Book Impression: Are We Aware Of All Our Options?

In my previous post I already wrote about Eldon Taylor’s book Choices and Illusions, and about how I came to read this book and write about it in the frame of the Blog Tour to lauch the paperback version of the book. I shared the Chicken and Eagle story that got me thinking about how open we are to change. Change in perspective on our potential and our future, and change in how we go about our daily business.

As I said, I am not usually an avid (or in fact, any kind of) reader of such books, but I did find two of the many other stories Taylor shares compelling. Or better put: they resonated with me.

The Chicken and the Eagle story told me that if someone comes along with a proposition that suits us perfectly, we may not be willing to engage because of the self-imposed cage we are in that prevents us from becoming aware that this proposition indeed suits us.

If we would reach the stage where we can see a different future for ourselves, we would need to be able to see alternative ways of acting to reach that different future. Taylor uses the Flowerpot Story as an example to show that it is not easy to think outside our usual box. See below for my narration, or click here for Taylor’s own version.

I have to admit that the fourth option would never, ever in my wildest dreams have occurred to me. It still does not feel like something I could do, so this is not some ‘new’ and ‘different’ behaviour that I will copy to be on my way toward a new future.

What I do take from this story, however, is the idea to consider – before you act – which action will make you feel best afterward. And I agree, the fourth option would do that for me, contrary to the other options. I think this story resonates with me because it tells us that there is always a different path to take, and a positive turn to give to everything that happens (even though it may not be immediately apparent). So, while I do not think I will go and buy a new pot for someone whose flowerpot has dented my precious head, I do think I will try to consider all, and even the wildest, options before I will take action and will try to look for the real win-win scenario. Basically, I will try not to rely on routine reactions in cases of adversity or unexpected events.

This of course is easier said than done. How can you start seeing possibilities that did not exist before? Yes, sure, if a flowerpot cracks my head I will know an alternative, but what if something else were to happen that could not be dealt with by purchasing a new flowerpot? In other words, how can we cultivate the kind of open mind needed for this approach?

For me, the answer lies in cherishing my creativity. For a long, long time I have resigned myself to the idea that ‘sorry, I am not a creative person’. I would be that person who would write dull texts, and who would stick by the rules, and never go astray.

However, the fascinating world of social media has changed my outlook on myself almost entirely. I do find tremendous fun in creating cartoons, trying out animations (see above, my first attempt at PowToon), messing with pictures and collages, and so on. And I find I learn from these playful hours (and by the way, I do use some of the outputs in other people’s learning processes), and that they open my mind to new ideas and possibilities.

For me, some social media tools help me break my routines, reformulate my thoughts in simple visuals, and reconsider my qualities. This is why I encourage others to try out different tools, too: I would like for them to experience the same joy, and the same eye openers that make me so happy sometimes.

And I think that happiness is one of the true conditions for being able to see the ‘new flowerpot’ option. After all, if you are happy about your own life and satisfied with all the people and things and activities in it, it is much easier to share and give to others.

 

For more information

Eldon Taylor has made a lifelong study of the human mind and has earned doctoral degrees in psychology and metaphysics. He is president of Progressive Awareness Research, an organization dedicated to researching techniques for accessing the immense powers of the mind. For more than 20 years, he has approached personal empowerment from the cornerstone perspective of forgiveness, gratitude, service and respect for all life. To contact Eldon in response to the story, you can reach him via his website: http://www.eldontaylor.com

 

Eldon Taylor’s New York Times Best-Seller, Choices and Illusions, is available at all fine online and retail bookstores. However, to participate in the online event that Eldon has put together, including a chance to win a customized $500 InnerTalk library, please visit: http://www.parpromos.com/pp/it/14k/index/R.html

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Book impression: Choices and Illusions

A small part of my book collection

A small part of my book collection

Not too long ago I moaned to my husband that I wished my job were to read books. (This was on a day when I desperately wanted to finish a book, obviously). The next day, I received an e-mail from someone asking me to participate in a blog tour. She would send me a book, I would read it, and write about it on my blog at the same time as all others taking part in the blog tour would. It felt like fate knocking on my door, so who was I to refuse?

That is how I came to read Eldon Taylor’s book ‘Choices and Illusions’ (published in paperback this week). I read mostly novels, detective stories and contemporary history, so this book is not something I would have selected myself for reading if I would have come across it. Fate again?

Taylor writes as if he is talking to you. He is full of stories and knowledge about research and connects these by way of meaningful issues and questions. Before you know it, the book is finished – and your companion gone.

Well, that is not entirely true. Some of the questions, issues and stories linger. I titled this post ‘impression’ because I do not think I could meaningfully summarise this intricate book. But I would like to share three things Taylor got me thinking about. Today I will write about the first thing, and tomorrow I will tell you about the other two things that keep me thinking.

