Modelling: The Mastery Plan

Note: this is a guest post from Keziah Gibbons‘ blog. Keziah will be presenting her project on the NLP Masters’ course in October.

The Project


The Magician has access to all of the resources he needs…

Part of the mastery of NLP includes the ability to create a model of excellence. That is, if you are excellent in your particular field, as an NLP master I should be able to map your cognitive processes in such a way that I, or any other who uses this map, can reproduce this excellence. Modelling is not copying, and a well-created model should enable those using it to apply it in their own particular way, whilst capturing what the UK’s first female master trainer of NLP, Beryl Heather, would call the essence of what you do.

As a demonstration of the modelling process, for a cohort of master practitioners in training whom I’ll be co-facilitating in October of this year, and as a logical next step and tool on my own path, I have decided to create a really good storytelling model.


  • Create and use a model of excellent storytelling
  • Demonstrate the modelling process
  • Further my own personal development

The Background

The Story of the Crow

Link to Masters Video

Click on the picture to go to the video of my Masters’ presentation

For my own master practitioner certification two years ago, I decided to model the pain management process used by pain management specialist, nursing tutor and NLP trainer Dr Graham Dexter. (Disclosure: I am related to both Graham and Jan.) One of the requirements for the presentation was a demonstration of use of metaphor. “Do I have to tell it as a metaphor?” I asked my teacher Dr Janice Russell, herself something of a mistress of metaphor. “Yes,” she uncompromisingly replied. Reluctant and slightly panicked, I tore up my boring and accurate factual report of the project, and got to work penning a story. I used to write and enjoy it, but I hadn’t for years. Perhaps unsurprisingly, I rather enjoyed the process, and after giving my presentation felt that I had perhaps recaptured some of my own storytelling spirit. Oh, and I had my first tattoo done as part of the process.

I wannabe a Bard

Last autumn I started the BDO (British Druid Order) Bardic course. I’ve long been fascinated by druidry ancient and modern, and this has been a fantastic chance for me to learn a little more about myself, my path, the natural world, history, magic and stories. In fact, as I noted in my ruminations when I started the course, here is a chance to get back into my storytelling self, and to explore new ways to use story. So this project very much fits in with my personal path at this moment as well as the objective to demonstrate a modelling project.

Myth and Narrative

There is so much magic in myth and story, isn’t there? When we study ancient stories, we connect with our roots in pre and proto histories, times and places when nothing was written down and the only other evidence we have is archaeological. What a wonderful way to relate to ordinary people from the past, our ancestors!

And after so many years, we still rely on stories to impart knowledge, to teach us about cultural norms and about characters we may meet. In my own healing work, I use stories and metaphors with clients, particularly in matildacombination with hypnotic trance.

Fairy stories allow children to safely explore scary adult concepts, like death and danger, which they might someday need to know about, without having to experience it for themselves. Stories can also impart hope for those who are going through difficult times, when they need to believe that there’s a happy ending. Stories can help to raise awareness and understanding of important issues. And they give us a sense of shared human experience, and remind us that we are not alone as we face our demons and participate in our own quests. As well as being great entertainment of course!

The Plan

Find the Right Storyteller

As this project is only just emerging from my nicely-bubbling cauldron of inspiration, I am still looking for the right person to model. There is a practical side to this – which may involve attending an event or two (I’ve already been recommended a festival that looks fantastic, but which, unfortunately, falls at a time when I’m not in the UK) – but there is also a necessity to know what I’m looking for – what qualities I want to model.

So here it is universe, I would like you to connect me with a storyteller who has presence, magic and memory, and can tell and retell old tales and create new ones with skill and purpose. Thank you!

Modelling through 3 positions

The modelling process, in its most basic form, consists of three positions:

First position (Shadow): This is where I shadow my model, and take on their physiology and behaviours, in an attempt to tune into them on an unconscious level (unconscious uptake).

Second position (Interview): At this point I’ve shadowed and observed my model and may have found ideas popping up in my head about what might be going through their head. This is a good chance to try these out and ask any questions. Although it’s called second position, I’d usually do this at the end.

Third position (Observe): As I spend time watching my model, I notice what I think is going on inside their head, from a perspective of distance.

What’s Going on in Their Head?Neuro-energy

As I shadow, observe, and interview my model, the outcome is to learn and reproduce what’s going on with them in order to apply it to my own storytelling and share it with others who may be interested. I’ll particularly be looking at strategies for how they represent to themselves inside their head as they tell stories (a pattern of representational systems that lets them know at what stage they are in any given process). I’ll also want to know what’s happening on the Dilts levels – what is happening with identity, beliefs, capabilities, behaviour and the environment. From there I’ll integrate any other noticings which become apparent, and create a ‘model’ which I’ll then use to tell a story masterfully myself.

The Finished Project

I’ll post updates on here as the project unfolds to share my learnings and the modelling process. The final presentation will be given to the masters’ group in the Algarve in October. I’ll also upload a video onto the blog.