Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Nurture Your Love... (The Power Of Life)

It seems a long time back now that I learned one of the most valuable lessons I think I’ll ever learn: the value of nurturing our love for others/for our spouse/our children etc—even (especially even) those who reject us. It’s something I learned off the back of a Chuck Swindoll sermon. I applied it and it worked. But, until now, I hadn’t really taken the time to reflect upon “why.”

Rejection begets rejection. This is a plain fact of life. The point of nurturing our love is that despite the fact of rejection we choose to love back! And for this is not weakness—on the unadorned contrary... it is strength and bucket loads of it, that we can say (via our actions) to anyone we choose to love, that there’ll never be any fear in them losing our love. It can only promote likewise feelings.

We’re in a marriage, we’re parents, and we’re co-workers in an employment situation. We’re even intrinsically linked in community—an inescapable fact. The principle remains the same. All our relationships are based in love and acceptance or rejection and fear and never the twain shall meet.

From the marriage context, it is said that whoever God puts together let no (hu)man separate. It is the eternal plan that people work through their relationships in a sense of abiding commitment toward each other—that each partner would love back despite the other’s occasioned flippancy. And in this order we have 60 and 70 year marriages. ‘Til death do us part, indeed.

What about our ‘best friends for life’—likewise, we have to nurture our love. We have to remain committed. To our children, likewise also. Accept them we do. We cannot condemn them. For all our relationships; we put on unconditional acceptance.

Perhaps the hardest test here is when we’ve been flatly rejected—and this does happen, more than we think. The test of anyone here is the ability to ignore the feelings of hurt within (absorbing them) and go on instead, beyond ourselves, and choose to love the other person back. It sounds very bizarre doesn’t it? And it’s probably impossible without a ‘higher power’ helping us.

But, in our open acceptance of the person we are rejected by we instigate by our actions a symphony of possibility that otherwise would lay dormant. A whole other world of destiny beckons.

We think that nurturing our love, going against the flow, might be a waste—there is perhaps nothing further from the truth.

Enter the world of miracles! Faith will see to it.

Once we’re there, we’ll never return, for we’ve discovered at last one of the secrets of life, to the utter crushing of overwhelming relational fear.

© S. J. Wickham, 2009.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

And First Places Goes To... COURAGE

“Coming out in the country,” the radio program was called. It profiled the unfortunate position of young gay people ‘coming out’ [of the closet] in small country towns around Australia and the stigma that follows them: courage. An alcoholic walks for the first time into the rooms of AA and into the hope of recovery: courage. Or what about the person who accepts a partner back who’s cheated on them—the forgiveness of grace: courage. Finally, the cancer patient: courage.

And to our own perhaps less weighty but nevertheless frequent personal struggles, which break through or persist each day, also a good helping of courage is afforded—we know it’s the way through life.

“Courage is the first of the human qualities because it is a quality which guarantees all the others.” –Winston Churchill.

Could it be that of all virtue—those aspects of merit and traits of the saints—depends upon courage first? Does courage, in fact, inform all our good acts of patience, kindness and compassion?

“One isn’t necessarily born with courage, but one is born with potential [for it]. Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest.” –Maya Angelou.

Could it also be that courage goes before the truest sense of virtue and makes it sustainable, carrying it forth so we’re then hence characterised by kindness, mercy, honesty etc?

Think about it. Courage is the basis of all intention toward, and good acts of, virtue.

So, there we have it. Courage is the very first virtue—one that’s seemingly all that’s required. Could that be true? But there are facets to courage, life faith, like confidence, indeed, the presence of fear also—it melds with commonplace virtue.

Courage fuels the person to do what seems right, whether they’re well-informed or not. It brings them to the point of action. Resolve meets the road and takes the glorious shape of committed action. Perhaps second only comes wisdom; to be correctly informed and to act as such. Whatever you’re facing: courage and wisdom... both in decent portions.

