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A Few Words On NLP Modeling — Or Tacit Modeling

In his May 22nd post on modeling, Louis Burns doubts whether it’s possible to model a group of people. I agree with him.

I’m sure it’s possible to model a group of people. Researchers do it all the time. It’s called profiling, demographics, psychographics, or any number of additional terms. All of these terms point to certain models created about groups. But it has nothing to do with NLP Modeling.

See, I have this really strange notion that the purpose of NLP Modeling is to find someone who’s really good at something, observe and imitate that person like a little kid and then, once I become as good as them, start figuring out what the heck she’s doing and I’m doing that makes it work, so I can teach that skill to other people.

End of story.

Now why would I want to model a group of people within the context I just described?

What skill does a group have?

Call me conservative, purist or traditionalist if you want, but I personally think big progress happens when people like Tony Robbins come in and distill models such as the following:

  1. From Jay Abraham: How to take a business from $400,000 to $20,000,000 in yearly revenue;
  2. From Grandmaster Jhoon Rhee: How to get a black belt in Tae Kwon Do in 8 months
  3. From Gerry Coffey: How to find meaning in the most excruciatingly painful experiences
  4. From Robert Young: How to restore total cellular health in 30 days or less

The co-founders’ contribution goes without mention, of course. Distilling how to do lightning therapy from Milton Erickson, Fritz Perls and Virginia Satir is heroism.

And the key to it is, you have to be able to do the skill yourself. Bandler became as good or better than Milton, Virginia and Fritz. Grinder didn’t become as good as Bandler but he can still kick some serious therapeutic ass leveraging the models they produced.

That’s NLP Modeling. That’s taking the best of human achievement and making it sharable. That’s making a serious contribution to human heritage. That has impact. That matters.

What are the next steps?

  • Here’s how Steve Jobs does it. Let me show you, I can do what he does. And let me teach you how you can do it too.
  • Here’s how George Soros does it. Let me show you, I can do what he does. And let me teach you how you can do it too.
  • Here’s how Richard Branson does it. Let me show you, I can do what he does. And let me teach you how you can do it too.
  • Here’s how Woody Allen does it. Let me show you, I can do what he does. And let me teach you how you can do it too.
  • Here’s how Dave Matthews does it. Let me show you, I can do what he does. And let me teach you how you can do it too.
  • Here’s how Ronaldinho does it. Let me show you, I can do what he does. And let me teach you how you can do it too.
  • Here’s how Dan Brown does it. Let me show you, I can do what he does. And let me teach you how you can do it too.

That’s NLP Modeling. That’s what it’s all about. That’s what matters.

And it’s f&%$ing hard. Oh, let me tell you… Describing what Steve Jobs does from the third person isn’t all that hard. You can use all of your NLP jargon and descriptive chops and make it sound very NLPish.

But mesmerizing an audience the way Steve does is a whole other ball game. You can’t watch Steve in video and get it. You have to be in his presence. You have to feel him. You have to let it soak in. Then, once you try to figure out what’s going on, you can add in some video performances to help you out. But first, you have to snif the guy out. You have to absorb his skill the way a kid would absorb his dad or his teacher’s idiosyncracies. You have to enter his world. You can’t do that from just watching a performance. Gotta be there. Gotta feel it.

That’s the big challenge with NLP Modeling. It’s not a journalist job. It’s not just “watch and describe what you hear and see in NLP terminology.”

It’s an extreme sport. As extreme as they come.

And it’s not for the faint of heart.

So whenever someone says they used NLP to model someone, run them against that criterion. I’m sure 99% of all models that come across you will fall like flies on a blue zapper.


Modeling Bruce Lee (Not Quite, But Close)

Here are a few nuggets of wisdom from the Little Dragon…

You must always remember one thing in NLP Modeling:

If the model is already dead, you can’t model him or her using NLP.

You can build a model using another technology or method. But you won’t be following the NLP Modeling methodology. So quit trying…

Robert Dilts claims he modeled Einstein, Mozart, Tesla and even Sherlock Holmes.

What do all these illustrious characters have in common?

They’ve never been face-to-face with Robert Dilts.

To do NLP Modeling, you absolutely must observe first hand the model’s physiology and unconsciously assimilate their behavioral patterns.

A written account doesn’t suffice to provide the analog richness required to effectively map out behavior. That account has already suffered the influence of the storyteller.

You have to be there.

