Friday, March 31, 2006
If you're dreaming of having a huge house with two cars, make sure you can see the color on the inner wall of your house, see the scratch on the hood of your BMW X5, smell the fresh manure in your garden,..... Isn't this easy?
No, it is not. If it was easy to use our minds to get what we want, there would be no poverty in this world. Everyone would have what they want and life would be great. Unfortunately, using our mind is one of the hardest things to do. That is why so few of us make an attempt to do so, and that is why there are a few successes compared to the number of failures in the world.
Once you have dreamt about your future in detail, then comes planning. This is easier that dreaming, or almost. Write down what you would need to do to get from where you are now to where you want to be. This would require a change in how you think.
People who are good in something think differently about what they are good at compared to the rest of us. Think of a doctor. When he sees a person, his medical training makes him observe the person's eyes, body language and so forth; in greater detail than you or I would. Why? Because he has been trained to do so.
Similarly, people who are rich think differently about money than we do.
So, what should we do? We should learn from these people. Some of these rich people write books or give seminar or training classes. Buy their books, go for their training classes (skip seminars, you wont learn much if he is giving it for free -- nothing is free) -- learn how they think! Yes, learn how these people think. And start thinking like them.
Then, start planning how you're going to get to your future goals by incorporating what you have now learned from these people.
Mistakes most people make: Most people would read this and then think, "I wont need to buy books. I know what I need to do. I will just put it down on paper and do what I have written."
In a way, that's progress. But do you have enough ideas to get you from where you are to where you want to go! If you do, great. But most people don't. They think they do, but they don't. So, they write their goals and then try to do them one by one, only to find progress either slow or none at all. Why re-invent the wheel or follow the wrong road or why go in circles?
Read and learn from others who have gone through what you have done. Buying their books or going for their training course is so much cheaper than having to go through life learning it by experience! Try this for 6 months and you'll be amazed at how much you can achieve.
What do you have to lose? If you cant afford the books, visit a local library. Or send me an email at kenneth . gomez at gmail . com , with the subject : Free Book, and I will send you a book about how to reach your dreams from scratch -- do you dare?
I once knew a teenager who was so keen to be a good cabinet-maker that he tried everything he could possibly do to obtain an apprenticeship with someone reputable so he could learn the trade from the best available person... and a great idea that was.
However, the real shame of this situation was that this young guy had such a good nature that he unfortunately found people who would take advantage of that nature, and in short, they ripped him off for a long period of time. There were always wonderful explanations for why his pay wasn't in the bank; always very clever excuses that would keep him hanging onto their promises that the pay would be there the next day, or next week, or soon anyway...
He struggled through three or four years of these no-good businessmen ripping him off - morally, spiritually and financially; but all the while he was learning about life, and holding onto his dream of becoming a great tradesman one day.
Eventually he broke away from these shameless characters and found a company where he would at least start to learn something about becoming a tradesman by beginning to build furniture; handcrafted, exquisite timber furniture in fact.
He would spend his weekends and spare time building this magnificent furniture for his family to proudly display in their homes, and they did just that because they were so proud of him and his new ability, despite everything that could have dampened his spirits... but fortunately didn't. Was he bitter?... No. Did he give up?... No.
After some time of gaining these skills and showing those around him that he had extraordinary abilities because of his passion for what he was doing, he then found a local kitchen manufacturer willing to 'give him a go.' Finally, the chance to start to become what he had dreamed of being... a cabinet-maker.
He not only showed that he was highly-skilled at making kitchens, but he developed the skills required to make and install some of their 'special orders.' Those one-off special orders that took dedication and perfectionism to take them to completion. He developed a reputation within the company for doing this, and started to be given the larger contract fit-outs in major clubs, up-market homes, and shopping centres.
Now he was starting to fulfill his dream; now he was being allowed to show his talents and abilities; now he was being valued and recognized for who he was.
After a few years spent honing his skills and abilities, he decided that he would take that HUGE plunge that many of us have made, and start his own business. He did so about four years ago. With minimal outside help or advice, he started Nichols Kitchens and Joinery, working out of his back shed. Within a very short period of time almost all of his business was coming to him via referrals; word of mouth by his customers to their friends and families. Other kitchen companies would out-source to him whenever they needed special help. Award-winning builders were now getting their kitchens made by him, knowing that the quality was always 100%, and that they could rely on him.
This is a long way from being the young teenager with a dream.
Through his courage and determination (and wonderful nature) and with support from his wife Kylie, Rod Nichols stood in front of a packed auditorium on the shores of Lake Macquarie and received the Business Person of the Year Award, as part of the Australian Community Business Awards.
After 14 years of hard work; hard lessons; and sheer determination in following his dream; he was finally receiving his reward for his efforts.
Well done Rod Nichols!
I applaud you for your accomplishments, and I am also very proud to be your step-father.
I would also like to give recognition to the importance of the encouragement and support Rod received from his family during all the tough times. From his mother Sue, his brother Geoff, and his wife Kylie... They all deserve a round of applause too!
I dedicate this story about following a dream; with courage, determination and persistence; to a wonderful young man, Rod Nichols.
I hope that this story may encourage someone out there who may just need a supportive 'shove' towards what seems to be an illusive dream at the moment.
Go on - you can do it!
Thursday, March 30, 2006
"Johnny, what is your problem?"
Johnny answered, "I'm too smart for the first Grade. My sisteris in third grade and I'm smarter than she is! I think I should be in the third-grade too!"
Ms Brooks had had enough, so she took Johnny to the principal's office.
The principal agreed that he would give the boy a test and if he failed to answer any of his questions he was to go back to the first-grade and behave.
He started by asking Johnny some simple arithmetic.
"What is three times three?"
"How much is nine times six?"
And so it went with every question the principal thought a third-grade should know. The principal looked at Ms Brooks and said, "I think Johnny can go to third grade! He seems smart enough."
Ms Brooks said to the principal, "Let me ask him some questions?"
The principal and Johnny both agreed.
Ms Brooks asked, "What does a cow have four of that I have only two of?"
Johnny, after a moment, answered "Legs, Ma'am"
"What is in your pants that you have but I do not have?"
"OK, what does a dog do that a man steps into?"
"What starts with a C and ends with a T, is hairy, oval, delicious and contains thin whitish liquid?"
"What goes in hard and pink then comes out soft and sticky?"
The principal's eyes opened really wide and before he could stop the answer, Johnny was taking charge.
"What does a man do standing up, a woman does! sitting down and a dog does on three legs?"
"Shake hands, Ma'am."
"Now for some "Who am I" sort of questions, OK? First one. You stick your poles inside me, you tie me down to get me up, and I get wet before you do."
Johnny, quick as ever, answered, "Tent!"
"OK, a finger goes in me. You fiddle with me when you're bored. The best man always has me first."
The Principal was looking restless and a bit tense.
But Johnny was on the ball with "Wedding Ring!"
"I come in many sizes. When I'm not well, I drip. When you blow me, you feel good."
"Right, I have a stiff shaft, my tip penetrates, and I come with a quiver."
"Good, now for the last one. What word starts with an 'F', ends in K', and means a lot of heat and excitement?"
"Fire truck, Ma'am!"
The principal breathed a sigh of relief and said to the teacher, "Send him to university!!!!, I got the last ten questions wrong myself!"
