The “Other”

I have come to the conclusion, via age and experience, that it is more productive to surround myself with like-minded people.  It makes life easier and more enriching, I think.  Social media allow us to do this with the click of a button as we friend, follow and link with people who are like us in some way.  Our conversations are stimulating and energised but are they challenging in terms of seeking to understand the “other”?  Has social media allowed us to avoid other points of view in favour of celebrating our own.  What are the risks with this on a personal level, on a national level and on a global level?

Elizabeth Lesser, in a thought-provoking TED talk called “Take the Other to Lunch” looks at her own life as part mystic (grace), part warrior (grit)  The latter seeks to get on with things and focuses on the now whilst the former asks “what are we missing?”  She wonders if the circle we draw around ourselves (our family, friends, followers) is too small and too similar and may contribute towards the “demonisation” or “otherisation” of those with different viewpoints to our own.

Her talk inspires us to take someone whose point of view makes “smoke come out of our ears” to lunch so we can find out what is really in each others’ hearts.  When Elizabeth Lesser did this herself (she, being left-wing, invited a right-wing supporter) she found out the generic labels that are assigned to others do not represent those people as individuals.  She does argue that the intention of taking the other to lunch is not to change their worldview or to expect differences to melt away just to meet them in a neutral space and explore.

This had made me rethink my own point of view.  I don’t know if I’m ready to take an “other” to lunch (my views are pretty strong) just yet but once I work on my ability to not get defensive and to just listen I might give it a go. 

Who would you take to lunch and why?

Are all your social networks like you in some way?

What would you need to do to prepare for a lunch with the “other”?

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Q: Who am I? A: My friends…

I’ve just read an interesting piece of research (yes, some research is interesting!) called “The Framingham Heart Study”.  I found the study mentioned in the latest blog post by Penelope Trunk

Any study is hard to condense into a few lines so if you like detail, read the study in full here.  Basically the study found that you are likely to behave in a similar manner to your friends.  If your friends are big drinkers, then you are likely to exhibit that behaviour, if your friends are overweight, then so might you be.  On the positive side, you are more likely to be healthy and active if your friends are that way.

This got me thinking about my friends and the behaviours they practice, which, in turn, will affect my behaviours.  I’ve compiled a list of my closest friends and what I have learnt from them.

Here they are, in no particular order

David – everything!

Bella – unconditional love and sass!

Robyn – rational logic can go hand in hand with silliness, money is for spending

Vicki –  inner calm, peacefulness, persistence

Leah – live in the wow! it will all work out in the end

Rachel – mindfulness, thoughtfulness and a balanced approach to life

Lorrae – keep moving, stay young, use products if you need enhancement

Jacqui – let life be messy, indulge in retail therapy

Collin – it’s OK to be crazy, it’s OK to think you are a super hero

Damon – youth is not wasted on the young, live a Rock Star life

Looking at this list, I feel really fortunate to have a group of friends who enrich my life in so many ways and if the study is right and I exhibit these behaviours then I think I’m doing OK!

What behaviours do your friends practice?

If you made a list like I did, what would it look like?

Do you exhibit similar positive (and negative) behaviours as your friends?

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Bzzzzzz…Goal Setting…just another buzz word

“Where will you be in 5 years time?”  I hate that question because my honest answer is “I have absolutely no idea”

I have not set long-term goals for years now.  I learned not to do this from experience, in that every time I wrote down a list of goals I was guaranteed to never, ever achieve them.  It was as if writing them down put them out there in the world and then I started to feel pressure to realise them and then I constantly thought about them and didn’t actually achieve any of them.

My new approach works much better.  No goals, just life.  I get a lot more done that way.  Consider the person who makes a five-year plan full of goals that need to be met.  It looks fantastic on paper (and goal setting, like risk management, is often an exercise in completing a template or populating a spreadsheet) but how does it play out in reality?  I wonder if the person is so focused on the plan that they miss potential opportunities along the way because they are not part of the plan.  Or, worse still, they don’t even notice opportunity when it comes knocking because they have tunnel vision.

At this time each year there is an abundance of information on goal setting to ensure you have your plans in place for the year ahead.  There are theories on the effectiveness of goal setting (and I know them because I taught them to university students)  and in my opinion they are all just bzzzzzzzzzz.  It sounds cool to be setting goals and getting organised doesn’t it?  It shows a logical approach to life and offers a sense of control.  It’s what you “should” be doing, right?

How about, instead of sitting down and putting so much energy into the planning stage, you actually get up and out and do something?  Isn’t life a journey rather than a destination? 

What are your beliefs around goal setting?

What other buzz words are you aware of and what do you think of them?

Where will you be in 5 years time!