L’ élu: P’tite Ode a Mon Kindlele

Je t’ai attendu
si longtemps
les feuilles moisies
me rappellaient ton absence
je t’ai rêvé
plus de 20 ans
mais cet automne enfin Continue reading

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Notes on Saving Icarus: Lin Yutang’s Pseudo-Scientific Formula for Wisdom

Self-Realization vs Self-Help

Our century is filled with formulas for living, statistical  empirical studies, tests and proofs of what brings happiness, what constitutes the good life that, you may notice, provided you don’t get caught in the hype, only corroborate age old wisdom for happy happening, found in every cultures and especially religious traditions/institutions, like marriage, going to church/synagogue and other rituals, respect of the elders etc…   The promise of Seligman’s learned optimism against learned helplessness, started with humanistic psychology, has degenerated into the overly statistical science of happiness, known as positive psychology. Continue reading

Icarus: the Obligation to Feel Good

Bruegel_IcarusWhy Icarus?

O no, she’s at it again with her Icarus! Yes, I’m at it again, but this time to make a little re-view of “why Icarus?“. Continue reading

Mistakology/failurology: the Icarus Paradox

Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.

Eleanor Roosevelt

The root of all superstition is that men observe when a thing hits, but not when it misses.

Francis Bacon.

Icarus paradoxIt is a truism of self-development that you learn more from your mistakes/failures than from your successes. It’s even better still to learn from other people’s, organization’s mistakes/failures, especially if they follow unprecedented successes. To that effect, Dan Miller, coined the expression “The Icarus Paradox”, for the arrogance of outstanding companies leading to their downfall. The paradox is that your greatest assets, talents, victories, strengths may turn into a liability. In his book by the same name, Miller shows through 4 distinct trajectories how these exceptional companies become their own worst enemy. Continue reading

Of Dead Birds, Fowl, Perception and Interpretation

The ghostly impressions left on glass when birds crash into windows - Telegraph. The root of all superstition is that men observe when a thing hits, but not when it misses. Francis Bacon.

A month ago, I got acquainted for the first time with a peculiar phenomenon: bird-window collision.

I was working in the lounge bathed by the natural sunlight coming through its very large window. I’ve never opened the electric blind so fully before and lo and behold I see; live, a bird crashing against my window with a terrible thump. Continue reading

Learner-Centered Mentoring as an Antidote to the Guru Trap

As a coach/mentor and lifelong learner, I feel the need to keep current on what’s out there in the world of self-help and coaching, both for personal renewal and community building. So it happened that I attended another lecture last week, in my region. It is not important to know all the particulars of this event, except that it was all women entrepreneurs or would-be ones. The lecture was geared at promoting a new course on self-development with success/ happiness as one of the main tenets.  It promised to be very rich, as the women attending, introducing themselves, shared their expectations for the present lecture. However as the lecture proceeded, it would have been the usual cant for me, about the pursuit of happiness and success*, if a 30 something year old woman wouldn’t have been there. Let’s call her E., of course not her real name.

* two (coaching) themes strongly related and interchangeable maybe due to the Latin etymology of ‘success’. For example, in Italian:

succedere happen, occur, succeed, follow, befall, follow one another

http://translate.google.com/#en/it/happen

Happiness Drawing Exercise

This post is dedicated to E. and all the special women like her, I did not seize the opportunity to encourage on their rightful path. But, through this post, the opportunity is not lost: a consolation.

We were some 30 women, +/-, attending this lecture on personal growth and empowerment. E. arrived some 20 minutes late, at her young entrepreneur friend’s invite who was in the know of her plight. E. came all the way from a faraway town to listen to this lecture and eventually sign up for the course it promoted. She seemed very expectant of this class. For our first practical exercise, we were asked to draw with color crayons how each of us viewed our journey in the direction of happiness, how we imagined we’d get there; with the lecturer emphasizing that there were no correct answers: “it’s not an exam”. So far so good. However, when it was time to get feedback from the lecturer on our “masterpieces”, we were all made wrong. No flowers, no spirals, no joyful faces or splashes of colors, no meandering paths, no labyrinths, please. The right answer, dixit the lecturer, was the drawing bellow (without the guy, at the blackboard, with the weird look).

Is the shortest route to happiness the straight one?

shortest route_happiness.jpeg

We were supposed to have a eureka (happy heuristics) moment from this picture: but of course! It’s the straight line that we should have drawn. ‘Why none of you has drawn a straight line?’, rhetorically asked the happiness expert.  E. dared to share her present process, by asking if happiness wasn’t somewhat one result of asking herself what to do with her life and learn what she was meant to become.  E., who made herself vulnerable by sharing her own experience through asking a question, was met with a straight, categorical ‘no’ to her legitimate question, by the happiness high priestess, followed by a sneaky “don’t even think about it”.  The ‘expert’ had to have the last word: we all pursue happiness and we have to learn the rules to get there. Now, E., this young woman who seemed quite confused about her life, the non-expert, was echoing some aspect of one famous quote by Victor Frankl and the know-it-all coach would not acknowledge that !:

Don’t aim at success. The more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it. I want you to listen to what your conscience commands you to do and go on to carry it out to the best of your knowledge. Then you will live to see that in the long-run—in the long-run, I say!—success will follow you precisely because you had forgotten to think about it”

Beyond the labyrinth  Continue reading

Life Is Hard but There’s Despair Inc to the Rescue

Image“When we started Despair, we had a dream. To crush other people’s dreams. But we knew, given our goal, we’d be in for a fight. After all, the Motivation Industry has been crushing dreams for decades, selling the easy lie of success you can buy. That’s why we decided to differentiate ourselves- by crushing dreams with hard truths!”

“No industry has inflicted more suffering than the Motivational Industry. Motivational books, speakers and posters have made billions of dollars selling shortcuts to success and tools for unleashing our unlimited potential. At Despair, we know such products only raise hopes to dash them. That’s why our products go straight to the dashing! Enjoy!” Continue reading