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Photo by Thomas Hawk via Flickr

Snakes are one of the most maligned creatures going around.

From the giant anaconda of the Amazon, to the rattlesnakes of the Americas, the cobras of Asia and Africa and the taipan of Australia, there are many well-known species and they have managed to inhabit almost the entire planet.

Since the Garden of Eden, they’ve been feared, but there are a few principles that we can learn from these unique creatures.

What can we learn from snakes?

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I came across this story a few years ago and really like it.  I’m not sure of the origins of the story but it’s a favourite of mine as it describes the sort of positive attitude that we can choose to have despite our circumstances.

Jerry was the kind of guy you love to hate. He was always in a good mood and always had something positive to say. When someone would ask him how he was doing, he would reply, “If I were any better, I would be twins!”

He was a unique manager because he had several waiters who had followed him around from restaurant to restaurant. The reason the waiters followed Jerry was because of his attitude. He was a natural motivator. If an employee was having a bad day, Jerry was there telling the employee how to look on the positive side of the situation.

Seeing this style really made me curious, so one day I went up to Jerry and asked him, “I don’t get it! You can’t be a positive person all of the time. How do you do it?” Jerry replied, “Each morning I wake up and say to myself, ‘Jerry, you have two choices today. You can choose to be in a good mood or you can choose to be in a bad mood.’ I choose to be in a good mood. Each time something bad happens, I can choose to be a victim or I can choose to learn from it. I choose to learn from it. Every time someone comes to me complaining, I can choose to accept their complaining or I can point out the positive side of life. I choose the positive side of life.”

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I seem to have this conversation on numerous occasions every day with my five year old son and I’m sure that most parents could relate to this.

“Hayden, go and get your shoes.”

“I can’t find them.”

“Did you look?”

“Yes.”

“In your bedroom?”

“Yes.”

“Did you look properly?”

“Yes.”

“If I have to get up and look in your room and they’re in the middle of the floor, I’m going to be annoyed.”

“I found them.”

“Where were they?”

“On the floor in my bedroom!”

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I’m sure it’s happened to you too.

You’re in an important meeting or workshop and you have a great idea that you believe you really have to share.

At least it seems like a good idea until you say it out loud.

The expressions on everyone else’s faces tells you that it wasn’t such a good idea after all.

You’ve just swung and missed!

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On his blog, John C. Maxwell recently showed a video clip for a message that he was delivering.  He started to tell this story (or at least a derivative of it) when his own attitude was tested with humourous consequences. 

He never got to finish the original story, so I searched for it and found this version on Kent Crockett’s site.

Two construction workers had taken a lunch break and opened up their lunch boxes.

One of them looked inside his box and said, “Not baloney sandwiches again! I can’t believe it. I hate baloney.  This is the third time this week I’ve had baloney. I can’t stand baloney!”

The other one said, “Why don’t you just ask your wife to make you something different?”

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There’s a story about two brothers who appeared on an American talk show.

The first one came out and told his story.

He was divorced, broke, unemployed, angry about life, unable to control his emotions and had problems with alcohol abuse.

When asked why he thought he was this way he responded, “What choice do I have?  My father was an abusive alcoholic and I was destined to turn out like this, it’s all his fault!”

Then the second brother came out.

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Common Raven (Corvus corax), Kugluktuk, Nunavu...

Image via Wikipedia

I was driving along a quiet road next to a national park the other day and saw three ravens on the road in front of me.

Instead of flying away, they hopped across to the other side of the road as I approached.  At first I thought that they were at risk, then I remembered that ravens are reasonably intelligent birds and must know what they are doing.

As I drove on another car came the other way, so I looked in my rear view mirror to see what the birds would do.

Two of them comfortably moved to one side, but the other one took too long and ended up being hit by the other car.

As I drove off, surprised by what I had seen, I realised that many people are like that raven, taking unnecessary risks that can jeopardise their future and have significant, avoidable implications.

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In our modern society that is so consumer driven, we seem to want more, more, more.

More money, more gadgets, bigger houses and cars, more trappings of success.

But sometimes, less is more.

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In many sports, there are moments when you can choose to commit to the contest and risk injury in the quest for greatness and victory for your team, or you can back down and risk mediocrity.  Avoiding physical contact is called taking the “soft option.”

Every day, we are confronted with multiple choices.  How we act on those options will determine our future success.

In life, most people choose what’s easiest, what they’ve always chosen, what’s most convenient, what they see everyone choose, perhaps what their parents chose.

If you want to make the most of your life and stand out from the crowd, don’t take the soft option.

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A Roman denarius, a standardized silver coin.

Image via Wikipedia

OK, now Darren’s really gone off the deep end.

Bear with me, this does make sense.

The theory is this, when you have a decision to make, assign an option to heads and tails, toss a coin and go from there.  it sounds simplistic (and in many ways it is).

Why does this work?

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