The biggest challenge for us as the New Generation is that we live in a very fast-paced world. Things are constantly changing and the ability to adapt has become essential for survival in our world of speed.

One of the ways we can stay on track in our current culture is through NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming). Research has proven that NLP is one of the most effective ways of behaviour modification. One of my colleagues, who finished his PHD in NLP, came to the conclusion that as a Psychologist, NLP serves as the best model for changing behaviour to adapt to our world of speed.

What does NLP mean though?

Neuro – refers to the way we think, the patterns of thought that have developed over time

Linguistic – refers to the way we talk, use language and how that affects us

Programming – refers to the way we sequence our actions to achieve our goals

NLP was developed by Richard Bandler and John Grinder during the 1970’s. It studies how we as individuals give meaning to our daily subjective experiences. From these subjective experiences we form our own values, beliefs, emotional states which are the core of our internal worlds. In short then, NLP studies how we give meaning to our lives as individuals.

But why is NLP so important for me as an individual?

As you may have gathered by now, life is not smooth sailing. Unfortunately there are a few bumps in the journey of life. Some of these bumps cause us to develop limiting beliefs and habits about ourselves and those around us. These limiting beliefs are formed after a negative experience and this file gets stuck in our minds. If we want to grow to reach our potential, we need to replace these limiting beliefs and habits with beliefs and habits that produce growth.

NLP provides us with tools to create new ways of thinking which scientists refer to as neuro-pathways. In other words NLP helps us to create a process of changing our thoughts. Through NLP we can change our thinking so that our limiting beliefs and values are substituted with beliefs and values that produce optimism and growth. In our culture of pace, NLP has become an essential ingredient for morphing with the change.

But very few people know their limiting beliefs and habits. Ask coaches working in the corporate environment and they will tell you that this is the first step in their job: to help clients gain self-awareness. Through the tools that NLP provides, individuals can gain this awareness of what limits their performance. The popular belief among people is that the only way we can change is by changing our habits. This is true, but our habits can only change if we change our thinking first and then our actions.

How do I start using NLP in my life?

  1. Buy a book on NLP and start reading to really understand the science. Most popular bookshops now have shelves on NLP. (Refer to our resource list at the end of this article.)
  2. Spend time with a coach that can guide you in the process of NLP.
  3. Attend a NLP training course. There are various NLP practitioner training courses available.
  4. Start thinking about your thinking. Tony Campolo who is a world renowned Sociologist refers to a study that was done in Philadelphia, USA. 50 individuals over the age of 95 were asked the following: “If you could live again, what would you do more of?” The researchers were surprised when the number one response was: “We would reflect more!” These wise individuals realised the value of thinking and reflecting about their lives, only when it was too late, because beyond 90 you do a lot of thinking and this is where they experienced the benefit. We find that few people think about their thinking. Our experience is that 90% of individuals in the corporate environment run on auto-pilot. This is why people make the same mistakes over and over again. It is our opinion that people rarely find new ways to fail, the old ways serve them well.
  5. One of the most effective ways to become more aware of your thoughts is through journaling. Buy a journal and start writing about your thinking. This is the first step to changing your way of thinking and ultimately changing your life.

Our generation have unique challenges in terms of the pace and constant change in our world. We have to invest in ourselves to adapt and realise the potential we have. Take NLP to heart as it offers invaluable tools for us to stay in the race.


Jago, W & Mcdermott, I (2004). The NLP Coach. London: Piatkus Books.

Lages, A & O’Connor, J (2004). Coaching with NLP. London: Harper Collins.

Zeus, P & Skiffington, S (2002). The Coaching at work Toolkit. Australia: McGraw-Hill.

Adel du Plessis CA (SA) & Hermann du Plessis are part of Therapeia, a Seta accredited consulting, training and coaching business, focussing on the human capital growth of corporate companies and individuals.