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Steve Wickham
Learning Diet
The Learning Diet, Steve Wickham
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Steve Wickham
Steve Wickham is a registered safety practitioner (BSc, MSIA, RSP (Australia)) and
a qualified, unordained Christian minister (GradDipBib&Min). His passion in vocation
is facilitation and coaching; encouraging people to soar to a higher value of their
His specific key passion is exploring work/life balance issues and re-creating value
for living, toward the discovery of the spiritual person within each of us.
As an advocate for a fair, right and just life, he has a passion for Biblical wisdom and
the Psalms.
A former youth worker, he is married and has three children and is passionate about
the development of the kids of today. He has extensive experience also in teaching
and leading children’s programs. Part of Steve’s life call is the breaking of
generational curses in this generation.
Steve also has leadership and workplace assessment and training diplomas as well
as approximately ten years practical experience in both fields.
Finally, Steve believes that we should all strive to fulfill our God-given potential--
physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually; after all, “Life is the Learning
Ground,” and our life purpose is to seek to become the Epitome of Jesus Christ, our
Life is about God. It’s about relationship. It’s about growing passionately toward
God, worshipping Him via the things we think, say and do--a commitment for the
rest of our lives.
At its essence, this involves a continual process of learning.
The Learning Diet — Copyright © 2009, S. J. Wickham. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

The Learning Diet
The Reason Our Thinking Gets Us Into Problems & What to Do About It
One Single Thought Guaranteed to Improve Your Life
What You Think of Me is Absolutely None of My Business
Making Up Your Own Mind
Thinking & Acting on Manual - To Avoid Accidents & Failures
Be The Change! Do It Don't Just Say It
Meeting Your Destiny In The Wonderful Sea of Opportunity — The Art of Preparation
The Gap Between Saying and Doing
Resisting Speaking Or Thinking Negatively of People
Always Act As If Your Acts Were Seen
Three Steps to a Creative Mind
Head in the Clouds, Yet Feet on the Ground - The Perfect Balance
Beat Bad Habits by Engaging "Manual Thinking" Power
The Romance of Motivation and Influence
The Learning Diet Travel etc
Some people travel extensively to learn; some take a particular career
path; some others still take quite eccentric paths in life. If the motive is to
I wonder if many of us make the times these days to really take a learn, neither of these is bad, provided what we're learning is positive,
helicopter view regarding our purpose in life. I know I often promise to do right, just and fair.
this very thing myself and I often put it off... too busy? Perhaps that's just
an excuse. The watch point is simply to view our experience of living as a 'diet of
learning'; this requires discipline to create for ourselves the right learning
One observation I can make even in the flurry of activity that is my life is environment involving sufficient sources for insight, challenge and fun.
we have to mind carefully what our minds are grazing on. Much like we
would do with our eyes and stomachs at a wine and cheese night or at a
buffet-style restaurant, our minds graze; but unlike grazing on food--
which occurs on occasion (through the day)--our minds are grazing all
the time.
We absorb so much, and not all of it's optimal for our 'diet.' What are we
grazing on in the process of our living experience?
The Electronic Invasion
Most of us have a healthy helping of television or perhaps we're
facebook junkies or can't get enough of the Wii? These are not exactly
helpful things in large daily doses. There's a balance in moderation
required on these. A little of each is okay, but it's not a very fulfilling diet if
we live on them. They can however, be a good vehicle toward a little
healthy escapism though. Discipline: 1-2 hours per day?
Friends and Acquaintances
Who of us has decent friends? Now, I love facebook. But facebook can
falsely allow us to think we have a lot of friends, but it isn't really that
good--there's very little about it to create any real sense of intimacy with
people. It's fine if it's used as a connection tool for real face-to-face
encounters. It can't compete with real quality time with friends and family.
Books and Multimedia
There's so much we can learn from regarding books and multimedia
these days, but it's the matter of being discerning. We can either choose
the wrong things to nibble on or we can gorge too much defeating the
purpose of learning, as nothing sticks.
The Reason Our Thinking Gets Us Into Problems & Our very egocentricities are a hard force to resist, and this is why an
adherence and a dedication to the truth (at all times) is a godsend for us.
What to Do About It It's only when we willingly and habitually approach the truth, come what
may, that we begin to see how tragically flawed our sight is.
"We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are." And funnily enough, when we're truthful about things and our insight is
correct for the most part, we establish for ourselves an abiding peace.
—Anaïs Nin (originally from the Jewish Talmud).
This helps us not only see the world aright, but it helps us not be overly
critical and skewed in our thinking and judgment.
The angry person sees an angry, snarling world before him or her just as There is no reason why we can't see things as they actually are.
much as the wise elderly man or lady (from their years of grinding
wisdom) sees a world that's not that dissimilar from what they
experienced back in their deep, dim past. Things are as they are, yet we
colour them this way and that by, and via, how we see ourselves.
