The Wright Way

The Wright Way

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Dealing with your "Bulls"

We all encounter dilemmas - and quite often we encounter a number all at once. At these moments we are in danger of overwhelm, emotional overload. As we struggle to pull each one into perspective, we lose perspective on the others - our "bandwidth" of coping and resolving is not broad enough.

One definition of a dilemma is - "state of uncertainty or perplexity especially as requiring a choice between equally unfavorable options". The phrase "The Horns of a Dilemma" seems to have originated from Roman times from the Latin phrase argumentum cornutum or "an argument with horns". In modern parlance this is finding ourselves "Between a rock and hard place", and it leads us to "Not being able to see the wood for the trees".

Focussing on the metaphorical horns for a moment, we often anticipate dilemmas as charging bulls.

When I was young I spent quite a lot of time out walking in the countryside. Because I was an only child, this activity was mostly enjoyed in the company of parents, aunts, uncles, older cousins - in fact, I was almost always the youngest there. One of the features of being in older company is they are more mindful of the dangers surrounding them, and especially those relating to a small boy! A prevalent danger when the footpath entered a new field was perceived as "is there a bull here?" In the mind of small boy, EVERY field might possibly contain a BULL - whilst the percentage is (in reality) very, very low. Couple this perception with an over-active imagination, and the bull - and those HORNS - is a perpetual and clear and present danger!

Looking at the metaphorical parallel - one dilemma is probably something we can deal with. Two dilemmas - becoming difficult. More than two - panic, overload!
With one dilemma we can choose to either RUN for survival to a place of refuge, or confront the bull and be a matador or just plain smart. And that's how we all cope to a greater or lesser degree. With two or more dilemmas we now have horns coming from multiple directions.

So how do you deal with your Bulls? Do you stand firm, or do you run for cover? If you are being charged by multiple Bulls, what then?

There's a shift we can experience in this metaphorical landscape, which can be really useful in throwing open some more windows on broader perspectives for us. It's the Disney effect - the cartoon representation of what is happening for us. How would a Disney cartoon character deal with the Bulls? What options are there? Some immediately spring to mind...

Jump on a bull's back and control the horns - wait and wait until they are really close then jump out of the way so they crash into each other - become a charger yourself and chase after the biggest bull - PLUS the more you think about it, the more examples will spring up for you.

The thing is - by looking at reframes and alternatives you are presented with multiple options - plus by looking at them within the framework of a metaphorical landscape you are presented with an inner, unconscious representation of what the problem(s) mean for you and how you can resolve them. The "trick" is to translate the best metaphorical outcome back into real life terms. And this is where you need to trust your unconscious to guide and present you with the most favourable choice.

All the answers are there within you - you just need a strategy for dealing with your Bulls!


Monday, September 6, 2010

Tennis - Insider Nuggets or the continued quest for the Holy Grail?

In the course of watching Andy Murray's demise at the US Open 2010, I heard something mentioned from Peter Fleming on commentary that rather made my jaw hang limp.

He was talking about tennis players at this level just having to "...allow their subconscious to run the show once they are in matches. If they try and think their way through a match then they're lost..."

Firstly I was delighted to hear a former top flight player acknowledging the role the SUB(or UN)conscious plays in sporting contests. Psychology is a crucial factor in all sport, and there are a number of sports where psychology plays an enormous part in players' success or otherwise. Also, away from any of the martial arts, in heads-up one-to-ones, tennis is just about the best sport there is for us to see this in action. Even golf, where psychological approaches are well considered, it is still more about the player v the course, than player v player.

Secondly, Peter Fleming and fellow commentator, Mark Petchey, went on to talk about confidence, and "wouldn't it be great" if players could have this installed for them at an unconscious level.

Now I moved to the edge of my chair, thinking that they were about to reveal some "insider nuggets" about what is one of my stock in trade processes - Sports Hypnosis. Instead, I was almost falling off the chair when I heard this:-
"I know there are people who can do this, but there aren't that many in the world - and I've never heard of it's use by anyone in tennis."
Can this be for real? Surely at the top level, there are enough SP's** working in tennis to be able to extend to their clients an efficacious and beneficial use of changing states, and an ability to utilise hypnotic phenomena within those state changes, to instal and anchor confidence and a whole range of other desirable resources. Surely?