© S. J. Wickham, 2009.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Proactive Listening – Being “Inside” the Other Person

A television current affairs presenter interviews a real life victim of circumstance—a profound story. We can tell the presenter is deeply empathetic as she digs into the shape of the story. It is an amazing story, and that helps for interest value, but aren’t all our stories amazing? They can be once we’re “inside” the person we’re listening to.

And then again, we all know how hard it is to hold the attention of our own concentration, especially in the presence of uninteresting people and stories. I know that workplace morning teas and mini-parties hold little interest for many for this precise reason—with many plastic smiles draped and much irrelevant banter to be had. The problem is we’re “outside” of the people we’re interacting with.

The fact is this: when we invest less than our best in the listening process, and the potential for distraction is ever present, we cruel not only the person we’re ingratiating, we cruel ourselves too—we reinforce our own lack of authenticity, certainly at a subconscious level.

For the little extra effort required we might as well adjust our hearts and minds to fully invest in this person’s experience, by being “inside” them; actually listening like we are them. We transpose our own biases for their insight.

But this doesn’t come in the moment. We must instead think and focus on it beforehand. It takes time and practice. It takes a heart for the other person. These practical ideas might help:

- When planning the day, envision what interactions might come up and how you’ll handle them.

- Envisage the time when you’re focus wanders and how you’ll bring yourself back right into the moment in a responsive, disciplined way.

- Seek feedback. Not by asking people how well you’re listening… just simply look for feedback in the body language of people you’re interacting with. Does it look to them as if you’re listening really well?

- Watch others who you consider to be good listeners; those who get “inside” the people they interact with. Keep them at the front of your mind and watch them intently whenever you get the chance.

The truth is, the more we focus on any particular thing to improve upon—including listening—the better the chances are that our changes will stick.

Getting “inside” the people we’re trying to listen to makes the task of communication slicker and much more dynamic and interesting—for both people involved.

© S. J. Wickham, 2009.

Negotiating Our Disasters: Playing Shuffleboard On A Burning Deck... OR Congruence

When the world plunged into the Global Financial Crisis (a.k.a. the GFC) it revealed in those failed financial corporations a cultural disconnect of gargantuan proportions. Once thought to be courageous leaders, the CEOs of these companies quickly became villains in the eye of Governments and the public, having been caught playing shuffleboard on a burning deck.

Yet, we’ll often play the same game. Not recognising the urgency of any number of foreseeable life situations we get caught out, with our pants down around our knees. The world banks in America and other places fought in a low-trust, cut-throat environment. And so do we in many respects. So do we.

Do we notice the burning platform, flames searing our feet, as we nonchalantly push another puck forward? Whatever our game is, are we ‘on it?’ The only way we’ll know we are or not is via some pointed activity of reflection, and with it, the ability to wake toward the meeting of the lapping flames, before they char our sorry behinds.

There is a name for the person who blindly thinks they can get away with playing with fire. He or she is a YET. “Your Eligible Too.” Whatever our YET is (or are), it stands there, as real as the next person’s, though it merely looks different.

The cultural disconnect that faces the organisation faces the individual too. We might have a name for ourselves as a particular type of father, mother, husband, wife, or employee. Yet, it’s our true name that beckons. It’s our true name that will be called—in time. And it is this name that will be remembered, not the former one.

It is our true performance that is recorded for time-in-memoriam. And do we see that?

We play the game of congruence in life if we’re wise; if we can see the potential burning deck. This game gets us poignantly looking for the right results at the right time—not for looks or for pleasing the crowd—but for the price of existence. For the price of legacy—the history that goes before us—we stand or fall.

Congruence is all that matters in the final analysis. What will history say of us? How will we determine the post-match analysis?

© S. J. Wickham, 2009.

You’re Kidding Yourself, Right?

“We know the world only through our relationship to it. Therefore, to know the world, we must not only examine it but we must simultaneously examine the examiner.”

–M. Scott Peck (Wisdom from The Road Less Traveled).

This should strike a chord with everyone, for none of us can help being slightly detached from ourselves—it’s an unfortunate by-product of being human. We do have senses, a mind, and the emotions after all. It appears we ourselves get in our own way—we’re barriers to the best views of the world available.

