Circle of Excellence

by Steve and Connirae Andreas

This is the original format from our Classic Trainer Manual. It includes some of the background material used by the trainers such as framing, and frequently asked questions (with answers!).

Select Demonstration Subject Phrasing: “I need someone who wants a particular state of excellence to be more rampant in their life.”

1. Identify Excellent State: “What state of excellence would you like to have more places in your life?” “By ‘state of excellence’ I mean a state in which you have all your resources available to you in a way that allows you to act with full capability.”

2. Set up Circle of Excellence: “I’d like you to imagine a circle of excellence on the floor in front of you. What color is yours?”

3. Access Excellence and Anchor to Circle: “Think of a time when you were in this state in a way that was fully satisfying to you. When you feel it, step into the circle.” As soon as A can observe that B starts to access an excellent state, A motions B to step forward into the imagined circle on the floor. A and C (meta-person) make sure that a powerful state is fully accessed, and they both calibrate to this state.

4. Separator State: “Step back out of the circle.” (and distract with a neutral question if necessary to break state.).

5. Testing. “Now step back into the circle, and find out how fully it elicits those feelings.” A and C make sure that B re-accesses the excellent state fully and automatically (without conscious effort). “Step back out of the circle.” (separator state)

6. Desired Context. “From this point on, any time I tap you on the shoulder, I want you to step into the circle.” “Now think of a future situation, or a context, where you would like to have more of this particular “state of excellence.” (Note that this is not an instruction for B to associate into this “problem context.” If B does so, A can immediately tap B on the shoulder, so that B steps into the circle of excellence (step 7).

7. Chaining. “When I touch your shoulder, I want you to immediately step forward into that circle and recover that excellent state.” (pause) “How, specifically, might things go wrong in that future situation?” or “What will let you know it’s time to have these resources available?” As soon as B begins to access the “problem” state again, A touches B’s shoulder, the signal for B to step forward into the circle. A and C observe to be sure that B does quickly access the state of excellence.

8. Testing. Ask B to step back out of the circle, (separator state). Then ask B to say a little about the future situation in order to get B to think about it and access it. “Where will that future situation occur?” or “Who else will be there in that future situation,” etc. Or, ask “What happens now when you think of what used to go wrong?” Observe to be sure that B only briefly accesses the “problem” state and then automatically accesses the state of excellence. (You can also ask B to report his/her internal experience, but the nonverbal communication is much more important.)

Review: First ask for any questions for the demonstration subject. After taking those, thank the subject and excuse him/her. (Don’t keep the subject there while you talk to the group.) Then go through each of the steps in order, taking only questions about the step you’re on at the time.

Step 3: Keep anchor clean. If the person is in the circle and starts to access something “unexcellent,” pull them out of the circle. Don’t ask them “meta” questions “about” their experience while they’re in the circle.

Q: Do you let them think about the cues for a while and then go into circle? A: No. A major mistake is letting the person feel bad too long. As a client, if A doesn’t tap you on the shoulder soon enough, step forward into the circle anyway. This will a) be better for you, and b) be elegant feedback for the programmer about what is exactly the right moment. (If you try to tell them later, you won’t be able to specify it nearly as well as you can behaviorally at the time.)

Caution: There are many different kinds of states of excellence and some will be much more appropriate for a particular context, or set of behaviors than others. If the resource is inappropriate to the chosen context, the result will be unsatisfying even if all the steps are done perfectly.

Variation: First ask about a “problem” state, and calibrate. Then the person selects a resource state that is precisely tailored to this particular problem state. Access this state of excellence fully, and calibrate. Then chain person from “problem” state to resource state as before.

Discussion: This process creates a “chain” between two states, so that the “problem” state automatically leads into the state of excellence. It is a way of programming excellence wherever a person wants it. Formally, it is the same as future-pacing.

Q: What does the color of the circle have to do with it? A: Asking for color presupposes she sees it clearly. You presuppose everything you don’t want them to have choice about. You don’t ask “Can you see a circle.”

Q: What if it’s hard for them to see the circle? A: Shift rep. systems: Have them hear a tone. Any minor adjustment to make it easy for the person is useful.

Q: Do you do this with really intense problems? A: No, use the phobia method, which we’ll teach soon. When learning this method it’s best to use something that isn’t your worst, most devastating experience. For that, you want the person working with you to have lots of tools available, not just a few.

Q: What if I can’t see the cues that indicate the client is entering the negative state, so I don’t know when to push? A: Push early rather than late, or tell them to do it themselves, and you watch them. The only possible danger in this is that they might forget, so you still need to be there as backup.

Q: Can you do this with a group? A: Yes, but you can’t do individual feedback or tailoring very well, and you have to rely more on their abilities.

Keep in mind the general form. What you are doing is linking a resource to a context. It doesn’t matter if they are or aren’t aware of the circle later. The more the form becomes automated in your behavior, the more attention you can pay to the client’s responses.

When the client notices something is not going well, tell the programmer explicitly. Give feedback (in this situation, for this person). The meaning of your communication is the response you get.

© 1986, C & S Andreas, 1998 NLP Comprehensive All Rights Reserved

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