NLP is a technique where you discover how to do something by studying how others have accomplished it. This relates to someone who does something well, like playing golf, or naturally is able to do something well, like a good conversationist!
Here is an example of where a problem was identified, and an unusual technique was discovered.
When I was five years old, my baby teeth rotted because I ate sweets almost every day. My grandparents gave them to me. I used to stay with them quite often at the weekends and every day I would have some sweets, and I did not clean my teeth before I went to bed. I was even allowed to take sweets to bed with me!
Often I would visit them on a school lunch time (they lived close to the school) and I would have a few boiled sweets on my walk back to school.
All this took its toll, and I was relieved when my second teeth began to appear. It took a long time for my ‘first’ back teeth to fall out, and they gave me severe tooth-ache, and had to be removed. It was a very unpleasant experience, firstly the pain, and then the dental work.
Unfortunately, my back teeth also developed cavities and had to be filled. And then one day, when I was 13 years old, I made up my mind that I would do everything I could to avoid having dental work again. I stopped eating sweets altogether, and only began occasional treats ten years later. I ate a piece of cheese at the end of every meal, and cleaned my teeth 20 minutes after every meal.
My mother said ‘The touch of an apple cleans teeth’. However, I had learnt at school that apples were ‘acid’ and so I was not happy to end a meal with an apple – unless I had some cheese to follow!
I listened to the advice from the dentist, that was all about cleaning teeth and avoiding sweets, but I was not convinced that these things alone were the answer. Many people I saw around had decaying teeth, if they had any left at all, and I kept a look-out for any further knowledge that would help me to keep my teeth in good condition.
One day, we were visited by an Indian salesman. He worked in the UK, selling a variety of clothing and linen from a large brown suitcase. His home was in Delhi, where his family still lived. Every few weeks he would stop by, and my parents were always welcoming with a cup of tea, and often made him a boiled egg for lunch. The conversations were interesting. I noticed how good his teeth were, considering he was what I considered to be an ‘old man’. I asked him how he had kept his teeth so well.
He replied by showing me how he used ash from the fireplace on a soft cloth and rubbed it gently all around his teeth.
I tried this, but I didn’t like the ash in my mouth. I noticed that when I rubbed the clean cloth on my teeth that instantly they felt so clean. Where they may have felt rough, or slightly tacky, they became polished and smooth after this cleaning.
I began to incorporate this cloth-cleaning in my tooth regime. It was always possible to clean my teeth with any cloth, wherever I was. In a bus or car, or even in bed through the night. The cloth could be my sleeve or a t-shirt, or the corner of the sheet when I was in bed. I began to carry pieces of cloth with me, in my handbag. I could even polish my teeth thoroughly while watching the TV!
This story illustrates how NLP began. You find someone who has accomplished what you would like to do, and then you find out how they did it. You then experiment with their method, and develop your own version of it.