Episode 15

Published on:

13th Feb 2021

Hang-gliding and hypnotism

In this episode of Gone Workabout, practical philosopher Paul Baker shares some of the highlights of his life to date, spanning Ceramics at Eton, to attempting to teach Richard Branson to fly, to the Alexander technique and beyond.

Paul has a matter of factness about him that is both refreshing and charming. As his story unfolds, it becomes clear that it is all heading in one direction - a better understanding of people and how to support both individuals and groups to live life more lightly.

About the show:

Gone Workabout is a show where host Oliver Happy talks to people who move about the things that matter most. Each conversation starts with childhood origins, and evolves organically as we explore wide-ranging topics.

About my guest:

Paul Baker is a practical philosopher who started life as an awarded Ceramicist, who then opened the UK's first hang gliding school and later to explore hypnotism and therapy on his lifelong journey to help people live more lightly. Paul is a therapist, coach and trainer. He lives in the South East of England.

Show mentions:

  • Life as a bit of an outsider and that feeling of never really quite fitting in, then realising I didn't really want to
  • Eton as a high school that has is very old, and has originated a large number of british prime ministers
  • 03:00 Eton as a high school leading to Sandhurst as a military academy for officers
  • 04:00 Eton hierarchy by age group and pupil / servants vs the Christian ideals underpinning the education.
  • Dyslexia as a barrier to higher education and university.
  • 08:15 Hang gliding as a business venture and obviously the most sensible thing you could do
  • Stalling a glider as a means to surviving an almost 1000 ft drop on the first flight
  • 09:45 The high school of hang gliding as a business venture
  • 10:30 Learning to be an instructor being based on information in digestible chunks
  • 11:20 Hang gliding as a way to empower people.
  • 12:30 the best air is near the cliff and needs you to run off a cliff as fast as you can
  • What feels dangerous can actually be really safe and what feels safe can be very dangerous
  • You can feel safe but it doesn't mean you necessarily are. And while heading to the edge of the cliff you can actually be very safe and on the right path
  • How do our feelings and our thinking relate to the world around us?
  • 16:00 hang gliding moving to towing, moving to microlights
  • Design principles as a source for designing hang gliding harnesses
  • 18:20 the emergence of powered hang gliders
  • My brother helped invent bungee jumping and the second bungy jump ever being off the golden gate bridge in san francisco
  • Ending up on the evening news as being in a light aeroplane (microlights) leading to an influx in people wanting to learn
  • The fundamentals of teaching people to fly light aeroplanes - understanding the risks and learning how to control them
  • Teaching the marquis of Bath to fly (he wasn't a great pupil)
  • Teaching Mike Oldfield and Richard Branson to fly
  • Richard Branson as someone who was completely able to follow instructions, yet who is brilliant at creating businesses
  • Going bust after 10 years of flight schools and taking a moment to look at what I'd learned
  • 26:30 going green and doing something natural with gardening as a way to learn from mistakes
  • Gardening as fighting nature and leading to an interest in Permaculture (Permanent agriculture)
  • Permaculture as a methodology that looks at mimicing nature in a way that leads to growing things that are useful to us
  • Related episode: From little things big things grow
  • Recognising that you can't separate agriculture from people looking after land
  • 31:00 Realising that everything is not linear, but is actually systemic.
  • 31:30, 34:00 The Alexander technique - a study of thinking in relation to movement
  • Frederick Matthias Alexander as a young Australian actor over 100 years ago, who was losing his voice, who came up with this method to study his movements when talking when reciting as a way to heal
  • Book - Frederick Alexander: Man's supreme inheritance
  • Book - Frederick Alexander: The use of the self
  • Inhibition - the concept of receiving an experience and not doing anything immediately as a response
  • Which is more important? to solve the problem or to not create the circumstances that caused the problem?
  • Let's tackle problems by identifying the cause and not causing the problem in the first place.
  • 37:00 mediation and conflict resolution advice - if someone says something that upsets you, only react if you think there is an advantage in doing so.
  • Learning about people and how about how we can not get in each other's way
  • 40:45 NLP Neuro Linguistic Programming
  • Virginia Satir family therapist
  • NLP growing out of an inability of great practitioners to teach others what they did. Based on an idea of people not knowing what they are doing. Leading to a modelling of their behaviour to via elimination to identifying the elements that works
  • Milton Ericcson as an extraordinary therapist they studied
  • John McWhorter as a Glaswegian Social Worker who used NLP to help his clients.
  • Century Systems and John McWorter's work
  • 44:00 DBM Developmental Behavioural Modelling as a study of human design - what do we do consciously, what do we do unconsciously?
  • Hypnosis and hypnotherapy as a set of tools to help deliver hypnotherapy
  • The hypnosis as an aid to help you get into the appropriate state of mind for the work you are trying to do
  • 46:00 the fascinating thing about hypnotherapy
  • To do anything of significance you have to do work to achieve the result
  • Book - Karl Jung's Memories, dreams and reflections as an inspiration to learn more about Psychology
  • Arnold Mendel and an interest in Process Work
  • 51:00 the biggest problem we have is almost too much information
  • Book - Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance
  • You can't just read a book once and get everything that is there
  • 56:00 Practical philosophy as a love of wisdom and applying it to everyday life
  • 57:00 we do all need to reinvent the wheel to understand what it is an why
  • Designing as a way to go down to the surface and discover what it all means
  • 58:00 let's make sure this life is good
  • This life includes our future life in this life
  • Listening and the whole listening problem.
  • 01:02:00 needing to find a balance between listening to the inner voice and the voice without and knowing when to listen to each
  • A fascination with the nature of reactions to what is going on in our environment. What we do changes our environment.
  • 01:04:00 boiling it all down, we only really do two things in life...
  • 01:06:00 life itself is a positive sum game
  • Why are we finding it so difficult to work together, play together and get along together?
  • 01:08:00 wouldn't it be better to create a systemic win?
  • Systemic win as a choice to make a choice to build a positive sum game
  • Humans are successful due to our extraordinary ability to collaborate

Logo concept by Dan Mazig of Brilliant Studio. Photo by McCall Alexander on Unsplash.

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About the Podcast

Gone Workabout
People that move talk about the things that matter most
People that move talk about the things that matter most with host Oliver Happy. They each share their journey and talk about the things that matter most.

Originally from Aotearoa (New Zealand), Oliver has lived overseas for 17 years and counting, including a decade in Australia. Now based in the UK, the experience of moving and an interest in diverse walks of life form running themes.

Topics include: Travel, moving country for work, work-life balance, health and wellbeing, mindfulness, meditation, barefoot running, starting a business, ethical living, life during lockdown and why Kangaroos can't walk backwards.
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