Blog Category: thinking

28 Feb

brain teaser for Monday

This is bizarre - after you find the guy - it's so obvious.
Once you find him - it's embarrassing, and you think,
'Why didn't I see him immediately?'












Doctors have concluded that if you find the man in the coffee beans in 3 seconds, the right half of your brain is better developed than most people. If you find the man between 3 seconds and 1 minute, the right half of the brain is developed normally. If you find the man between 1 minute and 3 minutes, then the right half of your brain is functioning slowly and you need to eat more protein. If you have not found the man after 3 minutes, the advice is to look for more of this type of exercise to make that part of the brain stronger!!!

1 Sep

If you want a different answer, then ask a different question

As a coach working with people for their personal or professional develoment, one of the challenges is to help the person find out what they really want to change in their lives and effective ways to bring out the changes they desire.  The relatively "easy" part is to decide on actions to achieve the changes, but if the underlying motives for change are not uncovered beforehand, then any actions may be ineffective, a waste of time and frustrating, to say the least.  Finding out the 'value' that people place on the changes they want to make, and what how they will benefit has far more lasting impact, and often quicker to realise.

To give you an example of a way of making the difference between actions and values, here are a couple of questions you might want to consider:

Imagine that you have come in to some money - £100,00.00. What would you do with that money?

Typical answers I get are:   pay off the mortgage or any debts;  have a good holiday; buy a new car, and so on.

However, asking a slightly different question will give a different kind of answer.

If you did have £100,00.00, what would it give you?

Typical answers I get are:  peace of mind, security, stress-free living and so on.

The first answer says what actions people would take with the money.  The second reveals more what people value in their lives - a totally different answer, just by rephrasing the question. So in finding out what people value, the actions which follow usually have a far more significant impact on the changes that people make in their lives and be far more motivational to succeed.

Try out the questions in your personal and professional life and see what answers come up for you.  In business, you might want to ask "what can we do to be number one?"  or "what would it give us to be number one?".  "If you had the best job in the world, what would it give you?"




31 Aug

The Triple Filter Test - a different perspective on the T.U.G. technique ! ! !

I recently was sent this story about Socrates who challenges an acqaintance about the rumours and gossip they are spreading to find out if is true, useful and make you feel good.

It reminded me of a blog I wrote around this time last year  about the T.U.G, technique - T = True, U = useful, and G = Good.  It was offered as an approach to helping people who 'can't see the wood from the trees' in their thinking, and a way of stopping the mind chatter that often serves no useful purpose! 

The idea is that you challenge what you are thinking by asking - "is what I am thinking True, is it Useful to me, and does it make me feel Good?"  If the answer to any of those was NO, or Not Sure, then just stop those thoughts in their tracks!!!

The Socrates story echoes the approach but with a bit of a twist in the ending. . .!!!


Keep this in mind the next time you are tempted to repeat a rumour or spread gossip.

In ancient Greece (469 - 399 BC), Socrates was widely lauded for his wisdom.

One day an acquaintance ran up to him excitedly and said, "Socrates, do you know what I just heard about Diogenes?"

"Wait a moment," Socrates replied, "Before you tell me I'd like you to pass a little test. It's called the Triple Filter Test."
'Triple filter?" asked the acquaintance.

"That's right," Socrates continued, "Before you talk to me about Diogenes let's take a moment to filter what you're going to say. The first filter is Truth. Have you made absolutely sure that what you are about to tell me is true?"

"No," the man said, "Actually I just heard about it."

"All right," said Socrates, "So you don't really know if it's true or not. Now let's try the second filter, the filter of Goodness. Is what you are about to tell me about Diogenes something good?"

"No, on the contrary..."

"So," Socrates continued, "You want to tell me something about Diogenes that may be bad, even though you're not certain it's true?"

The man shrugged, a little embarrassed. Socrates continued, "You may still pass the test though, because there is a third filter, the filter of Usefulness. Is what you want to tell me about Diogenes going to be useful to me?"

"No, not really."

"Well," concluded Socrates, "If what you want to tell me is neither True nor Good nor even Useful, why tell it to me or anyone at all?"

The man was bewildered and ashamed. This is an example of why Socrates was a great philosopher and held in such high esteem.

It also explains why Socrates never found out that Diogenes was having an affair with his wife.



6 Jun

Keeping it REALLY simply!

I was looking around, recently, for some new ideas and inspriration for a new Personal Development workshop I am designing, and came across this great story about making assumptions, being judgemental, and above all, making things more difficult than they need to be . . !

A party of suppliers was being given a tour of a mental hospital.  One of the visitors had made some very insulting remarks about the patients.  Aft erh the tour, the visitors were introduced to various members of staff in the canteen.