And this is the perfect window into the soul and spirit of the person,
never mind the eyes. This is how we gain a glimpse of the person acting
before us.
When we interact with a person who's continually finding fault in things
and never truly satisfied, chances are they're deeply dissatisfied within
themselves and perhaps the perfectionist streak that drives them is now
trying to drive everyone else (crackers!).
Equally, when the person before us is calm and at peace with the
goings-on before them, they see no need to throw the baby out with the
bathwater. They're encouraging; unless of course they see things worthy
of criticism.
How do we want to be seen?
Acknowledging the Human Condition of Flawed Sight
The key default of our very human undertaking is we're all confounded
so much (or little) by our propensity to see things askew. The chorus to
Australian Crawl's early 1980s hit, Things Don't Seem, hits this nail on its
“Things just
Don't seem
To be going right”
One Single Thought Guaranteed to Improve Your -Ecclesiastes 8:8 (NLT).
Life This one single thought is: to reflect over the circumstances, the impacts,
the meaning, and the cost of our death. Each day, every day, we should
spend some solemn moments considering the thought of our imminent
"A warrior thinks of [their] death when things become unclear. The idea death i.e. as if we were to die this day; to-day.
of death is the only thing that tempers our spirit."[1] Death is truth; justice is balance. Until we commit to taste-testing our
I suspect there are some people who get sick of people like me, raving death on a regular basis we won't really know what life is really about;
on about life and spirituality, meaning and purpose; bashing our gums what life could be like. We start doing this and we connect suddenly to a
toward the evangelising of the 'good life,' as if that were the only thing of real world--the suffering world. Our gifts of compassion grow in this
true importance. seed-bed of thought. Our mind informs our heart.
Well, I and others like me don't apologise. We see that there's a great The vast majority of humanity run from the idea of death--scared to
deal more to life than what's readily apparent and this is manifested death, pardon the pun! So, let's add one more virtue for the person
most often by the problems and opportunities that come and go all the reflecting often over their death--courage. This one can't be far from the
time in every person's life. top of the character tree.
There are those who don't want to be reminded and there are those who Something from the biblical sage Qoheleth to close:
do; the ones like me who're incessantly on the search for 'the meaning to "A wise person thinks a lot about death, while a fool thinks only about
life.' having a good time."
"A GOOD name is better than precious perfume, and the day of death -Ecclesiastes 7:4 (NLT).
better than the day of one's birth."
-Ecclesiastes 7:1 (Amplified Version).
[1] Carlos Castaneda, The Wheel of Time: The Shamans of Ancient
There's one thing anyone can do to improve their quality of and outlook Mexico, Their Thoughts about Life, Death and the Universe (Los
upon life. This one thing--a thought--is so easy; but there's one Angeles, California: LA Eidolona Press, 1971, 1998), p. 39.
condition--we've got to approach this thought positively, always. This is
critically important; people might become suicidal otherwise.
This simple thing will ensure our lives continue to gain more and more
context; that meaningfulness will build and build and joy will be the
result, apart from a bunch of other spin-off virtues. We'll become more
patient and our priorities and relationships will begin to make more
sense and will inevitably become easier to manage.
This simple yet powerful thing is a close attendance to the key fact of
"None of us can hold back our spirit from departing. None of us has the
power to prevent the day of our death. There is no escaping that
obligation, that dark battle."
What You Think of Me is Absolutely None of My Mind games are no fun, not for the person suffering them or for the
persons impacted on the other side of things.
We are best to discipline ourselves and hold ourselves to account,
reacting to things only of pure fact. We'll hence be amazed at what is not
“IT MIGHT sound rather obvious, but we can't affect the thinking of other there!
people. In fact, you might even say,
“Tell me something we don't already know, and don't waste my time with
such obvious statements of fact!”
But, there's a practical difference between knowing this truth and really
living it.
This truth of not being able to overtly influence others' perceptions of us
is probably one of the most powerfully empowering concepts known to
human experience. There's a level of true mature acceptance involved in
really taking hold of this.
'What you think of me':
Messes with my mind if I dwell upon it i.e. what I think you're thinking.
Then my perception of you and our interaction is slanted toward a
reality that cannot, in fact, be real--it has "me" all over it, not "us" plus
the situational context;
Is based only on what you see--a separate reality to mine. No matter
how much I try I cannot see as you see;
May impact upon me and will cause me to reflect upon our
interactions, and I can't help that. How I reflect and the conclusions
and attributions I draw from my reflections are my responsibility
Cannot and should not ever become a concern of mine unless it
becomes an issue for you to broach with me--then I need to work with
you toward a win/win outcome if that's at all possible;
Tells me, if I'm intuitive, what I (and only I) can do to improve or
maintain things between us. If I'm 'picking up' anything intuitively, I'll
check with you first to ensure there is a truth basis to it;
Is important, but only to the extent that it helps us to just be ourselves
Making Up Your Own Mind others (unless we're expert psychologists or psychiatrists).
