Interview mit Robert Dilts

Interview with Robert Dilts

Aug. 30 1997, by Greta Mildenberg, Roger Vaisey, and Maren Franz

© 1997 Greta Mildenberg, Roger Vaisey, and Maren Franz, Institut für Systemisches NLP Hamburg

Question: What is your vision for the newly formed Global Trainers and Consultants Network? (GTC)

Robert: The vision for GTC is to have a global network of people who are trainers but also consultants and also sponsors. I think a lot of the emphasis in NLP has been on trainers and that has been great but has lead to some of the problems in NLP where people go out and train, but you can’t train without sponsors, without material to be developed. Its a little like music. You can have musical performers yet if there are no composers and organizations that promote or sponsor, it doesn’t get out there. Some of these areas have been the blind spots or weak links in the dissemination of NLP.

So the idea of the Global Training and Consultancy Community is that beyond the Master Practitioner level, it’s not OK to just do more and more NLP practitioner programs, and to get into competition with people who used to be your friends. My belief and my experience is that there is so much more for NLP to do than it has done and if we can have a network and community of people who can share that, then the opportunities to bring NLP to the world and to expand the applications of it can increase exponentially. So one of the visions for it is, that there is an expediential expansion of the ways that NLP is taught, used and applied in the world.

Question: Would you say something on how you see NLP expanding more in the world?

Robert: One of the things we do in the Advanced Training is to have people not only work on presentation skills of what we already know about NLP, but that they also work on developing their own applications.

There is a little bit of history to that that comes from Todd Epstein and I. In 1982 there was a lot of fallout when Bandler and Grinder were splitting up and people were already at that time beginning to bicker over Practitioner Training. So we set up the Dynamic Learning Center as a way of applying other applications of NLP, in learning, in business and in all kinds of areas. So what I envision is people starting with 1 to 3 day programs or consulting applications that explore or manifest a particular application of NLP, that could range from team building to leadership development at a number of different levels, to areas of healing, and spiritual healing. I mean there are just so many different possibilities. I could go on for ever about how many things could be done and have just not been done so far in NLP. If we think that phobias and allergies are the epitome of what can be done with NLP then that is pretty short sighted. There is the whole area of transcultural abilities and skills of creativity and innovation that is so important not only for people in companies but also for individuals.

So to me as I see it, there are applications that are as diverse, as the different people that are attracted to NLP. I was just even thinking about this as I was looking at the people in our Practitioner group at NLP University. The difference in age, country and background of a pretty small group of people in a way was quite remarkable, yet what was obvious was that they shared something together. There was a 20 year old musician from New York, a 60 year old Japanese business man and they are sharing the same kinds of language, the same kind of frames, the same kinds of tools and I really think that these are same of the things that NLP can bring to the world. So what the idea of the GTC is to create an opportunity for that. and in terms of the background of the GTC it is that to a certain degree we are attempting to model the Health Community Training.

The idea of the GTC is that there would be a post Master training, an investment that people put in, to really go deeply into work with health and healing, that we should have a directory, a newsletter, a not for profit organization and to do this in all sorts of different places all over the world. And what happens is that although people are very geographically spread out, they all share a similar mission, a similar vocabulary, a similar set of tools and that allows us on the one hand to be able to make referrals to people who call in, because I know I get requests all the time that my schedule is too saturated to be able to fulfill whether it before someone who needs health work, or for some kind of training or for some kind of consulting with a company, so that’s part if it.

There is another part that is a little bit difficult to describe in words because its more of a sense that there is a solidity that comes when you, for example, when we had these health certification trainings that finished in Denmark, Germany, Brazil and the US, there was a feeling, that there was a “We “around the world that was much more than just here are some Brazilian people that have just finished some new certification program. It’s rather “Now we are part of something and that something has substance.” And that for me is what the GTC is all about.

