Kaizen: The Process of Continuous Improvement In The Workplace

Without Kaizen

  • No structure to the improvement process; few set procedures
  • Goals are not defined or are vague/difficult to measure
  • Changes are made to processes infrequently; little reflection on their effectiveness
  • No plan exists for improvement; improvement is haphazard

With Kaizen

  • Consistent, ongoing process of improvement takes place
  • Improvement process has clearly defined, measurable goals
  • Constant review of successes occurs and the improvement process itself is evaluated
  • Consistency of the process leads to new, higher goals

Find out more about Kaisen and how you and your organisation can benefit from implementation

with this comprehensive resource from our Pivotal Network member, Creative Safety Supply.    ...  Kaizen Training and Research Page -  CSS Research and Training Center

Setting Goals

Pivotal Network – Guide: How to access the deep web and darknet

Put simply, the deep web is all of the information stored online that isn’t indexed by search engines.

You don’t need any special tools to access the deep web; you just need to know where to look.

Specialized search engines, directories, and wikis can help users locate the data they’re looking for.

Google only indexes a tiny fraction of the internet. By some estimates, the web contains 500 times more content than what Google returns in search results. The links that Google and other search engines return when you type in a query is known as the “surface web,” while all the other, non-searchable content is referred to as the “deep web” or “invisible web”.

Most of that information is hidden simply because the vast majority of users won’t find it relevant. Much of it is tucked away in databases that Google is either not interested or barred from crawling. A lot of it is old and outdated. The contents of iPhone apps, the files in your Dropbox account, academic journals, court records, and private social media profiles are all examples of data that aren’t necessarily indexed by Google but still exist on the internet.

Deep web vs darknet

The deep web is often confused with darknet, also called dark web, black web, and black net. Put simply, the deep web is all of the information stored online that isn’t indexed by search engines. You don’t need any special tools to access the deep web; you just need to know where to look. Specialized search engines, directories, and wikis can help users locate the data they’re looking for.

Many of the best general deep web search engines have shut down or been acquired, like Alltheweb and CompletePlanet. Still, a few are hanging around to get you started:

...  from out Pivotal Network member, Comparitech  ...   read more>>>  Guide: How to access the deep web and darknet

 

We also listed this resource on our Pivotal Kids site:

 

Managers Who Listen Achieve Sustainable Results

We’ve all read those statistics that reveal the number of employees who leave their jobs due to management. A recent study of 7,200 employees found that 50% of them left a job because of their manager. These statistics have a negative effect on talent retention and just spikes attrition. But what if those statistics can be used to boost managerial performance instead? Managers who actively prioritize time to listen to their employees have the opportunity to boost business in a number of ways.

Employees Are Empowered to Feel Like A Valuable Part of the Team

Companies who have support from their employees have a better chance of reaching their goals. In the case of Xerox, the company even managed a dramatic turnaround thanks to the efforts of its CEO. This and other success stories all have a common thread - employees are part of the decision-making process.

  • Employees who buy into the plan will welcome change - one of the toughest situations businesses face is change management. There are a number of reasons employees feel ill at ease with change and these include: a lack of understanding, inability to see how it affects the bigger picture, and a shortage of skills or staff to manage current tasks. Those who are part of the journey from the ground up will respond better to change.

  • Employees are better able to motivate their peers - It’s easy to assume that motivation is only needed at a managerial level. Real motivation filters through to other staff members, who will have a positive effect on their colleagues. This promotes teamwork and better facilitation of projects.

  • Employees will feel like they’re part of something special - One of the biggest reasons employees hate their jobs is the feeling that they’re not valuable collaborators.

How To Knuckle Down and Listen to Employees

Managers often avoid listening to an employee because they assume it will involve a cup of coffee and they then proceed to tell their whole life’s tale. However, this is not the case. When employees speak, it’s important for managers to listen with the intention of understanding their situation.

Managers need to be aware that listening to someone is about giving them more than just a platform to speak. They also need to know that their input is valuable. This means that they can’t share the floor or compete with other people or devices. This is about fostering good relationships overall. Managers can take a queue from their personal relationships in this regard. If it doesn’t work at home it also won’t work at the office. These include:

  • Using an electronic device, replying to messages, scheduling appointments, etc. while an employee has the floor.

