Oops. Rethink….

I’ve been getting it wrong. In way.

For the past few years I have been espousing an approach to living that is focused on making three promises or commitments to act in a certain way, a way that is disciplined, competent, noble, service-orientated and which requires good character.

That is not the wrong bit.

Anyone who has seen my website before now would have seen that I quoted Stephen Covey’s Three Resolutions, those outlined and explained in his book ‘Principle-Centred Leadership’, and which were themselves updated from earlier works. I wrote a book about them, their history, development and application, and I suggested that living in accordance with Stephen’s advice was the way forward to a greater, more impactful and settled existence. And that, in a sense is where I went wrong.

I used the word The. As in, ‘this is the way, the only way, and there is no other way’.

As in “These are THE Resolutions, and THESE are the words you must abide by.” Or by which you must abide, for the Grammar Nazis with whom I align myself.

Wrong!

By blindly adopting Stephen Covey’s words and suggesting my readers do the same I made a mistake, and in essence that mistake was to assume that the problems which gave rise to a need for the advice contained within that philosophy, were the same for everybody. They are the same for many, but they are not necessarily the same for all.

That said, and this is where readers need to have read Covey’s chapter in PCL or to have read my books and articles, the Restraining Forces at which ‘the’ Resolutions are aimed do pretty much fall into the six headings he provided – self-discipline and self-denial, lack of character/integrity, incompetence, lack of purpose and selfishness of focus. These faults are the generic ‘headings’ for where specific individual faults, the faults we see in ourselves, actually lie.

In a sense, Stephen Covey made a similar error, in that under the heading of ‘indiscipline’ he restricted his Restraining Forces of appetites and passions in the more physical sense – sex, drugs, food, or what he termed intemperance. There are other examples of indiscipline, and while some were perhaps included under the Restraining Forces’ ‘headings’ of Pride and Pretension it meant that ‘the’ Three Resolutions were, perhaps, too focused.

To cut a potentially long story short – long explanations are for another edition of the book – this means that I have to change from thinking about things less as ‘The’ Three Resolutions and more as ‘just’ Three Resolutions.

Or to put it another and much better way, I have to change the focus away from the concept and philosophy being  ‘Covey’s Three Resolutions’, to counselling and coaching that you discover ‘YOUR Three Resolutions’.

Not Covey’s. Not mine.

Yours.

So I am looking at things with a new perspective, rewriting the book and hopefully making some new discoveries along the way.

And to start with I looked at how I could adapt Stephen Covey’s advice to my own situation, and in doing so I elected to review and therefore rephrase ‘my’ Three Resolutions to those you can now see if you visit my website https://threeresolutionsguy.com . The new version takes into account MY Restraining Forces and provides for MY Three Resolutions, those personal commitments that will address my individual challenges.

When the rewrite is done, I shall let you know. I still think that The Three Resolutions was one of the most impactful chapters Stephen Covey ever wrote (after the Seven Habits, let’s not get carried away).

But the time has come for it to be delved into and made common knowledge – and common practice.

Leave it to me!

On Time….

It’s funny how one gets inspired about a speech.

2 weeks ago, during a round robin at my Speaking Club – a pastime I recommend for anyone seeking to train – a speaker said something which made me think. Oddly, it coincided with a CD I’d listened to en route to the venue.

Reader – What time is it? If I ask you this, you look at your watch and tell me, simples. But let me change the order of the words.

What is it, time? Philosophical questions tend to result in confusion when asked without context, but if you were asked THAT question, how would you respond?

St Augustine said, “For what is time? Who is able easily and briefly to explain it? Surely we understand well enough when we speak of it. What then is time? If nobody asks me, I know; but if I were desirous to explain it to someone, plainly I know not.”

Newton said time was absolute, whether the universe was here or not. Leibnitz said time is merely the order of events and has no independent existence. Einstein agreed, and expanded slightly by saying time has no independence apart from the order of events by which we measure it. (That’s my preferred definition.) A dictionary definition defines time as “a continuum in which events succeed one another from the past, through present to future.”

