Write Your Own Feedback

Sunday 27 April, 2014

It was the third day of his visit and the end of another productive day of silences, conversations, reading, writing and reflection. I had given the TA presentation in Amsterdam that evening and, as part of the process, I had asked the participants for their written feedback. I explained to them that although it obviously helps me, it is more important for them to take a couple of minutes to reflect for themselves. The exercise will bring more clarity to their experience and reinforce their learning. At home afterwards, as I knelt by the open, floor-level window of my apartment and Karaj sat in the armchair, we reflected on how well it had all gone. Outside, the country was celebrating. It was the first King’s Night here in the Netherlands for 122 years.

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Make Your Own Tools

Saturday 26 April, 2014

I gave a talk at Amsterdam University’s Business School yesterday. Near the beginning I spoke of the importance of writing things down and the necessity of seeking feedback from others on our behaviour and blind spots. It was at this point that one of the participants asked if there are any tools I could give him to help him with his personal development. I was privileged to have my mentor, Karaj, with me who easily became involved in the two-hour interaction with the students and alumni. He talked of people’s obsession with having tools and that the shelves of bookshops are full of books which offer tools. What is actually needed is the experience of the journey and knowing that patience, discipline, awareness, feedback, observation and (written) reflection are the elements you will have to come back to time and time again.

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A Story Of Two People

Monday 21 April, 2014

There’s a woman who treads the pathways of the park where I take my morning walk. She pushes an old pram filled with bread and the treasures she finds in the bins she systematically searches, stopping periodically to feed the ducks, swans, seagulls, pigeons and the park’s resident heron. My first sightings of her triggered my judgmental side which quickly concluded that she is probably crazy and really shouldn’t be feeding the animals, but I kept my thoughts to myself and said ‘Good morning‘ whenever we passed each other. This morning I saw her up on the hill, inspecting the contents of a bin flanked by two benches, each supporting a sleeping bag, doubtless filled with the same homeless people I had seen the previous day.

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This post is about a couple of people I know, whose opinions of personal development have changed dramatically over time. Their examples add further weight to the argument that this work is applicable to everyone’s life. They were both clear about their stance from the very start, communicating their thoughts with an immediacy which suggested they had already given the subject some consideration. In time, however, they changed their minds. One did so over the course of a couple of years, the other in the space of a few months. My role in both instances was to accept their initial assertions and carry on regardless. I never set out to change their minds because the nature of this work means there is no point in persuading someone when they are not interested or don’t believe it can help them. All I know is the difference this work has made to my own life and how much sense it makes when observing the human condition.

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No Past, No Future, Just Today

Tuesday 15 April, 2014

I was woken last Saturday at 06:30 by a phone call from a good friend on the other side of the world. We caught up on the recent events of our respective lives, re-connecting with a familiar ease and appreciation. As our conversation drew to a close he told me to have a great day, adding the simplest of instructions: ‘No past, no future, just today.‘ His words reminded me of the book I am reading; a book I was prompted to pick up again after another recent contact with a different friend.

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Enjoy Your Self

Thursday 10 April, 2014

In the pursuit of any goal, there are times when it is necessary to take a step back and reflect. Not just reflect, but assess and appreciate, before refocusing and continuing forward. Personal development is no different. Through observation we become aware of the areas which need attention, and we strive to be the best we can possibly be. We focus our efforts on the few areas of deficiency, paying them disproportional levels of attention in an attempt to correct or improve ourselves. But we must be careful not to ignore our greatness.

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Nature Or Habit?

Wednesday 2 April, 2014

I was once asked how much of ourselves we can change. I responded that there are certain elements of personality which are not even worth trying to change. We are better served by accepting them, learning to love them and seeing the beauty in them. Our energy is more appropriately focused on the areas we can do something about. But how do we know which behaviour is hard-wired into our nature and which can be ascribed to the habits we have picked up along the way?

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