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Page | 1 What Is Truth? Answers To Unlock Your Life A Companion on the subject

What Is Truth?

Answers To Unlock Your Life

A Companion on the subject of Wisdom

Volume 1: Self-Mastery: Diligence & Prudence

By Steve Wickham

Copyright © 2007, 2008, 2009 S. J. Wickham. All rights reserved Worldwide. May not be used without permission.

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Preface

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Introduction

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The Purpose of, and End in, Life Itself: Wisdom

 

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Principal Values

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Diligence: ............................................................................................................................... ..........

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Prudence:

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Shalom:

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Balance:

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Trust:

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Respect:

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Wisdom: ............................................................................................................................... .........

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The interdependence and intrarelationship of the principal values

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Personal Mastery: Diligence and Prudence

 

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Lifegivers: Shalom and Balance

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Reaching a Higher Standard

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Diligence

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Famous Last Words – “I’ll Do It Later Defeat Laziness and Achieve Anything!

 

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Don’t Get Too Comfortable

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Be the Change!

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Get Fit, Not Injured – Recreation ‘Change Management’

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From Reputation to Character

 

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Copyright © 2007, 2008, 2009 S. J. Wickham. All rights reserved Worldwide. May not be used without permission.

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Eliminating Negative SelfTalk

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Bad Habits Eradicating Them Forever

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Haste The Destructiveness, Hassle and Problem of Hurry

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Life is About Waiting

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We Must Transcend The Things That Hold Us

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The Skill of Anticipation – the Way of the Diligent

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Fixing Procrastination – “Do it now”

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Running Out Of Patience Running Out Of Warnings

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Meeting Destiny – Embracing The Sea Of Opportunity

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Three Things That Cause Success And Three Things That Don’t

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Spirituality Does Not Last

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Four Time Wasters

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Simply 3 Things to Cause Success (and 3 Things to Avoid Doing)

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Transform Yourself – Create New Mental Pathways

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ReStarting Life Fresh Start, Fresh Hope

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Demonstrating Personal Leadership: We Only Get One Go

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2 Powerful, Resounding Words – “No” and “Now”

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Choose Life The Way Of Spiritual Progress

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Happiness Lies In Your Own Hand

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Being Stuck With A Terrible Reputation

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Discipline That Works Until It Doesn’t

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Success, Failure Or Nothing: Are You A “Player”?

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Internal Versus External Locus Of Control

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Life Is Like Preparing For A Bullfight

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The Rewards For A Good Life Lived

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Act While There Yet Is Time!

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Copyright © 2007, 2008, 2009 S. J. Wickham. All rights reserved Worldwide. May not be used without permission.

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Wisdom Is Making The Most Of Every Opportunity

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Prudence

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Communicating Confidently Whilst Achieving Restraint

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Communications Bonanza Keep It Brief

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Loose Lips Sink Privilege

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When Is It Right To Complain?

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Simply Perfecting Your Use Of Speech

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How to Read Body Language

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Finetuning Roles—Maximising Your Impact in Life

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Becoming a Teacherparent: Giving Your Children the Goal of Success

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12 Steps To Recovery – Like A City’s Walls Broken Down, A Person Lacking SelfControl

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Temper Management 101

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Disappointing People When Trying To Satisfy Them

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Resisting Speaking Or Thinking Negatively Of People

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Wisdom In Listening Before Speaking

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One Choice, Many Ripples

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Caution About Taking Advice

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A Good Idea In Life Think Beforehand

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Distinctive Spiritual Insight

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An Exemplar Of Maturity The Goal Of Life

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You Can Upset Only Yourself

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Final Words

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Gaining Personal Mastery Through Silence and Solitude

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The Blessing of Time Reclaiming Purpose and Control Over Your Life

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Managing the Moment – Endure and Enjoy!

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The Heart Of the Human Problem Is The

...

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Copyright © 2007, 2008, 2009 S. J. Wickham. All rights reserved Worldwide. May not be used without permission.

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What Legacy Are You Leaving?

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Linking Wisdom With Truth

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Copyright © 2007, 2008, 2009 S. J. Wickham. All rights reserved Worldwide. May not be used without permission.

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Preface

To be written.

Copyright © 2007, 2008, 2009 S. J. Wickham. All rights reserved Worldwide. May not be used without permission.

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Introduction

Biblical Wisdom literature declares certain attributes of character that go toward wisdom and foolishness. Among Proverbs, the key biblical offering from the ancient Near East, are around 900 proverbs that speak on the subjects of diligence, prudence, shalom, balance, trust, respect, and finally, wisdom overall, including personified Wisdom.

Wisdom is commonly held as “thinking and living in accordance with how things actually are.” Folly, on the other hand, “is a way of thinking and living that ignores how things actually are.” 1 The purpose and goal of this book is the advancement of wisdom and minimisation of folly in the reader’s life. Thinking and living in accordance with how things actually are is both a wisdom activity and a commitment to truth. Truth and wisdom are therefore inextricably joined-at-the-hip.

During a routine though intense reading of Proverbs over more than a year, a system of thought evolved in my mind and heart; I continually noticed themes emerging from the text and I mused on their relationships with each other. When I analysed it further I found seven neat headings (which I now call “principal values”) that could categorise these proverbs that really stood out for me personally, and the more I looked the more I could see these seven distinctly; set apart as macro character traits.

Then I noticed how well they interlaced with each other. Again still, I noted how each of the seven individual principal values paired up with another quite intrinsically and there evolved in my thinking a system for the development of three wisdom schemas: the first (the subject of this volume) is personal mastery combining the values of diligence and prudence; the second involves life giving and regenerational attributes of shalom (a complete peace) and balance; and finally, a third relating to social awareness relationship enhancers trust and respect. The totality added up to wisdom. At once, it appeared to me that one system of thinking could assist someone with intra-personal, inter-personal, and life sustenance, all in one.

As mentioned, this first volume is focused on two subjects within a system of philosophy, diligence and prudence. These frame, for you the reader, ways you can align to truth and wisdom (how things actually are) in the development of your person regarding efficiency (diligence) and effectiveness (prudence) adding up to a life efficacy (or worth) I call personal mastery. That’s the basic theory.

1 John Goldingay, Proverbs: New Bible Commentary, D.A. Carson, R.T. France, J.A. Moyter & G.J. Wenham (eds) (Leicester, England: InterVarsity Press, 1994), pp. 584-85.

Copyright © 2007, 2008, 2009 S. J. Wickham. All rights reserved Worldwide. May not be used without permission.

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The Purpose of, and End in, Life Itself: Wisdom

Can we formularise life? Can we make up or discover a system that can guide us? Nothing is perfect except God. But we can venture into Wisdom and find within it an ideal ally and companion for life. I propose there are seven key virtues of life (“principal values”) that can guide us in growth toward the goal of a healthy, fulfilling life which seeks to both live abundantly now, and also leave behind a solid legacy after death. Combined and integrated, these principal values form a neat philosophy for personal growth and development.

Wisdom is not simply the means to life. It’s an end in itself. God is wisdom, as he is love, as he is truth, as he is light, as he is salvation, and as he is grace; among the many other things he is. We are told wisdom existed prior to Creation. It was the first of God’s works. It is God’s nature. Therefore, if we want to make sense of life we need to see this as a big part of the key to it all.

We also need to know that acquiring wisdom requires a search, and a lifelong day-by-day search at that! The depths of wisdom cannot be plumbed. As we search we will just keep finding more and more; much like a wealth of a certain resource in a bottomless mine. Using the mining analogy, we might have to employ varying techniques to get at the “ore” of wisdom and retrieve it, as well as finding varying qualities and quantities of this “ore” as we go. Some of our “finds” in this search are simply breathtaking, like the discovery of a large gold nugget or gemstone. Sometimes it is simply hard going, with few “nuggets” to find, and mainly dust, but we know we need to endure these times in order to discover more.

Unlike mining however, wisdom proves itself miraculous in life. It’s worth far more than refined silver or gold. It proves sustainable whereas we all know that riches are transitory; we only have to look at the fragile, ebbing and flowing stock market to see that.

The seven principal values; diligence, prudence, shalom (a Hebrew word which means a “whole peace”), balance, trust, respect, and wisdom, are all interdependent on and through each other. As one is activated and dealt with, so are the others brought in, at least in some small way. In other words, if we improve in one value or attribute, say we become more diligent, we will potentially affect and improve others.

There is a Model that shows the interrelationship of these seven principal values with wisdom and truth.

Copyright © 2007, 2008, 2009 S. J. Wickham. All rights reserved Worldwide. May not be used without permission.

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Page | 9 Principal Values We need to define and differentia te between the principal values:

Principal Values

We need to define and differentiate between the principal values:

Diligence:

Diligence is order—an appreciation of the need for diligence to create order in life. It is being resolute and seeking resolution in all situations; working with tenacity, industry, and a focus on definable action. It is commitment and a firm intent—based on a heart for righteousness. It’s an unreligious piety, which is dutifulness. A focus on carefulness—a rejection of haste (haste is motivated by fear, laziness, and other ungodly impulses). Other adjectives are responsible, dependability, discipline, obedience, leadership.

Prudence:

Is control over what enters and leaves the mouth. Everything in prudence can be rated on eating, other bodily intake, and communication. Taking care to be silent in tenuous times; adherence to temperance, moderation in all things, discretion and finery, always inoffensive and impossible to offend—overlooks insults, act out of knowledge and not from opinion, gives thought and consideration to ways/steps; always has the humility to heed correction, seeks refuge in dangerous situations, a constant awareness of one’s context and environment.

Shalom:

Tranquillity, in a word; achieving a tranquil state, wholeness in one’s being, at-peace, at- rest, being still, and feeling good in self (and God if one believes); harmony in heart and

Copyright © 2007, 2008, 2009 S. J. Wickham. All rights reserved Worldwide. May not be used without permission.

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soul. It’s an absence of agitation/discord—no cognitive dissonance; congruence of heart and mind. It’s a feeling of completeness, and a thorough sense of self-awareness. And lastly, it’s probably the most important way to be—way of be-ing.

Balance:

Protecting accessibility is vital to shalom. It’s the ability to be autonomous—to achieve autonomy. It’s a wise use of time that considers the various priorities and impacts of time. It is essentially maintenance of balance, and the ability to do the important things always, preferably in utter peace; it protects and enhances vitality. Is driven by, implemented with, and uses effectively the No/Now juxtaposition (this is covered under “Diligence”).

Trust:

It takes trust to be courageous, and faith to trust. It takes courage and faith to be honest. It is love never failing, and a seeking for kindness. One must trust to be patient—a chief virtue. It is forgiveness—the grace to forgive and forget, gratitude in all things, acceptance of things that cannot be changed, detachment of one to one’s desires, openness to all good things, a call to perseverance; rarely, if ever, losing hope.

Respect:

Justice with love are capital virtues—justice always, sincerity, giving honour to all people, listening more than what would be expected; an unquestioned integrity, driven by humility, compassion, gentleness, and empathy, fairness at any cost; consideration whenever it is due, and sometimes when it is not; tolerance for all people; being socially intelligent.

Wisdom:

Truth is wisdom; longevity based in truth—it works always—being grounded in it. Truth and wisdom are interchangeable. Health and wellbeing from true motive, a true wholesomeness based in the fear of God; seeking to understand rather than be understood. It’s a simultaneously eternal and transitory perspective; a right curiosity and a true appreciation of beauty and excellence.

The interdependence and intra-relationship of the principal values

It can be shown that if we apply trust for example, which can be demonstrated in many ways, like being courageous or having faith etc, we become beneficiaries of more shalom. It takes prudence and diligence to trust—it’s not just hard work (diligence) to begin with, and

Copyright © 2007, 2008, 2009 S. J. Wickham. All rights reserved Worldwide. May not be used without permission.

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it takes some self-control (prudence) to trust. It takes wisdom to be patient. Patience is a big part of trust. To trust means being honest; again, honesty is an intrinsic act of courage. To forgive anyone means we must trust, and in this way we also show respect for the person we forgive. To effectively and honestly trust we must be reasonably balanced in life—if our life is in chaos it will be more difficult to trust. Balance promotes the ability to trust. Lastly, we simply cannot implement wisdom living without a whole lot of trust.

What about another principal value?

Take shalom. To receive shalom, or as I like to put it, to “achieve shalom,” in the moment, we have to do our work (diligence), be careful about what we say and do (prudence), and we must have balance in life; we must trust God (have faith); we must be respectful; and, we need to attend to overall wisdom living, which is a summarisation of all these in any event—as well as having its own distinct characteristics. Shalom is always a moment-by- moment proposition. So, these principal values interact with shalom in a moment-by- moment way.

