The Wright Way

The Wright Way

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Becoming a Martian

A lot of my sports coaching centres around the concept of play, how we react to play, how play can liberate us, and how we can get to play better.

When I first learnt how to ski I was 17. I could ice skate and roller skate pretty well anyway – and of course the idea of sliding down a mountainside at speed, with the wind rushing past my ears and through my hair, was not far away from pure pleasure! So I signed up to the school trip.
On reflection I was really fortunate in that the trip was for almost 2 weeks and not just the one. As a “nursery slopesman” for the first week I got to understand all the ins-and-outs of controlling myself using ‘snowplough’ techniques. My more accomplished peers would talk all about ‘stem turns’ and ‘parallel turns’ – and having really good fun going much faster than I was, and so I began wonder when I’d get to do these amazing skiing mysteries, and get away from the exhausting inexhaustibility of ‘snowplough’ stuff.
At the end of week 1 we all got to do our own thing. A group of us set off on a trail with our packed lunch for a few hours – and it was in those hours that I took the big leap forward. We’d all had a lot to drink the night before and, to be fair, I was the little worse for wear – but that probably also helped me get out of doing too much thinking about what was to come. We skied along narrow paths through trees, sharp turns, quite steep inclines, moguls, rocky bits – for me this was akin to an assault course. But by the end – having used my snowplough skills AND trying out all those new ‘mystery skills’ because they were essential – I really got what it was all about!
I, along with all my mates, had been at play. And for me, this particular play just took me out of myself and into a place of unfettered learning – learning how to play better at skiing.
Week 2 was brilliant because I went up a couple of groups in the Ski Schule and got to know more about going faster, parallel turns, and just how wonderful this sport is.

Interestingly, my very first real coaching experience was some 12 years later, teaching skiing to beginners. I loved it and – as I recall, my learner group loved it too!


There’s an overarching concept about work, in that all the rewards are set in the future. We work at a job for pay at the end of the week, month or some arbitrary period. We work at school, learning skills that will stand us in good stead for when we go out into the big wide world. Whilst the rewards and the purposes for play are set in the Now, work is future oriented. And of course in a society or a culture that has a good work ethic, the citizens are generally future oriented too – they comfortably wear the idea of savings, and keeping things for a rainy day. Play is accepted as being something healthy, but is not entirely viewed as being totally essential – in spite of sayings such as “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”
There is a widely held view in this kind of society, that being a professional sports person, a musician (especially a rock star), an actor, comedian, dancer, artist – these aren’t “proper jobs”. To quote a phrase from an old BT advert, “You’ve got to be qualified, get yourself an ‘-ology’. That’s a real job!”
And yet in a society like Brazil for instance, these ARE all proper jobs – in fact they are highly sought after jobs! The ‘workers’ in these jobs are revered and inspire their fellow citizens - and to follow in their footsteps is, for many, their passport to a much better life for them and their families.

The thing is – the people who have “play” oriented jobs, still work at what they do! They know if they want to get better at what they love – better at their play – they have to work at it. The thing I discovered about my skiing was that when playtime eventually came around, it was THEN that I realised the value of my work. And I also realised that thereafter – when we all worked out educating our bodies to be better at doing the parallel turns - this work was integral to making the whole experience of play even better. The work was fun in and of itself – and the more open-minded the ski coach, the more fun the work can be.

“What do you want to be when you leave school?”
“We always knew he/she was going to be an X – they were so dedicated to what they did.”
“What job would you do if it didn’t matter whether you got paid or not because everything was taken care of?”

Consider the familiarity and impact of these remarks and questions. There are a lot of assumptions and presuppositions in each one, and at this point you may have already begun to notice your thinking around how they sound, and to how many different places your feelings and perceptions are now going.


Before I start talking about rest, I’d like to just throw this comment into the pond and see where the ripples might take us.
What do you want to do for the rest of your life?

The general linguistic notion about rest is – a change or ceasing of one activity in order to engage in a period of repose or recuperation. And in this regard “a change is as good as a rest” can be seen as a useful mantra. If we’ve just run a marathon, then a change is going to be the act of ‘not running’. Stop doing ‘A’ in order to start doing ‘B’.