Rather than attribute their thoughts about us as negative, we can equally
attribute these as positives--and therefore reap increased stocks of self-
Far from telling you what to do, I can let you in on a powerful truth that esteem and power to grow and ultimately contribute to broader goals
can transform your life and your self-esteem. Try this and I guarantee through amplified influence.
you'll be amazed by the results of your own pre-programmed auto-
suggestion. I've done it and it's brought me most of the time to the brink
of a self-fulfilled prophesy.
It's simply this: make up your own mind "who" you want others to see
you as, and then simply start to see them seeing you just like this person
you've created. It's the new "you."
For example, if you want your supervisor to see you as diligent and
trustworthy, why not simply start seeing them in your interactions as
valuing you for these qualities. It's amazingly easy to do this if you've got
a healthy, positive self-esteem. (But you can't get a healthy, positive self-
esteem without some act of boldness toward it--just make a start.)
The truth is we do this without thinking anyway, but we invariably slate
ourselves pessimistically thinking others are thinking negative things
about us. And at least half the time it's probably not true. In this, we can
only set ourselves up to fail.
But, instead, we can start to dream up our own destiny by creating
others' perceptions of us. We just need to make sure these 'scripts' we're
designing and writing (i.e. bringing to habit) are good ones based on
mutual benefit i.e. so that they will 'stick.'
Making up our own minds as to how we want to be seen will inevitably
give us the impetus to succeed in life because it will force us to reflect on
who we want to be.
It's your life! It's yours to determine.
We must get to know ourselves and our passions; what we were made
for. This is the essential starting point, for if we know the answers to
these questions the other people in our lives (even our bosses) are just
actors helping us bring our dreams into reality.
Again, I can't over-emphasize... we create self-talk in a microsecond
about what we think others are thinking of us; a massive percentage of
the time we're not even close to understanding the real thoughts of
Thinking & Acting on Manual — To Avoid - "Every time you change direction, whether walking, turning your head
or moving differently, ask yourself the key awareness question.
Accidents & Failures
— "Constantly practice being your own silent non-judgmental observer
or witness."
Every time we have a mishap, almost without exception, it is due to This might appear to warrant an excessive amount of concentration. It
some sort of lapse, error, mistake, calculated risk or violation. If we were actually works in reverse to this. I believe we actually build more
children, we could almost certainly be characterised as either childish capacity and broader focus capabilities when we build our thinking/acting
(unintentional motivation) or foolish (intentional motivation) in these manual skills. It's a mental discipline and skill that almost anyone can
situations. learn if they're determined to.
The trouble is we're all fallible humans. No matter the planning and any And it's not only going to help us not make slips and mistakes with our
amount of risk mitigation we put in, there will still be incidents. Some are safety, it will also alert us to bad moral choices and failures too.
because we intentionally violated the rules; others because we just didn't
think. Some others, further, because others didn't think and we're caught Think of the person deceived over time to enter into an affair. They're
between the proverbial rock and hard place. clearly not thinking manually, logically. They're living a fantasy, which is
heavily contingent on the thinking of both the past and future, but
Natural consequences come to bear. executed in the dangerous present.
It's like me walking along a paved pathway. The slightest irregularity in Also, when we take the easy way out (which is an immoral choice) we're
the butted pavers or slabs is an ever-present hazard. You guessed it, if choosing to ignore the present needs for both ourselves and others
anyone's going to have an embarrassing slip it will be me! I have the affected. There's a delusion present, and because we aren't i.e. present,
clumsy gene. we go blissfully unaware of the fact. Ignorance reigns.
About the best thing we can do to lessen our chances of having mishaps The present holds the key to our lives. It's the place of universal
entirely is learning how to think manually and then do this eventually influence as we create our own futures using the God-given potential we
(over time) in automatic. all possess.
To think and act manually means staying present, and thinking with Embrace it; the present!
focus in the present world context and acting accordingly. For instance,
when we walk we focus on the actual placement of the foot with our
proprioceptive senses alive to all irregularities so our body responds [1] Acknowledgement: Daniel Kehoe, You Lead, They'll Follow: How to
appropriately and safely. Result: no sprained ankle or knee when the inspire, lead and manage people. Really. Vol. 3 (North Ryde, NSW:
ground gives way, or we miss our footing, as happens occasionally does. McGraw-Hill Australia, 2004), p. 74-75. Material in this article comes
This works in every way we use our bodies. The following steps are from these two pages of the book. Daniel Kehoe acknowledges the
exercises for building manual thinking/acting, excerpted from You Lead, contributor, David Deane-Spread, as the author of this particular
They'll Follow[1]: material.
