The Repairman

There is an old story of a boilermaker who was hired to fix a huge steamship boiler system that was not working well. After listening to the engineer’s description of the problems and asking a few questions, he went to the boiler room. He looked at the maze of twisting pipes, listened to the thump of the boiler and the hiss of escaping steam for a few minutes, and felt some pipes with his hands. Then he hummed softly to himself, reached into his overalls and took out a small hammer, and tapped a bright red valve, once. Immediately the entire system began working perfectly, and the boilermaker went home. When the steamship owner received a bill for $1,000 he complained that the boilermaker had only been in the engine room for fifteen minutes, and requested an itemized bill. This is what the boilermaker sent him:

For tapping with hammer: $ .50
For knowing where to tap: 999.50
Total: $1,000.00

The Priest and the Thief

One evening as the Buddhist priest, Shichiri Kojun, was reciting his sutras, a man with a knife crept up behind him.”Give me your money!” the man threatened. Without turning his head, Shichiri answered, “Do not disturb me. You will find the money in the cupboard near the wall.” And then he resumed his recitation. A few moments later, Shichiri paused and called: “Don’t take it all, though. I need to pay my taxes tomorrow.” The man returned a few coins to the cupboard and started towards the door. As he opened it, he heard Shichiri say, “Thank a person when you receive a gift.” The man called over his shoulder, “You are thanked,” and he fled into the dark night. Within a few weeks, the man was arrested for theft. At his trial, Shichiri appeared with many others who claimed that the man had stolen from them. When it was Shichiri’s turn to testify, he was asked if the accused man had stolen anything. Shichiri replied, “No. He entered my house. He asked me for money. I told him that it was in my cupboard. He took some. And then he thanked me for it.” When the man finished his prison term, he went to Shichiri and became his disciple.

Learning to Stand Up

We learn so much a a conscious level and then we forget what we learn and use the skill. You see, Erickson had a terrific advantage over others, he had polio, and he was totally paralysed and the inflammation was so great that he had a sensory paralysis, too. Luckily, however, he could still move his eyes and his hearing was undisturbed.
He got very lonely lying in bed, unable to move anything except his eyeballs. He was quarantined on the farm with 7 sisters, one brother, two parents, and a practical nurse. So how could he entertain himself?
He started to watch people and their environment. He soon learned that his sisters could say “no” when they mean “yes.” And they could say “yes” and mean “no” at the same time. They could offer another sister an apple and yet hold it back. And Erickson decided to begin to pay great attention to nonverbal language and body language.
He had a baby sister who had begun to learn to crawl. Now he couldn’t walk – he couldn’t even crawl. So you can imagine the intensity with which he watched his baby sister grow from crawling to learning how to stand up. And you don’t even know how you learned to stand up. You don’t even know how you walked. You can think that you can walk in a straight line for six blocks – with no pedestrian or vehicular traffic. You don’t know that you couldn’t walk in a straight line at a steady pace!

You don’t know what you do when you walk. You don’t know how you learned to stand up. You learned by reaching up your hand and pulling yourself up. That put pressure on your hands— and, by accident, you discovered that you could put weight on your feet. That’s an awfully complicated thing because your knees would give way—and, when your knees would keep straight, your hips would give way. Then you got your feet crossed. And you couldn’t stand up because both your knees and your hips would give way. Your feet were crossed—and you soon learned to get a wide brace—and you pull yourself up and you have the job of learning how to keep your knees straight—one at a time and as soon as you learn that, you have to learn how to give your attention to keep your hips straight. Then you found out that you had to learn to give your attention to keep your hips straight and knees straight at the same time and feet far apart! Now finally you could stand having your feet far apart, resting on your hands.

