The Looking for Facility / Looking for Difficulty Metaprograms

A life’s program

Looking for facility / Looking for difficulty Metaprograms are easy to understand but more difficult to balance out or change. Some people take pleasure in facility while others in difficulty.

I often heard in my chilhood : life can’t have been easy to you, often expressed with a commiserating look and a tone of pity. These people taught me that what is not easy to get is painful. Thus I learnt, like most children, that you must at all costs seek to avoid difficulty. Today, I think that I have for the most part moved away from this limiting message. On the contrary, I thank life for all the difficulties I have faced, as these have enabled me to forge myself and to grow. It’s a significant gift. Those difficulties have taught me so much.

In the area of sport, many people, myself included, have developed the Looking for Difficulty metaprogram. I take little or even no pleasure when I practise a sport which is too easy or effortless. I have applied the Looking for Difficulty metaprogram in a wide variety of other domains and situations.

These life’s experiences lead me to suspect that each of us has two opposite and complementary dispositions that I take to be metaprograms. As far as I know, these have not been described before. My purpose in this article is therefore to describe their features and applications in the three fields of: marketing, training and education.


NLP is a powerful and coherent approach to human experience and to communication skills. It is concerned by the way human beings get a handle on the world via their neurology and how they communicate with themselves and with other humans. The creators of NLP, Richard Bandler and John Grinder, have among other things, described how we filter information from our environment and from the people we communicate with.

Metaprograms, as described by Richard Bandler and John Grinder, form parts of the filters of the mind, of the strategies that we have developed to perceive the world. We can compare these filters with the ones we use in our smartphones cameras to record life in black and white, in magenta, in bright colours or in any other way. According to the filter we use, the same situation will appear sad and nostalgic or, on the contrary, joyful and pleasant.

Metaprograms are unconscious, for the most part. We have acquired them through our life experiences, through our parents’ influence, our friends, our culture’s, and through many other factors. What is even more interesting in the way NLP describes metaprograms, is that they are not fixed or permanent. They can be changed by some key approaches and methods which have been described with precision by NLP. The power of such approaches is that they operate both at the conscious and unconscious level. As I said before, since Metaprograms are in the main unconscious, we need to begin with to bring them to our conscious awareness. Then we need to identify which particular metaprograms influence us most in our decision-making, in our behaviours, in our actions and our beliefs.


The Looking For Facility / Looking For Difficulty Metaprograms exist simultaneously in each of us. Nevertheless we can locate ourselves more or less on the right or on the left of the cursor.

If we are more on the Looking For Facility side, we will be more attracted by things close of us, that require less effort and which provide immediate gratification. In all probability, we will often procrastinate. If we are more on the Looking For Facility side, we will be more attracted by things close of us, that require less effort and which provide immediate gratification. In all probability, we will often procrastinate. People wo are Looking For Facility can be seen as giving up rather quickly when faced with hard-to-reach outcomes. On the other hand, they will be good at finding shortcuts, simpler ways, easier or faster strategies. This behaviour brings them a lot of sympathy much of the time and they are often surrounded by many friends. They can be appear more optimistic in the situations where things go right. They can be shine in fields where they feel at ease, or for which they find some affinity.

We can observe the following problematic strategies in people who have a dominant Looking For Facility metaprogram:

  •          They ignore or deny an existing problem: an example could be the present attitude of actual US government facing global warming. Another example could be a short term vision company which neglects investments in R&D and favours sharing high dividends to the shareholders.
  •           They may belittle the requirements, set the bar too low with the risk of reaching the goal too easily, creating boredom and demotivation.

On the contrary, if we fall more on the Looking For Difficulties side, we will look for difficult challenges, for unusual or distant things, for activities requiring much effort, perseverance and curiosity to achieve pleasure. An extreme example of this Looking For Difficulties metaprogram can be observed in Mike Horn. A modern times explorer, Mike Horn is well known for having reached both the North and South poles alone and without assistance, after walking for months in scarcely imaginable weather conditions. Upon the completion of his Antarctic trek, he declared to journalists that he would not stop here, and that he still had many more projects, all more extreme than the ones before.

The Looking For Difficulties metaprogram has many negative possible results:

  •          It can induce stress, exhaustion, illness
  •          It can be an important contributing factor to burnout
  •          It can be a cause of dissatisfaction in the case of non success
  •          It can provoke significant tensions with employees, colleagues, and especially family if these people do not understand the needs of the person with this metaprogram.

In the context of love, you may be surprised to discover how many people look for difficulties. And I do not speak here of Phedra or Oedipus, key characters in tragedies by Racine, as since time immemorial, humans beings seem to seek difficulty in the field of love: impossible love, unreciprocated love, Prince Charming.

