State of the Nation

This message marks 5 years of weekly insights. Every week I’ve committed my thoughts, ideas and inspirations to ‘paper’ and asked you to be my witness.

Thank you so much for your continuing interest in what I have to say. As you’re still here I guess it must be of some interest!

Look out for some changes to the format from next week, probably shorter, possibly a little more frequent and potentially a slight change in tone and emphasis.

We shall both see as I’m not really quite sure yet what it’s going to look like!

I’ve been thinking, as I’m wont to do, about ‘stuff’.

About ‘things’ – primarily three-dimensional things – and I’ve come to the ‘conclusion’ that things are in one, perhaps more, of three ‘states’.

There may also be a fourth ‘state’ to cater for things that aren’t three dimensional such as thoughts, concepts, ideas and images.

Consider three dimensional objects – anything from a continent to a simple molecule or an atom.

I would say these are in a state of ‘existence’ – they have size and shape, they are three dimensional, you can pick them up, travel across them, sit on them, drink out of them.

Some people might describe them as ‘inanimate objects’, which indeed is what they are as one of the key things about them is they have all, at some time or another, been ‘made’.

Somehow, they have been constructed, created, out of pure energy aggregating in a random, natural or directed way.

Every ‘thing’ is composed of energy in space and it’s the arrangement of those two and the particular vibrational properties of the energy which cause the object concerned to exist.

The important reality to understand here is they cannot create themselves, the energy and space are directed according to natural patterns (related to the periodic table of the elements) or just at random, or, put together, created or replicated by a ‘thing’ which is in a higher ‘state’.

These ‘higher’ things have a peculiar property. They can replicate themselves. These objects are called ‘living things’.

A rock, a wine glass, a virus, a cheese sandwich, exists – but it doesn’t have the capability of replicating itself – a living thing has to do it.

The way a living thing reproduces or replicates itself is by following a set of instructions and in the same way, it replicates other things by following instructions.

Before I explain this further I need to go on to the third state of existence.

Being – or be-ing

A ‘living being’ is rather more than just a third dimensional living thing. It has a fourth dimensional element to it.

The dimension of thought.

You see, as living beings, or more exactly ‘human’ beings (there is much evidence that other forms of life have fourth dimensional attributes as well) you and I, unlike simple living things, can create our own instructions for ‘making’ or replicating third dimensional objects.

We don’t have the capability of creating other living things except by exploiting their own reproductive attributes, well, at least, not as yet, but we can replicate wine glasses and cheese sandwiches – according to the instructions we’ve worked out.

There are some curious anomalies, one at least, in this framework. There are some non-living objects which contain within them the instructions allowing living things to replicate them. These are what we call viruses.

It’s true also that some living things contain the instructions for other living things to replicate them, but they can, as a definition of life, do it by themselves.

Now this is where ‘being’ becomes important.

As beings, you and I have a choice.

We can choose what we wish to replicate and what we don’t. We can choose how much of something we replicate.

We can even choose to what standard we replicate something.

Just because we have the instructions, we don’t have to follow them, and we don’t have to follow them exclusively.

We know how to make cheese sandwiches, but we don’t make them all exactly the same, and we don’t spend every waking moment making cheese sandwiches just because we can.

We choose.

If we don’t want, need or desire more of something, then we don’t make it. If we only want ten of something, we only make ten.

If we followed the logic of ‘we have the instructions, we must keep making these things’, the world would long since have been covered with Swedish bookcases!

The only thing is, we must believe we have a choice. If we don’t believe we don’t have to replicate something just because we have the instructions, or if we do believe we have no alternative but to replicate it, then we will.

And like the Sorcerer’s Apprentice we will be overwhelmed.

Partners in Believing

This a term I first heard from Mary Morrissey, founder of the Brave Thinking Institute, but this is not necessarily about shared beliefs.

‘Partners in Believing’ may have different beliefs, different faiths, different cultural understandings: what it’s about is ‘believing’ itself.

What you or I believe in doesn’t matter. We can be ‘partners in believing ‘even though our beliefs are different.

This may be a little difficult to grasp, so I’ll explain – or at least attempt to!

The first thing is that the majority of folk don’t really believe in anything, they may pay lip service to something or other and as examples politics and religion immediately come to mind.

People vote Conservative or Labour, Republican or Democrat, but very few of them believe in the principles any of those parties stand for.

Many votes are cast for one party as a vote against the other, or on a ‘what’s in it for me’ basis – not for whatever the party they voted for proposes or stands for.

I have friends in Ireland, some are staunch Catholics, others committed Protestants – or so they say.

I was at a funeral over there a few years ago, I’ve never heard the Lord’s Payer recited so fast – almost as one word. No meaning behind what was being said.

They ‘religiously’ attend Mass or Communion on Sunday, just a brief interruption to everyday life, and the things they do most of the time don’t really reflect the beliefs of the religions they are supposed to be following.

I know many Christians and Muslims who never attend their places of worship, in fact, the only time they think about religion is when they fill in a census form or consider a wedding or funeral!