Dr. Peck’s main thesis in this regard is around the “dedication to truth.” This is one of the golden secrets of the age—the age of humanity. A dedication to truth is the silver bullet to which life metaphors of injustice, terror, mirth and sin are unmistakably crushed—and brought back to a relative reality. Like key points on a compass, each is a skewed form of reality; so is our perception, and hence, our response. Adherence to the dedication to truth is like moving a compass out of a magnetic field; it starts to read truly.

When we perceive our effect upon the world (or our tiny space within it) we receive good information or not-so-good—I mean, quality-wise. If we are ‘examining the examiner’ we’ll be seeing events, conditions and situations through the unique doubly-visioned view[1] that can help us see the truth. If not, and we’ve all experienced this firsthand, we’ll see a form of “life” that might have truth in it, but the shards of untruth taint the vision of it.

At the extremes of incorrect (non-truthful) perception, there are neuroses and mental illness. We know these people—some temporary in that dungeon of despair, some more permanently. This is one powerful reason to shoot for truth i.e. by routinely examining ourselves... our motives, drives, ambitions, plans, desires etc.

The truth is we’re prone to kidding ourselves, and we can’t help it. It’s the flow of things. It’s the way things are. And dealing with that truth is something that is clearly part of the design of life for you and for me.

Given this knowledge, and knowing the very barriers we ourselves present for ourselves in non-truth, what will we now do to become dedicated to truth? It’s a windfall of wisdom, waiting for us to claim it, right there!

© S. J. Wickham, 2009.

Post Script: I mentioned earlier the word, “detached,” which is normally considered a good thing, spiritually-speaking. I don’t disagree. Detachment is necessary, but not at the expense of avoiding the truth i.e. denial, in life. Spiritual detachment comes not at the expense of truth, but because of it i.e. in the presence of truth.

Detachment helps us deal with the truth. It helps us ‘give away’ part of ourselves necessary in the “transaction of truth”; for life is all about giving ourselves away. It’s only when we rebel against this fact of life that we inevitably end up in trouble.

Truth or dare? Wisdom or foolishness? One choice—two consequences.

[1] By “doubly-visioned view” I mean, we’re seeing through our eyes and senses, perceiving and experiencing, yet we’re also simultaneously seeing how we’re seeing, checking and aligning our perceptions, in the moment. This is an attendance to truth requiring a ruthless sort of courage. We are, in effect, judging ourselves—keeping ourselves honest.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Managing the Moment – Endure and Enjoy!

How frequently do we lose control of a situation and only realise it when it’s too late? Regrettable actions highlight the tremendous value of managing the moment. We all have our weaknesses when it comes to being present and reacting to life stimuli adequately and appropriately.

There are at least three (3) reflections in this sort of discussion:

1. Opportunities to make wise choices each moment

Choice. Everything we do bar dying is a choice. As we traverse the moments of each day we have fresh opportunities to respond in one of many different ways. Making the most of our opportunities is a wisdom activity. This takes knowledge and awareness, as well as virtues like diligence, discipline, and prudence.

2. Endure the tough moments

Though they might appear longer than a moment, most of our tougher times in life (most, not all) are little more than a moment in all reality. They might last a few minutes, or an hour or two; a day or so at most. Few times in life do tough moments last long.

If only we’d have the foresight at the time to simply endure them. From this viewpoint we have a choice. Either we endure the tough moment and enjoy reflecting on our wise act later, or we submit to the situation and regret later not acting more appropriately and resiliently.

3. Enjoy each moment

When it boils down to it, life is to be enjoyed the best we can. Certainly, some of life must simply be endured, but most of life can be enjoyed. It bodes us well to approach life positively. Again, it’s a choice.

Our lives in totality are not much more than a series of moments; one moment followed by the next, and the next, and so on. Sure, we sleep in between, and we engage in other ‘maintenance’ activities too, but we have only so many of these moments, then it’s all over!

Long live life!

© S. J. Wickham, 2009.