You have to see it. To hear it. To feel it. To taste it. To absorb your model’s behavior through your senses and let it permeate you, let it wrap itself around you, in the same way that very small children absorb the world around them like spunges.

Current research on mirror neurons will uncover, in my forecast, the physiological basis of the unique NLP modeling methodology.

While we won’t pretend to be modeling Bruce Lee by reading a few lines of his model of the world, perhaps you can allow your imagination to relax and hallucinate its way back to the exact moment when Bruce Lee uttered those words…

And you might surprise yourself as you vividly picture his movements and hear his voice repeating those sayings over and over until they become a part of you…

Are you a Bruce Lee fan?


Which Pieces Do You Need To Focus On When Modeling?

That’s one of the questions I most often get in modeling seminars.

What do you think? If you had to successfully replicate someone’s behavior, chiefly someone who produces outstanding results, what would you focus on?


PhysiologyWhen you begin modeling someone, you’ll immediately be able to observe their physiology. That word simply means “the way someone moves or uses their body.”

Pay attention. Where are they looking? Are their heads up or down? Where is their breathing? How open are their eyes? Are they standing fully erect or rather compressed? Where are they hands? What about their arm muscle tone?

Take notice of all these details and immediately duplicate their posture. This will take you a long way into the modeling process.


IntonationTheir intonation will give you great insight into their internal experience. Pay attention to and duplicate it. Someone who is speaking loudly will experience and produce an effect completely different from someone who is whispering.

Adopt their vocal behavior yourself. Notice the change in your own behavior and feelings as you begin to speak with the same vocal qualities as the person you are modeling. Adopt their volume, their timbre, their pitch and notice how that makes you feel.

To get a full list of auditory qualities, check out our post on auditory submodalities.


StrategyOutstanding performers organize and channel their resources differently than average and mediocre performers. When Ennio Morricone undertakes the writing of an Oscar-nominated movie score, he goes about it in a very specific and unique way. Pete Sampras had a very specific guiding strategy he used to obliterate his opponents quickly. Bill Clinton uses a communication strategy that enables him to garner the population’s sympathy even in the most trying conditions.

Every top performer has a specific strategy (s)he follows to produce results, albeit at times that strategy remains unconscious.

You, as a modeler, must make that strategy explicit. You must elicit it and then map it out so that someone else can learn it.


BeliefsCaveat emptor: Only model beliefs when ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY. Anytime you model beliefs, you alter your model of the world in favor of someone else’s. That would be the equivalent of updating the operating system of your computer without fully understanding what consequences might be.

Beliefs offer the gateway to possibility. Those who produce outstanding results have a set of beliefs that unleash their potential. You want to identify those as quickly as possible and adopt the ecological ones (if you want to know more about this, post a question in the comments and we discuss it below).

Often times, you’ll notice that outstanding performers’ beliefs provide the fuel for their performance. It enables them to recover from failures, bounce back and keep moving towards their desired outcome.

Other pieces

While there are indeed other pieces to the modeling puzzle that you will learn to attend to, I just gave you the most important chunks.

A few of the other pieces would include: values, representational system used, sub-modality preferences, and energy level. While these other pieces are very important, the first four I listed above will take you 90% of the way in replicating the results produced by an outstanding performer.

Give it a shot. It’s much easier than you think.


How Exactly Do You Crack Open The Black Box Of The Mind?

In a recent post on his blog, business and marketing guru Seth Godin wrote:

“The problem, of course, is that pretty soon you start looking at the entire world that way. Whether it’s web design or Google analytics or backing up your hard drive or just talking to the guys in the plant about your new ideas, it’s really easy to see the world as a black box.

Here’s a simple secret of success: ignore the sticker.

Figure out how to use the tools that the most successful people in your field understand innately.”

That’s probably the best advice — most succinctly expressed — that I’ve heard for any field in long time. Inadvertently (or advertently), Seth just gave the NLP Modeling nudge: model those who produce the results you’re after.

Model those who get it.

Is it really that complicated? No way.

The thing is, Seth isn’t the first or only one saying this. Teachers from every walk of life have talked about this.

So why am I mentioning this here?

Because NLP can equip you with the knowledge and skills you’ll need to carry that out surgically instead of haphazardly. Because it will crack open the black box of the human mind for you and will enable you to track the thinking patterns of the geniuses whose results you’d like to emulate.

And you will emulate them once you learn how to model and commit to making it a part of your life.

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