Sunday, December 19, 2010

Positive is as Positive does The Christmas Spirit

Sometimes keeping positive can be a really hard exercise, as world and personal events try to overwhelm you. The GFC, worst Retail Sales ever at Christmas time, jobless queues growing longer, and stories that tell us that 100,000 children are out in the cold this year, homeless, and possibly hopeless.
Then the personal issues cram into your head, sick children, not enough money to pay the bills, and a bleak New Year to look forward to with no job, and no apparent future.
Who to talk to? Where to look for an answer? And if you have a loving family, the pain of failure is all the more bitter, because you probably blame yourself for creating the situation in the first place, and your guilt in letting them down is all consuming.
But there are two truths that you can lock onto, and believe with all your heart.
If you stay positive, always looking for the opportunity to make that beak from the doom and gloom cycle, and if you understand that money only has power over you if you allow it to have, they you will survive.
Start by focussing on the love for and of your family. Personally, I soak this up every second of every day, and my family is my shining light in the darkest of times.
And look for ways to climb out of the emotional hole you find yourself in.
Smile, take the time to consider options you might normally ignore. Look for something different. Short term even, just enough to get you started again, and over the initial hump of having hit the bottom of your confidence.
In today's world, short term work is more valuable than a career. Demonstrating to a potential Employer that you are willing to roll your sleeves up and work at something that might not be your first - or even second - choice, will go a long way towards reigniting your self-confidence and your energy for Life.
One of the first things to happen when you reach the bottom of the confidence pit is that your self-esteem takes a huge whack in the guts, and you start to doubt your ability to think and reason things out.
You haven't changed, your attitude has.
A friend of mine, highly qualified, just applied for over 400 jobs in three months, and only got one phone interview. Every day he goes on-line, and sends in more applications. His philosophy is simple - he believes in the "rule of numbers" - where for every 100 people you contact, 10 will end up in meaningful conversations, and 1 will end up in an interview. He rightly figures he is due a bunch of interviews anytime soon!
Another friend of mine has been trying to get high-value work for three years. He is always working at something, and he is determined to succeed, and in the mean time he is providing for his family, and keeping himself busy until the right opportunity comes along.
If I could say just one thing to anyone who finds themselves in this position, it would be, "Never give up. Never stop trying. You only fail if you stop trying to make something happen."
And trying can be hard, particularly as external forces work against you. It's the holiday season, no one wants to interview just before Christmas, then the week between Christmas and New Year is dead, and you can always find reasons why things can't happen. But this year don't be put off by "the holidays".
I sense a need for positive energy every where I go, it's as if the world has suddenly run out of steam - so get out there and smile, talk to people about things, make someone happy because you paid attention to them.
Share. Care. Be positive. Take your last $5 and buy a small present and put it under the Tree in the Mall, for disadvantaged children. Know that by doing this one small act of kindness, you will have given someone you will never meet hope and a smile.
And never give up. If you need something to read over the Christmas period, send me your email address, and I will send you back one of our Motivational Books titled "Breaking Heads". It has everything we have learned about people and performance in the last 40 years.
Or you could just scroll all the way back to the start of this blog and copy across the chapters as they appear here. The book will come up in sections, the last first.
Either way, let the Christmas Spirit fill your soul, smile, and take heart. You will succeed, because you deserve to - and you have a wonderful loving family standing right behind you to make sure you do!
Happy Christmas, and a rich and prosperous New Year.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Fact or Fiction

In the past few months, I've been engaged in some serious debate about interesting things like black holes, particle physics, Thermodynamic Laws, and QM. In all these discussions, there are generally two types of contribution - the serious, factual, detailed opinion of someone who really knows their math or physics, and those seeking to learn from participating in the exchange.
What fascinates me is that most often the best learning conversations come from the questions and discussions contributed by those with the least formal math and physics experience.
And the reason is stimulating.
The "pros" talk in disciplined code, acronyms, and serious language, while the "not-so-pros" talk in more general terms, sometimes stories, but always in simpler language. More engaging, more curiosity, more open.
For many years we have understood the power of stories, and while our culture has very moved away from story telling as an art and a science, with language shortened and truncated into "btw" and "lol", most people still respond to a good yarn.
It seems to be embedded in our Race memory, and if you think about it, it stands to reason because for the first few thousand years of our evolution, oral history is all we had.
But my observation would be that in a story there is more than just a series of facts or statements, unless it is pure fiction.
There's a context, fabric, sometimes some seemingly irrelevant words that somehow enlarge our comprehension and engage our thinking processes making it easier for us to grasp the point or issue the story is telling us.
The other great attribute of a well told story is that it is less threatening that a "hard" statement of fact(s).
If I nod my head, smile, or shake my head, I am not understanding the story. If I shake my head at a bucket of facts, I am not understanding the facts, which might make me out to be a little less "smarter" than everyone else.
Also, stories can "wander" a little in the telling, allowing us to catch up if we don't understand something at the first bite.
In the modern world, blogs are rapidly becoming the story-telling media of the masses.
It will be very interesting to see where this all goes, because unlike traditional stories, a blog can change course based on the feedback the blogger gets, and the very essence of participation actually shapes the collaborative outcome.
So, fact or fiction? You choose, I know what I'll respond to!!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Atlantis reborn

