Life, Love, Connection – 2019

A slightly belated Happy New Year to All. My hope is that 2019 will be your best year yet. Not your best year Ever – Just your best year Yet.

I come to this year full of optimism and hope. Not that I get that from reading the papers or watching the news on TV or getting sucked into the twittersphere. But it is the very nature of all that is going on in the world, most of which I have absolutely no control over, that makes me turn to the areas of my world where I can have some influence – the people in my world.

I can speak hope and joy and optimism into the hearts of my family, my friends and my community. I can take the time to connect, as in face-to-face even in the same room, to make the time for conversation, to hear and be heard. Circumstances can so easily preoccupy us and dominate our thinking. In my experience all of the crises and challenges from my past are just that – past. They have come and they have gone and I am still here. I could even say I am better off for them – I am certainly wiser. And no doubt new crises and challenges will come. But like those of the past they will come and they will go and if they don’t kill us we will still be here, a bit more humble perhaps and wiser. So I am choosing not to focus on the circumstances good or bad, but to focus on important relationships in 2019. Really it is about Life and Love.

Life and Love are way too important to be subject to circumstances. I believe circumstances should be subject to the awesome power of Life and Love. Circumstances, good and bad, come and go, but the power of Life and Love remains.

The only things I can really influence are myself and my own mindsets, and the people in my world. And that is what I plan for 2019 – to live fully and to love fully. To truly connect and engage, to encourage and support, to listen and be present and in this way maybe be an influence for some good. It will certainly be much more fun and I invite you to hold me accountable in this endeavour.

Always welcome your comments and feedback. Just click on the link below and email me. All the Best, Brian.

brian@brianmaguire.com.au

Is It OK With You If I Say No…?

Photo by Andy Tootell on Unsplash

This note may not be of interest to those who have no trouble saying “No’, but in my travels I come across many. many people who really struggle with saying no. This is for you.

Picture this scenario;

It’s Friday evening and you are settling for a quiet evening and looking forward to a really relaxing Saturday.

Then the phone rings. (There is a two-day workshop can be run on what goes though our minds right then. But that is for another time.) You answer the call and it’s your friend Bob, or Roberta – (well sort-of friend, really just someone you know from church but a good person). They go on to ask if you could help him next day as they have just lost their job and they know you have some expertise in this area.

Your mind takes off. (And there’s another two-day workshop). You are stuck – They need help, you can help, and you know you are not committed to anything next day. But you agonise. You do not want to give away your time, but you don’t want to be selfish; you promised yourself a day off, but how can you say no. Its the last thing you really want to do, but you don’t want to appear uncaring.

We usually trip over our words at these times because the words we are speaking are not the words we are thinking and not the words we want to say, but before we know it,  we have said “OK, I’ll help you”.

And that’s great if that is what we want to do. But how often do we say ‘yes’ because we don’t know how to say ‘no’.

The truth is we do know how to say no, but we get bombarded with our thoughts and our concerns of what it might look like and what others may say and so on and on. So we give our power away to “what it might look like… ” and say yes when we really want to say no.

Back to the  Friday evening scenario. do you think your Friday evening would end up as peaceful as you planned.

Why don’t we ‘just say no’ ? i can hear you say to yourself. I welcome your comments on this dillemna.

One of the great insights and breakthroughs in my life was when I discovered it was OK to say ‘NO’.

Not saying no when we mean no just causes a loss of peace, frustration and even anger. We can feel used or manipulated or backed into a corner.

But note that is just a feeling. Someone asking us to do something is just that – a request. We are actually free to say yes or no, but why is it we often feel like we can’t say no, or we shouldn’t say no.

I believe we give our power away to the asker or to the situation, when we feel coerced because of a feeling, or a sense of obligation or a concern of what people may think or say.

I believe there is a more powerful and empowering way to operate. The ancient proverb says “Let your yes be yes and your no be no”.

