The Wright Way

The Wright Way

Friday, March 28, 2014


That’s torn it!

Just a week ago I was at a cricket coaches gathering, exploring and playing lots of fun and relevant games and activities to use in the upcoming summer term when we take our coaching into schools.

After nearly two hours of absorbing activity I asked my body for yet another explosive sprint start – and then felt as if I had been hit in the calf by a hard ball thrown from someone behind me. Very quickly I realised the “as if” translated into “oh dear” as I hobbled off to one side and took no further part in the activities. I carried on watching however, as I pressed a bag of ice onto my very tender and ever-swelling calf muscle. 

The Power of Now

I’ve long given up on physical perfection, especially as I describe my preparation for activity as becoming “Neoprene Man” – given that various parts of my anatomy are held together by a whole variety of supporting appliances! So I was in no way mentally crestfallen by another part of me seemingly deciding to give up the ghost!

One of my more recent learnings through injury has been engaging the power of the present moment, and using that to banish the emotional content of observations like “Is this leg ever going to get any better”, “Just my luck to get this leg injury right before something really important for me”, or “Aaagh, this is going to be really painful ...”

What I found out is that, as common as all these thoughts and comments are, they carry truckloads of emotion into every present moment; they frame up our ongoing experience; they inject presuppositions into and thus perpetuate the nature of our responses.

When we warn ourselves in advance, “This is going to be really painful,” we are bracing ourselves against the inevitable. How do we know it is going to be inevitable? Because it was really painful last time, and we filed the memory away coloured up with massive daubs of emotional paint. When we scan our memories we cannot miss it – it’s there in glorious fleshnicolour! Through the power of presupposition we are mentally adopting a siege mentality, and we carry this over and set our bodies into the self-same siege mentality. 
“Brace yourselves – Hold tight!”

The amazing nature of the present moment actually allows us to adopt a mindset of perfection. For each and every now moment we are perfect – we cannot get any better or any worse than we are right now, because within right now we can only be one thing.
Any observation from outside right now cannot be part of right now. So if we view ourselves with an injury, an imperfection, or making a mistake or an error, call it what you will – then in that very moment of viewing we have stepped out of ourselves in order to judge.

You might argue that it is valid to say “I am not perfect right now.” But in order to back that up, there has to be a judgement that starts with, “Compared to ...”
You might question what validates the statement “I am perfect right now.” It’s quite simple really, for the validation comes from the fact that we can only be the one thing that we are in ANY given moment.


My healing, the mending of my torn calf, began the moment after the tear. The body sent in a whole variety of “healing personnel” on the inside to set about putting things right. A little later some more facilitation was sent on the outside, in the form of an ice pack. The inner healing crew didn’t stop and have a cup of tea, yet they were thankful for the improvement to the external ambience and environment of the locus of the injury.

The power of the mind within the healing process is hugely influential and of considerable significance. I have helped myself, and others, in terms of utilising these powers, to make recovery quicker, more straightforward, simpler, sometimes easier even.
In my own case I found out the hard way that I could also hinder the process, through mindset, attitude, emotional paint chucking, presuppositions and by bracing rather than embracing.
Part of healing involves pain, and it is the pain that we characterise but don’t always get to really know. When pain is unbearable, rather like in life, we often reach for medication.

“Quit yo Jibber-Jabber! Yo pathetic! You need to meet my friend, PAIN” shouts Mr T as he throws some Snickers bars at a “injured” footballer - and we all laugh.

Strangely though, getting to know “my friend PAIN” is something we rarely do – yet when we do we heal better and faster. 

A few weeks ago I sat in the back of someone’s car on the way to a rugby match, in a very cold and uncomfortable sweat of shock as I was hit by symptoms of a kidney stone movement. Yes there were some thoughts passing through that asked, “How much can I bear without medication?” Oddly enough, I found out the answer – and it was rather like the answer the previous time – and it was rather like the answer when I tore my calf. “I can bear just enough in order to get mentally familiar with this pain for one purpose only – to speed up my healing.”

Oiling the Squeaky Gait

I had a number of visits to make yesterday which involved a bit of walking. Now, my current state of recuperation from the torn calf involves some slight adjustments to the way I’m walking, whereby the foot on my injured leg makes a slightly different type of contact with the ground. It alters the way I am “carrying myself” – my gait is imperfect in comparison to my gait before the torn calf.

Within the round of visits I had fallen up some stairs, gone over sideways and tripped on my “good” foot, and wobbled and collided with a couple of walls.

