The Wright Way

The Wright Way

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Balancing Our Lives


Today began with watching a video from a good friend in which he talked about the principal of Kuzushi, or breaking balance, in martial arts.

So, what is it, you may well ask?
It is a Japanese term for unbalancing an opponent in martial arts. As such, it is refers to not just an unbalancing, but the process of putting an opponent to a position, where his stability, hence the ability to regain uncompromised balance for attacking is destroyed. (Wikipaedia)

I then read a fascinating article on Kuzushi, here: - however there was an interesting section of that article that I am going to paraphrase now because it rather sums up part of our human frailty, our relationship with our thinking, and other areas of my working life!

Getting in Our Own Way

Most people do a fine job of getting mentally off-balance by tripping over the metaphorical paving stones of their lives with monotonous regularity.

When we have an awareness of the Inside-Out nature of Reality, life becomes a whole heap simpler and easier. We understand how everything that we experience is constructed – on the INSIDE - from our perceptual predictions, and conclusions, which are nothing more than an entire THOUGHT PROCESS in action!

The illusion that catches us out – every time – is that we have been, since a very young age, guided to see the world on the OUTSIDE and believe that everything out there is REALLY happening to us. This is the very real illusion of the Outside-In nature of Reality!

There is a third factor at play here – otherwise the Inside-Outers would spend their lives in a state of perpetual enlightenment! And that third factor is this:-


Even if we DO have an understanding of Inside-Out, we will still get caught out in moments of Human Frailty!

And there is a quote by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin that points us towards what is happening in these moments.

“We are not Human Beings having a Spiritual Experience.
We are Spiritual Beings having a Human Experience.”

However, the good thing about our having an Understanding of the Inside-Out nature of Reality is that even with our human frailties, we can return to a place of mental Groundedness in a much more quick and timely way – rather akin to “HITTING the mind’s RESET BUTTON!”

During the period of complete re-alignment of my Inner Life, at the end of 2016, I staged – and won – a pitched battle with my Ego. Since that time, I have only once succumbed to Ego peddling his Outside-In wares. And, after some soul-searching, I vowed then that I would confront Ego every time from then on - rather than take a softer and more benign approach. As I saw it, my life is far too short to wait for things to settle down and return to a ground.

** Dan Millman

Feeling the Imbalance

One way to view our relationship with our Thinking is to be aware that our Personal Self, (our EGO) is looking to catch us out at every opportunity that we give that part; when our guard is down, when we are vulnerable, when we are FRAIL.

This is when our relationship with our Thinking is in a place of IMBALANCE.

Ego recognises and thrives on IMBALANCE, sometimes even on any degree of imbalance – no matter how small. Yet, at these moments, our greater self can also recognise – by feeling in the body – that there is IMBALANCE. This, for me, is the trigger to confront.

Drawing on the martial arts parallel, it is certainly not easy for Ego to attack our frailty without using a force and movement that makes Ego also vulnerable - to a counter attack.
Learning to take advantage of your Ego's own imbalance requires a finely tuned sense of timing. In order to be at the right place at the right time, you generally have to anticipate Ego’s movements, which is a skill that requires a great deal of self-knowledge and practical experience.
It is a skill akin to applying a form of Kuzushi in our own, mental, Inner Martial Arts.

En Garde!

Another way to apply mental Kuzushi is to force Ego into a weak position.
There are many ways of being that will result in your Ego responding in a predictable way so that you can anticipate it and take advantage of it.

Ego feeds off all the personal stuff. This is a crucial point to remember.

In everyday life, Ego will remind us when we notice that we have been taken advantage of – or have been overlooked. This, you could say, is the “Don’t you know who I am?” factor.

One of my life-long issues, betes-noire if you like, is around queueing. This is the whole thing of “waiting your turn” and then being upstaged by someone who has just arrived, caught the eye of the server, and has pushed in when the server asks, “Who’s next?”
Ego eagerly reminds me, “Stand up for yourself! You’ve dutifully and respectfully waited, and they’ve pushed in and shown NO respect. Tell them – tell them! Don’t just lie down like a meek lamb. You’re better than this! You are worthy of being treated better than a simple nobody!”

