Sometimes listening a little can save a whole lot of trouble

We tend to be so concerned with our own interests that we pay little or no attention to the interests of others. But people listen with more attention if they feel you have understood them. They tend to think that those who understand them are intelligent and sympathetic people whose own opinions may be worth listening to. Put in a nutshell: – if you want other people to appreciate your interests, begin by demonstrating that you appreciate theirs.

It also helps to acknowledge that the matters each of you are clinging to may be part of the overall problem you are both trying to resolve. Whether in politics, at the workplace or in the family, many issues become the source of major conflict because the time is not taken to listen to the other person’s point of view. You don’t have to agree, just listen.

The time it takes to listen now, can save a lot of time in conflict later.

Holding a grudge can damage your hands and your heart

Holding a grudge is like holding on to a piece of coal with the aim of throwing it at someone.

I heard that back in primary school. Didn’t really make much sense to me back then. However, as I got older it began to hit home.

Someone has done or said something to hurt us and we hold on to the hurt, we cling to it as if holding on to a rope as we dangle over the edge of a cliff.

This grudge, this hot lump of coal is burning the flesh off the palm of our hand as we wait for the person who hurt us to come into range so that we can throw it at them.

All this time the person has been getting on with their life. While we are agonising with this piece of hot coal. If the person did mean to hurt us, they have won twice. First from the initial incident and then the years of additional suffering we have inflicted on ourselves.

Don’t give them the satisfaction. Throw down that hot lump of coal.

Are you afraid of your real potential?

Are you scared of your potential? Are you afraid that if you work towards being all you can be, you may not be able to handle the responsibility that will surely be part of the package?

If yes, you may be settling for much less than what is satisfying and meaningful. Some people accept the mediocre because they can’t pull together the sense of pride of purpose which would allow them to move beyond ordinary.

I can share with you that I felt that way some years ago. I got some help from a good friend who said, “Try to go beyond the simple need to fit in and appreciate your own uniqueness. Accept the fact that you can and do make a difference.”

He said, “If you conduct your life from the perspective that you can achieve almost anything you put your mind to. You will notice that mediocre is no longer good enough. You will be inspired to break from mere routine and explore the wealth of potential within you.”

That advice was of tremendous help back then and continues to push me forward today.

A tunnel has two openings so there must be two exits

Sometimes in life, we feel as though we are in a tunnel with no possible way out. But a tunnel by its very nature has two openings, so there must be at least two ways out.  Even though the end of the tunnel may be a great distance from where we are at this time, it will eventually come into view.

There is a lot to be said for keeping on track and believing in yourself and your ability to weather the storm.  When you lose hope, you also lose sight of that tiny speck of light way off in the distance.  Why not focus on that dot of light up ahead? Even though it may be barely visible, as you continue to move forward the tiny dot increases in size, becoming more real with each step you take.         

The more light you see, the more fuel is added to the fires of faith and hope. The twin engines that power you towards the exit.

Protect the flame. Don’t let anyone blow out your light of hope and enthusiasm. Continue to believe in yourself.

They might be hard to see but rays of hope are present

A short while after I started producing this programme for Music Radio 97—some 25 years ago—a listener wrote in and said, “A waste of time. It’s too positive. Totally unrealistic.”

I was much younger then and it hit hard. Then I thought, wait… too positive?

Ever noticed how some folks only focus on stories about how bad things are in the world? They do not raise a finger to make things better, but they will stand on the sidelines, waiting and praying that others will fail so they can shout, “I told you so.”

That’s the real world they say. “Things are just rotten everywhere.” If you present them with a creative way to solve an issue or point out positive steps being taken, they label it unrealistic pipe dreams.

We all have a choice. Pointing out what’s wrong is easy… there’s lots to choose from. But what are you going to do about it? We can choose to label all the negative stuff as reality, refuse to explore the positive options being put on the table, and proclaim that the situation is hopeless. Or we can see the challenges, admit they are pulling us down, but also embrace the fact that positive things are happening. Even though they are sometimes dim, rays of hope are present.

From that vantage point we stay focused on seeking solutions. A positive outlook does not blind us to reality, it sharpens and clarifies our vision, enabling us to see more possibilities.

