Friday, 21 December 2007

Is knowledge power?

Occasionally I will meet people who have become experts in their field. But they are far from happy. They jealously guard their knowledge like treasure, and expect huge reward for their skill. But they rarely get rewarded. Why?

Knowledge is power. But knowledge - like every other planetary thing must circulate. So knowledge - like water - will stagnate unless it flows. 

If you truly want to progress anywhere, you must raise the competency of those about you. I regularly see people stuck in technical jobs at the top of their pay band, because they refuse to teach others their skill. 

Don't be too protective of your skills. In this fast-changing world, they will soon be redundant. Make sure you are learning the next new things and moving on, rather than clinging to the familiar.

Be happy,


Sunday, 16 December 2007


Discovering truth is like searching a river bed. The more you thrash and struggle, the muddier the water will be. Simply be still. Let the mud settle, and all will become clear.

This is one of my favourite quotes from Chinese philosophy. And on an external level, it makes a lot of sense. But if you replace "be still" with "meditate", and it gives even more profound meaning.

The answers to all questions are within yourself. Not dictated by media, governments or religion.

If you want to know more about meditation, email me.

Be happy,


Monday, 3 December 2007

Oooh Stress

Everyone agrees that too much stress is bad for you. But what is stress, and how much is bad?

When we were cavemen, life was simpler. Something was either a threat or not. If it was a threat, we evolved reactions that were based around physical exertion. So when a threat was perceived, our hearts beat faster, and we prepared to either fight or run away. This action is perfectly natural and is a vital aid to our survival. Once the physical exertion was used up, the body returned to normal functioning.


In modern life, we get threatened in many other ways. Challenges are made on regular occasions, our hearts start to beat, our blood pressure raises for a sprint, our muscles tense.... but we cannot run away..... and as much as we would occasionally like to.... beating up our bosses/colleagues will not solve anything. So this tension does not go away. The nervous system is overloaded, the muscles fill with lactates and knot up, the immune system becomes inhibited, the respiratory system is not efficient, and digestion is poor.

So what is too much stress. Most people agree that the majority of modern stress is caused by change. One of the human needs is change - but it has to be the right amount. If you don't get enough change, you will become bored and stagnate. This will result in stress. If change is unplanned and hectic, once again you will be stressed. 

It's a balancing act, but recognising the symptoms is the first step to recovery:

  • Lack of sleep or unable to rest.
  • Irritability.
  • Poor memory.
  • Knotted or tense muscles.
  • Stomach pains.
  • Difficulty breathing/tight chest.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Sweating.
  • Headaches.
Then looking at your current situation and the level of change. Is there too much change.... or perhaps not enough?

If you want to contact me about stress, please email me.

Be happy,


Saturday, 1 December 2007

Sudan Teacher - Teddygate

Can you believe the fuss being made over the naming of a teddy-bear? This primary school teacher is going to jail in Sudan, and people are calling for her execution in the streets.

Well, yes I can. You see this is not about a teddy bear. It's about beliefs. Beliefs are not real. They are like glasses that people wear to try to make sense of the world. A belief is formed by repetition of stimulus (i.e. if enough people around you talk about a magic purple rhino, you're going to start to believe it, unless you have more evidence that it is not there).

The trouble with some of these beliefs is that they are very fragile, and followers build their whole lives around them. So when someone comes along and challenges these beliefs, the believers are going to get confused and angry - particularly if that's how they earn their money. 

It's amazing how often I have seen people lose their cool, just because another person has said that they do not subscribe to their beliefs. This only proves to me that deep down, they know that these beliefs are wrong, but they cling to them for comfort and security. 

So, when someone has a go at you, and you feel your hackles rising, have a good think before opening your mouth... What belief is being challenged? Is this belief serving me well, or is it holding me back?

Be happy,


Sunday, 25 November 2007

How not to do things

The Inland Revenue have been in a lot of trouble recently with all this missing personal data. It seems to me that there is a real problem in British business at the moment, and it is as follows:

A problem arises, and a group of people meet to try to work out what to do. The person who discovers the problem states it's scope and the risks. All of the members of the meeting are responsible for different areas of the solution. But instead of volunteering solutions, each member asks searching questions. Questioning another person is a skillful way of avoiding responsibility. Every member of the meeting backs away from the problem by asking more and more questions, and with every question, they further remove themselves from the problem, until the person who brought the problem to the meeting is left with no support and 30 difficult questions to answer.

