Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Which way do you focus?

I recently went out to Karawatha Forest for a walk and to get back to nature and rejuvenate the inner batteries in the Australian bush. It was a chance to get away from suburbia with my beloved husband, connect and unwind. We were wandering along, taking random paths that we figured would eventually take us back to the car park. We had no set plan and were just enjoy the surrounds and each other's company.

I love how I can always learn something from situations that on the surface seem to hold no importance at all. The lesson that came to mind was when we found ourselves on the edge of the Forest walking along a path with the Gateway Motorway nearby. For readers, not familiar with Brisbane, the Gateway is one of the major six to eight lane motorways that cross the city. I found that I was becoming irritated by the disturbance to the peace and serenity I had been enjoying in the bush. I began to question why I was letting it bother me.

As we continued to walk along the path, the noise of everyday life on one side and the beauty and peace of nature on the other, I realised that I had the choice on what I could focus on. So I gave all my attention to the Forest. I began to notice all the subtleties that I had been taking for granted earlier in our walk. The textures and colours, all the small wildlife as well as some larger ones (like the family of gorgeous Tawny Frog mouths). All of this would of been missed if I had chosen to focus on what I did not want - namely the distractions from others.

It was along this same path I stumbled on a loose, plain looking stone. At least it first appeared to be plain looking. Yet after I stumbled and had disturbed it, I was able to see that it had been damaged. And inside of this dull greyish-brown rock, was a colourful, glittery heart that sparkled in the sunlight and was an object of extreme beauty.

Here was another lesson from nature, to teach that we often need to look inside of others, into their hearts to see their beauty. Much like one of my favourite movies Shallow Hal with Gwyneth Paltrow and Jack Black. Imagine how different our world could be if we choose to only see the beauty in others.

As it turned out, the path we were following was a dead end and we had to turn around and retrace our steps. Which is as it is in life at times. Some of the best lessons are found on roads that need to be traveled more than once before our learning is complete. Or on roads that appear to lead nowhere, but have to be traveled so that the lesson appears in a form that we can recognise.

I ask you, what lessons have you found on today's journey? Maybe you need to change what you are focusing on, or just look a little deeper to find the beauty of the lesson.
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Sunday, 4 December 2011

An Artists' Math Lesson

Many people have separated their lives into two broad sections - Building wealth (sometimes known as money making) and the rest of their lives. Having been included in this group of people, I found myself reflecting on them and likening them to subject that I teach my students. I previously have perceived these to be two totally different, if not opposite, subjects.

My view was that building wealth was math, while life -- well life is art.

We all had to take math during our school years as well as art. So we are all familiar with what is involved in each subject.

A math test is marked on fact. There is only every one right answer. The answers are always either right or wrong - it is formulaic. You learn and apply the right formula or process and you get the right answer. You know the result before it happens, every single time.

One plus one always equals two.
Four times twenty-five is always one hundred.
Twenty take away two is always eighteen.
Fifty divided by five is always ten.

In math there can only be one answer. But let's compare this to an art project. A number of different projects can get the same mark. Art or beauty it has been said it in the eye of the beholder. In art there is no one right way to do it.

When we study the great artists throughout history - da Vinci, Picasso, Pollock, Warhol - we see an amazing difference in their styles, yet they are all considered masters of their craft. And different people prefer different styles and what you may think of as disgusting, someone else will adore. And that is what makes art, art.

So what any of this got to do with money making and life?

Making money is just part of math: If you put $10 into your savings every week, after a year you will have $520. When you buy a house for $500,000 and it increases in value by two percent a year, you can work out how much it will be worth in ten years time. That is what makes maths so awesome, it allows us to know. You learn the process and let the math of making money go to work, and you can work out the results before you start investing.

But life? Life is like art. Its beauty is that it is different for everyone and is changeable. Different people add their own colours to our lives. When you make a mistake, it is possible to try again, to erase it or just paint straight over it. You can make it however you want. You can change it to suit, it is ever evolving and what is top class to one holds no interest to someone else. And this is what makes art and life beautiful.

While we can use our knowledge of math to enhance our skill in art, such as shapes, symmetry and perspective. So our skills in money making can enhance our life. But life isn't made up of just building wealth, it is not only about accumulating possessions. This is not to say that wealth building is not a worthwhile skill, its just that wealth isn't what life is all about.

