Einstein had a point.

Einstein (or the Chinese, or anyone that writers want to quote without actually looking it up) suggested that ‘Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result’.

That being so, I am going to disappoint my fan and stop blogging for a while because the shortage of interest in the blog, allied to the complete lack of clicks on the ‘sales’ part of my website, suggest it’s time to move on to a different approach.

I’m gaining an hour a week. 🙂

 

Where HAS the year gone?

Tags

, , , ,

In a blink of an eye, just over 1/52nd of 2017 has passed by, and we’re already back into the post-holiday routine. Suddenly and unexpectedly, the work that built up while we were in the pre-holidays procrastination period has hit us broadside on – all the stuff people put off ‘because it’s Christmas’ still needs to be done, but now it needs to be done alongside all the new work that has arisen as it always does, and always will.

How much of the stress we associate with the amount of work we have to do is wholly the result of our unwillingness to manage our time – or more accurately, ourselves? I’d argue that one of the major factors in our workload woes is our own resistance to doing things at the appropriate time, in the appropriate way, and to the appropriate standard. To a large extent, all three of those factors are within our Circle of Influence, but many of us – the time-strugglers – are unwilling to buy the book, do the course or just take the time to learn how to manage ourselves and our time to best effect. And it is in ‘post-break’ moments that this situation becomes more stark.

One big mistake is putting off the unrelished 5-minute-but-really-important task. Maybe a telephone call, maybe writing a letter or filling out a form. It’ll be a tedious, hateful job that should take 5 minutes, but because it’s tedious and hateful we keep putting it off. Then it suddenly becomes urgent, or worse it doesn’t get done until it’s too late, and we suffer the stress that urgency or potential disciplinary proceedings that ensue.

And it was all our own fault.

You can’t manage time, but you can maximise the time you have, and one simple strategy is to Do It Now! The time management experts all agree – a short task needs to be done as it arises (wherever possible), because doing so opens up available time for the more important stuff to be done properly. It clears space in your head, and it is an inoculation against the stress caused by procrastination.

Of course, Do It Now is not the cure for all time management ills, but I can state two things from my experience of applying the time management methods repeated in my book Effective Time and Life Management, available from Amazon Kindle HERE.

First, doing the quick things now keeps a desk and a brain clean, tidy, and available for creative thinking, planning and execution. Second, having created that time through applying the Do It Now philosophy and by creating and executing on properly scheduled priorities, life is less stressful and much more productive. Not just in work, but where leisure time becomes available because the work is done. And by planning that as well, life can be great.

Buy a book – preferably mine but there are others listed on this site – and apply what is contained therein.

And don’t say you haven’t got time. Read a book one Saturday instead of going to the pub. You’ll probably spend less and will definitely learn something that can improve your lot 24/7.

51Kan416noL__AA324_PIkin4,BottomRight,-60,22_AA346_SH20_OU02_

Go on – I very dare you. HERE.

Happy New Opportunity

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

Bad news, everyone.

If you are going to have a happy 2017, YOU are going to have to make it happen.

The good news is – Mike Oldfield is bringing out a new album.

The other good news is that you CAN make 2017 a great year regardless of what happens to you IF you follow one rule.

Act in complete congruence with your personal code of conduct – Act with Integrity.

All the time. For every decision. No excuses.

That does not mean being a martyr. It just means deciding that in everything you do, you will act in accordance with your personal value system, unifying principles, credo, mission or code of conduct. You know what your rules are, and you know when you break them.

There will be times when bending them is permissible because of the prevailing circumstances. Remember that while you have no control over outside events, you DO have control over how you respond. Sometimes, the response you must provide may not be the one you would like to execute because the external circumstances simply won’t allow it. When that happens, you are not ‘failing’ to live with Integrity – you are just stuck with having to do something else, something slightly less perfect. Don’t focus on things you can’t do anything about – do the best you can and move on to the next opportunity to act congruently.

