choosing when to have wind…

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When a man doesn’t know what harbour he is making for,
no wind is the right wind

Seneca

I was speaking to a prospective coach client this morning. They described themselves as lost. The work appears to be about self, about who they are.

They asked me how they would know when they had achieved their goal; I responded with a question, asking how they know now?  How they know they need to come to coaching, that they are indeed ‘lost’?

They responded that they ‘feel it’. And so I said, ‘that’s how you will know.’

Sometimes knowing where we are headed is important, but so too is knowing how we will know we have arrived. Without this, any wind, any movement, is without purpose and just as likely to take us the wrong way as to take us the right way.

keep, charity, dump

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House clearing today.
Seven people busying themselves boxing, bagging, sorting.

A new language emerged. People passing each other, muttering ‘keep, charity, dump?’. People holding items, asking for advice, ‘keep, charity, dump?’  People checking whether the black bag in the corner of the room, or at their feet, was ‘keep, charity, dump?’  Three piles in rooms.  Three piles in the garage.  Three piles by cars. Keep, charity, dump.

There are things in our lives which fit these criteria too. Parts of ourselves we should most definitely keep. Parts we could give to others, to bring something into their lives. Parts we could dispose of, no longer relevant or useful to us.

Keep, charity, dump.

 

is it cable ties I really need?

tangledcables

Are you tied in knots?

All over my house, in sockets, in drawers, in boxes I have cables.  Cables to connect devices to other devices, cables to charge the devices, cables carrying data, sound, pictures. Many I have forgotten what they do. Some I have duplicates because two or three devices have provided them, but I keep them… just in case.

We have many things in life too that connect us to things. To old ways of thinking, to sad memories, to things long forgotten or no longer needed. Do you play the Christmas card game? Sending cards to people you haven’t seen or spoken to in years? Do you have things in your loft, attic, cellar which are boxed up, stored away, long forgotten, but we keep them, just like the cables… just in case.

It seems cables are not the only way we get tied in knots.

weirdly new, weirdly human

weirdly new

I’ve just taken delivery of a new car.

It’s the same as my old one.  Same manufacturer. Same model. Same specification. Same colour.  Sure a couple of minor details have changed as they have updated the styling, but essentially it’s the same car.

I’m really excited though.  Strange how the smell of a new car is so good.  I feel like a child at Christmas.

I’ve walked around it several times and lovingly stroked it or removed an imaginary blemish or tiny sign of dirt.

I’m driving carefully too – around a car park, at least.  Strange because it’s the same shape and size, yet I’m being ultra cautious.

Given so little is different.
Given so little has changed.
Why is my behaviour so markedly altered?

How we respond to change.  How our behaviour is connected to our thoughts – real or imagined.  How our senses influence our reactions and our imagination.  Weird, but very human.

what if I’d had a latte?

choice matrix

I have had to make a decision today.

We make them all the time of course, many at a relatively mundane level – what coffee shall I have? Should I walk or take the lift? What vegetables go with this meal?

Sometimes we make more important decisions.  Is it safe to cross the road now? Can I afford that holiday? Is it right for me to apply for that promotion?

Sometimes we make major life decisions. Shall we start a family? Should I opt for that major surgery? Should I move in with my partner?

My decision today was significant. I didn’t know I had to make it until yesterday and I had to make it by tomorrow.  I don’t know all the facts; there are many future options, unknowns and uncertainties. My decision though could have implications for the rest of my life. Curiously, I’m strangely relaxed about it.

Interesting how we respond to decision making.  Sometimes they are almost unconscious, often fleeting with little pause for true reflection. Sometimes we pore over the decision for a long time, considering possible outcomes, pros and cons; very conscious, measured decisions. Sometimes we make significant decisions on a whim. This decision making process doesn’t always line up to importance – I’ve spent ages choosing my main course in a restaurant before, yet picked an expensive holiday in a moment.

Sometimes, after the event, we dwell on the implications, the outcomes, the ‘what ifs’ of decisions we have made, sometimes not.

Personally, I’ve never wondered ‘what if I’d had a latte?’

And now, I’m not wondering ‘what if I’d chosen differently today?’

they’re your rules, believe it or not

truth

We all have beliefs.

I’m not referring here to spiritual, religious beliefs. I refer instead to the invisible beliefs we hold about the world, about who we are and about what we are capable of.

