Archive for the ‘Change work’ Category

Four Elements in Dream Analysis

October 29, 2008

Most of the cultures and religions in the world have classified spiritual energy into four categories which are  the heart, mind, body, and spirit.  Jesus said, for instance, that we should love God with all of our heart, mind, spirit, and strength.  In dream language or mythological language such as in native stories the four types of energy are most connected with one of the four elements.   The heart is connected to water, the body or one’s strength to the earth,  the mind  with light and fire, and the spirit to the air.  When you have a dream, what you can often do is to look to the elements that are most significant in the dream and then realize that those represent the areas that the spiritual world is calling on you to develop.

The spiritual world only ever requires that you work on one energy at a time so when a dream presents one of the elements, you can be certain that that particular element is the one you need now.   So if, for instance, your house is on fire in a dream, you can be certain that something is wrong with the qualities of your mind. The mind is supposed to be a source of illumination which requires a metaphor like a candle or other positive forms of light.   Your dreams will try to get you to develop the spirituality of the mind which include things like patience, calm, tranquility, and detachment.  When you have the spiritual qualities of the mind, then guidance and intuition seem to pour in easily.

If you have water in a dream, the first thing that can come to your mind is the need to focus on your relationships.   Water has so many forms in the world because the heart has so many qualities it needs to develop.   It is the least understood of all the elements because it is often associated as a feminine rather than a masculine quality.   It is the quality most spoken about in all of the religions of the world and yet is virtually non-existent in schools.    There is a lot that can happen with water in a dream.  It can be a flood, a tidal wave,  a storm, a rough sea,  a babbling brook, a placid lake,  a drink,  or a fast moving river.    When you have a water dream, it is important to note whether it is positive or negative.   If it is positive, then the dream will be encouraging you to recall the quality that is associated with the dream.    If you are white water rafting and having a great time,  then the dream may be asking you to reach out more courageously to others.  If the you are going down a wild river hanging onto a board and frightened to death,  then it could be a symbol that your relationships are just completely out of control and moving to fast.

The element of earth comes into the dream world when you need to have the qualities associated with strength such as fulfilling your commitments, staying with a project to its end,  developing abilities and skills from the ground up, and doing things that are extremely difficult.      The earth is the most solid of the elements so you may find that you are having difficulty climbing a mountain, which would be associated with having difficulty reaching a goal.  Cars are one of the forms of transportation on the element of the earth which symbolize trying to get from one place to another such as trying to become more competent in your work.   If your car breaks down or someone else is driving it,   it means that you are having difficulties getting to where you want to go.  You could run out of gas or be reckless and crash, or someone else is directing your life and career rather than you.     This element tends to be the one most praised by the culture as we know it because when someone is reliable, trustworthy, and hard working it makes everything in society work better.    Leaders who are concerned about their position at the top will love this quality in their workers, but when it comes to the next quality, air, they will likely be very threatened.   I am absolutely certain that the reason that the earth is so popular over the others is that it isn’t a threat to autocratic leadership.

Air is connected to the spirit which is represented in qualities like enthusiasm, optimism, idealism, vision, courage and hope.   Some of the common dreams involving air are flying dreams,  dreams where you are falling, and dreams with lots of wind.    Air is a lot like the heart, in that it isn’t often taught, but it is much more threatening because it is associated with doing new things which people interested in keeping the status quo do not like.

Here is a list of things which each element that you might want to explore.

Air

Flying is often associated with freedom of action

Airplane is a medium in the air so it represents using your air-like qualities such as lightness and enthusiasm to accomplish goals that are new and a bit more radical.

Falling usually means falling from grace.  Falling from grace comes from not trusing in the Spirit as an extremely positive force that is always supporting you regardless of whether you deserve it or not.   Falling comes when you feel like you don’t merit things.

Wind usually tends to hold you back from rushing forward toward your vision.  The wind should be at your back instead of in front of you.  When you analyze a wind dream, imagine it at your back and then just let go of your hesitation.

Tornado is a symbol of how people take a small rather insignificant thing and then spin it until it becomes really destructive.   Tornados are what incompetent leaders use to get into power.  They find small things in others that are negative and spin them in others ears so that others get really fearful and make that person the leader.   Tornados happen where the values are more earth like the prairies.   They tend to pay attention to small things that aren’t true rather than investigating them fully.

Hurricane is a symbol of leaders who are trying to be god-like.   The association with God is that they originate in the ocean.   This is the same as a cyclone.  Hurricanes let you know that the relationship with God is being replaced by a leader who wants power.   When you dream it, it is a warning.

Fire/Light

House on fire- many people have this dream when they try to use thinking all the time instead of other energy like relating energy.   The mind needs to cool to think well and be objective.

Light:  generally light is the source of illumination.   The negative side of light is darkness which is the absence of light.   When things are dark, it means that they need to be illumined with light.

Candle:  a candle is a soft light which is what you often need to find guidance or answers as opposed to really bright sunlight which may be overwhelming to the mind.   People often meditate to candle light because it has a way of letting you go inside and find answers.  The biggest mistake with the mind is to fret about finding an answer.   Many people don’t realize that the spiritual world will guide you when you need it and will withhold guidance when it is unnecessary.  It is part of the formula of trust.

Forest fire:  a symbol of how wrong thinking destroying growth and uprightness.

Unlike other elements where there are means of transportation associated with the energy,  the element of light requires remaining still.

Water

Tsunami:    Cultural negativity in relating such backbiting, gossip, and criticism that is sustained by extremely negative and authoritarian leadership.    The opposite and positive force is encouragement which is sustained by finding positives in others and acknowledging them.

River:  raging river with a bridge is the problem of getting from one place to another in your life by crossing over lots of angry people.   The key to successfully dealing with anger is to not get pulled into the river.

Ocean:  The ocean is the symbol of the world of God because of its vastness.   A violent sea represents being out of relationship with the Creator.  I often substitute the spiritual world for the world of God. In my mind they are interchangeable.

Glass of Water: is a symbol of getting in relationship with oneself.   When you are thirsty in the desert, you are out of relationship with self.   The great majority of people are chronically dehydrated which has something to do with not being able have a positive relationship with themselves.

Shower is about cleansing oneself or purifying oneself.  Trouble showering means having trouble with motives either your own or others.

Toilet is the place where you let go of negativity that comes in and is meant to flow out.

Rain is a symbol of for what you to assist relationships to grow.   A drought is not enough relationship and a torrential rain is too much relationship.

Earth

Transportation on the earth:  many dreams in this realm are about moving from one place to another such as climbing a mountain,  driving in a car, going on a train, riding a motorcycle,  running, walking, biking.

Progress is made on the earth through effort.  When you are in the air and traveling like in a plane it is effortless, but on the earth you need your determination to go from one place to another.   Much of what happens is overcoming obstacles like big boulders or rock cliffs to scale.    You develop in this area through lots of repetition, doing the difficult thing,  always developing new skills.   If you are in a foreign country where they don’t speak your native tongue, then you need effort by practicing the new language a lot.

Earthquake:  your life if being shaken up, which means you need to get on solid ground.

In the next post I will write a little about buildings such as houses.   I would love to hear your dreams so please feel free to write me when you want to know what they mean.

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A Child’s Dream is Often an Insight into Society

October 27, 2008


“I was going down stairs to get some water. On the way down a statue of cats came alive and were staring at me.  Down stairs there were two purple jaguars circling around me.  Om my chair there was a sleeping lady with Ron from Harry Potter.  wrapped around her arms and Ron said, “If you wake her up she will kill me.” I said, “what” and then the lady woke up and killed Ron!! Then I woke up.

Most things in dreams make absolutely no sense to the rational mind except the major negative emotion which is, in this case, fear.    It shows the main problem of our time that is a warning to this young 9 year old.   I don’t think that dreams of 9 year olds are meant to be analyzed metaphorically by themselves, but the fear is meant to felt so that they can recall it to someone who may help them through the process.   Unfortunately, it is a communication form that is only beginning to be understood so most children have little guidance about what is going on around them.     This dream starts by the boy going downstairs to get some water.    When you go down in a dream it usually means going to your lower nature rather than your higher one.   Going to get some water means that he is thirsty for a relationship.   The problem is the almost universal problem of young people in the world today.  They go to their lower natures, their ego,  for a relationship rather than their higher nature.   When this is done, their lives end up in fear and separation.

As he goes down the things that were statues come alive and start circling around him.    Animals in dreams can either be negative or positive.   When they appear as negative symbols, then the dreamer can turn his live around by finding their positive opposites.   The negative side of cat in a relationship is its aloofness and turning away from others, and the negative aspect of the big cats is their aggressive nature to tear into others.  The dream tells him that if he takes to his lower path that this is what he gets, aloof and distant relationships or really aggressive and abusive ones.   The final symbol is the mother figure who becomes a killer of a famous fantasy character when she is wakened.

A mother is supposed to be nurturing in real life,   but, in this episode, because he was taking the low road, he doesn’t get nurtured, he just sees horror.  The fantasy character lets him know that he imagines really bad things happening when he is on the low road.

It is often easiest to solve a dream by going backwards from the end of the dream rather than forward.  In this dream he ends up in a situation where he is  witnessing the death of an imaginary character.   This means that he can take the first steps to nurturing positive relationships and feeling alive and positive by being in the real world rather than the imaginary one.   This seems to be a major issue with all of the cultures of the world today.   Because the majority of relationships are built on material values, people slip into a destructive world of imagination rather than being real.    Children are just modeling their parents by slipping into things that distract them from real life.   Parents cannot moderate their children because they, the parents, do the same thing.

So the first step for most people and for this child is to be spend more time in the real world rather than in fantasy land.   It is not that Harry Potter is a bad read,  it is just that our culture spends too much time with him because we have become so atrocious at friendship and love and nurturing.   So then once you can get into the real world of friendship,  then you can take on the positive characteristics of the animal symbols, which in this case, would be to create a circle of friendship and pounce on goals that are positive.   The final symbol, which is the cats staring and being statues, is to be like a positive cat, which is to be independently minded.

