Archive for August, 2008

Canterbury Tales 2 – the Man in the Iron Mask

Sunday, August 31st, 2008

I came across the fabulous statue outside the Marlow Theatre in Canterbury.  It must be at least 10′ tall and the colour and texture is incredible.  I thought it was interesting how the iron managed to mimic the texture of skin so cleverly.

I guess we all have a mask we wear, and probably a series according to the role we are playing, dynamic business executive, sex bomb, man-of-action, good son…  It is tough to step out from behind it and show the world who we really are.  And sometimes when we do we discover, like the Great & Mighty Oz, acceptance for who really are, including our limitations.

What mask would you like to hang up?

“You, my friend, are a victim of disorganized thinking. You are under the unfortunate impression that just because you run away you have no courage; you’re confusing courage with wisdom.”  Wizard of Oz

A Canterbury Tale

Sunday, August 31st, 2008

Despite having lived in the South East for all my life, and in Surrey for over 30  years, I have never got round to visiting Canterbury.  On Friday night we realised that we would have an empty nest this weekend and thought that we ought to take advantage of this.  So it seemed an excellent time to correct this oversight and visit this historic city.

As expected it has some fabulous old buildings, we found a great little B&B in the neighbouring countryside and dined in a nice pub.  There is something very restful about just removing yourself from your normal environment where you are surrounded by all sorts of distractions and little jobs that beckon.

On the way home we visited Scotney Castle.  We had an interesting little experience en route.  The satnav wanted us to go left on a roundabout, which I did.  It soon became clear that this was a new exit and ‘Jane’ thought we were driving in the middle of a field.  I had no choice but to drive on and look for an exit.  I arrived at the next roundabout only to find the road had taken us directly to Scotney.  I thought it was interesting how Life could take you ‘straight to Go’ sometimes.  Sometimes when one thinks one is lost in fact you are just being taken right where you need to go… isn’t Life wonderful?

PS>> for those of you tempted, as we were by this fabulous view, this isn’t the castle you get to visit.  The National Trust property is a Nineteenth century country pile

Every A*sehole needs a but…

Saturday, August 30th, 2008

I wrote the other day about the use of the word “But” and its power to do harm.  The thing is, we seem to feel the need to vent, and that is a valid and natural consequence of letting things build up, rather than dealing with things as they arise.  Too often, rather than speaking up and saying what we feel, or asking for what we need, or speaking our truths we will either keep silent or toss off an “It doesn’t matter” and so the bitterness begins to build.

If we didn’t bottle, if we just spoke our truths at the time, before we began to feel resentful, then perhaps we would avoid dumping on others, which whilst it relieves the pressure, seldom is the best way to build relationships.  So today might be a good day for you to be a little braver about saying what you want / need / feel and seeing what magic might flow…

“The most effective way to achieve right relations with any living thing is to look for the best in it, and then help that best into the fullest expression.”

Visiting another brain…

Thursday, August 28th, 2008

I mentioned in an earlier blog that I had become caught up listening to Internet Radio, and the 24-7 standup comedy routines.  Now some of them are weird, some of them are wacky and some just plain not funny, but the thing that really hooks me is when someone like Eddie Izzard or Richard Prior or Robin Williams opens a little door in their head and takes us on a tour of their brains  from the inside

Now I don’t know about you, but even with family members, one seldom gets such a glimpse into their inner world.  They animate the tour with various voices and sound effects till  it feels more like a Disneyland ride than a person just talking.  They are capable of temporarily bending time and space and transporting you to an alternate reality where body parts have voices.

The thing is that we all experience this kinda-shared reality so differently and we all stay sane by ignoring this fact.  What would it be like if we had to take the time to synchronise realities with everyone we interacted with?  However, when it is important to really communicate it is a good idea to back up the conversation and make sure whether they are on Planet Me or Planet You first.

“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one. ”   Albert Einstein

“Reality leaves a lot to the imagination”  John Lennon

The same holiday for 53 years!

Wednesday, August 27th, 2008


I caught a segment on GM TV this morning as I was making a cup of coffee.  Three generations of this family had been back to the same room, in the same hotel, in the same town every year for 53 years!  They hired the same beach hut and sat on the same spot on the beach. 

Now I think that there is a huge value in habit and routine, it is a necessary part of life, but 53 years with no change?!?  Surely we have to find a balance between routine and new experiences?  We all get into a bit a of rut be it the way we work or what we do for breakfast.  Agony aunts and women’s magazines are constantly telling us to “Spice up our marriages” and whilst I don’ really think that is the way to approach it, we do need to keep fresh so that we have something fresh to offer.

