Much of what we have is broken

Attempting to take a train west of London today we were informed, once we had bought our tickets and got to the platform that trains had been cancelled until further notice because, apparently someone had been ‘hit by a train’ at a station on the other side of town. While this seems a sad event if true, we were dismayed by the way in which the message was delivered. No apologies for inconvenience, no one on hand to give advice. When I refunded my tickets there was no apology either, no smile indeed no customer service of any recognizable kind.

Go to a walk-in clinic at a London hospital and you’ll get similar treatment that could best be described as ‘begrudging’, or sluggish. The individuals in these huge institutionalized  ‘public service ‘ positions often seem to function like automatons with flat batteries. No ‘going the extra mile’ anywhere in sight and you’ll be lucky if you get satisfaction at all.

There is so much of this I wonder how we can call Britain ‘Great’. Okay so the Olympics went well but for the rest of us that have to live in this city and come into contact with the over-priced (yes I pay £60 a week or something in national insurance) ‘services’ we have to endure, it often looks like a bewildering mess. The London Underground costs around six times as much to use as Seoul’s and is considerably more cramped and more low-tech. You stand on the platform here watching black mice scurrying through the trash that’s been left to rot between the tracks. There’s no air-conditioning either, which means that if the train is full and it’s a hot day in July, you could actually be in physical peril.

Is this a kind of corruption? Where does all the money go? The often unprofessional staff on London Underground are rarely available or even visible , let alone helpful!

The reality is that much of these big networks are broken and fundamentally not functioning to some degree or another. Monopolies create this kind of low-fi drudgery that so often seem to leave a bad taste. Complacency is the badge they all seem to wear, protected no doubt by public sector regulations that mean they would probably have to actually murder a customer before they’d be up for review in their jobs.

Do we have a right to expect more? God yes we do! If you can’t get inspired by your work, don’t do it. Give the job to someone that can. Someone that wants to make a difference.If you are sitting on a big public paycheck remember; we are the customers ‘cos we pay your  wages.

If you doubt what I have to say here go and take a look at what they have in other countries. Our ‘wonderful’ NHS is ready for the breaker’s yard and on the verge of collapse. Our venerated Underground is a bad and sad joke for the people that live in the capital and suffer the damn thing.

The Olympics are over and there’s work to be done. Next time you can’t get around London or can’t locate a cooperative health professional, remember Lord Coe’s speeches about how “we did it” and how we showed the world what Britain is really made of. Broken Britain? I think someone had a point to make there.

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Find alternative reading

Find alternative reading.

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From competitive to collaborative

We often hear that competition brings out the best in people. Yet we could also say that it brings out the worst. The mindset of scarcity says that we should hang on to what we’ve got and hoard our knowledge, our money, our assets and our glory.

Yes the ego is a useful tool when it is healthy. We challenge ourselves and each other to go beyond previous limits. Yet in competitive environments it can very quickly turn toxic. The mentality of “I’m great, and you’re not” is still prevalent in workplaces and is a quicksand that is difficult to escape.Many companies still operate on the principle that it is healthy for employees to compete with each other. This is an assumption that should be questioned because it implies that there must be winners and losers in the game of life.

Some would say that this is just ‘reality’ or ‘the way it has always been’ or worse, ‘human nature’. Yet some of us would prefer to live from the position that this is a false assumption. A healthy ego does not require the experience of victory over others in order  to be validated. The only victory to be sought is over one’s own limitations, which includes the desire to appear superior.

The victory we could all be seeking is one of successfully sharing our highest attributes. Of giving the best of ourselves in whatever purpose we choose. In breaking free from the constraints we have accepted. In overcoming the chronic problems that have plagued humanity for centuries such as poverty, disease and lack. Finding solutions to the unlimited problems all around us are the real worthy opponents we could be taking on.

In education, competitive sports should be viewed as a practice run for these real issues that we all face. Yet somewhere things have become skewed, and ‘winning’, which is actually an illusion has become an end in itself.

It takes a real effort to go to the next level and see that the real victory that we need to focus on is overcoming our own limiting delusions and that in the end, our so-called victories over others are of no real consequence, no matter how seductive they appear.


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Transformation and the 3 Laws of Performance

Transformation and the 3 Laws of Performance.

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Create a new game for yourself!!

Across the world people wake up from Monday to Friday and groan at the prospect of going to work for another day. Far from being unusual, it is the normal situation for the vast majority. Many people complain endlessly about their work, making up stories that sound very convincing about why they are exploited, why they can’t get by, why the money isn’t enough, how their boss doesn’t listen, their colleagues are a bunch of losers etc etc.

To most of us, our work may seem like a routine with predictable outcomes from day to day, and it doesn’t stop there because the majority are living their whole lives from this position of complaints and victimhood with a list of reasons why they can’t be happy, fulfill themselves, find a job or a better job and so on. Indeed most of us actually create this pattern for ourselves and while we complain about it we reinforce its’ “reality”, entrenching ourselves deeper and deeper in the quagmire of hopelessness, boredom or dissatisfaction. Yes, there IS a reality, a set of facts about you and your life, but the way you have interpreted the facts is NOT the same thing as this reality.

Everyone, or almost everyone wants a ‘better’ job, more fun, more money, more rewards and believes, or say they believe, the stories about how their talents have yet to be recognised.

Such a way of existing swirls around inside their consciousness in the form of language and becomes a cycle from which there seems to be no escape.

But there is a way to escape this cycle: It involves giving up the phoney victimhood that has become in many cases an excuse for doing nothing.

