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Neuro-Linguistic Programming: The Technology of Choice

The Technology of Choice is a workshop run as an introduction to “Neuro-Linguistic Programming”, or “NLP”, by NLP Consultant Keith Gilbert in Sydney, Australia.

And what exactly is Neuro-Linguistic Programming when it’s at home?

Well, I would have to say, from my own experience of “NLP”, that the answer to that question will often depend on who you ask.

Here’s Keith Gilbert’s answer:

“What is Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP)?

Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) can be considered a technology for learning to learn. What does that mean?

Learning is state dependent. If you are in a resourceful state of mind you will be able to learn a new skill or a chunk of information a lot more effectively than if you are in a less than resourceful state of mind. Makes sense, right? NLP is the technology of creating and maintaining resourceful states of mind for the purpose of learning and performing with excellence.”

My interest in NLP

I first encountered “Neuro-Linguistic Programming” in 1990.

The book I had bought from my local bookstore that introduced me to the subject billed NLP as “The New Psychology of Personal Excellence”. That was intriguing.

However, the book also had a glossary of terms I’d never encountered before, which I needed to learn before I could even try to make sense of what the book had to say. In the end, that rather deterred me from reading it. Although I did look carefully through every one of its pages before consigning it to a bookshelf to gather dust.

I went on to other interests and only came back for another look at NLP more than ten years later when I noticed references to this mysterious “psychology of excellence”, and offers of “NLP training” and NLP products, appearing more and more across the internet. By 2006-07, I had started to pay serious attention.

On closer inspection the second time around, so to speak, what interested me in particular about “Neuro-Linguistic Programming” was that it seemed to include all the ideas and techniques I’d been using in my parenting for more than twenty years, only they were presented in a different way. Yet there was clearly a lot more to it than that.

It was highly organised to begin with.

The fact is, I had collected the ideas and techniques underlying my own parenting ‘style’ quite haphazardly from a number of different sources – so that was the most obvious and immediate advantage to me of something like NLP: it offered the ideas and techniques in one ‘package’ in the form of a consistent methodology that would make them more effective, easier to apply, and easier to communicate to others (yes, even though that apparently required the invention of a range of new descriptive terms).

And then there were some exciting additional ideas and techniques that were completely new to me.

In total, “NLP” seemed to represent a far more sophisticated form of “personal development” than anything I’d encountered before in thirty years of interest in self-improvement ideas and techniques – though I still thought that many of the skills incorporated in this “psychology of excellence” were by no means exclusive to it and could be acquired from other areas of the personal development world, even by osmosis given the right experiences. Indeed, NLP had its beginnings in the observation of people whose excellence seemed quite “natural”.

Nonetheless, NLP appeared to me to be the most highly evolved methodology by which anyone could learn all the skills consciously in an organised fashion.

And, not totally irrelevant to all of the above, a ton of people were raving about NLP and its capacity to “change the world” for the better. That was something worth paying attention to.

So. After spending time over the past two years or more reading NLP articles and ebooks – and sales letters! – listening to mp3s produced by NLP trainers and practitioners and hanging out at NLP forums, I was starting to get a very positive feeling about the value of this so called “psychology of excellence”, not only as far as my own life was concerned but also as something very useful I could share with others.

There were several things about NLP, however, that I continued to see as a reason for me to think slowly and carefully, and those were:

*        Many NLP practitioners seemed to have lost the ability to converse in plain English.

I like plain English and avoid jargon as much as possible, and I found there could be too much jargon at times in the way NLP was presented. Okay, perhaps, for conversations between “NLPers”, but, in my view, not a good idea if you have popularisation in mind.

*        As NLP had evolved from its roots in the mid 1970s, not only did its co-founders go their separate ways in how they present it, there also have been a number of offshoots and “splinter groups”, and various individuals doing their own thing, to the extent that “NLPers” can sometimes feud amongst themselves over which “version” is its purest or noblest representation.

Occasionally, the term “NLP” seems to have been applied to methods and techniques that are not normally a part of Neuro-Linguistic Programming technology.

*        Some NLP practitioners have made claims for the effectiveness of this “psychology of personal excellence” that seemed to me to be exaggerated.

That impression came mainly from reading the sales letters. As far as the “Self-Help and Actualization Movement” is concerned, I’ve read some laughably unrealistic sales pitches in my time on the internet and I was very wary of anything I was being told about NLP that seemed too good to be true.

*        I’d seen NLP presented in such a way as to imply that it’s a kind of “dark art” whose secrets can only be acquired from the members of an inner circle of extraordinarily skilled superhumans. I’d seen it presented as a method for sucking money out of people’s wallets “like a vacuum cleaner on steroids”, for getting hot chicks into bed, and generally for controlling minds and having dancing puppets do your every bidding.

Hmm … Where would internet marketing be without a little fantasy? Less entertaining, I would say.

So, it has all been deeply fascinating. Please do bear those ‘caveats’ in mind.

[Please also refer to the section headed “If you are interested in learning Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) we invite you to consider the following” on this page]

Now, the thing is, trainers, practitioners and mere aficionados alike have assured me that it’s impossible to fully understand NLP just by reading about it or listening to somebody explain it, or even watching it demonstrated in a video.

You have to do it.

I was delighted, then, to discover NLP Consultant Keith Gilbert relatively close to me in Sydney who was offering a free “introduction to NLP” workshop, The Technology of Choice.

Even better, Keith is the author of a book specifically about parenting with NLP – neuro-linguistic programming: Liberating Parents. It has turned out to be my favourite parenting book ever (My review of the book is here:

I attended Keith Gilbert’s The Technology of Choice workshop over the weekend of February 21-22, 2009.

