Contrarian

Quote

Disposition can describe a wide range of ways of being, yet our mind likes to simplify with a binary, positive and negative. Using this simplicity we might say that some of us tend to put our emphasis on what’s wrong. In fact, many of us do, we’ve evolved that way to keep us safe. And yet there are people who tend toward positivity. These folks are often referred to as having a ‘sunny’ disposition. Shining the light on goodness.

When we come into contact with them we are affected. They can lift our mood. When we come into contact with someone at the other end of the spectrum, someone who might be called a contrarian, they can bring us down.

I recently came into contact with a contrarian. Telling me what’s what instead of being open to my perspective. It didn’t feel good at all, I felt dismissed and discarded and ultimately unimportant.

It reminded me of a quote from Brené Brown that had a big impact on me, it had me much more mindful of what I bring to each day, and though seeing what’s wrong is important, ultimately I want to contribute more than I criticise.

“At the end of the day, at the end of the week, at the end of my life I want to be able to say that I contributed more than I criticized.” — Brené Brown

This is post 22 in 45 posts for 45 years.

Whats going on in the world?

I have a cousin with a Hummer in Alberta, an aunt and uncle on either side of Australia that don’t believe climate change is happening despite fires and floods, preferring to leave it up to god. I have an activist friend in California who knows better, but wants to leave the country because of the corruption she sees, unable to appreciate the positive movement afoot. It reminds me of a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson “People seem not to see that their opinion of the world is also a confession of character.”

Yet we have people in Madison, Wisconsin inspired by what’s happening in Egypt, standing up for their rights. No longer being willing to let cynicism and complacency rule, stepping out into a possibility of the future is that they create not sitting down and letting it happen to them.

So I wonder, where can I stand up for what I believe in and be empowered to create the future I want? Oh yeah, my life! That’s a good place to start. If I am responsible for myself, I am responsible for the world.

Attention Density By David Rock and Jeffrey Schwartz

Attention Density: New Big Thing?

By David Rock and Jeffrey Schwartz

There is now an increasing amount of science behind the old adage that you are what you think about.  The fields of neuroscience and quantum physics have teamed up to reveal that it is possible to actually change the circuitry of the brain by focusing on something long enough, often enough, and hard enough.

Every leader knows that it is hard to effect long-term change in people and organizations.  That may be because change inflicts physiological pain, something most people try to avoid.  But if we can enable people to give sufficient quality and quantity of focus to something, the circuitry in the brain will be stabilized in a new pattern.

The mechanism that describes this is attention density, and it has profound implications for leaders, managers, trainers, coaches, parents, and politicians—in other words, anyone who wants to influence others.

Attention density is the quantity and quality of attention paid to a particular circuit in the brain.

When you think about something, a circuit is activated that crosses many centers in the brain.  One word or idea may trigger responses in visual, emotional, kinesthetic, auditory, or language centers, among others.  There is in your mind a map, or circuit, for every word, picture or concept for which you have any associations at all.

Attention density is the sum or product of the quality and quantity of focus.  (We say “or” because no studies have yet been done to verify whether this is multiplicative, but we sense it is, and we expect such studies will be undertaken before long.) Quality of focus is the number of other circuits that are activated in connection to the original circuit, as well as the amount of energy coursing through that circuit.  For example, there will be more energy in a circuit if you have an emotional reaction to the topic.

There is a Ladder of Intensity that an influencer may use to increase attention density.   Here’s an example: When I say, “Think of an elephant,” the flash of energy through “elephant circuits” in your mind may last a fraction of a second, involving a picture, a sound, a memory, or all three.

If I were to say “Tell me about elephants,” the circuit would be held much longer, requiring as it does that you summon information and pictures from your memory, put words to them, and phrase sentences to describe them.  You might speak about elephants for a minute, which is many times longer than the fraction of a second you might have spent just thinking about an elephant.   All the while you are speaking about the elephant, you are holding in place the ‘elephant circuit.’  (Unless you have a ‘senior moment’ and forget what you were talking about!)

