pop my candy

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“Too cold to hold and got to be sold.” he called out.

It drew my attention and my gaze caught his.

“Don’t let dehydration ruin your vacation.” he grinned.

“Can I refresh you today?” he invited as I approached. “Guaranteed to cool you out without a doubt…”

This street trader’s appreciation of the value in selling not the product but the benefits, had won me over in the New Orleans heat of early afternoon. I could sense how it would feel to be refreshed and sated by one of his ice cold drinks. I duly purchased a beverage from the ice filled cool boxes at his feet.

Talking about value, contribution, benefits and outcomes seems effective. Doing so in language that engages the senses, even more so.

What might happen if we adopted this approach in organisations when we discuss people? Not, she’s top talent or he’s well qualified. But, she’ll energise you with a deep passion that washes over you like a wave of effervescent bubbles from popping candy. His courage and insight will inspire you like the view from the banks of the raging Mississippi with all its power and direction in the flush of Spring.

What if?

will we evolve to forget?

will we evolve to forget

Snapchat are about to launch sunglasses that capture video of what you see.

Your brain already does that.

Many of us think visually. We see ourselves in our experiences. We recall memories this way; in our “mind’s eye”. We even create imagined futures by running video or slide shows of what might happen. Our imagination is cool.

If we start replacing the need to do this because technology does it for us, might we evolve to lose the ability?

Evolution of course takes time, but there is already evidence that more people are becoming nearsighted because of recent changes in patterns of behaviour. A new paper published in the journal Ophthalmology looks at worldwide trends in myopia (nearsightedness) by doing a meta-analysis of 145 studies involving 2.1 million total participants. It predicts that by the year 2050, 4.8 billion people will be nearsighted. That’s 49.8 percent of the world’s population. The theory is that this is because of increased close work in the office, use of handheld devices and because less time is spent outdoors.

So what next? No need to visually recall our experiences; just download what we saw from our sunglasses?

Now that’s a dark thought to dim the brightness of anyone’s day.

we generalise our truth and so make it our truth

Heavy downpour

It always rains at the weekend.

Generalisation.

Of course once we think it, we notice when it does rain, rather than when it doesn’t -thereby reinforcing our thinking. The term ‘always’ might suggest it is never not raining at the weekend. A veritable deluge on Saturday and Sunday, without fail, for a full twenty four hours. Not true of course.

We do this all the time though in our language…
We say “nobody understands me…” – Really, ‘nobody’?
Or we say “everyone’s against me…” – Really, ‘everyone’?
Or we say “they’re all the same…” – Really, ‘all’? And just who are ‘they’?

This occurs not only in our language, but also in our interpretation of action.

For example, if someone you know walks by without saying ‘hello’, what’s your reaction? You might think that they ignored you because you might have upset them? Or maybe they don’t like you really? This might make you feel guilty, hurt or rejected. So you might be tempted not to speak first, the next time you meet; to be more cautious. This could increase the bad feeling or uncertainty between you both and generate more feelings of guilt or rejection. If this occurred several times with several people you know, you might eventually generalise that you are at fault, maybe even that you are an unlikeable person. If this happened with enough people, you might even start to socially withdraw. But how well did you interpret the situation in the first place?

In essence, problems aren’t caused by situations themselves but by how we interpret them in our thoughts. These interpretations have an impact on our feelings, resultant actions and then subsequent thoughts.

We generalise our truth and in doing so, make it our truth.

Image by © Anthony Redpath/Corbis

the tale that may never have been…

A colleague of mine recently copied the team on a document.  They failed to copy me. I only discovered this when another colleague asked me for a view on the work.

This was the third time this had happened.  The team is only six people and we have been formed for about six months and so I have viewed this as interesting. Actually no, I have viewed it with suspicion. I have started to create stories, in my head, about a hidden intent, tales about a potential dislike or disregard for me. I have been telling myself that once is a mistake, twice is careless, three times is deliberate.

I have of course taken an adult approach to this and spoken to the individual directly. (You know I’m lying here, right?)

Yesterday I was in a team meeting and another colleague began a discussion on a topic they are leading. They referred to the pre-read they had shared.  I said I hadn’t received it and they apologised and sent me a link to the soft copy on our systems. I received the email and clicked the link. I didn’t have access rights to the material.