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by a conscience effort. Henry David Thoreau
Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice; it is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved. William Jennings Bryan
I shall not remain insignificant, I shall work in the world for mankind....I don't want to have lived in vain like most people. I want to be useful or bring enjoyment to all people, even those I've never met. I want to go on living, even after my death! Anne Frank
I can't believe that God put us on this earth to be ordinary. Lou Holtz
Greatness after all, in spite of its name, appears to be not so much a certain size as a certain quality in human lives. It may be present in lives whose range is very small. Phillips Brooks
Let us consider the nature of true greatness in men. The people who can catch hold of men's minds and feelings and inspire them to do things bigger than themselves are the people who are remembered in history….. those who stir feelings and imagination and make men struggle toward perfection. Henry Eyring
You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand. Woodrow Wilson
Everyone has the power for greatness, not for fame but for greatness, because greatness is determined by service. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Monday, March 27, 2006
Sunday, March 26, 2006
– James Cash Penney, retailer
"A slipping gear could let your M203 grenade launcher fire when you least expect it. That would make you quite unpopular in what's left of your unit." - Army's magazine of preventive maintenance.
"Aim towards the Enemy." - printed on US Rocket Launcher
"When the pin is pulled, Mr. Grenade is not our friend. - U.S. Marine Corps
"If the enemy is in range, so are you." - Infantry Journal
"Whoever said the pen is mightier than the sword obviously never encountered automatic weapons." - General MacArthur
"Try to look unimportant; they may be low on ammo." - U.S. Marine Corp Gunnery Sgt.
"Five second fuses only last three seconds." - Infantry Journal
"Bravery is being the only one who knows you're afraid." David Hackworth
"If your attack is going too well, you're walking into an ambush." - Infantry Journal
"Any ship can be a minesweeper. Once."
"Though I Fly Through the Valley of Death, I Shall Fear No Evil. For I am at 80,000 Feet and Climbing." - At the entrance to the old SR-71 operating base Kadena, Japan
"You've never been lost until you've been lost at Mach 3." - Paul F. Crickmore (test pilot)
"Blue water Navy truism: There are more planes in the ocean than submarines in the sky." - From an old carrier sailor
"When one engine fails on a twin-engine airplane you always have enough power to get you to the scene of the crash."
"Airspeed, altitude and brains. Two are always needed to successfully complete the flight."
"Mankind has a perfect record in aviation; we never left one up there!"
"The Piper Cub is the safest airplane in the world; it can just barely kill you." - Attributed to Max Stanley (Northrop test pilot)
"A pilot who doesn't have any fear probably isn't flying his plane to its maximum." - Jon McBride, astronaut
"Never fly in the same cockpit with someone braver than you."
As the test pilot climbs out of the experimental aircraft, having torn off the wings and tail in the crash landing, the crash truck arrives, the rescuer sees a bloodied pilot and asks "What happened?". The pilot's reply: "I don't know, I just got here myself!" - Attributed to Ray Crandell (Lockheed test pilot)
-- Josh S. Hinds
"If you can DREAM it, you can DO it."
-- Walt Disney
"Don't be afraid of the space between your dreams and reality. If you can dream it, you can make it so."
“One can never consent to creep when one feels the impulse to soar.”
-- Helen Keller
By Remez Sasson
Thinking is usually a mixture of words, sentences, mental images and sensations. Thoughts are visitors, who visit the central station of the mind. They come, stay a while and then disappear making space for other thoughts. Some of these thoughts stay longer, gain power and affect the life of the person thinking them.
It seems that most people let thoughts connected with worries, fears, anger or unhappiness occupy their mind most of the time. They keep engaging their mind with inner conversation about negative situations and actions. This inner conversation eventually affects the subconscious mind, making it accept and take seriously the thoughts and ideas expressed in those inner conversations.
It is of vital importance to be careful of what goes into the subconscious mind. Words and thoughts that are repeated often get stronger by the repetitions, sink into the subconscious mind and affect the behavior, actions and reactions of the person involved.
The subconscious mind regards the words and thoughts that get lodged inside it as expressing and describing a real situation, and therefore endeavors to align the words and thoughts with reality. It works diligently to make these words and thoughts a reality in the life of the person saying or thinking them.
This means that if you often tell yourself that it is difficult or impossible to acquire money, the subconscious mind will accept you words and put obstacles in your way. If you keep saying that you are rich, it will find ways to bring you opportunities and push you towards taking advantage of these opportunities.
The thoughts that you express through your words shape your life. This is often done unconsciously, as few pay attention to their thoughts and the words they use while thinking, and let outside circumstances and situations determine what they think about. In this case there is no freedom. Here the outside world affects the inner world.
If you consciously choose the thoughts, phrases and words that you repeat in your mind, your life will start to change. You will begin creating new situations and circumstances. You will be using the power of affirmations.
Affirmations are sentences that are repeated often during the day, and which sink into the subconscious mind, thereby releasing its enormous power to materialize the intention of the words and phrases in the outside world. This does not mean that every word has the power to make changes. The words have to be said with attention and with feeling, in order to trigger the subconscious mind into action.
Affirmations have to be phrased in positive words in order to be effective. Consider the following two sentences:
1. I am not weak anymore.
2. I am strong and powerful.
Though both sentences seem to say the same thing in different words, the first one is a negative sentence. It creates in the mind a mental image of weakness. This is a wrong wording. The second sentence awakens in the mind a mental image of strength.
It is not enough to say an affirmation a few times, and then expect your life to change. More than this is necessary. It is important to affirm with attention, as well as with strong desire, faith and persistence. It is also important to choose the right affirmation for any specific situation. You need to feel comfortable with it; otherwise the affirmation may not work or may bring you something that you do not want.
Affirmations can be used to strengthen the process of creative visualization, and they can be used on their own. They are of special importance for people who find it difficult to visualize. In this case they are a substitution to creative visualization.
Instead of repeating negative and useless words and phrases in the mind, you can choose positive words and phrases to help you build the life you want. By choosing your thoughts and words you exercise control over your life.
Remez Sasson is the author of several excellent personal empowerment books. To check them out, Click here!
By: Brian Tracy
The starting point of career success is for you to select your boss carefully and refuse to work for a difficult or negative person. Much of your happiness and job satisfaction depends upon your relationship with your superior. If you don't get along, make every effort to resolve it or get transferred but if you can't, be prepared to walk away.
Make The Right Choices
Choosing the right work, the right place to do it and the right people to do it with is laying the foundation for career success.
Now you are ready to implement the "niche strategy." The niche strategy is based on the fact that some jobs in any organization are more critical to the health of the organization than are others.
A strategic niche is a job or position that influences the cash flow of the company. In most companies, cash flow is determined by sales and marketing and if you want to get ahead rapidly in those companies, you must work your way into the sales and marketing function.
How to Make More Money
Many people ask me how they can make more money at their jobs. When they tell me their positions, the problem is usually clear. They are working in areas of the company that are felt to be of lesser importance than other areas. As a result, their services are not highly valued no matter how hard they work or how well they do their job. Their increases are set at the level that will keep them from quitting or that will enable the company to hire someone else fairly quickly.
Here are two things you can do to use the niche strategy in your career.
First, identify the positions in your company that are the most important for cash flow and company success. Find out the key skills possessed by the most respected and highest paid people.
Second, make a plan today to work your way into a key position in your company. Ask for a transfer, develop a skill, offer to work overtime - but never quit until you succeed.
Thursday, March 23, 2006
Thursday March 23, 2006
An airline used by thousands of British holidaymakers to fly to Thailand heads a list of 92 "dubious" carriers which are to be banned from flying to or over all 25 EU countries after failing safety tests. Phuket Airlines, which was barred from British airspace last year after an in-flight fuel leak, has been added to the banned list which will come into force tomorrow.
The 92 passenger and cargo airlines, mostly based in Africa, include all but one of the 51 carriers operating from the Democratic Republic of Congo and all airlines from Equatorial Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Swaziland.Jacques Barrot, the European transport commissioner who dismissed some aircraft as "flying coffins", said: "This list will keep dubious airlines out of Europe. It will make sure that all airlines in Europe's sky meet the highest safety standards."
