Archive for January, 2011

Is Your Mind Set?

January 31st, 2011 | Specific | 0 Comments

All of us come to experiential learning or behavioural change with baggage.  It might be prior effort, previous ‘failure’ or past experiences.  Unlike real baggage, which can be a useful way to confine clothes to a finite and manageable space, the other sort of baggage can be a hindrance.  But not necessarily in the way that most people think it’s a hindrance.

In popular culture, ‘baggage’ often refers to emotional issues, whereby the past continues to affect the present because of a failure to resolve it and move on.  And these can be important, serious effects.  However, while the consequences may be far-reaching, the ‘baggage’ can usually be traced to specific events or circumstances.  What about ‘baggage’ that is more general and more amorphous – the ‘baggage’ that has been built up through countless small experiences, ‘baggage’ that you weren’t aware was being built?

And hence the question, “Is your mind set?”  For this type of ‘baggage’ produces a mindset that has the potential to influence your approach to learning and change.  By filtering out alternatives, by restricting choices and by constraining understanding, mindsets distort experience and experiences.  It’s the everyday, as you see it, and not necessarily the everyday that is or the everyday that could be:

Of course, the effects of mindsets are not as blatant as the video suggests and it may be that their subtlety masks their existence.  If you follow instructions or accept advice to alter your behaviour in certain ways, it is possible to overcome mindsets temporarily.  But putting your ‘baggage’ down for a while comes at a cost.  Overriding mindsets can be overwhelming, leading to subsequent loss of self control.

Don’t leave your ‘baggage’ circulating on the carousel while you attempt something, only to pick it up later.  This achieves little in a direct sense and the pervading effect and affect of the ‘baggage’ remains a significant, indirect influence.

‘Baggage’ is something that has to be actively managed and resolved, it has to be unpacked and then re-packed in a different way.

Is your mind set on lugging around your ‘baggage’?  Or can you set your mind to revise and replace your ‘baggage’?  It’s the everyday that produces the ‘baggage’; therefore, your ‘baggage’ removal efforts must be applied every day.

Slow Down, It’s Sunday

January 30th, 2011 | Related | 0 Comments

Every Sunday, ’tis nobler presents seven things that you may find inspiring, intriguing and informative.  Enjoy!

Are we ready for contact? 

Partition numbers behave like fractals!

Is there a link between meditation and plasticity? 

The Genius Dilemma

The Thomas Beale cipher – a true story or an almost 200 hundred year old hoax? 

We may want to say: if he pulls it off, he will have had a better life, even taking account of the terrible costs, than if he had not tried, because even an unrecognized great achievement makes a life a good one.  What is a good life? 

One man, one instrument, one spellbound audience, one magical experience!

Harmonious*

January 28th, 2011 | Strategic | 0 Comments

If you have any interest in public policy, what sort of interest is it?  Is it the sort that means you are interested, even if you don’t find it interesting?  Or is it the sort that means you are disinterested? 

Is it possible to be both interested and disinterested in an issue at the same time?  In a semantic sense, it is possible for curiosity or concern and impartiality can co-exist.  And yet, in a practical sense, an interest in something is so closely aligned with self-interest that co-existence is rendered nigh on impossible.  How often do you hear people say, “I don’t care what’s in it for me”?  And, when you do, how often do you think they truly mean it?

It seems that it is not possible to be interested in something without being interested in how this interest can work to your advantage.  If there is no probable advantage, interest disappears rapidly.  Of course, this alignment of interest with self-interest distorts the issue, some would say strategically while others would describe this distortion as expediency or duplicity.  Or is this too cynical?  How do you balance interest and disinterest, and how much of your interest is actually self-interest?

For this question can produce harmonious, inclusive solutions or discordant, exclusive reactions.  There are always choices and, as a society, we are defined by our choices.  More accurately, we are defined by the choices made on our behalf.

It is important for interest and disinterest to co-exist in experiential learning, for curiosity and objectivity extend learning and understanding.  Self-interest is not the pariah you might imagine, for positive self-interest need not operate at the expense of others.  Commit to positive self-interest at the beginning and then put it away in the bottom drawer for it is a cause and not a consequence of sustained learning and sustainable behavioural change.

Where interest, disinterest and self-interest are concerned, it seems that we still have a lot to learn:

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*  this post is in response to the disgraceful notion that, rather than contributing equitably to flood reconstruction ourselves through a temporary levy, we should pay for it by reducing foreign aid.

Be A Breeze

January 26th, 2011 | Specific | 0 Comments

It’s Australia Day today.

There are celebrations and ceremonies, flag waving and hoopla.  At the risk of being labelled un-Australian, for there really is no such thing, this collective national exuberance can seem a bit forced, as though it’s more important to be seen to be celebrating than to celebrate.

And this excessive outpouring of national pride (on one day of the year) links to ways of helping others.  Traditionally, the preferred helping approach is to be explicit and obvious, to be right there when needed, to be unambiguously supportive by making the support so apparent that nobody could fail to notice it.  It’s like shouting, “I AM HERE FOR YOU” from the rooftops, with possibly the best of intentions and probably the least useful of outcomes.