The world around us is in flux, if we stand still, it just flows round us… Do we want to be the river or the boulder?

“All is flux, nothing stays still”   Heraclitus of Ephesus

A blessing or a curse?

Wednesday, August 27th, 2008

I caught all of 3 minutes of a documentary on Sky the other day called “The Real Dirk Diggler”.  It was the story of John Holmes, the man  on whose life the movie, Boggie Nights, was loosely based.  Without getting too bogged down in the specifics, this man was a very well endowed chap.  The interesting thing is that this apparent blessing became a curse that destroyed him.  He seemed to define and think of himself solely in terms of this ‘gift’.  Other people can take an event that would crush another person in their stride, just think of the Para-Olympics.  Why is it that an event that most people would label as ‘good’ can harm, and equally a ‘bad’ one can almost make someone?

I think the secret is that the events and things are not intrinsically good or bad, it is just how we chose to label and respond to them.  The same is true of people, if we label someone ‘no good’ then that is all that we see and all that we get from them.  Someone else with a more positive view almost certainly gets a much better response.  So our labels have huge power to affect not only our own lives but also those who we work and live with.  Labels, are just another handy, labour-saving devices, but they need reviewing or they can be dangerous.

So today maybe a good day to take stock of your labels and check they are all still valid and serving you.

“A name is a label, and as soon as there is a label, the ideas disappear and out comes label-worship and label-bashing, and instead of living by a theme of ideas, people begin dying for labels… and the last thing the world needs is another religion.”   Richard Bach


1.  The real Dirk Diggler


Sunday, August 24th, 2008

What an interesting little word this is.  I would think that we all use it every day but seldom pause to consider its potential impact.  It is a little modifying conjunction that tells the person that the first part of the sentence does not contain the full message.  “She is a nice girl but…”  or “He is a good worker but…”We all know that what comes next can having a damning impact. Think of how differently we might complete these sentences if the last word were ‘and’.

Clearly like all words ‘but’ has its place and purpose.  However, sometimes we could, and perhaps should, reconstruct our sentences to remove this little verbal land-mine.

Interestingly, there is an old English meaning of this word with French roots that means target (as in archery butts), sometimes this meaning feels a lot closer to the truth…

“Know your limits, but never accept them.

The top of the hill is but the bottom of another mountain.


Friday, August 22nd, 2008

In my work I have to work with the energy that I find in the room.  It is a little bit like surfing only unlike conventional surfing, you don’t know where the waves will take you.  You just have to respond to what you find and work with it.

Today I was helping three businessmen discuss merging their operations. I knew there was potentially a profitable deal to be done, but wasn’t at all sure that the personalities involved would be able to agree how to do this.  Interestingly, the tide twisted and turned and apparently insurmountable obstacles were steered round. 

When human beings come together there are always these invisible currents that flow and just like tides, they can be used to take you forward or they can impede your progress.  When you are able to ride a ‘big wave’ safely to the shore, there really is nothing quite like it!

The lowest ebb is the turn of the tide. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Are you an explorer?

Thursday, August 21st, 2008

I had three conversations today with three different strangers.  We talked about their businesses and their problems.  I have to say, I’m never happier than when I am exploring new ideas, new problems, new places; I guess that is one reason I love walking so much, a surprise round every bend.

The thing is if you enjoy exploring you are constantly going to be looking at new ideas and new ways of doing things and new people to do them with.  Obviously there is also value in working with the tried and tested and optimising the existing systems.  As ever, the art is in balancing these drives.

Bringing in new ideas can not only create new options but also help you to decide which of your existing ones really work for you and which ones might be ready for a change. Today maybe a good day to talk to someone new, read a different paper, ask instead of tell….

“What is the difference between exploring and being lost? Dan Eldon

You never know..

Wednesday, August 20th, 2008

what you don’t know.   I had an enquiry from my website yesterday from a German business, and also a call from an old contact that I had not heard from for 2 or 3 years who now works for another organisation.  Neither of these events was predictable but both could have an impact me.     

In modern business plans are elevated to almost divine status, but every plan I have ever seen has always had limitations & flaws.  In the immortal words of Donald Rumsfeld:-

“As we know,
There are known knowns.
There are things we know we know.
We also know
There are known unknowns.
That is to say
We know there are some things
We do not know.
But there are also unknown unknowns,
The ones we don’t know
We don’t know.”

The fact is that the unknown can have a positive as well as a negative impact on our lives and planning is all well and good, but our ability to handle and even enjoy the unknown is often a key ingredient to success.

“Your current safe boundaries were once unknown frontiers.”