Now, I could have had the disposition that took me down the road of judging this set of actions badly. There could have been an inner mental chorus singing these words ...
“What’s happening to me? This is really beginning to affect me. Perhaps there’s a lot more wrong with me? I’m feeling broken and nothing is getting better.”

Ever watched a drunk walk into a lamppost? He doesn’t feel a thing – he talks to the lamppost, perhaps berating it, or apologising. There’s no mental chorus singing inside his head – the lights are on but there’s no one home. This was not me – yet neither was my choir in full flow.

This was not my disposition. I knew I just needed to oil the squeaky gait.
I was merely walking in a slightly different and temporary way due to my recovery from injury, due to healing taking place. These adjustments were affecting my other foot and the smoothness of my normal movement is temporarily impaired. Nothing more - nothing less.

3 in 1 or WD40

There are many times when we might find ourselves faced with having to carry an injured calf from one field of our lives to another. When we find the gate between those fields has grown rusty or daubed with dried up old emotional paint and not likely to move well on its hinges, then the journey is going to be delayed as we lower the calf to the ground and examine the state of the gate. The best solution to deal with all the echoes of can’t that are then piling up around us, is to have a can of 3 in 1 oil or WD40 near at hand.

Whatever walk of life we are in, ultimately we are all responsible for ourselves. So make sure you are always prepared to carry the can.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


The Cryptic Crossword

I like puzzles, and in particular I like crossword puzzles. I have my parents to thank for that little piece of resonant pleasure – both in terms of nature and of nurture. By that I mean as follows:- in nature terms I inherited some genetic ‘wiring in the brain’ from them both, which enabled me to spot and make unconscious and conscious connections; in nurture terms I watched them solving; then they solved with me and guided me as to the “how to”; until eventually I ‘went solo’.

Of course there are many variants on the crossword puzzle theme and I discovered, quite early on, that I get the most enjoyment from doing cryptic crosswords. The diverse and convoluted nature of the clues and the solutions give my intellect a ‘buzz’ that is hard to describe in any other way – other than to use the word ‘buzz’.

Now one of the discoveries along the pathway to mastery of this niche corner of the puzzle genre is this – what clues seem insoluble or unconnected right now will be blindingly obvious in N minutes time. And the variable N, can be an unspecified number for each and every clue. What, at first reading, may seem totally baffling, is glaringly simple a little further down the solving timeline. Sometimes whole chunks of clues I’ve wrestled with yesterday fall into obvious place today.

Mental realm

Of course general knowledge crosswords are only as easy, difficult or obscure as our onboard knowledge, or access to references, will allow. 

The cryptic crossword, however, takes us into the particular mental realm of the compiler, and the reason is this. Each and every compiler has their own puzzle fingerprint – their individual, unique and particular way of “clueing things up”, shall we say.

When I pick up a fresh puzzle, a large part of solving comes from discovering and getting familiar with the mental realm of the compiler by spotting the fingerprints they leave all over the list of clues. 

It is a forensic exercise.

Before I write in any answers more often than not I’ll look through the list of clues, my perceptions searching for fingerprints. I’ll look for quirks, obvious variants, and specifics – such as solutions with more than one word answers, or anagrams, or when proper nouns are used. 

Occasionally, one or two answers will immediately leap out, though not always. When that happens, however, it means I’m getting on the wavelength of the compiler – glimpsing the mental realm of his clue setting – getting into his Mind.

Seeing People

In the course of my life I get to see a lot of people. And this is pretty much the same story for all of us.
Chunking down - some of those that I see, I meet and interact and communicate with.
Chunking down a little further - some of those people I see as clients, coachees or people I have, will be or am currently working with; some others are family; some others are friends; and so on.
Chunking down still further on each of those headings will be perhaps those that I’m meeting for the first time; those I know quite well; those that are really close; and various stations in between.
There are many branches and much foliage and flora within this vast tree of “The People I See.”

And it is the same for all the people in the lives of all of us. Some of the people in my tree are in yours – but perhaps at a different level or position. It is a complex network of connections and criss-cross pathways. Now, one of the more Mind blowing things about every tree in this almost infinite forest is this ...

Each and every one of us has our own unique mental realm, and our own unique mental – and physical - fingerprints.

And there’s a linguistic curiosity at play here that compilers of cryptic crosswords might latch onto. The word REALM can be disassembled in quite a variety of ways – however, the one I’ll allude to is the real part. For, unique as the mental realm of each and every one of us is, none of them is real – even though they feel convincingly real!

