The Wright Way

The Wright Way

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Think Bike!

In my conversations with clients, metaphors will often just come up - that's the way it is with metaphors. The thing is - I view the clients' ones as being hugely relevant, a glimpse of a door that may take them further inside to the core of why they used it as a representation of this or that particular issue. When I get one of my own emerging, although I am always enthralled, I accept that the intuitive unconscious that presented it in the conversational foreground (again), did it for a reason or a purpose.
Now, because this is a multi-level dialogue going on here, I also view it as a glimpse of a door for the client - or perhaps also for me. The bottom line is always that it is a glimpse per se - and is there to be utilised.

A recent client conversation revolved around issues involving their personal situation at both work and in social interactions and could be generalised to "I like to get on with people" - essentially "I'd like them to like me." This is something I'm sure we've all encountered at some point in our lives - and for me it was certainly something that revisited me recently, on an emotional level, when I was attacked in the social media by a 'friend'.
Of course in my case the issue was theirs and not mine, and, once I'd 'got over' my own thinking, life continued as before - plus it's easy to un-friend someone and, in their universe, you dissolve along with what annoys them about you!

But that doesn't happen at work, where we are tipped into a melting pot not entirely of our own choosing.
You can do a number of things of course, and there is a spectrum of reaction decisions.
At one end is "Quit the Job" - and at the other is "Be the bastard THEY clearly think you are". With each of these is the conclusion that there's always going to be the cutting off of a nose to spite someone's face. And if we choose to react at these extremes, there is an almost definite probability that these patterns will re-emerge again and again. It's an enrolment at the School of Quitting or the School for Colleagues from Hell.
Now my client is not the kind of person who would sign up to either of these establishments, and neither did she need sympathy - she was after something practical. She'd already gone down the self help avenue that is lined with trees of 'positivity' - but for her the road was still bumpy.

The bicycle ride

We're going along on a bicycle and we come to a very bumpy track. The best outcome is to probably get off and walk this bit and push the bike - but we don't. We stay on and try to persevere - to 'tough it out'. That's what 'strong' people do! We're getting thrown around all over the place, still pedalling - still trying to bottle it all up - and now it's getting more uncomfortable and we're going faster, and getting out of control. And since we now think we are out of control we prove it to ourselves by feeling out of control; and now we really are out of control - and the brakes don't seem to work - so the bike crashes and we fall off. The wheels may be damaged or buckled, we are cut and bruised; and then we remember we've been told to always get back on the bike straight away. So we do - and off we go again.....

If we're riding the bike of our thinking and the road of life becomes bumpy, then what we do with the bike is directly related to what happens next for us. If life is stressful then we always tend to think it's the road - whilst in actual fact it's the way the bike is negotiating the road. We can become better negotiators of that road by having a better understanding our riding style.


So - was this the metaphor that came 'bubbling up' for me when talking to this particular client? Well, not exactly! My imagery was of someone trying to stop a bicycle wheel by pushing their hand into the spokes. No-one had told this person about brakes and how they worked.

Mmmm - not the best definition of a Spokesman, is it?

Saturday, May 26, 2012

This Time Tomorrow ...

It was a Saturday morning. Fleetingly, as I awoke and checked the time as being 7.45am, I thought, "Mmm, this time last week I was on a train speeding towards London Paddington."

When we get notions like this they are pivotal moments, for we can go in a number of directions with these trains of thought. My direction was ... how much warmer and sunnier the weather is, one week on; and then - because I keep the Now purely for Now's sake - I considered today's scheduled activity and then got up.
Of course, I could have taken any number of other trains of thought - and to be honest I have spent many, many years of my life in taking a very much different set of trains. These are the trains of reflection into memories, or they are the trains of projection into possibilities. The thing about these trains is - because they are not actually in the present they aren't really going anywhere; and when we board trains that aren't going anywhere and we're the kind of person who takes a lot of these mental 'journeys', then we tend to be living our lives on those trains and not in the Now, in the present.

Am I rambling here?

I used to stammer quite badly when I was younger but particularly on words beginning with certain letters such as B, M, P - where speech involves starting with the lips together. As you can imagine, I had great issues with introducing myself: "What's your name?" "P-p-p..." It just preframed every interaction and said exactly who AND what I was. It was all part of my shyness - and I guess that part of the shyness was a front to avoiding talking and the stammer. If I was with friends or family, however, the stammer and the shyness dissolved.
Of course, the process of speech formation is an unconscious one, so for me the "making conscious" of an unconscious process had the same kinds of effect as thinking to swallow, or thinking to blink, or thinking to breathe. Thinking gets in the way of all these processes - and, especially now, I see how much it affects people I work with in terms of getting in the way of their performance.

Anyway - back to "This time last week"...

