...And Why It Matters
As human beings we are skating on very thin ice with our sense of self and certainty about "how things are" and what we like to think of as reality:
- What if everything we think we know and base our security and certainty on really is an illusion?
- What if most of the world's major religious and philosophical traditions have actually all been pointing to a far greater truth and reality to which we are oblivious?
- What if there really is a better way of living in alignment with this greater truth and reality?
- What if our blindness to this greater truth and reality and our consequent non-alignment will lead us to a post death oblivion and cause us to miss out on being alive, more alive, and more whole than we had ever been this side of the grave?
How Not To Be Stupid.
Who is in charge of your brain? This is not a silly questions. It matters because the outcomes that you experience in your life are determined by how you respond to the events that impact you.
The quality of your responses are shaped by how effectively you think, and this is a learned skill.
Your ability to think effectively, your responses, and the long term impact of the choices that you make can have a major effect on your health, wealth and happiness.
So let's take a look inside your skull and see if we can figure out who is in charge of your brain and what that means.
The Incredible Benefits Of Selective Attention.
This is not a typical article about how to be a winner. We are not going to talk about goal setting, the importance of habits, the power of focus and all the other usual practical pointers to winning in life.
This article is about how to be a winner on a very large scale.
I am a business man so inevitably my focus is on the world of business, but whilst the principles that I am going to share with you here are derived from the world of investment and business they have a wider application in many different contexts.
These are not only principles but I will also share practical action points on how to be a winner on a large scale.
How To Achieve Your Biggest Objectives.
The metagame approach to life is all about winning and achieving your biggest objectives by:
- Understanding the bigger picture
- Being better by doing things differently
- Making moves that others find hard to imitate or counter
- Redefining the game on your terms and creating your own path to success
The metagame approach to life can be used in various different contexts which may include your career, your business, your education and personal development and even your personal relationships.
This is not about abstract ideas and concepts, this is about actions. Here are 3 strategies for applying the metagame approach to life.
Walking The Path Of Compassion.
Shantideva the 8th century Indian Buddhist sage is famous for his treatise "The Way of the Bodhisattva" delivered as an extended teaching to the monks of Nalanda monastery/university.
In Buddhist terminology a "Bodhisattva" is someone who has taken a vow to put others first and to postpone his/her entry to Nirvana [a permanent state of enlightenment] until all other sentient beings have achieved enlightenment, but what exactly do we mean by enlightenment?
This all sounds very worthy and dramatic, but what does this really mean in practice?
History is always about context, not imposing our own moral values on the past.
For those of us fortunate enough to live within western democracies, we are living in an age where a vociferous and intolerant minority have an uneasy relationship with their own country's history over the past 300 years.
This has led to what has been framed as the ‘culture wars’ that are being actively pursued in our media, public spaces, museums, universities, schools, civil services, local government, business corporations and all other public institutions.
This vociferous and intolerant minority claim that ‘facing up’ to a past which they present as overwhelmingly and permanently shameful is the route to "a more inclusive future".
But is it?
How To Be Lived By The Tao.
The Tao Te Ching is one of those books that many people read, few understand, and even fewer put into practice.
The only way to know the Tao is to experience it, and it is experienced in your heart not your head.
The words in the Tao Te Ching are not a belief system. This is not something that you can grasp intellectually.
"Only in being lived by the Tao can you truly be yourself."
Chaos, Disorder And Decay Is The Natural Order Of Things.
Nobody has the perfect life. We all struggle and strive to attain health, wealth and personal happiness.
Yet these three big areas: our health, our wealth and our relationships are where we all get hung out to dry – sooner or later.
To see how things really are is to become conscious of our unconscious assumptions about ourselves and our world, and to bring them into the light of full consciousness, and to notice how, on close inspection, these assumptions often contradict our actual experience.
How To Tell The Difference Between Intuition and Anxiety.
How do you know whether the voice of your intuition is real or just the product of your inner anxiety?
Several months ago I was having a drink with a friend and I asked how she was getting on with her boyfriend.
"Oh he's a very good man, a really decent human being, he'd make a wonderful husband and an excellent father... but I'm gonna end it."
So naturally I asked why.
"I have this feeling, this intuitive feeling, that this is not right for me..."