What I do to get the symbols to become positive is to take their negative energy and flip them around to the positives.   So a statue of a cat would be like having the capacity of to think independently, but just not using it at all because it is much easier to just go into fantasy land rather than real thinking.    Real thinking is to be able to have opinions and discussions about real problems and then solving them.   And you can only get to the point of being able to have true discussions and openness when there is a circle of extremely positive relationships.

As we remember, the first part of the dream was to go downwards to get the water, which means taking the easy or material way to a relationship.  So the key, which is mostly non-existent in schools and in the world is for people to really desire excellence in having positive relationships.   Most people just do not want to put in the effort that a relationship requires.  They want it easy with the other side giving them lots of rewards.   So the main key to turning around the world culture is to be able to have a strong desire for working on relationships and on staying with the effort that is required.   It is not meant to be easy, but this is exactly what this child expects.

Sends your dreams to richardchastings@gmail.com and get started on change.

What I Learned About Power on My Sunday Morning Run

October 5, 2008

I like to reserve Sunday mornings for my long runs so today I decided that it was time that I give myself a challenge by upping the distance to 21 k.   I haven’t run 21k for awhile, but I have been gradually increasing my activity level in the last few weeks so when that happens, the thought of a longer run just automatically enters.   The run was going quite well, but 21k is 21k. (long)   I started playing around with some nlp things about encouragement and relationship and finally power so I thought I would share them here in the case that others might be interested.

The really interesting thing about whether I was dealing with encouragement or relationship or power was that when my inner self was negative, then my outer self became tense and, hence the run became more difficult.   The more positive the relationship I had with my true self during the run, the more relaxed I was and the better I felt.  It seems quite simple and obvious,  but here is how it played itself out.   The nice thing about running is that it is an activity that you can do by yourself and in order to do it you need to have a good relationship with your own self.   So the first issue that came up was that I was trying to get someone else to have a positive relationship with me and then I found my mind trying to play with the pattern of how to get them to have a positive relationship with me.  What I realized was that I could have a positive relationship with my own self, so I dropped trying to get others to have a positive relationship with me and then suddenly an image of me running along beside me as my best friend just popped like we were running arm in arm.   At that point my body really relaxed and I just felt so great.  This was somewhere about 8-9k into the run.   I kept that image for awhile and then another issue showed up further down the roade which had much more to do with encouragement.   Encouragement is more like a positive voice that keeps you going so when the issue came up,  the voice was quite negative and critical and really didn’t want to have a relationship with me.   As I let go of the negative voice I found that the encouraging self appeared on as if it were on a bicycle next to me riding in a really relaxed way.   The encouraging self just gave me a nice plan and allowed me even more relaxation.   This happened around 12-13k.

Somewhere around 15-16k I started feeling really worn out and tired. It was already about 30 C.   I was filled with thoughts about trying to get people in authority in all kinds of situations to become powerful in a positive way to make things better.  This is a huge recurring theme in my life so I knew that since the relational and encouraging work had gone so well that I would give my powerful self a go.    What was interesting was that while the relational and encouraging selves appeared like images beside or near me, the empowered self was inside me.    I could feel it working on me feeling my body and my strength while I was running, but at the same time it was telling me where to relax.   At 18-19k I was still running at about the same pace that I was at 8-9k even when I had slowed down when the issue first appeared.

As I stayed with the empowered self it began to remind me of past runs that I had made at distance and started to get my body to run like those runs rather than running fatigued and slowed down.   So what I gained from the last part of the run was that empowerment arises when you feel your strength inside as if you are very relaxed but also feeling how strong you are.  It seems to come when I can change the focus away from other people’s power to my own memories when I felt strong in the past.

In summary, relational energy seems to be right beside me, encouraging energy is near but the focus is more auditory where as relational is visual and kinesthetic,  and empowered energy seems to be very kinesthetic feeling of being relaxed and strong at the same time that is generated from a positive memory.

If you try this exercise,  first just let the issue appear, spend some time analyzing it, and then let go of the negative energy so that you can acquire some of the positive energies.   Besides the three mentioned there is also a fourth energy, the enlightened self, which is more about guidance.   It has more to do with the issue of not finding your way, but it was not on my journey today.   When you find yourself lost or on the wrong path or on a path that someone else has lead you to, the issue usually has something to do with purity of motive.

Happy running!

Getting the Best from My Self

September 12, 2008

I realized not too long ago that I was really tired of being in conflict with leaders  so today I made the decision that instead of focusing on them, that I would place my attention entirely on going for my own goals rather than fighting against theirs.   As I am writing this right now it just seems so simple to come to this decision, but it has taken decades for its arrival.     I think that I must love the fight.  It is so tempting almost like a drug.     This morning I was about to write one of those tantalizing treatises to them about the worthlessness of what was happening.   I pounded out a few paragraphs with rapid key strokes.    Then, about three quarters of the way through the outpouring I realized that it was high time that I began plowing my own row, swimming in my own lane, my own race.

So instead of having negative feelings and interactions with them,  everything flowed amazingly well today.   All of my interactions with the old enemies were suddenly friendly.     Did they change miraculously?  I think not.    The decision seemed to change everything.    It was strange almost like being in never neverland.    The day was extremely joyous.    I think that I must have put out a really bad vibe to the enemies before because when I decided to change,  they suddenly became friendlier and easier to work with.   Very strange!

So I began to think about how I might get the most out of myself and then a young woman told me a dream that she had about going on a road to an old house where she felt really great.   Well an old house where you feel positive in a dream is a place in your old memories where you feel great.  So I began to remember some of the best events I have initiated.   Here is one.  Look at the two teams just really happy together.

So the next process I am going to work on in getting the best out of myself is to remember positive experiences as if they are still fully alive and happening right now and then just do more things.

Hmmmm.   Think I will organize a big trip.

Transforming the Worst Quality to the Best Part 2 Joyfulness

August 17, 2008

Transformation of an extremely stubborn energy into a positive one is nearly impossible unless it is understood that the negative energy fixed in the ego is learned very rapidly and holds on tenaciously. Of all the negative weapons that people use to stop growth the one that is the most effective killer of change is criticism. It is hard for me to imagine any long term negative pattern of energy that has not been either begun or sustained by criticism. The problem that most of us have, which is about 80-90% according the research, is that we believe criticism much more readily than we believe positive comments. We are much more like to respond to someone saying that we can’t do something than saying that we can. I am absolutely convinced that most of the psychological profession as a whole does not understand how much more powerful even the slightest negative comment can be in creating a negative life long negative pattern. Because of not understanding it I think that there is a great tendency to blame things on genetics or physical things that really have their origins in criticism. There are hopeful signs in the world of psychology, but the power of negativity doesn’t seem to be fully validated in the scientific community as a whole.

The difference can be seen in a great number of schools in the world. When children enter school almost all of them hope for a teacher who is kind and encouraging and loving, while school leaders are usually focused on discipline, respect, and staying in a straight line. A child’s first priority when he or she enters school is never about learning. It is always about whether or not he or she will have close friends. A teacher or leader who focuses almost exclusively on following procedures creates a kind of poisonous soup that leaves children with patterns of coping rather than ones that allow them to thrive. This happens because, when the focus is on procedure and not on the child’s priorities, then the teachers tend to use a great deal more criticism and negativity to control children. Of course, the best methods combine the priorities of the child with great organization. I think that if leaders would smile more and focus more on their relationships with their staff or students, that people would tend to work much harder. It is the criticism that usually stops productivity and learning because it creates fear and lowers one’s belief about oneself.

What happens when people are criticized, is that they focus on what is being said such as, “you are so lazy”, then they believe what others tell them, and then they stop acting. What most people do not realize is that in the environment of the poisonous soup which is what most families, workplaces, and schools are, that it only takes a person one comment to believe the negative statement. Then they are finished. Unless we understand how powerful the negative messages are, we have a huge tendency to undervalue their force. It is not easy believe that one comment can stop progress, but it happens all of the time.

The key to change is actually not in the future, but in the past. What we need in order to change anything is first a set of very strong memories of experiences that are positive in our past. As soon as we are criticized, the tendency is to lose our memory, focus on the negative, believe it and then stop. When we have positive memories, then we become inspired by them and then set new goals and go after them. Criticism creates tension and stress, whereas remembering positives allows you to relax and energize. The process of helping yourself or others to remember positives is called encouragement. The way to practice encouragement is to be looking for positives and then acknowledge them. 90+% of the world do exactly the opposite. They look for the negative and do self criticism and criticism of others and then they stop their growth. It is deadly.

The key to change is to recover positive memories and then to acknowledge them. The question I can ask myself is, “What did I do positive today?” This question will end up inspiring me and giving me motivation to set more challenging goals and go for new things. Most leaders have the procedure of inviting you into their offices to tell you what you did wrong, so then, because they have the power to fire you, you make the negatives much larger than they are, and then you become paralyzed from change. People change when they remember the positives about themselves. Positives tend to be remembered when they are acknowledged. You can self acknowledge positives by reviewing them each day in your mind and then even recording them.

The poisonous soup that destroys a person’s ability to go after meaningful goals is created primarily by one emotion, jealousy. Jealousy is the feeling one gets when something that you have is under threat of being lost. While it is often associated with relationships such as jealous lovers, it has some of its deadliest repercussions from people in power or authority. In most cultures it is so bad that most people just learn to make whatever dreams that they have much smaller. What happens to leaders who are plagued by jealousy is that they usually have risen to the top through negative means such as criticism of a current regime or boss. When they are in power, they are in constant fear of someone from lower ranks taking over their position because this is how they came to authority and power. When you perform extremely well in a job or in your family, you are more likely to get criticized and harassed than when you do mediocre work because as soon as you get recognition for your efforts, the leader will become fearful of losing his position.