This is harder than it sounds because of those external influences on our lives, but each negative event is a chance to pause and decide not to be dictated to by emotion, ideology, your past, or other people’s expectations. It is a chance to decide ‘I choose to act differently’ and then to act on that better choice. Our past, and the lessons we learned are powerful influences over our decision-making but they need not dictate our response. We tend to overlook that it was seeing things differently that made our lives better, whether it was through education, experience or bitter regret. Instead of allowing those bad things to teach us by waiting for them to happen, we can instead prepare for bad things well in advance by deciding, using our self-awareness and imagination, how we will deal with them.

I sometimes wonder why, when my parents passed away, I did not collapse in tears. I loved them both dearly, but as they passed away there was some sense of ‘that’s the way it is’ within me, and with hindsight I think it was my values system and my study of Stephen Covey’s works that meant that what was happening wasn’t disaster, but a natural event that emotional collapse wouldn’t change. I waited until the funerals to shed a tear, yet even then did so quietly. I also suspect that dealing with death in a professional capacity took the edge off dealing with their deaths because ‘death’ wasn’t something unfamiliar. I only hope that those close to me didn’t think it cold – it was just that sadness is less of a curse to me than anger!

(Stop moping.)

2016 was bloody awful. (Outside of all the saintly drug addicts, alcoholics and other celebrities that warranted angst when they passed away.) And one of the reasons that it was awful (for me) is that I allowed myself to lose control, on one occasion so badly that it really sobered me up for weeks afterwards.

I fervently intend that 2017 will be a different lesson – where I truly role model that which I believe in, and teach. Like a comedian who is privately depressed, I feel like the personal development trainer who knows his stuff but manifestly fails to perform it. And I encourage you, dear reader, to do differently.

Every time you know you should be doing something but seek out excuses – decide to do it. Whenever you’re about to do something you know undermines your better intentions – decide NOT to do it. It only takes the time needed to take the reluctant action, or to step away from the event that impedes your success. It can be less than one second. One second that lies between guilt – and higher self-esteem. But execute, then repeat.

Decide on your purpose/mission/unifying principles and work damn hard at making it easy to act in their accord by making your decisions absolutely congruent with what you believe, and accepting those moments when you can’t. That’s my intention for 2017.

Happy New Year.

 

 

‘Tis the Season to be Stupid, falalalala, lalalala.

Tags

, , , ,

“To change one’s life: 1. Start immediately. 2. Do it flamboyantly. 3. No exceptions.” William James

Funny, isn’t it? Right now, with 20 days to go, I am positive that millions of people are making their rules for 2017, applicable from Day 1. (Okay, maybe not so much the Chinese, who have a different New Year.) They plan to diet, exercise, rise early, watch less telly, etc. Or maybe that’s just me. Again. Every year since ever.

Honest intentions, I have no doubt.

Next funny thing. Having promised to eat better, exercise etc. etc., they (we)  rationalise that because this is the season of celebration (and the conventional wisdom for celebration is to eat and drink to a massively stupid – yes, stupid – degree),  the fact that we are definitely starting to live better on Jan 1st means we can justify doing the exact opposite.

And I am just as stupid as most of you, in that regard. (Not as stupid as those who think it’s okay to do it FROM New Year until Christmas. Love to those alcoholics who will give up booze for a month to prove they’re not.)

William James, the ‘father’ of psychology (not psychiatry, different science), sought to identify the proper prescription for a successful life. By successful, he spoke not of fame and fortune, but of greater personal effectiveness and integrity, where one lived in accordance with one’s values and therefore did not suffer the debilitation of depression, stress and guilt. His prescription was to advise people throw themselves into our primary objective – living life with the peace of knowing that what you are doing is good for you, good for others, and which serves a greater good. Even if that service only means becoming a role model for others.

