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Colours – My New Code NLP Game

COLOURS – A high-performance state game – New Code NLP.

Dear ‘Agent of change’:

It gives me great pleasure to offer this description and video to the NLP community as one of a growing set of NLP patterns called New Code Games. Please test it and provide feedback…

If you are unfamiliar with New Code games or the New Code Change Format, there is a simple introduction further down the page.

I have taken The Alphabet Game, (Published by John Grinder and Carmen Bostic St. Clair in ‘Whispering in the Wind’ 2001) and incorporated a three-colour version of The Stroop Effect (Published by John Ridley Stroop in an article titled ‘Studies of interference in serial verbal reactions’ 1935) with one important difference.

I first coded this pattern in 2008. My perception at the time (based on unreliable self-calibration) was that it did not induce a high performance state. I began to test the pattern with other people in early 2009 and the effects in some cases have been profound! I urge you to experiment with this pattern for 4 reasons:

  1. I have found that, for some individuals, it induces a profound high-performance ‘state’.
  2. In some cases, the state lasted for a long time.
  3. For some individuals there is hardly a change in state at all. (This is fascinating to me; what are individuals doing differently that makes the game more/less challenging?)
  4. The changes that have followed the use of this state have been surprising.

Please have fun exploring this. I eagerly await your comments. Can I invite you to publish your findings below?


On a flip chart write the words red, green and blue in red green and blue; mix the words and vary the colours randomly as per the example (any 3 distinctly different colours will do – use the names of the coloured inks you are using):

The game

1. Working from top left to bottom right, set up a rhythm of ‘clicking’ fingers to the colour of the ink (not the written word):
For red ink – click the fingers on the right hand
For green ink – click the fingers on the left hand
For blue ink – click the fingers on the both hands

If the person playing is unable to ‘click’ then raising the arm works just as well.

2. Once that condition is achieved, add a condition like balance or movement on both sides of the body simultaneously to activate both hemispheres.

For balancing seated on a gym ball or standing on a balance board.
Alternatively, use the condition from the alphabet game – raising the left leg at the same time as clicking the fingers on the right hand for red ink, raising the right leg at the same time as clicking fingers on the left hand for green ink, and bending both knees or lifting up onto tip-toes at the same time as clicking fingers on both hands for blue.

3. Set the condition of responding to the colour of ink as they have been, and add in the condition of articulating the written word as they click their fingers.
For example: For the first word on the second line as shown in the picture above, they would click fingers on the right hand (responding to the RED coloured ink) and say, “BLUE.” Articulating the written word.

I think that there is a kind of ‘appropriate ordering’ to the task. As well as being tricky enough and incorporating enough functions to induce a high performance state, the linguistic task (name the colour) is in response to the linguistic information (the written word) and the more unconscious movement function (click fingers) is in response to the environmental stimulus (colour – differences wavelength of the light from the words).

Video Demonstration:

New Code High-Performance States and the New Code Change Format

One of the key distinctions between ‘classic’ NLP and New Code NLP is the use of high-performance resource states.
In ‘classic’ code change techniques we may ask a question like, “How would you like to feel instead?” Or, “What would be a good resource state for this context?”
In doing this we are assigning choice of the resource state to the part of the system that is least equipped to make that choice, and we are limited to the resource states that the client has available within the set of past experiences under the linguistic label they choose.
Below is an overview of the New Code Change Format designed by John Grinder and Carmen Bostic St. Clair. I will take it as read that the technique will be conducted under the conditions of rapport, calibration and utilisation.
1. Select the context – Begin the pattern dissociated; the client imagining his/herself in the context from a clean 3rd position (the ‘fly on the wall’ perspective) at a specific point in the room or immediate proximity. Use whatever suggestions are required for the client to detach from the context (cinema screen, physically move further away, change sub-modalities etc)
2. Pay a visit – ask the client to step into the context associated 1st position (looking through their own eyes) and calibrate on the state shift. Ask the client for sensory evidence (K).
3. Separator State – the client physically steps out of the context to another place in the room (different to the places where they stood for step 1 and 2) and, rather than just a break of state, elicit a different state in the client.
4. Play the New Code Game to induce a high-performance state
5. Whilst the individual is in a high-performance state, able to perform all of the conditions smoothly, ask them / guide them to step back into the context into an associated 1st position.
The high-performance state will easily be maintained from the activity into the context. If you want to provide sensory stimulus to anchor the high-performance state and then fire the anchor when they are associated back into the context you can, however it is an unnecessary step that adds complexity to the process.
It is important to physically move between the different perceptual positions. Not only does the unconscious respond extremely well to this metaphor, you are anchoring the states to different places in the immediate environment.