I have just shown the interdependence of the other six principal values with trust firstly, and then secondly with shalom. It works with each of the others as well.

Let’s now break the principal values down in a different way. It’s a way that illustrates the special holistic nature of this system of thinking or philosophy.

It covers three key life functions or situations that recur over and again:

  • 1. Personal mastery: diligence and prudence;

  • 2. Life-givers: shalom and balance; and,

  • 3. Social awareness relationship enhancers: trust and respect.

Now, this theory posits that we need access to both personal mastery values and life-giving values to tap into the social awareness relationship enhancers, trust and respect. Again, interdependence. We could transpose the formula and it would work out true too.

All three lead to, and complement and enhance, wisdom. They ‘add up’ to wisdom.

Copyright © 2007, 2008, 2009 S. J. Wickham. All rights reserved Worldwide. May not be used without permission.

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Personal Mastery: Diligence and Prudence

Diligence and prudence come first because they are personal. They impact us personally, and are most noticeably created or developed (one is [i.e. ‘you’] diligent or prudent) because of personal reasons, drives, and motivations.

Diligence is order; an appreciation of the need for diligence to create order in life. It is being resolute and seeking resolution in all situations, working with tenacity, industry, and a focus on definable action. It is commitment and a firm intent, based on a heart for righteousness, and an unreligious piety which is dutifulness; a focus on carefulness; a rejection of haste. Other applicable adjectives as personal characteristics are: responsible, dependability, discipline, obedience, and leadership.

Prudence is primarily self-control over what enters and leaves the mouth, and a heart that reflects same. Everything in prudence can be rated on eating/intake and communication. It’s taking care to be silent in tenuous times, adherence to temperance, moderation in all things, discretion and finery; it’s always inoffensive and impossible to offend. Proverbs mentions that the prudent: overlook insults; act out of knowledge and not from their own opinion; give thought and consideration to their ways and steps; always think and act with the humility in heeding correction; seek refuge in dangerous situations; and, have a constant awareness of one’s context and environment.

Diligence and prudence are the centre-most character qualities that others look for in making judgments about us. They assess our character critically on these values first; on how diligent and prudent we are. If we are branded “lazy” or a “gossip” it has relevance personally. These are character attacks that speak most cogently to our levels of competence (or lack thereof) regarding both diligence and prudence.

If we are feeling personally fulfilled it will be largely because we consider that we’ve been diligent and prudent in our attitude and behaviour. Our self-image and self-esteem is buoyed this way. These are key personal values, which have a tremendous impact on the next two. These two come first.

Diligence and prudence are two complementary factors in developing a strong, focused, and pliable character to augment the development of wisdom. This subject is not for the faint of heart. It’s strictly for those in life who genuinely seek to grow without regard for the personal cost. This growth is obviously counter-cultural to the flow of secular Western life, which is so often pleasure-based and at odds with the development of character.

Copyright © 2007, 2008, 2009 S. J. Wickham. All rights reserved Worldwide. May not be used without permission.

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It is argued that when a person can master both qualities of these principal values, and demonstrate high competence in living them in a consistent day-in-day-out way, then they have achieved personal maturity that God intends for them as a person. This is personal mastery over the desires, and competence in that person’s ability to test their own heart and seek God for direction along their way.

Not only does this person live in a highly diligent way, they do it for the right reasons i.e. prudent perspective drives the diligent way. They’re careful in their expression of diligence. Conversely, this person is also highly prudent, yet they gird their discretion with a level of detached accountability that oozes diligence—again, their prudence is driven from the right heart or motivation.

A person with low levels of prudence, but high on diligence may exhibit a brash boldness that gets things done hang the consequences i.e. simple greed or too carefree. The other extreme is a person low on diligence but high on prudence; this person, although careful, may be inclined toward motivational problems—they might know what they need to do but can’t do it for lack of the principal value of diligence i.e. simple laziness or lack of courage. What is confounding for people with both of these conditions is the lack of motivation or ability to do what the wise know is right—across the board—in spite of the personal cost.

Page | 13 It is argued that when a person can master both qualities of these

Copyright © 2007, 2008, 2009 S. J. Wickham. All rights reserved Worldwide. May not be used without permission.

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We can view these both on Quadrant model. People fit anywhere on the Quadrant according to their cross-referenced proficiency in both diligence and prudence.

What people find is the hardest thing to get through is the “motive wall.” This is the biggest barrier to attaining high levels of both principal values.

The key in personal mastery is determining where we fit on both scales and then it’s about setting goals to improve our motivation, increasing our character around both diligence and prudence.

Life­givers: Shalom and Balance

Shalom and balance go together because they are both life-giving. Though they are subtly (and importantly) different, they are highly interdependent with each other and the key to life today — the present age. If there was ever a time when we have lost focus on these it’s now!

Shalom is many things, and not simply “peace.” It’s even a feeling of completeness, and a thorough sense of self-awareness. It’s tranquillity and harmony, a total absence of discord, and absolutely no cognitive dissonance. It’s the most import ant and best state for a human being to achieve. It’s simply heaven on earth.

If we have shalom it will be because of our level of life balance. The contra is applicable.

Balance is the thing that is missing in much of life today—it’s much more than simply “work/life balance.” It’s that and more. It’s also about autonomy and being (able to be kept) accountable. A balanced life uses time wisely and considers the various priorities and impacts of time; it’s a “focused life.” It protects our accessibility. It’s self-empowerment to be able to do things well, all the time. It’s consistently high performance. It protects and enhances vitality.

Relationship­enhancers: Trust and Respect

Trust and Respect also go together and come last before Wisdom and are both relational. Again, these are highly interdependent on each other; if one does not respect people, trust is not afforded back in those relationships. If you don’t trust someone, they are unlikely to respect you — it’s a very reciprocal arrangement.

Copyright © 2007, 2008, 2009 S. J. Wickham. All rights reserved Worldwide. May not be used without permission.

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Trust is love never failing, and a seeking for kindness. It’s the grace to forgive and forget, gratitude in all things, and acceptance of things that cannot be changed. It’s also the detachment of one to one’s desires, openness to all good things, a call to perseverance, and it’s also never losing hope.

Respect is a seeking for justice and righteousness, sincerity, and giving honour to all people; it’s listening more than what would normally be expected, as well as an unquestioned integrity, driven by humility, compassion, empathy, and fairness, at any cost; it’s consideration whenever it is due, and even sometimes when it is not, and tolerance for all people; it’s being socially intelligent.

The Purpose of, and End In, Life Itself: Wisdom

Finally, wisdom is separated out as unique and special. Nothing is like wisdom. Wisdom is truth; the way things are. Wisdom and truth are both synonymous and highly interchangeable.

Truth is wisdom; longevity based in truth — it works always — being grounded in it. Striving for health and wellbeing, a true wholesomeness based in the right fear of God, seeking to understand rather than be understood. It’s both and simultaneously eternal and transitory in perspective; it’s the totality of true perspective. It’s a right curiosity and a true appreciation of beauty and excellence.

Wisdom is as broad as life, and many would suggest infinitely broader than even that.

We look at wisdom from purely a life-perspective, however. (We take into account only this aspect of wisdom. Theologically and practically, wisdom is as broad as “Creation.”) Wisdom provides the three keys 2 to life: long life and its associated benefits, prosperity in its different forms, and honour, which is your name, fame, and reputation—it’s what you will take to Heaven; the only thing perhaps.

So, this philosophy is the answer to the question: “What is truth?” For when it’s all been said and done, there’s just one thing that matters: living for truth. Did you or didn’t you? That will be the question asked of you. Even at the 11 th hour you may not have been, but it’s the finish that counts. Will you finish strongly?

2 See Proverbs 3:2, 16; 21:21; 22:4.

Copyright © 2007, 2008, 2009 S. J. Wickham. All rights reserved Worldwide. May not be used without permission.

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The application of these seven principal values can catapult anyone into character growth and development that seeks only for truth; reality at any cost, even to the expense of the individual concerned. Because there is something more important than personal comfort and ease; it’s pleasing God. You can only come to know real peace, joy and love through a relationship with God.

What is truth? This question is, in my opinion, the key to the purpose of life; a life, again in my opinion, that is only available through a true Spirit-filled relationship with Jesus Christ; only he can effectively answer our innermost searching questions and satisfy our deepest longings.

With him, and him alone, truth is available; truth that finally and powerfully sets us free.

Reaching a Higher Standard...

It’s one thing to reach a high worldly standard; it’s another thing entirely to reach an inspiring ‘heavenly’ standard in your living and relating in this world. The theory is simple. There are three levels. The first dependent level is sin. At the opposite end of the same continuum is the second independent level, an acceptable worldly standard. The third interdependent level is a clean and new heavenly standard -- a criterion that is rarely met. This third level is not on the same plain or continuum as the previous two.

Let’s look at work ethic. The dependent (sin) level is laziness. The independent (acceptable worldly standard) is busyness. The interdependent (heavenly) standard is diligence -- just enough work, just enough rest, and just enough play -- the diligent get balance right. They’re diligent at getting it right and they try hard until they do, and they continue trying. They do not allow themselves to slip into ‘selectively sluggardness.’ 3 Bill Hybels suggests that a lot of people get 9 out of 10 right; they expend themselves properly 90 percent of the time, only to neglect a critical area of their lives (the final 10 percent). By virtue of this, they become plainly negligent in that area. We see this often in our Western society in the way the family and familial relationships are mistreated. They’re not a high priority for many. Sure, you might work hard, but do you really give your husband, wife, son or daughter the time they need or deserve?

3 See Bill Hybels’ book, Making Life Work, Putting God’s Wisdom into Action, (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1998) p. 36-8.

Copyright © 2007, 2008, 2009 S. J. Wickham. All rights reserved Worldwide. May not be used without permission.

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Diligence is a commitment to industry and action, it’s responsible and dependable; it’s also leadership, discipline, the right intent, order in one’s life, tenacity, resolution, and carefulness.

What about speech; what we say? The sin level is clearly slander and its cousins. The worldly standard is double-talk and complaint -- it is entirely acceptable in eighty percent of life to talk good of people one minute and criticise the next, or to sprinkle whinging with joy. Even so-called ‘pious’ people do it. The heavenly standard however, one which is rarely reached, is that of prudence -- the ability to remain silent and utter words only which lift people up; prudence upholds, and links to, respect. It’s articulating words of praise not complaint. The prudent get balance right. They only speak when there’s something genuinely good to say. They also reap a blessing of peace (shalom) as a result of not having tenuous relationships to deal with. Instead they are almost universally respected; even by those they seemingly have nothing in common with -- or those whom might be tempted to be envious. Prudence is also about what enters our mouths, as a function of self-control; i.e. what we drink and what we eat, and most appropriately, how much we do of both.

Prudence overlooks insults, is temperate, discreet, and acts out of knowledge. It heeds correction and takes refuge in the sight of danger.

Then there’s peace itself. What are the levels of peace? The dependent level is chaos -- a world where chaos reigns and there’s an absence of peace. Wars with people are only matched with the inner war that goes on within the self. There is dissonance and then there’s escape -- the vehicle is often a substance; a drug. It’s all cause-and-effect. That’s the sin level. The worldly standard is relative peace, or in real estate terms, ‘quiet enjoyment.’ One has ‘earned the right’ to enjoy what one has. It is almost always a material enjoyment. It’s a house, car, boat, or “toy” that one derives one’s peace and contentment from. It lasts only so long before a yearning for more peace comes. The novelty’s worn off.

Enter the heavenly standard; this is peace from within: peace only from faith in God. Here’s the trick. You can’t experience this peace that transcends human understanding unless you’re born again. To become born again you must express what is seen as ‘absurd’ faith from the worldly standard viewpoint. Peace includes the ability to rest and be still; it is wholeness and harmony, and ultimately a high degree of self-awareness.

You can see thus far how the heavenly standard does not even fit in with the predominant ‘sin to worldly-standard’ continuum. It sits a whole world above and doesn’t even compare.

Copyright © 2007, 2008, 2009 S. J. Wickham. All rights reserved Worldwide. May not be used without permission.

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Balance is the key to it all of course, and that is what I am arguing. Balance is heavenly in an intrinsic sense. It appears to sit smack bang in between the atrophied life and the burned out life, but in reality it’s on another continuum entirely as suggested above. Balance is only reached when the motive is pure and the whole life is compartmentalised; here selective sluggardness is entirely corrected -- every area of life is attended to adequately -- and therefore -- perfectly.

