The Wright Way

The Wright Way

Monday, March 30, 2015

Trumping the Ace

"Our thinking is mere content. Never be fooled by content! Our wisdom is there all the time, yet we are often fooled and seduced by content."

The emergence of wisdom, of insight, never comes from a search designed to elicit. It comes in an effortless, uncontrived way, when all trying has been put to one side. 
When we’ve lost our keys – or when the answer to that clue is right there on the tip of our tongue – we are encouraged, either by ourselves or others, to be methodical in searching for the answer or the outcome.
Then someone jokingly says, “It’ll be in the last place you look,” which of course is true since we would look no further once we had found what we are looking for – would we?
There are times when we look for inspiration – and then there are times when inspiration flows forth in an almost undirected, uncontrolled and endless stream.

The Little Grey Cells

Watching or reading crime mysteries is something I have done for most of my life. I admire the craft and diligence of my favourite detectives plus the mental dexterity and artifice they bring to their solving abilities. 
Yet on many occasions within the narrative it seems they have solved the case although the amount of unlapsed film time, or unread pages, reveal that there is much more to come.
And so I discover, as the detective follows some gut feeling, some inner disquiet, that tells them that the case has not been concluded satisfactorily - whilst their colleagues are off down the to the pub to celebrate a seemingly satisfactory and straightforward outcome, and a job well done.

Always it is their gut feeling they are following.
They have not been fooled by the mere content of the case.
They are trusting of their instincts.
They are not content with the solution brought about through diligence and applied hard work involving the outward and apparent content of the case. They are not comfortable with how things appear.

Wisdom is Ace

Wisdom always comes out on top, whether for the ace ‘tec – or ourselves.
And we never question it once we realise that that is what it is. Wisdom is an innate sense of what is right, and because it is in our nature – is natural to us – we have a deep and unquestioned understanding of it, whatever form it has taken.

When we don’t trust our wisdom – the ace we are holding in our hand – then, without knowing, we are looking to trump our own ace. And what is the trump we always use? None other than our logical, diligent and hard-worked for thought-based conclusion! We’ve worked it out in our mind. Or – more to the point – we’ve worked it out in a particular part of our mind where our intellect holds sway.
Remember the intellect is defined as our ability to learn and reason.

Relying upon Knowledge rather than Understanding

However, just because we have learned something and think we know it, should that be the basis of all our understanding?
Of course not – except we grow up believing that knowledge IS understanding. We start out knowing nothing and learn loads of things which we then characterise as our knowledge. Something we don’t yet know is beyond the present limits of our knowledge.
So do we say:
“I must learn about this, so I can Understand it better.”
or do we say:
“I must learn about this, so I can Know more about it.”
Ask yourself this: Are these two sentences alike? Do they mean the same thing?

Well I’d contend that the pivotal word here is LEARN.

I want to learn about it to add to my Knowledge.
If I already had an innate Understanding of it then I would not need to LEARN any more about it – although I might discover more about it to broaden and or deepen my Understanding of it.

Understanding is something that grows on a never-ending scale and therefore is something we always have at any given point in time. We never lose it.
Knowledge is a bank of information that we grow by our learning. We either have it or we do not have it. We can lose it, however, through loss of the memory of what we have learned.

Quantum Leaps

Insights are little quantum leaps in our Understanding. It is very important that we notice them, for if we did not then we would probably continue to run our lives based upon our Knowledge rather than our Understanding.

Our Insights are flashes, glimpses of Wisdom, that get presented to our conscious awareness in a way that is totally unlike any form of LEARNING. 

It is interesting to note that we do not consciously process Insights in the way that we do Learning. Learning goes to our memory, our bank of Knowledge. Insights just go straight into our Understanding. We might question our Learning – yet we never question our Insights. We have a sureness, a trusted certainty about our Insights that is never replicated with our Learning.
We are assured when we Go with our Gut Instinct.

Now the flashes, the glimpses, the Insights are coming up often, yet if our conscious mind is full of content then we won’t notice them - we won’t have an awareness of them amongst the swirling hurly-burly of our busy-ness, and we certainly won’t see the wood for the trees!
If we have a time when we can quieten down the fervent activity of all our thinking, then this might come into alignment with some emerging Insights - or it might not. It can seem very much like pot-luck, and certainly nothing that can be relied upon.
So, we’ll most likely return to something feels that it IS reliable – our logical and self-directed thinking. 