In most families jealousy takes over because the mothers feel like their children are going to take some of their power, authority, and recognition when they do well. So then they criticize them more and more even if their children are the very best. What most people have learned to do culturally is that when a leader becomes jealousy, to automatically turn on the mediocre button by making their aspirations smaller and hiding in the woodwork. If you have ever been in a situation where a leader flexes his power against you personally out of jealousy, you can just watch others pull away from you and lower their goals so that they also do not become victims.

Sometimes jealous leaders like to single people out to get temporary recognition such as when a huge amount of resources are invested in a few athletes so that they can win gold medals, while almost nothing is spent on the development of the group as a whole. As soon as you have won your gold medal and are no longer useful, then you will be discarded along with the rest. Usually it is when you are most successful, that jealous leaders turn on you.

I am very convinced that in order to believe that you can change what is the worst or the weakest part of your character that you also must be able to deal with the fact that transformation is such a threat to the way that leadership is in the world that you are going to be seen as a huge threat. If you think that most psychologists actually want you to have a huge transformation, you just have to wake up and see that a big change is a huge threat to them primarily because they have amassed a certain amount of power based upon their position. When people have a position of power, they often get hooked into their own ego which then entices them to use power over others rather than developmental principles and research. People in a position of power more often than than revert to power over more positive energies because they become to attached to recognition that the position gives them and also become addicted to the power.

To change yourself it is important to avoid the great temptation of getting into the power struggle. People in position are looking for a chance to exercise power because of its addictive quality. The more they use it, the more addicted they become. They don’t mind losing relationships with people because what they after is the high that power gives them. The huge problem that I have had dealing with people with power issues is that I always want to get into a fight with them because I think I have better weapons that are based upon positive principles, but I have always lost. You can’t deal with power hungry people by getting into a fight with them. You will always always always lose. There is a solution, however, and it is quite surprising.

The energy that ego power cannot deal with it at all is the virtue of joyfulness. What I have usually done which has been a complete disaster and failure is to see inside myself that I have a higher spiritual principle as well as the scientific research to back up my logic. When I get into with the people in position, they normally use two arguments against me. First is that I am causing disunity by not agreeing with them, and second, that the organization is not ready for change. They usually act on the disunity clause. “You are either with me, or you are against me.” It is hard to fully appreciate the use of power, however, unless you understand that it is addictive and people in power get a drugged response from using it. You are not allowed a differing opinion because they do not want change. My problem has always been that I believe that I can win the fight, but I lose because it is not about principle, it is about power.

Joyfulness is the virtue of really allowing you to be totally involved in the present tense. People oriented toward power attempt to cut off the future mostly by the threat of termination. They have no weapon for the present tense. Joyfulness allows you to take advantage of what is available and make it much more positive than was ever dreamed possible. Whatever situation you are forced into in life by reason of the injustices of power or greed, joyfulness, if used fully, can find a way to take advantage of the current situation and make it so positive that it changes everything. You can only take full advantage of the virtue of joyfulness if you can submit to the present tense and what is available now. What power leaders take advantage of is that most people cling to hope when the appropriate solution is joy.

Hope is the virtue of seeing a positive change in the current leadership, which is ok to have if there were not power hungry people ruling things, but they are so good at destroying hope and getting so high on it, that to cling to it just causes pain. The present tense can give you huge energy stores by taking advantage of what is available now rather than sitting and waiting for some benevolence that is never going to come. The present tense is where it is at, but it needs to be realized that not every possibility is available in the present. The set of all possibilities are available in the future, but in the present tense one must look for what is available and then act fully into it. By acting fully in the present tense with great joy the jealous leaders become befuddled because they get the drugged effect from cutting off the future.

The hard thing to do in the present day world is to actually increase activity with joy because one tends to become demoralized by injustice and ego power. It should not be surprising that depression started becoming a trendy mental problem at about the same time when the salaries of leaders in comparison to other workers went sky high particularly in the U.S.. It is well known now that a strong middle is what makes a strong economy and a stable country, but people at the top tend to love their power and like using it. Still is acting with joy in the present tense, huge joy, that power can do nothing about.

If the worst quality in the world is bad leadership trying to maintain things as they are for their advantage and then using power as a drug, then the best quality is acting with joy and increasing positive activity.

Who is Controlling the Future?

August 3, 2008

Last week, our 4th grandchild, Will Shoghi Heins-Hastings, made his transition from the world of the womb to the outside world. I wrote about this in the last posting. Being there at Will’s birth made an impression on me that I cannot put to words because there is nothing quite like holding a newborn. Right now he has nearly no muscle tone, no language, and no outer abilities to make his mark in the world. He relies totally on the his mother for his very life, but when I held him, I felt at complete peace with the world. It was as if time stood still or ceased to exist. I couldn’t get enough time with him, with the feeling of peacefulness and timeliness

It is an extraordinary process and I am left in awe. As my peacefulness gives way to the realities and pressures of everyday life I wonder and worry for the future of my grandchildren because I am absolutely certain that the world we have created is not ready for all of their talents. There is Isabela who is turning 5 and entering school shortly. At her tender years she already has an amazing talent to see a possibility and then put it into action, and with each passing moment she is mastering the art of cooperating with those around her so that the plans are mutually beneficial to all and not just self centered. I am not so naive as to believe that any school encourages the talent of taking initiative or of cooperating with others.

And then there is Diego. Who is controlling his future? At 2.5 years he already has mastered the quality of tenderness and is a classic example of leading with the right brain, his feelings, and with his hands. What will happen to him when he has to trade his right brain for his left or his feelings and hands for his mind? Will there be some support for him?

Olee is about the same age as Diego. You can see in Olee that he is already very sequential and logically oriented. He is not a fast processor because it takes a long time for things to line up. He spends an enormous amount of time on a single thought which mean that long after everyone has moved on or thinking about something else, he has a new insight into the first thought. Will Olee be given the time he needs to process? I wonder.

In the world as it exists now it seems to me that my grandchildren will face tremendous pressures to give up their talents so that they will live out someone else’s dream. They will be asked to live a future that someone has decided for them that is mostly driven by self-interest and materialistic priorities. No matter how great we are at parenting and grandparenting, their challenge will be to maintain who they are, develop their initial talents in a huge way, and then develop new capacities that have never appeared on the planet before in the face of selfish, bigoted, and conservative forces.

What we can do, what every parent or grandparent can do is gain more control of the future. Right now it doesn’t belong to us nor does it belong to our children’s talents and abilities. The first step is to see the positive abilities that our children have and to recognize and acknowledge them on a daily basis. And once it is clear where there is a positive quality then it we can begin to influence its future expression by providing environments for its development and guiding the interactions within those environments. We can actually change who controls the future from materialistic and selfish leaders to our own true selves. We can see who are children are and then guide them to a very positive future by taking over control of their environment rather than leaving it to the current culture. It is a very active process, not a passive one.

You can take your child to a climbing gym instead of the mall, for instance. Instead of just thinking about getting into a good university, we can think of where in the world our children could go to have real life experiences that could teach them the things that don’t exist in books. The future is ours for taking. Will’s birth has taught me that the time is now.

JFK Quotes

April 15, 2008

In my last post I mentioned seeing a newspaper article about JFK in the interview room of a newspaper in Sabah so I decided to look up a few quotes from JFK and post them here.  Enjoy them.

A child miseducated is a child lost.

A man does what he must – in spite of personal consequences, in spite of obstacles and dangers and pressures – and that is the basis of all human morality.

A nation which has forgotten the quality of courage which in the past has been brought to public life is not as likely to insist upon or regard that quality in its chosen leaders today – and in fact we have forgotten.

A nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.

Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.

Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.

Do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger men.

If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.

If art is to nourish the roots of our culture, society must set the artist free to follow his vision wherever it takes him.

If we cannot now end our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity.

Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.

Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.

Our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal.

Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity.

The problems of the world cannot possibly be solved by skeptics or cynics whose horizons are limited by the obvious realities. We need men who can dream of things that never were.

Those who dare to fail miserably can achieve greatly.

Unconditional war can no longer lead to unconditional victory. It can no longer serve to settle disputes… can no longer be of concern to great powers alone.

We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch – we are going back from whence we came.

When power leads man toward arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations. When power narrows the area of man’s concern, poetry reminds him of the richness and diversity of existence. When power corrupts, poetry cleanses.

Let us think of education as the means of developing our greatest abilities, because in each of us there is a private hope and dream which, fulfilled, can be translated into benefit for everyone and greater strength for our nation.

And so, my fellow americans: ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country. My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.

What’s Missing In Self Discipline is Usually the Self

March 31, 2008

If you go to almost any school in any place on the planet and ask teachers what virtues they would like to see their students have more of,  they will inevitably say self-discipline, respect, and responsibility.    If you ask a group of youth to identify areas in life where they are the weakest,   they will overwhelming say that they lack self discipline.   It teachers and parents want it more from young people,  why is it that it rates last on the energies that most people have?  Why can’t young people have more self-discipline?

It seems to me that when you have discipline,  you will do whatever it takes even to the point of experiencing pain to accomplishing a goal.    When you are doing it for someone else,  you can often have threats hanging over you or rewards in front of you to keep you disciplined,   but as we all know that is not self-discipline.   Self discipline has more to do with accomplishing goals that are set by your true self.

So it seems to me that what teachers and parents and managers most often leave out when asking for more self-discipline, is the other person’s self, the true self.   I suppose it is a relatively new idea in the history of the world which accounts for our lack of success with it.   I think that the historical model is that it is the higher ups on the authority ladder that set the goals, certainly not the young people and rarely from workers themselves.