The first thing (the one for today) is the fact that we cage ourselves by our beliefs of who we are, what we can and cannot do, what is appropriate and inappropriate, what is expected and not expected and so on. All those inner and outer expectations and standards limit us or at least hinder us in reaching our full potential – or even in being aware of what our full potential could be. Taylor makes clear that it is not just society that is holding us back, it is us ourselves, too, and the interconnections between us and society that prevent us from becoming who we are – or even from aspiring to.

In the book, Taylor tells the story of the Chicken and the Eagle. It is a bit more elaborate, and complex, than the one I share below:

In Taylor’s version, an eagle flies by the chicken yard and tries to convince the little eagle that she is an eagle like him. But she doesn’t buy it, and stays with the chicken that she knows. See here for Taylor’s version on YouTube.

When you read it, it is kind of a sad story. And yet, do we not all know one or too eagles that have joined the chicken in their yard? People that feel this is it, while we see so much more in them? And do we not in daily life shrug our shoulders and think it’s their choice? Or get annoyed with them, for making that choice like that? (If they are our partners, for instance, of whom we expect so much).

This story wants to say, it is not necessarily their choice. They may not be fully aware of their potential and you may seem like an eagle, coming down from the skies telling them lies. Or rather, you may seem like a salesman making a cold call. And, all the time the same may be true of you yourself. Have you met that eagle yet, who tried to tell you life could be different? And have you shown him the door – or have you invited him in? Have you made fun of those eagles you met – or have you shared your enthusiasm at new prospects with others, acknowledging the eagle for his contribution to your new insights?

When you think of it, it may seem that there were more eagles when you were young, and that at the time you tended to believe them more readily, too. Oh, those days when anything seemed within reach! Youthful optimism and recklessness – to risk the safety of the chicken yard for an uncertain adventure high in the sky! But those days are gone at a certain moment.

Not so. No, not quite so. Those days can be here again – if you let them. And that is what Taylor’s book is about: making you aware that you are the one not letting eagles near you, and that you can change this, too. The first step is in becoming aware of those ‘chicken yard beliefs’ that you have. Things you take for granted to be true – but that are not facts and that can indeed be turned around. Mantras like “I am not good enough to do that” and “I will never achieve this”. Etc.

More than two years ago, I read ‘Switch – How To Change Things When Change Is Hard’ by Chip and Dan Heath (see here for my impressions). Their model for supporting change is built around a rider, an elephant and a path. I found this model to be very useful for NGOs I work with – who are all about changing their communities and societies in one way or another.

Taylor’s book adds an element to this model and that is understanding. Understanding why others may not be so ready for change – why in fact they may, consciously or subconsciously, not be able to believe any change is possible. Understanding that the targeted groups may consist of people who think they are chicken, when you are addressing them as if they were eagles.

The book gave me two insights into how to address eagles who think they are chicken – and I will go into those in my next post, tomorrow!

For more information

Eldon Taylor has made a lifelong study of the human mind and has earned doctoral degrees in psychology and metaphysics. He is president of Progressive Awareness Research, an organization dedicated to researching techniques for accessing the immense powers of the mind. For more than 20 years, he has approached personal empowerment from the cornerstone perspective of forgiveness, gratitude, service and respect for all life. To contact Eldon in response to the story, you can reach him via his website: http://www.eldontaylor.com

 

Eldon Taylor’s New York Times Best-Seller, Choices and Illusions, is available at all fine online and retail bookstores. However, to participate in the online event that Eldon has put together, including a chance to win a customized $500 InnerTalk library, please visit: http://www.parpromos.com/pp/it/14k/index/R.html

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Celebrating Your Life

As happens to the best of us, I found myself at a low ebb last week. This nagging feeling that things could be much better, if only I knew how.

And just I was trying to figure what I could do to make myself feel better, the mailman brought me a nice old-fashioned snail mail envelope. Sent by someone I know online only.

LetterHe sent me an invitation to use the remaining 40 days of 2013 to take stock of what and who inspires me, touches me, or makes me happy or proud, and what my dreams are for 2014. To make this easier, he sent me a small notebook and a felt tip pen along with his letter.

This invitation in combination with his personal message about his appreciation of my engagement, drive and sense of humour simply made my day. All this, despite the fact that we have never met in real life.

This made me realise that I have absolutely no reason to be moping around the house. Because, I, too, have people in my life that I appreciate, things that I like and that inspire me, and touch me. And all these things and people together bring me dreams, for 2014 and beyond.

All this happened almost a week ago. So what did I collect until now?

These are the people and things I am right now thankful for:

  • Roel Rotterdam, for sending me this invitation and message at the right time, among many other things
  • Ecaterina Melnicenco, for letting me dabble in social media coaching
  • Lidija Pavic-Rogosic, for taking one of my previous posts as a start for developing a very nice project proposal and also – on another level – for sharing a very nice Instagram video
  • Gerdi Keeler, for our cooperation as nul100 which brings me new ideas and inspiration almost daily
  • Barend Barentsen, for letting me ramble on about online tools in learning and all the things he could do
  • this week’s online tools: PhotoSnack and GoogleForms
  • ……

…. and there is so much more!