- "Frequently stop and ask yourself the key awareness question: 'Right
here, right now, what is happening, internally and externally?'
- "Every half-hour stop whatever you are doing and ask the key
awareness question.
Be The Change! Do It Don't Just Say It committing to the changes they all see as required-they share a common
understanding and a common goal.
"Be the change you want to see in the world."
—Mahatma Gandhi Change in the home is very similar. If you're in a relationship and there is
abuse or inequity, you want and need change. If you see no commitment
THIS QUOTE IS AN AMAZING TRUTH toward the 'doing' rather than to change, or your partner is simply saying things to appease you, it's a
simply the 'saying'. Ghandi was without doubt one of the most incredible worry. How do you facilitate the change you want to see? You could "be
human beings who ever lived. What was it that he saw in the world that the change" as Gandhi suggests. It's a good starting point. Even more
commanded him to believe this and therefore actually 'do' it? There pointedly, if you are the partner who is the perpetrator of the abuse, "Be
seems to be so much talk and so little action these days; it is wearisome the change" you want to see; actually start doing it one-day, one-
believing people who command your attention when they promise moment-at-a-time. Don't make excuses or put it off any longer: do it now!
change, when you know to expect more of the same. Continuing change in this environment is simple if you keep it that way.
Sayin' and doin'. These two words are poles apart, worlds apart. When Like giving anything up, simply keep going one-moment-at-a-time and I
we've heard it all and seen very little there can be an incredible sense of can guarantee you the forces that seem so powerful now won't be in a
disillusionment that pervades us. This might look like a form of learned month or two. That might seem a way off; focus: one-day-at-a-time.
helplessness, as we see things in our world requiring change in "Doing change" means staying within your sphere of influence. This is so
response to the truth we see, yet there is no change, and may never be important. How many people get cheesed off with things that concern
any. Now that's not a good looking picture. It reminds me of sayings like, them, but they don't have the ability to change? This is a waste of
"Nothing changes if nothing changes," or "What is the definition of energy. Let's explore the remedy. Let's take a look at a unique
insanity: expecting vastly different results from the same methods". characteristic we all have: the ability to form original perceptions.
Perceptions are funny things; we all have them and they are so varied,
We've heard of the Intelligence Quotient, but what I am more interested and even subtle differences place us a long way away from each other. If
with here is the 'Credibility Quotient'. How is a person to become we are wise we'll seek to test our perceptions far enough to say, "Can I
credible and maintain credibility? I'm not going to suggest anything do something about this concern?" If the answer is 'yes' it is something
scientific. But I would suggest that if people say what they mean and we can influence: we can actually do something about it. This reminds
mean what they say, and prove it by actually doing it, it makes a strong me of the slogan World Vision used in their 40-hour famine promotion
case for their credibility, and the efficacy of change. They're easier to this year... 'Do something... Do something real... Do something
trust and follow the next time around. else' (other than procrastinate). There is no sense in getting 'all in a tizz'
Credibility and trust are crucial in leadership. Without these elements a about something we can't do anything about, so if the answer to our
leader will struggle to command any sense of respect with his or her question is 'no' we need to learn to move on, and as the Serenity Prayer
charges. So, what gives with credibility-what does it look like? It means suggests, we need to 'accept the things we cannot change'.
that if you're a leader you must be prepared to be 'part of the pain' of Now, we commence a totally different ball game if the answer was 'yes'
change if you expect to see it work. A leader needs to get in and get dirty and we feel sufficiently passionate about it. This is where the work
with the change by getting involved. Now, this just makes pure common begins. We've done the easy bit, now the 'proof will be in the pudding' as
sense to me, but it is amazing how many so-called leaders simply don't they say. Enabling a change process to the "doing" requires planning,
pay any interest in getting involved, and making the necessary sacrifices commitment, energy and resources. It can only be limited by a lack of
in leading people through a change process. The character (humility and passion and commitment.
respect etc) of the leader comes out when people see them actually
I heard recently that a way to reach your goals was via the "bridge of
self-discipline". Isn't it correct? We can't achieve any worthwhile goal
without needing to restrain our desires. Whether our desire might be
stunted by laziness (procrastination) or fed by greed, the antidote is self-
discipline; diligence in one word. This word symbolises the correct spirit
in activity. It is everything dependable, done in the right way, and with the
right intent.
Doing the things our mind and heart says are important-those things we
can actually do-is really important for our self-belief and self-efficacy.
Doing things, over simply just saying them, is such a pointer of character
because it shows people around you how diligent you are, how
committed to ideals you are, and how compassionate you are.
