Helping you make wise decisions in your life

When did you last regret a decision you made? Can you envision where you would be today if you had made that decision differently? Imagine what you could achieve in your life, in your business and even in the world if you could always think, decide and act with true wisdom. The good news is, you can. With the right tools and techniques you can learn how to make decisions that have the most positive impact on all concerned.

Wednesday, 30 December 2009


On Wednesday December 16th I noticed a "blob" in the peripheral vision of my right eye. I checked in to my Optometrist first thing next morning, December 17th, and within 3 hours I was being operated on for a detached retina! What followed was 5 days in support equipment to keep my head down for 22 out of every 24 hours. And with a gas bubble in my eye I was also unable to fly to the Gold Coast for a family Christmas "reunion" Boxing Day lunch (first in 11 years!). The surgery was successful with 100% recovery of sight. But what was I not seeing? Coming out of a long and difficult year, how has my "vision" been affected?

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Moral Ethics

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama was at the Mind & Its Potential Conference last week. He participated in a vigorous panel discussion with Marty Seligman, Director of the Center for Positive Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania USA; Marc Hauser, Co-Director of the Mind, Brain and Behaviour Program, Harvard University, USA; and Alan Wallace, President of the Santa Barbara Institute for Consciousness Studies USA.
The question was asked, are there really any moral truths? His Holiness replied, "if based on religious faith then moral ethics becomes very narrow. But a secular moral ethics encompasses any action which brings comfort or benefit to the community and to oneself in the long-run, and which avoids discomfort or taking away benefit. That is moral. Nothing to do with religion." His Holiness also commented that "compassion is the most important emotion".

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

What's Mine is Mind!

The "Mind & Its Potential" Conference at Darling Harbour last week was a real smorgasbord of neuroscience, psychology and philosophy. I particularly liked the definitions of mind given by various speakers. Baronness Susan Greenfield, Neuroscientist and Director of the Royal Institution of Great Britain, described the mind as the "personalisation" of the brain. Dan Siegel, Psychiatrist and Director of the Center for Human Development USA, said the mind is "an embodied and relational process that regulates the flow of energy and information". Michael Valenzuela, Research Fellow in Regenerative Neuroscience at the School of Psychiatry UNSW, described a hierarchy of "mindedness", but claimed to be in awe of the phenomena of mind himself!
It got me thinking that wisdom is most likely an emergent relational property of culture in the manner of Dan Siegel's latest book, "Mindsight".

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Charter for Compassion

"The principle of compassion lies at the heart of all religious, ethical and spiritual traditions, calling us always to treat all others as we wish to be treated ourselves..." Sign up to the Charter for Compassion here:

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Boom go the Resources!

Attended the Lowy Institute 2009 Lecture at the Intercontinental Sydney last night, delivered by Marius Kloppers, CEO of BHP Billiton. BHP used to be "the big Australian", now it's just big! Australia has always prospered on the back of its resources, Marius said. But the next boom is set to eclipse anything we've ever known. He emphasized the need for " getting this right", by which he referred to key factors such as fiscal stability, government policy, labour market flexibility, and capital availability. But I wonder if psychological capital might be an equally important factor in "getting this right"?

Monday, 9 November 2009

Happy Birthday!

It was my Birthday last weekend (Happy Birthday Peter!). At this stage of life the clock is ticking. I believe the best is yet to come, but it's like being in an aeroplane accelerating for take-off. So close to getting airborne but I seem to be running out of runway! It strikes me that whatever one's life themes are they will keep recurring at any age. There's really no there in getting there!

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Inner Happiness

Attended a talk by Alan Wallace the other evening. He's the Director of the Santa Barbara Institute for Consciousness Studies and an interpreter for the Dalai Lama. Western technology has achieved great things in the external world he said, but failed to conduct the same level of empiricism on the internal world. Psychology, the study of the mind, still can't define consciousness. Three things are needed for inner happiness:
1. Ethics - for social and environmental flourishing.
2. Cultivating the mind - for psychological flourishing.
3. Wisdom - to know reality as it really is.