Some recent research has indicated that the value of social support is maximised when it is invisible, although perhaps less visible is more apt.  It’s the difference between performing a service and serving up a performance.  The former helps the recipient, the latter helps you.  And helping is about the other.

Experiential learning and behavioural change are full of opportunities to help and receive help; as these opportunities become performances, an end in themselves, they become a distraction and an irrelevance.

To give help, be invisible.  Make the help about the other, not about yourself.  Have an effect, affect their affect, and be there for them without being on stage, act without performing.  Have an influence much like the wind:

But even the wind can sometimes take centre stage, so perhaps the metaphor should be reconsidered.

Be a breeze.

Hoping, It’s Never Enough

January 24th, 2011 | Specific | 0 Comments

It was a Pope who said that hope springs eternal, the same Pope who was quoted in the ‘tis nobler post ‘Forgiving’. 

This Pope may have been clement, but he wasn’t Clement.  This Pope may have been innocent, but he wasn’t Innocent.  This Pope may have been urbane or pious, but he had too many letters to have been Urban or Pius.  And this is strange, for he was a man of letters.  This Pope was Alexander, and he was a Pope by name, not by office.

Hope springs eternal, and that is a good thing.  But the fact that hope springs eternal can also have a downside.  And this downside is when action is confined to hoping rather than being transferred to the doing.  You can hope for all eternity, yet your life can be eternally unchanging.  Hope is a starting point, not a destination.  Hope is a means, not an end.

Of course, this doesn’t stop us from committing to hopes as though this is the same as committing to action.  The best example of this may be resolutions, particularly around the New Year.  We resolve to change many aspects of our lives but our resolution to accomplish our resolutions is often less than resolute.  And, naturally, nothing is resolved for this is another of the (countless) examples of False Hope Syndrome.

Listen to the lyrics of ‘Hope’ by R.E.M. –

“You want to climb the ladder,

You want to see forever …

…..

And you’re looking for salvation,

And you’re looking for deliverance ….

….

You want to go forever …”

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You will never climb the ladder just by hoping to climb it.  You might want, really want, to go forever but unless you get going, you will never leave.

And you’re looking for deliverance, but deliverance is never delivered.  You have to do more than hope.

If you are hoping to learn experientially, you must first learn that hoping to learn may be necessary but it is always insufficient.  Effort is essential.

Slow Down, It’s Sunday

January 23rd, 2011 | Related | 0 Comments

Every Sunday, ’tis nobler presents seven things that you may find inspiring, intriguing and informative.  Enjoy!

Entanglement across distance is weird, but what about entanglement across time?

When self-knowledge is only the beginning.

Is scarcity the critical element in innovation? 

Clever way to demonstrate the effect of the Brisbane floods

The latest in a very long line of magnificent documentaries – Human Planet

On its 10th anniversary – The State of Wikipedia

Stunningly atmospheric (@ -20 degrees C) – Two Fifty Three Kelvin.

Are You My Mirror?

January 21st, 2011 | Specific | 0 Comments

According to Wikipedia, mirrors are commonly used for personal grooming or for admiring yourself.  Of course, all ‘mirrors’ require a reflective surface.  Or do they?

It’s good to take a long, hard look at yourself.  Not literally, of course, for admiring your reflection in the mirror – pleasing as it may be – is often frowned upon by others, where ‘others’, of course, denotes those of a jealous disposition.  Looking at yourself, figuratively more than literally, is an important component of self assessment, self management and experiential learning.

When you could, and should, be your own mirror – reflecting on, and then acting on, your learning experiences – it is more common to use others as your ‘mirror’.  As the video demonstrated, some are fortunate enough to see themselves (or the closest approximation possible) in another.  Yet, most of us will look at anyone else in order to see ourselves.  In their eyes, in their faces, in the tone of their voice and in the words they use, we extract our own value:

I know what you think of me, or at least I think I do.  I can see it in your eyes whenever we meet.  I can see it in the ways you behave towards me.  I’m not blind, you know, it’s as plain as the nose on your face.  Unless I’m mistaken, and I’m not, it’s a nose that is screwed up in disgust.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop at our self assessment of your ‘me-assessment’.  We use this information in ways that shape our own behaviour.  For a moment, a minute or a month and beyond, I become what you expect me to be.  Rather than using these expectations as one means, they become the only means.  And this means (no pun intended) that the end is different to that which it otherwise might be.

The effect of external expectations on a learning journey can make a useful contribution or distort it beyond recognition.  And this gives rise to some important questions.

Are you my mirror?  When I look at you looking at me, does what I see tell me anything about me or just something about you?

Be The Source

January 19th, 2011 | Specific | 0 Comments

This article  states that, from an advertising perspective, celebrity endorsements are almost always a big waste of money.

