The Wright Way

The Wright Way

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Voice

I love the way experiential connections become new inspirations.

Back to School
Yesterday I started coaching cricket again in a particular school I hadn’t visited for a couple of years. I was working with a Year 4 (8-9 year olds) class, and in part of the teacher’s introducing me he told the children how I had quite a soft voice and this meant they would have to really listen to pay attention! Interestingly he didn’t use the word “quiet”, choosing to use “soft” instead – and the thing about soft – like that – is that it is about timbre rather than volume.


Of course once we begin to investigate what I would call the language of meanings (submodalities sounds rather dry and scientific), we get an idea of how we can get more detail into our communication. Rather as a picture can paint a thousand words, certainly the right word in the right place can evoke thousand pictures.
We might say “I love you” to someone and leave it there, even though there may be so much more to be said. Now here’s the thing – when it comes to expressing ourselves in terms of a thousand pictures, we certainly don’t need a million words. In this regard we can now get a truer understanding via those wonderful lines by Elisabeth Barrett Browning:

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday's
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with a passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints, --- I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! --- and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

Language can be amazingly rich in terms of helping us to convey the true meaning of what we want to say to anyone, be it an individual, a small group or a vast gathering. And yet - in our digital age of comms, everything is being shortened, curtailed. Sometimes the only thing that comes out of curtailed, like that, is CURT. I never switch on Predictive Text on my mobile for a similar reason – in the dash to send off a message, the “unmeant” can happen. So when I’m communicating, my mantra is this: –
"I’ll tell you what I mean, what I really, really mean."

Except, of course, when my intention is covert! ☺

Fusion, not Confusion
“So, how important is The Voice in communication, because it’s not all about words though, isn’t it?” I was once asked.

Well for me yesterday, in school, it was hugely relevant – because “soft” gave me a broader channel, a more flexible means of delivering the words. It helped that the children had been ‘switched on’ by their teacher of course, and although I still had to keep their attention through the 100 or so minutes of our double lesson, the seeds of the REAL meanings I wanted to convey germinated mentally more quickly on fertile soil and with ideal climatic conditions.
In my article “Getting Results” – a kind of linguistic Prelude & Fugue -
I did some word-play on the lyrics of the song “T’Ain’t what you do it’s the way that you do it” in part of the fugal section. It read as follows:

T’Ain’t what you sing it’s the way that you sing it -
and what you can get with the freedom to swing it -

This am mighty relevant all round for each and every one of us – as it was for me in class yesterday.
I – and everyone else – had the freedom to swing it! Play – learn – have fun – discover new things we can do – enjoy Ourselves. And I know that if there’d been confusion for the children then they’d have got far less out of the experience of the lesson.

A Period of Discovery
And – as an aside here – isn’t “lesson”, like that, such a mis-shapen word in our adult world?
A lesson in school should be a period of discovery, and yet the reshaping starts when we like some lessons more than others. Now if we look at why we like some lessons more than others then there’s always reasons – and it’s not usually because it’s a dull or boring subject. With the right delivery, the content can come alive.
Some people could sing or talk to us about the phone book – and they could make it interesting. Their voice – their vehicle of delivery – would make it so.
I happen to think that all teachers are amazing, for they have to stand up every day and act out a performance that is content-oriented and content-rich. However – there are those who are masters in the art of communication, where all the richness of the meaning of the content gets delivered along with the content itself. Brilliant teachers, and that includes coaches and trainers – whether in schools or in any kind of adult education – are able to get everything across, by having the freedom to swing it!

The Connection
On the blog of Jeremy Jacobs there is brilliant little article called “5 Top Tips for taking care of your voice”.
I read this today and out of the inner resonance came a connection – for me – with my yesterday afternoon with those Year 4 youngsters.
I know how hugely important my teaching a sport, like cricket, in schools for the children. It’s a great game for helping us discover more about life and ourselves. It’s a great vehicle for learning through Play.
And we learn so much more – and quicker – when we are totally absorbed in what we are doing. When that level of absorption prevails, then the well delivered content gets through at an unconscious level.
Now there’s a degree of similarity in those last two sentences that could be deemed as cyclical repetition. And I’ve written them here for precisely that very reason – and pointed them out also, so drawing them into a focus for closer attention. Think of the notice that says “Do Not Throw Stones at This Notice”. It’s not just a notice whose purpose is entirely built upon its own content though is it?

