Category Archives: Reflections

How to reach your goals

Image: Weekend Inspirationby muha…
1061897539_e9db484f96

By now you will know that I am a ’new-age’ type of a character. I have a lot of interest in spirituality, motivation, and other topics related to my personal and spiritual development. A few days ago, while reading an interview with Dan Millman, I found a very powerful quote about how to reach our goals (link ). This quote made me reflect on some of the views commonly held in the Self-Help-Actrualisation-Movement about achieving; and I realised that sometimes less is more. Read on if you want to challenge some of what many people accept as ’Wisdom’ on the topic of success and reaching your goals.

Two paths for reaching your goals

Let’s start with what Dan said in the interview:

To progress toward your goals, please choose one of the following methods: (1) You can find a way to quiet your mind, create empowering beliefs and positive self-talk, find your focus and affirm your power to free your emotions and visualize positive outcomes so that you can develop the confidence to generate the courage to find the determination to make the commitment to feel sufficiently motivated to do whatever it is you need to do. (2) Or you can just do it.

In every goal you set yourself to achieve, there will be these 2 ways to achieve it. One is simple, one is complex. Which one do you usually choose?

What ’The Secret’ never told you: The Power of Action

Unless you’ve been living in a cave, you probably have heard about ’The Secret’, and either read the book; watched the movie; or at the very least heard of the very basic principles it proposes. When I saw the movie, I was inspired. Here is someone who understands the power of positive thinking, and has managed to create a movie with Hollywood-style production quality. I was excited to think of how many people would be touched by this movie, and what a difference it would make in other people’s lives. But my perspective was somehow transformed after reading the quote above from Dan Millman. I realised that there is a very powerful element that the movie missed altogether: The Power of Action. All the positive thinking in the world is unlikely to help you achieve your goals unless you use it as a motivation for taking action. Visualisations; Motivation; and Positive thinking will likely put you in the right state of mind to notice opportunities that before you would not have been aware of. But they will not ’magically transform’ the world around you while you sit in your couch digesting the last bag of mindless reality television.

Often times, simple is better

Yes, sometimes the simple path is the better path. And visualising, creating empowerig beliefs, developing more self-confidence, and becoming committed can become unnecessary steps on your way to success. What if you already have established a mindset of positive thinking? What if you already have empowering beliefs? Going down that path is creating a lot of unnecessary redundancy. Let’s take 2 simple examples: Loosing weight, and Doubling your income. In the first case, you may know what needs to get done, why and how. But you’ve just been too lazy to actually do it. Maybe some visualisation will motivate you enough to get on top of it and start a healthier eating & exercise regime. But truth is you probably simply need to get on with it and ’Just do it’. Doubling your income, on the other hand, may require taking the first path. Becoming more in tune with opportunities to double your income, and then having the courage to follow them; the determination to stick with what appears like a high-stakes bet; and to stay the track for long enough to give it a chance of working, may take some serious psychological weight lifting before the main event. In cases like this, the first path outlined by Dan may be more conducive to a great outcome.

Make a choice at the start

If simple is often ties better, then we owe it to ourselves to think for a minute or two which path is required for the goal in consideration. The five minutes you need to spend making a conscious choice may save you hundreds of hours on your path to success. And remember Dan’s words to reach success, you can “find a way to quiet your mind, create empowering beliefs and positive self-talk, find your focus and affirm your power to free your emotions and visualize positive outcomes so that you can develop the confidence to generate the courage to find the determination to make the commitment to feel sufficiently motivated to do whatever it is you need to do; or you can just do it”. It really is your choice.

Links

  • The Peaceful warrior: Dan Millman’s web site
  • The Secret
  • Outdoor Living
  • Note to loyal readers: This post is a re-write of a previous post that only had the original quote from Dan’s interview. I hope you enjoy the additional value-add of my reflections.

    Jack Lalane surprises again: The power of lateral thinking

    Image: Weight Lifting by mjzitek
    Weight Lifter
    Impossible dreams

    Do you think a professional weight lifter could lift 1,000 pounds? What about you? Do you tink you can lift 1,000 pounds? If you think the answer is no, think again.

    Still think you can’t? Take a look at this video from one of my favourite characters, Jack Lalane, and you will find just how easy it would be for you to do it (link). Sure, you may say that doing it that way is cheating (haven’t seen the video yet? You really ought to see it! Go and take a look – we will wait for you), but what jack does has nothing to do with cheating..

    The power of Lateral Thinking

    No, what Jack was talking about has everything to do with creative thinking. Not like those "creative accounting" tricks in the arsenal of rogue advisors that corrupt senior executives at banks & multinationals; rather, the kind of creative thinking that Edward de Bono encourages in his books (link) ir?. Lateral thinking, creative problem-solving, and intuitive reason are some of the names given to the thought process that abolishes boundaries for a few minutes as a mechanism to find unusual ways to solve problems. Every time we read, hear, or think about a problem, our mind immediately makes assumptions and places constraints on the way to approach the problem.

