Walking on Acorns

Walking on Acorns

Katrina and the Waves may have been “Walking on Sunshine” – but today I’ve been walking on the fruit of that Sunshine – acorns.  Most folks have heard the inspirational phrase, “Mighty Oaks from little acorns grow.”  It’s been a good year for our Oak trees, but we’ve just had one of the most dramatic storms in years (in the UK).  This has brought the acorns down in their thousands.

It is impossible to walk the local paths without treading on dozens of acorns.  I’m a large chap.  My weight can do nothing less than crush any acorn I tread on – at least while they are on the tarmac path.

This reminds me so much of the past.  You see, an acorn has all the potential it needs to become a Mighty Oak.  It’s all there in the seed.  But it needs the right soil.  It needs the right conditions.

An idea, is like an acorn.  It has within it everything it needs to become fully grown.  But it needs the right conditions to flourish.

Too often, in the past, I’ve shared my ideas with people who don’t get the idea or  who don’t understand ‘me’.

The result?

They’ve walked on my acorns and crushed them to dust.


And what a waste.

I am creative enough to realise that every single one of my ideas has the potential to grow to maturity.  Like an Oak tree, they may not look much like the acorn when they mature, but they’ve all got the potential.

I’ve allowed thousands of ideas to be crushed over the years.

Don’t let them grind down your acorns!

So my point is: don’t let certain people anywhere near your acorns.  Sometimes, even from the best of intentions, they will crush them… needlessly.

Make friends with Squirrels

There’s something I really like about squirrels.  They harvest acorns and they plant them.  Of course they may be seen as pinching them with a view to eating them (just like some people pinch ideas to feed themselves) but many of the Oak trees that have grown to maturity have done so because a squirrel planted an acorn.

Some friends can be like that.  They can help you take your idea, and they can get it planted in good soil.  You don’t have to do all this alone.

Go, find a friendly squirrel in your Social Network, one who is not hungry!  Share your ideas with them, and ask them to help you plant and nourish them.

Then, at the right time, you’ll both have more than enough acorns to feast upon!!

Sermon: Let Your Soul Be Your Pilot

Sting’s Song, “Let Your Soul Be Your Pilot” is a wonderful reminder that we have an inner guidance system.

That guidance system is as good as the information we programme into it.  The mind (or soul?) is a goal seeking system – it seeks resolution, conclusions, and destinations.  In fact there’s more than a little of the concept of “destiny” in “destination”…

GPS for the Soul

Today’s Sunday Sermon (for those of all faiths and for those yet to discover and define their faith) is about how to programme your soul’s GPS so it can get you on track for your chosen destiny and destination.

GPS-1-crop-and-transThe programming is straighforward.

It depends on understanding what “GPS” stands for (for the purpose of this blog):

  • Growth
  • Progress
  • Success

“Success” is the destination.  It answers the question, “What does success mean for me?”

“Progress” refers to the milestones along the way – those points on the journey where a celebration is in order.  If part of “success” for you is to get rid of some of your credit or store cards, each one would be a milestone.  It could be to do with reaching a target weight.  It may ticking something off your personal “Bucket List”.

“Growth” is to do with your satellite scanning senses.  You must have a “sense” of growth along the journey – so “Growth” answers the questions:

  • What does “success” look like for me?  How will I “see” that I am on track?
  • What does “success” sound like for me?  What will I hear that will tell me I am on course?
  • What does “success” feel like (physically and emotionally) for me?  What will I feel as success grows and grows nearer?

It all begins with “Success”

Just as with a GPS in the car, the journey begins with your chosen destination – your desired state.

It begs the question really, “How do I define success?”  “Success” is in the eyes, ears, heart and soul of the beholder.  If “Beanz Meanz Heinz” what does “Success” mean to you?

Mind Mapping your way to “Success”

Tony Buzan’s Mind Mapping is perhaps my most important tool on my own journey to “Success”.  Mind Mapping allows us to map out our flow of associations.  Consider the following template and its worked example:

Heinz-Brand-Spider-Template Heinz-Brand-Spider-Worked

Your own template for “Success”

Success Template png

You can, of course, right click on the image, and then print off a high resolution version if you’d like to use the template.  I’ve added three twigs to each branch just to encourage your thinking.  Some of you reading this will be very good at… … …finishing other people’s thoughts and sentences for them!  That’s because your brain loves to complete things – to get to the conclusion and destination.  By having lots of gaps, your brain will want to fill in the blanks.  Mind the Gap!  BUT you can add as many lines as you like.  This is because the clearer your vision of your destination (“Success”), the easier it will be for you to then chart the milestones (“Progress”) and recognise the signs of “Growth”.

GPS Map pngNow I’ve shared, I hope you can literally “see” for yourself how Mind Mapping could help you enjoy your own journeys in life.

living_coachingIf you would like a partner in this process, my compassionate and comprehensive coaching service has an unique process to accompany you along your planned route to Success.  I can help you discover fresh confidence in your own unique gifts.  I can guarantee you are more brilliant than you think you are… and, until you realise your potential, how could you possibly set the co-ordinates for the right destination?

