Playing the Game of Abundance in the New NLP

There’s a New Game in Town
Come and Play


“NLP was created by two madmen
who modeled three raw individualists.”
(Robert Dilts)

“You’ve got to remember,
when the tide comes in
all of the boats in the harbor rise equally!”
(Bobby G. Bodenhamer)

L. Michael Hall, Ph.D.

[I originally wrote the following more as a personal message to the growing Neuro-Semantic community. Since, however, it applies to the larger NLP community, we have posted it here for all to read.]

The old NLP went wrong, very wrong, when it came it developing a larger-level strategy for its acceptance. We all know that. And today, twenty-five years after its beginning, we see it everywhere.

So in spite of the rhetoric about abundance, creativity, innovation, cooperation, the agreement frame, pacing as the rapport-building process, etc., NLP has not followed much of its own model. We have talked more about the great ideas within the model than practiced them. Incongruity among some of the first developers has undermined our credibility. And there’s good reasons for this. Dilts’ comment about NLP being created by two madmen modeling three raw individualists (Perls, Satir, and Erickson) undoubtedly describes some of the original frames that were set that preferred individuality over community and cooperation.

But Now a NEW NLP is Emerging

From the Visionary Leadership Project (1997) to the Millennial Project (2000) that Dilts, DeLozier, and Epstein initiated, to the many new developments in NLP by people in the UK, Europe, and around the world, to our work in Neuro-Semantics, there is a new NLP emerging.

There’s a NLP arising that’s much more ecological and cooperative (rather than bombastic and competitive), congruent, solution oriented (rather than blasting the establishments), international (rather than 1970s Southern California), etc. We see this in the developments where NLP has become accepted as a therapeutic modality, where facets of the model have been welcomed into business, negotiating, coaching, etc.

When we began the first Neuro-Semantic website a number of years ago, we have voiced our acknowledgment of the abuses of NLP (see, for example, The Downside of NLP). We did that to address the problems and to not only describe challenges before the NLP community, but even more importantly, to offer better alternatives and solutions. We have seen how the NLP community in so many parts of the world has torn itself up and “shot itself in the foot” as different NLP leaders have engaged in competitive battles with each other about who does “real” NLP or “the best” NLP, etc. There have been mini-battles also in the process of advertising and marketing for seminar goers as if there were only a scarce handful of people on this planet who needed the wonderfully dynamic and magical skills of NLP. Instead of cooperation, there has been competition, sometimes bitter and ugly competition.

There has also been fear. What with the Bandler lawsuits of the past few years, there has been tremendous fear, uncertainly, confusion, and division within the worldwide NLP community about certification, trademark rights, associations, etc. Now, finally, this has come to an end, and at least in the UK and the US, NLP is in the public domain.

Learning to Play a New Game

As the New NLP emerges, it now becomes important that we all learn to play some new games– frame games that fit with the NLP model, presuppositions, values, and patterns. It now behooves us to learn how to play the game of abundance, cooperation, respect, community, etc.

How do we do that?

Obviously, we have to become crystal clear about our frames: what we believe and value, what the NLP Presuppositions mean when translated to everyday life and relationships, the rules of these frames, etc.

  • Do we really believe that we can find or create a positive intention behind every behavior? Even those we disagree with?

Are we willing to operate from that perspective and to begin from the position of respect and honor rather than negatively suspecting every move and every intention?

  • Do we really believe that there’s a difference between a person and his or her behavior? That every person is more than their behavior?

Are we willing interact with others on that basis and use this distinction to govern our relationship?

  • Do we really believe in the distinction between map and territory and that all we ever have at any time is our map, and not the reality?

Are we willing to let this map/territory distinction soften and temper our positions toward each other so that we step out of the dogmatism of arguing over who has the “right” NLP? Are we willing to be more tentative, accepting, and flexible?

  • Do we really believe in abundance, that there is plenty for all, and that if we seem to run out of resources– we can use our intelligence, creativity, modeling skills, designing skills, etc. to create and bake more “pies” to split?

Are we willing to live by more of an attitude of abundance rather than scarcity? To treat each other as colleagues in promoting NLP rather than competitors who are after the same small piece of the pie that we want?

  • Do we really believe in rapport building, matching, pacing, and seeking first to understand, then to be understood?

Are we willing to ask more open-ended questions, explore the subjective experience of each other, and to think in terms of Win/Win Solutions? Are we willing to begin supporting and honoring each other in giving credit to each other?

  • Do we really believe that there is no failure, only feedback? That every response is appropriate and meaning according to the frames that it comes out of?

Are we willing to learn how to incorporate this so that we become less and less semantically reactive, less defensive in the face of criticism or failure, more resilient, more un-insultable, more compassionate and caring when misunderstood, etc.?

  • Do we really believe in response-ability, in being proactive, in “going for it,” in becoming the most flexible person in a system in order to have the most influence?

Are we willing to learn to become more flexible, creative, and proactive as we initiate and take effective actions, learn from them, and bounce back from anything that sets us back?

Engaging in and Practicing the New NLP Games

It’s one thing to talk about such high ideals, it’s another to actually live that way. For most of us, learning to play these new games will mean lots of practice, set-backs, and returning to the NLP Presuppositions again and again until we set them as our governing frame of mind. If NLP went wrong due to the incongruity of Bandler and Grinder fighting, breaking up, suing each other; of egos getting in the way; of failing to “walk the talk,” of the community not self-correcting and policing itself, etc., then these are the challenges before us.