This is what I would describe as Content

As we get older we get very good at Content, and at our ability to present it to our conscious awareness. And through this very reliable ability we will grow our trust and our sense of reliance as to how to best run our lives.

And we’ll run our lives on Content and Knowledge rather than Wisdom and Understanding.

I’m not saying that Content and Knowledge are not useful for us in our daily lives, for they are. You could say they are the nuts and bolts of many of the structures in our daily lives.

However, take the car. There are many nuts and bolts within the wheel structure, many nuts and bolts within the engine and the transmission. If you paid more attention to the nuts and bolts, rather than your Understanding of the purpose and the principles behind what makes the engine work and the wheels turn, then you’d never be able to use the car to transport you anywhere. You would walk instead.

If you paid more attention to the nuts and bolts of walking, the biomechanics of walking let’s say, than you did to the integrated and innate bodily understanding of how to get from here to there, then you’d never move. 
When teaching a baby to walk we don’t go and get the manual of How to Walk Properly. We just encourage the baby to become more familiar with – to grow his Understanding of – his innate Sense of Balance and Movement.

When we are older and if, by some misfortune, need to re-learn how to walk, then we are confronted with the Barrier of Mental Content on our way to being able to walk again. If it was just down to tapping into our innate Understanding then we’d get to where we wanted to go much quicker. But we are slowed down by our having to conquer that Barrier. In terms of our mind, we would be getting in our own way.

And getting in our own way – like that – is something we are doing all the time, every day of our lives.  It still happens to us even when we know we are doing it – although in these instances we are quicker and better at getting out of our own way once we notice what’s going on.

The key is to recognise Content for what it really IS. Then we will rely upon the Ace of our Wisdom.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Playing Outside The Box

Behold The Box – Itself!

There are countless quotes and illustrations concerning that rather well worn phrase -
"Thinking outside the Box."

There are also a whole variety of considerations we might be linguistically pointed towards.

There’s our Thinking, and a whole array of variants around thinking, the nature and the power of thought. 
Then there’s The Box – the reality and the metaphor. What is the nature of The Box, how is it being for each of us, and where is it placed, and who places it there.

The generally held view is that The Box is a set of restrictions, or constraints, placed upon us by those empowered with direction. The Box is a set of limitations and instructions placed upon us by those who we might think of, and describe as, Our Masters.

The presence of Boxes in our lives, like that, is apparent to us from a very early age. Do it this way – don’t do it that way; behave like this – don’t behave like that; and so on. We are being shaped towards degrees of convention and conformity. It continues through our formal education and we find more of it when we get out into the workplace, almost regardless of the context of workplace. 

The whole Boxy thing, it seems, is with us every inch of the way. Unknowingly we take the structure into our minds and model Boxiness out in the way we think, and we support and reaffirm it through our language to ourselves.
In terms of our inner selves we are our own Masters, yet because of our familiarity and conformity to the Box way of Being we have deluded ourselves into believing that we aren’t.

Then we encounter someone who says we should “Think Outside The Box” and we wonder what on earth that is all about. “That must be hard,” we think. And when we first try it we might turn to ourselves and say, “Heavens – this is a lot harder than you think.”

Yet, as Robert M Pirsig says in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An enquiry into values

“It’s not hard if you have the right attitudes.
It’s having the right attitudes that’s hard.”

Playing Outside The Box

The final day of the Six Nations Rugby Championship 2015 was pre-framed and well scripted in advance. The stage was set for something dramatic.

Three sides, England, Ireland and Wales had each played four matches and won three. They were separated by their aggregate points difference. Each final game was to be played one after the other – Wales first, then Ireland and finally England.

Regardless of venues or the opposing teams, each of these three sides needed to play a certain way and with a certain mindset, to both win AND score above a certain number of points, for them to have a chance of winning the overall Championship.

Particularly in recent years, what has separated international rugby sides from the Northern Hemisphere compared to their Southern counterparts has been the lack of an expansive and attacking approach to the game. Flair, taking risks and playing in an exciting way, is not the general philosophy. Traditionally, the nearest Northern side capable of playing THAT way has been France and they were not front runners in the 2015 Championship.

So in the minds of spectators, followers and TV pundits expectations and possible outcomes and scenarios were already set.

However, all the expectations failed to take account of one over-riding question:
What if the players were to play outside The Box?

The Drama

Then play began and events unfolded in a way we were not expecting.

