Author Archives: Daniel

Using Your Strengths

16 Jun 17
, ,
No Comments

You can’t be perfect in everything you do.
But you can be excellent. At least in something that you do.

Tackling great challenges demands effort that continues over time and in the face of setbacks. One strategy that helps is to work from your strengths.

We all have strengths. Some people will Find their Strengths. Others will explore the 24 Character Strengths. Others have found – or created – their strengths through other approaches. But whatever your strengths, could you use them better or more?

Here’s one easy approach:

  1. Identify your strengths. Maybe just one, or maybe a few. Not too many since the next steps are really important!
  2. Evaluate how you are doing right now. Ask yourself, How well am I using this strength? No need to think too hard about it, but just be honest with yourself, then…
  3. How much better could I be using this strength? What could you be doing differently to express and develop that strength? What might you consider doing or attempting?

For example, based on the VIA one of my top strengths is Creativity. Right now I haven’t been expressing that so much – I might rate it as 40% – and I know that I could be using that strength much more. Allowing time for me to express and demonstrate my creative tendencies will support that. And as I think about doing so, I feel really good.

So from there, the action plan is simple. It might not be easy, but at least it’ll be simple.

Simple approach.

Here is another, perhaps even easier strategy for you:

  1. Select a strength. For now, just choose one. A way of thinking, feeling and behaving that feels good, gives you energy and feel like it is who you are.
  2. Identify new ways to express that Strength.
  3. Express that Strength (use it!) in a new way for each day of the coming week.

That’s it! Yes, it is a very simple approach. Doing this takes just a few minutes – or even a few moments – and helps make things better. Just the way we like it!

Preframing and Pre-suasion: Shifting attention to get what you want

02 May 17
, , , , , ,
No Comments

How are you using your most precious resource?Cialdini literally wrote the book on Influence. Last year his long awaited followup was released: Pre-suasion. That Amy Cuddy (Presence), Adam Grant (Originals) and Richard Thaler (Nudge) have written endorsements suggests there’s probably something good there. Much of it validates (often by little more than rephrasing) what we train as NLP but I wanted to share with you a few things that relate directly to what we do in NLP: The primacy of attention, the importance of preframing and the dangers of channelled attention.

Cialdini emphasises the importance of attention: What we are noticing in any given moment becomes our experience. In a sense, your attention is your most precious resource. Whether you are being mindful or distracted, focused or relaxed, focusing on what you resent or what you feel grateful for in this moment, attention is our ultimate currency, our purest resource.

John Grinder talks about “training attention” being the cutting edge or even next generation of NLP, which is something that we explore as “Attention Training” in our trainings.

So how can we influence attention? How can we help guide our listener to be receptive to our messages and open to the important ideas we want to convey?

Cialdini’s answer is that the best communicators are the best because of the way they frame their message, preparing their recipients to be receptive to a message in advance: Great communicators preframe.

Preframing frontloads the attention and thought patterns of the recipient, priming them to be receptive to your message. Preframing is the set before the spike, the foundations before the walls, the training before the competition. The introduction for the speaker. A special moment in a movie is made more special by the music that prepare us.

Preframing makes everything that follows easier and more effective. We all know that a first impression lasts but we often forget that we are always making that first impression.

Focus inflates perceived importance

The few bits of information to which we are paying attention in that moment become more persuasive and influential simply because we are noticing them.

A distinguishing characteristics of many ‘masters’ of a domain is that they see the best move first. Masters tend to unconsciously know the answer and then work backwards to the present moment. Whether in chess or maths or business, real masters of a domain seem to ‘just know’ the answers, or at least can cut through to the most critical assumptions to test and questions to ask. The novice – including the novice who will eventually become a master – will see one move, perhaps a good move, but only sometimes will it be that best move. Because in noticing that first move we are all blinded to the other alternatives.

My son is a keen chess player. A local International Master coached him recently and complimented him on how my son saw the whole board rather than fixating upon one area or another. (If only he did that more consistently in his games, when he falls into the trap of channelled attention just like the rest of us!) So by consistently having him practice seeing at least two or three other reasonable moves, he can train himself to look beyond the tendency to be blinded by the first thing that he sees and more habitually consider the alternatives that will allow him to make even better decisions.

