Duff McDuffee is a coach and trainer with the iNLP Center.
The TOTE model in NLP explains why conventional psychotherapy goes on and on, and why the “war on drugs” in the United States has no foreseeable end, and why people buy tons of vitamins which they don’t even know are working. TOTE stands for Test, Operate, Test, Exit. It was first written about by George A. Miller, Eugene Galanter, and Karl H. Pribram in their 1960 book, Plans and the Structure of Behavior.
Here’s how the TOTE model works:
1. First you Test to obtain some representation of the problem state.
2. Then you Operate by intervening in some way.
3. Then Test again to see if the desired result has been achieved. If it has not, loop back to Operate, and either continue the same strategy or change your approach.
4. You Exit because the problem has been solved.
You already know the TOTE model and, in fact, you use it all the time. For instance, let’s say I’m hand washing a bowl. I pick it up and see that it is dirty (initial test). Then I use a sponge and soap and water and scrub it, then rinse it off (operate). I look at it again to see if it is clean and notice there is still some food on the bowl (test), so I return to scrubbing it some more (operate), and then rinse it and see that it is clean, so I put it into the dish rack (exit).
This TOTE model is usually part of a larger TOTE called “washing the dishes,” which ends when I see that there are no more dishes to be washed. If I didn’t have this strategy, once I got started, I’d be washing dishes forever!
Surprisingly, most psychotherapy and coaching doesn’t use this simple method, which means there is no clear, obvious test for when one should end the therapy or the coaching (since a person can always be more “mentally healthy” or always engage in more personal development). That’s fine if you have the money and want ongoing support, but if you have a specific problem like feeling anxious in social situations and want resolution, then it can be a very long and expensive way to go! In addition, many psychotherapies don’t do an initial test (what we often call a “pre-test” in NLP) so it is difficult to see when changes are occurring, which can be discouraging.
Similarly, there is no clear test to see whether our efforts in the U.S. “war on drugs” are getting us closer to our outcomes, so the “war” must continue endlessly, despite the huge amount of resources being spent to fight something so poorly defined.
Just recently I once purchased magnesium of which I’ve began taking 600mg daily. I was very excited about the chance to improve my sleep so I was anxious to try it out. I used the magnesium experiment to illustrate the TOTE model so you can see how to implement it into your decision making strategies.
So here’s the TOTE:
Test: I feel tired in the mornings after waking up.
Operate: Take 600mg of magnesium before I go to sleep.
Test: Notice whether I feel more rested or not in the morning. If yes, keep taking the magnesium. If no, stop taking it.
Exit: Stop taking magnesium.
Because I did not feel it helped with my sleep I discontinued taking the magnesium. Because of the outcome I could “Exit”. Had it worked, I would not “Exit” but continue to “Operate” and “Test” each day. This is one of those common sense ideas that I wish were a whole lot more common!
By applying this simple way of testing to see if what you are doing is working (and if it isn’t, to stop or change your approach), you can save a whole lot of wasted effort and resources. Who knows how many billions of dollars could be saved just from people taking vitamins alone if we all used the TOTE model!
To learn more about the high-quality, 1-on-1 NLP training with me available through the iNLP Center, you can click here now.
What do you think?
Powered by Facebook Comments