So ask yourself, are you focusing on your math or your art? I advise that you do your very best at math and wealth building in order to be able to look after yourself and your families. But make your life a masterpiece. What do you want your life to look like? What kind of picture are you creating? What kind of statue are sculpting? Make sure that you use all the brilliant colours of the rainbow, going all the way to the edges and create the most amazing life that you can.

An Artists' Math LessonSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Saturday, 3 December 2011

A Wish for My Daughter

"Children are likely to live up to what you believe of them"
Lady Bird Johnson

This week marks the end of my daughters' years in primary school. She is heading off to high school next. It has been wonderful to watch the emotions that she has experienced in the lead up to this event. Everything from fear and nervousness before her first interview with the school, the happiness and excitement after her orientation day. The more she learnt about her new school, the more knowledge she gained, the more people she met - the more comfortable she has become with the thought of leaving behind what she knew and heading into the future.

On the brink of this new stage of my baby's life, I began to reflect on my hopes for her. So Beautiful Girl it is my wish that you can see yourself as I do and embrace the following beliefs about yourself.

I am perfect exactly as I am

I do not have to prove to anyone or anything who I am

I am a stunning example of feminine strength

I blossom with joy and beauty

I now choose to eliminate from my life and mind every negative, destructive, fearful idea and thought that would keep me from being the magnificent woman I am meant to be

It is safe for me to grow

I now stand on my own two feet and think for myself

I am a blessing to the planet

My future is bright and beautiful

I am a kind-hearted and sensitive soul

Together we lovingly nourish an even more beautiful world

With joy, I recognise my perfection and the perfection of Life

So Little Miss Jess Lyn, I ask that you may take these beliefs with you throughout your life. To take on the challenges that you will encounter with determination, to cherish the friends that you will make, to enjoy the opportunities that come your way, to know that you can and do make a wonderful contribution to the world, to let yourself shine and inspire others and to never forget that you are a special, unique and amazing individual.

I love you, I am blessed to have you in my life and I am proud to be able to call you my daughter. So when you look in the mirror, remember that you may not always hear all the compliments that you sweetly deserve, but you are worthy of all the friendship, treasures, love and joy in the world

A Wish for My DaughterSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Thursday, 1 December 2011

The Unlimited Horizon

Once upon a time, people believed that the Earth was flat. They gazed towards the horizon which looked like that somewhere out there the Earth ended. And that at this end point there was the possibility that they would fall off into the unknown and perish. Therefore, they did not venture out from the land they knew. They stayed where they lived out of fear.

This perception that the horizon was the end of the Earth stopped people from exploring new possibilities. Today, we know that this perception is incorrect. The limitation that held people back was an error in perception. Brave adventurers have proven that the horizon is not the edge of the world, it is not the end of the Earth.

In fact you can never actually get to the horizon. It moves further away as you travel towards it. So while the horizon looks like an end, it is basically infinite, in that it can never be reached.

What if every limitation we have is a horizon? Just an error in our perception?

Imagine that any limitation you believe you have is just a horizon, be it financial, physical, emotional, intellectual or any other area of life. For example, you have the limiting belief that you are not smart/pretty/athletic enough to achieve a dream you have. So you don't bother to even try. You deny yourself the enjoyment and challenge of success. What if you went out and explored beyond your limitations. You would find that your confidence would improve, your life would be filled with increased possibilities.

So how do we overcome these limitations?

It is a two step process:

Step 1 is to change your perception. If you continue to think that the Earth is flat and your world ends at the horizon. Learn to see the world in a new way, with limitations only being an illusion. That the world has an abundance of opportunities that are just out of your current vision.

Step 2 is to behave according with your new unlimited beliefs. Know that you can go beyond the horizon and you can keep moving forward. That all of the resources of he world are available to the brave explorers of the world.