Some key points:

  • What you focus upon becomes important and influential in your thinking. Carefully choose how you use your attention and consider how you can train yourself to more effectively use your attention. So: How well are you using your attention?
  • Preframing or “Presusasion” allows us to be better communicators by priming the ideas and associations that we want our listeners to make. This helps them be open to our message, understand our message and ultimately can allow us to be more persuasive. So: Learn to deliberately preframe.
  • Channelled attention biases us to treat what we are noticing and paying attention to as being more important. We can train ourselves to consider a fuller range of issues to make better decisions while remembering that our listeners are strictly limited in what they are noticing. And what they notice becomes their reality. So: Train your attention.

Influence and Pre-suasion are great reads. To learn about how to put these skills into action, to be more effective in whatever you are doing, find a way to learn more. Our next trainings are coming up in June and it would be great to have you there.

You know more than you think: A Clean Space Practice

26 Apr 17
, , , , ,
No Comments

We know that information is all around us. And knowledge and even wisdom are too – if you use your attention in the right way.

Here is a short exercise to help you get access more of what you know. To help you see with fresh eyes and listen with fresh ears, to help you connect with you might already intuitively know. You might want to allow yourself 5 minutes or so to complete the exercise and, if you can, another 5 minutes or so to process what you learn.

The exercise is very simple, to the point that it might even seem repetitious. This allows you to maintain focus to learn more than you had noticed before to look and really see. And since the foundation of lasting change is building in practices and habits to prime your awareness and habitual thoughts, you can use this regularly as a Practice. So let’s try it out and see what you discover:

Step 1: Select your context.
Select some topic to focus upon for this exercise. It could be a goal you have been working on. Or a relationship that you have been thinking about. Or a problem you are facing. For the first few times, you might want to avoid emotionally charged topics to get used to this simple process.

Step 2: Setup your space.
Choose a physical location that can represent that context. You could identify a chair that is in your room. Or an imaginary circle on the ground. Or even a whole room if you have the space. The intention is to have something on which you can focus your attention so if you don’t have so much space, you can use objects – even something like a coffee cup or a juggling ball – to represent the context.

Step 3: “What do you know from here?”
Step into that space (or focus on that object) and ask yourself, “What do I know from here?” If you are coaching someone, you can ask them “What do you know from here?”

Step 4: “And what else do you know from here?”
After the initial response and remaining in that space (mental or physical), ask yourself again, “And what else do I know from here?” Allow yourself to come up with another answer. The challenge at this stage is to keep yourself (or your client) focused on the topic – and that is where the value can be found: You will then repeat the question again and again, for a total of six times. You might repeat back or note the previous answer to prompt yourself to search more intently for an answer.

Step 5: “And now what do you know?”
Having gained more information about what you ‘know’ it is time to reintegrate that knowledge. Allow yourself to do this in whatever way feels appropriate.


We often find that the initial answers to Steps 3 and 4 are fairly superficial yet by persisting with the questioning, surprisingly rich insights emerge. To take the process further, you might identify another space (or spaces) that knows something about the context and repeat Steps 3-5. For example, if your ‘context’ was your relationship with your boss, you could select your “desired career” as another space, giving yourself an opportunity to think about your relationship with your boss from the perspective of your desired career.

(While this exercise is aimed at adults, it is sufficiently simple that even a child could do it, especially if guided by a parent.)

Focus: What do you want now?

30 Oct 16
, ,
No Comments

Would you like to know a single question that could transform any argument, problem or issue?

This single question might not win the argument or fix the problem or resolve the issue but sometimes a single question is all it takes.

Recently my wife and I sat down with a coffee to share a few minutes together before we would be spending a few weeks apart. It started well and we had some very pleasant time together. Until the outside world  intruded: Messages on her phone. Messages on my phone. Researching an answer to a question that arose in the conversation. And before we knew it, we were more focused on our phones than we were on each other.

I was frustrated that we weren’t connecting and let her know. And you can probably understand that she responded defensively, pointing out that I was on my phone too. And she was right. So I stood up and walked away.

I needed to breathe.

