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Category Archives for "NLP Modeling 101"

Chris got it. Do you get it?

When I started dailyNLP 6 years ago, I envisioned the day I would receive this email.

dailyNLP came later, but the mission was the exact same.

Well, this day has arrived. And I must celebrate it with you.

Chris has authorized me to share his message with you.

Enter Chris:

Hi Martin,

I want to thank you again for your various NLP sites.

Although I think I’ve read everything at “” before, something clicked today when I re-visited.

It now seems obvious to me that a lot of the confusion about NLP results from associating “work product” from an NLP mapping project with NLP itself.

I posted an analogy on one of your blog entries about how I might use NLP to map out the process necessary to make the same amazing hamburger that a famous chef is known to make. In the end, I have a repeatable process for making that amazing burger. The burger is not NLP. Making the burger is not NLP. NLP was used to map that process. The making of the burger is simply a codified process.

If this is true, then it follows that “The Swish Pattern” and similar techniques also are not NLP, but instead therapy techniques that were famously mapped by NLP. They show up alongside NLP perhaps as a demonstration, creating (for me, at least) a bit of confusion in terms of what NLP is. You explain it very clearly in your “What is NLP” page, but I couldn’t accept it at the time.

This makes things a lot clearer for me unless I’m completely mistaken about this.

On the other hand, it presents a crossroads for me- do I follow the path of learning to map using NLP or do I follow the path of using techniques that were mapped by NLP. Perhaps its not a choice that has to be made.

Thank you for your effort in making NLP accessible to anyone.


Back to Martin:

Well done, Chris! Congratulations!

In his message, Chris refers to a comment he posted on the [masterNLP] website.

You can read his comment here:

It complements nicely the observation he makes in the message.

Bottom line: Chris now gets it.

The real question is: do you?

Because once you understand this distinction, you get wings. Confusion ends. The fog of NLP lifts. And you’re able to do anything you please from that point forward.

You’ve made the distinction between NLP and changework/therapy/coaching.

I desperately hope that you either have reached or will reach the same understanding Chris has.

His journey has only just begun.


NLP Modeling: The 6 Master Steps

NLP modeling is a bit different than other types of modeling activities. In this article you will learn what distinguishes NLP modeling from other types.

*** Update: I strongly suggest you read the comments at the end of this post. They complement the information in the post and address such topics as safety guidelines when modeling. ***

In a previous article I mentioned that the modeling done in NLP distinguishes itself from other forms of modeling in significant ways. In this article we’ll explore this distinction more deeply.

NLP Modeling is incredibly exciting and rewarding. It leverages the behavioral learning skills that all of us used as small children to develop our first abilities. Unfortunately, most of us lose access to those skills after we grow up. But it’s never too late to bring them back…

Step 1. Identify a model

This first step requires that we choose a top performer. Maintain as your most important criteria to choose someone who produces outstanding result or results consistently. For instance, you could model a soccer player’s unique way of dribbling. Or you could model a top salesperson’s closing skills. Or you could model a clinician who has an unmatched record for helping patients recover from illnesses. Find someone who can get a result you’d like to produce time and time again, consistently without fail.

Step 2. Assimilate their behavioral patterns unconsciously

little guy and tall guyWhereas in most modeling methods the modeler acts simply as an outside observer, NLP Modeling demands that the modeler actually step into the shoes of the outstanding performer. Through repeated imitation and practice, you will unconsciously absorb his or her behavioral patterns.

This is the crux of NLP Modeling. So let’s talk about this some more.

When using other modeling methods, you’d be constantly trying to figure out how the top performer is achieving those results. You’d be analyzing his movements, his behavior, his words, his tonality, and so forth, trying to understand consciously how he produces those astonishing results.

NLP Modeling is different. When doing NLP Modeling, you’re supposed to imitate the genius without trying to figure out what’s going on. Just do as he does. Or do as she does. Copy him. Mimic her. But not in a caricatural way. Do it in a genuine way, trying as best as you can to let that person mold you so you become just like her.

As an example, imagine you’d want to model an outstanding tennis player’s serve. In Step 2, you’d actually pretend to be the player, going through the same motions over and over, seeking to emulate the player’s behavior.

For how long should you do that? You do it all the way until you…

Step 3. Produce results similar to those of the top performer

Thumbs Up! You've got results.

Image Credit:

You know you’ve unconsciously assimilated the behavioral patterns of the top performer when you produce similar results in roughly the same amount of time. Depending on the modeling project, this may take minutes, hours, days, weeks, months or even years. It all depends on the complexity of the skill you’re working on acquiring.