Bear with. You have a conscience. It may be teeny weeny, or it may be a big bu66er. But you have one. When you fail to act in accordance with its sage advice, you feel a soupçon or a bucketful of guilt, depending upon its capacity and your willingness to listen to it. What you do with that knowledge is the difference between achieving James’ definition of success, and living a life of quiet desperation where you spend every evening wondering where the day went and why you haven’t achieved what was on your principled list of things-to-do.

How do I know? I know because that has been a tendency* in my life. A lot of my friends seem impressed with the amount of ‘stuff’ I do and the miscellaneous blobs of service for which I am known support their belief, but I know I could be a doing a whole lot better.

And with few exceptions, so do my readers.

Right now, those close to me privately and professionally are all preloading every conversation around the cake/biscuit barrel/sweet tin with ‘well, it is Christmas’, then stuffing their face knowing how daft they’re being. And (here’s the annoying part), after Christmas they’ll all go on a diet and bring their left-over cr4p into work. Thanks a bunch.

Starting today is key. It’s not easy, but it is the only truly sound route to getting what you want, and getting it soon enough to enjoy it.

My advice, therefore, is to follow William James’ advice. But be a little bit careful with the ‘flamboyantly’ bit. I think he meant do it ‘big time’, not dressed in a pink tutu, wearing a Stetson and covered in Braveheart make-up.

 

*Does ‘tendency’ mean absolute headlong throwing-yourself-into-dedicated-idiocy?

Why I am curmudgeonly.

Okay, I buckled. A very kind gentleman complimented my blog and invited me back. So here I am.

At the last meeting of ‘my’ Speakers Club , a round robin was started by the Chair, asking us to tell the audience what we hate. Fortunately for me, by the time it came to me the tea had arrived. Unfortunately for the next meeting’s participants, this meant I had time to prepare properly. And the first challenge I had was keeping it down to 8 minutes. This is a summary of what I said.

“You’ve heard the odd rant from me, but here’s a big one. What do I hate?

  1. For a start, I dislike the demise of the letter T. Professional presenters, whose very professionalism SHOULD be pinned on their ability to speak clearly, seem unable to say it. I am sick of people ‘not gehhin’ ih’, and them going to ‘parhhies’.
  2. People who demand instant attention by you regarding their priorities, but take 3 days to even consider yours. I have worked in an organisation where everything administrative must be done now – and I mean everything – so what happens is that people doing everything administrative ‘now’ MUST fail because the things they are doing ‘now’ must replace all those other things they SHOULD be doing ‘now’. Like the things they’re paid to do – which ISN’T ‘just’ admin. And they constantly feel as though they have achieved zilch. But the paperwork’s good. (Think – if the administrators went home we could still police -unpaid – but if the police went home the administrators would be pointless. Think on that.)
  3. Mobile phone use by drivers. If you do it, you’re a tw4t. End of.
  4. The new motorway following distance in the wet of one arm’s length.
  5. Pavement parking – especially in wide streets. For 50 of my 54 years I have noticed how 52-seater buses can travel up the average street by me without bouncing off parked cars, but now people think it is necessary to park on the pavement to avoid what hasn’t happened and likely never will. Let’s face it, if they could park in their front rooms the lazy b4st4rd5 would do that, too.
  6. People standing in front of you in a book shop. I am 6 feet tall, not inconsequential in stature, and yet I will be in a narrow aisle in a bookshop clearly looking at books because my head is tilted 90 degrees to read the spines – and some (usually old) idiot will just appear right in front of me and start doing the same.
  7. Long song intros with wailing singers. If the intro is long enough to warble ‘Oooooohhhh,, yeeeeah, mmmmm’ then it’s too long. Shorten it or just shut up. And if you can’t hit the note first time, you ain’t good enough.
  8. I’m a Celebrity Cooking while I dance or skate or drive to work” and other such programmes. And the people who watch it and post on Facebook that they watch it. Read a book.
  9. The Daily Mail website. Left column, ‘shock as eye-following glasses show men staring at ladies breasts’. Right column – bikinis, references to side-boob, ample chest, thigh-gaps, legs, and nudity.
  10. Media hypocrisy and bias – see previous blogs.
  11. Interviewed people starting their answer with ‘Yeah, no, I mean’. This means ‘I have given no thought whatsoever to the question but felt the urge to blurt something to fill the gap while I actually engage my brain. And the cliché ‘Yeah, no, I mean’ was the best I could come up with”.
  12. Politicians evading the question by saying ‘the reality of the matter is’ when it really isn’t.
  13. And TONS of other things.