  • Don’t take it personally. The employee is merely conveying things that are important to them. If they’re being disrespectful or disruptive, rather call them aside and deal with them personally than in front of the group.

  • Use the opportunity to grow. Nothing spells leader more than the ability to take criticism without getting offended.

Fostering good - yet professional - relationships with staff will involve learning a bit more about them as people. Remember the things that are important to them in order to build a relationship of trust. After all, Sir Richard Branson once said “If you look after your staff, they’ll look after your customers. It’s that simple.”

 

From contributor, Jackie

On Writing Well : The Classic Guide

A beloved classic, this definitive volume on the art of nonfiction writing celebrates its 30th anniversary. Revised seven times, it has stood the test of time and remains a valued resource for writers.

On writing well

On Writing Well has been praised for its sound advice, its clarity and the warmth of its style. It is a book for everybody who wants to learn how to write or who needs to do some writing to get through the day, as almost everybody does in the age of e-mail and the Internet.

Whether you want to write about people or places, science and technology, business, sports, the arts or about yourself in the increasingly popular memoir genre, On Writing Well offers you fundamental principles as well as the insights of a distinguished writer and teacher. With more than a million copies sole, this volume has stood the test of time and remains a valuable resource for writers and would-be writers.

 

About the Author

William Zinsser is a writer, editor and teacher. He has been a mentor for countless people who want to write with clarity and confidence.

William began his career on the New York Herald Tribune and has since written regularly for leading magazines. During the 1970s he was master of Branford College at Yale. His 17 books, ranging from baseball to music to American travel, include the influential Writing to Learn and Writing About Your Life. He teaches at the New School in New York.

RRP: AU$ 21.55


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10 Steps to Effective Communication

At the root of any successful leader is a strong ability to communicate. Sure, there have been leaders who have ascended into the highest positions and not had that skill, but they likely didn't last long. This point was illustrated recently as I listened to a NPR program about the failure of the big banks on Wall Street. When Congress grilled executives from these institutions about why they didn't catch the risky investments that were being made that ultimately failed, their answers were all the same and quite simple - we didn't know. It was their job to know and either nobody told them or they didn't catch it in the data they had access to. No flags were raised; nobody asked so nobody told. This is definitely a communication meltdown that had widespread negative consequences.

What is communication?

Communication in life is the pinnacle of every successful - and not so successful - relationship. According to Webster's dictionary, communication is defined as a process of transferring information from one entity to another. Communication processes are sign-mediated interactions between at least two agents, which share a repertoire of signs, and semiotic rules. Communication is commonly defined as "the imparting or interchange of thoughts, opinions, or information by speech, writing, or signs". Although there is such a thing as one-way communication, communication can be perceived better as a two-way process in which there is an exchange and progression of thoughts, feelings or ideas (energy) towards a mutually accepted goal or direction (information).

Why is communication important?

Often times, we have a message which we want to communicate or we want the receiver of message to understand our message in the same sense as we convey it. Take for example a company's need to raise the cost of health insurance. Often times, this is conveyed through a written document to the employees at open enrollment time. The employee's reaction is usually anger towards the company for making them pay more money for health coverage. The miss here is that the company is not sharing as much information as they should to help the employee understand how the raising cost of health insurance coverage affects the company and their contribution too. A company should give the employee a total compensation statement at that time so all employees can see how much the company invests in him/her as individuals. Giving each employee a clear, individualized picture and then telling the employee the cost is raising would change the way the message is received. There may still be anger, but it will be focused on the right culprit of raising costs, which are the insurance and medical companies and not the employer. Effective communication helps in that the message is enable to achieve its goals and helps in receiving the desired response from the reader of the message. Effective communication helps organizations in keeping good relationships with their customers and employees; forwarding information effectively helps in avoiding any dispute that can arise because of a misunderstanding.

Related article:  Conflict: Constructive or Destructive?

The 4 Types of Communication.

