Learning 3.0

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The art of not-thinking. Bike racer’s lessons for the coaching process

“Very gently. Like there are eggshells on your pedals, and you don’t want to break them. That’s how you drive in the rain.” Balance, anticipation, patience. These are all vital. Peripheral vision, seeing things you’ve never seen before. Kinesthetic sensation, driving by the seat of the pants. It is about having no memory. No memory of things he’d done just a second before. Good or bad. Because memory is time folding back on itself. To remember is to disengage from the present. ln order to reach any kind of success in automobile racing, the driver must never remember. Which is why drivers compulsively record their every move, their every race, with cockpit cameras in-car-video, data mapping; a driver cannot be a witness to his own greatness. Racing is doing. lt is being a part of a moment and being aware of nothing else but that moment. Reflection must come at a later time. A champion says: “When l am racing, my mind and my body are working so quickly and so well together, I must be sure not to think; or else I will definitely make a mistake.”

Not-thinking sounds simple, but to get there is more difficult. It requires mental toughness and coaching. How can I bring my body-mind system to co-operating so perfectly that I can experience these flow-states also in my professional life? Where is coaching useful to achieve this flow state of pure doing, remaining fully absorbed in the present, gaining more power the more I am doing? In the first part of these blog article series I will emphasize the need for thorough training to be able of ‘doing’ in the state of not-thinking. Thereafter we take a look at inner brakes, brakes preventing from using one’s full performative potential. Why is it so important to remain fascinated by what we are doing? How can we sustain such attraction over time? The answer to these and more questions will be provided in the subsequent parts of this article.



A) Preparation

To get started an activity within a few minutes, while keeping calm and concentrated, is an everyday challenge of our professional life. While we act and do, the most important thing is to stay focussed, being part of the moment and to evaluate afterwards. The champions are well prepared. They know and control their engines. Requisite to such ability is not only technical finesse, but also physical muscular strength. Here we may find considerable differences between the racers. You may see some among them in the gym every day, building up their strength, endurance, sense of balance, or the driving skills. Others, however, are less disciplined and thus take a higher risk to lose control over the bike. As a rule of thumb the physical condition of a race driver should such that would allow him to compete in three races in a row at the same level of intensity. Given this level of endurance and strength he can then ensure full performance in the competitive run. Similar to the race driver any person required to perform in present day business needs a professional preparation for his tasks. Such preparation has to cover some of these areas:

The (private) environment of the athlete or the staff: Is it sound or could it cause insecurity or change and therefore be the source of stress?

Is the working time compensated for by sufficient and restorative recreation? What goes on apart of the demanding professional performance needs?

What kinds of specific developmental support and appreciation are necessary?  Is there a need for more physical strength, muscel training or body building? Such questions are discussed with a qualified coach, when people’s promotion is on your agenda. Qualified staff need to be supported within the frames of a structured development process. What professional skills need to be enhanced? What about adding to the social competence? The development process has to be planned and the plans be assessed and monitored continuously. Such on-going constructive evaluation processes ensure more motivation and resilience to stress.


B) Remove inner brakes

Presumed a racer is technically and physically well prepared, the support team works in perfect coordination and the right decisions are taken, what then, in the race, makes the difference to success? Obviously, the racer’s mental and emotional pre-dispositions play a crucial role. Foremost important is  the dealing with emotions. Taking into consideration the challenges of driving, emotions must stay irrelevant during the race. The wish to revenge, anger, or other similar emotional states suck up a lot of energy diverting attention from the driving tasks. Therefore such emotions have to be neutralised before the race. Similarly I cannot unfold all my competence in my work, while emotions continue to irritate me. As a qualified team member I am aware of this condition and therefore I try to suppress such emotion. Again, this is using up energy and reducing my impact. So with increasing work we achieve lesser and lesser.

These emotions are normally re-processed by our body-mind system during the night. Normally.  Unfortunately most of the high performers in business amass emotional stress remaining undigested over weeks and months. Often, to remove these build-ups the help of an external coach is required. By applying such methods as for example wingwave or hypnosis the accumulated stress can be re-processed.

Yours Claude Ribaux

1)From:  ‘The art of racing in the rain’ by Garth Stein


Violence-free communication. Gandhi: The doctrine of the sword

Many coaches and consultants advise the practice of violent-free communication for organizations and enterprises. Under such circumstances it is useful to listen to M.Gandhi, one of the most known practitioners of what he used to call the ‘path of the non-violent warrior’.

Gandhi: “…. I do believe that, where there is only a choice between cowardice and violence, I would advise violence. Thus when my eldest son asked me what he should have done, had he been present when I was almost fatally assaulted in 1908, whether he should have run away and seen me killed or whether he should have used his physical force, which he could and wanted to use, and defended me, I told him it was his duty to defend me even by using violence… Hence also do I advocate training in arms for those who believe in the method of violence. I would rather have India resort to arms in order to defend her honor than that she should in a cowardly manner become or remain a helpless witness to her own dishonor.

But I believe that nonviolence is infinitely superior to violence, forgiveness is more manly than punishment. Forgiveness adorns the soldier. But abstinence is forgiveness only when there is power to punish: it is meaningless when it pretends to proceed form a helpless creature. A mouse hardly forgives a cat when it allows itself to be torn to pieces by her.

Let me not be misunderstood. Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will. An average Zulu is any way more than a match for an average Englishman in bodily capacity. But he flees from an English boy, because he fears the boy’s revolver or those who will use it for him. He fears death and is nerveless in spite of his burly figure. We in India may in a moment realize that 100,000 Englishmen need not frighten 300 million human beings. A definite forgiveness would therefore mean a definite recognition of our strength. With enlightened forgiveness must come a mighty wave of strength in us, which would make it impossible … to heap affront upon India’s devoted head. It matters little to me that for the moment I do not drive my point home. We feel too downtrodden not to be angry and revengeful. But I must not refrain from saying that India can gain more by waiving the right of punishment. We have better work to do, a better mission to deliver to the world…..

Nonviolence in its dynamic condition means conscious suffering. It does not mean meek submission to the will of the evildoer, but it means the putting of one’s whole soul against the will of the tyrant. Working under the law of our being, it is possible for a single individual to defy the whole might of an unjust empire to save his honor, his religion, his soul, and lay the foundation for that empire’s fall or its regeneration.

And so I am not pleading for India to practice nonviolence, because she is weak. I want her to practice nonviolence being conscious of her strength and power. No training in arms is required for realization of her strength. …nonviolent noncooperation a trial and they will find that I had no mental reservation whatsoever.”


wingwave®: sources for information

Ever since I have added the wingwave® coaching method to my portfolio as a coach, people request me to provide detailed materials on wingwave. As wingwave® was developed in Germany, most books and articles about the method and its applications are written in German language.

Recently, however, a group of wingwave enthusiasts have gone online with materials in English http://www.wingwave.org.uk/. Also training for consultants is provided by this organisation. Thank you for this work!


Claude André Ribaux


Flying high: When a coach uses active-alert hypnosis

Sorry, this entry is only available in German.