How much better would it be if we said yes when we meant yes and no when we meant no? It will take practice and you will need to deal with the feelings and emotions it brings up, but you will feel a million dollars when you say yes because you want to and no when you don’t.

It won’t always go down well in the beginning, because some people don’t like to get a no, but they will get used to it. The reality is that we will actually say yes more often because we are now free to decide.

When ever I want to ask someone for help I start with “You need to know that “No” is a really good answer to any question I ask”.

My Moment of Clarity today is To ask yourself ” Am I able to say no when I want to?” and if you wrestle with that my encouragement to you is to start exercising that muscle. The fruit will be peace and freedom. And rather than say a bald no you can say: “Is it OK with you if I say no to that   ?” It works.

Honest and open communication is a passion of mine and makes for a much more peaceful and productive life. Asking great questions is one of the keys to that. What do you think? Love to hear your comments below.

Take Care, Brian.

brian@brianmaguire.com.au

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is It Impossible – Or Just Difficult…?

I love questions. Questions are, I believe, one of the major keys to knowledge and understanding. Ask a good question and we will get a good answer. That allows us to ask a better question and get a better answer and on we go up the ladder of knowledge and understanding.

I like to gather great questions and this is the start of a series about some of the great questions I have collected.

I am starting with one of my all-time favourites:

“IS IT IMPOSSIBLE – OR JUST DIFFICULT…?”

This is a question I have been asking a lot recently of clients and friends – and myself, with some irritation. It is always more comfortable to be the asker of questions than to be the receiver.

But I do think this is one of the great questions. How often do we have challenges or difficulties or seemingly unattainable objectives and find ourselves stepping back, giving up or letting go? What is it that goes through our minds at that time? I would offer that it is our internal conversation that causes most of the grief. “That’s impossible…”, “I can’t do that…”, “No way…”, are some of the thoughts that can go through my mind. What about you…?

And that’s the issue for me. It’s the thoughts that go through our mind that stop us. We don’t often speak these thoughts out loud but unbeknownst to us (until now!) there is a part of our brain that is set up deliberately to ‘keep us safe’. It is programmed to stop us stepping out or doing any thing that might cause stress, anxiety or have the possibility of failure.

Photo by Evan Dennis on Unsplash

And that is the power of this question. It causes a massive pattern interrupt – it stops that program dead in its tracks. In our mind we are thinking “this is impossible…” and then the question comes “is it impossible, or just difficult…?”

When you stop to think about it  – “well it’s not really impossible, is it?” because at the end of the day mostly everything is possible, eventually.

What it does is open up the doors of possibility and access the part of our brain that is programmed for action. Now our mind starts to bring up all sorts of possibilities that support the view that maybe it IS possible. That gets us into motion toward our objective and each step we take gives us a new perspective and starts to develop momentum and build an internal belief that it really is possible, after all.

I wonder have you had experiences such as this where a good question asked at an opportune time changed your perspective and a delivered a better outcome than you expected. I would love for you to share that with me. Also, if you have any great questions in your toolbox, do share them in the comments below.

My Moment of Clarity today is that great questions are keys to unlock doors to our future. Who knows what treasures lie buried within us just waiting for the right question to throw the door open?

Back soon with the next great question.

 

 

 

King Arthur and Guinevere and a Story about Camelot

I love to tell stories and I use stories all the time in my business and in conversations. I believe we think best in pictures and a word picture – a story – can encapsulate a thought or a concept as well as anything I know. Jesus was the great story-teller and I humbly follow in His footsteps.

Anyway, there is a story I tell often to illustrate how important it is for us not to hold on to the past too tightly, especially our mistakes and our “I wish I hadn’t…” moments. I have been using it a bit recently, so I thought I would share it with you. And it challenged me to look at some of the stuff that I was allowing to hold me back.

It is a story of romance,  betrayal, tragedy and restoration and like any good story it has at least the possibility of a happy ending. Also, like any good story it allows for certain flexibility around timing and facts – creative licence I think its called.

