Martin Messier

August 30, 2023

The legend of the old lady and the consultant

A long time ago, a business consultant decided to take a much-needed break after years of working without a vacation.

After a bit of research, he chose to spend a week in Charlevoix, on the banks of the St Lawrence River, in Quebec. In order to rest well, he decided to go to a well-reviewed little bed-and-breakfast.

On a Friday afternoon, he packed his car and set off on an eight-hour journey to Charlevoix. After three Elvis albums and half an audio book on Neurolinguistic Programming, he made it to the inn.

There, he was greeted by a jovial and smiling old lady, who owned and managed the bed-and-breakfast. She let him know how happy she was that he had chosen her inn to spend a few days.

After two days, he was amazed at how much he had relaxed. Every morning, he came down to a fresh, homemade, hearty breakfast the old lady had made herself from scratch.

Fresh eggs from her little chicken coop, thick slices of bacon smoked locally by farmers who owned the pig farm, apple juice from the orchard... Every day offered him a new surprise at breakfast.

And every day, without fail, he helped himself to the old lady's preserves... 

God, did he find them delicious on her freshly baked bread! 

Blueberry, raspberry, blackberry, peach, and even her own special recipe of apple and pear mix... Seasoned with all the right spices and not too sweet, so as not to overwhelm the natural flavor of the fruit.

After a week of walking in nature, cruising on the river, and reading great novels lying in his room, he felt renewed and ready to go back into battle.

When he checked out, the old lady thanked him again for having spent a week with her, and given her the opportunity to take care of him. And before he set off, she handed him a gift: a beautifully decorated jar of apple and pear preserves.

"I noticed you enjoyed these," she told him smiling.

He was taken aback by the gesture. He asked her: "Do you do this for every guest?"

She answered: "Yes! It's my way of helping you take home a bit of the joy you felt here!"

He thanked her for her hospitality and kindness, and set off to his car.

On his way home, he couldn't stop thinking about the parting gift. "That's a heck of a way to build loyalty with customers and get repeat business..." he kept thinking to himself.

He then began to engineer ways in his mind for his clients to take advantage of that practice. By giving something to their customers at the end of an interaction, these businesses could induce loyalty and goodwill.

And that's how it began, the standardized, phoney practice of giving customers something after a transaction...

And it's ALWAYS what happens when you merely copy.

That's exactly what the second step in NLP modeling combats — the phoneyness.

You see, what the consultant and all his clients missed was the one key ingredient that made the gift work in the first place. And he wouldn't have missed this critical piece of the loyalty puzzle had he modeled the old lady instead of just copying her.

It's what enabled the Grinder and Bandler Brothers Band to effectively extract the genius of Perls, Satir and Erickson. It's what enabled Tony Robbins to model the firewalk and make it available to thousands, if not millions.

Modeling is an organic sport, not a spectator sport. While behavioral patterns are somewhat agnostic sets of instructions, they only flourish when embedded in fertile human soil. When they are, behavioral patterns grow healthy and solid, and performance can flourish.

No other human discipline offers us the power of improvement that modeling does. It's learning on steroids. That's why I've committed my life to it. It's also why I'm dedicating the inaugural issue of NLP Insiders to modeling. 

It is the lost art of NLP. 

Those who have the privilege of knowing how to use it live rich lives in the way they desire. They also live from a place of deep-seated confidence, one that isn't easily rattled by worldly turbulence.

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