Introduction to Modeling
The world is filled with human beings manifesting an endless variety of behaviors and abilities. These human abilities are as diverse as being able to effectively negotiate, tell a joke, empathize with others, manage a large group, compose music, write a book, promptly pay bills, be thrilled by an abstract painting, plan the future, learn from the past, or ease the fears of a child. Every human being is a repository of abilities in which they are an expert, or in our terms, an "exemplar."
Is there a way to transfer the ability of an exemplar to someone who needs and wants that ability? The purpose of modeling is to enable us to answer this question with a "Yes."
The fundamental presupposition of Modeling is: Experience has structure.
Our experiences are comprised of various elements: behavior, emotions, patterns of thinking, and the beliefs or assumptions on which those patterns are based. Differences in experiences are a direct result of differences in how these elements are structured. That is, your behaviors, feelings, thoughts, beliefs, and the patterns of interaction between these elements, combine to give rise to your experience at a particular moment in time. That array of content and relationships constitutes the structure of the experience.
It is within these structures that we find the differences that make the difference between someone who is adept at an ability and someone who is not. In modeling, we are "mapping" out the underlying structure of experience that makes it possible for an exemplar to naturally manifest his/her particular ability. If we - or anyone - structure our experience to match that of the exemplar, that structure will enable us to manifest (to a great extent) that same ability.
Modeling, then, is the process of creating useful "maps" (descriptions of the structure of experience) of human abilities.
* Such maps are useful because they allow us to understand the experiential structure that makes it possible for a person to manifest a particular ability.
* Such maps are useful because they can make it possible for anyone to have that experience or ability by making that map their own.
Our experiences (Gordon and Dawes) with modeling human experience began in the mid '70s when we were involved in the development of the field of Neuro-Linguistic Programming ("NLP"). Although originally intended as a vehicle for the study of subjective experience, during the last two decades the focus of NLP has generally veered off toward the creation of techniques for changing experience. While a valuable aim in its own right, the technique orientation implies there is no necessity for understanding how experience works; it is simply a matter of running experience through the "black box" of a technique. In contrast, our interest in the field continued to be the exploration of the structure of experience. With its many distinctions about experience, processes for gathering information, and underlying presuppositions, NLP has provided some broad shoulders for our current modeling efforts to stand upon. The modeling process that we use incorporates both classic NLP distinctions and some revealing and useful new distinctions we have discovered in the course of teaching modeling during the last twenty years.
The overall Modeling process involves the following stages:
1. Identify exemplars of the ability to be modeled.
2. For each exemplar, gather information with respect to what and how s/he is thinking, feeling, believing and doing when manifesting the ability. (The Experiential Array and Belief Template are the organizing tools Gordon and Dawes use to gather this information.)
3. Use contrast and comparison of examples to identify the essential structural patterns for each exemplar.
4. Use contrast and comparison of exemplars to identify the essential structural patterns for the ability as a whole.
5. Test and refine the Model.
Why Model? Modeling is a doorway into the vast storehouse of human experience and abilities, providing access to anyone willing to turn the key. For the individual who pursues modeling, this means:
* Access to an ever-widening range of new experiences and abilities.
* An increasing ability to bring those same experiences and abilities to others.
* A finer understanding of the structure underlying unwanted experiences and behaviors so that you know precisely what to change in those experiences and behaviors.
* Ever-increasing flexibility in your experience and responses.
* A growing appreciation of the beauty to be found in the patterns of human experience.