EU countries decided to pool their national blacklists last year after a plane of Cyprus's Helios Airways crashed near Athens in August, killing all 121 people on board. Helios though, in common with all EU carriers, is not on the banned list because the European commission is satisfied that its safety record has improved.
Most of the banned airlines, including Air Koryo from North Korea and Reem Air from Kyrgyzstan, will be unknown to the average tourist. But Phuket Airlines used to operate a weekly service from London Gatwick to Bangkok via the United Arab Emirates. It was banned from Britain last year after a series of delays, including one of 36 hours, caused by technical troubles.
Panic broke out on a Boeing 747 flight from Bangkok to London last April when passengers saw fuel leaking from the wing as it was planning to take off from Sharjah airport. The airline admitted that the fuel tank had been overfilled, but claimed there had been no danger. Passengers refused to fly and another plane was ordered from Bangkok, which was then delayed at Sharjah for 11 hours.
Other banned airlines which will be familiar to British tourists include Ariana Afghan Airlines, used by British backpackers travelling to India via Kabul before the Taliban took power.
The 92 airlines are on "List A" which imposes a total ban. A second, "List B", imposes lesser restrictions on three airlines - Air Bangladesh, Buraq Air from Libya and Hewa Bora from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Aircraft from these airlines which have failed EU safety tests will be banned. Hewa Bora will only be allowed to fly one aircraft in the EU, highlighting the almost complete ban on planes from Congo.Mr Barrot blamed years of civil war in Congo for its poor record. "A number of planes used for military operations were just converted into charter planes, hence the high number of airlines. In Africa they tend to use planes manufactured in the former Soviet Union. They were basically patched up and they are under suspicion."
List of airlines banned from EU Space : http://www.dft.gov.uk/stellent/groups/dft_aviation/documents/pdf/dft_aviation_pdf_026674.pdf
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
by Steve Gillman
Mental training isn't necessarily like physical training. "No pain - no gain" isn't the way it works. Look, you could practice running faster, or just use a car, and if all you want is to get from here to there, the latter makes more sense. Similarly, brain "exercises" will strengthen the functioning of your brain, or you can just use better tools. That's what this brain training is about - making habit of using simple tools and techniques.
Mental Training In Simple Rules
Simple rules, used habitually, can enhance your brainpower. For example, if you're considering investments, you can apply the "rule of 72." It's a formula for determining how long it takes to double your money. Divide the rate of return you expect into 72, and the result is the number of years it takes to double your money. If an account pays 6% interest, you divide 72 by 6 and you know that it will take about 12 years to double your money. The rule is based on the compounding of interest, and assumes that you reinvest all interest or investment income.
Real estate investors use simple rules such as "Don't pay more than 100 times monthly rent for an income property." This isn't a replacement for real analysis, but when you train your mind to use such a rule, it speeds up the process. You can eliminate properties selling for 150 times monthly rent, even while an investor with a better brain for numbers is still analylizing them.
Mental Training In Simple Questions
It's not all about mathematical formulas. Simple questions can also help you more quickly reach the result you want. For example, comedians use such questions unconsciously, and write jokes even more efficiently if they consciously use them.
Suppose a friend mentions that having children gives him a sense of immortality. The comedian's question, "What's wrong with this picture?" makes you realize it means dying, so you reply, "I don't want immortality through my children. I want to immortality by not dying!"
"Mental algorithms" for a comedian might include asking questions like, "What if I take this to the extreme?" "How would this look to a dog?" "Which words in this have double meanings that I can play with?" or "What is the stupidest part of this situation?"
Mental Training In Simple Techniques
Use problem solving techniques enough, and they become a habitual part of your thinking process. For example, try the powerful problem solving technique of challenging assumptions. It's an especially effective way to bring more effective brainpower to personal issues, where there are so many hidden assumptions.
Suppose your kids are fighting over the television, and you're tired of it. Perhaps you are assuming the following: 1. You need to have a TV; 2. Fighting over the TV is the problem; 3. The fighting needs to stop; 4. It's your problem.
The process of challenging these assumptions may suggest the following solutions: 1. Get rid of the TV, or limit it's use; 2. Deal with the general issue of the kids' behavior; 3. Leave the room, close the door and let them fight; 4. Tell the kids it's their problem, and they have a week to come up with a solution, or the TV goes.
Each human activity has it's own most useful rules and guidelines that you can train your brain to use. Then there are general "life rules" that can help you make better decisions. For example, you might train yourself to ask, "How does this advance me towards my important goals?" and "Is there a better alternative?"
We all have patterns and mental habits in our subconscious minds, but they are not necessarily the best ones, are they? Why not consciously train yourself to use the questions, rules, and patterns of behavior that are most useful? This can start with simple mental training.
What if every person on earth volunteered for eight hours each month? What impact would 624 billion volunteer hours per year have on the world? Would the world enjoy any improvements? I have performed no empirical study, but I imagine the following changes.
Taxes at all levels would decline by more than half. People would no longer expect their governments to satisfy every need of the poor, the sick, the developmentally disabled, the homeless, and the elderly. Thus tax levies could be reduced sharply. Neighbors would take care of one another.
With the governments pinching less money from their citizens and corporations, the prices of good and services would fall. As consumption would grow the economies of every nation would improve, and poverty would nearly vanish.
The arts would flourish as people could afford to patronize them, and volunteers would enable reduced expenses.
The quality of education would advance as legions of volunteers would make possible one-on-one student mentoring.
Crime rates would plummet as opportunities would flourish and neighborly love would grow. With enhanced education and economic opportunities fewer young people would descend into lives of crime.
Depression and other emotional problems would ease and the collective self-esteem and hope would rise. The "helper’s high" endorphins would energize and comfort each volunteer; and feelings of abandonment would diminish. The spirit of Christmas would last all year.
The negative cultural effects of television would dwindle as people would waste less time in its hypnotic clutches.
World peace? Maybe.
Do you think I’m exaggerating the impact of volunteering? I don’t think so. The compounding effect of neighbor caring for neighbor cannot be calculated.
I exaggerate in hoping that every person in the world will volunteer. But, what if a tenth of the world’s people served others a few hours each week? Would 62.4 billion volunteer hours per year have any power for good?
If you choose volunteering you will add more meaning and significance to your life. You will feel your attitude improve toward those not like you. You will find that volunteering fills many of the needs you previously hoped your employment would satisfy.
You need not journey to some remote village in Guatemala to contribute to the world. Children, homeless, ill, and elderly live right in your community. Your own church or religious faith needs your help. If I could, I would furnish you a list of agencies in your town that need your help. I can’t. But below I have listed some links to world-wide organizations that likely need help in your area.
Please make your mark. Find a need and fill it. You can change the world.
National Council of the Boy Scouts of America http://www.bsa.scouting.org
Girl Scouts http://www.girlscouts.org
Foster Grandparents http://www.seniorcorps.org
The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp http://www.holeinthewallgang.org
Ronald McDonald House Charities http://www.rmhc.com
Adopt-a Grandparent http://www.adopt-a-grandparent.org
The Humane Society of the United States http://www.hsus.org
North American Riding for the Handicapped Association http://www.narha.org
Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic http://www.rfbd.org
Compeer Program http://www.compeer.org
Special Olympics, Inc. http://www.specialolympics.org
United Service Organization World Headquarters http://www.uso.org
Prison Fellowship Ministries http://www.prisonfellowhip.org
SHARE, an organization for bereaved families http://www.nationalshareoffice.com
Points of Light Foundation & Volunteer Center National Network http://www.1800volunteer.org
For more than 25 years, U.S.-based motivational speaker and success coach Anthony Robbins has been passionately pursuing the answers to questïons such as "What shapes human behaviour? And how can we create lasting change within oursleves and others?"
He has spoken in front of more than 3 million people around the world and sold around 35 million books and audio coaching products.
