Interview with John Grinder (1996)
The interview was at the end of part one of a two-part seminar on Pattern Detection conducted in July 1996 in Boulder, Colorado with NLP Comprehensive. Part two was held in September 1996.
Dr John Grinder and Carmen Bostic St. Clair will be teaching a seminar on Advanced Metaphor in Sydney the 17th to 21st May 2007.
1. As one of the few individuals who has developed a whole new field of endeavour, do you have any thoughts regarding the circumstances that make it possible to be in that position?
There is a metaphor which is extremely common in western European traditions in which an investigator establishes his or her contribution while simultaneously paying tribute to the work which forms the foundation which makes possible their specific contribution.
This is typically expressed by noting that the new contributor can see farther than the original giants who established the foundation for their new work by standing on their shoulders. But for me, personally, this is quite misleading and not at all congruent with my experience.
Rather than a physical metaphor - that is, the additional height achieved by standing on the shoulders of the giants who preceded me, it seems to me that what Bandler and I did in our original work - the classic code of NLP - was much more accurately captured by the idea of seeing in a totally different way rather than seeing farther.
So while one of the circumstances which made it possible for us to create NLP certainly was the previous work, especially by Russell, Turing, Godel, Chomsky, and Bateson as well as the specific models of Perls, Satir and Erickson, the actual value added by our activity was an audacious style of provoking the world by refusing the common sensical wisdom, most assuredly by rejecting the presuppositions of the vast majority of researchers active in the field, by seeking to extend the patterning to its limits and by creating the process tools (at a higher logical level than the content of the investigations) to enable others to follow the paths of discovery which lie all around us. As Stephen Jay Gould said beautifully (The Panda's Thumb, p243):
Thus, I believe, anyone seeking to create such a paradigm shift would be wise to develop a healthy respect for the research which has preceded while cultivating an equally healthy disrespect for the presuppositions for precisely the same body of research. As George Bernard Shaw once said (corrected for sexist language):
So be it!
2. When you and Richard Bandler were first developing NLP did you have any ideas or expectations about what would happen to it over time?
My memories about what we thought at the time of discovery (with respect to the classic code we developed - that is, the years 1973 through 1978) are that we were quite explicit that we were out to overthrow a paradigm and that, for example, I, for one, found it very useful to plan this campaign using in part as a guide the excellent work of Thomas Kuhn (The Structure of Scientific Revolutions) in which he detailed some of the conditions which historically have obtained in the midst of paradigm shifts. For example, I believe it was very useful that neither one of us were qualified in the field we first went after - psychology and in particular, its therapeutic application; this being one of the conditions which Kuhn identified in his historical study of paradigm shifts. Who knows what Bandler was thinking?
3. If so, in what ways has it conformed and deviated from your expectations?
One of the expectations which I personally carried at the time of discovery and development of NLP was that people interested in our work would cleanly make the distinction between NLP and applications of NLP. My hope at the time was that given this distinction, there would arise a group of committed men and women who would recognize the meta levels tools which we had either discovered (the Milton Model.....), or created (the verbal patterns of the Meta Model or Precision Model, Representational Systems....), and go out and identify and create new models of excellence to offer the world. This has not happened and is very disappointing to me. NLP is popularly represented and commonly practiced at least one logical level below what it was clearly understood to be at the time by Bandler and me.
This inability to distinguish either behaviorally or cognitively the consequences and applications of NLP from core NLP itself (modelling of excellence) is extremely commonplace.
4. How would you like NLP to progress from here on?
As I indicated in my response to question 3, I would like to see NLP cleanly distinguished from its spin offs - its applications - and a dedicated group of modelers go after new models of excellence. This would constitute for me a validation that the message I set out to deliver to the world has been received.
5. What prompted you and Judith DeLozier to develop the New Code?
The context which stimulated the development of the New Code by DeLozier and myself in the mid-80's contained two characteristics which I wished at the time to correct:
6. How would you describe the difference between the Classic Code and the New Code NLP?
The New Code differs in two important ways from the Classic Code:
7. There is a common misconception both within and outside the NLP community to the effect that some people are labeling themselves or others as if "a visual", "an auditory" or "a kinaesthetic" were terms of identity. Could you describe the function of representation systems and their place in NLP?
Yes, easily! The entire problem would be resolved if anyone using the representational system material (e.g. eye movement patterns, unconscious selection of predicates....), would recognize and act congruently with the following proposition:
This would ensure behavior congruent with the original intent I carried at the time we discovered the patterning - namely, its use as a precise way of knowing what the unconscious preferences and strategies (and failures) of the person in front of me has from moment to moment - that is, a very precise form of feedback in which the practitioner samples every 30 seconds to verify the continuing preference or strategy (or failure to access and employ one of these great resources).
8. If you could change three things between the origins of NLP and the present time, with hindsight, what would they be, and what would you imagine the effects to have been?
Sorry, I'll pass on this one. It is a question about what would have happened had I done something which I did not do. Since I am never going to do this, I have no interest in exploring it. The principle is clear for me - I will not attend to issues which I will not act on. For me, this is a waste of time, and it may be a guiding principle for someone interested in actually accomplishing something in the world.
