Wednesday, August 24, 2016

breaking bad and breaking the snooze

Maybe it's all the publicized violence. Maybe it's humanity's over-domestication reaching a breaking point. Maybe it's just what happens in a room full of top dogs. What ever the explanation is,  I had the undivided attention of a group of people who should have been doodling with an eye toward the door. By hitting the powerpoint, the mic, and the stage with conversation about what it takes to break bad the mental snoozing took a shift.

The last speaker spot at the end of day 2 of a conference.  On a break before I took the podium, one of the participants said something like "you're up next, oooh, last spot of the day, that's the worst time, everyone's eyeing the door."

Granted, I see that as a challenge so maybe that was part of it too. I took the stage and repeated most of what the guy in the hallway said with instructions. "when you're tempted to check your email, or get on your laptop - don't. Get up, move - stand against a wall. Do something..."

That maybe helped in the beginning - along with I had been watching them do this all day from the back of the room - but still, I think there's more to this. More to why no one pulled out their phone.

A brief overview of what could be 8 hours of material on conflict, violence and a small glimpse into de-escalation generated attention and thoughtful questions. Then more questions and conversation after the ALPA conference was trying to get us out into the hotel lobby so the room could be managed. The information isn't new - and frankly, it isn't even mine. It's a tiny glimpse of information put together with Rory Miller mostly developed off of his program material.

I usually give these talks to people at a shooting range or a group of martial artists so I expect the interest to be moderately high. But to a room full of business execs, VP's of this and that, Special Agent's In Charge, I did not expect the info to be the shiny toy of the day...but it was.

Whatever the reason, a room full of good people who care about the safety of others have a new way of looking at an old problem and they are thinking.  One email all ready from a participant looking for more ways to deepen the knowledge - and- Miller's Conflict Communication should see an uptick in sales.

It was a good day.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

working backwards

This is sort of an AAR from our Infighting weekend. Sort of because it's focusing only on one thing and the training weekend has half a dozen different trails that can be after-actioned.

Working backwards -

Teaching/training the physical skills of self-defense feels like a forward progression - learning new things is forward action. And working the body, the physical - this is the most base aspect of being human. Working forward, learning new skills, at some levels is also about working backward, rewinding the progression of domestication and rewinding the tape on how you become who and what you are (at the moment). A student - who is also an instructor - remarked that putting the blindfold on to run a training drill made him more primal.  When we dig in to our bodies we dig in deep to who/what we are and a lot of that lives below the domestication.

It can go deeper too. At the risk of sounding esoteric, who and what we are gets carried in the marks and scars held in bone and tissue. In the world of Mindbody medicine, we say there is a type of memory held in the body. It's easier to use that language than get into how the various processes we think are utilized for storing and retrieving memory so we use shorthand - body memory.

This isn't like what people call muscle memory (which isn't really), it's more about a pathway to stored experience tied to movement and position.

You know how you can smell something and instantly remember a clear and distinct event or feeling from the past? The body works the same way.

The more chaos that gets introduced into physical training the more raw it becomes and the more likely the student will stumble across little -or big- revelations. The more the body gets moved, the more that movement is not scripted or controlled, the more problems and meat puzzles that have to be solved, the more likely the training experience will anchor down into something profound.

Don't think profound means earth-shattering or life changing. It can mean that it just doesn't always. Example? Something small like "oh hey - on the ground my focus is on hurting the other person instead of getting to a better position" or "when I have the blindfold on I am more primal" and then...this is the cool part...get curious. Each discovery means something. What it means has a significant impact on the student/practitioner's understanding of how they show up inside physical chaos and maybe a bread crumb trail back to the why.

If the student touches something primal, what does that mean for him? Is it a cool thing? Is it unnerving? Is it cool because it's fun to get primal or cool because getting primal creates permission to hurt people for fun? If the student discovers the ground fight is about causing injury to the other person instead of protecting herself from injury or death, then what? Getting curious creates discovery.

Remember we teach or train ultimately because we love this stuff. Really, that's what it should be about. Love it enough to be curious and let being curious make life better.

Friday, August 5, 2016

the opposite is most likely

Ipcha Mistabra

First the history (?) lesson:
From what I can tell, this is the real version of World War Z's Israeli 10th Man rule. After the war in 1973 when Israel was caught by surprise, a unit was formed to serve as devil's advocate. Sometimes refereed to as the Red Unit or Ipcha Mistabra.

Ipcha Mistabra is an Aramaic phrase found in the Talmud and means: the opposite is most likely.

The point of the unit is sanctioned opposition. It limits the transgressions that group think and emotional contagion can cause - like presuming a level of security that does not exist (and then getting caught with your proverbial pants down with devastating consequences).

The question:

Does it take tragedy to see the value of an Ipcha Mistrabra unit, person, or allowing dissenting ideas to be accepted within a tribe? Do we need a Yom Kippur War (Israel-1973), or a 911 before we make space for this? And, if we make room for the movie's version, a 10th Man rule, is there a point where we feel we no longer need it? Is dismissing it dangerous or common sense?

Within an organization v. a nation, does an organization need to implode first? Is it a mandate of human nature that we punish, squash, silence disagreement or voices that say...hey, I wonder if maybe the opposite is true? Is banishment & shunning our only option when someone has a different take? And this is can be literal, but we banish and shun all the time in subtle ways all the while holding the target of our correction to the rules we are banishing them for breaking.

Humans like to be right. I like to be right. So do you. It feels affirming to be right. And we want to dismiss dissent or disagreement because it threatens our need for confirmation that we might actually have a clue. Can we be disciplined enough to have deep enough dialogue such that an Ipcha Mistabra gets enough air time to be considered? It doesn't even have to be pretty. The monkeys can share their grievances even, in fact, one the best mediation systems around invites the monkey brain arguments and upsets to the table as the first step in reaching resolution (The Quaker's have this one down).

I think tribes prefer the black and white thinking of regulation and protocol because it is fundamentally easier than the alternative. And it is fundamentally easier. The alternative requires time and dialogue and thinking and discussion and decision making and...time.

When we create space for all that possibility our plumb lines risk getting fuzzy. We hold a hard line on pedophilia for example - we think it's really, really wrong. I'm good with that opinion and with the rules that enforce it. The North American Man/Boy Love Association disagrees. I don't want to give them the privilege of a ipcha mistabra seat at my table. It's a hard line for me but you might disagree...a rule, a regulation means we don't have to talk about it. I'm right. You're wrong.

It's easier to set up a rule. It feels safer. Thinking can be dangerous. Considering dissenting perspectives can be dangerous too. And if anything, humans will default to what requires the least effort to accomplish a task. It's why we have dishwashers and someone has invented a machine to fold the laundry.