Tag Archives: Personal Power

to err is human, so be smart about it

Obviously we all make mistakes. And as you are no doubt aware, it is not the mistakes we make that really matter, but how we deal with having made them. So here is a piece of easy-to-remember advice on how to deal with your mistakes in a useful manner. It is a simple 90-10 Rule.

Whenever you make a mistake, the best & only truly worthwhile response is to immediately offer an effective remedy to it. 90% of your immediate effort & attention should be focused solely on the prompt execution of this. The remaining 10% of your attention can then be spent on an apology for your mistake, if you wish.

Look closely, and you will see that people often do just the opposite – they spend 90% of their immediate effort & attention on apologizing, and seldom spend not even the remaining 10% on a remedy. While this strategy may help assuage the conscience of the responsible party, in fact it helps no-one and nothing.

So give the 90-10 Rule a try when next you make a mistake. You’ll be a better person for it.

is your freedom really what you think it is?

We all want “freedom”. Or claim we do, anyway. But achieving it is entirely dependent upon whether we choose to push away from what we don’t want (FREEDOM FROM) or pull ourselves towards what we do want (FREEDOM TO).

FREEDOM FROM – this desire is rooted in the types of emotions associated with failure, e.g. ”Don’t miss!”

As you can see, the DNA of FREEDOM FROM is really avoidance; we want to feel free of some negative force or set of conditions. The emotional factors in play here are primarily doubt and fear, because these are the things we are pushing away from in our quest to obtain freedom.

FREEDOM TO – this desire is rooted in the types of emotions associated with success, e.g. ”Hit it out of the park!”

The DNA of FREEDOM TO is the expansive spirit of reaching ahead; we are driven by confidence and determined self-reliance to achieve. The emotional factor in play here is primarily a powerful belief in oneself as the vehicle through which to obtain freedom.

The Bottom Line: 

Defaulting to FREEDOM FROM leads only to feelings of futility, because the harder you try to push away from the doubts to which you are clinging, the tighter your grip on them – and theirs on you!

On the contrary, choosing FREEDOM TO pulls you ever forward, and so it alone can lead to an independent spirit, the only true source of freedom we can experience.

As always, the choice is yours, so pick one you’ll be happy living with.

a handy maturity vector

Naturally we all make mistakes, in all shapes & sizes, for a huge variety of reasons. To err is human indeed.

But so too is the unfortunate inclination to ignore our mistakes, particularly when they feel rather severe or were made in our distant past.

The fact is, we are naturally reluctant to “admit” having made certain mistakes. The consequence, however, is that they can often plague our lives, frequently in the form of one or more bad emotional habits.

So why do we work so hard to avoid facing certain mistakes? Simply because we are afraid of looking (or feeling) foolish, especially in the eyes of others. Honestly, what a monumentally stupid reason to repeat or fail to correct a mistake.

Consider this: Contrary to popular belief, I don’t believe that your personal growth & improvement is contingent upon “admitting your mistake” to someone else! Rather, it is about you accepting that you made it yourself; whoever hears you do so is not important.

My reasoning is thus: You privately and genuinely accepting your own mistake gives you two very valuable things: (1) freedom FROM the guilt or shame or embarrassment of the mistake, and (2) freedom TO either rectify the mistake, ameliorate its continuing effects, or at the very least not repeat it again. And perhaps you even walk away with a little bit of wisdom and a renewed pride of personal responsibility.

So you can see how being able to accept a mistake to yourself – without necessarily having to “admit it” to someone else – is a very powerful Big Win.

PS. If it helps, think on this: “Maturity is to not hide one’s strength out of fear, and consequently live below one’s best.” Dag Hammarskjold

the big lie… well, another one anyway….

We all have the tendency to tell ourselves things that are not strictly speaking true – it is one of our base survival mechanisms.

The thing with survival mechanisms though, is that they can severely constrain our personal growth & development. So from time to time it is important to challenge certain of these auto-defense mechanisms that may be limiting us. One such mechanism which often frustrates us, for example, is the common lament: “I don’t know what to do!”

