January 3, 2014 Post Comment Uncategorised

My ethnicity is British – so, although I started out like
all human babies by using my hands as utensils, I was taught to eat ‘properly’ with
knife, fork and spoon. That methodology applied for all food, including
oriental cuisine, so dexterity with chopsticks was a million miles away from my
capabilities – and an experiential proven!



Alongside knowledge, expertise and dexterity, one of the
things we also model and learn in childhood, is our ability NOT to be able to
do things.
This starts with pre-supposed judgements, which we either hear other people
saying, or we hear it said to or about others, or – most pernicious of all – we
hear it said to and about US. These are phrases such as:-
“Girls can’t do those sorts of things,”
or “That’s not the sort of thing Boys do,”
also “YOU couldn’t possibly do
anything like that,”
and “That’s too
difficult for you to

Now some of us are fortunate enough to grow up in an
environment where anyone and everyone is capable of doing anything and
everything – which is absolutely wonderful, of course. It is liberating for us,
at a time in our lives when we have no idea what liberating means for us and
our future. In many ways I would say I was one of those ‘fortunati’ – which included travelling and living in foreign places.
This resulted in a degree of familiarity with foreign cuisine – however, my
parents were still judgementally old
in terms of using chopsticks. I’m sure they viewed them as being
strictly for the Orientals, who would have learnt how to use them from their
childhood. The view that ordinary Westerners (such as us) could never master
using such complicated “eating irons” prevailed, so we all stuck with the good
old comfortable convention of knife-fork-spoon.


Alongside knowledge, expertise, dexterity and limited
capabilities, another of the things we also model and learn in childhood, is
our attitudes.
Whilst some of these are inherently and innately our own, most of them start with
pre-supposed judgements, which we either hear other people saying, or we hear
it said to or about others.

The child’s mind is a sponge for everything, as we know.
In my youth, one of the by-products of that timeworn phrase “children
should be seen and not heard”
was a heightened absorption of attitudes –
and prejudices – from revered adults. Out of respect, nothing from those
sources was EVER questioned.
Nowadays, the nature of the bombardment that same Mind Sponge undergoes is quite different. The attitudes are much
broader based, and I would say – if anything – that the level of bombardment is
far, far more extensive AND relentless.
In the midst of all this bombardment, and the acceptance of far more ideas and attitudes
from outside of our close family circle, there is still that due reverence afforded
to our greatest influencers.

Yet however
reverently we might view those who have influenced our lives in some way, shape
or form, there always comes that moment when our reverence and respect is
severely tested.

When I first played club rugby I had the highest regard for
our coach. Although his role with us was voluntary, he had coached some schoolboy
internationals and was well known at that level. For him to be our coach was a
real privilege and, to be honest, many of us would have jumped off a cliff for
him. He was certainly a catalyst and a role model in my first becoming a coach.

However, he was old school, and had
the view rugby and cricket (my two major sports) were definitely not sports for
women and girls. When I discovered this recently I had quite a vehement and heated
argument with him – as this view is totally out of keeping with my own.
I don’t think any less of him in terms of the inspiration he gave me – however,
I was thankful I didn’t model his entire range of views.

 Accepting what’s on
our plate

The whole idea of blindly accepting other people’s views,
beliefs, prejudices and opinions seems an anathema to us as adults – and yet as
children, teenagers and even young adults, we willingly accept many things we
should dismiss or, at least, question.

I can remember talking to an extremely successful and high-flying
businessman regarding his relationship with food – which was not working very
well for him. He had some fairly strict ideas around what should properly
happen “at table” – and one of these was to finish whatever was on his
plate.  For him it wasn’t just bad
manners, it was one of those forbiddens.
I asked him, “Do you make your children
finish what’s on their plate, then?”
He nodded, but when I added, “So do you feel you’re quite strict with
he said that he looked to his wife to run the discipline in those
areas, as a rule.

I pursued this topic a little more and discovered that his
own father HAD been a strict disciplinarian and that his own compulsion to
always finish whatever was on his plate – in spite of who had put it there –
was down to childhood efforts to not get into trouble with his Dad.
When I asked what would have happened if he had stood his ground and left
something on his plate, it was clear that compliance WAS the only option.
Of course, his ability – as an extremely successful businessman in his forties
– to only eat as much from his plate as HE WANTED, was severely compromised by
the continued childhood strategy to avoid incurring the wrath of his father.

In the normal course of events, we are never as adults
obliged to do anything we do not want to do. Yet – we do such things all the


The CAN’T Range of
Designer Inner Clothing

I often talk to clients about the couldn’t, shouldn’t and wouldn’t
aspects of their lives, and from where, what and how these have been sourced.
And it is here where I talk to them about Cant,
and Mental Clothing!

The definition of Cant
is hypocritical and sanctimonious talk.

