Pure NLP® is simply the name that we (Kathleen and I) chose quite a few years ago as a description of what we do and how we do it, our expression of NLP™. 

Over the years, because of our ability to help others learn NLP, we have helped many people enjoy their own success and we have certainly had some of our own.

First, let me say that I have been using NLP since about 1983. I have personally trained with most of the major players in the field. Without mentioning names, there are just a few who I have either not had the opportunity, or not taken the opportunity, to train with over the years.

A bit of background about me may help put some things into perspective:

During my later undergraduate years, I was self employed and worked primarily in Sales and Marketing. After graduating from college, I decided to take a different course and ventured into Manufacturing. While in manufacturing, I had opportunities to work in quality control, maintenance/engineering (machines), safety, production, packaging, shipping, etc.

My experience took me onto a manufacturing startup team where we traveled the US and started up new operations. During these adventures I had the opportunity to learn from and work with some of the best international consultants in socio-technical systems design (a fancy term for participative management systems) and some in human development and organizational development. As a *manufacturing guy* who worked well with the union members, Teamsters, etc., I was in awe that so many people could actually share a vision and make it work, even if they were on opposite sides of the contract. But I also found that the *vision* was usually lacking in some important ingredients, as it were. And if I was to teach excellence, then I wanted to learn excellence.

It was during one of the startups that I realized something of great importance: The *vision* was nothing without a strategy; and the implementation of a strategy was not going to work well without good tactics. Now I know that there are many people out there probably saying at this point, "No kidding, John", but remember I really am just a regular guy from New Jersey.

I started thinking about strategies and tactics, and this was still before NLP for me. I had heard the word, but had not read any books, nor attended any seminars at this point. In thinking through strategies and tactics, I began using what I will refer to as a systemic approach to organizational development, at least in the area of manufacturing and plant operations at that time. This later became the basis for my thesis for my MBA, which I earned later.

There are 2 basic approaches to organizational development: system changes and behavioral changes. Most organizations choose system changes over behavioral changes because behavioral change means training, which is difficult to quantify, and system changes are more readily justifiable on paper. But I realized that organizational change was a lot easier if and when people were trained properly and understood their job, which is another article altogether.

Simply stated, I knew, just like so many other people do, that if people are trained right, they do the job right. And so I took a systemic approach to training, broke down all the components of the job and made for myself an incredible discovery. Fortunately for me, I happened to be in the food business at that time. And to them, the operation was both an art and a science: a phrase I would hear and see later when I stumbled onto NLP: "The Art & Science of Neuro-Linguistic Programming".

The main challenge for the company I was working for at the time, as it was posed to me as an opportunity for my career growth and future potential (yaaack), was that the truly seasoned veterans, the experts of the operation, were either retiring, or taking an earlier-than-planned exit on another plane. And the company was losing the rich knowledge these men and women possessed. The company was going to lose its edge if it didn't do something quickly. And so I was involved. Now I won't be so bold as to say I *modeled* these people, because I didn't know what it was at that time. But my special project was to get inside their heads and find out what they knew, and how they knew to apply it, so that we could put the information into a training program and replicate their success. Sound familiar? And so I did my very best. While I didn't have any idea about representational systems, eye accessing cues, meta/milton model, or Totes, I did a pretty good job. While I was doing this, in addition to collating the information, as it was from various sources, I also had to parse the information into some useable forms, an understandable forms, so that we could train the *person on the street* to perform these jobs. And so I did.

Now moving on to my discovery of NLP, when I first trained with the people I trained with, I learned a lot. I was both fascinated and thrilled to have such fine teachers. Early in my training I met Richard Bandler. Before I met him, I was told by many people, "You're crazy if you go to see him." "He's a mad man." "He's this." And "He's that . . ." I'm sure you get the picture. I didn't want to lose the opportunity to see one of the cofounders and so I went. When I first saw him in the training, I also noticed that many others seemed somewhat cautious, yet exhilarated. I found this to be an interesting combination of states. I noticed immediately that Richard was able to keep them at the edge of their seats. I also noticed that before he gave out instructions, he was doing other things that had to do with the instructions. It did take me a while to notice this, but a good part of my manufacturing training was in trouble shooting: backtracking to process control points that had already occurred in time, and finding out where to make the next change in the process to correct a mistake that had already been made, and without jeopardizing the operation, its financial integrity, product quality, etc.