Why do I hate these things – and what does it have to do with The Three Resolutions?

Man is a creature endowed with four gifts. The gift of self-awareness, to know he is a man. The gift of creative imagination – to know what he wants. The gift of independent will – the creativity, ability and drive to go and get what he wants. And the gift of conscience. We can to choose whether, or not, we will behave in accordance with reasonable standards.

When I see people who know better committing the hateful acts I have listed above, I perceive that when they are doing so, they are deliberately or even carelessly failing to reach those standards. And when doing so demonstrates rudeness, sheer hypocrisy, or when endangers me or my family, I feel the urge to make my feelings plain, and because I try to be a patient individual, that urge makes me less of a person if I inadvertently act upon it.

Shouting “SCUM!” at a litter dropper is only temporarily satisfying. As is punching someone right in the mouth for being so, so stupid. It is only temporarily satisfying because the guilt arising from a failure to stand up to one’s own standards kicks in quite quickly after the immediate psychological lift of having spoken out.

That said, if we legalised that kind of immediate punishment and thus legitimised it, the guilt might disappear. Perhaps legalising a smack in the mouth for those whose laziness, arrogance or stupidity threatens us is the answer.

Tomorrow, I write to the Prime Minister!”

idbi

People don’t like being told what to think. Think for yourself.

Tags

, , , , ,

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space lies our freedom and power to choose our response. In those choices lie our growth and our happiness.” Stephen R Covey

Despite the uninformed dismissiveness of friends and foe I have, for the past 20-odd years, been an advocate of the 7 Habits ‘philosophy’ – not a good word but it’s short. People who deride the awfully-named ‘self-help’ genre and therefore who have never taken a moment to understand it, suggest that the field, and the 7 Habits book in particular, have the intention of restricting my (their) thinking. Of course, some fields like Scientology and cults do just that, but the essential difference between what my friends think and the actuality is this: the 7 Habits do not in any way tell you what to think. What it does is tell you is that you can think, and provides a framework you can apply to thinking. But what you think is entirely up to you.

I write this week’s blog following the election of The Donald to the Presidency of the USA. Last night, following (arguably) anti-democratic and violent protests by people deriding ‘hate politics’ – the irony escapes them – I watched a YouTube vignette you can see here (pardon the ad). In it, the speaker tells the politicians that the reason DT was elected was because the people had realised that the ‘liberal elite’ (read socialists-with-a-small-s and their supporters) had been telling us what we can think, and what we can say, for so long that the electorate said “enough!”. He suggested that attacks on those who held and proffered thoughts other than the politically-correct had given rise to a backlash. People were being viciously and loudly attacked for having the temerity to hold and verbalise a different opinion for so long, that they spoke out in the ballot box. They voted, “STOP TELLING ME WHAT TO THINK!”

I agree. I suspect that the (quote Fox News, for a laugh) the ‘mainstream liberal media’ had spent so much time attacking DT that ‘the people’ decided to stop being told what to think, and to ‘think’ and therefore ‘do’ the opposite, perhaps out of spite for the media. I don’t know if this is so, but as the guy who sometimes likes the underdog to win, this constant ‘look what he did!’ approach just pushes me to think the opposite. I suspect the US electorate felt the same.

Which takes me to the quote and tone of this post.

Contrary to the political elite’s apparent view, I DO have the choice on what to think. Habit 1 is about being proactive and realising there IS a choice, and I can use a lot of things to make that choice.