I have seen the light.
What do you get when you mix mythology with technology, passion with spirituality, Gods with history, and ordinary people with extraordinary ideas?
Atlantis reborn!
I have just suggested this concept to a friend of mine who has a truly wonderful idea he wants to take to the world, to engage us all in conversations that will shape our future.
Atlantis can be anything, but when you talk to people about it, they all have this wonderful image in their minds about a long-gone mystical place that was supposed to be the epicentre of technology and wonder in its time.
And they all exhibit a certain sense of longing - many people seem to have a strong emotional tie to the stories and concepts surrounding the Atlantis myth.
In fact, at least three scientific teams are currently searching for the lost City - as have many people before them.
Atlantis tugs at our Mind, pulling us towards something fantastical and wonderful, drawing us in as if it where the very centre of gravity that shapes our world.
What does Atlantis mean to you?
Hope? Discovery?
I'm going to start the Atlantis Revolution, create a web site, and a dedicated blog. Through you, I am going to find Atlantis!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Magic versers Mystery

There have been a lot of blogs and articles lately dealing with the apparent chasm between science and behaviour. Terms like "hard" and "soft" science have been thrown around with gay abandon, and in some instances outright derision has been shown by the "true bloods" of the scientific community towards behaviourists and psychologists. All of which is fair game, I suppose in the day of 3 second attention spans and the "click'n'go" mentality.
But if I read history correctly, the greatest developments in science in the last 100 years have all come from "mental experiments" - a term coined to describe Einstein's daily challenge to his peers while they were defining their thoughts on Quantum Mechanics back in the 1930's.
When you get into the blogs that attack the "soft" sciences, you often find barbs like "frivolous", and "not worthwhile", and even "trivial".
Yet the whole basis of the scientific method is that first you think about a problem, define it, create a postulation, then work out a testing method to disprove your theory.
All of this is the application of your Mind - before you start to initiate the "science" bit.
Social science works exactly the same way - all that really differs is the construction and mechanics of the testing method.
What I find really interesting is in the least few days, the LHC has produced its first data in the attempt to prove and measure the Higgs particle - they have called it the "first ZZ event".
When you read the detail, it is stated that "you can't see the particle, only the trail left by its passing", and "there are other events that could create the same data".
A definite lack of certainty here, yet billions of dollars have been and will continue to be invested in the outcome.
Why? Is it because it is a "serious" application of the scientific method rather than a "frivolous" one?
From the report, and I quote, ".... believed to provide all particles with mass, the Higgs boson is the last missing piece of the Standard Model of particle physics".
Which takes us to gravity, because according to the physicists, without mass gravity has nothing to work on.
There will always be a clash of personalities in the world of science, the very behaviours that make a good scientist almost guarantee that they will not be good "people" people.
But advances in the "soft" sciences are teaching us every day how we can live better lives, create better relationships, and be more "at one" with our environment.
Frivolous maybe, but definitely not soft!
And at the end of the day, no more predictable than a serious experiment!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Could Honesty and Trust work?

While discussing things in blogs and emails earlier today, I had an idea.
Instead of drug testing in sport, why not just trust athletes to be honest, and believe them when they say they are not doping?
Instead of policemen and hidden cameras catching speeding motorists, why not just trust drivers to obey the speed limits and rules of the road?
What are we really afraid of?
What is so fundamentally wrong with honesty that we do everything in our power to keep it at arms length?
Why can't we trust each other?
In thinking about these questions it occurred to me that the whole design of our current social fabric is biased towards overtly supporting fabrication, fraud, and dishonesty.
We expect people to lie, cheat and steal.
Why is that?
We expect smart people to take advantage of the system at our expense.
We expect our politicians to lie, fabricate positions, and take advantage of their power.
How did we get to this state?
And more importantly, how do we reverse this untenable situation?
Do we want to?
I believe we need to, so how do we do it?