If I were to say, “Write down how you feel when you see elephants,” more circuits would be involved, and the circuits would be held active even longer as you take the time to summon the information and pictures connecting to elephants, and now link it to your emotions, and to the effort it takes to write about Elephants.

In the case of writing about your emotions and elephants, you may have increased the amount of focus on elephants from a fraction of a second to many minutes, and that focus might be linked to many centers of your brain.  The quality of attention has gone up, as many more circuits were activated.  You have become “more elephant aware,” and will be more likely to link other ideas and experiences to elephants.

“The mental act of focusing attention holds in place brain circuits associated with what is focused on.” Dr. Jeffrey M Schwartz

This can be multiplied further because of the social nature of our brains.  If you go back to your office and talk to people about elephants, the same circuits will be activated each time you repeat the story.   On top of that, you may activate “the elephant circuits” as you and those same people have additional conversations, or even as you consider having conversations with those people.  So “elephant circuits” get reinforced, and move from “gravel back road” toward “paved highway.”

“Simple.” a leader may say, “All I have to do it repeat myself enough, hang enough posters, and we’re there.”   Not likely.

We are dealing with the human brain, which is not simple.  It is complex and sophisticated, and yet behaves like a two year old:

  • Tell it what to do and it pushes back.
  • Ask questions with a judgmental tone (“Why did you do that?”) and defenses go up.
  • Threaten or seem to threaten status, and the brain is focused on preservation, not on clear thinking.

Interestingly, safety and status are closer to the surface of our thinking than you might imagine.  The brain is quite able to calculate our relative status in a rather large group.  When that status is actually or potentially threatened, perhaps by being seen as being wrong, or by having problems solved for us that we were able to solve, then our fear circuits are activated.  Stress increases; dopamine levels drop; blood pressure and cortisol levels increase. Clear thinking is reduced.

So what is a leader to do if they want to get the message across?  We mentioned the Ladder of Intensity above, describing ways to increase attention density.  It is possible to direct attention to the topic desired, and to maintain a high attention density until circuits have some permanence.

A couple of key principles should help:

Maintain the quantity of focus. If something is important, make it known, and show it in every way possible.   Repetition is fine, providing it isn’t undermined by inaction, or worse, action that is inconsistent with the message.  All channels — one message.

Raise the quality of focus. Increase the number of circuits involved.  Get their brain circuits making connections at many levels.  Let them think about it, write about it, connect it to emotion, work with it.  Let them tell others about it.

Provide the “problem-solving rush.” Solving puzzles involves creating new circuits in the brain, which is generally highly energizing.  Facilitate an experience that allows people to make the connections themselves.  When they have seen the data, come to the conclusions, and decided on the actions, they will be more committed to those actions.  When they have solved the problem, and had the attending rush, they will be inclined positively toward the solutions.

Leadership authorities agree.

Peter Drucker said, “People tend to support that which they help to create.”

Aristotle said “What is expressed is impressed.”

There is power in focus. Where we choose to put our attention changes our brain, which in time can change how we see and interact with the world.

“Where we choose to put our attention changes our brain, which in time can change how we see and interact with the world.”

David Rock is the author of Quiet Leadership: Six Steps to Transforming Performance at Work (Collins, 2006) and Personal Best (Simon & Schuster, 2001) and the co-creator of the coaching curriculum at New York University’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies. He lives between Sydney Australia and Manhattan, and can be reached at davidrock@ workplacecoaching.com

Jeffrey Schwartz is a research psychiatrist at the School of Medicine at the University of California at Los Angeles. His books include The Mind and the Brain (with Sharon Begley, Regan Books, 2002) and the bestseller Brain Lock: Free Yourself from Obsessive-Compulsive Behavior (Regan Books, 1997).  Jeffrey is based in Los Angeles, and can be reached at jmschwar@ucla.edu.

