Several years ago, I met Francisco in a Line 205 Bus that travels from San Salvador to Ahuachapán…
Let’s hit pause for a moment.
In the past, whenever I told Francisco’s story orally, this was my point of entrance to the narrative. But now, as I am writing the story down, I believe you should know every aspect of it, so let me start over, and rewind one day…
It was a Friday afternoon and I was printing the manuals for a new NLP Practitioners seminar to be held in San Salvador, El Salvador C.A. It was the first time that I offered a seminar during a week night, so I had a weekend of leisure waiting for me. The seminar would start the following Tuesday and extend over the next 12 Month, every Tuesday night, four hours each. Everything was going smoothly and I had made plans to spend some time with friends over the weekend to come. As always, the excitement to begin a new Practitioner training with new participants was at its highest. I was listening to stimulating music while I was perforating the freshly printed manuals for the binding process. Through the music, I heard the phone ringing and even though I did not recognize the number on the display, in many Central American countries you are quite hesitant to answer an unknown number, I switched the music of and answered the call. At the other end of the line was a medical doctor that had attended a Hypnosis seminar of mine several weeks ago. She was quite agitated and she asked me if I remembered I young man she had brought to one of our Hypnosis sessions as a practice subject. In fact, I did remember that young man immediately as a very intelligent and friendly being with a bright future ahead, I also remembered him being her nephew. She confirmed that I was right, then her voice became very crumbly as she told that her sister just had lost him to a fatal car crash. He was on his way to the airport when the carelessness of a speeding sugarcane truck driver took this promising young man’s life. As it is common practice in El Salvador, the truck driver fled the scene leaving everything behind, including the sugarcane truck. Obviously, her family was devastated. Her sister and his fiancé, who had lost the love of her life and the promise of a future together were not able to stop crying and screaming. She asked me if I could come to see them in order to help them to cope with this great loss. I agreed straightaway and I assured her that I would take the first bus in the morning in order to arrive as soon as I could and do my best to help alleviate the pain as much as possible using any NLP tool at my disposition. She thanked me and promised to arrange for someone to accompany me and help me to get to their hometown situated two hours away from San Salvador.
Early next day I took a cab to the Western Bus Terminal where I met a young man named Francisco, who was asked to help me in finding my destination. We boarded the 205 Bus line for a two-hour trip to Ahuachapán. As soon as we sat down Francisco started a conversation. We talked about the country, the problems it had, the town where we were going to and many different things. Suddenly, out of the blue he commented about a young couple that was sitting a few rows in front of us. “Do you see those two?”, he asked, adding immediately “I believe she is mad at him, but he does not get that she is angry. Look at her her face, every time he talks to her she reacts narrowing her eyes and wrinkling her nose a little bit. He does not seem to see her discomfort. Sometimes I think people are blind to that kind of occurrences, you know, I like to observe people and find out what is happening.” I was immediately intrigued so I asked him to tell me more about this “hobby” of his. It turned out that Francisco was in his late twenties and worked as a construction worker. He would have liked to finish school and study psychology or social work, but as many young people in Central America this was not an option as his family depended on an additional income. He also liked to read but access to good books was not that easy as his income was quite low. Whenever he was in a bus or in a public place he liked to watch people interact, he wondered about their lives and tried to guess their relationship status and satisfaction by observing their behavior. As he could not verify the truthfulness of his assumptions his imagination had a fair share of work. I was fascinated about his passion for knowledge and his eagerness to figure things out by himself using his instinctive sensorial acuity. At this point I had two options: First, I could have been touched by the unfairness in the world. The existence of people with potential that will never have access to tools that let them aspire beyond their “social restrictions”. Insanely, human being created those boundaries. Internally or externally, we pigeonhole people by their age, sex, background, color of their skin etc. So I could have lamented this situation and go on with my daily life as usual. My second option was to open an opportunity for this young man.
After a minute or two of internal considerations about possible consequences I decided to make him an offer.
I started to talk about me, what I did for living. Then I began to talk about NLP what it its and what isn’t, about the presuppositions, about sensorial acuity, eye accessing cues, the meta model, the Milton model, perceptual positions, the neurological levels, the fast phobia cure, sub-modalities, during 30 minutes I gave him the whole informational package. He absorbed every word of it and he was absolutely fascinated. Then I went on telling him about the NLP Practitioner Program that was beginning in a few days, I told him that it would extend over 12 month of weekly classes, all the details I considered to be important. He sat there an listened. As I stopped with my cascade of information he asked me if I had book that he could borrow, he promised to treat it well and give it right back as soon as he finished it. Right at this moment I asked him what he was doing Tuesday’s from 6pm to 10pm. “After arriving from work I spend time with my family, take a look at the kids’ homework”, he replied. I said “Well, Francisco I want to give you a present, but if you accept it, you have to dedicate time and effort to it. I will not let you bail out of this agreement, should you accept it. There will be no monetary cost for you, but you will pay with your commitment.” His yaw dropped as I said, “so, are you ready to become a NLP Practitioner? classes start next Tuesday at 6:00 pm.” He was speechless. While he seemed to digest everything I made assured, that he was aware that all the other participants were medics, psychologists, dentists, business men, university students and I told him what they had invested in order to be part of this seminar. But there was not one single doubt in his mind, more so, his eyes were sparkling while I gave him the rest of the details. He promised that he would not miss a single class. He promised he would work as dedicated as he could. He promised he would always be on time. He promised to learn and to apply what he learned. He promised to make this opportunity count.