Fast forward 3 months and they were spending their weekends together and planning a holiday in Portugal! I asked what had changed, and why, and she said:
"I now see that so many times when I was dating or in relationships I thought I was hearing my intuition but I was actually hearing anxiety.
How the truth and nothing but the truth is often not the whole truth.
My great aunty Flo broke her arm and died.
It is true that she broke her arm in 1923. It is also true that she died in 1949. But there is no cause and effect relationship between these 2 events. The only connection between these events is that they appear in the same sentence.
That is a simple illustration of how the acccurate and honest reporting of two truths is not the whole truth.
To understand the whole truth we have to look at all the known and established facts and see the whole picture, which is often not as binary as it is often presented.
Anything less than this is a partial truth.
Duality and life beyond your thinking mind focuses on the limitations of time, foreground and background, duality and "stuckness".
The first aspect of duality and life beyond your thinking mind focuses on the limitations of time, or more accurately our perception and experience of time.
Put simply, and dramatically, there is no time.
Time – more accurately described as “clock time” or “psychological time” - is a product of the mind.
The course of time is really like the course of a ship in the ocean. The ship moves, and leaves behind it a wake, and the wake fades out, and it tells us where the ship has been in the same way our past, and our memory of the past, tells us where we have been.
Being aware is the first stage of being prepared.
The conscious mind is limited in so many ways. There are some who would argue that there is no such thing as conscious thought and that it is represents little more than an internal multi-modal display of thoughts arising from processes that are hidden to us.
Let's temporarily park the idea that the content of the conscious mind is an illusion and take a practical look at some of the many ways in which the conscious mind is limited, and how to deal with it.
The big picture of how your inner map of reality creates your feelings, thoughts, and behaviours.
Your inner map of reality is based on the filters of your own ethnic, national, social, family and religious background, and you interpret and experience life from the perspective of that map.
It can grow, change and adapt in response to new information and this in turn will be heavily influenced by your attitudes and beliefs.
Your inner map of reality will reflect your past experience and therefore influence your expectations and behaviour. It represents the truth as you understand it.
Why we need to wear our beliefs lightly and develop negative capability.
Throughout history people have campaigned to fight beliefs, ideologies, and injustices that they perceived to be oppressive, discriminating and morally wrong.
Brave men and women have dedicated their lives to succesfully campaigning to bring about major change in society.
They have achieved this by debate, demonstrations, lobbying, discussion and argument and above all else engagement.
But the failure of cancel culture is that it does not seek engagement. It does not allow for any point of view other than its own.
Most People Spend Their Entire Life Imprisoned Within The Confines Of Their Own Thoughts.
This first of the 4 big reasons why we get stuck is, in my view, the most important.
The "self-help industry" generates $ USD billons per year, and many of us buy books and attend courses on how to improve ourselves.
Yet most of the time we don’t change.
We can’t change - it's why we get stuck.
We have unconscious (and thus hidden) resistance. And yet we believe that if we keep on trying we can somehow gain control of our lives.
We Would Rather Die Than Change, And We Usually Do
In my experience, the vast majority of people who say they want to change don’t change.
Most people reading this won’t change because they don’t really want to change.
They may on the surface, consciously, believe that they want to change, but there are at least 3 powerful forces at work that will likely undermine you.
Unless you are aware of these forces and know how to deal with them, you will not succeed and you will remain the same as the vast majority of the human race.
Beyond the content of your mind you are so much more than you think you are.
When we talk of "myself" this is the conventional way of referring to our self image which is in fact the ego's construction of its sense of self.
I find it helpful to imagine the ego as our operating system and absolutely essential, in the same way "Windows 11" is essential for successful functioning of our laptops.
But as with "Windows 11", however clever it is, it is just a piece of software. So when we say me, myself or I, metaphorically, think of “Windows 11" with self awareness!
But beyond the content of your mind you are so much more than you think you are...
This is not an instruction manual, it is a wake up call!
Over this past week I have read Professor James Carse's highly regarded "Finite And Infinite Games - A Vision Of Life As Play And Possibility" from cover to cover several times.
It opens with the lines: “There at least two kinds of games. One could be called finite, the other infinite."
Carse uses game theory as an analogy for two alternative views of how to play the game of life.
This is a strange and challenging book that can change what you think you know about life and how you live it.