The question for such people is this: why would anyone give you an opportunity to do great things when you complain and whine like a victim about your life? When your cynicism and resignation expresses itself through your actions?

There are others, and they are relatively few, that take on life in a completely different way. For them, whatever they are engaged in is a game that they have chosen to play. Each day represents a new round in this game and they play with the determination and relish that most of us would reserve only for a sporting activity or other ‘hobby’. They might not do this consciously, and it may be that somewhere they had the good fortune to see life in this way and make their own decisions to live accordingly. In other cases they have re-written their lives in the form of a compelling game that motivates them to achieve and perform at a higher level than the ‘ordinary’ person after a considerable amount of searching and a heap of past ‘failures’. Sometimes the level at which they perform is vastly, vastly higher than most of us. Such people get to achieve amazing stuff and in some cases write themselves into the history books because of it.

So if you feel stuck and if your life seems monotonous, you might start off by doing the following:

1. Acknowledge the situation. Be honest about where you are and where you are going at this moment if nothing changes in your life.

2. Ask yourself if this is what you want.

3. If the answer is “No” start thinking about how you can create a compelling game for yourself with what you have in your life RIGHT NOW. Your new game could be to find a job, to connect with your colleagues or to transform your organisation. Change how the whole situation occurs for you by inventing a future based on what you have now and committing to it with integrity. The obstacles that exist to this future are simply part of the game, just like an opposing team in football is part of the game. Whatever you invent, make it inspiring enough for you to commit to and take action on a daily basis. Remember: setbacks are just part of the game.

Pay attention to any conversation going on in your head AT THIS MOMENT about what is written above. This is your first clue and your starting point. The steps given here are very simplified ones and you may need to do more, or much more than what has been mentioned in this short piece.

Alternatively, you can sign up for The Landmark Forum and do the 3-day intensive course at Landmark Education. Their people are specialist in creating new and inspiring game for people in their lives!!

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Get out of your way!!!

How often have you had the experience that you share something that really inspires you, something that you KNOW for sure has a germ of genius in it, and you get that reaction of “Mmmm…..sounds a bit (like)…….” from the other person?

Such a reaction (and it is a reaction rather than a response) can make you wish that you hadn’t bothered. It can also take the buzz out of your own enthusiasm.

What’s happening here is that the other person is not actually listening to what you are saying. I mean they would probably swear blind that they are listening, but what they are actually doing is bringing their past to the idea that you shared. Rather than allowing the idea to just BE, to just exist in its’ own space as it were, they are bringing their own identity and past to your sharing. You can really get an idea of where people are coming from in such moments. Do they actually KNOW how to listen or not? You’ll find that there are actually very few that do know how to give a new idea or possibility the space to exist. They will want to bring their prejudices and impose them IMMEDIATELY before the idea has had time to just hang in the air for a few seconds.

In Japan they have a tendency to leave a pause between exchanges to give themselves time to reflect before responding. I can’t help thinking that this custom must have originated through Buddhist principles. Whether that is true or not, perhaps we could learn something from this way of responding.

In any case, if you aspire to be a listener, next time someone shares something with you that they believe in, try getting out of your own way and just let the idea exist, especially if it’s something you haven’t heard before.

I’m not suggesting that we don’t think critically. That can come later of course. But when the share comes don’t jump in with your reaction, even if you think you might sound very clever and well-informed by doing so. The spirit of sharing is to give the other person a chance. If they’ve taken the trouble to tell you their great possibility or plan, it means something and that fact alone makes it worth giving them a chance.

What we all need to do sometimes is get out of our own way by leaving our identity (which is effectively our past) out of things altogether and allow the possibility of something new.

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What does it take to REALLY transform your life?

Everybody wants to change something in their life, right? Everybody if they are honest would like to have more, better or less of something. More health, more money, more love, a better relationship, more job satisfaction, more travel, less stress, less work etc. The list goes on. Our lives revolve around our desires to change something that will, we expect, make us happier in some way. If we ever achieve those goals and get that thing we wanted more or less of or wanted to change, fix or improve, then a new want immediately takes the place of the one we have fulfilled. We hardly have time to savour the successes we achieve because there is always something else that we think will make all the difference in our lives. In other cases we focus intensely on one area of our life to get something we think we want, such as more money, and in this process or rather BECAUSE of this process, the other areas of our lives go out of balance. So someone takes massive action to increase their income or succeed in their career for example, at the expense of their health or marriage or even, their happiness!!

Then there are the people that ‘say’ they are happy and are good at putting on a convincing show. They have developed and polished their act to make their lives appear to be near perfect, when in fact they are far from content in reality. Perhaps we all do this to some extent even without thinking about it. Some people may even try telling themselves that they are happy, in an effort to brainwash themselves into happiness. But again, this doesn’t work if there are repressed desires beneath the surface. It’s a bit like positive thinking which amounts to putting a superficial ‘spin’ on things that covers over a huge mountain of dissatisfaction. Then there are people that are authentically miserable. They are unhappy and are good at exhibiting this fact. Such people are not attractive and when we see one of those coming we often run for cover, right?

Many of us would swear on a stack of bibles that we WOULD be happier if we had more money, a better relationship, better job etc etc. But if we look around with honesty it doesn’t take long to realize that such things are by no means a guarantee of happiness. Good examples are famous people and celebrities that end up with addictions or personal tragedies, divorces, lawsuits or whose careers suddenly go down the drain.

To be continued…….

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