Whenever I have had difficulties achieving my own goals, it always seems that I am in conflict with an authority figure.  It is as if that person does not want me to have my own goal and then I have trouble seeing my true self achieving it.   The discipline that is often demanded is for their goals, but there is a scarcity in the world of people who encourage others to achieve their own goals.   When you do not have a vivid and clear image of your self achieving the goal, then the discipline mechanism does not seem to be able to work very well.   We can be motivated and disciplined for the corporation’s goals, but not for our own.

It should come as no surprise that the goals of the true self would automatically come into conflict with most organizations at some point for the simple reason that the mess that the world is in right now is the hands a some pretty self-interested leaders.     The problem with being in conflict with leadership or with others is that it tends to blur the image of the true self doing the goals.   The problem with only doing their goals is that it also blurs your own goals.   If you fight, you lose, and if you give in, you also lose.

It isn’t so much that being disciplined for another person’s goals is such a bad thing especially if it has to be with the well-being of your family, but it should be clear that it does not come under the same heading as self-discipline.   And it isn’t self discipline if your own goal is motivated by the ego such as greed or envy or power.   Hitler never had self discipline because he was a slave to his own greed and power.  The image of his self out there was an illusion.   The difference between an image that comes from the true self versus the one from the ego is that the if you stay disciplined for a long period of time toward a true self goal, the goals that you set tend to have lasting results.   The ego goals are always short-lived.

So it turns out that having self discipline requires removing the fear of authority on the one hand and removing self-interest on the other.   When this happens, the way becomes clear to see the true self as you wish it to be.  Then action in disciplined manner follows.

So first I can do a clearing to see the true self and where it wants to go and then I can for it with a great deal of disciplined action.

Self Discipline Calling

March 27, 2008

I have to admit that when I started to feel the inner whispers that my being was calling forth the virtue of self discipline, it wasn’t something that I necessarily wanted to hear.   After all, I mean let’s face it.  Self discipline is not sexy like some other energies.  When I pick self discipline out of  a virtues pile, my response is to put it right back again.   It is like looking for apple pie and getting cod liver oil.  So here I am struggling to accept what is without one shadow of a doubt the perfect answer to my current situation, but having a degree of resistance associated with it.

Ok, I know the issue.   This is my 30 year recurring nightmare.   I have had this dream 100 times easily where I go back and reenter the Air Force Academy hoping to complete what plays in the back of my mind as failure.  Everything seems to be going well, but then I wake up after awhile and say to myself, “what am I thinking?”  The Air Force Academy is a military university which prides itself on training people to have huge self discipline, but really is  a system of making you fearful of authority so that you will allow yourself to be killed in battle.  Maybe that is a bit simple, but the self never comes into self discipline in the academies because thinking for yourself and going after your own goals in a systematic, disciplined manner is certainly not the goal.  So when I think of self discipline, my mind goes back to the AFA and to the rhetoric and I wonder if I missed something.  “If I were to only go back there and finish,” my mind thinks, “then I  would have what I need.”   Fortunately I usually wake up and realize that they are about as far from self discipline as an organization could possibly get.    Putting them aside I look around for other models.

Model #1  My Mother

When my mother had back surgery a few decades ago, the doctors told her that she would be in wheel chair within 10 years.  Well she decided that they were wrong and then she set out on a daily routine of various exercises to strengthen all the muscles around her back.   She is now 86 and walks so fast that it is hard to keep up with her.  She never misses a day of exercise.  She is a marvel of self-discipline.

Model #2  My Wife

Debby was diagnosed with a torn meniscus, recommended for surgery, but went through one year of a disciplined regime of taking herbs and homeopathic remedies which cleared her of the need for surgery.   Next she lifted a heavy box one day and ruptured a disc in her back.  The orthopedic doctors recommended surgery, but she went through a series of exercise routines that she still does daily.  Her back is fine because of having the virtue of self discipline.  My guess is that not many doctors have  run into the likes of my mother and my wife so they recommend surgery and make weak predictions.  If there were more self disciplined people in the world, there would certainly be less surgeries.

Model #3  My Eldest Daughter

When Erika did her master’s thesis, she used to wake up in the morning, eat breakfast, and then write all day long.  She did this continually for several months.   The product of her work was amazing.  As a youth she used to wake up at 5:30 am several days a week to do skating practice before school.

Model #4 My Son-in-Law, Chris

Everyone knows that my other son-in-law, Shane is hard wired with self discipline, but Chris decided one day that he was lacking self discipline and dedicated a whole year to developing it mainly through an exercise program several mornings a week.   His transformation is an inspiration to me because for the other 3 women, self discipline is runs through their veins.  Chris has come to it through struggle.

What I understand from the 4 of them is that self discipline is daily and while the goal is ever present, the expectation of immediate results is not.   The results come from repetition of acts over long periods of time.    It isn’t self discipline when performance is inconsistent.    It  seems to be self discipline when the tasks are done almost like breathing.

I am looking forward to making self discipline a friend.   I am glad that it has come calling.

The Myth of Ownership: Who Really Owns Space

March 26, 2008

I am writing this post because I had an interesting phenomenon happen to me today as I was working.   When I began thinking about being creative and spirited in my job,  I kept getting a negative image in my brain of one of the administrators and what that person might say or do to hinder the creativity.  As I began to meditate why he was their in mind,   I realized that I believed what most people must certainly believe, that the space belongs to the owners or people who are designated authority so whatever they think is what I have to overcome.

This puzzled me a great deal because I just thought that there must be a different solution.  How do I get him out of my mind and still have a certain amount of respect for property rights?  Well, this is a difficult challenge for me because it seems like whatever I do, he is there.    It turns out that what this person really cares about is rules and order and people following procedures.    He seems to spend every waking moment getting people to do things they way he wants.    So if I don’t get something in right on time, he is all over it.

What he doesn’t seem to care too much about at all are the actual creative things I do with the students.   This means that if I get things in on time and do fire drills correctly, then everything else is free and open.   I think I can live with that.   I can give him the 5% attention that will make him not have a heart attack so that I can spend 95% on the students doing interesting things.

I think that maybe the hang-up is wanting him to care more about some other things rather than mere organization, but then maybe that is the best he can do.  I seem to be able to drop him out of my mind by letting him have his control issues, accept that that is where he is at, and realize that he has left open the door of creativity wide open to do whatever I wish.

Another way to say this is that he has chosen to own the way everyone lines up and how to turn in forms, but he has left the ownership of creativity to everyone else.  I own the creativity.

If I enter someone else’s house, I can respect their property and level of noise, etc., but they are probably going to give over to me certain things that I can own.    They can own the noise level and the order in the house, but they usually will share certain aspects like friendship and helpfulness.   I can own the friendship and helpfulness and then use it freely to make the space much more enjoyable.   I can own courtesy and I can own kindness and generosity.  These things I can bring freely into the house as if the house were mine and then the house is mine while still belonging to them.

When I bring in bad manners and negativity,  I am usually not invited back because the owner doesn’t allow that in the house.   It is no longer mine.  In Latin America there is a saying, “mi casa es su casa”(my house is your house), which implies mutual ownership, but it is all predicated on the visitor having a great deal of courtesy and respect for the owner.   The owner agrees to share the ownership because the qualities of friendship and love and warmth that can exist are much better than living in loneliness.

I find it very interesting that the great prophets of God that founded huge religions like Buddha and Jesus and Muhammad were never interested in owning things or property.  They only ever seemed to concern themselves with bettering the space where others were.  Jesus told His followers to give Caesar his due.  They were then allowed to pay attention to the hearts of others.   This seems to be where the real ownership lies.

Who occupies my heart?  I think I will meditate on that.

Maria Montessori Was Right!

March 22, 2008

Over the years Maria Montessori’s worked has received a certain amount criticism for the lack of inclusion of creative play and fantasy. If you are in a very strict Montessori program, even the personification of animals is deemed inappropriate. Well, yesterday I was working with a group of young children on the climbing wall at my school when her idea of having children do real work instead of fantasy showed itself to me very clearly.

One of the children has been bringing small leaves and flower petals to class for about a week now. What I noticed was that every time that he was supposed to climb, he began obsessing on the flower petals and then making up stories about their magical powers. The result is that his muscle development and risk taking abilities are extremely weak. Besides the fantasy, he also uses blaming others if the slightest thing goes wrong like someone else going before him in line.

Yesterday I took away his magical leaf, told him that the magic was in his limbs, and that he was going to climb. So during the climb I went with him every step of the way giving him a certain amount of physical support, but I was there mostly to make sure he stayed on the wall rather than bailing. The result was what Maria Montessori must have often observed. When this young boy was faced with fear on the wall, he wanted to jump off the wall and begged me to let him stop many times. His dialogue with me was about how scary climbing was, but every time he made it to new rocks his dialogue changed from fear to achievement. It is as if he had two voices going in his head, a fear voice and a courage voice. When I was there making him do the experiences, the voice of courage was allowed to start coming out even when the fear was very great. The more he climbed the greater the voice of courage. Given the choice, however, the magic leaves are a much easier route for him because they provide some mild comfort to ease the fearful thoughts. As Montessori put it, the fantasy becomes a defense, a coping mechanism for dealing with the real issue.

Children and adults learn best from real life experiences. Facing fear is an important part of life no matter what age we are. Besides this boy I have had several children begin to cry when the fear was extremely strong on the climbing wall. By keeping them on the wall they push through the fear and then develop strength and courage so that the next times they can do the tasks independently. While they are in the fear it is as if they become different people, but they all love it so much when they get to the achievement and happy that they went through it.

So many adults have just seemed to give into their fears these days and then allowed their children to follow. Of course with adults the fantasy is a whole way of life which includes all kinds of sophisticated strategies of avoidance which people call living. The center of the fantasy seems to be anchored by alcohol and sex. Women also seem to go for shopping and men seem to go for obsessing on their teams winning to get away from facing life. Children have TV and video games, but the real life story of the boy on the climbing wall shows that the fantasy life is a way of coping with fear that is very temporary at best. Maria Montessori was right. Let’s get real and go after our fears.   We just need some support to stay in the experience.

