Enhancing Intelligence

L. Michael Hall, Ph.D.

· Can “intelligence” be improved and enhanced or are we stuck with whatever we inherited?

· If we can expand and enrich our intelligence, then what does NLP and Neuro-Semantics offer for the acceleration of learning, states of excellence, and replicating the intelligence states of experts?

· When it comes to “running our own brain,” which is one of the key themes of NLP, does this assist in accelerating learning?

· When it comes to setting higher frames of meaning, which is one of the key themes of Neuro-Semantics, does this actually assist in enhancing a person’s level of intelligence?

It is no secret that teachers, educators, knowledge workers, and business experts who know that to keep up with the acceleration of change they have to create learning organizations and themselves stay on the cutting-edge of information have long been using both NLP and Neuro-Semantics.  In the field of NLP there are many, many books, articles, and trainings that apply the NLP model to learning.1

First and foremost, to discern the origin of any deficient in attention in learners or knowledge workers, we have to explore the person’s state, state management, focus, intentions, congruency, relationship to the subject, to the teacher or presenter, and many other emotional factors.   And in this, NLP provides plenty of answers.  There are patterns in this field for getting clear about out outcomes, for taking charge in running the movies we play on the screen of our mind, for rewinding those B-rated movies that keep us internally preoccupied, for destroying old limiting decisions, beliefs, and for finding and utilizing better learning strategies.

So what about the Enhancing of Intelligence?

In terms of the subject of intelligence, we now know that there is no one monolithic thing called intelligence, but that we have multiple intelligences.  Through the pioneering work of Howard Gardner in Frames of Mind and the Multiple Intelligences Model that he’s developed, we can identify eight kinds or dimensions of intelligence.  So in exploring any question about intelligence, we have to explore which kind.2

1) Linguistic Intelligence

The intelligence needed to read a book, write a paper, novel, or poem; and understand spoken words.

2) Logical-Mathematical Intelligence

The intelligence needed to solve mathematical problems, balance a checkbook, solve a mathematical proof, and engage in logical reasoning.

3) Spatial Intelligence

The intelligence needed to get from one place to another, to read a map, and to pack suitcases in the trunk (or boot) of a car.

4) Musical Intelligence

The intelligence needed to sing a song, compose a sonata, play a trumpet, or even appreciate the structural patterning in a piece of music.

5) Bodily Kinesthetic Intelligence

The intelligence needed to dance, play basketball, run a mile, or throw a javelin.

6) Inter-personal Intelligence

The intelligence needed to relate to other people, such as when we try to understand another person’s behavior, motives, or emotions.

7) Intra-personal Intelligence

The intelligence needed to understand ourselves—the basis for understanding who we are, what makes us tick, and how we can change ourselves, given the existing constraints on our abilities and interests.

In this NLP and Neuro-Semantics offers tremendous resources.  Not only did the founders of NLP create a stroke of genius of identifying the components of “thought” as the sensory representation systems —visual, auditory, kinesthetic, etc., but they were able to identify that merely paying attention to these things develops greater intelligence.  As people begin to notice their pictures, they develop more management over what and how they represent.  As people begin to notice the sound tracks in their movies, they begin to manage the volume, tone, pitch, etc.  Awareness per se facilitates the increase of these kinds of intelligences.

That we make pictures in our mind and visualize is not news.  That we can became aware of our movies and that we can rise up in our mind and direct them, that is news.  These meta-states identify more complex and expansive states of consciousness.

Beyond this, NLP and Neuro-Semantics recognizes that our intelligence is not only a matter of innate capacities and potentialities, but is also a function of our beliefs in them.  If we hold limiting beliefs about our capacities to learn, to be intelligent, to solve problems, to fully use all of our potential, etc., those limiting beliefs will undermine our intelligence.  Conversely, setting empowering beliefs about our capacities for learning, beliefs about our identity as intelligent persons, beliefs about positive expectations of using our intelligence actually enable and enhance intelligence.

