Archive for September, 2009

The Universe will provide

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

I was talking to someone over the weekend who was feeling rather depressed.  They found that their mind was constantly looking to the past and it was interfering with their ability to enjoy the present.  I said that maybe I could do something to help;  I was thinking of using some NLP techniques.  However, they opted to just go for a walk.  As we got closer to the park, I thought, maybe we could use the walk as some kind of metaphorical journey.  However, I couldn’t quite think where we would begin.  Then the dog decided to provide the answer in the form of big poo.

As they bent to pick it up and bag it, I said, just take a moment and put all those things and people that you want to dump in the bag with the poo.  Then we threw all of that mess in the bin provided and we started to walk towards the future they wanted.  At the time they (quite naturally!) seemed pretty sceptical and gave relatively little feedback.  However the next day I called and they were audibly brighter and much more energetic.  They sent me a text saying that they never thought they would thank me for making them sit facing a dog poo.  Days later they are still improved.

I mention all this because the really interesting element is how what you need is right before your eyes if only you really look.  Conversely, what you see around you can ‘speak’ to you about what you need and where you are.  I don’t say it is easy,  but my god, when you pull it off it is so rewarding. 

Why not try it next time you feel stuck or want some kind of read-out on what is going on?  If you have tried it already, I’d love to hear your stories.

“You have to believe that the universe will provide.”  Steve Crosby

“Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls”  Joseph Campbell


Video – does a picture tell a story

Friday, September 25th, 2009

Today was all about video.  Firstly I was asked to view some CCTV footage and see if I could come to any conclusions about what it showed.  Later I was wrestling with trying to create and post HD video blogs.  The first task was fascinating; deprived of the sound track, one was forced to interpret the body language.  I was offered two conflicting versions of what happened, and it was not simple deciding what one was seeing.

The webcam was simple enough to operate, and theoretically one could press a button and upload it to Youtube.  However, for the best results it appears you need to consider a number of complex factors like compression, formats and rendering… all of which are double Dutch to me!  And even if you mastered all these techniques, you somehow have to forget them all and just be natural in front of the camera, another mighty challenge. 

The trouble is that video communicates so much about a person.  We make instant judgements about who we see and how they strike us.  We have views about their clothes, their posture, their language and pauses, and ever little thing we see in the background.  They are all clues which we seek to interpret.  The thing is, do put these pictures together accurately.  We are used to the sophisticated manipulation of the TV, whose job it is to cunningly hide the truth.

So is seeing believing… what do you think?

PS>>  Don’t tell anyone!! This is strictly not for publication!

Life at one remove

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

This evening we went to see “Julie & Julia” Meryl Streep’s latest tour de force, a charming film about a cook, two couples and a blogger.  Julia Child’s was the lady who introduced Americans to French cooking.  Julie was someone who decided to write a blog about her exploration of the Child’s cook book “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”, and cook all 524 recipes in 365 days.  The film is a lovely exploration of how one set of lives can influence, change and inform another set.

I couldn’t resist the idea of being a Cooke blogging about a blogger blogging about a cook. 

The thing is that when we place a distance between us and an idea it helps us see things differently. This approach is used in NLP to help people deal with traumas, but it can also be helpful to examine ideas which challenge us.  We can see others wrestling with our dilemmas, going places we might prefer to avoid, and somehow it loosens things for us. 

So if you find yourself struggling with an issue that is too big and scary to confront head-on, explore it at one remove.  Ask yourself how would ‘X’ handle might this (where X= whoever you wish); run a movie with someone else starring in your role; watch a cartoon version of it; play with all the different ways it could unfold.  This allows your creativity to make its maximum contribution and helps lower the threat levels.

Give it a try and let me know how it works for you…

“Hunger is not only the best cook, but also the best physician.”

