Top Tip Used By Erickson That Creates Change

Friday, 15 May 2015

Milton Erickson has become a legend since his passing in 1980. For good reason. Long before neuroscience confirmed that experience changes us, Milton intuitively knew something that many aspiring and practicing agents of change overlook.

Top Tip Used By Erickson That Creates Change

Milton Erickson

Long before neuroscience confirmed that  experience changes us, Milton intuitively   
knew something that many aspiring and practicing agents of change overlook.

A story from Erickson’s life will help paint the picture.

One day Erickson was working with a client who kept complaining about how tired he was with life and how nothing every changed. He  was sure that nothing would ever change.

Erickson patiently listened to the patient speak at length about  how fixed things were,  how his life was like ‘ground hog’ day and basically how things never changed.

Milton had heard enough and was ready to being setting up his legendary change.

He invited the client to stand up and follow him outside while they get some fresh air.

Their chatting continued as they went outside.

Erickson suddenly stopped.

Looked up towards a group of trees and paused.

The client, started by the abrupt stop, looked down and Erickson and then up toward   
the direction of the trees.

For a few moments there was near silence,  just the sound of the breeze blowing.

Erickson sensing his guest was about to speak  asked:

“What do you see over there?”

The client replied:

“A group of trees.”

And “What do you notice?”

The client looked again.

In the distance, about 30 feet away stood 7 great trees in a row, with just one out of   

The client intently studied the size, shape, colour and formation. How each tree responded   
to the breeze.

He was sure this was some kind of test and didn’t want to look foolish.

Finally, after several moments passing the client said:

“Each tree is in a line, except that one
there which is off to one side.”

Erickson responded:

“That’s right because for every pattern
there is always an exception.”


Erickson instinctively knew that change is created by giving people experiences not

For every pattern there is an exception.

This is something that the client would  remember long after his interactions with   
Erickson was over.

As a change agent, regardless of what modality you choose; your objective is to   
create and drive your client through experiences.

This is so much more effective that appealing to the rational brain and trying to explain   
why someone should change.

Tony Robbins has based an entire technique  aka “The Dickens pattern” around this   

Change agent’s tip:

If you find yourself explaining something, try to come up with a way where you can give the person an  experience first, before you create a conscious representation of it.

Experiences change us.

So create powerful experiences and you’ll find change becomes much easier.

New behaviours develop faster.