For more information on the work of David Rock and Jeffrey Schwartz, or on the new discipline of Neuroleadership, check www.neuroleadership.org

© 2007 consulting today. All rights reserved.      Web: www.consultingtoday.com

6325 Hilltop Rd. Orefield, PA 18069   Phone: 610.366.0165   E-mail: editor@consultingtoday.com

Quote from MLK Jr on Love and Power

“One of the greatest problems of history is that the concepts of love and power are usually contrasted as polar opposites. Love is identified with a resignation of power and power with a denial of love. What is needed is a realization that power without love is reckless and abusive and that love without power is sentimental and anemic.”-Martin Luther King Jr.

The Invitation by Oriah Mountain Dreamer

The Invitation

(This is the poem the book I’m reading is based on. It’s rocking my world right now.)

by Oriah Mountain Dreamer

It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the centre of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life’s betrayals or have become shrivelled and closed from fear of further pain.

I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it, or fade it, or fix it.

I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own; if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to
be careful, be realistic, remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself. If you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul. If you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see Beauty even when it is not pretty every day. And if you can source your own life from its presence.

I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand at the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, ‘Yes.’

It doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone and do what needs to be done to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the centre of the fire with me and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away.

I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.

The Movie 2012: a way to respond

This from a friend in Massachusetts about how to reframe the story of 2012 toward a positive future based on strong communities and connectivity instead of perpetuating fear and isolation.

A movie called 2012 is about to send unhelpful images and predictions.
It’s a different level of disaster movie because it’s about a time
period just two years away. As we move toward the actual year of 2012,
it matters how we hold our visions and how we build our local
communities.

That movie could add to numbness and hopelessness, and we don’t need
more of it, but if we get other conversations going, we can hear many
voices of possibilities to bring us together and suggest how to move
forward. People are already painfully aware of social and ecological
breakdown. Strong media images can spread the destabilizing virus of
fear. That’s a virus we can do something about.

In the early 1980’s a movie about the aftermath of nuclear war called
“The Day After” was shown on TV. Knowing that this movie virus was on
its way, local meetings were organized in advance around the country
called “The Day Before” so that people could connect and change the
kind of grim isolation the movie depicted.

Weekly, here in western MA, a group of people gather to talk about
2012 as a time that is pregnant with possibility. The suggestion is,
wherever we are, that we stir up conversations about 2012, surface our
hopes and fears, and discuss the kind of 2012 we want to be part of
creating.

This is a time period when we need encouragement. I heard voices like
this in our discussion and want to pass them along.

* What if 2012 is an opening?

* What if you focus your attention on your intention to be part of a
positive force?

* What is one action that you can do right now that lines up with your
visions for making  things better?

* What kind of community future do you want to be part of?

* How can you visualize the people all over the world who send you
encouragement?

* How can we make room inside ourselves for more consciousness and new energy?

* What if there was a door that you could open at any time that gave
you daily help in living from the values you cherish most?

Let’s offer each other empowering questions and messages of grounded
hope and spread them like flower seeds.

When a seed is starting out, it doesn’t need a rock placed on top of
it. Disaster predictions are like that rock. Our lives have meaning
when we are able to plant ourselves in a larger story. What story do
we want to have holding us?

An important communication

I think this is a very important communication, check it out.

I also have a profound respect for the authors. Fantastic they’ve come together to deliver this!

**

The Obama Administration has asked the “Evolutionary Leaders” to communicate about what is transpiring on the planet, and how we can change the course of the unprecedented events that are challenging this planet. This is
a window of opportunity that must be taken! A deadline was given for this information to be conveyed to the Obama Administration.

The Evolutionary Leaders like Deepak Chopra, Gregg Braden, Michael Beckwith and many, many others, gathered together to write up the information to present to the Obama Administration. They are also asking us to sign a petition to show the Administration how many people are in favor for these changes to occur. They need 100,000 signatures. We need your help to reach that number and beyond! Below is the information presented to the New Administration.

The petition link can be found
here:

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/248704259

By the Evolutionary Leaders

The human family is in the midst of the most significant transformation of consciousness since its emergence in Africa over one hundred thousand years ago. Consciousness has been evolving for billions of years from the first cell to us. We are becoming aware that through our own consciousness the universe can know itself. This awareness reveals incredible new potential for our individual and collective humanity.