I asked him what he thought of the field of Appreciative Inquiry in the context of organisational change. "Yes", he said. "Encouraging what works best rather than focusing on the deficiencies would seem useful for avoiding cognitive fusion (with the problem)."

Monday, 26 October 2009

The Great Crash of 2008

At a packed event at the Lowy Institute the other evening I heard Dr Ian McFarlane, past Governor of the Reserve Bank, and Prof Ross Garnaut, author of the Garnaut Climate Change Review, try to explain the economic machinations that led to the GFC. They both admitted to being caught off guard by the speed and depth of the "great crash of 2008". In Ross's book of the same name he traces the earliest sign to the collapse of a US mortgage originator called Merit Financial in May 2006. The company was owned by a former football star and ran up more that $2 billion of mortgages over 5 years specializing in clients with a bad credit history. Many of the loan officers were ex-footballers, one an ex-Hooters girl. Their training consisted of a 19-step program lasting an hour!

I bought the book and asked Ross to sign it for me. I told him I was a psychologist with an interest in behavioural economics. He wrote, "it has taken too long for me to give it the importance it deserves, but Shiller's perspective is certainly part of the story" (behavioural economist Bob Shiller is the best-selling author of "Irrational Exuberance").

Monday, 12 October 2009

Careful what you wish for!

After months of watching the tide go out it's now starting to come in. If all these opportunities start to come in at the same time it's going to look like a tsunami (but in a good way)! Most of what we need to learn we discover at the bottom of the cycle. Then we can apply those learnings in the upswing. The trick is having patience and insight enough to capture the learning when all around is uncertain and fragile.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Hungary for Climate Change!

This week I had lunch with the President of Hungary, Prof. László Sólyom, at the Lowy Institute for International Policy. Turns out he's the "Al Gore" of Europe! Since the Club of Rome in 1972, the "limits to growth" have been predicted. Sub-systems have been changing slowly, but suddenly they go past their tipping point. For example, Atlantic Sea ice is melting faster than predicted. How far can we go before these changes become irreversible? According to an article published in Nature just last week, we've already gone past the tipping point for some sub-systems! Can Human Kind change in time? In 1989, with the fall of the "Iron Curtain", half of Europe changed within a year without the usual violence and destruction. So it can be done. "The only hope", the President said, "are people themselves!"

Monday, 28 September 2009

Living on Mars

This was the scene from my office window in Pyrmont early on Wednesday morning, September 23, All that day we experienced "living on Mars". Sand from the ancient heart of this great southern land sweeping through the glass canyons of the robber barons of Macquarie Street. We who live in our kindergarten cities are so disconnected from the consequences of our daily decisions. And yet we, collectively and consciously, create the world of our imaginings. On this day we had a dramatic reminder that the "sands of time" are running out!

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

SE Asian Terrorism

Listening to Bill Patterson, Australia's Diplomat for Counter-Terrorism, at the Lowy Institute lunch last week - a calm and reasoned perspective on the headlines. "Terrorism has a long history", he said. "But in the end, local issues drive it". The key motivators are alienation, poverty, and lack of opportunity. Which is why development assistance plays a major, long-term role. In Indonesia for example, AusAid have been engaged in curriculum training for teachers and the construction of schools. What more can we do to encourage economic participation and build resistance to malignant small group interests amongst our SE Asian neighbours?

Monday, 14 September 2009

Rubik's Cube

After struggling and pushing to create momentum I have a feeling at the moment that everything is dropping into place, effortlessly, purposefully, and in it's own time. Kind of like watching the colours on a Rubik's Cube line up. I guess you have to persevere long enough to give the various permutations and combinations time to sort themselves out!

Friday, 11 September 2009

September 11

September 11, 2009. The 8th anniversary of that event. A nightmare dreamed by all of us simultaneously. A searing scar across the face of humanity. And a shocking reminder that whatever virtual reality we inhabit can too easily break through into the reality of flesh and bone. If we can dream it we can be it. So, let's begin a collective dream of wisdom and compassion!

