Confused? Perhaps not.

How do you know that you know what you know is something that you know and yet you can be just as certain that you know that you know what you don’t know is, well, something that you don’t?

There must be something about the essence of recall that enables you to recognise that it is either certain or uncertain, otherwise you’d have to cross check every memory every time you recalled it in order to determine whether it is something you’ve recalled correctly or not.

As it turns out, it has a lot to do with how you decide to store information in the first place so that the qualities of know and don’t know, certain and uncertain, are encoded into the memory itself.

Once you recognise this and learn how you personally encode known information for quick and easy recall, you can encode brand new information in the same manner as everything else you absolutely know.

Done properly, your brain can’t tell the difference and stores this new knowledge in the same manner as all other information that you already know that you know and therefore can easily recall.


I’m learning how to spread the word.

This just might turn out to have been one of the most useful skills I learned for my hybridised career.

Want to know more?

Click here for my therapy website


Up or down? Are you sure?
© Tony Burkinshaw 2013

Being in Flow

Those of you who’ve been here before may be getting a feeling of Deja Vu, which co-incidentally isn’t the topic of this blog but it’s as good an instant digression as any.

I’ve been working on my flow state with this blog for a few weeks as you’ll no doubt recall from mid-November when the future trap snapped.

I’m happy to report that progress in finding flow is being made although, as it happens, not necessarily by me.

I’m delighted to present to you, as this week’s re-blogged masterpiece from The Fat Chick Sings;

Being in Flow

…see, I told you it wasn’t all about me

take it as you find it© Tony Burkinshaw 2012

take it as you find it
© Tony Burkinshaw 2012


The folly of perfection

As I write more posts and more of you read them, (many thanks by the way and I’m glad you keep coming back for more, although if this is your first visit equal thanks and I hope you’re entertained enough to pay a return visit later), I try to keep up my original stance with blog writing.

I’m writing this blog because I’ve discovered I may have a talent for putting my thoughts into words in an entertaining way but mainly because I want other people to read what I write.

My original stance, so my logic told me, was that if I want people to read what I’m writing then I should realise that all those many thousands of WordPress users and beyond are writing their own blogs because they also want to be read.

So I read posts. I try to read some every day. I’ve found some that I follow, just as others are following me, (now that really did surprise me). Some I ‘like’ if they’re entertaining or force me to think and others I’ll comment on, offering my perspective on what they’ve written. Somehow it’s a bit like joining in.

Usually, if I leave a comment, the blog writer will comment back. I do the same, always trying to return the compliment of making time to communicate, even if the original comment isn’t as flattering as my ego might have hoped. It’s beginning to feel as though there’s a community out there and some of them are starting to recognise me.

Imagine my surprise as I read this next post…

The folly of perfection

Just what I need…
© Tony Burkinshaw 2012


When the Future-Trap Snaps

So I’ve spent all week waiting for that mythical particle of inspiration to strike a spark in my imagination. It didn’t.

Thanks to Victoria, I have a back-up plan.

Module 7 of my training with Quest dealt with, amongst other issues, performance enhancement which you’ll know, of course, because you’ve read ‘You’ve Got The Power‘. On that particular weekend’s training course I worked with Victoria and the particular performance we worked on was my evolving writing skill. I’m still very new to this, having only really started any form of meaningful writing, (sales reports and technical bulletins don’t count), three months ago with this blog.

However in that short time, I’ve found that there are, on occasion, times when I just start writing with no real idea exactly what I’m going to write other than following that spark of inspiration that fired the post in the first place. I found a place of flow. On occasion.

To be fair, I also spent a lot of time not writing anything and wracking my brains to tease out the best next word for the sentence. There have also been more than enough sentences and, indeed, entire paragraphs that really should never have turned up on the screen in front of me at all.