9. If someone seeking their first NLP training were to ask you to advise them on choosing their training providers, and how to get the most out of their training, what criteria would you suggest they use, and how would you suggest they approach their training?
Yes, to me this is an important question. First, I would say to such a person that they select by the congruency of the trainer. More specifically, I would recommend that they deliberately provoke the potential trainer and appreciate the way in which the potential trainer handles their state and the response they make - more importantly at the relationship level than at the content level.
Secondly, I would ask the person entering a training to be an active skeptic - more specifically, that they question everything, demanding first hand evidence (that is, personal experience) for each and every claim issued by the trainer(s). In addition, it is my ethic that a trainer has a responsibility for ensuring that each pattern presented includes three elements (the sequence of presentation by the trainer may vary as a function of their style):
Further that a person entering an NLP training make two personal arrangements with themselves:
10. What background skills and knowledge would you like to expect working NLP trainers to possess?
Personal congruity, sparkling intelligence, a deep, bottomless curiosity, a driving desire to discover new patterning, a phobic class response to repeating themselves, a continuous scanning for evidence that they are mistaken in every aspect of their personal and professional beliefs, solid personal ethics, physical fitness, actual real world experience in any field in which they intend to present NLP and an excellent sense of humour.
11. In recent years you have been doing very little in the way of formal NLP training. What have you and your partner Carmen Bostic St. Clair been doing instead? Where are you attending to the world and what for?
Within the corporation QUANTUM LEAP, partner, Carmen Bostic St. Clair and I have focused ourselves on co-developing at the group level (companies, work teams, governments, institutions, sporting teams,...) a new set of tools and models roughly equivalent in precision and power to what Bandler and I originally developed at the personal level. Our work thus typically takes the form of a consultancy, often initially labeled Re-Engineering or Re-Design of Critical Business Processes, into which we always accomplish the following
In part this activity is a concrete expression of a commitment to make the world we live in a better place and the recognition that if we are to realize this grand goal, one of the leverage points we can use to succeed is the work context. Since everyone participates in some way or another in the work context, to create a new standard (or paradigm) in this field would have the greatest influence.
12. Your company is called Quantum Leap Inc. What prompted you and Carmen to name your company Quantum Leap?
QUANTUM LEAP was originally created by Carmen Bostic in 1987. While engaged in a business consultancy contract for her working in some of the companies which she as the CEO ran, I recognized in Carmen Bostic a genius in the fields of negotiation, relationships, and business. I joined her corporation in 1988.
The word QUANTUM (contrary to popular use) refers to the smallest unit of energy (or light) while the word LEAP suggests a discontinuity. Thus the phrase QUANTUM LEAP contains a tension approaching paradox. The idea is quite simple: in total opposition to Michael Hammer who insists that Business Process Re-Engineering begins with a wiping clean of the organizational structure in order to design from nothing the new company, we take pride in being able to identify the what and the where to put that what to initiate the change required for a corporation to succeed in achieving its potential, according to the three criteria listed above. The alert reader will recognize that we are referring to the necessity of systems thinking and actions congruent with it in succeeding in changing organizations - something often spoken of and rarely achieved.
More specifically, the phrase/name QUANTUM LEAP refers to our ability to make the smallest difference consistent with achieving the greatest change for all classes of our clients. This correctly implies that one of the features of our consultancy is rapid and ecological change.
13. Pattern detection is obviously a topic that is important to you. Would you like to comment on its place in NLP?
Pattern Detection is indeed the one of the first steps in the modeling process, and clearly, without it, it is not possible to create a model. Or more generally, without the ability to recognize (some people would argue that the more appropriate verb would be a blend of create and recognize) patterns, learning itself of any type is impossible - I agree. Thus what could be more fundamental than the ability to detect pattern.
14. Carmen Bostic St. Clair and you will be making a rare Australian appearance in May 2007 to present a seminar on advanced use of metaphor. What is its significance in terms of individuals' approaches to the world.
All which is not concrete is metaphoric - clearly, this involves the vast majority of our everyday experiences. The structure of the unconscious - easily the factor most influential in our success in life - or more correctly said, the relationship which we have with our unconscious is easily the factor most important in our success in life - is that of metaphor.
The unconscious contains no nouns, only verbs - the part of language which carries the representation of the relationships and processes which determine the quality of our lives. This in part accounts for the fact that the typical production of the unconscious is metaphoric - dreams, poems, dances, songs and stories. In this presentation by Carmen Bostic and myself, we will address ourselves with the participation of the members of the seminar to two primary issues:
15. What is the significance of metaphor with reference to the success of organizations?
The influence of metaphor with respect to organizations takes two obvious forms:
16. What are the benefits an individual would be likely to derive through attending the Advanced use of Metaphor seminar in Australia?
The benefits I would insist on walking away from the Advanced use of Metaphor seminar presented by Carmen Bostic and John Grinder in Australia in May 2007 would be:
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