For me, the point Jeremy Jacobs was making is about looking after our delivery vehicle – and keeping it roadworthy for those many miles we travel on the communications super highway. Our voice will need fuel – and the right fuel! It needs good servicing and maintenance.
AND – as we sit behind the wheel, it needs good quality driving! If we crash into things or skid off the road then people won’t have a hope of understanding us. We all want to be understood, and get frustrated when we aren’t. However – the remedy starts with ourselves.

Back to Basics
We all have a voice, both a verbal AND a nonverbal one – and for most of us it is a voice that is rarely heard in the way we would like, for whatever reasons. It is one of the biggest “If Onlies” in life, and yet, because we practice our usage every day of our lives, it can be very straightforward to change and we CAN turn that “If Only” into a reality.

Life is about discovery and learning, living and experiencing – and our voice coupled with how we use language can enhance our lives beyond measure. Now I’m no voice coach or language coach, though I know some amazingly clever, subtle yet brilliantly perceptive people who are. All their advice, however small, however basic, has been so useful and so helpful for me that I know I wouldn’t be able to do what I do without the vehicle I am now able to drive and the verbal and non-verbal content I’ve harnessed. Some of my discoveries began way back in my schooldays, some in between times, and a considerable amount has been recently, through both modelling and taking action through gaining and practicing knowledge.

I firmly believe the world will begin to change if we had an education system that addressed the following two things:
  • That we learn how to communicate
  • That we learn how to learn.

That way each person would be able to find their true voice.

It is really that simple and, rather like what happened with me and that Year 4 class yesterday – it all begins with an introduction.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

My New Project

I have been working for some time now on a new book project which is something of a departure from my usual methodology of book construction. The project is, essentially, writing a work of fiction - based upon an inspirational theme.
So why, for this, have I departed from the 'article-based' writing style I have used, and enjoyed using, over the past few years. Well, interestingly, I've been guided to it from various directions, and from numerous perspectives.
Similarly, the guidance is both outer and inner.

The outer is from several revered friends and mentors, who have alluded with enthusiasm and fascination to the story telling I have used not only in those articles and article-based publications, but also in the way I weave those stories into coaching, mentoring, presentations and conversations.
I cannot disagree with this since I have my own fascination with metaphor, metaphorical language and representation, metaphorical thoughtscapes, and expanding them all into vast multi-sensual structures woven onto a network of narrative. Is that story-telling? Perhaps so.
It is also part of, and is bound up with, performance - and as performance, like that, is all about what I work on with clients, then this changing of style is not so much a quantum leap or a huge sideways step - but rather more like a development of a style already used on a smaller scale.
The inner guidance is about being drawn towards further utilising the inherent power of  language and narrative to shift our perceptions, to alter our levels of and abilities to focus our consciousness.
For me, hypnosis is all around us, is part of our everyday life, and that it sits well within and around what we might call reality and imagination. Since we make up our reality, and we make up our imagination, it seems straightforward to me that this entire domain of our existence functions in a manner that - until now - we have come to label as "hypnotic".
Tinted spectacles
This could all be my own particular flight of fancy, of course - so I would always invite readers, listeners, clients et al, to bear that in mind. We are all wearing our own particular sets of tinted spectacles in a sense. So when our worlds collide and you might wonder why yours is not totally to your satisfaction in some respects, then you might be interested in trying on my spectacles - if only just to notice how different everything can now appear to be, seem to feel.
I am also reminded here of some of the intricacies I brought to the stage when performing 'comedy songs' many years ago. Every movement, every action within the 'performing narrative' had a purpose. They were all part of the story, all part of guiding the participants in the audience through some other part of their own hypnotic landscape - wearing the set of tinted spectacles I'd lent them of course!
This project - this, as yet, unnamed work of inspired fiction - is laid out upon a canvas. The thing is - all canvasses are different, and there is always a need, if there is to be a better overall understanding, to describe that canvas.
In Part 1, The Scene, I describe the canvas in about as much detail as I can muster, and in every way where I feel there is a purpose.
At this stage I have only published it in spoken form, with an additional visual and auditory background acting in the style of "continuo" in some musical constructs from the Baroque period.
One of the benefits of presenting it in spoken form is to make use of the patterning within the language - a patterning that sometimes can actually come across better in sound than in the written word.
Having said that - the way most of us read is to verbalise the words on the page (consciously or unconsciously) to ourselves on the inside. In this regard, the language patterning effects still apply!
I'd invite you to click on the link below and have a listen! Borrow my tinted spectacles for the journey and notice what else you might get.
I'd also appreciate all comments and feedback on what YOU encounter as "The Story So Far..." 


