Top Tip Used By Erickson That Creates Change

A psychiatrist who recommenced electro-shock therapy, a respected family doctor, a master hypnotist and ingenious strategic change   agent.

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 practising 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 ever changed. He was sure that nothing would ever change.

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

Milton had heard enough and was ready to be 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 alignment.

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 explanations.

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 process.

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.

Share this article:


I'm Tom.

Everyone has something they’d like to change in their life. I’m here to help you transform the behaviours that get in your way so you can have the life you really want.

Related Article

Get NLP tips, tactics & real life stories worth sharing, delivered direct to your inbox...

By signing up you agree to NLP Times Privacy Policy.

More On NLP Times

Anthony J. Mahavorick, aka Tony Robbins is probably the most well-known NLP student of all time.

Most people's NLP smells like very overt NLP… which can be a problem when working in business contexts.

How many days a year do you think you procrastinate?


Got a burning question you'd like me to answer in an upcoming article or video?

Tell me about it here.

Would you like to

receive free training

videos about NLP?

Taught by experts.

Enter your email below to receive instant access, entirely free!

Would You Like To Receive

Free Training Videos About NLP?

Taught By Experts.

Enter your name and email below,

We use cookies to allow us to better understand how this site is used. By continuing to use our site, you consent to this policy. Check our Privacy Policy.