And once I did, I asked myself a simple question: “What do I want now?”

The answer was simple: I wanted to connect. I wanted us to be present together. As I was telling her this the “problem” disappeared, like it had never been there in the first place. In a few moments we went from being upset and defensive to being together, happy and sharing that precious gift of the present.

I’m sure there was an array of anchoring and precision language and submodalities that we could have used. Or I could have juggled or setup a well-formed outcome or explored a timeline. But in that moment I could change my focus by asking myself a very simple question. And that one question that I asked of myself made all the difference.

It can be useful to differentiate between problems, remedies and outcomes (Clean Language’s PRO). When I am asking myself, “What do I want now?” I am not focusing on the problem. I am not focusing on how I want the problem to be solved. Instead I am focused on my outcome, on what I want. Sometimes the problem needs to be addressed, and we might know how! And yet focusing upon what we want in that moment can be enough to transform our state and give us back our freedom and power to choose.

The next time you find yourself stuck, you might ask yourself, “What do I want now?”

And the next time you are in a difficult conversation or situation, or where you don’t know quite what to do, you might ask yourself that same question. You might even ask other people in the interaction what they want now… and be surprised how easily you can get things back on track by better understanding what we want.

What do you want?

14 Jun 16
, , , , , ,
No Comments

My exploration of Neuro-Linguistic Programming has been in service of one basic desire: I want to help make genius a choice. At least that’s how it started for me.

But what do you want?

Just because I’m interested in making genius a choice doesn’t mean you are! In fact you almost certainly don’t.

Sure, not everybody has explicit, well-designed goals with Gantt charts, identified resources and contingencies plans. But even in reading this article you have objectives. And we can use those to illustrate this aspect of NLP: What do you want to get from today?

As you take a moment to answer this question, please let yourself go beyond the first thing that comes to mind. You might want to write down your answers too.


For as long as I can remember, I have loved martial arts. Having trained in martial arts for most of my life, when I walked into my first Aikido class I saw things differently to the way many people might see things. I didn’t just see a bunch of people being thrown around the room: I saw some techniques I recognised from my previous training, footwork, presence and some things that seemed very strange. I enjoyed being there and decided that I wanted to start training myself.

From when I stepped onto the dojo the next session, I learnt many things. And one thing I realised very quickly is that this is not a spectator sport. Sure, you can enjoy watching the show as an observer. And you can get an important perspective from that angle. But if you really want to experience the Art and Science, you have to participate.

Most karate training remains a dynamic between “attacker” and “defender”. Somebody attacks. Then their partner practises defending against that attack, during which period the ‘attacker’ becomes little more than a crash test dummy. Sometimes in the same exercise, for example in sparring, you and your partner will alternate attacking and defending. And that is a simple dynamic that works well.

Aikido is very different.

Rather than the attacker-defender relationship we have the Uke-Nage relationship. The Uke might begin by grabbing or striking the Nage, in response to which the Nage will apply their chosen technique or strategy. And on the surface this looks much like the attacker-defender relationship.

However there is a big difference: Both Uke and Nage are learning and practising. To fully understand any technique it is important to understand the technique from the perspective of both Uke and Nage. And through experiencing these differences we are able to learn the essence of the technique itself.

Now, back to it: What are your outcomes?

Now that you have at least a few outcomes, let’s explore them in a bit more detail, perhaps starting with thinking about what seems to be your most important outcome:

  1. What do you want that for?
    If you had that outcome, what would that give you? And if you had that, what would that allow you to experience that is even more important still? Please be aware that I’m not asking you your reasons or causes or justifications for that outcome: I’m not asking “why?” While doubtless you have your reasons, I want to know your intention or purpose. You can repeat that line of questioning until you can’t go any further: See how far you can go. This could well develop into something of a hierarchy of intentions.
  2. How would it be if you had that?
    What would it look like? Sound like? Feel like? If you had your outcome, how would you even know? Feel free to describe with as much sensory-specific language as you can how you would know that you had your outcome.
  3. If you had those outcomes what difference would it make?
    Choosing any level of the hierarchy, what consequences would having that have for you? What would you do differently? How would you feel or think or behave as a result?