The Stroop Effect

To Experience the Stroop effect, simply read out the colour of the words below, so you are naming the colour of the ink (not reading the written word):
stroop game


(Interesting to people involved in NLP that most instances you will find of this task include the explicit instruction, ‘Don’t read the words”)

A psychologist would describe this effect as interference: When most people look at one of the words, you see both its color and its meaning and those two pieces of evidence are in conflict. Because conditioning has taught you that word meaning is more important than ink color (consider your interaction with the hundreds of signs you see every day), interference occurs when you try to pay attention only to the ink color. There are two theories that attempt to explain the Stroop effect: (1) Speed of Processing Theory: the interference occurs because words are read faster than colors are named. (2) Selective Attention Theory: the interference occurs because naming colors requires more attention than reading words. So in one case it’s because reading words is easier, in the other it’s because naming colours requires more attention. Either way the study tells us about the study, if you distort the words to make them more difficult to read, it becomes easier to name the colour. This is psychology so it’s about statistics (not necessarily universal human processes) – not everyone experiences this interference – imagine my 3-year old attempting the task above, he can read the words but finds it easier to name the colours.

If we take a pragmatic NLP approach we can utilise this effect to induce positive high-performance states and remove ‘interference’ by building a high performance state and imposing a more appropriate or effective response to the stimulus.

The strategy for responding to a written word is different to the strategy for responding to colour (or anything else in your environment). You don’t necessarily take time to think ‘red’ or ‘green’ when you interact with a traffic light. In activities like sport or any ‘flow’ state, the introduction of linguistic description and the consequent evaluation leads to a deterioration in performance. In sum – Psychologists use The Stroop Effect to create and measure interference. In NLP we can use this effect to build states that remove the interference and provoke generative change… Over to you…… Please post comments below.



  • Dymitr Olszewski

    July 24, 2009 at 6:47 pm

    It is a nice rationale for connecting real colours with the movements and two forms of words together but have you tried the reversed option? Would it also elicit a high performance state or not?
    Dymitr Olszewski
    P.S.- I appreciate very much publishing a new NEW CODE game and your youtube presentation. Thanks


    • Daryll Scott

      August 1, 2009 at 3:53 pm

      Thanks Dymitr. The change that you suggest would almost certainly make the game more difficult. If you run it that way please let me know what you observe. I am quite keen on using the linguistic to respond to the linguistic – the state is an example of processing that would be helpful in everyday life. It’s possible I’m being inflexible, and also possible that this ‘appropriate ordering’ I refer to is bullshit – would love it if you can prove it, or disprove it – equally valuable either way. Thanks again. Daryll.


  • Graham Franklin

    July 24, 2009 at 8:55 pm

    I agree Daryll! This game certainly helped me reach a high performance state!
    Thanks for this week, its been great hagw Graham


  • Dymitr Olszewski

    August 18, 2009 at 8:36 pm

    Daryll… you should try it :))))
    Start as in Stroop with naming colours only (scribbled sheet), then go to the mixture and add movements.
    And, by the way, you’re genius:)


  • Aslan

    August 20, 2009 at 3:29 pm

    I am looking for a complete instruction for doing the game on my own any one has been successfully done that and i am a little unclear about the difference between the no nothing state and high performance state and what games produces one or the the other and what context are aproprate to be use for each.

    any ideas feel free to post or email.



  • Daryll Scott

    August 20, 2009 at 11:32 pm

    Thanks Dymitr
    Aslan – I am not aware of any explicit distinctions between high-performances states and know nothing states – they are members of the same set, or high performance is a member of the set of know nothing states – something like that. You can play this game alone – it’s great for that. The selection criteria – which state for which application – is as yet undefined.


  • Chris C.

    December 9, 2009 at 4:08 pm

    What is the definition of a high performance state? Can I do this exercise alone without someone assisting me in the process?

    Would it be possible to see a full New Code demonstration from start to finish?


    Chris C.


  • Daryll Scott

    December 10, 2009 at 10:15 am

    Thanks Chris – I’m not about an explicit definition; and the high-performance states that result from different new code games are different. The intention is to build a resource state that is far more effective than a state that elicited by accessing the VAK representation of something from personal history, and far more likely to evoke choices that are outside of what is normally available to the client. (for more on this look into state-dependent memory – as our states change so do the available resources)

    I can provide some design criteria if that would be helpful. These are mine, I’m sure that John Grinder would offer a more precise list:

    1. Movement on both sides of the body independently (activate both hemispheres)
    2. Differing tasks for right brain /left brain processes – cause confusion, the solution to which is a separation of the left and right processes (excuse the use of this left/right metaphor – it works for the purpose of what I’m attempting to convey)
    3. Input on V, A and K sensory channels
    4. An auditory internal task (read, count, spell, respond to instruction left/right)
    5. Activate ‘balance’ (semi-circular canals in the inner ears)
    6. Aerobic activity
    7. Rhythm
    8. Focused & peripheral vision

    Does that help?