Detailing Intelligence

When it comes to “intelligence,” what are we talking about?  What are the components and variables in this subjective experience?  If we index the details of intelligence we come up with a list of such variables as the following:

·                    Representation of information visually, auditorically, kinesthetically, etc.

·                    Management of these representations

·                    Belief in developing these awarenesses

·                    Strong intention of working with our representations

·                    Focused attention that enables us to be fully present to our thoughts

·                    Congruency and integration so as to not be distracted by internal conflicts

·                    Clarification of values and why a learning is important

·                    Meaningfulness of the particular learning

·                    Openness to feedback and feed forward

While there are undoubtedly other variables, we can begin with these that obviously play a central role as success factors for enhancing our intelligence.  One of the first Meta-State patterns that I developed by re-modeling the original work of Grinder and DeLozier is that of the Accessing Personal Genius pattern.  This pattern takes the prerequisites of genius— clarity, focus, being one-minded, relaxed tension, enjoyment of experience, etc. and sets each of these as a frame of mind.3

The result is that this provides a way to step into being “in the zone” or in the flow state, where we optimize our skills and competencies with the challenges of a situation.  Most people still find the flow experience of being in the zone something that they experience from time to time, but cannot control.  Yet what if we could?  What if we could identify the structure, feeling, and elements of being in the zone for a given activity, and then practice stepping in and out of it, and anchoring it, so that we could turn it on at will?

That’s precisely what the “genius” pattern does.  By making negotiations with the executive level of our mind, the part that makes decisions, that “makes up” our mind, we set a frame of mind that then allows us to step into an experience, like learning, and stop double-tracking.  Multi-tracking is our problem.  We have five things on our mind, or 15 or 30.  No wonder we don’t use our minds effectively—we are not all there!

Here we have to set number frames by meta-stating our flow state.  As we bring each resourceful thought-and-feeling variable and apply it to our primary state, we set up a frame of mind or attractor.  Meta-stating is simply applying one state to another.  So in the genius state, we apply joy to our learning, we then apply this is really important to it, then letting everything else go to it, and so on.  In the end, the meta-stating process textures our engagement state so that we are all there!  And when we are all there, our best resources are more available.

I first ran the “genius” pattern on myself in 1995 with regard to reading and then to writing.  I wanted these two focused flow states so that when I’m engaged in the activity of reading or writing, I would be all there.  Prior to that, I would often find my eyes scanning the lines of a page and then realizing, “Nothing went in!”  I looked at the words, but my mind was somewhere else.  That hardly ever happens these days.

Prior to 1995, while I wrote articles for many NLP journals, each article would take two or three months and I would suffer many bouts of “writer’s block.”  Since then, I have not once suffered from writer’s block.  Prior to that, it took me eight year to write my first book; afterwards, I have been writing three to four books a year, 50 articles a year, and many other things.  The difference?  When I write, I’m all there!

Has my intelligence increased?  Well, if intelligence is measured by the ability to be more efficient and more productive, then yes.  If I.Q. intelligence is the ability to have more extensive how-to knowledge, then I “get” things quicker today and am more able to get to the heart of things with more efficiency.  I attribute that to the Meta-Model which is such a powerful and magical tool for thinking, for both critical thinking and creative thinking.  I also attribute that to the Meta-States model which enables me to think systemically about the mind-body-emotion system (or other systems) and to find the leverage point more quickly.

If we shift to E.Q. type of intelligence, then the ability to manage my states enables me to stop wasting energy on internal conflicts.4  I attribute this first to the NLP patterns for integration, ecology, and resolution of things of the past.  From the beginning of NLP, Richard Bandler has repeatedly said, “It’s never too late to have a happy childhood.”   And the reason is that “the past” is not a thing.  It does not actually exist.  The only “past” we have are the movies that we play in our mind.  That’s why we can now use the Movie Rewind pattern to take the emotional charge out of any old traumas that still “hurt” us when we think about them.5

