The Wright Way

The Wright Way

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Touching Lives

What is revealed when catching up with paper work

Today I was doing the admin for my cricket work time in schools this calendar year so far. The total exceeds 100 hours. Add to those hours some District Level coaching, plus voluntary hours at the Colts Section of my own Club and also at another Club in my home town where we are building the Colts Section; and then add in all the background stuff ... the meetings, the planning, the organising ... that would then probably double the 100 hours figure. 

In terms of my working life - and this year in particular - this a lot of hours. It is a quantifiable measure of the time I have spent in working at educating, building and improving upon the technical abilities of a considerable number of young people - albeit in one small part of their lives.

Influence below the Surface 

Of course in all technical coaching there is also a relationship in terms of rapport between players and coach. And within that rapport there is influence at play, an influence that falls into the area of mental and performance coaching. For me this influence translates into linguistic, somatic and temperament areas - and is going on ALL the time. Certain words, a chuckle or a smile, here and there are hugely important in the relationship and, particularly with coaching a group. 

I am often seen as being very patient, easy going and, to put it bluntly, a bit of a pushover in terms of my strictly managing the unacceptable. Yet this is far from the truth, and I don't allow my laissez-faire attitude to over-ride my values for I really do want my players to be influenced by my values. On one day this week, for example, I had (i) to both call a player out, and then report him, for bullying and later (ii) I had to reveal to a squad of under 11 players, in no uncertain terms, what was and was not acceptable TO ME in terms of their engagement with our practice game. 

In spite of these rare occasions, I'm delighted that my players reflect back their acceptance of my influences - mainly because I know that somewhere in the confines of their minds they have taken on the need to be grounded, and to not take themselves too seriously.
That ALWAYS seems to work best!


Yet because everything we do as coaches makes a difference, the next step is about going the extra mile. And so 5-10 minutes helping a little girl with her catching, at the end of her brother's All Stars Cricket session this evening is an essential component in making that difference a positive and worthwhile one. Of course receiving genuine and grateful thanks from her Mum makes all the difference to me too! When the extra miles are noticed it reminds me that being generous with our time is also very valuable at human level. 

And when we add up our EXTRA miles in a year for instance, they can actually be much more valuable than our "200+ hours". 

Never under-estimate the impact of YOUR extra miles!

True Vermin

After some therapy earlier this morning I took time out to "walk round the block" where I'm fortunate to live. It took about twenty  minutes, and one of my first observations was the seagulls in flight over the water.

They are much maligned birds in our coastal community because of their voracious appetites and fearless relationship with man. In our environment they revel in OUR voracious appetites by sifting through OUR waste, particularly food waste. They even dare to steal our food out of our hands - before it has become waste. We say they are "vermin."

Yet today I watched them in THEIR environment - over the waves, through the sea air, round rocky ledges. Wheeling, soaring, occasionally beating their wings yet mostly gliding using currents and thermals, they moved effortlessly and with grace - in their world. It was poetry in motion.

So, although their bellies may have been full of OUR waste - perhaps the leavings of  "Chicken a la Dust Carte" - they still only ate enough for their immediate needs. Their soaring flight patterns were not weighed down by excess gluttony, and when they landed on the azure blue of the inshore waters they did not sink.

No - they are still the masters of their own environment and adaptable masters of the interface where theirs and ours meet, here on the coast.

Plus - I'd venture to point out that in global terms, the true vermin is not the common gull but the common man; i.e. ourselves! The more we respect our environment the better it is for everything that lives - and that includes the environment. Is it HARD?

“Is it hard?'
Not if you have the right attitudes. Its having the right attitudes that's hard.” ~  Robert M Pirsig,
"Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance - An enquiry into values"

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

From Excusative to Appreciative

I'd like to share with you two of my experiences this week, as I plied my "trade" as a cricket coach working with children.

The first took place at my cricket club's ground on Monday, where we staged a Kwik Cricket Festival for Year 4 children - which equates to those aged under nine on 1st September last year. We have a large ground and there were almost 200 children attending, playing Kwik Cricket on 9 pitches around the field of play.