And if I am left alone to think it WITHOUT being attacked for thinking things, eventually I can use my self-awareness, independent will, creative imagination and conscience to decide what is right and what is wrong, for myself.

I don’t need to be lectured, I need to be informed and encouraged. I don’t need to be attacked, I need evidence. I don’t need to be shouted down, I need to be heard. And above all, to hear you I need to know that YOU understand what you are saying and that it is objective, that it is not just a dogmatic ideology (well-meant or not), one which you have not objectively tested but to which you slavishly adhere.

That’s the odd reason why, even though I don’t like Jeremy Corbyn’s politics, I can respect him because he truly believes them, while I cannot respect Diane Abbott because she espouses socialism and quality education for all while sending her own kids to private school.

I will question the ‘thinking ability’ of anyone who is slavishly adherent to a ‘side’ in politics. And I will listen to anyone who is willing to change their mind. For example, I ‘hated’ UK gay-rights activist Peter Tatchell for a long time – not because he was gay but because of his confrontational tactics. But I saw him last week defending the right of Irish bakers NOT to be forced by the Irish courts to contravene their values in wanting to not bake a pro-gay marriage cake. That demonstrated thinking. Quality thinking. I can now respect, even admire him.

Use the gap – use your brain. Don’t be told what to think. Think properly, so that you can be sure that what you think is right.

Who’s in YOUR mirror?

Tags

,

“It’s like everyone tells a story about themselves inside their own head. Always. All the time. That story makes you what you are. We build ourselves out of that story.” Patrick Rothfuss

How is your self-image? What do you say to yourself that builds you up – or tears you down? Are you one of those few people who recognises their faults but also knows their strengths, or do you focus on your flaws while forgetting just how great you are, or could be?

The stories we tell ourselves in moments of doubt do have a salient effect on our results. If we enter into some project ‘knowing’ we are going to fail, how can we ever know whether we would have succeeded if we’d gone into it with confidence? To the same degree, and I address the famed ‘Law of Attraction here, how do we know we are good enough if we keep succeeding by accident?

The truth may be that we don’t really ever get to know the truth about ourselves, and this is usually because so few of us ever conduct any self-analysis intended to make that discovery. Even if we do, the stories we are already telling ourselves influences the answers we now produce.

Can you ask somebody else? Yes, but it has to be someone you can trust, who chooses their words carefully and can be blunt without being rude, complimentary without fawning.

And for your part, you have to be willing to trust that what you hear is in some way accurate. Asking someone trustworthy what they think, and then reacting defensively won’t produce the improved you that you were looking to create.

Of course, there is also a continuum to ego – from incorrect self-doubt at the lower end, to selfish arrogance at the other, when someone believes their own publicity to the degree that they consider themselves above all principles. The stories we hear about overly-demanding celebrities demonstrates such an approach to self-awareness.

Keep it real. Know who you are. Act with character.

Apply The Three Resolutions.

 

If you wish, you can go HERE to see or download an exercise that can help you discover whether who you think you are is REALLY who you want you to be.

Just for fun, this week.

Tags

, , , ,

I love the telly, ‘cos it makes me laugh. The devices they use to enable quick resolution of a plot, which they then DON’T use in later episodes because they need to string things out. And other foibles. For example, a recently bought laptop has a geolocator in it, so they can find it in seconds. Next week, they can’t even open its hard drive. This week facial recognition works on a blurry pic, next week a perfect resolution shot baffles the system. And DNA can be done in a minute, not to mention (a personal favourite) a quick telephone call from NCIS to get a bug in a Mosque – I’d love to see the paperwork needed to get THAT done in less than ‘ever’.

This week, I watched an action programme I won’t be watching again. The good guy had one hour to get from an office in central Las Vegas to kill the bad guy. The lift would’ve taken 20 minutes to get to the front door of the skyscraper he was in, for a start. Never mind his lack of available transport. They also glossed over the fact that when the hour was set they had no idea where the bad guy actually was. Strike 1.