So, when I noticed that Richard was able to help people change as quickly as he was, I was very curious about that. Now take this and couple it with my early childhood fascination with language, grammar, and the structure of language, I started paying attention to how Richard was doing what he was doing.

At his recommendation, I also trained with others so I could learn different *styles*. But it wasn't different styles I was learning. I was also learning that there were two kinds of *trainers* in the field: The ones who could get the result, and the ones that couldn't. And as I refined my own observations, I made another distinction about trainers: there are those that can *do*, and those that can't. And by *do*, I mean that they can influence people *just by talking to them*. Isn't that what the basis of NLP was to begin with? I think the middle name "Linguistic" is there for a reason that many people have forgotten. I knew about this ability intuitively from a very young age: that there are people who are just influential by how they say what they say, and by how they don't say what they don't say (non verbal communication). Because my focus was, and still is, in the business arena, I was more impressed by people who could help others get their own result through exquisite communication (verbally and nonverbally).

And I also learned that there were all kinds of people *teaching* NLP that many companies in the U.S. were sadly turned off by it. And this was mostly the effect of badly taught representations of NLP. Another realization of mine was that companies aren't (at least in the US) interested in some new training buzz word, some new fangled something to make people feel good. They want results and want it yesterday!! So how to do this?

While training with various trainers in the field, I didn't expect any of them to be cookie cutter robots of either of the cofounders, but I did expect some degree of continuity in the basic information, which I didn't find, except for those who trained personally with Richard and John in the early days. What I found was that there was so much information that I had difficulty applying what I was learning a lot of the time. And so I thought perhaps others were, too. And so I asked around and found pretty much the same thing.

I wanted some consistency in my own training and so I decided to train more with Richard, since by that time, Richard and John had gone their separate ways and I had already become acquainted with Richard. Later, I listened to audio tapes, watched videos of others, and to this day, I'm glad I made the decision I made.

After doing a fair amount of training with Richard, I realized that what was lacking in the field, although it was right there all the time, was to make an explicit distinction for people learning NLP so they could use it more fully, more elegantly, and more completely than they may have been. The distinction I made is so powerful for so many, that I've called the first part: Pure NLP®. The distinction I made is simple. The technology has two identifiable parts: Skills and the Applications of those skills.

Most of whatever is out there are applications of the basic technology. It seems that people have confused the two together. The phobia cure, for example, is an application, a technique.

Some of the best people out there in the world, those that are most successful, most effective, may be *using* NLP, that is, the skills. They are great at anchoring, they are elegant with language, they have super tonality, etc. They understand how to be influential and persuasive, and some are the tops at helping others to change without using *techniques*, or even giving instructions as in a technique. These are the people who I admire for their skills.

With all the ballyhoo about who owns what, it's important to remember this: without NLP, as it was initially developed, as it was meant to be used, the people out there complaining and whining about *who owns what*, wouldn't be where they are today selling NLP if it wasn't for the basic technology. They may have put together their own techniques, named them, etc. but those techniques could not be put together without the ingredients of the basics. Perhaps these people are experiencing a lack of their own success, I don't know. Their whining and complaining does not make any significant contribution to the field.

The core essence of the technology is about *experience*, not going meta to it, not dissociating from it. This just causes more generalizations of the experience and oftentimes not in a useful way for the client. When processes are named, they become generalized. While using different perceptual positions is useful at times, it is useful just to give the client a different perspective, not to live their lives that way. How will they learn to experience their own lives "more fully"? Remembering the names of various applications, techniques, etc. is not the most useful use of what they are capable of *doing*.

There are many people developing new applications. One I know of is in the medical field. He is teaching doctors to *use* NLP in a way that helps their clients!! This is commendable. New applications are just that: applications of NLP. If those who think they have a new model, they should not call it NLP, or refer to it as NLP, but take the challenge and market it as something totally new. Then they can test their assertions. Anything that's truly a new *model* will be tremendously successful and prove to be a worthy contribution to the field of human development.

As an international corporate consultant, I don't say NLP unless absolutely necessary. Most times, if the client asks later for an explanation as the attribution of the success of our trainings, I can take the opportunity to explain how NLP enhances the process of human and organizational change and creates more permanent transformations than the typical corporate training programs.

I use everything I know to facilitate change conversationally and with nonverbal additions. I don't often take the opportunity to give instructions for changing submodalities, I use my own verbal and nonverbal abilities to effect them. My experience is that this is what most people appreciate and want to learn to do. We do what we can to help them to learn this. This is what we call Pure NLP®.


John La Valle