How Your Lizard Brain Sabotages Your Happiness
We are hardwired to measure our progress in any and all areas of life where we have goals and aspirations. We can't not do it.
But what we measure and how we measure matters because our default progress measurement setting leads to self sabotage and results in deep unhappiness and dissatisfaction with our lives.
So What Exactly Does It Mean to Wake Up - What Is "Enlightenment"?
There is nothing magical, mystical or mysterious about waking up we’re actually having glimpses of enlightenment all the time.
Enlightenment - waking up - means:
- To be free of the effects of your mind
- To be unencumbered with thoughts about the past or the future
- To be 100% present-moment-aware
This is also sometimes referred to as a "Unity Consciousness".
This is an experience and not an idea. This is not something to attained or sought after. This is a deeply practical way to live.
The focus of this article is to offer 4 simple practices to show you how to wake up and to live like this now:
Situational communication is about taking account of 3 often ignored factors about the other person.
You are a situational communicator when you recognise that effective communication is not an event but a process.
This process is about understanding the other person's past experience, their competence and the way they behave in relation to whatever it is you want to accomplish, and then adopting the appropriate type of communication.
The secret to how to influence without authority is that you get what you really want by giving other people what they really want.
We live in an interconnected world and knowing how to influence without authority is an increasingly important communictation skill.
The fundamental principle of how to influence without authority is mirrored reciprocation whereby you get what you really want by giving other people what they really want.
This goes beyond the transactional and is about building a "win-win" that addresses our deepest needs as human beings.
Asking The Right Questions Is Critical For A Successful Change.
Every time we initiate a significant change - whether in our personal life or in an organisation - we will most likely over-estimate our chances of a successful outcome and under-estimate the likelihood that things will not work out as we had planned.
This article is part of a series on the art of persuasion, communication and change based on my 45 years in business, and I going to share with you a framework of questions that will enable you to successfully handle any significant change.
Group culture is: "How we do things round here".
We like to see ourselves as free agents making our own choices and living authentically but the reality is that The Matrix has many layers and we are unaware that we are more enmeshed and ensnared than we realise.
We are, to a very large extent, governed by our conditioning and our hardwired cognitive biases.
Group culture is another one of those things that also has a very powerful influence on our thought processes, decisions and behaviours.
Here's how group culture affects you and how you can take advantage of it.
In circumstances of significant change, the progress from A to B will not be in a straight line.
We run our lives largely on auto-pilot. In most circumstances your experience of getting from A to B is relatively smooth and seemless, and when it isn't you have established ways and means of overcoming the bumps and obstructions.
But when getting from A to B involves making significant changes such as (a) doing something new that will change the existing modus operandi; or (b) launching a major initiative or new venture, the progress from A to B will not be in a straight line.
For you as an individual or an organisation it is critical that you apply the "business as usual" test.
To be successful in the art of persuasion you must ensure that certain things happen.
To be successful in the art of persuasion you must establish a framework of what has to happen to get you to that successful buyin to your proposal by the other person.
Circumstances will vary enormously. Persuading a friend to bring their family and join with yours on an Airbnb holiday is one thing and less complex than persuading the leader of a special interest group or a public institution to commit to a programme of activity or to adopt a policy.
The process outlined here can be scaled up or simplified as the circumstances require.
Create The Environment Where They Want To Buyin to Your Proposal
In order to build the win-win you have to uncover what it is that the other person really wants or needs, and to do that you have to ask questions.
There are a series of steps you need to go through, which make the other person feel comfortable with you and see the purpose in your questions.
In this article we are focused on advanced communication skills that will help you achieve this.
The art of persuasion is based on the simple idea that you get what you want by enabling the other party to get what they want.
Being a nice friendly person with good inter-personal skills may be a good start but it is not enough.
For this to happen you, as the persuader, need to exercise these skills that will enable this to happen.
It's not the strongest that survive, nor the most intelligent, but those who are most responsive to change, the most persuasive, and the best communicators.
We are living in an age of unprecedented change.
We are now part of a world of far greater globalisation, connection and interdependence than at any other age in human history.
In the current age, it's not the strongest that survive and succeed, nor the most intelligent, but those who are most responsive to change, the most persuasive, and the best communicators.
Here's why the skills involved in communication persuasion and change are so important:
What Is Important Is Seldom Urgent And What Is Urgent Is Seldom Important.
