The Wright Way

The Wright Way

Thursday, February 5, 2015


The child’s view

When I was of primary school age my parents lived in the Sudan and then Nyasaland (now Malawi). We came back to England regularly , so travel, for me, was very much the norm. I loved geography, which brought the travel to life, and in particular I loved maps. Maps of where I lived, maps of places I’d been to, maps tracing journeys along the way, maps of other places, maps in general. I could easily relate the map data to ground data.

My favourite book was an atlas of the world – and it was the biggest and best one available at that time. I didn’t just study my atlas, I would read it. Every page was a story containing all that information about every part of the world. And when you read a book as often as I read that atlas, you get to know all about the characters – or so I thought.

While I loved and kept revisiting all the ‘physical’ maps in my atlas, I hardly ever studied the weather and rainfall maps, and never studied the geological maps. I didn’t quite get (as an 8 year old) what all THAT stuff was about. As far as I could see, mountains were mountains, valleys were valleys, plains were plains – there they were, as plain as day. At that age I never asked why they were there or what they were made of.

Fortunately my love of geography as a subject took me on a further journey of knowledge and understanding. As I got older I discovered so much more about the Earth – including what was going on above and below the surface – and eventually my interest spread through the entire atlas as I
studied rainfall and rock structures with as much fascination as everything else.

Maps of the world

One of the ‘bumper stickers’ of NLP is the Map is not the Territory. Whilst this leads to the notion that we are not our behaviour, it also points to fact that we all have a ‘worldview’ and that our Maps of The World are a coded facsimile of that view and how we run our lives within that World.

This collection of our Maps can be described as our Atlas – and of course as we are all unique, then each of our Atlases is unique too. Yes, some of my maps will coincide with yours, or his or hers, or theirs, but never all of my maps. The other thing we can come to understand, of course, is that our Atlas is not set in stone, and therefore we can adapt our maps, remove them and add new ones.

Thinking further about geographical maps of the world and comparing them to our own maps, what if we only understand those of our own maps in terms of what is ‘on the surface’ – rather in the same way that, at first, I could only relate to the physical maps in geography?

In terms of the ‘geography of the Mind’, it’s easier to make sense of the form (the maps of what’s on the surface), than it is to understand the formless (that which still is there but not in consciousness). Or, to put it another way, if the surface is all that we think we know, the structure under the surface (our geology) is ‘formless’ because we aren’t consciously aware of it.

Making connections

There have been countless questions and discussions concerning The Mind, the nature of the Mind, how it works, and the connected-ness of its various constituent sub-divisions, since the dawn of psychology. Advances over the last fifty years are beginning to show us, in a variety of ways, that what we thought of the Mind in the past is now not necessarily all true, or all that is there. In terms of my atlas analogy, science – both practical and theoretical – is discovering not just uncharted regions, but also new patterns and activities above and below the surface.

The structural connected-ness of The Mind and Body, for instance, is now more understood in a variety of ways - all of which overlap. Methodologies such as NLP, Clean Language, TimeLine™ Therapy, TFT, IEMT, and many other recent advances, all tap into the geology of that structural connected-ness – which is why, I suspect, they work so very well for people because they make those connections function once more. It might also explain why science (currently) has difficulty in accepting their validity, because it is hard to prove that something under the surface works if the only means of proof you have is designed for things on the surface.

I find with clients – both in a therapeutic sense of change as well as a coaching and learning sense of change – that structural connected-ness comes up all the time. Being ‘conventional’ with clients may well work in the long run, but if it’s connected-ness they’re looking to achieve, then why would anyone choose the long run ONCE they know there’s a quick and direct route. Why would anyone build a house on sand, once they know that it’s sand and what sand can and can’t support? Once we know the code of a combination lock why would we try and open it in any other way!


So in terms of my atlas – and my Atlas – I now have a much fuller sense of both worlds. The geographical I got to know much quicker than the mental, but that is just my experience. Everyone’s experience is different, everyone’s world is different.

I just know that understanding what is in YOUR Atlas, what all the maps are about, and what you can change and acquire to enhance and enlarge your Atlas, is a great part of life’s quest.

And as a postscript – why do we call an atlas an atlas? Is it related to the mythology of Atlas? Does our Atlas carry our world on its shoulders? Are we our Atlas? It’s only a thought – or is it?!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Sock Theory

Idea  Spark

A very good friend posted up an interesting question on Facebook, which got my mind out of neutral and heading forth on a magical mystery tour, viz:
“What is the acceptable length of time to hold on to an odd sock in your sock drawer before realising its partner will never be found?”