How do we view ourselves ‘at rest’, how do we feel about it, how do we represent it to ourselves?
If we view rest as ‘inactivity’ then we’ll most likely feel differently about it than if we viewed it as doing ‘something else’. For even in ‘inactivity’ we are actually ‘active’.
The other thing is, seeing it as ‘inactivity’ actually opens the door to ‘laziness’ – as a judgement of both ourselves and others. If we think ‘doing nothing’ as being ‘lazy’ – then we will always be ‘on the go’ and, dare I say, judge others who aren’t ‘on the go’ as ‘lazy’.
If you were like that and didn’t know I’d just run a marathon, when you saw me resting my weariness you’d think (and perhaps say) I was lazy.
It’s not a well grounded notion though, is it?

So take a good look at how you view rest – because the rest of your life might just start to become different when you do.

So what about the rest as being the remainder? In temporal terms it’s what is left to come; in resource terms it’s what is left in the tank; in conversational terms it’s what you haven’t yet said – and so on.
These remainders all come about after some things have been done, used, spent or told. And that reminds me of another question that is designed to get us to stop and consider the importance of things to us.
If I only had a year to live, how would I organise my life differently?


There is an intricate balance between Play, Work and Rest that is absolutely crucial to the way we think, the way we act, the way we learn, the way we play, the way we earn, the way we recuperate, and the way we enjoy ourselves.

And by now you’ve perhaps already made the connection between these ideas and a well known advertising slogan.

Now if there is life on the red planet, then how much easier would it be for us to live there if we’d already taken steps to becoming a Martian? Alternatively, you may wonder what on earth all this is about!
It’s just a thought.

Wooden Perspectives


I was in a conversation with some good friends online when I found myself using the phrase “... insights, ideas and connections come bubbling up out of the woodwork ...” and then I added, “... of my mind.”
Not the windmills of my mind, I might add – but the woodwork!
Then, as often happens with my experience, there’s a moment where motion stops and time stands still; and in those moments all thoughts and incoming sensual data seem to fuse with a flash, so I’m left wondering and considering “where has that come from – and where is it leading me to?”
And, as is usually the case, this got me answering my curiosity by thinking along different lines – following a certain train of thought.
Or, as it then morphed, “following a certain grain of thought.

Now when we think of a grain of thought we might imagine this is a small particle, rather like a grain of sand.
So I’d invite you to reconsider this for a moment - what if the grain could be represented rather like the grain in wood. A grain, a patterning within the strata or the layers of wood, a grain formed when that wood was a living and breathing entity; a grain of character. A grain to be utilised, to be admired, to be polished so as to enhance the beauty, the contours and the nature of that grain.
Another feature of the grain within any wood is that each one is totally unique, rather like a fingerprint. The grain that we see came from a live tree, perhaps one of thousands of similar types of trees - and yet this one particular grain is never totally replicated in nature. This is rather like each one of us – totally unique – each with our own minds, and with every grain of thought different.
It’s a fascinating perspective.

Next, I pursued the notion of things that come bubbling up out of the woodwork.
Insect ideas
That metaphorical phrase, coming up out of the woodwork, has its origins with the nature of certain dormant insects at some stage of their life cycles. They then suddenly appear active, inside and on the surface of the wood, triggered by certain conditions. Now in the nature of insects, they all have a purpose, even though we might scratch our heads over what that purpose might be. Now some ideas, and some insects, are ‘good’ (i.e better for us) and others are not – even though those ideas all have a purpose too.
Of course certain ideas can stay in the mind and grow and feed in the mind and start to eat away at the fabric, rather like woodworm – using the energy of the mind for its activity, and at the same time sapping the mind from being able to use that energy elsewhere.
Not unsurprisingly, the metaphor of the wood-like nature of the mind becomes more multi-layered the more you consider it.
Knots in the fabric of wood are imperfections lying at the base of a side branch or a dormant bud. Now if we view our own developing lives rather as for a tree, then when branches form there are going to be knots within the fabric of our minds. These metaphorical knots might be viewed as being triggered by imprints, traumatic experiences, periods of hormonal or chemical change and alignment.
Now the knots, when viewed as part of the grain-like nature of our minds, can be things of beauty – even though they might mar the technical nature, the functionality or the usefulness of the wood, in terms of grain. They are all part of the richness of our character, of our nature – and yet they also can cause us irritation when our minds don’t quite seem to work in the way that we want.
The thing about knots is this - they are only part of the tree’s history and not its Now, not its present; because in the Now of the tree, the knots are not yet formed – they are “nots”.
Sometimes, due to the fabric of time within the mind, we can even get to imagine what those knots (or indeed any knots) might be like for us – whether they exist in our history or not! And if you feel somewhat detached from the argument at this stage then consider someone with a phobia about flying. Someone who takes a past knot and develops it to such an extent through their imagination that it is distorted in their future, and then applies that imaginary future knot back into their present - applying it with such convincing belief that a whole range of protective mechanisms of thought and action kick in. 
So what if the knots in our mind were to be “nots” too?
Seeing them as “nots” rather than knots just lets them go completely, and consigns them to the history of where they were really intended to be. Unravelling or untying the knots is another way to deal with them, by stripping out the emotional content and allowing them to take their rightful place in and around the smoothness of the grain of where they are.
Of course our understanding of the nature of the tree, the context of the knot, and the properties of wood, makes the seeing of “nots” easy – and the keeping or the letting go can become a very simple choice.
When we just decide to unravel or untie the knots, our wood requires a lot more regular care and attention. And for some of us that is the preferred way – an ‘easier’ way than getting to understand the nature of the tree and the properties of our wood.