So the performance enhancement became my Plan B, (yet another great musician – you should check him out but beware Strickland Banks is not representative of young Mr. Drew’s usual work, parental guidance most definitely applies). With Victoria’s help, I worked on being able to re-create that feeling of finding flow in my writing. Of not really knowing what will come next, just starting out and trusting to the knowledge that it’s worked before and will work again. This post will be the test of that. I haven’t a clue where I’m headed and to fair until 20 minutes ago, I didn’t even know that I’d get this far writing about the fact that I didn’t even know that I’d get this far. I’ve even managed to pull another musical reference in.

Moving on.

What is really taking up my attention this week is that HPD. Remember? That source of my mini rant about TLAs (Three Letter Acronyms) back at the beginning of September. A major part of my being able to qualify and practice as a Cognitive Hypnotherapist is the Hypnotherapy Practitioner Diploma. I need to gain the qualification and if I want that qualification to be in place by the time I finish my course in January, the HPD must be completed by the 1st December.

I have twelve and a half days to write 12,000 words. I’ve already done about 9,000 but that’s taken me since the beginning of September. Extrapolate that one out and you’ll find that my target completion date is 2nd of March.

I’m on track to miss my deadline by three months.

Fortunately my engineering education, (yes, I qualified as a Chemical Engineer, spent three years as a Brewer of beer, twenty-seven years in Financial Services and am now becoming a Cognitive Hypnotherapist, don’t you just love consistency), allows me to be appropriately disdainful of statistical projection. I’ve also learnt to embrace my innate tendency to procrastinate. After years of trying to manage it, of being told from early school   days through my adolescent and adult life that procrastination is just another version of laziness, I’ve discovered it is actually a talent that allows me to embrace the here and now.

It doesn’t work for everyone and annoys the hell out those who can’t do it. I simply work at my best when something is both important and urgent. If it’s just important, like the HPD, it’s not enough. It needs to be urgent as well in order to get me working at maximum efficiency. The HPD is a classic case in point. I know that I have the skill, knowledge and capacity to pass. I’m not at all worried that I can’t do it. I qualified as a Chartered Financial Planner this year and that took me many years and many exams to complete so the HPD definitely lies within the realms of a do-able thing. It’s taken me 11 weeks to write 9,000 words. I’ve got 12 days left (and a half, don’t forget the half, it’s important). Plenty of time.

Which brings me to the title of this post.

For years, I’ve managed both my propensity to procrastinate and my talent for forgetting anything important, (my most active auto-trance-phenomena is Amnesia), by setting myself traps for the future, to ensure that I really did deal with those important things that are not yet urgent or that I would quite like to avoid but absolutely had to prepare for. I would set up tasks or meetings or presentations which would walk me towards whatever the goal in mind would be. It was the only way I’d ensure that anything actually happened. I’d break down my target event into to trip-over-the-next-important-section style sub-events. Now you might think this sounds quite familiar, good time management practice and project goal setting. You should never forget that I once turned up five hours late for a time management training course. Honestly.

For me, though, what I was doing was setting a trap in the future, a trip wire that’ I’d fall over and fire a shot of deadline adrenalin into my system. I knew that I wouldn’t work towards those goals, I’d forget them secure in the knowledge that at some point in the not too distant, I’d fall flat on my face, pick myself up and deal with it. Efficiently. And always to standard. I’d set the trip wire so that it would give me just and only just enough time to get the whatever it was that had to be done done by the whenever it was it had to done by to whatever the standard was that it needed to be done to and meet the deadline.

Somehow, it turns out, I was aware enough of my trance phenomena preferences to move effectively into the future at my most efficient, even if I did have to do it by repeatedly tripping myself up. In effect, I’d become my own game keeper, trapping my effectiveness at appropriate points to prevent my amnesiac consciousness from wandering off and populating my future with a total lack of achievement.