  • Frank

    August 1, 2012 at 2:11 pm

    I experimented like crazy these days with your game.
    I got from people who performed it a few very good High Performance State followed by really surprising results.
    And a few, instead, didn’t quite get the state.

    I found that
    1) some people tire physically while performing. The just put in too much movement and get to being tired and in need of oxygen. I guided them to slow down but they said they just weren’t be able to coordinate if not moving so much (so I chose to change game)…most likely my incapacity to lead and coach them appropriately

    2)one guy had a lot of coordination difficulties and just couldn’t keep a rythm while using both sides of body. I spent the session coaching him to perform simple tasks for hemi-synchronization and assigned him this task for homework. I’ll see him next week again.

    3) a couple of guys “found a trick to beat the game” (using their words): as one of them described the strategy, he allucinated little coloured bricks where the coloured words were, and imaged the words written upon. I don’t know how he didi it but for him it was very easy to perform the game without having to pay too much attention, but the full attention engagement was completely absent so I decided to use another game (NASA). The other guy did something similar.

    So for the people who don’t get the state maybe you can check if they do something of this kind.

    The persons who entered the HPS, did it in a quite interesting way: not gradually, but one second they’re still making some error or have to stop and focus again – and the second after they are fully in. Amazing.

    I had one guy play the piano before the game and immediately after while still in the state, and the difference in performance was outstanding (and unbelieved by who was there watching the experiment)

    Thank you


  • Deepshikha

    October 10, 2012 at 2:48 pm

    Very interesting game and the rationale behind it. I appreciate the way NLP is making a place in people’s life. It will really do wonders!


  • Patrick Lilley

    November 26, 2012 at 1:31 am

    Dear Friends

    I work with clients helping them achieve goals and change…I generally use the Alphabet Game… I also am aware of the Croydon Apple game and NASA so its great to see a new one.

    My question may appear trivial but my own ability (at the moment) to click equally with both hands is limited.

    One hand does it far more easily than the other barely getsa click and its uncomfortable. No idea why…not sure it matters. I am left handed but my right hand clicks “better.” This is mildly distracting… but less see how it goes.

    I will give this a go myself and experiment with clients.

    I especially liked your intro to remind the clients that its a GAME. Some people take things far to seriously… so I found that part of the prep very helpful.

    Many thanks for your work.



  • Ed

    March 13, 2014 at 9:59 pm

    I’m wondering if there is a book where I can find an overview of all the new code games/high performance state-games (if there are no such book then maybe som other recourse)


    • Daryll Scott

      April 8, 2014 at 9:15 am

      John Grinder was working on such a book – I have not seen it yet… It’s eagerly awaited by a lot of people.


  • Colin

    March 27, 2014 at 11:37 am

    Thanks for the information.
    I have not been on any NLP courses, and do not wish to become a coach, but I have read many books and am interested in personal development and experimentation.
    I have written a little program to play this game. It just displays a random word colour in a random colour with a 4 beat visual indicator to provide the rhythm.
    Using it, I can quickly enter a high performance state. I know this because:
    1) time seems to slow down; I have to deliberately slow my movements down to keep in time with the timing bars shown by my program.
    2) I start to see some of the letters/words backwards.
    3) I become aware of my own movement in reflective surfaces around the room using my peripheral vision.
    I would like to anchor the state but I guess that as soon as I am consciously aware that I am in the state, by definition, I am probably already out of it!
    My question is how can I use this now for my own benifit?


    • Daryll Scott

      April 8, 2014 at 9:14 am

      Great observations and great questions.
      Firstly, the mere experience of accessing the state is likely to be benefit, and the more frequently you do it the better.
      As for application, it’s best used with the New Code Change Format. It’s not ideal as it’s designed to require a coach (to track your state so that you don’t need to track it yourself, and to associate you back to the context you are working on as you are most likely to completely forget about the performance/problem context when you are in the state).
      For self application you could design que that kicks you back into the context during the game?


  • Michael

    April 22, 2017 at 3:57 pm

    I do mainly group sessions and try to limit exercises to less than five minutes. Do you have any New Code games that may be used in the sessions.



    • Daryll Scott

      April 2, 2018 at 5:19 pm

      Sure – establish a relaxed, even breathing pattern and then fractionate association to context. 5 minutes should do the trick.


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