Walking Up The Down Escalator


Walking Up The Down Escalator

I spent the other evening trying to ‘encourage’ a friend. I wasn’t trying to cheer them up so much as helping them to see themselves as other people see them – which is a lot more positively than they see themselves.

It…. Was……. Hard……………….. Work………………………………

Meditating on this in the bath, I remembered an important lesson I’d temporarily forgotten. This is that people have a bank ledger when it comes to the positives and the negatives in their lives. If they have far more deposits in the negative ledger, it takes a lot of positive inputs to balance the books. You can be positive with them, but it is totally unrealistic to expect a positive response for a long time – there’s just too much of a deficit to clear.

I’ve heard this is the case with ‘Rescue’ dogs – they take a long time to trust their new owners, but then become fiercely loyal and protective of them… whilst maintaining a distrust of strangers.

It reminded me of how some people describe debt: like trying to walk up a down escalator.

Many of my Bi-Polar friends, like me, are in debt. We have had an abundance of negative investment in our lives. We’re on the down escalator hoping to get back at least to the level.

I don’t say this in any kind of ‘Sob Story’ way – just plain accounting – we’ve had more negatives than positives.  These are in the emotional bank account – I’m not talking about the concrete things in life – food, shelter, clothing – in these aspects we are rich.

So here’s my word of encouragement. Be gentle with yourself. If someone is kind to you and you don’t feel able to respond, realise that it is at least a step up the down escalator. Lock onto that positivity and look out for more. The rest is pure maths. Get sufficient positives in and you will get to the top of that down escalator back onto the level.

Then, you might just find the up escalator… and that’s a lot of fun.


Do you remember being told to, “Walk!  Don’t Run!”?

I’m going to encourage you to be disobedient.

Run up that down escalator… across the level floor… then up the up escalator.

Life’s too short to be down.

Rite of Passage -l- The Bathtub


Sometimes we just need to change.

To achieve this well, it helps to have a “Rite of Passage”.

Many tribes do this with their children when they come of age.

We do it when we have a Wedding Service or a big birthday celebration.

But I can’t afford to wait for a birthday or a wedding.

I need to change on a daily basis.

That’s why I’m a fan of small rites of passage.

One of my favourite is bath-time.

I go into the waters one person, and come out another.

I go in (relatively) smelly, and come out smelling of roses!

I plunge beneath the waters (relatively) dirty, and rise up cleansed.

I sink in exhausted, I spring forth regenerated… ish.

No wonder some of the World’s Religions like the idea of ritual washing.

Some call it “Baptism”.

But I wonder, could I go into my bath low in spirit, and emerge refreshed, ready to face the World and myself renewed?  Even resurrected?


I just tried it…

…it worked.

The Affirmative Alliance


I’ve had a bit of a Jerry Maguire moment brewing… for years. You see, I think people need more recognition than they get. I think people need more encouragement.

These are fundamental human needs – the need for positive attention.

Years ago, I designed and had made “Oomph!” + “Spark!” badges to “catch people doing good”.

My little crusade was tactical and sporadic but it has endured and continues to be great fun.

When I find someone is consistently good for people, I give them a “Spark!” badge because they’ve got that certain “Spark!” You know the type – the bus driver who always has a smile for you no matter the weather, or the way they are feeling; the railway guard on the train who puts a bit of passion in their announcements; the Library Assistant who always uses your name when checking you in or out!

“Oomph!” badges have gone to that special class of people: positive mind-readers! Since I don’t believe anyone really is a mind-reader, let me explain. These are the people who anticipate what would delight you and then deliver it with passion.

Growing up…

Now is the time for my passion for people to grow up a bit more and spread its wings over the Planet… no small ambition then! I’d like to set up a Community Interest Company and then a Charity dedicated to “catching people doing good”. I know this isn’t good grammar but it is wonderfully and positively ambiguous as a phrase.

“Oomph!” + “Spark!” has focused on the quick wins – people who give excellent service. The Affirmative Alliance would be all inclusive. It takes in members of your own family, your friends and those angels we sometimes encounter as “strangers”.

However, this needs a professional structure. My all time model of excellence is the John Lewis Partnership. I’d be looking for “partners” who would share in the success of the business of catching people doing good.

I am also becoming a ®evolutionary economist. I don’t want to create a franchise or a way to make money. You would only ‘join’ the Alliance because you want to. I would like to create an effective business structure where people would put in what they wanted to and were never badgered for funds or pestered for pennies. This is all about doing something good that we all want to do and love to do. This is about being fully human.

However, it will be a licence to print money… more on that below!

How much time?