In a clear demonstration of serendipity, which the more astute among you will recognise as nothing more than negative hallucination allowing me to ignore anything that didn’t fit in with the serendipitous trend, I’ve come across three totally independent rationalisations of why it’s important to embrace procrastination. Two of these were people my alter-ego works with and another was a blog on Psychology Today way back from April 2011. Somehow it turned up on my Twitter feed a couple of weeks ago which is very much a phrase I never thought I’d be using in the middle of a blog that I’d no idea I was going to write.

It talks about active procrastination. I’m an active procrastinator. I have always worked best under pressure, with just enough time to get something done. And I’ve always felt I had to treat this as a negative trait and strive to build in more ongoing work to try to counter act it, to be more ‘in control’. As it happens it didn’t make me feel in control at all. I’m convinced that all I was actually doing was giving a sense of control to my erstwhile elders and betters. Now those are two words should never be used together automatically, only sparingly and when really deserved. I’ve met a few elders who are indeed better and have a wealth of knowledge and experience to share.

However, I’ve met many more who don’t. They wallow in their thirty years of experiencing the same thing and mistake it for being truly thirty year’s worth of experiences. They’re wrong. And usually so fixed in their ways and so ingrained in their own world that they cannot see, let alone comprehend, anyone else’s point of view. You’ve probably met them. They are only older. If you suspect you might be one of them, it’s never too late for new experience. Try it. I’m loving it.

As an active procrastinator, I get to spend more time dealing with and enjoying the here and now than if I try to meet a non-procrastinator’s ideal of ongoing, manageable bite sized chunks.

You know that well-worn phrase, (sorry Trevor), about how to eat an elephant? Apparently perceived wisdom is one bite at a time. I prefer a feast. Stuff your face until you’re fit to burst. Accept the burst and feast again. In my mind, if you try to eat an elephant one bite at a time, your future is full of, guess what, elephant flavoured food. Breakfast lunch and dinner. Hey guys, what’s for dinner? Elephant – again. For four months in total, I’ve been avoiding the elephant. I’ve had a taste every now and then but it wasn’t cooked right. Didn’t quite have the right texture.

In the meantime, I got to eat all manner of mental flavours and concoctions. All my meals were and are different. And every now and then… guess what.

Bring on the Elephant feast!

Are they all the same?
© Tony Burkinshaw 2012

You’ve Got The Power

Barcelona is a great concept.

Take a Roman city, knock down the wall, lightly wrap a nineteenth century European metropolis around it, clean it all up for the Olympics and then check that Gaudi lived there for long enough to ensure truly weird architecture. Oh, and put it at the centre of a political movement to regain Catalan independence. Where else could you look out of your hotel window and see a protest march involving some eighty or so over-seventy year olds processing ever so gently across the Plaça de Cataluña chanting wearily for something so obviously beyond my very poor Spanish.

I’d never been there before and loved it instantly.

This was also my first encounter with trans-European body language dialect misinterpretation. Now I know a bit about body language from my many years in Sales and Sales Management, I’ve even coached people on the subject, so I’m no novice. It’s cropped up, as you might or might not be surprised to find, as part of my training with Quest. One aspect that I’ve never come across or perhaps more accurately, never noticed until now, (I was surprised), is a body language dialect. I think I’ve found one.

Body language is probably the most important aspect of intra human communication. It’s how you know what someone really means. It’s the emotional subtitles that your conscious mind never sees but your unconscious is fascinated by. It’s what makes first impressions correct the second or third time you meet someone. Well you can’t know if your first impression was correct the first time you meet someone because you’ve nothing to gauge it against, have you?

In addition to which, by the time you’re having your second or third contact, your selective memory is deselecting anything which you may have thought in your first impression which now doesn’t fit in with your more accurately framed second or third impression. You just recall it as your first impression. Your unconscious will go to extraordinary lengths to be proved right – even to itself.

