You may have read about my son Luke in previous articles. He has a number of disabilities of varying severity and suffers from epilepsy, a condition that affects the brain and causes repeated seizures. His life is at risk every time he has an epileptic fit and this can be quite a frightening experience, both for Luke and us as parents. We learnt that one thing that would help to reduce the fits for Luke was to have a night’s sleep. There became a point when his quality of sleep started getting worse and his rate of seizures began to increase. What could we do? He had already been prescribed enough medication, and we didn’t want to have to increase this any further.
I had read that scientists often have trouble measuring human behaviour. This is because as soon as you monitor and measure something, let’s say your activity levels, people will then immediately look to seek improvement. So if people closely monitor the number of steps they take each day they then suddenly increase their rate of walking.
So I wondered whether this principle would work for Luke in regard to his poor sleep patterns. I decided to find out and bought him a ‘UP Move’ activity monitor that would track his quality of sleep.
Please stand up all the goal-centric beings
Measurement brings focus. When you focus on an aspect of your life, it gives you a base to work from. Once you know where you start, it seems natural to want to improve upon it.
We do this because we are goal-centric beings.
The measurement acts as a feedback loop. Once you have a feedback loop, you can change what you do. This adds drive to your behaviour.
What drive is driving your behaviour?
According to Daniel H. Pink in his book ‘Drive – The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us’ we have three drivers: purpose, self-direction and to improve.
Measurement gives the feedback that underpins purpose, self-direction and improvement. From our point of view, measurement does all three:
Purpose: Knowing where you are now and where you want to create a direction or purpose.
Self-direction: You are in control and can now make decisions based on the measurement.
Improve: Measurement gives you a feedback loop. You now know what areas to improve upon.
What do you want to change?
Decide on what you want to change, for example, it could be weight loss.
Right you know this, you need to eat fewer calories and move more. Do you know how much less you need to eat? No? So let’s find out:
- Measure weight and body size.
- Measure what you are eating for 10 days. This could be with a food diary.
- Then eat less.
- Measure weight and body size. If you weigh less, keep going, if not eat less.
- Repeat until you are the right weight and size.
I personally used this system to go from 15 stone to 11 stone. It works.
Make that change
Luke started checking his sleep patterns using the activity monitor and noticed that he was waking up 5 times during the night. He would show me the information which had been recorded by the monitor and synced to the screen of his mobile phone. Although we did not explicitly set goals for sleeping longer, within only one week he was proud to be down to waking up just twice during the night. What we had witnessed was the unconscious mind’s ability to set a goal. Powerful stuff for the unconscious mind. He has since reached a pattern of 7 nights of full sleep and his seizures have reduced dramatically by 50%.
Measurement of success is a key skill which can be learnt on our NLP Master Practitioner training courses.
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Article written by John Cassidy-Rice