The Wright Way

The Wright Way

Thursday, July 29, 2010

NLP and Sensual Understanding, the 3rd dimension in Coaching?

Open yourself up to the possibility....

In the course of my sports coaching I teach cricket to primary school children in curriculum time. Now, not all the pupils are going to view learning cricket with much enthusiasm for a variety of reasons – from not liking any PE per se, to it being a “long and boring game” (an acquired critical judgement), to “I’m no good at it” (another acquired critical judgement), to “I’m a girl and cricket’s a boy’s game”.
We were warned about this in our coach tuition module, that highlighted the differences between a) coaching at clubs where everyone wanted to be there and had a common purpose and b) coaching in schools where this diverse disinterest level was going to be prevalent.

There are things to help break these barriers – being outdoors in the summer sun and air sure beats being in the classroom; girls’ and women’s cricket is a fast growing sport; are two that immediately spring to mind as undeniable presuppositions.

So what else can help break the barriers?

In the tuition module we watched a rather cheesy and occasionally amusing DVD of a coach approaching, planning and delivering a curriculum session on cricket, and then had to comment on various aspects of it. Helpful as it was in a conceptual sense in providing a framework for execution of the task, the parts we all found equally amusing and uncomfortable were areas where we couldn’t see ourselves doing it THAT way. So - this now brings a coach’s individuality into the equation. Now, there is ‘coaching by the book’ and ‘coaching by personality’ – and it’s generally assumed the most effective way is going to be by managing the shifting and changing balance of the two.

To my mind there is a third dimension here – and the nearest I can get to a short description is ‘coaching by sensual understanding’.

If a coach has an awareness of ‘sensual understanding’ then suddenly the whole activity is transformed into 3D. And seeing, hearing, feeling ANYTHING in 3D brings the whole experience to life!

What do I mean by ‘sensual understanding’?
I see it as an understanding that
• Communication, both outwardly and inwardly, in language, both verbal and non-verbal, should be sensory based.
• Because we are designed for a world of experience through our senses, our technical coaching makes more impact if we pay attention to sensual or sensory-based learning.
I firmly believe that the more coaches encounter and have an understanding of NLP, the more they are drawn towards using it to enhance their ‘coaching by sensual understanding.’

So how have I found using NLP beneficial and leads to this ‘sensual understanding’ when coaching, particularly in schools?
1. Preframe the term and each session
2. Assume, through positivity, that the presuppositions of NLP are expressed to the children in ways they can understand
3. Allow them to gauge their experience of batting, bowling, fielding not in my terms but in terms that are REAL to them
4. Allow performance of how they have learnt and understood through that experience to be expressed in a free and unconscious (intuitive) way

Here are some examples of the above:-

Though it may sound a bit wacky, I tell every new group that they are geniuses – and that they don’t yet know what they are geniuses at, and they need to open up to the possibility that some of that genius can be expressed in their playing cricket.

There is no failure only feedback - If it’s possible in the world then it’s possible for me. It’s just a matter of How – There are no unresourceful people, only unresourceful states – People are not their behaviours, and for things to change first I (or they) must change – Every action has a positive intention. Children very soon understand where you are coming from if these presuppositions are part of your core beliefs.

Get them to listen to what their bodies are telling them, and gain a greater understanding of what is happening, what they are doing, and through that gain better control, and to try different ways to gain even more experiences. Remembering always that this is their perception of their experience and not anyone else’s. Communicate with everyone bearing this in mind. Use their language, their calibrations.

Provide sufficient ‘game’ or performance opportunity to allow expression without conscious technical thinking. The more exciting and fast moving the game, the better the likelihood of amazing expression. Some of the most astonishing feats and personal moments of absolute quality has been in this type of game play. Take away rational and critical thinking and the body is allowed to express itself truly ‘from the inside-out’. Sometimes beyond the generally accepted acquired technical level for that individual.

So the kids I coach in schools love what cricket allows them to do and feel and be. They believe it is what it is through the way it is presented to them. They now believe, through sensory discovery, that they are capable of far more than they think they are. And if that’s true for their cricket, then it’ll be true for other things as well. They understand the presuppositions of NLP without knowing what they are; and now they have a better view of the world, a better map of the world; and know that they are not that map and that they can be their true selves whenever they want –
just by allowing themselves to open up to the possibilities......

This model should be true for all of us, all of the time.