Friday, April 19, 2013

Zoning it

You don’t have to be in the Zone to win championships ... but it helps!

This of course is true. With majors in golf or grand slams in tennis in particular, where the pressures on the individual are huge, that 90% in sports that Yogi Berra talks about being “mental”, really comes to the fore.
The thing about all “world class type” events is that they take place over a period of time, a number of days, and that is what makes the level of competition so compelling. At the Wimbledon Tennis Championships a player can play an amazing game in Round 4 for instance, being in the Zone over a goodly part of their (probable) 2-3 hours on court – and yet then not replicate that form in their next round match. Similarly in the four rounds of a major golf championship, a lot of it is more about consistency than Zoning. Intense zoning sometimes does happen over a number of the days of competition, and on these occasions one player will usually be SO dominant that their winning position is unassailable and they blow away all the opposition, regardless of quality.

There are however two sides to maintaining a high level of performance consistency, and in all sports – whether individual or team sports – it is what marks out champions from the rest.
To re-quote Yogi Berra here – “90% of baseball is mental, and the other half is physical” – and for baseball read all sports.

The two sides of maintaining your Inner Game are:
·         Dealing with the pressures

·         Playing in the Zone
The top tier of world rankings are a reflection of a player’s consistency, and the level of the above two factors they bring to their game – given that they match each other in technical ability and fitness.

We were all somewhat amazed at Rafael Nadal’s win in Indian Wells 2013 – his first comeback tournament after a long injury lay-off. However he was only out of the game for reasons of physical breakdown, and his above mentioned mental strengths were untouched. Of course, part of his rehab can be referred to as “dealing with pressures” – and, as we know, that is one of his supreme strengths. Once physically back to where he wanted to be, the above two factors in his “A-Game” did the rest and I, for one, was not surprised.
Of course our chances of playing in the Zone more often go up dramatically if we can consistently deal with the pressures. And that level of ‘dealing consistently’ comes with understanding where those pressures are really coming from.

The US Masters
Last Sunday saw the final day of this year’s US Masters in Augusta, and as I watched the contenders from my armchair comfort (it was raining at the course), I felt a sense of anticipation that something of special interest would be in the offing.

There was the customary ebbing and flowing of players’ fortunes on the leaderboard, hole by hole, and all the while – in the background – I sensed those two major mental game factors were conducting this vast sporting orchestral performance.
Over the last few holes, two players – Adam Scott and Angel Cabrera – emerged as dealing best with all the pressures, and, as witnessed on the 18th hole, both were playing in the Zone. For me this was enthralling – extra special, if you like, in spectator terms. Here were two guys at the very top of their game in the moment. Interestingly, how I witnessed it, each one’s version of their Zone was different. Yet it was clear to see that that was where they were.

So the competition went to a sudden death play-off. And yet it didn’t start straight away! For me as a spectator it seemed to take an age before they got out on the course to play the first sudden death hole. How would they react to this distraction, the unsmooth transition from each of their “highs” of landing difficult putts to birdie the 18th hole? And all this was taking place in failing light and wet, soggy conditions, where they were each armed with towels, umbrellas etc.
The consistency at dealing with pressure and the remaining in the Zone continued for each as they matched each other at the first play-off hole – and so they continued to the next one, where the intense and high drama of quality competition unfolded once more. “Who would crack first,” I was thinking, because in these situations it IS usually about that.