There are same other goals for the GTC. I think that a lot of the existing NLP applications and models are very American in their approach and I have the opportunity to travel around the world and see what people do, in different parts of the world with NLP and how what unique things are coming out of Germany or Brazil. I would like the opportunity for these things to be able to be spread rapidly a kind of NLP internet. But one of the things that bothers me about the internet is the chatter, meaning the superficial is as much present as the meaningful, the sustenance. So part of the idea of the GTC is to build this NLP network starting on a foundation of people who have had a real commitment to NLP and we have just finished as you well know, our first group and the people who were in that group are people who have been in NLP for literally years. Maybe there are a few people who started and progressed very rapidly. I think the thing for me that was very profound about many of the people is that they have made 5 or 6 or even 10 year commitments and that is very important for me.

Its about building the community on a foundation of people around those who have all shared, not only the tools if NLP etc, but also a really strong commitment and that for me is where you get the quality control. One of the things that all people who are trainers or have any professional interest in NLP in the world, clamor for is something like quality control, credibility, integrity. But the kind of things people have done to accomplish that are sort of policing organizations or arbitrary standards and as I think in true NLP fashion the best way to do that is through role models is to have an opportunity and to have a place, a network that is built and designed and cocreated by people who share that commitment. And that’s what I dream and feel that we have the opportunity to do with the GTC.

To wrap up at least the first answer, another part of that vision is that we will have not only the people but also the instruments to keep them together and events and structures that give people an opportunity to contribute into this global network, so that somebody in Singapore for example can create a vision program and get out to someone in Brazil or Germany or Scandinavia or all over the US. So that it doesn’t just come from one source. My strong belief and again my experience, having been around NLP as long ashave, is that there is a creativity that comes from that, that you will see innovations and developments in NLP the likes of which have not been seem before, because there will be that kind of cross fertilization. But in a strong way it won’t be chaotic and just dispersed and diffused. It will be for people who care about it, who have the ability to assess the depth of something. That’s why a lot of the training we have been doing that goes into that, has been focused on assessment and how do you really know that something works. How can you tell that somebody has done something with a particular thing?

Question: What benefits will there be for trainers in the directory, and what benefits will there be for organizations that use trainers in the directory?

Robert: Well, certainly for trainers in the directory firstly, the most important benefit is that they will be listed and grouped together with people who have the highest level of training reputation and quality in the field.So it’s a kind of “Who’s Who ” of NLP. So there is a credibility of reputation that will come from being in the directory.

Also the kind of things we are asking of people to be in the directory is going to relate to what kind of specialities they have so that there is not just this homogeneous NLP trainer, or mythical NLP Trainer, but people who have particular areas, who are doing projects, who also have a history of working. They will get known to other people in the field. I don’t know how many times for example it happens to me that I am in let’s say Berlin or Paris and somebody goes “Oh you know we are doing, my company is doing” they get a hit of NLP, and they get enthusiastic and excited, and they say ” Do you know someone who is doing this? ” and I go ” Yeah, well yes I’m sure there’s somebody around here, ummmm who is it Where do they live ? What was their last address? There’s this perfect person, but what is there professional name” and so on and so on. So that having that directory will start to crate the possibility of the right person being linked to the right opportunity at the right moment. Its like a resource guide. Also, the directory will not only be an paper but also on disc and on the internet. So the other thing is that in a few months it will be on the internet in a way that people can access it from any part ton the world. And that is another benefit. All the things we have been doing in this past year we have not just thought of in in terms of a booklet, but something on the internet and it will be updated regularly. And we are looking for ways that people will be able to update their own addresses. You would have your own password. I don’t know how that would work as yet.

The other benefit too is for people just knowing that they are part of a community. We have finished this first training with about 40 people. There is one in the UK of about 60 people. There is going to be one finishing in Berlin of between 60 or 70 people. So in a very short order, say 6 months there will be 150 people. And that’s enough to make a community, that’s all over the world, spread from Asia to South Africa. People that are coming to these different programs of course there will be fairly large concentration in Europe and the US. But that just serves to build the community. And one of the things we know and this is important, because it is one of the things we stress in the advanced trainings and are part of the requirement of getting into the community, is that these are people that are committed to networking, to working together, to doing interesting projects and for creating things. So its not just ” Oh, I will have to look who my competitors are” but to really use one and other as resources and there are people who are committed to doing that and there are people in this GTC that are doing big projects, that are already looking for different kinds of other people to help them. And I think it will open the doorway for a new way of people working together in the NLP field.

