So what the hell is NLP?
First of all, NLP is an abbreviation of ‘neurolinguistic programming’ – which is a terrible, terrible name for this stuff. It’s a strange combination of words that leads people to think all manner of bizarre things, and attracts perfectly fair criticism from neuropsychologists and the like.
The name seemed like a good idea in the mid 1970s when the guys who created the field needed a name for it, and now after a few decades of use we’re pretty much stuck with it.
Such is life.
So what is it, exactly? What’s it all about?
Well … in a nutshell:
NLP is a way of turning any seemingly unique or extraordinary ability into a teachable skill that anyone can learn.
See, when we think of someone as ‘gifted’ or ‘talented’ in some way, it’s because there’s something that person does extraordinarily well. They can do something that other people can’t – or that other people can’t do as well, as easily or as quickly.
Maybe that person has a gift for selling life insurance, or getting small children to eat vegetables, or playing poker. Maybe it’s drawing caricatures, coping with grief, remembering names, or resolving conflicts between extremely stubborn people.
Whatever it is, most of the time people with extraordinary talents are unaware of the key differences in their thinking and behaviour that form the basis of that talent. This is because those key differences are typically things they do instinctively, intuitively or unconsciously. In other words, they are mental and behavioural patterns that are outside of their own conscious awareness.
In its purest form, NLP is a methodology for extracting and reproducing those key patterns – so that an ability that was once thought of as an innate talent or gift becomes a transferable skill.
The process of extracting and reproducing those patterns is called modeling.
If someone has a valuable ability, then we can model that person in order to reproduce that ability in ourselves or others. This is typically done either for personal development purposes, or to enhance the performance of an individual, team or organisation in order to achieve better results in some context.
So if you can think of a particular gift or ability that you’d really like to have – something that a few fortunate or extraordinary people seem able to do – then learning NLP will allow you to develop that ability.
Short answer: No, it’s really not.
Let’s clear up some confusion.
When you look outside on a windy day and there are trees swaying in the wind, you don’t actually see the wind – you just see trees moving.
In other words, all you are ever seeing is the effect of the wind – the results that are visible in the world.
This is also the case with NLP. What people typically see are the results of the process of modeling – not the process of modeling itself.
So in the early 1970s, when the originators of NLP modeled a bunch of geniuses in the field of psychotherapy, the results were a set of models and processes for creating profound therapeutic change. So way back then, what most people saw when they looked at NLP was a bunch of great therapeutic techniques.
More recently, there’s been a lot of modeling done in areas like persuasion, motivation and leadership. So today, a lot of people think that NLP is all about persuasion, motivation and/or leadership. What a surprise, right?
And a lot of other people think that NLP is about personal power, or accelerated learning, or personal resilience, or creativity, or improving sports performance, or communication skills, or flow states, or lateral thinking.
And YES – NLP has made a bunch of fantastic contributions in all of these areas, and many others.
After more than 40 years of modeling all kinds of exceptional people, we now have an extensive bank of field tested and proven models. Seriously – I’m talking bucket loads of immensely valuable techniques for doing all kinds of cool things in life, in business, and in all manner of creative, competitive, and people-helping fields.
And you will learn how to do a whole bunch of those things when you come and do your NLP Practitioner training. But you’ll also learn the foundations of modeling. And then when you do your Master Practitioner training, you’ll spend much of your time learning to be a world class modeler.
Because then you can go out and model absolutely anything you want – whether to help people, to dominate a business niche, to teach others … or even just because you’ve seen someone do something unbelievably cool and you just really want to be able to do that.
And that’s where it’s really at.
Because, sure – when you do your NLP Practitioner training you will learn a bunch of techniques that can change your life and transform your business. And that’s huge.
But as a world class modeler, you can do … anything.
What is NLP all about?
It’s about freedom.