While these seem very simple questions, by thinking things through you might be able to better understand yourself. You can start defining your outcomes in a more achievable way. You might even recognise some resources, strategies of ways you have to get what you want sooner or easier or with fewer downsides.

Personal Development and Personal Evolution and Personal Innovation

28 Apr 16
, , , , , ,
No Comments

Many people want to learn NLP to ‘develop’ themselves.

Like maybe you want to enjoy better relationships. Or a more rewarding and fulfilling career. Or get to feel a greater sense of peace and meaning. You might have read a few articles – or even a book or two – about how you can make your life ‘better’, and discovered how NLP can help you enjoy more clarity, more congruence and even more freedom to feel, act and experience life the way you want it.

Personal-DevelopmentMany people would call this Personal Development.

It is even something that some people value. You might have met someone who explicitly values experiencing personal development in their life. Or in their relationships. And that way of thinking tends to lend itself towards setting and achieving increasingly challenging goals.

There is another terms that could be used in contrast to this that I’m going to refer to here as Personal Evolution.

EvolutionWhile Personal Development focuses on consistent, incremental progress, maintained by the development of more resourceful habits, I like to think of Personal Evolution as the concept of allowing ourselves to take things to the next level. Rather than getting better in our current job, recognising that the next phase of our development is to launch into a new industry, or go into business for ourselves, or start a family, or go back to school. Personal Development is valuable and helpful for almost everybody though the changes are of a different quality again to Personal Evolution.

(Dr John Grinder and Carmen Bostic St Clair led a workshop on this topic some years back, and the term has resonated with me ever since.)

There is a third concept I’d like to offer here: Personal Innovation.

InnovationInnovation is creating value from creativity. So in contrast to PD and PE, let’s consider Personal Innovation as a process of creating significant, valuable shifts in our personal experiences and performance. This could take the form of recognising that you can get paid more for doing similar work in a different company, industry or place. Or maybe by bringing together some of the diverse skills you have been developing to create a totally new value proposition for your personal or professional life.

I’m not sure if these terms are explained here in a way that is accepted by everybody. The probably aren’t. And I’ve restrained myself from doing too much searching this time since I suspect that they will be useful regardless of the answer 🙂

One of the things that I’ve been experimenting with recently is to notice how it feels when I think about something I am doing from the different perspectives. For example, I have been training in Aikido for several years now – and I really enjoy it. As I think about my aikido training in terms of my ‘Personal Development’, I think in terms of refining and polishing my skills, practising and striving for excellence. From a ‘Personal Evolution’ perspective, I think in terms of how the concepts of Uke and Nage have influenced my thinking, in martial arts, in my work and in my most intimate relationships. Yet as I think about aikido from the perspective of ‘Personal Innovation’, I think about how my aikido training synergises with other experiences, how my mistakes and challenges in aikido offer metaphors and lessons that I can harvest, and how I can use that synergy and harvest in new and different – even innovative – ways.

If you allow yourself to feel the terms – either in the abstract or applied to your life or some facet of your life – do they feel the same or different to you?

I wonder how you might represent them. I wonder how you might be already harnessing these concepts yourself.

If you’re familiar with NLP, do particular aspects of NLP seem more relevant to one or two of these frames? Of your favourite aspects of NLP, does distinguishing between PD, PE and PI make sense? Where are PD, PE and PI really just the same thing?

What do you think?

Dreaming of Excellence? Let’s get started on the road.

27 Apr 16
, , ,
No Comments

So much in life starts with a dream.

Your work. Your home. Your relationships. All the technology around you and all the experiences you have ever had: All were once a dream.

And if you could imagine yourself ten years down the road, after having chosen to learn more NLP: What has happened? What sort of impact has the momentum of being more in charge of your own performance for the last decade had on you and those around you? In what ways have you accelerated in your career?  How much healthier and rewarding have your relationships become?

