Location is an extremely powerful non-verbal cue.  If you go inside yourself and think about any special memory from the past, location is often paramount.  When you reflect back on a favorite vacation or think about the moment  when you proposed or were proposed to by your significant other, the location is often one of the most powerful parts of the memory.  I was watching television the other day and on the screen was a very large waterfall.  My mind immediately went back to the pleasant memories an amazing trip I took a few years ago to Iguazu Falls on the border of Argentina and Brazil.  I not only remembered the waterfall, but vividly recalled who I was there with, the temperature outside and the smell of the misty air.  The happy emotions came flooding back.

The locations of positive events are often vivid in both color and emotion.  in your mind, they usually play like a full length movie vs. a snap shot.  In contrast, if you think about a negative event from your past, the memory often returns like a photograph in either grayscale or black in white.

Human beings rely of location and habits to systematically keep track of things, while freeing up valuable mental resources to concentrate on more important tasks.  Being systematic and habitual about where we keep things saves us lots of time and energy to do other things.  Keeping your car keys and wallet in the same location, makes it so much easier to find them, especially when you are in a hurry to go someplace else and have other things on your mind.  It can be problematic when you are late for work go to your normal place for the car key, and no car key.  Typically you go into self induced hypoxia by breathing high, and then you are not only late but not in a resourceful state to find your car key.

To test the theory of the power of location, take something you use on a regular basis and move it someplace else.  For example after you brush your teeth one night before you go to bed,  take your toothbrush and move it to a different drawer or perhaps to a place on the other side of the sink.  In the morning after you wake up and assuming you are in a hurry to go to work and have forgotten about the experiment, go to brush your teeth and more than likely your body will use its locational and muscle memory and go to the place where your toothbrush is normally suppose to be.

Another test of this theory is in the kitchen.  Everyone has specific locations for a variety of items like pots, pans and utensils.  If you decide to rent a vacation house at the beach or someplace, notice when you get to the foreign kitchen, how your body seems to look for things in locations in your home kitchen.

There is a another concept called firsts that is tied to location.  If you were quizzed about a major event in history, one of the memories that will populate your mind is the location where you were when you learned of that specific event.  Firsts are often different for people depending on age.  If you are American and were born around 1965 or before, and were asked to think about the death of John F. Kennedy, the memory and location are imprinted in most peoples minds and will vividly return.  For those born around 1980, the first Space Shuttle disaster is another example of a first.  I clearly remember where I was and who I was with when I learned of this event.  What is interesting is that I have no recall about the location where i was at the time of the second shuttle disaster.  The most vivid event of recent times for many people all over the world, is where they were during the events of 9/11/2001.  For me, not only do I recall where I was and who I was with, but also the images of the charred buildings of World Trade Center.

According to NLP trainer, Robert Dilts, Walt Disney used to have his creative team take three different perceptual positions of the dreamer, realist and critic.  Each position had it’s own separate room or location.  It helped Disney to plan and make more effective decisions on many of their successful creative projects.

Part of my leadership development work involves facilitating corporate retreats.  Since I reside in the beautiful desert of Central Oregon companies in places like Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington often head this way to get some work done in one of the many incredible resorts in the area.  Many organizational leaders realize the power of having their employees offsite, as it helps clear the mind, provides a fresh perspective on solving current problems, helps stimulate creativity, and helps increase concentration without the distractions from normal work flow.

When I was living in the Portland, Oregon area I used to tell my clients that were stuck on a problem or having challenges making a decision to get in the car and drive one or two hours in almost any direction for lunch.  From Portland it is easy to end up in a variety of gorgeous places like Hood River in the beautiful Columbia River Gorge, Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood or Cannon Beach on the Oregon Coast.

When non verbal expert, Michael Grinder and his wife Gail were raising their three children, they would systematically discipline or have difficult conversations with their children on a couch in a part of the house that seldom used.  They knew something was amiss when mom and dad said it was time for a couch talk.  As the kids grew older, they would often be the ones to approach mom and dad about having a couch talk.  The idea of a specific location for discipline and hard conversations makes for a healthier home and a perceived fairness.  If you know when and where something is going to happen, it is perceived as being more fair and does not have family members on pins and needles.

By having your children do their homework in a specific location, it is easier for them to get on task and doesn’t create eating disorders from doing homework at the dining room table, or sleep disorders from doing homework in their beds.  If you bring projects home from your workplace at night or on weekends, keep them in a briefcase, in the trunk of the car, and in a closet once you get home.  Do not contaminate your well deserved rest by having items from work at the dinner table, in the living room when watching television, or on you night stand.  If you are going to do some work great, but if not, keep them out of sight and out of mind.

If you are in your living room and think of an idea or something you need to do, then you walk to your bedroom and forget what it was, walk back to the spot in the living room where you thought of the idea and retrace your footsteps forward into the bedroom.  Often times the memory will come back when go back to the original location or recreate the original path.

Lastly, an organizational example of the use of location.  Fire departments have many fire fighters and the all staff different shifts.  Imagine if the day shift and the night shift had different ideas about where different philosophies about where on the truck different tools should be kept.  So they arrive at a fire and waste all kinds of precious time looking for things on the truck because they are not in the same place.  Fire fighters rely on the systematic nature of the truck not only to save time and lives, but to make sure they are not distracted and frustrated in able to concentrate on the often dangerous task at hand.