We do need to remember though, that we can never eradicate the knots for they will always be there. So - it is probably best to let them be nots - then having to treat them (with treatment!) will never get the chance to be an ongoing necessity!
It’s all a matter of choice - but things become much clearer when we get to see the wood of the trees.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Worry Exams

The University of Life is the one educational establishment that we don’t know we’ve enrolled in until we’ve been working at some of the various courses for a few years. And for most of us, even by the time we’ve realised what’s going on, we’ve already mastered quite a lot of the course material. We’ve already become very good at doing certain things.
Setting the Scene

The first “School” we get to study in is “Me”, and in this school we learn first about the spectrum of comfort and pain. Later we learn about the spectrum of nice and nasty, and also learn about the spectrum of good and bad. The first spectrum is purely based on experiential feedback, whereas with nice-and-nasty and good-and-bad, these are more related to an interpretation of where they also lie on the spectrum of comfort and pain.
Of course part of our learning and understanding is that we do get to recognise that nice and good are not comfort per se, but are part of separate methods of measuring. Likewise with nasty and bad; these lie more in the area of unpleasant or dangerous than necessarily being measured in terms of pain.
An adult describing a “Bad dog” or “Nasty man” can be interpreted in a wide variety of ways by a young child, depending upon their understanding of the 3 spectra I’ve already mentioned. And, unless we engage the child and find out where they are on this particular learning curve, how will we ever know what their subjective interpretations are? Their modelling and ‘learning how to learn’ is, pretty much, left to their own devices – prompted and guided of course by their living family of origin.
Now there are many “Schools” and “Faculties” in the University of Life and one particular thing has always been one of my curiosities – at what point in our childhood do we encounter worry? So, I’d like to stay with the "School of Me", and examine some of the activities that go on within the Faculty of Worry.  

This is a very well attended Faculty with huge numbers of students, some who go on to become true masters of the art! And yet, it is – believe it or not – non-compulsory. It is an optional faculty, and we can choose what and how much to learn there, what and how to practice, and adopt the requisite thinking and behaviour to show the world our level of capability as a worrier.

The Faculty of Worry
Now we all, at some point in our studying at the University of Life, get to spend some time in the Faculty of Worry. It is an important experience, for how else might we know whether to stay with it, or whether to discard it as being “not my cup of tea”?
And there are people, like that, who discard their worries; people for whom the concerns of the world, and the way they process all the meanings of the world and the people they interact with, are not given much subjective emotional interpretation, or to put it another way they are not given ‘a second thought’. We tend to describe these people as ‘sailing untouched through life.’

But here’s the thing – most of us sign up for years to the Faculty of Worry. Even when young, we might already have begun to “see” that worry can protect us, in advance, from things that may (or may not) be painful, nasty or bad. We are being cautious - we are looking out for ourselves. That makes it all right and valid and a sensible thing to do, doesn’t it!
As we work through various modules, doing and handing in (i.e showing the world) our coursework, we are all the while getting feedback to reinforce our learning and understandings.