Which is a great answer when a stranger asks, ‘What’s the time?’

For something which does not actually exist, it is very powerful.

Probably thousands of years ago, man decided that their current method for measuring time was not efficient. Telling the time consisted of saying ‘It’s day’ and ‘It’s night’. Pretty good prior to fire and its associated light meant we could work AT night, after which this separation of two time periods did not suffice.

Over, well, time, man developed a 24-hour, 1,440 minute, 361,440 second system that endures even now. And that defined us as a species. I say that because we are now slaves to that development.

We now have a name for somewhere we have to be as a group for an agreed purpose. In the context of the speech I gave AT Speakers Club, we call this meeting Speakers Club.

Einstein, however, would say that we do not come to Speakers Club at 7.15pm – he would say that Speakers Club comes to 7.15 every other Thursday. That time exists, or has been appointed regardless of Speakers Club, therefore we have to come to it for Speakers Club to exist. I see your heads spinning.

How important is time to us?

There was a study conducted by two Princeton University Psychologists that focused on the story of the Good Samaritan. This was held in a seminary for trainee priests, who were first surveyed as to why they had chosen to become priests. The responses included spiritual development of the self, service to God, service to their fellow man, and so on. After the survey, the ‘proper’ experiment began.

The seminary students were given an assignment to prepare a sermon for delivery to their peers. Half the students were told to prepare their sermon on the story of the Good Samaritan; the other half were given various alternative topics. Once the assignment was completed, the student was then told to go to a certain building on campus to present their sermon.

But there was a setup that would take the students by surprise. An actor was hired to portray someone who had been mugged and left beaten up in an alley; the same alley that each student would have to pass on their way to the presentation building.  There was also one additional variable introduced by the researchers.  Some of the seminarians were told to hurry because they were running late while the others were told to take their time because they were early.

The researchers uncovered a surprising result.  Each student was confronted with what seemed to be a real-life situation of someone in need. But only 10% of the students who were told to hurry stopped to help. 63% of the students who were told that they had extra time offered assistance.

The researchers concluded that it didn’t matter if your life goal was to help people. What mattered most was that you were not in a hurry. The words, “You’re late” and “hurry” turned ordinarily compassionate people into people who were indifferent to suffering.

I pride myself on punctuality because I think it demonstrates respect to those who rely on my being in a certain place at a certain time. Consequently, if I am running late, I get anxious, and if someone else is causing me to be late I wish death upon them. You may also feel varying levels of angst when running behind time.

Therefore, something that does not exist, wholly created and influenced by man himself, has caused man to get angry and, particularly on our roads, to do absolutely extraordinary and even stupid things to make up a second or two.

All that said, imagine a life without the tyranny of the clock. Imagine floating in late for an important meeting, turning up for a date with a beautiful woman half an hour after arranged, buying all your Christmas presents on Boxing Day, or turning up for Speakers Club at 9pm!

Nevertheless, while being late can be disastrous, there is one attitude to time that I hate. I hate it when I make an appointment to meet somebody at a certain time and place and they conclude this agreement by stating that this agreement is deserving of the over-used, mainly American adjective, Awesome.

A volcano is awesome. A nuclear explosion is awesome.

Being on time is convenient. Even though there’s no such thing.

Aristotle – as true in 2018 as in 364BC.

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“All human actions have one or more of these seven causes: chance, nature, compulsions, habit, reason, passion, desire.” Aristotle

Izzatso? Was Aristotle right and, even if he was in ancient Greece, would he be right now?

I think so, and this is why – let’s look at each and consider an example that illustrates how sound his thinking was. (Although I am surprised he said it in English as it predates that language by hundreds of years.)