“Non-cooks think it’s silly to invest two hours’ work in two minutes’ enjoyment; but if cooking is evanescent, so is the ballet.”  Julia Child


“No particular place to go” v. “Start with the end in mind”

Saturday, September 19th, 2009

We have lived around here for 16 years, so know the area pretty well, but sometimes you just want to find somewhere new.  We headed out today with nothing more than a general direction in mind, and ended up in Chawton and Alton.  I’m sure that I have visited Alton before and certainly didn’t never found anything pretty there.  This time we found a charming, pretty town centre, and had a lovely time.

On Monday I’m running a workshop, one component of which is Stephen Covey’s “Seven Habits”, the second of which is ‘start with the end in mind’.  Now this can be very powerful, but I think there is a lot of power in knowing what you want achieve, but not being too hung up on the how, and letting yourself to move forwards, and allowing the Universe to unfold. 

We  had a really nice time today and our needs were met exactly.  So finding the finding the middle ground between these two precepts is perhaps a powerful place to be.

Meanwhile… enjoy Mr Berry’s rendition…



“I don’t know”… Time to listen to your inner expert?

Friday, September 18th, 2009

The other night I was lying there, half awake, half asleep, having one of those drifting conversations with myself, and the answer to every question seemed to be “I don’t know..”  I wasn’t totally surprised but it didn’t leave me feeling very good about myself.  After all I’m meant to be something of an expert, people pay me to know things! 

The other day I was working with a client and we had a difficult session scheduled, we had to design a key meeting with very little time to do so.  Then our meeting was cancelled and and it all had to be done over the phone.  There was very little time for rework, and rabbits definitely needed to be pulled out of hats.  However, I still had the legacy of my late night conversation lingering in my head. 

We began our call, and he was talking away, and suddenly he said something.  It was almost as if it was spoken in a bold, oversized font.  Suddenly, it all fell into place and I knew exactly what needed doing.  This experience didn’t particularly surprise me but none-the-less it was still a powerful one.  I’m always impressed when I meet people who are able to trot out facts, figures and specifics; my brain doesn’t work that way.  However, it does seem to conjure ideas out of the ether when they are needed.  The rest of the time it seems rather vacant…

These days we are all used to experts & pundits being produced by TV and radio, telling us what has happened and what to do.  I think perhaps we need to be reminded that we can all tap into a rather high wisdom if only we take the time to listen.  I’m sure you have had this kind of experience too and would love to hear about them.  What do you think, is it time to listen to your inner expert?

“Experts often possess more data than judgment.”   Colin Powell

“Even when the experts all agree, they may well be mistaken.”   Bertrand Russell


Reading the Ruins

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

This weekend clan Cooke gathered at a farm at St. Radigunds Abbey, near Dover.  As you can see there were some fabulous ruins of an old medieval monastery that was destroyed by Henry VIII.  I always find ruins rather romantic and poignant, and somehow more interesting than whole buildings.

This pile of bricks is the visible remains of so many different peoples’ stories.  We all have stories and some leave visible reminders, others are less easy to spot.  Everyone is the sum total of their past experiences, and we can read some of these in much the same way as an archaeologist can interpret the history of these ruins. 

If you want to understand who someone is today, then you need to spend a little time ‘excavating’ and studying their past.  It is interesting to wonder what bits of ours might be visible and what story they might tell…

“To excavate is to open a book written in the language that the centuries have spoken into the earth.” 

Rhythm and Doing what comes naturally

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

As regular readers will know, I’ve been taking some time out over the last few weeks  doing a few pet projects and just shifting my focus, pace and rhythm.  The summer is often a quiet time in my line of work (and thought that hasn’t really been the case this year) I usually use this time for planning, writing, networking etc. 

Yesterday was my first full day ‘back to work’ and so obviously today was meant to be day two.  I had an early morning breakfast meeting today and was anticipating getting on with my long list of things to be done.  However, as I was driving home, I realised that I really didn’t feel like doing that.  Now, I’m a pretty disciplined kind of worker and would formally have just told myself “Tough! Get up them stairs and settle down to it mister…”   Today I felt that wasn’t the best response.  Interestingly, after a family weekend away, both my son and wife were both feeling very slowed down too, so I opted to join them in a lazy, gentle day.  There were only a couple of things I had to do that wouldn’t wait till tomorrow.

