Activism, Changeology, Equality, Freedom, Human dignity, Justice, Leadership, Motivation, Personal meaning, Stories from life, The world around us

Being remembered brings Hope!

Sorry for the delay in getting this post out. As those of you who have been following me know I am in the country of Timor Lest now and the internet here is a bit dodgy :-).

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Today I met a superstar. He drove into the parking lot in his blue mini Moke (like a dune buggy). It had shiny chrome role bars that matched the color of his greying hair. His handshake was firm and his smile winning as he, in a warm baritone voice greeted me with a friendly, “Bom Dia”. And while he seemed like an ordinary citizen, short of stature and slight of build, José Ramos-Horta was something considerably more.

Timor Leste had been a Portuguese colony for more than 400 years. When it received its independence in 1975 young José had played an important role in the independence movement. One might have expected then that, when after a few months Indonesia invaded and annexed Timor Leste, young Ramos-Horta would be called to also play a role in the in the new independence movement. Instead he was sent away by the country’s leaders, called upon to serve as Ambassador for the Timorese to the world. It was a difficult time for the young man. His task was a lonely and seemingly hopeless one.

Only after nearly twenty-five years of exile he was able to return home to a free country. On his return he was amazed at all the people who recognized him and wanted to shake his hand as a hero. Believing that it should be the ones who had stayed behind and fought battles on the homeland who should be welcomed in such a way, now middle aged José asked why he had been greeted so. The answer came, “Because you gave us Hope! When we thought the world had forgotten us we would hear your voice on the radio pleading our cause and we knew that we could hold out a little bit longer. Thank you!”

For his efforts in the peace process that ended the war with Indonesia and gained Timor Leste its independence, José Ramos-Horta was awarded, together with the Catholic Bishop of Timor Leste, the Nobel Peace prize. He went on to serve his country as Prime Minister and President. And since his ”retirement” from public service in his homeland he has served as a UN Special Representative to Guinea Bissau and more recently on a committee to evaluate the UN Peacekeeping force.

From the parking lot I led him to the hall where he would be speaking. I don’t remember all that he said, but his main message was – When everything seems impossible. When you feel as though your courage and strength will fail. Remember, there is still is Hope. Never give up Hope!”

 

Creativity, Leadership, Motivation, Personal Development, Perspective, Strategic planning

Are you, What if Negative or What if Positive?

If you’re like me you can easily fall into the trap of asking yourself, What if…… and then listing all of the negative consequences that might happen if you do what you are planning on doing. Your thinking causes a negative feedback loop and before you know it you have talked yourself out of bringing to life that “horrible” idea you’ve been pondering.

But, instead of asking, What if…… and then listing all of the possible negative consequences, you instead start thinking of all the possible positive things that might happen. Now what happens? Positive thoughts, even those you force yourself to think, release neurotransmitters in your brain that are associated with pleasure and feelings of happiness. This in turn creates a positive feedback loop. And, before you know it you’ve talked yourself into bringing to life that “terrific” idea you been dreaming of.

But let’s not stop there. How about combining the two? Pause. Take a deep breath and decide to go through both exercises; first the one and then the other. This is a concrete example of expecting the best and planning for the worst (see my post, Performance Enhancers – https://edbrownweb.wordpress.com/2016/08/09/performance-enhancers/ for more on this). Research indicates that by engaging in this kind of dual thinking we are much more likely to achieve our goals than by simply practicing solely positive or solely negative thinking.

Why not give it a try :-)?

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Thanks for reading everyone. This will be my last post (at least for a while). I’ve now achieved my goal of 100 posts in 100 days. I still think writing is a pain in the arse, but I’ve also learned that I can do things I don’t like over an extended period of time.

So a big thanks to all of you who have read these posts and especially to those who have taken time to write comments. They meant a lot to me :-). I’d be grateful for even more comments and concrete feedback; both, of the positive and of the, room for improvement, sort.

Thanks :-),

Ed           Yangon, Myanmar,         19 August 2016

Changeology, Leadership, Motivation, Personal Development, Perspective, Strategic planning

The limits of Predictabilty

I live in a world where the people around me make plans and then expect everything to go according to plan. Unfortunately, my experience tells me that more often than not plans don’t pan out exactly as expected. Instead, variables I hadn’t foreseen come into play and “ruin” my plans. But, is the answer to not make plans? I believe in making plans, but not relying totally on them. Rather, I accept that I can’t predict or know everything. And from that attitude I plan and then make myself as open and adaptable as possible to new information, new variables and new situations. I am ready to change, modify and sometimes scrap my plans to make better ones. Keys to this are:

  • An open mind – Willingness to look at new concepts
  • Flexible thinking – Willingness to try out new concepts and ideas
  • Humility – Accepting that my way may not always be the best way
  • Actively seeking advice of others; even those who have opposing opinions to my own
  • Patience – The ability to postpone

Stir up any thoughts? Let me know :-).

Creativity, Leadership, Motivation, Personal Development, Perspective, Strategic planning

Productivity

Very short and to the point today.

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One thing at a time!

Most important thing first!

Start now!