Thursday, 3 September 2009


I stepped back off a ladder over the weekend but missed the step. Well, all but the third toe on my left foot missed it. The toe peeled back like a small banana. A trip to the local Medical centre turned into a visit to the Hospital. The wound was considered too fragile to stitch. So, they super-glued my toe instead! What's the Universe telling me, I wondered? Should I slow down? Am I feeling "unbalanced"? Have I "misplaced" my confidence? Am I in danger of "stepping back" just when I should be moving forwards? Or did I just have a damn stupid accident?!

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Rogue Economics

Just finished reading Loretta Napoleoni's "Rogue Economics: Captitalism's New Reality" (2008). Another bleak view of how the world is burning (I've got to get out and smell the roses)! We like to think governments are in control and they can protect us from harm. But that's a comforting illusion. The GFC has shown us that. Napoleoni's "new reality" is the tide of capital that lifts or drops all boats and is largely governed by collective self-interests. Beneath the veneer of social justice and environmental protection is the rather too cynical machinery of thuggery and buggery! Should we give up now? I for one, still believe it's inherently human to work towards the common good.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009


Just finished reading John Gray's 2007 book, "Black Mass". He is Professor of European Though at the London School of Economics. I met him briefly at the Sydney Writer's Festival last year. Gray contends that much of the destructive history of the Twentieth Century and beyond can be blamed on our religious and political desire for Utopia - a mythical "perfect" future. At the core is "my willingness to defend to the death my idea of Utopia over yours!" We need to learn to be more realistic, says Gray. Life is inherently uncertain and history can just as likely go backwards as forwards. "Religions are not claims to knowledge but ways of living with what cannot be known", he says. There is no Utopia. "Interacting with the struggle for natural resources" concludes Gray, "the violence of faith looks set to shape the coming century".

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Tectonic Plates

Can you feel it? Our emotional "tectonic plates" have been shifting. The Global Financial Crisis was the earthquake we had to have. It signaled the release of hard, rigid, "me-first" forces that had been building for some time. Something had to give. And we're all feeling the after-shocks. But sooner or later the same tectonic forces will settle into a new equilibrium. Which doesn't necessarily mean "better"! But it does mean "different". What does this new emotional landscape hold for us?

Friday, 17 July 2009

What's Your Story?

I saw Mark Scott, CEO of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, deliver a keynote presentation at the first Australian Leadership & Coaching Conference for Educators at Macquarie University on Tuesday. "The Greek playwright, Euripides maintained there are only 4 stories", he said. "A man and a woman; a woman and two men; betrayal; and a journey". "Leadership is a journey" he said. What's your story?

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Make a Decision

At the first Australian Leadership & Coaching Conference for Educators at Macquarie University yesterday, I was struck by a comment from Dr Doug Reeves, founder of The Leadership and Learning Center, Boston, USA. He said we only have 3 choices for action: " (1) Wait until the action is perfect; (2) do nothing; or (3) try something, even if it's imperfect". Life is short. Have a go!

Friday, 26 June 2009

Doughnut Wisdom!

Buddhist thinking claims we are both self and no-self. Rather like a doughnut. The hole in the doughnut is like our self-identity. It's defined by the doughnut. But in itself it is empty. Does the hole exist? Yes. So long as the doughnut exists. Our sense of self is both evident and non-existent (or indeed, everywhere) at the same time! So what do I defend when I feel affronted? Only the doughnut. Since my essence is the hole of the doughnut, and therefore indefensible. Get it?

Monday, 22 June 2009

Float Your Boat!

lately I've been imagining myself as a boat, beached, waiting for the tide to come in. In the meantime I've been scraping off the barnacles, repainting, and re-jigging. But what kind of boat am I? Last year I would have said I was a harbour cruise boat, taking on tourists and meandering around points of interest. That was before the tourists left and the water disappeared! Now I see myself as a sailing yacht. Ready to venture outside the harbour. Sleek, robust, efficient, tacking against the wind to reach my destination - well, that's what I intend to do when the tide comes in! What kind of boat are you?