The two separate mental realms of the optimist and the pessimist each contain a glass and an equal amount of a liquid we’ll call – in this instance – water. The rest of each of their realms is made up. For them both, each realm is real, and populates and shapes the rest of their perceptive reality.

Dealing with our own clues

Let’s say I meet up with a new or even an ongoing client. A large part of making sense of (or solving) how they are, comes from my discovering and getting familiar with their mental realm by spotting the fingerprints they leave all over their list of clues. 

It is a forensic exercise.

As our own people, we need to be aware that each and every one of us is, on a very regular basis, compiling and presenting to the world an everyday cryptic puzzle of ourselves.

The most fascinating thing about this particular form of compiling is that it is at an unconscious level, and that is the level where the puzzle also has to be solved. To get on the wavelength of the compiler – glimpsing the mental realm of his clue setting – will give me a deeper understanding of the person who is there in front of me.

Of course they are there because they want some advice or guidance because, at a conscious level, they cannot solve their own puzzle.

Once they realise what, say, the clue to 11 down means, that then opens up the possibilities for them to go and do some “solving”. And, fascinatingly, often having that answer opens up solving doorways to some of the other baffling clues as well.

The thing about the puzzles we compile of ourselves is this:-
Because they ARE cryptic, and at an unconscious level, we do NOT need the cognitive stuff that would solve a general knowledge puzzle.

Solving is never about how clever we are, or about how simple the clue looks.
And if you want to know how long it takes to solve any cryptic crossword, then the answer is a piece of string.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

A Partridge in a Petri

Growing a Culture

I’ve set out on a journey into the unknown.
Well, it isn’t entirely THE unknown, because it is a Cricket Project and it’s a Coaching Project - and I work, ply some of my trade, coaching within the game of cricket. So I’m doing a number of familiar things “wot I luv”.

And, if you can find that in life, it’s a good place to be.

Yet – journeys into the unknown, for lots of us, can be filled with trepidation. We are stepping out and engaging with the unfamiliar. However, when we are familiar with the unfamiliar, comfortable with new things, then we really get to notice all the amazing changes going on around us – changes we are helping to bring about.

The need to seed

The project is in my home town – where cricket has been a cinderella sport for quite some time. There are in excess of a thousand children being educated on our turf, and the local cricket club is – like all sports clubs around the country – in constant need of younger personnel, both for their playing numbers and strength, and for the longevity of the club itself.

There is a need to seed some new culture – so we are doing it by following a successful model.  We work with the children starting in their most common environment (school), and then bring – encourage – those keen to play more cricket, to the cricket environment at the club.

It’s the same I do with all new clients. I pace them at their familiar ‘view of the world’ and then lead them to other ‘views of the world’. It is a simple model for changing perceptions, and as we know, when we change perceptions we change the world.

Modelling mode

In our last session I’d got the lads to work on a particular shot that involved footwork – and for those of you reading who are familiar with cricket, we were working on using footwork to come down the wicket towards the ball, rather than just standing in our stance at the crease waiting for the ball to arrive.

I talked about how we can sometimes become prisoners of the crease’, by electing to play all our shots from there. This, for a lot of the time we are batting, is OK, yet there are times when it can prove particularly awkward for us.

And this, in a way, is the same with life. If we believe the crease is our safe area, then we’ll view stepping out of it, as stepping into the unknown. However, for us to play some of the ‘curveballs of life’ in the best possible way, then we’ll need to come out of the crease and step down the wicket.

So – it’s a Culture. It’s a culture for our life as well as a culture for batting. And when we want to embrace a culture, it needs to be big enough to embrace. And for it to be big enough to do that, we have to seed it and grow it. 

I think you can get the picture!

Getting the Picture

There are two basic types of shot in cricket – straight bat shots, where the bat is vertical, and cross bat shots where the bat is horizontal. The shot we were working on is a straight bat shot.

One of the lads was struggling to hit the ball using a straight bat, so I ran a few little sub-routines that broke down the technique for him. He got the hang of them in the micro-detail, but when it came to put the sub-routines together he still struggled with the ‘bigger picture’. 

