“What you aim at determines what you see.”

John Grinder is an American linguist, author, trainer and speaker. John served as US Army Officer and subsequently became the member of the Special Forces. John had an association of 5 years in the forces before returning to the US to pursue his post graduate degree in linguistics. As a result of his gift for acquiring languages, he also spent time as an operative for a well known US intelligence agency. He took a liking to the subject, pursued Linguistics for which he received a Ph.D.

As a linguist, Grinder distinguished himself in the area of syntax, working within Noam Chomsky's theories of transformational grammar. He went on to become a Professor at the University of California, this was when he met Richard Bandler.

In the 1972 Richard Bandler a student approached Grinder for assistance with aspects of modeling Gestalt Therapy. Bandler communicated on receiving amazing change results with his students, but added that, he could not get his students to derive the same results with their patients, thus asking Grinder’s assistance.

“Wisdom comes from experience, but experience is not enough.

Grinder assisted Bandler with continuing the study of Gestalt Therapy founded by Fritz Perls and Virginia Satir, the family therapist. Grinder began noticing patterns in the language that therapist used in getting results with their patients, this eventually let to the formation of NLP Meta Models. Both Bandler and Grinder to model Milton Erickson, out of this project came the Milton Model language patterns of NLP. The body of knowledge that we know of as NLP was given the title in the late 1970’s by Grinder and Bandler. Now well into his 70s, Grinder continues to influence the NLP community and promote his New Code of NLP.

Grinder met with Gregory Bateson an anthropologist and systems theorist during their affiliation with Kresge College at the University of Carlifornia. Between 1982 and 1987, Grinder was greatly influenced by Bateson, who had a strong focus on ecology as a psychological construct, Grinder and Judith DeLozier collaborated to develop the "New Code of NLP". Grinder and Delozier presented an aesthetic framework for the "classic code" of NLP that explicates the involvement of ecology and the unconscious mindin change-work. "Ecology" in NLP involves respecting the integrity of a system as a whole when assessing a change to that system; the "system" in this case comprises a person's model of the world and the consequences of that model in the person's environment. Practically speaking, this consideration entails asking questions like "What are the intended effects of this change? What other effects might this change have, and are those effects desirable? Is this change still a good idea?"

John Grinder, graduated in Philosophy at the University of San Francisco (USF), in the early seventies. Later, Grinder got into the army of the U.S, and was useful as being a Green Beret in the European territory through the cold war. He had a gift with languages, so he gave service at a very well known American Intelligence Organism. After that, in the same decade, Grinder returned to college to study linguistics and received his PhD by the University of California, San Diego.

As a linguist, Grinder stood out at the syntax area, supporting Noam Chomsky’s theories of the generative grammar. After studying with the founder of the cognitive theory, George Miller, at the Rockefeller University, Grinder was invited to impart classes of linguistics at the University of California, Santa Cruz. In his linguistic work, he has titles that co-authored, such as: “A Guide to transformational grammar”(Suzette Elgin, Holt, Rinehart y Winston, Inc., 1973), and “On deletion phenomena in English” (Mouton & Co., 1976).

In addition to his ability to identify and model complex patterns of language and behavior, Grinder is known for personal power and presence as a presenter and trainer. In recent years, Grinder has focused primarily on working as a consultant, applying NLP methods and principles in companies and organizations.

At Santa Cruz, Grinder met Richard Bandler who invited him to participate in his group therapy sessions. Grinder was fascinated with the linguistic patterns that the effective therapists used. With that, he joined Bandler to create a model based on the transformational grammar theory that could be useful for the language patterns used by the founder of the Gestalt therapy, Fritz Perls, family therapist, Virginia Satir, and those present in the clinical practice of the hypnotherapist Milton H. Erickson. Seven years later, Grinder and Bandler managed to obtain a model of the different cognitive patterns found in the therapists mentioned above. They presented their model in the next titles: “The structure of magic, I & II”, (1975, 1976), “Patterns of the Hypnotic techniques of Milton H. Erickson, I & II”, (1975, 1977), and “Changing with families” (1976). These written works would be based in Neuro-Linguistic Programming.

Grinder co-authored in numerous books about the NLP. Some of them are: “Frogs into Princes” (1979), “NLP Volume I” (1989), “Trance-formations” (1981), and “Precision model” (1989). Besides his ability to identify complex models of language and behavioral patterns, Grinder is known for his strong personality and power as a presenter and instructor. In recent years, Grinder has been focused mainly in business consulting, taking the NLP methods to companies and organizations.


This article is written by Plabita Borah who has been a part of the Global Internship Research Program (GIRP). Plabita belongs from Assam and holds MSc in Clinical Psychology. She is ambitious, driven and thrives on challenge. She constantly sets goals and strives towards them. She also loves meeting people and learning about theirs lives and background.

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