Not all heroes are super, most are human

There’s a tendency to put people we love and respect on pedestals, as if they are perfect. Parents, friends, children, colleagues, teachers and so called celebrities. We expect particular patterns of behaviour, speech, responses and achievements.

But notice what happens if at some point they fail to live up to our expectations and desires, if they should show some simple human failing, or choose to do something we do not understand or of which we do not approve. We are disappointed, annoyed or hurt. The faith, trust and respect is quickly replaced by distaste.

Is it really possible that the talents, and every good act of that person can be completely wiped out by one mistake, a small weakness or simply because they failed to live up to our expectations?

Human beings are just that… beings who are human. And being human means we are not perfect. We are making effort according to our own perception and beliefs, our own understanding of our role and according to our capacity at any given point in time.

Sometimes even heroes need a helping hand, some guidance, someone who will listen without judging, a shoulder to lean on.

The uncommon thought creates the exceptional individual

We usually think it’s easier to follow the crowd, conform, because that’s what everyone else is doing and we don’t want to be left out. I mean, people might think we’re different.

Ah-ha! That’s the point, we are all different. When following the crowd, are you sure those in the crowd know where they’re going? More importantly, do you know where you want to go and why? If you choose to blend in with the crowd because you don’t want to appear unusual, you may be giving up your right to be all you can be.

Some people complain of feeling unfulfilled and bored, but instead of seeking new opportunities, trying new things and standing up for what they believe and what they know is right, they choose what they consider to be safe and familiar. Instead of taking the calculated risk, they opt for the mediocre and what they think will be comfortable.

You have the right to think for yourself, and if sometimes that means you have to be a little different, so be it. As they say, “The uncommon thought creates the exceptional individual.”

Where to start to make it better?

These are difficult times. Some express the view that we just have to accept that it’s all going to be downhill from here.

At a recent parenting workshop my wife asked participants what they were doing to help their children deal with society as it is today. The majority told stories of the supportive, nurturing strategies they are trying to adopt in the home. They want the best for their families and are doing what they can to make a positive impact on their children.

Many said they believe it is possible that by guiding their children to be law abiding, self reliant, caring individuals they were making positive waves that can spread beyond the household.

If we take the responsibility to contribute to an atmosphere that supports mutual respect, growth and development, that is a seed that can grow into something very powerful.

Many people imagine that the problems around them can only be solved by other people, usually people in authority. But nothing will get better unless we do something to make it better.

The home is a good place to start.

The car accident that saved his mother’s life

A car slammed into the back of my friend’s vehicle a few Saturdays ago. His 8 year old daughter was in the back seat. He said she began to cry, telling him of pains in her head and back. Hospital scans later revealed nothing was broken, just bruises. He took her home. He was scheduled to be in work on Sunday, but called and explained what happened and that he would be staying home to keep an eye of his daughter.

While making breakfast Sunday morning his mother, who lives in the same house, called out saying her chest was hurting “real bad”. He found her in bed sweating. He rushed her to hospital. The doctors said it was a massive heart attack and it was fortunate he got her to the hospital as soon as he did otherwise she would have died.

My friend told me if the accident had not occurred on Saturday, he would not have been home taking care of his daughter on Sunday, so he would not have been there to take his mother to hospital.

Bad stuff happens… but it might be just the opening scene in a movie that has a wonderfully positive ending.

Do you know when you cross that line?

So the line is drawn between what is allowed and what is not allowed, or what is right and what is wrong. And everybody is cool with that. But over time, some folks decide they want to operate very close to the line. Then, when no one is looking, they move the line. Just a little, but enough to give them an advantage or in order legitimise their actions.

Before you know it, everyone starts using this new line and gets comfortable with it. After a few years the process is repeated and the line keeps getting moved. Not only that, but because so many people are stepping on the line, it’s becoming faint, barely visible. So even those who want to do the right thing have difficulty knowing the boundaries. They don’t even know when they cross the line.

Seeing others moving beyond where lines used to be they ask themselves, “Well, if everyone is getting away with it, why not me?”

And so it goes on. Is there still a line? Do you see it?