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Neuro Linguistic Programming

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Neuro Linguistic Programming, or NLP, was founded by John Grinder and Richard Bandler in order to solve a perplexing question: How does one model excellence?

There are extraordinary people all around us. Experts in their fields. Brilliant men and women who stand at the tops of their chosen fields. These are people who can teach us. We simply have to learn from them. Unfortunately, it is not that simple. Thus, neuro linguistic programming was born.

Neuro Linguistic Programming was born out of a desire to examine how excellence could be attained. Instead of theoretical models of minds, Bandler and Grinder wanted an applied, empirical science through which men and women could reach their potential. Thus, by several years of observation of very successful therapists, they constructed the model of NLP.

"Neuro" means mind. "Linguistic" means language. "Programming" is used in much the same way as one would talk about computer programming: it is the way that the mind and language are used to assemble data into constructs of knowledge.

Every bit of data in our memory banks must be stored somehow. What Bandler and Grinder wanted to learn was "How is this stored?" and "How can this information be interchanged?". By building the model of Neuro Linguistic Programming, they were able to construct methods by which people could think about the way they know things and how they can pass this information on to others. Instead of asking an expert fisherman, "How do you fish?" they would ask, "How do you think about fishing?". To use the computer programming metaphor again, instead of learning what data is in the files given to the program, they would learn the actual program used. With this, another person who wanted to fish could easily input data and properly assemble the data into a useable form.

One of the interesting things about NLP is that it does not have any specific theory behind it. It is more a collection of individual bits of observation that are used with one simple goal in mind: make it work. This is a pragmatic way of looking at things, not a theoretical model. If it can't be applied, it is considered useless. If it should work but doesn't, then it is not worth the effort. The only thing that matters is the result. If something isn't working, change it. The new method can't work any worse than what you were doing. If the new attempt doesn't work either, well, time to move on to another method. Neuro Linguistic Programming assumes that change is always imminent. Thus, flexibility is an important part of the methodology. Even if the flexibility is the ability to adapt to an unchanging circumstance.

There is, obviously, much more to Neuro Linguistic Programming than just this simple explanation. Otherwise, Bandler and Grinder wouldn't have written so many books. However, it is an interesting way to think about what you know, what you think you know, and how you can deal with things that you want to change about yourself. NLP can be used to conquer phobias, advance your career, or improve your self-image. It has no central tenets but one: Excellence is achievable by everybody.

NLP Toolbox: get the top 100 Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) Tools ever created

Richard Bandler
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A brief history of John Grinder, co-founder of NLP.

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Milton Erickson
One of the founders of modern hypnosis, Milton Erickson was studied by Richard Bandler and John Grinder when they developed NLP.

Maxwell Maltz
The inventor of Psycho Cybernetics, Maxwell Maltz, discovered how people's 'inner scars' affect how they view themselves.