Finally - at the end of every year - we usually get to take our Worry Exams.
These are a set of hypothetical upcoming experiences and scenarios that we have to interpret, to satisfy the criteria that allow us to move on. Of course, graduating and moving on to next year is something we would be at pains to ensure – for being ‘stuck’ in a year and having to retake those end of year exams would be a real bind. It would say so much about us as a student in the University of Life.
Exam days in the Worry Exams are a bit like most other exams. We know we should have revised well, and have a good night’s sleep beforehand – but we’re probably lying awake, burning the midnight oil, just going over things again and again in our mind. We might be hoping for questions on ‘X’ because we’re particularly good at ‘X’ and could probably worry about ‘X’ with our eyes shut. On the other hand we’re worrying about getting questions on ‘Y’, and there’s nothing more debilitating than worrying about questions on worrying.
Outside the exam hall there are people standing around looking studious and concerned. Then there are the ones who stroll around with an air of grounded calmness – you just know these losers are SO going to fail.
I was sitting a paper on Anxiety the other day when someone put their hand up and asked if they could leave because they’d finished. The idiot didn’t know that you must stay until the end of any paper in the Worry Exams – because there will always be something left in mind to write about. Why, if I did that I’d be so worried about having not put down everything I know, or thought I knew, about Anxiety that I’d spend the rest of the time before the results came out - worried about the fact I’d not given it my best shot.

So where does confidence lie, for the best worriers? Are those that get the best grades in the Worry Exams confident of their ability in this domain? Well I think it might be akin to the joke about the guy who was in two minds as to whether or not to go to a Symposium on Schizophrenia – but then again I can’t be sure.
To be honest, in my experience the best worriers are so busy doing what they’re good at, that they haven’t got time to consider their confidence or the lack of it.
 If they did, confidence might be seen as a betrayal of an ability to worry – which might, in turn, give them very deep cause for concern.

So does luck have a role to play in the life and times of a serious worrier? Does luck get in the way of his or her ability to win that annual Certificate that is so much part of their raison d’etre?
To anyone with a Worry Exam tomorrow I would say just hope and pray you don’t get a paper full of easy questions, because that would be really unlucky for you. Easy questions are a challenge because they’d be like setting the bar too low in a high jump competition. Everyone would pass!

So is it silly to worry about your Worry Exams? Is being confident about your Worry Exams actually going to jeopardise your chances of passing through to next year? Will Bad Luck play a good part in your Worry Exams or vice versa? What does getting a good grade in your Worry Exams really mean to you – what does it say about you?
Let’s face it – in theory, worrying is not about not knowing all the questions to ask yourself about what all the possible answers might be to a set of given criteria, contexts and scenarios. In the comfort of the mind, worry pays no attention to there being any gradient of probability – all likelihoods are likely!
So if you are about to take your practical Worry Exams you’d do well to remember the theory for starters.

At the End of the Day
At this stage it might be a good idea for you to take a deep breath!
In a roundabout kind of way, you should have arrived at a point round about now, where you’ve become sensitized in a different way than before about the Faculty of Worry and why anyone – especially you – might have signed up to their courses in the first place! You can actually change your mind here in the University of Life. Opt out of this faculty and go for another instead, perhaps one that is more suited to your outlook, your personality, your worldview and your considerable skills.

And as final thought I’d like to offer you this story about Dr Richard Bandler and the client who said to him, “I’m worried about having a heart attack.
“Then why are you behaving in a way that means you are asking for one?” was his reply.
The man was agog, even though Dr B is well renowned for such bold responses!
“Look,” he continued. ”Worry increases your blood pressure and pushes up your heart rate – two factors that bring on heart attacks. What do you want to do? You can keep right on with your worrying until you get chest pains if you wish – shall I call the ambulance right now?”

Friday, June 15, 2012


When I tripped over the idea of calling the title of this article ‘WTF’ I realised that I might be accused of a whole raft of things from “sensationalism” to “down-wright bad behaviour.”

We live in an ever-increasingly abbreviated world – and I’ve been drawn towards and susceptible to this genre or meta-niche of linguistics, ever since I discovered my schooldays peers calling me “PJ”.
On another youthful occasion, I can remember quite vividly the day we arrived for a maths class and discovered SOHCAHTOA written on the board from the previous lesson. There was a low hum of hushed voices saying “what does it mean?” Someone said it sounded like “Krakatoa”, so maybe it was a volcanic island to the west of Java. Turned out we were all wrong!
As a young football fan I was magnetically attracted to becoming a QPR supporter, and latterly, just as I was drawn to working in IT, I similarly just couldn’t resist embedding myself deeply into the unconscious of NLP.
But I digress, and as you should never try to catch a Digress by its tale, I will depart from the wonderful world of the abbreviation and the acronym PDQ.

Walk the Floor

Earlier this year I met a very interesting lady at a networking event, and we compared notes about our respective working passions. In the course of our discourse I happened to mention how important physical movement can be in terms of the embodiment of changes we might want to make in our lives. Methodologies and models such as TimeLine™ Therapy, Perceptual Positions, Clean Space and Metaphors of Movement make particular use of how physically changing perspectives can facilitate a level of intuitive embodiment that we just cannot engage with easily in the comfort of our own mind.