I’m referring to the truths we hold, sometimes consciously, but mostly out of consciousness, such as “I can’t sing”, or “I’m not beautiful”, or “People are amazing” or “If I set my mind to it, I can achieve anything”, or “I’m stupid”, or “Working hard brings rewards”.

Such beliefs are typically generalisations, typically unconscious patterns, meta to our experience. They can be enabling, or they can be limiting. They act as a post-hypnotic suggestion and they direct future behaviour to confirm them.  They provide context, meaning, causation, structure and as such are irrefutable.  We will deny their inaccuracy, even in the face of cognitive evidence. They are in effect our own personal rules of the world.

Take “Working hard brings rewards”. A generalisation, in that it assumes always. A generalisation in that it doesn’t define work, or how hard, or what rewards? But, someone believing this, will work hard, they will, in all likelihood, value the rewards that work brings and justify or explain those as being earned by the hard work. The ‘truth’ of the belief, or personal world rule, is both acted out now and assumed to be required in future – after all, its truth is without doubt, its cause and effect undeniable, its outcome inevitable – such is the nature of a belief.

Meanwhile, work that doesn’t bring rewards, or rewards unconnected with working hard, may be dismissed as of little note, or simply go unnoticed. The belief could be enabling, in that it provides motivation, the believer will doubtless work hard, will attain and will get rewards. It could also be limiting, in that the believer will probably give up leisure time, family time, time for self and may be pressured with a weight of reward earning responsibility, or may burn out over time.

So what do you believe?  Do you know?

How do your beliefs enable you and how do they limit you?

 

heads up or heel?

crufts

I watched a few minutes of Crufts the other day.

Handlers parade their dogs around a ring, holding the lead taught and seemingly uncomfortably high, so that the dog’s posture looks good. So that they can be displayed at their best.

Outside just now, across the street, a man was walking his dog on a lead.  One of those retractable leads where the dog’s freedom can be moderated; the lead shortened or extended at the push of a button, curtailing the extent of the dog’s freedom to roam, bringing it to heel.

I wonder if as human beings we hold our own lead sometimes?

Sometimes pulled taught to show us off at our best, yet maybe inauthentic? Sometimes reining us in from our full potential?  The lead, or leash, often invisible to us.

Where would freedom take us?

 

 

denuding me

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Much in our lives is seemingly over engineered.

This is the ‘Velofeet’, a unicycle with stabilisers that the rider sits astride and walks. Yes, a sitting walking device.

I have a new electric toothbrush which throbs to tell me when to move to another part of my mouth and has a light which flashes should I press too hard. There are forks that do something similar if you eat too much, too quickly!

I saw an article the other week about a toilet that is internet enabled, so that you can raise or lower the seat using an app on your phone before you arrive at the bathroom.

There’s a ‘smart mug’ with a sophisticated temperature and light system to tell you whether your drink is still warm or is too hot to drink.

Don’t get me wrong, technology is a remarkable thing. I still marvel at the ‘magic’ that is… my microwave oven.

But this kind of technology led innovation, trumping any consumer led need is a growing phenomenon. Over engineering products, because we can.

It denudes us of our human reflection, thinking, judgement and decision making.

My toothbrush makes me lazy. It stops me thinking. I start to rely on the light and the throb, rather than thinking about what I’m doing. Personally, I’ve had this issue with SatNav for a while. I stop noticing. I become blind to my route, landmarks, orientations, distances. I stop seeing what is around me and instead become a slave to a voice, or a picture, telling me to turn now. The result being I have no learning. I don’t learn how to get somewhere, I just learn to rely on the technology.

This stripping away of the natural use of our senses, diluting our reading of the signs, removing our need to think, taking control of our judgement and decision making, denying us learning, is impacting our interaction with each other too.

Bit by bit we become less human.

 

a beauty, still

Today seems still.

Little or no wind. Trees firm, statesman-like, statuesque. Clouds spread like a cottonwool blanket across the sky; not racing to a future destination, not rain laden, not billowing. The light calm and purposeful. A constant. Not indecisive, not pulled asunder by cloud and cloud break, not overpowering, just there.

As a result, wildlife seems content. Happy to be. The birds seem at peace. Much seems slower. The shadows seem an equal fixture to that that is physical; holding their place alongside the things that cast them.

Sounds seem more balanced, more in harmony with the stillness around. They seem to complement what can be seen and felt. Sensory symphony.

Still is good.