  • Practicing living in a way that’s congruent with our talk.
  • Dis-identifying with our ideas and maps and staying much more flexible in our approach, letting our knowledge and practice of NLP continue to grow and develop.
  • Supporting and honoring each other, in spite of differences, in order to demonstrate that we can operate from the larger form of promoting NLP rather than our own little kingdom of NLP.
  • Holding ourselves and each other responsible, and thereby engage in self-correcting behaviors so that outside authorities don’t have to police us.

In many ways, all of this calls for some very new, and at times radical, shifts in attitude and actions. It’s a new game in many ways. We have not played this game before. So in pioneering the future pathways for NLP, we will have to explore, develop, backtrack, try again, etc. as we forge this new game. Doing this is not for the faint hearted. Doing this will call upon us to stretch ourselves in new ways. To pull this off we will need the courage that a great vision provides, the passion and compassion that a sense of direction provides, and lots of willingness to fumble in the dark until we pioneer some of the new pathways.

The Higher Vision and Direction for the New NLP

So what vision could provide all of us the world over a sense of direction for the New NLP?

Consider this. Suppose that instead of fighting and fussing, instead of “the stage not being big enough for both of Richard and John’s egos” (e.g., McClendon, The Wild Days of NLP), suppose that instead of dividing, competing, and refusing to acknowledge the contributions of others, suppose that instead of suing Robbins, Richard has put his mantle of blessing upon him … what might have happened? What could have happened?

Would not Robbins have brought “the world” to their feet? Would not the fields of therapy, psychology, education, business, sports, management, etc. have seen in practice a people living by some truly magical principles? And wouldn’t that have operated as a great credibility convincer? And wouldn’t that have “put NLP on the map” internationally? And wouldn’t that have opened up a thousand other uses, applications, and demands for NLP?

I just do not believe that we have even “touched the hem of the garment” when it comes to all of the wild and wonderful things we can use NLP for that could revolutionize human thinking, feeling, parenting, teaching, learning, communicating, etc.

I just do not believe that we have even begun to use the power of modeling in NLP and NS to specify the structure of excellence that’s even now possible for the human race.

And I especially do not believe that we have even begun to catch a vision of the new human designing we can do with NLP and NS that could totally transform economics, politics, racism, hatred, wars, etc.

On several occasion in the past year, I talked to several individuals who were afraid that someone was going to encroach on “their territory” and get some people that they wanted to market to. In response to that nonsense, I said,

“You mean that you’re going to run out of people who need to learn how to truly ‘run their own brains?'”

“You mean there’s only so many people in New York who could use that?”

Practicing abundance means that we really believe that when I send someone to your training– it’s good for me. It means believing that as a person learns the NLP model, learns the magic and wonder of “running his or her own brain,” experience higher quality state management, stepping out of old fears and traumas, re-inventing the past that will now support the person’s dreams and hopes, etc., that that person will not be able to help but tell others about it. Does that mean 5 others will now become candidates for learning? 12? 100? The more who learn about the magic of NLP will spread that magic.

That attitude that I have decided to adopt is this:

Everybody who learns NLP becomes our best advertisements for NLP and that given the internet, telephones, faxes, travel, etc., “territory” hardly means anything these days and will mean less and less in the days and years to come.

Let’s stop worrying or caring about where a person learns NLP. Let’s only care that the person learns its magic, experiences its transformation, and enjoys such an evolutionary change in thinking, feeling, acting, relating … that his or her life becomes so much more effective, dynamic, and powerful … that we rejoice that “the pie” has just expanded. Who knows if that person will integrate NLP into a whole new application? Who knows is that person will contribute something so rich and so powerful to the model, that whole new dimensions will open up?

As we imagine ourselves moving further and further away from the old adversarial model and more and more into the model of growth, abundance, creativity, and support, we begin to change our culture, the culture of NLP itself.

This has been our aim in Neuro-Semantics and it shall continue to be the vision that directs us. The great majority of the people who have discovered the meta-domain of Meta-States and have entered into the growing community of Neuro-Semantics share this vision and have given themselves to it so that it becomes a self-organizing attractor. And as that happens, I can hardly imagine what this is going to mean in the years to come.

Walking Our Talk– The Time Has Come

So how do we practice “abundance?”

How do we get “abundance” from our mind into our very muscles?

There’s nothing like developing a list of in-the-muscle actions for accelerating the implementation of any great idea. Sure we have the Mind-to-Muscle Pattern, the Excuse Blow-Out Pattern, the Meta-State Alignment, the Meta-Yes-ing, the Meta-No-ing, and many other processes that truly accelerate implementation. And here’s another, a way so simple and so obvious that many people miss it.

Name one specific action that you can take today, or better, right now — that gives embodiment to the idea of “abundance.”

What about:

Acknowledging and honoring the sources that you’re quoting.

Giving broad permission for people to use your patterns.

Referring people to other trainings and letting your clients and customers know what else is going on in the field.

Partnering with someone else to co-sponsor a program, training, adventure.

Speaking positively about the many faces of NLP around the world.

If you use some of these ideas to begin the process of expanding our sense of “abundance,” I wonder what other ideas you’ll come up with? And as you do, be sure to share them.