Central to NLP strategies is the TOTE model. TOTE stands for Test Operation Test Exit. It is a basic model from cybernetics that shows how to control man and machine. The first Test is to check whether it makes sense to start the Operation (any procedure). The second Test is to check whether the Operation has succeeded in outputting what we want. If not this data is passed back to the Operation. This is called feedback. All feedback is negative in the sense that it notifies the Operation that the output is wrong.

Only when the output is right we get an Exit, i.e. the Operation is done and control is passed on to another Operation. Most people think that there is something called positive feedback. This idea is wrong as all feedback is negative. You can however present feedback more positively by combining it with praise and compliments. Also, sometimes people want to praise good output and have the Exit accompanied with a compliment. There is no need for this, but there is also nothing wrong with it.

It shows both subtle and noble self-control when you reserve your praise (assuming you want to give praise at all) for things you disagree with: – otherwise you would certainly be praising yourself, which offends good taste. Of course, this type of self-control offers people a handy opportunity and excuse for constantly misunderstanding you. In order to allow yourself this real luxury of taste and morality, you cannot live with fools of the spirit; you have to live among people whose misunderstandings and mistakes are subtle, and for that reason still amusing – or else you will have to pay dearly for it! – “He praises me: that’s why he agrees with me” – this asinine inference ruins the better part of life for us hermits, because it brings asses into our neighborhood and friendship.

Beyond Good & Evil paragraph 283


Within NLP we prefer direction rather than goals or worse outcomes. If you make a goal too specific you only increase the chance of failure. With direction you give maximum freedom to the force that drives us.

Two Kinds of Causes which are confused.— It seems to me one of my most essential steps and advances that I have learned to distinguish the cause of an action generally from the cause of an action in a particular manner, say, in this direction, with this aim. The first kind of cause is a quantum of stored-up force, which waits to be used in some manner, for some purpose; the second kind of cause, on the contrary, is something quite unimportant in comparison with the first, an insignificant hazard for the most part, in conformity with which the quantum of force in question ” discharges ” itself in some unique and definite manner : the lucifer-match in relation to the barrel of gunpowder. Among those insignificant hazards and lucifer-matches I count all the so-called “aims,” and similarly the still more so-called “occupations” of people: they are relatively optional, arbitrary, and almost indifferent in relation to the immense quantum of force which presses on, as we have said, to be used up in any way whatever. One generally looks at the matter in a different manner: one is accustomed to see the impelling force precisely in the aim (object, calling, etc.), according to a primeval error,— but it is only the directing force, the steersman and the stream have thereby been confounded. And yet it is not even always a steersman, the directing force… Is the “aim”, the “purpose,” not often enough only an extenuating pretext, an additional self-blinding of conceit, which does not wish it to be said that the ship follows the stream into which it has accidentally run? That it ” wishes ” to go that way, because it must go that way? That it has a direction, sure enough, but— not a steersman? We still require a criticism of the conception of “purpose”.

Gay Science paragraph 360


Ecology is one of the four requirements for well-formed goals. It means that if you think of a goal that you ought to check whether this goal is good for you, your loved ones, your colleagues, society and the planet. Ecology is overused in NLP most of the time. It is only a requirement of goals, not a requirement of every step you take. Besides,  the further away from the person you get the less weight you ought to give to ecology issues. First of all, no-one can predict the future. One cannot know what will happen if a certain action is taken. There is no cause and effect, so how can one determine the consequences of certain steps ecologically? The best you can do, is make your estimation and when necessary take into account what happens to others.