Simultaneously, we are the first species on this Earth aware that we can destroy ourselves by our own action.. This may be the greatest wake-up call to the evolution of consciousness since the origin of Homo Sapiens. We now realize that we are affecting our own evolution by everything we do. This knowledge awakens in us the aspiration to become more conscious through subjective practices including meditation, reflection, prayer, intuition, creativity, and conscious choice making that accelerate our evolution in the direction of unity consciousness and inspire us to deeply align our collective vision.

THE CHALLENGE

At this juncture in human history, urgent global crises challenge us to learn to live sustainably, in harmony and gratitude with one another and with the living universe. The changes required of humanity are broad, deep, and far reaching. Only by acting swiftly and creatively can we birth a planetary culture that will bring well-being to every form of life in the Earth community. The good news is that a compelling new story of our potential as a whole human species is emerging–a story of collaboration, citizen action, dialogue and new understandings propelled by unprecedented levels of democratic freedom, multicultural exchange, and access to communication technologies. It is nothing less than the story of our collective evolution.

OPPORTUNITIES FOR ACTION

We recognize that the inner and outer aspects of life evolve together. A dramatic awakening in consciousness will involve an equally dramatic shift in outward aspects of our lives. In particular, we see the following as vital opportunities for our conscious evolution, both personally and collectively:

Cultivating a Paradigm of Aliveness: We regard the universe as deeply alive and conscious by nature. In a living universe, our sense of subtle connection and participation with life around us is the basis for a compassionate and cooperative approach to living.

Educating for an Evolving Consciousness: Awakening consciousness is the foundation for all the change we seek to see in the world. We can work to elevate our capacity for conscious reflection and creative action in our personal lives as well as our collective lives as communities. We must support research and educational strategies that optimize human capacities and explore the nature of consciousness.

Restoring Ecological Balance: The balance of planetary ecosystems is fundamental to our survival. We must reverse the pollution of our global commons-the water, air and soil that nourish all life. We must encourage the proliferation of clean, renewable energy sources and expend all necessary resources toward mitigating the effects of climate change.

Encouraging Conscious Media: We must find innovative ways to use the new electronic media as the mirror of our positive evolutionary story, investing in their capacity to reach across differences of generation, culture, religion, wealth and gender to build a working consensus about our collective future.

Engaging in Social and Political Transformation: More sustainable ways of living will require the support of a more conscious democracy and vibrant civil society from which more enlightened leaders will emerge. All individuals should be encouraged to use their gifts to create participatory, responsible and compassionate models of governance.

Working for Integrity in Commerce: Conscious businesses that are aware of the scope, depth, and long-range impacts of their actions are key to achieving sustainability. Business must become an ethical steward of the Earth’s ecology and consciously establish an economic basis for a future of equitably shared abundance.

Promoting Health and Healing: The science of mind-body-spirit health has demonstrated the profound connection between the health of a whole person and the health of the system in which he or she lives. Whole systems healing, respecting both traditional knowledge and modern sciences, must be supported in physical, social, and spiritual domains.

Building Global Community: The new story is about all of us who share
this planet. Together, we can create a culture of peace that eliminates the need for armed conflict, respecting and appreciating the glorious diversity of our human family.

YOUR PARTICIPATION IS VITAL

Our group has done its best to articulate possibilities for the evolution of consciousness at this crucial moment in time. Please reflect on this document, feel what resonates in your being and calls forth a response on your part. We invite you to discuss it with others, continuing this global conversation by adding to it the wisdom that is uniquely your own.. Together, let us co-create a new narrative of conscious evolution that is a call to individual and collective action, birthing the most significant transformation of consciousness in history. Join in the Call to Conscious Evolution by signing the pledge now.