The rude visitor chatted to one of the security staff, Bill, a kindly and wise ex-policeman. 

"Are they all raving loonies in here then" said the rude man.

"Only the ones who fail the test," said Bill.

"What's the test?" said the man.

"Well, we show them a bath full of water, a bucket, a jug and an egg cup, and we ask them what's the quickest way to empty the bath,! said Bill.

"Oh, I see.  Simple - the normal ones know it's the bucket, right?"

"No actually," said Bill.  "The normal ones say pull out the plug.  Should I check when there's a bed free for you?"


Food for thought eh? How often in our personal or professional lives do we not  stop to think about the easiest or most effective way to achieve a result, and yet by stopping briefly to give some thought to the options available, and making a decision that might just save some time and effort.

I found this story, and many many more on a fantastic website called where there is a whole host of interesting information about learning, development, and life in general.



17 Feb

One life - six words

I came across a really interesting book called "One Life 6 Words.  What's yours?" edited by SMITH magazine.

The essence of the book is about creating a six-word story or memoir about your life and is full of quotations from a wide range of people.  Apparently the idea originates from a challenge given to Ernest Hemingway to write a story in six words.

The Editors talk about the book as being a "glorious mishmash ....... a thousand little windows into humanity"

Some of my favourites from the book are:

Danced in Fields of Infinite possibilites

Now I blog and drink wine

Followed rules, not dreams. Never again.

I believe in life before death.

Happiness is a warm salami sandwich

So it gave me the idea that we should add our own six word stories on here related to reaching beyond.  So please feel free to add yours and check back to the 6 Word listing Cateogry to read other peoples' stories.

The idea is also engaging people on the site. and people are leaving some fascinating phrases.


16 Feb

Who is leading who? Time for a rethink!

This birthday card was sent to me which I thought I would share - certainly brought a smile to my face.

16 Feb

Walls or Windmills . . . ? Is YOUR team ready for the business Upturn?

I recently came across a great chinese proverb which said:


"When the winds of change blow, some people build walls for defences, and some people build windmills"


I thought it was very appropriate at a time when so many businesses - and individuals for that matter - are dealing with so much turbulence and difficulty, especially if they have had to reduce manpower because of costs.It can be so easy to batten down the hatches and build walls to cope with poor trading and lost opportunities and even build psychological walls in your dealings with staff, customers and suppliers in order to survive.


However, the quote reminded me of the principle in martial arts where you use the energy of your opponent or situation to defeat them, rather than waste your own force and energy to combat them.  Businesses that I deal with seem to be more successful weathering the economic storm when they work with the situation they are in, and look at new ways of doing business and using the "new energy" that is around - an energy of creativity, focussing on the resources you have and not bothering about what you don't have.  While these times can prove challenging in so many different ways, if we look at what we can do, it is often surprising to find that we can actually do more with less, and feel a real sense of achievement.

I am also reminded of a great african proverb which I came across years ago which says: 

"Calm seas do not make skillful sailors"

So how will you get the most from your teams at work?  Some of the people will have been with you through the difficult times and need re-motivating perhaps; you may have hired some new people in readiness for the new business opportunities.  Whoever is in your team now, it may prove beneficial for everyone to spend some time together to learn about each other - experience, ideas, talents - and talk about how to work best together.



17 Feb

the STAR fish story - doing one thing that makes a big difference

A man was sitting in his small cabin by the beach writing, and he noticed a person in the distance apparently 'dancing' on the sand, going from the shore to the beach and back several times.  He watched for a few days wondering what was happening, and then his curiosity got the better of him and he decided to go and find out. 

As he approached the dancing figure, he saw hundreds of starfish which had been washed up on the beach by the tide.  He then saw the dancing figure picking up a starfish, going to the shore and puting the starfish back in the sea. And this happened many times as the man got nearer.

When they eventually talked, the man said that it would be impossible to clear the beach of all of the starfish - there were just so many.  The 'dancer' made no reply, but simply picked up another starfish and put it back in the sea and then came back and said:"well, made a difference to that one!"


How often do we think that we can't make a big difference in the world, but by doing something small, often, it has the potential to make a big difference to something or someone.  It could be simply ringing up a friend and saying how much you appreciate their friendship, smiling at someone, helping someone...... it doesn't have to be BIG but done with with a good heart.

The original story I heard on a video called The Power of Vision narrated by Joel Barker.  An interesting and inspirational chap



9 Feb

DSD - Do Something Different to feel good


D.S.D      Do Something Different

Simply effective for switching your thoughts OFF and making you feel better

Sometimes our thoughts can run away with themselves and get the better of us, for all kinds of reasons: because of obsessions, something upsetting us, rehearsing 'to do ' lists in our head, and so it goes on, and the more you try to stop those thoughts the 'louder and more persistent they seem to get'. Sound familiar?