We need a place for there to be a community and it used to be and still is for people to attend seminars. There was a while when there was some conferences, but I think conferences and some of the associations that did those conferences have changed or transformed and conferences sort of came and went as an opportunity. So we are really looking for something whose purpose is to create community, and not just where the accidental byproduct is to create community. So I think that is another benefit for being on the directory. Now the benefits for the organisations or companies who use this are that again they will be able to target people who have the background, expertise, interest or mission in areas and skills, so it’s not just flipping a coin and saying ” Oh this person has a certificate, maybe they’ll do.” a sort of hit and miss. But the idea of having a directory is that its going to give a lot of information about the person and again the best analogy is how the Health Directory has worked. We have a picture, a mission statement, the background, the degree, languages you know, all that people have, all the relevant information that you need and there have been times for instance, I can remember a couple of months ago, somebody this is the analogy to the health directory somebody called from Porto Alegre which is in Brazil. They had just found that a close relative or somebody had cancer and they wanted to know who could help. What we could then do was to open this directory pick out a few pages of people who seemed to fit the profile, faxed them of course on the GTC we will have it on email and internet faxed them these pages and they could make a decision right away. They were able to get help that could really make a difference in a timely way to this person who needed help. That’s the kind of vision of it. Its timely, its targeted and its with people who can be guaranteed to have a degree of skill and commitment. That’s the idea, not just that somebody has a little certificate on the wall . Its has a picture. You can see them , it tells you something about their mission, their history, something about their specialities. the kinds of things we want to put in the directory are the sorts of things we need to know in order to refer somebody into a job that we couldn’t do whether its a training job or consulting job.



Question: These sort of jobs get more as people understand the benefits.

Robert: Yes and I think there is the issue of fighting over a particular slice of the pie, or making a bigger pie and certainly the goal and vision of GTC is to create a bigger pie. One of my analogies is the US stock market where it just keeps getting bigger and you jeep getting a bigger pie because you’ve got a synergy you are actually creating something more than it used to be. Its not like you are over using a limited resource. You are actually creating more resources rather than taking advantage of or using up a resource. And so ecology is one of the really important values of this.



Question: What steps does someone who wants to become a GTC trainer have to take?

Robert: The first steps are to complete their basic NLP training and hopefully, by the way, as people who are members of the GTC members and know that they have that quality. At this point as there are a lot of good trainers who are not in the GTC or who don’t have that opportunity, I wouldn’t want to say that people should limit themselves to that. But part of one of the benefits of it is that people can get a referral. I would say that people should complete their basic training and then there is the GTC base courses. One in the UK, one in Berlin and one here at NLPU, and I’m sure there will be more in the future. Part of the idea of setting these up is like a setting up the health community training. We have them in a enough places. People who are committed can go there. So there’s NLP University 400A and B course’s and thats part of getting into the GTC. Now there will be other courses that will provide possibilities and we will be establishing these and announcing these and I know we will be doing 400A and B next summer in 98. And then again I’m hoping there will be places around the world which will make more opportunities.

Question: I would like to ask two questions not necessarily related to GTC. One is that you are known as being at the cutting edge of NLP. What is on that cutting edge right now?

Robert: Well I think there are some things that are obvious and somethings that are less known.

One thing that is on the cutting edge of NLP is the book that just came out called Tools of the Spirit, and I think that the integration of NLP and Spirituality is certainly at the cutting edge of NLP and a necessary growth of NLP. For too many years it was absolutely dumbfounding to me that for so many years people would say the NLP didn’t have anything to do with spirituality and yet the title of NLP Vol.1 is “The study of the structure of subjective experience,” saying” well if spiritual is a subjective experience how could it not be part of NLP.”

Secondly for anybody who has a commitment with any sense of vision or mission, they have something spiritual that goes to that level of depth. Everybody that I know and admire in NLP and again whether they call that spiritual or not, that is an element that attracts me to those people.



Question: I don’t know, Robert if you know that in 1988 Ragini Micheals came to Poona to see Osho and he got to know NLP. He said that he wanted his people trained in this. He clearly saw about the understanding of subjective reality that it is not body and no mind, it’s one.

