self improvement

If people were smart…

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We’d plan tax reform BEFORE income distribution undergoes the full onslaught of machine automation.

The UN would fund and deploy aerial nano-bots that fly around the World destroying unregistered guns.

Religious opinion leaders would MODERNISE religious doctrine to accommodate future technological change.

We’d REFORM things in society before the flat part of the (technology) exponential curve turns into the steep part of the exponential curve.

Government social services would MANAGE people’s expectations in a honest way upfront, not make excuses in a patronising way afterwards. Prevention is usually cheaper that cure.

We’d APPOINT lobby groups to represent the animal kingdom and not pretend that humans and corporates have all the votes and all the freedom to act.

We’d ENCOURAGE people to self-learn to cope with global changes in progress.

Work for yourself…

Work for yourself by working for others.

Work for yourself by working to help others.

Work for yourself by being more than the sum of your parts.

Since perhaps your purpose is an extension of everyone you know or can reach.

 

Work for yourself by looking at your own Balance Sheet from time to time.

Not just the one that’s expressed in dollars,

But the one expressed with assets like integrity, impact and connections made,

And liabilities such as tense relationships, regrets and pain experienced.

 

Work for yourself by walking the tightrope between spontaneity and structure,

Ambition and reflection, advice and personal action.

 

Work for yourself 24/7, or at least aspire to.

After all, if you get it right, life will probably work for you.

What’s a good belief? (a poem)

What’s a good belief?

Believing in yourself in a sharp, vigorous, multi-colour reality,

When others see hazy, lazy, grey?

Believing in yourself while in a calm zen place,

So you can then step out into the noisy street, to believe in others?

Believing what you cannot see, hear, touch, smell or taste?

 

Love is something to feel, but not touch.

Love cannot be directly seen, heard, smelled or tasted either.

But you can directly break or make love.

And they say more of it is good.

Except when you hurt someone,

By loving their friend more.

 

Do you love that you still believe in love?

Or believe in love, to make sense of everything else?

 

What about ‘being the best you can’?

Perhaps not just an empty, threadbare cliché.

Instead, the slogan of a popular culture,

because success itself is popular and valued.

 

Success has become an industry with a momentum of its own.

Loads of people spend a career measuring success,

Arranging events that celebrate it,

Broadcasting it and contrasting it,

Advising or coaching others how to grasp success.

 

Love and success. Running free as the children of belief.

Wait. When you believe in children first, love and success will come.

The World is definitely circular…

Truth, justice and the superhero way…

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Do the right thing and be slated?

We can’t prove we are decent, honourable and innocent people. Every day of our lives is a new test. All of us can be mis-read, misunderstood and mistaken. And sometimes are.

‘No good deed goes unpunished’ appears to be a well-worn saying.  Our political leaders falter and in doing so, set the tone. Even religion encourages forgiveness for sin. And it expects sin, not sainthood.

Athletes in a sport racked by doping become guilty by association, in a dramatic trial by media. People can be unwittingly in the wrong place at the wrong time. Too-perfect beauty or sound must be from plastic surgery, photoshopped or auto-tuned, we tell ourselves. Employees working from home apparently can’t be trusted by some employers to be productive. Good people can be framed, or their identities stolen. DNA evidence can be planted. Company reputations appear only as good as their last action, not their decades of service, contribution and value generated.

Do we punish uncertainty, even when the right thing happens?

Financial auditors, medical test technicians, oil drillers, weather forecasters, medical imaging experts and structural surveyors can sample and pass opinion but not guarantee certainty. We settle for their professional opinion, only as the lessor of two evils. Insurance assessors can estimate probability, but not guarantee outcome. We pay the premium but resent the price.  Juries can look for court evidence that is beyond reasonable doubt, but hate the process, rarely finding a perfect set of evidence, or witnesses (I know, I’ve been that juror). Human relationships survive on moral premise,transactional trade, love, blind faith and simmering trust in the meantime.

Added to the potent mix above, education is effective in training us to be critics and sceptics. But does it do enough to inspire all of us to be the best we can be? Shaping us to be critics and sceptics does make progress a bumpy ride for all those lining the journey.

Fake it til you make it?

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Are people basically divided into two broad camps – the ‘fake it til you make it’ (the marketers & promoters) and the ‘keeping it real’ camp’?

