Saturday, March 27, 2010


Here are my quick takeaways - to serve as tools for personal transformation - from 'The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional & Personal Life', by Benjamin & Rosamund Zander:

1) Shift our focus as well as enlarge our point of view, which often creates or defines - or confines - what we perceive to be possible;

2) Challenge our assumptions;

3) Focus on excellence in performance, instead of measurements against external standards;

4) Engage the practice of seeing oneself and others as a contribution. This produces a shift away from self-concern and engages us in relationships with others, allows us to make a difference...

5) Focus on developing leadership at every level, i.e involving everyone, so that people can generate the ability to lead from any chair;

6) Remember to lighten up, i.e. to take ourselves less seriously; Humor & laughter are perhaps the best way we can “get over ourselves";

7) The capacity to be present to everything that is happening, without resistance;

8) The importance of giving way to passion & enthusiasm;

9) Be the spark plug by tapping into the basic human urge to connect, express, and communicate through passionate energy;

10) Strive for a new perspective of seeing ourselves as the entire game board, instead of seeing ourselves ONLY as a single player on the game board - that's essentially "systems thinking";

11) Embrace abundance;

12) The importance of WE, which personifies the togetherness of all people. If we think about the story of WE, and what is best for all of US, things begin to look very different...


"Mastery does not mean having a plan for the whole, but having an awareness of the whole."

~ OD Scientist/LO pioneer Peter Senge, 'The Dance of Change' (1999);


• Sees the whole picture.

• Changes perspectives to see new leverage points in complex systems.

• Looks for interdependencies.

• Considers how mental models create our futures.

• Pays attention and gives voice to the long-term.

• “Goes wide” (uses peripheral vision) to see complex cause and effect relationships.

• Finds where unanticipated consequences emerge.

• Lowers the “water line” to focus on structure, not blame.

• Holds the tension of paradox and controversy without trying to resolve it quickly.

A systems thinker thinks outside the box.

He understands that there are no right answers, only different paths to the same outcomes. He realises that quick fixes will most likely lead right back to where they started from and thus develop patience with the idea that cause and effect are not closely related in time and space.

He also understands that things may get worse before they get better, but he has learned to take the long view. In doing so, he is able to tap the creative synergy that exists in groups or organizations.

[Source: 'The Systems Thinking Playbook';]

Friday, March 26, 2010


"Nature takes away any faculty that is not used."

~ William R Inge;


The answer, which I have found while surfing on the net, is that it takes some blend of the seven triggers to boost connections with people.

The seven triggers have been defined as "deeply rooted primal means of arousing intense interest", by brand innovation consultant Sally Hogshead, writing in her book, 'Fascinate: Your 7 Triggers to Persuasion & Captivation': (I have yet to read the book.)

1) Lust: the anticipation of pleasure, which we crave;

2) Mystique: unanswered questions, which intrigues us and makes us want to solve the puzzle;

3) Alarm: the threat of negative consequences, which demands immediate response;

4) Prestige: symbols of rank and respect, which earn us status and admiration;

5) Power: command over people and things, which draws our focus;

6) Vice: rebellion against rules, which tempts us toward “forbidden fruit”;

7) Trust: certainty and reliability, to which we give our loyalty;

Thursday, March 25, 2010


"Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up & get to work."

~ Chuck Close, artist;


1. List 10 alternative uses for an everyday item — a brick, a pen, a roll of tape

2. Take a new route the next five times you set out for a familiar destination — the grocery store, work, a friend’s house

3. Pick a word at random from the dictionary and think of all the ways it might relate to a problem you’re trying to solve.

4. Doodle — not just with your dominant hand, but with the opposite hand, too.

5. Explore connections between seemingly unrelated things — for instance, how is a summer storm like resolving an argument with a colleague?

6. Routinely ask: What if? What else? Why not?

7. Make up your own impromptu word games.

[Source: Steve Dahlberg, International Centre for Creativity and Imagination;]

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


"The first thing needed for innovation is a fascination with wonder. But we are taught instead to 'decide.’ However to decide is to kill off all possibilities but one. A good innovative thinker is always exploring the many other possibilities."

