September 20th: Saying Yes to Jean-Pierre LeBlanc

Every day I make it a habit to focus on something that I am really grateful for. Today the subject of my focus is my life coach, mentor, and best friend. Jean-Pierre LeBlanc.

I met Jean-Pierre in Cabo San Lucas, Baja California on New Year’s Eve 2002. His family and my family were staying at the same resort and they accepted our invitation to attend the same New Year’s Eve celebration. Our families really hit it off that night, and we spent most of the rest of our stay in Mexico doing wonderful things together. Our families have been close ever since.

In August of 2003, Jean-Pierre invited me to attend a weekend workshop he was hosting in Vancouver, BC. At the time I felt really stuck and just going through the motions as a small town business lawyer. There was not much gratitude in my life. At my wife, Heidi’s urging, I said yes to Jean-Pierre’s invitation, bought a plane ticket, and flew up to Canada with my 13 year old son, Trevor. Trevor spent the weekend with Jean-Pierre’s wife and daughter, Kate and Kiara, enjoying Vancouver. I did the workshop, suspicious and curious at the time about what I could or would learn from this process.

Well, I learned a lot! This was where I was introduced to Jean-Pierre’s concept of Gender Synergy, and I made a number of really useful observations about who I was and how I operated in this world. At the end of the workshop, I decided to say yes to another invitation from Jean-Pierre, and I hired him as my coach. We have had a coaching relationship every since.

Today I am getting on another airplane to fly to Vancouver for another of Jean-Pierre’s weekend workshops. I think it may be my 10th. Every time I go, I learn something new and I have the feeling that I am taking my life and life skills to a higher level.

When I look back at who I was on that plane to Vancouver 4 years ago compared to who I am today, I am astounded and deeply grateful for all of the personal growth and positive change that I have experienced and all that I have learned from Jean-Pierre, as well as from the other coaches, mentors, and thought leaders, I have worked with over the last 4 years because I said yes to Jean-Pierre’s initial invitation to fly to that first workshop in BC.

I am really excited about getting on that plane this afternoon and curious about what new adventures await me and what kind of change and growth I will experience because, once again, I said yes to an invitation from Jean-Pierre LeBlanc.

When was the last time you said yes to an invitation to try something new, to do something that might stretch you and cause you to change and grow? I suggest that you consider becoming proactive and that you seek out these opportunities for personal growth and positive change. I guarantee that you will be glad that you did.

Posted by Philip Daunt at 1:54 pm | Filed in Personal

September 2nd: The Power of the Platinum Rule

Everybody knows what the Golden Rule is. No, not that Golden Rule; this one:

Do onto others as you would have others do onto you.

Professor Harry J. Gensler teaches in the philosophy department of John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio. He wrote his doctoral dissertation on the Golden Rule at the University of Michigan 30 years ago. Here is his Short Essay on the Golden Rule taken from his web site:

The golden rule is endorsed by all the great world religions; Jesus, Hillel, and Confucius used it to summarize their ethical teachings. And for many centuries the idea has been influential among people of very diverse cultures. These facts suggest that the golden rule may be an important moral truth.

Let’s consider an example of how the rule is used. President Kennedy in 1963 appealed to the golden rule in an anti-segregation speech at the time of the first black enrollment at the University of Alabama. He asked whites to consider what it would be like to be treated as second class citizens because of skin color. Whites were to imagine themselves being black – and being told that they couldn’t vote, or go to the best public schools, or eat at most public restaurants, or sit in the front of the bus. Would whites be content to be treated that way? He was sure that they wouldn’t – and yet this is how they treated others. He said the “heart of the question is … whether we are going to treat our fellow Americans as we want to be treated.”

The golden rule is best interpreted as saying: “Treat others only in ways that you’re willing to be treated in the same exact situation.” To apply it, you’d imagine yourself in the exact place of the other person on the receiving end of the action. If you act in a given way toward another, and yet are unwilling to be treated that way in the same circumstances, then you violate the rule.

To apply the golden rule adequately, we need knowledge and imagination. We need to know what effect our actions have on the lives of others. And we need to be able to imagine ourselves, vividly and accurately, in the other person’s place on the receiving end of the action. With knowledge, imagination, and the golden rule, we can progress far in our moral thinking.

The golden rule is best seen as a consistency principle. It doesn’t replace regular moral norms. It isn’t an infallible guide on which actions are right or wrong; it doesn’t give all the answers. It only prescribes consistency – that we not have our actions (toward another) be out of harmony with our desires (toward a reversed situation action). It tests our moral coherence. If we violate the golden rule, then we’re violating the spirit of fairness and concern that lie at the heart of morality.

The golden rule, with roots in a wide range of world cultures, is well suited to be a standard to which different cultures could appeal in resolving conflicts. As the world becomes more and more a single interacting global community, the need for such a common standard is becoming more urgent.

I started this blog entry by saying that everybody knows what the Golden Rule is; I also think that most everybody thinks that they believe in the Golden Rule, but they don’t. Most people, if you push them, will admit that what they really believe is in doing onto others as others do onto them, not as they would have others do onto them.
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Posted by Philip Daunt at 5:43 pm | Filed in Personal, Resources

August 25th: Choosing Beliefs

Wikipedia defines “Choice” as follows:

Choice consists of the mental process of thinking involved with the process of judging the merits of multiple options and selecting one of them for action. Some simple examples include deciding whether to get up in the morning or go back to sleep and selecting a given route to make a journey across a country. More complex examples (often decisions that affect what a person thinks or their core beliefs) include choosing a religious affiliation, such as Christianity, or deciding on a political party of choice, such as Republican or Democrat.

