The Personal Genius State

L. Michael Hall, Ph.D.


In 1994 Neuro-Semantics introduced what we called “the personal genius pattern.” It is a pattern for accessing and integrating a mastery state as a state wherein you are totally committed and engaged in an activity that you’re developing competence with. In this state, you become so focused that various facets of everyday reality just vanish away— the world goes away, your sense of self goes away, time vanishes, etc. Your focus becomes so highly intentional it seems like you have a laser beam focus in what you’re doing. The “genius” state is an engagement state, flow, you are in the zone, and you are experience what Maslow called a peak experience.

The original idea for this genius state came from the NLP modeling that two of the founders did in Turtles all the Way Down: Prerequisites For Personal Genius (1987). There Grinder and DeLozier explored the use of “logical levels” (i.e., meta-states) to protect and govern the state. In this way the higher meta-levels allow a person to get lost in their first-level attentions.

What are the prerequisites? A “genius” state involves focus, clarity, commitment, engagement, getting lost in the moment, at one’s best with all of one’s resources available, “in the zone,” and synergizing an important meaning with a developed competence in your performance. Now to protect such a state, we need to set some higher level frames. In that way the state will not get contaminate or dilute when we move in and out of the state.

The process of stepping in and out of the genius state is the technique which, in turn, allows you to find the differences that make a difference in your physiology. You can then use those distinctions for ecological boundaries of the genius state. Each distinction in your physiology informs your neurology for when and where to cue the state. By stepping cleanly out of the state, and shifting the focus of your mind and body system, you learn to separate from this intense flow state so that you can leave it cleanly behind. Do this repeatedly until you can do so impeccably . . . with no residue left over. My recommendation: do it 12 to 20 times.

Another technique that we use: practicing interrupting the state. This enables you to learn to trust yourself, namely, that you can always get the state back. In this way, you change your relationship to any experience that would otherwise interrupt you. By inviting a person to be interrupted and having him or her handle it effectively, namely, stepping out and taking care of the interruption, and then matter-of-factly stepping back into state. Now you are becoming un-interruptible. Begin by practicing responding to an interruption and then take charge of it by interrupting yourself so that you step out of state with a minimum overlap, and then back into the state in a moment’s notice.

The brain/ nervous system will learn this pattern quickly and achieve the desire level of competency of state shifting. When you carry over no mental or emotional residue from one state to the other, but cleanly separates and breaks between them and can then step back in and re-access that state with a strong intensity, you are making an impeccable state shift.

Now it is best if you have someone who knows the pattern, a Meta-Coach or a Neuro-Semantic Trainer to run it with you. You can do it by yourself, but that’s more difficult.

∙ The primary level of competence or expertise and the protection by the meta levels.
∙ A dedicated state for a specific purpose versus a free flowing state.
∙ Having a basic understanding and strategy for an activity, how to do it; and the optimal state that makes the activity come alive.

Elicitation Questions:
∙ What optimal state would you like to create and experience that will give you a single minded focus when you are engaged in something very important to you?

Creating a New Genius Pattern

1) Access the new desired focus state.
What engagement state do you want to build so you can do something that’s important for you to do? What do you call that state?
Where do you want this state of full engagement? When?
Have you ever had a little bit of it? [Yes] Good. Access that bit seeing what you saw, hearing what you heard, and feeling what you felt. Go there and be with it fully. Do you need to amplify this state?

2) Access a simple state of innocent witnessing and/or observing.
Step out of that state. Let’s access a discreet state of “just observing.” Step into this position and just notice some of the colors and sounds, etc. in the room. Are all of your muscles relaxed so that you are just observing?

3) Practice stepping in and out to develop impeccable state shifting.
Step back into the desired genius state and be there as fully as possible. How much are you in this state? Tell me what it is like? Posture, breathing, perspective, etc.
Step out again. How much of that state did you bring with you?
Repeatedly step in and out of this new genius state, practicing a clean state shift. Do this to make distinctions in your neurology which will allow you to know how to have it upon cue. Contrast the two states— posture, muscle tension, face, breath, internal dialogue, etc.
Step back in. Let’s set up a sphere that will protect your genius state. When you step out, take a moment to snapshot where you are— what you are seeing, hearing, saying, doing. Then step out.
Step out again until you can do so cleanly, leaving the genius state intact. Take as little of it as possible. Ready, go. Step out to your observer position.
Would you like to imagine a bubble that protects and secures this genius state? (You could use a wall, a door, the Stargate picture of liquid space, etc.)

4) Use your executive mind to further develop the genius state.
Step back in. There’s a part of your mind that makes decisions, that decides when and where to have this genius state. As you are in this state, let that part of your mind rise up from the focused state to an executive level state. This is the state that will be able to take charge of things when you are fully engaged in this state. Would you like that?

Would you like this executive level of mind to run the choices you make so that you can be cued about when the appropriateness of staying in this state or coming out? Would you like your executive mind to determine when to make the switch in and out of the flow or genius state and to determine the contexts for the boundaries of this state?

Re-access the state and then rise up in your mind to the part of your mind that makes decisions and answer the following questions. [The experiencer does not need to speak the answers, but simply nod when he or she has an answer.]

Place: Where should you have this state? Where not?
Contexts: In what context or contexts? In what contexts should you not?
Time: When should you have this state? When should you not?
Criteria: According to what other criteria and qualities?
Value: Why should you have this state? How would it be valuable to you?
Emergencies: For what will you be interrupted? What emergencies will you allow to bring you out?
Style: How should you? In what way, with what style? How should you not?
Resources: What other resources would you like to add to this state that would even more fully express the quality and efficiency that you want? Any other resources to add to the genius state? Love, respect, daring, fallibility, balance, etc.?
Others: Relationship: With whom? With whom not?
Meanings: For what significance or meaning? What meanings to not give it?
Reasons: Why should you? Your reasons, agendas, motivations? Why should you not?
Any other considerations that you would like to determine the boundaries of this engagement state?

5) Commission the executive meta-state.
[The person still in the state] “The part of your mind that makes decisions—are you willing to take full responsibility for setting these parameters for this commitment state so that this person [say his or her name] can fully experience this commitment state? [Yes!]
Are you willing to take responsibility for letting this person fully experience this intense and passionate state? For knowing the limits and boundaries, when to have it and when not, how to have it and how not, will you signal X when to step out?

6) Future pace to install.
As you imagine moving out into your future, are you fully aligned with this? Any objections?

Welcome to Your Personal Genius State!
This state can change your life! Really. For anything (or everything) that requires an intense focus where a laser-beam concentration would serve you— reading, writing, speaking, presenting, parenting, negotiating, and on and on—develop a genius state. Learn to step in and out of it so that the life situation or event itself will trigger it. Do that and you’ll find that you can more easily achieve your goals, that you’ll be more effective, productive, and efficient. And as an extra bonus, being ‘in the zone’ will enable you to experience more your skills as just flowing and yourself in multiple ‘peak experiences’ everyday.

You can find this pattern in the book, Secrets of Personal Mastery (1997) and in the APG manual (which is on the Shop,