The point is, most people have no belief in anything, including themselves. They may have opinions about things, but opinions are in no way the same as beliefs.

A true belief is something fundamental to how your I live our lives. It’s closely aligned to, but not the same as ‘faith’, and again I use faith not as related to religion but as what you might describe as an ‘unsubstantiated belief’.

You can look at belief as something for which there is ‘evidence’ that you believe, and faith as something you believe and trust in for which there is little or no demonstrable evidence of any kind.

Belief in one’s self is like that. You and I believe we can be do and have whatever we wish for, we have faith in this belief, and this leads us to the actions we take in our daily lives to support that belief.

This is what having ‘partners in believing’ is all about – supporting each other in our belief and faith in ourselves.

Believing in each other’s personal belief about ourselves.

And when your belief ‘fades’ and you find things ‘difficult’ for some reason or other then – and here’s the key – you can ‘believe in my belief in you’.

As partners in believing we ‘lend’ each other our belief in each other when needed.

“I believe you can do it – I believe you are doing it” – whatever it might be. “I believe in who you are and in who you are becoming”

We usually find our partners in believing as ‘fellow travellers’ – those who have trod the same path at some time, those who have shared our journey and whose journeys we have shared, even for a relatively short time.

From time to time we encounter people who are genuine, people who really have a belief in themselves.

Too many people on this planet either have no belief in much of anything or have ‘sold’ their belief to someone else like a political or religious leader, sometimes even a ‘celebrity’.

They have ‘sold their Soul to the devil’ and are living their life through someone else.

It can even happen in a marriage, or people who live their lives through their children, forgetting that in order to really support your ‘loved ones’ you have to believe in your self first.

We call on our partners in believing for two things.

The first is inherent ongoing ‘moral support’ – knowing that there are others who believe in us, whatever we are doing and why.

It’s an underlying ‘knowing’ we are not alone.

Second, we can ask for help and advice or just to act as a ‘sounding board’ for our ideas.

Our partners in believing are the people we can got to with our crazy ideas and our blocks and restrictions for advice, support, help or even just for them to ‘hear us out’ – without any negative response.

We can work together as a ‘Mastermind Group’ looking at our ideas and issues, we can carry out mutual mentoring or coaching and occasionally use our personal expertise to provide practical assistance, or open up our networks to find someone else who may be able to assist.

Of course, you and I could decide to ‘go it alone’ but with just a few partners in believing the outcome of all our intentions is achieved more rapidly and more effectively, beyond measure.

Who are your Partners in Believing?

“You’ll Catch Your Death . . .”

A favourite saying of the pre-baby boomer generation, tended to be followed by “Wrap up warm”.

There seems to have been sone idea that cold – by itself – was responsible for many ‘seasonal’ diseases.

The very name ‘common cold’ (the result of a coronavirus infection) reinforces this idea that diseases are caused or spread by ‘cold’.

Because people ‘catch cold’ when the weather is cold. the idea one ‘causes’ the other is a logical connection which rapidly becomes a ‘belief’ in the absence of further understanding.

The more this belief is repeated, the more it, and the conditioning that goes with it, spreads.

Up until quite recently when additional understanding of the causes of disease grew, people fully believed the previous logic – after all “it stands to reason” as the saying goes.

In the same way the Earth is flat, and the Sun revolves around the Earth were ‘reasonable’ and ‘logical’ assumptions of their time.

Essentially, we are very ‘simple’ creatures. We look at the world around us and what is going on superficially. We draw conclusions from what seems to us to be ‘obvious’. We like to come up with quick ‘answers’ for any situation.

What’s happening is our primitive brain is kicking in, looking for a quick ‘fight or fight’ response – an ‘urgent’ decision – because that’s what we used to have to do in most situations.

Seven seconds

Seven seconds is the time it takes for us to come up with a ‘first impression’ about someone

Seven seconds is the time it takes for us to decide whether we’re going to read beyond the ‘headline’

Seven seconds is the time it takes for us to dismiss or engage with pretty much anything

Seven seconds – or less – is how long it takes for our ‘primitive logic’ to kick in and make a decision from which we start to establish our belief about something.

Fortunately, in most cases, the higher levels of our brains, the subconscious and conscious, then take over and we consider the situation in more detail.

We question our primary decision, we compare it with those personal ‘truths’ or beliefs we have already established and then we reinforce it, dismiss it, or amend it to fit in with our existing belief framework.

If however, we don’t have any existing beliefs that relate to this ‘new’ information then we are inclined to take this initial decision on board, whether ‘for’ or ‘against’, as the basis for a new belief and truth set.

Then, unless we subscribe to the idea ‘changing our mind’ is allowed, it ‘sticks’ and is used as part of the belief set against which future first impressions are compared.

This is where ‘problems’ arise with truth and belief and the so-called ‘facts’ that support them.

The thing is that none of these, nor the concepts of, good and bad, right and wrong and other binary decision options have any basis in reality.