    Think about it; without these pre-defined filters, the number of ridiculous possibilities we would entertain would quickly lead to analysis-by-paralysis. Yet this useful characteristic of our mind is our own enemy when it comes to increasing our problem-solving repertoire. Developing the ability to look at our own reality from a different perspective on a regular basis becomes a critical tool in our personal development arsenal. Without it,we become slaves to our own routines and frames-of-mind. We become unconsciously incompetent on creative problem-solving.

    Diversity of perspectives: the path to creativity

    In a way, that is why many modern corporations have espoused diversity as a desired trait of their workforce. Sitome may think it only has to do with legal requirements to prove that they do not discriminate on the basis of sex, colour, race, or religion. But for smart companies it is the type of acknowledgement proving that a diverse work-force with a variety of life- and world-views will be more likely to look at business problems from different and sometimes unusual angles; and in doing so, provide those in management & leadership with great insights into new opportunities.

    So do yourself a favour, and develop your creative thinking muscles; exercise insanity for short periods of time, and see the type of astonishing solutions your brain can come up with. I promise you will at the very least enjoy the process, and at best will find great and effortless ways to solve your current problems.

    Crazy retro-back: Do you have trouble devoting regular time to exercise?

    Today I realised that in October last year I wrote a post to my Facebook blog, but did not put it in here! Below you will find a ‘blast from the past’ that can help you establish a regular exercise routine (which, as you can see from my previous post, works rather well!). I hope you find this post useful.

    – The crazy Colombian 

    Image by LollyKnit

    There is only one way for the odometer to go: higher. Parts get worn out, and joints need some lubrication. No, I am not talking about cars; I am talking about our bodies. As our lives get busier, and we find less time for fun and games throughout the day, exercise is often one of the first casualties. Are you one of the fortunate ones who has managed to build exercise regularly into your life? Well done, mate. You’re ahead than the rest of us.You’re not? Then read on.

    From maintaining a healthy Body-Mass-Index (BMI) to increasing your energy levels, regular exercise has many benefits. If you want to learn more about them, just Google “fitness benefits” and you’ll find a universe of relevant information.

    The problem is how to do it. You have sure tried it many times, and like me, find yourself drifting back into the more comfortable life that features no regular trips to the Gym.

    In my case, I found something that really works. It is John Walker’s “The Hacker’s Diet” chapter on exercise has given me what I need. It is an exercise routine that

  • Takes 15 minutes to do
  • Will adapt as your fitness levels change
  • Helps you move gently up the fitness scale
  • Requires no equipment ( and therefore is totally portable!)If this sounds interesting enough, I recommend you read the e-book (link), or at least the chapter on the Exercise Ladder (link). It may change your life.Good luck!
  • Update : How to love the early morning hours


    Image by jurvetson

    Some months ago I wrote an article discusing how to become an early riser (link) I thought you may be interested in knowing how did I go on establishing a routine of getting up early in the morning and doing meditation and exercise:

    • For the last couple of months, I have been able to regularly wake up at 6 AM without the need of an alarm clock (I typically set my alarm clock as a safety measure, but always wake up before it goes off)
    • I have been doing the ‘Peaceful Warrior Workout’ (link) since the start of this year, at least 5 days a week (and there have been many weeks when I did it every day)
    • I have been doing rung 15 of the exercise ladder from The Hacker’s Diet at least 3 times every week (link)

    The part I have struggled the most with has been meditating every day in the morning. Instead, I have started meditating at night before going to bed. I must admit it has a therapeutic effect and makes it easier for me to go to sleep, but the problem is that I am doing this in bed, and often end up falling asleep within minutes of starting my meditation.

    Do you have any tips on how to improve my practices? I will be very thankful if you leave me a comment at the end of this post with your ideas.

    The world has gone mad: Investing for the long term

    The world markets crashed recently, and we were reminded of the futility of short term thinking. A friend wrote a piece about blogging (link) Another blogger wrote on the virtue of long vs short posts . I read an interview in ‘The McKinsey Quarterly’ with Al Gore and David Bloods, founders of Generation Investment Management, which reminded me of my frustration with financial markets’ analysts focus on the short term.

    Sustainable investment – an Oxymoron?

    Why do people invest? To make money. It is that simple. Most people are aware of the fact that they will need some level of ‘liquidity’ in their investments, in case of emergencies. And for this reason, many investors care a bit too much what the market is doing today and tomorrow.

    But sustainable investment needs not be an oxymoron. Well established principles of investment highlight that the value of a company is intrinsically determined by the quality of its future cash flows. As such, investments in companies that are more sustainable over the long term ought to be also valuable ones to add to your portfolio.