The System Ideal of Perfect Change

Two twenty five year old women want desperately to give up smoking. They’ve both smoked for about ten years. They decide individually to follow roughly the same strategy in quitting. They’ll screw up their cigarette packets, quitting cold turkey, use nicotine patches, chew nicotine gum, and get a buddy. So, which one has the best chance of quitting? We don’t know yet.

There is one key difference between the two women in their approach. When asked why they want to quit, the first lady says she desperately wants to quit for her future health and she’s sick of smelling like an ashtray—besides, the habit costs too much. The second woman is five weeks pregnant. Now who’s going to be more successful?

Of course, it’s going to be the pregnant woman each time that’s got the best chance. And this demonstrates, at least in part, the system ideal of perfect change.

At some point people that change enter a “burning platform” situation. They stand upon a stage that threatens to consume them in devastating fire. They must act and they must act now. That’s sufficient motivation to initiate change—but not to sustain it. At some point they must transition from the burning platform to the self-propelling, intrinsically-motivating “burning ambition” stage. Enter perfect change.

All my life it seems I’ve been a personal change agent. Many I know have said how they’ve admired my sense and power of will to change—I set my mind and I do it, apparently. Yet, this is untrue. I’ve failed at least at a 10:1 ratio, and it could be more. And why did I fail? I might have had the right strategy. I might have had the right intent. But I didn’t convert the burning desire at the platform stage into a burning and self-sustaining ambition.

Therefore, I got to try again, and again... and again... until I finally got it right.

The system ideal of the perfect change has us so wrapped up in it. This is why it’s a good thing to be dealt a very cruel blow sometimes. This is why it’s good to have a ‘life or death’ reason to do something. It finally becomes internalised sufficiently—it becomes us.

And this addresses that horrible feeling we get when we’re abstaining from something for altogether external reasons. Each day is one uninspired nightmare after another as we see our motivation wane rapidly.

The system ideal of perfect change is self-enveloping. Using this power and knowledge we’d be fools to ever consider change unless we first developed a resilient “business case” for it—this is simply much planning, engaging the mind in meditating on how much we want to succeed—and how effectively we create the burning ambition to succeed—leaving absolutely nothing in our power to chance.

© S. J. Wickham, 2009.

Acknowledgement to Peter Fuda and the Human Synergistics 11th Annual Conference team for some content and certainly for inspiration.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Water Evaporates… So Do Skills (and Passions)

Every single one of us is blessed in some way or other. The plain reality is everyone has multiple facets of manifest ability. Whether it’s the development, acquisition or maintenance of our abilities, we need to keep them at the cutting edge or they ebb away. But, it’s not a normal skill we’re most interested in here; it’s our passions—our lifeblood—that we must keep alive and nurture, and at that, passionately so.

Without a passion for living we just don’t get into life, though there’s no shortage of things any person might get involved in. And I’m not talking about supporting a football team passionately, for instance—anyone can do that.

A passion is something different. It’s something exceptional… it leads us to the exceptional.

“Find something you’re passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it.” —Julia Child.

Having a passion to make our lives mean something is crucial. It takes us away from the pettiness of life which the majority find themselves entwined in. The passions in our lives distract us from the off-putting stuff that means nothing.

The morally wise person finds their passion—they search for it and don’t give up until they’ve found it. Then they invest bountifully in it. And depending on where it takes them, they continue to maintain and hone that passion, perhaps even tempering their passion so it doesn’t overwhelm the rest of their otherwise good life. It’s a question often also of balance. Is the passion good or bad? Does it manifest too well and shove us off balance?

If we don’t nurture our passions, skills and abilities they fade—our effectiveness and efficiency wanes and we become less impressive and become less fulfilled within ourselves.

Our passions fix our identities. They anchor us as this person or that. They determine “who” we are a great amount of the time. And these passions come from deep within, from the core of our being—nothing, in a sense, would be more natural.

And a clear sense of personal identity is one of three indelible marks of the person with the fulfilled life.[1] We cannot therefore underestimate what contribution passions play in life, provided these passions involve goodness (and other virtue) and allow, and even augment, loving relationships to sustain us.

