Modelling Excellence: Fundamental Steps

“A man only learns in two ways, one by reading, and the other by association with smarter people”

– Will Rogers

When you model someone, it helps to follow these basic steps:

Eliciting strategies: 

Here you consider various aspects of the person’s thinking and behavior. You are deconstructing their success into discrete pieces of information. Your ability to do this is called “acuity.” This is how perceptive you are in detecting “the differences that make a difference.” Your data gathering includes observation, interviewing, and imitating the person in ways that help you emulate within yourself what they are experiencing. This inner experience can make you more intuitive and perceptive. You may discover things you never would have been able to with a purely outward focus. You can draw from acting techniques to emulate the inner experience. As the pieces fit together, you are finding clusters of behavior and internal representation that are candidates for strategies. That is, they may prove to be strategies for getting the excellent results. Virginia Satir’s mirroring behavior (matching the clients behavior in subtle ways) is definitely a strategy that is considered to be part of the Satir model. 


Here, you make the model systematic; you map out the model into a syntax of thoughts and behaviors, including very subtle nuances and unconscious aspects.  


Now you have a more systematic model. It is ready for you to apply. Depending on your results, you may need to refine your model through further observation and analysis. You may need numerous experiments (trial and error) before you can reliably produce similar results. 


Modeling in NLP is about recognizing what works. Thus, the models you create from successful people are not exactly intellectual property. You are basically pointing out what is already happening. This is a little like the comedian that surprises you by talking about what you know, but never put into words. The comedian can have copyright protection for the words recorded, but not for the observations made. 

Many people can learn and apply a model if you share it with them, or if they discover it independently. This means that the model does not belong to NLP. You could say that NLP was the methodology or vehicle for finding a way to imitate successful behavior and to further innovate. It is also a way to create systematic training. When people use the models that NLP practitioners have developed, they say they are doing NLP. But when they are creating models, they are also doing NLP–the most fundamental kind of NLP. 

Fundamental Questions

  • Here are some of the questions you can ask in building your model:
  • Why does the model work? 
  • What are its principles? The more of a conceptual understanding you have, the more you are able to analyze and build a model. 
  • What processes make up the model? 
  • What mobilizes the person? 
  • How can you best carry out the techniques that make the model work? 
  • What, precisely, do you do and when?