You can believe that horizons are a mindset. Wealth is a mindset. Poverty is a mindset. Freedom is a mindset. Security is a mindset. Sadness is a mindset. Happiness is a mindset. All states are just a mindset each with its own set of emotions. But like the horizon, the mind is infinite. It only contains limits that you incorrectly believe to be real. It is the same as the horizon that can never be reached. Yet we know that we can never fall off the Earth at the horizon. So chase beyond those limits and go for your dreams.
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Monday, 28 November 2011

How to be a Creative Genius

"Imagination is more important than knowledge"

When Albert Einstein made this statement, he was emphasising the importance he gave to creativity. His theories and ideas were extremely creative. He was one of the greatest thinkers of all time and it could be argued that he was one of the most creative people who ever lived. In fact, you could have more knowledge and education than anybody on the planet, and if you don't have a small touch of creativity to go with it, then it isn't worth much.

So what is Creativity?

According to the man himself, Einstein said that 'creativity is seeing what others see and thinking what no one else has.' Creativity is looking at things and asking 'why'. It is also looking at something that never has been and asking 'why not'.

And how do you do it? How do you become a creative genius like Einstein?

The first step needs to be getting rid of any limiting belief that only special people are creative.

There seems to be a popular myth that we are either born with or without creativity and we have no control over it. Yet scientists can show that everyone has a creative part of our brain (it is called the right cerebral hemisphere) and everyone has creative talent. We only have to look at a group of young children to see their creativity - the hours they spend in pretend games, playing with imaginary friends and amusing themselves with everyday items. Young children are keen to explore their world and are curious about everything around them, asking question after question to learn why, why not and how. Unfortunately, we learn more left brain, logical and reasoning skills, as we get older and lose some of our inborn creativity.

Research has shown that our tendency to have original ideas drops from 90% when we are 5 years old, to 20% at age 7 and to a drastic 2% when we are grown up. Thankfully though for those of us who have not suffered damage to the right-side of our brains, still have access to our creativity. Just because they haven't been used very much does not mean they are gone. And the great news is that there are ways to get them sparked back awake.

One of the best ways of increasing your creativity is to ask more questions. Going back to Einstein, he added that "The important thing is to never stop questioning. Curiosity exists for its own reason." So while curiosity might have killed a few cats, it can also help to turn you into a genius.

Another great genius, Leonardo da Vinci possessed a large dose of creativity. Imagine nearly 600 years ago, Leonardo was writing down his thoughts and ideas in his journal. Some of these ideas and achievements that Leonardo had were:
- plans for a helicopter
- plans for a submarine
- the design for the extendable ladder that fire departments still use.
- building the world's first hydraulic jack
- building a rotating stage
- and a water powered alarm clock

His journal also contained some fascinating questions including: Why do birds fly? Why do they slow down to land? Why do they have feathers? Interestingly enough there wasn't any answers to these questions. Why do you think this was?

Da Vinci wrote down these questions as they came to him because he knew how powerful the human mind is. Especially the power of the subconscious part of our minds. And by just asking the questions, he was giving his subconscious mind the opportunity to find an answer.

Take da Vinci's lead and keep a journal of your dreams, experiences, thought, problems and any other information that comes into your mind. This gives you a record of your ideas and when answers finally come to you, allows you to recall and develop your ideas.

Another great way to improve your creativity is through the technique of brain storming. Either done in a group or individually, brain storming is a method of idea generation done within a short time period.

In a brain storm, all ideas are written down regardless of how weird or out there they may seem. In fact, the most successful brain storms have no judgement of any given idea. This is because while the majority of ideas may be unworkable and ineffective, they may lead to the one that is ideal. They also have a time limit or a goal for the number of ideas required. This gives the team something to aim for and a real chance of finding the perfect solution.

Creativity is also developed by reading. It has been proven that as you read the subconscious mind creates images or visions. It allows new worlds to be opened up for you. It gives you the power to tap into other people's thoughts and experiences and expand your own creativity.

By increasing our creativity we also increase our problem solving skills, our ability to deal with other people and unexpected events. Plus we improve our chances of success.

So be like Einstein, imagine that it is so then let your mind go and prove it. Because the process of creativity and imagination comes before the hard work of experimenting.

How to be a Creative GeniusSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Friday, 25 November 2011

Outstanding Thinking

Outstanding leadership is defined by outstanding thinking. Thoughts of excellence come before excellent words and deeds.

Our minds are magnetic. We get what we focus on. There is that much power that comes with our thoughts and beliefs. And it is as true with negative thoughts as it is with positive ones.

You could be questioning "So how is it possible to be positive all the time when negative stuff is just part of life?"