Magic of Children’s Dreams

March 14, 2008

“About a week ago I dreamt that I was flying and then I went on an amazing adventure and it was so wonderful. And then suddenly, in my dream, I went back home and something terrible happened. It woke me up and when I tried to go back to sleep and remember the great adventure, I could only remember the terrible thing.”

This dream was told to me this morning by an 8 year old girl in my wife’s grade 3 class. Debby invited me in to speak about dreams to her children for about an hour today. They just kept telling one dream after another mostly nightmares the whole time and when I had to leave, they just begged me to stay longer so that they could share a few more dreams.

I started the post with the adventure dream because it happens to so many children and so many people. It is really worth writing about. When I explained it to the them, I told the girl that flying and having an adventure meant that inside of her, the part of her that relates to the future is very strong. Flying and adventure are symbols that relate to the future. Lots of children fly in their dreams and they love going on adventures, but what happens to her is what happens to a lot of real life dreams that children have.

When she goes back to her home, something terrible happens. If I would have had the time, I would have taken her aside and asked her about the bad thing in real life. She almost told me in front of her friends, but it is easy enough to guess. Most likely it is the terrible thing that happens to many children, the separation of their parents. In her true self she is a strong adventurer, but like most children, what she needs to keep adventuring is a strong support and encouragement system at home so she can be that way. When something terrible happens, then children get stuck in the past, in the memory of the terrible thing, and then they fear it happening more, and then they can’t venture forth very well.

A positive future works well when the past is supportive. Parents and grandparents represent the past for a child so when they are supportive, then the child can move freely into the future as if it were a great adventure.

This dream shows the difficulty of childhood. The only thing that really holds her back is the bad memory of the terrible thing because she believes that the terrible event will keep her from going forward in life. It doesn’t have to prevent it, but it is difficult to convince a child that. What she needs is adventures, as do most children, because that is where they get all of their new learning. If you know children who have had bad things happen to them, all you really have to do is be there with them to take them into wonderful places in the future. The more they do in the future, the more that they can understand and be told that bad things happen all around, but they can be left behind and then they can move forward in really positive ways.

That is a great lesson for me also. Ok I am off to an adventure tomorrow, but first I am going to leave a bad memory behind.

Raising the Bar Means Raising the Participation

March 14, 2008

On the playground at my school we have a set of monkey bars and rows of rings that students can play on to develop their upper body strength.   This year I set the goal for all of my kindergarten students to be able to do the rings and monkey bars.   Since they are both suspended off the ground, the students  always have to face the threat of falling, which happens all the time.  It is about a two foot drop so it is very rare that anyone feels hurt.    Nonetheless, the fear factor has kept a certain percentage of the children from really going after the goal.  Today something really great happened.  In one of the classes,  a group of girls decided that this was their day.   All 5 of them made it across the rings and then they came running over to me to announce their triumph.

There is nothing really all that technical or difficult about the teaching.  First  I have the belief that all of my 5 year olds want to make it across the bars even if they say they don’t.  When the students say they don’t, they are talking out of their fear or the messages inside already that say they can’t because of their size and lack of strength.   I just say to myself everyone can do this and everyone wants to.

When people say no to activity like running or walking or trying a new sport,  the no usually is coming from fear.   Inwardly everyone wants to participate fully in life because this is what it means to human.   What I am learning this year from my 5 year olds is that I can turn down the volume of the no or just not listen to it at all.   When I am feeling fearful about doing something new which makes me hold back, I understand now that it is the fear in me that is doing the talking and not the active, participatory full of life part.

The fear has many names and voices like the fear of making a mistake and being laughed at, the fear of not being very good even though I put in a hard effort, the fear of being turned down by others, the fear of being injured physically or emotionally, the fear of being put down, or the fear of looking bad.  What I realized recently was that the fear can have a strong voice in me and it can often win.   So instead of listening to the strong voice of fear I can turn off the volume and instead see the part of me that loves to participate more and go for it in myself and others.

In the country that I live in right now, Malaysia, I find, that despite it being a democratic and pluralistic society,  most people are not encouraged to give their opinions or express their creative ideas for the betterment of the group.   In fact it seems to have been quite discouraged as it has in other parts of the world.   Whenever I do a workshop in Malaysia and ask for opinions, they are not forthcoming immediately as they would be in North America because there is still a great deal of fear associated with participating in a democratic way.   In authoritarian cultures people hold back their opinions to protect themselves from getting shot.   Transitioning from an authoritarian form of culture to a participatory one is not without its challenges because when someone has a good idea, they keep it to themselves out of fear even if the authority figures are not so strong.  The memory of the need to not participate can be so strong and be so loud that people just hide away.   This was undoubtedly one of President Bush’s biggest mistakes and why the initial armed victory did not bring immediately results in Iraq.  The inward fear that has been sustained through hundreds of years of authoritarian rule is slow to give way because the culture of participation is such a weak force.   One tyrant just replaces another.

The great majority of leaders who find themselves in a position of power and recognition usually make the wrong decisions when it comes to participation.   Instead of being an encouraging force they tend to a stifling force because when a culture in an organization or country moves toward more participation it automatically means that power is shared.   This is much better for a culture because it means that more people can become more capable and do much more.    It is simple when you think of it in terms of a running race.  In an authoritarian culture the only runner is the leader.  Everyone else sits around a watches and only does stuff to support that leader’s run.   Well you end up with one person with a lot of ability and everyone else with very marginal abilities.     In a participatory culture everyone runs and everyone’s running is valued and recognized even the last place person.   The leaders do everything they can to mobilize everyone into running so that they can all become better.   It is pretty simple.

If you are a leader and you are at a meeting to discuss the future of your organization,  you can take a look around and see how many people are participating in the decision making and betterment of the organization and then you can just find ways to encourage more people to participate.   Its easy.

Successful Events #3 Solving the Worst Problem

March 7, 2008

When I was a principal of an elementary school,  I used to meet with individual teachers quite often.   Inevitably the question that I would ask them to answer was to identify for me the worst problem that they were having in there class because I knew that if they solved the worst problem everything else would get better.   No one gives much attention to the minor problems or puts much energy in them, and no one goes to therapy for relatively easy things to solve.    We all want to have the big stuff dealt with.   I learned that the best way to start working on the worst problem with teachers was to just ask them what it was.   They always told me.

The logic for dealing with the worst problem is quite simple.   The worst problem creates the greatest amount of negative energy in a group or event or meeting or in oneself.   When you solve the worst problem,  it automatically invigorates the environment of the meeting with positive energy.     Most of us have the problem of having to attend meetings that are largely one-sided, that is, they are planned by leaders who have their own agenda to meet their own self interests.    We are the ones excluded from the meeting because they are not thinking about us.   They are not anxious to hear our most pressing issues because they are only interested in addressing their own issues related to their own desires.  It is pretty sad, but that is the way most events are run.

If you are in charge of meeting,  then the planning process is simple.   For instance, some times I am asked to plan a meaningful event for a holy day.  So I ask myself who is likely to be most excluded or have the most difficulty at the event.  Usually it is children, but it could be someone who doesn’t speak the language very well.    For some reason, as soon as I include the children by making the stories more visual or simpler or add a lot of activity in the event, then everyone loves the event because prior to that the children were the big problem that took focus away from having a meaningful experience.

The world’s worst problems seem to be connected with leaders who have nothing but self interest so that  the ability to plan successfully is often usurped by their selfishness or undealt with fears.   When I give into their fears, the events become diluted and lose the vitality necessary to make them successful.   Most leaders don’t want to have to deal with the most difficult problems people are facing, and the further down you are on the economic or or social ladder,  the less agenda time you will get.     What leaders want is for  recognition and resources to flow to them.   What I found by asking teachers what their greatest problems were, was that most of the problems weren’t even in the classrooms, but at home or in a personal relationship.  So then I would talk to them about their relationships outside of school and then suddenly their teaching would get a lot better.    It is so simple.   Positive energy is positive energy.   When it is released, it affects everything in a positive manner.

My worst problem in my classes  nowadays tends to be children who are trying to get undue attention.  It is not surprising since that is the world’s model of behavior right now in shows like ______________Idol or Amazing Race or Fear Factor.     When I give them a small amount of discipline so that they can refocus on tasks instead of trying to show off and get everyone’s attention, then the whole class suddenly works extremely hard.    The positive energy goes to achievement rather than to “look at me”.

Well, it is pretty hard to discipline an out of control leader, but you can attend to areas where they are not.   The world’s leadership doesn’t like to pay attention to people who have been the most excluded because the leaders are the ones who have made them that way.    However, since the leaders are not paying attention to the most excluded, it means that the work there will improve the fastest when it is attended to and the benefits will generalize to all parts of society.   Just ignore the leaders and go for the real issues.  This seems to be the key to success these days!

Successful Events 2: Keep the Big Mouths Shut

March 5, 2008

A few years ago I attended a wonderful physical education conference in Rio de Janeiro. Besides myself and a couple of other people the entire conference participants were Brazilians. The wonderful thing about the conference was that it was highly participatory. We did outdoor problem solving courses, martial arts, and ultimate frisbee to name a few. However, part way into the conference someone gave a lecture on something that I can’t remember. During the lecture about 50% of the group was sleeping. I remember everything about the other workshops that were active, but I can’t even recall the subject in the lecture.

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People rarely remember the words of even the greatest speeches and the most important ones that have ever been spoken are often very short. People remember the events where they were able to participate fully. If there is to be speaking, it is much more effective in small groups where everyone has an equal voice and where they are able to share personal things.