Then came the lesson in three stages. You distribute your weight on your one hand and your two feet, this hand not supporting you at all. Honestly hard work-allowing you to learn to stand up straight, your hips straight, knees straight, feet far apart, this hand [right hand] pressing down hard. Then you discover how to alter your body balance. You alter your body balance by turning your head, turning your body. You have to learn to coordinate all alterations of your body balance when you move your hand, your head, your shoulder, your body—and then you have to learn it all over again with the other hand. Then comes the terribly hard job of learning to have both hands up and moving your hands in all directions and to depend upon the two solid bases of your feet, far apart. And keeping your hips straight —your knees straight and keeping your mind’s attention so divided that you can attend to your knees, your hips, your left arm, your right arm, your head, your body. And finally, when you had enough skill, you tried balancing on one foot. That was a hell of a job!

How do you hold your entire body keeping your hips straight, your knees straight and feeling hand movement, head movement, body movement? And then you put your one foot ahead and alter your body’s center of gravity! Your knees bent—and you sat down! You got up again and tried it again. Finally you learned how to move one foot ahead and took a step and it seemed to be good. So you repeated it—it seemed so good. Then the third step —with the same foot—and you toppled! It took you a long time to alternate right left, right left, right left. Now you could swing your arms, turn your head, look right and left, and walk along, never paying a bit of attention to keeping your knees straight, hips straight.

School is Boring

Fascinating Bordom

When I was a ten-year-old, I once confessed to my Dad, ” School is boring.”
He said, “What?” – acting as though he hadn’t heard me. So I repeated, “School is boring!”
His eyebrows rose with a concerned and slow “I see.” With his hand on his chin, he stared into space for a moment, and then as if struck by a meteor from inner space, he suddenly shot back, “How many kids in your class?”
“About 30.”
“And how old are they?”
“They’re ten, like me.”
“Thirty kids, all ten years old – wow!” and he stared into space as if some miracle had happened.
“What?” I begged. I couldn’t imagine what was so magical about 30 ten-years-olds.
“Well,” he said, pausing just long enough to make sure I was interested, “30 kids, each ten years old, that makes 300 years total. Three hundred years worth of living, in the same room, at the same time. Each person so different, with thoughts and beliefs and ideas. I mean, just trying to imagine what each one had for breakfast is amazing! Or what each one is thinking at any moment! Imagine if thoughts could be heard, wow, you could hear thirty thoughts at the same time! I wonder what secrets they all have. I wonder what they dream at night?”
At the ripe old age of ten I’d had ten years experience living with my Dad. So I already knew he was a little different from other Dads. My response was to roll my eyes and walk away.
But the next day in school, I couldn’t keep from from wondering what all my classmates had for breakfast, what they had dreamed about the night before, what made them the way they were, and what they were thinking about when the teacher was talking. School didn’t change, but my perspective and behavior did. Suddenly going to school was more like going to the zoo. Everything became fascinating.

The Cellar Door

A child is told to keep clear of the cellar door and above all never to open it because what is behind is frightening and dangerous. When she is a bit older and her parents are elsewhere she decides to open the door and look for herself. She is scared but determined to be brave and as the door opens she sees….green fields, other children playing and the sun shining.

Good Strong Blood

Dr. Erickson describes handling an incident with his son Robert to illustrated how to deal with children in pain. Robert fell down the back stairs, split his lip, and knocked his upper tooth back into the maxilla. He was bleeding and screaming with pain and fright. His parents rushed to him and saw that it was an emergency. Dr. Erickson writes,

“No effort was made to pick him up. Instead, as he paused for breath for fresh screaming, he was told quickly, simply, sympathetically and emphatically, ‘That hurts awful, Robert. That hurts terrible.’

“Right then, without any doubt, my son knew that I knew what I was talking about. He could agree with me and he knew I was agreeing with him completely. Therefore he could listen respectfully to me, because I had demonstrated that I understood the situation fully.”

‘Then I told Robert, ‘And it will keep right on hurting.’ In this simple statement, I named his own fear, confirmed his own judgment of the situation, demonstrated my good intelligent grasp of the entire matter and my entire agreement with him, since right then he could foresee a lifetime of anguish and pain for himself.