In the case of our example, you’d know you’ve unconsciously assimilated the other player’s serve once you were able to consistently produce a similar quality of serve.

Criteria are subjective, but you can always enlist outside help to evaluate whether your results are congruent with your model’s.

Step 4. Clean up the pattern

In anyone’s behavior, even that of a top performer, there will always be “white noise”. This simply means that certain parts of their behavior will not be necessary to produce outstanding results. In this step, after you’ve demonstrated that you’ve absorbed the pattern by producing outstanding results, you start testing what actually needs to be included in the pattern and what can be left out.

Let’s go back to our example:

Imagine that you were modeling an outstanding tennis player’s serve. One piece of the player’s behavior is to bounce the ball three times on the court prior to starting his serve motion.

During Step 4, you’d actually test serving without bouncing the ball three times on the court to verify whether that piece of the pattern is essential to maintaining the serve’s quality. You might discover that it’s absolutely necessary and you might also discover that it’s completely dispensable.

Step 5. Code the model

Build a model

Once you’ve cleaned up the pattern, it’s time to figure out what’s going on and to create a description of what you and the outstanding performer are doing. The key here is to describe this in a way that anybody truly committed to mastering the pattern can do it.

Step 6. Pass it on

This is where the rubber meets the road. The last step and master purpose of the modeler’s job is to transfer or teach the pattern to someone else. In this step, you’d take the model you created in Step 5 and transfer it to a new person. If this proves difficult, you might find it necessary to modify the description you created of the pattern until transferring it becomes easy.

The most elegant models can be absorbed very quickly by a committed learner.


There you have it! The 6 Master Steps of NLP Modeling. If you’re interested in furthering your comprehension of NLP Modeling, read Whispering In The Wind by John Grinder and Carmen Bostic St Clair. The distinguishing characteristic of NLP Modeling exists in Step 2. In most other forms of modeling, the modeler acts as a mere observer. In NLP Modeling, the modeler gets deeply involved in the modeling process.

That’s how as a small child you developed your first behaviors. How about claiming that unique skill back and using it to increase your overall sense of personal excellence?

The Key Discipline In NLP: Modeling

Milton EricksonI’ve pointed out before how NLP goes beyond therapy. Many new students falsely believe NLP to be a therapeutic modality because many publications about NLP revolved around therapeutic models and patterns.

Today’s lesson aims at giving you solid grounding in NLP’s most important discipline: modeling. So important, in fact, that it gave birth to the field. Once you understand the distinction presented below (and you will), the field will make even more sense to you.

A modeling technology

The central purpose of Neurolinguistic Programming can be described through a sequence of three activities:

  1. Choose someone who stands out in a particular field or activity (sports, communication, management, leadership, therapy, learning, education, etc.) Make sure they demonstrate stellar performance.
  2. Absorb their patterns and code them into an explicit model of how they produce outstanding results. (I’ll share in another post how this is carried out specifically in NLP.)
  3. Install the model in others. You have to be able to transfer it. You can deem the project successful if the person who receives the model can produce results comparable to those of the outstanding performer. A critical criterion is that ANY person committed to mastering the model can do so — provided there aren’t any biological limitations that make it impossible.

A meta-field

Over time, I’ve come to realize that Neurolinguistic Programming lends its fruits to other fields.

Let’s take the Milton Model, for instance.

The Milton Model consists of a series of language patterns used by Milton Erickson, the most prominent practitioner of hypnotherapy of his time (and among the greatest in history).

The majority of NLPers will tell you that the Milton Model is an NLP model. I find it more useful to identify it as a hypnosis model created by NLP practitioners.

As such, I find it also more useful to say that practitioners of NLP have created financial mastery, hockey shooting, or seduction models. Each field remains its own. NLP is the field of modeling. And its epistemology and methodology makes modeling possible.

Remember: this is only a point of view. Many NLPers would more than likely disagree with me. Nevertheless, I find it more useful to organize the field in that way – perhaps you also will.


Modeling: The Core Discipline of NLP

I wrote in an earlier post how NLP is NOT therapy. Most beginning students mistake NLP to be a form of therapy because so much has been published, debated and criticized about the therapeutic models developed in NLP.

If you read through this entire post, you’ll have figured out 99% of the NLP game. Many experienced NLPers that I’ve talked to haven’t understood the distinction I’m about to share with you. And yet, when you get it (and you will), you’ll breeze through any NLP material and assimilate it much more quickly, because you’ll have a framework with which to absorb it.

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