I’d be curious if those results sound similar to other breakthroughs we have helped facilitate before. We are grateful to have had the opportunity to share NLP with so many people, which has enabled us to hear about how some of our clients have:

  • added multiples to their income in radically short periods of time,
  • grown confidence in their ability to make critical decisions, no longer going back and forth afraid of making the wrong choice,
  • found new meaning and passion after painful divorce,
  • given to the next generation helping children develop life skills and discover themselves,
  • consistently closed 6-figure deals with clients twice as old as a start up in a highly competitive industry against established big players,

I remember a couple of years ago when I introduced my younger brother to NLP.  He’s a super healthy person, yet had an obsession over this one food, and he wanted more choice.  We couldn’t have spent more than 5 minutes diving into the addiction, when he has a taste and jumps up, points at me through Skype and yells, “What are you a Wizard!!  How does this taste so bad now!!”

I’ll never forget it that, it was a hilarious delight.  My brother has since learned after studying these patterns himself for sometime, NLP isn’t magic at all.  After training with us, you won’t be able to move objects without touching them, only people.


Who should train with us?

If you were the type of person that should be learning NLP, how would you know? Have you found yourself asking any of these questions?

  • Have you been inspired by the findings in the field of positive psychology, or the benefits you’ve gotten from practicing mindfulness?
  • Do you believe that the success of your business depends on the strength of your human capital?
  • Have you decided that this year you would sign more of your ideal clients than you ever have before?
  • Do you want to be a cornerstone of invigorating energy to support your family with?
  • Do you have a hunger to be the absolute best in your field?

Have you accepted that no one else is in control of your career, marriage, or health other than yourself?

If this sounds like you, then maybe you’d like to know when you can take the next step!

Training Schedule: 27-30 May and 17-20 June

This event is spread out over two intensive weekends, the venue for both the Shanghai and Beijing events will be announced upon registration but you’ll be pleased to note that the sessions are scheduled outside of work hours:

Friday and Monday night 7-9:30pm, Saturday and Sunday 9:30am-5:30pm

Your China NLP Training Team:

Daniel Smith has been studying NLP since 1996 and training in China since 2008. He has trained with the leading figures in NLP, including being certified as a Trainer of NLP by both Co-Founders, Dr John Grinder and Richard Bandler. Today, Daniel is regarded by many as one of the top NLP trainers based in Asia.

Aaron Wallace has been leading trainings and workshops in Shanghai for several years. Originally coming to Shanghai to work at Fudan University, Aaron is an active coach and Certified Trainer of Neuro-Linguistic Programming.

Choose Your Investment

Knowing that the best of the best in any area choose to invest in themselves first, before putting time and money anywhere else, how will you choose to commit to yourself?

Level of Commitment

Silver Package

what’s included:

    •  40+ hours of world-class NLP training
    •  Admission to NLP Practice Sessions group
    •  Reattend two additional Practitioner trainings to refresh and extend your learning
    •  Exclusive discounted rate for all our NLP Application workshops and events
    •  Free entrance to 10-week Mobile Mindfulness Course
    •  Access to the Practitioner Mentorship Program
    •  Access to a full day of Self-Hypnosis Training
    •  Two one-on-one coaching sessions
    •  Exclusive Discount rate for China NLP’s Master Practitioner Training

Gold Package

what’s included:

    •  40+ hours of world-class NLP training
    •  Admission to NLP Practice Sessions group
    •  Reattend two additional Practitioner trainings to refresh and extend your learning
    •  Exclusive discounted rate for all our NLP Application workshops and events
    •  Free entrance to 10-week Mobile Mindfulness Course
    •  Access to the Practitioner Mentorship Program
    •  Access to a full day of Self-Hypnosis Training
    •  Two one-on-one coaching sessions
    •  Exclusive Discount rate for China NLP’s Master Practitioner Training

Platinum Package

what’s included:

    •  40+ hours of world-class NLP training
    •  Admission to NLP Practice Sessions group
    •  Reattend unlimited additional Practitioner trainings to refresh and extend your learning
    •  Exclusive discounted rate for all our NLP Application workshops and events
    •  Free entrance to 10-week Mobile Mindfulness Course
    •  Access to the Practitioner Mentorship Program
    •  Access to a full day of Self-Hypnosis Training
    •  Two one-on-one coaching sessions
    •  Exclusive Discount rate for China NLP’s Master Practitioner Training

We take on the risk. If you aren’t totally immersed in this experience and satisfied with your training after a day with us, just hand in your manual and you can get a FULL REFUND on your investment, no strings attached.  We can offer this because China NLP has years of experience running Leading NLP programs in Asia, training over 100 satisfied students, and we’ve never had a request for a refund. That leaves us confident that you will love the growth you experience with us, and come back again and again.