“The next step for him and for me was to declare, as he took another breath, ‘And you really wish it would stop hurting.’ Again, we were in full agreement and he was ratified and even encouraged in this wish. And it was his wish, deriving entirely from within him and constituting his own urgent need.

‘With the situation so defined, I could then offer a suggestion with some certainty of its acceptance. This suggestion was, ‘Maybe it will stop hurting in a little while, in just a minute or two.’

“This was a suggestion in full accord with his own needs and wishes and, because it was qualified by ‘maybe it will,’ it was not in contradiction to his own understandings of the situation. Thus he could accept the idea and initiate his response to it.”

Dr. Erickson then shifted to another important matter. As he puts it:

“Robert knew that he hurt, that he was a damaged person; he could see his blood upon the pavement, taste it in his mouth and see it on his hands. And yet, like all other human beings, he too could desire narcissistic distinction in his misfortune, along with the desire even more for narcissistic comfort. Nobody wants a picayune headache: since a headache must be endured, let it be so colossal that only the sufferer could endure it. Human pride is so curiously good and comforting! Therefore, Robert’s attention was doubly directed to two vital issues of comprehensible importance to him by the simple statements, ‘That’s an awful lot of blood on the pavement. Is it good, red, strong blood? Look carefully, Mother, and see. I think it is, but I want you to be sure.’ ”

Examination proved it to be good strong blood, but it was necessary to verify this by examination of it against the white background of the bathroom sink. In this way the boy, who had ceased crying in pain and fright, was cleaned up. When he went to the doctor for stitches the question was whether he would get as many as his sister had once been given. The suturing was done without anesthetic on a boy who was an interested participant in the procedure.

Words of wisdom from the Hodja

Once long ago, the Hodja stood in his pulpit and looked out at his congregation. They were filing slowly into the mosque, ready for prayer and wisdom. The Hodja shook his head in wonder as he watched them. He wondered why they seemed so eager to hear his words.

As the congregation settled down, all eyes turned to face the Hodja.

He looked at his people and said, ”True believers! I ask you, tell me please if what I am about to say to you, you know already.”

The congregation was silent, for they were not certain they had understood the Hodja’s question. At last they stood and answered, altogether, ”We do not know what you are about to say to us. It is impossible for us to know.”

The Hodja sighed. ”Ahh, then, what is the use? What use would it be for me to speak of a subject unknown to you and unknown to me?” And with these words, the Hodja descended from the pulpit and walked out of the mosque.

The congregation sat for a long while, thinking over the Hodja’s words of wisdom. They offered their prayers and then rose and returned to their homes. The whole week long, they spoke of little else but the Hodja’s words.

The next week, the congregation was larger than it had been the week before. Everyone wanted to hear what the Hodja had to say, for word had spread of his wisdom. Again the Hodja watched his congregants enter the mosque. He could see the anticipation in their faces and in the way they walked quickly to their places.

The mosque was nearly full. The congregation looked up at the pulpit and the Hodja began. ”True believers, tell me, and tell me truly, if what I am about to say to you, you already know.”

This time the congregation was ready for the Hodja’s question. They wished with all their hearts to hear the Hodja’s words, and so, without hesitation, they rose and called out as one, ”Yes, Hodja, we know what you are going to say to us.”

The Hodja sighed deeply. He raised his head high. ”Then there is no use in my wasting precious hours in speaking to you. There is, you will agree, true believers, no sense in telling you that which you know already.”

Once again the Hodja descended from the pulpit and walked out of the mosque. The congregants offered their prayers and looked around at one another. Every congregant had questions in his heart and on his lips. Still, all remained silent for a long time. At last they rose and returned to their homes.

The whole week long people spoke of little but the Hodja’s words.

The following week, the Hodja stood again in his place. This time the mosque was overflowing. The air inside was thick and hot with anticipation.