Chance: does anything happen that arises unexpectedly and gives rise to a response? Do events occur that no-one anticipated? One word: Brexit. ‘Nuff said. This is something that even the most devout EU-phobes would never have thought would occur, but now the Remainers who thought the same bitch about the Government’s failure to have a plan ready in advance. Heigh-ho.

Nature: if you accept that nature can pre-determine behaviour, you have to acknowledge that nature can pre-empt response. It isn’t obligatory, of course, because the next cause is the counter of this one.

Reason: something happens, and we approach it from the perspective of curiosity allied to logic – this has happened, so what can we do about it?

Compulsions: ask any addict.

Habit: how often have you been driving from A to C for a change, and found yourself heading to B like always?

Desire: you want it so you get it. This happens consciously as in having a plan that needs execution, but it also happens psychologically when you see/hear something and conclude it has a meaning that suits your viewpoint. For example, you conclude that anything Trump does is bad, even if it isn’t.

Passion: this happens when you have created a vested self-interest in an outcome and you pursue it single-mindedly.

Applied to ‘life’, we can see:

Shopping – desire, habit. Driving – habit, desire, passion (okay, maybe just me). Getting angry – nature, passion, chance. Maths exam – reason.

You know it makes sense: there are certain principles behind human behaviour that dictate our response. If we let them.

I say ‘if we let them’ because although there may only be 7 causes for action, we can use any of the 7 causes to precede our actions and are not obliged to use the one that involved no consideration at all. That is the essence of proactivity – turning ‘I have to do this because (cause)’ into ‘I am going to do this because I choose (cause)’.

I did that once with a b411-aching job, where I turned a habitual response of ‘this will be tedium’ into a passionate response of ‘how much of this can I get done to the point it will be a spectacular result’. It worked for that day, at least.

Study your own life – how many of your actions have been influenced by Aristotles’ causes? All, some, or none? I’m guessing all.

And where you think you need to – can you identify a better ’cause’, one that serves your purpose rather than obstructs your success? It may take discipline to execute on your new ’cause’, but it’ll be worth it in terms of self-esteem when you realise you control life, and it doesn’t control you.

We don’t ‘live’ in years – why do we goal-set in that unit?

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This is a Rant.

Most goal-setting advice tends to focus on the setting of 1-, 3-, 5- and 10-year goal plans. Best Year Yet and YB12 go for a 1-year plan as their core idea while business-related goal-setting advice tends to go to the max. In general, all goal-setting programmes promote the setting of a long-term goal supported by medium- and short-term ‘goalettes’ that result in the longer-term goal being achieved bit by bit.

There is nothing wrong with any goals programme I have ever seen, in that regard.

What I DO find difficult is this: life has a tendency to bu66er up those plans. I think that there are two reasons for that.

Of late, I have committed to the provision of various services – speaking club, professional Institute, driver mentoring. Those services are over and above my proper job, which takes up three days a week. Those additional services take up half-days at a time of what’s left – and that’s just execution and exclusive of any preparation time.

To a large extent, ‘D: None of the above’ is the answer I would give to the question ‘Which of the following represents action taken in pursuit of your personal goals?’ The time I spend on planning and executing those activities impacts on any time I have available to focus on new ‘stuff’.

The obvious response will be that I should stop doing them and focus on my own objectives, but that is too easy an answer. The reason for my ‘future failure’ is plain, though: Those commitments represent my success with earlier goals and compliance with my values/unifying principles. In other words, my inability to be goals-focused now is a direct result of my success in the past. It’s my own damn fault!

How annoying is that?

But another thing about setting 1-year (etc.) goals is the fact that goal achievement is a rolling programme, not something ‘done’ by year end while no new goals are set, no new roles and responsibilities are discovered, and nothing happens to stop you.