There is no universal ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ or any of the others. They are all a matter of personal belief and personal choice.

No-one could ever have persuaded Hitler he was ‘wrong’ because as far as he was concerned, he fully believed he was ‘right’ – and he persuaded most of the German population to agree with him at the time.

It may be difficult to understand this even though on a day to day basis you and I are continually coping with other people not understanding or taking on board our ideas.

Think about it, it happens all the time. Some people just cannot grasp where you (or I) are ‘coming from’!

They cite ‘evidence’ we are ‘wrong’, we show evidence we are ‘right’ and unless very lucky, or persuasive’ we get nowhere. It’s called an argument.

You see, the whole idea of ‘evidence’ is pointless, especially in the face of a hard-wired belief.

Just because there is ‘no evidence’ for a particular idea being true or that something exists, it doesn’t mean the idea is untrue or whatever it is doesn’t exist.

The reverse is the same. The presence of evidence for something doesn’t mean it is ‘real’.

There is always ‘evidence’ for and against – read up any Court case.

Then there are ‘facts’, closely related to ‘truths’, and both based on evidence. The subtle difference between a fact and a truth is that the latter is ‘personal’ whereas a fact is supposed to be something which is universally ‘true’ – or facts are ‘hard’ and truths are ‘soft’.

The point of all this is twofold.

First, you and I make up our own minds what is true or false, what is good or bad, right or wrong and so on. We create our own framework of belief and faith.

Second, what you or I believe and have faith in is nothing to do with anyone else, and what they believe and have faith in is none of our business either.

But how do we help others by sharing our beliefs or what is true for us . . .?

We don’t.

We cannot ‘help’ others, only they can.

FINO –‘Feel invited, not obligated’ is a phrase used by the Brave Thinking Institute – it says ‘Here, this is what I think, If you’re interested we’ll have a conversation, if not, then I wish you well.’

Pay it Forward

I first came across this idea in one of the books by John C Maxwell but the term itself goes back to antiquity and was popularised and explained by Robert Heinlein in his 1951 book ‘Between Planets’.

It’s an interesting concept: instead of paying someone ‘back’ for what they have done for you, you use whatever you would have rewarded them with by contributing to someone else thus creating or continuing a ‘chain of reward’ moving ‘forwards’.

“But what about getting paid for what I do?”

Well, the concept is that you have already received – in advance – for what you just did for someone else. They don’t ‘pay’ pr reward you, instead they do something for someone else – while at the same time someone else ‘in the chain’ is doing something for you

Takes some getting your head around doesn’t it? Especially in this pay and age when everyone is looking to ‘get paid’ (in money) for what they do or what they provide.

The ‘system’ says we should set a ‘price’ for what we do or provide, and require payment of that price from our clients or customers. And – we should use ‘money’ to execute that payment.

Thus, governments have a means to tax us on what we receive for what we do – or in other words, to tax us on what we do.

These ‘taxes’ of course are ploughed back into the community for our benefit and security – in theory.

Then there’s the ‘gift paradigm’

We feel, if we receive something unsolicited, we are obliged to respond with a ‘gift’ – to ‘pay it back’ or maintain the balance. Hence the tradition of exchanging gifts at Christmas (the ‘three wise men’ by the way did not expect anything in return) and exchanging rounds of drinks in the pub.

This is the opposite of ‘pay it forward’.

‘Pay it back’ is a closed loop rather than a chain of transactions from one person to another, to another and so on.

What we can’t quite grasp is how, in a Pay it Forward chain, all our needs will be met, there is very little predictability of how and when this might happen, unlike a Pay it Back loop.

The thing is the Pay it Forward idea is governed and facilitated by the Laws of the Universe, several of them: Supply, Attraction, Receiving, Increase and Compensation.

I’m not going into these now – you can find out more by following the ‘Working with the Law’ programme by Bob Proctor and Mary Morrissey, available from Life Mastery Now.

The Pay it Back paradigm though, is not governed by the Laws of the Universe, rather the laws of the country you live in, and facilitates the control and ‘management’ of the population through the circulation (the closed loop) of money.

How to shift paradigms?

There are several organisations and websites in place now helping people to begin to operate the open chain system and again it would take too long to go into the details. A search for ‘Pay it forward’ will yield some results once you get past the references to the movie and novel of the same name.

There are a few ways you and I can start to break out of the closed loop.

One is to start to use different forms of payment such as crypto currencies (but not state controlled digital currencies) and although this is, or can be, still a closed loop at least it breaks away from government control.

Another is to ask our clients if there is something which they can do for us, instead of giving us a sum of money; or asking our suppliers if there is anything which we can do for them in the same way.

This is a revival of the barter system and there are now websites that help facilitate this. It can still be a closed loop but starts to introduce principles other than the idea that everything has to be ‘paid for’ with money.

Gene Roddenberry never explained how the 23rd century ‘Star Trek’ society evolved to manage without money and move to a ‘Pay it Forward’ way of living.