The more we operate within our memories, the more we are walking through now and into our future but facing the past.
I used to run alternate scenarios with some memories where I wasn't happy with things I'd said or done. "If only I'd said 'this' instead then things would have been different. If I'd done 'that' action then the course of history would have been changed." Things would be much better now as a result - but they aren't - so I am not comfortable with Now.
I have regrets; I don't feel so good about myself; what will people be thinking of me...etc.
It all led to me wanting to be so totally sure of myself in the Now, that I would try and think it all through. I would want to be sure I could do something before I did it. It was better that people didn't see me doing something not very well - or (horror of horrors) failing. So my strategy was to not attempt it. This didn't just involve actions, it also involved talking to strangers

So what about the other propensity for disengaging with Now, which we can label as:
"This time tomorrow"

We have a "particular day" coming up. Now this could be an exciting day, a special day, or it could be a day of trepidation, a day we are dreading. By "particularising" it we are already building it up, and - if it involves our input somewhere along the line - we're probably running a whole selection of "what if" scenarios as well.
Now I'm not talking about rehearsal here, where we might physically run through a speech, some moves in a game, or various other tactical or process elements of performance. These are good things because they are a replication of the sensual embodiment of what we will be doing or saying.
No, I'm talking about the churning over of stuff in our heads - where we are stimulating our thinking to guide us through what we believe will be ONE particular outcome from a number of possibilities. So "all angles are covered."

Now, if this really works for you then keep doing it. However, there may come the day when happenings at a cosmic level contrive to present at an event you are engaged in - something which you had not foreseen and thought through or rehearsed your part. It's just a thought you understand!

Future imaginings, like past dwellings, are very good ways of guiding us into being "too much in our heads." Worrying, anxiety, obsessions, phobias, panic attacks, hoarding clutter, and (in my case) stammering, are all examples of how we cultivate a detachment from Now, the present, by our excessive imagination, our over thinking.

Although Gordon B Hinckley said "You can't plough a field simply by turning it over in your mind," we can get to be very good at ruining our ability to really engage with the present by turning just about everything else over in that self same mind.
Lao Tzu's advice is much more apposite: "Stop thinking, and end your problems."


So be your own train spotter, and watch out for the "This time last week" or "In a month from now" cues. They are clues as to where your trains of thought may take you - and if you find yourself going "Down Memory Lane" too much or regularly taking a whistle stop tour on the "Future Express", remember there is every likelihood before too long you will find yourself "Up The Junction".

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Resonance of Intervals

Music is, was, and always will be a huge part of my life - both on the outside and on the inside. And I guess that's pretty much the same, more or less, for all of us. There are huge varieties within the umbrella of music - and part of the fascination for me, especially at this point in my life, is the universality of the language of music. It is a sonic and kinaesthetic experience, capable of evoking within us the whole spectrum of visual and other kinaesthetic experiences.

I'd like to look closer at a personal discovery over the past year, as to what is - for me - what I'll call the Resonance of Intervals.

In the course of teaching myself to play the guitar I discovered that a lot of the popular songs of the time could be played by simply knowing three chords. This expanded in to varying degrees of more sophisticated sequences, derivatives, variants and colourations - and my playing interest and ability (and practical repertoire) was broadened as a result. The thing is, I noticed certain sequences sounded 'nicer' than others - certain chords played before and after others had a resonance that engaged my entire body in a way that is rather hard to describe. It's the same way that certain tastes and fragrances sit well - and not so well -with others. And out of this grows our personal preferences and tastes for all things. Even down to why we are attracted to certain collective features on one face and call it beautiful compared to another face that we might describe as less so.

It's about the resonances of our personal preferences - which vibrate deep inside us - at an unconscious level; at a level where we can't bring them readily to our cognitive consciousness, but we just know they are there.


I've always had a curiosity as to why I - with such catholic and eclectic musical tastes - could get SO much out of them all in a similar way, even though some are, let's face it, a million miles apart. I thought it was first down to the created imagery, and then perhaps my own shifting and changing moods. Then I moved on to the sounds themselves and their frequencies.
The simple 3 note chord (or triad) for C major contains the notes C, E and G - and yet CEG sounds different to CGE! You don't need a GCE or an ECG to realise that they too will sound different, and that all this is within the range of one octave of just 12 notes.

In my search for WHY I liked WHAT I liked most, I was beginning to get warmer here - but I still hadn't cottoned on to what the answer was. I hadn't yet made the connection between the 'nicer' sounding parts of the chord sequences and why melody A would hit me deep and melody B would just sit on the surface.
The Austrian composer Anton Bruckner was a church organist and it's not surprising that his compositional style features (a) sounds and melodies akin to peals of church bells and (b) vast chords and silences akin to the experience of the sounds of an organ as they resonate around a lofty, vaulted church or cathedral. I mention Bruckner because, for me, his music has struck deep ever since my very first hearing - and in my WHY quest I had a clue he might be relevant.
One day I heard our local church bells ringing and started to hum some Bruckner by way of an answer back ... and I got an answer of a different kind.
What if it is the difference between the intervals of rising and falling notes or melodies?