© S. J. Wickham, 2009.

[1] Os Guinness, Time for Truth: Living Free in a World of Lies, Hype, & Spin (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 2000), p. 71. I’m drawing this from the quote: “It is often said that to have a fulfilling life, three essentials are required: a clear sense of personal identity, a deep sense of faith and meaning, and a strong sense of purpose and mission.” (Italics added.) People who don’t have significant portions of each three will always generally struggle to attain and maintain ‘the fulfilled life.’

Critical Communications – Neutral Outcomes Are Better Than Nothing

Imagine you’re having an interaction with either your spouse or one of your children. The topic being discussed—the issue at hand—is one that you feel as a partner or as a parent is vitally important; something you don’t want to “get wrong.” The pressure builds upon you as you broach this challenging subject. You plainly don’t really know what to expect. You enter into it in cautious trepidation.

Life has its inevitable twists and turns like the one profiled above. It’s always keeping us on our toes, certainly from the relational context.

The vital truth is this: in any critical interaction (and any banal interaction for that matter) there are a million and more things that could be communicated, as there are a million and more ways to communicate.

Yet, what stands before us are only three possible outcomes and any manner of level to the feelings and responses associated with these outcomes. Our relational interactions and outcomes can only come in the positive, the neutral and the negative. We’d classify them the same and indeed we do in any event, subconsciously.


The key point is, when we’re at an interpersonal Ground Zero, and we’re drawing up covert battle lines in an effort to facilitate important family relationships, a neutral outcome where there’s no collateral damage is quite okay—indeed it’s actually preferable; we bolster trust this way as we communicate our points without seeking “a win.”


A key tenet of all relationships is hearing the other side of the story; “empathising” in a word—we’ve all heard it, but we need to actually practice it too. “Battle lines” are not drawn devoid of listening; they’re done with the listening. It can’t be any other way.


A neutral outcome is a healthy outcome, especially when we’ve said what we needed to say and we’re quite sure our partner or child has actually heard us. We can at least pray they’ll be thinking about what we said. We give them time to digest it. Sometimes it takes minutes; other times, days or even weeks.

We accept that it’s a neutral outcome and we don’t leverage off it later on. We trust. We have an internal resolve to leave it where it is. If we did leverage off that ‘neutral point’ we’d be harping—I used to be a “harper,” but then I acknowledged it was tiresome for all parties, myself especially. Harping turns the neutral interaction into a negative outcome—for one, for all. We’re defeated again, both of us.


Enter also acceptance. We patently can’t get more from an interaction than we can get—there’s more than simply just us involved. We have to accept that. We have to trust that the neutral outcome is going some small way to better outcomes in the future. Ah, peace, finally!

We trust and accept for our own health and peace of mind... and blissfully, this has very positive affects on our significant others too.

At some point we’ll actually realise, a string (or even a history) of neutral outcomes is sowing for us an important relational legacy; one that builds on a rock solid foundation of constructive, encouraging energy—one of lovely equity.

When we trust the process the outcome most often looks after itself.

© S. J. Wickham, 2009.

Friday, September 25, 2009

3 Styles of Leadership, Parenting and Personhood – Only 1 That Works

This is something that not only works relating to leadership; it works in all facets of life where there’s a reliance on relationships working and good rapport toward peace and equity outcomes. That probably covers the vast majority of situations we could find ourselves in, from buying milk at the corner delicatessen to heading up a major corporation.

The Human Synergistics’ Circumplex explains all. The 12-faceted disc encompassing constructive, passive-defensive and aggressive-defensive leadership styles categorises leaders as either encouraging, requiring or driving individuals—regarding their preferred ways of managing people.

Style One – Passive/Defensive – “Requiring”

“Requiring” leaders are restrictive in that they seek their people to please the customer, conform to ‘the mould,’ clear all decisions through correct channels, and avoid mistakes to the point of inaction.

