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What Is Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP)?

Man scratching head“What is Neurolinguistic Programing (NLP)?”

There it is. The question.

This question is probably the second most hairy question in the world, losing only to “What came first? The chicken or the egg?”

It serves as the object of countless debates among NLP founders, NLP developers and NLP students alike.

Should you surf around the NLP forums available on the web, you’ll inevitably run into them.

Should you ask various NLP specialists, you’ll get different answers from each specialist.

The answer I will give you now will serve as temporary training wheels as you’ll have to define NLP for yourself as you evolve in your mastery. This is by no means the end all-be all of NLP definitions. But it works and it WILL help you learn NLP faster and more easily.

NLP Defined

NLP is a methodology developed to capture the skills of outstanding performers, describe them in a specific code/language and teach them to others with precision.

Its central purpose can be expressed in three sequential activities:

  1. Identify people who produce outstanding results.
  2. Create an explicit model of how they produce those outstanding results.
  3. Teach or transfer that model to others.

You can read more on these activities by reading my post on Modeling: The Core Activity of NLP and by watching the following video in which John Grinder describes the scope of the field.

Essentially, you can leverage the models of NLP to derive applications in various fields, including therapy, counseling, leadership, writing, publishing, advertising and many others.

As a discipline, NLP has 4 Key Areas of Activity.

  1. NLP Modeling
  2. NLP Design
  3. NLP Installation
  4. NLP Training

Each of these NLP areas, of course, falls within the purpose of distilling and transferring the skills of outstanding performers.

NLP is not therapy

The final distinction important for you to learn when defining NLP is that NLP is NOT therapy.

Since its founding as a field, NLP has become primarily associated with therapy due to the fact that Richard Bandler and John Grinder founded the field by modeling outstanding therapists. And although work done in NLP has produced useful therapeutic models and techniques, the field is actually agnostic as to its applications.

Contrary to what many think, NLP was not designed primarily to serve as a therapeutic modality. Therapy is only one of the diverse potential areas where it can be leveraged.

I hope this definition serves you well. After ten years in the field, I still haven’t come across a more useful substitute.

If you have any questions at any time, drop me a line. It’s my mission to assist you in mastering NLP.

Now, head out to learning and mastering Neurolinguistic Programming.

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