Now my story has legs. It has all the makings of a novel. With characters, twists of plot and an evil back story.  I have trapped myself in a fabrication of my own making. I am unconsciously looking for evidence that my tale is correct.

Imagined dragons. Stories of the mind. Myth and truth.

 

coned off mentally

 

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Last week we were in London. We sat near the river. In front of us was an area of grass, taped off so that it could recover from its well worn state – presumably picnickers, sunbathers and walkers like us had rendered the grass threadbare. To the side, was an area marked off by linked metal barriers – the kind that are used for crowd control. Behind this protection were some pallets of building materials, a pile of some sort of mixed aggregate, some bags of waste and general rubbish – an adjacent building site suggested its purpose. Later we saw a newly laid concrete pathway, blocked by traffic cones, linked with tape.

Cones, barriers and tape to block areas off where we shouldn’t go. Areas that are out of bounds.

Do you think it’s like that in our heads too?

Memories marked out as ‘no go’ areas. Blocked by our unconscious mind as it considers them dangerous places, where we might get hurt; just like a building site. Our subconscious taping off parts of our personal history that need to be left to recover, like a worn out lawn; vulnerable, fragile and otherwise exposed. New experiences coned off, whilst we make sense of them, give them perspective and meaning; allowing them to set into our map of the world like newly laid concrete pathways.

 

one world … each

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He offered her the world.  She said she had her own.

Monique Duval

There is no reality. There is your reality, my reality, his reality, her reality. The simple fact is that what we see, what we hear, what we pay attention to, what we interpret, what we delete, what we distort, what we generalise, what makes sense for us… is all uniquely us, even when we seemingly experience exactly the same thing.

His world, her world, my world, your world.

 

tortoise beats hare at top trumps

Hare-and-tortoise-on-runn-008

At a recent coaching session, my client turned up late.  Having arrived, they immediately downloaded a lot of story.  This, that, this, that.  Fifteen minutes. I was overwhelmed by the speed and complexity of thought.  Momentarily disabled by a wave of recounted experience, judgement and self questioning by my client.

My client has a map drawn on a piece of paper.  We created it several sessions ago. It maps out their pattern of stuckness. The behaviours, thoughts, feelings, values which interconnect to create how they are.

I asked them to bring it out so that we might look at it again. We notice the pattern repeating in their story that began the session.

I then notice that there is a pattern in our coaching. We have been here before. We meet in the same room. My client, although not usually late, begins with a high octane cognitive download of what has been happening, their difficulties, their thinking and judgements of self. By the end of the session, they are calmer. They are more balanced and more present in what is true for them. Less in their busy head. Then they go out into the world and return a few weeks later so that this pattern can repeat, alongside their mapped pattern of being.

We have talked previously about mindfulness.  My client has a book. They have attended some sessions with a qualified practitioner. My client accepts they are useful, but has found it hard to find the time in their busy world. Irony of ironies.

I tell my client we need to break the coaching pattern.  So I offer the opportunity for them to practice their mindfulness now, without me. They look taken aback. I leave the room.

I return some minutes later.  Already they are calmer.  I invite them to walk with me.  My client sets off out of the building at pace. I walk with them but slightly slower, drawing them back a little. I explain we are going to be mindful walking for just 30 seconds, then talk. Then mindful for thirty seconds, then talk.

We practice paying attention to the physical movement of limbs as we walk. Then we talk about the experience and its relationship to their pattern. Then we walk noticing how sound and light are around us. Then we talk about the experience and its relationship to their pattern. Then we walk noticing the sound of footsteps and explore correlation to heartbeat. My client puts their hand on their chest and calibrates. Then we talk about the experience and its relationship to their pattern.  Walking the talk.

Throughout, my client walks more and more slowly. Bit by bit. Finally we pause and notice this.

Returning to the room to end the session, my client is completely different. Their experience as they reflect on the map, still on the table, is more deep, more profound, more embodied. They remain slow.

They have quietened their thinking. They have more awareness. They can see what needs to be done. They know they can achieve mindfulness in many ways in just a few moments. They discover motivation. And… they aren’t bombarding my senses with cognitive verbiage.

A top trumps victory on all fronts.  Tortoise beats hare.