Category Archives: Perspective

The Practice of Shifting Perspective

We look for meaning everywhere; it’s our unique capacity as human beings. It is so innate to who we are that we exercise this capacity unconsciously with very negative consequences like false beliefs, intransigence, broken relationships, and worse.

Adopting practices that force you to recognize your perspective and seek the value in different or even paradoxical perspectives is essential to your personal development and the cultivation of strong and rewarding relationships. When you try on another perspective, when you see the world through someone else’s eyes; the result is “Wow!”

The one thing to manage when the going gets tough

The one thing to manage when the going gets tough

Throughout history, people have overcome incredible hardship and prevailed against overwhelming odds. Churchill, Gandhi, Luther King, Mandela, and Malala come easily to mind. It’s easy to attribute their success to something rare and superior to the rest of us, but that would be a mistake. You can prevail as well, but only if you manage this one thing.

Your mood

No matter the situation or time of day we’re always in a mood. We describe our mood as happy, angry, elated, purposeful, despairing, hopeful, apathetic etc.

Often our mood changes suddenly as Bill Withers sings in the song “Lovely Day”

When I wake up in the morning, love, And the sunlight hurts my eyes,

And something without warning, love, Bears heavy on my mind

Just yesterday, I had a similar experience. I woke up and found myself in a dark place. I was in a mood of overwhelm and doubt. I had too much on my plate, and I doubted myself and where to begin.

If you’re like most, you’ve been there.

If you’re like me, you haven’t shared these feeling with anyone, except possibly your partner if you’re lucky enough to have one. But you do telegraph how you feel even if you don’t explicitly share them with anyone.

People see your mood

You walk around with an attitude that reflects your mood. Your body and facial expressions project depression, frustration, anxiety, fear, irritation, anger etc. and they affect everyone around you, especially when you are in a position of power.

This is why it’s true that the mood of a team, a department, even a company is shaped by the mood of the leader.

Your mood manifests what it reflects

The irony is that moods perpetuate the situation that cause them. Like violence begets violence, bad moods infect others with bad moods. The good news is that good moods do the same.

Your mood determines your capacity to act

More importantly, your mood either closes you down to possibility, creativity, and action or opens you up to them.

No one gets out of tough situations in a mood of despair.

No one solves problems in moods of cynicism or resignation.

This means you must manage the mood you’re in, to win at whatever game you’re playing.

Shackleton

This is why one of the greatest leaders of the last century, Sir Ernest Shackleton took great care to manage the mood of the men he led.

the ship Endurance photo
Photo by State Library of New South Wales collection
At the beginning of the 20th century when it was normal to lose one, two or more men per Antarctic expedition, Shackleton lost none of his 28 men in his quest to be the first to traverse Antarctica. That expedition became one of the most famous failures of the twentieth century because he and his men survived our planet’s harshest climatic conditions, most dangerous seas and ocean-going predators to safely return home almost two years after they were thought dead.

Shackleton was able to lead his men safely back home with a healthy dose of luck, courage and sound decision, but most importantly because he kept their spirits high. He was constantly vigilant against moods of despair, doubt, and resignation.

Violin

How effectively Shackleton managed the mood of his men is evident in the story of when he instructed his men to abandon the Endurance, the ship that had been encased in ice, “like an almond in a chocolate bar”.

As the pressure of the ice slowly buckled the ship and the timber of the great vessel audibly groaned to their breaking

the ship endurance photo
Photo by State Library of Queensland, Australia

point, Shackleton told his men to take only the bare necessities and leave everything else. Nothing that wasn’t directly related to their survival was to be taken off. Money, for example, was to be left on the ship. One crew member, the sole violinist on the ship who often led the men in song and dance with his violin recounted how Shackleton handed him his violin as he was departing the ship saying “I thought you might need this.” The man couldn’t imagine how his violin was necessary to their survival, but Shackleton did. He knew it was just as important as food and

One crew member, the sole violinist on the ship who often led the men in song and dance with his violin recounted how Shackleton handed him his violin as he was departing the ship saying “I thought you might need this.” The man couldn’t imagine how his violin was necessary to their survival, but Shackleton did. He knew it was just as important as food and water because the violin could lift their spirits when they needed it most, and he knew there would be many despairing times ahead.