The work ethic is “fitted” to each life circumstance and a full effort is expended in each area of life (i.e. compartmentalisation) that does justice to that area i.e. it meets objectives whether they’re stated explicitly or implicitly. We know the objectives are being achieved when we look at all our relationships and how well they’re going, and to how well we feel within ourselves. Balance is consistently meeting all objectives. I’m demonstrating the intrinsic diligence-balance link here. Balance also applies to prudence, trust, and respect, and ultimately wisdom. (The shalom-balance link has already been partially shown.) Balance is the wise use of time, a protection of accessibility i.e. relative autonomy, and vitality.

Trust is a key resource in life. How does it fit here? The dependent level is about mistrust and lack of trust. It is complete self-reliance. Actually, it may even not trust self. It may rely mistakenly on others. It’s certainly pre-disposed to dysfunctional and co-dependent relationships, because mistrust drives the field of vision and this person can’t see the wood for the trees. They trust the wrong people for the wrong reasons.

At the second, worldly standard level, trust is situational and it’s varied in level of trust shown. It’s very much dependent on being earned. The problem with that is we, as human beings, tend to occasionally let down our friends, family, peers, and customers (i.e. all our fellow human beings). What happens to trust when it’s dependent on performance alone, and performance standards slip? It’s a major compromise and trust is bound to suffer.

At the heavenly standard level trust is implicit in the way a person lives. Trust is issued without ‘strings attached’ and it doesn’t even mind too much if it is not returned. Trust is an investment without a return required; it’s given freely. Of course, melding prudence with trust ensures that people don’t take advantage for long -- forgiveness happens and wisdom removes the matter of trust being required. It simply doesn’t go to the place where it will be taken advantage of. Trust includes faith, grace, courage, honesty, kindness, patience definitely, as well as gratitude, acceptance, detachment, openness, perseverance, and hope. It is a very broad concept at the heavenly standard level, trust.

Copyright © 2007, 2008, 2009 S. J. Wickham. All rights reserved Worldwide. May not be used without permission.

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Respect is next. Trust and respect are so interdependent on one another it is often hard to separate them. For instance, if you respect someone they’re likely to trust you. At the dependent sin level there’s a lack of respect. I see this every day on the roads with people exceeding the speed limits, cutting one another off etc. Conversely, I also see situational respect (the worldly standard) on the roads when people concede for one another, allowing another car to enter traffic from a side street etc. But it all falls down when the driver who could allow another car in doesn’t, instead choosing to ‘hurry on.’

Respect at the heavenly interdependent level is about compassion, empathy, tolerance, and social intelligence. It is consideration and fairness, sincerity, honour, and the desire to listen rather to another rather than be heard. It is also personal integrity and humility.

The heavenly standard is the consistently courteous driver. Now this will test every person reading this, including me. And we fail. We fail to meet this heavenly standard in each of the above areas. But, we do strive for it nonetheless.

Wisdom oversees the whole process toward living at a higher ethical “heavenly” standard. The wisdom I speak of is not a worldly standard of wisdom which is just intelligent and savvy living; heavenly wisdom often cuts against the grain of worldly common sense -- it doesn’t appear very smart. And it’s often not in the short term. It’s costlier. But in the longer term it works out for the best. Wisdom confounds foolishness which is that base sin dependent level. We see plenty of folly around us.

Wisdom combines the above Principles of diligence, prudence, shalom, balance, trust, and respect. It ‘clothes’ all these. It is far more valuable than fine gold or choice silver. It’s both beauty and excellence; it’s longevity, health, and wellbeing, perspective, and a right curiosity. Wisdom is ultimately truth and vice versa. It is the foundation of life and it is found only in one place: God.

Copyright © 2007, 2008, 2009 S. J. Wickham. All rights reserved Worldwide. May not be used without permission.

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Diligence

Main Entry: 1 dil·i·gence Pronunciation: \ˈdi-lə-jən(t)s\

Page | 20 Diligence Main Entry: dil·i·gence Pronunciation: \ ˈ di-l ə -j ə n(t)s\ Function:

Function: noun Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin diligentia, from diligent-, diligens

Date: 14th century 1 a: persevering application: ASSIDUITY bobsolete: SPEED, HASTE

2: the attention and care legally expected or required of a person (as a party to a contract) 4

1.

constant and earnest effort to accomplish what is undertaken; persistent exertion of body or mind.

2.

Law. the degree of care and caution required by the circumstances of a person.

3.

Obsolete. care; caution. noun

  • 1. conscientiousness in paying proper attention to a task; giving the degree of care

required in a given situation

  • 2. persevering determination to perform a task; "his diligence won him quick promotions"; "frugality and industry are still regarded as virtues"

  • 3. a diligent effort; "it is a job requiring serious application" [syn: application]

Famous Last Words – “I’ll Do It Later

...

We’ve all done it. We’ve all said, “Oh, I’ll do it later.” It’s a fair thing to put some things off to a later time, but some things just need to be started and some projects must be steadily and diligently progressed or we’ll never reach our objective. Delaying action will risk letting people down who’re relying on us to do the things we need to do.

Taking the initiative requires effort. It means we have to resist the temptation to say, “I’ll do it later.” And the truth is every one of us struggles with it. There are so many areas in life we’d want to just relax and cool our heels, or do other ‘important stuff’. Another truth:

4 Merriam-Webster Dictionary online.

Copyright © 2007, 2008, 2009 S. J. Wickham. All rights reserved Worldwide. May not be used without permission.

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our lives travel swiftly south and we’ll end up poorer if we don’t bite the bullet and do what we need to do, now.

I’ve got “a round tuit” at home. It’s a round plaque that illustrates this exact point. It says,

“This is a round tuit. Guard it with your life. Tuits are hard to come by, especially the round ones. It will help you to become a much more efficient worker. For years you’ve heard people say, ‘I’ll do it, when I get a round tuit.’ So now that you have one, you can accomplish all those things you put aside until you got your round tuit.”

Doesn’t that just say it? It’s a constant reminder of the things we put off and put off and again and again, put off. Bill Hybels says in Making Life Work, “Excuses breed excuses. Laziness, sluggishness, indolence, slothfulness, whichever slow moving word you choose -- they all breed more and more of the same slimy stuff. It’s a thick soup you’re sinking into, and you’ll end up stuck in a life of ruin.” 5

“I’ll do it later,” is a famous-last-words statem ent. Even if we do this thing later it won’t bring us the satisfaction it could if we just do it now. We need to break the pattern of procrastination by taking the initiative and by eliminating the excuses.

Defeat Laziness and Achieve Anything!

Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!

It has no commander, no overseer or ruler,

yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.

-Proverbs 6:6-8

Many people have problems with motivation. Truth be known we all have to learn how to work; it never comes naturally, not to anyone. Yet, we often look at the self-motivated

5 Bill Hybels, Making Life Work: Putting God’s Wisdom into Action , (Downers Grove, Illinois:

InterVarsity Press, 1998), p. 35.

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person in awe as if they were especially blessed. Perhaps they have been blessed, but not with anything other than the knowledge that a good day’s work is reward all its own.

Why do people choose the easy way out when time and again they’ll feel the sting of the negative consequences? Failure to achieve, the wrath of authority figures, a messy life etc. These sorts of people never really learn—until they do so the hard way. The sluggard is the type of fool who chooses not to learn. They prefer sleep and can’t be bothered spending themselves for their own (or another’s) benefit. Everything stands against them as a result. There is no blessing for the lazy person. They may crave but invariably nothing comes. Yet, the sluggard is wiser (in his or her own eyes) than seven others who answer discreetly.

The sluggard is commanded to go to the ant to learn (finally) how to work. And what do

ants do that’s so special? They work

little by little they work. One grain of sand at a time.

... One piece of food at a time, they march on and on and on. And so it is with us. If we

employ this diligence to our work, we achieve! The longer we go with this strategy the more success we accumulate.

Rarely is there a magic bullet in life and the same applies to becoming motivated. The old Nike by-line, Just Do It, is so relevant it’s not funny. Doing one thing at a time, whether it’s

weight loss or earning a degree or saving for a car or home, add one thing to another

to

... another, and the principles of achievement are suddenly being applied and success is rapidly within sight. Diligence takes discipline.

Don’t Get Too Comfortable

I know a manager who had achieved a marvellous amount of change and influence over several years and lots of hard work. He had made his mark. He’d achieved everything there was to achieve. He relaxed. The following year he was out of a job. Another man had done the same thing; he’d achieved everything in his field of endeavour, a high profile and brilliantly successful sportsperson, and then something happened that brought it to an abrupt end—he grew content with what he’d achieved.

If there’s one thing in corporate life or on the sporting field (or in any field for that matter) which ushers in the death knell on that blossoming or successful career it’s getting comfortable. It’s never a good idea in life getting comfortable. Comfort zones are dangerous areas.

Copyright © 2007, 2008, 2009 S. J. Wickham. All rights reserved Worldwide. May not be used without permission.

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We’re only as good as our last performance; each day requires its own fresh effort. We can be on top of the world one day, yet it all starts again from scratch the very next day. It’s up to us.

I heard once that it’s impossible to stay still in life—we either grow or we stagnate; we move forwards or backwards. So, if we’re not consistently striving to grow, and we rest on our laurels we can expect life to eventually go south, and go sour. Like our manager and our sportsperson above, who both grew comfortable with their lots, we’re destined for disaster if we stop trying in life.

If we ever get to a point in life where we feel comfortable and satisfied, we should watch out. We should start looking over our shoulder. The truth is there could be a shake-up at any given moment and we could be shaken from your restful position in that ‘powerful’ tree of ours.

We need to stay hungry and competitive. Most of all we must stay on the right side of all our relationships. We need to ensure we remain on the cutting edge of life. We need to keep trying and failing. If we’ve failed and we’ve tried, we’re growing.

Be the Change!

“Be the change you want to see in the world.”

-Mahatma Gandhi

This quote is an amazing truth regarding the ‘doing’ rather than simply the ‘saying’. Ghandi was without doubt one of the most incredible human beings who ever lived. What was it that he saw in the world that commanded him to believe this and therefore actually ‘do’ it? There seems to be so much talk and so little action in much of life; it is wearisome believing people who command your attention when they promise change, when we know to expect more of the same.

Saying and doing. These two words are poles, even worlds, apart. When we’ve heard it all and seen very little, there can be an incredible sense of disillusionment that pervades us. This might look like a form of learned helplessness, as we see things in our world requiring change in response to the truth we see, yet there is no change, and may never be any. Now that’s not a good looking picture. It reminds me of sayings like, “Nothing changes if

Copyright © 2007, 2008, 2009 S. J. Wickham. All rights reserved Worldwide. May not be used without permission.

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nothing changes,” or “What is the definition of insanity: expecting vastly different results from using the same methods.” It’s insanity alright.

We’ve heard of the Intelligence Quotient, but what we’re more interested with here is the ‘Credibility Quotient’. How is a person to become credible and maintain credibility? I’m can’t suggest anything scientific, but I can suggest that if people say what they mean and mean what they say, and prove it by actually doing it, it makes a strong case for their credibility, and the efficacy of change. They’re easier to trust and follow the next time around.

Credibility and trust are crucial in leadership. Without these elements a leader will struggle to command any sense of respect with his or her charges. So, what gives with credibility—what does it look like? It means that if we’re a leader we must be prepared to be ‘part of the pain’ of change if we expect to see it work. A leader needs to get in and get dirty with the change by getting involved. It is amazing how many so-called leaders simply don’t pay any interest in getting involved, and making the necessary sacrifices in leading people through a change process. The character (humility and respect etc) of the leader comes out when people see them actually committing to the changes they all see as required—they share a common understanding and a common goal.

Change in the home is very similar. If we’re in a relationship and we’re suffering abuse or inequity, we want and need change. If we see no commitment to change, or our partner is simply saying things to appease us, it’s a worry . How do we facilitate the change we want to see? We could “be the change,” as Ghandi suggests. It’s a good starting point. Even more pointedly, if we are the partner who is the perpetrator of the abuse, “Be the change” we want to see; actually start doing it one-day or one-moment-at-a-time. We don’t make excuses or put it off any longer: we do it now! Continuing change in this environment is made simple if we do it one day at a time. Like giving anything up, we must simply keep going one-moment-at-a-time; and just QUIT. The forces that seem so powerful now won’t have the same influence in a month or two. That might seem a way off; focus: one-day-at- a-time.

