Archives for posts with tag: conditioning

I was fortunate, recently, to be able to travel to Guernsey, working with Aurigny Airline. My involvement was to join the back-end of a five day Train the Trainer workshop, hosted by a good friend of mine, Fleur Johnson, from Insight Solutions Consulting Group.  It was the first time in Guernsey for me, and I got to experience the short flight from London Gatwick in the ATR aircraft, a great deal smaller than the aircraft I would normally take from Gatwick!

Gatwick South Terminal, busy people, off to different parts of the world, all with their own agenda.

Gatwick South Terminal, busy people, off to different parts of the world, all with their own agenda.


Passengers embarking on the Aurigny Airline ATR, from Gatwick South

Following a pleasant crossing, slightly delayed, due to a fog-bound Guernsey I arrived and without further delay met the team we were working with.  Of course, having worked with the group for three days already, they had bonded well and I was interested to find out how they would react to a ‘new’ member joining the team.  Whilst I was there to deliver parts of the workshop and undertake feedback sessions on the final day, as always, I was determined to further my knowledge of the airline industry (having worked with different airlines for over 15 years).  Remember, we are always learning no matter how much we think we already know.

So what did I learn?  A Top Six Learning Points from my time in Guernsey (in no particular order)!

  1. How much does an aircraft weigh? Got that? Now, add on a load of passengers (of varying weights), luggage, crew, food and drink, fuel… and anything else you care to add… because we need to know this, in order that the aircraft is ‘light’ enough to effect a take-off.. AND… to land safely.  How many of us would even consider this, when we are queuing at the airport, on our return from holiday.. with those little extra’s in our suitcase.  Such is this calculation, that if the aircraft is painted as part of its maintenance, then that has to be noted also!  When you think about it, thats a colossal additional weight.  Consider how much paint would be needed to re-paint an aircraft (bearing in mind, the original coats are still on the plane) and then consider how much a can of paint actually weighs when you collect it from your local DIY store! Thanks Travis, for always getting the calculation right!
  2. What happens if you are on a flight and you become ill?  Not just unwell, but something serious, such as a heart attack?  Defibrillation equipment is carried on all of these flights together with trained staff… but how’s this for a few facts:- In Europe, every 45 seconds, a cardiac arrest takes place.  That sounds like an awful lot of people, but relate it to how many people are in Europe.  With intervention, early resuscitation and prompt defibrillation, within 1-2 minutes, a greater than 60% survival rate can be achieved.  Thanks Monika for raising our awareness and making us feel a lot safer.
  3. Ever considered what requirements certain passengers need on an aircraft?  Just how do you get a wheelchair user along the aisle of a plane?  What about a deaf or blind person, either looking or listening out for departure/boarding times?  Thankfully, there are procedures in place to assist with this, so thanks Martyn, for the enlightening training session!  Things we perhaps ‘know’ but never put into practice, because we never come across that scenario on a regular basis.  It was a pleasure to be able to use my acting skills for your session! 🙂
  4. It’s always important to have all bases covered and I’m always impressed by the amount of safety procedures we have, but I have to admit, knowing how much Oxygen is stored on a plane, even a relatively small passenger plane, such as the ATR or the Embraer Jet, in emergencies or times of decompression makes us all feel comfortable.  As we know, safety is paramount and I’ll confess to always watching and listening to the safety instructions from the flight crew, regardless of how many times i’ve seen it.  Thanks Faye, for your training session, together with some new phrases I learnt!
  5. Ever wondered, when you’re sitting on the plane, ready for take-off… what those guys and girls are doing, walking around the plane in their Hi-Viz jackets?  Well again, they are there for your safety, making sure there is no damage, ensuring everything is in order and carrying out a procedure that most of us take for granted.  Who’s in control of the plane during this time? Well most would say ‘The Pilot’, but it is in fact the ground crew, standing on the terra firma, during the ‘pushback’ procedure… once the plane is then ready to taxi to the runway.. The Pilot takes control.  Thanks Rob for passing on your knowledge and you’re right… you wear the Hi-Viz well!
  6. Finally, again on the theme of safety, how important is it that EVERYONE carries out their job, to the best of their ability and leaving nothing to chance?  Mike took us on a journey around the world, in particular the middle east, and highlighted the National Air Cargo’s Boeing 747-400 freighter crash in Afghanistan, that many will have seen on You Tube and rather than jumping to conclusions that because it was in Afghanistan, it was the subject of terrorist activity or military intervention.. the most probable cause was that a heavy item of cargo was not secured properly, thus becoming unstable.  For want of a simple procedure, the crew lost their lives.  What a responsibility… but this of course is not just limited to the aviation industry.

