Original Thought · Self Improvement · Uncertainty

Peer Pressure

When faced with the decision to research a subject, ruminate on the information, reflect on the consequences and form your own opinion or blindly accepting the collective fiction of a group, which do you choose? Does it matter if the subject seems significant? trivial? If the consequences are personal and material, do you resort to the easier approach or take a harder road?

Group think works because thinking is hard work. Comprehending an appropriate question and choosing a credible source of information are skills that we have stopped practising.  My greatest strength is my ability to synthesise disparate ideas. My greatest weakness is my ability to synthesise disparate ideas. Regardless, I tend to rush to a conclusion and if the destination at the end of a straight line is familiar, I will probably go where my eyes take me.

We are kept from our goal not by obstacles but by a clear path to a lesser goal.” ~ Robert Brault

The road less travelled is bound to be more challenging, more interesting and more scenic. I am heading out to Sundre Alberta this afternoon. I have made the trip hundreds of times and often vary the route. If I wanted to arrive in 1 hour and 7 minutes, the fastest course is to stick to the freeway (QE2). Traffic clips along at 120 km ph and on a Friday is bumper to bumper. My goal in heading away from the city is relaxation and mindfulness and if I speed along with the crowd, I arrive irritated and anxious. However, if I meander on lesser highways with a slower speed and considerably less traffic, I am able to take in the majesty of my surroundings and rather than getting stressed by the trip, I am relaxed and inspired by it.


If I am distracted by the shortest path; however, I measure that – least time, least effort, most familiarity, personal preference, invalid excuses, unrealistic fear I will always miss out on the journey and will probably arrive somewhere that I have already been but without the learning, preparation, or anticipation.

Make Today Remarkable, by resisting peer pressure posturing and embracing some originality,



Original Thought · Self Improvement · Uncertainty

Are You a Segregationist?

bending willow

Are we practising segregationists? Segregation defined as the act or practice of segregating; a setting apart or separation of people or things from others. In the not so distant past, I surrounded myself with like-minded folks who held and espoused the same views of ideas, policies, and people. While a scary practice, it becomes critical and unhealthy when the like-minded crowd out everyone else and sound walls of similarity are constructed to keep ‘them’ and ‘their nonsense’ out of sight and sound. I was comfortable defining people by how they differed from me and couldn’t/wouldn’t consider making a crack in the wall to let the freshness of something new or different in.

I watched my tribe grow organically, like a Persistent organic pollutant (POP) defying any degradation of its power with stubbornness and vitriol. I used energy; kinetic, physical and emotional to hold different opinions at bay and resisted considering possibilities, even when I could feel the glimmer of dishonesty and see the light of inconsistency in my position. I set myself apart from others who were different and surrounded myself with folks who conformed to my ideals and confirmed my ideas. We were diverse in age, race, and economic conditions but marched in lockstep to policies and positions that we hadn’t necessarily given the proper consideration to.

My observation is that segregationists exist at all places on the political spectrum; left, right, and center. Ideology around religious, environmental, economic, and social fictions are strong regardless of race, creed, ethnicity, gender, age. We all draw close to people who ‘do things the right way’. We like people who are like us. and consequently and unfortunately we don’t easily like people who aren’t like us; unless we make a concerted and committed effort.

The effort to openness is enormous. We have been shunning those who are different from us (in any/many ways) for 70,000 years. When Homo Sapiens started creating community and culture they needed to create a common narrative – a Sapien fiction that allowed and justified unearned trust. As we began to live more complex and crowded lives, we redoubled the narrative. The Sapien fiction allowed them to usurp and probably slaughter other homo species of the day. Millenia later we are still separating ourselves, within one species, into groups based on the myths we tell ourselves about ourselves and the world we live in.

What would happen if we took a slightly different approach? What if we allowed a 10-degree reorientation to take place? If I was open to 10% of what makes someone else different from me, would I be a different person? better? yes. possibly.

When I am willing to shift 10 degrees from my stubborn fiction and the person in front of me shifts the same, we have less distance between our stories and might be close enough to see where they overlap.

Imagine a centrist Democrat ( Jack) meeting a centrist Republican (Jill). Under most circumstances, they may not give each other the time of day on issues of health care, taxation, or immigration. If Jack shifts their position towards Jill’s by 10 degrees and she does the same, they may both realise that they want what is best for most people and only differ on tactics. Once the chasm narrows, there seems to be greater willingness to listen, if not appreciate to someone else’s opinion. Curiousity to understand builds bridges while asking questions in order to overpower builds walls.

How do I more consistently become an integrationist? How do I hold strong views strongly and still be willing to hear other fictions? Maybe this fable by Dorothy Colleen is a guide.
The Oak and the Willow, a fable
In a field, there was an oak at one end, and a willow-tree at the other.

Whenever a wind moved through the field, the willow swayed in the wind, while the oak remained unmoved.

When this happened, the willow said to itself, “I wish I was as strong as the Oak, instead of bending over with every breeze“ then one day a large windstorm whipped through the field.

When the storm passed, and the darkness lifted, the willow looked across the field, and was shocked to discover that the oak was laying on the ground, broken. When the Gardener came into the field, the willow said, “Oh sir, what happened to the Oak? How is it that I survived the storm, weak as I am, and the Oak fell?”