“Doing change” means staying within our sphere of influence. This is so important. How many people get cheesed off with things that concern them, but they don’t have the ability to change? This is a waste of energy. Let’s explore the remedy. Let’s take a look at a unique characteristic we all have: the ability to form original perceptions.

Perceptions are funny things; we all have them and they are so varied, and even subtle differences place us a long way away from each other. If we are wise we’ll seek to test our

Copyright © 2007, 2008, 2009 S. J. Wickham. All rights reserved Worldwide. May not be used without permission.

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perceptions far enough to say, ‘Can I do something about this concern?’ If the answer is ‘yes’ it is something we can influence: we can actually do something about it. This reminds

me of the slogan World Vision used in their 2007 40-hour famine promotion

...

‘Do

something

...

Do something real

...

Do something else’ (i.e. other than procrastinate). There

is no sense in getting ‘all in a tizz’ about something we can’t do anything about, so if the answer to our question is ‘no’ we need to learn to move on, and as the Serenity Prayer suggests, we need to “accept the things we cannot change.”

Now, we commence a totally different ball game if the answer was ‘yes’ and we feel sufficiently passionate about it. This is where the work begins. We’ve done the easy bit, now the ‘proof will be in the pudding’ as they say. Enabling a change process to the “doing” requires planning, commitment, energy, and resources. It can only be limited by a lack of passion and commitment.

  • I heard recently that a way to reach your goals was via the “bridge of self-discipline.”

That’s correct isn’t it? We can’t achieve any worthwhile goal without needing to restrain our desires. Whether our desire might be stunted by laziness (procrastination) or fed by greed, the antidote is self-discipline; diligence in one word. This word symbolises the correct spirit in activity. It is everything dependable, done in the right way, and with the right intent.

Doing the things our mind and heart says are important—those things we can actually do— is really important for our self-belief and self-efficacy. Doing things, over simply just saying them, is such a pointer of character because it shows people around us how diligent we are, how committed to ideals we are, and how compassionate we are.

If you are able to consistently convert the things you say to the activity of doing them, “Then, my son [or daughter],” as Rudyard Kipling said in his poem If, “You will be a Man [or Woman].”

Get Fit, Not Injured – Recreation ‘Change Management’

  • I met a friend for lunch some time back and I was surprised to see him adorned in open shoes, but otherwise dressed for business. When I inquired about it he proceeded to tell me

of the blisters he’d been battling with blisters from running. He had developed the blisters as a result of either poor footwear, excessive running, or for some other reason. One thing

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was for sure, he was sore, and what was worse he’d been forced to stop his emergent fitness regime.

I got to thinking that my friend doesn’t normally run, or at least it isn’t characteristic of his routine. Then I got to thinking, ‘Is this from an over eager desire to implement change?’-- to get fit, and in “getting fit” had he not sufficiently attended to the delicate balance required in the physical transition from being largely sedentary to becoming more active.

This sort of thing has happened to me also. Returning to weight training with the availability of a gym where I worked was great; I love to work out. The only trouble was an ‘old war wound’ within my lumbar spine re-surfaced and I had to back off somewhat.

It highlights the golden truth that getting fit is harder to get right than one might think. The degree of success of any change often depends on its sustainability over the initial months of implementation. If we last longer than a few months, we normally adapt and then continue the new habit, in this case the habit of exercise. There are many things that potentially de-rail our efforts to change. I’ve mentioned a couple above (risk management for continuity and ‘sticking to’ a routine).

Change Management is quite an old practice in business circles, but it is not as well known in the business of everyday life. The principles are based in the processes of planning, assessment, consultation, and monitoring, amongst others. The overall key is the planning. With the desire for new and improved habits and routines, achieving good change management relies on effective thought and planning, whether it's in business or in our personal lives.

The wisdom is this: plan to start a changed routine or new habit slowly, monitoring the change closely. Implement it gradually, particularly exercise. Be patient. An injury will set you back days, weeks, or months, and worse still, you could find that you NEVER actually continue the habit, or never get back to it, and this can be very de-motivating. How many people have failed once and never tried again? If you fail, keep trying. Don’t lose your motivation altogether. Good planning can inspire discipline and be highly motivating in itself.

The cost in going slowly is easy to bear when you consider the enormous benefit, in looking back in the months to come, on how disciplined you were and what the rewards were. Diligence in this way demonstrates your leadership over yourself, your ability to ‘listen’ to what your body and mind is saying to you, and your commitment to overcome the significant obstacles of change.

Copyright © 2007, 2008, 2009 S. J. Wickham. All rights reserved Worldwide. May not be used without permission.

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We need to manage change carefully and dutifully. Make sure you give sufficient thought to the planning so that you bolster your chances of success.

From Reputation to Character

It never ceases to amaze me how maligned some people are in the eyes of some. It is as if some people could do anything to the contrary and still be seen a certain, negative way. It must be so frustrating for a person to find they have a reputation that they can’t shake.

To illustrate the point, say two people have known each other for years; they grew up together. One grew up holding the perception that the other was ‘tight-fisted’ with money. Now the perception is a reality for them, even though there’s not been much to support this perception. Every now and then they still refer and comment about this person’s ‘apparent’ unreasonable frugality. The person thought to be overly frugal or miserly is not that impressed that one story or event of frugality meant this reputation ‘stuck’ for what seems a lifetime. The reality for this situation from others’ viewpoints is actually contrary; this person is actually nothing like that—in fact, they are perhaps, at times, a little wasteful with money, and they are anything but selfish with their money, sharing without hesitation.

This is the difference at times between our real character and the less reliable reality of a reputation. People who seem intent on keeping negative reputations alive are usually the ones who engage in gossip and seem to love fiction in their own lives—especially if it is at the expense of someone else. This is obviously very damaging for relationships; they can never mature in love in this sort of environment.

Character is a far more reliable gauge of a person; it is the truth about us. It’s how you’d expect that person to respond and how they will 95 percent of the time. Character and decision-making have an interdependent relationship with virtue. The more we actually decide to be good and practice good virtue, like being kind and compassionate, the more our character is reinforced, within us and to those external to us, in these kind and compassionate ways. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy to act a certain way, for instance, when we exercise self-control through a decision, we strengthen our character around the virtue of self-control.

Abraham Lincoln once said, ‘Character is like a tree and reputation like its shadow.

The

shadow is what we think

of

it;

the tree is

the real thing.’

Another, Thomas Paine said,

Copyright © 2007, 2008, 2009 S. J. Wickham. All rights reserved Worldwide. May not be used without permission.

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‘Reputation is what men and women think of us; character is what God and angels know of us.’ Yet another, Elbert Hubbard said, ‘Many a man’s reputation would not know his character if they met on the street.’

Whether compared as a shadow to a tree, or what humans know of us as compared with God, it seems these quotes reinforce the distance often between reputation and the truth of our character.

Where does this leave us in the quest for a good reputation? It seems all we can really do is decide to be good, reliable, and faithful, and then let the reputations form as they will, hoping that our true character will actually be seen for what it is.

But, know this: If you get a negative reputation and people are not keen to shift their perception of you even with evidence that you’ve changed to the contrary, know that they are probably malicious at heart and don’t fret; heaven and earth won’t shake the untruth out of them.

The good news of course is people with a commitment to living in the reality of truth will notice your changes for the good and your reputation will change for the better.

Decide for the good, and be consistent, focussing more on your character than your reputation.

Eliminating Negative Self-Talk

How much anxiety and stress is generated in our own minds? Stay open to this: it is basic Toltec wisdom, and quite widely known within psychology circles, besides numerous other sources—we are, or become, what we think!

Say you get a phone call from your boss, and you’re out of the office taking a long lunch.

He calls and you don’t want to answer because you’re in an environment that’s ‘not the office’ and you feel guilty. You let it go to message bank. For a moment you think that he

or she is upset with you

all because of how you see the situation; your guilt has produced

... feelings that they are upset with you.

Let us get one thing straight. You are NOT thinking what the other person is! This is a truthful statement. Yet, we think and behave as if this was not true, and figure that we not only know what they’re thinking, but also that they think similarly to us. Test this out

Copyright © 2007, 2008, 2009 S. J. Wickham. All rights reserved Worldwide. May not be used without permission.

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consciously during your next week or two. How much opinion-making is your mind doing for you on automatic pilot?

We must be careful with this because not only will it mess with all your relationships, but it causes a huge amount of stress, anxiety and fear, and it is so unnecessary.

It is surprising to find out that most of the angst we deal with begins and ends within our own minds—yet it shouldn’t be. If you’re like most people you externalise the stresses of life when there couldn’t be anything further from the truth. Sure, there are things that affect our equilibrium but how we “see” things matters enormously.

We’re inclined to “see” what we “see”. In other words, our perception in any given moment is affected by all our previous experience, held values and attitudes, and this explains why people get what they expect most of the time—the self-fulfilling prophesy.

How we “see” or perceive things is a choice. When it comes to choosing to change it’s not easy: The older we get the harder the choice is to go another way we’re not used to since our brains have developed such well-worn neural pathways—we go with habit and prior attitudes simply because it’s “in the groove”.

It’s the same with our minds and our thinking. We think all the time. We talk to ourselves ALL the time. Not all of it is positive. In fact, if we have a negative self-image we’ll be saying stacks of things to undermine ourselves. How do we break the cycle?

How do we stop our negative self-talk or internal dialogue?

  • 1. Become aware of it: try journaling about it. Write about what you discuss with yourself in your mind, and what you decide your perception is going to be. Write when you do it and for how long, and what effect it creates (the emotions evoked) within you. It will take some time to master this step. Be patient with yourself.

  • 2. Make an agreement with yourself to challenge it: This is not an easy process but it is achievable over time. Developing the habit to challenge your self-talk is not easy but it is the first step, and it must happen in order to succeed. You need to form the habit of screening your thoughts with the “sieve of truth”. Only what goes through the sieve (i.e. is found to be entirely truthful) should be believed.

  • 3. Make a commitment to stop it: Again, this will take time and quite a lot of effort and energy. Focus only on this for the time, and don’t try to do too much at a time. Challenge and correct your thinking with the truth. If it isn’t based in objective

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fact, simply reject and divert your thinking. You will know when you’re mastering this. When you’re challenging and accepting and rejecting thoughts on a daily basis; everything through the “sieve of truth”.

Remember, people are not thinking what you think they are thinking. Be concerned only with what you’re thinking. Your thought-world can be controlled to a large extent. Give it a go.

Bad Habits – Eradicating Them Forever

New Year’s resolutions are notorious for not being carried through. They generally last just a few weeks, a month at most. But it’s not the only time we make promises to correct bad habits is it? The Billy Field classic song in the early 1980’s summarised this sentiment so well, “Can’t help myself, bad habits ” ...

The following riddle was given to me some fiv e years ago; see if you can work it out.

Guess who/what I am:

  • I am your constant companion,

  • I have the brain of a human, and the precision of a machine,

Half your job you might as well give to me

...

you only need to teach me and after only a

few lessons I’ll do it for you automatically! You can use me for your success, or you can use me for your ruin.

A warning however; you need to be FIRM with me; if you’re not, I have the power to destroy you.

Who/what am I?

This riddle proved prophetic in my life. On my way to an Australian airport I had a ride in a taxi cab I’ll never forget. The driver had taken me for a ride earlier and now had picked me up again for the final leg of the day. He was nice enough, but you know, he’s a driver and I was tired so I didn’t care much for his banter.

But he persisted, and this somehow intrigued me, particularly after he’d parroted the riddle the third time, commanding my attention, luring my curiosity. I listened again, and

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by virtue of this, the driver was even more intense in his rendition of it. I made a few fumbled attempts to guess it, unsuccessfully. As we arrived at the airport, he revealed the answer to the riddle: habits. The “who/what am I?” is habits. Read the riddle again if you like.

Exactly one week later my world fell apart. And it all fell apart to a large degree because of my habits, my bad habits. In retrospect the warnings were there, but we rarely heed the warnings do we? ‘If only I had done something about these problems earlier’ I mused and agonised. Too late, my time was up.

Keeping in mind we’re defined by our habits, what are you heading towards? You do reap what you sow in this life—it happens that reliability that it is foolish to live any other way.

This might be your opportunity to heed the warning. What habit has the potential to destroy you, whether it be a relationship like a marriage, your health because you smoke or drink too much; is it your temper—are you too easily angered?