    Crazy stuff: Focus on quarterly earnings

    So why do investment managers focus so many of their decisions on quarterly earnings? One explanation is that the key to success, according to many, is in the execution. Having a great plan for the future is not enough; we must make sure that the executives at the top of the organisation are able to execute their plan successfully. One way of assessing their ability to execute is to observe quarterly promises of earnings, and their follow-through on these promises.

    A balanced perspective: Sustainability

    Yet reality shows us that balance has been lost. Too much focus has been placed on short-term results; and too little on long term potential. Some investors have focused on ‘growth potential’ thinking they are taking a long-term view; but their assessment of growth potential invariably over-relies on short-term measures and evidence.

    A more balanced perspective is required, and Al Gore and David Bloods emphasis on assessing sustainability is a great start. We need more creative thinking that draws from our experience in assessing the long-term impacts of our economic activity. Environmentalism and climate change, with their long-term focus, provide a great platform from which to assess an organisations capability to survive in a changing world.

    Make a difference: help us improve

    This is more of a Post Script (Ps) on the post than actual content, so feel free to skip. If you follow our writing on this space with some regularity, you will have noticed the difference in length & style of this post. Do you like it better; and if so, Why? If not, what aspects of our previous style do you like best?

    You can also make suggestions on topics on which to reflect; research; and write about. I am always on the lookout for new ideas, and your comments are always a source of joy.

    Leave your comment, and make a contribution to enriching this space. Your fellow readers will thank you for doing that.

    Assess your environmental literacy: Take the eco-IQ test!


    Image by diegovv

    A number of things have made me think about the impact I have on this planet. There is the incredible prominence that environmental issues have nowadays in the news; Then there was Dan Millman’s blog post about the impact that my choice not to be a vegetarian has on carbon emissions. And yesterday, I was listening to one of my favourite Colombian music groups (Bacilos), and noticed that one of their songs is filled with comments about the ecology.
    So I asked myself: How responsible am I with the environment? Well, a short quiz would tell me, I thought. I collected a variety of ideas from many sources, and pulled together this resource for my readers. I hope this tool will help you assess how much you really know about the threats to our environment.

    The Eco-IQ Test: Finding out how much you really know about environmental issues

    INSTRUCTIONS: Answer questions in order, one at a time. Write your answers on a piece of paper (e.g. 1-a, 2-c, etc). At the end of the quiz, check against the correct answers, and follow the instructions for how to score.

    QUESTION 1 – When you hear about ‘The Environment’, you think of

    a. Petrol prices at the station and global warming
    b. The crazy weather we are experiencing of late
    c. The plants, animals, and minerals that exist on the earth
    d. Our oceans, forests, creeks, river systems, and the Amazon
    e. All of the above

    QUESTION 2 – Reducing carbon emissions important for the environment because…

    a. If we emit too much carbon dioxide, there won’t be enough oxygen for us all to be able to breathe
    b. More carbon dioxide in the ocean creates bigger waves and increases the chances of Tsunamis
    c. Carbon emissions create a blanket over the atmosphere which overheats our planet
    d. Petrol prices are related to carbon emissions, so more carbon means more expensive petrol
    e. The ozone layer is depleted by carbon emissions and that is a real problem

    QUESTION 3 – More severe droughts and pollution of our rivers are a problem because…
    a. Without them we will not have food at prices we can afford
    b. We will continue to have water restrictions and our gardens will die
    c. Water prices will increase and the economy will suffer
    d. Our supplies of bottled water will decrease and we will have more health problems
    e. More water pollution creates more air pollution

    QUESTION 4 – Which of the following practices does not
    alleviate our impact on the environment?

    a. Having shorter, colder showers
    b. Buying light bulbs of lower wattage
    c. Walking to the station instead of driving
    d. Using clothes lines instead of clothes driers
    e. Reducing infections at home by always using anti-bacterial products
    f. None – they all are positive for the environment

    QUESTIONS 5 – Which of the following environmental problems were you aware of before reading this post? (Tick all that apply)
    a. Global Warming
    b. The melting of the polar caps
    c. The increase in the number of species that are extinct, or at risk of extinction
    d. Global deforestation
    e. Peak Oil
    f. Extreme Weather conditions – especially droughts and floods

    Scoring your eco-IQ test

    Allocate points according to the following scales:

    Response

    Question 1

    Question 2

    Question 3

    Question 4

    Question 5

    a

    0

    -5

    3

    -2

    1

    b

    0

    -5

    -1

    -2

    2

    c

    3

    3

    0

    -10

    2

    d

    3

    -2

    -3

    -5

    1

    e

    5

    -2

    -3

    5

    3

    f

    n/a

    n/a

    n/a

    0

    1

    Interpreting the score


    Below 0: Hommo Ignoble
    Your level of ignorance about environmental issues is unacceptable for this day and age. Visit one (or many!) of the links below; watch the Al-Gore’s film “An inconvenient truth“; listen to the radio programs “Life Matters or “The Science Show(or download their podcasts from the podcast section on the Radio National web site) on a weekly basis; and grab some books on the topic. Then come back and test yourself to see if all of that made a difference.