Ego and our Values

When we investigate, elicit and catalogue our Values – a great fact-finding exercise of our inner, yet human, self - we need to cultivate an additional awareness.
And this is the thing:- 
It is RIGHT HERE, in the highly personal area of Values, where Ego really thrives and can totally and regularly upset our apple-cart!

For although our main Values can be our greatest drivers and inspirational attributes, they are also HIGHLY PERSONAL. We hold them much nearer to our sense of Identity than say our ability to dance well, or our choice of holiday destination, or the make of car we drive.

Personal is the lingua franca of the Ego.

I’ve already pointed out that RESPECT is a highly placed Value for me, and how I invest far too much of myself, my Identity, into that Value.

Another, for me, in this area is Generosity.
Add Generosity to Respect and I’m slipping towards vulnerable – especially when I hold a door open for someone, usually a lady (since I was taught as a boy to do such chivalrous, good-mannered things.) If I’m thanked or acknowledged, then the NOW moment moves on. If the person sweeps by, nose-in-the-air and with a disdainful curl of the lip, then I’m already bristling. Ego steps in, goading me to react.
Another is my sense of Fair Play (a spin-off of Respect). In fact, the whole thing of Fair Play has led me towards some very bad behaviour at times … whenever I am called, or thought of as, A CHEAT. Cheating is an anathema to me – and Fair Play is again very close to my Identity. Being called a Cheat is probably worse than someone insulting my Mother – daft though it may seem.
EGO feeds a lot in and around these high-grade personal Values.


For me, Tenacity and Passion and Respect, are key components of a Warrior Spirit, and will enable me to live with a peaceful heart. The battles and wars are all Inner and all my own.

I have been fortunate, and I have defeated Ego. Occasionally Ego sends out a raiding party, to plunder what he can from my Peace. Most of the time I am aware and comfortable in my vigilance.

And when Ego takes off with a little more spoils than expected … then there is always a new dawn tomorrow. This is when Groundedness returns with further Insights and Understandings, and life returns to a state of equilibrium where everything is in balance once more.

Life goes on, unfolding day by day. With balance in our lives, everything we do and every action we take is remarkably uncluttered! There is an ease to life, and we seem to be aware of so much more space and time to do things!
When we start to get in our own way, then there's clutter at every turn. 

** Dan Millman
Dan Millman’s book, Body Mind Mastery was one of the very first books to accompany me on this journey of discovery. By the time I came to ready Way of the Peaceful Warrior, (see link below) I was already well down the road to a new and permanent perspective.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Visualisation in Action - Part 2: Dead Aim for Bowlers

This is part of a collection of 3 short reports that examine how to achieve enhanced performance and greater accuracy by improving VISUAL data processing utilizing these particular mental processes:

R.A.S (Reticular Activating System, used for filtering data)
Laser-like focus and concentration using Dead Aim principles

As you read the reports, you will notice how these particular mental processes are inextricably linked through each skill examination in turn, as we study :


The human brain is an amazing set of control processors - and those who cultivate mind-body links whether through conscious or unconscious processes or a balance of the two, can achieve extraordinary states and outcomes.

Bowling over-arm, in cricket, is such a complex physical process that I like to deal with one element at a time, otherwise there is requirement overload. But what about the players' expectations within the coaching paradigm? Be sure to factor these into your strategic plan and the progress will be of geometric proportions.

Bowlers of all ages love to hit the stumps – it reinforces self-efficacy and has a real feel-good factor. SO, the expectational judgement is usually to hit the stumps...AND if you can add in a length target as an alternative to the strike then they can measure progress in two dimensions. Then they can quickly grasp those “line and length” encouragements and exhortations from coaches and team mates alike.

