Numerous researchers have discovered in recent years that if one person can do something, almost anyone can be taught the skill. Books and courses are available on everything from lowering your golf score to boosting your grades, tasting wine, and improving your spelling. They all share a common theme: To replicate an expert’s behavior, model the pieces of that behavior.

Here’s an example. Tim Gaiser, one of the world’s leading wine sommeliers, worked with wine expert Tim Hallbom to model Hallbom’s wine-tasting behavior. Gaiser then produced a booklet and DVD to teach users, in an hour or so, how to taste wine (and many other things, such as coffee). (Look up www.everydaygeniusinstitute.com to learn more.)

Instructions include: selecting the proper glassware; “getting present” with the wine; smelling the wine; and remembering and categorizing the wine. Unlike a year-long course in the basics of wine-tasting, the behavioral model captures the essential elements of what the expert does and gives students a method they can easily understand and remember.

The approach extends to product design. Modeling the behavior of users of a proposed new product — say, a golf club or tennis racket — lets designers quickly determine the “sticky points” or areas the new design must address. The method lets designers find out what users consider critical, without having to become experts (for example, in golf) themselves. It can provide a shortcut to design innovation, and it works just as well for almost any product.

The idea that you control your thinking has other applications. For example, let’s say you are stuck in the analysis of some problem. You try to find a solution and can’t resolve anything. Your frustration grows as the deadline approaches, making it even harder to mine your creativity.

Try this approach: Stop, put your hands in your lap, and close your eyes. Take several deep breaths, thinking only of your breathing and ignoring other thoughts. Feel yourself relax. In this relaxed state, recall a situation where a problem’s solution came to you. It doesn’t matter if you had figured it out or if the answer just popped into your head.

Then review what happened in terms of your feelings. At first, the problem had you curious or perplexed. Then you feel a rush of elation in finding the solution. Let yourself experience these feelings again.

Think about where the image of the memory presents itself in your visual field and any sounds that connect to it. Fix that pattern in your mind.

Now think about your current challenge. Play it like a mind movie. Position it in the same visual field as your earlier success. Match the images’ brightness to the brightness of the original experience. Add in any sounds or other sensory experiences.

Then transition to a solution, just as you did in your memory, only this time do so with your current problem. You will be surprised at what turns up.

These are just a couple of examples of how you can use patterns to control your inner experience and solve problems. There are many others. They fall under the heading of “neurolinguistic programming.” The best book I’ve found on the subject is, NLP: The Technology of Achievement, by Steve Andreas and Charles Faulkner. Google NLP to find many Web resources on the topic. M

Joel Orr is an NLP Master Practitioner and CTO of EZOSA, a software startup.

Edited by Leslie Gordon
leslie.gordon@penton.com, Twitter @LeslieGordon,

© 2011 Penton Media, Inc.