After attending his 4-day 'Unleash The Power Within' seminar recently in Kuala Lumpur, I learned many strategies to perform at your best.
I even took part in his famous barefoot walk over hot coals. This powerful physical metaphor shows how anyone can overcome their deepest and greatest fears with focus, passion, and desire.
Part rock concert, part learning experience, part aerobic workout, the seminar was attended by more than 4,000 people in a giant indoor sporting stadium that was built for the Commonwealth Games.
Standing 6'7", weighing 265 lbs. and with a shoe size of 16, Robbins was impressive on stage as he harnessed the energy of the crowd.
In fact, security guards have to line the stage as he is regularly swamped by overeager fans.
At 43 years old, he has been enormously successful and has worked with people like President Clinton and Melson Mendela.
What was it like?
Hot, humid, high energy, and simple take-home messages packaged with a high-tech light, sound, and video show.
I was impressed, motivated, and got some great ideas from it.
Here is my gift to you. The Top 10 Secrets of Success I learned from spending 4 days with Tony Robbins.
1. Your Potential Is Determined (Or Limited) By Your Self-Belief.
As the promotional material says, the event was "about creating breakthroughs, moving beyond fears and limiting beliefs, accomplishing goals and realizing true desires, turning dreams into reality, creating fulfilling relationships, and modeling the strategies of peak performers to produce a quantum difference in your life."
If you cut out the hype, the simple message is if you believe in yourself enough you can achieve anything.
A memorable one-liner was "the only thing that's keeping you from getting what you want is the story you keep telling yourself."
2. Most People Have Self-Doubt Around Universal Themes.
Ask anyone and most people will admit they lack confidence in some areas of their life. The interesting thing I learned from this seminar is that this self-doubt is around universal themes. These themes cross age, gender, religious, cultural, and language barriers.
Common doubts include 'I am not good enough', 'I am lazy' and 'No-one loves me'.
3. You Can Learn Mechanisms To Eliminate Self-Doubt.
Robbins calls it 'immersion' where you break old patterns and build new ones by repetition. He uses a lot of Neuro-Linguistic Programming techniques to achieve this with his audiences.
He says "progress is not automatic."
A memorable moment in the seminar was when we had to visualize ourselves inside a bubble, and inside that bubble was a series of videotapes neatly arranged in a timeline that represented all our memories in our lives so far. We had to pull out the negative videotapes and destroy them. This was followed by time spent visualizing the future and how your life will look 10 and 20 years from nöw.
4. Belief Impacts On Many Levels.
The Robbins message was that 3 things shape our self-belief. He calls them the Triad. These are our patterns of physiology, focus, and language or meaning.
He highlighted this with the quote: "Where focus goes energy flows."
5. Our Values And Beliefs Shape Our Actions.
Robbins believes you can "vanquish whatever is holding you back from taking action."
Walking barefoot across a bed of glowing coals is the physical metaphor he uses in his seminars to prove this point to the skeptics.
Eliminate negative self-belief and take massive action are his keys to success.
6. To Create Positive Outcomes You Must Take Massive Action.
"Where focus goes energy flows" is a quote used by Robbins in his presentation to highlight why you need to know your outcome and why achieving this is a must.
But many people fail to take the next step. They delay, put off, and find many reasons or excuses not to act.
Robbins believes "progress is not automatic" and "action is power." Take action, even if it is the wrong action. He says it is "nevër a failure if you learn something."
7. Matching & Mirroring Creates Connection, Trust, & Empathy.
Robbins spent a fair amount of time in the seminar talking about and demonstrating interpersonal communication skills.
He used people from the audience to show how the process of "matching and mirroring" the non-verbal communication and body language of others can be a very powerful way to connect with people.
In essence, you create rapport by adopting the body language of the person you are communicating with.
He believes "rapport is power" and "total responsiveness is created by a feeling of commonality."
If you have learned these techniques before and haven't used them for a while, I suggest it is time to dust them off and put them into action next time you are communicating with someone on a one-to-one basis.
8. Anything Is Possible If You Focus On Passion And Purpose.
Robbins believes that "to have an extraordinary quality of life you need two skills: the science of achievement (the ability to take anything you envision and make it real) and the art of fulfillment (this allows you to enjoy every moment of it)."
He says "success without fulfillment is failure."
Find your passion and purpose in life. My purpose is to make a difference in people's lives and use my gift as a speaker.
9. Model Yourself On Other Achievers.
To gain improvements quickly and step up to a new level of achievement, Robbins believes learning from others who are the best in their field is the fastest way to achieve success.
He told the story of how he wanted to improve his tennis game and so employed Andre Agassi, the then number-one ranked player to help him achieve this.
Who could you model yourself on?
"People's lives are a direct reflection of the expectations of their peer group," according to Robbins.
10. Success Is Built On A Healthy, High Energy Body, Heart, And Mind.
If you are not healthy - all of the above points are a waste of time.
Your health is determined and influenced by your lifestyle.
One major change I've made since the seminar is to eat a healthier diet and exercise more regularly.
As a speaker, my whole business depends on my ability to perform at a peak state. Like any professional athlete, the success of business is directly linked to my diet and health.
Take care of yourself; your body is ultimately your most important asset.
About the Author:
Thomas Murrell, MBA, CSP is an international business speaker, consultant, and award-winning broadcaster. Media Motivators is his regular electronic magazine read by 7,000 professionals in 15 different countries. You can subscribe by visiting http://www.8mmedia.com. Thomas can be contacted directly at +6189388 6888 and is available to speak to your conference, seminar, or event. Visit Tom's blog at http://www.8mmedia.blogspot.com
Do you run late for meetings; misplace keys, files, important documents, or other items; run afoul of deadlines; or forget appointments? If so, you're not alone. Americans lose/waste nine million hours per day looking for misplaced items, according to the American Demographics Society. If this is an area of challenge for you, follow the 10 simple steps below and get your work environment organized once and for all!
1. Think at a helicopter level and identify the major categories of items to be kept in your office/ workspace.
Limit the number of categories to a maximum of 7 or 8. For example: 1) operational items: phöne numbers, expense reports, instructions, and procedures; 2) customer files; 3) product samples; 4) tax and legal: contracts and receipts; 5) reading; 6) tools: assessments and articles; and 7) future projects.
2. Sort every item, every piece of paper, every file in your office/workspace into the piles that represent the major categories identified in step # 1.
Start with all visible items, then move to the items stored in drawers, file cabinets, and overhead bins. If you have an extraordinary amount of material to categorize, you might want to get a large box for each category so your piles don't get mixed up.
3. Cull each category.
Be determined to eliminate everything but the absolute necessities. Dispose of old and unwanted items by pitching them, giving them to someone else, selling or donating them, or sending them to storage.
4. Organize the balance of items in each category.
Put items in date order, alphabetical order, number order, or subject matter order. If organizing by subject matter, consider putting each subject into a separate file folder.
5. Make a little cheat sheet or outline of the major categories you're using and the types of materials and subcategories contained in each.
This will serve as a future reference as to where you have stored items.
6. Appoint a place to store each category.
Consider the size of each category, how frequently you will be accessing each category, and where in your workspace you will be using each category.
7. Sketch your office/workspace and mark where you intend to place each category of item.
Is there convenient and sufficient storage space available for each category?
8. Purchase containers, shelving, etc. for which you don't currently have storage space.
Again, consider the size of container needed based on your available space and the volume of the materials to be stored in it.
9. Reposition or put each category of item into its new space or container.
10. Spend 10 minutes at the end of each day putting everything away.
This way you will walk into an organized and inviting office/workspace each morning. Reevaluate your arrangement at least bi-annually or as new assignments are acquired.