”Oh, true believers,” the Hodja began, ”I ask you to tell me, and tell me truly, if what I am about to say, you already know.”

Everyone in the congregation had rehearsed for this moment. When the Hodja stopped speaking, half the people rose. ”Yes, Hodja,” they called, ”we know what you are going to say to us.” And then they sat and the other half of the people stood and said, ”Hodja, how could we ignorant people know what you would say to us? It is you who are wise.”

The Hodja looked solemnly out at the people. He looked at the first group — the people who knew what he was going to say. He sighed. He looked at the second group — the people who had called themselves ignorant. He sighed more deeply still.

”A fine answer, my people,” the Hodja said softly. ”And now I know precisely how to help each and every one of you. Listen closely, true believers.”

Everyone leaned forward.

”The half of the congregation who knows what I am going to say will now tell the other half exactly what that is. For this you have my blessing.”

With that the Hodja nodded solemnly and descended the pulpit. Slowly he made his way out of the mosque.

Afterward the people spoke of the great Hodja’s wisdom. The people who said they knew nothing sought the knowledge of those who said they knew everything. There was no need for anyone to trouble the Hodja. And that was ”hak,” as the people said, or, in our language, that was truly just.

The Obstacle in Our Path

In ancient times, a king had a boulder placed on a roadway. Then he hid himself and watched to see if anyone would remove the huge rock. Some of the king’s wealthiest merchants and courtiers came by and simply walked around it. Many loudly blamed the king for not keeping the roads clear, but none did anything about getting the big stone out of the way. Then a peasant came along carrying a load of vegetables. On approaching the boulder, the peasant laid down his burden and tried to move the stone to the side of the road. After much pushing and straining, he finally succeeded. As the peasant picked up his load of vegetables, he noticed a purse lying in the road where the boulder had been. The purse contained many gold coins and a note from the king indicating that the gold was for the person who removed the boulder from the roadway. The peasant learned what many others never understand: Every obstacle presents an opportunity to improve one’s condition.


Two kids sitting at the table.  Mother asks the older one “I have 2 bowls of ice cream.  One chocolate, one vanilla.  Which one do you want.” The older one looks at both bowls, and says “I want the vanilla.” So the mother gives the older boy vanilla and the one remaining, the chocolate, she gives to the younger boy.
The 2 kids start eating the ice cream and the younger boy is just shoveling the chocolate ice cream in his mouth as he exclaims “This ice cream is soooo good!”  The older boy takes a bite of his vanilla – yep vanilla, and notices the younger brother so happily enjoying his ice cream, he starts to complain “I wanted the chocolate.  I mistook, I don’t really want vanilla.”  But he continues to eat it.  All the while noticing the younger brother enjoying each scoop of his chocolate.  The older brother complaining with each scoop of his vanilla.  Each bite he would mumble, a phrase” I don’t want this.” Or ” I want the vanilla” Or “This is isn’t fair.”  Finally the older brother looks down at his last bite of ice cream totally dissatisfied and frowning  and says “ah, my ice cream is all gone. I want more. But I don’t want vanilla, I want chocolate.”

Looking at a Picture

When you LOOK at a problem you look at it in ALL possible ways. I was in Mexico City visiting a dentist there. He told me his wife was an artist. She denied it and he insisted she WAS. I thought she was self-effacing. I asked to see some of her sketches. And, she brought out her sketches . . . and there was an unusual scroll along the border of each picture. And very nice sketches of faces, flowers, animals and so on. And I picked up the picture and looked at it. I turned and looked at it this way, I looked at it this way, (turning the picture at all angles), I turned and looked at it THIS way. I took a little piece of paper and tore a hole in it about the size of my fingernail, and laid it down on the ornamental border and asked the dentist, “Look”. He said, “My word, there is a FACE there.” I moved it along and there was ANOTHER face. Sitting in that border were hundreds of faces in every one of her sketches. Her unconscious had put them there, I had been willing to discover them there. She is now an outstanding artist and runs an art gallery in the City of Mexico.