~ Dr. Dawn Markova, 'The Open Mind';


“I believe your body is inspired by your mind and no matter how strong your body is, if your mind is not equally strong, you will not perform well….. you will lack the necessary energy. I think
if you set high goals and have interesting things you wish to accomplish, rather than the same dull things in your life, you can have tremendous energy and endurance to a very late age. To me, it is critical to work on things that are new, different, fun and bring joy to you.”

~ Arnold Schwarzenegger, Governor of California, in an interview [dateline: March 7, 2009] with Andrew Slough, writer/photographer from Mens Adventure Travels;


A boat docked in a tiny Mexican village and an American tourist asked the fisherman how long it took him to catch his fish.

"Not long," answered the Mexican.

"So why didn't you stay out longer and catch more?" asked the American.

The Mexican explained his small catch was sufficient to meet his needs and those of his family.

The American asked: "But what do you do with the rest of your time?"

"I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children and take a siesta with my wife.. In the evenings I go to the village to see my friends, have a few drinks, play the guitar and sing a few songs. I have a full life."

The American interrupted:

"I have an MBA from Harvard and I can help you. You should start by fishing longer every day. You can then sell the extra fish you catch. With the extra revenue, you can buy a bigger boat. With the extra money the larger boat will bring, you can buy a second and a third and so on until you have a fleet of trawlers.

Instead of selling your fish to a middle man, you can negotiate directly with the processing plants and maybe open your own plant.

You can then leave this village and move to Mexico City, Los Angeles or even New York. From there you can direct your enterprise."

"How long would that take?" asked the Mexican.

"Oh, 20, maybe 25 years," replied the American.

"And after that?'"

"That's when it gets really interesting," answered the American. "When your business gets really big, you can sell stocks and make millions."

'Millions? And then what?"

"After that, you'll be able to retire, live in a tiny village near the coast, sleep late, play with your children, catch a few fish, take a siesta with your wife, and spend your evenings drinking."

[Source Unknown]

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Here's the link to an interesting & yet pragmatic article, entitled '9 Ways to Ease Your Money Worries Now', from the fabulous HeartMath people.

In a nut shell, the 9 ways:

1) Focus on feelings of gratitude;

2) Be more objective;

3) Shift your focus;

4) Get to the heart of the matter;

5) Don't over-saturate yourself;

6) Take advantage of new technology;

7) Don't keep everything to yourself;

8) Give some $ away;

9) Don't punish yourself;

Readers can also go this link to read or download a companion .pdf document entitled 'De-Stress Kit for the Changing Times', written by Doc Lew Childre, founder of HeartMath.

It provides a few simple practices to help you intercept and manage stress during this period of challenge and uncertainty.


I reckon the following anecdote certainly exemplifies the essence of deliberate practice:

A martial arts student went to his teacher and said earnestly, "I am devoted to studying your martial system. How long will it take me to master it."

The teacher's reply was casual, "Ten years."

Impatiently, the student answered, "But I want to master it faster than that. I will work very hard. I will practice everyday, ten or more hours a day if I have to. How long will it take then?"

The teacher thought for a moment, "20 years."


"When a fish swims it swims on and on and there is no end to the water. When a bird flies, it flies on and on and there is no end to the sky. There was never a fish that swam out of the water, or a bird that flew out of the sky. When they need a little water or sky, they use just a little; when they need a lot, they use a lot. Thus they use all of it at every moment, and in every place they have perfect freedom."

~ Dogen Zenji (1200-1253); 13th century Buddhist monk & philosopher, who established the practice of Zazen in Japan;


"Dwell more and more upon thoughts of what you really want in your life. Close and hermetically seal the door of your mind against thoughts of what you do not want in your life. You desire health, vitality, wisdom, peace, confidence, hope, friendship, harmony, independence, serenity, cheerfulness, happiness, success, culture, and righteousness. Give your thought to these and kindred subjects, since dwelling upon them often and intently tends to make them concrete in your life. Waste no thought upon things you do not need. The power is yours to choose the ideals that shall daily possess and govern your mental life. When your mind is right your life will be right."

