xIt was my first time attending an NLP Leadership Summit. I only knew five people out of thirty, one being my husband/business partner, Steven Leeds. As I listened to the participants introduce themselves, all of whom had been involved in NLP for at least 15 years in the areas of training, research, writing and/or innovation, I was very impressed. I liked being part of an interesting and exciting group of NLPers who like me had made NLP their life.

Michael Hall and Heidi Heron, who organized the summit, seamlessly provided a unifying structure for the three days. Sitting in a circle we discussed varied topics related to NLP, its past, present and most importantly, its future. There were three tables for break out groups of ten. When breaking into these groups we had four designated roles: facilitator, scribe, timekeeper and speaker. We were also asked (jokingly?) to make sure each group had its own designated ‘mis-matcher.’ The discussions included, “What are the standards needed in an NLP Practitioner Training?,” “What is happening with NLP research?,” “Is NLP a profession?”, “Are we conflict adverse?”, “How do we incorporate technology into training and public relations?”, “What are the foundations of NLP?”, “What’s new in NLP?”, What is our vision for the future of NLP?”, and “What defines an NLP Leader?”

At the get go we reminded ourselves to demonstrate respect for each other, eliminate bad mouthing, not speak over each other and keep our comments brief. Everyone in the group remained respectful when disagreeing. Together we created the safe space we all wanted. While speaking over each other and going beyond our allotted time did occur (I was definitely one of the culprits). Fortunately our facilitators respectfully “reeled us in” when this happened.

What did I learn and what did I take away? I discovered that there is an university in Nicaragua, thanks to Karl and Nandana, that provides a PhD in psychology with an emphasis in NLP where students do not have to reside in Nicaragua to attend. I also found out about some offspring techniques, Mind Sonar, designed by Jaap Hollander and Social Panaroma, designed by Lucas Derks. Each technique uses aspects of NLP and is being taught separately from a typical practitioner training. I learned that Catalan from Romania, who is the leader of the INLPT group has created an association for training psychotherapists in NLP in thirteen countries.

At times my new learning was on a smaller chunk size, during informal conversations. One discussion was about modeling and what modeling is and isn’t. There was also considerable disagreement about the length of an NLP certification training and what specific curriculum “should,” be included. I also found out that not all NLP trainings have the same curriculum. Some NLP trainings don’t teach Milton Model and some include Meta Programs in their Practitioner curriculum while other’s include it in their Master Practitioner curriculum. I learned that some NLP trainers only do demonstrations without describing or discussing the techniques and instead just tell participants to do the exercise. We did not always arrive at a conclusion, but the interactions were lively and thought provoking.

The most spontaneous moments were also the most memorable for me. There are two that stand out for me. One occurred in a small group when I was the facilitator. Our group members were; myself, Melody, Shelly, Nadana, Heidi, Aneke M., Fabiola, Jaap, Ueli, and Judith. Our group was discussing how do we get other people to come to NLP trainings, or “How do we get people to play with us?” Our first innovation was to leave the summit meeting room and go outside to the delightfully sunny weather and sit by the patio. After we began discussing how to “get people to play”, an idea was generated that involved using ourselves to describe on a ‘YouTube’ style video why we found NLP useful. The excitement in our group was palpable. We began talking louder and faster, and I must admit my facilitation was not present as we got caught up in our creativity. We began to wonder what would we say. “Powered by NLP, ” was thrown about, and advice about identifying a problem and then a solution was suggested for the content, then the wind became fierce and we were blown back into the training room. Our timekeeper reminded us that we were getting close to the end. Some people had practiced a line or two of what would they say if they were to do this. I felt an impulse and thought, “why not do this now.” I took out my smartphone, pressed the video button, looked at Melody, and she began the dialogue, and then I filmed the next person and then he next and ended with myself. At one moment we were speaking English and then German, then Dutch, Spanish, Swiss-German, and within 2 minutes and 18 seconds we had shot a video that we could share with the world to say, “Come play with us.” It was our innovation, and I felt our creativity and proactivity flowing. We had worked together as a team and had a product to show. We then shared the video with the larger group. Everyone clapped and most were ready to get filmed too. Yes that was creativity. Subsequently I have shown this video to NLP students and they have liked it and felt like they too are part of something bigger than just their training program.

Another spontaneous and creative moment occurred in another group discussing “what is” and “what isn’t” NLP. Our group members were myself, Melody, Catalan, Aneke M., Shelle, Brian, Joe and Lorilie. My role was to be the speaker, the one who reports to the larger group. As the discussion began, Joe jumped up to get a flip chart, Melody grabbed her post its and within seconds, our group listed most of the NLP concepts, techniques, foundations, theories and spinoffs. Earlier in the large group Aneke D. used the metaphor of a tree, so Lucas drew a tree on the flip chart and Joe put up the Post-its. Our discussion became loud and fast, and I felt caught up in the excitement. At one point I was excitedly talking with Shelle, while others were talking and Aneke M. had to get us to focus, because we were all speaking over each other with ideas. It was at that moment I realized that in order for me determine whether something was NLP I had to ask myself, “Do I have to know NLP to learn this?” This question then led us to several more questions. I don’t remember who contributed, but at this point we were a group, collectively and collaboratively co-creating. So forgive me for not identifying who said what. Here are the other questions that we created to decide if something is or isn’t NLP; “What do I think, (this was from Lucas), and I think it meant that we each will have our opinion no matter what. “Does the technique have pattern and distinctions from our foundation?”, “Does it advance/enrich the NLP field?”, “Does it in some way create an application or repurpose?”, “Does the person creating this technique acknowledge NLP as part of its roots?” Our tree flip chart was full. We did not necessarily have a firm conclusion on what was or wasn’t NLP, but we had a great visual aide, which we shared with the large group and that led to more collaborative discussion.

In sharing these two examples I am aware of my preference for proactivity, speed and energy. In both groups we became very animated and often speaking over each other because of our enthusiasm. With the help of the facilitators, we did create something concrete. I had a lot of fun and we were effective.

A pleasant surprise for me was meeting other NLP couples. Steven and I have been married and running our NLP Center for over 30 years, and we did not know these other couples, living parallel lives to ours. I met at least four other married couples who are working as partners in NLP and that was very affirming. I also learned that the perception of New Yorkers or perhaps people from the United States is that we never take time for ourselves. Note to self, “stop writing and take a break nowwwww.”