What about the person with heart problems or high blood pressure and continues to eat poorly or not exercise? It doesn’t take a scientist to work out the end will not be pretty. It will more than likely be a tragic and painful end.

Sow curses and bad things (on yourself or others) and you will reap cursing; nothing of real worth will come. On the other hand if you sow ‘good’ you will get it.

The solution is using the power of the mind to break bad habits. Did you know that through good habits you can break bad habits? The mind has the ability to be ‘re-programmed’ through new myelination. This is a process where the neural pathways (brain wiring) are transformed and supercharged and go from being a ‘dirt tracks’ to a ‘super highways’—this means your brain uses these new and enhanced pathways in preference to the old ones and they are much quicker too—this is how habitual behaviour is created. This is what happens when we learn new things, and persist with them long enough for good habits to form. New and powerful pathways are created. To change a habit, you just need to stick at it long enough and a new pathway will be created and there you go; new habit. It’s not that hard in theory.

This is why it is so important to not just give something up, but we must replace that bad habit with an equally powerful positive habit. We then create the new myelination in opposition to the old one.

Copyright © 2007, 2008, 2009 S. J. Wickham. All rights reserved Worldwide. May not be used without permission.

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For instance, giving up smoking. Make a resolution to replace that habit with some others, like having gum to chew on as a reward—using delayed gratification it works well. Save it up, look forward to it. Get out and walk in the fresh air and marvel at the world we live in. Make the new habits highly personable to you. Cherish them. Think positively.

One thing for sure with habits and changing them; we need to be vigilant and must not relent, because if you give the old habit one tenth of a chance and it will come back and grab you and plague you worse than before as you realise it wouldn’t have been as bad to continue your resolve as it is now that you’ve given in. Stick at it. It is always worth the upfront pain. You can do it, and you will, one day at a time.

Haste – The Destructiveness, Hassle and Problem of Hurry

“Though I am always in haste, I am never in a hurry, because I never undertake more work than I can go through with calmness of Spirit.”

-John Wesley

When driving in traffic recently I was again amazed by the gall of some motorcyclists ... queue jumpers! There seems to be a mentality amongst many people who ride motorbikes that there exists a 'third lane' on the dual-lane carriageway. That they can zip up through the slowing traffic, to claim first place, is astounding. If someone did this while queuing at a bank, at a coffee shop or at the shops they'd be rudely mistaken, and roundly abused!

The particular day I had this experience, I noticed something unusual--a motorcyclist obediently following a car, staying in the one lane, and being a model motorcyclist. I was taken by his behaviour to such an extent I was tempted to wind my driver's window down and applaud him.

Sometimes we're disappointed in life

...

No sooner had I had seen this, I was confronted with

four motorbikes (one after the other) zipping past me in the left-hand lane and driving in a

manner that was not simply rude but downright haphazard—as if their homes were on fire.

The long and the short of it was the “model” motorcyclist must have seen this behaviour and figured he was wasting his time being so obedient and considerate of other road users. Only a few kilometres down the road he commenced the same erratic and inconsiderate behaviour, albeit more conservatively.

Copyright © 2007, 2008, 2009 S. J. Wickham. All rights reserved Worldwide. May not be used without permission.

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  • I have often wondered what happens at a deeper level with this sort of person—the average

‘queue-jumping’ motorcyclist. Does he become a person who seeks to be first at all times, in other areas of his life? Do they eventually become more selfish people than those who drive cars? What is their attitude towards obeying the law, generally? Do they flout it in other ways like they seem to on the road? Whatever the long-term psychological effect, it can't be a positive one, can it?

  • I call on all motorcyclists to obey the road rules and prove they are not recalcitrant’s, one-

by-one. I wonder if I will see in my lifetime a reform in the way motorbikes are ridden on

the road; where they seek to courteously give way and ride responsibly. I want to respect every human being, but it is a huge challenge to respect those who appear to utterly disregard others. It is my prayer that something will happen that will cause reform, however. Perhaps car motorists who see respectful motorcyclists could give them some sort of kudos; perhaps give them the thumbs-up as they record their number plate and report them for some sort of award! Perhaps the State could get on-board with this?

  • I know this was a tolerance test for me, and I’m thankful for it. It reminds me to breath-in

and thank God that I’m not in such a hurry; that life is a little less frenzied for me. It reminds me to hasten slowly as the quote featured above suggests, and continue on my patient way, and to pray that these motorcyclists make it to their destinations safely—it might be a family member or a friend that is involved with them in a traffic accident. Needless to say (though I will say it) it causes regrettable suffering for any family who suffers the loss or injury of one or more of their own.

When it comes to a road death, the rest is history.

Rarely do we get ahead in life in our hurrying. As I’ve illustrated above, we can gain so much more with just a little patience. Queue-jumpers never really get ahead in life. And apart from everything else it displays a flagrant lack of respect for others. It’s not worth the ‘negative’ strain. In haste (often as a consequence of fear) we’ve all done silly things to get in front and then had to deal with the guilt that comes afterwards. It contributes to a loss of inner-peace. It’s ironically such a waste of time in the overall analysis of things!

Alcoholics Anonymous have a saying “Just for Today,” as part of their one day at a time philosophy. They encourage newcomers with the terrible addiction, and a long journey of recovery ahead, to say: “I will save myself from two pests; hurry and indecision.” These “pests” have the power to rock anyone’s mind, shaking the resilience to continue the fight.

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It’s about appreciating the truth that says, “Don’t fret, it only leads to evil.” (Psalm 37:8) When we worry and fret, and that emotion has control of us, we can only be a destructive influence over those around us; think about it.

Haste is a lack of care and diligence; a lack of foresight and planning, which usually comes from plain laziness. The most extreme form of this, of which haste is but one indicator is biblical “sluggardness.” This could be defined as “unbounded craving,” or a total lack of control of one’s desires; zeal that is motivated from the wrong source.

Planning is key. Our approach to life should be considered, deliberate, intentional. Then peace can be ours, as we live in harmony and shalom with others and our Creator.

Next time you’re tempted to rush and do something impulsive, take the extra few seconds because in reality that’s all you’ll lose. You stand to lose a lot more than that in your hurrying.

Life is About Waiting

There is a story about the Confucian saying, “The ox is slow but the earth is patient.” A famous sporting coach once used it to describe the development of his struggling team. The crux is this: change and things and patterns take time to happen, grow and emerge, and that in reality is no real issue.

We hate to recognize this but it is true. Things take forever to change and morph like we'd want them to. A bureaucracy is the classic example--the wheels of progress turn slowly; but they do turn! Interact with a government department (or worse, a series of them!) by partaking in a form-filling exercise and we all too soon know about the frustration of

bureaucracy! But, it’s all necessary

...

it’s the process.

I was reminded of a powerful principle recently that illustrates the truth of this point. Time comes. If we put something off, a large far-off goal, because we don’t have the patience to wait for the (say) three years to come, it will eventually. If you put off going to college or university to study that degree you’ve always wanted, to launch your dream career, that three or four years will elapse anyway; do you want to arrive at that point and have the qualification, or not? All that stands in our way is a little hard work, and that never hurt anyone. As Morgan Freeman’s character of “God” said in Bruce Almighty (words to the effect), “Some of the happiest people alive come home each night stinking to high heaven.” Diligence is rewarded. Look at the ant.

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Patience. We’re all too often impatient. The Confucian quote was used by former West Coast Eagles coach, Michael Malthouse in describing his reflective approach after a loss. You can tell current West Coast coach, John Worsfold, has the same approach. At times, we just have to be patient and grin and bear it. It’s going to take some time, perhaps even years before the football club turns its fortunes around on the ground.

If we think of it this way it might help. Life is about waiting. It’s the biggest waiting room. While we’re here we get to know and live with some wonderful people, we get to learn lots of things, and if we’re fortunate, we experience many wondrous (and not so many painful) things.

Just think of the journey of developing this emerging young West Coast team that can’t quite win yet; that’s exciting in itself--a successful future awaits; possibly another premiership. The hunger within these young players will get them there. They have all of it in front of them, which is far better than having everything behind us. There’s everything to live for.

All of us have to wait for things. Nothing worthwhile comes easy or straight away. But time does come and change does happen. It often happens slowly enough for us to enter into it, to get involved, to think, and to engage with it. Life is otherwise too quick for us. Why do we get frustrated that we have to wait? It will all be over far too early in any event. Life ... ponder. Impatience brings discontentment.

We Must Transcend The Things That Hold Us

These words of Rubin “Hurricane” Carter’s, in the motion picture of the true story, “The Hurricane” (1999) are etched in golden truth fo r anyone who’s had a real life battle of the titans and won. It’s like the summation of the movie in one short statement; how a fighter who had dealt with massive injustice all his life had to deal with it big time, to break a tortuous 20-year incarceration—the fight for his freedom against a system of inherent and rampant corruption.

The part of “The Hurricane” when Carter (played brilliantly by Denzel Washington) says “We must transcend the things that hold us,” is particularly poignant. Facing incredible odds to fight the system, whilst simultaneously maintaining his sanity, Carter was faced with making such a resolve—it was crucial for his survival. It required a commitment to himself; a commitment to flip his world upside down in order to stay in the game. He begun

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to work and study at night, and sleep during the day—anything really, to remain sane and strong. There’s a key lesson here. It’s one of protection. It is about protecting the relatively clean spirit that exists within each one of us, guarding it against corruption. Carter identified it. He identified it and then put a plan into place and executed it. That takes courage and discipline, or put together, faith and diligence.

So what holds people? And, how do people transcend these things? The key learning and inspiration here is this: there are many things, people and situations (things + people) that will make their most ardent attempt to ‘hold us’ in this life. It’s a hard fact of life. This is because many people and things want control over us. This is not love-based.

To make this clear, a ‘hold’ is anything or any relationship that doesn’t or can’t stand up to truth; and anything that corrupts or potentially corrupts. This includes anything downright sinful, relationships that will never be a blessing, or anything that has a negative hold and doesn’t have a good reason for a person to continue with—taking into account the many things that might appear to ‘hold us,’ but in fact are actually good for us—these are not subject to this discussion. For instance, the job we must hold, or the critical mentoring relationship that is ‘difficult,’ but beneficial. We must contend with these things and endure them, until it is the right time to leave, and “move on.”

Anything that you know implicitly is truth, will not seek to hold you. Eugene Peterson wrote of the 1 Corinthians 13 in The Message paraphrase, Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have. The only exception to this is when ‘the hold’ gives you life, for instance, when someone is trying to escape a hold, perhaps an addiction. At these times, in these situations, it is critical to stick with it because the hold is actually because of love; often known as “tough love.” It is at these times and places in life when people need to be humble and accept what is good for them and their future. So, this wisdom is not about ‘healthy holds,’ which could better be referred to as ‘bonds.’

This wisdom is a call to address co-dependent style relationships 6 whether they be personal (in the form of habits, addictions etc), with another person (classical co-dependence), or

6 A “co-dependent” can be loosely defined as someone who shows too much, and often inappropriate, caring for persons who depend on him or her. A “co-dependent” is one side of a relationship between mutually needy people. The dependent, or obviously needy party(s) may have emotional, physical, financial difficulties, or addictions they seemingly are unable to surmount. The “co-dependent” party exhibits behaviour which controls, makes excuses for, pities, and takes other actions to perpetuate the obviously needy party’s condition, because of their desire to be needed and fear of doing anything that would change the relationship. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Codependence

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organisational (for instance, within a workplace, club, or religious setting including sects, church fellowship, mosque etc).

A hold is like a veneer finish. One of our challenges is not only to see through the hold, but also to be able to break through this veneer, because holds are truly just that, veneer. Truth stands, but falsity crumbles once the veneer is broken through. One of the most important roles in life is to be able to recognise falsity and deal with it courageously by breaking through its veneer. Veneer is facade, appearance, the surface of the matter only. Truth is a foil for all sorts of lies in life; we must see through, and past the veneer, to gain ‘life.’ It’s about learning to dig deeper into such a matter so as to reveal the truth. The truth stands challenges and tests.

Again, these matters (the things that hold us) are from things or people or situations (things + people). Once it has been recognised the thing/people/situation has a negative hold on us, there has to be a plan to break free. To do this properly at times requires guidance from those that actually love us and we can truly trust.

We must break the cycle of dependency and this can be likened to an insect breaking the surface tension of water; a mosquito lands on it—it doesn’t have the weight or ability to break through the surface of the water; weight is needed to get through it. To break through the veneer of a co-dependent relationship requires strength and power; not physical strength and power, but mental, emotional, and spiritual strength and power. There must be a persistence to break the hold in unhealthy relationships.