Friday, October 8, 2010

Honesty and Intellectual Integrity

One of the very few blogs I follow is NPR 13.7.
Recently a new "master blogger" has been added to the site, to introduce a "softer" side of the science debate.
Suddenly I find myself uncomfortable and confronted by some of the blogs this person writes. Really uncomfortable, and really confronted.
So much so that for the first time I can remember, today I actually challenged this person to be intellectually honest.
Now he may well be within his rights to proffer a point of view that is different to mine, but I challenge his right to use his position, academic learning and achievement, and his access to design an argument that is fundamentally dishonest, by disguising the content in such a manner that the core of the issue remains hidden.
Many will argue that the core is only hidden if no one challenges it. I would argue that the level the core is hidden at is only in the purvey of a handful of people in the world, most of whom will never read this blog.
The basis of a good honest argument or discussion is that the elements that we differ on are "apples to apples" - or Like to Like - you know from experience you cannot argue your case if the other side slips off onto a tangent, or does not pay you the resect of recognising your argument and countering it specifically and directly.
And I guess this is what upsets me most about the new blogger. He does not seem to respect his audience. It is almost as if he is talking down to the masses to demonstrate what a brilliant thinker he is.
In my experience, really brilliant people never have to demonstrate how clever they are, because simply by their actions and their thinking processes they provide leadership to others allowing them to learn from the experience, in their own time, and in their own way, and form their own mental maps from the encounter.
This whole process today reminds me of all that I dislike about political correctness, and rewriting history.
It's as if the older we get, and the more mature we get, the less we are trusted to work it out for for ourselves.
Noddy can no longer sleep with the policeman, and we can no longer believe in the tooth fairy.
Why can't a child's story be just that, a child's story?
Why do we suddenly feel the need to protect everyone from everything?
What happened to free choice, and personal responsibility?
A friend of mine said just yesterday after yet another bad experience with the airlines that "the terrorists have won, in a manner we still can't conceive of, and Big Brother is here to stay".
Sadly, I think he is correct. But we did it to ourselves, and we have to take responsibility for that.
That is being intellectually honest.
Now, incase some one will think I am taking a shot at the new blogger and not giving him the opportunity to respond, I am pasting this entire blog into an email to him, with an invitation to discuss my feelings.
I'll let you know the outcome.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

No middle ground

I wrote this to a friend of mine this morning.
In looking through all the blogs this morning, it occurred to me that we don't have to sit between polar opposites.
Nor do we have to compromise.
We simply have to take a stand, think out our rationale, smile, and offer suggestions as to how others might benefit from participation.
My friend is wrestling with a new concept that he is seeking a name for, a process that can be both extraordinary and difficult.
While reading some of the blogs that I follow (not many, I'm jealous of my time) I suddenly had an insight when looking at the incredible photography you can find on "Extraordinary Light".
Renee has just posted some simply brilliant shots of really ordinary things - rusty sheds, crushed cans, wet fence posts - and produced her usual magic with natural light and her innate creativity.
Then I re-read one of Mike's blogs, and it got me thinking again about Time and Distance.
It got me to thinking about the Space between things.
Politics is the art of comprise - something I personally hate - and War is politics by other means - also something I hate.
But Politics is not a polar opposite, and War is.
So the conundrum is about the alternatives to War - negotiation, discussion, sharing, caring, respect, all of which are not polar opposites either.
Then it occurred to me that Leadership might well be the solution.
Leaders take people where they don't know they can go.
Leaders inspire, challenge, motivate, and create momentum where there is fear and homeostasis.
Leaders challenge the ordinary in us, and bring out the special, unique qualities that make us all different.
Renee's photography always makes my heart beat faster, yet makes me strangely calm. In her images I see creativity, inspiration, and an open and honest appreciation for what is natural but not obvious.
You have to look for the magic that she captures so brilliantly.
And that is the key. You have to look.
Desire, conviction, action, the last three steps in the Salesman's credo AIDCA.
Where is this going?
As I said to Mike, perhaps we don't have to sit in the middle between polar opposites. Perhaps all we have to do is take a stand, and stand by it, using our intelligence to provide a rationale that has appetite appeal and attracts like Minds.
And talk about things in a meaningful manner, with the objective of making a connection and not a position or a conquest.
As a very great friend said to me once when I was struggling to come up with the title for a book, "Pete, all the knowledge in the world is worthless if you don't share it".
There it is - share what you have, share what you know.
I'll start the ball rolling - if you would like the benefit of forty years of thinking and study into human performance, send me an email address, and I'll send you back a book called "Chapter 8".
It's about Leadership, Making Peace, and succeeding as a human being.
Or you can just go to earlier blogs here and copy it down in parts.
Over to you.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Negative vibes should be illegal