Ours is a private ground - yet when the gate is open (and even when it is not) the local public seem to think and feel that it is their ground and that they can do whatever they like on it. On this eventful day the sense of Public Right was firmly held, as usual, by the dog walkers of our part of Barnstaple. These people come, sometimes in cars sometimes on foot, sometimes alone and with one dog or sometimes in groups with many dogs.
Today's story involves a lady, probably in her early 60's, with her lone pooch. She observes the 200 or so children playing cricket, as they cannot be missed, yet she still lets her dog off the lead and walks him (or her) around the perimeter. At some point on this promenade she nears some unattended rucksacks belonging to the children - yet poochie is there long before her because poochie is not on a lead. And because poochie is a dog, and does dog behaviours, part of a child's lunch from one of the rucksacks is joyfully eaten, cling film wrapper and all.

When the schools event organiser confronts the lady pointing out the dog's theft, the lady dutifully puts the lead back on the dog, with some feeble and unconvincing apologies for her dog's behaviour. The event organiser brings lady and her dog to me - as I am the club official present who can tell her about club policy.
"This club is private ground," I say.
"No it isn't - it belongs to the Council," comes the barked reply - from lady, not dog I must add.
"It is PRIVATE," I reply raising my voice a tad. "Plus, I would have thought it was sheer common sense to keep your dog on a lead when you come onto private ground where there is a children's event going on."
"Well I'm SORRY," she barks again, "But you should have notices telling people what to do."
"Look, we aren't going to spend hundreds of pounds on notices so that people like you don't read them because you think you can do what you like. I'm amazed at your lack of common sense. None of this would have happened if you'd kept your dog on a lead - now a child goes without the lunch their Mum has lovingly prepared." By this time I was actually making eye contact with this woman - and I am quite good at laser-eyed eye contact.

Fortunately for both of us our Club Treasurer arrived and put the woman right about the ownership of the ground, the wrongness of walking an un-leaded dog through a field where 200 children are in the middle of a sporting day out, and the sheer arrogance of believing she was still in the right.
"Well I won't come here again," said the lady.
And so say all of us - Good Riddance to the Excusative Woman.


The next morning I am on an artificial grass court at a local secondary school, helping dispense more games of cricket to the youth of the town.
"Hello, Pete - are you doing cricket with us today?" comes the shout from thirty or so excited lads from Year 7, as they pour onto the play area for their P.E. lesson. When the sun is out and it is warm, there cannot be a child on earth (surely) who would rather not be out of the classroom. One of them even had his foot and ankle encased in a "moon boot" and was hobbling around on crutches. He, like the others, was determined to just have some fun in the sun - and both I and his P.E teacher were equally keen to oblige.

We split them into four teams and they each played two matches in the 45 minute lesson. It was fast paced, even manic at times, but was just what the lads wanted. No time to think - only do; plenty of cricketing action - plenty of fun; the games had winners and losers but nobody really cared about that.
"Thanks, that was brilliant!" said their P.E. teacher as we came off at the end of the lesson. He had no idea beforehand how adaptable cricket can be in terms of pumping up the levels of engaged enjoyment in a P.E. environment.

Pleasing for me as this comment was, from a fellow educator - my most rewarding experience came from the endless chorus from the boys as they all trooped back towards the main school buildings.
  "Thanks, Pete - that was great! See you next week!"

Conclusive Reflective

So why have I put these two experiences in juxtaposition?
There's a common thread of school children, play, outdoors, exercise, cricket, fresh air, hitting, running, catching, teamplay, organisation, education, joy and fun running through both stories. It is a wonderful example of how we as humans are, and can be, flourishing creatures.

Yet - the contrast for me is how the selfish, unthinking and endless excuse-making lady moves through the narrative like the "elephant on the pitch". The children - bless them - never even noticed the elephant walking with her dog off the lead. I suspect the child, who had part of his or her lunch nicked by the resourceful dog, never even noticed what had gone missing - for that child's mind was only really attending to other things! No, the only people who noticed the elephant were other adults.