Life gets in the way, and a completed goal almost automatically results in the creation of a new one that crosses that ‘1-year’ deadline date, which in turn establishes a new start-date for that goal while the others still rely on their own start-date. We don’t goal-achieve Jan 1st to Dec 31st and then start again. School years, the financial year, the Resolutions year, our new job, sports and social seasons – they start their ‘year’ all over the place, so the rationale for specific goals set in the currency of ‘years’ is flawed.

To paraphrase Orwell : Deadline dates Good – units of time Bad.

The answer? I suppose it is to stop thinking in terms of the year as a unit of time within which to achieve things. If we consider Parkinson’s Law (which states “Work expands to fit the time available for its completion”), then it is self-defeating to spend a year doing something which could be done in 4 months if we just worked better.

Abandon ‘year-long goal setting’ and  work more effectively. But be aware that in accordance with the philosophy in my book The Three Resolutions , any completed goal – particularly a professional goal – will result in new, welcome and occasionally unwelcome impositions on your time.

Will Shakespeare, Personal Development Trainer.

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“We are oft to blame in this – ‘tis too much proved – that with devotion’s visage and pious action we do sugar o’er the devil himself.” Bill Shakespeare.

Why is it that when a politician or celebrity ‘fails’, two things happen? First of all, the level of ‘shock’ and ‘fury’ (favourite press words) is influenced by whether we love them, or we don’t. David Beckham cocks up, we are sorry for the poor, vulnerable love. Piers Morgan does the same thing, and everyone goes into hate mode. OK, ‘more hate’ mode.

In either case, ‘we’ point and pontificate, and the epithet “Look what s/he did!” emerges from our mouths. The same accusatory verbiage that emits from our lips when a colleague offends us in some small way. And in the same way, our willingness to forgive the transgression depends on whether or not we like that individual.

In other words, whether we consider them to be people of generally good character, or not.

My reading of Bill’s statement is this; that as long as we live and act in accordance with principles, and in doing so create in ourselves a person of good character (Third Resolution), then others are able to gloss over any temporary failure. It is easy to forgive those we respect and love when the oops isn’t too great.

But there is an insidious counter-thought expressed by some – and we’ve probably all done it at one time or another – and that is the belief that ‘if Mr Perfect or Miss Proper can do that, then so can I’.

Instead of looking at the behaviour, decrying it and (maybe) forgiving the formerly respected offender, we conclude that imperfection is now permissible, even desirable, and drop our own standards accordingly. It is the same psychology people used to start smoking ‘because James Bond did it’ or taking half-naked selfies because Kim and Kylie do it ‘in the name of empowering women’ (while F1 and other sports adopt the exact opposite view. Go figure.).

Many people like to bring others down to their level rather than put the work in to raise their own standards. In my book The Three Resolutions I wrote of a colleague who spent a great deal of time assassinating characters while always making sure that the holder of said character was absent, but never to their faces. My response in the event that he, or someone like him, attacked me like that was, “Are you trying to raise your self-esteem by lowering mine, because that will never work?”

Oh, and if it wasn’t me he was attacking in the subject’s absence, I’d shout to all present “Is X not here today, then?” Eventually, said colleague took the hint!

If someone else fails, it is never an excuse or justification to lower our own standards. We should try to be what we want to be, as much as we can. It’s a struggle, but it’s worth it. It is easier to forgive – and be forgiven – if we can do that, or even if we are seen to be trying to do that.

Go on. Be the best you think you can be.

It’s the foundation of greatness.

Who are YOU to Leave a Legacy? Read on…..

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After a 45-minute spin session on my clothes horse this afternoon, watching Dr Covey training large groups of the wise, I found a YouTube video of a gentlemen in heavy facial tattoos having a go at the book First Things First. (I’ll come to those tattoos and why I mentioned them later.) Of course, I was always going to defend the book, but the focus of this post is one criticism that the vlogger made.

He suggested that the book was great for high-earners and those in powerful positions, but (to paraphrase) ‘the guy struggling to make ends meet is never going to be interested in leaving a legacy’.