The Fisherman and the Businessman

There was once a businessman who was sitting by the beach in a small Brazilian village.
As he sat, he saw a Brazilian fisherman rowing a small boat towards the shore having caught quite few big fish.
The businessman was impressed and asked the fisherman, “How long does it take you to catch so many fish?”
The fisherman replied, “Oh, just a short while.”
“Then why don’t you stay longer at sea and catch even more?” The businessman was astonished.
“This is enough to feed my whole family,” the fisherman said.
The businessman then asked, “So, what do you do for the rest of the day?”
The fisherman replied, “Well, I usually wake up early in the morning, go out to sea and catch a few fish, then go back and play with my kids. In the afternoon, I take a nap with my wife, and evening comes, I join my buddies in the village for a drink — we play guitar, sing and dance throughout the night.”

The businessman offered a suggestion to the fisherman.
“I am a PhD in business management. I could help you to become a more successful person. From now on, you should spend more time at sea and try to catch as many fish as possible. When you have saved enough money, you could buy a bigger boat and catch even more fish. Soon you will be able to afford to buy more boats, set up your own company, your own production plant for canned food and distribution network. By then, you will have moved out of this village and to Sao Paulo, where you can set up HQ to manage your other branches.”

The fisherman continues, “And after that?”
The businessman laughs heartily, “After that, you can live like a king in your own house, and when the time is right, you can go public and float your shares in the Stock Exchange, and you will be rich.”
The fisherman asks, “And after that?”
The businessman says, “After that, you can finally retire, you can move to a house by the fishing village, wake up early in the morning, catch a few fish, then return home to play with kids, have a nice afternoon nap with your wife, and when evening comes, you can join your buddies for a drink, play the guitar, sing and dance throughout the night!”
The fisherman was puzzled, “Isn’t that what I am doing now?”

The Boy Who Banged a Drum

Once upon a time, there was a small boy who banged a drum all day and loved every moment of it. He would not be quiet, no matter what anyone else said or did. His parents were quite forward-thinking people and believed that it is important to make your own decisions. So they didn’t just take the drum away from the boy. Instead, they tried to persuade him. They called upon many wise men and asked each one of the these people to convince the boy to stop playing the drum.
Lots of good ideas were offered.
The first person who came was a scientist. The scientist explained to the boy about sound waves and the power of sound. He told the boy if he continued to play the drum in that way, that there was a good chance that he might break his eardrum. However, the boy was just a child and this scientific thinking was too difficult for him, so he just kept playing his drum.
The next person who came was a priest from the temple. He came dressed in his colourful robes and burning incense. He explained to the boy that drum-beating was a sacred activity and should be carried out only on special occasions and at certain ceremonies. But the boy didn’t really understand, and besides, he really wasn’t all that interested in these gods that he couldn’t even see, so… the noise continued.
The third person who came was an engineer who had studied in the university in the capital and she was very smart indeed. She was also very practical at finding good solutions. She didn’t even bother talking to the boy because that seemed inefficient. Instead, she gave the parents and the neighbors earplugs. It was a great idea, but unfortunately, the earplugs couldn’t keep out the constant drumming from morning to night.
The fourth person who came was a teacher. He gave the boy a book and tried to get the boy interested in education. “There is so much more to learn – so many amazing things in this world – and books can be the doorway to a new world for you.” The boy looked at the pictures for a while and then turned back to the drum. It seemed so much more fun.
The fifth person who came was a therapist who believed that the child suffered from anger issues. Obviously, the child was playing the drum all the time because he was angry at the people around him. So the therapist gave the boy meditation exercises to make him calm and explained that all reality was imagination… The boy sat in the right pose and made the right om sound for what seemed like a long time to the boy – almost one whole minute, in fact! And then he picked up the drum again and the noise continued.
And then finally, an old woman came by and heard the drum and said, “what is that noise?” The neighbours explained about the boy and how the scientist, the priest, the engineer,the teacher, and the therapist had all been unable to help. It seemed like nothing could be done. The old woman looked at the situation calmly and smiled at the boy. Then she picked up a hammer and chisel and said to the boy, “I wonder what is inside the drum?”

