the graduates of today…

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I’ve spent some time today with some new graduates joining the organisation.  It’s day two for them.

Driving to the venue I reflected on being one of them…  thirty years ago.

I was now standing in front of them, much as key leaders had been marched out in front of me all that time ago. Then, the leaders were booted and suited. Ties, business suits and highly polished brogues. Today I am in an open neck checked shirt and chinos. Over or under dressed?

I sat on a panel as groups presented their thinking around a business priority. We questioned them, then they questioned us. They seem more worldy wise than I recall being in my time. Great questions about society, change and cultural diversity. A colleague on the panel suggested our pension was in safe hands.

My session with them explored self, authenticity and learning agility. And it seems that although the graduates of today are more connected, more aware, more socially responsible and possibly smarter, they still suffer everyday human frailties. They were still worried about how they came across, still wanting to be reassured, encouraged. They still wanted to be heard, accepted, understood. They discussed self awareness and being themselves, yet they still had limiting beliefs about what was possible, albeit fuelled by a hunger to achieve and succeed.

It seems that whilst much has changed in thirty years, much is the same.

Their very humanity, their vulnerability, their humanness, no different to ours all that time ago.

Maybe that’s a sign of how we need to develop our education, our learning about being human? Maybe the focus on learning ‘stuff’ is strangling our ability to learn about the nature of being human?

articulated mind traps

Observing a driver reversing an articulated lorry always gives me a sense of admiration. I notice a desire to be able to do that. It looks satisfying. I feel compelled to stand and watch.

But my brain says it’s hard.

‘I would probably struggle,’ it says. ‘It’s not as easy as it looks,’ it says. ‘Look on and marvel in the ability of these wondrous people, but it’s not for you, is it?’ it says.

Maybe it is hard, maybe it isn’t?
The point is that what my brain says, makes a big difference.

More importantly, what else does my brain say is hard?  What else do I avoid or just never get around to experiencing because my brain says it’s hard?

And … why does it do that?

What is my brain’s purpose in telling me it’s hard?  How is my own brain serving me, by telling me I will struggle to master that? By putting me off? By putting me down? By creating a limiting frame of reference?

But still I listen. Still I stand and marvel. Still I imagine.

the mischievous monster in your head

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Roald Dahl’ first children’s book was The Gremlins.

The term gremlin refers to an imaginary mischievous sprite lurking in the electrics. World War II pilots coined the phrase when their engines, mechanics or electronics developed unexpected faults. In Dahl’s book, written in the 1940s, the gremlins’ motivation for sabotaging aircraft is revenge for the destruction of their forest home, which was razed to make way for an aircraft factory.

As human beings, neurons in our brains fire electrical impulses. This is how we think.

Often however, we have glitches in our own electrics; our thinking engines. For many of us, annoying little programmes have infiltrated our thinking process. This unwanted code, this inner voice, runs despite our wishes. The inner voice becomes a habit. It becomes something we routinely tell ourselves, in our heads. This self talk sabotages us. Derails us. Causes us to detour or to crash land. Often these little subroutines of code take the form of “I can’t…”, “I shouldn’t…”, “If only…”, “I’m not good enough to….”. They are self judgements and limiting beliefs.

The familiar friends of these little inner voices, the ones who speak up most regularly, become our gremlins. Mischievous little sprites lurking in our thinking.

In Roald Dahl’s book, the gremlins are persuaded to change their habits and are retrained to repair aircraft rather than sabotage them.

Maybe we need a gremlin retraining school?

 

 

how little we really know

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For all we know about the world, its solar systems, its solids and gases and liquids, its states and orbits and atmospheres, its stars and planets and moons. For all we know about the Earth, its rivers and mountains and continents, its seas and oceans and lakes, its cities and people and landscapes, its cultures and societies and languages… we know nothing.

Everyone has their own world, their own reality, their own truth. Created from their own experience. Made up of patterns and meaning and connections. Motivated by values, purpose and beliefs. Driven by feelings, emotions and thoughts. Held in pictures and sounds and senses. Motivated by ego, desire and love.

Every world unique.

We struggle to understand our own personal world, let alone that of our neighbour, our colleague, our friend, our human cousin.

We know nothing.

human detox anyone?

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Sitting in Vera’s Kitchen for a cuppa. A fine cafe in Letchworth.

The menu begins with ‘detoxing soup’.

Is that possible? Can soup have a detox effect? What toxin exactly is being removed from your body by consumption of said broth?

Detox, detoxifying, detoxing are ‘a la mode’ at the moment it seems.

But when do we detox our humanity? Remove the toxic parts of our being; the flotsam picked up along our life journey?

The unwanted thoughts. The unhelpful behaviours. The disabling feelings. When do we recover from the self toxifying life journey that has left us with redundant beliefs, self doubt, insecurity, poor self image, vulnerability, limiting thoughts, low self esteem?

That’s the soup we really need.

 

the five second rule

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You know that rule.

The rule states that if you drop something on the floor, you have five seconds to pick it up. Five seconds before the bacteria infect it. Be quick, be safe.

I have a mental image of these armies of slow moving bacteria marching towards the discarded food. Bacteria armies that bizarrely aren’t on the exact spot the food fell, but are somehow always precisely five seconds away. They respond like a shark to the scent of blood. Swooping onto the food to a five second deadline, moving to the sound of ‘dum dum, dum dum’ like a menacing time countdown sounding out the impending infection.

The reality is that there are probably more bacteria on the plate the food fell off, in the air you are breathing, on your fingers picking the food up…

In essence the rule is a fabrication, albeit a useful one when you drop a piece of your best chocolate. Nom nom nom. No point wasting that!

Often our own rules are inventions too. Fabrications. Untruths.

Rules about what we can do, or can’t do. Should do, or mustn’t do. Rules about cause and effect. This means that.

Yet we live our lives by them. We behave strangely, yet to a recognisable pattern, as befits the rule and its purpose. In much the same way as the five second rule gets us reaching down quickly for the food, looking at it, like the bacteria will be waving back at us, or will have inexplicably made the food luminous green. Blowing on it, like the bacteria will fly off, descending in tiny parachutes back to the floor to await the next food spillage, thus cleansing the said food morsel.

Fantasy. Yet played out like the truth.

 

non specific selective forgetfulness

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I notice sometimes names escape me.

I’m not referring to a gradual onset of forgetfulness or dementia (I hope) but rather to certain names. Why is that?

At work there are a few people who, every time I meet them I struggle to recall their name. Other people I know less well I have no problem recalling their name, but for some reason it escapes me for a few. Then I notice I can’t remember, so that next time I see them approaching I’m already thinking ‘I can’t remember your name’… and so I can’t.

But it’s not just people. I was listening to some music today in the car and a particular band came on from my playlist. A band I like. A band I listen to on occasion. But I can never recall the names of the tracks.  I don’t have the problem with other music, just some. Why is that?

Actors and actresses too. Some, no matter how good their performance or regardless of the quality of the film, I simply can’t put a name to the face.

Maybe it’s about connection? Emotional or otherwise?

What makes us selectively ‘forget’? And what holds us in that pattern?