Mood like weather

Yesterday, my mood of doubt and fear passed as suddenly as it occurred. I simply got down to the business of sorting

storm clouds on the horizon photo
Photo by sagesolar

through my task mountain while listening to an online course, and somehow without any conscious attempt to navigate out of my negative mood, I found myself in a good one.

Blue skies appeared of their own accord.

Which is why I think the weather is a great metaphor for mood.

Sunny moods can suddenly change and vice versa. But this doesn’t mean we have no control.

Think of yourself at sea, where you can navigate out of bad weather. A Captain can see bad weather up ahead, or on her radar and can take evasive action. If bad weather comes upon her suddenly, she can also plot the quickest path out.

Even if she can’t, she knows that it will pass and that gives her the confidence to weather the storm.

Practice managing your mood

You can take a passive approach to weather or you can steer and prepare to mitigate its worst effects. You can do the same with your moods by changing the way you look at things, exercising, dancing, singing, or talking to someone who lifts you up.

Notice what affects your mood, or is likely to trigger a mood swing and manage it. Bill Withers offered a lovely tip about how to create a lovely day.

Then I look at you, And the world’s alright with me,

Just one look at you, And I know it’s gonna be,

A lovely day

Photo by Defence Images

Forgiveness lessons from a dog

Forgiveness lessons from a dog

The other day I was getting ready to take my dog Jazzy for a walk. Now, this isn’t a daily routine although I know that it’s best for a dog to have one. It’s just that I don’t have a lot of open spaces I can easily take him to, so I take him maybeContinue Reading

Do you care who you disrespect?

Do you care who you disrespect?

Everyone is disrespectful. Some more than others. Most are unintentionally disrespectful, some intentionally. These last are usually powerful people whose disrespect is tolerated or perversely, even appreciated. But grand examples of disrespectful leaders like Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un, don’t drive the small, and sometimes grossly, disrespectful acts ordinary people perpetrate every day. Yes, thereContinue Reading

Another step to a self-service future

Another step to a self-service future

Automation, artificial intelligence and robots are in the news a lot because they represent the awesome—in the real sense of the word—impact these technologies are already having on the way we live and work. The promise of more freedom, convenience, and lower cost seems futuristic until you’re sitting in the back seat of a UberContinue Reading

A better alternative to facts

A better alternative to facts

Fact-checking is hard work. It’s a lot easier to pass along that email about the Australian PM threatening Muslims to integrate or get out of the country, or about an aircraft carrier attempting to bully a lighthouse into changing course, than to check if it’s true. People often pass along stories that reinforce their worstContinue Reading

Trust but verify

Trust but verify

Most people spread lies without ambitious agendas. They often parrot other people’s talking points and opinions because it makes it sound like somebody’s home. They’ve never thought about distinctions of truth, belief, fact, opinion, assessment, gossip, and allegation, or why they matter. They’re not weak or stupid, just lazy and indoctrinated. Not surprising. Maybe weContinue Reading

Are you enough?

Are you enough?

In James Arthur’s “Say you won’t let go” he sings “I met you in the dark, you lit me up. You made me feel as though I was enough” Those last three words hit me deep, and I’ve wondered why. Perhaps it’s because I’ve rarely felt I was enough. For most of my life I’veContinue Reading

What Trump’s Muslim ban is really about

What Trump’s Muslim ban is really about

The idea that America allows people into the United States without checking their background has been a particularly absurd assertion to every visa-requiring visitor or immigrant who knows how intensive and intimidating the process is, especially since 9/11. Visas are routinely refused for the slightest reasons and many can never enter the U.S. A. ifContinue Reading

The lie about lies

The lie about lies

We are indoctrinated into thinking lies, all lies are bad, and creates an unnecessary internal conflict, because lie-telling plays an important role in creativity, and compassionContinue Reading

The scientific consensus, and why it won’t change anyone’s mind

The scientific consensus, and why it won’t change anyone’s mind

No doubt you have strong views on something; say genetically modified foods, Crooked Hillary, legalizing marijuana, radical Islam, or dogs are better than cats. You are convinced that you’re absolutely right on the issue, and get worked up talking about it. But maybe you should step back, and for whatever it is that pushes yourContinue Reading

Fool me … Shame on who?

Fool me … Shame on who?