So without further ado – “Once upon a time in England there was a great King – King Arthur was his name. He ruled powerfully and justly and was supported by a band of great Knights called The Knights of the Round Table. They excelled in great brave deeds and heroic adventures. Sir Lancelot was the bravest Knight of all and was loved by the king as a brother.

King Arthur had a great love – his Queen Guinevere who was a ravishing beauty, and he was completely devoted to her. Arthur never went into battle without a kiss from his bride – never! Arthur and Guinevere ruled wisely and justly and under their rule Camelot became a haven of peace and prosperity, so the story goes.
Dark-Age-of-Camelot-king-arthur-789124
At that time there was a great quest to find the ‘Holy Grail’ – the chalice Jesus was meant to have drunk from at time of the Last supper. King Arthur and the Knights of the  Round Table periodically organised Great Crusades that went to the Holy Land to seek the Holy Grail.

One time, King Arthur took his kiss from Guinevere and headed away on another crusade. However, while the King was away, Lancelot, who was devoured by love for Guinevere, seduced her and in a moment of weakness Guinevere succumbed.

Afterwards, Guinevere was so racked with guilt and regret over her betrayal that she went to the convent and had the Abbess lock her up in a cell and throw away the key. She lived on meagre rations pushed under the door of her cell.

You can imagine the shock and horror when Arthur returned to Camelot after the crusade to find his queen gone and to learn of the betrayal by his best friend. He raced to the convent but was denied access. He may have been a King – but he was also a man and in those days no man ever crossed the threshold.

He grieved for a long time over the loss of his queen and his best friend. Over time, Arthur and Lancelot restored their friendship, but no matter how hard he tried, he could never get to see Guinevere.

Time passed and another crusade was organised. As was his way, King Arthur NEVER went to battle without a kiss from his bride and this would be no exception. He stormed the convent and demanded that the door to Guinevere’s cell be opened, and when that was not possible he broke down the door.

You can hardly imagine how Guinevere would have looked after so much time in that little cell. She had turned into a hag with long straggly hair and nails and dry wizened skin. She shrunk back and would not look up at Arthur. He looked at her with great love, his heart broken at her lost beauty and the lost years. Without hesitation, Arthur swept her up into his arms and kissed her, and said, so sadly, “Why have you done this. The sin was sinned… I forgave you long ago!” Then he stormed out of the castle and on to his crusade.

History and legend are silent on what happened after that, but we fill ourselves with hope that they all lived happily ever after.

And so, that is my story today. I feel some emotion as I write this. This is what God says to us – ” the sin was sinned, I forgave you long ago”. I am firmly convinced that the unhooked chains of past events do more than we may imagine to hold us back from our future.

My Moment of Clarity today is a question – What locked cells do we need to come out of ? What do we need to let go of, to let ourselves off the hook from? What do we need to fix up? Who do we need to forgive? and that includes ourselves.

“The sin was sinned…I forgave you long ago”.

 

I look forward to your feedback.

Brian  0408 277 773

Hearses Don’t Have Tow-Bars – But People Do Have Memories!

I go to a lot more funerals these days than 21’sts or weddings. And the weddings we go to are not our friends weddings, but the children of our friends. I can’t seem to remember when we passed through that demographic but pass it we did. They are interesting, these demographic levels – you only notice them after you have passed through – you look back and notice that things are somehow different, but you can’t pinpoint how or when it changed. Like the time I realised I was no longer the target demographic for leadership in church. And I notice that I am no longer the target demographic for most marketing campaigns. I refuse to acknowledge ALL invitations to get the ‘seniors card’ or accept special discounts because of age.

Anyway, getting off THAT subject, the point about going to more funerals brought an interesting thought to mind. You never see tow-bars on hearses. Fascinating that. Yet so many of us spend large portions of our lives and sacrifice so much to accumulate – stuff, wealth, property, possessions. Its all good and proper, but we can’t take it with us so what is it for?

