Moving Beyond NLP Techniques

In my observation of students of NLP over the years, certain patterns stand out in their development. One of the characteristics of moving beyond Practitioner level in NLP seems to be a transition from relying mainly on techniques to a focus on more tailored solutions.

For some people, this happens quickly as they grow beyond the rules-of-thumb that accompany the fundamentals and begin to form their own distinctions. Others reach this stage more slowly and require coaching or further training to open their awareness beyond the plateau of “process-oriented NLP”.

Part of the key is the development of greater flexibility through practice. You can use almost any facet of everyday life to fine-tune your skills. The trap here is to forget that NLP is just a way of looking at human process and interaction. The “everything is NLP” philosophy is a bit like looking at the world through a telescope and being so delighted with the vision it provides that you insist on looking at everything that way.

I remember an argument on one of the many NLP newsgroups where one person was insisting that the Enneagram, emotional intelligence and de Bono’s ‘six thinking hats’ were all NLP!

Another part of the transition beyond Practitioner is the realization that the ‘rules’ of NLP are just ‘rules of thumb’ after all. Experience and experimentation reveals where those rules can be selectively stretched or broken.

A further step is to usefully combine the existing processes to solve a specific problem or achieve an aim. I remember helping a friend to fix his car. At one point, he asked me to hand him a hammer. I looked through the tools several times, but there was no hammer among them. Testily, he reached out, grabbed a pipe wrench and said “Look. That’s a hammer”.

Part of flexibility is to know when a tool can be used for another purpose than the intended one. With all of that in mind, here’s a process I developed for a friend. I call it ‘constructive goal-getting’.

Constructive Goal-Getting

  1. Think of a current obstacle in your life.
  2. Imagine it vividly or describe it in detail.
  3. Go forward on your timeline until you reach a time in the future where you have a solution. This may not be a conscious, detailed thing – you might experience it as a symbol or feeling.
  4. Hold out your hands in front of you, apart and with your palms facing upwards.
  5. Imagine the problem in one hand. Give it colour, weight, temperature, shape etc.
  6. Imagine the ‘solution’ you found and put it in the other hand. Give it colour, weight, temperature, shape etc.
  7. Slowly bring your hands together with the understanding that you do so only as quickly as your unconscious mind forms all of the necessary connecting steps between the problem and its solution.
  8. Once your hands have come together, you have created those steps. Unroll them onto your timeline so the plan takes shape at a deep level.
  9. What is the first step you have to take?
  10. Do it now!

To those familiar with NLP, you will recognise a combination between timeline processes and the ‘visual squash’ technique. Those who have used this process will understand its power and simplicity.

My point in offering this is not just to give you another technique or process. It is to demonstrate how you can use your creativity to kick-start your flexibility. Some people don’t get this. Those are the ones who jam up discussion groups with endless requests for “a process to fix XYZ” instead of using their experience, awareness and flexibility to find a creative solution specific to that client.

Once you have moved beyond NLP Practitioner level, it’s time to give your deep consideration to achieving NLP mastery.

Enjoy the next step in your adventure!

Moving Beyond NLP Techniques by
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