There’s a famous quote that goes, Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. It’s attributed to a Randall Terry but we’ll never forget—and always be grateful for—George W’s mangling of it. (Video below.) It’s an important quote because it says that individual responsibility for the truth is as much theContinue Reading

My scientists smarter than yours

My scientists smarter than yours

Not two weeks ago, I was floating on a noodle, beer in hand, life and conversation good, when the topic of climate change came up and suddenly the world seemed full of short-sighted ignorant people. It started when a new friend seemed untroubled that 2016 is on track to be the hottest year on record,Continue Reading

The half-life of a grievance

The half-life of a grievance

Every now and then, an old grievance comes to mind. There’s one about a guy who accused me of something I didn’t do, and whenever his name comes up, the grievance is right behind. Sometimes from out of nowhere the grievance enter’s the spotlight of my mind and a variation of the incident replays —oneContinue Reading

Take care who is feeding your bad wolf

Take care who is feeding your bad wolf

Every day we’re in a battle for our attention; a battle we don’t realize we’re in and so every day we surrender much of it to a media army bombarding us with stories of fear, incompetence, corruption, natural disaster, war, terrorism, human tragedy, injustice, failure, prejudice., oh, and a sprinkling of cute pet stories; youContinue Reading

What kind of person are you?

What kind of person are you?

When directed at yourself, this is perhaps the most profound questions you can ask.  “What kind of person am I? It’s a question that has no answer like 2 + 2 has an answer; we either create our own, or adopt one given to us by society or religion. Then it’s up to us toContinue Reading

The moon-shot speech of our time

The moon-shot speech of our time

For sheer audacity, nothing beats Kennedy’s speech to “…land a man on the moon and bring him safely back to the earth.” He could have said, “We will make the biggest pizza pie the world has ever seen and have every American eat a slice with the Soviet Union watching on live TV,” but thatContinue Reading

What is the “I have a dream” speech of today?

What is the “I have a dream” speech of today?

What is the inspiring, galvanizing speech of our time? What is the “I have a dream” (King), Gettysburg address (Lincoln), the “We shall fight on the beaches” (Churchill) of today? Did I miss it? I think great speeches are out there, but no single speech is having the lasting mass movement effect of any ofContinue Reading

The problem with “Back in the day” thinking

The problem with “Back in the day” thinking

Boy do we love the good old days. When life was sweeter and had meaning. Now everyone’s fond of saying “back in the day” (BITD). “BITD” really works to glorify the past doesn’t it? Perhaps because it implies that we’re not “in the day” now; that now we’re in the night or some cloudy, overcastContinue Reading

Trump’s success formula and what we can emulate

Trump’s success formula and what we can emulate

We all know the risk of being insensitive, rude and politically incorrect. We’ve felt the sting of crossing the line enough times to know it’s not socially acceptable. How then to explain Donald Trump, who attributes his success to crossing that line? What is the Trump winning formula and is there anything about him toContinue Reading

Admitting mistakes

Admitting mistakes

We live with a curious irony: everyone makes mistakes, but no one admits to making them.  OK, maybe you’re one of the few that admits theirs, but most people are as unwilling to admit their mistakes as they are to draw attention to the piece of lettuce stuck between their teeth. That’s curious isn’t it?Continue Reading

What you’ll almost always regret

What you’ll almost always regret

There is no pill to stop you from doing or saying something stupid, but you can reduce your chances of doing something you’ll regret if you pay attention to the mood you’re in. There are two moods that promote actions you will almost always regret: anger and fear. Acting from anger I’ve regretted almost everyContinue Reading

Dispelling regret

Dispelling regret

The biggest problem with regret is that it keeps your attention on the past where you re-play your favourite beat-yourself-up stories, or you play out different scenarios of how your life would have turned out better if only you hadn’t insulted your boss, or chose what was behind door 2 instead of door 3. MostContinue Reading

Regret is like dogshit

Regret is like dogshit

Most of us wrestle with regret from time to time and it’s interesting to notice how often we do. For many of us, we never seem to win our regret re-matches and we seem to be locked in an ongoing conflict between how things are and how things might have been…if only. What is regretContinue Reading

Awakening from indoctrination

Awakening from indoctrination

No one likes to think of themselves as indoctrinated, but you would be the rare person indeed who wasn’t indoctrinated into something: religion, patriotism, or (insert favourite sports team here). A profound sign of your own personal growth is noticing where you’ve been indoctrinated and choosing what parts of your indoctrination—if any—are worth keeping. IndoctrinationContinue Reading

Faith 101

Faith 101

If you’re not a religious person you might think faith has no significant place in your life. I certainly did, but I’m coming home to this word that I once rejected, and I think everyone practices faith whether they realize it or not. My early experience with faith Growing up as a Roman catholic, I heardContinue Reading

Are you a hypocrite?