There are vague and perhaps dubious scientific links to things like ‘warp drive’ and the ‘transporter/replicator’ technology, but nothing to explain the massive change in global economics which must have occurred to make it all possible – other than perhaps the Third World War referred to in the movie ‘Star Trek – First Contact’.

All I can say is wouldn’t it be great to make a start?

October Morning

“Oh, October morning,

Whisky bottle by my bed,

Bye for ever, It’s all over,

See you never the lady said . . .”

So wrote my friend, the late Pete Fulwell, in a song for the band ‘Childhood’s End’ which I’ve referred to before.

I’m having an ‘October morning’ right now, but it was wine (never a good idea to mix the colours!), not whisky and it was about the, shall we say, ‘downgrading’ of a friendship with someone who has been very dear to me since we met in LA four years ago.

She remains a friend, but I haven’t chosen whether I’ll make any attempt to see or talk with her again – at least not in the same way we used to talk; ‘for now’.

I almost said “I doubt whether I’ll see her again” but then I remembered what I wrote last week . . .

You see, she and I have chosen to operate in different universes. Up until now there was significant overlap in the vibration, frequency and wavelength of our universes, but now they’ve diverged.

You may have heard of the concept of ‘alternate universes’ – here’s how it works, or at least how I have chosen to understand and believe how it works.

There is ‘The Universe’ which is entirely composed of energy and space (as I’ve explained before) and is infinite.

Now ‘scientists’ and philosophers agree it’s infinite, but some postulate there may be more than one – ‘alternate universes’ – but if The Universe is infinite then there cannot be more than one because it’s not possible to have more than one ‘infinite’, just as it isn’t possible to have more than one ‘unique’.

The way I see it is as an infinite number of ‘alternate’ universes within ‘The Universe’ – every individual Soul (which as Neale Donald Walsch explains is itself an ‘individuation’ of The Universe anyway) has its own concept and understanding of what The Universe or, as they see it, their universe, really is.

You and I ‘choose’ our own universes, and they are different, because we see them from different perspectives. You from where you’re standing and me from where I’m standing – as the saying goes.

And within those universes we choose what they look like – what they are.

You and I choose, moment by moment, what is true for us as individuals. It’s our own personal belief framework, and while we may share elements of it with others, it’s unique to us.

From time to time our beliefs change, we discover things either by our own research or through communication with others, and we decide what’s true, and what’s not true – for us.

You see, there are, contrary to popular belief, no ‘hard facts’. Even the ‘truth’ of The Universe, as I explained it, existing purely of energy and space and being infinite, is not a ‘fact’ – it’s just my belief, my ‘truth’, my ‘fact of life’.

But in reality (not that there is such a thing) millions of people in many contexts ‘hold these truths to be self-evident’ (not just those in the USA who have this phrase written into their Constitution). They’ve usually not thought about ‘these truths’ and certainly not individually ‘chosen’ them.

You and I hold many truths and beliefs in common, but not all, because it’s impossible even for identical twins brought up in the same way to hold to the same truths – they are after all two different Souls.

But aren’t there situations where you ‘have’ to believe what someone else is telling you?

You and I choose our own universes – whatever is true for each of us. The problem arises when others choose to attempt to impose their universe, their truth, on everyone else.

There have been countless occasions when ‘leaders’ have tried this out, and it’s often ‘worked’ but never in the long term, it soon comes crashing down.

It works precisely because everything is a choice – including the choice not to choose or to allow others to choose for you.

If you choose to take on others’ beliefs, you will choose to take actions in accordance with them – it’s your choice. To comply or not?

There is no way out of choice, you and I always have a choice, although we may not recognise what we do is the result of a choice.

I have made a choice about my friend, in the light of what I hold to be true (about her) at this time. Things may change because choices are essentially transient. We may hold on to them for years or only minutes and as I’ve said before ‘changing our minds’ is usually a sign of strength rather than weakness.

Now, I say all this as a philosopher, not an evangelist. Whether or not you choose to accept or align with my philosophy is your choice.

Your choices are no-one else’s business, certainly not mine, and the choices others make are neither yours nor my business, or our responsibility.

We are responsible for the choices we make, but not those others make.

“For the Avoidance of Doubt . . .”

Something you and I hear often – it usually means someone has failed to explain something properly in the first place!

Making comparisons contributes to our belief set, by a process of elimination, comparing one idea to another or considering the evidence presented in favour of one argument against another.

We also create beliefs from what we ‘learn’ or ‘pick up’ from others as we ‘go about our business’

You and I have our own personal set, or framework, of beliefs.

Beliefs about all sorts of things which may be long lasting or short term according to their importance or relevance.

Belief is key.

Napoleon Hill said, “Whatever man can conceive and believe he can achieve” (‘man’ here is used generically of course!)

But Hill was by no means the first to speak along those lines. It goes back millennia, it’s all over the books of all religions – one way or another.

It’s closely allied to what’s often referred to as the Law of Attraction – Earl Nightingale put it “We become what we think about”.

The reason why the Law of Attraction ‘doesn’t work’ is because of the way we’re thinking.