Robert: Yes. Its kind of a funny thing because it seems as if it should be the most ancient thing and in a way it was the starting point of NLP. But its taken this long to become the leading edge of it again. I think that is how it is. Also other explanations of the so called higher logical levels, Identity; I mean a lot of NLP techniques are what we would call changes in behavior, changes in abilities and as we move on to get into deeper levels of change, more pervasive, more long lasting and ecological levels of change, there have to be changes at the level of identity and spirit.

Some other things that are at the leading edge of NLP are some of the things that we started this year the leadership conference which to me has a very close interrelationship with GTC, you know the idea of getting NLP trainers and leaders together and looking into the future and building a vision that we follow together, in the spirit of cooperation, in the spirit of community and of mutual development. To me that is a leading edge that is so leading edge that I can’t yet see where it is going. But again it is a funny thing to say that the leading edge of NLP is at the area of cooperation and working together rather than individualistic power and personal mastery which is all part on NLP. But I think the leading edge is to create a “wespace“.

Sometimes I like to say that when I look at the development of NLP, sometimes what I see is 2 renegades modelling 3 loners 2 outlaws modelling 3 loners: Erickson worked by himself in his mysterious way and even Perls who talked a lot about community pretty much was a loner when it came to his work. And even Virginia Satir who did family therapy her mission was as an individual helping families. So I think its just coming around now that we are getting a sense of a modelling community, bringing community cooperation, rather than the myth of the single individual genius who goes out there and blazes the trail. And again I think some of that comes from the American pioneer archetype. I think that NLP is bigger than that archetype. It’s bigger than a whole lot of archetypes.

Some of the other things that I am personally doing if I am representative of leading edges some if it has to do with stretching out into places where NLP hasn’t been before, like really on the edge of spirituality of what I see is really exciting is happening among the trainers here it’s not just spiritual but so many different dimensions chakras, Zen, these other things all beginning to come together. So how shall I put it it’s like a new unity they are all held in a complementary way because that to me is the essence. I got into NLP because it offered the promise of really being able to experience fully the richness of being a human being in all areas and in all levels. That’s what I want. Not about doing the right thing in one way and setting standards and excluding all these other things, otherwise I wouldn’t be interested in NLP. I was only interested in NLP because I didn’t want to have to choose one thing over another and excluding everything. It was a way to be able to accept everything, experience everything but within a framework . Not in a chaotic schizophrenic piecemeal way but in a way that could truly hold all of this richness. That’s what characterized so many of the people who were here in this first group to go through GTC. That’s one of the things that we all share: a great richness of background, experience, interests, and an openness to receive another model

And I think that along these lines, the other part of the leading edge of NLP has to do with its history. As far as you reach into the future you have to reach into the past and NLP came from modelling and its going to modelling. NLP started from modelling and that will always be its leading edge. What is new? Modelling is ultimately what NLP is about. What is great is that as more and more people become interested in applications of NLP they also become interested in modelling. And I think that again modelling is a gateway to the future. Its like to me a true NLP person, they see someone doing something better than they do so instead of being jealous trying to screw that person get rid of them, fighting them they model them. They go: ” Great. I can do that too. Then I grow then that person sees me doing something then Hey, I am going to model what you do”. OK. its kind of like that sense of growing together. I see that of all the people I’ve worked with, like Judy, like Todd, Robert McDonald all of the people, we grow by modelling things in each other and you know I’m not the same person by any stretch of the imagination that I was 10 years ago. That’s because we are the leading edge we keep pushing our own edge and when, as people grow, the field cannot help but grow. And I think that that is also what is exciting about GTC. So modelling is one and I think interest in modelling is another I foresee in the very near future there probably will be a whole group of books on modelling which I think is finally time that happened.

