The presentation and the paradox

The presentation was about to begin.

It was a dark night. Most attendees could not see. But this did not concern them since they had all got used to the dark which descended, whenever their so called leader delivered his rambling, nonsensical monologue. It was all too familiar. It was all so predictable. There was little or no intellectual foundation to anything that he said.

Most attendees were comfortable not to see. In fact, behind closed doors in private conversations, it was unanimously agreed that it was preferable not to look, since not looking would prevent seeing, which in a weird sort of way, could pardon them from taking on any responsibility for not challenging any comment, statement and decision that he may make. Further, not being able to see could be used as an excuse of that ‘we didn’t know’ when they would eventually be confronted with, sometime in the future, all of the evidence that revealed the incompetence, greed, narcissism and fear-mongering of their Destroyer-in-Chief.

Tonight, nature was not playing its part. The clouds lifted (much like curtains do at the beginning of a show), to reveal beautiful, refreshing light that radiated from the moon at the very moment that he uttered his first word.

‘I will keep you safe, I will protect you’, promised the Destroyer. ‘I have been your omega and saviour for four years, and now more than ever before, there is more need for me to keep you safe. The world is a dangerous place. There are internal and external threats that only I can protect you from’.

He had mastered the tactic of intensifying fear, as a way to hold onto his power and authority. It was a common tactic that all dictators used.

‘I have done a great job. Look at how well we are doing, I have created a nirvana where everyone is prospering. The numbers are great.’

He was a master of arrogance and ‘big talk’. His speech was vague, littered with sweeping generalizations so that he could create false verbal realities that in no way matched the reality that people were actually experiencing. There was such a disconnect.

Hours passed as the Divider-in-Chief ranted and raved. He had a captured audience for his one-man show; an audience that dared not utter a word, ask a question or disagree with anything that was said. But this was all too familiar – most of the crowd had ‘clocked out’, with eyes closed and voices silent.

During one of the rare moments when he paused, a courageous voice asked a question. It was not a confident voice, but it shocked the sleepy audience out of their slumber. They all knew that the wrath of the Destroyer would soon be unleashed. He was a master of twisting information around, of undermining and belittling any ideas or questions that were not in agreement with his.

‘But sir don’t you see the paradox?’

The question was asked respectfully but it riled the Destroyer. He demanded total allegiance and loyalty from everyone, not only from his sleepy audience. How dare anyone question his authority? He had already told everyone that he was a genius so why did this punk not listen?

‘That’s a nasty question, and you are a stupid person’, attacked the Destroyer. He was a master of intimidating tactics that unbalanced any opponent in front of others.

But this was no ordinary person who had posed the question. He was a tai chi master, who understood the nature of energy flow and the power of having a gentle, loving attitude to all things that he encountered. He was an integrative thinker, who understood the complexity of diverse ecological systems.

He stood in silence looking directly into the eyes of the Divider-in-Chief. He radiated energy that unnerved the Destroyer, who was still trying to make intellectual sense of the question that had been posed.

‘Don’t you see the paradox that totally undermines and destroys everything you say? And in the process, it will ultimately destroy you?’

Confusion reigned in the mind of the Disrupter-in-Chief. For the first time, he was now encountering a tai chi master who was skilled in the power of reflection.

‘Who has caused or is responsible for the turmoil that exists at present, which has unfolded on your watch over the past four years? Why do you escape into the future by creating more fear in the present so that you can promise to rescue the future, given the turmoil and chaos that exists in the present. How can you simultaneously be the savior and solver of future destruction, when in fact you are the source and the creator of present chaos?’

‘It is impossible for you to solve the very problems that you have created, unless of course you don’t believe that you have caused any of the chaos that presently exists in our country?

‘I have done a great job’, countered the Destroyer.

‘And therein lies the problem that prevents you from seeing the paradox’, concluded the master.



Change positions to access the diversity

Landscape photography has given me a deeper understanding and appreciation of how time, space and object, interconnect to create and define the reality that we observe.

If you go to the same place over and over again, and keep your focus on a specific object of interest, you will notice the impact of time. The belief that you know the place due to the familiarity, gets challenged when you consider how time changes the landscape. From a psychological standpoint, the person you are today, will not be exactly the same person you are tomorrow. While you may think or believe that you are the same, small (and maybe unnoticed) changes are unfolding as you evolve over time.

