Neuro Linguistic Programming, or NLP, is a fresh look at the capacities of the human brain in relation to its role in fashioning our lives. The main question here would be what makes some people tick and come up aces, while others simply don't tick fast enough or even wind down completely. Let's make this clearer. A lot of folks play golf brilliantly; so does Tiger Woods. A lot of people are crazy about racing cars; so is Michael Schumacher. What exactly is it that sets these pros apart from the rest of the crowd? This is what NLP seeks to define.
In the early 1970s, Richard Bandler, a student, and John Grinder, a professor, studied the specific behavioural patterns exhibited by a few outstanding individuals who shone in their fields in order to emulate their success. They identified patterns and habits that were conducive to success which they then proceeded to formulate in a scientific manner under the rather ominous sounding label of Neuro Linguistic Programming.
A slightly less scientifically inclined duo may have called it Secrets of Success or You too can be a Winner, but being members of the scientific fraternity they coined the term for what it was; a programming or re-programming of your habits and patterns of how your brain deals with information that is fed to it through your senses, and how it is processed to eventually give you results totally dependant on your method of processing. This input and processing is influenced considerably by your way of thinking, your prejudices, and your beliefs. These can be ingrained from childhood through upbringing and authoritative figures such as school, church, society, and other similar sources. NLP helps to recognize the interplay of such influences and helps see them for what they are. You can then reinforce what's positive and discard the negative that holds you prisoner to failure.
The term tip of the iceberg has often been used to fittingly describe the average utilization of the human brain. Undoubtedly, one of the most amazing organs in creation, it is reputed to be used as sparingly as a state-of-the-art Apple Macintosh by an octogenarian who only checks email, on his birthday. But even that miniscule amount of usage is riddled with distortions brought about by our individual conditioning.
From the billions of impulses that are conveyed to the brain via the senses, we are aware of about 0.00005 percent and react to less than half. The conscious mind can only deal with about 8 of these perceptions at one time. The vast majority of these perceptions are dealt with by the unconscious mind and what is allowed to float up to the conscious level is dependant on what the unconscious deems suitable. This suitability is guided by certain filters. We habitually ignore or delete some perceptions as unimportant and distort others through the filter of our ingrained beliefs, values, previous experiences, and customary decisions, and become embedded in a pattern all our own. Some of these patterns created in childhood by a certain set of circumstances that are no longer valid, persist into adulthood and can be severely debilitating. Imagine riding your childhood tricycle to work as an adult. By exploring the implications of these filters, it becomes possible to either get rid of them or exchange them for a new set that ensures success.
This unconscious choosing or discarding of what particular perceptions to pay conscious attention to is termed Meta Programs. Now if it happens that your unconscious is in the pattern of prioritising inconsequential and useless perceptions for your conscious mind to work on as a matter of routine, you would certainly do yourself a favour by adapting selection criteria that would serve you better. This is easily illustrated in the case of a student whose conscious mind chooses to focus on the way the hair curls at the back of head of the dude seated in front of her, and let the professor drone on somewhere in the recesses of her unconscious mind. In terms of success the priorities are all wrong here and needs a drastic makeover. Here's where basic NLP steps in to make amends.
Basic NLP is a matter of asking the right questions. Each proponent or guru of NLP devises and comes up with a strategy that works for them and then proceeds to propagate it. Generally speaking however, NLP seeks to question your motives and drives that have got you here and whether you are content where you are. It awakens you to your somnolent state and repositions you to facilitate achievement. Goals are seen as intention to achieve rather than desire or want. There is a decided change in attitude when you say, "I intend to write a book, " rather than, "I want/desire to write a book." The goal is then pursued through positive means with beneficial side-effects and mainly through self-motivation. This self-motivation is easily created when it dawns on you that this goal is worth achieving and worth putting effort into.