Saturday, April 30, 2022

Learning how to exercise some control over how and what you think


Photo by kevin turcios on Unsplash

Writer David Foster Wallace on the importance of controlling your attention:

"Twenty years after my own graduation, I have come gradually to understand that the liberal arts cliché about "teaching you how to think" is actually shorthand for a much deeper, more serious idea: Learning how to think really means learning how to exercise some control over how and what you think. It means being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from experience. Because if you cannot exercise this kind of choice in adult life, you will be totally hosed."

Source: This is Water (courtesy of James Clear)

Monday, April 25, 2022

Gods (Emily Berry)



While her companion talked on and on sheaimed to keep her expression neutral butallowed her gaze to pass occasionally fromhis face to the large colourful paintingbehind him, which depicted a pair of Hindugods cavorting in an idyllic landscape. Just tothe right of his head she had a glimpse of abright blue pool beneath some trees, and asshe nodded and murmured small soundsof encouragement she imagined herselfplunging into the lake and swimming witha powerful front crawl to the other side.Emily Berry (2022)

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Autumn (Alexander Posey)

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash


In the dreamy silence
Of the afternoon, a
Cloth of gold is woven
Over wood and prairie;
And the jaybird, newly
Fallen from the heaven,
Scatters cordial greetings,
And the air is filled with
Scarlet leaves, that, dropping,
Rise again, as ever,
With a useless sigh for
Rest—and it is Autumn.

Alexander Posey 

Saturday, April 16, 2022


Photo by Darius Bashar on Unsplash

Study-break time bewteen Term 1 and 2, and I'm devoting a couple of posts to some poetry that has accumulated in my in-box.


My friend and I snickered the first time
we heard the meditation teacher, a grown man,
call himself honey, with a hand placed
over his heart to illustrate how we too 
might become more gentle with ourselves
and our runaway minds. It’s been years
since we sat with legs twisted on cushions,
holding back our laughter, but today
I found myself crouched on the floor again,
not meditating exactly, just agreeing
to be still, saying honey to myself each time
I thought about my husband splayed
on the couch with aching joints and fever
from a tick bite—what if he never gets better?—
or considered the threat of more wildfires,
the possible collapse of the Gulf Stream,
then remembered that in a few more minutes, 
I’d have to climb down to the cellar and empty
the bucket I placed beneath a leaky pipe
that can’t be fixed until next week. How long
do any of us really have before the body
begins to break down and empty its mysteries
into the air? Oh honey, I said—for once
without a trace of irony or blush of shame—
the touch of my own hand on my chest
like that of a stranger, oddly comforting
in spite of the facts.

James Crews

Sunday, April 10, 2022

Look through any window yeah, what do you see? Smiling faces all around rushin' through the busy town (The Hollies)

Photo by Nicolas Solerieu on Unsplash

Recently, I was involved in some professional development that used something called the Johari Window. I was asked to discover who I was based on selecting six adjectives from a list. 

Hmmm, I may have reservations about this, however, I can reveal to you my chosen six were: adaptable; calm; cheerful; friendly; dependable; reflective. These go into my Open window.

Others then gave their version of me and while some went for similar adjectives, a few selected 'bold'. This went into my Blind window. Now, I'm not sure what 'bold' means to different people, but maybe I am. It's not how I see myself and that is the point.

Apart from that, Johari's (four pane) Window (the other two are Façade and Unknown) was interesting, but I'm still keen to know where I take it from here.

Something I've known for a looooong time is that I'm a relationships/narrative guy. I'm not a data driven guy, in that, while I can analyse data and produce theses to test, I tend to be suspicious of it all.

When I'm presented with a long succession of statistical tables my eyes tend to glaze over. I'm better with the pictorial graphs of trends. They glaze over because tables/graphs don't tend to include the narrative, nor reveal the relationships, and so, I find myself getting frustrated.

Another thing I know is that I like systems, but they need to have a purpose and for me that means serving people. For that reason I belong in a job like teaching - serving others. I could never run my own business.

Which all serves to point to a fundamental bias - I'm an English teacher. I have a Master's degree in that area and a few post-graduate diplomas and degrees in Educational Management that focused on qualitative research, not quantitative.

Basically, I prefer words to numbers. I'm just built that way. 

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Those who think they know, don’t (Edward de Bono)

While recuperating from covid-19 this week, I enjoyed reading this post by Dan Rockwell looking at four ways to improve your leadership.

First - Quiet your ego. 

Relax! You aren’t better than others. You don’t control the world. The universe won’t flinch when you’re gone.

Second - Embrace learning.

Compared to all the things that could be known, you’re a moron.

“Those who think they know, don’t.” Edward de Bono

Learning and relearning are more important than the things you know.

Third - Lift others.

Arrogance puts people down. Greatness lifts people.

How do people feel about themselves after spending time with you?

Fourth - Stand for something that matters.

Being great requires unbending commitment and unquenchable tenacity.

Great to be reminded of those things.