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Extra-ordinary rewards.

Someone asked me recently which I preferred - coaching or therapy. And I found it particularly difficult to give them a straight answer. Each involves communication, rapport, understanding, influence, instruction, guidance, correction, revelation, patience, humility, honesty, clarity....well, I could go on for there's a lot more besides. Oh - and being positive. That's very important.

To be fair, I love doing both, since the common thread here is about making a difference for people. Life's too short after all!

There's a lot of giving of time and attention in what I call my working process, and the rewards are:- satisfaction at helping to make changes and advances for people - and yes I also get paid for most of it as well. The payment is just for my time though, and not the outcomes although I might earn more if I was paid by results - but then again I might not!

There's the human and personal side of rewards as well, which are beyond satisfaction and beyond monetary considerations. I don't feel the need for testimonials, although I can see the benefit this brings for those who do. I prefer to get affectionate thanks from those I've coached, sometimes greetings in the street years later, which says so much. I also get sincere thanks from parents, who have seen their child grow in stature as a consequence of my work with them. Plus I have enjoyed the success of teams and individuals who have discovered they are capable of achieving far more than they dreamed of.

And then there's the rewards it's just too hard to describe.....

In SATS 2010 there was a section called "Simply the Best" where pupils had to write a piece to their local newspaper recommending someone to be nominated for an award.

In one of the primary schools I visit to coach cricket in curriculum time, the Year 6 teacher gave me a copy of the piece one of the girls in her class had written. Bear in mind this teacher has seen many school years and taught both my son and daughter! She was rather moved to give me this short piece of work - as indeed I was to receive it. So in spite of what I said earlier about testimonials - yer tiz!

"I am recommending Mr Wright for a Simply the Best award.

I am proudly recommending my cricket teacher Mr Wright because I think he is brilliant.

Even though I'm not really a fan of cricket, Mr Wright still makes it fun for everyone. When you need help, he is always there. Also he is very honest. So if you need an opinion, I bet he will tell you the truth. I'll even bet you money if you don't believe me!

Most of my friends are not very confident playing cricket. Good thing Mr Wright has a positive attitude to keep them smiling!

Mr Wright is simply the best of all. He truly is. He has the 'wright' to win it!"

Sunday, July 25, 2010

So what was it you wanted to see me about?

This is Part 2 of my initial interview with the client who writes and performs comedy.

....having pointed out to this client that unbeknownst to her she is a 'hypnotist', she ploughed on with her journey of discovery!

“So what is NLP?” was her next question.

I explained it in a way that was most appropriate for her and actually showed her that she was also an NLP practitioner in a number of ways.
By the way comedians use reframing, by the way they use analogue marking, by the way they use anchors (especially linguistic or vocal anchors), by the way they use state management, rapport, pacing and leading. This actually makes them highly skilled practitioners.

“What actually is ‘timing’ in terms of a comedy performance? What is your understanding of it? How do you perceive it? ” I asked her.
There was a momentary pause as she collated her references in her ‘mental in-tray’. This too was interesting, and I used it a bit later to illustrate something for her.
“Timing is knowing when to say or do the next part of the script or sequence to maximum effect. That’s probably one thing that defines it for me.”
“And that ‘knowing’ – is there anything else about that ‘knowing’ - like that?” I asked.
“It’s like being totally in tune, in harmony. Like finding the most comfortable part or the most resonant part, where everything feels just right.”

Then I asked, “Can you see anything else about timing that is like that ‘knowing’?” Not very subtle I grant you, but I wanted to shine a light on a rather unexplored corner, and she was going with the flow here after all! There was a longer pause as she searched for more detailed references.

“When I try things out for myself first, I have an idea about how the script might work best – or even at all! Visualising, reading aloud, positional practising. But I don’t know for sure until I go out on stage. Every audience is different, so getting an understanding of them soonest helps the most.”

“So your performance is a dialogue, where you are unconsciously reading their responses and body language to help build rapport. You use non-verbal pacing and calibrate their state, and then lead them into your act by altering that state and guiding it where you want. You use all these techniques unconsciously and these are the very elements of the comedians performing art. And timing is that innate understanding where the pause is only as momentary as is necessary as revealed to you by the audience and your own intuitive and unconscious knowledge.”
She nodded, thoughtfuly and repeatedly.
“To my mind," I said, "that constitutes a master NLP practitioner!”

