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This great story from Paulo Coelho comes from his book Like a Flowing River.

A father was trying to read the newspaper, but his little son kept pestering him.

Finally, the father grew tired of this and, tearing a page from the newspaper – one that bore a map of the world – he cut it into many pieces and handed them to his son.

‘Right, now you’ve got something to do. I’ve given you a map of the world and I want to see if you can put it back together correctly.’

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I’ve been considering those people who seem to wield considerable influence beyond their capability or level of talent.

You know who they are, they’re fire-lighters, not fire-fighters.

They’re people who naturally increase the passion and enthusiasm of those around them.

Frankly, they’re gold in any organisation and the good news is that you can join their ranks.

To assist you in your self-awareness regarding your influence, I’ve got five simple questions:

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Some people are so anonymous in their efforts, that if they’re not there, no-one even notices.

When they are in attendance, they quietly sit and do nothing, impacting nobody, interacting minimally and adding no value.

They’re found in the workplace, on professional sporting teams, in churches and in any other organisation.

They watch the clock, read a few emails, take short-cuts any chance they can, get easily distracted and take up space.

The alternative is so much better. Read the rest of this entry »

Snow scene at Shipka Pass

Image via Wikipedia

Avalanches are incredibly destructive forces that take all before them.

They are often initiated by a loud noise, then the snow begins to build up, gradually gathering momentum until it becomes an unstoppable force.

Why not start one of our own?

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If you’re a leader, there’s a reason why you’re a leader.

You are meant to lead, to make decisions, to cast vision, to take responsibility.

There’s a dilemma that I see many leaders caught up in.

We are told to listen, to be collaborative and to get others involved in the decision-making process.

Sounds good and I agree.  But there’s a limit.

Don’t let the tail wag the dog!

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When people think of inspirational leaders, they often refer to the great orators like Winston Churchill or Barack Obama.  These are leaders who are able to deliver a clear, clarion message that can impact the emotions of listeners and leave them feeling more inspired than before.

Thankfully, being an inspirational leader is not solely reliant upon standing up in front of a group of people and there are a few things that we can all work on that can assist us in getting more discretionary effort from our people.

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A paved Roman road in Pompeii, Italy.

Image via Wikipedia


Taking the high road is one of those throw away lines that people sometimes use when in conflict with others, but it’s a phrase that’s very rarely explained.  

According to John C. Maxwell there are three roads that we can take in life:  

  1. The low road – where we treat people worse than they treat us
  2. The middle road – where we treat people the same as they treat us
  3. The high road – where we treat people better than they treat us

There aren’t many people who would admit to taking the low road, but I’m sure that many would admit to taking the middle road, treating people the same as they treat us.   

Whilst there is good reason for this, I would advocate always taking the high road.  

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“Daddy, do you love me?”

Wow!  As a parent, I go straight into panic mode when I hear those words.

“Of course!  Why do you ask?  I tell you all the time!”  The responses come thick and fast as I attempt to overcome any concerns my kids may have that they’re not loved.

As I consider the gravity of this question, I can’t help but be challenged to ensure that each of my children (and my wife for that matter) know without a shadow of doubt that they are loved.

Here are four ways to get me started:

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These days we have a plethora of communication options available to us.

You can write a fantastic email that delivers your message instantaneously to dozens of people.

You can connect with hundreds of acquaintances or like-minded people (they can’t all be friends) through Facebook or twitter.

Perhaps you can start a YouTube channel and begin speaking your message to the camera and the masses beyond.

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Photo courtesy of Flickr

You know the difference.

Thermometers tell us the temperature and thermostats regulate it.

If you want to be a leader, aim to be a thermostat, not a thermometer.


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