Two Monks

Many many years ago, two monks were walking through a town where a great rain had fallen and the main street of the town was flooded. A beautiful lady in her best clothes was trying to cross the road, but couldn’t cross because she was afraid that she would damage her clothes.

The older monk looked at the lady, and despite his religious vow to never touch a woman, he gently lifted the woman off the ground and carried her safely across the flooded street to the other side. Then he returned to the younger monk.

The younger monk said nothing, but had a look so fiery on his face that it could have boiled the water around their feet. All day, they continued to walk, and the younger monk continued to display his angry face.

Finally, the younger monk stopped, turned to the older monk and said:

“How could you have done that?”
“Done what?”, said the older monk.
“How could you have carried that woman like that? You know that our vows forbid us from touching a woman.”
The older monk smiled gently and said,
“I carried her for one minute a long time ago. Are you still carrying her in your heart?”

Thinking outside the box

One day a little teddy bear was sitting by a lake… quietly watching what was going on…. just enjoying being relaxed and calm… the little bear had one or two good friends among the birds and the other animals… but never really felt part of it…. like an outsider…. and didn’t know why…. whenever a big important animal came along … the little bear got flustered or embarrassed or said the wrong thing…. never knew what to do.
And the bear was thinking about this when a voice said “What would you like things to be like?” The bear looked around startled… and saw a cat with big floppy ears sitting on a low box, watching, the way cats do.
“Who are you?” said the bear.
“That’s not important”, said the cat with the large ears. “Do you know who you are? That’s what’s important”.
“How did you get here?”
“That’s not important, either.” the cat said, smugly, and began to nibble a tadpole.
“That’s a funny looking box you’re sitting on.” said the bear, at length.
“Oh this – it’s not a box, it’s a book, actually.”
The bear looked at the book for a while and said “It doesn’t look very comfortable. ”
“It’s not meant to be comfortable. It’s meant to let you do what you want.”
“Wow” said the bear, impressed. “Anything you want?”
“And would it let me do anything I want?” asked the bear, hopefully.
“Sure,” said the cat, who was now deep in the weeds at the edge of the water searching for another tadpole “Just imagine what you want and the book will open at the right page.”
The bear thought and thought… and looked hard at the book over there… there was something the bear had always wanted to do…. but never dared… it wasn’t possible, was it?…. or was it?… or maybe not… and while the bear’s woolly mind was busy wondering if the book might… could… the book suddenly flipped open.
“Ah…” said the cat through a mouth full of goldfish “I see you’ve managed to get it working.”
“But I’m not sure what to do next.” said the bear, nervously.
“Simple. Just look at the instructions, and apply them.”
The bear peered at the book, and sure enough, there were the exact instructions needed. The bear was elated. It was so simple. Just do as the book says. It was obvious what to do. So with a quick “Thanks, whoever you are!” the bear was off down the path to try it out.
And just a few steps down the path, a family of ducks turned up, complaining noisily about missing goldfish. And then all twelve baby ducks started crying and carrying on and in all the fuss and noise the bear forgot the instructions.
So the bear turned back and found the cat lying down contentedly scratching his belly with a stick. And the book was closed.
“What do I do now?” wailed the bear.
“Why not think of something else you would like to do?” said the cat.
So the bear thought and thought, and was busy trying to decide whether to ask about this thing or that thing, when the book popped open on its own. Surprised, the bear went over and peered into it, and again the exact instructions were right there…. how to do an even more important thing the bear needed.
Quick as flash the bear set off again down the path…. determined to ignore all distractions… bustling along as fast as possible… and tripped over a tree root. “Oh dash and pepperpots!” said the bear. “Why does this always happen to me? Why isn’t the path kept clear the way it’s supposed to be…” and going over those same old complaints soon drove the instructions clear out of that silly bear’s head.
“Back again?” said the cat, busy carving a flute out a fish bone. “Well, you should know how it works by now. You don’t need me to tell you. ” and left the bear to get on with it, blowing a few experimental notes on the flute all the while.
The bear had hardly begun to think when the book flipped open again, so hard that it spun right round before settling back on the ground. “Goodness, I am getting good at this.” thought the bear and in a moment was scurrying down the path again, pushing leaves aside and being very, very careful about roots. The bear was making good progress, getting on towards doing the most important thing of all….when it began to rain…. and that silly bear started to think about getting home and worrying if the windows were left open or not…. and before long was trudging back up the path again, dejected and miserable and now wet as well.
The bear found the cat settled comfortably in front of a cozy fire under a little shelter and trying out a new tune on the flute. And as the tune faded away… a few damp notes still hanging in the air… the cat looked over, took a long lazy stretch, and said…
“You know, I wonder if maybe you are making an assumption here?”
And the bear thought about it, and realised the cat was right.