There we were, Gill and I, fresh off the flight from East Midlands, small airportlet that it is, wandering along the Barcelona airport concourse from Gate 59 to passport control. It took about ten minutes, during which time we were nearly walked into on half a dozen different occasions by a variety of innocuous looking Barcelonees. They just walked straight at us as if we weren’t even there.

You know that little dance that you do as someone approaches so that you don’t actually walk into each other? Not the one where you both hop from foot to foot in front of each other trying to dodge out of the each other’s way, I mean the long distance version where you avoid foot hopping altogether. For some reason it seemed that Gill and I had lost our ability to communicate that we wanted to avoid collisions. We literally had to jump out of the way at the last second. I even checked that there was no-one with a mobile uploading us onto YouTube. We put it down to tiredness and carried on.

Once we’d booked into the hotel and stopped watching the geriatric protesters, (did you note the nested loop there?), we went for a late afternoon stroll down La Rambla not so much because that’s what you’re supposed to do in Barcelona but because it was the next street along from the Olivia Plaza, (excellent hotel by the way), so we ended up walking along it by happy accident.

I say walking along it, what I really mean is dodging along it. Wide though it is, it’s full of people. Native Catalans who live and work in Barcelona, tourists and tramps, the beautiful people and the everyday, all mingled up together. You’d expect it to be busy. I’ve done busy street walking before, so to speak, but I was made acutely aware of our recently lost ability to read other people’s direction signalling.

Maybe I was just tuned into the problem but I was definitely having to get out of everyone else’s way. No-one, and I mean no-one, was moving for me. Young or old, weak or strong, I was subjected to that Brownian motion progress of being bumped and jostled all the way down the street. Poor old me.

To add insult to injury, well a cold to be fair, I was using my Module Four hypnotherapy symptom reduction skills to mute the effects of the cold I’d picked up and incubated nicely since Module Seven, so I was not in tip-top condition you might say. It worked a treat and successfully toned down the more unpleasant nasal and sinus effects so I wasn’t moaning at Gill all through the trip, (honest). It has however now rolled up all those carefully avoided symptoms and slapped me round the face with a soggy tissue since we got home, so please feel free to send me sympathy or sniggers as the mood takes you.

One nested loop further into this post and Gill and I were chatting away over coffee about what I’d picked up on Module Seven and how I might use it when I move into the world of actually doing Cog Hyp for cash, (all good credit cards, cheques and debit cards accepted). That was when I realised what to do. Subtleties of body language aside, all I had to do was switch on my internal crystal blue power cube.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. I thought the same. Crystal Blue Power Cubes smack of new-age ex-hippy psycho-babble but bear with me. It really will make sense. I promise.

Module Seven covers, amongst other issues, building confidence and improving performance. Any performance. And before you ask, I know what you’re thinking and yes, it does include that sort of performance.

So where the hell does a new age blue power cube fit into all this in a way that doesn’t have you running for the exit and sending for the men with white coats and soothing voices? Here’s where.

In most performance, the mind gives up before the body. It’s a form of protection, of self-preservation. It stops you exhausting yourself with the every-day and having nothing left for an emergency. Back when you really did have a home where the buffalo roam, (and the wolves and the obligatory sabre toothed tiger), you might have found yourself and your clan-mates running down a stray buffalo calf for dinner to take home and share with the rest of the tribe.

By way of an interesting aside, why share it? Well, in pre-refrigeration days, the best place for long-term storage of fresh meat was in the bellies of your friends. Not for regurgitation, that’d be just plain daft not to mention being really gross. It’s so that, rather than let the spare meat rot in the sun, your friends will have the strength to go out hunting the next day and if they were successful and you weren’t then they’d share their meat with you. It’s the fundamental basis of social society.