“Requiring” parents likewise will defer to others, pleasing them, to the potential expense of the child’s best needs. They’ll not take any risks i.e. little ‘faith’ is exercised, and this will frustrate their children. They’ll also be overly inclined to blame their kids—in submitting to others—when managing their kids’ inappropriate actions, not accepting any responsibility themselves.

“Requiring” people are people pleasers, bent to the shape of a world that would have them ‘required’ (extrinsically) to do things they don’t believe in. These are the “submissives” of the world.

These are “lose/win” people. They lose so that others can win. They focus at being good.

Style Two – Aggressive/Defensive – “Driving”

“Driving” leaders are restrictive for basically the opposite reasons that “requiring” leaders are. They seek their people to: eliminate mistakes—highlighting them to them in their perfection; conform to ‘their mould,’ to the point of bullying; and, do things to gain a competitive edge—even if that means behaving inappropriately. They set unrealistic goals for their people based on narrowly-defined objectives. They win at almost all costs.

“Driving” parents likewise will implicitly compete with other parents by using their kids as ‘superior pawns,’ highlighting their own shallow ‘superiority.’ Again, this is to the expense of the child’s best needs. They’ll possibly take inordinate risks i.e. too much ‘faith’ is exercised, and this will embarrass their children. They’ll also not be very inclined to accept responsibility for managing their kids’ inappropriate actions—for these parents, others “attack” their children wantonly. Their kids seemingly can do no wrong.

“Driving” people are generally overtly selfish, bent to the shape of their own egos, driving an agenda that starts and finishes with their own needs, to the detriment of others. These are the “aggressives” of the world.

These are “win/lose” people. They win, and in doing so at a competitive advantage, others can only lose. They focus at looking good.

Style Three – Constructive – “Encouraging”

“Encouraging” leaders are prescriptive, and in doing so, they guide and direct appropriately.[1] They seek to encourage their people to: achieve appropriately; to grow, develop and enjoy their work; and, to treat all others in the team respectfully and be friendly and cooperative. They focus on giving and receiving constructive, balanced feedback.

“Encouraging” parents will actively nurture healthy, vibrant relationships with their kids. Other parents will feel quite relaxed that their kids are friends of those with encouraging parents. These parents issue a balanced ‘faith’ in their kids, encouraging them to achieve appropriately—they know when and how to push them. Unlike the former two parents, they’ll be very inclined to accept responsibility for managing their kids’ inappropriate actions.

“Encouraging” people are generally balanced and positive people, driving an agenda that starts and finishes with the collective needs of all. These are the “assertives” of the world.

These are “win/win” people. They search for outcomes where everyone comes out on top. They focus at doing good.


Do you focus on being good, looking good or doing good? The first two styles represent essentially a “faith disconnect,” acknowledging that it takes a lot of courage, humility and self-honesty to be a consistently constructive leader, parent and person.

To finish, I was recently reminded of a poignant expression that gets at the heart of this issue: that of character; that deep, visceral “soulish” component to our inner person.

“What embitters the world is not excess of criticism, but an absence of self-criticism.”

–G.K. Chesterton.

The person, who routinely searches themselves in a healthy way, attending to the internal and external feedback they receive, will succeed as a leader, parent and person.

© 2009, S. J. Wickham.

[1] Shaun McCarthy, Human Synergistics International – The Leadership Culture Performance Connection: Transforming Leadership and Culture: The State of the Nations – The Research Results Book 2009 (Wellington, New Zealand: Human Synergistics, 2009), p. 16.

Like Two Ships Passing In The Night…

Or, so the story goes. The first time I heard this phrase it rocked my world in a resonatingly painful way. Yet, it was only very recently that I was reminded of it—from the relative distance of looking on from a vantage point of another relationship of a person very close by—and it finally made more sense to me.

All relationships ebb and flow. Some just reach breaking point. Others never do, the flaming candle burning all night long unto the innocent morning (a.k.a. the end of life). And whilst the blessing often goes unnoticed, the strained cries of others bring notice of torment to those watching on—perplexed as to what to do or say. And almost nothing can be said. It need only be endured.

