Showing posts from May, 2006

Who will teach you to succeed?

Yesterday, I was reading about research in affective forecasting. Affective forecasting is the predictions we make about the emotional impact of a given scenario: e.g. how would you feel if you won a million dollars? According to the research, the chances are that you would be less happy than you think you would. Apparently, human beings consistently overestimate emotional impacts - good and bad.

It's only one of a series of judgments we make consistently that are less than accurate. Typically, we also attribute behaviours to character more than to circumstance (we say "he's a jerk", instead of saying "he must have had a bad morning." This means that we believe that individuals have more control over their behaviours and circumstances than is probably true at any given moment. It means we attribute our own success to our brilliance and hard work when it is possible that we were simply in the right place at the right time.

This is the great fallacy in h…

Dangling my feet over the edge

I am back from Tuscany, a land of hills and mountains and towers. During my time there, I climbed a tower only to find that gazing down from steep heights still gives me vertigo. It's hard for me to watch my kids lean against railings, much less sit on them. I know that many people sit on the edge with excitement. I also know that they are excited because they are confident that they will not have to cross that edge, certain that they can dangle their feet without jumping or falling.

There were trees growing at the top of the tower I climbed, the tower in Lucca. Looking at the picture, it is easy to imagine that it was taken from a look-out in a park on the hillside. It was taken from the top of the tower; I reached the top by climbing a series of progressively more narrow and twisty steps. Somebody made the tower and planted the trees.

The top of the tower is the perspective of the holiday; an artificial interruption we use to gain different perspectives. We pause, look down an…

I'm on my way to Italy!

My family and I are off for an adventure in Tuscany, so posting for the next two weeks may be infrequent. If I can get to a computer, I will post now and then as I reflect on ways of anchoring wonderful travel experiences back into other goals and plans. My intention is to fully enjoy the trip while I live it and to ensure that it is a reasource for me in the days and weeks that follow.

Among the many things that excite me about this trip are the opportunity for incredible sensory richness - a feast for the tastebuds, eyes, touch, sound. I am looking forward to the sound of Italian, to listening to another language with all the absorption I have learned, allowing myself to know a language as potential rather than foreign, allowing myself to respond to rhythm and pitch and expressiveness, free from the leaps of logic that come with too much content.

And I am excited about art that will pull me out of myself and into bigger models of the world, of cities that were ancient when Arthur wa…

Referrals, community and business that thrives

Have you ever bought something that was great value and not wanted to talk about it? Maybe you found a piece of clothing that looks much more expensive than it was. Maybe you got a great haircut at a strip mall. Maybe you learned public speaking at a course but want everyone to think you are a natural.

I once was the editor on a self-help book on how to ask for referrals. Within the context of the book, it was all relatively straightforward. If you provide a good product or service at a good price and then ask for referrals, people will give you referrals. There are many businesses when that is true, at least some of the time.

Referrals are a great way to do business. Obviously, they help a business grow. Less obviously, they are hugely important to consumers. When we tell other people about good products and services, we make them more widely available and more competitive. The level of the marketplace rises. When we hear about good products and services, we purchase more eff…

What do you do?

It's such a standard ice-breaker we often answer it quickly and move on through the formula. In most conversations, "what do you do?" means "what is your job?" It's a simple question that poses complex challenges to those who are unemployed, self-employed or not wrapped up in their employment. The answer is supposed to be one or two words. For some of us, seeking the answer is what we do. And that's a complicated circle.

I run a small training company with my partner. So far, so good. Although the company runs me as much as I run it. And my partner is my business partner and also my training partner. Those are two separate roles. Very few people teach with a partner, so that's an answer that requires more questions.

Usually, the next question is "what do you train?" The answer to that varies according to the company I am keeping. NLP is an acronym for neuro-linguistic programming, a wild-west sort of approach to understanding how to in…

Too much stress

Some tension allows us to stand: too much pulls us apart. In between, small differences create high performance or enormous pain. We are not finely tuned machines, we human beings. We change moment by moment in unpredictable ways and the degree of stress that motivates us depends hugely on what we perceive as possible in one particular moment.

We have all heard stories of incredible feats achieved under incredible pressure. We know about the mother who saves a child through strength or endurance beyond anything that is normal. We know about the business pulled back from the brink of disaster by the entrepreneur whose passion outlasted all common sense. We know about disasters that create communities.

We know the other stories too. The stories of those who crumble when one more thing goes wrong. The stories of those who despair because an obstacle was just big enough to put something special forever out of reach. The stories of those who cannot live on the edge, waiting in hope and t…

What are you waiting for?

It's spring. The grass is bright green; the trees are starting to be green; the sun is sometimes warm. All winter, you have been promising yourself and others that things will be different once winter is over. It's over now.

Now we start the season of avoiding things until fall. "All I want to think about is having a great summer" we say, as if having a great summer meant the endless days of pools and playing fields we remember from early childhood. "All I want to think about" we say, as if we cannot think and enjoy the sunshine, the warm weather, the long days. "All I want" we say, forgetting all the things we want that we are putting on hold until fall.

What do you want from your life? Why do you want to perpetually put off what you want for a day when the weather will be better, the price will have dropped, the timing will be more convenient? What if you decided to do something this morning, this evening, this week? Something that you hav…