You may ask me, “How much of my precious time will this take up?” And with a wink, I will say, “You can do this in a twinkling of an eye… and with a twinkling eye!” Yet the whole truth is that it will take up all of your time. You see, it’s a philosophy – to wilfully calibrate your attention to deliberately capture people getting things right, being kind and thoughtful to others, doing a good job, and just doing good. When you meet another Affirmative Alliance Member and you ask them, “How are you?” they will be able to answer with immediate passion, “I’m doing good, thank you, and you?”


You might be thinking that this is all a bit too touch-feely for you. It’s all a bit positive. I understand. When I’m having a bad day, I sometimes feel like punching someone who is overly positive. So let’s be clear on this, The Affirmative Alliance is therapy for ‘normal’ people. I can be very irritable… so I need to change my own attention to focus on other people and what I like about them. It’s a software programme for the mind. It is NOT about fixing people!

If I may pick up that last point. A lot of my positive friends want to fix things – make them better. I like that, most of the time. But this is far simpler – this is just about people doing stuff and just being in a way that you go, “that’s cool!”

You could be in the worst mood of your day and still be a partner in the Affirmative Alliance – because it is never about you.

A licence to print money…

Again, years ago, I wanted to create a currency of attention. Positive attention is the most important asset to the human psyche. People will do amazing things in their quest for attention. In fact, attention is so important, people will settle for negative attention if they can’t get the good stuff. This is why toddlers keep throwing tantrums if they can’t get what they want… and why the same behaviour continues in organisations when managers always get what they want!

Well, I’ll be satisfied with nothing less than a ®evolution. Let’s give people the good stuff, then they’ll realise how bad the bad stuff really is! Affirmative?

My currency of attention gives people an easy way to give other people positive recognition. It’s a currency I call the “Neuro”. I called it this because of the link to the good this does our neurology and because of people’s familiarity with the currency of the Euro. The Euro is a currency of alliance, even if the road is rocky at times!

Neuros are like bank notes (I print them!) with a space for your name and the person’s name you are recognising, and a specific reason for why you are recognising their excellence. I’m a fan of unconditional acceptance of others, but when it comes to learning, people benefit from specific feedback on why they are doing good for others.

This ®evolutionary movement can start in tiny ways. You can ‘recognise’ someone for changing a toner cartridge without having to be asked, or for clearing away the cups in the office kitchen. And you if haven’t got a neuro to give them, you could be ®evolting by giving them a good old-fashioned ‘thank you!’

Minister of Encouragement

If this all sounds a bit spiritual, that’s because it is. I have a degree in Theology and a life-long fascination with psychology and Natural History. I like “Life” and I love people!

My theology is probably very inaccurate, so you wouldn’t have to be a Christian to put your hands up for the Alliance. You’d merely have to agree with one bit of wisdom from the New Testament:

Encourage one another daily as long as it is called ‘Today’…

I propose a daily discipline of catching others doing good and telling them and other people about their excellence!

Through a combination of Social Media (especially Instagram), “Oomph!” + “Spark!” badges, Neuros and other create ways to give recognition, I think we can fan a spark of positive ®evolution into wildfire that will catch light to people’s imaginations across the Globe.

And I’d like to invite you to be a Minister of Encouragement! I’d also like to invite you to become ®evolting together with me!!

What do you say?

Why I Am Becoming a Luddite

I’ve just tried to deal with Plusnet. Great advertising. Fab marketing. But the only way we’d end up with a net positive would be if I could take the minus experience I’ve had and times it by a minus.

You see, I thought I was dealing with people but I was dealing with a machine… a machine that was broken. And I didn’t break it.

We desperately need a revolution… a peaceful one… a human one.

Some people call it the “Connection Economy” – where our humanity, our character, our emotional intelligence, even our flaws all become our defining assets. Flawed humans have stories.   They can say, “sorry” and mean it. They can change. They can change things. They can change history.

I can connect with a person.

The franchised monster that is Industry hasn’t lost touch with what it is to be human – it never was in touch.

I dealt with an Openreach engineer today. You should see their website. It’s amazing. It talks about open access for all and keeping the Nation connected. They sound like heroes. Great advertising. Fab marketing.

But my lovely engineer, if he is a minute late, is ‘reported’ by the tracker in his vehicle. There’s no room for humanity in this tightly run ship… in fact there’s no room for real sailors, only automatons. He was a wonderful chap – we connected. But if he could have jumped ship, he would have done it in a moment… in the twinkling of his eye.

Am I down on corporations? No.

Am I down on technology? No.

They just need to be ruled by humans who’ve retained their humanity. People love people – not processes.