Psycho-Geometrics® and Dali

Christ of St John of the Cross

Dali’s work flows with various forms and shapes, but today I would like to share the importance of one painting: Christ of St John of the Cross.  Painted in 1951, it has become a Religious Icon of the Modern Age, dividing options as to whether it is truly inspirational or blasphemous.  The descriptions provided in the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum (where the painting has its home) are so good that I have quoted them verbatim.  These descriptions, of course, remain the copyright of Kelvingrove – I include them here as a catalyst to encourage you to visit this affective exhibit and the many other diverse treasures at this wonderful, Architecturally-rich venue.

Christ of St John of the Cross by Dali edit 2

“Dali’s principal inspiration for his painting was a drawing by the 16th-century Spanish friar and mystic, St John of the Cross, which the saint completed after he had a vision of the Crucifixion.  Dali acknowledged the importance of this inspiration in the title he gave his work.

“Dali had two dreams when he was planning and then painting his picture.  In the first, he saw Christ on the Cross above the landscape of Port Lligat, on the coast of Catalonia in Northern Spain.  This was where Dali was living and he incorporated the local landscape into his work.

St John Detail of Coast

“A second dream towards the completion of the painting caused Dali to change his mind about including all the details of the Crucifixion that were traditionally shown, such as the nails through Christ’s hands and the Crown of Thorns.  Instead Dali decided to concentrate on what he described as the ‘metaphysical beauty of Christ-God’ and make his Christ ‘as beautiful as the God that he is’.”

Dali Design Circle in Triangle

From the Gallery, “The inscription below the left diagram translates as follows: ‘In 1950 I had a cosmic dream in which I saw in colour this image, which in my dream represents the nucleus of the atom.  This nucleus afterwards took on a metaphysical meaning.  I consider it to be the very unity of the Universe, Christ*’.”

“The inscription below the right diagram translates as follows: ‘When thanks to Father Bruno (Carmelite), I saw the Christ drawn by St John of the Cross, I worked out geometrically a triangle and a circle which aesthetically summarised all my previous experiments and I drew my Christ in this triangle’.”*

“Relying on his dreams for guidance, Dali aimed to combine nuclear science and religion* in Christ of St John of the Cross, and also used mathematical theories* to try and work out the ideal proportions for his work.  Dali associated the nucleus of the atom with Christ and sketched an image to try and reflect this.  Also, the proportions he chose, so that it would have maximum impact, were influenced by the ideas of the mathematician Luca Pacioli.  Dali paid particular attention to the triangle formed by Christ’s arms and the Cross.” (*italics mine, text copyright Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum.)

Interestingly, Luca Pacioli taught mathematics to Leonardo da Vinci, and published De divina proportione – his work on the mathematics of the Golden Ration as used in Architecture and Art.

Divina_proportione

Psycho-Geometrics® and Christ of St John of the Cross

The importance of these revelations to the developing science and art of Psycho-Geometrics® can easily and literally be ‘seen’.  Here is the iconic reconciliation of opposites to create fullness.  There has always been controversy over the image of Christ as the serpent that Moses lifted up on a pole in the wilderness in order to save the Israelites.  Why would Jesus associate himself with the traditionally evil symbol of the serpent?  The answer may well give us another answer to the greatest challenge to faith: the problem of evil.  In the Crucifixion, an innocent man (and God) takes responsibility for all the ills of mankind – willingly, undeservedly, redemptively.  This painting actually represents all five shapes from Dr Susan Dellinger’s Psycho-Geometrics® – the Triangle and the Circle that Dali was aware of, but also the Box form of the Cross itself – extrapolated into more Rectilinear forms, and the Squiggle-Serpent of Christ Himself on the Cross.  Now, lest this cause offence, let me justify this in Jesus’ own words:

14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:

[…which remains unfinished without the next verse…]

15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

[…which then goes on to perhaps the most famous verse in the New Testament…]

16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”  From John, chapter 3, King James Bible.