How patronising. For a start, why shouldn’t the guy struggling to make ends meet want to leave behind something important when he’s gone ? From something as simple as a loved child, through to some magnificent contribution that changes the lives of millions, why is it that this vlogger thinks that the remit to leave a legacy is only within the power of the wealthy, the super-clever or the unbelievably talented?

A legacy isn’t necessarily a Microsoft, an Apple, a World Cup or other personal title. A legacy is positive contribution that lives in the memory of those left behind, whether it is a stadium-full of happy football fans or the spark of love remaining in the hearts of your children and grandchildren. It exists when a professional remembers a teacher that had faith in them when they doubted themselves. It exists within a charity worker who holds a child until it realises that people love it, and that life is worth pursuing. It exists within an author who writes a book that informs or entertains.

It exists within YOU. But it is only you who can bring it out into physical existence. You can leave a positive legacy, a bad legacy, or none at all. Those who feel they have nothing to offer live homelessly on our streets, abuse alcohol or drugs, or mope from day to day with no concept of meaning. And many die as a direct result of that sense of meaninglessness.

That’s why I promote The Three Resolutions and that is why I wrote the books. I believe that people who live in their accord – knowingly or not – live happy lives of competently executed purpose and service, resulting from a sense of self-discipline and great personal character. And in doing so they will all leave a legacy, similar to those described above. Even if they don’t realise they have done so – they have. I remember teachers, role models, trainers, writers and others that have had faith in me and whose example have made me what I am. (It’s me who hasn’t quite fully capitalised on their faith!) I bet you remember such people, too.

Leave a Legacy. PLAN to leave a legacy. It’s a lot more fun to plan one that leave one by accident.

Anyway, back to the tattooed vlogger.. I don’t like excessive tattoo-ery but those are my values in action. He has every right to have a tattooed visage if he wants one.

The reason I mention it is not to criticise, but to ask this.

If he doesn’t think leaving a legacy is important, why is he vlogging and why is he raising his individuality and sense of self-esteem by painting his face?

To leave a legacy, that’s why.

Bloomin’ hypocrite.

Covey/Hobbs Vs GTD – a War not Worth Waging.

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Some of you will have no idea what that title means, so that’s as good a reason as any to READ THIS BLOG, is it not? 😊

The title refers to what may, on first glance, be conflicting time management methodologies. GTD is ‘Getting Things Done’, explained in the excellent book of the same name by David Allen. (Make sure you buy the 21st Century update.)

GTD is a list-based system. (Now it gets complicated.) The idea is to collect all your unfinished business, including ‘projects’ which Allen defines as anything that requires more than one step to complete. Having done that, you go through the list and complete all 2-minute jobs. Then you are left with a list of things which you can (usually) only do in a certain place, at a certain time, with a certain person, etc. For example, some of the things may be tasks you can only do ‘At Computer’ so they would then be listed on a list entitled ‘At Computer’. Or ‘At Shops’ for shopping, or ‘In London’, and so on. Time- and day-specific tasks – and ONLY those – go on a calendar (diary page). The lists should have on them only ‘next actions’, the things you have to do next to get the projects done.

That really is an idiot’s guide, and Allen’s system has a lot of thought/psychology and method behind it which this little blog can’t cover.

The Covey/Hobbs system is values/mission-based, and further sub-categorised into Roles. Your mission dictates your activities, which are carried out through the roles you perform in life. For example, I am a trainer, investigator, driving coach, speakers club president, company director unconnected to those other roles, and family bod. You create your goals in role-context, then plan execution of bits of your goals into your planner as priorities. (I’ve explained this before and it’s explained fully in my FREE BOOK.)

Zealots in either case would argue for their preferred option. GTD-philes would argue that lists equate to freedom while Covey/Hobbs is restrictive. Covey/Hobbs would argue their way supports a sense of meaning and peace, while GTD is ‘just’ about productivity, and productivity is not as important as meaning. Deeper analysis would identify further objections to the opposing philosophy, and more supporting evidence for the preferred way. Who has time?