That wasn’t the whole howler for that episode. There was the bit when the ever-present access-from-anywhere CCTV hacked into by the goodies said, “They’re heading south on the Strip!” with a bleeping blob where they were – well south of Las Vegas. Good guy set off and caught up with them at Fremont Street (the famous part of old LV where they filmed the car chase in Diamonds Are Forever) – which is NORTH, and completely the other side of the city. Strike 2.

Final nail in that coffin was when the good guy got the the aforementioned unknown airfield, where bad guy was taking off in a decommissioned C130 Hercules transport plane, built in the 60s-70s would be my guess. Pre-internet/Wi-Fi. Good guy’s IT woman said, “I can’t get into the telemetry to switch it off, but I can get into the hydraulics’, so she opened the door for good guy to run up to the moving ‘plane, and jump on.

Telemetry – implies ‘transmission of data’. Hydraulic systems are independent units with fluid controlled operating systems. How the hell could she NOT do ‘telemetry’ but COULD do hydraulics? Even assuming she could do either? Strike 3.

(Not to mention how Good Guy shot the pilot dead and then bad guy jumped out with the only parachute, so good guy jumped out after him. Me, I’d have got in the pilot seat and hit bad guy with the ‘plane, then landed it with ATC assistance……)

I know that this is all cobblers, really I do. But my experience in the police shows that the general public actually believes this stuff is do-able, so when I can’t detect their crime in 20 minutes, including ads for a cuppa, they go all ballistic on me. And given HM Government’s belief that a computer-centred enquiry can be done with a 28-day bail period indicates that they have been watching the same programmes, where Good Guy deals with one thing at a time and concludes it (a) quickly and (b) before other problems arise.

On the other hand, I do laugh at these script devices, and that is something.

Now, is the ‘Detect Crime’ button to the left or right of ‘Ctrl’?……

bullshit

You really can’t wait to learn what you need to know now.

Tags

, , , , ,

“As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world as in being able to remake ourselves.” Mahatma Gandhi

One of the fascinating things I have learned in trying to start a personal development training and coaching business is how many such businesses exist, even in my out-of-the-way, not-quite-rural part of the world. I am somewhat under-whelmed in the levels of interest shown in my own services, but if the proliferation of such businesses is a reflection of a need for such help, it must in turn represent some kind of insidious internal disquiet in people about where they are now, compared to where they want to be. They are willing to pay stupid money to some companies (while resisting inexpensive little me) in order to find something they seem unable to discover for themselves.

On the other side of the scales, however, there are those who absolutely dismiss the potential benefits of training, whether it be for them or for the people they manage, work for, or even live with.

I read a great story that might illustrate what I see to be the benefit of self-leadership training. It concerns a middle aged man, shall we say in his early 50s, who was sat at his father’s bedside as the septuagenarian drew close to death. As the old man ebbed away, he managed to impart one more piece of wisdom to his son. He said, “Don’t do it like I did it, son. I was wrong. Live life better than I did.” Then he sighed, and left.

The son was bereft, partly because his father was gone but, as he disclosed to a confidante, also because he realised something else. To that confidante he said, “I am 55 years old, and my father says I’ve being doing it all wrong. I am half way, if not more through life. What the hell can I do with the knowledge that I’ve been doing it wrong?”

The confidante smiled wisely. He said, “How old is your son?”

“Twenty-five, why?”

“What your father learned by his seventies, you learned in your fifties, and you can teach your son in his twenties. In turn, he can teach his children from the day they are born. 70 years’ wisdom available to a child. That is what you can do.”

The purpose of coaching and training is to provide the student, Oh Padawan, with a short cut to the wisdom that they may find for themselves – but now. So they can use it, now. Not when it is too late.

A coach is not there to tell you what to do. S/he is there to help you discover where to look and to open your eyes to alternatives. The coach’s job is to assist you in your relentless search to be better than you already are. On your own terms and in your own circumstances.

Seek it and use it.

My rates are pretty good………………

Presenting Pic