I would suggest that Jesus deliberately takes the place of punishment as if he was the cause of evil on the Earth.  I wish to cause no offence with this view, but rather to say that, for me, it makes sense of the problem of evil.  God judged himself rather than judging others.  How redemptive is that?  Wonderful.  It should be stressed that these are my own views and not necessarily those of Dali, Kelvingrove, or Dr Susan Dellinger!!!  I should also assert that I am not suggesting that Squiggles are ‘evil’ (any more than I would suggest a ridiculous idea that snakes are evil) – or that the Squiggles represent Jesus (though that may be a more popular idea to some Squiggles!)  I am suggesting that a complete view of the Universe – especially when articulated through artistic expression – must include all five forms.

Psycho-Geometrics and the Gospels + Acts

I have long suggested that Dr Susan Dellinger’s order of the shapes represents the ‘Pentateuch’ of the New Testament.  Specifically, Box, Triangle, Circle, Squiggle, Rectangle represent Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Acts.  This is for the following reasons:

·         Matthew is the most detailed Gospel, framed to confirm the lineage of Jesus for a predominately Jewish target audience.  The detail is essential – thus associated with the analytical thinking preferences of Dr Susan’s Box-type.

·         Mark is short, to the point, action focused, written primarily for the pragmatic Roman audience – a perfect match for Dr Susan’s Triangle-type.

·         Luke is the Gospel most concerned with inclusion (and exclusion) – drawing in the women, gentiles, the sick and the needy.  Luke, “The Good Doctor”, is the perfect Circle, with his Gospel mirroring the need to include those on the periphery of society.

·         John is a shock when compared with the other Gospels.  It does not have the clear boundaries and frames of the Synoptic Gospels.  Instead it is esoteric, future focused, visionary – all characteristics of Dr Susan’s Squiggle.

·         Finally we have an Early Church trying to ‘shape’ its identity – the mission of the Rectangle – to flex to the needs of the time, culture, and situation.

Now, for the first time, I also perceive the completion of these shapes in Dali’s portrayal of the Crucifixion.  Truth is truth – and so we should not be surprised if an inspirational work of art mirrors the same completeness as the full system of Psycho-Geometrics®.  Perhaps we are looking at Theo-Geometrics, after all?

Persecution

The purchase of the painting was fiercely opposed – especially by students of the Glasgow School of Art.  Thankfully their lack of vision failed to capture other people’s imagination.  More drama was to follow the purchase, however.  The painting was attacked and badly damaged by someone who though he, himself, was the Christ, and that the painting did not represent him correctly… an example of a painting being ‘persecuted’ for righteousness sake?

Affected by the Christ

When first exhibited, unusual behaviours were noted around the painting.  Crowds of visitors to Dali’s broader exhibition would be noisy and boisterous – after all most of his other paintings can be a bit provocative in a sensual manner.  However, when ushered into the presence of this painting, the crowds would quieten immediately, and men would feel compelled to take of their hats in respect.

The validity of each work of art must be proven by the testimony of those ‘touched’ by the Art.  I would like to close by quoting once more from the Gallery’s own commentary: “Children seemed to be particularly affected by the picture – one small girl was obviously emotionally impressed but said nothing until half an hour later when she observed, “Mummy, God must have made him do it”.

[Credits: The De divina proportione image is from Wikimedia Commons.  All other images are my photographs of the original artworks in the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum.  These images are for educational use only and may not be used commercially without the express permission of the Museum.]

My Right Hand (a Poem)

My Right Hand has a certain arrogance,

A seeming superiority to My Left;

But were it to lose its symmetric partner,

It would surely be bereft.

For My Left Hand wields the fork,

Conducts the conversation when we talk;

My Left Hand forms the chords

That My Right Hand’s picking rewards.

Extraverts have a certain arrogance…

Playlists for Performance

The Rhythm of Life – Entrainment

“Entertrainment®” comes from a reframing of my business many years ago.  I realised that our core business of “training” was conditioned and affected by the quality of the “entertainment” I delivered on my workshops.  We’ve all experienced trainers who don’t really care about their clients, but who are very, very entertaining. Thus we forgive them and give them more and more work.