Milestone by milestone, I can help you progress along the journey, enjoying all the sensations of growth as you near your chosen definition of “Success”.

Of course, you can go it alone – I’m going to be posting more blogs on this subject with tools that will help, but to me this is like eating alone or visiting a museum alone.  It might be peaceful, but it’s not the same as having someone to share your delights with.  Discover your destiny, and delight in the journey!

Encourage One Another – Daily

I thought I might return to my roots and begin producing a Sunday Sermon again!  Fret not if you’re not into sermons – this is for everyone, not just for those who attend Church (which I don’t either, currently).

“But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”

Hebrews 13:3

Today’s little message is on the vital importance of encouragement… encouragement as a daily prescription for psychological and spiritual health.

Encourage is a wonderful word isn’t it – the english splits to ‘en’ and ‘courage’ – which could be a message in itself – how we can put courage into one another.

The Greek meaning here is more of an intimate urging – to bring comfort or even bring motivation to action.  It is to act as a catalyst to help someone convert inertia into momentum.

Your Personal Coach

Being an encourager is like being somebody’s personal coach – and on a daily basis.  You lovely gym goers will know about the power of having a personal trainer.  Well this is a personal trainer or coach for your soul.  The Scripture here is suggesting this is a role for all of us.  Part of our mission as fully-paid-up-members-of-the-Human-Race is to encourage others.  What do you think of that description:


I first heard that used to describe Vanda North (www.mindchi.com).  It seemed a very loving way to describe someone.  When I met Vanda I understood why.  Here is someone who is fully subscribed to being all that’s good about Humanity: compassion, humour, joy… and encouragement.  Vanda is one of those people who sees no value in using one exclamation mark when three would be better!!!  I have never left a meeting with Vanda without feeling encouraged

So how about that as a role for you and me too?

It’s a simple mission: seek to encourage everyone you meet – and on a daily basis!

Of course, there would be consequences!

  1. We might have to cut down on complaining or gossiping – because they’re not very encouraging to hear about are they?
  2. It might not work!  And for this reason, encouraging others needs to be our intention regardless of the outcome.
  3. It might be catching!

Psychological Sclerosis

I thought that would excite you!  Sclerosis is a word used to describe the hardening of body tissues.  The one that interests me here is the heart – the spiritual heart.  It seems that a lack of daily encouragement can lead to a hardening of the heart.  Here it mentions “sin’s deceitfulness” – but I don’t want to be all preachy.  My single point is that discouragement might as well be called sin because it is so destructive and deceitful.  Encouragement is positively righteous!

I’ve met thousands of people with a hard heart… and perhaps thousands more on the way to a hard heart.  It is not attractive.  Well, at least we know the rememdy: daily encouragement.  The Doctor can keep her apple, I’d prefer encouragement any day!

Our Mission/Hour Mission

So are you ready for our Mission briefing?  Being an encourager (or “fully-paid-up-member-of-the-Human-Race”) is about being creative.  Why?  Well some people are going to pose a challenge!  Can you find something good to say about everyone you meet each day?!!!  If not, there’s a “Plan B”.  Plan B is to find something good to say to everyone you meet.

That will still take creativity – especially if you’re not feeling so good yourself – but it can be done.  You see:

“Action follows attention…”

Psychologically, action follows our thinking patterns (obviously!)  And our thinking patterns are stimulated by where our attention is.  Where is your attention?  By drawing someone’s attention to something encouraging, you tamper with their mindset in a good way!  I don’t usually feel happy after watching the News, do you?  But five minutes with Vanda, and I’m grinning like a joyous chap!  I’d love to be able to have that effect on others.

Hour Mission… how about having this as an hourly ambition and mission – find something good to say to someone each hour.  Sounds exhausting?  Actually it’s the nutrition that feeds and fuels life – because I promise you that you’ll find that when you encourage others, you’ll end up feeling encouraged and energised yourself.

Reframing Reality with the ThinkPen®

If love hurts sometimes, so does life.  How we respond in those moments of trial can make or break us  – and make or break our relationships.

When I take people through my Living Coaching™ process – part of the journey involves learning how to do a “Reality Reframe™”.  The process works most effectively if you use a four-colour pen, or use four separate pens.  The idea of using colour is to code your thinking styles to make sure they are well-balanced.

My own ThinkPen® uses the standard colours: black, green, blue, and red.

Black Ink

We’ll use the blank thinking ink first to represent the clarity of black-and-white thinking.  When ‘stuff’ happens we need to be honest.  Our thinking needs to begin free from the clouding effect of emotions, or bias, or prejudice, or optimism/pessimism.  Describe the facts of the situation in black-and-white – and tell the truth.  What’s the ‘reality’ that we need to reframe?

Green Ink

Next, we’ll use green-ink-thinking to explore the ecology of the real situation.  The situation may seem all bad, but I promise you it isn’t.  Life always moves towards some kind of equilibrium.  In the body this is called ‘homeostasis’.  In Nature we call it ‘the balance of Nature’.  Using the green ink, sketch out the yin and the yang of the situation by answering these two questions:

  • What’s good about this situation?
  • What’s bad about this situation?