About the Author:
Pam N. Woods is co-author of a best-selling book, "Create the Business Breakthrough You Want: Secrets and Strategies from the World's Greatest Mentors," endorsed by Ken Blanchard and Dr. Stephen Covey. She is a Coach U graduate and President of Smart WorkLife Solutions, a coaching and consulting company devoted to co-creating customized solutions to fit clients' business and personal organizing needs. Prior to founding her own firm she had a successful 20+ year career as an ïnsurance executive and Vice President of Human Resources. For more frëe how-to articles and advice, or to contact Woods, visit http://www.worklifecoach.com.
– Helen Keller, 1880-1968, American Blind/Deaf Author and Lecturer
Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can't practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage.
– Maya Angelou, American Author and Poet
I have friends in overalls whose friendship I would not swap for the favor of the kings of the world.
– Thomas Edison, 1847-1931, American Inventor/Entrepreneur/Founder of General Electric
Microsoft recently launched a new online scan service for Windows machines, only accessible via IE and not Mozilla.
The Windows Live Safety Center, currently in Beta, offers Protection, Clean-Up, Tune-Up and some Downloads.
Protection offers an online scan of your computer to scan for viruses, spyware and other unwanted softwares.
Clean-Up tries to see if it can remove un-necessary files from your computer, compress old files, and goes through your Registry. I managed to claim back 3.9GB worth of disk space and clean 1599 entries in my Registry. What I still dont know is if a backup of my Registry was made :(
Tune-Up tries to optimize your computer via defragmentation.
Downloads offers you Windows Defender, a Phishing filter addon for the MSN toolbar and Windows XP Service Pack 2. Below is a table comparing Windows Defender, Windows Live Safety Center, Windws Live OneCare, Microsoft Client Protection for Bussinesses and other malicious software removal tools.
Sunday, March 19, 2006
Diary of a psychologically, analytical,neurotic, closet Bitch. Musings of a retired bad-girl, who unwittingly stumbled in to life as she knows it today. (Material contains bad girl tales,daily life,psycho babble, venting, and some adult content. Mature audiences only.)
Welcome and take a read. It's a very interesting blog!
Saturday, March 18, 2006
By: Brian Tracy
There is a simple eight step method for systematic problem solving. By solving problems in an orderly way, you can dramatically increase the power of your thinking.
Proceed With A Positive Attitude
First, approach the problem with the expectant attitude that there is a logical practical solution just waiting to be found. Be relaxed, calm, confident and clear in your mind.
Second, change your language from negative to positive. Instead of the word "problem," use the word "situation," Problem is a negative word while situation is a neutral word. "We have an interesting situation", is better than, "We have a problem."
Define the Situation Clearly
The third step in systematic problem-solving is to define the situation clearly, in writing. "Exactly what is the situation?" Then ask, "What else is the situation?" Sometimes stating the problem in different words makes it much easier to solve.
Fully 50% of situations can be resolved by accurate definition.
Step number four is to, ask "What are all the possible causes of this situation?" Failure to identify the causes or reasons for the situation often causes you to have to solve it again and again. Fully 25% or more of situations can be effectively dealt with by discovering the correct causes.
Step number five is to ask, "What are all the possible solutions?" Write out as many solutions or answers to the situation as possible before moving on. The quantity of possible solutions usually determines the quality of the solution chosen.
Clear Decisions Are Key
Step number six is to "Make a clear decision." Usually any decision is better than none.
Step number seven is to "Assign clear responsibility for carrying out the decision and then set a deadline for completion and review." Remember, a decision without a deadline is just a fruitless discussion.
Finally, step number eight is to follow-up, monitor the decision, compare actual results with expected results and then generate new solutions and new courses of action.
Now, here are two ways you can apply this technique to think more creatively.
First, state the problem clearly, in writing, so that you know exactly what it is that you are trying to solve. Ask, "What else is the problem?"
Second, develop as many solutions as you possibly can, including doing nothing, before you make a decision. Quality of ideas is in direct proportion to the quantity that you generate.
Friday, March 17, 2006
The key to achieving more than you currently are, no matter which area of your life or work you are focusing in on now, is change. The old saying rings true: If you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you've already got. If you keep eating and exercising the way you currently are, you will weigh the same a year from now. If you continue to sell to the same people on the same schedule, you will make the same amount of money next year. In order to move forward, we must change.
As I have worked with people, both in a professional setting and on a personal basis, I have found two things to be true about change. One, it is simple. Two, it is not easy. That is, the concept of change is simple to grasp. People or organizations are quick to say, "Oh, I know we need to change." Simple.
But where the problem starts, and why most people and organizations do not change, is because it is not easy to change. But, I believe, if the process is well thought out, and if we have the guts and determination to carry it out, change can happen, and we can move on to more fulfilled lives.
With that said, let me give you what I consider the elements of change.
Discontentment with your current state.
The first step in the process of change is to not want to be where you currently are. You must be discontent with it. If you are overweight, you must say, "I will not accept this anymore." If you are in debt, you must say, "I cannot tolerate this any longer." If you have broken relationships, you must say, "I will not live with this." This is a decision to change and not accept the status-quo. The picture of your preferred outcome. What is it that you want to change to? It absolutely is not enough to say "I need to change." It must be: "I am going to change to..." This becomes the goal. I would encourage you to get a mental picture of it formulated in your mind. Get a real picture of it if it is that tangible. Perhaps write yourself a short essay, extolling the virtues of what life will be like when you get to the changed state.
New associations with the two states.
You must begin to associate your current state you are in with pain, and the state you want to be in with pleasure. Let's take weight for example. We tend to think of ice cream, mounds of it, with pleasure. I know that I do. Especially chocolate chip mint. Last night we went to some friend's house and we had some ice cream. Normal portions. I don't like to eat normal portions. I like huge portions of ice cream. There is an association of pleasure there. But what I did to overcome the urge to eat scoop after scoop was to associate huge portions to being overweight, not the pleasure of the taste. I also associated not eating the ice cream with feeling better about myself. Then when it comes to exercise, I work on associating the exercise and weight-lifting with the pleasure of fitting into my clothes rather than the pain my muscles feel every time I do it. This help me win the battle of the mind.
Develop a plan of short, simple steps.
"I am going to lose fifty pounds in two months." "I will sell 500% more next month." These are examples of change that are good goals to have long term, but too big for the time allotted - and this is havoc on change! If your goals are too big in too short of time, you will fail and become discouraged. Then you will quit and decide change can't be accomplished. Instead, you must have short, workable, attainable goals if you are going to see real change happen and stay. "I am going to lose five pounds a month for ten months." "We are going to sell 6% more each month this year (That would double your business each year)" These are the size steps you need to take. Then you will build victory after victory.
Sorry but this is where it is up to you. At the heart of change is the ability to discipline ourselves. I cannot lose your weight. Your mom cannot go out and make sales calls for you. The only real obstacle standing between your current state and your desired outcome is you! So do everything you can to get yourself motivated to change! Force yourself to get out of bed and get to work on your goals! Discipline yourself. Choose to make the right decision.
Reward yourself when you have made the change. That's right: reward yourself. You have worked hard and exerted a lot of self-discipline to get there! You deserve it!
Successful people have been studied in depth for more than 100 years. They have been interviewed extensively to determine what it is they do and how they think that enables them to accomplish so much more than the average person.
In this Newsletter, you learn the most important single factor of long-term success and how you can build it into your personality and your attitude. You learn how to virtually guarantee yourself a great future.
The Harvard Discovery on Success
In 1970, sociologist Dr. Edward Banfield of Harvard University wrote a book entitled The Unheavenly City. He described one of the most profound studies on success and priority setting ever conducted.