So what if you could be a trainer who genuinely cared and who was entertaining?  Wouldn’t this be a kind of magic?  “It’s a kind of magic” used to be the theme-tune to my workshops because this combination of integrity, engagement, and entertainment really works – like magic!… but there’s more!  Sitting behind all this is a biological and physical phenomenon called “Entrainment”.  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Entrainment) “Entrainment” is the synchronous result of two systems interacting – building a rhythmic relationship.  So what?  Well, everything we do as social animals influences other social animals – it even crosses species.  The gentle purring of the cat on my lap, given 20 minutes, will encourage an altered-state-of-rhythm in my heart and physiology.  The flickering light of an open fire, gently glowing on a cold night will also encourage a deep state of relaxation.

Fast paced music (try a bit of “Sub Focus” or “Nero”) will get your heart-racing and lead to a fab workout at the gym… and sea shanties can help you work rhythmically as a team to get a physical task done more efficiently.

You are a Broadcaster!  Your scents, your tone of voice, the pace of your voice, the modulation in the volume of your voice, the flutter rate of your eyelashes and eyelids, the movement of your hands, the way you walk… all these are rhythmic signals that affect those around you.  My female friends have even experienced the most powerful example of entrainment – a certain unpopular monthly cycle synchronising with other females they share their lives with!  How spooky is that?  No wonder certain rhythms of habit (= culture) develop in departments.  Someone is the “Alpha Leader” and everyone else entrains to the beat.  I think you are a natural leader.  Take up the mantle and set the pace!

The “Ah” Factor is increased further when you realise that a baby’s health can be influenced by the beat of a carer’s heart.  Irregular heart-beats can be stabilised and strengthened if the child’s ear can hear and feel the heart-beat of someone who is cuddling them.  Not only is this lovely, it is also life-saving science that is non-invasive.  All humans that respect one-another begin to synchronise.  They match speech rates, and they even begin to move in harmony.  This is the rhythm of rapport and the rapport of rhythm.  Well, the fastest way to tap into the magic of entrainment and to become your own “Entrainer” or even “Entertrainer” is to choose the music you want to “dance” to today…

Practical Suggestions for Today

On your playlist for today, let there be three groups of tracks:
•    Rhythms to Travel to
•    Rhythms to Work to
•    Rhythms to Relax to

Just as there is a “Rhythm of Life” so also can there be “Playlists for Performance”!

And, by the way, I’d love to hear of your track selections!  You can email me directly: lex_mckee@me.com

OMG, did I just FART?

Farts are just not funny, so don’t even think about laughing, not even smirking… Now, the fart has always been a source of embarrassment, so I thought its letters would be a brilliant way to explain the way our thinking often lets us down and embarrasses us.

Here’s the way many people process life: F.A.R.T.

This stands for Feeling, Action, Reflect, Think… and most people F.A.R.T. most of the time.  By this I mean that they react to their feelings without thinking first.  Somebody upsets them and they have an instant emotional response.  This leads to later reflection on what happened, finally thinking about it over and over again, in a cycle of tormenting regret, anger, bitterness and other unresourceful states.

A classic example happened this Friday.  My partner went the extra mile for a neighbour, who then complained that she hadn’t done enough!!  The double insult of such ingratitude really stung my good lady… and it was delivered just as my partner was about to start out on a long and stressful journey.  Quite a cocktail for potential disaster.