I also attribute that to the Meta-State pattern of Dragon Slaying and Taming.  If we turn our thoughts and feelings against ourselves by applying a negative state to another state, we only put ourselves at odds with ourselves.  If we fear our anger, or anger at our fear, or shameguilt ourselves for being afraid or tender—we put ourselves at odds with ourselves and create fire-breathing dragons inside our minds and bodies.  Yet we can turn all of that around in seconds.  We can accept our fear, appreciatewelcome our shame, embrace our sadness, be curious about our worry and anxiety, etc.  These meta-states enable us to accept our emotions as emotions without creating a big deal about them. ourselves for feeling vulnerable, or our anger,

In terms of S.Q. intelligence (spiritual quotient, inspiration), I use the meta-stating process of moving to my highest intentions and setting the highest reasons why something is important so that my intentions governs my attentions.  This is the Intentionality pattern which enables us to add rich meanings to every engagement.  There is also the meta-stating pattern of layering level upon level of robust meanings and beliefs and expectations to super-charge our attitude.  All of this facilitates to give us more spirit, make us inspirited rather than dis-spirited.


Time fails me to go into great detail about the many ways NLP and Neuro-Semantics enhance our learning and expands our sense of intelligence.  These are powerful models for actually enhancing intelligence as they enable us to run and manage our own brains much more efficiently.


L. Michael Hall, Ph.D. is a cognitive psychology, NLP Trainer, author, entrepreneur, and developer of Meta-States, Frame Games, Matrix, Meta-Coaching, and Neuro-Semantics.  He lives in Colorado in the Rocky Mountains.

End Notes:

1.  My favorite works in NLP are those of Don Blackerby and Sid Jacobson.

Jacobson, Sid. (1983, 1986). Meta-cation: Prescriptions for some ailing educational processes. Volumes I, II, & III.  Cupertino, CA: Meta Publications.

Grinder, Michael. (1989).  Righting the educational conveyor belt.  Portland, OR: Metamorphous Press. Inc.

Lloyd, Linda.  (1990).  Classroom magic: Amazing technology for teachers and home schoolers.  Portland, OR: Metamorphous.

Nagel, C. Van; Reese, Maryann; Reese, Edward; Siudzinski, Robert. (1985).  Mega-teaching and learning.  Portland, OR: Metamorphous.

Blackerby, Don A. (1996). Rediscover the joy of learning.  Okla. City: Success Skills, Inc.

Dilts, Robert B. (1994). Strategies of Genius, Volumes I, Ii, and III.  Capitola, CA: Meta Publications.

2.  Howard Gardner pioneered the Multiple Intellience model.

Gardner, Howard. (1983).  Frames of mind: The theory of multiple intelligences.  NY: BasicBooks.

Gardner, Howard. (1983).  Multiple intelligences: The theory in practice. NY: BasicBooks.

3.  In Turtles all the way Down, John and Judith began unpacking Bateson’s understandings of logical levels and types and using them to model the structure of the genius state.  After discovering the Meta-States model, I was able to re-model and extend their work.  See Secrets of Personal Mastery.

Grinder, John; and Judith DeLozier. (1987).  Turtles all the way down: Prerequisites to personal genius.   Scotts Valley, CA: Grinder & Associates.

Hall, L. Michael. (2000).  Secrets of personal mastery: Advanced techniques for accessing your higher levels of consciousness.  Wales, UK: Crown House Publications.

4.  Daniel Goleman popularized the current developments of Emotional Intelligence.

Goleman, Daniel. (1995).  Emotional intelligence.  New York: Bantam Books.

5.  The Movie Rewind pattern is also called Phobic Cure or Visual-Kinesthetic dissociation.  You can find the pattern in MovieMind (2002).

Other References

Hall, L. Michael; Bodenhamer, Bob G. (1999). Sub-Modalities Going meta. Clifton, CO: Neuro-Semantic Publications.

Hall, L. Michael. (2001).  Communication Magic.  Wales, UK: Crown House Publications.

Sternberg, Robert J. (1996).  Successful intelligence: How practical and creative intelligence dtermine success in life.  NY: Simon & Schuster.