This can take months and in some cases years, and requires eternal vigilance.

The Skill of Anticipation – the Way of the Diligent

Anticipation is one of the most important skills to teach young people or people of any age for that matter. It is a function of diligence, and the process of “foreseeing” the direct future. It’s so vital at the task level—when assisting with / affecting a procedure. There is little worse in the performance of work than to have someone assist you and their mind is not “on the job.”

Anticipation was one thing that I learned during my apprenticeship years as a young man that has stood me in such fantastic stead, looking back now. In truth, the journey that

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began those years ago eventually took me years to master, much to the chagrin of the tradespeople I trained with. They weren’t always the most patient people, and like many young people, I suffered performance anxiety, got nervous and frequently made mistakes. There were of course many times when I was too lazy to employ this technique, each time probably to my ruination. Even now, there are times when laziness again gets in the way and my complacent-at-times mind gets me into trouble, and I suppose that is human nature. I remember when I eventually did start to master it, it was such a confidence booster; suddenly I was able to be of real value in all my relationships.

There are two types of anticipation: planned and response. Both are critical to any performance. For example, professional sportspeople think strategically and tactically in their plan to succeed before a match. They analyse their opponent as well as their own game, and come up with a plan to achieve victory. But at some point, during the performance, all that planning is only so good as long as there is the ability to adapt the plan to actual situation, thereby responding to changes to conditions, mood and temperament etc. This is the demonstration of operational thinking, or the ability to ‘captain’ the ship and modify plans “in the moment.”

The effective execution of any event or procedure requires sufficient planning and monitoring. There’s no substitute for getting the right people together and having a discussion, or series of discussions, and coming to sound decisions, where milestones are decided and roles are reinforced. This is good planning anticipation. It’s about asking “what could go wrong here?” and coming up with answers to reduce the risks that have been thought of and foreseen.

Regarding response, focus and concentration in the moment are essential in anticipation; the person has to be on-the-job mentally, and daydreaming is not tolerable. If attention drifts even for a second or two, the outcome is potentially compromised. In the team context, you can also fail to anticipate if you’re too focussed on what “I’m” doing, a result of being too insular.

Anticipation is crucial in event management. Actually foreseeing things before or as they occur is such a good risk management skill, as there are less delays and it adds hugely to the professionalism. It’s such a refreshing thing as an onlooker or spectator to appreciate good anticipation when you see it.

An activity in anticipation:

Planned Anticipation

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o

Who needs to be involved in the planning? makers?

Who are the key decision-

o

What is the purpose and goal of the event or procedure?

o

What could go wrong?

Response Anticipation

o

Identify the need for pre-start and re-start meetings, marshalling focus.

o

If it is individual response that is required, develop techniques for mastering focus and concentration.

o

For the team situation, don’t be too focussed on your own performance; leave some of your focus on the overall team performance.

There’s quite a bit of spirituality involved in anticipation. A “planning” mindset comes from hope—when we view things positively, and there’s hope of a good result, we can begin to anticipate them; we enjoy anticipating things as we endeavour to maximise and capitalise on our capability, and perfect our performance, doing the best we can. It’s that winning feeling.

Above all, anticipation is a sign of diligence and the mastery of discipline over self, both in the moment and on reflection of the planning that’s gone into the performance.

Fixing Procrastination – “Do it now”

I was in an important meeting recently with my mobile phone on silent when a number I recognised rang three times in quick succession without leaving a message. This gave me the feeling this person felt they really needed to speak with me. On the final call, I picked up, to satisfy my curiosity more than anything else.

The person on the other end of the line offered to send me an email instead of hassling me out of the meeting, but in a moment motivated to act now, I wanted to see if I could handle it without having one more email reach my inbox.

The conversation could have gone one of two ways. Either I could have said, “No, let’s discuss it later,” or “Will it take long; perhaps we can discuss it now?” As it happened, I chose the latter path, seeking to deal with the hassle (and pain) now rather than put it off.

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The benefits of this action weren’t only about addressing the temptation to put it off i.e. procrastinate.

Teamwork

I actually had a very positive and pleasant albeit quick phone conversation that would otherwise have been dealt with over the em ail system which is a poor communication alternative. It promoted and reinforced a healthy working relationship.

Accountability

An additional benefit is accountability. I wasn’t avoiding or putting off the conversation. I was satisfying the caller’s need to have something addressed right there and then. I was allowing him or her to hold me accountable--this promotes many positive things including trust and respect.

Our time management gets better when we’re proactive enough to get on top of things, so we are then at least able to see the wood for the trees. And there are so many roll-on benefits.

Running Out Of Patience - Running Out Of Warnings

Fatal Errors are something more akin to computer system failures these days than real life instances of consequences of situations that have gone beyond repair, or warnings that have gone totally unheeded with the result of excrement hitting the fan. This is something that still happens, however. When we’ve clean out of warnings. The next time we ‘slip up’ it’s not going to be pretty. It’s judgment time.

When we are warned about something it is best to take heed of the warning is it not? Diligence and prudence would advise us to ‘not go there.’

There are times when we fail to see warnings and we happily proceed in life without much pain or problem; you try it one more time, then whack! You’re gone! All of a sudden, seemingly without warning, there is a dire consequence that in retrospect was always a threat to occur, but we somehow never saw it or heeded it. A common, easy-to-understand metaphor is the speeding ticket. How many times do we speed, even marginally? How many times do we get a ticket? Not often. We implicitly know we’re getting away with it, and then we cringe when we finally do get one; knowing with an intense level of frustration and mild embarrassment that we should’ve known better!

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So it was for the Hebrews back in around 586 B.C.E. They had been warned and warned and warned, and then they had been warned some more. Israel had become a corrupt nation. Although the odd monarch was relatively faithful and just, on average the holy nation was rotten to the core, and asking for divine trouble. This trouble was going to come from Yahweh, of course, in the form of judgment.

They were conquered by the Babylonians as Jerusalem fell and they suffered 70 years of captivity. The words of Yahweh resound. “No remedy,” for the nation who had not listened to the prophets. No remedy for decade after decade of depraved practices and crooked rulers. No remedy for the people.

The quote from Proverbs 29:1 is chilling. It’s alarming simply in its stark truth. “Whoever remains stiff-necked [and refuses to change] after many rebukes will be suddenly destroyed—without remedy.” It’s about making the same mistake and falling short, time after time and never learning. It is the consequence for not learning some key life lesson.

Where is this happening in our lives? Where has it in fact happened? We’ve continued on intrepidly in a certain venture, and it has brought about ruin. We see it in others’ lives too don’t we?

Where are you running out of time?

Are people running out of patience with you?

Is it time to change and respond to what they’re saying, before it is too late?

Some warnings bring quite dire consequences.

Are you ready for the pain of these consequences?

Or, are you willing to change?

Meeting Destiny – Embracing The Sea Of Opportunity

Preparation is the key to life. Let me use a common everyday example to illustrate the point. At a train station recently, a middle-aged woman was in front of me fumbling with her handbag and in a panicked state trying to feed a $20 note into the ticket machine. A station officer approaches to see if he can assist, and he can’t. Getting frustrated at the station officer she leaves fuming to find out that the machine takes only smaller notes.

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I observe her as she leaves and she is very distressed. It was too late to offer her change for her money; I didn’t have the presence of mind in any event. The issue at its root cause is she didn’t prepare her journey well enough. She didn’t make/take the time to ensure she could get onto the train uninhibited. And this is so true to life for us all. We all end up getting caught out because we run out of time, revealing we haven’t planned effectively enough. It happens sooner or later, and more to some than to others. There’s a wisdom lesson here. Those who prepare well, go better in life.

Actor Denzel Washington has said, “Luck is where opportunity meets preparation.” In other words, there’s no such thing as luck – we’re in the right place at the right time because we have prepared for the opportunity and were able to embrace it. We planned and saw ahead. The opportunities of life await, and they occur, and they wait for no person. When we’re prepared it’s great, when we’re not it causes us to panic as if the world were coming to an end. Most of the time the only consequence is we ‘have to catch the next train.’ I’m sure you’d agree it’s rarely enough to panic for. But we hate to be caught unprepared.

I want to suggest that this idea, the one of ‘opportunity meeting preparation,’ is very similar to the theory of personal mastery I’ve written about previously.

There are three stages that define both ideas.

One: There is something we “can do.” It is to prepare. It is also in personal mastery terms accepting the current reality. Both things we “can do.”

Two: There is something that “comes.” It is the opportunity. It is also in personal mastery terms the vision of personal mastery. Both come to us; we can create the circumstances that they come, by either setting up other things to support the presentation of the opportunity, and also by ‘visioning’ the idea of personal mastery at the individual, personal level.

Three: Then there is the “outcome.” The former idea suggests that ‘luck’ can be the outcome. Like when someone says of you getting something you wanted, “You were lucky.” It is also the achievement of personal mastery. I suppose in theory, we never entirely and ultimately ‘get there,’ but in essence we achieve certain levels of personal mastery.

Preparation is the key to life. It demonstrates:

Wisdom through the foresight of seeing ahead and planning for the perceived eventualities;

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Patience through faith and courage to invest time, which at times is done without the guarantee of a return; and

Diligence that’s prepared to do what is needed to be done.

Preparation’s benefits are peace and well-being i.e. shalom. It gives us the opportunity for a balanced life; a life lived in true perspective.

Perspective in turn is life-giving promoting every good virtue. It brings us to but the very beginning of a wonderful spiritual journey and reality. As the saying goes, ‘The best is yet to come’ for such a person on such a journey.

As Baden Powell and the cub scouts movement used to say, “Be prepared.”

Three Things That Cause Success And Three Things That Don’t

I love learning. This was something I learned recently, and it came to me as a sort of formula. These are basic things, so I’ll get right down to it. Don’t overlook the wisdom of these things simply because I’m not making a big song and dance about them. They’re

states of mind to carry with you one day at a time more perfect.

...

one moment at a time. Practise makes

Three (3) things causing success:

Be an “overcomer”:

Whatever challenges come your way you can overcome them -- every one of them. This is not simply theory. But, it requires courage, and take heart, courage, like any character quality, can be grown.

Keep Life Simple:

Don’t overly complicate things including relationships and plans. Be easy to satisfy. Take your time through life. Don’t over-commit yourself -- again, courage helps here.

Get and remain focused:

Focus is difficult to achieve, yet your will alone can get you to focus very powerfully. Focus is achieved when you have:

1) your values sorted,

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2) your roles (and relationships with self, family, work, God) all working, and

3) meaningful goals that give you purpose, drive, resilience, and joy to power you through life.

But, wait, there’s still more ...

Three (3) things to avoid:

Stop complaining:

We all complain. It’s human nature. To counteract our propensity to complain we need to become unconsciously competent praisers. If we complain in our heart, we will end up spewing out the words at some point. Defeat the temptation to complain with praise and thanksgiving.

Stop compromising:

This is a terrible thing. Compromise really is at the root of all evil. Think about it, the moment we compromise our standards is the moment we give birth to laziness, greed,

envy

the list goes on. To stop compromising we need to discipline our minds by

... becoming aware as the temptation to compromise hits, and then with the will of the mind,

take the firm road to a harder, sounder decision.

Stop being indecisive:

Indecision along with worry is a great energy waster. It’s often a contributor to what I call “mental fog.” As I mentioned above, we need the will of the mind to be decisive and to trust our instincts. We also need courage to make decisions.

Spirituality Does Not Last

Getting a band new model mobile phone is something to look forward to. It has all this new technology and ways of doing things we couldn’t do before, or do so easily as now. We shop for it and then finally having purchased it, we eagerly get home, unpack it and learn how to

use it. For some time, at least a day or three, it takes pride of possession and are so

thankful for it.

Then the novelty wears off. It becomes another tool; handy but

nonetheless any more special than the other tools we ‘can’t do without.’

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We know that material things will never satisfy us -- ultimately. But, an incredible lie is that spirituality will -- in the longer term. Some people believe that we can reach the ultimate in satisfaction through spirituality. This is wrong.

Contrary to popular belief, spirituality does not last. It lasts no longer than materialism, though the basis is infinitely more sustainable -- and this is its truthful essence. We find this one way to more of our true selves -- the inner most being -- and having captured it, we must learn how to capture it more and more. It’s a lack of diligence, vision, and ultimately wisdom, that sees us lulled into thinking we’re ‘there’ already when in fact it’s not how far we’ve come that counts, but the direction we’re headed. The journey does not finish until bodily death.