A few days later, there he was in the classroom studying and practicing with all the other participants on equal terms. I am happy to say, that the group grew strong together. For a Milton Model weekend, we decided to go to a hotel in the mountains and in order to facilitate Francisco’s participation everyone contributed so he could afford joining the group to this seclusion. All worked eye to eye and learned so much from each other without any hint of discrimination towards a young man who did not finish school among all these professionals of different ages and background. After the Practitioner had ended, they even went on to do the Master Practitioner Program together. By that time, Francisco had changed from construction worker to working as a delivery man for a Chinese food franchise from Guatemala and within this company he rapidly climbed the ladder of success until being in charge of a larger group of employees. He claimed that all these changes where due to his devotion of keeping his promise to put the contents, he learned during the NLP trainings, into practice. NLP had changed his life completely.
Due to my experience with Francisco, in every Practitioner training I conducted since then I have given away capacities, for free, to people I considered having great potential but neither had the economic capability nor the knowledge of the existence of NLP to even consider participating in such a training. I also stumbled over people who would have liked to be part of a training but simply could not pay the complete amount, and I am happy to say that we always found a way to a win-win.
Obviously, I did not announce this policy in the papers,the radio or television. I used a more indirect approach. Talking to every day people like waitresses, artists, students, people in buses, there are so many options to listen and identify potential candidates. Other times, people heard about NLP and phoned in asking about it and you were able to “mind-read” their enthusiasm, then some moments later as they asked about the investment, suddenly you heard the voice changing and you “mind-read” disappointment. At this point you just ask yourself, “Is this an opportunity to change someone’s perception of life?” I can assure you that none of the people who took the opportunity presented to them (not all accepted the opportunity) have failed to comply with their commitment.
About two years after he had finished the Master Practitioners training I heard from Francisco again and the news were the saddest you can get. He had suffered a convulsion in his apartment and when he fell because of it, he hit his head so hard that he died from that impact. All of us, who had learned so much with and from him were devastated by this sad news. A young promising life ending so soon, it is just unfair. Then again, a few weeks later a woman called one of the participants of the classes Francisco had assisted. Her intention was to get a message to the group he bonded so strongly with. She called the medical practice of one of the medics of the group. “Good morning doctor”, she said “I was Francisco’s’ life partner. I want to thank everyone of you because you meant the world to him. What he learned during the trainings he assisted not only changed his life but ours, too. My children (biologically not his) are better in school because of things Francisco taught them and now their future looks brighter than it did before. They will have better opportunities than me, as they are firsts in their classes and now my children also started to teach their cousins and friends things Francisco taught them, can you imagine that? The community (a low cost apartment building) we live in has had a turn for the better as Francisco used his knowledge to assist everyone. He gave marriage counsel to neighbors, negotiated improvements for the community, such as repairs by the building owners; people came to ask him for advice about many different things. He wrote letters for them or prepared them for job interviews. He willingly, without any hesitation shared his knowledge. He impacted many lives and we will all miss him a lot. Without the opportunity you gave him this would never have been the case. He spoke so wonderful of all of you, as you excepted him as one of your own. He always wanted to get back in touch with you,that is why I call. Thank you so much. May God bless all of you.” — End of call.
Francisco grabbed the opportunity and took advantage of it, even though his time on this earth was quite to short, the impact he made was not. He brought his acquired knowledge to a community, that by any means, would never have had access to it by paying money for a seminar.
For those who need numbers. My personal monetary investment in Francisco’s training was a freshly printed, manually perforated and bound Practitioner Manual, some cookies, some fruits, water and tea. I guess that is affordable, isn’t it? For the Master Practitioner he insisted in paying for his expenses and in paying a training fee. I told him it was not necessary but he reframed my objection to his benefit.
I believe that there are many millions of Francisco’s and Francisca’s in this world and they come in different sizes, colors and ages. Women and men who could benefit from opportunities they may never have considered to be possible.
I believe that we as NLP connoisseurs should find a way to spread the knowledge of NLP to those who can benefit from it, even if their actual monetary situation does not permit them to pay for it with money.
I encourage you to take this example and invite a Francisco or a Francisca to your next Practitioner trainings, “model” this strategy, “install it upon yourself”. Then, just lay back and see magic happen.
I know that sometimes, for some reason, this “invitation strategy” is not possible. That is where the idea for nlpsponsors.com comes from. I want to create the opportunity to learn or use NLP for other people like Francisco, one by one, group by group or by the thousands at once. I offer this platform, so that you can create a NLP-based project and invite others to contribute to your cause of spreading NLP. Your second option is to browse through the projects other NLP connoisseurs created and contribute to the ones that best suit your model of the world. As a third option you can also donate to general projects, just take a look at the corresponding project section.
We are also creating a seal, that will be handed over to every project contributor so that you can show the world that you are part of a community that is engaged in making a difference. You can also apply for this seal if you are committed to the “invitation model”, as we believe engagement is possible in many ways.
Ultimately, I believe that this is not only Francisco’s story, part of this story belongs to the young man who lost his life on his way to the airport. Without the loss of his life, I would never have met Francisco. This does not change the tragedy of what happened to him and the pain his family suffered because of it, but at least it leaves a sparkle of hope that some good arose from it. That Saturday I spend with his family I used different NLP tools to elicit a level of tranquility in them. As they were devoted Catholics, one of the things that brought most inner peace to their hearts was the emerging notion that things may happen for a reason unknown to the living human being.
Their words not mine.