These days I increasingly feel that wisdom lies in listening and responding to these kind of random urges.  It takes a little courage to do something so counter-cultural, but I place a great deal of value in intuition and feel the only way to really develop it is to respond to it.  If your inner voice is whispering to you, perhaps you might listen to it and try to trust it…

I’d love to hear from you about your experiences and experiments in this…

Catching up with yourself

Tuesday, September 8th, 2009

Running your own business is a mixed blessing, but one thing is that you don’t need anyone else’s permission to take time off.  However, it is remarkably hard to allow yourself to stop working when it is your business.  It is ever so easy to say “I’ll just do this then I’ll stop…”  and yet somehow one never does! 

Be that as it may, I knew I needed a break and really did take things much easier for the last three weeks and I can feel the benefits.  It is a little bit like being in the Starship Enterprise, going into warp drive and on arriving at the destination only to discover yourself there waiting for you to catch-up (an admittedly bizarre image, but an apposite one.)

Sometimes I think we run so fast we don’t realise that we are getting nowhere.  Stopping is challenging.  It is an act of surrender and an act of faith.  The prize is that you find yourself reconnected and re-energised. 

Sometimes a change of pace can be one of the hardest changes to make.  If you haven’t got round to it yet I suggest that you give it a try.

“We know that leadership is very much related to change. As the pace of change accelerates, there is naturally a greater need for effective leadership.”   John Kotte


Purrfect Feedback… another lesson from the kittens

Sunday, September 6th, 2009

I can think of few things more emotionally gratifying than to sit with a purring kitten on your lap.  First you have to win their trust, enable them to feel safe around you; you have to entice them to you when they are a sleepy enough to just sit still rather than careen around the room at 90 miles an hour.  Then they snuggle up and and begin to purr; their way of letting you know they feel safe and content.  It leaves me feeling perfectly at peace and totally content, just like them.

Purring is just one feedback mechanism, but very powerful in its simple power of sending a clear, positive message.  Positive feedback is a very powerful tool for reinforcing ‘good’ behaviour, whether at work or in our social groups.  People both long for approval and enjoy making people feel good and especially if they are the cause of that positive feeling.  If you are struggling with a recalcitrant teenager or a resistant staffer, try finding something they are doing that you genuinely feel good about and praise it and them.  You maybe surprised at the results…


“If we treated everyone we meet with the same affection we bestow upon our favourite cat, they, too, would purr.”   Martin Delany

“Purring would seem to be, in her case, an automatic safety-valve device for dealing with happiness overflow.”   Monica Edwards



Weeds on the Roof

Thursday, September 3rd, 2009

Our garage was put up sometime in the 70s (or something like that, nothing very clever or beautiful, and topped off with one of those wavy cement and asbestos corrugated roofs.  It sits under two or three trees that have doubtless grown tall since it was built, raining down their leaves on it for 30 or more years.  I strongly suspect they have lain where they feel for all that time but certainly for more than 20 years.  They have not only turned to mulch but begun to grow plants in it.  Those of you who know about building will know this is a pretty poor combination. So this morning, for God know what reason, I decided I had to do something before the weight of it caused it all to collapse.  It was a filthy job that took around 4 hours and I must have shifted half a ton of soil.

The thing is most of us have some weeds on our metaphorical roofs in some facet of our lives, some area where rubbish and detritus have accumulated and are slowly rotting away the supporting structures.  It might be in a relationship, it maybe in our work, it could even be that we have a dream that is buried and smothered by the aggregated weight of habitual excuses to not pursue them. 

Today maybe a good day for you to clear the weeds off your roof too…

“Even the richest soil, if left uncultivated will produce the rankest weeds.”  Leonardo da Vinci