~ Grenville Kleiser, 'Inspiration and Ideals' (1917);

Monday, March 22, 2010


"There’s one sad truth in life I’ve found
While journeying east and west -
The only folks we really wound
Are those we love the best.
We flatter those we scarcely know,
We please the fleeting guest,
And deal full many a thoughtless blow
To those who love us best. "

~Ella Wheeler Wilcox;


What would happen if I frequently thought of all the reasons to be happy?

What would happen if I frequently thought of all the ways to show people how much I love them?


"If you once form the habit of selecting and dwelling upon important subjects only, you will have neither time nor inclination for the petty worries that beset so many lives. Anxiety, irritation, despair, fear and the like, are mental, and therefore must be destroyed mentally. As you realize the folly of these habits, you will more diligently strive to eliminate them from your life. They are not only worthless, but a serious handicap in the face for success. Think constructively, and doubtful and discordant elements will fall away from inanition (starvation)."

~ Grenville Kleiser, 'Inspiration and Ideals' (1917);


Remember, if a dog was the teacher you would learn things like:

When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.

Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride.

Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure Ecstasy.

Take naps.

Stretch before rising.

Run, romp, and play daily.

Thrive on attention and let people touch you.

Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.

On warm days, stop to lie on your back on the grass.

On hot days, drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree.

When you’re happy, dance around and wag your entire body.

Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.

Be loyal.

Never pretend to be something you’re not.

If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.

When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by, and nuzzle them gently.


[Source: Joisigers of Out of Bounds, a Publication of]


I have found the following fascinating anecdote on the net, which illustrates beautifully the essence of "thinking outside of the box".

"You are driving down the road in your Corvette on a wild, stormy night, when you pass by a bus stop and you see three people waiting for the bus:

- An old lady who looks as if she is about to die.
- An old friend who once saved your life.
- The perfect partner you have been dreaming about.

Which one would you choose to offer a ride to, knowing that there could only be one passenger in your Corvette?

Think before you continue reading.

This is a moral/ethical dilemma that was once actually used as part of a job application.

You could pick up the old lady, because she is going to die, and thus you should save her first.

Or you could take the old friend because he once saved your life, and this would be the perfect chance to pay him back.

However, you may never be able to find your perfect mate again.


The candidate who was hired (out of 200 applicants) had no trouble coming up with his answer. He simply answered:

"I would give the car keys to my old friend and let him take the lady to the hospital. I would stay behind and wait for the bus with the partner of my dreams."

Here's the link to the original post, where the foregoing anecdote has be extracted.


While surfing the net for the latest developments in peak performance, I had somehow "strayed" into an interesting website.

In it, I had found an intriguing perspective about "mental toughness".

A peak performance consultant, Steve Harris, operating out of the African continent, used the analogy of the fire & the ice to illustrate the term.

"... They embodied the metaphor that I have come to believe is central to mental toughness: fire and ice.

For me, central to an understanding of mental toughness is the seemingly contradictory relationship between fire andice: people who are truly mentally tough have fire in the belly and ice in the brain.

They combine a gut-felt enthusiasm and drive to achieve with a clear and calm cognitive demeanour.

The fire component is associated with qualities of heat, power and assertiveness.

On the other hand, ice is associated with the qualities of cold, patience and unflinchingness.

In the image of fire and ice, two seemingly opposite truths are bound together into a new truth, a new set of conditions where inner intensity and outer composure enable success.

However, while fire and ice can thus be mutually reinforcing, they can also short-circuit each other if they are not held in balance: fire melts the ice which in turn douses the flames..."


Readers can go to this link to read the author's original piece of writing, which also happens to be Chapter I of his book entitled, 'Mental Toughness: The Secrets of Fire and Ice'.

Sunday, March 21, 2010


"Numerous connections are waiting to be discovered today, especially in the business world. We're surrounded by simple
and obvious ideas that can increase our income and success dramatically. The problem is that we simply don't see them."

– marketing strategist Jay Abraham;


"Always leave enough time in your life to do something that makes you happy, satisfied, even joyous. That has more of an effect on economic wellbeing that any other single factor."

~ Paul Hawken, visionary environmental activist, entrepreneur & author of many books;


What questions should I be asking everyday?