Circle of Excellence

Circle of Excellence

Sep 17, 2021

The Circle of Excellence is a basic self-anchoring process originally developed by John Grinder, co-creator of NLP. Circle of Excellence can be used to elicit, create and stabilise desired states.

This exercise teaches you how to plan for the future using all the best of your past or the past of someone (real or fictitious) you know of.

Your brain cannot tell the difference between a real history and an imagined history or the history of others, so all you have to do is emotionally capture a feeling of excellence using whatever role models or scenario playing that works for you. You can use visualisation to step-into-the-shoes-of a movie hero, a living legend, or anyone you admire to get into the state you want.

Although this formal exercise involves stepping into an imaginary circle on the floor, it can also be done by talking a client into imagining becoming the resourceful state. However, if you can, use the physical exercise, it is much more powerful.


  1. Identify the external triggers that could put you into an unresourceful state. These could be visual, auditory, tactile or smell or taste stimuli. They might be related to an upcoming job interview or telephone call – or the first day at work.
  2. Now imagine an invisible circle on the floor; make it about three feet in diameter and two feet in front of you, something large enough to walk into. You can draw chalk on the floor if you like when you are first training to master this mental technique.
  3. Imagine a time you were wonderful at what you want to be doing – or choose a ‘hero’ who has all the resources you want and imagine what it would be like to be them in that situation. Develop a full visual, auditory, kinaesthetic representation of the state. Use all your senses to imagine what it would feel like to be in that state; what you would see - visualise it fully; what you would hear - hear what would be going on, hear the positive internal dialogue. Project and anchor these in your circle of excellence.
  4. When you have added enough detail and resources, step automatically into the circle and allow yourself to take on the powerful state you've created. Move into that circle of excellence. Imagine it's as if you step into that person, that set of states, the whole of that experience. Step into the circle only as quickly or slowly as you can remember and re-access the resourceful state through your inner senses. An observer should see changes in your physiology such as better posture, deeper breathing, and skin colour changes. If there is no noticeable change In your physiology the resource state is either poorly accessed or low intensity. If it is low intensity, choose another resource state that is more powerful.
  5. Now that you have taken on all these resources, anchor this state so that you can bring it up when you require it. You could associate it with some mental or physical link or cue to bring it back when needed. That might be tapping your fingers, holding your arms in a certain way or whatever physical link you can easily and accurately repeat. Alternatively, you could associate it with an image in the future of when you might need to use it. We call this future pacing.
  6. Repeat with more experiences or role models to enhance the power of your circle of excellence.