Everyone's got 'their thing' - that thing that you do over and over and seems effortless to you. Something you love doing and thrive when you do it. For me, my desire to learn all kinds of things has been there since the early years. And in today's world of constantly changing, constant demands your ability to upskill and master new bodies of knowledge is essential.
While we don't have the "Learning Strategy" in NLP like we do the "Spelling Strategy", there are many tools and broad patterns of learning we can use of people who excel in learning and mastering anything. Two years back I interviewed with ten of the top master trainers (Modeling The Masters) and was curious to see how they had approached getting so skilled at NLP. The conclusion - none of them had a specific consistent pattern for how they went about it, but there were some broad patterns that were there for all.
So how can wee become good at anytHing in record time (including NLP …):
1. Become Fascinated:
The quickest way to absorb and really get good at anything is to become totally fascinated about it. This idea alone is one of the best things I have noticed has been there anytime anyone who excelled at something has done. It's nice to have a desire to learn something but if you don't then the quickest way to make it stick is to do whatever you need to become fascinated about it.
For example, an airline attendant recently came to me and said she was having a real difficulty learning all the different configurations of planes she had to know for a big annual exam. She felt overwhelmed and it showed, she was feeling hopeless and the exam was just two weeks away. Rather than giving her a specific strategy for how to organize the information or memorize it, I told her "Become fascinated in everything relevant about planes, their operation etc and you'll begin to absorb this in now time."
The great thing about this approach is that - when implemented - it calls in to being all the other major patterns she would need like motivation to learn, ease with which she can learn and remember, and desire to output. Three days later she rang me to say "woo thank so much, that suggestion you made helped immensely, I'm flying through the material now and actually look forward to learning the next module.
2. Scope, Set Your Intention and Get Into Action
The next step is simply, in order to excel you want to set a scope about what you want to learn. How will it be used and useful? Once you are clear about this, then set your intention to learn specific aspects of the topic and get into action.
I've received many emails from good folks asking "how can I get good at NLP? or I've just completed my Prac and I've no clue where to start … can you help?" . I always encourage them to focus on one specific application initially they want to get good at. Perhaps they want to be more persuasive, build greater relationships or make more money .. whatever the outcome is once they have a clear idea of how they will use the technology then they can quickly set a scope, intention and get into action. You will no longer feel like "what is all this stuff for or how does it connect".
3. Output, Output, Output
Although all 10 of the master trainers mentioned above had different ways of getting the knowledge base of NLP "in" to their minds/bodies the one thing that was present in all .. was practice .. practice .. and practice. Outputting what they had learned or thought could be true (leading to expanding the knowledge base of the field).
Learning can be taught of occurring in four stages:
Saturate - Saturate yourself in the topic under learning. This means absorb everything you can that relates to your chosen topic or field. Quickly you will find overlap in the material and your brain will make a new map to wire up the various aspects of the field.
Incubate - once you absorb all you can then your brain needs some time to "let it sit" and connect up the dots so have multiple ways of looking at a given topic.
Illuminate - This is the "ah-ha moment" of creativity and learning. Where we go "Ah-ha I get it!" or "Ah-ha if I do this, that happens".
Verification - the last stage is verification, here is where we look to verify what we have learned and get feedback between what we know in our mind and what we find out there … in reality.
4. Find someone who's already good and learn direct from them
The top consultants in the world, firms like McKinsey and others know that the quickest way to get up to speed on a particular industry or topic is find an expert and interview them. Find out what they know, what they think but can't prove and what things seem to occur but that no one has yet been able to identify why. This is often the edge of the learning map and the edge for expansion.
By finding someone who is better, more knowledgeable or skilled than you at a particular topic can save you masses of time and effort that they have learned from direct experience. Not all learning has to be direct - you can learn greatly from the experience of others but the extent that you do will be dependent on the quality of your questions and how quickly you put it into action or verify so you can get it into the muscle.
5. Continue Refining and Learning
I don't think there is a point at which one can say "right, I've mastered NLP, learned it all and I'm done". There is always more that one can learn in any topic, because every field, and especially NLP is expanding, changing and so on. Dr. Bandler and many others are still leading the innovation that we are seeing going on.
So the last major step in how to get good at anything is become a continual learner. Always be on the look out for better, quicker, more elegant ways of doing what you already do - this is the step toward real mastery and becoming an individual who can contribute to the knowledge base and understanding of field you have now got really good at.
Making It Practical:
Pick one area of NLP that you'd like to get really good at in the next 30 days. It may be language patterns, anchoring, the meta-model, framing etc. Apply the approach outlined above to getting really good at that and see how quickly you can become very skilled in a very short period of time. Feel free to post your response to applying the above strategy and learning model.