So you see, even though I was in Guernsey ‘training’, as always it’s a joy to increase my own knowledge.  Basic, little things, that we take for granted, or, more realistically, don’t even think about as they possibly may never affect us, directly… (until something goes wrong)!


Gary Boyes & Fleur Johnson from Insight Solutions Training Group, Quayside in St. Peter Port


St. Peter Port Harbour as the sun starts to fade.


St. Peter Port Harbour as the sun starts to fade.


You really can’t go to St. Peter Port, Guernsey, without sampling the Surf & Turf in ‘Mora’! Fillet Steak and Lobster.. Luscious!

You never know, what you don’t know… just think about that for a while.

Put this into the real world situation, of everyone’s busy schedules and whilst you’re undertaking your chores and work, why not glean some additional knowledge.  You’ll never know when you may possibly need it?  The late Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple attended Caligraphy lessons, just because he found it interesting… but of course, never needed it in his life.  A good few years later, when the initial font-types on computers were being thought over, there was Jobs, with his knowledge of different styles.  He refers to it as ‘joining the dots’, but you can only join the dots looking back, not forward.


The sun shines on the tail fin as we leave Guernsey. Great place, great people and I look forward to returning in the very near future. Work days like these, never seem to be ‘work’ 🙂


I took an ATR on the way to Guernsey and had the pleasure of returning to the mainland in the newest member of the fleet, The Embraer. Here’s the view, heading due North North East 🙂

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Pavlovian conditioning

Ivan Pavlov in the early 1900’s discovered the concept of classical conditioning, also known as Pavlovian conditioning.  Pavlov was a noted Russian Physiologist who studied digestive processes.  It was whilst he was studying digestion in dogs that Pavlov noticed an interesting event.  Whenever an assistant entered the room, the dogs would start to salivate.

In the research, Ivan Pavlov and his assistants would feed the dogs with either edible or non-edible food and note how much salivation was produced.  When the dogs (and other animals) salivated, Pavlov noticed it was a reflex action and was not under the control of the conscious mind.  Even without food being introduced as soon as Pavlov or an assistant appeared they would start salivating.  The dogs had effectively associated the assistants’ entry with food and sub-consciously started salivating.  Every time one of the assistants appeared, the dogs would start to salivate. 

To further this research, Pavlov set up an experiment and used an associative stimulus.  He linked a sound, in this case, a bell, so that the dogs would associate the sound of the bell with feeding.  Every time the dogs were due to be fed, the bell would be sounded.  Even without actual feeding, every time the bell was sounded the dogs would begin to salivate.  What had happened is that the dogs had been ‘conditioned’ to salivate upon hearing the bell rather than smelling or seeing any food.  Through repetition and exposure to the sound, the dogs learnt to connect the bell with food.  Pavlov called this the ‘Conditioned Reflex’. 

