From: L. Michael Hall
Meta Reflections – 2010 – #12
March 18,  2010


The revolution began with a belief. It began with a new perspective.   It began with a question.  And the person asking the question was Abraham Maslow.  “What about the healthy side ?”  It was in his book, Abnormal Psychology, and this question was posed from time to time as he and his co-author, psychiatrist Bela Mittelmann, wrote an encyclopedia of human pathologies.[1]  Maslow essentially asked:

“Okay, that’s the story with this particular pathology of how human nature can go wrong, but about how it can go right, how it can succeed, be healthy, and reach the heights of possibilities?”

The revolution began slowly. It began by modeling two incredibly healthy individuals (Ruth Benedict and Max Wertheimer) who were making a difference in their worlds.  Afterwards that modeling of their self-actualizing characteristics was extended out to hundreds, and then thousands of other people, showing some of the same qualities.  Eventually Maslow had a list of the characteristics of this “syndrome,” this experience of a self-actualizing man or woman.  (I put that list in both Unleashed! and in Unleashing Leadership).

The revolution began with a model of the inner needs that drive a person and how, developmentally, a self-actualizing person learns to meet those needs, even learn how to master their needs, and eventually move to the level of the highest needs— the needs to actualize one’s highest and best.

The revolution then launched a movement, a human potential movement, and that movement then attracted Fritz Perls, Gregory Bateson, and Virginia Satir to Esalen to become a part of it.  In fact, they became part of the second generation of leaders in that movement.  Scores of other people that we now recognize as key voices in self-development were also drawn to Esalen in those earlier years (1963 to 1980).  And while that first human potential movement failed to maintain its momentum as such and was dispersed into dozens of other groups and movements, the spark at the heart of the revolution continued.

NLP continued the revolution unconsciously. Given that NLP has direct roots in that revolution through Perls, Bateson, and Satir as well as the “presuppositions” that came mostly from Maslow and Rogers, NLP continued the revolution unconsciously.  I discovered this “secret history of NLP” in 2005, and with that Neuro-Semantics launched a new human potential movement using the Self-Actualization Workshops.

When I recognized the potential in this— that we in NLP are inheriters of the revolution of Maslow’s bright-side of psychology and that we now “stand on the shoulders of the giants” who launched and carried on this revolution— I began to direct our activities in Neuro-Semantics intentionally to use and apply Self-Actualization Psychology.  My aim was to create lots of practical applications.  And that’s how the revolution that Maslow began is today finding expressions in Neuro-Semantics.

This means that the revolution of the bright-side of psychology now has some incredibly powerful tools for making the vision of self-actualizing individuals and organizations real in today’s world.  Central among these tools is the Self-Actualization Quadrants which is built on the Meaning and Performance axes.  This tool highlights that actualizing excellence in any area involves making it richly and robustly meaningful and then developing the competence to perform it.  This is true of athletic competition, business development, and personal relationships.

We now also have the Self-Actualization Assessment Scale (Hall and Goodenough) that uses Maslow’s original research into human needs and gives us the ability to assess how you are doing (or not doing) in coping and mastering your basic human drives.  And this is critical for each person individually as it is for any person within any organization.

Where is this revolution heading?  What will be the direction of this revolution in the days and weeks and years to come?  Ah, that’s the mystery and excitement of Neuro-Semantics!  We don’t know.  We only know that there is so much more to discover, so much more to develop.  And this is where we are always looking for more men and women who share this vision to come and join the revolution.

So if you believe, as I do, that our highest drive as human beings is to tap within and liberate human potentials in yourself and others in order to create an incredibly better world, then come join this revolution.  If you believe that there is within every person fascinating possibilities for becoming so much more, if you believe that we can facilitate the liberating of human potentials in organizations, businesses, families, politics, and a thousand other domains, then come join this revolution.

In a word, our vision is to actualize excellence.  Our dream is to enrich the meanings (beliefs, ideas, understandings) of people so that they can perform so much more as they develop their levels of competency.  And we do that through training, consulting, and coaching.  We do that one-on-one as well as by working with groups.  And when you’re ready to move up to a leadership role in this, then NSTT (Neuro-Semantic Trainers’ Training) is the apex of training along with Coaching Mastery.

1. Maslow, Abraham; Mittelmann, Bela (1941).  Principles of Abnormal Psychology: The Dynamics of Psychic Illness.