Wikipedia defines “Belief” as:

the psychological state in which an individual is convinced of the truth of a proposition. Like the related concepts truth, knowledge, and wisdom, there is no precise definition of belief on which scholars agree…

We all have beliefs, lots of them. However, many of us have never bothered to reflect on how we managed to acquire all of these beliefs. (Some of us don’t even think of them as beliefs; they are just “facts,” true statements about life, people, the world.) The truth of the matter is that we have chosen each and every belief that we hold, and just because we believe that something is true today, doesn’t mean that we will believe that it is true tomorrow.
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Posted by Philip Daunt at 6:28 pm | Filed in Personal, Resources

August 19th: What’s the Difference Between Distress and Eustress?

I am currently reading a great new book by Timothy Ferriss (that’s “Ferriss” with 2 r’s and 2 s’s by the way) called The 4-Hour Workweek – Escape 9-5, Work Anywhere, and Join the New Rich (Crown Publishers 2007). Here’s the link to Tim’s website.

Tim has a lot of interesting things to say, but one thing that really struck me was the following observation entitled “Distress is Bad, Eustress is Good:”

“Unbeknownst to most fun-loving bipeds, not all stress is bad. Indeed the New Rich don’t aim to eliminate all stress. Not in the least. There are two separate types of stress, each as different as euphoria and its seldom-mentioned opposite, dysphoria.

Distress refers to harmful stimuli that make you weaker, less confident, and less able. Destructive criticism, abusive bosses, and smashing your face on a curb are examples of this. These are things we want to avoid.

Eustress, on the other hand, is a word most of you have probably never heard of. Eu-, a Greek prefix for “healthy,” is used in the same sense in the word “euphoria.” Role models who push us to exceed our limits, physical training that removes our spare tires, and risks that expand our sphere of comfortable action are examples of eustress – stress that is healthful and the stimulus for growth.

People who avoid all criticism fail. It’s destructive criticism we need to avoid, not criticism in all forms. Similarly, there is no progress without eustress, and the more eustress we can create or apply to our lives, the sooner we can actualize our dreams. The trick is telling the two apart.

The New Rich are equally aggressive in removing distress and finding eustress.” (The 4-Hour Workweek, at page 37).

There’s a huge piece of wisdom in what Tim has to say. Stress, as in distress, is clearly bad for us; it shuts us down, wears us out, makes us sick, ages us and eventually kills us. Eustress, on the other hand pulls us up from lethargy and inaction, excites us, challenges us, gives us hope and inspiration to take constructive action. The Universe rewards inspired action. Eustress is the initiating part of the process that gets us from where we are to where we want to be.

I’ve talked for some time about the difference between motivation and inspiration, where motivation applies pressure to our lives, pushing us forward. While, inspiration draws us forward, like a vacuum that needs to be filled. The one is effortful and distressful, while the other is effortless and eustressful.

Examples of distress in your external environment would be allowing yourself to associate with negative and/or hostile people, or to work in a cluttered office with piles of unfinished work on your desk, a chair that gives you a back ache and a computer monitor that makes you squint.
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Posted by Philip Daunt at 2:03 pm | Filed in Personal, Resources, Reviews

August 9th: What’s the Difference Between a Problem, a Challenge and an Opportunity?

The Microsoft Encarta College Dictionary that sits on my desk in my office defines “Problem” as a “difficult situation, matter or person;” “Challenge” as “an invitation to compete in a fight, contest, or competition;” and “Opportunity” as “a chance, especially one that offers some kind of advantage.” It also says that an opportunity is a combination of “favorable” circumstances or situations.

It seems that everybody has problems, big ones and small ones. The problem with problems is that they seem to slow us down, drain and block our energy, leave us stuck.

I like to think that I am free to choose to describe a circumstance or situation that I meet as either “difficult” (or not) or “favorable” (or not) and that the difference between the two really is just interpretation, made up in my mind. If that’s the case, I might as well choose an interpretation that gets me unstuck, serves me, works for me, moves me forward toward my goals, and gives me positive energy.

So, one solution that I have found when I am facing a problem is simply to re-name it.

I used to substitute the word “challenge” for “problem.” It somehow gave me more courage to persevere and plow through the problem once it had been transformed from a problem, a “difficult situation,” into a challenge, an “invitation to compete.”

More recently, I’ve come to see events and situations that I used to describe as problems or challenges as “opportunities” for action, for personal growth and positive change. I believe that choosing to believe that a circumstance or situation is an opportunity, rather than a problem or a challenge, has the potential, at least, to significantly influence the outcome I experience.

Opportunities inspire me to take action. Viewed from that perspective, I welcome the situations I used to dread when I described them as problems. Now that I think of them as opportunities, I am grateful for them and I am curious as to what new advantages they might provide me as they inspire me to move forward toward my goals.

The next time you see yourself faced with a daunting problem, choose to think of it as an opportunity for personal growth and positive change. Chances are that you will have more energy to deal with the circumstance or situation before you and you will be surprised at how positive the outcome will be, just because you have chosen to embrace an “opportunity,” instead of dealing with a “problem.”

Posted by Philip Daunt at 7:39 pm | Filed in Personal
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