The Gardener said, “Oh little willow-tree, do you not understand what happened? When the winds blow, you bend with them, while the oak remains still. So when a really powerful wind comes along, you can bend with the wind, and survive it. But the Oak cannot bend, and so if the wind is strong enough, it will break. For the Oak had a secret, a weakness within that no one looking at the outside could see. And the Gardener went on his way, leaving the willow to ponder what he said.

Moral: Strength within and strength without are not the same, and one should cultivate strength within first. Also, when the winds of life blow, bend, and you may survive the real storms when they come. Try and resist them, and when the real storms come, you may break instead.

Original Thought · Self Improvement · Uncertainty

Dare to Fail


mistakesIf I am not making at least three mistakes a day, I am not trying. My greatest opportunities are waiting for me to have the courage and willingness to attempt them. The least I can do is step up to the plate and swing the bat. Sometimes I will foul off a curveball and learn to be more patient. On occasion, I will whiff on some high heat and gain some perspective regarding the challenge and some skills I need to develop. In a few instances, I will get hit or brushed back and end up on my butt looking foolish but if I get back up and step back into the box, I get another appearance at the plate. If I put my head down and slink off to the dugout, after striking out, I have missed the chance to improve, innovate and endure.
I am generally active in my world for 16 to 18 hours a day. If I take lots of swings and only whiff at a one every 5 to 6 hours, I am missing my share at the plate. Yesterday I wrote something rude and inane in an attempt at humour, I quoted the wrong James brother in an attempt to convince (and was corrected), I blurted out a thesis that I hadn’t thought through (as an extrovert, I do this many times a day) while trying to understand, in an effort to be curious I asked an impertinent question (without understanding my insensitivity). I wrote 750 words in an ongoing chapter, most of which turned out to be crap – but there is one sentence that has possibilities. I met 4 new people and all of them were generous and supportive about a ‘big idea’ that I shared with them and I was interested and present as they recounted what they are working on.
I ran in the rain, laughed with a stranger, ate with a friend, slept well and dreamed hard. The last sentence weren’t risks or mistakes but not that long ago they would have been unusual. I took steps to make them possible and now they seem familiar rather than odd.
A speaker yesterday, suggested that we need to let out crazy ideas out because they just might work. I have no shortage of absurdity wrestling for space in my head and now I have been given permission to give voice and action to more of it. If 3 out of 10 turn out to be viable and feasible, I will be thrilled with that average. If 1 in 100 is a home run, I still get to run the bases one more time than someone who is sitting in the stands watching the game being played by others. If my timing is right and my idea scores for me but also adds remarkable value to the efforts of three other crazy folks, then we are on our way to achieving another reason to celebrate our teamwork,
Even if I don’t clear the bases 99/100, the one grand slam is still exhilarating.
What risks can you take this morning? tomorrow? this week? Are you willing and maybe excited with the freedom and permission to make mistakes? Would you be willing to create a “My Mistakes” journal and record all the times that you pushed the envelope and had it tear? Would you commit to celebrating the 1/100 big success and commit to learning from the 99 stumbles?

If you have the confidence and courage to shake up your days, your week, your life and rattle some cages, leave a comment or contact me at bob@remarkablepeople.ca and we will figure out how we can connect and support each other.

Make Today Remarkable, by trying enough scary stuff so that you fail three times,

“If you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not doing anything. I’m positive that a doer makes mistakes.”  ~ John Wooden
“A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.”  ~ George Bernard Shaw
“I think it’s important for scientists to be a bit less arrogant, a bit more humble, recognising we are capable of making mistakes and being fallacious – which is increasingly serious in a society where our work may have unpredictable consequences.”
~ Robert Winston

“You have to change your life for yourself, and it’s about the fun of getting there – sitting in the tour van, breaking down on the side of the road, you know, having a laugh with the guys in the band, making mistakes with nobody watching.” ~ Imelda May

Original Thought · Uncertainty

Less Focus and More Attention



My importance is only perspective. When I think that I am the center of the universe (or you do), it is only because of where our attention is focused. If I stare at a dot on a paper the surrounding white space shifts so that my concentration is on the spot.
If I focus on the negative impacts that I see from the actions of a world leader, it becomes my topic of discussion, where I spend intellectual and kinetic energy and impacts my mood. Where I place my attention nudges my ideation and action. If I am trying to find a poverty reduction strategy and it is my focus then I miss any opportunity that a prosperity creation strategy could add. If I wring my hands about the news regarding the Paris Climate Accord and the discord around the decision, I might miss the lessons that can be learned from new collaborations and strategies.
Focus is important when undertaking tasks like scuba diving, rock climbing or hang-gliding (life and death in the balance) but only seeing my nose or navel in more complex circumstances leads to missed opportunities.

Today I am going to notice the world around me; the things that rile me, the things that resonate with me and the things that rattle me but I am also going to watch for the stuff that is obscured by too much attention.

Make Today Remarkable by broadening your horizons,

Tomorrow; You do have a religion/philosophy even if you can’t name it