ONE thing to do which might just help - don't think about your thoughts but just DO something different.!!

Have you ever been annoyed with something or someone, and took yourself off and cleaned the cooker or the kitchen floor or did something physical to take your mind off things? Quite simply, you Did Something Different which probably made a difference to how you were felling. So DSD can work if you let it.

WARNING:    Whenever you do something different, give it your absolute attention and energy -  with a smile on your face, and it will definitely influence how you are thinking and feeling by the time you finish.

No money needed, just use your time and energy in a different way.

So next time your 'mind has a mind of its own'..... make a commitment to DSD, and it will have a double benefit.  It will take your mind off those bothersome thoughts, AND you will end up getting something worthwhile done.  And finally, it might just make you feel good as well. 

So here goes... some other DSD activities:

  • Clean - the car, the cooker, the kitchen floor, the garage, the loft, the whole house
  • Walk the dog - if you haven't got one go and borrow one
  • Spend some time with your children -if you haven't got any, go ask your best friends if you can take their kids off their hands for a little while - they will love you forever
  • Go to an art gallery, cinema, theatre
  • Cook something without a recipe book and with ingredients you have in the fridge, freezer, cupboard
  • Take a power walk around the block and notice every step you make on the ground
  • Play a musical instrument and make a noise - no need to make music
  • Sing your favourite songs
  • Sing your favourite songs to a cd while you hoover
  • Mow the lawn
  • Paint a wall
  • Do a puzzle, jig saw, soduko, knit, sew, count the panes of glass in the house / apartment next door
  • Look through your photo album
  • Put all of the photos from all of your holidays in to a photo album
  • Sing and dance while you do any of the above things


9 Dec

'Dog walking' for your mind - keep focussed on what you want to think about.

Meet Flynn. He is my one year old Field Spaniel who has boundless energy, a strong will and is loads of fun. He has an insatiable curiosity about the world around him, and training him to walk with me on and off the lead has caused me think about  how we can 'train' (or discipline) our mind to respond to our requests (commands) and focus our mind at will to stay safe, sane and healthy.So I want to share some things I have learned that you may find useful to focus your mind, so that you decide what you think about, and not let those wayward thoughts take control.

Since getting the dog last December, walking twice a day has been ajoy, an adventure, sometimes a nightmare, but above all, it has taught me a lot about life in the dog world - the sights, the smells, the distractions which can take his mind off everywhere except following my lead.  You can imagine my envy at watching other (usually older) dogs playfully running around off their lead but reacting instantly to the calls of their owner.  Not for those dogs an owner who has to call repeatedly to no avail, or as a last resort, have to go running off after the dog to retrieve him/her.  Such was my experience in the early days of letting Flynn off his lead. Patience was tested to the full!!!

What I noticed in the early days of walking him is that he lives very much in the "here and the now" and EVERYTHING interests them - particularly every single smell on the walk. If I had allowed him to have his way and sniff everything, we would have probably only got to the end of the street and it would then be time to go back home.  And taking his mind off the smell and demanded a range of 'techniques':

  • To keep him walking, often I would only need to call his name and he would follow.
  • Other times I would need to call his name and tug gently on the lead and he would move, with no more interest in the smell he was obsessed with seconds earlier. 
  • Sometimes, however, it would need a strong pull on the lead and a sterner voice before he would be happy to move on and follow. Heavens knows what scent he was compelled to investigate further
  • In the extreme, I would do a complete about-turn and start moving in the other direction and keep him close by

So with some regular walking practice on the lead, with doggy treats to keep him walking to heel and follow without too many distractions, he would stay close by, come back when called, and so we could enjoy longer walks and both appreciate the world around us - rather than me wondering when  he was going to dive off and chase a smell (or cat, other dog, or who kows what else!!!)

Then, of course, comes the BIG day when he is off the lead and free to roam wherever!!! 

Scary times, when you hope the training and persistence have paid off.  Imagine my joy when he DID return when called - okay I was only in an enclosed space with no distractions, but hey, it was progress.

Then out to the big wide world and over time we have more and more success.  He 'generally' returns when called, even after chasing other dogs, birds and the occasional bit of paper, and sometimes, yes,  I do have to go and collect from another dog owner who holds on to him while I walk to get him.  But every time he does what is asked, I get more excited than he does and he loves it.  And even when he doesn't,   I don't tell him off, but encourage him to do it the next time.  So we both feel good about it in the end.

So what does this have to do with taking your mind for a walk?