Do we have a purpose for our accumulation? There are many great purposes – to set the family up for a good start, to provide for a comfortable retirement or to leave a legacy by investing in favoured causes are a few of the many good reasons.

Are there others? to have most toys? as a badge of honour? to beat the Joneses? to prove to those who said you couldn’t?

I wonder do we know clearly what it is really for?

“What do we want to be remembered for…?” is a question Michael Hyatt (MichaelHyatt.com) encourages us to ask and “What is most important to us..?”

Given the horror mentioned earlier of finding out I might qualify for a seniors card – I have been a bit more (OK a lot more!) intentional about making plans for this year – not about what to achieve or what to accumulate, but much more about what impact I want to have on my world and the people in it.

Hearses don’t have tow-bars – but people do have memories. I have a view that the most important legacy we can leave is not just our total net worth on Probate (though that is great), but the memories we leave in the hearts and minds of those we touched during our lives. In answering Michael’s question “what is most important to me…?” I find that it is mostly people and relationships that fill that list.

It will be great to leave abundant financial blessings in our will, and don’t get me wrong for a moment – accumulating wealth and prosperity is really good, but do we want to be remembered most for what we left in the will or for the great times we had together – that we were there when they needed us most and that our memory brings a smile to their face?

My Moment of Absolute Clarity this week is to encourage us to make the time to get absolutely clear on what it really is for and who it really is for and how we want to be remembered… so that what we leave behind does not need a tow-bar but does leave an indelible memory.

All the Best, Brian.

PS: I know it has been a while since I wrote last – thanks for your patience and grace. BM

+61 408 277 773

I encourage you to click on the comments tag and leave a comment. Thanks, Brian.

Patience

It is good to be back. I hope you all had a Happy and Peaceful Christmas full of joy and celebration if you can remember that far back and that 2015 has been good to you so far. I apologise for being away for so long. I have enjoyed and been encouraged by the great feedback I have received from you.

There are two reasons why there has been such a long break since the last post just before Christmas. One will be known to those of you who have had any length of conversation with me at that time. And now all of you will come to know. I passionately believe that January, yes the whole month of January, should be a public holiday! I arrived in Australia just before Christmas in 1986. In short time, thank God,  I secured a fabulous role with Pacific Dunlop and they told me not to show up until the end of January. In that January of 1987 were the America’s Cup Finals in Perth and the Ashes test in Sydney.

So how good was my introduction to Australian life :o))!  I spent all 5 days at the  Sydney Test, which Australia won, and the rest of the time in the America’s Cup bar at the Hilton Hotel watching the sailing action on a full wall screen and learning how to enjoy Crown Lagers !

So I rest my case. Given that great introduction to this wonderful country, I have no doubts that January should, as my first January was, be a national holiday.

The other reason I will mention quickly and come back to at a later date. That reason was an unexpected and severe attack by that beast who shall be nameless, that one of my hero’s Winston Churchill referred to as the black dog. It is a dark place – not always understood by those who have not been in its clutches. The logical arguments as to how we should deal with this are flawless, and useless.  In fact that logic often makes it worse. I mention it here because I know there are many who also wrestle with this beast and we need to speak openly about it, and support and encourage each other to stay in the battle and, to quote Winston himself “Never, Never, Never give up until we win a great victory”.

Arising from this battle, I am about to start another blog called “You’re Not Done Yet” to explore this topic and to start a conversation about the amazing potential we all have, even if we have been on this earth for many years and may feel that circumstances and/or history have clipped our wings or foreshortened our expectations. It hasn’t and they aren’t!  Click Here to sign up for this blog.

Back to Christmas. I intended to write about patience from a conversation with we had over Christmas. A young teenager in the group having demonstrated great impatience with her mother one afternoon, was sent by her father to write an essay on the virtue of patience. Her offering was hilarious and along these lines – “patience is that quality demonstrated by a mother who immediately puts aside what she is doing to be fully available to meet her daughter’s pressing needs! Not exactly what her father intended, but …

We had a conversation about patience afterwards and I encouraged her that patience was a fruit of grace – a wonderful quality for a young woman to develop. We had lots of fun over the holidays playing games and expanding our understanding of the virtue of patience.