You see, if you wish to bring something about, then ’thinking’ just isn’t enough. You must BELIEVE what you’re thinking.

There’s a problem.

Belief has a formidable ‘enemy’ – doubt – hence the phrase ‘without a shadow of a doubt’ because even the tiniest amount of doubt, a microscopic level of doubt, can utterly destroy your belief in anything.

Most belief is derived through a logical process, but it also comes through faith in something, which is belief without ‘evidence’.

When you or I ‘lose faith’ it’s because of doubt, and belief is readily watered down or chipped away by doubt.

Doubt is insidious. It creeps in when you’re not paying attention, especially when you’re not reinforcing your belief and faith through daily affirmations and rituals.

Belief and faith are fragile. Doubt is strong and robust.

Until.

Until you and I eliminate doubt, entirely, ‘once and for all’- and erect barriers to keep it out.

The trouble is we’re trained to see ‘doubt’ as a ‘good thing’, as our ‘protector’ – against ‘false’ beliefs and ‘wrong’ decisions. Something which will ‘keep us safe’.

Wonder where that came from?

Certain elements of our society and culture make it their business to ‘sow the seeds of doubt’ about beliefs, practices and other things they are opposed to.

Because doubt doesn’t come from within us but from others who wish to ‘bend’ us to their way of thinking, their beliefs and purposes.

In defence of doubt, it does have its positive side – maybe.

It’s a tenet of English Law that an accused cannot be found guilty if there is any doubt about any of the evidence for the prosecution.

Now although this has meant that many accused have been protected from false guilty verdicts (which was important in the time of the death penalty) probably just as many have been falsely found ‘not guilty’ because of the strength of doubt sown by the defence. Hard to say.

Consider the ‘placebo effect’.

A group of people are given a pill. Some pills are real, and some are fake, but everyone is thoroughly assured and led to believe without a shadow of a doubt that all the pills are real and will relieve them of a particular symptom. (They’re not told about the fakes)

The ‘recovery rate’ of those with the fake are just as good as those with the pill being tested, occasionally even better!

You see they fully believed they would recover – so they did.

People who were told they would be dead in six months from some condition or other have gone on to live long and active lives, People told they would never walk again have, albeit with prosthetic limbs.

They refused to believe the prognosis, adopting their own belief in recovery without allowing a smidgeon of doubt anywhere near them.

It works the other way too – people die from mild illnesses which are ‘going round’ because they believe they will. They are convinced the virus (or whatever) is lethal even though it isn’t, and they duly die, sometimes regardless of whether they have contracted it or not.

For the same reason some people die when they reach a certain age, just because it’s when they believed they would die.

Whatever you or I completely believe, without a doubt, either comes true or is true, and the more we ‘think’ about it, without doubt, the quicker it happens.

We must be vigilant, on the lookout for the seeds of doubt being directed at us.

It happens all the time, from the media, from advertising, from entertainment, from the people we talk to. Everyone it seems is attempting to undermine our beliefs and replace them with theirs.

Why? Because they doubt. They doubt their own beliefs and think that by converting us to their way of thinking it will make their belief stronger.

It won’t, because they are fostering doubt, it has the opposite effect, so much so they have to do it more and more – something you may have noticed recently.

So be on your guard. Stamp on the seeds of doubt cast in your direction and – for the avoidance of doubt – hold fast to your beliefs, reinforce them and keep them healthy and secure.

Go Compare . . .

I can’t help putting those words to a tune, and the one I think of is the First World War song ‘Over There . . . the Yanks are coming . . .’ etc.

I don’t know anything about opera, but the tune may have come from there in the first place, given the character in the advert.

(If you don’t know what I’m talking about you obviously don’t have a TV or radio!)

The title is of course the name of a ‘comparison website’ of which there are many, the ads for which are usually better than the experience they offer when you engage with them

You see it’s not really about the result of the comparison that takes place which matters but the criteria used for the comparison and whatever is being compared.

The thing is – humans are almost always engaged in ‘comparison’. We do it all the time, and so do almost all other animals, including insects.

Survival relies on the ability to compare things or situations and make judgments according to what we are attempting to achieve, whether that’s the next meal for a pride of lions, a ‘better deal’ for our broadband, or even a life partner.

If you and I stopped comparing things and situations we would quickly grind to a halt and cease to function. Not only is it an essential survival skill, it also enhances (or otherwise) quality of life.

Because comparing stuff is one thing but the decision making based on and resulting from that comparison is another.

Indeed, the reason why we compare one thing or situation against another and continue to do it in a succession of comparisons is to make a decision.

It’s a key part of the ‘buying process’ and the matching ‘sales process’ (which of course apply to everything we do)

We make decisions based on our comparisons and then we choose what action to take – sometimes seemingly disregarding the process and choosing something else – but all that means is that we’ve just changed our comparison criteria.

You see, you and I can compare lots of things at once on a holistic way, whereas a computer, even ‘artificial intelligence’ can only make binary decisions one at a time. We would quickly ‘lose the plot’ if our brains worked like that when we were comparing things.