But whether it is hearing the requirements as spoken, or grasping the argument and feeling comfortable with their actions, the widest and open of the senses in this area is the Visual. So, use it. And I don't mean just use it - but USE IT.
We all know and use phrases like laser-like focus, pinpoint accuracy, but if you translate them into a physical field for accuracy practice then you will be surprised by the results.

I placed a small blue hoop (about 15in diameter) on a length in the nets and a visible ‘Stumpi’ square-shaped foam target on the top of off stump. 
  • I stood with the bowlers and we assessed the visual field.
  • The area of net flooring within the hoop appeared as a thin green smear from some 20yds distant.
  •  I got them to draw an imaginary line from the middle of the stump target down to the visual green "smear".
  • They were to then focus on this point, and only this point, as they ran in - taking no conscious regard of any part their action.

 The sensual dissociation took no more than 2-3 balls and then the positive outcomes really started to kick in. 
Their levels of consistency of length and line were extraordinary - and of course the Feel Good factor and sense of achievement for them all was immense. These weren't seasoned or elite bowlers - just your average learning Joes!

We then changed the bowling line for left-handed bats and then also changed length parameters - by moving the hoop nearer or further away from the stumps or to the other side. The effect was immediate and in keeping with previous results. The bowlers were able to adjust for LH bats/change of lengths merely by processing the new sensory input data from the eyes.

Using dead aim, especially practicing with visual markers as guides, is hugely successful. The bonus is that, by focussing closely upon a very small single point, when the outcome is not 100% successful on point hitting, it is certainly 75-80% accurate. And that level of accuracy is still good enough to qualify as a “good ball”!

So how do you translate it into real match situations where they won’t have the hoop to put down as a marker for the horizontal field?

This is where careful pitch scrutiny is vital, so that zones (akin to our green smear) can be recognized from a distance. As a bowler yourself, or as a coach or manager telling your players -
Do the visualisation and plotting of detailed points from both bowling ends - and allow for the line to left handers as well as right. The big plus to remember is that the bowlers will always have the stumps as markers for the vertical field, so they draw the imaginary line back from off stump (or just outside) just as far as the length they want to bowl.

Most bowlers will have Visual as their primary (lead) or certainly secondary re-presentational system. This is why dead aim targeting is so important.
Just using words like “find a spot and aim for it” will not work anything like as well. You need to give them ALL the visual handles or it will take much longer for them. And as we all know too well, distractions destroy concentration!

This is such a portable skill that it can be applied to ANY set of circumstances, venues, etc. It relies purely on the volume and undistracted quality of the bowlers’ own visual data input.

Do you know any bowlers who do this?
Try it yourself and see.

Dissociating from the other senses (audible, kinaesthetic and particularly internal dialogue) is very important and has a direct bearing on the consistency of your outcomes.

Why, you may ask?

Switching off other sensual data input from the RAS* actually means your brain will process more detail from the visual data. With more data input the mind-body link performs better, and with better exclusion of distractions there is less interference and better results.

* - (RAS is Reticular Activating System - the brain's perceptive filter)

The dissociating (switching off) process will take practice, of course. There are countless distractions to bombard us – the biggest of which is our own THINKING in the form our internal chatter and self-talk. However, the biggest control we have over our THINKING is the way we can control our ATTENTION (a crucial component of concentration.) Directing our attention to as much detailed Visual Data as we can, will take it towards 100% and reduce % attention to other data correspondingly.

How liberating is this for a bowler – regardless of age?
In coaching terms, he is usually bombarded with instructions, as the process of bowling is hugely complex. Remembering them all is tough. Now – unless I am specifically correcting something errant or quirky about their action, all I ask them to do is ONE thing – visually concentrate (FOCUS and ATTENTION.)

A further element of portability with this process is linking it to your bowlers’ visualizations. This gives them a wonderful way to practice and rehearse dissociating from other sensual input and keeps reinforcing those mind-body links that are so vital to this process. It also gives them a further fall-back position for times when the quality of visual data input is compromised by extraneous noise and errant thoughts!

