Monthly Archives: December 2016

Dealing with ‘Unusual Attitudes’ Part II

In the last post, I mentioned that aeronautics uses the term ‘attitudes’ to describe a plane’s orientation to flight. The study and practice of dealing with ‘unusual attitudes’ is part of training as a pilot.

Planes have attitude indicators. (see 1. below) Yet, pilots, in the midst of tests of unusual attitudes, often don’t believe their instruments. Surprisingly many end up flying the plane upside down.

In navigating life, so much of learning to function in a social world, interferes with our listening to our inner guidance, it is not uncommon to lose touch. Sensing unusual attitudes should activate, ‘listening to our indicators’, but instead, how often we resist. We ‘fly upside down’, adding to the problem.

Maybe we need some practice in listening to our indicators. Since, not unlike the aforementioned pilots, how much are we able to see our own attitudes, in relation to a larger, more precise or accurate view of the world?

Through the study of seeing in others an unwillingness to consider alternate ideas, we may begin seeing our own ‘unusual attitudes’. That would truly be power. Seeing the speck in our neighbor’s eye is infinitely easier, than to see in one’s self, our unwillingness to change our acquired orientation, often in the face of overwhelming, contradictory information. That may be the most usual attitude towards unusual attitudes that exists.

O sensei said, “Aikido is not for correcting others. It is for correcting the discord in your own mind.”

Now, there is a path with heart, which is why it takes courage.


1.) An attitude indicator (AI), also known as gyro horizon or artificial horizon or attitude director indicator (ADI, when it has a Flight Director), is an instrument used in an aircraft to inform the pilot of the orientation of the aircraft relative to Earth’s horizon.

Pitch attitude is the angle formed by the longitudinal axis, and bank attitude is the angle formed by the lateral axis.

Dealing with ‘Unusual Attitudes’ Part I


Aeronautics uses the term ‘attitudes’ to describe a plane’s orientation to flight. The study and practice of dealing with ‘unusual attitudes’ is part of training as a pilot. It has useful parallels for piloting our lives.

One’s attitude towards other people’s attitudes, seeing unusual attitudes as a learning challenge, enhances the ability to handle the situations they perpetrate. Have you ever dealt with anyone whom you felt had an unusual attitude? Unusual enough, so that it was difficult to deal with? Difficult enough, so you might even have described them, as having a difficult attitude?

Reacting to unusual/difficult attitudes with unbridled frustration can lead to blaming others and disempowering one’s self. A shift in attitude, choosing to see challenge, leads to learning. This simple, but not necessarily easy ‘shift of attitude’ creates new abilities, possibilities, potentially a new world, certainly a different one.

Awareness or the lack thereof, is fundamental to whether we are ‘part of the solution or part of the problem’. This is true not only in our own life. It affects the lives of everyone, whose lives mix with ours.

O sensei said, “Aikido is not for correcting others. It is for correcting the discord in your own mind.”


Dealing with ‘Unusual Attitudes’ Part II – next week

No, Really! Let’s Talk About it!

A large company found varying levels of productivity in different locations. They found that the employees in the productive areas felt happy and the unproductive locations the opposite. Turned out, the productive employees felt more compensated, and the unproductive employees felt underpaid. Since the employees were paid virtually the same, something else was causing the perception, that the level of compensation, was or was not enough.

Very consistently in the locations where the people were happy and productive, they felt that they had open, clear, two-way communication with their bosses. And where unproductive, the people felt that they could not speak openly, did not have an open dialogue, or that the bosses did not listen to them when they did speak. I’m going to extrapolate that this distinction applies equally to the happiness of families and fulfillment in personal relationships.

I invite you to notice and calibrate, what is true for you here. What quality of communication do you perceive you have, with the person you report to, then with the people who report to you, with your friends and family? How comfortable do you imagine you would be having a conversation, asking if they feel they have open communication with you? Would they be honest if asked? Or are you and your culture prone to ‘work around’ these kinds of problems?

Perhaps you think your culture is honest and open, let me ask, do you actually have these conversations? Indicatively, do you seek to improve the skills to make it possible? Mostly, are you creating a culture and thereby a company, a family, a society, that values honesty and openness? Do you want to?


If not you, who?

If not now, when?

Listening is an act of intent!

In the 1990’s I worked in Cypress with the institute for multi-Track diplomacy and the Harvard Negotiation Project. The possibility of positive effect in the Cypress situation was somewhat hopeful, considering how difficult the problems. And most of the work, the issues being so hot, had to do with developing an open and honest communication process. David Bohm, in On Dialogue, spoke of ‘freedom from self, restrictive reservations and barriers – an active energy of listening.’

Teaching a process to allow communication, without people being so reactively defensive seemed to me the essence of the study to ‘create a beautiful world’. I think we all know this, but it became conscious for me first in Cypress, then in all the work I did.

The one thought I would most like to share with you, what I thought the whole thing pivoted on was – personal intent — the desire of each of us as individuals to move towards a better state of being, a more open or more coherent state of functioning. The knowledge of listening skills only has value when we, each of us, takes that accountability onto ourselves.

An intention to listen strikes me as the greatest contribution any of us can bring to the process that we are engaged in together. Through the ability to communicate the power to handle the challenges that we encounter is heightened tremendously. And when that communication is blocked, less than open, or defensive, then even simple challenges that we face become serious problems.

A willingness to open oneself to learning and to communicate in a learning mode can distill the highest intelligence, whether in our work or with our families, as communities and nations.

And it is also the thing over which we have the most control.

Listening is an act of intent

‘Create a Beautiful World’