We’ve been together for seven years, and sometimes the hardest people to help are those you love most… so I knew what would happen:
Feeling: anger at the injustice; Action: unfit to drive with full attention, closing-down emotionally, vowing never to do a good turn again; Reflection: actual meditation on the outrage making the negative feelings stronger and stronger; Thinking: find a way to pay the neighbour back!  Folks, this is “stinking-thinking”.  Stinking Thinking leads to that “Sinking Thinking”…  The only way is down…

Just rearranging the letters makes a world of difference.  Putting the T after the F gives us FTAR… not so catchy but a better way to catch your behaviours before you act in a way you’ll come to regret. FTAR is a happier way to run your brain.  We all are designed for stimuli to rapidly trigger associated responses – the associated responses we call feelings and thoughts.  Feelings most often come first since our very lives may depend upon a rapid reaction to danger.

Part of our evolution as sentient beings, however, has allowed us to temper our feelings through thinking.  Perception of an event transforms the impact of an event.  When you are in love, you interpret (which is a form of thinking) events very differently from when you are looking for an excuse to criticise your partner!  How many people cry out in exasperation, “I can’t do anything right!”?  To a great extent, we could define this ‘thinking’ as “ascribing a meaning to something”.  When you fall in love, any slight attention from the object of your desire is interpreted as keen interest!

In Neuro-Linguistic Programming, there is a saying: “Every behaviour has a positive intention.”  This is a great belief to use in FTAR.  If it is true, when you Feel offended, your first Thought can be, “So what is the positive intention that is driving this behaviour?”  My Gran knew all about this kind of common-sense, practical wisdom.  She’d say, “Count to ten…”  That counting to ten allowed my logical mind to interrupt before the interpretation, and then re-evaluate the data provided by any event.  FTAR is just a tiny bit more sophisticated.  We think before acting so that we may choose the most useful response.  I really like the idea of choosing a ‘response’ over a primitive ‘reaction’.  Action then follows as the most appropriate behaviour, leading to positive Reflection afterwards on what went well and what could have been better.

In the build up to a big marketing event at my local music superstore, I’ve been helping out in the Café.  Very, very rarely, we have rude customers… except I don’t.  I don’t think people are rude – but their manner may be ‘inappropriate’.  Having this belief means I’m not so easily offended, and can often choose a response that will turn the rude customer into a loyal one.  (Don’t get me wrong, I still get upset, and some people turn out to be genuinely rude people!  But they get more time to prove they’re really rude!)

OK, practically, what can you do in response to this blog?  Just walk away with the school-boy giggling humour of thinking, “Did I just fart?” when you catch yourself reacting rather than responding… and then start to add the interrupting question: “What on Earth could be the positive intention behind this person’s bizarre behaviour!!!???”  Put like that, it’s not too tree-huggy, is it?  After all, surprise is far more positive than indignation.

[Afterword – Going Deeper
If you want to know more, my approach is part of a fresh blend of CBT1, NLP2, TA3, Multiple-Intelligence and Emotional Intelligence.  I call it HARP™ – which stands for “Human Associative Re-Patterning.  Why?  Simply because through my years of experience in the practical applications of neuro-science and psychology I believe success comes down to the way we make patterns of associations and meanings that become patterns of behaviour (i.e. habits). I spent the best years of my life working alongside Buzan Centres in the UK.  Tony Buzan’s Mind Mapping is my favourite form of Neuro Associative Mapping – a tree-like structure that show the links between ‘molecules’ of thought, mirroring the very patterns our neural-net creates when we think.  I was also peripherally involved with Edward de Bono’s approach to Lateral Thinking.  If Buzan mirrors the patterns of association, de Bono breaks the patterns with a view to creating new patterns that liberate – in short, “Re-Patterning”.  Combine Buzan and de Bono’s insights with the practical psychologies of CBT1, NLP2, and TA3 – and you end up with the all embracing concept of Human Associative Re-Patterning, or HARP™!!

1 = Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

2 = Neuro-Linguistic Programming

3 = Transactional Analysis.

All are highly recommended disciplines for helping you excel in life.]