Thursday, February 1, 2018

You CAN do it with your Eyes Shut!

The Eyes have it

In the course of my coaching cricket, I sometimes step off the well-worn path and go down the rabbit-hole of uncertainty. And certainly, those of you who are familiar with the more esoteric side of my methods, will be aware that I have been known to ask players to undertake actions with either their eyes closed, or by projecting their perceptual position from the customary 1st position to the 2nd position.


So, WHAT happened this week to set me alight once again?

I was working with three lads with their driving shots off the front foot.
Technically, this involves their stepping towards the line of the ball, getting their weight going forward and getting their hands to hit through the line of the ball.
Of course, they are holding a bat – and the bat is an extension of their hands – so if their hands are hitting through the line of the ball, the bat (the extension) will strike the ball at the optimal moment, as directed via their watching of the ball in flight.
Any striking the ball process (and this one is no exception) is whittled down to 3 words:
Hand Eye Co-ordination

These three lads all had differing issues with their developing technique for this particular shot. Issues that I would describe as their having difficulty with correcting the errors and mistakes and being able to install the correct technical elements into their shot execution.
Put in street terms, they consistently “got it wrong!

I set up a target “gate” for them to hit through – first with over-arm feeds, then under-arm feeds, and then finally I did drop-feeds for them. They failed to hit through the gate with any consistency whatsoever.
In fact, two of the lads found playing with a straight bat (in the vertical plane) really awkward for their hands to manipulate the bat in the correct way, and to get their front foot to step towards the line of the ball. Even with the drop feed, they struggled to get their leading foot to do what I’d asked for and what their brain wanted their foot to do.
(Good job I wasn’t asking them to walk along a path at the edge of a cliff!)

“Close Your Eyes!”

Then I set up a final challenge with the drop feed –

I asked them to play with their eyes closed!

They all looked at me and said “You’re joking, aren’t you? We’ll miss the ball for sure.”

“Trust me,” I replied. “Here’s how we’ll set it up. Nothing will change with where you stand and where I drop the ball. You’ll close your eyes - I will say when I’m dropping the ball – and you will step and play the shot.”

I was curious with my expectations, though not pre-judgemental. I knew from past experience that batsmen can still hit a ball with their eyes closed, even when it is pitched towards them from, say, 12m away – provided they are told when the ball is pitched and how fast it will be going.

I gave them all a couple of practice goes each and reminded them where they needed to step to, in order to be near enough to the ball to be able to hit it. We then ran the test, with a points reward system so there was a competitive element between them all.

The results were amazing enough for them – but they really got me buzzing!

Without the aid of being able to see what they were doing, they ALL made contact with the ball with either bat or hand. Of the 12 balls dropped (4x3) 10 were hit off the bat cleanly and well enough to send 7 through the gate
  • The more accomplished player hit every ball through the gate
  • The players who’d struggled with their leading foot NOW managed to step towards the ball correctly
  • The hands of these same two players had no trouble or awkwardness in playing correctly
  • When I asked the accomplished player how he’d done it, he said he knew where the target gate was, and where the ball was. He had visualised their positions. His control of the shot was immaculate.

All the players could not believe their eyes – which I found rather amusing.

Yet, once again, this does prove a number of things – we know, on the inside, far more than we think we do. We can perform, unaided by sight, far better than we ever think we can. How and why can this be? How does this happen?


As I see it, there is a conscious foreground of our attention that is not always 100% linked to our actual bank of skills. Stuff, for want of a better word, gets in the way.
In execution of any action we draw upon our COMPETENCE to perform that action. In the 4 quadrants (quarters) of the Learning Cycle, the final quadrant is UNCONSCIOUS COMPETENCE. This is the ability to perform the action without any conscious thought process taking place.
From learning to drive > to writing our name > to tying up shoelaces – we go through the learning cycle and eventually end up at Unconscious Competence.