Learning From the Bands

A friend of mine is a musician and always seems to be learning new instruments, new tunes, and new ways of making music in cool ways. At the weekend, he loves to go into Central Park in the center of Nagoya during the daytime where lots of Japanese bands perform. Now, some of these bands are really really good, and some of them are – how shall I say this – a little less good. One of the things that my friend likes about watching all the bands is that it is free! And as he says to me, “Because something is expensive, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s good… and if something is free, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it has no value. You have to listen and look yourself and find out what is valuable for you. And of course, as you listen and look, you may learn very different things to someone else.”

So my friend goes every week when the weather is fine, and he says that he learns something from every single band! When he watches and listens to the really good bands, he says that he learns new riffs from the guitar player and cool rhythms from the funky drummers. I guess that it’s not surprising that you can learn a lot by watching excellent performers.

But what’s really interesting is that my friend says, “You can learn by watching and listening to the bad performers, too. When I watch a bad performer, I think to myself – wow, that’s another thing that I’m not going to do.”

So my friend gets better and better, learning from both good and bad performers. And he says that “you can have so much fun learning and improving in ways that you never even imagined!.”


The Dancing Centipede
Once there was a centipede who delighted in dancing. At night when the moon began to rise and shed its soft light onto the grassy slope below, Centipede would stretch one of her several beautiful long legs. “Aaaahhh…” she would sigh into the cool night air. And then, she would close her eyes and begin to sway to the music of the nearby stream as it splashed over the pebbles and stones. Slowly, at first, her numerous dainty feet started to move by two’s and four’s and ten’s in a carefully choreographed pattern, faster and faster, until she found herself framed in her spotlight from the moon. Head thrown back, legs outstretched she belted in true Ethel Merman fashion “I’m just a Broadway Baby… 100 legs-each kicking higher than the last, “Struttin’ my stuff…” 100 feet , each encased in a tiny gold slipper, “All over the earth to-night.” Now swinging from the branch of an abandoned hut, Bat wanted to join her – Top hat, tails, and all – but the movements were so … amazing! So brilliant! So dazzling! So absolutely out of his league! He would have to settle for admiration only – and a dream. From the water’s shallows, Frog ribbeted appreciation and Cricket chirped as Centipede executed one multi-legged split after another, finally concluding with a twisting top spiral balancing herself deftly on the tips of her 50th right and left legs, all 98 others tucked one round the other. Goose was absolutely energized by the evening’s performance and couldn’t stop honking “Bravo’s” as she waddled over to where Centipede paused still lost in her moment of artistic brilliance. “Simply stunning,” Lizard hissed and whistled. “Oh, please, show us how you do it,” cooed Dove from a branch. “Yeesss, pleeaassee,” they all shouted. “Tell us! Which foot do you start with? And which foot do you end with? How do you know what to do?” “Quiet, everyone,” said Centipede confidently untwirling herself with ease. Everybody moved closer to hear her words of wisdom. She smiled at the admiring audience in front of her, took a deep breath and said, “Well, first I…” She paused, looked at her feet, moved several of them this way and that.”I…”And, then, she wobbled – ever so slightly – and a curious, confused expression came across her face. From that night on, Centipede never danced again.
(Adapted folk tale)