I then asked him if he played any other striking the ball sports and he said he played tennis.
“In tennis,” I said, “you are used to hitting the ball with extended arms, plus rarely are you playing any shots equivalent to this particular one in cricket. There are some cricket shots with extended arms, and you’ll be very good at those because your body is familiar with how you want it to be positioned.”
“Familiar is the key,” I went on, “and WHEN your body gets familiar with straight bat shots in cricket, loads of new possibilities start to come along. At the moment things don’t feel so good because you are modelling a technique you are familiar with in tennis and mapping it onto a cricket shot where it doesn’t work well.”
It’s a bit like having one road map (of Britain, let’s say) and then trying to use it elsewhere (travelling in France for instance.) The moment we realise that there are many more maps than just the one we’ve got, then our bodies will go and get a map of France, or wherever we are endeavouring to navigate around.

As I said afterwards to one of the club’s adult players who had been assisting, the tennis-playing lad can and will very quickly grasp playing straight bat shots – yet only as quickly as he puts aside his entire Map of Tennis, and starts to grow his new culture, which I called his Map of Cricket. Some parts of the maps will be quite similar – but in order for him to grow his entire range of skills, he’ll need a range of maps and not just one.

Get out of Jail Free

All change is learning, and all learning is change. And to embrace change, like that, we need to loosen the chains of the prisons we have made for ourselves. 
For batting in cricket that might be remaining in the crease, for tennis it will be something else, for the person looking to get fitter it might be the excuses they make not to exercise, for the person with weight issues it might be the Comfort Food Zone. The list is endless.

We are modelling and seeding our cultures from the moment we are born. It is how we learn and grow.
At some point in our lives we become aware of the way we are modelling and growing the seeds of our cultures. Then we become directors of our lives.We then start to become good at our A-game. Yet in order to be good at our game, we also need to be game – bold – willing to play our Get Out of Jail Free cards.

So, whilst I've never heard of anyone growing a partridge – or any game bird – in a Petri dish, we CAN all grow pear trees from seed.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Let's give it up for ...

Satirist and singer-songwriter Tom Lehrer’s view of the world owed as much to his being a mathematics lecturer as well as to his innate understanding of how to portray the ironies of life. Nothing, especially the sentimental, escaped his eagle-eyed comedic talent.
In the song “She’s My Girl” he reflects on some of the particularly endearing reasons and virtues that wide-eyed and lovelorn men see in the Ladies of Their Lives, their Soul Mates. Yet there’s one particular line that – in linguistic comedy terms – always gets the biggest laugh from me:

She’s the  ... “The Girl I gave up Lent for”

The idea that this romantic paragon should deserve such devotion as to give up Lent - that forty days and nights period within the Christian calendar where every supplicant is compelled to deeply contemplate the nature of temptation, penitence, abstinence, and Man’s frailty in the face of the deadliest of Sins - places “His Girl” on the highest pedestal, perhaps even the holy of holies! At least certainly beyond the temporal beliefs of mere ordinary beggars.

Yet I believe this is part of the point that Tom Lehrer was making – that no one on the planet is perfect, no one should aspire to being perfect, no one should set themselves out as being perfect, and we should never place the cloak of perfection upon anyone.

Yes, Problemo

Another big problem with lots of people and in lots of places and activities in our world is that to make a mistake or an error is clear evidence of imperfection – and that imperfection is portrayed as bad, as unforgiveable, as a sin. Perhaps this is not a Perfect sin, or an Original one, but a SIN nonetheless.

Someone or somebody, or some body of opinion sits in judgement and pronounces. The trouble, as we all know, is that these self appointed judges are people who pronounce upon perfection from their own perceived tower of purest ivory.
“How dare he?” – “They’ve got no right,” – “That’s totally wrong,” – “He’s rubbish,” – “What an awful person,” – “Should never be allowed,” and so on. You only have to stand on a busy street corner, or in a checkout queue, and certainly on the sidelines at a sporting event, to hear very much aloud a whole range of judgemental sentences handed down.

As I was rightly informed in my youth, when you point your finger at someone there are three others pointing back at you. We’ve all done it, we all do it and will continue. It is our won’t – or perhaps our will! Problem is , there are many that like to wear that wig and gown.

Failsafing Imperfection

Of course most of us would sign up to there being some given and required perfections from our surgeons, airline pilots, dentists, priests, air traffic controllers, and high court judges. At least in the execution of their jobs, that is. And there are certain archetypes for whom such jobs come easy – given their accepted level of competence. But even they too are only human, with human frailties and sensitivities, each endeavouring to lead their own particular human lives.
So, in terms of our jobs, whoever we are and whatever we do, there is a percentage of tolerance of error – of imperfection – that needs to be overcome by a level of supervisory insurance. And that can take many forms.