You can bet that when the dog lady was at school that she was rather like the primary school children at the Cricket Festival, or the Year 7 lads at secondary school. If I'm right at guessing her age then she, like me, would have been inculcated through her childhood - both at home AND at school - about respecting people, property, common sense, and what is right and wrong.
So where, I ask you in whatever god's name her God has, did she morph from the carefree and caring young girl she was - into the person she had become and was evidenced to us as she visited our private cricket ground this week?

It is a very sad commentary on the world some of us have created for ourselves - witnessed by part of the lyrics from the song, "Cold Heart and Closed Mind" written by Nanci Griffith.

"... love is not in question when you're holding the answer
In your cold heart and your closed mind.
You've got a cold heart and a closed mind.

... like a hurricane I see that storm in your eyes.
One of these mornings when you're making your way
Just gonna wash you out with the tide."

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Meeting My Friend Pain

The Projects

At the start of 2017 I had a blank canvas ready to be populated by several projects, each of which would include a number of personal challenges. Whilst two of the projects were related to relaunching my business and professional life, the third project was, and is, one that involves an enormous part of my personal and social life as well as the working one.
It involves a subject that is – for a great number of us – very “up close and personal.”

The Dentist.

My third project is the restoration of my dental wellbeing. After some years of neglect, the state of my dental health was – to put it mildly – run down. In fact, parts of my mouth resembled that of a person who had been run down - by a vehicle!

The Challenges

So, the Project began - and after some time on the first waiting list, I eventually got to see my new dentist! He prodded and poked and assessed my status which appeared, on the face of it, to be a “Good News – and Bad News” type of scenario.
“You have, amongst other things, a dental cyst in the roof of your mouth – probably as a result of one of the front teeth dying off,” he said. “The good news is that it is not malignant, so no concerns there. However, it does need to be removed as soon as possible, as part of the overall treatment plan.
The “bad news” was only bad inasmuch as there was a lot of work to do, and I would be – at the end of it all – no stranger to the dentist’s chair, the sound of drills, spitting blood and regular encounters with oral discomfort.

So, my challenges in this project are centred around pain – and, of course, in matters of a dental nature, the pain is an all too inescapable and “in your face” issue.

The Background

My personal and practical knowledge of hypnosis, the entire hypnotic domain, and of our being able to bring a level of control to our state of mental and physical wellbeing, is quite extensive. I had, therefore, a favourable background of resources that would assist my upcoming challenges.

There is also a rather subjective tolerance that we all have – i.e. The Pain Threshold.

I’m fortunate, if indeed such fortune is a good thing, to have a rather high pain threshold. We never know what our own threshold is, until we cognitively encounter pain that is well up the scale. And because pain IS such a subjective AND emotional experience, one person’s agony is another person’s dull ache.
The other thing about my own pain threshold is my familiarity with it, and the level to which I can embrace the pain rather than brace myself against it. And the embracing or bracing – like that – comes hand in hand with my use of hypnotic means.

Hypnotic Means

So, what are the implications when I speak about hypnotic means?

The first implication starts long before I sit in the dentist’s chair. This is where I need to embrace the upcoming visit, rather than brace against it. If I am accepting of what is going to take place then I am in control of my own wellbeing. If I am not, through anxiety or fear, then the whole experience – when the time comes around – will be at the mercy of my emotions. Once I embrace, then there is no pre-tension and I can just put the anticipation out of my mind. I may have some thoughts about what may take place, but I am not going to pay attention to them – for I know that paying attention to them will not serve me, or my embracing, well.

The second implication starts once I am “in the chair,” so to speak.
It might be considered that once we are in the chair then we are at the mercy of the dentist – yet I would contend that we are, in actual fact, at the mercy of ourselves. If our relationship with our thinking is such that we are more on the side of Brace rather than Embrace, then we will be rigid not relaxed, our breathing will be shallow and rapid not deep (abdominal) and slow. Where in our bodies we are breathing, at this stage, is a VITAL gateway to further hypnotic means.
Our rate and level of breathing has a direct relationship with our frequency levels of brainwave activity. And our brainwave frequencies are much lower in meditative, reflective, imaginative and somnolent states

The third implication is, as I see it, guiding ourselves through that GATEWAY and exploring our inner experience.
I know that the more I can allow myself to explore that inner experience, the less I will notice the extent of my outer experience. The outer experience may well be unavoidably noticeable and very REAL – however, having duly embraced it I have almost made a deal with my consciousness to leave it emotion free.

