What is an anchor?

Anchors are a basic tool of NLP (neuro-linguistic programming). An anchor is a signal that triggers a specific state of mind, much like Pavlov’s experiment with dogs in 1902. Pavlov would ring a bell at the same time as feeding the dogs. After a short time, he could ring the bell in the absence of food and find that the dogs still salivated. It is in a similar way that you can set a trigger to elicit a specific automatic response in yourself.

How could it be useful for me?

Suppose for example, you have a big presentation to some board directors and are feeling nervous. Wouldn’t it be nice to feel as confident about delivering your presentation as you did when you were telling your children to clean up their toys and get into bed?

Well you can. By vividly imaging yourself in your desired state of confidence and power (for example in your role as parent), and anchoring that state to specific action, you can elicit those feelings again with just the trigger. The action could be simply touching your thumb and forefinger together, or it could be stepping forward into an imaginary circle.

Example Exercise: The Circle of Excellence

In the circle of excellence, you step forward into an imaginary circle and take the memory of you in your full desired state. You try to remember all the senses: touch, sound, smell, taste, temperature and enhance them to make the memory as vivid as possible; for example, specifically considering textures, shades, tones, pitches and patterns.

You’ll then step out of the circle before the memories fade. You want to ensure the circle is full of very vivid memories and feelings so it is important to step out while the memory is still strong. Once you’ve had a 30 second break, you’ll step back in and repeat. You’ll do this at least five times.

Now it’s time to imagine yourself in that presentation. Step into the circle and deliver it with all those feelings of confidence you have. The anchor (or trigger) will be that action of stepping forward into the imaginary circle. With practice, you should be able to elicit your confident and powerful self just by taking a step forward.

<strong>Access to a more detailed step-by-step guide to the Circle of Life as well as other coaching exercises is available in the How to Feel Great @ Work e-learning course.</strong>