Deceptions, Distractions, & Disillusionment: Michael A. Wright, PhD

copy-cropped-2013LOGOThanks to one of our guests, we were introduced to the chairman of MAWMedia Group, Michael A. Wright.  Join us for a thoughtful discussion on Mental Health News Radio about his organization and his book Deceptions, Distractions, and Disillusionment: Barriers to Your Success and Ours. As we navigate through our conversation, Michael gives us insight into what inspires us, how people motivate themselves, what our challenges are as human beings, and how to overcome those challenges in order to achieve what success means to each individual.


MichaelAWrightWho are you and what do you do?

I am Michael Wright. I am chairman of a company I founded in 1997. MAWMedia Group, LLC now offers life coaching, business consulting, and publishing. I am an educator and a coach by profession and calling. I recognized by the age of 13 that I had a knack for breaking down concepts in a way that stimulates discussion and allows discussants to become informed and make their own decisions. I am on a mission to become the best I can be. I realize that I need you to be your best for my best to occur.

I created the COACH Method in 2005 to describe the systematic process of becoming our best. COACH Me is individual development. COACH Match is two working together. COACH Metro is dyads building community. As a student of human behavior, I have been fascinated by our resistance to collaboration in all relationships often based in prior trauma, needs for self-protection, and a lack of agency including self-reflectiveness and self-reactiveness. We find it difficult to see ourselves clearly or change our behaviors to be in line with our desires. I’m convinced that it’s an ecological challenge. We don’t know ourselves or focus on what we think are negatives about ourselves (shame). We don’t trust ourselves (suppression). We don’t know the other (role confusion). We don’t trust the other (isolation). We are a bunch of islands attempting to convince ourselves that we are “family,” and therefore “family” has come to mean something less than people who are willing to give all to your success.

What is your expertise?

I am a trained macro practice social worker with an emphasis on training, technology integration, and organizational practice. Macro social work means that I understand systems from individual, families, group, organizations, and communities and how they interact with one another. I explore the challenges, social networks, interactive effects, and information that impact the health and well-being.

I’m an expert at inspiring people. Many people think that their challenge is motivation, but it is really inspiration. Truly inspired people motivate themselves. It’s not a push to get up and take care of business. It’s a need to accomplish something because it MUST be done. The wish for motivation is knowing you have a shelf to organize your thoughts like books. Ambition is the shelf falling over and you catching it, keeping the books from spilling with your hands while the shelf leans against your forehead. Inspiration is when I explain that your shelf can be just as organized on the floor. The point is the books, not the position of the shelf.

What is your latest project?

I just finished an Introduction to Social Work text that supports a writing approach to professional discovery, but I am about to release the text that I am really excited about. It is titled Deceptions, Distractions, and Disillusionment: Barriers to Your Success and Ours.

I originally had the idea for the book in 2003, or maybe before. I was thinking about the loss of what I considered a true spirituality that enabled collective action. But, my first draft of 5 chapters sounded religious and a bit preachy. So, I put it away for a while, and got busy developing the training and technology integration part of my business. In that time, my wife decided to really pursue her dream of being a writer. I decided to become a publisher. I launched a blog in 2010 in order to force myself to get the book worked out. In 2012, I launched with an expanded vision of health and well-being. I worked on a number of projects, giving precedence over the Deceptions book. Along the way, I have become a better writer, and I have more clearly codified the contribution of the book.  Thanksgiving 2015, I decided I would finish the book. By December 30, 2015, I will.

6x9_FRONT-Deceptions17What is the contribution of the book?

From my perspective, the book accomplishes 2 simple tasks. First, it identifies and discusses the primary barriers to collaboration. Second, it provides the methods for overcoming the barriers. The difference is that it takes the discussion deep into our own system deception, self-deception, role and identity confusion, guilt, shame, and adult development. The barriers are what I call the 5 D-Lays, Dissonance, Defenses, Deceptions, Distractions, Disillusionment. They Delay your success and ours. The solution to overcoming is to address the narrative that has you reacting with D-Lays. I differ here because of my work with Adverse Childhood Experiences—ACE Response Strategies—and Solution Focused Brief Intervention. I don’t advocate spending a lot of time on exploring or reliving trauma in non-acute situations. It is the narrative that needs correcting—the way that you see yourself based on your history of trauma and your subsequent choices. The solutions are Forgiveness, Perfection, and Agency. Each goes beyond the simple dictionary definitions to describe a process that uses the motivation of guilt, the ambition of simply wanting better, and the inspiration that good-bad is not the determination. Sustainable versus unsustainable for you and your goals are the outcome options in the decision system. The steps provided through the solution of forgiveness, perfection, and agency, resolve to an individual who recognizes her power, integrates excellence, and intentionally impacts others. In short, you can be your best self, engage with me being my best self, and even though we both have flaws, our best-self interaction works to create perfect community.

Who do you think will resonate with this book?

That’s just it. I wrote this book to articulate the process of “recovery” for people who have been raised with fear of shame and punishment as their primary motivations. In the name of goodness, piety, structure, and politeness, they have been denied a truly integrated sense of self. They have learned to hide their flaws, to suppress their desires, and to defend themselves against everything. Self-protection is okay, but so is being wrong. You can makes mistakes, and that’s okay. It is the learning and the integration that makes the difference between reaching or delaying yours and our goals. Judgment is sometimes useful, but inadequate. I write to tell them that discernment is perfect. A complete and honest knowledge of yourself supports a determination of healthy and unhealthy relationships.

