Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Spin on Things

Every week a friend of mine half way around the world swap stories and articles of interest. At present we are pursing laminar flow, black holes, and the mind-blowing behaviour of particulate matter.
In thinking about how to communicate an idea I have, I started to experiment with tennis ball - throwing it in different ways to achieve different aspects of flight - straight ball, sinker, curve, etc.
Then I had a session with one of the young golfers I coach, and watching him hit wedges reminded me of all the times I've heard the term, "geared effect".
This relates specifically to the angle of the club face at the point of impact, and the direction of the shear forces acting through the face of the club against the surface of the ball.
Could it, I murmured to myself, be something to consider with particulate motion and laminar flow?
What could be "imparting" the energy required to create the "spin" motion and thus part of the momentum (vector) to the particle? How would you describe the surface / impact point?
I'm still thinking about it all, particularly as it might apply in a vacuum.
Anyone care to help me out here?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Mind over Matter, and Matter that does (matter!)

I had the experience of working with a floor full of "Gen X" executives recently, and it was an experience I won't soon forget.
Supposedly, "Gen X'ers" come out of the egg expecting to run companies, earn $100k in their first year out of collage, and be mobile enough to have had at least five senior executive jobs by the time they turn 25 - and an attention span of less than 3 seconds!
What surprised me the most was they were all clearly focussed on metrics, specifically any metric that involved an assessment of their personal performance.
On a number of occasions I witnessed someone deliberately position themselves before their company, clearly believing that they could survive, but the company may or may not, and in any case, ti didn't really matter to them one way or another.
This somewhat ruthless attitude was completely foreign to me, having been brought up in the era where your loyalty to your company came only after that to your family.
But what really took me by surprise was their attitude to information.
Everything had to be "dot points", with the key elements first, and everything else relegated to the back - which never got read.
Now, to me, context is everything. As a negotiator, facilitator, and mediator, finding the "win-win" position is critical, and you usually can't achieve this if you do not deeply research the background and context to the discussion from everyone's point of view.
However, business is what business is, and as I see the outcome of this different style of thinking, I start to understand why younger people are obsessed with social media.
It is the great diversion from having to deal with reality!
I've suggested this before in another forum - for one weekend, get everyone in your family to turn off their phones, Ipads, computers, WII's, TV's, Ipods, everything electronic.
Have conversations, not stutter points. Relate to each other. Go for a walk. Visit someone. Do things together. Look back a little, from where you have come from, rather than race towards a diminishing future.
And use your Mind more - read, debate, discuss, create, prove you are a human being and not the willing slave of some piece of technology.
Well, what have you got to lose? A million "friends" on facebook?
On the other hand, you might just generate a relationship that will support you for the rest of your Life!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Standing Tall

Professional tennis players will tell you their secret, if asked nicely. Professional footballers will tell you the same thing, as will elite athletes, race car drivers, and most anyone who has ever visited "the zone" - that special place where absolute performance takes place.
What is it about "the zone" that makes so much difference?
Well, its a mental thing. Your Mind produces the blitzing performance that, on the day, providing it is the best blitzing performance, makes you the winner.
In many sports and competitions, your ability to influence your competition is limited, or zero. All you can do to make them worry about you is perform better than they do.
Even in some team sports, it is hard to put the other side off balance unless you are winning by such a margin they mentally give up the chase.
So what performance excellence comes down to is being the best - doing your best - at the critical time that enables you to win the competition.
But you can't always do that - the forces of evil - distractions, important things, confused thinking, tiredness - can make it hard to perform on the day, the way you need to.
So you need to ask the tennis pro what the secret is.
And if they are honest, they will tell you that when they are in "the zone", the ball seems bigger, travels slower, they see it earlier, it feels "warm", and they feel as if they are taller, looking down a little.
I had an experience yesterday that made me remember all that I had forgotten about stress management, and performance.
I forgot the golden rule - if you really, really want something, you have to be prepared to let it go. I tried too hard, didn't relax and let my ears do the work, and suffered the consequences.
And at no time did I feel taller.
When you find yourself in a similar situation, it is not the end - just the beginning. First you have to recognise you are mildly stressed, then you have to deal with it. If you go to a much earlier blog here and find the chapter on Stress in Orbit, you will find a lot of simple, fast acting techniques for stress management. Circular breathing is the one I should have used yesterday, because then I would have regained my ability to think quickly and listen and analyse before entering the verbal fray.
However, it was a great learning experience, and this blog has eventuated because of it, so something good and worthwhile is what we now have.
Think strong, stand tall, pull your shoulders back, take a deep breath, and above all, be positive.
You can do it, and you will.