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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.

In short, NLP is a modeling technology. Its central purpose can be expressed in three sequential activities:

  1. Identify people who produce outstanding results in a particular field of activity (sports, communication, management, leadership, therapy, learning, education, etc.)
  2. Model those people in order to create an explicit model of how they produce those outstanding results. The peculiar way this is done in NLP will be shared in greater detail in a later post, but it’s important to distinguish NLP modeling from other types of modeling.
  3. Teach or transfer that model to others. The modeling project will be successful if the person who learns the model can produce results comparable to those of the outstanding performer. One of the key criteria of this transfer is that ANYONE who is committed to master the model can do so.

I’ve come to adopt the perspective that NLP is a field that lends its discoveries to other fields. Let me give you an example so you can easily understand this.

If you’re new to NLP, you’ll soon study the Milton Model, which consists of a collection of language patterns distilled from modelling Milton Erickson, the most prominent practicioner of hypnotherapy.

Most NLPers would tell you that the Milton Model is an NLP model. I prefer to say that NLP practicioners produced a hypnosis model called the Milton Model.

Likewise, I’d rather say that a practicioner of NLP produced a financial mastery model, a soccer dribbling model, a seduction model and so forth and so on. Each field to its own. Our field is the field of modeling. And our tools are those tools that make modeling possible.

This of course, is only my point of view and I’d be surprised if NLPers agreed with me. Nevertheless, I find it more useful to classify those models as such.

In future posts, I’ll begin to distinguish which of the classical tools of NLP belong to NLP and which ones belong to other fields.

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KhaazRa - January 8, 2008

I am interested in NLP, yet was expecting alot more. Can you recommend any good NLP books?

Take care…

Ray Trevor Twine - January 9, 2008

So very refreshing to see your work on modelling.

I found the article so accurate like a bright light shining in the present darkness of NLP activity in the West.

It was interesting to me to see that you appear to be active in the field of NLP in education. So few of us are.

Regards Ray

Sandy Sims - September 20, 2010

Great summary. just stumbled accross it. I actually took one of Tony’s very early courses in Hawaii and write about the experience in an upcoming book. I think the great break through in NLP is that it gives you a tool to over come fear. I simply could not have walked on coals without paying absolute attention to everything being said. The challenge for modeling is to determine what you want to model and why. I found for example that I didn’t feel good about directly consciously manipulating people although with a career in advertising I was on the border.

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[…] happens once you master NLP modeling. I’ve written extensively about it on this blog. It’s a skill not to be taken lightly, […]

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