In society today there’s a great deal of considerateness, of tact and forbearance, of good-natured pause before the rights of others, even before the claims of others; more than that, there’s a certain benevolent instinct of human value in general, which reveals itself in trust and credit of every kind; respect for men, and by no means just for the virtuous ones – is perhaps the element which separates us most sharply from a Christian valuation. We feel a good measure of irony if we so much as hear morality being preached nowadays; preaching morality lowers a man in our eyes and makes him comical. This moralist liberality is among the best signs of our era. If we find cases where it’s clearly lacking, this strikes us as a sickness (the case of Carlyle in England, of Ibsen in Norway, of Schopenhauerian pessimism throughout Europe). If anything reconciles us to our era, then the large amount of immorality it permits itself without therefore thinking less of itself. On the contrary! – So what constitutes the superiority of culture over unculture? of, e.g., the Renaissance over the Middle Ages? – Always one thing alone: the large amount of admitted immorality. It follows from this, necessarily, how all the heights of human development must appear to the eye of the moral fanatic: as the non plus ultra of corruption (-think of Plato’s judgement of Periclean Athens, Savonarola’s judgement of Florence, Luther’s judgement of Rome, Rousseau’s judgement of Voltaire’s society, the judgement of the Germans against Goethe).

Notebook 10, autumn 1887 paragraph 176


Although nowadays there are many NLP trainer who are themselves trained badly and their NLP training programs are boring, NLP has specific strategies and techniques to make any training entertainment.

The new passion. – Why do we fear and hate a possible reversion to barbarism? Because it would make people unhappier than they are? Oh no! The barbarians of every age were happier: let us not deceive ourselves! – The reason is that our drive to knowledge has become too strong for us to be able to want happiness without knowledge or the happiness of a strong, firmly rooted delusion; even to imagine such a state of things is painful to us! Restless discovering and divining has such an attraction for us, and has grown as indispensable to us as is to the lover his unrequited love, which he would at no price relinquish for a state of indifference – perhaps, indeed, we too are unrequited lovers! Knowledge has in us been transformed into a passion which shrinks at no sacrifice and at bottom fears nothing but its own extinction; we believe in all honesty that all mankind must believe itself more exalted and comforted under the compulsion and suffering of this passion than it did formerly, when envy of the coarser contentment that follows in the train of barbarism had not yet been overcome. Perhaps mankind will even perish of this passion for knowledge! – even this thought has no power over us! But did Christianity ever shun such a thought? Are love and death not brothers? Yes, we hate barbarism – we would all prefer the destruction of mankind to a regression of knowledge! And finally: if mankind does not perish of a passion it will perish of a weakness: which do you prefer? This is the main question. Do we desire for mankind an end in fire and light or one in the sand? –

Daybreak paragraph 427


One of the basic NLP presuppositions states: “Feedback vs. Failure – All results and behaviors are achievements, whether they are desired results for a given task/context or not.” Or in short as it is expressed most of the time: “There is no failure, only feedback”. In NLP making mistakes and failing are good. Richard Bandler often says that he achieved so much more than most people because he was more willing to make mistakes than others.

Feedback is an integrated part of the TOTE model. If you generate a lot of feedback, meaning you make a lot of mistakes, this only indicates that the TOTE model is working. Especially if you make sure that you make a new mistake each time you fail.

Two Happy Ones. — Certainly this man, notwithstanding his youth, understands the improvisation of life, and astonishes even the acutest observers. For it seems that he never makes a mistake, although he constantly plays the most hazardous games. One is reminded of the improvising masters of the musical art, to whom even the listeners would fain ascribe a divine infallibility of the hand, notwithstanding that they now and then make a mistake, as every mortal is liable to do. But they are skilled and inventive, and always ready in a moment to arrange into the structure of the score the most accidental tone (where the jerk of a finger or a humor brings it about), and to animate the accident with a fine meaning and soul. — Here is quite a different man; everything that he intends and plans fails with him in the long run. That on which he has now and again set his heart has already brought him several times to the abyss, and to the very verge of ruin; and if he has as yet got out of the scrape, it certainly has not been merely with a “black eye”. Do you think he is unhappy over it? He resolved long ago not to regard his own wishes and plans as of so much importance. “If this does not succeed with me”, he says to himself, “perhaps that will succeed; and on the whole I do not know but that I am under more obligation to thank my failures than any of my successes. Am I made to be headstrong, and to wear the bull’s horns? That which constitutes the worth and the sum of life for me, lies somewhere else; I know more of life, because I have been so often on the point of losing it; and just on that account I have more of life than any of you!”