But this time it was about who WON it, rather than who LOST it. Angel Cabrera’s next putt was about as close as it gets without actually going in the hole – and we all watched spellbound as Adam Scott sank his putt.
It was a jaw-dropping moment, almost immediately followed by Cabrera’s celebration with and for Scott, which was equally compelling in sporting terms. However he may reflect on his disappointment, in the moment he was authentically overjoyed for his opponent.

There has been much said about how Adam Scott had overcome his disappointment at The Open Championship 2012, where he had ‘bogeyed’ the final four holes to lose an ‘unassailable’ lead, and of course that would have been one of his own particular pressures as the final moments of this drama unfolded.
However, that is how champions become champions since – prior to those moments – they are just players.

I always chuckle at the media interviewers in these moments because they always ask the same question, which actually points us all away from what has really been happening in the moment.
“So, what were you thinking as you played that shot?”

Understanding where those pressures are really coming from, as I said earlier, is the difference that makes the difference. Things on the outside have happened, do happen, and will happen – one way or another. We make our own pressures, and then react to those pressures so adding more pressures! On this day at Augusta, both were winners because they were impervious to the pressures and were both in the Zone.
Read the BBC's report of the final day at the US Masters

Sunday, April 14, 2013

I Love You, Big Horse!

To everything in life there has to be Reason and Purpose. You might describe yourself as a reasonable and purposeful person – and now the meaning of the first line has entered a development section. I might purposely examine some of the reasoning behind that development just to further metamorphose the original statement AND the first development. And now suddenly I’m building up variations on a theme.

So all of this – for what purpose?
Well I’m writing here about hypnotic language, and ‘sleight of mouth’.

Hypnotic language
Hypnotic language is all around us – we both use and hear it all the time. Sometimes we don’t hear it consciously and find ourselves halfway down a road to thinking or doing something and wondering why we’ve gone there in the first place, since there’s been no rhyme nor reason why we’d do or think that. That’s when we discover that there’s been some subliminal use going on. 

You know how it is when we don’t see something happening because we’ve been looking the other way? Well it’s the same with listening – we can miss the subliminal stuff because we’ve been listening the other way too.
Subliminal, as an adjective, has had all sorts of connotations put upon it. Yes it is defined as something below the level of sensation or consciousness – however, around the domain of persuasion it becomes a weapon of cunning deceit, subterfuge, covert influence. Subliminal points to someone else controlling ME, without my knowing.

It is acceptable in, say, the domain of magic because essentially a magician is honest. He says, or implies, that he is going to trick you – and he does. We marvel at his sleight of hand, and applaud his ability to distort and divert our attention. However, in the hands of advertisers, salesmen and politicians, the marvelling and applause are not there – something other than entertainment is on their agenda.

So, yes hypnotic language is subliminal; and when there’s rhyme, and especially when there’s reason, we can use hypnotic language to unpick the locks of several doors that previously we might have felt were either non-openable, or that we didn’t even know the doors were there.

One of the most interesting ‘lock-picking’ words is because, and this is most likely down to the fact that we like reasons for things – reasons that validate and make things plausible. If you doubt this then try it for yourself.
Next time you ask someone for something – something that perhaps in the past you’ve not given a validating reason, or something that perhaps you are slightly uncomfortable about asking – just tag in after the request a “because” line and see what happens.
The most obvious one that comes to mind is to go to the front of a queue or to be served before someone else. If you give them a qualifying reason then there’s likely to be compliance. If you just blurt out, “Can I go ahead of you?” a whole level of non-verbal judgement kicks in. Hackles rise, shoulders hunch, people look at you – measuring you against their likeability scale, and some are even bristling with a curled lip  that says ‘who the hell are you’? It’s what I call drawbridge conditioning and it’s a particular behaviour pattern of the urban human. “Everything in life is a race, and I’ve got to get there ahead of you, and you, and you. So just take your place in the queue.”

Is “To Be” not to be, after all is said and done?
Another pattern I’m particularly fond of is interlaced negatives. I’ve been drawn towards it for some time, since we all know it isn’t just about not being able to follow what someone is or isn’t saying though isn’t it? It is more about the meaning that may sometimes be there, even though there may or may not have been any intention implied.