But is there anything we don’t ‘compare’?

Some say we shouldn’t ‘compare’ people; that people are all ‘equal’ – and then mistake ‘equal’ for ‘the same’.

‘Equality’ has nothing to do with ‘sameness’ because by our very nature we are all different – unless we were a society of clones with identical DNA.

Neither has it anything to do with role, purpose, function or intention so long as we remain able to decide and choose those for ourselves.

The idea of ‘equality’ is a reaction to comparison, or to be specific comparison against a ‘scale’ – comparison that says ‘person A’ is better than ‘person B’ for some reason.

Some people ‘perform’ better than others – if we were to deny this then we’d have to ban all sports and games, we’d have to totally reorganise how we worked – importantly we’d have to deny the existence of any form of talent.

In effect we’d have to stop comparing altogether.

The answer perhaps is to replace the idea of a ‘scale’ with that of a ‘spectrum’.

After all we cannot say that blue is ‘better’ than red. It’s certainly different, but it’s part of a spectrum of colours that work together.

It’s the same with the Jungian personality types. Is a ‘Green’ better than a ‘Yellow’ for example?

Like the colour spectrum of course these types all merge together, there are no discrete ‘separations’, no point where one ends and the other begins.

It’s the same with people except where artificial divisions have been created by religion or politics; but even then there are gradations.

We do however need to be careful of the criteria we use to compare things, and people. They must be fair, just and honest and not based artificially on some political or religious dogma which is from where all the ‘problems’ with comparison arise.

When we compare say, someone’s ‘behaviour’ or anything else we need to ask ourselves ‘compared to what?’

Compared to some set of rules (made by whom?), compared to some ‘scale’ (invented by whom?), or perhaps just to what we, individually ‘like’ or ‘approve of’?

Because there’s the heart of it.

It’s our own personal ‘likes and dislikes’ which are more often than not the basis for our comparisons. If we say ‘she is better then him’ we may just be saying ‘I like her more than him’ – and the same applies to the supermarket we go to, the energy supplier we use, or the job or business we choose.

So before you or I make a choice, based on a decision, based on a comparative process we must first decide on the criteria we use to make those comparisons.

Otherwise we might just as well choose the first thing (or person) we encounter.

Which could be amazing – or could be disastrous!

The Achievers’ Edge

You and I like to think of ourselves as ‘achievers’, even when we haven’t quite turned our dreams and visions into reality.

But what is an ‘achiever’? And what is this ‘edge’?

An achiever of course, is anyone who achieves any sort of goal or meets any sort of target however small, but this is really about ‘big’ achievers.

Big achievers are people who realise their dreams, make their dreams come true, make their visions become real, and ‘super achievers’ are those who, in time, turn the whole ‘big picture’ of the life they would love to live into reality.

There’s no distinction between ‘life’ and ‘business’, except perhaps if you are ‘employed’, working to help someone else achieve their objective. But if you have your own business, even if you’re just ‘self-employed’, you can’t separate it from your life ambition, it’s part of it, even if the business you own and operate is only there to facilitate the ‘big picture’ vision.

Achievement then, is all about goals, and goals are all about doing the things that need to be done to achieve each of your dreams.

Because you and I don’t just have one ‘dream’ or vision, we have several.

We have visons about who we want to be and what we want to do in each of the different ‘domains’ of our lives.

Relationships, Health, Spirituality, Vocation, Freedom, and so on – all the elements that make up the whole of the life we would love to be living, the ‘big picture’.

As an ‘achiever’ we build up this big picture by achieving all the small goals that go to make it happen, like a jigsaw.

But if we really want to be, really want to be, a ‘big achiever’ and eventually a ‘super achiever’ we need an ‘edge’.

What do I mean by an ‘edge’?

You’ll have heard the phrase ‘having an edge over the competition’, maybe in commerce, maybe in sports.

What it means is having a different approach, a different attitude, a different way of doing things, that most people – the ‘competition’ – don’t have.

So what is ‘the edge’?

The ‘edge’ first of all, is the ‘start line’ and what you do with it. It’s what happens when you go ‘over the top’. When you make a commitment, when you reach a point and take an action after which there’s ‘no going back’.

Part 1 of The Achievers Edge is to commit to what you want, who you want to be, and what you are going to do.

When you’ve made the commitment, the whistle has been blown, and you’re out of the mud, up the ladder and into the ‘killing ground’ at the top of the trench – or the ‘rut’ that you’ve been in up until now.

You’re ‘over the top’ and now you have to get through the barbed wire in the face of the shells and machine gun fire bearing down on you.

Until you get through no-man’s land, and destroy the enemy that has been preventing you from making the progress towards achieving your goals that you so desperately want.

Part 2 of The Achievers Edge is getting started. “Lights out and away we go” – the race is on, there’s no going back.

But most people, whether it’s in a battle where they don’t survive, or in a Formula 1 race where they don’t score points, they don’t achieve the goal, they don’t make it through to the other side, they don’t get on the winners podium.