As two souls enjoined—identities fused—there occasionally commences a tearing. It starts with one partner or both, but neither fully connects it. It whips through unattended until the throb of hurt is loud enough to make its presence fully known—at times too late (but whilst there is effort there is hope).

There’s an independence of autonomy in its demeanour. Neither partner experiences this burning stick of dynamite in quite the same way, so they’re disconnected, even ex-communicated, from one another. Like two ships passing in the night...

Sometimes one slinks by whilst the other waits... then the waiting ship—the one at anchor—decides on venturing to another port, giving up on the hope of berthing. By the time the original ship realises, the other set sail long ago and time’s passes too soon.

And perhaps even more commonly we find the one partner crashing with identity crisis (be it depression, midlife crisis, ambition or literally a myriad of others) whilst the other is never more devoted to the task that began “a while back,” a task that has a full lifetime to run. This is the partner who’s committed to the bitter or beautiful end—either journey suffices. They simply will not and do not quit!—though at risk to their own mental and emotional health.

Yet, out of my own experience, we hold onto the hope... if there’s one sane and steady partner in this venture of ship manoeuvring, the relationship (which is an entire world of its own—thinking of it as a “living system” i.e. family) has at least half a chance. And we believe this. The math computes. The numbers are good provisional to capsize. Poseidon’s do occur. (That is 50 percent isn’t the “pass mark” for a relationship, effort-wise. Fifty percent is a capsize.)

I believe in recovery and I always will. I believe it’s a long process, but a process not devoid of potential for eventual bliss, come what may. And a long-achieved victory enhances the feeling of exhilaration when a couple does look back, knowing that in love all things can be conquered.

We live life and we take what comes, and one day at a time we deal with the problems we can. We hope and pray. And this is plainly all we can do. We’re relieved to know this and to just simply do it in the best way we can.

© 2009, S. J. Wickham.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Two Key Attributes of the Advisor/Counsel

In the film The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 (2009) there’s a scene where the Mayor’s counsel briefs the Mayor hastily on a press conference he’s required to make a statement at. Not only is the Mayor at odds with the task at hand, given the ransom demands for $10M, he’s plain egotistical, to which the advisor retorts, “Stop being selfish and...” (getting him back on track in a high pressure situation).

It was a flash before me right at that instant—an enduring image from the film. This is what advising is actually about in this situation above and in all situations. It’s about two things—discernment first, then courage to advise in truth. The Mayor’s counsel discerned the barriers and then dealt with them, in truth, eliciting courage.

And this follows a general two-stage theory for action in this life which I’ve mentioned before. We all must generate self-awareness before we can do anything. Then we must actually carry it out. It’s the theory of action in life.

ONE: Discernment to See Truly

Call it awareness even. Whatever it is, it’s the ability to see through the given situation and determine the available and valuable truth which is discernable. This is a key.

If we can be open to see, if we free our minds and hearts for this activity—removing the self-induced blocks to seeing, we can see so much. Sure, we can easily see what’s not there... it often takes a lot of practice and an attendance to feedback and others’ body language to see correctly.

It also requires honesty of us to be at truth to the self-induced “blockers” brought in from our past or our perspective—and to deal with same.

TWO: Courage to Act

It’s no good “seeing” the truth if we never act on it, or worse, if we see it but we somehow screw up the message when we’re advising the person/people we’re supposed advise.

And the latter is often the mistake made. We give the message wrong because we either weren’t disciplined enough to receive it correctly or we ‘stutter’ in our delivery—nerves getting in the way (i.e. advisors work for some pretty high profile and powerful people). It pays to have the courage to see everyone as a person, not some high-roller. We must talk with everyone exactly the same, not being overawed by the person in our midst.

Advising is a key role in today’s rapidly changing society. Wise people will seek and listen to advisors; people who are good at both discerning and telling them the truth. When we get our opportunities and we succeed at both, there’s the thrill of having served in a very special and discreet way, often toward some very major undertakings.