I’m happy to conclude that she now realises that, in addition to being a good comedienne, she is also an excellent hypnotist and NLP practitioner. That it is also OK to smile, chuckle, laugh, indeed express anything in a hypnotherapy session since that is indicative of an altered state and is there for the hypnotic guide to utilise, or not, as the case may be.

My final question was, “So what was it you wanted to see me about?”
Seemed apposite!


Consciously, everything is an altered state - isn't it?

I met a new client who is a comedy writer and performer. This blog is what happened in Part 1 of my initial interview with her.

In the course of chatting with her I asked if she’d ever had hypnotherapy and if so how was the experience for her.

“Only a couple of times. First time I just got a fit of the giggles. I work in comedy and listening to the therapist’s voice going deeper I just saw the funny side and couldn’t stop laughing. I don’t think it was a very effective session because of that. The second one I was pretty tired so I didn’t ‘resist’ as much and that may have been more useful.”

An interesting perspective! And on a number of levels.

The preconception among many is that hypnosis requires a trance state, however they define that to be (perhaps involving their being something rather akin to sleep), and so if that isn’t happening, or they feel ‘conscious’ or ‘wide awake’, then it’s not working. The nominalisation, whether hypnosis or ‘IT’, implies that a spell is cast or you put something on and it changes you (as in the films The Mask, or The Tuxedo). In each of these examples the conscious is ‘shut down’, memory fades and ceases, and we become under the control or influence of the hypnotist. This preconception bolsters the fearful, the resistant, and those predisposed to expose. “Maintain consciousness – stimulate the critical faculty – and this stuff won’t work!”

Now we’re back to the story about the pickpocket in a room full of saints – all he sees is their pockets. But what if the pickpocket is also a saint – do the other saints see him as a pickpocket or as one of their own? What if it is a room full of pickpockets dressed as saints. What if it is a room of ordinary people at a Come As a Saint party? Do all saints have pockets? Do pickpockets have pockets?

Why am I rambling here? The point is about perspectives, preconceptions and understandings. I’ve mentioned in the past about asking people at a gathering, session or meeting “How many ways can I get out of this room?” They look around, count the exits (doors, windows etc) and then each come up with an array of answers. I then show them the different ways of getting through just one door by walking forwards, backwards, sideways, crawling, hopping etc – until they realise there are thousands of ways of getting out of the room. Some say “Ha, trick question” to which I reply “No, just perspectives, preconceptions and understandings. I merely asked how many ways can I get out of this room. The rest of it YOU made up.” Here they disappear into quiet thoughtfulness.

However – back to my client.
If you start from the perspective or understanding or preconception that hypnosis, trance - call it what you will – comes from the manipulation of changing states of mind then everything starts to open up. Every moment of every day we are in some particular state or other. There is a chunk of the 24 hours when we are asleep, or in a state of unconsciousness. Things are still going on in the body – we are still breathing, heart is beating, numerous other autonomic functions are chugging away in the background. When awake we move through the day in a continuous variety of states that are altering all the time. Amongst these altering states there are some contemplative, some reverie, some of total focus – and others with an almost infinite mixture of conscious and cognitive levels. Each change involves us moving to another state. Altering our state – our state is ALTERED. And if we view hypnosis as being “in an altered state of consciousness” then it is easy to see that something hypnotic can happen to us all at ANY time.

And so it is, if you think about comedy and our reactions. Laughter is symptomatic of an altered state. And as I told my client at this point, “When you make your audiences laugh, you induce in them an altered state. You are actually a hypnotist – and the better the comedian is, the better a hypnotist they are.” She understood perfectly what I meant, as she went through a range of internal references to prove or disprove this statement. “So what was happening when you got the giggles in that first hypnotherapy session? Laughter (and a fit of giggles is almost unconscious laughter) which is an altered state. The hypnotic guide will use this to good purpose even in a therapy session. On stage, if a member of the audience is having a fit of the giggles, what do you do?” She replied immediately, “Exploit it. Laughter is infectious. That fit of giggles will spread through the audience, without me having to say very much more except heighten the moment.”

It is interesting here that she used the word ‘heighten’, because another perspective of heighten is ‘deepen’ and this is also part of the hypnotic process.