This is where you and I discover Part 3 of the Achievers Edge.

In a battle, or in a race, there’s one key thing that gives you an advantage, or an ‘edge’ over the others.

You need the right equipment, resources and support, and you need the best equipment resources and and support for the tasks you are working to complete.

Part 3 of The Achievers Edge is to get help. Get the resources that you need, the right kit, the right skills and the right people to get you wherever it is you want to go and achieve every one of the goals you want to achieve to bring that ‘big picture’ into reality.

But in truth, this is often the hardest thing for many people to do.

For two reasons.

The first is thinking, or believing, that they can do it all, often allied with the belief that if they ‘let anyone else in’ they’ll lose ‘control’ or the ‘dream’ won’t be ‘theirs’ any more.

A whole bunch of ‘limiting’ beliefs there, which at first seem ‘positive’ beliefs, when in truth they are holding us back.

If you and I are to be ‘big’ and ‘super’ achievers we cannot ‘go it alone’ – however attractive or seductive that route might seem.

The second is down to one of the most potent limiting beliefs around, it’s called the ‘scarcity paradigm’ and it’s all about money and time.

It’s the “I can’t afford it” and “I don’t have time” syndrome which you and I have and everyone else has – don’t deny it because, we know it’s there, even when we’ve suppressed it as much as we can.

Now here’s the thing.

Cost’, whether applied to time or money, is a myth.

Except when money or time is consumed unwisely, by which I mean out of the context, or not consistent with all or any of the goals that go to make up the ‘big picture’

You and I do waste money and we do waste time. So be it, as long as we realise what we’re  doing, and are willing to suffer the consequences – not achieving our goals as quickly or as well as we envisaged.

But what about all those ‘costs’ that are associated with our goals?

The ‘costs’ (time and money) associated with learning new skills, doing all the mundane tasks, marketing and sales (and that isn’t always business related – think about it), travel, research, and just doing those things that need to be done to get us closer to each goal and get us closer to each dream and get us closer to being in that ‘big picture’?

Well – it all comes back.

And what comes back in terms of the time and money freedom we get from ‘incurring those costs’ or more properly making those investments in our future is always much more, much more, than we invested in the first place

To be an achiever, a big achiever and a super achiever there is no ‘cost’, only investment.

Understanding that is the real Achievers Edge.

So go out and get the equipment, tools, learning, coaches, mentors, experts, resources and support that you’re going to need.

Only two rules:

Only do what only you can do

It’s not what you pay, it’s what you get – so get the best you can find

And if something or someone doesn’t ‘work out’ deploy the Lord Sugar finger and the two words that go with it!

I’m Sorry . . .

It appears I might have been confusing you.

Someone caused me to think about this the other day and it’s about something I was taught by, among others, Mary Morrissey.

When I first attended ‘Dreambuilder Live’ in Baltimore a few years ago we were taken through an exercise called the ‘Time Machine’ – and it’s a technique I now use and encourage my clients and colleagues to use on a daily basis.

I often precede something I’m talking about with “I am” which may be confusing because it is often an affirmation, rather than a statement of current fact.

The idea of ‘future pacing’, which is what the ‘Time Machine’ is about, is you and I framing our visions, our goals, our ambitions and everything we wish to be, do and have in the present tense.

Never “I will be” or I’m going to be” but always “I AM” – and the capital letters are part of it.

You see the subconscious mind which is ‘in charge’ of manifestation doesn’t understand the conscious concept of time.

If you or I say “I will . . .” or “I’m going to . . .” then those words will be taken literally as something which ‘will’ happen and it remains something which is ‘going to happen’ for ever – so it never actually ‘happens’!

What we asked was for it to happen in the future, not now, and just as we cannot go back to yesterday it is also true that ‘tomorrow’ never comes.

Everything we say or write about ourselves, who we are, what we do, what we have, must be affirmed in the ‘now’ because to the Universe, to Source, ‘Now’ is all there is.

I talked recently about timelines which may also have led to confusion because they are more to do with sequence than time.

In project management we sometimes consider ‘dependencies’ – one event being dependent on another, or one state of being having to be extant before another state of being can come about.

This idea does not necessarily have to do with the idea of ‘time’ which although it helps the conscious mind get a grip on things is not something other states of consciousness are concerned with at all.

Consider this: if you are building a house there is a distinct sequence of changes of state for the building to go through to cause it to become a fully functional ‘house’. Whatever the stage of build, it’s still a house, not something else.

Likewise, many websites are ‘under construction’ but they are still websites.

So if you or I give ourselves a particular title, or tagline, perhaps describing what we do and who we are – and what we do is still ‘under construction’ we are not being ‘pretentious’ or bragging, but positively affirming our intention to be and do whatever the title describes – at some point further along the ‘timeline’ we are travelling.

Other things – our goals and plans – have to be made true before whatever is ‘under construction’ can fully exist.

I AM whoever I say I am, You ARE whoever you say you are, and the more you and I buy ourselves and others in to those affirmations the closer we become to their being completely true.