“So,” I said, “the mere act of walking the floor or changing your spatial location can leave certain perceived associated feelings in one place and allow you to notice different ones in the new place. This can often be a catalyst for profound change.”
I see,” she said, “that’s really interesting. So if I feel bad about something and go for a walk, then this might be why things often feel different when I come back.
“That’s right. To help change anything, I’d recommend walking the floor because it can help in many ways!”
Walk the Floor,” she said. “Mmm... I like that! I shall always remember you as the ‘Walk the Floor’ Man.

However - it's not just about leaving our chair or going for a walk - there's more that can be done with such an exercise.
If we go through a state-break routine and dissociate from the feeling(s) at Position A before we step away and go somewhere else (Position B), we can leave a lot of stuff behind that we don’t want, at Position A. **
Most of us will go out for a walk, for instance, still carrying our ‘burdens’or churning things over in our mind – and even if we resolve things on our walk, we might still bring some of the ‘baggage’ or ‘litter’ back with us, metaphorically stuffed into our pockets. Leaving it 'bagged up and binned' somewhere else is arguably a much better idea. 
** (There is a small caveat here - Position A is now sullied with negative energies and associations, so if you are able to - I'd invite you to 'bag and bin' these too. Otherwise you might find yourself re-adopting the energies as you reoccupy a particular chair, for instance, with all the same sitting postures as before.)

So, given my propensity for abbreviating all manner of things, this article about “Walk the Floor” has morphed into WTF. And was this a strategy to turn heads in the Social Media? Well - only you can answer that I guess! For me, however, the real burning questions are these:-

Can anybody tell me why abbreviated is such a long word, or why the word monosyllabic has so many syllables?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Book of Judgement

At the end of a coaching session last evening I was watching a lad bowling a tennis ball at his brother.
The first one went wide to the left - and the second one went wide to the right. There was plenty of huffing and puffing, shrugging of shoulders, and a chorus of "I can't bowl with tennis balls - they're so light."
It was an interesting array of excuses and beating himself up - all tilling and making fertile ground for seeds of self doubt to come along and germinate.
"So what," you might say - "we're human - we do that all the time."

The thing is, for us to have learnt how to beat ourselves up and make excuses, we must have had a teacher or teachers, from whom we have modelled our behaviours. At this point in our young lives we take our models as exemplars, and firmly believe this is the way the world is. We are not judges of their energies or wisdom, we just code up our experience with readings from their Book of Judgement; whether we are surrounded by those with a spirit of understanding, generosity and learning through experience, or whether we are surrounded by one-eyed perfectionists!
What happens then is that our own growing and expanding Book of Judgement - and its inherent hierarchy of values - is taking shape based upon our, understandably immature, comprehension of the nature of the data in our world.

We learn very young what happens when we cry out for attention, and also the kinds of expressions and responses we get from others when we are doing things and learning to do things. These are the building blocks of the way we are framing up our maps of the world.
Consider the difference we might notice when someone says to us, "Do it again, " as compared to "Try again." The first is merely an overt instruction to repeat - whereas the second is a covert instruction to repeat plus a presupposition that a) we'd got it wrong, made a mistake and b) that we were trying in the first place.

"Yes, but isn't this all common parlance?" you may ask.
Well, yes and no - but whichever way you look at it there's quotes in there from someone's Book of Judgement, not ours!

When the word "try" is employed and, with young ears, we get to hear it a lot, we build an understanding as to what it means. We then take with us the idea that whenever we hear it, and whoever we hear it from - that it always means the same. So - what starts to happen when we hear it used in a phrase such as "try harder"? It's always said like that, too - not "try more", which is what the real intention is behind the instruction.

There's an interesting exercise you might do with a group of adults, which is to get them to demonstrate - in a physical way - what kind of pose and posture they might adopt in order to be seen to be "trying harder". There's a tension in the bodies and limbs, a clenching of the fists and or jaw, and so on. Any relaxed or grounded state is probably the furthest away thing on view. And when we adopt this state and posture - what are the chances of us actually giving the task (mental or physical) our best shot?

So, for the young lad I was observing, his next effort after two "errors" was probably going to be framed in "try harder" mode. Arguably, therefore, a good time for me to intervene.