Having trouble getting started? Take the smallest first step needed to get going!

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Once again inspired by, How to Have a Good Day: Think Bigger, Feel Better and Transform Your Working Life, by Caroline Webb.

 

 

 

Creativity, Leadership, Motivation, Personal Development, Perspective, Strategic planning

Avoiding Decision Fatigue

Most of us want to do our jobs well. Unfortunately a lot of us are putting ourselves in positions where we are forced to make decisions at times when we are not thinking as clearly as we should. We fall prey to Decision Fatigue. This happens when our deliberate brain system (see earlier posts on brain systems 1 and 2; Automatic and Deliberate) is tired and we then make poorer decisions than if our brains were well rested and fed.

Here are four strategies four combatting Decision Fatigue:

  1. Take regular breaks from tasks. Don’t go more than 90 minutes (and preferably shorter) working on a task before taking a break. Imagine you are a Formula One race car. You are speeding around the track and leading the pack, but if you don’t regularly make pit stops, you will literally run out of fuel and you risk damage to your parts. The same goes for your brain.
  2. Make decisions when your brain is at a peak. This means, don’t make decisions at the end of a grueling, long meeting. Rather, take a break in the meeting and make the decision after the break. The same holds true with your eating cycle. Make decisions when your blood sugar-level is stable, not when it is too high or low.
  3. Schedule breaks between meetings or tasks. In line with number one above, your brain needs rest. Going from one task to another to another is just asking for Decision Fatigue. Instead of scheduling back to back meetings that last 60 minutes each, why not try scheduling the meetings for 55, or even better 45 minutes. Be effective in the meeting, and then take a short breather before the next one.
  4. Allow time for reflection. Try using some of the time during your breaks, between meetings and, most importantly, at the end of the day to reflect on what you have just done. Try using the mnemonic DATE help you reflect on what you:
    1. Have Discovered
    2. Have Achieved
    3. Are Thankful for
    4. Have Experienced

Good luck and let me know how it works :-)!

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Inspired by, How to Have a Good Day: Think Bigger, Feel Better and Transform Your Working Life, by Caroline Webb.

Cultural diversity, Equality, Human dignity, Human Rights, Justice, Leadership, Personal Development, Perspective

Two man-mindedness

Yesterday I suggested that cultivating the classical virtues of Temperance, Prudence, Fortitude and Justice might go a long way toward promoting peaceful co-existence between people. Today I’d like to promote another classical virtue; Ren. While yesterday’s virtues can be traced back to ancient Greek and Rome, today’s comes from China.
The Chinese character, Ren looks like this in Mandarin – 仁. The character represents a human being with two strokes indicating two people; you and me. The concept has to do with a person trying to see things from her own perspective and simultaneously from another’s perspective; two man-mindedness. In modern day language, empathy. But two man-mindedness goes a step further than empathy; feeling another’s pain or emotions. It also entails being fully in tune with one’s own emotions at the same time.
The Confucian philosopher, PC Chang introduced this concept to the United Nations Human Rights committee tasked with the job of writing a document that would delineate the normative structure of Human Rights; what would become the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. He proposed that the idea of two man-mindedness was a Confucian way of looking at the underlying principle of all Human Rights, namely Human Dignity.
So, along with the classical cardinal virtues from yesterday, I propose that cultivating, Ren, or two man-mindedness could be a useful tool for helping us all to get along better :-).

Cultural diversity, Human dignity, Justice, Leadership, Personal Development, Perspective

Cultivating Cardinal Virtues

Disclaimer – Today’s post is not cool. It is not sexy. Nor is it modern. It is distinctly uncool, plain and pre-modern. Yet, I believe we can all learn from classical wisdom. So, here goes :-).

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In a world that seems to pay homage to the belief that more is always better and that excess is the same as success here is a plug for cultivating what the ancients considered to be the Golden Mean, where virtue is not one end of the spectrum, but a vacillating point between two vices.

Here are the four classic Cardinal Virtues with a few of my comments.

Temperance

  • Self-Restraint. Do I really need that new…. Fill in the blank with your favorite luxury.
  • Living in between too much and too little; excess and self-denial. Could also be thought of as Goldilocks living, “It’s just right!”
  • As Gandhi put it, “Live simply that others might simply live.”

Prudence

  • Wisdom
  • Knowing what the right thing to do is
  • Prudence learns from experience rather than simply experiencing.

Fortitude

  • Courage
  • Bravery
  • Fortitude is neither paralyzed by fear (Cowardice) nor oblivious to it (Foolhardiness/recklessness). It acts in spite of fear, not because it is absent.

Justice

  • Doing the right things and doing them right.
  • Treating others with Fairness.
  • The Cardinal of the Cardinal virtues. Justice incorporates all of the above. Practicing self-restraint, it learns what is best in any given situation and then, often in spite of fear or reluctance, acts to do the right thing; seeking the greater good.

 

Recognizing that variations exist, these virtues need to be lived out contextually, taking into account a margin of appreciation given different cultural and social settings.

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I wonder what our societies would look like if we all began to practice more temperance, exhibit more prudence, display more fortitude and practice more justice? What do you think?