As it is ThanksGiving today, I would end by thanking Roel Rotterdam for his wake up call and inspiration! I wish all of you out there a happy ThanksGiving:

ThanksGiving

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And here is my baggage from 2012

One year ago, at the start of 2012,  I reflected on two main questions:

  • What are the 3 things or persons that you will definitely leave behind in 2011 and not bring with you to 2012?
  • What are the 3 things or persons that will flourish because of you in 2012?

While these questions remain useful and valid, this year I started out reflecting on what I have learned in 2012. After all, inevitably, I will bring whatever I learned with me into 2013.

What I learned in 2012

What I learned in 2012

So, what is the baggage I am bringing from 2012?

For starters, I learned about motivation. Motivation is a powerful force whether you have it or lack it. It definitely helps to have a clear vision of where you want to find yourself or your organisation at a certain moment in time from now. And it helps if you feel ownership of both that vision and the actions needed to realise it. For that matter, it is certainly helpful to have a clear view of which steps you need to take to achieve the desired situation. And to make sure that those steps are concrete and realistic and meaningful in terms of the set goal.

Personally, I have found it rather challenging to maintain a high level of motivation at certain moments in 2012. I full well knew where I wanted to end up, and I was very much aware that the only way to get there would be for me to take action. I also had a grasp of what possible steps I could take. But somehow, it was not that easy to kick my own butt and get going in the right direction.

I found that I was easily distracted by things that seemed to need more immediate attention than my own long-term goals. In other words, my actual priorities in daily life were different from the priorities my mind was set on. So while initially my plan was clear, I let life get in the way. Naturally, I would prefer to say that life got in my way but of course the simple truth is – I let it get where it got in the way. It was just easier that way, it seemed, even though it did not feel right.

Some time mid-year I realised what was bothering me and decided to create more space for myself to focus on things I had classified as important for me in 2012. I created this space by freeing up time for my focus and by setting small goals for those slots of time. A tool that helped me a lot in discovering my focus was on the wrong things and after this realisation helped me monitor if I managed to do better by myself than before was I Done This. This is a very simple tool: it sends you a daily e-mail, at a time of your own choosing, asking you “What have you done today?”. You reply to the e-mail, and your answers are collected online, and you are reminded of them via e-mail as well. After a couple of weeks I could discern a clear pattern – I had done lots, which was good to see, but most of these things were not really the things I had wanted to be doing. Nowadays I am still using I Done This, but I am reading the daily question now as two questions:

  • What is one thing that happened today that you are happy about?
  • What is one thing that made you proud of or happy with yourself today?

A simple tool, that helped me get back on track. And through that, helped me regain enthusiasm and creativity. And, ultimately, helped me get back to the core of my motivation.

Of course, a tool is just a tool. Its impact depends largely on what you do with it, and how you use it. But sometimes it can give you an insight that is helpful, that simply clicks at that moment in time, making things more clear and easier to tackle

The second thing I learned in 2012 is related to friendships. I learned it is not always easy to be a good friend. I mean, first you have to figure out what a good friend is, according to you. And then, reconsider this picture: is that just the kind of friend you want to be or also the kind of friend you want to have? Surely you know what I mean: that mantra that true friends ask those awkward questions that need asking but that none of us want to hear. It is not self-evident to speak your true mind always, and it is far from sure that you will still be friends with the person who does, after he or she has been open with you. There are times to speak up and there are times to keep quiet – and how do you recognise one from the other? This dilemma, too, is related to motivation: what is your motivation for being friends with someone? What is your motivation to say something or not to say it, after all? I have struggled with those questions in 2012 and have not found the magic recipe yet, although I feel I am getting closer.

The third main thing I learned in 2012 is that it is rather tiresome to learn about yourself. Much as I like the term personal development, it seems that the process of developing one’s skills and knowledge is far more pleasant than the process of developing insight into one’s own strengths and weaknesses, and subsequently acting upon those insights. Yes, I learned a lot about myself in 2012, and I am convinced those insights are going to be helpful – nevertheless I wish myself a quiet 2013 when it comes to personal development and hope this new year will be more focused on professional development.

In all, 2012 has had a lot to offer to me, and I think I have taken all I could handle from the opportunities it offered. The three things I took with me from 2011 – freelance freedom, social media tools and inspirational people – have all played an important role in my life in 2012 as well. I remain grateful for all of life’s opportunities and challenges, and especially for all the people that have helped embellish my year by being great friends, inspirational colleagues or enthusiastic mentors, whether in real life or online. I will put the things I have learned in 2012, most notably the above mentioned lessons, to good use in 2013 and hope these will help me be a great friend, inspirational colleague or enthusiastic coach to those that I hold dear.

I wish all of you time to reflect on what 2012 has brought and taught you and

New Year’s wish for 2013

New Year’s wish for 2013

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