Poem: On The Journey

here’s a poem I’ve set to music that sounds, to me, like a train journey from the foothills of the Himalayan Rainforest to the rarefied slopes above the cloud-line…

On my journey
Through the Himalayas
I seem as stranger
And as friend

A stranger to these new experiences
A friend to the spirit of the hillsides
A friend to the ghosts of the forest
A lover of the increasingly rarefied atmosphere

refrain
And onwards and upwards we travel
And onwards and upwards we climb
All the seasons on one journey
A string of pearls, of moments, one at a time

Kissing leaves of passing treetops
Rhythmic insects set the pace
Steam is breathing warm and comforting
As the clouds of calm embrace

Birds now join our Natural Symphony
Sing their part, then fly away
Calling others to join one concert
To celebrate this breaking day

refrain
And onwards and upwards we travel
And onwards and upwards we climb
All the seasons on one journey
A string of pearls, of moments, one at a time

Altitude and gravity in symbiosis
Play their own strange mystic game
As thoughts add pauses to the script now
And worries seem to fade away

Distance brings its own perspective
The mountains have a higher plan
The crowds have faded, noise grows quiet
And I have become another man

refrain
And onwards and upwards we travel
And onwards and upwards we climb
All the seasons on one journey
A string of pearls, of moments, one at a time

And the River is You!

1st Sermon from The Church of Rock

“And The River Is Me” by Darrell Scott

Funny, hey, choosin’ a Country Song to launch the Church of Rock? … but I didn’t want to start too many churches, [let’s leave that to those silly Christians who won’t live in harmony with one another.]  You’ll be able to find the Ministry of all types of Music welcome at the Church of Rock… [well, maybe not that satanic stuff – that’s not really congruent!]

Darrell Scott’s song, “And The River Is Me” often makes me cry as it strikes a chord deep within my soul… here are the lyrics:

From: http://www.songmeanings.net/songs/view/3530822107858678512/ and the song is on Spotify – please check it out before reading further.

I guess I’ve always known
I was in this for life1
It’s cost me some sleepless days
It’s cost me a wife
Maybe I’ve spent a little too much time
Looking in the bathroom mirror
Waiting for the steam to disappear
Thinking I was getting clearer and clearer

Maybe I could’ve been a cook
Or maybe taught high school math
Maybe I could’ve been the man on the street
With a future as uncertain as my past
But I’ve been singing for a living
Back and forth across America
Singing ‘bout things I should talk to my shrink
And to my shrink singing kum-by-yah2

With my head in a song and a song in my head
Just let me live until I’m dead
There’s so many books I wish I’d read
Like war and peace
So many friends I’ve won and lost
So many masks I’ve worn and tossed
Into troubled waters I could not cross
And the river is me, and the river is me3

River run to the ocean
River roll to the sea

They had this test back in high school
Said I had a career in forestry4
Had aptitude for isolation5
Yeah, I could live without tv
But me, I took the low road
Looking for another light
I don’t live in a tower on some fire road
But the human view is out of sight

With my head in a song and a song in my head
Just let me live until I’m dead
There’s so many words I wish I’d said
Like I’m sorry I am sorry
So many friends I’ve won and lost
So many masks I’ve worn and tossed
Into troubled waters I could not cross
And the river is me, and the river is me

River run to the ocean
River roll to the sea

…oooOOOooo…

1I recently wrote on “The Wisdom of Rectangles” – the need to pro-actively choose flexibility in response to the challenges of life.  Flexible “River-Like” people understand the power of “Vocation” – and this is a song of Vocation – of being “Called” to walk a path in life. “I was in this for life…” and, of course, any vocation has a cost.  If we were to pop back to that other “Good Book”, Jesus talks of leaving home, family, everything for a cause.  What are you “called” to?  What’s your passion?  What makes your heart burn with fire?  I love the fact that Darrell is not saying this is a noble cause – it’s just his cause – his calling.  We don’t need everyone to be saints, but we do need everyone to be themselves, congruently, authentically.

Like Dr Susan Dellinger’s Rectangle type, you hear Darrell’s soul caught in the myth that things are getting clearer and clearer.  They aren’t, they won’t, they never will… life is paradox.  You need to embrace this… I need to embrace this.