Believe me, this is happening in boardrooms and offices up and down the country. It is a british middle management disease that needs to be eradicated. When you want something done, nothing beats swift and massive action. Avoiding hard work, blame and responsibility will not fix anything.


Friday, 23 November 2007

Cynics of the world... don't bother.

Cynicism is just an excuse to not bother. 

Most people with a cynical attitude are unhappy.... I mean seriously unhappy. The trouble with that kind of attitude, is that it can be very amusing and charismatic. Some of the funniest people are cynical to the core. It is so cool to knock people down when they are doing their best. 

I think it is a cancer that is seeping into our society. It is undermining democracy, environmental causes and every charity that is trying to help people. It destroys lives, inhibits workforces, damages relationships and strangles personal growth.

If you find yourself taking a cynical stance, take an honest look at yourself. Are you trying to cover up your own fears? Are your beliefs serving you in this instance? Are you using cynicism to avoid hard work and rewards? What do you stand to gain from being more optimistic?

Be happy,


Wednesday, 21 November 2007


I heard on the radio that a company in America has banned gossip in the workplace. What a masterstroke. Sign me up, right now!

Because gossip at best is criticism that the person does not want to give to the other person's face, and at worst is a form of character assassination. 

Reasons why people gossip:

1. Insecurity.
2. To influence situations.
3. To convince others that they are right about a situation.
4. To strengthen alliances (which comes from reason 1).

So these are my rules about getting free of gossip.

1. Only deal in facts as they happen.
2. Ignore what is said about people.
3. Recognise that there is no such thing as criticism - only feedback.
4. Do not question another's focus/motives (i.e. he/she only did it because.....)
5. Be confident.
6. Be honest about your limitations.
7. Don't try to predict the future.

If you work in a gossipy area, there's no need to make any big gestures. Simply change your attitude as above, and lead by example. If people are smart, they'll follow you. The rest.... well..... give them enough rope, and they'll hang themselves.

Be happy,


Sunday, 18 November 2007

Age is no problem!

I was with my parents recently. They are both in their late 60's and have both bought motorbikes and ride them all over the place. The weather is not so good, so it gives them less chance to ride them.

Many of my friends parents act a lot older, even though they are nearly ten years younger than mine. And it's easy to see the difference.

My parents are still learning. 

We all marvel at how quickly my daughter is learning, and it's easy to associate learning with youth. But you're never too old to pick up a new skill that might enrich your life. 

My friends ask me if I'm worried about my mum and dad being hit by a bus. I think back to the time when I used to go sky-diving and what I used to tell them when they worried about me.: If I die doing something I love, don't be sad. I accept the risks and the consequences that go along with them. It's worth it for the experience.

So to keep young, put aside your fears and learn new things....

and be happy.


Sunday, 11 November 2007

Got the Sniffles?

A particularly virulent cold is ravaging my family. It started with my wife. She probably caught it from the kids in her primary school (she is a teacher). The cold has now - predictably enough - spread to my Daughter and I.  So while this cold has forced us indoors, I would like to share my thoughts on the common cold. 

The common cold is one of the cleverest things on the planet. It will never be eradicated, because as soon as we learn to fight off one strain, a new one evolves. This is the key to it's success - evolution. If nothing else, while you are fighting the symptoms, you can accept that you are playing host to one of nature's true survivors.

I also have a theory. We need colds. Just like an early morning jog, or a great aerobics session, the common cold is a regular workout for your lymph glands and immune system. I wonder how weak our defenses would be without regular colds to keep their response times up. 

If you are feeling the effects of a cold, try changing your approach. You can do all the usual things (plenty of water, throat sweets etc.), but remember that your internal energies are focusing on fighting the cold. So don't expend yourself physically. Use the cold time to relax and turn your focus inward. A cold tends to blur your senses, so go with it. Let it wrap you up for a while. Enjoy the slight buzz it gives you. And use it as an excuse to put off some of the jobs you hate to do. 



Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Can't stand your job?