Clothing Pairs

Now there’s a curiosity to this perennial and almost worldwide sock dilemma, for the humble sock has probably got the highest “pair mortality” rate among all articles of clothing. Whilst gloves are most statistically nearest in terms of singularity, other things bought (and sold) in pairs – like shoes, pants, ear muffs, tights, trousers – never seem to suffer the same fate.

Incidentally, why do we call them “a pair” of pants, tights or trousers? They are clearly not “a pair” but are one only item.
“Are you wearing a pant today?” has to be a typical example of verbal pantagruelism. But I digress ...

Most gloves become widowed during outdoor excursion as we take one off in order to afford ourselves the dexterity of our fingers. Once home, they are safe and secure – like their culinary cousins, the oven gloves. Sensibly of course, the oven glove can be bought both singly and as a pair.

As with pants, we rarely take our socks off in the street which has to be why they are not often seen on pavements or at the roadside. Gloves, and less so these days handkerchiefs, are the commonest lost souls of the wayside. You can almost hear the faint and plaintive voice of the partnerless glove as you pass it by. “Help me,” it cries, ravaged by the elements and trampled underfoot.

Wash Hose

Now, for socks, the danger area has to be laundering, the weekly wash. We wear them as a pair; we take them off as a pair; and most times they go into the washing machine as a pair. And this is the point where Cosmic Intervention comes into play.

Rather like the light in the ‘fridge, once the door to the washing machine is shut who knows what strange alternative universe our everyday reality metamorphoses into? A wormhole in space, the rabbit hole in Wonderland – they have nothing on the deep mysteries of the drum of the washer.
For us, on the outside, it may seem a tangible reality because we can see clothing, shirts, socks and the odd pant – all presented there through the Perspex door, revolving before our very eyes.
Yet within - after the initial soaking, the lathering, the rotating this way and that – the cycle moves into another dimension. If we are still watching the drum and its contents through the apparent transparent nature of the door, we are already unaware of our minds being entranced. Our focus gets fuzzy and distant, our attention wanders into reverie. Whether we are present or not, by the time this phase of proceedings is reached we can bear no witness as to what is going on.
You know the quote – “If a tree falls in a forest and there is no one around to hear it, has it made a sound?” This too is about bearing witness to reality. If a sock becomes lost in the washer and there’s no one around to hear, has it cried for help?
Once the spin cycle is over and the Cosmic Sentinel whispers “3-2-1 You’re back in the room,” we discover that with supernatural efficiency, dark forces have captured a sock.


Were we blissfully unaware earlier that the Erlking was stood on our shoulder, watching as we loaded our laundry into the machine. Did he chuckle under his breath as the garments of our soles were locked inside his lair? Did we have any cause to be grateful as he let many go, to be worn another time, and only retained one or two for his own satisfaction? Did we even ask whether he chose ones that had adorned our left foot rather than our right?

Or is ours the real life, and not just folk-lore or fantasy. It was not us in that maelstrom, after all; just some of our garments.
Yet they must be somewhere – surely?

Wistfully, with even a hint of romance, we might talk of the great sock-drawer in the sky, where each lonely item waits for its partner to be captured at some future washday and they might then be re-paired.

After Maths

Of course, in reality, do we ever again wear those single socks?

If we don’t then they will never get washed and have the chance to be re-paired with their long-lost buddies, their soul-mates. So we should always consider wearing the odd ones – and to hell with what people might think or say. Give them all a chance of repatriation.

Alternatively manufacturers should sell odd socks, and we should make the wearing of odd socks quite acceptably regular and normal – instead of being one of the taboos of our social mores.

There are many ways of overcoming the dilemma for the un-partnered socks – yet there is another thing to note about them ever getting back together again.

Every wearing, and every wash, will change the physical nature of the sock. The fibres will wear out and degrade and the colour, the dye will be altered and fade. For every wearing and wash that a pair of socks is apart, each will change in a different way. Very soon there will come a point when they will be no longer recognisable as a pair anyway. As a consequence in this forest of socks there may actually be none missing at all – yet our human perceptions deem it impossible to put all the pairs back together again.

Perhaps it is time to change our entire view about pairs of socks and realise that a sock is an individual.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Exploring Understanding

Within the narrative of my book “Navigating The Ship of You” there are many occasions when the reader encounters the word “Understanding”.

“Understanding” is another of those words where the meaning has become ambiguous through modern parlance, and where it is deemed to be synonymous with knowing. So, I’ll talk about the meaning I wish to convey, which is, needless to say, quite different from “knowing” – For, we can know about something, without necessarily understanding it!
The clue to the meaning I wish to convey is in a word that I have already mentioned in this paragraph several times.


Meaning runs much deeper than knowing, within our psyche. We can know about life but not about the meaning of life. Meaning is the bridge between knowledge and purpose. And purpose is much more akin to Understanding than knowing is.