2I particularly like the lines: “Singing ‘bout things I should talk to my shrink
And to my shrink singing kum-by-yah…  This, to me, is the essence of the dilemma of what it means to be “Human”.  We just communicate to the “wrong” people… we are polite to strangers, and rude to the ones we love.  We share our hearts with the most inappropriate people, and close our hearts to the very ones who could help us.  You do know, don’t you, that we’re not supposed to walk this road alone?

3”And the River is Me” – the essence of spirituality is “Living Water” – a Life-Spring from within us welling up to Eternal Life.  It is never still.  It is never stagnant.  It is ever moving.  It is ever changing.  YOU are the River.  No-one can live your life for you… and because of this, NO ONE can legitimately tell you how to live your life.  It’s time for YOU to decide what to be, how to live, whom to love, whom to let go… the River moves on.

4 “They had this test back in high school, Said I had a career in forestry” – and here I get angry!  Two teachers made such a positive difference to my life – helped me believe in me, believe the river is me… Equally, two teachers did unspeakable damage to my self-image when I was a vulnerable child.  This is nothing short of child-abuse.  Teaching is the highest vocation – hearts and minds are in your hands, teachers.  I choose not to forgive those two idiots who had no vocation to be teachers and no love in their hearts for the wet-cement into which they were imprinting their negative images.  Shame on you.  Get a job, not a career, and leave the precious task of teaching to the professionals.

5 “Had aptitude for isolation…  God Bless the introvert and the reflective personalities.  There is NO hope for the World without us.

Find the low road, folks.  Cease this relentless pursuit of a material perception of wealth that will never satisfy you.  Look within, there you will find a kingdom tailored to mirror your own river – the kingdom of heaven itself is within you.

This is a song full of regret and equally full of authentic validation.  I know you’ve messed up.  I forgive you.  Forgive yourself.  Embrace yourself… then go and embrace someone else.  I love you.

Amen

Right Thought, Right Time

Have you ever had a brilliant idea only to have a friend or family member or colleague just crush it?  Interestingly, if you ask them why, they would claim they were “just trying to help.”

In reality, it’s a question of “right thought, wrong time”!  There is a place and a time for every thought, but humans are masters of sticking their oar in the water at the wrong time!

So, how can we have the right thought at the right time?  Actually, you can’t… but you can learn when to open and when to shut your mouth!  Eventually you’ll train your brain as to the kind of thoughts you want when you want them.

[Author’s note:
Edward de Bono came up with a very simple yet sophisticated system called, “Six Thinking Hats”.  I love it, it works, and it takes too much time for me.  What I am about to share with you probably wouldn’t have been clarified in my own mind without first learning the value of Edward de Bono’s approach.  For this reason, I recommend that you also read his book, “Six Thinking Hats” – then make your own judgement call.]

I’m For Four Thinking Styles!

I like to use just four thinking styles linked to the colours of ink readily available in four-colour pens.  These are:
•    Black for data, analysis, risk assessment, and processes;
•    Red for action, decisions, purpose, objectives, goals, and mission/vision type comments;
•    Green for balance, ecology, the people aspects, and consequences;
•    Blue for “Blue Sky Thinking” – possibilities, alternatives, options, ideas, and ideas on how to make something work.

To anthropomorphise these colours, I link them to Dr Susan Dellinger’s “Psycho-Geometrics®” so that each thought has a shape and a personality.  Thus we have:
•    “Black Box Thinking” – just like the data collecting Black Box Recorder
•    “Red Triangle Thinking” – just like a Red Triangle Alert sign used for traffic control
•    “Green Circle Ecological Thinking” – like our Green Planet (yes, I know it’s blue…)
•    “Blue Lightning Thinking” – like the blue hue associated with dynamic energy.