Monday, 15 June 2009

Spiritual Capital

I got my copy of "Spiritual Capital" signed by the author, Danah Zohar at the Australian Human Resources Institute Conference 2009 launch in Sydney last night. What a re-imagining of business culture post-GFC! She says we need to re-define the meaning of wealth. Not just for the lucky few, but for the whole planetary community.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

The Cosmic Dance

Cosmologists believe the Universe came from the Big Bang, from a singularity in time-space, and has been expanding over Billions of years, generating progressively higher orders of complexity. From simple elements to complex molecules, from reactive sequences to consciousness. We are the product of that far distant starburst. And our lives together on this planet at this time are a wondrous expression of the cosmic dance!

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

The Tide is Turning!

Today I had a feeling the tide was turning. call it intuition, or the collective consciousness, but I had a strong sense the economic tide is turning and the water is coming back. It's still out of view, but somewhere out there the polarity has just flipped!

Monday, 1 June 2009

Wind me up!

When I feel overwhelmed I notice my neck twisting like a wind-up toy. But it's not some weird cosmic force. It's me. I'm doing it to myself! And I have to step back and reflect. There's really nothing going wrong. All is exactly as it should be. And I remember the words of the mystical vision of Juliana of Norwich, "and all thing shall be well; and all thing shall be well; and all manner of thing shall be well." Amen!

Monday, 18 May 2009

Follow the Yellow Brick Road!

I've been thinking about "The Wizard of Oz" lately as a template for making good decisions. Dorothy represents your "wished for" outcome. Tinman is the "heartfelt", emotional aspect of your decision. Scarecrow represents the "pro's and con's" analysis. Lion symbolizes your awareness of the "unknown". The Wizard of Oz asks you "what is the wisest thing to do?" And the Wicked Witch of the West represents the thing you most need to overcome personally through this decision. What do you think?

Monday, 11 May 2009

How to Fake Authenticity!

What does it mean to be Authentic? Sure, I can be honest with myself and with others when life is going along swimmingly. But when I'm feeling out of my depth, or uncertain about the future, or when I want a particular outcome to occur, then I find my old "default" patterns coming back. I rationalize, I procrastinate, I disconnect. How "authentic" am I then? Perhaps authenticity is simply knowing what it's like to be fully human. And more importantly, letting go of the “don’t you know who I am!” pretentiousness, and beginning to really notice and pay attention to what’s happening for other people, even beneath their sometimes petty jealousies, sarcasms, negativity, and personal agendas.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Following in the Footsteps

Knowing where you've been is just as important as knowing where you're going. I've had cause to reflect on the notion of birthright and genetic heritage following my father's 80th Birthday last weekend. It's not so much a case of where do we come from as who do we come from! Tracing your family heritage is a fascinating insight into the threads of DNA that inform your perceptions and judgements today. It's inescapable. We are - all of us - locked in to a particular strata of time and space. But we are also linked to surprising treasures from the past, just as we have the capacity to weave our stories of tomorrow. There is a reflective wisdom in viewing yourself as the outcome of many lives lived by family ancestors, don't you think?

Saturday, 18 April 2009

Star Trek

"It's a recession Jim, but not as we know it!' This low demand environment is not from another galaxy. It's probably the "new normal". So where to from here? I've been reflecting on intention lately. Everything starts with an intention and nothing can proceed without it. But intention carries both a force and a direction - it's a vector. For any decision we carry competing intentional vectors. The resultant vector dictates what actually happens rather than what we wish to happen. The key is to get very clear about your intentions, both positive and negative, so you can better align with what you choose. This will increase the probability of seeing the means to achieve that choice.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