Or perhaps this IS a case where the only thing a pickpocket sees, when in a room full of saints, is their pockets. The familiarity of rocket science to a rocket scientist means that what is a straightforward and everyday process to him, is seen as amazing, bizarre, wonderful, off the wall, complicated and insoluble to everyone else.

I have watched crumbling sportspersons from the absolute beginner to those at the very, very top of their chosen sport - knowing that I (and countless colleagues) would be able to guide and effect in them the changes they most require.

The thing is - (and here there is just a hint of cynicism), we seem to be more accepted by, and accessible to, the beginners and learners!

My perception is that "Insider Nuggets" are UNCONSCIOUS processes, while the "Quest for the Holy Grail" is a distinctly CONSCIOUS process!

** - (SP's: Sports Psychologists)


Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Shortest Distance

On occasions when I'm discussing with clients about reaching their goals, there are a number of instances when I need to use the idea of "The Shortest Distance". This idea presents itself, conceptually, when some arbitrary barrier comes along to halt the passage towards achieving THAT goal.

In these cases I always use the illustration of the world record for running the mile, and the "myth" that had grown up around breaking the 4-minute barrier. It was finally broken by Roger Bannister back in May 1954 - and it appeared that once the 4-minute barrier had been broken, that further sub 4-minute performances were being reported from all over the world. Mankind had surpassed that (almost) unbeatable barrier!

In reality the march towards breaking the barrier was relentless - and it was the dearth of timed running activities during the 2nd World War that halted the steady progress and reduction of all timed athletic performances for various distances.

For those outside athletics, it became a popular notion that "4 minutes" was a well rounded figure and a watershed in man's advancing prowess - rather like the previously unconquered Mount Everest up to 1953!

A study of Bannister's running career from 1948 onwards shows that his exceptional talent was considerably enhanced once he added serious training into his regime; plus there were regular planned assaults on the mile record using pacemakers and measured lap times within the breakdown of the distance itself.

The timed logical argument is this - in a run taking 240 seconds (or 4 minutes), the SHORTEST DISTANCE between 241 seconds and 239 seconds is 2 seconds - or less. Divide that by 4 laps of an athletics track and it becomes less than half a second per lap. And less than half a second per lap for 4 laps is utterly achievable!

In terms of goals, there is no such thing as an arbitrary barrier - save that installed by a person's belief that it cannot be reached or surpassed. If we think we cannot do something, then we are right - and every attempt has the built in safety net of being able to say:-
"See I was right," upon failure, and therefore reinforcing my belief OR (in the event of success) "Well how lucky was that?"

Limiting beliefs and arbitrary barriers are only mental constructs.

Plus, if you are moving towards achieving a goal and find the "final push" hard to achieve - look at the structure of your achievements to date in this journey and reframe your perception of the SHORTEST DISTANCE required to arrive at your destination. Take a more calculated and unemotional logical view, and you'll soon discover that in terms of "seconds" you only need a less than 1% overall improvement.

Small increments are always achievable.


Saturday, September 4, 2010

First Match of the new season - How good was the Prep?

Excitement - anticipation - nerves aflutter -

It's the first matchday of a new season for the team I coach. There's been ten pre-season sessions in which we've addressed their fitness, strength and conditioning, re-awakening personal and positional skills, playing patterns and organisational aptitude.

So this afternoon is the 'moment of truth' - are they under-cooked?

Well, for me, this is the first port of call in laying down some mental approaches for the season - and in playing down the pitfalls of today's encounters; not so much versus the opposition, but rather for my players versus themselves.

There is always the expectation that I am going to unwrap some pearls of wisdom in a pre-match talk anyway - and today will be no exception. However, the focus I want them to bring is twofold.
1. Sowing, cultivating and nurturing a winning mindset.
2. That today is still part of preparation, still a step along the journey. There is NO finished article, because even if they reach the standards they aspire to and I envisage they will achieve, then that is not the end of the story. There is the next level to go for, and then the next, and so on in an inevitable drive towards being the best they can possibly be. Everything in those terms is "Work in Progress" (and I have used that perspective earlier this year with wonderful consequences for the young sportsman concerned.)

When all is said and done, my players are all capable of far, far more than they think they are - and once that is embedded in their mindset, then it is far easier for them to focus on PROCESSES and not OUTCOMES. Getting the processes right will lead to achieving the outcomes we all want. In order to win any prize in the Lottery the abiding essential is the buying of a ticket - it doesn't work any other way!

I will report back on a later blog on how everything progresses!