The best way to divest cant of its
clothing of credibility or respectability is to challenge it and question it. Cant often melts in the face of such a
challenge – and if you have ever encountered purveyors of cant, then you’ll know how to undermine their sanctimony!

Similarly with Can’t,
mental clothing and the whole designer range of Can’t Clothing that we assemble for ourselves – it is only real and
present in our lives because we have never challenged or questioned any of it.
And here I mean challenging in the style of:
“Why can’t I do that? What or who says I
can’t? If I am capable of doing anything, then I’m certainly capable of doing THAT!”

So the mindset that we build around anything, especially in
terms of our capabilities and attitudes, is really all about those childhood
models that we’ve played out and carried forward into our adult lives.
“I want to do X, but I don’t think I’d be
able to manage that,”
deserves to be challenged with at least a WHY NOT? If
we don’t do that then we’ll find ourselves carrying out the same strategic
behaviour over and over again, in many areas of our lives. The clothing of
can’t becomes very comfortable to wear, like a favourite shirt, or old shoes.

I’m a great believer in the notion that we are ALL capable
of far, far more than we’ll probably ever allow ourselves to know. I’m also a
firm believer that we are ALL capable of learning how to do things very quickly
as well! I’ve seen it happen, and I’ve seen it in action.

The trouble is that if we have a lot of Can’t Clothing
hanging in our wardrobe, then we obviously like to wear it. So we
quickly cover up the nakedness of our capabilities with the Clothing of Can’t. And with Can’t
here I’ll also add in “find it difficult” and “struggle
to do that”
– both which are timeworn phrases that we keep in our
wardrobe of Can’t.


My first eventual encounter with attempting to use
chopsticks in a Chinese restaurant was typically comical and cack-handed.
Before I’d reached a level of even childish competence, my food was chilling
rapidly, and so I abandoned the chopsticks for fork and spoon and quickly
gobbled the tepid contents of my plate.
Did I finish everything that was on my
Well I was well brought up to respect the hungry and the starving, so I
expect I finished what was on the plate, in spite of it having gone unpalatably

Since then and up until last week I can honestly say that the
number of encounters I’ve had with chopsticks usage, in my lifetime, have been
less than on the fingers of one hand – and I’ll leave you to decide whether
that was my left hand or the cack hand I used to hold the wooden implements!

The Emperor’s New

Early January:
It’s that time of year when people feel driven to make changes in their lives, setting
themselves upon pathways of personal improvement armed with new resolve.

In terms of our capabilities and attitudes this is always a
challenge – for we know that we will need to divest ourselves from our
comfortable and reassuring Can’t Clothing. We are told we will
need to draw upon Will Power, and will have to have inner resources in order to
achieve what we want for ourselves.

Of course stripping off and showing our naked capabilities
to the world can be a chastening experience, yet liberating also. Needless to
say, in the ravages of the climate we live in, we will feel exposed in our nakedness

Until the very moment we accept that our new self is SO much
better than before. For it is then that we discover that wearing this New
Clothing is much better than all that Designer Can’t that we used to wear. This
new clothing is what we might call the Emperor range!

Now, whilst the Hans Christian Andersen story is couched in
a different metaphorical frame, I’d invite you to consider the idea that all
personal change – whether via New Year’s Resolutions, or personal resolve at any
point in our calendar – is merely about examining the contents of our inner wardrobe
and dressing ourselves for life in a different way.


Pad Tidings of Great

Last week I was visiting family, and on Saturday we went out
to a Thai Restaurant.
Unbeknownst to me, at a conscious level anyway, I was wearing Emperor
rather than Can’t. As a result I was about to surprise myself and fellow
companions at this particular repast.

I ordered Pad Thai,
and after a period of time it duly arrived – complete with chopsticks, for the use of. Without any thought or
consideration whatever I picked them up and tucked in. After some minutes “Get
you with the chopsticks”
was remarked upon, which I acknowledged with a
modicum of diffidence. I was genuinely surprised at my unrehearsed and apparent
expertise – especially given my previous and few cack handed experiences with said implements.

Where did I – seemingly – learn how to use them?
How had I practiced to reach this level of competence?

Well, I’ve seen enough film footage over the years, of
people using chopsticks – so there’s been an amount of visible modelling that
has been absorbed at an unconscious level.
And does this need practice? Well clearly the answer here is ‘no’, although the usual answer would most
times be in the affirmative.

So here is another illustration of:-

a)      how
we can acquire skills without any conscious realisation we have acquired them –

b)      how
we can liberate the conscious limitations upon the unconscious capabilities we
have, and even liberate the ones we don’t even know we’ve got.

This explains a number of extraordinary occurrences in Performance Phenomena, where the freedom
of the Mind facilitates a freedom in the Body. The restrictions of the inner clothing
that we wear can be easily put aside; more easily than we might consciously
realise too!

At the end of the
day, I’m more inclined to just describe my Pad
encounter as being uplifting, liberating, fascinating and a great joy!