Gay Science paragraph 303


In NLP there are four conditions for well-formed goals:

  1. Goals need to be stated positively, i.e. you have to figure out what you want rather than what you don’t want.
  2. You need to know what you feel, hear, see, smell and/or taste when you reach your goal. Otherwise you might achieve your goal without knowing it.
  3. You need to be able to achieve your goal yourself.
  4. Your goal needs to be okay for you, your loved ones and your environment.

‘Nothing too much!’ – How often the individual is advised to set himself a goal that he cannot reach and is beyond his strength, so that he will at least reach that which his strength is capable of when put to the farthest stretch! But is this really so desirable? Must even the best performers who live according to this teaching, and their best performances, not acquire something exaggerated and distorted precisely because there is too much tension in them? And when as a result one sees nothing but struggling athletes, tremendous efforts, and nowhere a laurel-crowned and triumphant victor, does that not envelop the world in a grey veil of failure?

Daybreak paragraph 559


Mistakes are good in NLP. We like people to make mistakes. Preferably, every mistake only once. If people try to avoid making mistakes they limit themselves unnecessarily. One of the basic ideas in NLP is that there is no failure only feedback.

Against remorse. I don’t like this kind of cowardice towards one’s own deed; one should not desert oneself when attacked by unexpected disgrace and distress. Extreme pride is more fitting here. In the end, what good is it! Remorse can’t undo any deed; neither can ‘forgiveness’ or ‘atonement’. One would have to be a theologian to believe in a power that cancels guilt; we immoralists prefer not to believe in ‘guilt’. We hold that every kind of action is at root identical in value – likewise that actions directed against us may yet, considered economically, be useful and generally desirable actions. – In individual cases we’ll admit that we could easily have been spared a particular deed – only circumstances favored our committing it. – Which of us, favored by circumstances, wouldn’t already have run the entire gamut of crimes? ,One should therefore never say: ‘You shouldn’t have done this or that,’ but only ever: ‘How strange that I haven’t done that a hundred times,’- In the end very few actions are typical actions and really abbreviations for a personality; and considering how little personality most people have, a man is rarely characterized by a single deed. A deed of circumstance, merely epidermal, merely a reflex triggered by a stimulus: before the depths of our being have been touched by it, consulted on it. A rage, a grasp, a knife-thrust: what is there of personality in that! – The deed often brings with it a kind of fixed stare and unfreedom: so that the doer seems transfixed by the memory of it and sees himself as no longer anything more than an appendage of it. This disturbance of the mind, a form of hypnosis, is what one must combat most of all: after all, a single deed, whatever it may be, is zero compared to the entirety of what one has done, and may be counted out without falsifying the calculation. The fair interest which society may have in calculating our whole existence in just one direction, as if its whole aim had been to produce one single deed, should not infect the doer himself: unfortunately this happens almost constantly. That is because every deed with unusual consequences is followed by a disturbance of the mind: regardless even of whether those consequences are good or bad. Look at a man in love who’s gained a promise; a writer applauded by the whole house: as far as their intellectual torpor is concerned, they differ not at all from the anarchist surprised by a raid. – There are actions that are unworthy of us: actions that, if we took them as typical, would push us down into a lower species. Here the one mistake to be avoided is taking them to be typical. There is the converse kind of action, of which we are unworthy: exceptions born of a special plenitude of happiness and health, our highest tidal waves, driven that high by a storm, a chance: such actions and ‘works’ are not typical. One should never measure an artist by the yardstick of his works.

Notebook 10, autumn 1887 paragraph 108


NLP differs from positive thinking. Although many NLP practitioners prefer good feelings over feeling bad; and many NLP techniques (but not all) imply that feeling good works better, NLP also works with negative stuff.  In the end if something works one can make a NLP strategy out of it and if that strategy involves negativity then there is nothing within NLP that forbids it. Even if most NLP practitioners might not like it. Also there are many NLP strategies that are neutral when it comes to feelings. There is a NLP strategy for boiling an egg, but it has really little to do with feeling good or bad.

