Rule 13: The law of Requisite Variety:  The system/person with the most behavioral flexibility will control the system.

This one is pretty straight-forward.   The person who finds many ways to achieve success has a higher probability of achieving success.    Plus, more versions of “success” will increase the probabilities of achieving “success.”

Right now I am writing this at a coffee shop in a mall area – on Black Friday.   Risky – yeah I know!   Taking my life into my own hands.  I come here often so I know the area.   Based on the experience getting here, I am not looking forward to the process of leaving.   Many many vehicles in the area.

I know my preferred route to home from my spot.  I know the exact route I usually go, which includes areas where traffic tends to bunch and hold up.   There is an excellent probability that I will hit many hold ups since this involves multiple stop signs and traffic lights.

If I follow the Law of Requisite Variety, I will be flexible in my routes home.   I could use google maps and maybe take a less direct route that has less traffic.  So actually going more mileage could end up being faster and easier.    Meaning that, being less dogmatic in my route could get me there faster and with less hassle.

I could even add a higher element of Requisite Variety by allowing for different versions of success.   At some point today, I also need to go to my friend’s house to pick something up and also go to the grocery store.   This now gives me many opportunities to do some or all of these errands in 1 trip to have many different versions of success.   Some versions might will actually involve driving the exact opposite direction of 1 or 2 of those goals.

However, for our applications on NLP it’s going to involve our ability to work with different people toward a goal.   So as long as we calibrate to the goal, we shouldn’t be strict in requiring the path.   We learned in previous posts that “The Map is Not the Territory.”   So everyone might not see “right” or even “best” the same way you do.   That doesn’t matter as long as you are moving toward the goal or purpose.

Many of the exercises in NLP and hypnosis center around visualization.   We will ask the subjects to visualize things, times, or places in their lives and focus on the feelings that created.   What matters is how THEY define the situation.   For example, if the listener is instructed to “picture an elephant” in their head, you won’t know what they are actually seeing in their mind’s eye.   And it doesn’t matter.   They could be visualizing an animal that everyone else calls “Zebra.”

It doesn’t matter, as long as they believe it’s an “Elephant” and they have the feelings they associate with “Elephant.”   If you use the law of Requisite Variety, you can take the unexpected path and still achieve the desired result.

One application of this in your life is when bringing new team members into your world.  This can be in work or in life.   The Law of Requisite Variety would tell you to be prepared to work and communicate with them in many ways to find out what works the best.   Don’t assume that, because you are doing the same job, you got there the same way.   Some people may have found success by great training.  Another might have found the “right way” by doing all of the possible wrong ways and determining what doesn’t work.

If you are flexible enough to work with many or all of these possibilities, you are preparing yourself for an exponentially increasing change of succeeding.   Be the McGuyver in a world of strict science teachers.   Being a swiss army knife is better on a hunting trip than a butter knife.   Be strict on the goal and flexible on the how.   Or as Milton Erickson said, “They are free to pick absolutely any option they want from the options I have given them.”