It did make me reflect on the whole subject of patience and that there were many other dimensions of patience apart from our interactions with each other. A farmer needs patience to wait for harvest time. A sportsman needs patience to allow broken bones to heal. We need patience to follow behind an elderly person as they navigate a set of stairs. So many opportunities…  I needed to be patient with myself as I walked the journey out of that black hole.

Yet the world we live in rages against patience. We can’t wait a week, or even a day for the next episode of a TV programme. So much so that Australia has developed a very bad reputation as one of the worst TV/Movie Pirates in the rush to get immediate access to the latest episode of “Game of Thrones” or the latest movies. I may sound like a dinosaur, but in my day my favourite TV programme was on once a week and you had to wait a whole week for the next episode. Now you get whole series in a box or watch them back to back on Foxtel. There is so much focus on instant gratification – same-day delivery, PayPass, Instagram etc.

I want it now

Do forgive me, I am not whingeing or dismissing the great technological advances, but reflecting on the contrast between the pace of the world we live in and the pace of the really important things. Nature still moves at the patient pace it always moved; a day is still 24 hours and a week is still 7 days, regardless of all our technology. It takes 21 days for a chick to hatch;  It still takes 9 months for a baby to develop; Relationships require time and patience to develop. They say children spell love as T-I-M-E. Seedtime and harvest are still in separate seasons.

Patience - Nature with Thanks to St.Emilies Primary School

I would like to expand on this  subject over the next few weeks and to start a conversation about patience. My moment of clarity to start with is a question: “What are the elements or aspects of your life where patience is most valuable?”

I encourage you to click on the ‘Comments’ tab and have your say.

All the Best, Brian.

0408 277773

It’s Christmas – Part 2: Go on a Treasure Hunt

It has been a difficult and challenging time over the last week here in Australia. This little missive goes to 8 countries over 5 continents and it has been clear from the feedback I have been getting that what has happened here in Sydney and Cairns over the last week has deeply impacted people all over the world. That is not a dazzling insight, but I have found it comforting that so many people are reaching out from so far away.

And what has happened in Australia is not the worst of it – with broken hearts we think of the parents and families of the children and teachers massacred in Pakistan. And if we were to reflect back on 2014, there are many more such tragedies across the world.

A sad and morbid opening, perhaps, but it is impossible to ignore these events, or to pass by without stopping to acknowledge, to validate, to offer a prayer, however tiny in the circumstance. There is a powerful poem by W.H.Auden that always come to mind in times such as these. It speaks to me of that awful sense of loss when loved ones are taken away. “Why are the buses still running?, why are people going about as if nothing has happened? Don’t they know our loved ones are gone?”

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message They Are Dead,
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

They were our North, our South, our East and West,
Our working week and Sunday rest,
Our noon, Our night, our talk, our song;
We thought love would last for ever: We were wrong.

The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

I did not send a note last week for that very reason – I did not want to go on as if all was normal. Because it wasn’t. But even in the midst of the awfulness, what shone through in Sydney was the light of Hope, the power of Community, the overwhelming sense of Unity. I encourage you, if you get the chance, to visit Martin Place and walk among the flowers and read the notes and cards.

Martin place 2

My original notes for last week spoke of going on a treasure hunt. It was a witty piece on ways to make Christmas fun and to focus on all the good things that happened in the year almost gone. What we focus on grows, and I find doing a treasure hunt provides a positive focus coming into the family time, as opposed to thoughts and fears and often mounting dread that this Christmas will be just like all the others.

Well my Moment of Clarity this week is indeed to suggest we go on a Treasure Hunt – before, during and after THIS particular Christmas. Often, at times like this, we hear commentators say “this is a good time to go home and hug your loved ones”. Well more than ever this time. But let us do more than that. Let us choose to say “its Christmas…”. Let us choose to be grateful for what we have even if it has been a year of loss. Let us refuse the invitation to react to pain however it is expressed, but let us respond in love and with kindness, grace and gratitude.