If you are able to consistently convert the things you say to the activity of
doing them, 'Then, my son [or daughter]' as Rudyard Kipling said in his
poem "If", 'You will be a Man [or Woman].'
Meeting Your Destiny In The Wonderful Sea of Two: There is something that "comes." It is the opportunity. It is also in
personal mastery terms the vision of personal mastery. Both come to us;
Opportunity — The Art of Preparation we can create the circumstances that they come, by either setting up
other things to support the presentation of the opportunity, and also by
'visioning' the idea of personal mastery at the individual, personal level.
PREPARATION IS THE KEY to life. Let me use a common everyday
example to illustrate the point. At a train station recently, a middle-aged Three: Then there is the "outcome." The former idea suggests that 'luck'
woman was in front of me fumbling with her handbag and in a panicked can be the outcome. Like when someone says of you getting something
state trying to feed a $20 note into the ticket machine. A station officer you wanted, "You were lucky." It is also the achievement of personal
approaches to see if he can assist, and he can't. Getting frustrated at the mastery. I suppose in theory, we never entirely and ultimately 'get there,'
station officer she leaves fuming to find out that the machine takes only but in essence we achieve certain levels of personal mastery.
smaller notes. Preparation is the key to life. It demonstrates:
I observe her as she leaves and she is very distressed. It was too late to Wisdom through the foresight of seeing ahead and planning for the
offer her change for her money; I didn't have the presence of mind in any perceived eventualities;
event. The issue at its root cause is she didn't prepare her journey well
enough. She didn't make/take the time to ensure she could get onto the Patience through faith and courage to invest time, which at times is done
train uninhibited. And this is so true to life for us all. We all end up getting without the guarantee of a return; and
caught out because we run out of time, revealing we haven't planned Diligence that's prepared to do what is needed to be done.
effectively enough. It happens sooner or later, and more to some than to
others. There's a wisdom lesson here. Those who prepare well, go better Preparation's benefits are peace and well-being i.e. shalom. It gives us
in life. the opportunity for a balanced life; a life lived in true perspective.

Actor Denzel Washington has said, "Luck is where opportunity meets Perspective in turn is life-giving promoting every good virtue. It brings us
preparation." In other words, there's no such thing as luck - we're in the to but the very beginning of a wonderful spiritual journey and reality. As
right place at the right time because we have prepared for the the saying goes, 'The best is yet to come' for such a person on such a
opportunity and were able to embrace it. We planned and saw ahead. journey.
The opportunities of life await, and they occur, and they wait for no As Baden Powell and the cub scouts movement used to say, "Be
person. When we're prepared it's great, when we're not it causes us to prepared."
panic as if the world were coming to an end. Most of the time the only
consequence is we 'have to catch the next train.' I'm sure you'd agree it's
rarely enough to panic for. But we hate to be caught unprepared.
I want to suggest that this idea, the one of 'opportunity meeting
preparation,' is very similar to the theory of personal mastery I've written
about previously.
There are three stages that define both ideas.
One: There is something we "can do." It is to prepare. It is also in
personal mastery terms accepting the current reality. Both things we
"can do."
The Gap Between Saying and Doing My challenge is to develop mental processes to focus my mind and
discipline my heart. To focus my mind, I need to control my thoughts in
the moment. To discipline my heart I need to resist the temptation to
I am often perplexed at how often I still fail at the basic things. These are stubbornness and self-pity, pure and simple.
things I say I'm going to do but yet still I cannot do consistently. Like the [1] Romans 7:18-20 (Msg).
day before yesterday I spent the whole day trying to work out solutions
to the two areas of my life that I still fail in; serving cheerfully through [2] See Parrott, L & L., Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts (SYMBIS),
what feels like constant interruptions at work, and being more tolerant in (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1995, 2006), p. 66.
certain situations around the home. As I analyse my life, I find my other
roles and other parts of my roles going really well, yet I've stumbled too
consistently in these two areas and I want to change.
The Message tells me that [something] "within me keeps sabotaging my
best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don't have what it
takes. I can will it, but I can't do it. I decide to do good, but I don't really
do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such
as they are, don't result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep
within me and gets the better of me every time."[1] (Reader: Do you
relate to this in areas of your life?)
It's coming time for push to come to shove. I need to change. Do you
ever feel this way? I'm not sure this will work but I'm trying it anyway.
This is a public declaration in the desperation to finally get it right.
I'm thinking while I'm at it, that if I experience this, then possibly you do
to. Does this reading above resonate with you like it did me? Are you
unable to change something in your life that exasperates you? Don't give
up. Keep trying, and keep trying new and innovative ways; something
will work for you eventually, just like I know it will for me!