Unlike Flynn (and other animals) who are fully present to the world around them and reacting to what is happening, we human beings can have a tendency to get lost in our thoughts and be totally oblivious to the world around us - preoccupied with "stuff" happening to us which can be both positive or negative in outcome, but which generally does not allow us to enjoy the moment. In fact that 'internal dialogue' can lead to a detrimental effect on our bodies and well-being, if continued over time, and if we said to others the often negative things that we can say to ourselves, we could be taken to court for slander!!!

So when you do get obsessed with unnecessary or unhelpful thoughts, or want to focus your mind on what you want to think about take your mind for a 'walk' and use some of the techniques that have helped me enjoy walking with Flynn

  • Sometimes a gentle reminder to yourself about what you are doing can refocus your mind from a distracting thought (aka calling Flynns name)
  • If the distracting thoughts persist, then stop what you are doing, notice what is around you (so focus on something in the present) - in your physical environment or a sound you are hearing, take a breath in and out and remind yourself what you want to think about. (aka tugging on the lead and calling his name in a louder voice)
  • If all else fails and you can not help yourself obsessing over something, then you might have to resort to D.S.D. - no, not a drug, but Doing Something Different.  (aka doing an about-turn with Flynn)                                                                                    In other words, take your mind totally off those obsessive thoughts and go and do something to take your mind off it - for example, clean the car, the cooker, do some gardening, take your dog our for a walk (go borrow one if you don't have your own), play with the kids (go borrow some if you don't have your own, your friends will love you).  And when doing these things, pay full attention to what you are doing, and you will leave no room in your mind for any other thoughts.

(just out of interest, some scientists have proven that while your brain can, indeed, multi-task to keep you alive and well, your mind can only focus on one thing - or thought - at time, so choose which thoughts you want to think about)

And keep at it - be disciplined with your thoughts and after a while you can let them "off the lead" without fear of them running wild!!!

So there you go, some of my experiences with Flynn.  We are still working at walking together with him off the lead, and it gets better every time, but if I forget, he can so easily get distracted and go off in his own little world.

my singing partner!!!And as well as walking together, in recent months he has started singing with me - but he has very particular taste in music that he joins in with - it only seems to happen with the classical stuff - especially the solo "Every Valley" from Handels' Messiah.  Boy, can he howl when I practise this one!!!







12 Nov

The Physiology of TIME - don't let time get you down!!!

Unless you are an Alien from another Planet, we all have the same number of hours, minutes and seconds as everyone else on earth!!  It's how we choose to use that time that determines what we do, what gets done and hopefully, how you enjoy the time you have.

And while we can't stop the hands of the clock moving around - no matter which part of the world you live in - how you think about the time you have - or feel that you don't have - can make a significant difference on your physical and emotional well being.

In the same way that we talk about the weather - how good it is, or how bad it is, and how that affects us, those thought don't change the weather. Similarly the way that we talk about time doesn't change the passage of time, but what it does affect directly is how we feel, and importantly, can have a direct, and often immediate effect on the chemicals that run around in our body.The good ones and the baddies (those stress hormones that wreak havoc on our bodies).

For example, if you 'think' that you have not enough time to get something done, that can be just the incentive you need to get a move on, work smarter and faster and achieve what you didn't think you had time to do.  Very satisfying and leaving you feeling pleased with yourself and releasing some of those feel good hormones and chemicals in to your body.

However, put too much pressure on yourself and really feel that you are 'up against the clock', 'way behind schedule' and that 'time is against you', then you can start rushing and make mistakes, put your self under immense mental pressure, and release many of the stress hormones in to your body, that stay there long after you got done what you had to - 'on time' and not thinking about it any more.  Those thoughts can have a powerful impact on your physical well being. - for good or not. 

Similarly, stuck in a traffic jam (which you could not have avoided) and worrying about being late does NOT make the traffic disappear, and getting angry at the car and driver in front, will not make it go away.  But, having those thoughts will release chemicals in your body which do you absolutely no good. So you arrive at your destination hassled, annoyed, worried etc etc etc!!!  Try just accepting what is happening, enjoy the rest of the journey and arrfive arrive refreshed.  Make good use of the time you have in the traffic jam - take time to think about new ideas, plan your evening meal, sing a song, smile or look forward to the weekend whatever it takes to make you feel good about the time you have.

So how we think about time doesn't change time itself, but thinking about it in a positive (or at least a neutral) way, does change what happens inside of us - for good or not.  It is, quite literally, the thought that counts. 

So next time you are feeling stressed or feeling under pressure and it all gets a bit too much, take a second to take a long relaxing breathe in, then another one, and ask if there is anything you can do to change the situation you are in, and if the answer is yes, then do it.  If the answer is no, then change how you think about it and you will start to feel more relaxed.

Take a look at the T.U.G. technique which might help you stop getting manic when time seems to disappear.