I have a different outlook. I think the GTD Way of collecting all your incompletes, doing the resulting 2-minute jobs and planning the others is an excellent way to get control, while the Covey/Hobbs method is an excellent way of keeping control once you have got it.

My evidence?

People have asked me how I manage so many responsibilities (job, home, family, IAM, IPI, Cardiff Speakers Club,) and my answer is that I can do this because of my mastery of the Covey/Hobbs method, but if I was to take on those responsibilities all at once I would start with GTD until I got things compartmentalised.

I feel this way because both GTD and Covey/Hobbs promote

  • planning at the start of a week,
  • scheduling the things that can or could be done at a particular time (your priorities, which can include your personal priorities),
  • then making lists of the things that need to be done but which have no appointed time.

Both require knowing the end result in advance and deciding what to do about it next. Overthinking it may identify one as requiring ‘task-to-objective’ thinking while the other would be seen as having an ‘objective-to-task’ perspective but in all practicality, they end up being the same process, which is asking “What I gotta do to get what I wanna get?” and then planning to do that action, somewhere.

GTD would have you put them on separate lists, whereas Covey/Hobbs would have you actually plan them into a day. Both philosophies advocate carrying the system with you. GTD would say separate lists obviate re-writing that which is not done, while the alternative is to rewrite unfinished tasks in the next day’s list. (Which takes seconds, or even less if you’re a digi-planner. Oh, the time saved……)

And that, lorries and gelatines, is the only difference. Which is hardly a difference over which one should declare war.

As always, my advice would be to master your preferred method and leave the other well alone, because there is a tendency to try and do both at the same time and when you do that your head gets cluttered – which defeats the objective of either style.

Pick one. Master it. And reap the rewards.

 

Oh, and unlike all those GTD examples of people who get an e-mail a minute (and I have never, ever met one), I get about 10 a day. Makes life a tad easier.

Never Mind the Bo££ocks. Get Disciplined.

“Get rich quick!” “Lose weight the easy way!” “Success on YOUR terms!” “Think it and it will happen using The Secret!”

The favoured marketing cobblers of the various niche specialisms in the personal development industry, which are rarely espoused by the kind of authors and speakers I enjoy following, but which are enthusiastically misused by those who undermine those better-educated philosophers.

One of the favoured expressions in this sector is the phrase ‘Be, Do, Have.’ The concept being paraphrased is that we can choose, and are responsible for, how we live our lives.

(I appreciate that this tenet may be qualified by any extreme physical or intellectual challenges people may have, even though those need not define them.)

But few speakers/writers express a condition to that advice, which brings me to the point. I was on my new clothes horse/spin cycle, pedalling away in my shed (it’s the only place I could put it), and I was listening to Zig Ziglar on YouTube, one of the benefits of a ‘home gym’ being you can choose what you want to watch, listen to or read while you sweat. Provided the earphones will reach (just, but don’t sit up suddenly).

Zig made the point, “You can be what you wanna be, do what you wanna do, and have what you wanna have” as he frequently does, but he added – “But first you have to BE the best you can be. You can’t do or have what you want unless what you are first earns it.” (I paraphrase a tad.)

You can want all you want, but unless you are willing to be the kind of individual who deserves it, it either won’t come at all, or it will go just as fleetingly once you have it. Witness all the lottery millionaires who lose it as soon as they get it because of the kind of individual they are. And Zig also asked us to consider all the famous failures in politics, the media etc., and asked us how many were moral failures – Weinstein being a topical example.

I’m not perfect: I know of no-one who is. But let’s die tryin’ to be the best ‘me’ we can be.

Of course, the Three Resolutions mirror exactly what young Zig was trying to tell us. You can’t BE what you want unless and until you exercise some sense of self-discipline or denial, first. You can be ‘fairly’ competent and provide ‘fairly’ good service, but if you have exercised the discipline to learn your trade and to develop a good character, everything that follows will never, quite, be what it could have been if the foundation was there. The same applies to kids, workers, businesses and ‘the state’.