My present method is this: I need to have a focused mind and a
disciplined heart, and be prepared to meditate daily on the standard
responses to both these issues and fix them at the 'cause,' not the
symptom end. The problem's with me and my response. Why am I
unhappy with these things? Some of the reading I've done suggests that
it could be due to problems with my "subjective well-being."[2] This is an
elaborate way of saying I'm unhappy with things that are in any event
outside of my control. When things are beyond your control it's
somewhat impractical and illogical to get concerned about them. Yet,
that's my problem. That's what must change. My perception of the
problem; I need to accept I cannot change everything.
Resisting Speaking Or Thinking Negatively of must simply act on our awareness and do it over and over again by;
People Practicing Inner Generosity
Replacing bad habits with good habits is a key to behaviour modification.
People who wish to give up smoking succeed better when they replace
I was taken by the quotation below when I first read it. It resounded smoking with exercise which naturally releases endorphins -- the 'feel
within me because it spoke truthfully and to the heart about what I good' naturally-occurring human biochemical. It impacts on their self-
struggle with and what I think all people struggle with, in our esteem too. Likewise, the way to resist speaking or thinking wrong of
relationships. We wouldn't admit it but how quickly do we undermine people is to get generous -- act with generosity. Generosity has magic
another person? If we don't say it, it's often thought about, particularly spiritual juice about it; it frees us. Practicing inner generosity is wishing
regarding people we're threatened by. another well.
Check this out: Refraining From Any Comment At All
"If we find ourselves secretly rejoicing in the news of someone's We always seem to want credit for our good thoughts and our good
misfortune, we know we have some inner work to do. Somehow, that behaviours. When we've suddenly replaced ill will with generosity, we'll
response suggests that we feel cheated in some way, perhaps because be tempted to want or take some credit. The most honourable thing to
some expectations of life have gone unfulfilled. As we become aware of do, however, is not make any comment at all -- let it go. We should reject
these inner reactions, we can also practice the inner generosity of the inner need for our ego's to be stroked. If our positive act is
wishing another well while refraining from any comment at all."[1] recognised, merely a humble and real 'thank you' should suffice.
Let's break this nugget of wisdom down... Likewise, and especially, this means refraining from bemoaning the
Rejoicing At Another's Misfortune
We know we're on the right track when we positively will not tolerate any
Let's be honest. It happens. It's our nature to instinctively do this. It's not
bearing ill toward another. Awareness is piqued and we're determined
even our fault. However, it does suggest the following;
not to flay another soul. Perhaps it's a pipedream to perfect this, but
It Indicates Some Inner Work Required there's no reason why it shouldn't be our goal and ultimate aim.
Whenever we bear ill toward another person it indicates we have some [1] P.E. Koptak, NIV Application Commentary: Proverbs, (Grand Rapids,
work to do within our heart specifically and generally -- specifically Michigan: Zondervan, 2003), p. 446.
regarding the actual person the ill will is directed to, and generally
because we're obviously capable of a recurrence in the future. It's
nothing to be ashamed of, but we ought to work on it. Is it that we feel
cheated in some way and/or our expectations have surpassed the reality
of our actual position in life?
The biggest barrier to improving anything is a lack of awareness. If we're
aware of the issue then the only other thing that can get in the way is
lack of will (or power of the mind) to actually do what you need to do,
and do it often enough to create a good habit so we continue to do it. We
Always Act As If Your Acts Were Seen showings because there was nothing to hide.
"You tell on the sin, or the sin will inevitably tell on you." -Sy Rogers.

Balthasar Gracian, the 17th Century philosopher and Jesuit priest, is
famous for his Art of Worldly Wisdom aphorisms--300 in all. The one [1] Source:
featured below is number 297:
Surely it is a great advantage to us to act as if we were under constant
"He must see all round who sees that men see him or will see him. He
knows that walls have ears and that ill deeds rebound back. Even when
alone he acts as if the eyes of the whole world were upon him. For as he
knows that sooner or later all will be known, so he considers those to be
present as witnesses who must afterwards hear of the deed. He that
wished the whole world might always see him did not mind that his
neighbours could see him over their walls."[1]
If we were to act as if we were constantly supervised we'd scarcely do a
wrong thing, or at least the things we do that are wrong would force us to
re-assess. We'd have the chance to turn around perhaps before it was
too late?
And of all the things we do, right or wrong, and the way we do these
things, diligently, lazily or otherwise, we must know that we self-judge
ourselves through our consciences.
We do the right thing i.e. do a good day's work and we feel good.
Alternatively, we arrive at work and feel sluggish and do nothing to break
the cycle of mental lethargy and we inevitably reap the reward of an
unfulfilled day and perhaps the guilt of not serving our employers.
The same rule is applicable in all our life roles, be they within the family,
out in the community or anything else.
And in all reality there is a Supervisor in our minds.