Also as you know I and Judy are hoping to finish the encyclopedia of systemic NLP. NLP is in a way too big of a field for any two people to be able to encompass but our dream there, is that by starting together, together creating something, it is an encyclopedia that is a container for the great richness of NLP, past, present and future. This will stimulate other people who will say, “Well this is not in there, that is not in there”, and then it becomes like GTC, you collect enough things together in one place, weave it together strongly enough and then people can easily start adding bits. This encyclopedia of NLP is epic. Judy and I look at it and we are awestruck. Its awesome. And this is just what our little perspective has put together. I foresee the day when our encyclopedia is on the internet. It grows and grows and as NLP grows, this encyclopedia will also grow with all the cross links being updated. Someone is interested in addictions, so they look it up on the internet and they find this encyclopedia and as they begin to explore addictions and NLP, there is suddenly a reference here to cybernetics and then there is one over there for 12 steps which leads to spirituality, which leads to and then suddenly someone is on a journey. One of the most interesting things Judy and I have found is that just putting together the encyclopedia, we have these journeys. We start an entry and that leads to to think of something else and something else and it really does show me that there are worlds within worlds. So its not just creating a world and I think that is the problem with the statement ” Creating a world that everyone wants to belong.” Everyone is always looking at the problem presupposition in that statement. I think that the only issue is creating worlds within worlds.

Question: One last thing. There seems to be aconflicting thing going on in the world, as far as I see it. On the one hand there is the ever increasing globalization of businesses, bigger businesses world wide. And on the other hand nations tend to be breaking down into smaller units, Scotland, Palestine, the former Yugoslavia, and so on. So there is a double thing going on here. How can NLP address this?

Robert: A spot on observation. And what I think is responsible for the dual development is that it relates to the leading edge of NLP question. What is on the leading edge of human consciousness, human development, is how to create a global identity yet maintaining integrity in ones own identity. The dangers of having this big global identity is that you have a homogeny. There is no diversity, no richness, no color, no difference everybody is the same eg. Microsoft, Mcdonald’s, back to 1984, the horrific vision: everything is just a shade of gray. At the same time the positive sense is of unity. And we even address this in Tools of the Spirit because a lot of peoples experience of spirit is unity, but if there is unity where is individuality, where is uniqueness, where is the joy of meeting someone who is different than you and going ” Oh Wow that’s fascinating, that’s fantastic”.

And that in fact, to a certain degree, the view of spirituality as simply unity is for many people, death. You die and everything is phewww. So life comes from distinction, from difference. That’s where you get integity. How do I have my personal integrity as an individual being, if I am just absorbed into this mass of grey. I think that part of it is being able to sort out well, certain logical levels. First become clear ,what is identity and how to have selfreferenced identity? I think that the big danger and the reason we have wars and genocide is that people have an externally referenced identity. ” Well we are not them.” And yet paradoxically the worst thing to happen is to get rid of that which you hate. By that I mean, I can remember those Americans how were anticommunist. What happens when there is no more communism worth speaking about any more. You are nobody now. If someone were to come up to you and say, ” I’m an anticommunist”, its laughable. There’s nobody to be anti any more. It’s bizarre to have that sort of an external reference. I think that what NLP has a chance to offer is to be able to sort out these levels of spirit from identity and from beliefs. Most of the world is at the level of not being able to sort out identity from spirit.

One of the things NLP has to offer is obviously all of the presuppositions of NLP. I think my view of heaven would be a planet like ours, living from the presuppositions of NLP. The map is not the territory people have positive intentions. Everybody has all the capabilities they need. All of those things and having all of the tools to be able to express them, to be able to solve problems in their own ways. Part of my experience, I was even talking to Richard Bandler a few months ago where he was saying ,” You know it’s funny that years ago NLP used to view with Gestalt, Transactional Analysis, etc, and now nobody wants these particularly. I mean people are clamouring and fighting still over NLP, and NLP trainings, but not over Gestalt etc.” It’s like what the world needs in certain ways is what NLP has because NLP has the ability to grow. It’s the one thing that saves NLP very much. It isn’t a thing. What it is now I mean what Gestalt was 25 years ago is very similar to what it is now. NLP is totally and remarkably different. And what it will be like 20 years from now, I can only dream about.

Free-copy for private use! Requests for use in seminars, handouts or publishing are welcome. © Greta Mildenberg, Roger Vaisey, and Maren Franz 1997, Institut für Systemisches NLP -Hamburg