Only by finding the value in a situation can we hope to reframe the reality.  This is at the heart of becoming more resilient – a key skill shown by creatives and entrepreneurs.  The ecology of any situation moves towards a balance.  We will need to use our creativity to find a way to keep the benefits of the situation, and transcend the pitfalls.  Viktor Frankl wrote a magnificent book entitled, “Man’s Search for Meaning.”  Viktor highlights that there is something in us that really benefits from finding meaning in setbacks – a reason, a purpose, a value.  We can create or even invent this meaning – it is the fact that we’ve found meaning that propels us forwards.  Viktor should know – he found meaning even in the deep despair of the Prison Camp.

Blue Ink

Blue is the colour of Blue Sky thinking – the kind of thinking associated with positivity, creativity, and the Big Picture.  For this application of a ThinkPen® process, the blue is going to represent the distance the sky has from the event.  It is the power of overview and hindsight.  So if you were to be transported up above the situation so that you could see all the events from beginning to end that led to your current challenge, you could answer these questions:

  • What would I have to have done differently to have avoided this situation?
  • If this situation was to begin to arise again, what would the warning signs be?
  • What would I do differently next time?
  • What have I learned?

Red Ink

Red is the colour of command and of action – just think of road signs.  Given the benefits you’ve found in the truth of the situation, the meaning you have gleaned, and the lessons you have learned, what action will you take now?  There is always some action you can take to get you on a better course.  Actions, when they are physical and obvious are much more motivating so ask yourself:

  • What is my first physical action step to move me forward?

Just like printing needs the four colours CMYK, so also your mind needs four ways to process matters if it’s to get the picture right.  Using this simple four step/four ink process will empower you to Reframe Reality so that it serves your highest good and best purpose.  Don’t just think about it, ink aobut it!

Bonus 1

If you’re a Mind Mapper, using the four-colour ThinkPen® process works brilliantly.  Not only will you get the differentiation of the four colours, you will also be able to use visual-spatial intelligence to map out the four thinking styles.  This in and of itself will let you know immediately if you’re giving too much attention to one thinking style!

Bonus 2

Thinking Styles Questionnaire – if you’re curious about your dominant thinking style at the moment, you can download a questionnaire here.  Remember, I’m happy to support you so feel free to email your results to: lex_mckee@me.com

The Beginning of a Pearl

Irritable-CardHere’s the the ninth post in my series on the Moodscope Cards series: http://www.moodscope.com

Today, it’s the turn of the “Irritable” Card – the sort of card that gives you paper-cuts!

Irritable – is defined by Moodscope as “Feeling Easily Annoyed”

“Irritable” is a wonderful word – it even has a ratty rhythm to it – a kind of tetchy staccato beat!  Irritability is an over-reaction to stimuli.  Rat-ta-tat-tat!   I’m going to speak auto-biographically here.  I’ve noticed over the years that I tend to be irritable with those people I like most!  It’s almost as if I give myself permission to be ratty with those close to me, but I extend a greater tolerance to strangers.  Does that sound around the wrong way to you?

So, for today, the key for me is focusing on the concept of an “over-reaction”.  Whether we’re talking about psychological irritability, or physical irritability like IBS, there is some (over) reaction to a stimulus.  Thus I take a two-pronged approach: 1) reduce the stimuli, and 2) challenge the type of reaction.

1)      Reduce the stimuli.  I am a massive fan of FABs.  “FAB” stands for a “Fluid Adjustment Break”.  When I am over-stimulated and in danger of over-reacting, I excuse myself on pop off either to the loo or to make myself a drink.  Both Fluid Adjustments seem to give me psychological fluidity too, and I can often recover and calm down.  Distance gives perspective.

2)      Challenge the type of reaction.  “Irritation is the beginning of a pearl!”  A pearl is the Oyster’s response to an irritant in its mantle.  By consciously seeking for some value in an experience, I can sometimes turn an irritating situation into a valuable lesson – a pearl of wisdom.  It’s sort of, “Always look on the bright side of life!”  This doesn’t mean that I am naturally optimistic – far from it.  It does mean though that I invest energy into the thinking process used to find something useful in the scenario – and that, in and of itself, is a useful distraction!

May all your irritations today be the beginnings of beautiful pearls!


Economic Ecology

Youth Unemployment across Europe Guardian
Folks, we’ve got over half of the youth in Greece and Spain unemployed.

If you don’t think that matters, you’ll need to realise the Ecology of Economics.   The drain on the Eurozone will affect everything – because, as Leonardo da Vinci observed, everything is connected to everthing else.  This isn’t ‘their’ problem, this is ‘our’ problem,  In the Ecology of Economics, there is no ‘their’ or ‘them’ – it is all ‘us’!

Graph source: http://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2012/oct/31/europe-unemployment-rate-by-country-eurozone

Putting the Power back in PowerPoint

I like this SlideShare presentation so much, I thought I would share it directly with you.

The only difference I would make is the recommendation of iStockPhoto – I cannot recommend them as they have a model where they keep the money you invested if you don’t choose images by a certain time.  This is unacceptable and tantamount to theft.

Hope you found the ideas as helpful as I continue to.