In a previous article, I mentioned that a beginner’s mind (that makes no assumptions when you encounter sameness or familiarity) gets cultivated when you are open to ‘seeing’ the ever changing dynamic of time.

So what do you experience if you keep time constant (which is not actually possible) and then change space or perspective of the object of interest? You get diversity.

At any given point in time, when a group of people are discussing a specific topic of contention, different perspectives (or positions) will emerge. Diversity is all about viewing the same object but from different positions in space. Space is context. Context defines meaning.


There are daily patterns of events that recur at approximately the same time everyday. The A380 Airbus passing overhead at approximately the same time of day, everyday, is a case in point. It is a beautiful plane and has such presence when flying above.

To reveal the diversity of perspective of the plane in different contexts, I set up my camera in different places and waited for the plane to pass by.




IMG_8464-2When considering any issue, try and shift your position or perspective so that you get a more ‘richer’ understanding of the complexity that surrounds the issue. However, this requires that you give up your usual perspective, which feels safe, comfortable and ingrained. That is why most people find it extremely difficult to let go of the familiar position that they take. Holding on to one’s perspective is driven by fear of change, or fear of losing oneself, or fear of being negatively influenced by another perspective. It is this fear that rigidifies and intensifies a stance or position, which then increases the possibility of conflict and blockage.

A dominant voice that prescribes to others closes down possibilities and increases feelings of resentment and anger. All perspectives need to be seen and considered in order to gain a deeper understanding of an issue. The challenge is to then integrate this diversity (incorporating all perspectives), so that more complex solutions can be formulated for a resolution to unfold. This is especially true when dealing with global concerns that do not have a ‘simple, one answer’ which is driven by a one size fits all, type of thinking.

Enhancing quantum performance

I am constantly being asked questions about the psychology of performance and the ‘state of mind’ that is necessary to ensure success in competition.

Many athletes adopt a mechanical approach to their mental preparation. Specific goals are set which the athlete then strives to achieve. While this sort of approach offers structure and clarity for the athlete, I feel that it only taps into the logical part of the brain. Further, this approach is outcome based and does not embrace the fluidity and ever changing nature of competition.

Exceptional performance that catapults the athlete onto a new level requires an added dimension that incorporates an approach that taps into imagery and creativity. This approach is based in a philosophy of quantum thinking in which mental energy is seen as having properties similar to water, where multiple levels of thinking are integrated into a holistic focus.

The nature of this approach is nonverbal, intuitive and story-like in which ideas generate powerful meaning that the athlete can connect with. In line with this way of thinking, photographs, images and/or meaningful stories can help crystalise mental energy that will help the athlete reach higher levels of performance in a spontaneous and creative way.

On a recent walk I took three photographs that best illustrate ideas regarding the integration of three mental processes, that if one taps into, will assist the athlete during the unfolding process of competition.

Three inter-connected mental components form the holistic model that embraces quantum thinking. These three components should co-exist and be utilised at the appropriate time, depending on the nature of the challenge that is being encountered:

  1. The optimism and joy of a dog on a walk
  2. The alertness of a cat ready to pounce
  3. The freedom and flow of a bird in flight

In a conversation with an iron man triathlete, I was explaining that it was necessary to remain present in the unfolding moment of competition. The three dynamics mentioned above, are ever present during the race.

There needs to be an overall optimism in the way that one approaches and deals with challenges, particularly in the tough, down periods of a race. Remaining connected to the joy of a dog on a walk supports the athlete at times when doubts, despondency or fears creep in.

A cat that is ready to pounce is in a proactive state of readiness. The alertness of a cat helps the athlete deal with the unexpected. To be successful, it is important to trust your abilities and to respond immediately and spontaneously to a threatening or challenging moment. In order to respond in such a way, the athlete needs to be in a concentrated state of alertness, where nothing is taken for granted. Nothing should distract the athlete from the present moment of focus.

Many athletes go into competition with a definite, structured game-plan having specific outcomes. While this may offer the athlete security, the challenge during competition is to be able to adapt and be flexible to change. Trusting your instincts and being able to change strategy at critical moments of the unfolding process is a skill that champions possess. If the mindset is too rigid, the athlete is likely to hold onto a game-plan that was formulated before the start of the race, but may no longer be working due to changing conditions and/or opponents that have found a way to neutralise or defeat you.