This is a spiral argument, tinged with paradox – yet, if you think about it, we instinctively know when we understand something. Something in our body tells us that, not something in our intellect.
It’s the “Oh I GET it!” or “Eureka!” type moments of feeling compared to the “Yea, I know all about that,” moments of thought.

In a sense, this is a pivotal pointer towards the chapters in the book when I invite the reader to explore the connective interfacing of our verbal, sensory and inner languages. Metaphorically you might say this pointer is like the signpost that Julius Caesar saw when he crossed the Rubicon – the signpost that pointed towards Rome and Destiny.

Understanding versus Knowledge

“It is generally accepted that understanding is the comprehension of knowledge” – but which form of knowledge do we mean?

The problem with that accepted comprehension notion, is that we think that knowledge tends to reside in the intellect, placed there through a process of intellectually-based study. It is the knowledge we are not born with, and the intellect is the repository of things we have learned.

Then there’s bodily knowledge, which does not reside in the intellect at all. Interestingly, there's one branch of bodily knowledge we call muscle-memory, which is decidedly different from “intellect-memory”. It is not placed in the muscles through a process of intellectually-based study. It is learned through modelling a physical process, and then conditioning it.

Finally there is innate knowledge which, since we can never be sure where it resides or how it gets there, we actually give a different label to. And we call it Wisdom. We might be so bold to say that it resides in our ‘centre of wisdom’ – but that I feel is being creatively fanciful! Maybe it resides in our centre of excellence, if indeed we had one.

So let’s take another look from a different perspective at just what do I mean by Understanding?
Here’s a clue – in the form of a small, yet tongue in cheek, caveat.

“You do not have to know something fully but it may harm your security if you do not understand when questioned something you rely on as truth. Anything you think you know may be given as evidence."

This tells us that when life comes knocking on our door asking questions, we should only rely on something we fully understand, and not just something we think we know.

The psychiatrist R.D.Laing is noted for a number of famous quotes. In terms of knowing and not knowing, this next one encapsulates one of the biggest pitfalls we encounter:
“If I don’t know I don’t know, I think I know.
If I don’t know I know, I think I don’t know.”

Understanding, for a navigator, means not relying on what you think you know as being true. Use what you know, yet treat it as only being what you think you know. Blend it with current evidence and you will continually update what you know. Through that process there will always be more to know, and you will grow your Understanding. You may rely on your knowledge but you must always question it.

In terms of self-navigation, always keep this perspective. It will serve you well and in ways you may not yet have even encountered or considered. Without this perspective, the full meaning and consequences of another R.D. Laing quote will be lost upon you.

“The range of what we think and do is limited by what we fail to notice. And because we fail to notice that we fail to notice, there is little we can do to change; until we notice how failing to notice shapes our thoughts and deeds.”

 “Doing the Math”

When I was young, mathematics was my best subject. I loved and understood it, and my understanding underpinned my confidence and a lot of other things in life I was good at.

I had not long commenced studying Degree level Maths when it was proved to me that 2 + 2 did not necessarily = 4. Now, I had an extensive mathematical knowledge and expertise up to A-level, and certainly felt I understood the piece of simple arithmetic 2+2=4 that I had learned and then relied on since I was very, very much younger.

But here’s the thing – I only knew the numerical answer.

I also knew thousands of other mathematically related answers, since maths, for me, was all about questions and answers. For every problem, there was a solution. It had a simplicity that came easy to me. And although 2+2=4 added up for me - I definitely did not UNDERSTAND the true mathematics behind the question. 

My problem was that I didn’t know that I did not understand it, so I thought I did.

It was a pivotal moment in my life. I had gone through all my childhood, all my schooling, and reached the age of eighteen – only to discover that one of the cornerstones of my understanding of the world was totally flawed.
I was totally undermined and devastated and from this point on, the entire perspective of my life shifted into a downward spiral.
This was my particular Rubicon.

The Zen of Understanding

So should we always question our Understanding of anything and everything?

Well, since our Understanding is something that we grow, there is no real threshold below which we don’t have it and after which we do. It is like the graph of Mastery, where we never reach a point of zenith. 

There was a story told to Bruce Lee by his sufi, about the Japanese Zen master who received a university professor who came to enquire about Zen.

“It was obvious to the master from the start of the conversation that the professor was not so much interested in learning about Zen as he was in impressing the master with his own opinions and knowledge. The master listened patiently and finally suggested they have tea.

The master poured his visitor’s cup full and then kept on pouring.
The professor watched the cup overflowing until he could no longer restrain himself.
“The cup is overfull, no more will go in.”
“Like this cup,” the master said, “you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen until you first empty your cup?”