Challenging Our Assumptions

Wednesday 19 December, 2012

A week ago I was challenged to leave my comfort zone. I saw it coming and my immediate response was to resist. Fortunately my motivation to take up the challenge was greater. It was all part of a coaching course I was attending and during this particular session I had been talking with one of the coaches about my reluctance to make the first move in social interactions. At best I feel awkward; at worst, anxious and ready to leave. The coach knew my travel arrangements for that evening and our closing dialogue went something like this:

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Listen to Yourself

Friday 7 December, 2012

The answer came to me in an instant, but I couldn’t explain it or offer any evidence for it, so I kept quiet. I was sat in my meditation class. The lesson was about symbols and we had all been asked to bring something of importance: a symbol of our self, our life. I took my company logo which represents my work and signifies transformation. I spoke about how my teacher, Karaj, had taught me to see the information available all around us – in the words we use, the ways we behave, how we carry ourselves and the symbols and artefacts we keep with us.

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The Contributions We Make

Tuesday 4 December, 2012

This post is about how much we contribute to each other even though we may not realise we do. With our presence we can inspire people, lift their moods, reassure them or provide the opportunity for them to laugh, cry or just be. Sometimes only a few words or a smile are enough. Even silence can suffice to contribute and make a difference to people’s lives and yet we may never fully appreciate the effect we have.

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We Change Anyway

Saturday 24 November, 2012

This week was the final session. The last in a series of nine workshops I have been running over the last six months with a team in Amsterdam. The main goal was to enhance the group’s communication and personal development by raising their level of awareness. This post is a reminder to them that they have achieved more than they may realise. It also highlights that the power of development work can be found in the simplest of comments.

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Note To Self: Fight

Thursday 15 November, 2012

There is always another perspective. It makes no difference how we view what is happening to us, there is more than one way of seeing things. For example, when events don’t go our way we have the option to give up or fight on. This post is a reminder to myself as much as anyone that no matter how much we may be tempted to surrender to what we believe our fate to be, there is another path we can choose. One which sees us stand up and fight.

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It’s The Thought That Counts

Wednesday 7 November, 2012

Opening new doors can be as simple as closing old ones. Simple, but not always easy because there can be a tendency to hold on to elements of our lives which no longer serve a purpose. Out of habit, sentimentality, or a lack of awareness we accrue unfinished episodes which seem to lie dormant but which have a greater impact than we realise. And when that impact is detrimental, we are better off doing something about it. When we do, we immediately create space for more appropriate people and experiences to enter our lives.

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Think Whatever You Want

Wednesday 31 October, 2012

I joined a meditation course last month. Our teacher told us that meditation is not about sitting quietly with an empty mind. It’s about becoming aware of the thoughts our mind is producing. More accurately, it is about becoming aware that our mind is thinking at all, rather than the thoughts themselves. Once we become aware, it’s about refocusing our mind by counting our breaths. The counting serves as a simple, purposeful thought designed to help draw the mind away from its random, unfocused ramblings. With awareness we can redirect it to something more useful, more helpful, more constructive. In short, we can think what we want.

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People’s Patterns

Sunday 28 October, 2012

We assume people will change. We’ve watched loved ones suffer or complain. We’ve dealt with the consequences of a colleague’s below-average performance, and it’s possible we’ve had a frank exchange with a friend to clarify how their future behaviour needs to be. Some of those people have even acknowledged their problem areas, so surely they will have learnt their lesson? Surely it will be different next time? But it isn’t. And if we’re not careful the whole process of expectation, frustration and disappointment will repeat itself.

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Genes, Memes & Then What?

Wednesday 17 October, 2012

There are good reasons why we are all different. For a start, we have to be. Aside from the ‘wouldn’t the world be dull if we were all the same argument, evolution – the effects of environment on genetic variation – would simply have nothing to work with if there were no variation. Only through diversity does a species have any chance of coping with the powerful impact of its habitat. Indeed, in nature, those two factors – genes and environment – along with behaviour, dictate a species’ chances of survival and the course of its development. But there is one species which has found a way to lay a veneer over those factors and steer its development in any direction it chooses.

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Internal Dialogues

Tuesday 9 October, 2012

We all talk to ourselves, whether in full conversations or just one-liners. The things we say can be destructive, corrective, empowering or belittling. Some are deliberate, whilst others are less conscious; a background noise of barely noticeable messages which nonetheless have a potent effect on our well-being. The dismissive remarks range from casual admonishments for the everyday mistakes we make – spilling a drink or walking into a glass door – to the more harmful comments with which we put ourselves down.

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Meat & Potatoes

Sunday 30 September, 2012

Inspired by the same friend who appeared in the post ‘A Moment of Beauty’ and prompted by the recent journal entry from 11 years ago, ‘Push Through the Barriers’, this post is about making the most of the hard work already done in order to get the best possible return. It’s about carrying on when you feel like giving up, because it’s the extra effort you put in which brings the main benefit and makes everything else worthwhile.

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Taking The Time To Listen

Thursday 20 September, 2012

I have worked for a number of bosses: the workaholic who only ever looked up from his paperwork to find out why his coffee cup and ashtray were not where they should be; the too-soft middle manager promoted beyond his ambitions by virtue of years of service; and the arrogant one lacking any self-awareness, who could never be as good or as respected as he imagined himself to be. There were other more inspirational leaders too. Two in particular spring to mind. Partly because I worked for them longer than any of the others, but mostly because they had so many qualities in common.

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A Moment Of Beauty

Monday 3 September, 2012

There’s a grand piano in a library, in an airport. I haven’t seen it but I know it’s there because a good friend told me about it. He rang me from its location because he simply had to share the experience with someone and because he knew I would appreciate it. He had found the library as he wandered around the airport, too early for his long-haul flight. He is the exploring type who embraces new territory with arms open wide and an enthusiasm which attracts and empowers. I have only known him for a couple of years but he will always be involved in my life; we seem to agree on many of the fundamental aspects of existence, and he makes me laugh and draws me out of myself, such is the intensity of his presence.

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Gathering Evidence

Monday 27 August, 2012

We are not always who we think we are. All too often we allow those mischievous thoughts in our head to rule. The voices which tell us we can’t when actually we can. Or that we are, when in reality we are not. If we believe them, they can lead us to have an inflated opinion of ourselves or to dismiss our talents. The best way to correct such disparities is to gather evidence of who we are. Incontrovertible, undeniable evidence. Evidence of our abilities and qualities, but also our blind spots and shortfalls; the aim being to know ourselves as fully as possible. Beyond that pursuit, the goal is to have the picture which people have of us agree with the picture we have of ourselves. Congruency.

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