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 :-).


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.


  • 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.”


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


  • 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.


  • 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.


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?


Activism, Changeology, Cultural diversity, Equality, Freedom, Freedom of Religion or Belief, Human dignity, Human Rights, Justice, Leadership, Minority Rights, Personal meaning, Stories from life

A tribute to India’s greatest leader

He came from humble means, but went on to become a giant of a man, inspiring millions, especially those at the bottom of the social and economic ladder. He studied abroad earning several advanced degrees. He was a lawyer and the main author of the Indian constitution. Think you know who he is?

His name, Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar. While Mohandas Gandhi (a contemporary of Ambedkar)is the Indian most non-Indians admire, it is Ambedkar the 100+ millions of Dalits, or untouchables, of India recognize as India’s greatest hero, towering far above Gandhi.

In recognition of his greatness I’d like to share with you some of Ambedkar’s quotes.

  • Unlike a drop of water which loses its identity when it joins the ocean, man does not lose his being in the society in which he lives. Man’s life is independent. He is born not for the development of the society alone, but for the development of his self.
  • I like the religion that teaches liberty, equality and fraternity.
  • I measure the progress of a community by the degree of progress which women have achieved.
  • Equality may be a fiction but nonetheless one must accept it as a governing principle.
  • In India, ‘Bhakti’ or what may be called the path of devotion or hero-worship plays a part in politics unequalled in magnitude by the part it plays in the politics of any other of the world. ‘Bhakti’ in religion may be a road to salvation of the soul. But in politics, ‘Bhakti’ or hero-worship is a sure road to degradation and to eventual dictatorship.
  • Cultivation of mind should be the ultimate aim of human existence.
  • Religion must mainly be a matter of principles only. It cannot be a matter of rules. The moment it degenerates into rules, it ceases to be a religion, as it kills responsibility which is an essence of the true religious act.
  • A great man is different from an eminent one in that he is ready to be the servant of the society.
  • Life should be great rather than long.
  • Political tyranny is nothing compared to the social tyranny and a reformer who defies society is a more courageous man than a politician who defies Government.
  • For a successful revolution it is not enough that there is discontent. What is required is a profound and thorough conviction of the justice, necessity and importance of political and social rights.
  • The relationship between husband and wife should be one of closest friends.

Quotes found at – and

Creativity, Cultural diversity, Leadership, Personal Development, Perspective, Strategic planning

Think the opposite

Do you have a problem that’s been bugging you for a while? Try one of these two creative thought experiments.

  1. Perspective: Sometimes seeing things from a different perspective can help. But, it can be difficult to envision this. Why not try imagining yourself as an inhabitant from another culture (or planet, if you have the fantasy to do it). You speak a different language, where different clothes, eat different food, have different habits, etc than what you normally do. Once you’ve gotten into the role, look at the problem anew. What insights do you draw? Is the problem still a problem? If so, is it the same problem as it was before? Are there any ways of addressing the problem that could be of benefit for your old and new self?
  2. Think the opposite: What is the most obvious solution? What does everyone else always do (with perhaps minor variations)? Now, what is the opposite? Is everyone in the business cutting costs to the bone, providing only the minimum necessary to sell their product or service? Try offer the opposite; offer more than is necessary. Or is it the opposite? Is everyone pre-occupied with adding more and more to their product line? What about making it simpler? Offer fewer choices. Sometimes counter-intuitive ideas are just what is needed.

Whatever you choose to solve the challenges in your life remember all the stakeholders in the process, not just the stockholder. You’ll still make enough to live on and have a much better conscience and time of it :-).

Leadership, Personal Development, Perspective

Even more small stuff not to sweat part VI

It’s time for a little reflection. Here are 5 more tidbits of wisdom from the book Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff… and it’s all small stuff, by Richard Carlson PhD. Read each one and ponder it before moving on to the next one. Enjoy :-)!

  1. Every day, tell at least one person something you like, admire or appreciate about them
  2. Search for the grain of truth in other opinions
  3. Breathe before you speak
  4. Be grateful when you’re feeling good and graceful when you’re feeling bad
  5. Think of what you have instead of what you want


Leadership, Motivation, Personal Development, Perspective, Strategic planning


Many take pride in being able to do several things at once. Unfortunately, unless you are one of those very rare people who can actually do it, multitasking means doing things more poorly than if you had singletasked each task.

Research from Vanderbilt University indicates that people trying to do two tasks at once took up to 30 percent longer and had twice the mistakes of those who did the two tasks sequentially. Think you’re one of the special ones? Try the following task: Time yourself as you say, “abcdefg,” immediately followed by, “1234567.” Got it? Okay. Now do the same, but say, “a1b2c3d4e5f6g7.” Any difference in time and flow?

You get the picture. Sequential singletasking is much better than simultaneous multitasking. Try it. You might like it :-).


Taken from Caroline Webb’s book, How to Have a Good Day: Think Bigger, Feel Better and Transform Your Life

Leadership, Motivation, Personal Development, Perspective, Strategic planning

Performance enhancers

Nearly 30 hours travelling, then a huge case of jet lag when I got home meant that I didn’t get my blog posted yesterday. Therefore, two today :-).


Following up on my last blog post about being more focused and effective at work, here are two more tactics for being more intentional.

Mental Contrasting – Everyone realizes that thinking positive thoughts can help bring about positive results, but even better results can be achieved if you also open up for the worst possible outcome. In other words your expectations should be for the best, but your planning should take into account possible obstacles to achieving your goal. To prepare for hindrances in your path, think through contingent plans. Ask yourself, When –Then. When this happens (this being an obstacle), then I will do this to overcome the obstacle.

Mind’s eye rehearsal – Like in sports, imagining yourself performing perfectly can go a long way toward helping you to actually accomplish what you want. Research indicates that mentally practicing something many times and then a short time with real practicing is just about as good as real practicing for a long time. See yourself making that speech or presentation, contributing in that meeting or simply accomplishing all you have on your to do list for the day.

Good luck :-)!


From Caroline Webb’s book, How to Have a Good Day: Think Bigger, Feel Better and Transform Your Life.