At half time in the first match, Wales only led Italy 14-13. Convention appeared to be the order of the day – at least in this particular contest. Then the Welsh played an extraordinary twenty minutes or so which was to prove decisive for those playing elsewhere later. They were unstoppable and ran out 61-20 winners -  a scoreline that far exceeded expectations and that placed them, provisionally, well ahead of their two main rivals.

Game two – Scotland v Ireland. After Wales’ huge victory Ireland needed a 21 point margin of victory to take the lead in the Championship. They won 40-10 which took them ahead of Wales and which placed immense pressure on England in the final game.

Game three – England v France. England needed to win by more than 26 points and although they were 7-0 ahead after only two minutes, at the eighteen minute mark they were 15-7 behind. After an extraordinary comeback and where both sides played a huge part in an amazing and compelling match, England won 55-35 and yet were six points short of winning the Championship – which went to Ireland.  The England players’ body language at the end of the game belied the fact that they had scored 55 and had beaten one of their greatest rivals by a margin of 20. You would have thought they had been soundly beaten.

Mental Notes

There are some interesting points to note from all the three matches.

Wales went into the game needing to score as many points as possible – and yet they struggled for the first half by trying too hard, and by not paying enough attention to just getting THEIR basic processes right. The match-changing run of total dominance by Wales ran parallel with a period of no-thinking, no trying, and just playing. The absorption in playing processes, collectively playing what was unfolding around them, was total across that period of time and with all Wales’ on-field players. Interestingly, their heads collectively rose to look at the scoreboard and take note of it just enough for them to allow Italy to score late in the game and reduce the winning margin.

Ireland went into the game with a different game plan to Wales – yet one they are familiar with. Secure the win first by getting the processes right. They scored the same number of points in each half and, once settled into their processes, dominated Scotland. There is an interesting yet curious thing about luck in the now famous quote by golfer Gary Player – “The harder I practice the luckier I get!” Part of the Irish ‘good practice’ is gaining a level of dominance through basic processes. The number of Scots errors brought about by Irish dominance was staggering, and they even dropped the ball in the act of scoring late in the game. Luck of the Irish – not a bit of it!

England went into the game with a mountain to climb – to not just win, but to win by more than 26 points. They started at a gallop yet they became victims, first of trying too hard to force things, and second to view the scoreboard with increasing worry. At 15-7 down all their dreams, all their supporters and followers’ dreams, were going down the pan. Yet here there were signs of how and where to dig deep when ‘on the hoof’ – to change the inevitable course of a game in your favour.

In order to do that it is essential for you to be totally absorbed in moment-to-moment processes, action and what is going on round you. The game clock is irrelevant and the scoreboard is irrelevant in these moments. You are JUST PLAYING. It works more easily in individual sports rather than team sports, for obvious reasons – yet in team sports you can be borne along by the momentum of your team even if you have not initiated that momentum. Once the collective dynamic starts to happen then it can only be diverted by individuals ‘dropping out’ of the dynamic of the moment.

And for England, with the clock running down and an increasingly mercurial opponent in France, at key times certain individual players ‘dropped out’ of that dynamic and took – often only slightly – the wrong decisions.

At the end of the day ...

England were amazing against France on the day and can take huge credit for playing in such a manner. For their failing to win the Championship, they need to go back to their game against Scotland, when they squandered so many scoring chances and eventually failed to win by the best possible margin - which was to be their nemesis.

For all these Northern Hemisphere sides there was a huge learning on this day. There has been a Boxy way of playing that has, for far too long, been the accepted and acceptable norm. The players have shown that with a change of attitude anything is possible and that mountains CAN be climbed only if we don’t build them into something they are not – by being Boxy.

And it is the same for us in our own lives. We need to live and play in the same way – by treating The Box for what it really is, and becoming our own Masters.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015


The Wordy Games – Part 1

So I’m sure we all have a familiarity with the word intimate.

Some of us may have a very close and familiar relationship with the word, and some of us may even have an intimate relationship with intimate. And if I were to ask you what imagery comes into mind when I use that particular word, you might just linger in thought before giving me your answer. And if I were to ask you to repeat the word back to me you’d probably accentuate your answer with a certain voice intonation and quality to add even more meaning. You’d might even just breathe the word rather than speak it!

Then there’s the word intimate.
And we might have slightly less familiarity with this word for it is more about disclosure – with a hint of suggestion thrown in; much more less than suggestive, you might say, compared to intimate – like that!