The petition link can be found here: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/248704259

FOUNDING SIGNATURIES

ChopraCenter, Carlsbad, California , July 26, 2008 and Michael Beckwith, Joan Borysenko, Gregg Braden, Rinaldo Brutoco, Thomas Callanan, Deepak Chopra, Mallika Chopra, Dale Colton, Gordon, Dveirin, Duane Elgin, Leslie Elkus, Barbara Fields, Debbie Ford, Ashok Gangadean, Kathleen Gardarian, Tom Gegax, Charles Gibbs, Kathy Hearn, Jean Houston, Barbara Marx Hubbard, Bruce Lipton, Judy Martin, Rod McGrew, Steve McIntosh, Lynne McTaggart, Deborah Moldow, James O’Dea, Carter Phipps, Wendy Craig-Purcell, Carolyn Rangel, Rustum Roy, Peter Russell, Gerard Senehi, Emily Squires, Brian Swimme, Diane Williams, Marianne Williamson, Tom Zender.

I hope you will join me today and sign the petition and forward this information to your contacts. Thank you for your time and
consideration.

**

Living the Questions – quote of the day (thanks Glenda!)

….have patience with everything unresolved in your heart

and to try to love the questions themselves

as if they were locked rooms or books

written in a very foreign language.

Don’t search for the answers,

which could not be given to you now,

because you would not be able to live them.

And the point is, to live everything.

Live the questions now.

~ Rainer Maria Rilke ~

(Letters to a Young Poet, translated by Stephen Mitchell)

A legal system for all species? Wild Law (from Orion Magazine)

[this was sent to me by one of the Seeds – it’s a bit long but even if you just read the first bit or skim thru the rest of it, you’ll start to see how things can be different.}

IT WAS THE SUDDEN RUSH of the goats’ bodies against the side of the
/boma/ that woke him. Picking up a spear and stick, the Kenyan farmer
slipped out into the warm night and crept toward the pen. All he could
see was the spotted, sloping hindquarters of the animal trying to force
itself between the poles to get at the goats–but it was enough. He drove
his spear deep into the hyena.

The elders who gathered under the meeting tree to deliberate on the
matter were clearly unhappy with the farmer’s explanation. A man
appointed by the traditional court to represent the interests of the
hyena had testified that his careful examination of the body had
revealed that the deceased was a female who was still suckling pups. He
argued that given the prevailing drought and the hyena’s need to nourish
her young, her behavior in attempting to scavenge food from human
settlements was reasonable and that it was wrong to have killed her. The
elders then cross-examined the farmer carefully. Did he appreciate, they
asked, that such killings were contrary to customary law? Had he
considered the hyena’s situation and whether or not she had caused harm?
Could he not have simply driven her away? Eventually the elders ordered
the man’s clan to pay compensation for the harm done by driving more
than one hundred of their goats (a fortune in that community) into the
bush, where they could be eaten by the hyenas and other wild carnivores.

The story, told to me by a Kenyan friend, illustrates African customary
law’s concern with restorative justice rather than retribution.
Wrongdoing is seen as a symptom of a breakdown in relationships within
the wider community, and the elders seek to restore the damaged
relationship rather than focusing on identifying and punishing the
wrongdoer.

The verdict of a traditional African court regarding hyenacide may seem
of mere anthropological interest to contemporary Americans. In most of
today’s legal systems, decisions that harm ecological communities have
to be challenged primarily on the basis of whether or not the correct
procedures have been followed. Yet consider how much greater the
prospects of survival would be for most of life on Earth if mechanisms
existed for imposing collective responsibility and liability on human
communities and for restoring damaged relations with the larger natural
community. Imagine if we had elders with a deep understanding of the
lore of the wild who spoke for the Earth as well as for humans. If we
did, how might they order us to compensate for, say, the anticipated
destruction of the entire Arctic ecosystem because of global climate
change, to restore relations with the polar bears and other people and
creatures who depend on that ecosystem? How many polluting power plants
and vehicles would it be fair to sacrifice to make amends?

“SO WHAT WOULD A RADICALLY DIFFERENT law-driven consciousness look
like?”

Continue reading

Green Labelling – Another Inconvenient Truth

This article asks some important questions about the rise in ‘green labelling’ and has an analysis that i appreciate. It encourages us to face up to the reality of ‘sustainable consumption’ and reminds us that we have the power to influence consumer culture, we can be mindful and conscientious. I highly recommend it. Thankfully it’s not a long one to read!

http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/123/another-inconvenient-truth.html