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My wife Karen made a beef casserole for the first time, leading our five year-old Hayden to ask, “What’s Beef?”

“It’s a cow.” We responded.

“A cow?” He exclaimed.  “What other farm animals do we eat?’  He asked suspiciously. 

Karen and I looked at each other.  Hayden loves animals and this could be interesting.  It was my turn to do the explaining.  I talked about pigs and sheep.  Then I mentioned chicken.

“Oh yeah, I know about chicken.”  Hayden said.  He sat there quietly thinking for a few moments before proclaiming, “The cows we eat were all bad guys.”

He had gone from being surprised and almost outraged to rationalising why we ate beef.

As adults, we often do the same, but in a much less endearing fashion. 

What are some of the dangerous rationalisations that we use?

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One of the great advantages of living in this day and age is the array of choices that we have on offer.

One of the great disadvantages of living in this day and age is the array of choices that we have on offer.

What’s the difference?

Some people have learned how to set goals and prioritise, enabling them to take action on the choices on offer that will get them closer to their aims.  

Others seem to get lost in the wide array of options in front of them.  You know the people, they’re blocking the aisle at the supermarket, standing in front of the 200 kinds of breakfast cereal, genuinely conflicted and unable to choose.

Seth Godin calls this the paralysis of unlimited opportunity.

What can we do to become more decisive?

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Photo via Flickr

Gardening is a great hobby that is enjoyed by many people.  Whilst I wouldn’t call myself an avid gardener, when I finally drag myself outside on a nice day, it is a nice feeling to get a few odd jobs done and have the place looking better. 

Today was one of those days for me and as my wife and I pottered around in the front garden, enthusiastically assisted by our five year old, I had time to reflect on a few life principles that related to gardening. 

So what can we learn from gardening?

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Australian Army Rising Sun hat badge used betw...

Image via Wikipedia

April 25 is a significant day on the Australian calendar.  While we celebrate January 26 as Australia Day, April 25 (known as Anzac Day) is in many ways a reflection of when we came of age as a nation. 

For those who don’t know, Anzac stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps and on April 25, 1915, the Anzacs landed at the hostile beach of Gallipoli for an eight month campaign that ultimately proved fruitless.  Despite the loss, the characteristics displayed by our troops have become part of our folklore.

What can we learn from our Anzacs?

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I came across a study recently that teaches us a few things about human behaviour and how leaders can increase staff effectiveness.

In the late 1970′s, the University of Illinois conducted a series of experiments to see what would get children to eat vegetables that they didn’t like.

They tried a few strategies:

  • they told the children to eat their vegetables.
  • they offered a reward of ice-cream to those who did.
  • they explained why eating vegetables is good for them.
  • they ate the vegetables themselves to act as good role-models.
  • they put the children who didn’t like their vegetables on a table with children who did.

Which strategy was consistently the most successful?

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English: Two Plectroctena sp. ants, either P. ...

Two ants (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Proverbs 30:25 says, “Ants are of little strength, yet they store up their food in the summer.”

Ants are amazing creatures.  It’s estimated that if you were to weigh all of the ants on earth, they would weigh more than the total human population.   Whilst we don’t want them running around in our kitchens, there is a lot that we can learn from them.

So what can we learn from these remarkable insects?  Jim Rohn, a leading business philosopher had a terrific theme that he used to teach called the Ant Philosophy.  It outlines some simple principles that we can all learn from.

What is the Ant Philosophy?

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I came across this great story a couple of years ago.  It has a terrific message about work/life balance and how we sometimes incorrectly measure success. 

An American businessman was on holiday in Mexico.

As he relaxed on the beach, he noticed a fisherman coming in on his boat.  The American complimented the fisherman on his catch and asked him how long it took him to catch that many fish. 

“Not long.” was the reply.

“Then why didn’t you stay out longer?” asked the tourist.

“Because this is enough for me and my family.” explained the fisherman.

“So what do you do with the rest of your time?”

“I sleep late, fish for a while, play with my children, take a siesta and spend time with my wife.  Then in the evening, I go into the village to visit my friends, I have a few drinks, play the guitar and sing a few songs.  I have a full life.”

The American was surprised.  “I have an MBA from Harvard and I can help you.  You should spend more time on the water fishing, then you can sell the extra fish, make more money and buy a bigger boat.”

“And after that?”

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I’m not naturally a list writing person, but experience has shown me the value of writing down tasks that need to be completed.

Whether you use a diary or a note pad at your desk doesn’t really matter, I would encourage everyone to use lists if they want to increase their productivity and here are four reasons why:

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English: Los Angeles Lakers Magic Johnson and ...

Image via Wikipedia

Growing up, I loved basketball and as a Boston Celtics fan, Larry Bird was my hero.

He was a ruthless competitor who wanted to win at all costs.  He ended his career with three NBA titles and three MVP awards.  He also played in 12 All-Star games, testament to his consistency.

Whilst he was 6 foot 9 inches tall, he certainly wasn’t blessed with the same athletic abilities of many of his peers.  He knew that talent alone wasn’t going to get the job done, so he found other ways to get to the top.

What can we learn from Larry Bird?

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As a leader, there’s a saying that’s been on my mind for a few months now.  “If there’s a problem, leadership’s the problem.  If there’s a solution, leadership’s the solution.”

If you’re a leader or aspiring to leadership here’s what this can mean for you and your organisation:

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