Staying hungry for spiritual manna is the key. We must continually stoke the visceral furnace of truth, breaking down within us the propensity to gorge life and scour it of meaning. And we only establish hunger with practice, based on the very real knowledge of need -- we need it -- nourishment from heaven.

Material things are fine if we need them. But we take them for granted eventually. Taking the spiritual life for granted is the worst transgression of all; and this is not only a crime against God. It’s the worst thing we could do against ourselves!

Four Time Wasters

There’s never enough time if you ask most people busy people. There are always things to do and when you’ve finished your ‘to do’ list there’s generally a raft of other ‘stuff’ just waiting to be dealt with. So many things to do. So many potential issues to consider with our time.

Time is one thing that everybody gets in equal proportion; we all get the same 24 hours in our day. Some days we feel we’ve achieved a great deal, and others we don’t. When we do use our time wisely we gain a sense of peace. Yet, we often feel estranged from our core selves when we’re chasing after other people’s priorities, or simply when we don’t get time to do those things most important to us. Time for things like planning, preparation and re- creation is a key to our happiness and overall wellbeing.

Stress about time is a key issue for some. When we succumb to fear of the unknown and are left to think, “What’s coming next,” and we often find our thoughts drawn toward anticipation of the immediate future—this can be stressful; some in fact, have mild or even

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major phobias about time in this way. It creates all sorts of effects short- and long-term. A potential remedy worth considering could be one of exercising mind-control and having something else to occupy our thoughts to distract us from this sort of cogent reaction.

We must endeavour to balance time with our motivations; what drives us. We want to do many things that we might not have the time to do; the things that are most important to us. This will inevitably create dissonance within us as mentioned above.

So how do we optimize our time? How do we make the best use of it? Well, one thing we don’t want to do is waste our time. I recently learned of four potential time wasters. Simply put they are e-mail, voice mail, interruptions, and procrastination, and they’re certainly relevant. This is not to say any of these activities is a complete waste of time, but we need to exercise some caution that’s all.

We often get sucked-in by these things. Either we become lazy, or we want to please people, or we struggle with having the courage to do the right thing. Looking at causes for succumbing to these time wasters is worth the effort, so changes have a better chance of ‘sticking’. Change in its own right is hard—it has to be decided upon, and then persisted with for many weeks before it takes root in our lives.

E-Mail is generally considered a non-urgent form of communication. Urgent communication really demands other forms of contact, for instance face-to-face meetings or phone calls. Answer emails only a couple of times a day—we should not be spending any more than 30-minutes a day attending to e-mail, unless we have allocated extra time or have that time ‘up our sleeve’.

Voice mail is a great innovation if it is used efficiently. To protect your accessibility make sure you let certain calls (especially from unknown callers) through to voice mail, and then delay getting back to people, unless it is urgent. At times, people will be able to work things out without you needing to get involved. When leaving messages be caller- courteous. Leave your details clearly and don’t leave long messages unless it is going to help the receiver—in any event leave messages no longer than 60-seconds in length. Limit your time attending to voice mail.

Interruptions that are counter-productive are both unnecessary and untimely. Reduce these by politely challenging the situations and people who create them. Some interruptions are necessary but untimely—these could distract you from your focus on a high priority task. Bearing in mind that interruptions can cost you double-time (the time for the interruption, and the time taken to get your mind back on the original task), it is

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wise to quickly plan for a response later and agree that with the person concerned. Don’t succumb to “urgency addiction”.

Procrastination is tragic. We all suffer some procrastination. It comes from the Latin word procrastinatus: pro- (forward) and crastinus (of tomorrow) and has links with avoidance behaviour, particularly task avoidance. Avoiding doing things is usually caused by psychological factors like fear of failure possibly based, for example on a lack of clarity, or simply because the task might seem overwhelming, and for other reasons. Overcoming procrastination is the key. Do things that might be delayed early in the day or set a deadline and then reward yourself for keeping it.

What do we do with information then? One thing I have learned: FAD. Either 1) File, 2) Act on the information, or 3) Delete it. When ‘acting’ ensure you either reply, forward or delegate the information.

Acknowledgement to FranklinCovey (2002) Focus | Achieving Your Highest Priorities – course literature, Keeping Your Focus.

Simply 3 Things to Cause Success (and 3 Things to Avoid Doing)

I love learning. This is something I learned recently, in fact 19-days ago it came to me as a sort of formula. These are basic things, so I’ll get right down to it. Don’t overlook the wisdom of these things simply because I’m not making a big song and dance about them.

They’re states of mind to carry with you one day at a time makes more perfect.

...

one moment at a time. Practise

Three (3) things causing success:

Be an “overcomer”:

Whatever challenges come your way you can overcome them -- every one of them. This is not simply theory. But, it requires courage, and take heart, courage, like any character quality, can be grown.

Keep Life Simple:

Don’t overly complicate things including relationships and plans. Be easy to satisfy. Take your time through life. Don’t over-commit yourself -- again, courage helps here.

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Get and remain focused:

Focus is difficult to achieve, yet your will alone can get you to focus very powerfully. Focus is achieved when you have:

1) your values sorted,

2) your roles (and relationships with self, family, work, God) all working, and

3) meaningful goals that give you purpose, drive, resilience, and joy to power you through life.

But, wait, there’s still more ...

Three (3) things to avoid:

Stop complaining:

We all complain. It’s human nature. To counteract our propensity to complain we need to become unconsciously competent praisers. If we complain in our heart, we will end up spewing out the words at some point. Defeat the temptation to complain with praise and thanksgiving.

Stop compromising:

This is a terrible thing. Compromise really is at the root of all evil. Think about it, the moment we compromise our standards is the moment we give birth to laziness, greed,

envy

the list goes on. To stop compromising we need to discipline our minds by

... becoming aware as the temptation to compromise hits, and then with the will of the mind,

take the firm road to a harder, sounder decision.

Stop being indecisive:

Indecision along with worry is a great energy waster. It’s often a contributor to what I call “mental fog.” As I mentioned above, we need the will of the mind to be decisive and to trust our instincts. We also need courage to make decisions.

Transform Yourself – Create New Mental Pathways

The great thing about making mistakes is learning new and different responses to situations that work. It takes awareness first, and then the courage to act, and then thirdly,

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the resilience to re-train our minds toward new habits; this means essentially building new mental “pathways” that become the ‘default’ way of thinking and acting. The theory is simple. The practice is much harder, though not impossible. In fact, it’s very realistic to re-train our minds no matter how old or engrained we might think we are.

I look at the way I interact with people and how successful (or unsuccessful) I am, and importantly, how assured and comfortable I feel, and I see this as a major cue for learning things I need to change. For instance, if we have a problem it will normally affect other people -- there will be a complaint or a resistance from others. Or perhaps the complaint comes from within us ourselves. This occurs when we’re not happy with how others are relating with us.

Both situations demand from us a response. When it’s identified we need to change we should consider how to do it and develop a plan to address what’s required. On the other hand, when we identify within ourselves a lack of tolerance for the other person, we need to deal with the lack of acceptance and choose to move on (from the issue) for the sake of the relationship.

This could be viewed as a process:

  • 1. Awareness: at this stage we need to somehow become aware of the many-times-daily

that our awareness is piqued and then do something about it by problem-solving.

  • 2. Problem-solve: chew over the problem by defining it and looking at the options. What

are the best solutions -- the ones you can implement. (We can’t demand anything from others.)

  • 3. Act: Requiring courage and conviction via mental will power, action is transformational.

Acting is so counter-cultural to human nature. Most of us dream but do not ‘do.’ Acting is easy. Just do it.

  • 4. Continue: This is the important bit. Keep doing what you’ve resolved needs to be done.

Monitor how it is received. Reinforce the ‘continuing’ process your own way. It needs to be repetitive enough for the new pattern / mental pathway to entrench. Some people read affirmations; others have symbols to remind them; others again use triggers of some kind to prompt the new action, re-training their mind from the old and faulty ways of responding.

Importantly, don’t give up. Be tenacious. Become resilient to your failures and simply continue. If anyone can change “you,” you can. You really can. Imagine how good you will

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feel having conquered a large fear or having achieved that transformation you’ve always dreamt of achieving.

Re-Starting Life – Fresh Start, Fresh Hope

Have you ever been trapped by a thing, perhaps a habit or an attitude (could be smoking,

junk food, procrastination etc), and felt, ‘the only way out of the rut was sentence].

...

[Complete the

I have to share this because it is so vital for me and for restoring hope when I begin to lose my way. Do you ever lose your way? Do you suffer from a loss of hope and stop looking forward to things? Does your thinking ever polarise to the extreme negative?

There is a way forward, there always is -- it’s just a matter of finding it. We all have within us the ability to turn our lives around, grow and adapt to new circumstances. No one knows us as good as we know ourselves.

When we feel beaten and of no use to anybody let alone ourselves we need to find hope; enough hope to plan for, and execute, recovery -- one day at a time. (There is no recovery quite like ‘one day at a time’ recovery.) We need to give ourselves a head start in time and some ‘rev-up room’ as we prepare to hit our goal front on.

Mental strength is key. We need to plan for hiccups, preparing for low days, with a strategy to get through. When we have a low day, it doesn’t really matter how we negotiate it. It must simply be negotiated without giving in on our goal, whether it’s to stop something and keep it stopped or to start something and keep it going.

We don’t give our weaknesses any striking distance on us -- again mental strength is all important. Even so-called menial decisions or issues can threaten what we’re about, so we must be on our guard. Awareness is huge. We must stay vigilant on cerebral sneak-ups. Let’s not loosen the resolve. Keep motivated.

As we negotiate our goals day-by-day, we should ‘chalk ‘em up’ and celebrate at least within our own minds and hearts via healthy reflection. This is a mental pat on the back and an encouragement to keep going.

As we continue successfully we should be fair with ourselves and find a permissible way to reward the effort and ingenuity that’s gone in. We should be staying psychologically and spiritually healthy with a strong hope borne from lots of good things to look forward to.

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And we don’t forget to celebrate, whilst not losing sight of where we’ve come from.

Demonstrating Personal Leadership: We Only Get One Go

Imagine arriving leading an international forensic team in Tsunami-ravaged Thailand days after with no time, no staff, and no money. With clarity of purpose, Detective Inspector Peter Baines ‘managed the chaos with certainty’ -- citing the example of Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s leadership during the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center. Unique challenges require unique solutions.

The 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami was one of the most devastating disasters to affect the world in modern times. The level of devastation is hard to rationalise in human terms and it is a great blessing to us to learn more about the suffering and the triumph of these times. Regarding disaster recovery we learned, ‘Hope is not a plan.’ Wishing people well in times of need when we can help might be good, but it’s not good enough. This is Baines’ biggest legacy.

True leaders are identified by their actions and reactions -- what they do. After all, it’s said, ‘Leadership is a verb.’ 7 These people lead without authority. They manage chaos with certainty. They have a way of staying calm through the storm; effective for the tasks at hand.

They have clarity of purpose. Det. Insp. Baines describes the wall of water that took so many lives that it left very few families affected untouched. There are so many orphans. As a parent, you might identify with the struggle of trying to physically hold your child or children as the torrent swept through, rendering you powerless to hold them. Dealing with this level of grief would be overwhelming, if not for the most clear and clarified-within- your-own-mind sense of purpose. There are many competing priorities for our care and attention, including those in our personal lives; we must be clear at the core level what we’re doing it for otherwise any good work and effective personal leadership we have could easily be undermined, broken down, and vanquished, leaving devastating consequences.

Value statements mean nothing unless they can be backed up in action. Words may sound powerful, and we’re apt to say many things that we don’t carry through with. Our true values are refined through the sieve of reality. They come to the fore when our resolve is

7 Quote from Gino Valenti.

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tested. We truly know what we stand for when the heat is on. Words alone have limited power; action, however, speaks volumes and makes the difference.

Communication leaves a lasting impression; it’s our choice. It’s the choice of viewing leadership as people need it, rather than as a process to achieve things. Entering into relationship with people, as a way of leading, might not seem to be a very efficient way of leading but its effects are powerfully paradoxical.

Det. Insp. Baines says leadership matters and results, not excuses, are what needs to be focused on. This has relevance in our personal lives as much as in our corporate lives, as much as any area of life. Far too often we make excuses for ourselves in seeking to improve one area we’re not happy with. We lack staying power, and Det. Insp. Baines explains this as a process that affects motivation and how to counter it toward results.