If you spend 8 hours a day at your job, that's a 3rd of your day. If you can't stand the company, that's an enormous amount of your life that you are going to be miserable for.

Let's face it. Life is just too short to be messing around doing a job you hate. If you bring a bad attitude with you, you're bound to pass it to your colleagues. Your colleagues then avoid you, and you feel more isolated.

How do you break the cycle? The key to most people's problem with their job is down to their values. Values are the principles or rules that a person holds as important to living their life correctly. When a person is unhappy at work, it's generally due to their values are being compromised. 

If you are a high achiever who values recognition, you are generally going to get upset if your efforts are ignored. If you have pacifist values, perhaps working for the Ministry Of Defense is not a good idea. 

These are simplified examples, but exploring your values will give you a clearer idea as to any problems you are having with your career.

If you want to know more about your values, email me.

Be happy,


Saturday, 3 November 2007

Chinese Philosophy in Medicine

I was admiring my daughter's boundless energy, and she reminded me of the chinese philosophy about health, life and age. It simply stated that stiffness was the enemy of life. When children were born, their bodies are soft. Even their bones are flexible. As they grow up, the bones get gradually more hard into adult life. As a body gets old, the muscles, sinews and joints stiffen; and bones become increasingly brittle. 

The Chinese solution to getting old is to exercise to keep the body supple. Tai Chi was particularly prized for this. 

Taoists also believed that a person was allocated a limited amount of breaths to breathe. Once their allocation was up, the person would die. To combat this, they devised breathing exercises to extend the length of breath - making each breath last longer and extending life.

It is easy to see how the concept of limited breaths evolved. People with healthy lungs and relaxed breathing (longer breaths) are bound to live longer because it is an indication of a healthy cardiovascular system. 

If you wish to know more about health and exercise, please email me.

Be happy,


Sunday, 28 October 2007

Taoism - a philosophical shield

In life, there are two types of people. 
  1. Warriors - People who possess force. They are strong people who work hard to cover their own weaknesses, search for their opponents weaknesses and strike at them. 
  2. Sages - People who have power. They discover themselves, give themselves up and therefore have no weaknesses.
I reckon most people are warriors. Warriors have an air of invincibility to keep up. They have an image to uphold. Conflicts arise when their circumstances threaten their image.
There are precious few sages. They have no need of weapons, because they know themselves. For if you master others, you will merely possess force. If you master yourself, you have true power. 
The monks demonstrating in Burma were not behaving like sages. They broke their spiritual progress to threaten the government with protests. This was a warrior attack, and the warriors in the Burma government retaliated in kind. In the circumstances, the repercussions were to be expected. 
It does not remove the fact that those monks are heroes in my heart. To me, they not only demonstrated. Their actions
The true path to longevity, strength and power is to know and master yourself completely. The burma government will soon learn that their fortress is built on fear, which will one day collapse like a house of cards.

Yin and Yang

Chinese philosophy coming your way. Yin and Yang are properties for the balance of opposing forces or properties:
Yin = Feminine, Dark, Negative, Soft, Yielding, Resting, Cold.
Yang = Masculine, Light, Positive, Hard, Thrusting, Active, Hot.
According to the I-Ching (pronounced "ee jing"), all of existence is an interplay between yin and yang. 
So how can yin and yang theory help me with my life? Simply put, utilising yin and yang will allow you to look more completely at a situation or problem. Very often, we tend to have one view. 
For instance, if our car which refuses to start, we focus on what is wrong with it (inactive - yin). However, it is also worth identifying which parts of the car are still active (yang), and by process of elimination, can ascertain which part needs fixing. We can also remember back when the car was last working (yang), and work out what has changed since.

Yin and yang theory also states that when going extremely yang, you eventually become yin - and vice versa.  To keep the car example - a car will get you from a to b very quickly (yang). However, if everyone wants to go the same way at the same time, traffic jams occur (yin) and it's quicker to walk.

If you have any questions about yin and yang theory, email me.

Be happy,


Saturday, 27 October 2007

What's the problem?

When you get a problem, do you say something like, "What a disaster! Why does this s**t always happen to me?"