Digression partially over, you find yourself dragging a weighty and freshly killed carcass through wolf-pack territory which you and your clan-mates are ready for, so you duly scare them off when they come too close and you save enough energy to get home exhausted but happy. So what happens when that obligatory toothy tiger ambushes you as they absolutely must do to preserve narrative congruity? If you really have used up everything you’ve got then you’ll have nothing left to fight with, or you’ll use the last of your getting-home reserves to kill the stripey beasty. So you’re either cat-food yet again, (see earlier posts, you really must learn some self-preservation techniques), or you collapse and die from real exhaustion two miles from home wearing the latest in designer fur coats.

What actually happened was that you hadn’t really used up everything you had. Your clever unconscious mind didn’t let you. When it really comes down to life or death, right here, right now (thanks Fat Boy Slim, good track) then and only then does your unconscious let you use it all. This is the basis of high-level performance enhancement. It lets you tap into those sacred reserves at a time of your choosing. You just need a way of accessing it that works for you. A metaphor that gives you discretion.

Enter the Crystal Blue Power Cube. (Really, bear with me on this one).

Obviously, it’ll be different for each individual. It can even be different for different performance tasks. It just so happens that the visual metaphor I tuned into over the last weekend was, yes you guessed it, crystal-clear blue in colour and the shape of a cube. Technically we’re into manipulation of submodality territory here. In real-speak, that’s how you give substance to a thought or feeling. It’s your mental representation of the desired effect in terms of colour, shape, smell, sound and so on. You then manipulate those metaphoric attributes to increase or decrease that desired effect.

It works.

Now, I know that walking down La Rambla isn’t usually a life or death occupation but one of the side effects of controlled release of reserves of strength is a subtle alteration to posture. You look somehow less vulnerable, more in control, more able to defend yourself. A key use, once you master it, is to reduce the likelihood of being targeted by pickpockets, muggers or people you’d rather not be faced with late at night when you’ve no choice left but to go through the empty car park to get your car.

Don’t get me wrong here. It absolutely doesn’t make you invincible. But just as with any predator, the choice of victim is usually down to the odds of success. If you were a mugger who would you choose? Someone who looked mousey and scared or someone who looked like they’d be able to handle themselves? I know which I’d prefer if I were a mugger, which I’m not I hasten to add. I speak only with the voice of the speculative observer.

This is why when you or I run a hundred meters to catch a bus, we get out of breath and complain of a stitch. On the other hand, supremely fit Olympic athletes can’t stand up and are gasping desperately for air. Usain Bolt was still out of breath 5 minutes after winning the hundred meters. He ran for less than 10 seconds and had nothing left. That’s the point.

The upshot of this long ramble, (sorry), is that releasing this reserve expresses itself first and foremost in your body language, unless you’re actually using it for real in which case your opponents had better watch out. So, as an experiment, I switched on that blue power cube metaphoric representation of my internal reserves of strength.

Instantly, for twenty yards ahead, the crowds parted and let Gill and I through.

It kept happening. For real. It was a proper Morpheus moment.

After a while, I’d forget and start getting bumped into again. It got to the point where I’d switch it on if the crowds got too busy and switch it off again when they weren’t. Gill even took to walking behind me in my wake, so to speak.

It’s important to note here that I wasn’t striding through Barcelona like some throwback to the heady days of Empire, using this as the body language equivalent of speaking Spanish by shouting loudly at the natives. That really would have marked me for attention. The effect was far more subtle. No eye-to-eye challenge to see who would break first. No walking purposefully forward, daring others to try and force me aside at their peril. People just apparently wanted to walk a slightly more meandering path than before.  All of them.

Obviously such a powerful tool isn’t designed to be used for such a trivial purpose. This was more by the way of accidental experiment. In any case, I’d recommend that you got your personal version identified and installed by an expert, if you’ll excuse the blatant plug for future clients.

Apart from anything else, your power releasing performance enhancer would need to be targeted, along with appropriate parallel techniques, to the specific performance you were looking to enhance.


Yes, I’ve already said. Including that performance enhancer.

You really are obsessed with it aren’t you?

Perhaps you should see a therapist.

dissolving away
© Tony Burkinshaw 2012