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A conversation is recounted in the book # Shantaram  in which the character, Khaderbhai, says: “There is no such thing as believing in #G...

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Saturday, 29 October 2016


You have to agree: there's no middle ground with #DonaldTrump. Either you love him or you loathe him. What's that about? How can we as humans have such extreme likes and dislikes on the same set of facts? What if I suggested that the reasons are fundamentally the same?

Before starting on the love / loathe analysis, let me say that one of his biggest strengths behind his ability to reach people is that he appears to be incapable of distinguishing truth from fiction, or indeed good from evil, so he is able to say stuff with complete conviction as if it is both true and good and everything he says and does is therefore well received by the believers.

Now, let's start with the Trump fans. They love him, not because he's going to build a wall or ban Moslems from America. They love him because he represents the voice for their own bigotry, racism, misogyny, sexism and conservatism. He's the school-ground bully they never were (or perhaps were), the tycoon they'd like to be, the establishment-challenger they don't have the balls to be. He's the people's champion, and in that guise there's not much he can say or do that will have them see him any other way. He offers hope for jobs by coming up with suicidal plans for the economy which the man in the street doesn't understand (or doesn't want to) because there's a perception that Trump is the greatest businessman around, so he must know what he's doing with money. He offers a more secure America by shamelessly exploiting fears and disingenuously sharing stats and facts which for the most part aren't true. 

The latest sexploits which have seen senior conservative Republicans scattering in all directions don't seem to have changed the man in the street's mind, because I daresay there are plenty of unsolicited boob-squeezing, pussy-grabbing Trump supporters who can't understand what the fuss is all about. "It's just locker room talk", they say, somehow justifying the unjustifiable, except in their minds it's all OK.

Now for those who loathe him. Ostensibly it's for all of the above reasons. People can't stand a lying, racist, sexist, misogynistic, bigoted bully and can stand tall and sanctimonious in their condemnation. 

But what if their loathing is of their own shadow sides manifesting in the anti-hero Trump? What if there is a part of each of us which has had racist, sexist and bigoted thoughts, but then pushed them down into the shadow recesses of our minds? What if somewhere along the line we bullied a sibling, class mate or homeless person, and then hated ourselves for having done it? What if everything that Trump does and stands for is lurking within us, repressed and ostensibly under control, but we absolutely hate that part of us which lies there, ready to slither out of its lair and flare up somehow? It's called our shadow, and it's real. Do yourself a favour and read The Shadow Effect (Chopra, Ford and Williamson) if you really want to empower yourself.

For the meantime, simply ask yourself which part of Trump's manifestation do you dislike about yourself? The answer will be clear.

Saturday, 22 October 2016


Did you know: there is no noun derived from the word "overwhelm"? So why not create one? You never know when it could be useful.  I happen to belong to a family whose members (and one in particular) tend to make up words which don't exist, derived from existing words, which give greater meaning to the original. I don't remember who coined the word "Overwhelm-sion" (although I have my suspicions), but this is one of those great words. 

I haven't written for a few weeks, principally because of overwhelm-sion in my own life. My year has rocketed by and things have filled it for me at an alarming rate. By way of illustration, on Tuesday next week I will embark on a series of trips which will see me visit six countries around the world, return to my desk on 28 November and between now and then spend about 4 or 5 days at home. Somehow in the middle of the travel I will deal with work as it accumulates, respond to clients, prepare for talks at conferences and generally manage my office. And amongst all that I hope to stay healthy and do some exercise and a put in a bit of writing and find time to connect with my family. The rest of the year hasn't been hugely different, with a pitiful amount of leave interspersed.

Something eventually has to give with only 24 hours in each day. So I sit here wondering how that happened and how to not do that to myself. This isn't intended to be a self pity-party, but the forthcoming odyssey has finally got my attention.

I have always led a full life because there is so much that interests me and that I want to do. There's also the small matter of putting bread on the table. And there's also the holy grail of work-life balance to pursue, following what you are passionate about, and, and...

The truth for me is that, if I look back on my year, I started planning it by putting in doable commitments throughout the year and assuming that the rest of the year would fill itself out as it usually does with the day to day stuff that happens and that amongst that I would get some time for exercise, take some leave and so on. In other words, I left it to Life to take care of my life at some level. Life needs no greater invitation to come along and mess with people who have left too much in its hands. Although everything I originally planned and prioritised was about right (if I had taken on no more), I didn't put enough non-negotiable boundaries in place, so found myself trying to create space for stuff which wasn't originally planned. Result: overwhelm-sion.

Now, whilst we all know that "the way to make God laugh is to tell him your plans", the lesson is about absolutely deciding on your highest priorities when planning your life and honouring that which matters most. Everything else is a distraction which may require attention, but should be treated very circumspectly unless it will clearly enhance your bigger picture and priorities.

Anyway, I've got to where I have and will deal with it. Now for the challenge of off-setting my overwhelm-sion with a bit of underwhelm-sion.

Saturday, 8 October 2016


I was at a conference a while back when the facilitator asked the group: "What do you want to be famous for?" Not a bad question, considering that the group was at the conference to ponder on what next steps would have to be taken for the business to rise to the next level of success.

The question got me to thinking how you know when you're famous and and what that actually means. Success is easier to measure than fame: you set your objectives and when you make them you conclude that you have succeeded. Whether this qualifies you to go on and judge yourself as successful is another question, but  at least you get to decide whether you're successful against clear and measurable goals.

Fame classically means you're known by lots people for some attribute or achievement. How many is "lots"? I have no idea. Famous means much the same thing, but can also mean "excellent".

So when I'm asked in a business context what I want to be famous for, it would be for some excellent achievement, skill, service or widget that sets me apart from everyone else and for which I'm well known by lots of people.

Sadly, most people in the world never become famous in the classic sense of the word, no matter how long they strum their guitars each day, or how many songs or books they write, or how many hours they work in a week. Fame is more often than not a happy coincidence of talent or skill plus the media picking up on it at the right time for the right reasons. However, it's essentially an accident, so striving for fame in the classic sense is for most people a waste of time.

But what I want to suggest is that we can all be famous in our own way. Even if its not famous to hordes of unknown people, we can be famous amongst our friends for being the one that is completely count-on-able to do what he says he will do every time, or the most caring or funny or courageous. We can be famous amongst our family members for being a fantastic father or a mindful mother. We can even be famous to ourselves for being the most dependable person we know, and so we can honour ourselves for this type of fame. To me, this is the fame is both attainable and meaningful.

The trouble with traditional fame is that it raises the bar for the famous person's behaviour in the public eye, so when we slip beneath that bar we can become even more famous for all the wrong reasons. This week the current best scrumhalf in the world, All Black rugby player Aaron Smith, a legend in New Zealand and amongst rugby fans worldwide, became even more (but unwelcomely) famous when he was seen going into a disabled persons' toilet with an adoring female fan for reasons on which it is unnecessary to speculate. Other examples include Tiger Woods and Bill Clinton, whose fame as a golfer and President respectively overnight converted their original fame to notoriety for womanising and their sexual exploits. They all earned the first type of fame from excellence, but attracted the less desirable second type because of the first.

When we hold ourselves out as one thing, but then show another side, the reputation which we thought we had evaporates instantly.

So Life's offering is to be famous for whatever noble cause you choose, but for heaven's sake don't let yourself become famous for fornication.