Create useful states by envisioning excellence. It is a way to use imagination for success in the spirit of Milton Erickson’s famous quote, “You can pretend anything and master it.

This is an important skill for using modeling to achieve excellence and success. An excellent first step in modeling is to place yourself into the second perceptual position (the other person’s position) and imagine what it is like to be that person, carrying out the excellence strategies that you wish to model. This strategy contributes to your intuitive understanding of their thoughts and actions. Of course, one must practice one’s craft in order to master it. After all, you wouldn’t expect to fly an airplane without sufficient practice.

Step #1. Select the goal you are doubtful about.

Think of a personal goal or circumstance about which you feel doubtful. If you’re new to this pattern, choose a small goal, such as producing more creative solutions for something you need to brainstorm about.

Step #2. Select your  imaginary mentor.

Pick a person, living or dead, whom you feel would make an excellent mentor for you and who could help you believe in your ability to achieve this goal. The person should be very insightful. You should know enough about them to really imagine how they might relate to you. If you have time, you can learn more about them to better do this pattern.

Step #3. Specify your limiting belief.

Express your limiting belief in terms of the limits that it expresses. Try beginning with a phrase such as, “I am incapable of (finding a good solution),” or “I don’t deserve (a smooth, creative experience).”

Step #4. Share this situation and belief with your  chosen mentor.

Imagine that you are speaking to your mentor, explaining the situation as well as your limiting belief.

Step #5. Imagine Encouragement from  Your Mentor

Imagine your mentor respectfully encouraging you to explore a positive “as if” perspective, with questions such as:

“What would happen if you could …”

Respond to these questions as they are asked. Have your mentor ask follow up “as if” questions based on your responses.

Step #6. Act as if the Outcomes are Coming True

Imagine that your mentor is having you act as if the doubtful outcomes were coming true. For example, “Imagine that you have successfully resolved  all the issues you had about this. With full confidence about it now, what will you be thinking or doing that is different?”

Step #7. Handle Leftover Objections

Notice any leftover objections or resistance you have. Continue steps two and three, focusing them on these residual issues.

Step #8. Test.

As you go about pursuing your goal, notice any improvements in your state, behavior,  or  outcomes.

What can you learn from the results? If the results are disappointing, are there ways you can improve your use of this pattern? For example, do you understand the imaginary mentor well enough?

Additional Advice

This pattern is best done for a small skill or small margin of improvement. It is a good pattern for getting your foot in the door as a prelude to making major improvements in mastery

Credits for the creation of this NLP pattern belong to John Grinder.