IDEAS & ICONS
The Meaning of Modeling
The fundamental presupposition operating within NLP is that experience has structure, that is, that particular patterns of thinking and behavior give rise to particular experiences and abilities. This means that by taking on a particular set of patterns we will start to manifest the ability that those patterns naturally generate.
"Modeling" is the process of identifying, codifying, and acquiring those underlying patterns.
The implications of taking a modeling approach to human experience and behavior are significant:
Modeling ensures quicker and easier access to abilities.
All of us have personal dreams of being able to do certain things that we cannot do now. These dreams may reflect deficiencies we believe we have. (For example, the manager who is responsible for regular reports but cannot seem to organize himself to get them done; or the person who cannot seem to stick to an exercise regimen.) These dreams may also flow from our being inspired about what is possible to do. (For instance, fluently speak a foreign language, play a commanding game of chess, enjoy solitude, or capture the imagination of struggling students.) Modeling allows us to efficiently and effectively draw from others those abilities we either need or would like to have, and then manifest them in ourselves.
But there are additional reasons that, to our minds, make the pursuit of modeling worthwhile:
Modeling honors - and helps us learn from - the unique contributions that each of us brings to the world.
A second reason to model grows out of the recognition that there is more to the uniqueness of every person on the planet than just his or her thumb print. Each of us also represents a unique web of life experiences, the threads of which have been braided into a singular personality, an individual with characteristic, amazing and peculiar perceptions, talents and abilities. There are many wonderful violinists, many people are good at telling jokes, many can relax easily, can write a good letter, can power through a complex task, and so on. And yet, no two of those wonderful violinists will approach their music or play in exactly the same way. And when one of these wonderful violinists is gone, her particular approach to music is gone as well. Similarly, no two humorists will tell their tales the same way. And there are many ways of relaxing, of writing a good letter, and of powering through tasks. Modeling, then, can make it possible to not only capture the workings of a certain kind of ability, but some of the unique attributes of a particular individual's way of manifesting that ability as well. The idiosyncratic and fortuitous attributes of that person may end up being a revelation to us all, bringing into our experience of that ability a subtlety and effectiveness previously unknown.
Modeling can play a significant role in the evolution of culture and society.
If indeed it becomes possible to readily model the desirable abilities of others AND make those models usefully available to anyone, then personal and societal notions about what is possible and how to bring about change will necessarily transform in some fundamental ways. For example, few people would be asking, "Can I do this?" Instead they would be asking, "How can I do this?" This is a very different question, one that presupposes capability, and shifts attention to the structure of one's experience and behavior. Instead of unnecessarily accepting limitations, the question, "How can I do this?" makes an individual's pursuit of self-fulfillment and expression in his or her professional and personal life much more a matter of choice.
The widespread availability of abilities through modeling would not rob us of our personal identities, reducing a world of individuals to a herd of equally capable performers. On the contrary, because of the infinite variety of personal histories and life experiences, different people will make different choices as to which abilities they want to acquire. Furthermore, the manifestation of the same ability by any two individuals will be expressed through each person's unique personality, rather than in spite of it. In fact, it is our belief that the widespread availability of models for developing the vast array of human abilities would create many more opportunities to tap and bring forth into the world the unique potentials latent inside each of us.
Modeling makes accessible what are often considered "life's little pleasures."
The promise of modeling often stirs people to conquer the big things in life, the things that are societally mandated, applauded and valued. At last, we think, we can learn how to make a killing in the stock market, negotiate to win, be an inspiring leader, or write a best seller. In all the hustle and bustle of conquering, however, it is easy to overlook the fact that it is the small things that contribute the most to the fabric and quality of our lives. Making a killing on the stock market is fine. But so is being able to dance and enjoy it, to tell a joke, accept criticism, find joy in gardening, make someone feel welcome in your home, appreciate a work of art, capture your thoughts in a letter, let go of worries while on vacation, delight in helping your children with their school work, adore your lover, and feel adored by your lover. These are the "small" modeling projects that can be tackled on a small scale, on a daily basis...and make all the difference in the world. Your world.