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 You Can Pack More Punch Into A Single Word

Many NLP students have a hard time understanding and using nominalizations appropriately. Most learn in their early training that we should de-nominalize every intangible noun spoken. I used to believe I had to run from nominalizations like the plague.

A nominalization is a world of its own (funny, even the word “world” is a nominalization… He he he, they’re all over the place). You have to expore it to understand it.

And it serves a powerful purpose.

It enables us to package a process into an entity and to move it around, leverage it and make it interact with other processes.

You’ll best understand this through an example.

Let’s play with the sentence “I want to change society.”

“Society,” of course, is a nominalization. By using that word, I’m turning a process (socializing) into a finite entity (society). Nominalizations can also show up by turning a process (such as deciding) into an event (decision).

Let’s get back to our “society” example.

If I want to denominalize it, I’ll say “I want to change the way people socialize and interact with one another.”

Do you notice how this complexifies the sentence?

So we nominalize for a reason. It makes our communication simpler and more direct.

Here’s the real challenge: you need to learn how to USE the nominalization. Instead of blindly denominalizing it, you can instead tease out the underlying reality it represents.

You can do this in several ways. For instance, if I told “I want to change society”, you could ask me “what do you mean by society?” Or, you could ask me “when you say society, who are you talking about exactly?”

Once I answer your question, you can then use the nominalization in an effective and powerful way. It only becomes a trap only if you assume you know what it means to me.

Instead of the classicly trained skill of denominalizing, the real skill you must master is how to unpack the nominalization and sort through its content. Once you’ve done that, you can leverage that nominalization as a powerful shortcut to its meaning.

In the context of therapy, you must unpack your client’s nominalizations to figure out how she sorts its content. If its content is empowering and well-sorted, the nominalization serves as a shortcut that presupposes all its content. If not, you can assist your client in repacking and resorting its content and then repackage it into a powerful word.

Depending on how you package the content, you can pack a whole lot of punch into a single word.

Give it a shot. If you run into trouble, comment on it here on the blog.

Learning NLP Is Easy

Many NLP beginners falsely believe that learning NLP is difficult. This is due to many factors. Among them:

  • There appear to be several moving parts.
  • No book really integrates an appropriate learning sequence.
  • They don’t take the time to adequately master one piece and quickly move on to the next piece.
  • Their trainer doesn’t know how to chunk and sequence training in a way that makes learning easy and fast.

What you can do if you want to start learning NLP naturally, easily and with as little effort as possible is to find someone who can chunk and integrate the models and skills in an elegant way.

It’s one thing to proficiently use the skills. It’s another to know how to teach them in an integrated way, whether it be through books, audiotapes or live training.

But, great news! Once you sequence the material effectively for yourself, or you find a competent trainer who does it for you, you’ll begin to wonder why it took so long before you could actually start learning NLP that easily.

As I’ve announced on the blog before, I’m currently putting the finishing touches on the Master Key To NLP, the Emerald Tablet if you will, that will make learning NLP all that much easier. To this day, I wonder why no one has put such a piece together as it makes all subsequent learning much easier.

Meanwhile, keep teasing out those structures for yourself and, I hope, after you read this document, you’ll contribute to its improvement and we’ll be able to collaborate on making NLP much easier to learn.

Do You REALLY Know What Conscious-Unconscious Means?

This little diad conscious-unconscious has caused a lot of confusion.
The only topic that wreaks more havoc in the community than this one
is the question “what is NLP?”

In my opinion, we need AT LEAST five distinctions to make sense of
this conscious-unconscious deal… Let’s peel those off to see if my
observations tie in with yours.

Often times, people use the terms “conscious-unconscious” to mean
“aware-unaware”. That’s OK, as long as they know what they’re talking
about. Here’s the phenomenon: some stuff you’re aware of and some
others you aren’t. You’re aware of some processes, like tying your
shoes, and unaware of others, like beating your heart. This
distinction also applies to the big existential questions. Today,
we’re aware that the Earth revolves around the sun but before we were
unaware of that.