‘Fake it til you make it’ is about projecting confidence, whether real or illusionary. It’s downside is arguably in making our social groups less cohesive and less real. ‘Fake it til you make it’ can be spectacularly successful – politicians, singers/rappers and A-list movie actors being examples of this. Ironically though, politicians campaign to solve real problems, rappers rap about their gritty own life struggle to success, whilst successful actors choose to star in movies that often have themes of real strength from overcoming adversity of some kind.

Some pioneering cultures have a phrase about ‘keeping it real’. Others talk about ‘keeping your feet firmly on the ground’ (unless you work for the weather service, the airlines, the navy, NASA or Virgin Galactic).The ‘keeping it real’ camp includes support groups, social workers, therapists, counsellors, teachers, coaches, trainers and assessors of all kinds. This camp arguably advocates that ‘struggling to succeed is simply walking the journey’ is what life is about and that being honest about this struggle helps us to build important bridges with fellow human beings. In the world of entertainment, reality shows are in theory about ‘keeping it real’, although programme directors inevitably choose hyping the truth over the reality, if if means improving the viewer ratings in a competitive industry.

What about in the field of design – which camp do designers fall into? Steve jobs said ‘Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.’ In product design, great and successful designers don’t tolerate fake. They are obsessed with building amazing, perfection and excellence. In contrast, fine artists can excell at illusion in their art, folling the viewer’s eye into almost believing the two dimensional is actually the three dimensional. Or that the World shown within their art reveals a far more beautiful perspective on the World outside. Musical artists and actors generally want to create real. It’s the marketing staff of their companies that want auto-tune, edit and airbrush.

Whichever of the two camps a person falls into, perhaps real performance is still the key goal and ambition the driving force. Oscar Wilde famously said ‘all of us are in the gutter, but some of us are looking up at the stars.’ Life arguably isn’t about ‘suffer in silence’, ‘know your place’ and ‘mustn’t grumble’. It is about ‘be the best that you can be’, ‘dare to dream’, ‘give yourself a break’, ‘learn from your mistakes’, ‘recognise the perfect parent does not exist’,  ‘respect yourself’ and ‘strength through adversity.’

Lastly, somewhere along the line, as we switched from selling the products of our labour to selling the services of ourselves, the ‘fake it til you make it’ mantra started to dominate, in business, in our romantic lives (as singles) and increasingly, everywhere else. How do we jolt ourselves out of that mantra?

The man who can’t be moved

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Life’s journey is best experienced with those you love, but has to be walked alone. You can carry children in your arms some of the way. And hold hands with your partner as you walk. As you walk, you can reflect on the advice your parents gave you, high-five your friends, give directions to strangers, dry people’s tears, wave to rivals and onlookers alike. And keep checking if the money in your pockets is growing or shrinking.

As you walk, what you cannot do is retrace your steps. To take back what you said to someone at the last crossroads. Or retrace your route, to spend more time with the people you loved in your life, who are no longer walking their journeys. Time is the steady companion, that keeps a solid beat to the marching rhythm of your journey. Learn to enjoy and take strength from the journey as best you can. That’s the essence of being human…

Creatives and Suits

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Are there just two types of people in the World, whether we’re talking about strong and weak, beautiful and ugly, cowardly and heroic, patient and impatient, logical and non logical, emotional and non emotional, or creative and non creative?

Personally, I think everyone exists on a spectrum of all of these things and more. People are complex with unique combinations of genes and personalities. Amongst the wider population, there are probably all sorts of combinations on a sliding scale of these things. And on a changing basis, minute by minute.

Humans love to generalise and pigeonhole people – it is both entertaining and lazy thinking combined. Creatives and suits, Vulcans and bleeding heart liberals, left and right wing, male and female, young and old, have-a-go heroes and those who live life vicariously.

I believe all of us are capable of change and on our own unique journeys of development, influenced by the school of hard knocks, the inspiring people we meet, the knowledge we uncover and things like parenthood or the death of someone we love, which change us forever.

We might choose jobs and careers that emphasise different things to onlookers, but even the most structured jobs can have their creative problem-solving moments, requiring human solutions. We all solve problems daily. Is solving a problem non creative? So-called logical people can use intuition, show initiative and spontaneity and have aspects of their life that are repetitive and creative, whether in work or play.

True scientists, like statisticians, seek patterns and underlying relationships. They also accept that the real World is full of rich spectrums, not binary examples. Neuro-surgeons and mental health doctors alike know that the human brain is complex and not categorised into simple left and right brain thinking people. Design may be creative with execution non creative, or visa versa.

Perhaps we should just abolish the phrase ‘visa versa’ and replace it with ‘visa versatile’?