If you start with this kind of mindset, you are focusing on the problem, rather than the solution. How you feel about problems will seriously affect how well you will solve them, so lets try a little attitude adjustment.

Firstly, replace the word 'problem' with 'opportunity'. Because - believe it or not - we are built to deal with problems. Our whole evolutionary path has been shaped by the resolution of physical and mental problems. That's how we developed large brains, hind leg standing and opposable thumbs. So treat every problem as a chance to evolve and grow. Still don't believe me?

If you didn't have a problem with travel, why did you learn to walk?

If you didn't have a problem with communication, why did you learn to speak?

Every problem gives you an opportunity to grow and learn. So instead of the victim mentality, ask yourself about some constructive questions:
  1. How can I turn this to my advantage?
  2. How can I have fun solving this problem?
  3. Is there a lesson to learn here?
  4. What opportunities are there?
  5. Who will benefit from me solving this problem?
  6. How will I be rewarded for solving this problem?
And don't forget - whatever the problem - there are billions of people on this planet,who will never know. So don't be afraid of mistakes - it's how we learn.

Problem solving is a skill that can easily be learned. If you want to know more about problem solving, email me:

Be happy,


Friday, 26 October 2007

This is scrummy!

Did you taste your lunch today? 

I mean REALLY taste it?.... 

or did you throw it down in ten minutes so that you could catch that meeting or get to that deadline?

With our microwave instant culture, it's no wonder we eat too much. We don't give ourselves time to enjoy what we have. Tasting and enjoying food is a vital part of the digestion process. If we bolt our food without savouring the texture and flavour, we don't meet an essential need. So what do we do? We have more to make up. No wonder obesity is growing at a staggering rate in developed countries.
  • Ensure you won't be rushed.
  • Prepare or choose something that you know you will enjoy. 
  • Pause and get yourself ready. 
  • Are you sat comfortably? 
  • Make sure that you have some water to drink. 
  • If you feel pressured, move somewhere else or at least away from sight of a clock.
  • Chew your food thoroughly.
  • Savour the taste and texture.
It's common sense, but sometimes we forget under the pressure of modern life.

Be happy,


Thursday, 25 October 2007

So you think you can't do something?

A martial art is not about brute strength and violence. The literal translation of "Kung Fu" is "skill". 

Guo Cairu is 106 years old. He practices Tai Chi in the Jiangsu province in China. To me, he is the embodiment of the full life skills that regular practice brings.

Every time I think I can't do something, I think of this man in his suit. Every time I feel like giving up on something, I think of the many many years he has practiced his daily exercises and marvel at his longevity.

Thank you Mr Guo. 

First Post

"You can labour 10 years under a Master,
Trying to discern whether his teachings are true.
But all you might learn is this.....
One must live one's own life."
                                                                Deng Ming-Dao

Who do you look up to? Your parents, pop stars, footballers, teachers, business gurus, work colleagues? When embarking on any journey, it is essential that you equip yourself with knowledge and tools to help you along the way. Whichever beliefs you choose - whatever role models you have - whoever you choose to learn from - it's important to understand that all doors are open to you, and that it is you who needs to walk through them.

There is a time to learn, and a time to implement your knowledge and skill. Most people spend all their lives thinking "If I knew just a little bit more, then I can begin". They prepare all their lives for an earthly journey that never starts. Or worst still - spend all their lives hiding from it's inevitable end. All this suffering over our limiting beliefs. Yet it is beliefs that can set us free and bring joy, power, love and wealth into our lives.

So where am I in this journey? I have studied Taijiquan (Tai Chi), Qigong (Chee Gung) Taoist Philosophy and Meditation for ten years. When I first discovered I was to be a father, I took a long, hard look at how I was brought up. I spent 9 months going over and over my formative years - what was good and what was bad. And on the birth of my beautiful daughter, Jenna, I vowed that she would not have the same harmful beliefs that took me so long to undo. And I started writing down the fruits of ten years of study, martial arts practice, business training and meditation (in case I fell under a bus before Jenna was old enough to understand). 

I now resolve to synthesize all my knowledge into useful, common sense lessons that can be worked through by anyone in the comfort of their own home. This is the blog of my evolution of these lessons, with healthy doses of some of my view on what's happening around me along the way. 

Be happy,