As I read over this, I realise it is really a note to myself. You can read it if you want. I know I NEED to hear this, especially THIS Christmas.

I pray you have a memorable Christmas, memorable for the peace and joy, kindness and love that pervades the whole season.

All the Best, Brian.

“It’s Christmas…” – Part 1.

We are well into December now, and Christmas draws near. It is a wonderful time for families to get together, often from far away, and for relatives and friends to reunite and celebrate and catch up on all the news. The reality for many, however, is that Christmas is not really a good time for a whole lot of reasons.

As many of you may know, I grew up in Ireland and for me Christmas was a magical time. It was my favourite time of the year. It was a major shock to me when I came to Australia to find out that many were indifferent to, did not enjoy or  even hated Christmas. I was a grown man yet it floored me. “How could you not love Christmas?” I cried, “It’s the best time of the year”.

I seriously anguished over this for years. I was amazed as I observed a general sense that many people just wanted Christmas to be over so they could get away on holidays. My first Christmas in Sydney impacted me so much, I went back to Dublin for the next 8 years. I loved the Carol-Singers, the party atmosphere and the warm bonhomie that overtook my city of birth.

I grew up in a large family (large by Australian standards – fairly normal by Irish standards). For those of you who came from big families, isn’t it amazing how siblings who grew up in the same house could have completely different views on their childhood. Certainly, most of my sisters have a fairly different view of childhood than mine. I struggled in those years, struggled to find a place to fit in, struggled with heavy-duty bullying at school etc,etc.  My experience of life would likely have put me in the place where I too, hated Christmas.

But Christmas was awesome! It was just the best time.

It was only in recent years that I got the revelation of why it was so special. My Mother had a simple but powerful saying that she used throughout the Christmas season:

“Its Christmas…”!

That meant a WHOLE lot more than just the words. To my Mum, it meant that this was a special time. It was a sacred time, the time we celebrated the birth of Jesus. It meant that we did not behave as we would through the rest of the year. It meant we did not argue, we did not raise voices and shout, we did not fight. It meant that we got along, we shared everything and we were good-natured and pleasant to be with.

It was so powerful. All my Mother had to say was “It’s Christmas…” and that was it. Whenever tempers flared or disputes arose, you would hear my Mother say “It’s Christmas…”. And that would mean the end of any hostilities. Everyone would step back and stand down. Most of my years were pretty ordinary,  but at Christmas – “It was Christmas…”!, and it was a haven of love and peace that I have never forgotten.

And that is my Moment of Clarity this week. As we go into the festive season, remember  “It’s Christmas…”!  Remember what the celebration is really about and perhaps choose my Mother’s words, or your own, to be like an ‘umpire of peace’, declaring this season to be a time of peace and joy.

Have a peaceful and thoughtful week.

All the Best, Brian.

The 30 cent Ice-Cream Story

This is a true story (a real true story) I was reminded of this week and I thought I would share it with you. It relates to a time in my life that at one level was highly forgettable, yet at another level was one of the most powerful seasons of my life and is very much a part of who I am today.

I lost everything in the nineties – for a whole bunch of reasons, but mostly because I just did not have the emotional or spiritual character to handle the business and financial success that came relatively quickly after I started my first business. That’s a whole story in itself – for another time.

Anyway, it was during that time that I called into a local Macca’s for a baby burger which was all I could afford at the time. It was not a good time and I was carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders (you know, self-pity, “why me”, “its not fair”, “its all too hard” – those weights!). I bumped into a bunch of lovely mums and children that I knew from the better times. So putting on my bravest face I was chatting away pretending all was OK – as you do. Then we heard this almighty scream from the back of the restaurant and one of the little 5 year-olds came up screaming with only the cone part of his 30 cent ice-cream. He had dropped it and lost the ice-cream bit. He was devastated, as only a five-year-old who has lost his ice-cream can be.