The Big Shock

Listening to Professor Warwick McKibbin at the Wednesday Lunch at the Lowy Institute last week I was struck by how the GFC can be understood as an "underlying debilitating disease" with the first symptoms dating back to 1997. Professor McKibbin stepped through the "major shocks" from the Asia Crisis (1997/98) through to the collapse of Lehman Brothers in late 2008. But the truly "Big Shock" has been a "synchronized loss of confidence". And now the number one policy for government agencies around the world is to "instill confidence!" Makes you realize how fragile we are doesn't it? You can read more at:

Friday, 3 April 2009


The GFC. How far is the "tide going out", and when will it come back? Sobering statistics at the Australia China Business Council meeting I attended last night. Some Chinese constructions firms have seen demand go down to 20% (not down BY 20%, but down TO 20%)! The Chinese have never experienced a recession and they're worried. The view was put that such a dramatic fall in demand will take years to return, if ever. We have just entered a new era of low demand. This is the new normal. The tide has gone out and perhaps we won't see it come back, at least not to the same level it was before.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Wisdom in Buddhism

We hosted breakfast yesterday with Ven Robina Courtin, an Australian Buddhist Nun with a fiery inquisitiveness and a laser intelligence! Ven Robina is also the founder of the Liberation Prison Project, based in San Francisco. What is wisdom, I asked? It is the clarity of mind that comes from removing delusion, she said. All our anger, frustration and panic that arise when "attachment doesn't get what it wants" are delusions of the "I". When we begin to notice these attachments and practice separating from them, then we begin to see what's going on around us more clearly. Wisdom-in-action is simply evidence of this. We all have the capacity for wisdom, although each of us will demonstrate varying wisdom-ability. It depends on how much inner work we have done "removing the pollution from the water"!

Friday, 27 March 2009

End of the World

"Graham Dyer's Newsletter" from February 2009 chortles that he predicted "the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression" and "you ain't seen nothin' yet". There are always people predicting "the end of the world as we know it" and eventually they'll be proved right. But 2009 could be a little premature. And while this has the potential for being a particularly nasty recession, life will go on.

Friday, 13 March 2009


Resilience means to jump back to the original shape after compression. From the Latin re-salire 'jump'

At the Melbourne Business School's Sydney Alumni Dinner last night, John Hartigan, Australian CEO of News Limited, spoke about the need for "character" in difficult times. I think he would have agreed that resiliency is an important aspect of character.

How do you build such a character? I think it derives form core values, experience of 'jumping' back from failure, ability to tolerate complexity, willingness to imagine the future, and courage to take action. In short, wisdom!

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

The Wisdom of Politics

Billionaire Warren Buffett says the US economy could recover in five years, likening the current battle against prolonged recession as a Pearl Harbour-like situation during World War II.

Buffett, who heads the holding company Berkshire Hathaway, said the Federal Reserve's "prompt and wise action" had prevented the situation from "getting even worse" as the central bank cut interest rates to virtually zero and took other steps to reign in turmoil.

Asked about the poor economic recovery and plunging inflation, he said "it will depend on the wisdom of government's politics".

So, how do public officials enact wisdom in these difficult times? And, perhaps more importantly, how do those same officials protect against folly in decision making?

Monday, 9 March 2009

Wisdom Research

I've been following the "Highlights of Wisdom Research" from the University of Chicago since it was set up last year. You can subscribe by sending an email to:

As expected, the focus is pretty much on the philosophy of wisdom. What I'm vitally interested in is how to create an experience of practical wisdom, particularly for leaders of public and private enterprises. I want them to come away from a one-day workshop with profound insights into how they confront dilemmas, and some working templates to apply in making wise(r) decisions.

Now is surely the best time to explore wisdom at work, in the Global Financial Crisis/Obama era of integrity management!

Saturday, 7 March 2009


My favourite social commentator, whimsical cartoonist and poet, Michael Leunig published a "Guide to the Glooms" in the Sydney Morning Herald Weekend Edition, February 28 - March 1, 2009:
Common House Gloom: "a popular and reliable gloom imported from England".
"The Bad Blanket": "a creeping nocturnal gloom causing insomnia and paralysis".
"The Brown Banana": "a cocooning gloom causing a curved downcast stoop".
"The Slug": "a slow, heavy, dragging sort of gloom".
"The Double Mattress": "an unwieldy, exhausting gloom for two".
"The Grey Constellation": "a group of frightening glooms in orbit around a person in a spin".