Results matter, not excuses. We must have the commitment of courage to meet adversity head on every day. The leader’s challenge goes on. That is why we’re all leaders. Our challenges continue on and we never truly conquer them. At the end of the day, in Det. Insp. Baines’ own words, “We only get one go” at life.

More on Detective Inspector Peter Baines at http://www.peterbaines.com.au/AboutPeter.asp

2 Powerful, Resounding Words – “No” and “Now”

There are words, messages and language all about us. Some of it makes no difference to us whatever, yet other communication truly changes and impacts on our lives. We all fall into ruts in life. What we need in those times is not meaningless words and thoughts taking up cognitive space; we need meaning that will produce in us the change required to get us back on track. Words, thoughts, meaning.

There are two words that are very simple in meaning -- for this very reason their meaning is in power. “No” and “Now” are simply miraculous words.

We must say no at times, yet we don’t say it often enough. At times saying no means having the courage of convictions; at times it’s to exercise self-control. We only realise in regret later on, having said “yes,” we wish we could have had the foresight, conviction, or temerity to say no. Saying no means:

Acknowledging our weaknesses to temptations of a lack of self-control;

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Saves the regret of betraying self (our values, ideals and beliefs); and,

We build upon our own empowerment -- we encourage ourselves to say it again, once more, later on.

“Now” on the other hand is just as powerful, and just as engaging. It is the perfect corrective to the bureaucracy of the generations. As humans we put off most things to tomorrow, whether it be procrastination, indecision, lack of courage etc.

Now is an important concept. Herein lies the secret simplistic power of the present. We’ve all seen it. Few people use the present to full advantage, yet the present lies captive to us, if only we’d challenge ourselves a little more. Consider “now” regarding the following:

The habit that plagues you -- besides healthy planning to stop, do it now;

Crush worry and indecision with “now,” and even if it’s not perfect, at least you’ve started; and,

Investing in “now” with people shows them you’re dinkum (committed) with them. Commitment and faithfulness are all too rare virtues these days.

The power of now cannot be underestimated. It’s a divine wisdom truth. Invest in “now” and you too will see what many successful people do all the time. “Now” is indeed a miraculous concept; even more miraculous is its simplicity.

Now, be warned. “No” and “Now” juxtapose. They’re not mutually exclusive. There are distinct times for “No” as there are distinct times for “Now.” Caution beckons us to consider closely the differences and the potential applications.

If we can consistently get the application right regarding these simple words, we’ll be living a vastly more wise and balanced life.

Choose Life – The Way Of Spiritual Progress

I’ve often been either criticised or commended for an ‘all-or-nothing’ approach to life of full commitment or no commitment at all. I find it bizarre that this very trait is a theological reality of life. We’re given the opportunity of either fully following the ways of God i.e. to be totally committed, or we can reject his divine offer of salvation and go the ‘no commitment’ path.

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Yet, the reality is -- even if we choose God -- we all skate between both extremes of commitment as we travel through life. We struggle to maintain the consistency of our love and devotion to God. It waxes and wanes through our somewhat broken time here on earth.

Now, this is where the ancient commands of Yahweh through Moses are a great reminder. (True fear of God is never really forgetting.) Having set before Israel the blessings for obedience and the curses for disobedience -- to God’s holy law -- Moses reminds the holy nation to ‘choose life,’ so they and their children might live, so as to love God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. 8 He stresses that this is not too hard for them:

“This commandment that I’m commanding you today isn’t too much for you, it's not out of your reach. It's not on a high mountain -- you don't have to get mountaineers to climb the peak and bring it down to your level and explain it before you can live it. And it’s not across the ocean -- you don't have to send sailors out to get it, bring it back, and then explain it before you can live it. No. The word is right here and now -- as near as the tongue in your mouth, as near as the heart in your chest. Just do it!”

-Deuteronomy 30:11-14 (Msg)

And it isn’t too hard for us either. But it does require faith, prayer, and most of all surrender. We can’t possibly hope to do it ‘easily’ without resting on the power of God to assist us. Yet, if we’re trained (i.e. we discipline ourselves) to pray and surrender, daily, within the solid bounds of good faith, we can routinely live in a way that speaks of the blessings of ‘choosing life.’

Not that it is the perfect life we have. Grace fills the gap that we cannot hope to fill -- the gap of our imperfection. Spiritual progress is what I believe Moses is essentially talking about. The term ‘spiritual perfection’ -- as an end -- is an oxymoron. There can be no such thing until God determines it.

Just because we’ll never attain perfection this side of eternity doesn’t mean we shouldn’t strive for it. “Just do it,” is Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase for this very thought. This is the matter of ‘choosing life.’ Striving for perfection, yet acknowledging and accepting we’ll never achieve it i.e. holding perfection in tension with fallibility, is the essence of a resilient commitment to ‘hold fast with God’ to achieve spiritual progress.

8 See Deuteronomy 30:19 (NIV).

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Spiritual perfection, and there is such a state, is this: “To rob God of nothing; to refuse Him nothing; to require of Him nothing; this is great perfection.” 9

Happiness Lies In Your Own Hand

“Circumstance has no power over you. forever at your command.”

Your inner weather is always and

-Olga Rosmanith.

Madonna, one would think, would not have too many top-charting gospel songs, notwithstanding her alleged Roman Catholic faith. But as I listened to her song “Secret” just recently I developed the notion that it was very much gospel-related. Perhaps it was the fact that in her video 10 she had vision of various baptisms taking place -- a traditional Christian motif of death to the old life without God, and new birth into the spiritual life with him.

But it was also the lyrics that caught my attention.

“Things haven’t been the same Since you came into my life You found a way to touch my soul And I’m never, ever, ever gonna let it go

When God truly comes to someone things are never the same again. Mostly he comes during times of intense pain and suffering. That’s how he finds a way to ‘touch our souls,’ otherwise we’d have no need of him -- that’s the essence. We don’t need God (apparently) until we do -- even then many resist and continue to reject him. The wise person, having felt that grasp, never lets go of the loving hand of God in Christ. Jesus is Saviour and Sanctifier.

Bridge of the song:

“Happiness lies in your own hand It took me much too long to understand

9 Fenelon, François de Salignac de la Mothe & Guyon, Madame Jeanne Marie Bouvier de la Mothe, Spiritual Progress, available at: http://www.ccel.org/ccel/fenelon/progress.vii.html 10 Video footage from the live “Drowned World Tour” concert recorded in Detroit, Michigan in 2001.

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How it could be Until you shared your secret with me

Happiness indeed lies in our own hands. There’s not a truer statement -- though there are a myriad of statements that are just as true. Even in the depths of misery, suffering, and desolation, we can do a lot about our perception of happiness. In normal life, when we’re not in the midst of suffering, we can discover the truth that happiness does routinely lay within the grasp of our own hands.

  • I know from personal experience, it took much too long for me to understand the grace and

power of God; it wasn’t my time though. It was at my depths that God truly shared his secret with me, and only then was I able to ‘see the light’ so to speak. I praise God that, in the worst despair I could imagine, I found the love I’d always sought but sadly didn’t know how to get. Suddenly I my eyes were opened to all sorts of injustices, and not just in my own life -- significantly in others’ lives too.

“You gave me back the paradise That I thought I lost for good You helped me find the reasons why

It took me by surprise that you understood You knew all along What I never wanted to say Until I learned to love myself

  • I was never ever lovin' anybody else

Most of us are surprised to discover that God truly does understand humanity; and we finally perceive this truth, we’re shocked at our own insolence. How could we, a creation of the Almighty, begin to even think that he doesn’t care? He knew all along alright; right from the depths of time in memoriam. It’s only when we know God that we can truly begin to know ourselves -- it’s only when we truly desire to know and accept ourselves that we can begin to love the self. Without self-love how can we genuinely love others?

Finally, the chorus (below) reminds me of someone having a salvation revelation experience.

“Something's comin' over me My baby's got a secret”

  • I remember bathing in the Presence, being baptised in the Spirit, for the very first time.

Something came over me alright -- it was the breath of God showing me his love and grace -

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- as a deeply physiologically-felt force took my body and shook it, bringing me to tears of praise and thankfulness for some several minutes. I was one giant goose bump.

Yes, even Madonna can preach!

Being Stuck With A Terrible Reputation

“If you argue your case with a neighbor, do not betray another [person’s] confidence,

or he [or she] who hears it may shame you and you will never lose your bad reputation.” –Proverbs 25:9-10.

The above proverb nails a particular situation. But getting stuck with a terrible reputation that’s just plain wrong is an altogether easy thing -- in fact, it’s too easy. People have such long memories. It’s a general rule in life that if we ever did something negative to someone, and worse still, memorable, it will take many months and even years to put right the incorrect perception people have developed. So, what to do?

Fix it there and then!

Here are more proverbs that hit this nail on its head:

“if you have been trapped by what you said, ensnared by the words of your mouth,

then do this… to free yourself, since you have fallen into your neighbor's hands:

Go and humble yourself; press your plea with your neighbor!

Allow no sleep to your eyes, no slumber to your eyelids.

Free yourself, like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, like a bird from the snare of the fowler.” –Proverbs 6:2-5.

The essence is this. If we’ve said something or done something that we know is wrong, we shouldn’t delay putting it right. No matter what it costs, we need to go to the person or people affected and do what we can to put it right. We might feel like fools but

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paradoxically we’ll gain a lot of credibility and respect from admitting our mistake and seeking to make amends. Many people will forgive and be inclined to give a person who does this sort of thing a second chance.

Work hard to establish a good reputation with other stakeholders!

If we’ve tarnished our reputation with some regrettable actions and there is one group or person who doesn’t think too highly of us, we can still work hard with other groups to establish what we don’t have with this original group. Again, the proverbs speak to us.

“Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!

It has no commander, no overseer or ruler,

yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.” –Proverbs 6:6-8.

We must work hard like an ant with industry, not complaint. When we allow complaint to well up on the inside we are half gone. Working hard to establish a good reputation is all about investment for the “tomorrows” to come. Of course we won’t see the results today, so let’s not expect to. When we’re not thanked for the good things we do, it means the ‘thanks’ are coming i.e. in the future. We must be patient.

Resist the temptation to talk about others!

So we return to the first abovementioned proverb. If we speak against any person, no matter their position, we can expect it will end up working against us. We need to be disciplined in order to not betray confidences or criticise others. We can think positively about people when others choose to be critical.

Doing the above things can only advance our standing as people of integrity that have no warrant for a bad name… “Like a fluttering sparrow or a darting swallow, an undeserved curse does not come to rest.” –Proverbs 26:2. Eventually, this is what occurs for those with integrity: any word against us works out for us. We have to believe it. It has the magic of God about it.

All Scripture quoted is from the New International Version.

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Discipline That Works

...

Until It Doesn’t

Andrew Symonds’ preference to fish over meeting with team mates highlights an ever present issue in professional sport, and life, today; it’s a lack of commitment to the greater team cause and good. The News press seems to perpetually feature these sorts of stories as undisciplined players ‘vote 1 for self’ and ‘2 for team’.

It’s essentially a lack of values that foists a player’s teammates in preference to his or her own desires. Through their actions they lack understanding, heart, imagination, and courage to put the team first against their own desires and passions.

Team discipline: a phenomenon that comes about when a player on a team turns aside to the collectively espoused code of conduct of the team. In a word, it’s rebellion. It’s a flouting of the agreed law for individual and selfish gain, and it brings with it the potential of undermining team unity. It must be swiftly and consistently dealt with.

If team officials and leaders let it go unpunished they give permission for more of it to occur. Other members of the team watch on with interest with what will unfold.

Most of all discipline requires leaders to keep faith with what’s established, tried and tested. They’ll be pressed to cave-in and compromise but they can’t allow this to occur. For when the worlds of truth and lies collide there is an explosion of emotion and any leader must anticipate and expect this and stand firm. The impact soon dies down however, and even if it didn’t they’d have to remain true for the greater good, no matter the collateral damage.

We’ve all been guilty of lacking commitment. The best thing for us at the time was to receive what was coming to us. Without the co urage to act, our parents, teachers, leaders, and employers would have done us a massive disservice. Discipline, in the spirit of good,

works -- it always does; until we give in to compromise

...

then it doesn’t. Keep the faith.

Success, Failure Or Nothing: Are You A “Player”?

The 26 th President of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt was famous not only for his 1901-09 Presidential tenure and the fact he was the first President who rode in an automobile and submarine, but also for his “credit belongs to man who is actually in the

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