“Conscious-unconscious” is also used sometimes to mean
“foreground-background”. Think of the various windows you might have
open on your computer screen. Your internet browser window is
currently in the foreground, while Excel, Word, PowerPoint or any
other window might be in the background. This distinction simply means
that some processes are accessible consciously but aren’t focused on
right now, so they stay in the background. This is obvious when I
shift your attention from the computer screen to the weight of your
left foot.

“Conscious-unconscious”, in some contexts, also means
“programmer-executer.” We talk a lot about this particular distinction
in NLP when we say that the unconscious mind actually is more powerful
than the conscious mind. Conscious mind gives the instructions,
unconscious executes them in the background as a stored procedure.
Think of all the stuff on your computer that is just spinning in the
background. All of that was programmed at some point and installed to
be executed “unconsciously”.

“Conscious-unconscious” also touches on “masculine-feminine”. The
analogy here is that of the seed and the earth. The conscious suggests
and the unconscious makes that grow and expand. While this is similar
to the third distinction, it’s not quite the same. Programmer-executer
has more to do with actions while masculine-feminine has more to do
with ideas. A great example of this are hypnotic metaphors.

This means that we control certain aspects and not others.

These are just five dimensions that I notice when talking about the
conscious-unconscious diad. There might be more. But there are at
least these four.

“If you’re not confused, you don’t know what’s going on…”

– Bradley White

Associating Into Your Senses

My posting hiatus was due to my well-deserved vacation. How delicious! My wife and I enjoyed a full week in São Paulo, Brazil, where I delighted in incredible surroundings. After all, São Paulo is one of the largest metropolis in the world and offers to its residents and visitors a great many options for entertainment.

I really took advantage of my stay there to stimulate my senses as much as possible. On the second day, I treated myself to a full bodied Asian massage — São Paulo has the world’s second largest Japanese community. It was so amazing that I returned for repeats before the end of my sojourn.

The massage made me realize how ample our kinesthetics are and how little I explore mine. Having someone else touch and tease out all the tension lodged in different body points while I relaxed allowed me to discover how many kinesthetic sub-modalities go unnoticed in my day-to-day.

For starters, try feeling temperature through your foot. Unbelievable! It was the first time in my life I turned my attention to this. I’m so focused on the upper part of my body that I forget that every single kinesthetic distinction can be experienced at every body part.

What about feeling pressure with your forearm?

What about feeling moisture with your knee?

What about feeling vibration with your ears?

Stop for a second allow yourself to feel the blood flow in your legs. Had you ever done that before?

Pull up the almost complete list of kinesthetic submodalities and test out each of them using different body parts. You’ll be blown away!

Don’t Succumb To The Hype…

I read it every day… All day… In so many different places…

“Use NLP to motivate yourself!”

“Overcome financial self-sabotage using NLP!”

“Use NLP and EFT to overcome self-esteem issues!”

These ads, in my opinion, are the bane of NLP and contribute to a great extent to the lack of credibility the field gets. Imagine what would happen to traditional psycho-analysis if ads started showing up saying:

“Overcome financial self-sabotage using psycho-analysis!”


“Attract the love of your life using Gestalt!”

If you’re a serious student of NLP, learn it as a discipline. NLP is the Jeet Kun-Do of therapy. In and of itself, it is nothing. It integrates the most effective tools and techniques from all fields. So you’ll find Gestalt, Psycho-analysis, Transactional Analysis, Rogerian Counseling, Ericksonian Hypnosis, Rational Emotive Therapy, and others in the works of NLP.

Some therapists sometimes hear my seminars and tell me:

“But Martin, that’s Rational Emotive Therapy…”

My answer is: “Yes! Good job!”

The deal is, it’s the piece of Rational Emotive Therapy THAT WORKS.

That’s the NLP distinction.

It leverages the pieces that work and forget the rest.

How To Start Learning NLP

So you’ve seen someone performing a rapid-change technique designed by a practitioner of NLP. (If you’ve never seen one, here’s an example performed by NLP super veteran Steve Andreas.)

Or maybe you watched a video of Tony Robbins performing a strategic intervention.

Or, a friend of yours told you of this incredible seminar he just came back from where a master of NLP was removing everyone’s limitations.

And now you want to learn how to do it yourself.

OK. What to do now?

Feel it first

The first and absolute most important thing you can do is to witness applications of NLP in action.