"Joe when you bowl allow your front foot to land. That way you'll have stability. Sometimes when you bowl you release the ball before the foot has landed - so you are only balanced on one leg. And when you are moving and on one leg your balance isn't as strong as when you are on two! Allow that front foot to land and see what happens."
Joe bowled, allowed the front foot to land and - Hey Presto - the ball went dead straight, exactly where he wanted.
"Cor," he said, "How do you know all the answers!"
"Ah," I said, "I don't know all the answers. I do know most of the questions, though - because I've seen lots of people bowl and there aren't that many questions!"
He laughed and carried on bowling, most of the time allowing his front foot to land - and knowing when he bowled wide that he probably hadn't allowed it to land.
The other thing that may already have started to happen, is that some of the pages in his Book of Judgement have now been updated with a degree of objectivity that may begin to filter into other chapters.

In conclusion I would like to offer you two things to consider.

Have a good look at the words and quotations in your own Book of Judgement. Are they useful for you in your life, or are there some that might need to be updated - especially if you've brought them with you from a very early age.

And finally ...
Sport is fun - Sport is learning - Learning is fun - Sport is life - Learning is life - Life is fun.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


The Practice
I recently touched base with a young cricketer (we’ll call him Tom) whom I hadn’t seen for about 8-9 weeks. In that time the season had begun and he’d been involved in quite a number of matches and practices at his own club and at school. Prior to that we’d worked together on a weekly basis through the winter, where – through his application and dedication – his skill levels, expertise and confidence had grown by considerable degrees.

His Mum had said to me, “Tom’s not comfortable with his bowling. He’s unhappy with what he’s doing; the coaches at school have changed part of his technique,” and so on, etc.
Now, his Mum’s description of things was probably not his – but instead her interpretation of how he’d described it to her. Interpretations, such as these, are re-personalisations – and we all do this kind of thing perhaps many times a day in the course of our conversations and thinking. So, as we walked to the practice area, I checked out with Tom what HE felt like and what HIS thoughts were – and there was a marked difference between the two versions I’d heard!
Next, along with a number of other players, we just launched into a very informal practice session. Tom looked happy and comfortable enough, and as far as I could see the technique changes (ironing out a small, yet common enough, quirk) looked very well in place and established. And then he bowled a wide ball...and then he bowled a short ball...and out came all the negative body language!
“So what are you thinking right now?” I asked him.
“I’m thinking about getting it wrong,” he replied.
“And what are you thinking about doing next?” I continued.
“To try and not do it, again.”
Now this is a very regular and common conversational scenario for any coach. However, while these are very predictable answers, I’d invite you to consider what he might have said had I asked him, “So – HOW ARE you thinking right now?”
To be honest, as he's an 11/12 year old I’d probably still get the same answer from him – though, I might not. There might be a pause, a gap in time, a space where he might go on an “inner search” for the words so his unconscious could assemble an answer to this somewhat different question.
I might casually put it another way, “So – WHAT IS your thinking right now?” The implication here is less specific – more along the lines of “tell me about your train of thought”.
Curious, isn’t it, how we might put (what is for us) a question to hopefully elicit a specific answer – and yet the person we’re asking can interpret it in as many different ways as we can ask it.
Although I’m digressing slightly here, I’m inviting you to just consider the level of personalisation we are capable of bringing to any and all proceedings.

The practice continued, as did our conversation.
“Tom, with the wide ball and then the short ball, can you change what’s just happened, what’s just gone?” I asked him, and he shook his head.
“There’s some useful information in those mistakes,” I said, “but most of us are usually so niggled or upset with ourselves at having made them, that we never get to notice the useful information.” He smiled, relaxing a little more.
“The other thing is – as you have said – we THEN start trying to correct what we are about to do next. How weird is that?” I asked.
“Before we actually do the next thing we are going to do, we are already trying to correct it. Doesn’t that mean we know what we are going to do – i.e make a mistake – and try not to do it?!”
He was chuckling at this stage – a very nice unconscious response!
I explained to Tom what I could see from what he wasn’t telling me verbally, and asked him to notice what starts to happen for him when he stops trying. 

“With the things your coaches have helped you change – the body, those muscles, they need time to adjust to doing things in a different way. And from what I can see, they’ve made all those adjustments very well already. All you need to do now is let them get on with what they do best – by not thinking about all of that. Just put your focus onto WHERE you want the body, those muscles, to put the ball when you bowl next. And the best way to do that is to put ALL your seeing power, your focus and inside attention onto THAT place. You can help that by switching off, or turning down other things to do with your senses - like, what you can hear and feel around you, AND that voice inside your head that is part of your thinking.

