February 22, 2018

Archives for January 2012

Which do you notice first, what’s right or what’s wrong?

Gold in rockVic Conant, owner of Nightingale Conant Corporation, producer of audio learning programs and more, rarely goes in front of the microphone. One time he did, one of the most striking things he said was how some people would dismiss the learning from a wise source because “they didn’t like their voice” or some other ultimately irrelevant reason. It saddened him because in so doing, they missed out on learning which might well have enriched their lives.

And so it is for us…

If we want to find a reason to dismiss something, we’ll find one. Everything and everyone is fallible. What they say will have its weaknesses. Yet, we probably need the rest of what they have to offer and will be the poorer without it. The search for the perfect answer is futile. It doesn’t exist.

And there’s more…

If we look first for what’s wrong with something or someone, we’re kind of hard to be with.

Now here’s the thing…

Looking for the problem is part and parcel or the majority of professions, and it’s important, even vital. But relationship-building behavior warrants a shift, at least some of the time, to looking for what’s right with something or someone.

Two takeaways then…

1. Keep unnecessary information out of what you say and minimise the seeds you sow for a listener to dismiss you and your message.

2. Look for what’s right in something or someone and value that. See beyond the frailties to the gold inside.

If you want change, try fairness

Three people in discussionJoe is angry. He wants change. He cites all the things he doesn’t like about what the other guy is doing… and what he doesn’t like about the other guy, period. He wants upheaval. It’s a sustained attack. It seems overwhelming. Surely one of his points will hit home, and the other guy will crumble. Eventually, Joe stops…

But of course he’s over-stepped the mark. Somewhere in his flow, there was a clear untruth. Once this is pointed out, everything he said is dismissed as the rantings of an extremist. And that includes all the valid and uncomfortable points he made. Business as usual is resumed.

In contrast…

Peter sees precisely where the other side is weak, where they know their actions are out of kilter with their values. He points out accurately and calmly what is wrong and requests a change to address that point alone. The other side have no response. They could try to bluster, but that would only undermine their credibility further—better to accept the need to change and move on.

What’s the principle?

Well, I credit this to Elish Angiolini, former Lord Advocate in Scotland. Interviewed in one of the national newspapers, she said she was very influenced, perhaps oddly, by a well-known TV legal drama, “Rumpole of the Bailey”. She quoted a particular line…

“There is nothing so devastating to the defence as a fair prosecutor.”

So, here’s the thing…

When you hope to stimulate change, a fair case stands a much better chance than an extreme one. The more extreme you are, the more easily you will be picked off. The fairer you are, the harder you will be to resist.

Where might putting a fair case make a difference in your world?

Why the ancients had it all figured

Cape Sunio at nightYou notice it immediately. The meeting’s hardly started before you realise it’s all going to be facts and figures; all logical and analytical—nothing from the heart at all. I can spot this behavior well because it used to be mine. It took me years since it was first pointed out to me to get out of my head enough to even notice the need to. Now I see it all the time.

The thing is…

We’ve come to rely on our thinking—literally what goes on in our heads—to see us through, or to distract us completely from issues, or problems with people we’d rather leave to another day.

We’ve also filled our lives up with technology and many great benefits have flowed from that, and no doubt will continue to.

The ancients didn’t have that luxury. Their lives were grim in many ways.

But here’s the thing…

Because they weren’t distracted by umpteen channels of information and entertainment and because their lives must have been tough, our distant ancestors had both time and motivation to explore the inner mysteries of life—much more than we do in fact.


The subject of study hasn’t changed in the thousands of year that have passed.

So the conclusion is really inescapable….

When it comes to managing our inner selves, our ancestors knew better than we do.

Understanding a little more about the duality of Yin and Yang is one example. You might find clues as to how to improve your life, your work, and your dealings with others.

Why some arguments are pointless, and how to improve your world in 2012

The earth from space with the sun risingHappy New Year! May it be a good one for you and confound all gloomy predictions.

Often in an extreme can be found its opposite. As atomic physicist, Niels Bohr said, “The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth.” Items can seem to have several contradictory characteristics.

Light behaves either as a wave or a stream of particles depending on the experiment—two apparently mutually exclusive properties.

Bohr also said, “everything we call real is made of things that cannot be regarded as real” meaning everything we experience involves sub-atomic particles with a dual nature of mass and energy. In other words, all is not what it seems. Our senses deceive us.

For us…

When faced with an argument, the useful question is often not which “truth” is right, but what makes the opposite truths whole; what is the picture in which they both co-exist?

It’s profoundly liberating to stop trying to choose between competing truths and instead hold them both in balance.

What changes in your life if you decide there is not one right answer to a question but two opposite ones? How much energy can be saved from pointless arguments either as participant or onlooker?

You’ll find…

It’s a fundamental change in attitude—and experience—to expect two answers instead of one.

Even in ourselves, we often know deep down the opposite of our own argument is also true. Yet we make others play the other part in our own debate, and they will. They’ll give us back the argumentative energy we put out.

We can choose a different way…

We can reconcile our own inner conflict. Then we will be whole and peaceful in ourselves and experience a world around us that is balanced and calm. And that in fact is the only way. It’s an energy thing.

Saving our world, if that’s not too strong a word, can only start within—with our own return to wholeness.

And we can see pointless arguments for what they are.

All the best for 2012.