The Joy of Modelling to Find New Skills

One of the fabulous Neuro-Linguist Programing (NLP) techniques I use with my coaching clients is “modelling”.  This is the process of studying examples of excellence demonstrated by others. 

It is a wonderfully inspiring experience for the modeller, and also often for the person being modelled.  I encourage my clients to ask to spend time with anyone they know who has skills/talents that would help them towards achieving their goal(s). 

As individuals we are often unaware of the expertise we may display in daily activities until someone else draws our attention to our actions.  An activity that may seem very ordinary to one person can be a revelation to another.  A few hours spent together, with carefully, respectfully posed questions as to the exemplar’s approach and thought processes regarding the specific skill, are usually very enjoyable for both parties, and can be hugely enlightening for the modeller.

Every day, babies, toddlers and children model how to walk, talk and behave by watching those around them.   

“Modelling” is a practice as old as the human race. Ancient civilisations modelled the positive attributes which they observed in nature around them.  We know this because they carved symbols of their “totem” animals. As an animal lover this really appeals to me as there are such diverse skills demonstrated by different animals throughout the world.  It can be a fun and interesting to identify your own totem.

The armadillo is one of my favourite totems. Living in Scotland, I do not encounter armadillos every day, but we have adopted an armadillo called Ivan who lives at Edinburgh Zoo. He is our mascot for our monthly 3RO walks.  Each month we issue an open invitation for anyone who would like to walk and talk.

Armadillos are great walkers and can cover great distances.  And so many of the armadillos’ attributes resonate with me:  e.g. they are tenacious searchers; they love to dig, burrow and search until they get to the bottom of things, they have an external armour which they use to defend their inner softness, they can float in water and “go with the flow”, they enjoy quiet time alone, they are opportunists, quick-witted and nibble on their feet. I could go on, but I’m sure you get the picture.

  • Which person or animal has demonstrated attributes which would be useful for you to model? 
  • When will you schedule time to be with them to study how they do what they do

What do you think? Let's discuss in the comments!

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Pam Jenkinson (12 reviews ) Business Coach, Career Coach, Life Coach

Major life changes such as retirement, redundancy and career changes challenge our sense of who we are. At 3RO we enable clients to: explore ALL their options; clarify their goals and desires; and find their new, true id... Read more