So yes, you can have what you want and do what you want, but there will always be a discipline required to get them properly, and to utilise them effectively, and to keep them.

You can make all the excuses you like, but if the discipline isn’t there, it is ultimately your fault if what you seek doesn’t get found.

Exercise The First Resolution, er, first. And reap the benefits over time.

 

For more on The Three Resolutions, go HERE to gain further insights or to buy the Books.

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Choice keeps the wolf from the door.

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“Unemployment is a characteristic unique to the human species only. All the other creatures and creations seem to know what they are supposed to do.” This was a quote ascribed to an unnamed economist who I am sure had his tongue half-squished into his cheek, but it is a thought provoker. Of course, the human condition means we can demonstrate compassion to those who have not and who cannot, whereas the animal world rarely shows that (dolphins, whales?).

My question, which might invite challenge, is – should we be so compassionate towards those who will not?

As a police officer, I met people of all three ‘persuasions’. I met the poor, the challenged and the disabled, who to my mind represented the have not and cannot and for whom I had some sympathy. But for too often, and presumably because of the circumstances surrounding the ‘call for service’ that resulted in our meeting, I met those who would not.

Those who would not work in case it made them have to get up in the morning. Those who would not because it involved being subject to supervision and rules. Those who would not because of the inconvenience. They would do one thing – they would go and collect their benefits and then pop next door – and it was next door – to buy their beer. Then they would go out and steal and rob ‘because they needed money to live, Your Worship’.

In a nutshell, there are those who can’t exercise the Three Resolutions,  there are those who don’t know how to exercise them, and there are those who won’t.

And there are those who defend the latter by lumping them in with the former. They make excuses and seek evidence to justify their findings. Instead of giving them a metaphorical slap and showing them how to get a grip, they pander to their failings instead.

Fortunately, there are also those who come half way, giving that metaphorical slap and then helping them to discover a new sense of personal discipline, a new and better sense of character and new competencies. And my experience suggests that those who are helped to achieve and execute those First and Second Resolution ethics frequently go on and execute the Third Resolution in ‘paying forward’ what they were given, to the benefit of all.

I love seeing that. I love seeing people rescued from hopeless and useless to helpful and useful. I remain scathing towards those who are useless and hopeless but who revel in it and demand respect for it.

And I feel that way because, unlike animals, such people – all people – have the ability and capability to do and be better because they have a choice. Animals are usually led by instinct. A dog chases a car but probably doesn’t know why. A human who ‘is’ useless is well capable of choosing better and should be encouraged and helped to do so.

Once. Maybe twice. Maybe even three times. But after that – let the wolves have them. Wolves know what they’re there for.

 

For more, got to Amazon and buy the book on Kindle or  paperback.

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Politicians – read and learn.

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The annoying things about politics and politicians.

They never apologise. Do you know why that is? It’s because other politicians don’t understand gratitude or humility in victory.

For example, party A has a policy, and a policy is usually well considered by many before it is announced. Party B decries it and demands changes.

Now, for all the best will in the world, there will be factors Party A didn’t consider because of a lack of omnipotence, and there will be factors they considered because of their value structure. (That is, the right tends to promote personal responsibility and conservation of what is, while the left tends to promote societal responsibility and want constant change in that direction.)

With that in mind, something comes to light or an alternative viewpoint is acknowledged and accepted, and Party A adapts the plan. Immediately, Party B rips into them for ‘U-Turns’ and ‘lack of leadership’ and ‘strife within the party’ and all that cobblers.

Try managing with that over your head. It is exactly like you making an honest mistake at work, apologising, and then being punished, attacked, demotes, moved, etc., despite correcting your error.

So instead of apologising, you try to justify yourself. Like any political party.