Last year I sent one of my volleyball teams to a local tournament. After about 30 minutes of play, the whole tournament stopped, some dignitary walked in and proceeded to speak for about 40 minutes. As hard as I try I cannot think of a more ridiculous way to plan an event. Who cares what he has to say? The players certainly don’t. Who was he speaking to? The air?

My rule is simply this. Very few speeches and lots of interaction and activity. I think about planning an event as if the group were 5 year olds. I have 5 minutes at the most for talking before they need to get involved in activity. How many times have you gone to boring events where people just get up and give speeches in order to self-glorify themselves? The days of long speeches are long gone. Let’s get over them.

One of my real pet peeves these days are the LCD projectors where people hook up what they are going to say to a computer and then project it for everyone to see and then they read it. What an abuse of good technology!!!! I think they were designed to show interesting pictures, not boring outlines.

The key to planning events is getting people involved and the best way to keep people from being involved is through a lot of speeches. It is how to put people to sleep. Let them have a real experience!!!!

Who Do You Work for?

February 4, 2008

I just spent more than 30 hours during the weekend as a tournament director for a high school tennis tournament in which 9 schools from all over Southeast Asia participated. At the end of the day there were more than 200 sets played. We began our days at 6:00 AM and finished around 10:00 PM. We had just enough time to eat some dinner and hop into bed.

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This morning is a school day, but I am way too tired to be in school so I decided to call in for a substitute for my classes. Before I called in I had some feelings of guilt as if I were so weak for being so tired and not being able to keep on going despite the exhausting days in +30 temperatures managing all kinds of variables including rain delays. The guilt of not being strong enough was haunting me so I began to do some reflection of where it was coming from.

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The question that keeps resounding in my head is that of who I work for. During the tournament I kept feeling pressure from various people to shorten the tournament especially for those who did not qualify for the semifinals. As I felt the pressure I kept reminding myself that the games for 8th place are just as important for those players as the games for first. The tennis players just want to play lots of tennis. They love being on the court. After a rain delay on the first day we ended up playing two hours after the original schedule. At 8 PM all of the courts were full, the lights were on, but there were only 2 official matches left. Everyone just kept playing despite the fact that the schedule was over.

During the second day God stepped in as if to validate my feelings. Just when the final matches were to begin to decide champions and third place, it began to pour rain and didn’t stop for the next 6 hours. The third place matches got canceled and the first places ones went indoors and were shortened considerably so that we could finish the tournament. So in the end it was the 5th to 8th places that got the best court times and had the most matches. It was if God were saying to me that everyone is important, not just the champions. Everyone deserves and should get his time on the courts and when I am doing my job correctly, in His eyes, no one is singled out for more time than anyone else.

But why do I feel guilty about not going to work when I worked such ungodly hours so that everyone could play? It dawned on me that the pressure is to favor the people at the top. Be it the first place players, the director of the school, or whatever head of something, they tend to believe that they should have more time and the best resources and everyone else should serve that end. The lower down the ladder we are, the more we tend to serve whatever they want, hoping that that we will get our time on the courts. They usually don’t give it because they are more interested in their position on the ladder than on giving everyone a chance.

Part of me is working for all of the players including 8th place, but another is just serving the top and their selfish aims without realizing that they have no thought of mine. They just expect me to do whatever they wish.

At one point in the tournament one of the coaches of the top four teams became upset with me when I told him that we had moved the semifinal match up and they had to get on the court. If was as if he thought he should have special privileges and I should give the team more time. I held firm and the team did fine without special treatment. It just proved the point that all leaders should know. People at the top don’t perform better with special treatment. They do equal or better when they have the same privileges and resources as everyone else.

I just need to remind myself that I am working for the 8th place players just as much as the first place ones. I am very grateful that the rain came when the showcase games were supposed to happen. The tournament was a success because of how treated 8th place, not how we treated first.

Accelerating Change By Making Friends with Your Enemies

December 20, 2007

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I have met with many people in recent weeks who seem to have the same brutal energy affecting them strongly when they are in the midst of trying to change their lives. They seem to be caught up in the cultural myth that says that if I get enough love, then suddenly my life will be somehow magically transformed into a blissful paradise where everything comes easy. I think it is something like being happy-ever-after.

There is only one problem with the strategy. It doesn’t work. Whenever I have tried to get love from someone else or in a relationship, the very best I ever have is a temporary feeling that feels great for a very short time not unlike a drug. As soon as the person is not there or has to deal with their own problems or is busy trying to get the same from you, then we both end up in a sea of negative emotions. This idea that someone else is going to somehow fulfill me or two halves make a whole, etc., etc., is so difficult to break out of because it is just so prevalent.

I am not sure how anyone ever makes it through this mire. The problem is that we try to grab some warmth or closeness from someone else because they may be very attractive. Everyone else does it so why don’t I do it too? That seems to be how most of us think. The other day I was thinking that if getting love from someone else is only a temporary thing which doesn’t end up working in the long run, then maybe the place we haven’t looked for true joy and happiness is in the process of dealing with our enemies.

Let’s face it. Our friends can’t be there all the time to give us our fix of love and support, but who always seems to be there rain or shine is our enemy. Our enemies are so faithful that even when they aren’t there, they are stuck in our minds. What do most people do when they are with their friends or come home from work? They complain about their enemies whether it be a colleague or a boss or our spouse or the leader of the country. In fact the more you think about it the more enemies act like how you want your loved ones to act. They stick to you like glue and are there rain or shine. Hmmm.

I have to say that my arch enemy for as long as I can remember is authority figures. Bad authority seems to follow me around like flies to …. you know what I am talking about. And I seem to love to keep them as the enemy. They are so convenient. I love to go after new ideas and make changes wherever I am, but the authority figures seem to love keeping things as they are evoking conservative strategies so that they can hold tightly to the reigns of power and control. Why won’t they just go away? Why do they show up wherever I am?

I know the answer. Not too hard to figure out actually. The answer is that inside of me I am a closet conservative right winged control freak at least there is an energy inside of me that acts that way even it is not a part of my identity. So if I am to change it, I can be, instead of an enemy who fights it, like its best friend who listens patiently, non-judgmentally, and shows unconditional love. After all, if I am holding onto not changing, trying to stay in one place, then I need the closest of companions to help me through this energy. It isn’t that being a control freak is acceptable to me, but it is more that being a friend to the energy will allow to do what it really wants to do which is to change into something that is wildly radical.

I think I get it. On to some reflection, deep process.

This quote really helps me out when I think of the process of change.

Recognize your enemies as friends, and consider those who wish you evil as the wishers of good. You must not see evil as evil and then compromise with your opinion, for to treat in a smooth, kindly way one whom you consider evil or an enemy is hypocrisy, and this is not worthy or allowable. You must consider your enemies as your friends, look upon your evil-wishers as your well-wishers and treat them accordingly. Act in such a way that your heart may be free from hatred. Let not your heart be offended with anyone. If some one commits an error and wrong toward you, you must instantly forgive him. Do not complain of others. Refrain from reprimanding them, and if you wish to give admonition or advice, let it be offered in such a way that it will not burden the bearer. Turn all your thoughts toward bringing joy to hearts. Beware! Beware! lest ye offend any heart. Assist the world of humanity as much as possible. Be the source of consolation to every sad one, assist every weak one, be helpful to every indigent one, care for every sick one, be the cause of glorification to every lowly one, and shelter those who are overshadowed by fear.

(Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace)

When the Truth is Inconvenient

December 15, 2007

The other day I was having lunch with some of my Chinese Malaysian colleagues when one of them ask me an interesting question. “Do you believe in standing up for the truth?” one of them asked to me.  It seems like such a straightforward kind of question, but it is often more about wisdom than courage

Baha’u’llah, the founder of the Baha’i Faith answers the question this way.

“Not everything that a man knoweth can be disclosed, nor can everything that he can disclose be regarded as timely, nor can every timely utterance be considered as suited to the capacity of those who hear it.”

In answering the question to my colleagues I told them that saying my version of what the truth is takes a lot of wisdom so, in most cases, I chose my battles where I think I may have a chance of affecting the outcome in a positive way. I usually don’t fight for something if I don’t think my actions are going to make a dent in the way people think.

Having said that to them I told them my stories of being fired when I acted counter to the normal wisdom I would usually display. I don’t think anyone can accuse me of playing politics by saying things that will please the leaders, but I do realize that there is value in holding things back at times.   It is not easy to know when to use restraint  when I want to let it rip.   Most of the times I see that the leadership is very conservative or protective in certain areas so  I don’t go to those areas to voice to many opinions.  If they ask for an opinion or for consultation on an issue in a sincere manner, then I feel I have a responsibility as a part of the group to voice my opinion.   Many leaders are comfortable and open and give a lot of autonomy in some areas and then very protective in others.   Wisdom requires that I study a situation to understand which is which.

There are times when I have had to throw conventional wisdom out the window.   It has happened to me when I am faced with a hostile takeover  of the forward thinking philosophy I am working with by a more traditional one posing as forward thinking.

I have been in three different schools where hostile takeovers have occurred.   These were all privately owned schools, but public ones run the same risk as in the U.S. with their “no child left behind” legislation.   If you have a forward thinking philosophy in an organization,  its very nature will mean that it makes mistakes in its efforts to pave new ground.   The wannabes (those doing the hostile takeover) are lying in the wings ready to pounce because they are so envious of your success that they want a part of it even though they don’t want to do the work that you have done.    They know exactly what to do.  They criticize the mistakes, blow them up in such a way as to convince others that the organization is falling apart, and then walk in and take over.