The linguistic level of impersonalising, especially his body, his muscles, was not done without purpose. So "your body, your muscles" becomes "the body, those muscles".
In my experience perfectionists are perfectionists, even in practice – and are very good at beating themselves up, and perpetuating that self-berating. By tinkering with the nature of THEIR own particular mind-body link, then changes of their self-perception can be brought about.

Yes I AM my body, but minds only think and bodies only act. The mind is where I see and think perfection, or imperfection. Bodies carry out actions initiated from the mind, and they need to “learn their lines”, so to speak, when it comes to sequences of action.

Viewing the body as a separate partner helps “I” to realise that the errors, the imperfections, are perpetuated by the thinking in the mind and not the actions of the body. And that the responsibility for the actions lies with the thinking.

Good quality thinking = good quality actions;
imperfect quality thinking = imperfect quality actions.
Calling practice – and their own particular practice – work in progress, can also open doors for players in this regard. Again it disengages the structure of “I’s” thinking from their previously held propensity for making incessant self-judgements and demands of getting it right.

I’m pleased to report that Tom’s body language and self-dialogue soon got into a much more grounded place, and he was then able to make a much better use of the conditioning nature of the practice session. The proof of the pudding is always when he is away from the ‘comfort zone’ of our session and in the different kitchens of practice elsewhere and – most of all – the cauldron of competition!

“The Zone”

This particular session was also useful for me on reflection – in regards to “The Zone”, being in it, and how to get to it, and how to stay in it. For sports persons in particular it’s a place where the level of detachment from thinking is total; where IMPERSONAL is at 100%.
It’s always deemed to be the “Holy Grail” of performance, and as such there are many chronicles of the search for it!
I’d invite you to consider this small linguistic artifice:-

Now if we want to get to 100% Impersonal, where there are no breaks or joins in the word, then the level of thinking needs to be 0%. And we all know, because we’ve all been “in the zone” at some point in our life’s performance, that our memory of such an event is that we were not thinking – just doing. Everything seemed to just flow with a thoughtlessly smooth quality. For some it was like watching ourselves from some detached place.

Getting back to :-

The only visible difference is one apostrophe and one space; the pronunciation is different; but the letters are the same.
The moment we let “I” into our thinking there is a trade-off somewhere else. Percentage points start to drop off IMPERSONAL until, if we are so inclined, we become completely bound up in our own “I” thinking and it becomes totally Personal. And we all know what happens when we take things personally, don’t we! Do these sound familiar...?
What do I look like? What will they think of me? Don’t they know who I am? She told me I was stupid! They said awful things about me! I want to make an impression!  And that perennial classic, I said to myself, you can’t do this!
So getting into The Zone is arguably a much more straightforward thing than the Holy Grail hunters would have us believe, and staying in it is not the feat of epic proportions we might have once thought it was. 
In essence - WE needs to get out of OUR thinking. It needs to become IMPERSONAL and then things start to flow. The moment we start to get in our own way by allowing “I” to get in there, the flow begins to get slower and stagnate.

To use another modality – stagnant water smells pretty rank. So if we want the sweet smell of success that comes from performing in The Zone, then we need to get the water flowing again by dredging out all the personal stuff.

It's just a thought, of course!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

You - Me - Here - Now

I was recently part of an online discussion and in the course of the interaction there were a number of interesting comments and, as a result of my being drawn into the conversation, there was a notable personal discovery. Going into any dialogue with an open mind usually facilitates such things.
The topic was primarily about rapport and how relevant matching and mirroring are in terms of pacing and leading conversants (that's clients essentially - unless you are 'practicing' in a social or business context) into rapport.

Now matching and mirroring fall into the category of what I would call 'nuts and bolts' of NLP. Another of the online participants posted up a video of John Grinder, one of the 'founding fathers' of NLP, talking about Modelling Excellence as being the core of the subject, and that around that core are a series of processes that make the Modelling effective. Grinder's observation was that most practitioners of NLP are only using "the end product of those processes".
This brought me to this reflective conclusion:

If you believe all screwdrivers are electric and you've only ever used an electric screwdriver, then without the power source you won't
be able to screw screws, even though power screwdrivers have manual settings! Thus the art of firmly attaching something A to something B using device C (a screw) by way of the process of 'screwing', is a quite a long way from your raw ability to use an electric screwdriver - even though sometimes things seem to work very well!
This really explains why there's so much more to NLP than looking into the bag of tools, and how those who don't quite 'get' this, end up down blind alleys when attempting to use the tools.
The inter-twinedness of NLP and hypnosis

I was, unwittingly, hugely fortunate in that my initial hypnotic tutors were also NLP trainers and my early learnings of both were totally integrated. I've since discovered that this is not standard across the educative spectrum, as subsequent courses and workshops I've attended have contained 'non-hypnotic' NeLPers and hypnotists not conversant in NLP. 