For the three lads in the experiment: two were still at Conscious Incompetence (2nd quadrant) and one was at Conscious Competence (3rd quadrant). They were very much “stuck” in these quadrants too – because of the Stuff getting in the way of their desire to marry up their banks of skills with the foreground of their attention when attempting to execute the skills.

This is a dilemma facing millions of humans worldwide on numerous occasions on a daily basis. None of us are EVER perfect in performing ALL of the skills we have in our banks of skills. It is our human frailty – in that we cannot seem to by-pass the Stuff.

Yet, for the three lads in the experiment, and myself, we all discovered a moment when their Stuff WAS by-passed! They suddenly became more capable than they THOUGHT they were - they stepped out the ordinary.
We did this by taking away (DEPRIVING THEM) of their Visual faculty. This brought about a change in the nature of their brain activity around the required execution of their skills.

I KNOW that by helping people understand the nature of their Stuff, they can THINK LESS and DO MORE, and for DO also read ACHIEVE.
Remember also that the functioning of the Visual faculty is a Thought-Process …
So, for our 3 lads, suddenly with a lot less thought processing going on, they were able to ACHIEVE more – and astound themselves!

My conclusion therefore is this …


Visualisation in Action - Part 1: Throwing at Targets


This collection of 3 short reports examines how to achieve enhanced performance and greater accuracy by improving VISUAL data processing utilizing these particular mental processes:

R.A.S (Reticular Activating System, used for filtering data)
Laser-like focus and concentration using Dead Aim principles

As you read the reports, you will notice how these particular mental processes are inextricably linked through each skill examination in turn, as we study :

Part 1 - Throwing and hitting targets

I took a group of 8 of our Academy Cricketers aged 11-13 and explained to them the power of visualization in relation to fielding.

The key point I wanted to make to them was that by visualizing the stumps at each end of the wicket they could build a mental map to assist with the accuracy of their throwing in. I explained that in the course of the pick up and throw, the eyes had little time to search for the "target" with a good degree of accuracy – given the requirement to watch the ball into the hands first. This would necessitate the need for the brain to “best guess” the target area, and best here would be relative to the amount of hard visual data gathered. By visualizing the target(s) first, making them bigger, brighter, bolder, closer, then this would enhance their capabilities. PLUS – if they were to bring principles of Dead Aiming into the process then these capabilities would be enhanced by geometric proportions.

The Dead Aiming principles I am referring to are: 
  • Observing an area of the target in fine detail
  • Concentrating on a single spot in that area
  • Maintaining total observation and concentration on that spot in the course of performing the physical process or action
  • Significantly reducing the levels of sensual data input from all bar the visual.
They visualized three target wickets, the middle of which was a single stump. They each had three goes and, starting with their backs to the targets, were required to pick up a bounce off the wall and turn and throw across the sports hall at the targets - aiming at whichever one they wanted.

First time round there was one hit from 24 throws.
They were then told to continue with their visualizations and there was to be a second round of throws at the targets. This time they would be required to throw with their eyes closed. 

Result - There were 9 hits out of 24 throws - 5 of which were on the single stump target.

The interesting points were:
With the eyes closed, the target would only be seen in visual memory and the physical processes of the throw adjusted to that directional information. 
Plus, the 'clean' (undistracted) nature of this hot-wired data will also have contributed in some way to the resulting accuracy of the throws.

It goes without saying, however, that good throwing technique is THE most important thing here - but it’s a good example of what the mental processes can bring to a physical activity.

If you have the chance I suggest you do this little experiment for yourself.
It’s a good practice for your visualization skills anyway, plus I'm sure you'll arrive at the same conclusions we did.
I had to conclude the experiment after just 2 rounds of throws due to time constraints on the session - but the message was loud and clear to us all who were there.
After that 15 min exercise everyone was in no doubt as to the Power of Visualization!