They don’t tell the truth. Occasionally, they do lie. (See above.) But one thing I learned from a lawyer years ago is that professional ethics occasionally mean they have to take a certain line – in the lawyer’s case I discovered that if a client tells them ‘I did it, get me off’ then they cannot sit there and listen to them lie. They have to go no comment. When I learned that I changed my approach from “solicitors are gits” to “No comment, eh? I must be on to something!”

 It is fair to say that senior politicians are privy to secrets and confidences, just like us. And just like us, when asked about them, they have to avoid answering ‘correctly’. Which means avoiding the question or using another tactic. Bear in mind that even the answer, “I can’t tell you that, it’s an official secret” breaches the Official Secrets Act as it (usually) confirms a presupposition in the question asked.

Occasionally, they don’t know the answer. Of course, ‘we’ know everything and expect the same of them. When they say ‘I don’t know’, the ‘examiner’ with the answer in front of them attacks them for not knowing that random statistic. Then the press joins in. Now, if the subject of the interview is clear and it is an obvious question, the politician should have prepared. But surprise questions with stats held by the interviewer shouldn’t be abused by the press. Anyway, they aren’t allowed to not know the answer, so they avoid giving one, which looks like avoidance of a truth.

They waffle. It’s often quite funny watching this. A question is asked, and it is immediately answered with ‘Let me clear (about something else)’, or ‘The reality is (party political broadcast)’ or ‘The real question is (combination of both)’.

 Nobody likes to answer uncomfortable questions, least of all us. Politicians are made up of ‘us’ but with the added expectation that they ‘must’ be transparent. Give them some slack and know when they are uncomfortable. They don’t want to offend the voters, even while offending the Opposition.

They have no manners. To my mind, there seems to be a complete – and ineffective – lack of manners when it comes to politicians and political interviewers. Interviewer asks a question, and as the interviewee draws breath they start attacking the answer not yet given, or the ‘opposing’ guest butts in. How wonderful it was to see Jacob Rees-Mogg and Vince Cable debate Brexit politely and intelligently without interrupting each other.

You can’t challenge a viewpoint or opinion effectively without listening to it, considering it, and seeing the holes. The ‘loudest shouter’ isn’t necessarily right. Make notes, wait yur turn, and then state your views. They are a lot easier to hear when you’re not arguing over each other.

What has all of this got to do with The Three Resolutions?

The Second Resolution argues for Character and Competence. For politicians, the spin doctors have invented a new competence – political avoidance, with training provided. (I find that non-pointing fist thing annoyingly inane, most of all.) Every statement must be slapped down and ridiculed by the opposing party, even when their own point of view is equally unclear through the same prevarication, avoidance or opinion. ‘The end justifies the means’, they say: but this means attacking the ‘enemy’ for doing what you would do yourself, but in the belief that their motives are evil while yours are good. Your ‘bad’ means are done for good ends, while their ‘bad’ means are done for ‘evil’.

Poppy-llocks.

What I would welcome is an improvement in the Character Ethic of the politicians and the media. Ask open questions, listen to answers quietly and respectfully, and then challenge in an appropriate tone and with considered responses where necessary. Acknowledge and respect the willingness or reluctance of the interviewee to provide answers and see things from their perspective, even if just at first. Just like Jac and Vic. Let your intellect say what your emotional outbursts actually obscure.

As a police officer, I was expected to do that when dealing with rapists and murderers. Wouldn’t it be nice if politicians and newsreaders gave the same respect to each other that I was expected to provide to the worst in society?

Let people change their minds; let them have secrets but let them say why it is a secret; interview them politely and challenge waffle – let them say ‘I don’t know, and I’ll find out’. It’s supposed to be about discovering the facts, not necessarily about finding them out in a convenient TV slot.

Let politicians rediscover Character as an ethical approach to politics, instead of perpetuating the ethic of Personality, where looking good is more important than being good.