I’m also all too aware of those delicious verbal titbits embedded within linguistic and sonic ambiguities. When talking, or writing, I might stumble across something in all innocence and then find myself re-expressing what I’ve heard or read with regards to some inner sense of direction. Of course I could, in a sense, be striving to be much more direct with my intentions by this stage, since before we know it here we’re well on the path to being mentally anaesthetised by some emphasis that neither is or isn’t there. And there’s a sense of déjà vu about all this isn’t there? A feeling that a trans-derivational ** search is called for, seems to rise up from out of the discarded syllables and punctuation.
‘Floating’ punctuation is another area, when the listener – and the reader – can be coaxed towards something of a different persuasion.

In the first week of starting to visit schools to coach cricket, some years ago, I read about how to manipulate how someone hears their own spoken negative statements by starting my response with the word “Yet”.

Very soon an opportunity arose when I was confronted with a Year 5 girl pupil who’d responded in a standard manner to my showing her how to best hit the ball with a cricket bat.
She said, “I can’t do that,” to which I added, “Yet - and soon with just a little practice you can begin to discover how it has come to you much more naturally.”
There was now an audible transformation from “I can’t do that” to “I can’t do that yet ...” The door of possibilities for her swung open on the linguistic hinge of a little 3-letter word. The rest of what I said was laced (and lasered) with presuppositions, embedded commands, and two temporal references (yet and soon) that both pointed towards the relevance of NOW without now ever being mentioned. Interestingly, a few minutes later I noticed her hitting the ball quite comfortably in the manner I had shown her, so I guess things had worked!

Big Horse
The interesting thing about language is its versatility once you mount up and start to ride. Give it full rein and pretty soon you’ll be out galloping and jumping fences whenever you encounter them, all the while getting a sense of unbridled fun – or is that Pun?

Many years ago there was a song by Jim Reeves called “I love you because” and I once heard it sung by another country artiste with a very broad drawl. Hence – “Big Horse”!
Here is a metamorphosis, with apple-ogies to the Gentleman:

I love you Big Horse. You kind-a Stand near
Every single thing I try to do.
You’re always there, a friend and helper. And here
I love you most of all Big Horse, you’re you.

No matter what about the world I’ll say – Me,
I know your love will always see me through.
I love you for a hundred thousand reasons
But most of all Big Horse, it’s ‘I love you’.

**  Part of the Wikipaedia explanation of Trans-derivational search is:
Unlike usual searches, which look for literal (i.e. exact, logical or regular expression) matches, a trans-derivational search is a search for a possible meaning or possible match as part of communication, and without which an incoming communication cannot be made any sense of whatsoever. It is thus an integral part of processing language, and of attaching meaning to communication.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Hibbit, Addict, Immoderant, Obliviate


Not aware of, or not concerned about what is happening around about; forgetful; unmindful.

The state of being unaware or unconscious of what is happening.


The Hibbit
There is a dotted line in the sands of our consciousness beyond which we have a sense that control – whatever that may be for us – goes walkabout without us. It is where hibition sets in.

Now hibition is worth mentioning here because, although the word is not in the dictionary – it IS in the urban dictionary.
When we are inhibited, there is an extra level of conscious control we are bringing to our thoughts, our behaviour, our awareness – and we use inhibition as a cloak to hide our persona, our personality, behind. It is all about our reserve, the private and unshared Me, the considered and thoughtful person we want the world to see that we are. When the world - the world we inhabit – the world our persona and behaviour collides with – sees any degree of hibition from us, the perception of our Me within that world changes.

Also, the perception of our Me that we witness in that world changes as well.
You could say, "The Me that I see that I am" - also changes.

Now hold, if you would, onto that notion, that sentence, that sentience for as long as it is necessary to consider whatever may be your addiction.

The Addict
We are all addicts. Yes ,we all have addictions. The vicar, the train guard, the minister, the lollipop lady, the shy man, the shaman, the salesman and the rest of us; we all have addictions.