I pointed out to her that rapport is also very important in the hypnotic process, as rapport opens up channels for dialogue on all 3 levels: Conscious-conscious, conscious-unconscious and unconscious-unconscious. Once it is realised that this is going on, the possibilities for influence expand dramatically. I asked her about rapport for comedians – “On stage you are looking to get rapport with your audience as soon as possible? What happens when you’ve got it?” She replied, “Everything goes great. It flows. It’s an all round wonderful experience.” “And when you haven’t got it, what happens then?” “You bomb,” she said.

"Exactly my point," I said. I could see she was beginning to treat this meeting as something of an education, quite forgetting why she had come to see me in the first place.

Distraction and absorption, leading to temporary amnesia and probable time distortion; my initial interviews and chats do tend to go down this network of roads. I've even had a colleague tell me that the consequence of reading my online postings is that he spends hours buried in a thesaurus.
However, the point is that states metamorphose like shifting sands, and by noticing and understanding these shifts, by cultivating rapport, pacing and leading we become artfully persuasive and influential. We are all doing this - all the time - to a greater or lesser degree. And some of us wear our tuxedos all the time!

(Part 2 of the interview will follow shortly)

Saturday, July 24, 2010

What happens when we have too much choice?

This is a great and meaningful TED talk by Barry Schwarz on the paradox of choice.

In essence he concludes that the more choice we have, there is a finite point beyond which we actually become miserable and disaffected by this so-called "freedom to choose". A kind of law of diminishing returns.
And endless choice, he avers, is paralysing. When faced with so much 'opportunity to get just what we want', the downside is that we blame ourselves when it doesn't come up to expectations. And it is these levels of expectation that make the choosing so difficult, and so paralysing, because the responsibility has been handed down to us. If the product is inferior it somehow becomes our fault, because we should have (could have) made a better choice. Making decisions often degenerates into "But what if I choose the wrong thing? Why can't this be easier?"

I remember hearing a joke years ago about a foreigner arriving in an English town, but hardly able to speak a word. He was hungry and noticed a cafe was well frequented so he went in an joined the queue. He overheard most of the customers ordering ahead of him "Cuppa tea, chunk o' pie." So when it was his turn he copied them and asked for "Cuppa tea, chunk o' pie." It duly came and he ate and enjoyed. Weeks went by and he would regularly go down to the cafe and ask for "Cuppa tea, chunk o' pie". After a while he grew tired of the same old fare and thought he'd try something else he'd heard asked for. Next visit it was "Egg and bacon, cup o' coffee." The reply was "How d'ye like yer eggs? -fried, scrambled, poached, coddled, sunny side up, hard, soft, runny. how d'ye like yer bacon? -back, streaky, rind on or off, crispy, how d'ye like yer coffee? -black, white, frothy, milky, with or without sugar....."
He stood for a while and said "Cuppa tea, chunk o' pie."


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Not really a re-launch!

I'm on something of a publicity drive on my book "Don't Think of a Black Cat" at the moment. It's not really a re-launch though, more (in recorded music industry parlance) along the lines of re-issuing "back catalogue".

What's different?

Well the price of both the paperback book as well as the download version is slashed. The book you can get from AMAZON, direct from my publishers LULU or order it up in your favourite nearby bookshop. LULU also do the eBook download version. For UK based clients only you can also get personally signed copies direct from me.

Will it be useful for me?

The book is aimed at bringing a level of understading NLP to the uninitiated, the burgeoning beginner, the curious layman. The countless millions who wait for each day to "happen" to them; who perform to "the best of their abilities" without realising there is a whole heap more they themselves can bring about to improve their every experience; who suffer, often for years, events and conditions that blight their lives in varying degrees.

It is not...

It is not an academic tome, nor is it a revealing textbook. There's nothing here you won't find elsewhere in other books or online. It is more of a chronicle of my perspectives, my discoveries as I made my way in to NLP. It's written in a conversational style with plenty of "live" interventive descriptions and some occasional humour too - my first tutor and mentor liked the narrative and said it made him laugh and smile, which I took as a huge compliment. There's practical exercises too designed to allow the reader to open up to begin their own usage.

Interested, curious, tantalised, want to know more.....?
Then my work is done - the rest is down to you!

Did I get what I wanted with NLP?

Normally my interaction on sundry forums involves short posts, but occasionally I am more expansive. Recently, on NLP Connections, there was a thread which questioned "Did you get the results you were after when you first connected with NLP? Were you overjoyed - disappointed - surprised?"