I used to work with someone who I refer to as a "chit-chatter." He'd walk the halls every day knocking on doors and say, "do you have a minute?' An hour and a half later he'd still be sitting there rambling. I learned very quickly that my body language could help deter this activity without me having to be rude or disengaging. When Mr. Chatter would show up at my door and say, "do you have a minute?" He'd start to walk in the door before I would answer and I would throw my hand up in the "stop" mode. I would say, "actually, I'm in the middle of something right now, can I get you on my calendar for later today?" His answer was always, "Oh. No, I just came by to say hello." That one gesture changed the whole dynamic of the conversation. There are 4 types of communication that are present in our lives: verbal, non-verbal, written and visual.

Verbal Communication: Verbal communication includes sounds, words, language and speaking. Language is said to have originated from sounds and gestures. There are many languages spoken in the world. The bases of language formation are: gender, class, profession, geographical area, age group and other social elements. Speaking is an effective way of communicating and is again classified into two types viz. interpersonal communication and public speaking. Good verbal communication is an inseparable part of business communication. In a business, you come across people from various ages, cultures and races. Fluent verbal communication is essential to deal with people in business meetings. Also, in business communication self-confidence plays a vital role which when clubbed with fluent communication skills can lead to success. Public speaking is another verbal communication in which you have to address a group of people. Preparing for an effective speech before you start is important. In public speaking, the speech must be prepared according to the type of audience you are going to face. The content of your your speech should be authentic and you must have enough information on the topic you have chosen for public speaking. All the main points in your speech must be highlighted and these points should be delivered in the correct order. There are many public speaking techniques and these techniques must be practiced for an effective speech.

Non-Verbal Communication: Non-verbal communication involves physical ways of communication, like, tone of the voice, touch, smell and body motion. Creative and aesthetic non-verbal communication includes singing, music, dancing and sculpturing. Symbols and sign language are also included in non-verbal communication. Body language is a non-verbal way of communication. Body posture and physical contact convey a lot of information. Body posture matters a lot when you are communicating verbally to someone. Folded arms and crossed legs are some of the signals conveyed by a body posture. Physical contact, like, shaking hands, pushing, patting and touching expresses the feeling of intimacy. Facial expressions, gestures and eye contact are all different ways of communication. Reading facial expressions can help you know a person better.




Written Communication: Written communication is writing the words which you want to communicate. Good written communication is essential for business purposes. Written communication is practiced in many different languages. E-mails, reports, articles and memos are some of the ways of using written communication in business. The written communication can be edited and amended many times before it is communicated to the second party to whom the communication is intended. This is one of the main advantages of using writing as the major means of communication in business activity. Written communication is used not only in business but also for informal communication purposes. Mobile SMS is an example of informal written communication.

Visual communication: The last type of communication out of the four types of communication, is the visual communication. Visual communication is visual display of information, like, topography, photography, signs, symbols and designs. Television and video clips are the electronic form of visual communication.

What is Your Communication Style?

I come from a family where being direct is considered combative. To me, honesty is the best policy and the only way to be honest is to be direct. Of course that ends up causing conflict between myself, my mother and my siblings because they would rather agree with the person to their face then disagree behind the scenes. My style is direct and their style is harmonious (with a bit of passive aggressiveness in my opinion, but that's a blog for another time!) I have adjusted my style to reduce the conflict and I have learned to get my point across without ruffling anyone's feathers. Does it always work? No, but it has reduced my stress and those around me. It is critically important to know your style of communication and recognize the style of others so that you can learn to be flexible in your message without compromising it and drastically reduce the possibility of miscommunication. I found an interesting article that had some critically important information relative to communication style: The 21 most important words in the English language:

The two most important words:

Thank You

The three most important words:

All is forgiven

The four most important words:

What is your opinion

The Five most important words:

You did a good job

The six most important words:

I want to understand you better

The least important word:

I"

Related Article:  Top-Ten Email Management Tips

The Power of Listening:

There is nothing that will derail effective communication quicker than one of the parties not really listening to the other. This recently happened to a client with the financial aid office of the University of Michigan, where his child attends school. Every single person that he have dealt with in that office since his child first attended there in 2009 had been short, curt and robotic in conveying the Federal guidelines for student aid. Clearly, there is a budget they adhere to and there is no going outside the box, which is a total disconnect for him as the recipient of financial aid when he attended the Western Michigan University years ago. HIs perception was that the financial aid office exists to help student find a way to fund their education when they don't have money out of pocket to cover the entire cost. The University of Michigan's Financial Aid Office employees make it clear through their words and non-verbal communication that their mission is to limit the amount of funds that go to each student to meet some secret budget goal. He tried on several occasions to explain this to the head of the department and each time she twisted it around and blamed him for misunderstanding the counselors, or not following their guidelines, or taking what was said out of context. Not once did she acknowledge that she heard what my client was saying or that she would try and help him find financial resources to help him cover the $26,000 annual cost of school. His child asked, "How can I find more money to go to school?" The counselor responded, "By getting married, having a baby, joining the military or your parents dying." He said, "None of those are a remote possibility, to which he responded, "Well maybe you should have chosen a school that was more affordable to you." His child worked hard to get accepted to U of M and he worked hard to save enough money for him to go there. The counselor was actually conveying the Federal guidelines of student aid to him, but it was the way he conveyed it that was totally inappropriate. When my client brought it to the attention of the department director, she was very defensive and blamed the entire issue on me in that he wasn't accepting that these were the guidelines. That wasn't the point, but rather there is a right way and a wrong way to say, no, which is exactly what they were telling his son in terms of getting more aid. The last exchange my client had with the department head, she said, "Please accept my apologies for any response you feel was inappropriate." My client didn't feel the responses were inappropriate, they were. He totally understands the Federal guidelines, and she repeatedly and robotically recited them to him over and over and over again, missing the point. Putting the blame back on my client and his son clearly showed she never listened what I was trying to say and my client wasn't heard. That's an unfortunate gap between a parent and a major function at a major institution.

Managing Conflict: To say my client had a conflict with the U of M financial aid office is an understatement. It was a major communication breakdown, one I'm sure he'll pay the price for at a later date - literally. However it is a normal part of life to have conflict at home, in the workplace, in any situation where two or more people are exchanging information. What is key is how we manage conflict and bring it to successful resolution. In the case of the financial aid office, my client has agreed to disagree, take what they will give and find another resource to cover the gap in tuition. The head of that office will never get what was said to her and he can live with that, it's her loss. There are many effective ways to defuse a tense situation and one thing that has been successful is to decide - what can you live with and what are you not willing to budge on? Knowing conflict happens and being armed with tools to manage through it and resolve it are keys to having the right mindset while it is happening. My client's situation was unfortunate but not personal and I guarantee he is not the first nor will he be the last to experience a brick wall when it comes to the U of M financial aid office. Removing the emotion and defusing the situation helped bring this to a reasonable conclusion.

How Your Attitude Affects Communication: Every attitude is a combination of feelings, beliefs and evaluations. Behavior refers to the reactions or actions of an object or organism and attitude predicts behavior. Persuasive communication changes attitudes, which then affects behavior, which then creates a more productive environment. Persuasive communication involves openly trying to convince another to change their behavior and only works when the source is credible and trustworthy. Addressing trust and credibility first among your coworkers and other critical relationships you have lays a strong foundation. Learning to clearly state your position, followed by supporting arguments and obtaining others' agreement are the keys to persuasion.

Giving and Receiving Feedback: Feedback is a type of communication that we give or get. Sometimes, feedback is called "criticism," but this seriously limits its meaning.

Feedback is a way to let people know how effective they are in what they are trying to accomplish, or how they affect you. It provides a way for people to learn how they affect the world around them, and it helps us to become more effective. If we know how other people see us, we can overcome problems in how we communicate and interact with them. Of course, there are two sides to it: giving feedback, and receiving it.