The first time this happened to me I was sitting in a meeting after the school had already been dismantled behind our backs.   I just stood up and told the leadership what I felt.   It was so exhilarating, but I also knew at that point, that the takeover had already occurred.   Fortunately I was able to find work to continue the philosophy in  a different country.  The hostile takeovers of the other two schools where I worked did not happen until about 6 years into those programs,  but the patterns were all very similar.    At the time that the take overs began to happen, was actually the time that I felt that I was doing my best work, but their untimely intrusion made me throw caution, restraint, and conventional wisdom to the wind so that others in the organization could begin to see what was happening and perhaps survive.  As unqualified as the wannabes are in the new philosophy I have to give them a great deal of credit in how to manipulate opinion and use power and even sound like they are intelligent.   They have the ability to fool many people, enough at least to  get themselves into the leadership.     I was forced out in a hostile manner twice because of the wannabes.    I don’t regret my speaking out even for one second despite being fired and left without the possibility of work for a year afterwards in both cases.    In all three cases the hostile takeovers allowed me to leave one country and then find work in another.   I may not have had such rich experiences if it were not for the firings.

The schools and those who did the firing have not been as fortunate as me.  Two of the schools have closed and the third is down 40% in enrollment.   They turned their backs on the new philosophy and just lost their way.   Their expediency was their own suicide note.

I can honestly say that I really didn’t know what I was doing when I spoke out against the hostile takeovers.  I acted mostly on intuition.   I think that my being fired was already calculated by those doing the takeover so I think that the speaking out may have been aimed more at those left behind than to the thieves who took over the organizations.

Strangely enough I now work in an organization whose philosophy and practice is quite traditional rather than being in one whose philosophy is different than the culture’s mode of operation.    I don’t often feel compelled to fight or stand up for stuff because a hostile takeover would be an oxymoron in a traditionally based organization.    It is not under threat because it doesn’t put itself out there in a culture-challenging way.    So I try to operate here more with wisdom than with trying to save it from a takeover.   Standing up and speaking out has its joyful moments.  There is nothing quite as exhilarating as putting pressure on  wannabes to admit what they are doing.    Wisdom is more like having a mathematics teacher put a very difficult problem on the board and then giving you a semester to solve it.   As you act with wisdom everything and everyone around you changes, but you are not the target of the deficiencies of those around you.

Baha’u’llah’s challenge to us in using wisdom may well be much more difficult than speaking out against an inconvenient negative truth.

Children Are Created to Change the Future and Appreciate the Positives of the Past

December 5, 2007

I have a theory about parenting based upon much of the work that I have done with dreams that the issues that first children face have a great deal to do with changing the way things are in one’s family, and that the last children’s issue are designed to change the culture around them. I am a last child and my mother and her mother were all last children. We just all seem to have a way of not going along with things.

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My mother’s doctor told her, after her spinal surgery, that she wouldn’t be walking in 10 years. That was was more than 20 years ago. She is now 86 and can still out walk almost anyone. She just has a way of refusing to listen to what others believe. She calls it self discipline or having an iron will, but I think that she believes that things can be different than what the culture adheres to and then just goes and does what she wants. Last year at 85 she started doing Chinese brush painting for the first time and now works on it vigorously. That kind of quality is much more than self discipline. It is just looking the culture in the eye and saying, “Get out of my way. You have no business in my life.” I mean let’s face it. Medical school is supposed to be the pinnacle of western education. Thousands of students compete for very few openings in universities, but my mother just decided somehow that they didn’t know what they were talking about. She did let them operate on her which means that there are parts of the culture worth keeping, but she didn’t hand over her mind to the culture. You have to love that.

First children put their issues right in your face because their issues are your issues. The last children suffer for the weaknesses in the culture. It is extremely difficult for us, the last children, not to throw out the baby with the bath water. When I was 18 I was so unaware of this dynamic, that I went off to a military academy thinking that perhaps if I had more self discipline or something like that, that I my life would really be improved. It didn’t take me long before I started to wake up and see that what the culture had created wasn’t working very well and that self discipline was not the issue. What I had a much more difficult time with was how to sort out what was useful and working, and what needed overhauling. I had a huge desire to throw out everything having to do with an ordered life and restrictions because the academy didn’t have much room for things like creativity and expressing one’s opinions. Now I know that there is a great place for being organized and having rules and discipline, and they don’t exclude creativity, encouragement, and intimacy. I personally think that most of my events and classes work best when I spend the time in the organization and have restrictions on what students can and cannot do. When I add creativity and encouragement into the mix, the classes become magical.

What happened at the academy was that too much criticism and unbalanced order began to have a detrimental effect on my character. It forced me into understanding the role of encouragement and creativity, but the negative effects of the academy’s culture distorted how to integrate constructive opinions and order. I was just so compelled to not see their place because of the pain that I felt. This is the last child’s dilemma. I don’t see it that often in first children. They seem to survive the culture much better, but don’t survive their family very well.

The difficulty for us is being able to live and appreciate the positive things in the culture while at the same time trying to change it. We become so dysfunctional by the negative aspects of the culture that we go into a funk that keeps us from doing our part. I just always feel like screaming out about how bad my culture is/was, but I know it has some amazingly positive aspects to it which I can really appreciate. I just wanted to do to the academy what it did to me, criticize it.

Now I understand that changing the culture is much easier than I ever thought by first appreciating and acknowledging the positives around me, and then systematically going after a specific issue that is causing the greatest difficulty.

Juliet is my youngest daughter so I am now in the habit of seeing where she focuses to see what the culture needs to do. If you read her blog, (hoogliart) you can notice that in recent times she has shared with us a great deal about simplicity. So I think I will take her lead.

The “Good” Parent

December 4, 2007

Take this “Good” Parent Test to see if you are living up to the expectations of your culture.

1. I believe that it is the first impression that counts the most. Y or N

2. When I go to the playground, I think more about how my children are going to get hurt so I can protect them than what capacities they are building.

Y or N

3. I believe that the university my children attend determines how successful they will be. Y or N

4. I believe that when my children make a mistake, that I should intervene and correct them immediately. Y or N

5. I believe that telling children about their positive characteristics has a detrimental effect on their character. Correcting faults is more important. Y or N

6. I am a good parent by being vigilant about my children’s faults and correcting as many of them I can. Y or N

7. When my children go out in public, my first thoughts are with how others will perceive them. Y or N

8. I prefer that my children go to Club Med rather than an experience in the wilderness or jungle. Y or N

9. My child can achieve a lot more success by being more outgoing than ingoing. Y or N

If you answered yes to many of the above questions, you are a “good” parent, at least in the norms that are practiced universally in the world. This is what most parents do most of the time and they don’t seem to be able to have an internal choice to do anything different. They aren’t all bad. Being outgoing, having a university education, making a good impression, correcting faults, and being safe are all meritorious.

The problem with this approach to parenting is that its locus of control is in the hands of some cultural idea that may or may not be useful anymore, if it ever was in the first place. The most telling aspect of whether you are being controlled by your own inner true self that has choice 0r by the culture around you is whether or not you feel compelled to correct faults all the time. If you are an obsessive corrector, you have given over all of your control to the culture. This can be extremely harmful to your child’s future.

When Erika, my eldest daughter, was 19 or 20 attending the University of Victoria, she called me up one day distraught and full of tears. When she thought about her own sense of the future and the university she was attending, she could not find a great match. Nothing about her experience was aligned with what she thought she might want to do in the future. She didn’t know what to do. Well when you are a parent and your children are distraught, the great tendency is to become just as dysfunctional and do silly things. Fortunately, at that moment, something inspirational happened between us. I told her that probably the kind of future that she wanted for herself doesn’t currently exist in the culture and that is why it isn’t in the university program, that she should just think of possibilities and not concern herself so much with the university program. It was enough to stop a few tears.

The next day her Spanish instructor spoke to her about the possibility of going to Mexico to study Spanish and also teach some English courses for several months. Then she figured out that the rest of the year she could study art in another part of Mexico. By breaking the cultural mode she was able to become extremely fluent in Spanish and study the style of art that has the most impact on her personal style. As a parent I was lucid enough for a few moments to encourage her to break out of the culture. I stopped being the “good” parent and it paid off.

There were no cultural rules for me to follow to help my children through their university educations. The “good” parent would say to just go along with the system and it will pay off in the end. It just didn’t work. Erika graduated from university with a masters degree and was invited to do her doctorate. It means that for her, there were parts of the university experience that worked, and parts that didn’t. For some children a university education is not the answer because the cultural system is so counterproductive to who they are that it completely stifles them.

When you do not make your own decisions, but allow the culture to decide your fate by following its pattern, you end up being like everyone else in the culture. Some of it is worth keeping, some is not.  You try to correct your children when their thoughts do not match cultural ones rather than encouraging them to live out of their true selves.

On Watching a Badmintion Match in China

November 29, 2007

Playing badminton in Asia is much more than than setting up the equipment that you bought at a $10 K-Mart special and then hitting the birdie a few times during your family picnic. It is a major sport and is taken quite seriously. The dominant country is the one you would expect, the biggest, China. Almost all of the world’s #1s in each category come from China. Last week was the China Open and its matches played to pack arenas cheering wildly for the home team. All of this you would expect like watching the NBA or NHL in North America.

What I didn’t expect to see in China of all places was the rather prominent VIP section which the cameras seemed to show between during every break of play. When the the NBA plays on TV in LA or New York, the camera tries to find movie stars or other celebrities because that is what America has become which it finds no embarrassment in. At the China Badminton Open, the VIPs not only got the camera, but they also were sitting in luxury boxes and were served drinks and food with real dishes in plain view of everyone else.

Watching the badminton was thrilling especially when a young Malaysian woman ( I live in Malaysia) beat the #1 Chinese woman in singles, but it struck me as quite peculiar that in a country whose political doctrine is based upon having a classless society, that  this kind of action is justified with no apparent shame.   The theory of communism is based upon equity, that no one is seen as higher or better than anyone else.  The VIP section  makes it very apparent that the China does not believe its own rhetoric.   In Malaysia there is no shame about VIPs because the country has a king and queen and sultans for each state.  They give them an honored place at events because it fits with the country’s model, but in China the actions do not fit with the words.   What the government is saying and what it is doing are two different things.

