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What do you really want out of life? Now what's stopping you?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A Little Culture

Culture groups within a city make a fascinating study, observing the dynamics of their behaviour, spending styles and attitudes. Attitudes are an interesting aspect. I see dozens of clients from a wide variety of classes and incomes and a lot can be observed during conversation. I wish I could say that I got on with everyone but truth be told I am rather opinionated and while I may not voice it to the person there are just some attitudes that irritate the heck out of me. I’m pretty sure I have a few that get under some people’s skin so it probably evens the scales there.

Think of a social grouping below yours. You know, the ones who live in a lower standard neighbourhood with the spending patterns you can’t comprehend. Now think of the conversations you’ve had with ‘those people’. Good. Did you understand them? Probably not, if anything you walked away either frustrated with their attitude or relieved that you ‘are not like them’. What just occurred was a clash of attitude. Next step. Imagine a grouping higher than yours. Now observe your thought towards them. What goes through your mind when you see someone driving a better car than you, spending more money than you and wearing better clothes? One of the easiest ways of making yourself look better is to pull someone else down-so some justify their relative position with comments like ‘well they must have done a dirty deal to get there’ or ‘I would hate to be in their position, imagine the insurance they must have to pay.’ The problem with these thought patterns is that they get in the way of someone moving up into a higher social circle. They prevent a person from visualising themselves living better and consequently they talk themselves out of it. They may wish for better circumstances but they don’t really want them. Others, however, look at the other person’s circumstances and imagine what it would be like to enjoy the benefits of a better lifestyle and with a positive attitude move in that direction.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Looking Forward

How often do you look forward to the day. The phrase has an inherent positive emotion attatched to it. At its root though 'to look forward' is just that-to gaze into the future. While the English language has attatched a positive meaning to the phrase, the actual emotion is entirely up to you, the choice is yours. Most people go through their days on automatic, not looking at what the day may bring or what they could create different in it. Without deliberate intent in designing your day it will continue to be the monotonous boredom of yesterday. Practice looking forward, the positive emotion will naturally follow.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Tell a Story

A general agreement as to one of the key aspects of leadership is the ability to cast vision. If you have ever heard a great speech that inspires you to action, that was an example of good leadership. Sounds a little daunting though, I mean ‘me lead, me inspire-you’re kidding right.’ Vision casting ranks with the big stuff right? Vision casting is a fancy term for storytelling. All you have to do is be able to tell a story. Now each of us is responsible for leading at least one person-ourselves. You can lead yourself by telling the story of how you want your life to go. You paint the picture for yourself of how things should be with the words you tell yourself all the time anyway, so you may as well be a little more intentional about it.

There are a few aspects that make a great story though. First it has to be believable. Believable means that you have to be able to imagine it happening. Many writers use great descriptions to paint such a vivid picture in your mind that it appears real to you (for a phenomenal example of such a writer read Anne Rice).

The other aspect of a gripping story is the aspect of tension. There is a discrepancy between what the protagonist has to do and what he is able to do-this creates a tension that keeps you hooked. If you tell a story of your future it needs to create a tension between where you are and where you want to be. It is the tension that will cause you to move.

Practice storytelling on yourself a bit. Describe the way you want your day to go before it starts, imagine it to be the way you want it, see yourself doing it. Once you can tell it to yourself, start telling others around you and watch the magic.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


If you havn’t seen ‘The Spiderwick Chronicles’ you should. Very fun movie.

Top to Bottom

The traditional concept of a hierarchy of needs follows that if you fill the basic needs of a person you will attain a degree of satisfaction and emotional contentment. It is a bottom up approach-you get food, clothing, shelter, and move on up the ranks to significance and as you attain each level you will be emotionally more ‘happy’. A bit oversimplified but it will do. This makes emotion determined by environment.

What if it was the other way around, that emotion determined environment? That if you can hold a state of positive emotion through the thought patterns you permit you are more likely to create the environment around you that you desire. If you can visualise something with a strong emotion you are more likely to cause it to happen.

The problem with a bottom up pyramid approach is that you put more effort into the bottom levels to get a minimal top result. What if by putting a minimal effort into the top you got the bottom levels anyway. Ascetic belief structures (personally not a favourite of mine) tend to show that it is possible to achieve a positive emotional state without what we call ‘necessity’ by focusing on the thought patterns and emotions first, then the rest of the pyramid.

Yeno Lo Golf

‘Caddie where is the ball?’
‘Madam, it is by your left heel’
These lines from a long forgotten comedy show used to sum up my idea of golf.

Until a couple of years ago I would probably never had looked at a golf club let alone picked one up. Golf was a sport for people with time to waste (especially by other members of the health community) and if I had been asked to play I would have made up a million other disdainful excuses. The real reason, like most real reasons, was that I was a little afraid of the unknown, a little afraid of failure. As a result I would avoid and belittle anything outside my comfort zone. ‘The Pacific Institute’ changed that for me, made me a little more outward looking. Hence, I found myself on a golf course on Saturday hacking around the rough at the edge of the fairway, chipping the occasional shot in, and having a total blast. While it may be a little while before I pick out my own set of clubs, I enjoyed an experience that negative, irrational perceptions may have ruined.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Set in Stone

You have to gargoyles credit for patience. They sit year after year looking out over the same landscape, unmoving, with only the occasional pigeon for a snack (apologies to Terry Pratchet). Now that's patience. Jokes aside, I love the ingeneuity behind the gargoyle concept. The builders could have used any plain waterspout to divert the flow of water from a building, but instead they were creative and came up with a method that looked aesthetic as well. Going beyond what's good enough, that's what gargoyles are.