Getting Feedback: Some people experience feedback as pure criticism and don't want to hear it. Others see it as spiritually crushing; a confirmation of their worthlessness. Still others only want to hear praise, but nothing that might suggest imperfection. That's not the case for everyone, of course. Some people are willing to accept feedback and seek it out, even if it is sometimes disturbing, because they believe they can grow from it. It comes down to whether you believe feedback will harm you or benefit you.

This is not to say that we should always have to accept feedback or the manner in which it is sometimes given. We all have the right to refuse feedback, and we can expect feedback to be given in a respectful and supportive manner. But for every positive and open way of accepting feedback, there's an opposite; a negative and closed manner which pushes feedback away and keeps it at bay.

Negative/Closed Style

Defensive: defends personal actions, frequently objects to feedback given. Attacking: verbally attacks the feedback giver, and turns the table. Denies: refutes the accuracy or fairness of the feedback. Disrespectful: devalues the speaker, what the speaker is saying, or the speaker's right to give feedback. Closed: ignores the feedback, listening blankly without interest. Inactive listening: makes no attempt to "hear" or understand the meaning of the feedback. Rationalizing: finds explanations for the feedback that dissolve any personal responsibility. Patronizing: listens, but shows little interest. Superficial: listens and agrees, but gives the impression that the feedback will have little actual effect.

Positive/Open Style

Open: listens without frequent interruption or objections. Responsive: willing to hear what's being said without turning the table. Accepting: accepts the feedback, without denial. Respectful: recognizes the value of what is being said and the speaker's right to say it. Engaged: interacts appropriately with the speaker, asking for clarification when needed. Active listening: listens carefully and tries to understand the meaning of the feedback. Thoughtful: tries to understand the personal behavior that has led to the feedback. Interested: is genuinely interested in getting feedback. Sincere: genuinely wants to make personal changes if appropriate.

Related Article:  6 Ways to Motivate Others

Giving Feedback

The other end of feedback is giving it. Some people deliver feedback with relish; after all, it's easier to give advice than take it. Some use feedback as a weapon, or offer it as tit-for-tat. For others, feedback is a great way to be critical. How you deliver feedback is as important as how you accept it, because it can be experienced in a very negative way. To be effective you must be tuned in, sensitive, and honest when giving feedback. Just as there are positive and negative approaches to accepting feedback, so too are there ineffective and effective ways to give it.

Ineffective/Negative Delivery

Attacking: hard hitting and aggressive, focusing on the weaknesses of the other person. Indirect: feedback is vague and issues hinted at rather than addressed directly. Insensitive: little concern for the needs of the other person. Disrespectful: feedback is demeaning, bordering on insulting. Judgmental: feedback is evaluative, judging personality rather than behavior. General: aimed at broad issues which cannot be easily defined. Poor timing: given long after the prompting event, or at the worst possible time. Impulsive: given thoughtlessly, with little regard for the consequences. Selfish: feedback meets the giver's needs, rather than the needs of the other person.

Effective/Positive Delivery

Supportive: delivered in a non-threatening and encouraging manner. Direct: the focus of the feedback is clearly stated. Sensitive: delivered with sensitivity to the needs of the other person. Considerate: feedback is intended to not insult or demean. Descriptive: focuses on behavior that can be changed, rather than personality. Specific: feedback is focused on specific behaviors or events. Healthy timing: given as close to the prompting event as possible and at an opportune time. Thoughtful: well considered rather than impulsive. Helpful: feedback is intended to be of value to the other person.

The Importance of Feedback

Feedback is a must for people who want to have honest relationships. A powerful and important means for communication, giving feedback connects us, and our behavior, to the world around us.

Communication and the Digital Age: There are now multiple means of causing communication barriers between people; texting, Facebook-ing, Twittering, instant messaging, voice mail and email to name a few. Stephen Covey's Time Management program preaches for us to be the master of technology versus letting technology being our master. I recently attended a baseball game and when I looked around the stadium, I saw a sea of people looking at their cell phones. They were texting, taking pictures, uploading them to Facebook, talking - it was a new age of mass media blitz. I frequently get instant messages from clients and potential clients asking me in-depth life changing questions and expecting a simple answer in return. It's hard to be an effective communicator in the digital age unless we learn how to use these means in a persuasive and appropriate manner. A client of mine has an employee who constantly fires off scathing emails. My client gets constant complaints about the employee who is perceived as being combative and abrasive. I advised her to sit down with the employee, show her examples of the inappropriate emails, advise her to a 24-hour "cool down" period, then initially reviewing the emails with someone they can trust before hitting the send key. A month later the client reported that 9 out of 10 emails were scrapped before sending. The employee then learned the skill of not reacting via email to other communication that was angering her. It is especially important in this economic climate where we're doing much more with much less and tensions are high.