For that person who has heard the message and adopted it that she is enough, that he is stronger having overcome trauma, addiction, abuse. This book reveals that the larger world, beyond a traumatic interpersonal system can be just as oppressive, but you withstand the avalanche, not by denying it, but by realizing the opportunity once it has settled. The opportunity in a powerful, excellent, intentional self.

You stated that you don’t deal with the trauma. Isn’t dealing with the trauma an important part of healing?

My quick answer is yes. But, the human mind is more complicated than that. I really have two branches on a longer answer to your question. First branch is the difference between Therapy and Coaching. I am a coach, not a therapist. If you are unable to cognitively restructure without the interference of the trauma, you need therapy. Your physical brain needs support in order to allow the metaphysical mind to create options. If you can cognitively restructure and just need a knowledge, structure/trigger, and inspiration to accompany your motivation, you need a coach.

Second branch is the assumption I make about what most people have a problem with. For most people, at least the over 200 intentional clients I have worked with–excluding the over 800 students over 16 years—the challenge and what they have found useful is writing a new narrative of choice behavior. It is creating a new explanation for the choices you make. The explanation is where the shame comes from. An explanation that causes shame is one that will inhibit the collaboration that both therapy and coaching require. For example, in my work to determine interests and a life map I call game planning, a client may enjoy reading erotic novels, but hesitates to tell me about that interest. They think that 1) it is bad, 2) I will judge them, and 3) my judgment will negatively impact our potential for progress. I inform them that 1) it is. Drop the bad. We can get to any interest sustainably. 2) my judgment is motivated toward integrating truth into opportunity, and 3) the enjoyment of the erotic novels is only a superficial answer. We both need to know the deeper sense of satisfaction stemming from the interest. Is it the storytelling, the drama, the mental pictures, the control you have in reading that undergirds your enjoyment? Each signals a different ability, a different way that your mind works and your interests manifest. My work is to help clients write a new narrative integrating this knowledge and interest toward sustainable behaviors and goal attainment.

MichaelWrightPhD2Where does your knowledge for this book come from?

My knowledge comes from something I notice in the human behavior literature concerning treatment modalities when reviewed in light of what I knew about the clients I had seen. people are behavior and cognition. We have cognitive therapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy. But, people are also meaning. Holistically, we sense making and imaginative beings. I put the 3 together in a model, but researching the model was difficult without some practical functionalist mechanism. Once I heard about adverse childhood experiences, I was able to connect the narrative component as the functional component of my model. Next, was over 200 coaching experiences observing the delays exhibited. The final piece was Bandura’s agentic perspective in the context of operational research, specifically agent-based modeling. This work, in short, said that I could model narrative reconstruction as a client decision system. This book is the expression of the baseline conditions and the opportunity.

What would you like readers to take away from your work?

I want readers to realize their power and opportunity, AND that the system without intentional action is contrary to their individual and collective best interest long-term. Being your best is therefore a decision to create a movement of excellence that spreads to others. You have personal work to do, but that work does not remain in isolation. Healthy relationships can inform, support, and often accelerate your growth. The challenge becomes connecting rather than self-protecting.

Michael Wright, PhD, is a 16 year veteran social work educator residing in Nashville, TN. In addition to his academic appointment, Wright is Chairperson of MAWMedia Group, LLC, a Nashville-based firm focusing on individual coaching, institutional consulting, and publishing. With innovation as his guiding theme, Wright is a published author and author coach. He maintains an active social media presence contributing to online publications managing two blogs and He also produces online training for Wright has maintained his macro practice consultancy for more than 18 years. He has logged dozens of professional relationships with public and private entities seeking to increase capacity, evaluate programs, train staff, and grow strategically. More recently, he has expanded into social entrepreneurship, publishing, and video-based storytelling. This extends the education media production and web 2.0 services MAWMedia Group was originally created to produce.

A former Master of Social Work program director and Interim Bachelor of Social Work program director, Wright has taught a diverse population of students at both the baccalaureate and Master’s degree levels. His administrative talents are evident in curriculum design, faculty development, and program assessment. Since his first teaching experience as a Teaching Assistant at the University of South Carolina, Michael has worked to articulate the balance between high standards and student motivation. Along the way, he developed a theory of student development that still guides his educational interactions today. He has facilitated learning and motivated student achievement since 1999. His research interests include behavioral health, trauma and resilience, complex adaptive systems, and entrepreneurship. His latest book, due soon, is entitled Deceptions, Distractions, and Disillusionment: Barriers to Your Success and Ours. It is a discussion of our own system deception, self-deception, role and identity confusion, guilt, shame, and adult development. The barriers are are called the 5 D-Lays, Dissonance, Defenses, Deceptions, Distractions, Disillusionment.

Wright’s work in application of person-in-environment (PIE) and biopsychosocial assessment has led to the exploration of two new models of inquiry: POSE-R and SCME. Both shed light on meaning and perception of the individual toward a model for predicting behavior. The latest incarnation of this theoretical work is called Social Work Next. The model has application in health, global social justice, education, marriage & family, and social enterprise.

Michael A. Wright, PhD, LAPSW
Lifestyle Coach,
Chairman, MAWMedia Group

“As you succeed, we succeed!”

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