Without adequate supervisory insurance we are left with reliable imperfection – like a busy major road junction where the traffic lights have failed.
And, sadly it is there, when the likes of cavalier builders and cowboy bankers get away with it, that the vehicles of our lives crash at the intersections, often leaving smoky evidence from burnt out shells.

The Intangible Parapet of the Horizon

Still, now that the ashes of last Wednesday have been swept away, it is into the vast uncharted wilderness our own unfolding lives, where I’d invite you to come now, to explore with me some random number of possibilities in the oceans that are out there. For this time can be our true period of contemplation, provided we give ourselves permission to consider it thus.

The horizon of the unfolding narrative of our lives is a threshold, a parapet of our future. Yet, as we know, it is intangible. Like all horizons, we see it out there away from us, but cannot reach it or touch it.

The intangible parapet of the horizon is about the measure of safety we allow ourselves – rather like the glass ceiling is the level of limitations we impose on ourselves. The more the impositions of safety and limits – the shallower and more facile our lives become.

So what can we discover when we have rested our thoughts on the parapet and looked out and beyond into the folded mists of the future? For all of us - in holistic terms - we get a chance to renew body and soul, as it were.

We encounter the temporal and spiritual aspects of our own particular world – both current and potential.

In practical, temporal terms of course there are many things we can gain when going through any period of abstinence or penitence. We get an opportunity to review the nature of the pleasures we indulge in – perhaps gaining a realisation that indulgence, whilst not a Deadly Sin, is pernicious in terms of moderation. We might gain a reaffirmation that moderation is more virtuous – in terms of our wellbeing – than abstinence itself. Unlike abstinence, moderation acknowledges pure pleasure as something permissible for an enjoyment of our life’s purpose.

However, I’d like to think that this or indeed any period of reflection, is a golden opportunity for encountering and renewing our own inner selves – that which we might call our spirit.

For most of us the hurly-burly of everyday life disengages us from ourselves. We often feel we are being washed along with the tidal race, fighting to keep our heads above water, yet never having the chance to see where the water is coming from or going to, and who or what is deciding the speed at which it flows.

None of us ever seems to have any real “Me” time

Curiously, when we do have proper “me” time, the answers to those questions buried in the hurly-burly or the racing tide become clear and straightforward.

Insights and Devotions

I was talking with a client about her own particular, though not unfamiliar, hurly-burly. Whenever she experienced stress at work or in her private life she then had no time or energy to exercise, but rather she found comfort in eating. She found herself taking inappropriate dietary choices and in considerable quantities.

She was an intelligent and resourceful woman, and yet as these loops ran in her life she felt powerless. Her intelligence and resourcefulness lay motionless in the car park of her life. She couldn’t say whether she was out of fuel, or had a flat battery – but she just couldn’t get fired up.

The thing about spending some quality “me” time at the devotional level – is that we notice the insights and connections when they present themselves.

Now when I use the words “devotion” and “devotional” I am NOT implying anything at all religious here. For me it is purely about devoting all our time and attention to something relevant. So something like proper “Me” time is just about giving all our time and attention into the frame of ourselves – no more, no less, for however long we choose.

So my client took some time out from her hurly-burly, and gained some really good and useful stuff for herself to use, as resources, going forward. Yet, she still seemed perturbed by the questions about that metaphorical tidal race. So I talked about devoting ourselves totally to what we are doing – not in the sense of multi-tasking, I pointed out, because multi-tasking is not total devotion, it is attending to each present moment in a watered down way. And – I reminded her – those are the same waters that make up the tidal race.
“I’m sure you’ve watched a young child engrossed and totally absorbed in play,” I said. “Around them the world has stopped, time has stopped, and they are 100% engaged with what they are doing. That is devotion.”
She began to chuckle and then sat upright and leaned forward attentively, her eyes looking at some distant point, her head slowly nodding, and her mind in a place of alignment with something profound.


So devoting some quality time to ourselves, especially on a regular basis, can tame the tidal race, calm the hurly-burly, and give us the opportunity to notice the insights that come up. They may not always be as profound as the one that hit my client like a bolt from the blue – but there’s always usefulness there for some part of our lives.

And when we ARE more aligned with our inner selves, and get to understand the tidal race questions, we need to thank and applaud ourselves – acknowledge our actions.

“So, Ladies and Gentlemen, please give big hand and a warm and hearty welcome to some real quality ‘Me Time’. Let’s give it up for ...“