Category Archives: problem solving

THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX AND CARPE DIEM!

I stopped at one of the services on the M4 on last, wet, grey Sunday morning en route to taking my daughter to Uni in Bristol.

The queue at Costa Coffee was 11 deep, but I noticed that there was another Costa coffee round the corner.  Taking the decision that the queue round the corner was likely to be shorter, I slipped out of my place in the queue and found myself behind just one man, who looked strangely familiar…

My Facebook friends will know that the Carpe Diem bit of this story was to sidle up and ask if I was talking to a Stanley Tucci lookalike or the real deal. It was the real deal (‘A’ List Hollywood movie star), and turns out he was also taking his daughter to University and we had a convivial chat. My daughter was dead impressed and will carry that as a particular memory of her trip to Uni.

Now I realise this is all terribly shallow, but I think there are two important lessons I took away from the encounter.

1. THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX

If I wasn’t keeping my mind and eyes open, I would not have spotted that there was an alternative to the queue I was standing in, nor taken the decision to move

2. CARPE DIEM

I could have been backwards in coming forwards, and missed an opportunity to create a fun and unique memory for my daughter.

Although the outcome of taking these decisions in this case was not earth shattering, like many simple principles, these are profound in their possibilities.

In my life, some of the biggest changes have come about because I was prepared to do one or both of the above. Sometimes the risks have been much greater than they were here, and yet often the rewards way outweigh the risks we are asked to take in living life more fully, whatever that may mean to each of us….

I would love to hear about your ‘Carpe Diem’ moments, seized or lost!

YOU DON’T HAVE TO KNOW WHY THINGS WENT WRONG – YOU JUST NEED TO KNOW HOW TO FIX THEM

Last week I went rowing after nearly a whole summer off.

Our new ‘head’ of our Rowing group, who knows how my mind works, kindly offered to take me out in a double, so I could ease back into things without stressing that I was holding others up because I had got unfit.

We soon realised that I was causing us to row to the right. I was dropping my right shoulder and doing something that created more power on my left. Neither of us were quite sure exactly what it was I was doing, or why – it could be that I think my let leg is longer than my right so it was putting down more power, or it could be that I am left handed, though interestingly I use my right hand for most things that require power rather than dexterity (like tennis).

The point is though, that I knew how to sort it out, using my Alexander Technique Principles:

1. I needed to make sure I had my competitive ‘power at any price’ switch in my brain switched off.

2. I needed to use Conscious Mental Instruction to tell my body what I wanted from it, which was this:

  • Upright stance
  • Relaxed neck
  • Balanced head
  • Centred body and shoulders
  • Maintaining this stance throughout the drive of the stroke

I was able to achieve this fairly easily! One of the reasons being that I have practised for many years giving my body conscious instructions, and the other that my rowing partner gave me permission to ease off on the power so I could concentrate on technique. So I had no pressure of expectation, or particular fear, both of which generally override any conscious instruction I might give myself.

These principles of changing attitude/thinking, combined with relaxation and conscious thinking, can be applied to all sorts of problem solving!

And PS, thanks Darren for being such a great rowing partner and understanding coach!

And PPS no it’s not that cold yet – these are photos from last winter!