Banfield's goal was to find out how and why some people became financially independent during the course of their working lifetimes. He started off convinced that the answer to this question would be found in factors such as family background, education, intelligence, influential contacts, or some other concrete factor. What he finally discovered was that the major reason for success in life was a particular attitude of mind.
Develop Long Time Perspective
Banfield called this attitude "long time perspective." He said that men and women who were the most successful in life and the most likely to move up economically were those who took the future into consideration with every decision they made in the present. He found that the longer the period of time a person took into consideration while planning and acting, the more likely it was that he would achieve greatly during his career.
For example, one of the reasons your family doctor is among the most respected people in America is because he or she has invested many years of hard work and study to finally earn the right to practice medicine. After university courses, internship, residency and practical training, a doctor may be more than 30 years old before he or she is capable of earning a good living. But from that point onward, these men and women are some of the most respected and most successful professional people in any society. They had long time perspectives.
Measure the Potential Future Impact
The key to success in setting priorities is having a long time perspective. You can tell how important something is today by measuring its potential future impact on your life.
For example, if you come home from work at night and choose to play with your children or spend time with your spouse, rather than watch TV or read the paper, you have a long time perspective. You know that investing time in the health and happiness of your children and your spouse is a very valuable, high-priority use of time. The potential future impact of quality time with your family is very high.
If you take additional courses in the evening to upgrade your skills and make yourself more valuable to your employer, you're acting with a long time perspective. Learning something practical and useful can have a long-term effect on your career.
Practice Delayed Gratification
Economists say that the inability to delay gratification-that is, the natural tendency of individuals to spend everything they earn plus a little bit more, and the mind-set of doing what is fun, easy and enjoyable-is the primary cause of economic and personal failure in life. On the other hand, disciplining yourself to do what you know is right and important, although difficult, is the highroad to pride, self-esteem and personal satisfaction.
The long term comes soon enough, and every sacrifice that you make today will be rewarded with compound interest in the great future that lies ahead for you.
Here are three steps you can take immediately to put these ideas into action.
First, think long-term. Sit down today and write out a description of your ideal life ten and twenty years into the future. This automatically develops longer-time perspective.
Second, look at everything you do in terms of its long-term potential impact on your life. Do more things that have greater long-term value to you.
Third, develop the habit of delaying gratification in small things, small expenditures, small pleasures, so that you can enjoy greater rewards and greater satisfaction in the future.
Do Your Homework
The best time to do your market research is in advance. Here are some key ideas to help you make the right choice before you invest in a product, a service or a business.
Bootstrap Your Way To Success
One of the best ways to build a business is to start off on a bootstrap. This means that you start off with very little money and you grow your business with the money that you earn in the business, rather than outside financing, borrowing, loans from friends and so on.
Ask The Right Questions
The first thing to do is to research all competitors for the product or service and ask this: "Why would someone switch to buy from me?" If there's already a similar product or service in the market, why would someone leave a product or service that they're comfortable with for your product or service that they don't know anything about? Is your product or service better, or is your idea cheaper or of higher quality? And can you convince enough customers of this to stay in business?
Look For The Fatal Flaw
The second way to do fast, cheap market research is to be suspicious. Be wary. Develop a cynical, pessimistic attitude and accept nothing on faith. Look for the fatal flaw. Whenever I've done consulting for a corporation, especially when they've asked me to research an investment, I always look for the fatal flaw. I always look for the one thing that's wrong with this investment that could cost my client a lot of money. And do you know something? In 99 out of 100 cases, I find the fatal flaw. I find something in a contract or a mortgage agreement or something in the way the land is laid out or the way the distribution arrangements are designed.
Find Out Why It's For Sale
I often find something that is fatal, something that if it were not caught, would lead to the failure of the business. When you're thinking of getting into somebody else's business or if somebody else is trying to sell you an existing business, look for the reason. There's always a fatal flaw when someone is trying to sell you a successful money-making opportunity. If you can't find the fatal flaw, only then should you go ahead with it.
Don't Lose Money
The third thing that you can do when considering a business that is for sale is find out why it's being sold. Very few people will try to sell you a successful business. Usually people who are selling a business are selling it because they're losing money on it. Many people say they're selling a business because they want to concentrate on something else. No. The reason they're selling the business is that they're losing money on it. And you must find out why a person would sell a successful business.
Think Long Term
Finally, number four, look at the business before you go into it as though you were going to be in it for 20 years. The long-term perspective sharpens short-term decision-making. If you look at any business venture, any product or service, as though you were going to be doing this 20 years from now, you'll find that you'll make much better decisions.
Here are two things you can do immediately to put these ideas into action.
First, look for the fatal flaw in any investment that someone tells you is a good idea. Look for a critical weakness that could cause the business to fail.
Second, think about being in this business, or selling this product or service, for the next 20 years. When you think long-term about business decisions, you make much better decisions in the short-term.
Got attitude? "YES!" You all scream. A positive one? "YES!" You all scream.
I'll bet every one of you "thinks" you have a positive attitude, and the same amount of you have NEVËR taken a course in it.
Let's go a bit deeper. How much of your success is dependent on your positive attitude? The answer is somewhere between "lots" and "all."
So 80-100% of your success is dependent on your positive attitude, yet you've had no formal training. OK, suppose you needed surgery and I recommend a surgeon with no formal training, but "thinks" he can do a great job. Get it?
You can start by reading and studying these four books: 1. Think and Grow Rich -- Napoleon Hill 2. How to Wïn Friends and Influence People -- Dale Carnegie 3. How to Stop Worrying and Start Living -- Dale Carnegie 4. The Power of Positive Thinking -- Norman Vincent Peale
Me personally? I read two pages from these books every day. I've been doing attitude-reading for fifteen minutes a day for thirty years. I don't know if it's working yet. I'm going to do it another thirty years, and then that's it, I'm going to quit.
If you want wealth, first build a wealth of knowledge.
I also recommend that you enroll in the nearest Dale Carnegie program. Carnegie courses are timeless and will provide a great attitude foundation.
But I know you. You want it NÖW and you want it FRËE. OK, hëre are 20.5 attitude gems I've picked up along the way that I recommend you read, cut-out, copy, share with others, post on your wall, and study in a way that you implement into your "thought and expression" process. They are not in "course" format. They are mental snacks to chew on and digest.
1. Change your input to change your attitude. If you seek a positive mind, you MUST expose yourself to positive information and hang around positive people. If you want to achieve "positive" you have to surround yourself with it and live it.
2. You were born to wïn -- but you must plan to wïn, prepare to wïn, then you can expect to wïn (a famous Zig Ziglar quote).
3. The will to wïn is nothing without the will to prepare to wïn (Vince Lombardi, famous coach).
4. You will get whatever you want if you help enough people get whatever they want (a quote that many claim to have said -- it doesn't matter who said it -- just live it).
5. Make every day as productive as the day before you go on vacation. That's a day that EVERYTHING gets done.
6. Ignore people who tell you "you can't" (except your boss). People will try to rain on your parade because they have no parade of their own.
7. If you have nothing nice to say about someone, say nothing (a famous quote said by your mother).
8. Don't dwell on (whine about) the problem; concentrate on the solution. Resolve how you can, not lament why you can't.
9. Forgive and go forward. Grudge BLOCKS positive. Until you clear the past you are destined to repeat it.
10. Self-talk equals self-performänce. Look at any athlete – self-talk is a crucial part of their expected positive performänce.
11. What is the picture you have of yourself? That is what you will become. Spend 15 minutes a day focusing on a positive picture.
12. You will hear the word no 116,000 times in your lifetïme. Try converting just 1,000 of them to a "yes," and the world is your oyster.
13. What you do off the job determines what you are likely to do on the job. Uh oh.
14. Strengthen your weaknesses and strengthen your strengths at the same time. Combine positive with negative for better personal development results.