The Technology of Choice workshop is focused on “habits and beliefs and how we can develop more choice about them”. It doesn’t attempt to cover anything beyond that.

So, in two full days – 9.30am to 5.30pm – and even with only a small group of people, we hardly scratched the surface of all there is to learn about “Neuro-Linguistic Programming”.

Which is something to consider when I see those seminar-style mass “NLP qualification” events offered on the internet that promise to turn me into an expert in a week – or even a long weekend!

And, as it happens, by the way, I was both relieved and pleased to discover that Keith Gilbert not only likes plain English he also made no claims, outrageous or otherwise, for what NLP could achieve for me. That was something for me to experience for myself.

Oh, and there were no esoteric or quasi-religious ceremonies. Just some very interesting activities.

What did I get up to at the workshop and what did I learn from ‘doing’ NLP?

Well, I don’t know that writing about my actual experiences at the workshop would be at all helpful to you, to be honest. I do have pages and pages of notes and I could certainly enthuse about the weekend’s activities and go into its details until I’ve written half a book – and that’s not the point.

The point is to encourage you to explore what NLP has to offer for yourself.

The fact is, as a newcomer to ‘doing’ NLP, I simply cannot do justice to the ideas and techniques I experienced at the workshop, no matter how many ways I think about it. So I’m not going to try.

What I’m going to do is ask you to buy a copy of the book that Keith Gilbert has written as an explanation of the ideas and techniques featured or referred to at his workshop – neuro-linguistic programming: The Technology of Choice.

The book actually covers more ground than we were able to in our two days.

You can invest in a ‘hold in the hand’ paperback version of the book or grab an instantly downloadable ebook that will cost you the princely sum of $5 US. These days, that kind of money is nothing, isn’t it? Usually, in the sales letters I read they say that’s less than you’d pay for a meal at your favourite restaurant or something like that.

Here’s a direct link to the book:

And in return for your money, you get? A mind (and life) expanding edumacation, that’s what!

If you live in or near Sydney, please consider attending the workshop. It’s now a ONE DAY workshop and, at the time of writing, it’s free. Oh wait. I probably ought to emphasise that – at the time of writing, it’s FREE!!!

Here’s the page for all the exciting details you’ll need to know:

What I personally took away from Keith Gilbert’s The Technology of Choice workshop

Everybody’s experience of the workshop will be different. It will be unique. These are the observations, thoughts, personal changes, etc, that emerged from “what happened to me”:

*        It’s true – ‘doing’ NLP is a far more meaningful experience than reading about it, listening to explanations of how it works or seeing it demonstrated.

*        Keith Gilbert’s “version” of NLP is about process not content. Essentially, that means that no advice is offered as to how exactly a problem “should” be solved; the person who has the problem is encouraged to acquire that information from his or her own unconscious.

The more commercial presentations of NLP, it seems, are likely to include “advice” and the imposition of other people’s beliefs.

I was hugely impressed with Keith’s “no content” approach. It’s very much in line with my parenting philosophy and what I wrote about that on August 11, 2002 in Issue 2 of my newsletter (back in those far off days when I opened each issue with a short editorial):

“Here’s something fundamental I learned from the heaps of self-help and self-improvement books I was lucky enough to read before I became a parent!

We’re all unique individuals with a unique perception of reality.

Seems simple and obvious enough, but what it means to me is that we all have an understanding of ourselves, the world we live in and the people we encounter in our world that generates in our minds highly personalised ideas about what we need to do to be happy and successful. This is as true for our children as it is for us.

We are at the centre of our universe and we want what we want regardless of whether or not anybody else approves of it, accepts it or even takes any notice of it. This is our “self-authority”.

My appreciation of the self-authority of the individual guides me in every area of my parenting. In fact, I’d say that my willingness to honour my children’s self-authority (and my expectation that they honour mine) has contributed far more to my relative success as a parent than any other single factor.”

*        I was reminded on occasion of information processing strategies developed by Edward de Bono, inventor of the concept of “lateral thinking”. Since NLP is concerned with how we organise our minds, and how we might change how we organise our minds, that’s perhaps no surprise.

*        Beliefs are filters. Only information that supports the belief is allowed in and information that doesn’t is filtered out. Maybe that’s a good thing sometimes. Maybe at other times we miss information that would be useful to us. “Filter” seems to me a more useful idea than “belief” in understanding what we do or don’t do. I might well find myself thinking about “filters” rather than “beliefs” from now on.

*        I have no desire to become an NLP trainer, that is, become qualified to teach NLP to other people. I want the NLP skills to enhance my private life.

At the same time, I want other parents to at least be aware of what I think is so special about NLP, whether they choose to ‘take it on board’ or not.

It would be true to say that, if I was given my thirty years of interest in “personal development” over again, I wouldn’t have bothered with anything else and would simply have “learnt NLP”.

*        I have stopped using the affirmations/autosuggestion/positive self-talk (whichever it might be known as) that I’ve been using for years to deliberately direct my thinking. Just like that. It has been a major lifestyle change. But, as it happens, one of my reasons for attending Keith Gilbert’s The Technology of Choice workshop was that I’d noticed I was starting to become over-reliant on certain trusted but artificial techniques and was doing less and less creative thinking and I thought some help to get through that was in order. Mission accomplished. I now have “conversations” with my unconscious instead and feel more self-reliant and creative again.

*        Some “personal development” concepts I’ve been familiar with for many years but which I’d been wondering about recently in relation to how they’re presented in NLP became very clear to me thanks to what I learned, practiced and experienced at the Technology of Choice weekend.

Thank you to Keith Gilbert, and to my co-attendees, for an enlightening two days!

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