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Review: TED talk by Richard St. John

This is a wonderful short talk by RIchard St. John on how to achieve success. He interviewed and modelled hundreds of TED speakers, people who had achieved success in their lives. It’s only three minutes long and well worth watching. You may have heard it all before, but he puts it together in a very concise persuasive way. Below, I’ve taken his eight tips for achieving success and showed how they are all inherent in the NLP model of the world.

Have passion in what you do

In NLP, we talk about congruency and values. In the Value Elicitation exercise, we identify what is truly important to a person using questions such as “Is money more important to you than helping people or is helping people more important to you than money?” We then try to support congruency to make sure that the person is congruent in their values throughout their activities.

Work hard!

It’s pretty obvious, but success requires hard work, no matter what field of endeavor you are in. You need to practice your skills and develop your craft to a high level. NLP facilitates this dedication to a goal by allowing people to change their motivation strategies or design more effective work strategies that will achieve results most effectively.


Focus allows us to devote our energy to carrying out specific goals that we have chosen as being important. NLP offers goalsetting activities which promote focus such as Well-Formed Outcomes (SPECIFY process). It also offers powerful language techniques such as the Meta Model which allow us to define clearly what it is that we are looking for.


Related to working hard and having focus, the ability to persist is a powerful tool in achieving success. One useful tool in NLP is future-pacing, asking someone to consider the effect of a change at a future time. For example, questions like “when you imagine yourself achieving those results in one year, and continuing to persist in your practice, how does that feel now?”


Ideas are generated by simply being aware of circumstances, paying close attention, and linking ideas from different domains. NLP helps us to be more aware by training our sensory acuity and helps us to link ideas from different domains through techniques such as metaphor development.


Doing something good or useful is also a key to achieving success. Again, NLP achieves this using exercises like Value Elicitation or Core Transformation to identify the core values that are important to us. NLP also reminds us to check the ecology of the system, for example, “what effect will this change have on the people around you?”


To be successful, you’ve got to push yourself. And NLP is all about pushing the boundaries of what you are currently able to do. One way of defining NLP is as the modelling of excellence. We push our current boundaries by studying the excellent performance of an expert, both consciously and unconsciously. There is no finish line in NLP or in success – we just keep pushing the boundaries to allow people to achieve their highest potential in a way that is congruent with their values – to achieve both success and a happy inner life.

Serve something beyond yourself

This corresponds to the NLP idea of mission. In the Logical Levels model, mission can be seen as the bridge between Identity and Spirit and is elicited by questions such as “What bigger community or system are you part of that your work and being are contributing to?”

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