15. Failure is an event, not a person. Think of failure as "it," not "me."
16. It's not what happens to you. It's what you do with what happens to you. Attitude manifests itself in your RESPONSE to events.
17. Every obstacle presents an opportunïty. If you're looking for it. "Revel" and "lament" are choices. Your choices.
18. Hard work makes luck. Nothing affects positive circumstance and results more than hard work.
19. How many of your problems are cured with 10 grand? A question my dad once asked me as I lamented my problems. If monëy makes your problem go away, attitude makes them go away as well.
20. It's not what you say; it's how you say it. The tone of your verbiage determines the atmosphere of your environment.
20.5. Resign your position as general manager of the universe. Don't try to solve (butt into) other people's problems, until YOU are problem-frëe.
And then there are the "Attitude Aha's." Many (many) years ago I was riding down the road listening to a tape by Earl Nightingale (one of the founding fathers of personal development). On tape 4 of his legendary, but unavailable, series, "Direct Line," the topic was enthusiasm.
"Enthusiasm," Earl said, "Comes from the Greek 'entheos' meaning the God within."
AHA! All of a sudden all the other quotes and advice made sense. The strength of self-belief is within your own spirit, if you hunger for the feeling.
And these words are food for yours.
Frëe GitBit. Want to start taking Attitude Actions? I have compiled a list of physical and mental actions you can take to immediately make your attitude better. Go to http://www.gitomer.com -- register if you're a first-time user, and enter the words ATTITUDE ACTIONS in the GitBit box.
About the Author:
Jeffrey Gitomer, author of The Säles Bible, and Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless. President of Charlotte-based Buy Gitomer, he gives seminars, runs annual säles meetings, and conducts training programs on selling and customer service. He can be reached at 704/333-1112 or e-mail to email@example.com
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
After 21 years of marriage, my wife wanted me to take another woman out to dinner and a movie. She said I love you but I know this other woman loves you and would love to spend some time with you.
The other woman that my wife wanted me to visit was my MOTHER, who has been a widow for 19 years, but the demands of my work and my three children had made it possible to visit her only occasionally.
That night I called to invite her to go out for dinner and a movie.
"What's wrong, are you well," she asked? My mother is the type of woman who suspects that a late night call or a surprise invitation is a sign of bad news.
"I thought that it would be pleasant to be with you," I responded. "Just the two of us."
She thought about it for a moment, and then said, "I would like that very much."
That Friday after work, as I drove over to pick her up I was a bit nervous. When I arrived at her house, I noticed that she, too, seemed to be nervous about our date. She waited in the door with her coat on. She had curled her hair and was wearing the dress that she had worn to celebrate her last wedding anniversary.
She smiled from a face that was as radiant as an angel's.
"I told my friends that I was going to go out with my son, and they were impressed, "she said, as she got into the car. "They can't wait to hear about our meeting". We went to a restaurant that, although not elegant, was very nice and cozy. My mother took my arm as if she were the First Lady. After we sat down, I had to read the menu. Large print. Half way through the entries, I lifted my eyes and saw Mom sitting there staring at me. A nostalgic smile was on her lips.
"It was I who used to have to read the menu when you were small," she said.
"Then it's time that you relax and let me return the favor," I responded.
During the dinner, we had an agreeable conversation - nothing extraordinary, but catching up on recent events of each other's life. We talked so much that we missed the movie.
As we arrived at her house later, she said, "I'll go out with you again, but only if you let me invite you." I agreed.
"How was your dinner date?" asked my wife when I got home. "Very nice. Much more so than I could have imagined," I answered.
A few days later, my mother died of a massive heart attack. It happened so suddenly that I did to do anything for her.
Some time later, I received an envelope with a copy of a restaurant receipt from the same place mother and I had dined.
An attached note said: "I paid this bill in advance. I wasn't sure that I could be there; but nevertheless, I paid for two plates - one for you and the other for your wife. You will never know what that night meant for me. I love you, son."
At that moment, I understood the importance of saying in time: "I LOVE YOU!" and to give our loved ones the time that they deserve. Nothing in life is more important than God and your family. Give them the time they deserve, because these things cannot be put off till "some other time."
Sunday, March 12, 2006
JACK (age 3) was watching his Mom breast-feeding his new baby sister. After a while he asked: "Mom why have you got two? Is one for hot and one for cold milk?"
MELANIE (age 5) asked her Granny how old she was. Granny replied she was so old she didn't remember any more. Melanie said, "If you don't remember you must look in the back of your panties. Mine say five to six."
STEVEN (age 3) hugged and kissed his Mom goodnight. "I love you so much, that when you die I'm going to bury you outside my bedroom window."
BRITTANY (age 4) had an earache and wanted a painkiller. She tried in vain to take the lid off the bottle. Seeing her frustration, her Mom explained it was a childproof cap and she'd have to open it for her. Eyes wide with wonder, the little girl asked: "How does it know it's me?
SUSAN (age 4) was drinking juice when she got the hiccups. "Please don't give me this juice again," she said, "It makes my teeth cough."
DIANE (age 4) stepped onto the bathroom scale and asked: "How much do I cost?"
MARC (age 4) was engrossed in a young couple that were hugging and kissing in a restaurant. Without taking his eyes off them, he asked his dad: "Why is he whispering in her mouth?"
CLINTON (age 5) was in his bedroom looking worried. When his Mom asked what was troubling him, he replied, "I don't know what'll happen with this bed when I get married. How will my wife fit in?"
JAMES (age 4) was listening to a Bible story. His dad read: "The man named Lot was warned to take his wife and flee out of the city but his wife looked back and was turned to salt." Concerned, James asked: "What happened to the flea?"
TAMMY (age 4) was with her mother when they met an elderly, rather wrinkled woman her Mom knew. Tammy looked at her for awhile and then asked, "Why doesn't your skin fit your face?
Along with trashing Christianity, Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code is a veritable museum of errors where Renaissance art is concerned. Art historians have been slow in responding, mostly because it is difficult to know where to start. The novelist's imaginative notions of iconography may make for best-selling fiction, but they are wildly at variance with what is known about the life and work of Leonardo.
The Da Vinci Code denies Leonardo da Vinci's identity as a Christian artist, working for Christian patrons and painting Christian subjects. Ignoring the sacred nature of Leonardo's work, Brown twists the images, inserting them into a tawdry tale of his own making.
The author's thumbnail sketch of Leonardo cavalierly disregards his birth and training, and dives directly into unsupported claims that Leonardo had "always been an awkward subject among historians, especially in the Christian tradition." Yet Giorgio Vasari, the father of art history, writing a few years after the death of Leonardo, gives the painter pride of place in his biography, The Lives of the Artists.
Brown's throwaway assertion that Leonardo was "a flamboyant homosexual" remains unsubstantiated, but serves to link his version of the artist's story to contemporary controversies of a sort that simply did not exist in sixteenth-century Italy. As for Brown's representation of the artist as a "worshipper of Nature's divine order," that leaves art historians scratching their heads. The fanciful image of Leonardo as something between a scientist and an animist cannot be inferred either from the artist's life or his writings.
The simple fact is that Leonardo lived a Christian life, framed by his baptism in infancy and the last rites at his death in France. He lived at courts where Christian rite and worship was deeply rooted in daily life. At the end of his life Leonardo put aside his experiments and dedicated himself to a better understanding of the doctrines of the Catholic faith.
He worked for several religious orders, including the Dominicans for whom he produced the magnificent Last Supper. Dan Brown makes the astonishing claim that Leonardo had "hundreds of lucrative Vatican commissions." In fact he had only one, which he never completed.
Brown's spurious suppositions become a springboard from which he leaps to the conclusion that the painter nourished "contempt for the church." This premise then becomes the basis of Brown's further fanciful artistic interpretations.