To some people we encounter this may seem like lying as you or I may not, at that point along our timelines, appear to be who or what we say we are or seeming to do what we say we are doing.

But so long as we are true to our intentions it’s really not our problem, or our business, what other people might think.

Well, in a way it is because it sorts them out into those who believe in us and those who don’t, it helps us identify who we can trust.

I find sometimes that I don’t ‘fit in’ to some other peoples’ ideas of who I should be or what I should be doing. Have you ever felt the same?

I’m sorry I don’t fit in to their frameworks, not for me but for them, I’m sorry they have ‘conventions’ and frameworks they feel everyone should ‘fit’. I’m sorry they allow others to define what they can and cannot do – who they can and cannot be, and I’m sorry they meekly accept the labels they are given – or choose.

The thing is there are no ‘labels’ other than those we choose, and as Patrick McGoohan said in ‘The Prisoner’ – “I will not be pushed filed stamped indexed briefed, debriefed or numbered . . !”

You and I are different.

I AM different, and I’m sorry for anyone who can’t cope with that. Being ‘different’ however implies something else, which I’ll discuss next week.

One of Leroy Jethro Gibbs’ favourite phrases in the NCIS television series is “Don’t apologise, it’s a sign of weakness” but I believe sometimes it’s a sign of strength – depending on how it’s done, and why.

How about you?

“Mind the Gap”

This phrase is always evocative of trips to London with my grandparents as a small child.

I wonder sometimes if the change of this to “Please mind the gap between the train and the platform” is not an indicator of the general ‘dumbing down of the nation, but it was perfectly clear to me as a five-year-old what it meant.

This phrase has two meanings

Most people take it as ‘avoid’ the gap but what it really means is to be aware of or ‘mindful’ of the gap

Because there is always a ‘gap’

The trouble with ‘gaps’ is that many people see them simply as some kind of ‘void’ in time or space usually seen as an interruption of some kind in the expected progress of things

Like the ‘gap year’ many young people take between school and university, which may or may not be used constructively.

‘Gaps’ of course require filling – or bridging. They don’t take well to being ignored, getting wider or deeper if left alone thus becoming more difficult to fill or bridge.

Why am I going on about gaps?

This time last week my coach Phil asked me a question. “What’s your gap?” he said, “What’s the gap between where you are now and where you wish to be?”

A just question indeed.

What and where are the gaps and cracks, the potholes and obstacles on my Way ahead?

What needs filling and what needs bridging, and what do I need to find a way around?

After all, it’s all very well you and I putting a lot of effort into understanding who and where we are and in visualising who and where we wish to be if we don’t, at the same time, identify and understand the gaps between the two.

Unless you and I, ‘mind the gap

The thing is – some of the gaps are glaringly obvious, but many are hidden.

There are two ways we can approach this, or perhaps two extremes of approach.

We can charge ahead, stumble over the obstacles and fall into the holes, working it out as we go and dealing with the cuts and bruises we get on the journey

Or

We can study our situation, work out where the ‘gaps’ might be, and follow a plan of action based on what we’ve found. – it may take a bit longer but certainly saves on the sticking plaster.

In ‘Life Mastery’ we recognise four domains of life and there are ‘gaps’ in each one of them. If there weren’t, we would be ‘perfect’ and have no purpose on this planet in the first place.

The task I’ve been given is to set about identifying all the gaps and create a composite view of my ‘Gap’.

Then I shall need to find a means of dealing with the ‘whole’ gap by filling, bridging or circumventing each element one by one.

The four domains are each divided into sixteen sectors so I can take each of those one by one to examine what, if any, deterrents there are to my desired progress.

So can you

But you’d probably like to know what those four domains are.

The first is all about your Self – where and what are the ‘gaps’ in your knowledge and understanding, in your health and wellness, in your fitness, nutrition and general stuff that concerns only you and what do you need to do to deal with them?

The second is about everything that is ‘outside’ you – the environment, the planet, plants, animals, people, society, cultures and so on. Where and what are the gaps in your ‘relationships’ with all of these – and what are you going to do about it?

The third is about what you ‘do’, what you ‘give out’ to this ‘outside. Your job, business or career, your engagement in sports, societies and other groups in terms of what you contribute. How you teach, mentor and ‘bring up’ your family and so on. What are you going to change to ‘mind’ the gaps you find here.

And finally the fourth domain in about what you ‘receive’ – what you ‘get back’, your ‘lifestyle’, how you life, your finances and your freedoms. How are you going to deal with the gaps in this domain?

Believe me, there are many gaps in all these areas. Some ‘big’, some small, some requiring minor adjustment to how you live, some needing ‘major’ life changes.

The Beatles sang in ‘A Day in The Life’

I read the news today, oh boy
Four thousand holes in Blackburn, Lancashire
And though the holes were rather small
They had to count them all

Time to count your ‘holes’, your ‘gaps’ –

And figure out what to do with them.

‘Mind’ your Gap