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Archive for the ‘Self Reflection’ Category

Laws alone cannot secure freedom of expression;
in order that every man present his views without penalty
there must be a spirit of tolerance in the entire population.
Albert Einstein

I’m not like you. We come from different places, we tell different stories, our humour is different, as is our spelling. We don’t look the same, smell the same, believe the same things or even eat the same meals. We’re different. Now what?

That question never goes away. The above litany is always true. It’s true, no matter who we are, where we live or who we work/play with. It’s true, regardless who we compare ourselves to. We’re different. So?

The differences in skin colour, looks, interests, wealth, intelligence, politics and religion, and so on and so on… ad nauseam, are easily used to build barriers. Anyone can do it. No education or skill required. The more ignorance, the better. Obstacles and barriers, chasms and canyons, created while we wait in growing fear.

To revel in diversity requires effort. The recipe is simple. Take one part education and mix thoroughly  with another part humour. Simmer slowly, don’t allow to boil… and tolerance rises.

When confronted face to face, if we blink… we lose, when we wink… we win.

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Most ignorance is vincible ignorance:
we don’t know because we don’t want to know.
Aldous Huxley

In all human endeavors there lie risks we don’t want to explore, flaws we’d rather ignore, and conflicts we’d rather avoid. We choose the comfort of deliberate ignorance over the insecurity of uncertain knowledge.

We are all incredibly good at stepping around the things we mustn’t discuss. Irrational actions rule supreme in the face of topics smeared with the taint of taboo.

The solution of course, is to take those lonely and invisible 800 lb gorilla problems and place them in the middle of the table. Shave them naked and paint them a glorious glowing neon pink. Make it so that we’d have to be blind to ignore their presence.

Problems grow stronger in the shade of solitary confinement. They shrivel to a fraction of their size when exposed to those dedicated to finding solutions.

Problems by definition ‘need fixing’… actions that result in conspiracies of deliberate avoidance are counter to intelligence.

From a reluctance to tell a friend they have bad breath, to the corporate wide ‘decision’ to ignore unethical policies… problems gain strength from silence.

The unacknowledged problem is forever unsolvable.

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Don’t fight forces;
Use them.
Buckminster Fuller

Ships sail against the wind, waters behind the dam give it strength, the weight of an arch bestows suspended flight to waves of stone and steel. In all of these, the forces that work against success, are what make it possible.

Physical force has direction and energy, but no motivation or intention. Manipulate what works against you, into working for you.

Our first reaction to any opposing force is to push back, it’s an instinctive, simple, uncomplicated strategy, and this sometimes brings success. We have other options.

In unrelenting heat, ice cold water is scarce, unless you place it in a porous terra-cotta pot. The evaporating droplets create a chill, just as sweat will cool the body. Don’t fight the heat, use it.

The forces we encounter as obstacles to our goals aren’t always physical, sometimes they’re political, spawned of human nature and desire. The advice doesn’t change, don’t fight the forces, use them.

If someone is an expert at finding fault with a project, place them on the project with the task of avoiding fault.

If someone’s ego is in the way of a change, then frame the success to feed the ego.

Make the force be with you…

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The fleas were appalling,
but the honour was great.
Laurie R. King

We demonstrate our respect and gratitude in a variety of ways, from a simple phrase of thanks, to elaborate gifts and celebrations. Our depth of respect and personal resources, determines the quality of our gift.

In turn, we accept gifts and honours with a critical eye, weighing each in turn against personal and private measures. The honour we feel we’ve been bestowed, is determined by our hidden valuations.

Which is the greater honour? To be invited out to dinner, or to be invited into a home to eat? The answers will vary according to taste…

The question is not… where would you rather eat? Or even… which serves the better meal? The question is… Which, according to the giver, bestows the greater honour?

To feel slighted, when only honour was intended, is tragedy masquerading as comedy.

What greater social error can we make, than to misjudge those who do us honour? The gifted bottle of wine, regardless of the vintage, is still a gift. The surprise party, still a gathering of friends. And the public embarrassing praise, still praise.

Sometimes sincere intent is the reality, and uncompromising perception, the problem.

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There is nothing permanent
except change.
Heraclitus

That’s a well worked, worn and weary cliché… nevertheless, it’s also the truth. It means that no matter what we’re doing today… we’ll be doing something different tomorrow. Forget the notion of catching up. Drop the idea that things will slow down. Let go of that Status Quo posing as a security blanket. Change is now and forever more, our constant, chaotic companion.

That’s scary. It means that our skills, those abilities that put food on the table… will become useless. It means that how we earn our living today… will not earn us a living tomorrow.

When we lose our ability to earn a living, we lose our competence, our sense of self worth… and our self esteem. Is it any wonder that change hurts?

But our most important skill isn’t something we learnt… it’s our innate ability to learn. Learning how to do something takes care of today… The ability to learn, takes care of our tomorrow’s.

In a world where nothing remains the same… learning to do new things, is our most crucial talent. Reading a magazine, attending a conference, going to night school… these are all investments in our future.

The ability to learn, rides the tides of change.
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If you’d like to hear a slightly different version of this as a 90 second ‘Keynote’ presentation? Click Here

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Unhappiness is best defined as
the difference between our talents
and our expectations.
Edward de Bono

We suffer from too many options, enticements and temptations. The possibilities before us, make us richer than the Kings of yore. But that nagging desire for even a fraction of what we see, but cannot own, makes us feel as poor as paupers.

The definition of happiness for most, is to own all of the horizion
For others, it is to revel in the sand beneath their feet and the sun above their head.

Defining happiness for yourself is worthwhile. It starts quite often, as a definition of possessions and therefore of wealth. “I’d be happy if I had…”

Sometimes the most desired possession is… Time. A commodity in equal supply for all, both Kings and Paupers, and beyond price if you require a single second more. We make do with what we have – it’s all there is.

Keep following your definition of happiness for a while, and it all boils down to simple things. Pick anything you think would make you happy if you owned it, and keep asking why that would make you happy. Seek out the root reasons. It’s always personal, there’s no Guru on the mountain to help you in this journey, so you’re on your own… again.

Happiness is found in what we are within, not in what we are without.

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It better befits a man
to laugh at life,
than to lament over it.
Seneca

Lamentation and grief soon come easy in a world offering ample opportunity for practice. They can, if we let them, become the pre-packaged response to a world that doesn’t seem to care.

The worst tragedies of today, become the rarely told stories of tomorrow… if they are remembered at all. The individual tears, once so painful, are lost in the flood of repetition. Only laughter, defiance and survival in the face of the worst, become the tales we find worth telling.

Once we shed those mandatory tears to cover a tragic loss, there’s a strength acquired by the very act of putting them aside and stepping back onto the path of life. The weight of a grief no longer there, is too heavy to carry for a lifetime.

Truth is, neither tears nor laughter can change what is… except that laughter lifts us higher up, and grief drags us further down.

Every setback, resets the game. Our opponent is blind fate and chance. Our strengths are tenacity and determination. Cut the cards, dry the tears… the game’s afoot.

The really irony is, if we weren’t here, there’d be no need for grief.

Tears are our proof of existence. Our tears are the evidence of their passing. We cry… therefore we are.

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