I don’t mean to single out China for this kind of behavior because the disconnection between words and actions is certainly not unique to China.  Democratic countries like the U.S. have a great deal of rhetoric about people having an equal voice and equal opportunity,  but if you have a voice of opposition toward your employer, you can bet that democratic values will be thrown out the window and so will you.    We all know that in the western world money and position gives you more of a voice.

The badminton was magnificent, obviously the highest quality in the world.   The mismatch between words and deeds is always settled on the court in sport,  but you have to wonder about having a VIP section in China and what effect that has the people.

Dream: An Alcoholic 5 Year Old

November 22, 2007

Last night in my sleep I dreamt that I was on a path in an unknown place trying to get somewhere. I don’t quite remember where I was going, but it was a social event. Along the way I ran into an abandoned 5 year old who was drinking beer and begging for money from me. It seemed to be something that he was doing often. It felt like he would have just kept pestering me for money had I stayed, kind of like a shop keeper who sees that you are eying and item and then chases you down the street to try to sell it to you, so I decided to leave him.

What is very interesting to me is that I teach 5 year olds physical education so I know a great deal about them and what allows them to thrive. They benefit a great deal from positive attention and chances to develop their abilities in an environment that is both playful and challenging, fun and demanding. What I couldn’t get over in the dream was the alcohol. I ended up abandoning the child because of the alcohol and the begging associated with it. I think I believe that the alcohol is a huge deal, that I can’t reach the child as long as the alcohol is around.

What I am understanding, right now as I am writing this post, is that the alcohol is just coping, that I can just ignore it and do what works, which is to provide environments with a great deal of warmth and energy. Many of my students who come from wealthy families fit into the category of abandoned alcoholics. Their parents work day and night, leave them with unqualified child care, and push them into activities that allow them to end up like themselves, overworked and inattentive. The warmth and involvement in their child’s life are just not present. The children become addicted to video games and TV and the wrong kinds of food and later alcohol to fill up the space in themselves left by the abandonment. As soon as you add positive activity and warmth, the addiction goes away.

It is a fairly simple process actually. The complicating factor is that the entire world culture has become the alcoholic 5 year old addicted to the things that temporarily help forget the abandonment which leads them begging for more money to be able to forget more. My process in all of this is a huge desire to avoid the alcoholic behavior which leaves me out there wandering and not being able to get where I want to go.

The message in the dream to me is that what works with 5 year olds should be the factors that work with the present stage of the world, warmth and positive activities that are both joyful and challenging. What I am having a hard time ignoring is the alcohol in the hands of a 5 year old.

Accelerating Change 3:Dispelling the Myth of Who Can Do Therapy

November 20, 2007

I have to admit that I have been so anxious to write about this subject for a long time. Sometime in the 20th century (it seems so long ago now) it was decided that as a professional you shouldn’t do therapy with a relative or with someone that you are in love with. Who were they trying to fool? It is in the same category of thinking that requires teachers to not get too close to their students less the students become disrespectful. Who invented this stuff? The very best coaches know how to get very close to their athletes and still work them very hard. Getting close to someone is more like a prerequisite for people working hard rather than a hindrance.

My wife and I have been married for 33 years. We are still in love with each other, but that love does not mean that we cannot be objective about our lives, where we are going and speak very frankly with each other. Love encourages frankness and openness. Everyone in our family does therapy together. We use all the same questions as a therapist, go very deep, and get great results. No one has a license.

The logic is easy enough to explain. Intimacy is a virtue. It simply means the ability to get closer to another. Problem solving is about being objective and detached which means putting distance between yourself and the problem.   To be a therapist you need to be able to become intimate to people and keep the issues at a distance, and you can become extremely effective by doing them both at the same time.   This is actually what science is all about also being in love with the search after truth and then doing the searching.  It means bring the relationship in where it has a lot of warmth and keeping the problems far enough out so that you can see them.

So where does the myth of distancing oneself from a client come from.  I am sure that it is not too far away from what owners do when they do restructuring so that they can fire a lot of employees but give themselves a big fat paycheck.  If they are distant from their employees,  then they can become self serving.   If they are intimate with them, then they will be much more willing to sacrifice their own interests for the sake of others.

I am thinking that the clergy have an awful lot of do with our distorted ideas about what is ethical.   What is a pulpit about anyone?

Accelerating Change 2: The Myth of Self Discipline

November 17, 2007

It is June of 1968. I am on my way to the Air Force Academy in Colorado after having just graduated from high school in Inglewood, California. Not long after my arrival I am verbally assaulted by 19-21 year olds, who besides getting mad at me for one unshaved whisker, repeatedly let me know that their indoctrination was much harder than mine. Most of us who grew in the 50s-60s had already been used to hearing that kind of rhetoric from the cultural of our parents who grew up in the Great Depression. They prided themselves in telling us how soft and undisciplined we were and how much more discipline they had because they didn’t have TV or other things like that. Now that I am a grandparent I find that I often hear parents complaining about how soft their kids are because they play so many video games and have it so easy.

What my parents generation didn’t know about us growing up in the U.S. in the 60s was that we all had this huge cloud of fear hanging over our heads all the time of the threat of nuclear annihilation. I can distinctly remember, as a 12 year old, having the thought that our whole society was probably going to be blown up. My parent’s generation had lived through a huge depression where they faced a lot of hunger, and then a huge war where lots of people gave their lives. I can honor the sacrifices and difficulties that they endured, but I can never remember even one time where that generation honored my generation for the constant fear of instant annihilation that we faced. The words we heard were lazy and soft.

It is not surprising that the same thing is happening to the current generation. Parents and teachers still have the same complaint that the teachers and parents of my generation had, that this generation is undisciplined and soft. It is difficult to see the tests and difficulties of a child’s life growing up in a world with so much instability and chaos. What we see when we turn on the evening news and what a child sees are two completely different realities. The children carry all of the fears and anxieties that the parents have only much more magnified.

Whatever we fear, our children fear more. Parents and teachers judge their students quite readily for not having self-discipline, but I think that their perception is wrong. What they should see is that the retreat into endless hours of TV and video games is about fear and not the lack of self discipline. The Cold War and Vietnam made me grow up fearful of dying young. It hung over us and was always present, but no one ever acknowledged, or attempted to acknowledge my fear. The cultural message was that we were soft and undisciplined.

I have grown suspicious of the use of self discipline because the true meaning of self discipline is the ability to have a noble purpose and then to make efforts and sacrifices in order to reach it. Whenever someone uses self discipline as an accusation, I begin to ask myself what they are fearful of. What noble purpose are they fearful of pursuing, what have they given up on, and what is it inside of them that yearns to come out?

If parents can learn to acknowledge their own fears, and then to realize that their children’s fears are a magnification of their own, then all of the judgment can be replaced with honoring the challenges that we all face and deal with daily.   I think we should have a period of silence about the idea of self-discipline until we learn to acknowledge the pressures and fears that we are all under.   Let’s reawaken nobility of purpose before we accuse even one more person of being lazy.

Accelerating Change 1:Dispelling the Myth of Correction

November 13, 2007

There is a huge belief in the world sort of like a pandemic of human behavior that, no matter what the research says along with hundreds of books continues to exist virtually unchallenged and unabated. That myth is that when someone does something wrong, i.e. when they make a mistake, that it has to be corrected. A child could have scored the highest math score in the history of humankind, but the huge majority of parents in the world will spend far more time on teaching him why he should put the toothpaste cap on the toothpaste tube, than in analyzing how he has performed so well in mathematics.

What is it with us that we defy science in order to try to correct everything? What is it about a mistake that is so attractive and appealing that we just can’t leave it alone? Why do we have to take out our baseball bats and beat it into the ground until it gives up and says, “ok, I will fix it?”

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Take the Apollo 13 failed space journey to the moon. Have you ever seen a group of more competent people working together to get the astronauts back to the planet after they started having problems? It was one of the most creative acts of engineering excellence one could ever imagine. Here they were acting together with a pile of things that would be in the space craft, and they brought them back. Amazing! After the landing I am sure that the whole emphasis on all investigations  was to find the thing that went wrong, but what should be interesting to all of us is how they all worked together in harmony and incredible creativity and resourcefulness to bring the crew home safely. Now that is the thing that should have been studied because if NASA could have changed its way of operating so that there was more of that kind of process, then perhaps some of the other engineering disasters that were to come later would not have happened.

One thing is clear. The research says that when we pay attention to the processes that work and then acknowledge them often, people stay engaged in what they are doing much longer and more productively. What happens with correcting is that the words literally pass through as if they were never heard, and then the tones cause people to become fearful, tense, and more likely to quit.

Feeling like you have to correct mistakes all the time comes from a faulty belief about society and humankind. It comes from the idea that people are incompetent and the positions available in the world are limited. If one corrects enough, then there will be a much greater possibility of getting one of the few positions that are available because all of the incompetence will be taken out of them. So the belief goes.

A much more useful belief is that human beings have endless treasures inside of them that can be discovered, acknowledged and allowed to develop in the right environments. Accelerating change happens when you correct only very moderately, but spend most of your time discovering and acknowledging talents and gifts and then giving them an environment to develop.

The tone is always the give away for me. I used to always react when people corrected me like something was really wrong with me. What has changed, or is beginning to change, is knowing that when someone uses an angry or arrogant tone with me, they are the ones in need of the change and not me. When they are angry, they are trying to get me to change for their own self interest. The correction has nothing to do with me, my well-being or my future. It is only about them and what they are trying to get by having me change.

When a parent is angry at a child, the parent is trying to get the child to be what they are not. Positive correcting is not anger-driven. This is always the key because when I am free of anger, I usually have more choice. I can choose to correct or not to correct, but I am not compelled like when I have anger. If someone has a positive tone when they are correcting me, then the advice may be worth listening to , but when they are angry, I am thinking what is it that they want from me.