Of course when we see the word written then we probably know it could either be a noun, an adjective or a verb. When we hear it spoken, then the intim“ate” of the verb version sounds like a spoken “8”. Thank goodness for that little clue towards the different meaning being conveyed to us! English language can be so ambiguous!

They are my intimates – my buddies, or my “mates” for short.
Those two are having an intimate relationship.
He intimated to me all that he knew about the plans.

Predating, pre-dating and predation

Now we might all have an idea about what is meant by predating – ie where something, some event, some person’s life perhaps, comes before another in chronological order.

Shakespeare 1564-1616 predates Descartes 1596-1650 is an example of this – in the same way the abacus predates the electronic calculator and is predated by counting on our fingers.

Pre-dating is seems to be more about what goes on prior to dating. 

The folk at eHarmony might have a set of good tips and strategies to help with pre-dating, for instance – and we get a sense, rather like with pre-nuptial agreements, that anything described thus involves some kind of preparation, or preamble, or prologue. You could say it’s a form of foreplay though couldn’t you, is it not?!

Predation is about the preying of one thing upon another or, to do a Wikicrib, the action of attacking or plundering. 

The Vikings were good at predation, and rape and pillage were their chosen predatory means. A cynic might also view certain types of pre-dating as predation – a kind of pre-foreplay you might say. For the predatory stalker this is very much so, yet all the pre-intimacy drama is played out entirely within his mind.

Now, although the lives of Shakespeare and Descartes actually overlapped in a chronological sense, The Bard had actually shuffled off this mortal coil by the time Descartes published Cogito Ergo Sum in 1637.
Yet we might contemplate that To Be or Not To Be would have been written from a slightly different perspective had Shakespeare lived long enough to encounter I Think therefore I Am.

Of course the existence of the contemplative question What is it like To Be” bears more than a passing relationship with both of these now famous quotes. It draws us in to the philosophical world of Existence; of being and thinking; of life and death; of I, Me and The Self – which is a very intimate relationship indeed!

Showing our Freudian Slip

Within Sigmund Freud’s view of the psyche, the psychic apparatus, he defined three main parts –
Id, Ego and Super-ego.

Now whether or not you go along with these postulates, there is a certain area of common scientific understanding about how the mind works, how it is structured, and how our cognition, behaviour, language and communication, thoughts and feelings, et al all reside within the umbrella of our personality and sense of identity.

Now, let us return for a moment to reconsider the question “What is it like To Be?”

When asked do you like me find your answers being driven towards expressions of how you feel. When I feel X then life is Y, when I feel A then life is B, and so on. It seems that how we are being is very dependent upon our emotions.
I Think and I Feel therefore that is how I Am

However – take another look at the question. There is no subjective “Me” after “To Be” – and yet we all assume the question is being asked of us, specifically.

Now in order for us to really answer the “What is it like To Be?” question we need a certain degree of detachment, of dissociation. We need to get out of our own heads – to put aside the Id, Ego and Super-ego of Freud! Then we start to get a whole new perspective of emotion, and how we use it within the umbrella of our own identity and our own personality. For whilst emotion is elemental within “What is it like To Be?” and has neutrality – the moment the question becomes “What is it like To Be Me?” then all the emotions are personalised.

According to Paul Ekman, within human psychology there are six basic emotions – happiness, sadness, fear, anger, disgust and surprise. Now we know from experience, that how each of these impact upon us personally is never entirely the same – whether by interpretation or by trigger. What makes me happy, frightened or disgusted will not be the same as what makes you feel those emotions – AND how you or I interpret what we are feeling through our inner languages and respond to those stimuli through our behaviour is again entirely subjective and personal.
This is what makes your Being different from my Being in terms of how we Exist.
We are both imbued with the power of thought, yet our thinking is different.

Show me your Id

I’ll linger a little longer with Freud and his view of what he calls “The Id”.
Now Freud calls it the unorganised part of the personality structure that contains a human’s basic instinctual drives. He goes on to say, “... It is filled with energy reaching it from the instincts, but it has no organization, produces no collective will, but only a striving to bring about the satisfaction of the instinctual needs ....”

Freud also talked of the Id as being the only component of personality that is present from birth.
This certainly gives the impression that we are “hard-wired” and that this particular component of our personality will run our lives – and can often run riot - unless it is moderated by other parts of our personality. This sounds very much like “a leopard cannot change its spots.” Or in other words, I can learn much about everything, including how To Be in a cognitive sense, yet under all this is the instinct-driven and pre-determined Me.