By contrast, the benefits of this metaprogram are high too:

  •           A high ambition which can drive to success
  •           A Working strength which is very stimulating for the team
  •          Concern about work well done
  •          Research into new domains of exploration
  •           Boldness and risk-taking
  •           Perseverance and long term vision

Applications in the marketing field

Most adverts advocate easiness, speed and simplicity. They target Looking For Facility people. At the same time, they don’t target people looking for difficulty who probably represent a significant percentage of the population. No statistics have so far been established about the prevalence of those two metaprograms.

If you seek to target managers, people who are influential in their area, ambitious people, you may benefit by take account of the Looking For Difficulties Metaprogram.

Let’s learn to use a language difficulty in the marketing’s field

To develop the Looking For Difficulties Metaprogram in the marketing field, we could for example:

  •          Produce and promote hard to peel fruits, rustic looking, but with a rich perfume and an intense flavour
  •          Hard to achieve dishes, requiring much preparation and time, but which procure deep pleasure both for the eyes and for the mouth
  •          Very hard to assemble but totally original furniture
  •          Very difficult to understand and play Games

Applications in the training field

You can find adverts in nearly all domains for short, easy, effortless trainings. Current fashion is for e-learning which don’t require travel, save you time, demand less infrastructure for training institutes or companies who seek to train their staff. Furthermore, neither participants nor trainers need face the stress of integrating or managing a group.

Once again, Looking For Difficulties and other people with high demand will not be motivated by such kind of offer. In addition, the risks of lowering the quality of a training, or of levelling it downwards are high. The third problem concerns mainly management, coaching or NLP trainings, such as those that we offer at BrieF’R Formations: it is totally delusory to consider learning effective communication skills alone behind a screen! Emulation and even confrontation within a group is often key in these training domains.

How to use Looking for Difficulty language in the training field

To develop the Looking For Difficulty metaprogram in the training’s field, we can for example offer:

  •            Demanding trainings requiring a lot of work, with recognized diplomas
  •            Demanding trainings in foreign languages managed by well-known international trainers with the added benefit of developing a better command of languages
  •     Small group trainings enabling participants to encounter other professions, other world views, other rich and different personalities
  •            To develop further skills in the challenging field of team working through training
  •            To develop new outcomes outside your comfort zone

The accompanying message should be to avoid unattainable outcomes as these can, however, prove demotivating!

Applications in the field of education

Advertising, society and a substantial section of the education world advocate looking for facility. They praise and promote ways to save time, to obtain things more easily. It is not surprising that children today have difficulties with difficult tasks. Many parents, undoubtedly out of love, seek to protect their children, to make their life easier at any price. In the field of education, it has unfortunately become terribly old-fashioned to speak of difficulties or efforts. A teacher using these words would immediately be faced with angry parents seeking to protect their poor toddler!

However, like a boomerang effect, problems often arise in adolescence as even a child needs to face up to the difficulties of life. They may actually put themselves in dangerous situations, choose extreme sports, take drugs or self-mutilate. Difficulty may indeed be extreme but then, so can danger!

How to use a language of difficulty in the field of education

Metaprograms can be modified by the environnement, by the education. We could perhaps develop more of the metaprogram looking for difficulties in the children and young people. To develop the Looking for Difficulties metaprogram, we should reintroduce words such as: difficult, effort, slow, hard in the parents’education, in school education.

  •            Luckily what we will do together is going to be very difficult
  •            I’m sure that you will find really hard to learn this new sport and that you will draw much pleasure out of it
  •            What’s great about this game is that it is very difficult
  •            Given it’s so difficult to gain good friends and so difficult to keep them, it’s great that you do it so well
  •           This book is at a difficulty level that will suit you very well
  •            I like to solve hard problems
  •            It is hard to be different from the others and it is a great plus in life
  •            It will be hard, and it will make us sweat, but you will see that we can reach it

Such sentences can be very stimulating. Children love challenges, and so do adults. So, let`s go and let`s learn the Language of Difficulty. According to some accelerated learning methods, one of the best ways to gain support and motivation from students, is to make them face up to an extreme difficulty, a very hard to solve problem. This way of doing stimulates by the students’ curiosity, raises their expectations and their desire to prove that they can do it. Children would gain a lot by developing the Looking For Difficulty metaprogram. The resulting pleasure is much greater when you found it hard and challenging to gain something, when you have had to fight for days, weeks or even years to get it, isn’t it? The small girl or boy who looks at their parent and says to them with a Big Smile “It was hard, wasn’t it!” has learned something very precious!


NLP is a pragmatic and evolutionary approach. I hope I have succeeded in demonstrating that the concept of “metaprogram” is a practical one, connected with what each and everyone of us lives in our everyday life, and that it has a multiplicity of applications in many domains. Even though the Looking For Facility / Looking For Difficulty metaprograms can overlap with some already described metaprograms, it is a new concept which demonstrates that NLP’s evolution is still ongoing.

Jean-Pierre Briefer

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