The fourth implication is about the emotional content of pain.
One of the underlying features of the “Inside Out” nature of reality is in the area of our emotions – what they are, and why we can often feel “at the mercy of” our emotions.

If we feel that life happens to us (OUTSIDE IN), then it is a very short step from there to believing that we cannot bring any control to our emotions. This gives reality to our understanding that our emotions are uncontrollable hard-wired responses, that we are stuck with them, and they are part of the way WE ARE.

If we feel that life happens to us and how we react and respond to it is our choice (INSIDE OUT), then it is a very short step from there to understanding that we CAN bring control to our emotions. Once we know we DO have a choice, then we discover that our emotions are CONSTRUCTED* – and that WE are the constructors!

(* How we construct our emotions is explored in Lisa Feldman Barrett’s excellent book “How Emotions Are Made.”)

In terms of the emotional content of pain that I have constructed for myself, I know that the language of my self-talk plays an important role. I can, in theory, tell myself how much something hurts, and I can then go and search for instances where I can – and have in the past – felt sorry for myself. Here is where I am paying more attention to the needs of my EGO, than to anything else. If the needs of my EGO go way back into my childhood, say, then pain was something that needed something especially nice to soften the harshness of the experience. The concept that my pain is constructed from is designed to keep the emotional content out – so I may say “ouch”, or “aaagh”, yet there are no EGOtistical overlays. The pain is just what it is – a message from injured area to brain sent by the nervous system.

The Crescendo in the Treatment

I am writing this some 24 hours on from the latest episode in my Treatment Plan – a hospital appointment to remove one wisdom tooth, four decayed, broken or worn down top front teeth, and the enlarged dental cyst from the roof of the mouth.

I describe this as the crescendo, since all other restorative treatments have been done by my dentist and, once this part is complete, he will then prepare a denture for me to replace the four top front teeth.
This was – as they say – the BIG one.

I could have had it all done under GA (general anaesthetic) which might have, for some, have been a softer option. However, under a local anaesthetic, I would have had much more cognition of the experience and I know that the healing would be much better and quicker using this route. Plus – and it was a big plus – my knowledge and use of hypnotic means would enable this to work on my terms.

Finally, I like a challenge; I like to take myself to whatever limits I may have previously set; and, weird though it may appear, there’s a curious payback in terms of self-esteem when I meet -and EMBRACE - my friend PAIN.

The appointment started at 9.30am. I met the surgical team, we had a chat and I was told what they would be doing.

Once in the chair I was administered a series of injections of local anaesthetic. The wisdom tooth was to come out first followed by the four top front teeth. The cyst removal was the major part, followed by suturing the wound in the roof of the mouth and the final clearing up.

In his excellent book “The Open Focus Brain; Harnessing the power of attention to heal mind and body,” Dr Les Fehmi describes a number of exercises, designed to imaginatively explore our inner spaces – starting with “the space between our eyes.” This I have found to be an effective hypnotic induction as well as a personal go-to means of re-accessing mental equilibrium.
It was a great help to my means of “letting go” during the removal of the dental cyst – where I was able to breathe deeply, explore the space and just float away whilst the surgery team performed the necessary, and often rigorous, procedures.  I experienced a sense of calm detachment, even though there was some involuntary tension in certain unrelated parts of the body!

I am now into a period of recuperation, repair and renewal, with pain killing and anti-inflammatory medication to hand, used sparingly though not daringly!

I am SO glad I took on the challenge rather than take the GA route. I have learned even more about myself, hypnotic means, and – above all – my friend PAIN, which is quite a different animal when we are able to leave Emotion out of the equation.