Oh indeed yes, in society’s labelling system addiction has taken on a judgemental meaning surrounding some destructive area of human frailty. The ones high up the scale of perniciousness are drugs, drink, gambling – and why is that do you think? Consider what lies behind them all for clues.
There are other things certain of us become addicted to – sex, power, fame, for instance. We call these addictions Lust, yet they are still addictions. The bankers are addicted, the politicians are addicted; the religious zealot is addicted, the bully is addicted.

The athlete and the explorer are addicted. The Saturday night hedonists are addicted, the prim and proper Prudences are addicted and the workaholics are addicted. Addiction is part of all of us.
And we love our addictions, we love indulging ourselves, we greet these loves as regular as clockwork, as familiar friends. “I just can’t do without my X,” whatever X that may be.

Now hold, if you will the sense of that idea, for as long as it is necessary to consider what lies behind moderation.

The Immoderant
Is moderation about not indulging or not over-indulging?

When I wrote about “The Quality of Pleasure” I talked about certain words that have been twisted out of shape in our modern world. Moderation is one of these words. There’s this notion in the world that moderation means diluting pleasure. However, my argument is that moderation is about diluting the quantity of one particular pleasure. If we have a Menu of pleasures then we can be indulgent in a qualitative way over a number of pleasures rather than indulgent in a quantitative way over one pleasure. The key is to enhance our Menu!
But I digress –
So which is it ... Immoderate or I’m moderate?

Which are you? How do you rate your modes of being, of behaving? Do you ration yourself in some of your modes so that they become mode-ration?

In truth, any excess we pursue is an acknowledgement of our addictive condition. And any pursuing of any pleasure, to excess, eventually destroys the pursuer.

“Come on, Pete – I love gardening. How will that destroy me?”
Well, how far are you prepared to take that ‘love’, for I suspect you love doing gardening but you are not yet addicted to it. It remains, for the present, a pleasure.

We need to find a way of balancing our pleasures and addictions with a moderation based on quality.

Now hold, if you would, onto that notion, that sentence, that sentience for as long as it is necessary to consider whatever may have been your sense of oblivion.

The Obliviate
If it is that oblivion, for you, means being unaware or unconscious of what is happening, then ask yourself why would you seek to be oblivious? What purposeful gain would accrue from such an experience?

I was recently in a conversation with a young acquaintance who was wary of hypnotherapy, which we can also refer to as "a therapeutic process facilitated by hypnosis". He was concerned at what would – or might - happen to him while in trance.
“I’d lose control,” he said. “That worries me, because I wouldn’t be in charge of Me. The idea of it spooks me.” This was indeed fascinating language – his personal representation that “I” always controls “Me” and that “Me” is worried, nay spooked, when “Me” had a felt sense that “I” wasn’t in control.

I raised the subject of oblivion, of being oblivious, and he said, “That’s it – like that in a nutshell. I’d feel I’d be under someone else’s control, and not my own.”

So, tell me what you did last Saturday evening,” I invited.
He then proceeded to relate his meeting up with some mates for a drink, going on to a club etc. Now this is all a very common pattern for quite a swathe of society, as we know it.
For what purpose; what do you get out of this?” I asked.
He seemed amazed that I’d asked such a naive question, smiled, and then elaborated when I gestured him to go on.
“To have a good time, have a load of drinks, have a great laugh, get rat-arsed, just generally enjoy myself in great company, etc.”
Tell me about rat-arsed,” I said, and he did.
And after rat-arsed, tell me about what happened next.” And he did, and the detail was graphic until he reached the point where, due to alcoholic influence, he couldn’t remember what had happened in the next part of his night out.
So, would that be something like oblivion?” I asked. “Would you say you were oblivious as to what happened next?
He looked at me a bit ‘sideways’ and then nodded.
So, when you are obliviously rat-arsed, where is control? Who has control?” I asked.
He shrugged his shoulders as his eyes fell from looking at me.
And does THAT experience spook you? And when you’re like that - who is in charge of You? Who is running the show then?


While there is a link between Obliviates, Immoderates, Addicts, and Hibbits, it is not a progressive path. There is also a need to consider the matter of the chosen vehicle of delivery.
My young friend’s chosen vehicle is alcohol; Mr Creosote (from the Monty Python film The Meaning of Life) had food as his vehicle of choice; Lord Byron’s was opium, and so on.