Recently I have attracted a little negative feedback for my stance on what I believe is a very poor attitude by our local State Government. What has surprised me the most, is the viciousness of the attacks. Instead of constructive criticism or arguments with countering points of view, the attacks have been personal, questioning my birth, my parents, my heritage, and my abilities.
Now, I weigh in at around 250 lbs in my socks, 6 feet 2 inches off the ground inspite of a compressed spine, and have lived long enough to have survived a fantastic and varied life. And although my parents marriage certificate was dated 10 years after I was born, I know I was a LOVE child, and not a bastard.
The point is I am not easily upset.
But the sheer volume of the negativity thrown at me for having an opinion has set me back on my heels as it were, to contemplate the process and try to understand the motives.
A business associate of mine has just had a similar experience, but on a global scale.
He has been fighting for nine years to save the last remaining tropical rain forests in the Asia Pacific Region. He is the type of person who has built his very successful life with his hands, from the ground up, and with the inspiration of his father's words, he has literally walked the forests from top to bottom, meeting and talking with the traditional Owners. He has created a unique process for them to stop logging, and create commercial carbon trading projects under the Climate, Community, Biodiversity Alliance and Voluntary Carbon Trading protocols.
He has fought Governments, the UN, financiers, traders, brokers, and bloggers. And the hardest fight he has had has been with the bloggers.
Blogging allows someone to anonymously say anything they like, with no consequences for the outcome. And the truly amazing synergistic effect of this negative and irresponsible behaviour is other bloggers pick up the mis-thruths and lies and give them creditability by increasing the frequency of the message.
We have even seen credible journalists publishing one thing in a magazine article, only to "privately" blog a totally different, and untrue story the same day. And then wonder of wonders, other journalists pick up the fake blog and run with it as a credible story using the byline of the originating journalist/blogger.
Now normally, I would just let this fraudulent and corrosive behaviour go by, treating it with the contempt it deserves.
But the negative and false stories these two people created between themselves and fed to the rest of the blogging world have almost destroyed the lives of 40,000 indigenous people in the rain forests, by eating away at the credibility of the project developer, and the project.
There is always a cost for a freedom, and it seems that the cost of freedom to blog is to be totalled in human lives in some cases, and I think that is just plain wrong.
So I would like to suggest that the world makes negative vibes illegal, and demands that people take responsibility for their personal attacks and false stories.
I take responsibility for my stance against the State Government, and they are punishing me for it.
The same should be true for bloggers who deliberately attack others simply for the vicarious pleasure of doing damage anonymously, with no consequences.
What do you think?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Is thinking positively such a bad thing?

For the last few months I have been participating in a blog sponsored by NPR - 13.7
It tends to focus on the intersection of science and religion, and as you would expect, at times you get a lot of very heavily debated and strongly worded attacks on one side by the other.
The critical issue seems to be that one side has curiosity and wants to discover things, while the other only wants to defend and proclaim that what is immutable is their side of the discussion.
And when you reread a post a day or two later, you can't help but get an overwhelming feeling of negativity in the debate.
It may be because one argument is a few thousand years old, and basically indefensible from a scientific point of view.
Or it could be because the other is a few billion years old, and a continuing revelation about us and our universe, and what makes it tick, and often flies in the face of faith.
Several times the suggestion has been made for both sides to think about their reaction to a superior intelligence landing in their little green flying saucers, and challenging all our beliefs and science.
And I suspect that this suggestion is the most worrisome of all to both sides.
Who likes their belief tree shaken? Confronted by things not immediately understandable by us?
My answer is simple - just like Oliver, ask for "more".
True growth only comes from stretching your mind into a different shape now and then, chasing those little intangible thoughts "what if?" and "why is that?".
Human curiosity - our capacity for abstract thought - our unique ability to project beyond our comfort circle - are what has given us the incredible technology we take for granted today.
So be positive and curious, and not afraid to have the holes in your certainty opened for all to see.
The next great thought might just be your own!!!!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

About Time

There is never enough!
But I have found a way to get about 29 hours out of every day, without loosing sleep, of becoming a slave to my electronic devices.
It's called "discretion".
It's where I actually choose what I am going to do and pay attention to based on my real need to get stuff done.
Instead of letting everything get to me, I am applying the concept of a filter to what I choose to do.
The ubiquitous web has sucked us all into a vortex of "instantness".
You email me, I reply within minutes.
I surf and find what I am looking for, I become absorbed right now to the exclusion of everything else.
Unless you email me, and I react like a Pavlovian dog and answer you straight back.
And right there is the secret to getting another five hours in the day.
Create a method of prioritising what comes in, and what you respond to instantly, and then create a TIME ladder - 1 hour, 4 hours, 8 hours, 1 day.
Use the colour coding in your email package to create folders for each time segment, and save the mails into the appropriate folder.
Set aside time to work the folders, usually as a break in real work, or before you retire for the day.
What I found, after a lot of experiment, was that suddenly by removing the "must answer now" itch the quality of both my work and answers improved dramatically.
I also found that the 80 / 20 rule was alive and well, and that most emails could be answered within the day without any loss of connectivity with the subject or the recipient.
Give it a try, and let me know if it works for you, I have about another 1,000,000 ideas on how to manage TIME and get your LIFE back!