Thursday, 28 January 2010

"Stone Soup"

For those of you are regulars of the ManageTrainLearn blog, you'll know that I love stories that coach.

Stories that coach are great ways to learn. They are fun to listen to and easy to remember. And the best stories always bring a smile to people's faces and a glow to their hearts.

If you want to see what I mean, read the following story on teamwork and the company of those we care about. It's called "Stone Soup".

There exists a tale, handed down from times long ago, of two travelers on a pilgrimage. Hungry and tired from a long day’s journey, they come to a small, impoverished village, where they decide to rest by the side of the road. One of the travelers builds a small fire, upon which he places a large pot, while the other, having drawn water from the town well, fills the pot and places into the vessel a simple stone. As the two men sit by the fire, bringing their "stone soup" to a boil, the local villagers become inquisitive of the curious antics of these strangers. Eventually, several townsfolk decide to investigate the matter and approach the two travelers to engage them in conversation.

Shortly thereafter, there is heard the sound of merriment, as the visitors, who turn out to be quite friendly, share their tales of the lands and people they have met throughout their journey and pilgrimage with the local villagers.

Finally, a young boy asks the travelers "But why, pray thee, are you boiling a stone?"

One of the pilgrims replies, "So we may eat stone soup."

"It must be terribly bland!" says an old woman. "But I have a cabbage, which will add some flavour!"

"And I, some carrots, which will add colour!" says another villager.

"Some potatoes!", offers another, until, shortly, by the contribution of a little by many, a hearty stew was made, upon which the entire village and the weary pilgrims dined... and while doing so, shared their tales, talents, and camaraderie throughout the night.

The very next day, the travelers (who by now could be called "strangers" no more), continued their journey, leaving the little town, and its people, behind. But the villagers never forgot them, and the lesson they had learned. In fact, during the hardest of times, in such a time as this tale, that little village thrived, because the townsfolk never forgot how to make "stone soup".

I love this story for its simplicity, truth, and wisdom. And, just like the villagers, I've added it to my blog in the hope that you, too, will never forget the lesson and pass the story on.

Friday, 8 January 2010

"The Year of the Visionary"

The New Year has always been a time for making new resolutions about the year ahead.

This year is no exception. have even published a list of the most wanted resolutions for 2010, the top 5 being:

1. to spend more time with friends and family
2. to get fit
3. to lose weight
4. to quit smoking
5. to enjoy life more.

Of course, in reality, most of us who make New Year resolutions won't keep them. Research suggests that only 12% of us actually go on to achieve them. Which means that 88% of us fall by the wayside.

Why is this? Why are the vast majority of us no good at getting what we want?

Mike George of says it's because when most of us set goals, we're in one of 6 modes. These are...

1. worriers, who as soon as they make a resolution to do something new, worry about how they're going to do it and what they'll have to give up.

2. hopers, who have a vague sense that somehow their resolutions will work out but have no plan or follow through.

3. followers, who make resolutions because everyone else does and then as quickly give up when everyone else does.

4. wanters, whose focus on the wanting results in more lack, or "wanting".

5. dreamers, who spend more time imagining the desired state than actually doing anything about it.

6. aimers, who put all their efforts into goal-setting and action planning so that, while they may achieve their aim, the effort needed to sustain it is too great and so the change doesn't last.

These are not the ways to achieve the changes you want in your life. The best way to do that is much more simple and subtle. It is to become the person who has already become what it is you want.

To do that, you have to turn the normal process on its head. Instead of first having the means to get what you want and then using that to be someone different, - the "have, do, be" cycle, - simply be the person you want to be and all the rest, the doing and having, will follow by itself. In other words, be, do and have.

Be the person who spends more time with their family and friends.
Be the person who takes the stairs not the lift.
Be the person who eats less.
Be the person who cherishes clean air not smoke.
Be the person who enjoys life in all its glory.

Mike George describes the person who lives this way as the "seer" or "visionary". Such a person is on a different plane entirely from the worriers, hopers, followers, wanters, dreamers, and aimers.

Here is how Mike describes them:

"The visionary either knows what lies up ahead or they know whatever they envision for their life is likely to evolve in the most natural way. The visionary forces nothing, least of all thoughts about the future. They know that if they sit quietly and pose a simple question, while being fully present in the moment called now, the sense of what is to unfold in their life will become clear. They are aware enough not to worry or desire, as they know that such habits block the emergence of clear insight into what will be. They trust their intuitive abilities. They surrender to whatever subtle insights and feelings may arise. And deep within their heart there is both gratitude and grace, and a clear awareness that life itself is the greatest gift, an opportunity to create beauty and a responsibility to show others the way ahead."

Now there's a resolution for a new year. And a new life.

A very happy New Year to you!