Hedonism, pessimism, utilitarianism, eudamonianism: these are all ways of thinking that measure the value of things according to pleasure and pain, which is to say according to incidental states and trivialities. They are all foreground ways of thinking and naivetes, and nobody who is conscious of both formative powers and an artist’s conscience will fail to regard them with scorn as well as pity. Pity for you! That is certainly not pity as you understand it: it is not pity for social “distress,” for “society” with its sick and injured, for people depraved and destroyed from the beginning as they lie around us on the ground; even less is it pity for the grumbling, dejected, rebellious slave strata who strive for dominance – they call it “freedom.” Our pity is a higher, more far-sighted pity: – we see how humanity is becoming smaller, how you are making it smaller! – and there are moments when we look on your pity with indescribable alarm, when we fight this pity –, when we find your seriousness more dangerous than any sort of thoughtlessness. You want, if possible (and no “if possible” is crazier) to abolish suffering. And us? – it looks as though we would prefer it to be heightened and made even worse than it has ever been! Well-being as you understand it – that is no goal; it looks to us like an end ! – a condition that immediately renders people ridiculous and despicable – that makes their decline into something desirable! The discipline of suffering, of great suffering – don’t you know that this discipline has been the sole cause of every enhancement in humanity so far? The tension that breeds strength into the unhappy soul, its shudder at the sight of great destruction, its inventiveness and courage in enduring, surviving, interpreting, and exploiting unhappiness, and whatever depth, secrecy, whatever masks, spirit, cunning, greatness it has been given: – weren’t these the gifts of suffering, of the disciple of great suffering? In human beings, creature and creator are combined: in humans there is material, fragments, abundance, clay, dirt, nonsense, chaos; but in humans there is also creator, maker, hammer-hardness, spectator-divinity and seventh day: – do you understand this contrast? And that your pity is aimed at the “creature in humans,” at what needs to be molded, broken, forged, torn, burnt, seared and purified, – at what necessarily needs to suffer and should suffer? And our pity – don’t you realize who our inverted pity is aimed at when it fights against your pity as the worst of all pampering and weaknesses? – Pity against pity, then! – But to say it again: there are problems that are higher than any problems of pleasure, pain, or pity; and any philosophy that stops with these is a piece of naivete.

Beyond Good & Evil paragraph 225


NLP practitioners often praise others. Sometimes they think that praise is positive feedback. But there is no positive feedback, as all feedback is negative. One can present feedback through strategies that combine negative feedback with praise. For instance in the hamburger method of feedback or two stars and a wish.

What is praising? Praise and gratitude on the occasions of harvest, good weather, victory, weddings, peace – all these festivals require a subject towards which the feeling is discharged. One wants everything good that happens to one to have been done to one, one wants the doer. The same contemplating a work of art: the piece itself is not enough, its maker is praised. – What, then, is praising? A kind of settling up in respect of benefits received, a giving in return, a demonstration of our power – for the praiser affirms, judges, estimates, passes sentence: he grants himself the right to be able to affirm, to be able to mete out honor … The heightened feeling of happiness and life is also a heightened feeling of power: it is out of this that man praises (- out of this he invents and seeks a doer, a ‘subject’ -) Gratitude as the good revenge, most strictly required and practiced where equality and pride must both be maintained, where revenge is practiced best.

Notebook 9, autumn 1887 paragraph 79

In Applause. — In applause there is always some kind of noise: even in self-applause.

Gay Science paragraph 201

Against those who praise. — A : “One is only praised by one’s equals!” B : “Yes! And he who praises says : “You are my equal!”

Gay Science paragraph 190


NLP is one of the best methodologies to achieve your goals and discover (or create) your purpose. Purpose is important as it turns out that it is highly likely that people with a purpose in life are happier, healthier and achieve more.

If there is no goal in the whole history of man’s lot, then we must put one in: assuming, on the one hand, that we have need of a goal, and on the other that we’ve come to see through the illusion of an immanent goal and purpose. And the reason we have need of goals is that we have need of a will – which is the spine of us. ‘Will’ as the compensation for lost ‘belief, i.e., for the idea that there is a divine will, one which has plans for us…

Notebook 6, summer 1886 – spring 1887, paragraph 9