To demonise or romanticise?

Have you been watching some of the comments that are being made on gay marriage recently?  Many of them come from America, from the far right Republicans who call themselves christians.  The general theme is that if we sanction gay marriage the whole world will go to hell (except for the people who never supported it in the first place – like all good christians, they will be saved)

I’ve been thinking about this over the past few weeks, this need to demonise the “other”, to make it into something evil and perilous and to strike fear into the hearts of the average, white, right-wing fascists in the community.  As there are usually two sides to every story, let’s take a look at the other side – the bleeding hearts who are so keen to not be seen as homophobic that they place gay people on a pedestal, where they worship them as if they are some magical beings

I think we see this kind of thing with most issues that divide people, particularly with issues around culture in our own society, where you have people who are extremely racist and then others who seem to view some cultures as romantic, perfect, pristine examples of the past.  It’s an example of over compensation for the way we feel about these things.

So, what is the middle ground?  Maybe it’s something like acceptance.  The ability to see everyone as a human being, with fears, wants, beliefs and vulnerabilities.  Maybe it’s about being comfortable in our own skin first so that we can accept others on their terms.  It’s a bit like respecting everyone’s right to hold an opinion, whilst not necessarily respecting their actual opinion itself..

There is,of course, a third part to this story – the part where the demonisers and the romanticists get out-of-the-way and let the people themselves tell their story.  My wonderful friend Eliot sent me a link to the story below – it is told so beautifully, from the heart and it cuts to the sobering truth of the matter.

The next time you think about weighing in on a conversation around a sensitive issue, think about the words you read below and consider what value your voice is going to add.

Click here for the story

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Living like Lance

We are outraged when one of our sports heroes behaves in a way that is unbecoming to the title of “hero”.  We are also incensed when a member of the clergy or the police force commits a crime against children or a member of the public.  It appears that we place some people on a pedestal based on their title or vocation and then expect them to behave perfectly every time.

Have you ever stopped to consider that a title or a vocation are nothing more than words we attach to people?  When you take away the title or the vocation, you are left with what really matters, a human being.  We are all aware of the variety of behaviours that humans exhibit, both outstanding and questionable. Our sports people, our clergy and our police officers are just people and they bring their values, ethics and morals to their role, just like you do.  Most times, these people stay true to and uphold the values we expect of their title. Sadly, sometimes they just behave as their miserable, unethical selves with little regard for others.

I suspect that those people we admire who behave inappropriately would do so no matter what their title or vocation.  The corrupt sports person would most probably be a corrupt cleaner or manager – that’s who they are as human beings.  I also imagine that, if given a second chance, the story would play out exactly the same as people will usually act in ways that serve themselves. The person who has no integrity does not suddenly find some and change the way they behave.

The next time that someone you know behaves in a way that misrepresents their title as friend, manager, team mate, teacher, doctor etc, remember this:

1  This is who they are as a human being, their title is just a word

2  If you can, walk away because you don’t need them in your life

3  If you can’t walk away, see them for the fraud they are and know that karma is a wonderful thing!

This blog post is from my wonderful friend and mentor Rachel Collis. Rachel provides some insight into how to effectively manage the behaviour of the people you work with and has some great advice for leaders. If you enjoy this post, please subscribe to Rachel’s blog!

Working with ACT

There is an episode of The Big Bang Theory where Sheldon trains Penny to do what he wants. He uses chocolate.

We are all constantly ‘training’ the people around us but we don’t usually use chocolates and it is rarely deliberate. Because we aren’t even aware we are doing it, we are often inadvertently rewarding behaviours that we don’t want and punishing the behaviours that we do want.

For example, imagine your new enthusiastic staff member stops taking the initiative and starts waiting to be told what to do, what could have caused the change? It might be because you criticised her whenever she didn’t follow the correct procedure and didn’t encourage her when she was proactive. Gradually, over time you shaped her behaviour.

So it seems like a good idea to become much more aware of the impact of our behaviour on others and start to more consciously reward…

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2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The new Boeing 787 Dreamliner can carry about 250 passengers. This blog was viewed about 830 times in 2012. If it were a Dreamliner, it would take about 3 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Be nice to the creative genius

I recently watched The Social Network and it got me thinking…

You see, we talk a lot about being creative and innovative  and we always focus on the positive side of this behaviour – and there are a lot of positive aspects of creativity and innovation!  We rarely take the time to understand the other side of these qualities, the dark side of the creative genius.  The need to control, the absolute passion that can lead to zealotry and the belief that you know best, every time, all the time.

Think about people like Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, Mark Zuckerberg  and indeed any other creative genius, past or present  They have contributed to the world in ways that most of us can only dream about and the reason we can only dream about it is because we will never contribute in that way.  The creative genius is special and they are not subject to the same set of behavioural rules that we are.  They’ve earned the right to not play nice.

The irony is that if we expect the creative genius to have well developed social skills and to be nice and kind to people then we must also understand that we are asking them to be something that they are not.

Think about this –  when you go to buy your Apple product, or log onto Facebook or take a flight with Virgin, do you think about the personality of the person who invented these things?  No, you don’t really care about that, you want to experience the product because the product speaks for itself.

Let’s spend our time enjoying the contributions these people have made to our world, instead of suggesting that their interpersonal flaws are in some weird, karmic way responsible for their downfall.

For more information on the dark side of creativity, click here.

Laughter – best medicine or…

My ten year old daughter got her first school detention on Friday.  The reason?  Laughing in class.  That’s right, she laughed out loud, was asked to stop and couldn’t so she got a detention.  Detention means 15 minutes of play time spent in the “thinking” room, thinking about the perils of laughing in class

This is my daughter’s 5th year in school and to my knowledge, she has never been in trouble for laughing in class before, although I am certain she has a history of laughing as she tends to see the humour in certain situations.  I wonder if teachers are aware of the power they have in the classroom, of their ability to either take the children on a journey or suck the life out of them, depending on how they see the world

Parents have the same power, so do leaders in organisations.  If you are a parent, leader or teacher, take a look at your children, team, classroom and remember that you set the tone. Will you take your people on a journey or suck the life out of them?   It’s a really, really big responsibility that you have.

How did I react when my daughter told me about her detention?  I laughed…

Get your courage on

I learnt about courage from two of my favourite  screen characters,  Atticus Finch and Rocky Balboa.  The behaviours that both these characters displayed had a huge impact on me and I have often thought about what they would do when I have been in situations where I have needed to stand my ground.

You can imagine how I felt when, recently someone I truly respect thanked me for my courage.  It was the highest compliment I could ever receive.

I’ve been reflecting on courage and what it means.  I know that to Atticus Finch, courage is all about the ability to  keep going even when you know you can’t win.  Rocky’s idea of courage is that it doesn’t matter how many times you get hit, it’s how many times you get back up that counts.  To me, courage is about standing up for what is right, even if it means putting yourself in the firing line.

If I can make a difference by being courageous, by standing up for what is right, by challenging those things that just don’t make sense and by encouraging others to do the same, then together we might just change the world!

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