What makes some people successful and able to handle change creatively? Why do some people seem to have good relationships or always appear to be in the right place at the right time? Is there something special about them? Are people born with certain traits which enable them to navigate through difficulties with apparent ease? Or is it all down to luck?
In the 1970s, John Grinder, a professor at the University of California, and a student called Richard Bandler started to work together on a project to observe the behaviours of successful people. They were interested in why some people are so good at what they do. Together, they developed a way of observing, codifying and replicating the thought patterns and behaviours which lead to individuals experiencing high levels of success. They called the approach Neurolinguistic Programming, since it explores the relationships between how we think (neuro), how we communicate (linguistic) and our patterns of behaviour and emotion (programmes).
Success can be copied
The basic premise of NLP is that the behaviours which lead to excellence can be copied. Grinder and Bandler were interested in the differences in ways successful and unsuccessful people think, behave and use language, and what they found was the basis of the NLP in use today. In other words, they claimed that luck has little to do with success – you can choose to be more successful by changing your approach to situations and relationships by changing the way you mentally represent situations and the language you use. Some people naturally develop ways of achieving excellence, but these ways of thinking, speaking and acting are available to anyone who is willing to learn.
NLP was developed in the 1970s, but has been greatly refined over the last 35 years or so, and is now a commonly used technique in therapy and self-development. It has uses in business, education, the military and, most importantly for individuals, can be very successfully applied to personal life. Many large companies train their staff in NLP and it is common for life coaches to use NLP with their clients.
NLP is essentially about the way we form mental representations – images, sounds and verbal descriptions – of situations. By becoming aware of our internal map of reality, we can consciously change our inner landscape and so respond differently to situations and people in the outside world.
One of the main benefits of NLP is that results can be achieved very quickly. People with phobias, for example, can often be treated in a matter of minutes using certain techniques. Even long held fears and blockages can be dealt with quickly and easily, in many cases. Personal growth can be accelerated greatly when NLP is used properly. Indeed, NLP has a great deal of light to shed on many aspects of the way we interact with our social and physical environments. NLP is not without its critics, and the the scientific community has by no means embraced it as a completely credible model, but many significant benefits can be derived from a study and application of NLP.
How can NLP help you?
Often, people can go through life on ‘autopilot,’ responding to the outside world in a fairly automatic way, driven by subconscious programmes which have been learned and practiced over many years, usually since childhood. Self development and personal change advocates often tell people to be proactive and change their way of thinking but can fail to give specific tools for enabling this to happen. NLP gives you these specific tools to do so. It is a method for taking control of your own reactions to the world around you, for getting into the driving seat and putting your hands back on the steering wheel instead of being a passenger.
NLP is very practical – it is about what works, and a wide range of issues can be addressed with NLP.. Examples include:
- Improving communication
- Overcoming fears such as that of public speaking
- Becoming more healthy
- Improving self esteem and confidence
- Developing better relationships
- Being more successful in your career
Success in any endeavour – be it in the family, your career, your business, sport, or any other aspect of life – requires excellence. NLP is a road map for developing this excellence. Success is not about innate ability or luck (although these factors do play a role, of course). It is the predictable result of thinking and behaving in certain ways.
In future articles, I’ll be sharing more information about NLP and giving you specific techniques which can be used to improve many aspects of your life.