And he works through our consciences. Being personally accountable is
a great achievement that brings with it rewards we could not have
possibly foreseen.
There is no greater freedom perhaps, than melding private life with
public and being the same person in all spheres, not minding public
Three Steps to a Creative Mind

Jason Clarke, it is said, flunked senior high school getting the lowest
grades in his school's history. What a failure! Well, he's paid that now,
teaching many company heads and countless others how to capture
their creativity and solve the world's problems through his 'Minds at
Work' venture.
My reflections on breakfast with Clarke from earlier this year in learning
how the historical creative geniuses unlocked and harnessed their
powerfully creative minds are as follows:
1. Firstly, we must interact with our world, experiencing and capturing the
stimuli, noting it down as it comes. The greatest geniuses were diligent
note-takers. Even when we get ideas at 2 A.M. or in the bath or as we're
about to fall asleep, we need to take this raw gold down.
2. Secondly, we must assimilate the stimuli we've noted and allow our
minds (including the powerful subconscious mind) to explore the new
data and create something from it. This process can take some time, so
a little patience is important.
3. Thirdly, we must find a way of expressing the creativity that comes
from assimilating and re-configuring the data from our
explorations. Expression comes in a myriad of forms, but is essentially
about using the developed ideas in meaningful ways.
At times, we'll get a conflagration of thoughts and ideas all lining up in
unison; we're blessed as we respond in faithfulness; following, capturing,
and obediently engaging our minds toward the destination of creativity
and innovation.
At other times, we run dry of inspiration, but we should not be too
despondent; perhaps we just need to get ourselves some fresh exposure
to the sorts of environment(s) that engender the flourishing of the right
Getting there--running hot on creativity, with a brain and heart to burn--is
nothing short of inspiring and it promotes the feeling of being totally,
sensuously alive.
Head in the Clouds, Yet Feet on the Ground — The things that actually show love, joy, peace, grace, faithfulness, kindness,
self-control, humility and host of other things.
Perfect Balance
Being hidden with Christ in God is ostensibly about a secret weapon--
having an advantageous, privileged position, not without certain
People are so often criticised for being aloof and having their head in the duty. We're marked, identified. We're set apart, not 'better' than others
clouds, plainly not being aware of their environment, or the context per se, but we're different--and we ought to act differently i.e. other
around them. Then there's the person who's at the opposite extreme; got worldly, i.e. not 'worldly.'
their nose in everyone's business. What gives? Achieving the authentic Christian life of holy living is both visionary and
It appears to me that this is another 'both/and' construct for us to shoot practical; it's both having our head in the clouds and having our feet
towards--why not be both aloof to the world but grounded to heaven. By firmly planted on terra firma.
being both grounded with people and life in a practical sense and
simultaneously with our heads in the clouds (spiritually and
philosophically) we achieve both tasks of life, the theoretical and the [1] Fritz Rienecker & Cleon Rogers, Linguistic Key to the Greek New
practical. Testament (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1976, 1980), p.
And I think this is what the following means, partly:
"Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on
the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God's
right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For
you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God" -
Colossians 3:1-3 (NLT).
Attending to our minds, keeping them sharp, is the great objective in
life. Being sharp enough to know what to focus on and equally to know
what not to focus on is very important. It's probably a big part of the
essence of wisdom.
The Colossians passage is speaking to us Christ-followers in a way that
we're co-resurrected i.e. with him. There's only one sensible, logical
direction for the co-resurrected to go--a continual i.e. habitual mindset at
the heavenly focal point.[1] We're pulled, impelled forward in this via the
honour attached to Christ. When we focus on how magnificent that
thought is we can't help being magnetically drawn to the eternally-
charismatic King of kings.
And when we take this thought further we understand that the virtuous
life is grounded in 'the now,' not in the life to come, though we must live
now from the eternal worldview, having it clearly in sight and looking
back from it. Everything of God is a verb; it's mostly about doing practical
Beat Bad Habits by Engaging "Manual Thinking" run for stimulation. We get bored easily and we hate that, desperate as
we are to restore some level of mental utopia; order out of the chaos we
Power can't stand.
Yet, the chaos should be a sign to us where (and when) it all went
"We can never see past the choices we don't understand" -The Oracle, wrong. But we evade the question. We don't explore the ambiguity. We
in The Matrix Reloaded (2003). run from it to what we know and feel comfortable with. (Recall that last
time you 'comfort ate?')
We are so bound by our perceptions. It is the cage and formidable
construct of the human nature. And what's the cause? Scripting (Programmed Thought)
... A propensity toward false scripting... Working through and correcting false scripts is hard; it's not natural for
us. But, it is achievable.