After looking through this a couple of times you might begin to notice the tremendous value you’ll be getting throughout this training, and some of you might want to reserve your seat ASAP.  Great! You can take advantage of the incredible special we have going on right now.

Reserve your seat now, and get the Gold Package for ¥12,800, or step up and join us for the Platinum Package for our best price ever of just ¥14,500!  We can only keep this offer going until Saturday, 30 April, so contact Aaron @ 18516254265 to book your seat!

The rest of you might want to have a sit down, where you can be reminded how believing in yourself is the only way forward to designing the life you’ve always wanted.  Send me a message and let’s schedule the conversation that lets you experience how NLP will get you what you really want faster and with less stress.

Always remember…

Excellence is a CHOICE.

What are they doing that for?

15 Mar 16
No Comments

People do the strangest things, don’t they.

Have you ever shook your head and asked yourself, “What did they do that for?”

Maybe someone cut in front of you while you were waiting for a subway, bank or restaurant. Or maybe they said they had done something when really you knew they hadn’t. Or maybe they cheated – on their spouse, on a test or on their taxes. And let’s not even start about politicians.

You might have even used the expression, “What did you do that for?” or “Why did you do that?”

Though most of the time when I hear that expression, we don’t actually want to hear an answer!

Which is a pity since that sort of question can be really powerful! One of the most amazing questions to ask is, “What for?”

Asking “What for?” is a powerful way to get you thinking about the intention. And if you can understand their intention, you can find other – better – ways to fulfill that intention.

While asking “What did you do that for?” sounds simple, and can be simple, often people don’t really know what they are doing things for. In a sense, that is the power of asking the question, though you will also want to be careful to check that they actually answer the question. If I ask someone who smokes what they smoke for, there’s a good chance that they will tell me about how they don’t want to smoke but they are addicted. Or someone who is consistently 10 minutes late for appointments will explain that they “can’t help it”. And neither of those are answers to the question!

Mind you, that’s pretty normal. When faced with a hard question, many of us will answer an easier question that is almost the same. When it’s hard to answer “what for” but easy to answer “why”, there’s a good chance people will just give you excuses.

So listen carefully!

Intention can be used in so many ways. If I can understand my intention for a behaviour, I can find other ways to fulfill that intention – maybe that have less undesirable consequences. If I can understand the intention of my negotiating partner, I can find ways to allow us both to win from a negotiation. If I can understand what my client most wants, I can give it to them more efficiently. If I reflect upon my personal goals, relationships and behaviour patterns, you could well notice patterns, themes and habits of what you want to have and experience or what you want to avoid. And that’s a gateway into your values.

Mental Exercise

To train yourself to be more aware of your intentions, pick a behaviour, a goal or a relationship, and ask yourself, “What do I want that for?” And, if you’re game, maybe even ask yourself, “What do I want that intention for?”

Try it out and let us know what you discover.

Be well!


Now it’s important to distinguish between intention and ‘reason’: We aren’t asking “Why did you do that?” but rather, “What did you do that for?” You can probably hear the difference even as you read it. “What for” focuses on their intention while “Why” tends to get people to think about the reasons, causes and justifications.

Presentation from last Saturday night on Emotional Intelligence

14 Mar 16
, , ,
No Comments

The session on developing Emotional Intelligence last Saturday explored how we can improve our interpersonal and intrapersonal skills. It is pretty simple, and focused on what we call, in NLP, call Perceptual Positions, Framing and Calibration. In case you are interested, you can view the presentation here.

Last Night’s Session on Rapport

15 Apr 15
No Comments

Last night Robbie Zhang led the first session of our new Unit for the NLP Course. It’s been great seeing how quickly the team – on Mondays, that also includes Aaron and Paul – has been developing into skilled facilitators. While places are full for the current Unit, our next intake starts 18 May – more details are here.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.