Ask yourself the following questions:

How would your professional and personal life change if you could successfully master these basic skills?

Can you afford not to make the investment to improve your communication?

You will be amazed at the startling turn your life will take once you learn how to communicate effectively and successfully. Did you know that the most important asset to a company or to a client is a person who communicates effectively, someone who has the ability to influence and persuade others? Are you communicating successfully and effectively to influence others or are you just talking?

i. 2007, Stoney deGeyter; Pole Position Marketing. ii. 2009, Phil Rich, Ed.D., MSW, DCSW; Self-Help Magazine.

About Terri Kern Company
Terri Kern Company, LLC ( [http://www.terrikern.org] ) provides professionals at any level around the globe with the training & development they need to successfully manage their career. From group training, to executive coaching, to one-on-one career development planning, clients that have used TKC for their career management needs have achieved their goals faster, struck a work/life balance, engage in meaningful work and are financially stable. They work with or independent of the professional's current employer.
Vision of Terri Kern Company:
Our vision serves as the framework for the mission and guides every aspect of our business by helping each professional client:
• Create foundation for success through visualizing who you want to be, self-awareness and the perception of others;
• Cultivate a development plan that will bridge the gap between now and later;
• Conquer new skills, behaviors and motivations;
• Succeed in your new world.

Pivotal Public Speaking

,

Head Strong : The Bulletproof Plan to Activate Untapped Brain Energy to Work Smarter and Think Faster-in Just Two Weeks

From the creator of Bulletproof Coffee and author of the bestselling The Bulletproof Diet comes a revolutionary plan to upgrade your brainpower—in two weeks or less.

For the last decade, Silicon Valley entrepreneur Dave Asprey has worked with world-renowned doctors and scientists to uncover the latest, most innovative methods for making humans perform better—a process known as "biohacking." In his first book, The Bulletproof Diet, he shared his biohacking tips for taking control of your own biology. Now, in Head Strong, Asprey shows readers how to biohack their way to a sharper, smarter, faster, more resilient brain.

Imagine feeling like your mind is operating at its clearest and sharpest, and being able—possibly for the first time in your life—to do more in less time? What it suddenly became easier to do the very hardest things you do? Or if you could feel 100% confident about your intellect, and never again fear being the person in the room who just isn’t smart enough, or can’t remember something important? How would you treat people if the mood swings, short temper, and food cravings that disrupt your day could simply disappear?

In Head Strong, Asprey shows us that all of this is possible—and more. Using his simple lifestyle modifications (or "hacks") to take advantage of how the structure of your brain works, readers will learn how to take their mental performance to the next level. Combining the latest findings in neuroscience and neurobiology with a hacker-inspired "get it done now" perspective, Asprey offers a program structured around key areas of brain performance that will help you:

  • Power the brain with exactly what it needs to perform at its best all day long
  • Eliminate the sources of "kryptonite," both nutritional and environmental, that make the brain slower.
  • Supercharge the cellular powerhouses of our brains, the mitochondria, to eliminate cravings and turn up mental focus.
  • Reverse inflammation to perform better right now, then stay sharp and energized well into your golden years.
  • Promote neuron growth to enhance processing speed and reinforce new learning—hotwiring your brain for success.

Asprey’s easy to follow, two-week program offers a detailed plan to supercharge brain performance, including: which foods to eat and which ones to avoid, how to incorporate the right kinds of physical activity into your day, a detox protocol for your home and body; meditation and breathing for performance, recommended brain-boosting supplements; and how to adjust the lighting in your home and work space to give your brain the quality light it thrives on.