False, errant scripts make the world run haywire. Whether they're
illustrated by wrong coding or a virus in a computer, poor learning in the Physiologically, (as with good scripts) false scripts--which facilitate bad
human brain, or a machine with a faulty chip, drive belt or switch, they habits, wrong choices, decisions and actions--use slick myelinations in
ironically wreak havoc everywhere but the place they're designed to the brain that enable quick, efficient synapses[1] to occur.
function for. These are no longer fit-for-purpose. These myelinations are insulated and protected 'brain-wiring' like
A confounding paradox has emerged. controlling electrical circuits; they're finished, sealed roadways powered
for, and facilitating, thought--but, in these cases, they run to a place
called 'nowhere.' They're like natural tributaries of a stream where water
Our choice is like this... they're often based on false scripting. And we flows naturally, of its own accord. And these streams flow errantly,
hardly ever realise it. entirely to the wrong destinations.
When we make choices in life, the choices we're destined to make, we We're more adept and more naturally inclined to think along the already-
at times don't see other options as desirable because we can't myelinated neural pathways (the cage and formidable construct of the
understand them; we therefore don't see them the way we could. They human nature). We can see here how insidious habitual thinking is.
just don't fit us. It's the square-peg-in-the-round-hole syndrome, but in a
The Answer: Manual Thinking
way that's not our perception in the sight of others i.e. the way others
see us, but our own limiting perceptions of the world. In other words, we But, we can revert to 'manual' thinking at any time we choose, it just
choose the square peg. needs to be a conscious choice... otherwise our subconscious mind will
take over and make the choice for us i.e. to run on autopilot, hence the
Magnets, Boredom and Order
return to the entrenched (false) neural pathways and the consequent
The human brain picks up so much junk along the journey of life. We're false script is run again, reinforcing the bad habit toward wrong choices,
like magnets picking up anything with iron in it. Some of it is polished decisions and likely actions.
and chrome-plated but some of it is plain scrap metal and not worth
The power of the human mind is large, and we hardly ever tap into
it. This is because we're inherently lazy thinkers; again, this is 'the cage
We run off track and the smallest things distract and deter us. We start a and formidable construct of the human nature' we're talking about.
golden venture, and before we know it we're stuck down some alleyway
We can choose to 'step up' mentally at any time, however.
or down a narrow, shallow creek--and we find it difficult to back-out. Our
conscious thinking power is limited, and somehow at the roadblock, we "We hardly ever realize that we can cut anything out of our lives,
anytime, in the blink of an eye... a [person] is only the sum of his [or her]
personal power, and that sum determines how he [or she] lives and how
he [or she] dies."[2]
This personal power can be harnessed any time. It's quite simply a
matter of our choice.
[1] A 'synapse' is "the functional junction between two neurons... [it] may
be electrical or chemical." Every feeling, thought and action we have or
make involves thousands of these neurological synapses. Source:
Tortora & Grabowski, Principles of Anatomy and Physiology, 9th ed.
(New York: John Wiley and Sons, Inc., 2000), Glossary G-37.
[2] Carlos Castaneda, "The Journey to Ixtlan" in The Wheel of Time: The
Shamans of Ancient Mexico, Their Thoughts about Life, Death and the
Universe (Los Angeles: Eidolona Press, 1998), pp. 75, 99.
The Romance of Motivation and Influence others, including ourselves; it's about understanding and utilising the
straightforward, knock-'em-dead drives of motivation.
All our communication should attend to one or more of these factors to
What is it that wins or otherwise engages the hearts and minds? I maximise our influence and effectiveness.
profiled in an earlier article the principle of DIPI: things that get our
attention because they're dangerous, important, pleasurable and
interesting. But it's only when we match these situations with a desired
outcome usually in the negative sense that we understand its power.
1. Dangerous
We all scare and it's naturally our want for survival that makes us react
to the things that incite fear. Preventing serious injury, illness or death is
a key life undertaking though we're not generally apt at thinking about
these things; yet we take measures every day to ensure we stay safe.
2. Important
All of us want to do things that are important to us. We prioritise our
important relationships. We also generally hate wasting time on things
that, and people who, aren't important. We want to make the most of our
time. So, the desired outcome is to stop wasting time.
3. Pleasurable
Some elevate this to top position--these are people with a death wish.
Nevertheless, we all strive to avoid pain.
4. Interesting
Things that are interesting fuel the Western world. We have a natural
desire to resist boredom.
Putting all this together tells us something about our humanity and the
drives of salubrious motivation we naturally fall in love with.
We can't help wanting to live without fear of harm, our time's precious,
and we resist pain and boredom (which is simply another form of pain,
particular in Western culture).
Consolidating these principles which motivate all of us should be part of
any person's leadership strategy in winning or engaging (influencing) the
hearts and minds of those they lead.
But, this is not simply about leadership. It's about being able to motivate