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Phronetic Leadership

Frenetic or Phronetic?

Phronesis (Prudence, Practical Wisdom):
* A virtuous habit of making decisions and taking actions that serve the common good.
* A capability to find a “right answer” in particular context.
* Deliberate reasoning and improvisation which synthesizes particulars and universals.
* Can be acquired only through high quality direct experiences.

Monday, 2 March 2009

Coaching for Wisdom

Coaching is an intentional dialogue between a leader in an organization and a coach who uses a wide variety of behavioural techniques and methods to shape a journey from one place of identity and meaning to another place, from which the leader can more wisely manage their own life and the life of the organizations they serve.

I use an intentional process in coaching sessions to elicit wisdom-thinking, wisdom-decision making and wisdom-performance, which I call the “FORMat” model of coaching for wisdom.

The highest purpose for coaching in troubled times must be to make the leader’s implicit wisdom resources more explicit and to help them shape those resources into a personal “compass” to make wise decisions in the service of a common good!

Enhancing Wisdom

There are three ways in which wisdom-performance may be enhanced:
(1) Life experience
(2) Teaching skills and ways of thinking, and
(3) Short-term interventions.

Coaching is a deliberate intervention to move the client along “the path of progressive development” toward some higher level of functioning as a person, and particularly as a leader, for the achievement of agreed goals. Coaching questions intentionally activate the individual’s conceptions of personal wisdom depending on their developmental preparedness, their level of engagement with the coach, and the particular outcomes expected of the coaching assignment.

The Berlin Wisdom Paradigm

At the Max Planck Institute for Human Development and Education in Berlin, wisdom is defined as “expert-level knowledge in the fundamental pragmatics of life”. They described five dimensions of wisdom-related knowledge:
(1) rich factual knowledge: general and specific knowledge about the conditions of life and its variations;
(2) rich procedural knowledge: general and specific knowledge about strategies of judgment and advice concerning matters of life;
(3) life-span contextualism: knowledge about the contents of life and their temporal (developmental) relations;
(4) value relativism: knowledge about differences in values, goals, and priorities; and
(5) uncertainty: knowledge about the relative indeterminancy and unpredictability of life and ways to manage it.

Wisdom as Personality

Who is wise? Recognizing wisdom in others presumes that there are characteristics that reside within the person.

Associate Professor Monica Ardelt (2003) measures wisdom by assessing the attributes and personality characteristics of wise individuals. She identifies the simultaneous presence of three dimensions of personality as both necessary and sufficient for a person to be considered wise:
(1) the cognitive dimension: a desire to know the truth and attain a deeper understanding of life, including knowledge and acceptance of the positive and negative aspects of human nature, of the inherent limits of knowledge, and of life’s unpredictability and uncertainties;
(2) the reflective component: self-examination, self-awareness, self-insight and the ability to look at phenomena and events from different perspectives; and
(3) the affective component: sympathetic and compassionate love for others.

Wisdom as Balance

Wisdom decision making is all about balance, in knowing what to do on what task in what situation and against what timeframe. From the PACE (Psychology of Abilities, Competencies, and Expertise) Center at Yale University, Bob Sternberg (2005) has defined wisdom as “in large part a decision to use one’s intelligence, creativity, and experience for a common good”.

Wise leadership involves synthesizing intelligence (academic, and practical/tacit), creativity (skills and attitudes), and wisdom (balancing interests and responses, moderated by values, in pursuit of a common good) to achieve wise outcomes for all possible stakeholders.

Wisdom as a Pathway

Richard Kilburg (2006) makes the claim that wisdom in leadership, particularly in executives of large commercial and government enterprises, is a special case. Taking a lead from the Berlin wisdom paradigm he defines executive wisdom as “an expert system in the fundamental pragmatics of organized human life” (Kilburg, 2006).

