Monday, November 24, 2014


When I'm asked what Mindfulness is, I'm often tempted to offer a nicely parcelled definition, courtesy of Wikipedia or some other font of wisdom.

But I've realised over the years that it's easier to tell people what it's not, rather than what it is.

So here goes...

Mindfulness is not:
  • concentrating on an idea
  • getting rid of all thoughts
  • complicated
  • about transcendental experiences
  • religious
  • withdrawing from the world

Having said all of that, since Mindfulness is an experience, it's usually best to be it (or try it or do it) rather than talk and think about it. 

After all, there'd be little point in describing the taste of a strawberry if there's one sitting on your plate.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


In more lucid moments I realise that much of my time is spent trying to get somewhere...somewhere else, somewhere that I'm not already at.

And with that thought comes the realisation that everything that I've ever done, said, felt, thought or wished for has brought me to where I am now.

So in a sense I've already achieved what I set out to do. It might not be what I want now, but it must reflect what I wanted, otherwise what have all those actions, thoughts, feelings and aspirations been for?

Now I know this argument isn't bullet-proof at least at a rational level. But it feels healthier than the constant dissatisfaction of seeming to be never where you want to be.

Does it work for you?


Hat tip to Ian Glendinning for using this term which seems to indicate an uncontrollable urge to measure the unmeasurable, prove the intangible and generally reduce everything to some kind of number soup.

Ian goes on to quote Einstein (no messing about here):

What counts can't be counted

And from someone that could count better than most...

Anyway, finally I have a name for a phenomenon that's been irritating me for a while, often parading itself as tired old adages such as You can't manage what you can't measure

But Scientisitic Neurosis manifests in other pernicious ways:

  • An insatiable need to 'evidence' the bleeding obvious: "Studies show that lack of sleep is bad for your health" (possibly driven by post-grad grant applications?)
  • A refusal by organisations to countenance any intervention that can't demonstrate a measurable Return on Investment. This particular neurosis generates pseudo-statistics around intangibles such as engagement, well-being, even happiness.
  • Gaming: engaging in perverse behaviour in order to meet targets. E.g. keeping casualties in ambulances to reduce the time they spend in Accident & Emergency departments.

Even Deming (an Electrical Engineer and eminent Management Consultant) stated that you would never be able to measure the benefit of training a team of people in a particular skill:

 You may spend $20,000 to train six people in a skill. That benefit will come in the future. We'll never be able to measure that benefit. Never.

Any views to the contrary gratefully and respectfully received...


We all appear to invest a lot of time and effort in trying to change people for the better: our partners, our families, our colleagues, our friends. Sometimes even ourselves.

But it seems to me that the way we attempt to change people is often rather like trying to change the plot of a soap opera by fiddling with the telly. You might brighten things up a bit, or make it quieter... but you're not going to change the storyline. The only way you're going to do that is by getting to the script.

Now, you may have noticed that changing other peoples' scripts can be challenging, to say the least. Their behaviours are well protected by very effective firewalls. I suspect that many coaches will tell you that behaviour change is one of their prime objectives and that it is not always successful.

So how do you get to the script - how do you get behind the firewall?

Well my experience to date is straightforward: You Can't - that's right, you can't change other people's behaviour. I'm open to other points of view on this, but so far, that how it seems to me.

I'm also slowly coming to the conclusion that not only is it not possible, but that it's also not necessary and not even desirable.