Brown begins with the Mona Lisa, admittedly one of Leonardo's more enigmatic works. Brown's Egyptian fertility reference and male/female principle however, were unknown in any of the most experimental intellectual circles of the Renaissance. Nor is she Leonardo dressed as a woman, as Brown asserts. The slightly androgynous look comes from the fifteenth-century style among women to shave their hairlines back and pluck out their eyebrows so as to achieve a highbrowed intellectual look.
Simply put, Mona Lisa is a painter's painting. The artistic mastery which Brown is at a loss to describe is exactly what renders the painting so extraordinary. Leonardo's decision to keep the panel for himself probably stemmed from the realization that the Florentine merchant who commissioned the portrait, Francesco del Giocondo, would never have been able to appreciate the complexity of the work.
The art of portraiture had flourished with the rise of Florence and her remarkable citizens. While princes commissioned their images in sharp profile, similar to the imperial coins of ancient Rome, the wealthy Florentine bourgeois wanted more realistic-looking portrayals. Renaissance artists responded by turning the figure three-quarters towards the viewer and including the hands and landscape to provide further insight into the sitter's personality.
Leonardo's Mona Lisa expresses the painter's attempt to reveal the character as well as the likeness of the model. The questions inherent in the work, best exemplified by the famous query, "Is she smiling?" reflect Leonardo's desire to capture not just the likeness but the spirit. The use of sfumato, the technique of blurring the corners of the eyes and mouth, render her expression mobile and mysterious. Adding to the enigma, Leonardo painted the panel dark, drawing out the light where he chose, to create this masterpiece of Renaissance portraiture.
Brown begins his discussion of the Virgin of the Rocks with the erroneous claim that it was commissioned by nuns. It was, in fact, the Franciscan brotherhood of the Immaculate Conception that requested the work for the church of San Francesco Grande in 1480.
Brown then proceeds to confuse John the Baptist with Jesus in the painting, claiming that John is "blessing Jesus…and Jesus is submitting to his authority." As any beginning student of Christian art knows, John the Baptist's little robe prefigures his camel skin tunic and he kneels in adoration of his Savior. The description of Mary's hand as "threatening" and her fingers like "eagle's talons" demonstrates the lack of appreciation of the complicated foreshortening so admired by contemporaries. The only way a viewer could reach this conclusion is by applying the preconceived notion that Leonardo tends to subvert authority.
Brown's appetite for desecration reaches its pinnacle when he comes to Leonardo's finest masterpiece, The Last Supper. His ignorance of the most basic terms manifests itself here with the definition of the work as a "fresco." Three times in a single paragraph Brown misnames the technique used by Leonardo. A bit of research would have told him that it was Leonardo's use of oil paint on primed wall that caused the rapid deterioration of the painting.
His preposterous theory that the figure of the Apostle John is really Mary Magdalene also founders in the face of the facts. It overlooks the placement of the painting, blithely stating that it is on the "wall of Santa Marie delle Grazie in Milan." The painting happens to be on the wall in the refectory of the Dominican convent annexed to the church, where the monks ate all their meals. Not only would such a place be ill-suited for subversive art, given that it was never viewed by the public, the Dominican order had the responsibility of seeking out heresy before it spread. Only a colossal fool would paint a heresy where the monks could study it day after day. While no evidence suggest that Leonardo held the church in contempt, proof abounds that he was no fool.
Brown himself notes the next problem, which he never satisfactorily answers. The painting depicts thirteen people. If Mary Magdalene is supposed to be at Jesus' right hand, that leaves only 11 Apostles. Who is missing? Which of the twelve apostles opted out of the Last Supper? The only Apostle who eventually leaves the meeting, according to the Gospel, is Judas. Yet Judas is clearly pictured in Leonardo's painting, and the scene portrayed involves Judas himself asking: "Is it I, Lord?"
Brown relies on Leonardo's soft-featured, beardless depiction of John to support his fantastic claim that we are dealing with a woman. This assumption merely reveals Brown's lack of familiarity with "types" in the artistic conventions of the day. In his Treatise on Painting, Leonardo himself explains that each figure should be painted according to his station and age. A wise man has certain characteristics, an old woman others, and children others still.
A classic type, common to many Renaissance paintings, is the "student." A favored follower, a protégé or disciple, is always portrayed as very youthful, long-haired and clean-shaven; with none of the hard, determined physiognomy of more weathered men, to show that he has not yet matured to the point where he will question his teacher.
Throughout the Renaissance, artists habitually portray St. John in this fashion. John is the trusting student who reclines on Jesus' breast, the only Apostle present at the foot of the cross. A quick comparison with the "Last Supper" of Ghirlandaio and Andrea del Castagno shows a similarly soft-featured, young John.
Brown's explanation of the symbols of the painting dwells on shapes and letters that Brown finds in the scene, much as a fortune teller "finds" all sorts of images in clouds and tea leaves. Focusing on negative shapes (the empty space next to Christ as a 'V' as opposed to the solid triangle of Jesus), he completely misses the point. The "M" Brown sees in Jesus and "Magdalene" makes for a pretty lopsided letter as the second group is lower than the figure of Christ. Even if one were to play along with Brown's unhinged hermeneutics, the letters "V and M" would seem more likely to indicate the Virgin Mary, a figure that Brown studiously avoids throughout the novel.
But while we have this monumental work in front of us, let's try to glimpse what Leonardo really meant us to see.
It is Passover, and Jesus joins his apostles for the feast. They have been together for three years now, learning and witnessing the miracles of Christ. Amid the bustle and the chatter of the dinner, Jesus announces, "One of you will betray me." Leonardo captures this most dramatic moment of the Last Supper. Like a stone dropped in still water, the announcement sends shock waves around the table.
Jesus sits isolated at the table set apart by the rectangular window. His head and arms form a triangle, a reminder that the man you see betrayed is also the second Person of the Trinity. Leonardo separated the figure of Christ from the others so viewers could begin to understand the profound loneliness of Christ as He prepares for His passion.
The two groups of three apostles to the left and right of Jesus react sharply, the first dramatic splash of reaction after Jesus' words. With the mastery of Leonardo, the gentleness and beauty of John makes a perfect foil for the darkened and distorted features of Judas, the man capable of betraying Christ, and St. Peter with his bristling beard and aggressive manner as he gestures to John to "ask the Master who it is" that will betray Him.
The movement of Peter forces Judas closer to the viewer, forcing one to ask oneself which of these three apostles most closely resembles us. Judas the traitor, blustering Peter soon to deny Christ, or trusting John, the faithful disciple? For most, the comparison becomes uncomfortable.
This painting was never meant to focus on anyone but Christ, a figure dismissed by Brown's analyses. The vanishing point of the painting is at His head. Jesus' face was Leonardo's greatest exercise in sfumato, in that he left it undefined, feeling unworthy to represent the Savior. Jesus' eyes are downcast meditating His terrible trials to come. With one hand he reaches for the bread that He will share with His betrayer, and the other He extends, palm open in acceptance of Divine will. On a daily basis, this challenging image of Jesus' example of obedience confronted the monks vowed to imitate him.
In the end, The DaVinci Code is a work of fiction. Brown's Leonardo is an invented character, light years away from the Christian genius who managed to make people feel as if they were present at one of the most sacred moments in history. But the consciously blurred line between fact and fiction has had the unfortunate effect of making Christians feel ashamed of one our greatest sons. The enduring beauty of Leonardo's works is intimately wrapped up with their sacred character, and the deeply Catholic culture that embraced them.
Elizabeth Lev is an American-born art historian living in Rome. Educated at the University of Chicago and University of Bologna, she teaches Renaissance and Baroque art at Duquesne University's Italian campus. She also contributes regularly to Zenit New Agency and Inside the Vatican magazine.