Executive wisdom emerges as a result of discernment (a combination of rational and intuitive perception), decision making (time frame, perspective and planning), and action (implementation) linked dynamically and interactively with each other through experience, feedback, and evaluation.

Investment Decisions

It’s the Scare-Market crash! What are you invested in? Before you think of asset class, think of which emotions you’re most heavily invested in right now.

Barbara Fredrickson, a social psychology professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has found that people who experience positive emotions show heightened levels of creativity, inventiveness, and “big picture” perceptual focus.

Importantly, the return on investment in positive emotions is that you relax back to physiological baseline after stress much faster than those invested in negative emotions. In short, you live longer!

Changeable You

Bob Kegan, Professor of Adult Learning and Professional Development at Harvard University and Co-Director for the Change Leadership Group, suggests any intentional shift from our old identity (X) to a new identity (Y) takes 6 steps:
1. X is the old way of being - familiar, comfortable, acceptable.
2. But then we get a sense that there’s “something else out there for me”, even if we don’t quite know what that is yet. This step is represented as X(y).
3. As we develop a clearer sense of what we want (Y) we begin to feel anxious about what we’re leaving behind (X). “What if I can’t do it? What if it’s not real?” This is represented as X/Y.
4. Then we get excited about the change. “I wish I could be more (Y)”. Yet there’s still a fear of loss of the old way of being. This step is represented as Y/X.
5. The next step is a deliberate declaration of the new identity represented as Y(x). We avoid people we used to associate with at X. We become resistant to criticism. “I love it here and I won’t be pulled back!” Yet there’s still __baggage__ from the previous identity (x).
6. Finally, at Y we fully embrace the new sense of self. “This is a new life - a second chance!”

This is Your Life

Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Florida, Monika Ardelt, found a close relationship between “coping strategies” and wisdom.

When faced with a life dilemma those with higher measures of wisdom used:
1. Mental distancing: Stepping back, reflecting on the situation, calming down, and taking time to look at the problem objectively.
2. Active coping: Mentally reframing the problem as an interesting challenge or a puzzle rather than an unpleasant event, making the best of things.
3. Application of life lessons: Learning from negative life experiences, accepting that life is unpredictable and uncertain.

By contrast, those who were rated relatively low on wisdom measures exhibited:
1. Passive coping: Acceptance and/or reliance on God to deal with crises and obstacles in their life.
2. Avoidance of reflection: Not pondering on the best way to deal with a crisis, making no attempt to reflect on the meaning of crisis and hardship in life.

Thinking Wisely

What’s the difference between thinking strategically and thinking wisely?

Strategy is the art of war - the word itself derives from the Greek stratēgos (stratos, “army” + agō, “to lead”). To think strategically is to “form a cunning plan, or scheme, especially for deceiving an enemy”.

It makes sense to have a strategy - for business success, for career planning, for political action. But is making a strategic decision the same thing as making a wise decision?

Inside Out

Here are some guidelines for living life authentically:
1. Know your values. Your beliefs and attitudes suggest what you value in life. What motivates you most is generally what you value and if you’re not motivated by it (or by him or her!) then you don’t value it.
2. Allow others to hold different values to you. The extent to which you can tolerate differences of opinion and not feel the need to defend your own is a fundamental quality of the authentic self.
3. Take time to reflect on the lessons you’ve learned from your life so far. When have you acted wisely and when have you acted foolishly? What made the difference? And what advice would you give yourself now?
4. Notice the likely effect you have on those around you. There are always three aspects of any action you might take - the effect on key individuals, the effect on the “community” to which they (and you) belong, and the effect on you. Don’t leave your own interests out of the picture!
5. Life can never be certain. See the situation as it really is, not as you wish it to be. Pain is real. But it’s possible to develop a way of handling it. That way is to be found in cultivating stillness - the art of being.