"Locus Iste" by Anton Bruckner

Frere Jacques versus Three Blind Mice

I ran these two tunes through my mind and noticed what they each made me feel. Now - to paraphrase comedian Eric Morecambe - they both use the same notes but in a different order or sequence. And for me, one tune feels far more deeply resonant than the other. Frere Jacques starts with a rising melody - DoReMiDo, DoReMiDo and Three Blind Mice with a falling melody - MiReDo, MiReDo.
If you are familiar with these tunes you can progress them further and discover more "mirroring" of the rising and falling through the rest of each of the songs.

The discovery of Nice

In my personal lightbulb moment I discovered that melodic lines that fall in steps of a whole tone (and to a lesser degree a semitone) are NICE and that others are neutral. I've also discovered that this applies for me not only across the great divide of musical tastes and styles, but also inside the nature of musical structure. If there's a tune with a predominance of a rising melodic line, written with a falling bass line, or a falling melodic line in counterpoint, then I get NICE again.
My link (above) with Locus Iste by Bruckner shows how - with just four voice parts - a piece can contain more falling melodic lines than my preference for NICE could ever want in a short work!
So here was the explanation for why I can get a similar resonance from Bruckner's music, Gregorian Chant, Mozart, Prokofiev, Ligeti, 12 bar blues, jazz, folk, Country and Western et al. It's all down to my particular and personal Nice - which is a simple, yet deeply ingrained, resonance of intervals.


There is a structural repetition for all my likes, dislikes and neutrals - whether it's music, art, people, food, fragrances, colours etc. This will be the case too for us all in terms of all of our preferences - since there's a transferable factor here.
When someone asks, "What do you like about That, or Them?" and you find yourself saying, "I don't know - I know I just do," the truth is the answer is deep down there - yes, right there!
And if you want to know, or it would be useful for you to know, then there's going to be a quicker way of finding out than my "Curiosity and Stumble Upon" method.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Now Zen! Hear Here!

My sessions with young cricketers are often a great source of amusement as well as inspiration. And it's also easy to forget the realisation about how much influence our perceptions and our language can have upon the young and fertile mind.

One of the fascinating characters in the pantheon of sports coaches is baseball coach Yogi Berra - well famed for the 'zen' nature of his off the wall quips. One of my favourites was his answer when once asked what time it was - "What Time Is It? You Mean Now?"

In my article "The Currency of Time" I related what happened when I was asked the same 'what time is it' question at the end of a coaching session with some Under 10s. My answer was "Now" - and I proceeded to explain to them what Now really is.
The thing is - the lasting effect on certain youngsters present was never really noticed until last evening when I assembled my group of club Under 13s players at the start of our evening's practice. Someone asked the time, and before I could respond, one of the lads - who'd been at that 'landmark' session almost two year's previously - said "It's Now - it's always Now."
Amidst the laughter I found myself just nodding in agreement - and thanking the one who'd said it for being 'a disciple' of the ideas that surround the importance of "Now". With those tenets he should go far - and how far is only dependent upon his comfort with, and desire to, leave "Here".

Some of us are comfortable with not knowing and step into the mystery of every day with a sense of excitement and exploration. Some of us need to know everything before we can take any step away from Here, and the seeds of perfectionism germinate rapidly for those people. The idea of "Leaving Here Now" and arriving at "Here Now"' is another of Life's pivotal moments - which we undergo and are engaged in through every single conscious moment. And the ripples of consequence spread outwards on many levels as those pivotal stones strike the fluid surface of Life.

There's many a true word spoken in jest, they say. I can think of no funnier example of the true pivotal meaning of Now than in this scene from the film Spaceballs, Mel Brooks' spoof of Star Wars. In this scene, Dark Helmet wants to make some change in the fabric of the space-time continuum by tinkering with the video of the film - Enjoy!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

"I'm not averse ..."


Adversity Is
Adversity is Shaping
Adversity is shaping Me
Adversity is shaping me Into
Adversity is shaping me into Who
Adversity is shaping me into who I
Adversity is shaping me into who I Will
Adversity is shaping me into who I will Become
Adversity is shaping me into who I will become Tomorrow

Adversity can shape me
Adversity can shade me

Adversity can shake me
Adversity can shame me

Adversity can shape me into who I will be, come tomorrow

Tomorrow may scare me
Tomorrow may snare me

Tomorrow may spare me
Tomorrow may share me

Tomorrow may spare me adversity, come into who I will be

Tomorrow I may become who adversity is shaping me Into
Tomorrow I may become who adversity is shaping Me
Tomorrow I may become who adversity is Shaping
Tomorrow I may become who adversity Is
Tomorrow I may become who Adversity
Tomorrow I may become Who
Tomorrow I may Become
Tomorrow I May
Tomorrow I

(with inspirational thanks to Frederique Murphy)