Furthermore, an interesting example of Conditioning was used in a practical way to provide a taste aversion to prevent Coyotes from attacking and eating domestic livestock.  Coyotes would frequently invade sheep flocks for an easy meal, causing the loss of sheep and ultimately security for the shepherds.  This example was carried out by Gustafson during the mid-1970’s.  A conditioned taste aversion was created by injecting mutton with a drug that produced severe nausea and in turn leaving some of the poisoned mutton out for the Coyotes.  After eating the poisoned meat the coyotes then associated, or became conditioned (in this case, after just one sample of mutton) and then avoided sheep herds rather than attack them.   Some conditioning, such as this, can occur after just one experience, but more commonly, as with Pavlov’s dog salivation example, occur over a period of time.  A learned response.  This happens to humans also, as I can testify!  I once had the opportunity to canoe on the River Trent near Nottingham and during the course of the day, consumed a few mouthfuls of Trent Water!  That evening, after eating a roast dinner which included broccoli, I suffered possibly the worst nausea and vomiting that
I had ever experienced.  I blamed this on some under-cooked broccoli, which I know to be vastly wrong in my analysis (the fact that at the time, anyone who ‘sampled’ some River Trent Water felt the same, did nothing to dissuade my mental block or ‘anchor’).  For a long time after this, just the sight of broccoli on someone’s dinner plate brought the feeling of nausea back to me.  Coincidence? I’d think not, it was just ‘negative’ conditioning.

In NLP terms, we tend to refer to this conditioning as ‘Anchoring’, meaning that should we have certain experiences that evoke good times or good memories, then that particular ‘anchor’ acts as the stimulus to the thought process.  The anchor itself could be anything and will very much be a personal thing, perhaps hearing a piece of music, seeing a specific sight, even a smell or maybe a taste.  Professional and amateur sportspeople often will have unbeknown anchors, frequently referring to them as superstitions, which could be putting the right boot on first, or being third out onto the pitch.  Effectively, they will have had a good experience the last time they did that, so by doing it again, they want to repeat that experience.  It must be noted, however, that anchors, as well as being good can also be bad or negative!  The sight or sound of a certain item or piece of music can provide us with an unpleasant memory which can have a detrimental effect on our well-being.

Anchoring and/or conditioning can affect a person’s belief system in a huge way.  An anchor that gives you a positive thought process will very often provide the stimulus to achieve your goal and this can then embed the anchor even more strongly.  As an example, Chris Moon, who survived a land mine explosion but sadly lost an arm and a leg, was convalescing after the incident and as he looked out of a window saw a large pig tethered by a small twig and some twine.  Now it was apparent that the pig certainly had enough strength to pull the twig from the ground, yet it would spend all day just tethered, never even trying to escape.  Chris asked someone he knew, why the pig didn’t just pull the twig from the ground and break free.  He was told that when the pig was very small, a young piglet, the piglet would be tethered in much the same way and try as he might, he could not escape.  Of course, at that size the piglet did not have the strength to pull out the twig.  When the pig was now, every day, attached to the twine and twig, it had resigned itself to the fact that no matter how hard he pulled against the twig, it would not move, Even though the pig was now fully grown and easily had the strength to break free it had the belief that it was impossible to escape.  The pigs own beliefs, through conditioning had kept it tied to the twig rather than the twig and twine itself. 

I recall many years back when I first started to deliver training courses, always wearing a black shirt and black trousers on the first day of a training course.   This was a very simple anchor for me, it made me feel smart, and look good (or so I thought, after all, ‘black’ is meant to be slimming!) and gave me confidence.  When my black shirt eventually had seen better days and I was no longer able to use it, I shopped around for another, but just could not get the ‘right’ shirt, it just didn’t feel the same!  In time, I adapted the ‘anchor’ but the original conditioning was incredibly strong, that I would not feel as confident as I did previously.  Even now, my own conditioning ensures that I want to get into the training room early, to set up in a methodical way, to have flip charts, samples, etc. all placed in a certain manner and when this is all in place, as it should be (in my own mind) then I know I will have a really good day.


Books:  Dawes M, 2008 Understanding Quantum Thinking, Derwent Press, Derbyshire, England

                O’Connor J & Seymour J, 1994 Training with NLP, Thorsons, California, USA


DVD:      What the Bleep Do We Know? 2004, Revolver Entertainment