This raises the more general issue of message discounting in a learning and change context; if the source is not perceived as authoritative or authentic, the impact of the message is diluted; we discount its value and dismiss its message.  As a result, advertisers spend very large amounts of money to portray their particular version of the Emperor wearing the very finest clothes.  More time and effort is spent on making the inauthentic appear authentic than on actually changing the inauthentic.

And these efforts persist because they exploit one of our failings – our inability to retain the discounting effect.  What we might discount and/or dismiss now could be something that we recall and/or act on in the future, in part because we have discounted and/or dismissed the original discounting.

And this failing contributes to the so-called sleeper effect, the delayed impact of persuasive material some time after exposure to it.  The second contribution to the sleeper effect is the initial ‘wow’ factor of the initial exposure – it has to be sufficiently memorable to re-surface when the discounting has disappeared.  And then we accept what was said, we change in ways that were recommended and we’re ultimately persuaded by the very things that we originally dismissed.  And so the world turns and, often, it’s like waiting for the end of the world:

Learning can never depend on just waiting, can never depend on the messages that others impart for their own purposes and can never depend on the insincerity to dissipate over time such that insincerity is replaced by the apparent sincerity of the original message.  One strategy to cope with this maelstrom of messages and massaging is to be the source rather than the recipient.

For then, you can never discount the content of your experiences.  Or can you?  Sleep as a learner and your learning may only exist in your dreams.  Wait as a learner and your learning may only ever exist in the future.  Receive as a learner and your learning may never be as authentic as you need it to be.

Find your own way.  Be the source of your learning and change.

Fair, Just Fair Or Just, Fair

January 17th, 2011 | Specific | 0 Comments

In recent times, there has been much speculation about tragedies and controversies.  Much of this has been driven by a need to fill up space in a medium, be it press, radio or television.  Nature abhors a vacuum; unfortunately, nature is oblivious to much of this content.  Otherwise, it may find it more abhorrent than a vacuum.

Whether it has involved Wikileaks, floods or anti-government protests, our brows have been beaten by others beating their chests – “Listen to me,” “I am telling the truth,” “This is what it means.”  Our lives have been buffeted, our senses assailed.  And often with a resolute determination to prolong rather than resolve, to inflame rather than enlighten.  Such is the way it usually appears.  And such is the way it usually is.

But change need not mean turmoil.  And variability need not mean uncertainty.  At times, it may appear easier to succumb but it is always better to sustain, sustain yourself and your journey.  For there are silver linings:

But these silver linings are just that – linings – and it is always difficult to cope with the clouds.  And every learning journey, every journey, will have clouds.  What can you do to help with coping in the short term and then, in the longer term, prevailing?  Research has indicated that perspective is important in this regard.

Daily evidence suggests that justice, fairness, optimism and hope are in short supply and that, as a result, there is a strong emphasis on seeing the clouds only.  However, people with a strong need to believe that life is fair and just, and not just fair, are more likely to see the silver linings.

The forest and the trees, the clouds and the linings, glasses half full or half empty – perspective determines how we handle with all of these situations.  On an experiential learning or behavioural change journey, it is tempting to only acknowledge the clouds and decide the effort is not worthwhile.  Is there any type of defeat worse than being self-defeated.

Fair, just fair or just, fair.  Think that sentence through and then find your own way past the clouds.

Slow Down, It’s Sunday

January 16th, 2011 | Related | 0 Comments

Every Sunday, ’tis nobler presents seven things that you may find inspiring, intriguing and informative.  Enjoy!

Fascinating stuff – spend some time exploring the IceCube.

So many amazing places in the world – here’s Pamukkale, Turkey.

7 billion – have a look around.

Why can’t we walk straight

Don’t be taken in by those that deny it’s real – read this

Antimatter can be produced during thunderstorms. 

Ladies and gentlemen, the wonderful Larry Griswold.

Normal posting resumes next week.  Please hold the applause :-)

Slow Down, It’s Sunday

January 9th, 2011 | Related | 0 Comments

Every Sunday, ’tis nobler presents seven things that you may find inspiring, intriguing and informative.  Enjoy!

The longest day doesn’t have the earliest sunrise and the latest sunset.

Are there early warning signs that are common to different types of catastrophes? 

Train of thought – a marvellous short film.  Make sure to watch the ‘making of’ video as well. 

Thoughts on possible scientific developments in 2011. 

Is there ever an end to the things that make you ask, “How can this (be allowed to) happen?” 

My Blackberry is not working

Mesmerising Dutch Winter.

Slow Down, It’s Sunday

January 2nd, 2011 | Related | 0 Comments

Every Sunday, ’tis nobler presents seven things that you may find inspiring, intriguing and informative.  Enjoy!

What’s the biggest number you can write down? 

Bad Astronomy presents its top astronomy pictures for 2010. 

It still seems to work, even when we know it’s a placebo -  with more background here.

Einstein’s God

Don’t stop the pop, a mashup of the top 25 billboard hits of 2010. 

Meet the woman without fear

Sticks and Stones”, a song by Jonsi, a video from Dreamworks.