It's true, bad things happen, often turning up when we least expect it. All great leaders will tell you about the doozies of events that they had to deal with. It's all about what you make of it. A surprise or challenge doesn't need to be the end of the earth. What matters is how you interpret the event which will then decide what outcome you experience.

henry Ford, has been credited with the quote "Whether you think you can or cannot, you're right." Or put another way - what you think is what you get. There is no getting around it, our thoughts about others and the things that happen to us directly influences our beliefs and behaviour.

One outstanding young leader that understands this is Nick Hall. at the age of six, Nick declared that "When I grow up I will play soccer for Australia." He found coaches that could teach him the skills. He learned whatever others were willing to teach him. He surrounded himself with peers that challenged him to be the best, and they urged him to 'go above and beyond' and to 'take it to the top'. he learned about commitment, loyalty and excellence.

At the age of 10, Nick become a member of his state representative team. At the age of 13, Nick was selected in the junior national team to tour Brazil and represent Australia. Then at 16, he was awarded a scholarship to play in the American College League, allowing him to fulfill his dream of studying sports science while still following his passion of playing soccer.

Nick has captained many teams and held a number of leadership positions throughout his school years, and he has coached many younger players. In an interview for a sporting blog, Nick was asked what he credited his success to.

"My secret" he answered "is having a family that believed in me, who taught me the importance of keeping a positive attitude about anything that life throws at me. Plus I was fortunate enough to learn the importance of a nothing but excellence level of commitment early on in my playing career." It seems that all of our great leaders have discovered this 'secret', this attitude of excellence. Successful leaders can mentally reframe events so their teams can see challenges in a positive light - they make a new vision of success rather than failure. It's true, facts are facts, but it is our choice how we interpret them.

Continuously in our role of leadership there is a chance we can fall victim to poor thinking. Self-doubt and fear are the enemies of outstanding leadership. Our commitment and beliefs define who we are, and often others in the team rely on us. Remember the choice is yours, so think outstanding thoughts always.
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Thursday, 24 November 2011

A Tale of Enthusiastic Power

I would like to tell you about two salesmen, Fred and Harry. Both worked in an outback farming area. Fred was new to the company, while Harry had been there for over five years. So Harry being a nice bloke, thought that he would take Fred under his wing and help him find his feet. One piece of advice that Harry had for Fred was that he shouldn't be too disappointed if some weeks he didn't make any sales. It was because the town's residents were mean and stingy towards sales reps and any new products they wanted to sell to them. "Just do your hours", Harry said "and don't work too hard."

Harry believed the tradesmen wouldn't buy his goods so it wasn't worth putting in any effort. that he was planning to start working hard only when he had been given a new, richer territory.

Fred, even though he was young and inexperienced in comparison to Harry, knew how excellent the products were and what a great company he was fortunate enough to work for. He also loved being a salesman and meeting and talking to the business owners. So he decided to ignore Harry's advice and trust his intuition.

Fred began his first days on the job filled with happiness and enthusiasm. He made call after call, eagerly demonstrating how his products could help the business owners, leaving information and booklets, answering any questions that were asked and finding out about who his customers were. He decided that maybe Harry was mistaken because the people in the community were friendly and open. Fred even sold more than he had been asked to.

While Harry carried on half-heartedly and putting in a pathetic effort. He only just managed to sell half of his daily quota. He struggled with how to improve his sales - he was up with all his product knowledge, he had attended all the boring training sessions and knew all the latest sales techniques - so why weren't these people buying from him. This continued for a couple of months - Fred went from strength to strength and continued to flourish and Harry found himself without a job and unemployed.

So what do you think the moral to this tale is? Never, ever underestimate the power of enthusiasm, because a little will take you a very long way. When applied to your life, I suggest you do any job, be it tiny or huge, with all the sincere passion and zest you have. This enthusiasm will give you heaps of energy so you easily accomplish your tasks and give you awesome results. Your enthusiasm will also rub off on others around you, helping them to be motivated to also achieve in the best possible way.

This is the power of enthusiasm. Any task, project or assignment, however boring or dull can turn out to be very exciting and successful. You just have to make it that way. Just add a dose of passion and motivation mixed up with a bit of inspiration and a jolt of energy. The result is outstanding and all stems from the power of enthusiasm, which illustrates the strength of this powerful force.
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