The Logical Levels

Added Values

I coach a rugby team and whilst most of the time we play in a league, last week found us on the road and playing a “friendly”. Now the opposition clearly didn’t buy into this and, mostly out of sight of the referee, played in a particularly illegal and gratuitously violent way. They were egged on in this spree of foul play by one particular group of alcohol fuelled, loud and foul-mouthed, partisan spectators amongst the remaining silent observers.

Eventually I took umbrage at the endless assaults and verbally castigated one of our opponents for his specific violent actions. His team mates remonstrated back, by abusive taunting and goading. This, added to the supporters, led me to perceive a threat beyond mere words.

I felt physically intimidated.

A Fight or Flight response kicked in, for me, and I decided to not enter into any post-match socialising in their clubhouse. I planned to – and did - go straight home.
Now for me, in terms of Logical Levels (illustrated above), when anything I hold at the level of Identity or Beliefs and Values is challenged, this is a potential trigger for certain behavioural shifts. Yet I also know that if my attention is absorbed or I am “on task”, then I’m distracted from the triggers and they pass me by.
Rather like the notion of a thought just being part of the flow of energy, that only becomes part of our thinking when we pluck it from that flow – for me these triggers are there all the time in the flow. And when I don’t notice them I bypass them (or rather they pass me by), plus all the personal consequences they, as triggers, can lead me to.
Now I’ve been to thousands of rugby matches in a whole variety of roles. On this particular matchday I would say that I encountered challenges to maybe 7-10 of my values. There were also challenges to my identity. Triggers were emerging from the flow. Was my attention absorbed or was I specifically “on task”? Answer – YES. I was “on task” with being a touch judge, and this was not compromised. However it did mean I was constantly “up with play”.
But here’s the thing – another role this particular day that I was on task with was player welfare – looking after and standing up for my own players. This opened the door for all those triggers, with additional (and valued) justification.
If I’d been taking notes, or filming the match, or (almost) anything else – then I would never have reacted or got involved.
And I would never have felt intimidated or taken Flight afterwards.

The Wordy Games – Part 2
When the dust of all our thinking settles down, then the conditions are right, within our mental atmosphere, for us to notice many insights when they come along.
The insight for me after this particular experience surrounded my feeling intimidated. Most, if not all of that intimidation was the fact that I knew I would not be able to remain silent about what had gone on in the match.
I was actually intimidating myself, knowing that my triggers – in the ensuing moments – might lead me to do some behaviour I’d later regret.
If none of what happened in the match had been important to me then I wouldn’t have been affected or intimidated myself. 
When water drops off a duck’s back, then the duck is impervious to the saturating and potentially rotting effect of the water. This is particularly important for a creature that spends much of its Existence on or in water. So in terms of Being, for a duck, it has all the hard-wired, pre-determined characteristics that Freud would have ascribed to the Id – no more, no less. And that includes standing up for itself and other ducks under its protective umbrella when challenged or intimidated.
A duck has no sense of identity, and definitely no values and beliefs.
Unlike the duck, I have learnt who I am and what I believe and what is important to me.
I wasn’t born with all that. A lot of thought energy has gone into this over the years. Much plucking from the energy flow of thought has taken place. My particular and personal way of thinking and interpreting has brought me to this conclusion – as it had done 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 even 60 years ago. This is all very personal for me; this is the very closest and most intimate personal relationship of my Being.
It is my relationship with myself.
This is the same for us all, and it is embodied within the quote from ancient Greek time -
Know Thyself.
Yet do we ever know ourselves completely? The recent personal insight I’ve just experienced would suggest that for me, certainly, this is not the case. I certainly have a greater understanding now that when I add the “Id” into my most Intimate personal relationship then this triggers behavioural changes.
If I am walking down a road and a lion is coming towards me, then a very basic instinct – survival – will kick in. When I am thus confronted with a predator, then I’m not going to indulge in selective plucking from a flow of thought energy; I’m not going to spend some time in contemplative thought concerning the whys and wherefores of this whole situation. Instead there’ll be some behavioural change – resulting in my getting the hell out of being remotely intimate with the lion.
Finally – and linguistically – notice what changes when “Id” is placed within “Intimate”.
Answer – “IntimIdate”

It’s just a thought!