The Eisenhower Box is a time management and decision-making model devised by President Dwight Eisenhower to help him prioritize and address the many high-stakes issues he had to deal with as a US Army general, Supreme Allied Commander of NATO Forces, and as president of the United States.
The Eisenhower Box has two key elements that are not always present in other time management tools:
 It distinguishes between what is urgent and what is important.
 It has a ‘delete’ option.
Here's how to prepare to apply The Eisenhower Box:
Lost In Our Delusions About Enlightenment.
There is something in human nature - a desire to glamorise, sanctify, objectify and idolise – that elevates people who have offered deep insights to the human race and thus put distance between them and the rest of us.
But these great ones have exactly the same psychological, emotional, and physiological equipment as the rest of us. To put it bluntly – we all share the same basic equipment.
If one can do it so can we all.
The Wisdom Of A Person Who Masters In Any Art Is Reflected In Their Every Attitude.
The state and quality of your mind has a very large bearing on the quality of your performance in any area of life that really matters to you.
These 5 zen mindsets for mastery are drawn from the world of martial arts, and are grounded in zen practices.
Fortunately, you do not need to a be a practitioner of martial arts to practice and apply these mindsets - but it does help to have some experience of basic mindfulness practice.
We can all learn and practice these mindsets and benefit by excelling in any area of life that is important to us.
Toxicity Is The Price Tag Of Accessibility.
In the early days of online dating, users were vetted and had to go through a registration process and agree to comply with a code of conduct designed to ensure that they conducted themselves in a reasonably courteous and civilised manner.
Now in the post-covid era when we have all become so used to ordering just about anything online, with a home-delivery in 24-48 hours, online dating apps are increasingly popular as a quick and easy way to meet new people.
But that accessibility comes at a cost - and the price tag is the toxicity of the behaviour of so many users of these apps.
Here are 6 tips for dealing with it.
How Not To Be Fooled By Randomness.
Ergodicity is an ugly word from the world of mathematics. It is an umbrella term for two sets of conditions of probability and outcome.
These two conditions form the basis of a lie that you have been sold by governments, economists and investment "advisors" for the past 150 years.
What may seem to be a dry and boring exercise in semantics and mathematical fancy footwork very rapidly morphs into:
 A potent expose of how we have been misled and ripped off by the so called experts, and then offers
 An explanation of how to side step these lies and fallacies and position yourself for survival and success.
How You Frame A Situation Has A Profound Impact On How You Respond To It Emotionally.
Imposter syndrome is a psycho-emotional experience of a fear of being found out as incompetent despite ongoing evidence to the contrary.
The effects of imposter syndrome include increased anxiety, under-performance and depression. It can affect mental health and overall functioning. In short, it is debilitating.
In my experience people can, and do, waste a lot of time thinking about their issue and analyzing it, typically how they got it, why they have got it, how it affects them, and talking with other people with the same or similar issue.
This has some value, but it is limited. Being informed about your problem is not going to solve it. The real work lies in dealing with your head and your heart, your thoughts and your emotions.
Here's how it works:
Issues You'll Face When Playing The Long Game.
The challenges of the road less traveled is loosely based around the phrase popularised by M.Scott Peck with his book "The Road Less Traveled".
This article is about the the journey that some of us take as we work towards a long term goal, and that involves hidden steps that we have to figure out as we go.
It involves the sacrifice of short term gains for long-term wins.
The purpose of this article is:
1. To provide a route map
2. To identify the challenges we will face on this journey
3. To offer solutions to overcoming the challenges of the road less traveled.
These Unseen Margins Can Have A Very Dramatic Impact On Your Life.
To understand how to benefit from the unseen margins we need to start by understanding what they are and where we find them.
In this article I am going to explain:
# What Unseen Margin Is And How To Measure It
# Where To Find Unseen Margin In An Environment Of Complexity
# 5 Key Tips To Benefit From Unseen Margin
# Guiding Principles To Benefit From Unseen Margin
It Isn't The Process Of Prayer That’s The Problem, It’s The Way It’s Framed.
Regardless of what we feel about Madonna or her song the topic of prayer often arouses strong reactions.
Usually, it is something that we associate with organised religion and for most of us this is not on our current radar.
For the modern person who is not a practitioner or devotee of a faith tradition this framing of prayer does not resonate.