I call this The Big Lie, because this has nothing to do with knowing, but rather everything to do with feeling. Specifically, when we complain to ourselves (or others) that we “don’t know what to do!”, what we are really thinking is “I don’t know what is guaranteed to work!”, and this is what makes us feel so frustrated, weak, or vulnerable.

By itself, this is not a big deal, but unfortunately the thought or feeling that “I don’t know what is guaranteed to work!” is all too often automatically followed by “So I’m better off doing nothing at all until I do know!”.

This is self-destructive for two key reasons: (1) Obviously because taking reasonable action, no matter the outcome, is always better than doing nothing. (2) Because the more we run this pattern, the more defiant &/or petulant we risk becoming, which in turn increases our initial feelings of powerlessness. Not good.

So if you ever find yourself lamenting “I don’t know what to do!”, remember that it is just not true; you may not know the absolute best thing to do, but then how often does anyone?

Don’t give in to fear. Remind yourself that you always have the power to take reasonable action, and do so; you may be pleasantly surprised at the outcome. And if the outcome turns out to be less than optimal, just manage it to the best of your ability and an opportunity for a better outcome will find its way to your door.

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. – Aristotle

PS. Two tips:

  1. Every task has to be done one at a time.
  2. No task ever has to be done “perfectly”, just thoroughly & completely.

my 4-part guide to personal transformation

For me, personal transformation – the improvement of my Self and Life – has been my principal focus and the subject of endless experimentation for the last 40 or so years.

While the only “truth” I’ve discovered is that that there is no particular recipe for success, there are a few guiding principles or patterns that have emerged often enough that I consider them effective guidelines within the overall process.

So if you are considering embarking on your own personal transformation path, here they are, organized into four distinct phases, along with a few caveats.

Naturally you will need to adjust and adapt my suggestions to the requirements of your unique character, mindset and circumstances. Also, some of these concepts may be unfamiliar to you, and so require a lot of thought just to get them situated for use. And some may not even make any sense until you are halfway into them.

Don’t worry, this is all to be expected given the extraordinarily complex nature of….YOU! Just keep in mind that I’m trying to explain what I think needs to get done; how you do it is up to you. So please follow these guidelines to whatever extent you see fit, at whatever speed & pace suits you, and don’t get discouraged even if you stall out from time to time – just never, ever quit on yourself.


phase 1 of 4 – Embracing Possibility

Prepare Yourself for Genuine Transformation

1.1   Clear your mental workspace.

  • You need to start this process with a clear mental workspace. So make sure your mind is free of debris so you can move around freely without bumping into anything. i.e. If you need to be creative, say, by taking off your clothes and running from one end of the room to the other with your eyes closed, then you’d better be certain you are not going to step or run into anything, right?

1.2   Permit creative thought by letting go of your certainty.

  • What is creativity? Creativity is freedom. Freedom from constraints, from rigidity. So creative thought comes from feeling that you are not restricted to or by anything. As you don’t need to be sure of anything right now, let go of your certainty; not being sure at this point is ok!

1.3   Envision your Ideal Scenario, your Vision of what you really want.

  • Envision what you want for yourself, any way you want. Go ahead! Just make sure that it is all what you want, not what you think you should want or what others think you should want.

1.4   Cultivate the belief that it’s possible for your Vision to exist.

  • You need to believe that the Vision you’ve just created really could exist; whatever you envisioned, it could actually become a reality! Ask yourself: “Why couldn’t it?” And keep working with this until you get to trusting the feeling of “Why not!” with a confident inner smile!



phase 2 of 4 – Cementing your Desire

Tee Yourself Up to Succeed

2.1   Cultivate the belief that it’s possible for your Vision to not only exist, but to exist in your world!

  • This step is about bringing the two ideas of “Why Not!” and “Why Not ME!” into alignment in your mind; it’s about accepting the possibility of your Vision becoming a reality in your own Life.

2.2    Stimulate your desire & motivation by going beyond possibility (“it could happen…”) to potential (“it can happen!”).

  • The purpose of this step is for you to become deeply & powerfully motivated. One way to generate such genuine motivation is through moving yourself from accepting two-dimensional possibility into feeling three-dimensional potential: “This really can happen; to ME, for ME! It can happen because I’m the one to do it. This is pretty neat, I’m liking this. Ok, I’m getting excited now.”