has been enforced for about 4 years now. There have already been a couple of instances where we had to say no because the deadline was missed. There is ultimate flexibility, and when the class starts and someone wants to join late, we just do not allow it.

 

This is true at Huna, Master Practitioner, Trainer’s Training and so on. There is important content from day one, so certification is based on attendance.

 

The Law of Requisite Variety

 

I was recently contacted about this, and the comment made basically evokes the Law of Requisite Variety. This is a NLP Presupposition. It says that the person or thing within a given system that has the most flexibility will end up controlling the system.

 

(Now if you don’t like the word control, just think lead or guide the system.)

 

This presupposition is true in business, in family, in relationships, in therapy, and more. In fact, when a person or business becomes inflexible, they get stuck in an old model. This is awful!

 

We created the 7-day NLP Practitioner Training, and now we do a 4 day Practitioner Training! That is called flexible. We used to run Master Practitioner all the way through for 16 days, now it’s two components one week each. We even have post-study online. That is the Law of Requisite Variety, especially considering some companies still run a 24-day long NLP Practitioner Training!

 

Being Flexible Within Your Boundaries

 

So back to the event that sparked this blog. A student missed the deadline. The class had started, and the email said, “We need to think outside the box here.”

 

That is the same as saying: “Come on Dr. Matt, be flexible. Because it is not a ‘we’ it is Dr. Matt, break your company’s policy. Break your rule. Break your word. And why? Because you need to be flexible…”

 

Well there are a couple of issues here. First, the only people that need to think outside the box are the ones that live in a box. And I am fairly clear that I live in a box-less world… Being pretty humble here and from my heart, I see very few limitations in life. And I have kids and know that there needs to be boundaries in life.

 

Boundaries are NOT a box. Boundaries are NOT limitations. For example, fish can breathe in water, I cannot. No NLP swish pattern is going to change that. If I go under water for too long, I will run out of air…

 

Come on! You have to know that the bus will win if you stand in front of it. You have to know that if you push your body too far, it will hurt. There are too many in the personal growth business that have said mind over matter and now we have examples of people being hurt and even killed because of this extreme teaching.

 

You see, the Law of Requisite Variety is one of the many Presuppositions of NLP. What about the first one we teach at The Empowerment Partnership: Respect Another’s Model of the World? Where does that go when you tell someone to be flexible against his or her values?

 

Being Flexible Within Your Values

 

Which brings me to the second issue with this “Think outside the box” statement. What if I have a strong value for integrity and my word? What if I have said to others that they cannot join, and I make it okay for you? What happens to them? If I am going to break the rule shouldn’t be for all? To me, it should be.

 

You see, the deeper teaching of the Law of Requisite Variety is that you need to be flexible within your values and beliefs. And if you are not congruent, then others can push you around and have you go against your own values.

 

You have to measure your flexibility based on the world around you and the inner world of your values and beliefs.

 

So…

 

Know your values! Know your boundaries! And know yourself! When you do, you can be ultimately flexible in the way that is right for you.

 

Mahalo,
Dr. Matt

Comments

  1. 😀

  2. Laura Granville says:

    Awesome example and response. Thanks, PS see you soon!

  3. Nikki V says:

    Thank you – this was excellent and timely for me to read.

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  1. […] options would be useful for any circumstance where a requisite variety of flexible behaviors would be beneficial. Imagine how often that […]

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