Let’s save some time. Of course you are; at least if you go by the strict definition of the word. Hypocrisy is the practice of claiming moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behaviour does not conform. Every one is a hypocrite in some area of their life. What is hypocrisy? But hypocrisy orContinue Reading

Stay calm and carry on

Stay calm and carry on

I’ve always noticed calm people. Perhaps because most people aren’t, but also because it seems so clear that calm people don’t suffer the stresses of modern life: the insults, accusations, disappointments, injustices, incompetence, corruption, arrogance, disloyalty, unkindness, cruelty, unwillingness, bullying and more; and that’s just from my 12-year old.  Just kidding, I don’t have kids.Continue Reading

Thinking now old-fashioned

Thinking now old-fashioned

The truth, we’ve been told, is out there somewhere and we can thank science for showing us how to arrive at truth, reject untruth, and most importantly to dethrone old truth’s that no longer apply. This is good because the truth is much bigger and more unknowable than we give it credit for; that’s whyContinue Reading

Why working hard can get you nowhere

Why working hard can get you nowhere

We’ve been taught that hard work, not intelligence, is the key to success, but that couldn’t be true.  If it were then why are millions of very hard-working people experiencing stress, regret, disappointment and fear? Millions of people live in a perpetual cycle of (1) work hard, (2) worry and (3) repeat.   At theContinue Reading

How airports really connect us

How airports really connect us

It’s easy to believe that we’re surrounded by hate, mistrust, violence etc.  News reports often add the cute human or animal story at the end of their programs as an antidote to the poison they spread, but because it’s so clearly thrown in as the odd special interest story we don’t even consider that storiesContinue Reading

Stop taking the bait

Stop taking the bait

Ever kicked yourself for sending an email, or raising your voice in anger?  How did that work out for you?  I’m betting not good.  Nothing got solved, relationships weren’t helped, in fact things got worse. So you learned your lesson right?  You’ll never do that again. But you did didn’t you? Welcome to the club.Continue Reading

2016: year of gratitude

2016: year of gratitude

As we think about another year completed it’s easy to get sucked into thought clouds of disappointments and resignations over repeated failures, missed goals and all the bad stuff you read about.  But something happened a few days ago that made me realize that our lives are not just about becoming, achieving and striving, butContinue Reading

The one person you should be in a committed relationship with

The one person you should be in a committed relationship with

When asked if he was dating anyone, a comedian said that he was in an exclusive relationship with himself. It was funny because everyone expected him to name some hot starlet, or at least someone else. What he meant was that he was way too selfish to be in a committed relationship with anyone. ButContinue Reading

Are you changing the world?

Are you changing the world?

Are you working on something that can change the world?  That’s the simple metric Larry Page uses according to Richard Diamonds and Steven Koller in their book “Abundance: the future is better than you think.” What Page uses this metric for they didn’t say, but I’ll guess it’s for assessing whether projects (and maybe people)Continue Reading

Do you have integrity?

Do you have integrity?

The term integrity is commonly used as a standard of moral uprightness. But whose morality: Taliban, Catholic, Jewish morality etc.,? Morality is society’s distinction between good and bad, right and wrong behaviour and these are not universally agreed. The right to murder, take more than one wife, or educate are all culturally defined, and whatContinue Reading

Why grown ups behave like kids

Why grown ups behave like kids

At a friend’s place not too long ago a father told his young son “Be quiet! Big people are speaking.”  The boy dutifully shut up. I felt sorry for the eight-year old as he wasn’t being rude; he had in fact interjected just at a pause in our conversation the way a polite adult wouldContinue Reading

Do you work “too much”?

Do you work “too much”?