Here is an alternative approach.
3 Key Tips
The art of thinking clearly starts with the sobering realisation that our brains are designed to achieve two things: Survival and Reproduction!
98% of our thinking is unconscious, automatic and impulsive.
This thinking uses our mammalian brain which is all about emotions and is driven by our reptilian brain which is focused on survival.
The art of clear thinking is developed and exercised when we use the more recently evolved parts of our brain. This involves slower thinking that is thoughtful, deliberate, and calculating.
Here are 3 key tips.
5 Useful Heuristics From Algorithms To Live By
The thesis of the book "Algorithms to Live By" is that algorithms developed for computers can be used by people in everyday life in a wide range of situations.
But I don't think that's true because an algorithm is dependent on specific fixed conditions whereas real life is more fluid.
But some of the principles drawn from algorithms can be useful as a mental shortcut - or a "rule of thumb" to solving problems promptly and efficiently without having to take the time to think through your decision.
Here are 5 examples.
The Art Of Being Wise Is The Art Of Knowing What To Overlook.
We are blessed and cursed to live in the digital age. We have access to more information than we can possibly handle yet we struggle to find the signal in the noise.
We are drowning in a tsunami of 24/7 news, a swamp of social media and cesspit of trivia and garbage.
Like junkies seeking their next fix, we gorge on information, blindly seeking substance beneath the froth and bubble.
So how do we find the signal in the noise?
A Checklist Is A Safety Net That Encourages Better Results And Prevents Avoidable Mistakes.
The volume and complexity of what we know has exceeded our individual ability to deliver its benefits correctly, safely, or reliably. Knowledge has both saved us and burdened us.
Checklists provide protection against such failures. They remind us of the minimum necessary steps and make them explicit.
How To Avoid The 7 Causes Of Everyday Stupidity.
We are all capable of everyday stupidity as we undertake routine tasks in our business and working lives and also in our personal lives.
This is not about about a lack of intelligence.
This is about is how we regularly overlook or dismiss crucial information that is often right in front of us and the resulting human error can at a minimum cause significant hassle and inconvenience and in the worst cases cause catastrophic loss of life.
Here are 4 tips on how not to be stupid.
Only The Experts Survived Evolution.
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's there are few."
These are the famous words of Shunryu Suzuki in "Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind" who did so much to promote and popularize Zen Buddhism in the US during the 1960's.
The implication is that to have knowledge and experience of a subject - to have the mind of an expert - is limiting and we should always assume the mindset of a novice with no prior knowledge or expertise and maintain an open mind.
Is this really what Suzuki meant? What exactly was he driving at?
Let's Make Today A Good Day.
You may not have chosen the condition of being alone, and it may have been imposed upon you by circumstances beyond your control, but your response to the situation is within your control.
The art of being alone is a skill.
It is a skill that you can acquire by training, practice and experience.
Here's how to do it.
We Follow The Herd - We Mimic Other People's Choices.
Fear of missing out - or FOMO as it is popularly referred to - is the feeling that everyone else in your peer group is having much more fun than you are.
FOMO is an emotional response of envy, jealousy, inadequacy and at root a deep seated insecurity reflecting fragile self-esteem.
Here's how to deal with it.
Exercising Balance and Discernment.
I have just updated these self improvement resources with a number of additional sources of material that are practical and can help you change your life.
Check it out. It's all free!
This Is The You That Is Beyond Your Thinking Mind.
This is the big you, the transcendent you, the you that is often referred to as your higher consciousness or higher self.
This is the you that acts as your conscious mind's portal to the universe, everything conventionally thought of as outside of you.
This is the you that is connected to every thing and everyone else.This is the non-dualistic you that does not see distinction between 'this and that' and experiences 'everything' as unity.
Here's how to connect with your higher self.
Gratitude And Attitude Are Not Challenges, They Are Choices.
The power of gratitude quite simply is that it is good for you!
Many of us were raised by parents who instilled in us the social niceties of saying "please" and "thank you".
Whilst those ingrained courtesies have their place in oiling the wheels of social intercourse there is an important dynamic at work in the expression of gratitude, and it comprises two elements, namely framing and focus.
How you mentally characterize a situation has a profound impact on how you respond to it emotionally and, over time, this has a significant effect on the results you create in your own life and in the lives of others.