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How to Model Success

Note: This is the third part of a series of pages on NLP.

Another important NLP method is that of is modeling success. Basically, you find someone who is succeeding at something which you want to succeed at, and then you "model" them. This doesn't mean taking their advice, since they actually may not know why they succeed. Bandler and Grinder said, "What we essentially do is pay very little attention to what people say they do, and a great deal of attention to what they do."

This means what they do physically, as well as what they are doing in their minds. For example, when I have a computer problem, I am likely to put my hand to my forehead, and say "Here we go again" in my mind. I then think of the things I hate about computers. Of course, this can be a very disempowering approach to the problem.

My wife, on the other hand, will stop for a second, and think or say "Hmm... that's interesting. I wonder how I can make this work?" She'll also assume there is a solution, and that she'll find it. Naturally, she is more successful than me at dealing with computers. She has more knowledge, but that isn't as important as her approach.

Now if I want to be more successful with my computer or with problem-solving in general, I need to model her. This may include even sitting like she sits, adopting her facial expressions, and using the same words and thoughts she uses. The point of NLP is to do what works, without spending too much time worrying about why, or worrying about what elements fit into some theory of success. You just copy success as closely as you can.

I can tell you from experience that modeling works. I may never be as knowledgeable as my wife when it comes to computers, but just saying "Hmm... that's interesting. I wonder how I can solve this?" really helps. In fact, when I assume I'll quickly find a solution, and even pretend to be her, I am more successful.

Don't Listen to Success - Model It

Don't do as they say, but rather do as they do. That is the way to learn success from the successful. A wealthy real estate investor once told me he didn't believe in setting goals. Only later in the conversation did I realize that he knew just where he expected to be with his projects in six months. That's goal-setting, but he just called the process something else.

Don't stop listening to what successful people have to say, but read between the lines. Look at their words for insight into how they think about things, how they approach their challenges. A successful basketball player might only advise you to practice more, but if he mentions "I saw that going in," after a great shot, follow his lead and start visualizing your shots going in.

Copy Everything at First

Sometimes we won't know what's causing a person's success. For example, when starting out on the internet, I tried to exchange links with other web sites, but the owners didn't respond to my e-mails. Then I found a letter used by a successful internet marketer to get links from other web site owners. The truth is, his letter sounded silly to me, and I really wanted to change it, but I copied it and used it as it was, and it worked.

At first, it may be best to just copy many of the actions, attitudes and approaches of someone who is succeeding. As you learn, you can drop those parts that aren't contributing, and add elements of your own. If you have children, for example, model a successful parent, and if that works don't worry if you don't know right away which changes were most helpful, or why.

You may not ever understand why some things work, but you don't need to, do you? It is better to have success than to explain it. So do what they do, not what they say.

Coming soon: Our next installment in the NLP series will look at motivational styles and how to use yours.

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