Addicts and Immoderates have a very strong link, and, given we are all addicted to something, we all tend to have no moderation around that thing. Of the four, Hibbits are the most natural, and it is a disposition, a way of being in the world, that permits authentic expression. Those of us blessed with or who gain natural hibition – not one brought about by a chosen vehicle of delivery - are able to live a less complicated life.

Hibbits tend not to seek oblivion either. They also have a clearer perspective of pleasures and moderation. They can ration their modes well, build a wide-ranging menu of pleasures and vehicles of delivery, they are comfortable with their inner and outer words and worlds. Because of their wide-ranging menu of pleasures, Hibbits are less prone to being addicted to harmful and pernicious things.
In theory, we would get the most out of life by being a Hibbit, not an Addict, an Immoderant or an Obliviate.

Of course we could all carry on blissfully unaware of any or all of this! We could continue to be oblivious to such notions, theories or arguments. And as the sands of our consciousness become blown into dunes and shapes, we might never wonder why we seem to live our lives governed by those dunes and shapes instead of knowing that WE control what makes them the dunes and shapes they really are, or – at least – seem to be.

Audio version available!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

The 4 Cartesian Questions revisited

One of my most popular articles on this blog is the one called "The 4 Cartesian Questions in NLP", and which dates back to November 2009.

In it I describe how one week I sprung the Cartesian Questions on the team I coach for rugby. This was done under the guise of being a "pre-match team talk" - and the outcomes were noticeably interesting.

As I said, when adding the article as a chapter in my book Mind How You Go, the captive audience nature of a sports team - both pre-match AND at half time - is very vulnerable and susceptible to whatever is being said TO and AT them.

I've winced many a time at well-meaning "motivators" - both coaches and partisan well-wishers - who come out with stuff such as, "If you play as bad as you did last week then you'll lose."

All individual players are vulnerable to some degree in terms of their thinking in the moment and, as a performance coach, part of my role in particular is to help them understand that vulnerability and how they can best "keep a lid on their own particular pressure cooker".
When dealing with such as a rugby team, for instance, there might be 18 different pressure cookers bubbling away - so whilst I have a lot going on in terms of man-management (or cooker-management!), I always strive to get the players to manage their own pressure-cooker. It's for the best, although it can take time!

Take a team on a losing streak, for instance. The players' thoughts are already populated with matters concerning their own upcoming performance - and then there's the "what happened last time" factor as well.
SO, do they really need barking at - do they really need the elicitation of how they felt last time - do they really need the judgemental presuppositions about how bad they'd played?

I know it seems like a no-brainer ... and yet ...

I've taken the time here to revisit the original article, having now done an audio-visual version on my YouTube Channel.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Beginners Luck

Ever had this?

Of course – we’ve all had it, and we’ve all seen others have it too. It’s one of those “guaranteed givens” in pretty much everything we do, when starting out.
Whenever we are doing something for the first time – and I don’t mean the groundbreaking first time ever in the world type thing – we’ve either been shown how to do it, or we’ve watched someone else and are copying the model we’ve been observing. Either way, we are doing a re-enactment of a model way to do it.

What happens next?
This next stage is really crucial – for we can replicate our ‘beginners luck’ or we can begin adapting the model for ourselves. Looking for what feels more comfortable for us. Looking for what we know that – “for sure” – fits our skin.

We’ve come to a fork in the road, and believe it or not, although we might think there are two choices for us, actually there are four. One of the choices is “do nothing”, so when Yogi Berra’s famous quote says, “When you come to a fork in the road – Take It!” that advice merely eradicates the least dynamic choice.

We can retreat of course, and tell ourselves “This ain’t for me.” However, moving forward, and in terms of doing whatever it is the second and subsequent time – the fork is all about A or B.
However, now – here - there are forces at play. Inner forces - forces inside our head, where our patterning and references and all the areas of our learning strategies come into play.
In his book Mastery, George Leonard talks about the road to mastery of anything being paved with “brief spurts of progress separated by periods in which we seem to be getting nowhere”, and he also reveals the familiar personality types that populate that journey. One of those types might well be ours, and we’ll soon discover that the fork we have taken is yielding less fruit than we first thought – back when we were experiencing Beginners Luck.