Clearly, in conversation, this can become clumsy, so I’ll often shorten the names once the concept has been adopted by the team I’m working with.  Here’s how it works to get the right thought at the right time…

Let’s say one of my team is in an emotionally negative flap when they come to see me.  The Golden Rule in keeping conversation flowing is “pace then lead”.  This is where nearly everyone on the Planet gets it wrong.  They interrupt with what is known as an “empathy blocker” – e.g. “Yes, but…”  It is better to flow with the stream of consciousness first.  So what I would suggest is that you go with your colleague’s negative thinking being careful to label it.  Let’s call my colleague “Liza”.  I’d say, “That’s great Black Box thinking, Liza… tell me more.” I would then let Liza run out of steam, venting her frustration.  When the storm has subsided, I would then add (i.e. pace then lead), “What are our options?”  This is the Blue Lightning striking, and leading us off along a different neurological pathway.  At first your colleagues may react like a car on “Kangaroo Juice” – juddering along.  Liza, in her frustration, may say, “We haven’t got any options!!!”  You then gently steer the conversation using this technique: “I know it seems like we have no options, but if we did have some options, what would they be?”  You’ll be amazed at how your colleagues, family members, and even customers begin to turn around and start coming up with positive alternatives.  Notice that I didn’t need to label this as “Blue Lightning Thinking” – merely make the transition in my own mind.

This is how I make sure I use all the styles.  With Liza, I’d then be thinking to myself, “OK, what are the consequences of following these options?”  This is the Green Circle Thinking checking the “Ecology” of the ideas.  Then I would be thinking, “Great, what are the next action steps?”  This is the Red Triangle Thinking leading us to a practical, observable output, closing the open loop of the issue that would otherwise keep coming back to haunt us.  On this last point, I’m sure you can think of many meetings where action was neither clarified nor taken, with the result that the same old issues come up meeting-after-meeting.  We need to close the loop in order to feel a sense of psychological well-being.

De Bono’s Red Hat.

The chief benefit of de Bono’s “Six Thinking Hats” for me was his insistence on the Red Hat.  “Red” for de Bono is not the colour of Action as it is in my system.  For him, it is the colour of passion and emotion.  This is genius.  If we don’t allow space for emotion, people will disguise emotional responses as logical ones.  The dominant example is critical thinking masking the fact that people just don’t like an idea, or even worse, just don’t like you!  Given that I’ve said de Bono’s idea is “genius”, and that the emotional hat is missing from my simple four-colour system, what are we to do?

My four-colour system fits with Carl Jung’s Psychological Preferences.  The Green Circle and the Blue Lightning sit “below the line” – where “below the line” means “below the head”!  The Black Box and the Red Triangle sit “above the line” in the realm of thinking logically.  The Green Circle and the Blue Lightning represent a preference for “feeling” over “thinking”.  This doesn’t mean that they don’t think!  It does mean that they are more in touch with how their emotions direct the decision-making process.

We can therefore keep de Bono’s Red Hat concept by asking our colleague how they ‘feel’ about options, ideas, actions, and plans, and then use the green or blue ink to capture the output based on the style of the output.  For example, if they start talking about the personal aspects of how they feel, this is a green output.  If they start waxing lyrical about how great they’d feel if their ideas were listened to and actioned, this is a blue output.

Daily Habits

Once a team has become habituated to the use of the colours and shapes, you can “call” for a style in your group huddles.  For example, you might well say, “Can I have some more Blue Lightning Thoughts on this issue?”  This will encourage your team to switch track and give you options, ideas, alternatives, hypotheses…  You might then say, “Great, and having a Black Box Recorder moment, what could go wrong?” – let the team answer, then,  “Excellent Black Box thinking, so how can we overcome these possible hurdles?” (= Blue Lightning again.)  “If we say, ‘Yes!’ to these ideas, what will we have to say, ‘No!’ to?” (= the ecological frame of the Green Circle style.)  “OK, fabulous, what are our next physical action steps?” (= Red Triangle Action Thinking.)

Within a much tighter time-frame than usual in conversations, you’ll have seriously challenged any dilemma your department is facing, and come out the other side with clear, measurable actions.

Right thoughts, at the right time!