Do You Admire Someone? How To Become As Good As Them At What They Do

By Martin Crump.

Martin is a Director and co-founder of Evolution.  He is a certified NLP Master Trainer with a wealth of experience of working with organisations of all sizes and types across the UK.

Modelling, The Concept:

Most of our early learning comes from modelling other people.  We learn to walk, talk, play games and socialise by watching and copying our parents, family and friends.

As we grow older we copy friends and role models and modify our behaviour, language and dress as we strive to develop our personalities.

We continue to model people we admire and value as successful in their field, whether that is in a social environment, at work or at play.

At work, we are often trained by a ‘sitting next to Nellie’ approach with the hopes that by working with someone we will pick up the processes and skills needed.  This is fine as long as ‘Nellie’ is good at the job, otherwise bad practices may be passed on and replicated throughout the organisation.

Many organisations now use Mentoring as a way to develop staff by placing them with a more senior or experienced employee. The success of this approach depends on the ability of the Mentor to pass on skills and knowledge.  Often they don’t know what skills are important – most of us just do what we do and don’t think about how we get the results we get.

If the person being Mentored has NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) Modelling skills, however, they can elicit the skills they need from the Mentor.

Given a specific behaviour, ability or skill that an individual can perform, it is possible to replicate that behaviour (ability or skill) in much less time than it took to learn the skill originally.

The problem is that our ability to model other people is limited by the fact that, generally, we only have the observable behaviour to model.

It may be that aspects of behaviour are idiosyncratic – in that these aspects have little or no impact on the outcome of the behaviour.  In fact, some behaviours may actively hinder the successful outcome.

In which case, simply copying behaviour may not have the result you are looking for.

For example: I decided to model a change to my training delivery style on someone I admired.  At the time, I used a very rigid approach to training.

On my courses the room layout was regimented into a U shape with tables and chairs, everyone had a name card and a full set of notes.

I used an Overhead Projector and a rigid agenda which ensured that each course followed exactly the same outline regardless of trainer needs.

Then I met a trainer when I was a delegate on a course who had a completely different style to me.

The room layout was a U shape of chairs with no tables.  No name cards and no course notes – just a blank A5 notebook and a pen.

The Trainer used no projector, just a flipchart and had no notes or agenda.


Once the course started, he just responded to delegates’ comments and developed the course around the individual learners’ needs.

I was astounded and decided that this was how I wanted to train – no notes, no framework, freewheeling and meeting learner’s needs specifically.

As I got to know the trainer it became obvious that the course was very structured, that he knew exactly what was coming next and what he was going to cover on the course.

I now know that if I had gone away and tried to copy his behaviour exactly I would have had real problems delivering effective courses.

The fact is, it is not enough just to copy behaviour, it is important to know exactly what the other person is thinking as they do what they do.  Modelling the thought processes and behaviour is much more effective than just modelling the behaviour.

The thought processes to model are:


What does the person believe about what they are doing?

What values are important while they do what they do?

What generalisations/deletions and distortions are in use?

What metaprogrammes and sort criteria are in use?

What Representational Systems are used?


What strategies are utilised during, before and after the behaviour?


What capabilities are being utilised?


How does this person see themselves during this behaviour?


What outcome is expected?

Modelling Behaviour

Watch the person you want to model.  Study Body Language, Tone of Voice and Words used.

Avoid analysing behaviour, just watch and notice it.

Ask the person to talk through what they do. This gives an indication of what is conscious and what is unconscious. It also gives you an opportunity to recognise the representational systems they are using.

Next, go through the process again and elicit the strategies, primary sort criteria and meta programmes.

Following this, go through the process again and elicit the filters.

Then spend time eliciting their beliefs and their values hierarchy.

Finally, try carrying out the activity yourself using their conscious and unconscious thought processes (intially, you will have to carry out their unconscious though processes consciously.

Review how it went and decide what processes you are going to continue to use, and which ones do not fit your core values or beliefs.

For example, we modelled a number of  consultancies when we were starting our business.  We tried the new processes out and decided that we would use some processes from one organisation and some from another, dropping the ones which just didn’t feel right to us.

This whole modelling process does take a lot of time, but is well worth it as it enables you to improve and enhance the way you do things, either individually or as an organisation.

All NLP Was Created by Modelling & Creating Techniques

Some of the Concepts Utilized Were:

  • Rapport from Hypnosis
  • Anchoring from Pavlov and Behavioural Psychology
  • Strategies from Pribram et al — the TOTE Model

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