Us grown-ups all laughed, because we knew it was only an ice-cream. But to the little fella, it was worse than the end of the world. Well it only took a few minutes for someone to replace the ice-cream. And what a transformation! Not only was it NOT the end of the world, but it was a better world, because he now had a whole new ice-cream plus what he had eaten of the previous one. He was happy as…

Boy eating icecream

We laughed and talked some more and I said my goodbyes. As I walked to the door I could feel the weight of my problems descending once more. Now I am a man of faith and a believer, but it is amazing how quickly we can let adverse circumstances take our eyes off our faith and that Source of help in times of trouble.

But then! As I walked across the threshold it hit me like a blast of hot air – “from God’s perspective, all my problems were just about the size of a 30 cent ice-cream. I had completely lost my perspective, like the 5 year-old, and allowed myself to be driven into a state of anxiety and depression by my circumstances.

That moment is deeply etched in my consciousness and had a profound effect on my life. From that time onwards, I knew that I was not defined by my circumstances, but by my ATTITUDE TO my circumstances.

And that is my moment of clarity for this week. Perhaps to take a moment to reflect as we come towards the end of the year. Have we got the right perspective on our circumstances, good or challenging.  And whatever your philosophy, are you connected to and drawing on the emotional, relational or spiritual resources that help you keep a healthy perspective.

All the Best, Brian

+61 (0)408 277 773

Caring – The Secret Ingredient – Part 2

The title for this weeks post was an unthunk thought. That’s what I call one of those ideas, insights or revelations that seem to just arrive in your mind, without any clear idea where they came from or any conscious knowledge of the thought processes that produced them. My first book was called “Unthunk Thoughts”, and is a collection of those amazing one-liners and aphorisms that contain so much more than the words.

Well ‘The Secret Ingredient of Influence’ last week was definitely one of those. It tumbled out of my mind just as I completed last weeks post. It has occupied much of my thinking over the last week and I am a bit blown away by it.

Caring – The Secret ingredient of Influence! The Holy Spirit gets the credit for this one. I could never have come up with that on my own.

I will be really interested in peoples’ views on this. “Leadership is Influence”, to quote John Maxwell. People influence others and situations in many ways – through charisma, eloquence, power, motivation and many other ways.

But the more I go through life the more I realise that the quality that influences me most is a caring heart. It is not weak, – it comes from a strength of character! It speaks of an intuitive respect for people and a desire to validate and acknowledge the intrinsic worth of each person we meet. I only work with people who care. It IS the secret ingredient. The funny thing is that people who do care often don’t realise the value it brings to any transaction. It says “you matter”, it says “I will look after you”, it says “I will go the extra mile to make sure you are satisfied”. It is inherently unselfish and other-directed.

As a principle it echoes Zig Ziglar:

zig_ziglar_help_enough

 

In business there is a traditional costing model for products and services:

Labour + Materials + Overheads + Margin = Price!

I offer another model:

Labour + Materials + Overheads + CARE FACTOR + Margin = Price!

There is a premium that is due for that Care Factor. And the people who care the most often dismiss it or are not really conscious to it. I am passionate about helping people achieve that premium. The other side of that is being willing to pay that premium. I have a saying:

.

“Discount is not the currency of blessing – great service is!”
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Let us be a people who willingly pay that premium so we can enjoy that great service. Remember that value is remembered long after the price is forgotten. In a world where truth is relative and the moral backstop has been removed, there is a deep and growing hunger for authenticity, truth and honesty.

So my moment of clarity this week is to dust off your ‘Care Factor’ and become an influence for good in your world. If it has been bruised and battered in the ‘roil and moil’ of life, take time out to heal and renew. Forgive those who have used you and taken advantage of you and decide to come back again to ‘care first’ and ‘care always’ and be a shining light in a world that needs it.

Have a great week, Brian.

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