Go to an introductory seminar, find a practicioner in your area and go in for a session. One way or another, you have to feel it first.

That’s where it begins.

“OK Steve, I’m done. I’ve already seen a prac. in action. What next?”

The program

In the next step of your learning, you’ll want to understand the basic framework of NLP, which consists in the three following pieces:

  1. Learn the NLP epistemology. The first thing you must know and master is how people build their model of the world. That’s pretty much what “epistemology” means: how we know what we know. That comes before anything else. The only source I’ve found that attempts to describe and explain it is the book “Whispering In The Wind” by John Grinder. And it’s not learner-friendly. Fortunately, I devote tons of time and space to this in my upcoming course, Learning and Mastering NLP.
  2. Learn how to map people’s model of the world. It’s one thing to know how people build their model of the world. It’s quite another to be able to map it out yourself. While the NLP epistemology is a piece of knowledge, this one is a skill. This one demands that you actually produce results. This one starts differentiating those who talk from those who do. This is where the rubber meets the road.
  3. Learn how to change people’s model of the world. Once you know how to track and map people’s model of the world, you must learn how to alter it. This is the third level of mastery in NLP.

Also, remember that you must apply all these skills with regard to yourself all the time. Otherwise, you won’t achieve the state of congruency and alignment necessary to powerfully influence others.

Do a quick evaluation

Now, take some time and figure out where you lie exactly on the spectrum of mastering NLP.

Perhaps you’re just getting started now. You haven’t done through any of those levels yet.

Perhaps you’ve incorporated into your toolkit bits and pieces of all three levels.

But have you fully completed level 1? If not, get started now!

Your first skill

If you really want to get started right away and waste no time in your NLP training, the best thing you can do is practice this skill.

You’ll notice that you will become VERY good, very quickly.

Click here to continue…

How I Discovered The Easiest Way To Teach NLP

I was sipping on freshly squeezed orange juice when, suddenly, it hit me like a ton of bricks…

It became obvious. And the thing is, this distinction goes way beyond NLP. I’m sure you’ll realize this applies to any field you pretend on mastering. This explains why school is so hard.

Fortunately, we can use NLP itself to solve the problem.

Here’s the big secret: most of the works available for studying NLP are actually reference works, or works designed for learning.

This is huge. Let’s look at the actual pattern this distinction uncovers:

There’s a big (no, make that huge) difference between
writing reference material and writing material for learners.

The layout has to be different. The text has to be different. The content must be mapped out differently.

Here are three keys to teaching NLP (or anything, for that matter of fact) more effectively.

1. Engage your students personally.

If you’re writing for students, especially beginning students, what word do you think should constantly come up in your text? “You” should. That’s right, “you” have to use the word “you” frequently. Why is that? Because when “you” use the word “you”, “you” engage your reader into the subject matter. Think about the subjects in school that “you” most disliked or had the hardest time learning. I’ll bet “you” the word “you” wasn’t used to often during the presentation of the material. And if you weren’t able to create ties between “you” and the subject matter, the class was a drag.

Learn from this and engage your audience personally. Use the word “you”. Often.

2. Weave a learning tapestry.

Reference works don’t really need to be sequenced in any particular way. In reference works, the categories really matter. You need to put the right material in the right chapter. Kind of like a container.

When you’re writing learning materials, the sequence in which you introduce the material (and the key word here is “introduce”) is critical. You have to stack the material correctly and progressively make it unfold for your reader. You must turn it into a journey.

3. Lace your text with examples and references.

Can you remember the last time you read a book that discussed a brand new topic to you, and for some reason the author successfully captivated your attention? As surprising as it might sound, he probably leveraged this third tip.

The key to making your reader comfortable and confident that he can learn from you is to build references from which he can understand the key concepts you present. Lead with examples and only after presenting three or four of them introduce the concept that unifies them. And, preferably, integrate this tip with tip #1: use examples that your reader will be able to connect to personally. Engage her.

Incidentally, the three tips you just read will serve you well in a number of endeavors besides teaching. Motivating your kids, persuading your boss, selling to a client, presenting a new vacation idea to your husband or wife, and so on. Start applying them today and notice the new results you get. And let us know what happens!


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.