Although the talented Centipede was baffled into paralysis by questions exploring her technique, had she studied NLP, she probably would have danced after that night and,what’s more, she could have learned how to share her skills with others. How can this metaphor be useful for teachers to learn about NLP and to share insights about behavior? Many teachers-and students-are like both the Centipede and her Admirers. They have a special skill (the Centipede) and, still they desire something more (the Admirers). They have a knack for doing some things well but suddenly become confused and stumped when trying to explain or analyze performance. What does that imply about skill or talents and, also, the thinking processes? How conscious are we of what we do? Is a particular skill inspired by the gods or is it a habit developed over time by persistence and practice? Viola Spolin, the American artist-educator and author of several books on improvisational theatre techniques for children and adults, strongly objected to the concept of talent as a special genius. Spolin insisted that each of us, at birth, has a capacity to experience and as we progress through life, we either expand that capacity or we limit it.

Falling in a Hole

A woman is out for a walk when she falls into a deep hole from which there appears to be no way out. She cries out for help and a passing academic leans over and offers her advice on how to avoid such holes in future. Later a religious leader hears her cries and suggests she thinks about the true meaning of her predicament and says that there is a being somewhere who cares about her. Subsequently a therapist responds with an offer to help her explore how she allowed herself to get into this situation. Various other professionals offer advice as the woman sinks into deeper despair. Lastly a friend comes by, realises what has happened and jumps into the hole with her. The woman is pleased to have the company but also wonders why her friend has put herself in the same situation. The friend replies “I have been in this hole before, I know the way out”

Virtually no competition

While professional soccer is still struggling to find a firm foothold in the United States, in the 1970s the North American Soccer League marked the brave first attempt to introduce the game to American sports fans. While most teams had only limited success at best, one did manage to break through to genuine mainstream popularity – the New York Cosmos.

It was the brainchild of Steve Ross, a passionate soccer fan who was also a major executive at Warner Communications.

Max Ross told his son Steve: “In life there are those who work all day, those who dream all day, and those who spend an hour dreaming before setting to work to fulfil those dreams. Go into the third category because there’s virtually no competition”.

Source: “Once In A Lifetime – The Extraordinary Story Of The New York Cosmos” by Gavin Newsham

Cheating at Drawing

He was not good at drawing at school and never had his work displayed in the classroom. One day, by mistake, he completed a drawing having taken two sheets of paper instead of the usual single sheet. He noticed an outline of the drawing on the second sheet. This gave him an idea and he took a sheet of paper home and traced over a drawing he liked so an outline was left on the sheet underneath which he then took to school. In the lesson he drew over the outline and submitted the work as his own. After a couple of tries he had his work selected for display on the classroom wall. And so it continued for a whole term but then he started to feel guilty and decided he would stop cheating. Next term he drew without following an outline and found to his surprise that, with all the practice, his drawing was much better than it had been and after a few weeks he had a piece of work selected for display.

Careful of being Careful

Once a had a car and I had it for awhile. It was well looked after, I washed it every day and use the highest grade products on and in it to make sure it was at it’s best.

I also had it serviced on time when needed and sometimes even before it needed it because it deserved the best.

One day I was driving it as I always do very carefully always under the speed limit, avoiding any pot holes or debris that might damage my vehicle, and then without any warning the engine blew up!