In summary, the table below captures the holistic, and integrated mental state that will offer you the best chance of a quantum performance:

Aligns you to:


Dog on a walk

Optimism, Joy, Support

Despondency, Fear, Stress

Cat ready to pounce

Alertness, Concentration, Discipline, Stillness

Lethargy, Complacency, Distraction

Bird in flight

Flexibility, Flow, Freedom, Creativity

Rigidity, Tightness, Limitation

The column of counters highlight the mental challenges that negative energy activates. If you are feeling despondent during competition, then tapping into the theme of walking the dog will help you. If you become aware that you are getting too tight or rigid in how you are approaching the challenges, then linking to birds in flight will offer you the necessary flexibility of movement to navigate around the obstacle.


Each new day begins with a sunrise, that brings light and warmth.

A new beginning or a new way depends on new insights that help direct your energy into a new direction. The model above does not only apply to elite athletes that are constantly working on expanding their expertise and skills to master taxing challenges in the heat of competitive battle.

A client of mine revealed that she was aligning herself to the themes of freedom, fearlessness and joy, as part of her change process, in how she wanted to live her life going forward. She stated that she wanted to better utilise and embrace opportunities that crossed her path. Such is the way to lead a more fulfilling life where your light can shine in its own uniqueness.

Love and quantum leaps

Balanced and focused
Keaton Jennings – balanced and focused

Recently, my nephew Keaton Jennings, scored two centuries in the opening match of the English county cricket season. Any cricketer will tell you how remarkable this achievement is. His performance placed him in the Durham County Cricket Club’s history books.

I often equate life to the image of an iceberg, where 1/7 lies above the surface (the seen), while 6/7 lies beneath the water line (the unseen). His remarkable performance did not surprise me one bit, since I had observed the accumulation of all the hard work and dedication that goes on behind the scenes. He never shies away from doing the ‘hard yards’, and is keen to learn more and more about the complexity of top performance.

In talking about the mental aspects of elite performance, I shared with him that the mental and emotional components of an athlete need to be integrated and balanced for exceptional performance to unfold. In order to assist this process, Keaton and I spent 6 months doing tai chi together. In addition, he applied the calm breathing exercises of the tai chi practice to his batting.

Besides working on getting into this balanced performance state, I mentioned that an athlete will not be able to perform to his(her) potential if riddled with fear during competition, especially with the ‘fear of failure’. Fear constricts and restricts the energy flow of a person. It tightens the body and freezes the mental capacities of the athlete. Fear vacillates (depending on the context), and tends to rear its ugly head at critical moments during the competitive encounter of elite sport.

There are two processes that one can use to tackle and neutralize fear. It is worth mentioning, however, that fear is a powerful and stubborn energy that is not easily conquered. Given this, one needs to apply gentle perseverance to the process of overcoming it.

Firstly, one should ‘look’ at the fear squarely in its eyes and acknowledge its existence, without trying to change or resolve it. By just looking at your fear, you shine light on it. Since fear operates in the dark recesses of the mind, it does not like light. Besides wanting to remain in the dark, fear thrives and grows with denial. Honest looking, is a powerful neutralizing agent since this is opposite to the denial process.

Secondly, one can counter fear by applying lots of love to it. Love is the opposite energy to fear. When there is love, there can be no place for fear. Playing top sport with love in the heart, assists the athlete to enter the emotional and mental place where mind, body and spirit integrate into a unified and coherent energetic force that allows a quantum performance to occur.

Playing with love in the heart does not mean that the athlete is soft, weak or casual. Love requires taking care of what one does and insists that you are patient, persevering and dedicated in your efforts. Further, love means that the athlete is not critical or judgmental when dealing with failure. Instead, love is expansive and drives the athlete further to reveal the true potential that exists within. By accessing the energy of love, the athlete becomes alert to the unfolding moment and responds spontaneously with an open heart. It is in this emotional place, that the athlete enters the zone, where doubts are released and replaced with an inner peace that thrives on the challenge of the competitive moment.

Leaping with joy
Leaping with joy