Work life balance is a flawed concept in the same way that love life balance would be—even if everyone passed the phrase around like a bad cold. Yet people often love too little, eat too much, and yes; work too much.  The issue is not balancing relationships, health, or work with life itself, but managing theseContinue Reading

Why work-life balance is silly

Why work-life balance is silly

Work life balance is the holy grail of modern existence.  Amazon’s 15,000+ results for the term shows how desperate we are to find the solution to one of the greatest problems of modern life: work is necessary to live, but we spend so much time working that we have precious time left to live. If workContinue Reading

Why leadership is not about being right

Why leadership is not about being right

One of Amazon’s Leadership Principles states that leaders “Are Right, A Lot!” This is a destructive principle and probably a major contributor to why many Amazon employees find the company a difficult place to work. Here’s why: Leaders become rigid and defensive when they believe they must be right The big problem with a leadershipContinue Reading

What to do when you’re misunderstood

What to do when you’re misunderstood

It feels terrible to be mis-understood; when something as clear and obvious as day is described as night by someone else.  When that person is a client or boss it’s even worse. Why is it that people don’t get your point-of-view and what can you do about it? Most common reasons people don’t agree withContinue Reading

The one job of a parent

The one job of a parent

Almost every time I’ve listened to the stories of someone lacking self-confidence or going through recurring relationship problems, depression, anger, etc. I’ve heard one of a child who felt  they weren’t loved, weren’t loved as much as another sibling, or were loved conditionally e.g. by good grades, winning, doing chores etc. Mom/Dad didn’t love meContinue Reading

Paragons of ageing

Paragons of ageing

Last week’s post was about how we age; our choice to either hold on to youth’s veneer or let ourselves fall gracefully into old age through the way we live now.  It was about embracing ageing through practicing wisdom, compassion and contribution before we are old so that we can use these capacities to continueContinue Reading

You have a choice about ageing

You have a choice about ageing

One reason no one wants to age is that we have so few examples of people thriving in old age. Old age narratives are of loss; loss of beauty, mobility, strength, flexibility, independence, intellect, memory, relationships etc.  Old age narratives are of separation from the flock, of weakness, sickness, depression, decline and … death. TalkContinue Reading

Slavery 2.0

Slavery 2.0

Slavery didn’t end. But of course you know that.  The news still features human trafficking and children sold into the same cruel millenia-old slavery.  Likened to software or web development, this legacy slavery would be slavery 1.0 or maybe 1.1 But I think there’s a new pervasive form of slavery around today that I callContinue Reading

Imagination practice

Imagination practice

Do you still use your imagination?  If you’re like most, my guess is not so much.  When you were a child your imagination was on overdrive and now it’s like a favourite toy that’s been put away. You still have it but you never take it out to play anymore. But imagination is the gatewayContinue Reading

Robots taking our jobs; not a bad thing

Robots taking our jobs; not a bad thing

Most everyone thinks about robots taking our jobs as a bad thing.  How will people earn a living? But perhaps it’s not a bad thing.  Robots taking our jobs could completely reinvent what it means to work and earn a living. Wouldn’t it be great if everyone had machines do their farming, manufacturing, cooking, cleaningContinue Reading

The real reason to forgive

The real reason to forgive

When people talk about forgiveness it’s often in a religious context—as heaven’s admission price. But forgiveness is not only for the deeply religious, it’s a fundamental human capacity—like capacities to think, work and create —that we either develop or it withers.  And before we can even talk about how to develop one’s capacity to forgive,Continue Reading

Friend or Foe: Choose!

Friend or Foe: Choose!

In your daily encounters, which would you prefer to make?  Friends or foes? That’s not a trick question.  Too often people choose to foe-make by reacting unhelpfully to negative social and work encounters.  Sometimes with scowls, snide remarks, the finger or outright ‘cussin’.  Even when our reactions to apparent unhelpfulness or bad attitudes are notContinue Reading

Are you high cost?

Are you high cost?

We don’t usually think of cost when applied to people, but it does.  Cost is not just a monetary concept, it describes the time and effort spent, the degree of unpleasantness or even pain and suffering incurred when dealing with … people. You know high cost people because you describe them as a Pain inContinue Reading

Controlling your Blame Reflex

Controlling your Blame Reflex

Most of us are quick to assign blame.  It’s like a reflex. At an instinctive level it seems right, even normal.   The murderer, burglar, rapist, swindler is a bad and evil person and should be punished. And the behaviour need not be criminal. The same phenomenon is in play in our everyday lives.  WeContinue Reading