 In the NLP and hypnosis relative balance, earlier in my practice I would be more direct with using NLP processes and 'softer' with hypnotic processes. These days I am the other way round.
So, for instance in terms of matching and mirroring, I now find myself not so much 'doing' matching and mirroring, but more as 'being the mirror'.

Listening for Speed!
In the case of rapport - in my experience it is the Act of Listening which is not only the 'speed route' to rapport - but also enables me to notice and gather much, much more of the verbal and non-verbal information on offer.
We all have 'protective fields' around us and rapport helps break them down. The Act of Listening drops our own 'protective field' and leads our client(s) - by the non-verbal route - into mirroring us. By totally engaging in the listening process, it's almost as if I have 'disarmed' myself and surrendered. If I should harbour any semblance of vulnerability, then the listening and my 'disarming' process will be less authentic - and that difference in my level of energy will be detected (on some level) by the client. As a result the entire dynamic between us will be different.
Energies are Pointers (and other dogs!)
I've discovered a lot about the shifting levels of interactive energies in a practical sense, from watching "The Dog Whisperer", which is a TV programme where Cesar Millan rehabilitates problem pet dogs AND, for lasting change, trains the owners. At the start of each 'client session' he listens to the owners explaining the pet's behaviour, and then he observes the problem hounds in action. His entire changework paradigm for the dog is based on their mental energy - and he gets rapport by pacing and leading! Once in rapport he can take the dog through the 'rehab' process. As he often says, the dog lives entirely in the NOW (even though there may be some conditioned habits). All the changes and reconditioning also take place, understandably, in the NOW. This is one of the places where owners get 'out of sync' with what is going on for their pets - because they usually aren't in the Now! Owners are also not aware of how much of their own state (energy level) is transmitted to, received by and mirrored back by their dogs.
Each programme is like observing an interactive NLP workshop! 
Am I doing or being?
In conversational NLP the linguistic artifices and perspectives can be very 'hypnotic' too, since we are shifting people's perceptions, changing their realities, engaging their imagination, and eliciting hypnotic phenomena. I've had a number of clients whose world-view of hypnosis scared them, or they felt uncomfortable, or was against their religion, or they were skeptic - but for whom "just a chat" was totally acceptable and relaxing. Given that these were just their perceptions - should I have explained to them the inter-twinedness of the two domains?
Well, people see me because of the narrow band-width of their perceptions, and how this causes certain things for them they'd rather change. If they don't want to ride on the train, we'll go there by car instead - and that's how it is, in my book.
The other question of course is when am I using NLP and hypnosis (and indeed all the tools from other domains)? In truth - all the time; with clients, coachees, friends, in the street.  They are part of my 'ordinary', part of my perspectives, part of my world-view. Of course it's as well to remember I am not here to change the world, for there are times when it's prudent and sensible to shut up. Never play Devils Advocaat with a tee-totaller; or try to out-think a snake!
This brings me to what this post is all about - conversations and interactions - which are Dialogues.
Dialogues are all about "You - Me - Here - Now". In order to have a dialogue we need to be good at expressing ourselves and we need to be good listeners. The better we are at language and the better we are at listening and noticing - then the better the dialogue.
The main thing about dialogue is that we humans have a tendency to twist it out of shape by preframing it with "You - Me - There - Then" - whatever the reasons for that might be! Some might be constructive - however, we need to be mindful and careful about what we let in to the Now from Then.
Back in the days when I sat on a number of Committees, or indeed was a Secretary of some organisations, there was always an Agenda item called "Matters Arising". On many occasions I recall too much time being spent on this section - as participants raked over the dead coals and dying embers of the previous meeting. I realise this is down to the quality of the Chair of the meeting - but the whole "he said X - she did Y" is often a less than constructive perpetuation of previous Dialogues.
If we allow "You - Me - Here - Now" to really take place, then "Moving On" becomes much more of a possibility.
However, although it's just a thought, I'd invite you to try it yourself and discover what has already  become different from whatever expectations you may have once held.