“I thought it was going to be easy, a doddle, and I’d be good at it, I’d get instant gratification.” These four phrases, four reasons, are part of what made us choose the fork we did. And the clue as to why this (let’s call it) Route B is the road that brings few rewards is  ..... in the number of times “I” comes into our inner dialogue.
With Beginners Luck, first time round we have no inner reference of how we’ve done it – just an external model. Second time round we have an inner reference and more often than not we are endeavouring to replicate THAT, instead of re-replicating the external model.

This is the pivotal moment at the fork.
Route A = Re-replicate the external model while at the same time disengaging totally from the process and outcome of what took place the first time round.
Route B = Detach some part of the strategy from the external model and replace it with the internal reference.
Now some here can be on a sliding scale – depending on the learning strategy being applied.
A little bit of detachment will only have a small effect, while more we detach the bigger the effect – but here’s the thing:- Every little bit of detachment is cumulative, the effect is growing, and (unbeknownst to us) we are also already on Route B!
Now I can hear some of you saying, “So, Pete, what about the TOTE ** model? Isn’t that the best strategy for learning, for getting better at something? You seem to be saying that Route A is the best way to go – ignoring the fact that keeping what we do right, and adapting what’s gone wrong, is what the TOTE model is all about.”

My reply is this: “The TOTE model works on both Routes – however, the TOTE model does not contain internal referencing. And it is internal referencing that’s clouding every next step on Route B. Would that we were robots - because then there’d be only Route A; and also the TOTE model would be there to help improve and perfect the skill.”

But we aren’t robots – we’re human. PLUS within our humanity we have the power to be far better than any robots - with equivalent physiques – and we are also unique in having the power of thought, emotions and self talk.

Now part of the currency of both Route A and Route B is made up of these three powerful human attributes, but we need to understand how to spend that currency to make best use of its value. There is a key bit of knowledge about that currency that we’d also do well to know – it has a different buying power depending on which Route you are on. On Route A it buys more so we spend less – less thinking, less emotion, less self talk.
To put it another way – we don’t let our spending get in the way of what we are doing next.
Rescue and Recovery

I’ve been privileged over the years to have rescued quite a lot of people from their own particular Route Bs. Of course they never realised when they’d come to a fork in their road in the first place – Route B was such a well trodden road that they followed it through familiarity and comfort (pseudo or otherwise), never spotting Route A at all.
Thankfully, once they’d grasped the notion that there is always a Route A – and that it works better every time – then they began to notice it more and more, and made choices when that fork in the road appeared.

The more we walk Route A, the more well-trodden it gets – then the choice at each fork in the road we encounter becomes easier to see and easier to take as well.
Most people over a certain age fight shy of learning something new. It’s not because they have lost the mental capacity, it’s because they’ve spent a lifetime treading Route B. Now, their “best choice” is to stand still or retreat from the fork in the road. They are spending their familiar Route B currency enriched with negative self talk, excessive emotion and clouded thinking.

There are older people who are still learning new things, not daunted by the world or its progress, still being creative well into their 70s and 80s. What is the reason for their bucking the trend? They’re on Route A - and have been familiar with it for quite a while.
So check out what Route you usually take. It’s never too late to become a Route A person. And the moment you decide to make any changes – it’s like you’ve just got a big slice of Beginners Luck!

  • “Life begins at 40 – Oooh! Beginners Luck!”
  • “Think you’re too old to learn new tricks? Give it a go – and look – Beginners Luck!”

Immediately, a fork in the road will appear and it’s time to choose! Don’t just take my word for it, though. I followed Route B for years – but here’s the thing about life. There are always opportunities to change our minds – and the real joy of treading Route A is that you’ll be surrounded by Beginners Luck every step of the way!

One of the ultimate Route A people is Nick Vujicic. If you know about Nick then you’ll undoubtedly agree with me here.  If you don’t know about him then check him out – starting with any YouTube reference like this one:

** - TOTE model > "Test - Operate - Test - Exit"
A model of corrective adaptation of trial and error, where we have a strategy, run it, correct it, run it again until we are happy with the outcome of the process or strategy.