My reply was thus:-

Being a lifelong student of everything, especially NLP, I'm going to have to frame my comments in the present - since in terms of what I know there's more to come and it certainly feels as though I've come a long way as well!

Am I getting the results I was after?

Yes, geometrically, exponentially. It started off slowly and gathered a momentum of its own as I moved from all the 'apply to self' scenarios into using it in a sports context with people I coach, into using it specifically with clients in mainstream and therapeutic contexts.

Am I overjoyed-disappointed-surprised?
To be fair - none of the above. For me its more like enthused, enthralled, curious and investigative.

Within the last 3 years and especially the last 18 months my view of NLP has moved from it being an entity in itself into it being a perspective of thinking, being, viewing the world, communicating with that world and the people in it. That has accelerated my enthusiasm, enthrallment and curiosity and level of investigation.

What I once viewed as the 'core' of NLP seems now, in my understanding at any rate, to have more body of material outside it than inside. In that there is more and more to be discovered beyond the confines, as this 'way of thought and action' spills over into neighbouring disciplines and newly emerging processes. Its rather like broadening one's vocabulary when learning a language whilst, all the time, that language is also expanding.

Many clients ask me what NLP is, perhaps expecting (from how it has been described to them) that I will be 'doing it' to, with and for them. Every answer I give is different, probably tailored by my unconscious understanding of how the answer might be most useful for them. This isn't from some arrogant standpoint being that 'I know what's best for you'. Its more from the point of giving a natural, interesting and revealing answer in a natural, interesting and revealing way. I'm not expecting to be "right" with these answers, and for some the answers may be so far from the 'defined norm' that I might appear that I don't know what I'm talking about! In a lot of cases I am deliberately (and artfully) vague - which is particularly disarming for them and thus permits a level of unconscious dialogue that may not be possible in other ways.

I have some wonderful gurus and teachers who accompany me on this journey of discovery. Most of them are not aware I hold them in this status! I am particularly fortunate in that by having to pay for all my tuitions myself, that I have trodden outside the borders of training-for-trainings-sake. I suppose I've been lucky in that financial constraints have made me take the better route to choosing courses and trainers since, as you say Chris (Chris Morris, forum moderator), there is an element of the 'less than honourable' out there in the marketplace. However - there are many in our 'community' who do what they do for the greater benefit of the community - and one of those great benefits is a this particular web forum. I have gained much help, information and stimulus by my involvement here.

To conclude - I know that had I NOT studied and started using NLP over the last 15-18 years that (a) I wouldn't be the inner person I am now, (b) wouldn't be capable of doing the things I am doing now, (c) wouldn't be as effective a coach or therapist as I am now. I also know that I will never arrive at the 'temple of knowingness' and rather everything is just a step along the journey of knowledge. That way, tomorrow I will be more effective, thoughtful, creative and fascinated than today.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

The Meaning, the Words and Music

An online friend posted this quote today which got me musing and contemplating:-

The fish trap exists because of the fish. Once you've gotten the fish you can forget the trap. The rabbit snare exists because of the rabbit. Once you've gotten the rabbit, you can forget the snare. Words exist because of meaning. Once you've gotten the meaning, you can forget the words. Where can I find a man who has forgotten words so I can talk with him? ~ Chuang Tzu

Here's where I've reached thus far...

The words are the vehicle for the meaning -
When a man has forgotten the words, does he retain the meaning?
If he forgets the words through lack of attention (and retention) has he ever had the meaning in the first place? -
If I have found the meaning and someone seeks me out to talk with me, in order to convey the meaning to him will I need words to transmit or convey that meaning? -
If this is so and I have forgotten the words, where will I find them?

And so it is thus, there are more questions than answers!

In applying the Chuang Tzu quote to music, we realise that the meaning is hidden in the relationship between the notes, the silences, the rhythm, the tempo.
And if the meaning is thus hidden, can we always re-generate that meaning using the same exact relationships? Or are those identical musical notational relationships also dependent upon our perceptive filters and interpretations and state of mind?
Furthermore this leads to the performer of the musical notations, and HIS understanding of the meaning, and also his changing states of mind.

So my conclusions (at this moment in time you understand!) are that - for an understanding AND conveyance of meaning, words and music are equally important. And, the better we use them, the more meaning we can receive and impart.

I genuinely feel that music is a non-verbal language, and actually conveys more meaning at higher levels than words do.