    Between 0-5: Hommo Indifferentus
    You have listened but not tuned into the environmental debate. With a very basic understanding of the topic, you are missing out on the majority of the ‘big picture’ issues. Wake up to the fact that our current lifestyle is based on un-sustainable practices, and take personal responsibility. Follow the same suggestions as for the previous score, and your understanding of the issues will be greatly enhanced.

    Make sure you take individual action on the basis of this knowledge. Without that critical step, your understanding is unlikely to make any difference – except, maybe, to keep you awake at night, scared of what the future holds.

    Between 6 and 14: Hommo Sapiens
    You have a solid grasp of the environmental issues we are facing. If you are not already taking action, consider transitioning to a more active role in solving our environmental issues. Help others understand why these problems are of such relevance for all of us. Instil in your children (if you have any!) a sense of respect for our planet. Get active!

    15 or Higher: Hommo Excelsius
    What are you doing reading blogs on environmental issues? You already know it all!! Spend your time in your environmental activism instead – it will make a far larger difference that trying to learn about that extra 0.05% that you haven’t heard about yet!

     

    Corporate memory? The human record?

    The human race, like many other entities, operates in cycles. Empires rise and fall. Seasons come and go. And we continue to make the same mistakes many times, over and over.

    As individuals, we can rely on our memory (if we have a decent one!) to remember our mistakes and try to avoid them in the future. Even this breaks down if you believe in reincarnation; under this scenario, your memory of past lives is so tenuous that you may very well be making the same mistakes over and over, like in a B-grade execution of ‘Ground Hog’s Day’.

    What about corporations? I have just been through some experiences that tell me corporations have no memory, despite (sometimes) their best intentions. If we look at the major corporate disasters of the last decade, we could probably find that the root cause was identified, at the same company or industry, as a major cause of concern sometime over the last century. On a smaller scale, we all experience times when we see our bosses’ bosses make the same mistake over and over, especially when it comes to people matters. It still dumbfounds me that organisations with bonus programmes continue to undermine the ability of management to “share good times” across the team with some form of token payment. I am not arguing that the wealth created by a corporation should go to its’ employees rather than to its shareholders. But we all know that management theory argues we can motivate employees to higher levels of performance when they feel they have ‘skin on the game’. Despite the many occasions our corporations have had to experience the mistake of mis-managing these programs and seeing key talent flee the organisation, we continue to see companies making the same mistake over and over; allowing the very few that are politically savvy enough to look after themselves rather than their group to secure the small portion of the bonus pool, whilst the mass goes on with a token excuse for a share of the pie, or even worse, an excuse for why they did not share in record profits.

    But is this restricted to corporations? Not by a long shot. If we extend our analysis to the human race, we find that the same principle applies. How many times will our civilisation have to make the same mistakes before it learns? How many wars will we have to wage to realise that, in the long term, it makes no difference? Boundaries are a figment of our imagination. Nations are intellectual constructs we use to create divisions ‘amongst brothers’. We know from experience we are a diverse race. We know from experience that everywhere are ‘good’ people and ‘bad’ people, and that the ‘bad’ people will defy any attempt at pre-identification and classification (dare I say profiling?). And we also know from experience that no amount of military power will shape a society; it is only in the collaborative undertaking of the political process that societies will rise, and eventually, powers will be shaped. And then the cycle starts again.

    In my beloved Australia, we just held a general election where the long-standing Primer Minister for the last ten years, the Hon. John W Howard, was defeated, giving rise to the labour movement into the prime power position in our political landscape. I am excited by the volley of changes that will result from this election, starting with the first one of which was long overdue: Australia’s ratification of the Kyoto protocol. But I am no dreamer (ok, I am a bit: I always hope for the best; want to change the world; try to make someone else’s day every day – but I digress). I am realistic enough to know if Kevin Rudd stays in power for long enough, that power will corrupt and lead him to re-make some major mistakes of the past. I have been thinking for long enough in my life to be aware that the new powers at the helm will also struggle with the complexity of achieving a balance, and will most likely have a negative impact on our economy, in the long term. In short, our dear country will most likely repeat many of its’ mistake of the past. And to some extent, that is a good thing. Because it is in those mistakes that worrisome linear trends will be broken. New ones will emerge, and we will have a different set of concerns to deal with. But that’s ok. At the point, we will change powers, allow others to undo some of the new mistakes, and make some old ones of their own volition.

    Does the human record serve any purpose? I invite you, my dear readers, to post your opinion in the comments section. Let’s see what healthy debate we can create in this space.