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PastureThere’s an old fable about a grumpy old goose who approached a horse in a paddock.

“I am certainly a more noble and perfect animal than you,” the goose hissed, “For the whole range and extent of your faculties is confined to one element.  However, I can walk upon the ground, just as you do, as well as take to the air with my wings and when it pleases me, I can land on a pond or lake, refreshing myself in the cool waters.  I enjoy the different powers of a bird, a fish and a quadruped.”

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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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Beige is a very popular colour for carpets, walls and curtains.

It makes sense when you’re designing as beige blends in and is inconspicuous.

Unfortunately, beige is also the colour that could describe a lot of people as they try to go through life.

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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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An Indian legend tells of a man who carried water to his village every day, in two large jars tied to the ends of a wooden pole, which he balanced on his back.

One of the jars was older than the other, and had some small cracks.  Every time the man covered the distance to his house, half of the water was lost.

For two years, the man made the same journey.

The younger jar was always very proud of its performance, safe in the knowledge that it was up to the mission it had been made for, while the other jar was mortified with shame at only fulfilling half of its allotted task, even though it knew that those cracks were the result of many years of hard work.

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I first heard this terrific story from author and pastor, Charles Swindoll, although one of my attentive readers has informed me that it was originally written by George Reavis in 1940 (thanks Grace).

Once upon a time, the animals decided that they should do something meaningful to meet the problems of the new world, so they organised a school.

They adopted an activity curriculum of running, climbing, swimming and flying.  To make it easier to administer, all of the animals took all of the subjects.

The duck was excellent at swimming.  In fact, he was better than his instructor.  However, he made only passing marks in flying and was very poor at running.  Since he was so slow in running, he had to drop his swimming class and do extra running.  This caused his webbed feet to become badly worn, meaning that he dropped to an average mark in swimming.  Fortunately, “average” was acceptable, therefore nobody worried about it – except the duck.

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Over the course of human history, we’ve gone through many transformations. 

We started as Hunters and Gatherers before realising that it was much more effective to plant crops and domesticate animals and thus the Agricultural Age began.  People started to settle in towns and 90+% of traditional hunter gatherers got on board and began to till the earth.

Then in the late 18th Century, people learned how to increase efficiency even more through the greater use of machinery, giving us the Industrial Age.  Mass production started and raw materials were able to be turned into something useful. Even farms began to industrialise, meaning that less people needed to work the land as they became more efficient at producing food for the ever-increasing cities that were being formed.  Today, only 3 percent of Americans are farmers, feeding the entire country and providing exports elsewhere. 

Now we are well and truly into the Information or Knowledge Age.  It’s an age when computers have increased efficiency so much that traditional manufacturing jobs are disappearing at a rapid rate, especially in the developed world.  It’s a time when ideas are king, when emotional intelligence is crucial to your success and when you have the opportunity to do much more meaningful work than was possible to previous generations.

So how can we prepare ourselves for the Knowledge Age?

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One of the greatest legacies that we can give to our children is confidence. 

Having confidence will assist your children in their schooling, help them develop meaningful relationships, assist them in making better decisions as teenagers and be a great starting point for a successful career. 

So what are a few ways we can assist our kids in developing confidence?

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In the many career workshops and coaching discussions I have held over the years, one of the common issues that comes up is that many people have no idea what they want to do with their careers. 

The reality is that you can’t have a flourishing career if you have no idea what you want to do, so it’s an important issue to resolve.

So, how can you find your career path?  Here’s a simple acronym that I have found helpful over the years.  To make it easy to remember, I use the word PATH:

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