© S. J. Wickham, 2009.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Journey to Surrender – In Reality, Success (Finally)

Life is long for the vast majority of us. The disclaimer is for the poor unfortunates who live a tragically short life. For the average Joe or Jo, as we all know, there are challenges all throughout the various stages of life. We leap from one fiery pot into another it seems. Some last an hour or a day, others longer into the months, and there are a myriad of common problems that hinder even the unexpected moments.

Ironically, it can be one of the longer battles that can bring us to our senses. Our pride gets broken down. It could take a year or more of bucking the facts of life that stare us in the face and the eternal forces pitted against us.

You know, the person who seems softer and more open than they once were—that’s the person who’s given in (finally) to one of life’s knocks. They’ve benefited from bitter experience. They’ve surrendered. There’s a certain peace about them now.

Surrender doesn’t sound so cool. It certainly doesn’t read like “success,” “popularity,” or “prosperity” does it?

Yet, until we realise something when yet again we’re back at the starting blocks—as in another false start—we don’t learn, we don’t reflect critically over our actions and stances on these things. It’s a sort of a “Groundhog Day” experience.

That “something” is to surrender… whether that is surrender to God, to the flow of life, or to some other positive force or set of circumstances.

Surrender is the most necessary step. It’s not easy, but it’s altogether necessary. If we don’t surrender we beat up on ourselves our entire lives, struggling, fighting against the flow, when there’s patently no need to struggle.

Surrender is normally something the mature-of-years more easily experience, but it needn’t be like this. The wise young person will leap over his older (more frustrated) peers when he realises the power of surrender.

Surrender carries with it peace to sustain us under the pressure of both challenge and opportunity. It is the power to listen to and heed our own (and others good) advice. It is poise in the moment of distress; a throbbing numbness facilitating what we individually and personally might call success.

Ask for it. Seek it. Find it. Happy surrenderin’.

© S. J. Wickham, 2009.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Facebook Fraternity – A World Toward Unity

What do a former professional wrestler, the Ku Klux Klan and Christian evangelism have in common? One person actually: Johnny Lee Clary. The former Imperial Wizard of the KKK saw the light when he was just minutes away from pulling the trigger on a gun to end his life—exactly as his father had done when Johnny was just 11 years old.

Clary has a story of conversion not quite as remarkable at the Apostle Paul, but it’s astonishing all the same. According to Clary, the world’s links regarding supremacist groups just keep getting bigger, deeper, more covert and sinister. They remain it seems.

And this is why we are perhaps entering an era where social networking websites and platforms like Facebook and Twitter are making life a little more transparent. Certainly our characters and personalities are put up just as surely as our photos and other information—racist attitudes are going to be out there for all and sundry to see, well, or at least those they allow in any event.

Thinking Facebook…

I find it a thrill when people want to be-friend me, sending me friend requests, or similarly when I send someone a friend request and they “confirm” our friendship—whether they know me, knew me, or not; it’s like we’re all reconciled to one another anyway.

I think we live in a very special time where the information age has met its match with globalisation, both good and bad. The best of globalisation, perhaps, is we’re almost intrinsically linked from half a world away. Only recently I became friends with a grace-filled man in Western Africa. There’s another in Oregon—a kindred spirit, and even old friends I haven’t seen for 10 years or more less than 100 kilometres away.

When we look at friendship listings everyone’s into it, breaking down the geographical barriers with the click of a mouse—and the friendships are perhaps not as true as the face to face form, sure, but writing with people in the tradition of the old “pen-pal” has a lot of benefits. Good will and fun are but two good values we see all the time.

I wonder if the social networking sites are facilitating both good and bad things, but in fact they’re sheeting home the transparency—and evil hates transparency. We Facebookers are a fraternity of a new generation who wish only to acquaint with likeminded people set on the unification of the entire world—with ourselves as no barrier to that.

Would we perhaps be living in a time when we will come closer to the fact of a holistic all-encompassing, all-inclusive super-culture than ever before? Where could this all end? Stand with me brother/sister! Let’s watch in awe as it takes place!

© S. J. Wickham, 2009.