A better brain—and a happier, easier, more productive life—is within reach. You just need to get Head Strong.




About the Author:

Dave Asprey is a Silicon Valley investor and entrepreneur, a professional biohacker, and the creator of Bulletproof Coffee made with butter. He is host of Bulletproof Radio, a nationally syndicated radio show and #1 ranked podcast with 10 million downloads. Dave serves as Chairman of the Silicon Valley Health Institute.

Dave spent 15 years and $300,000 to hack his own biology. He used techniques to upgrade his brain by more than 20 IQ points, lowered his biological age, and lost 100 lbs without using calories or exercise.

His work has been featured on The Tonight Show, Nightline, Forbes, CNN, ABC News and FOX News. His writing has been published by the New York Times and Fortune, and he's been featured in The Financial Times, Rolling Stone, Men's Health, Vogue, Fast Company, Marie Claire, Women's Health, and dozens more.

Dave's work is born out of a fifteen-year single-minded crusade to upgrade the human being using every available technology. It distills the knowledge of more than 120 world-class MDs, biochemists, Olympic nutritionists, meditation experts, and hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on personal self-experiments.

From 40 Years of Zen private brain EEG facilities hidden in a Canadian forest to remote monasteries in Tibet, from Silicon Valley to the Andes, high tech entrepreneur Dave Asprey used hacking techniques and tried everything himself, obsessively focused on discovering:

What are the simplest things you can do to be better at everything?




Knowing this leads to being bulletproof, the state of high performance where you take control of and improve your biochemistry, your body, and your mind so they work in unison, helping you execute at levels far beyond what you'd expect, without burning out, getting sick, or just acting like a stressed-out jerk. It used to take a lifetime to radically rewire the human body and mind this way. Technology has changed the rules.

R.R.P. - $49.99        Our Price  $41.99  

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,

If I had a dollar

If I had a dollar for every time someone said to me “I can’t believe you could do that”, I’d be standing on a pile of money.

 

I can’t believe you can stand in front of an audience and not get nervous, I can’t believe you can feel that comfortable about cold calling business, I can’t believe you can ride that zip line, I can’t believe can walk into that room full of executives and not be intimidated, I can’t believe you can return to study at your age, I can’t believe you can travel overseas by yourself…and on it goes. What I’ve found most interesting about these comments is that to me, none of these actions are really a big deal.       Nor are they for some others either I know, but after hearing comments like this enough times, I have realised that acting without fear isn’t easy for a lot of people.

 

After consideration, I realised that the confidence I have to take on activities that many people find frightening, has been developed and nurtured.  And anyone can do the same. I realised rather than talking myself out of doing something and finding reasons, why not, why I can’t, I now automatically start to think how can I…what do I need to do to make that work?  Now, fortunately most things come easy, but it has taken work to get to a place where I feel confident in just about any situation.

 

When Franklin D Roosevelt famously quipped “We have nothing to fear but fear itself”, he was on the money.

 

What enables a person act without fear in a situation?  I believe there are three behaviours that must become intrinsic to shift a mindset from fearful to confident.

 

Number One:    Take a Risk

 

Next time you have an opportunity to do something that scares you, just say yes instead of over thinking reasons why you can’t.  Evoke Neales Donald Walsh quote “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone” to inspire you to take risks to delight in all life offers.

 

Number Two:    Learn a Skill

 

Continually learning new skills means you open yourself to new ideas.  Every time you do something you haven’t done before, you allow yourself to expand your experience and shift your perspective.  Consider what new activity/skill you have always wanted to accomplish and begin.

 

Three:  Become Proficient

 

It makes sense doesn’t it?   If you can do something well, you will be confident doing it.  If you want to have the confidence to speak from stage then you need to not only obtain the skills, you also have to practice, practice and practice some more.  To speak well and with confidence on a subject you need to be well rehearsed.  Every time you stand in front of an audience you will be less nervous until you will eventually feel confident to enough you can address any problem that might arise.  The same goes for any fear you want to overcome.

When you live without fear, your stress levels are reduced all the “good hormones” work effectively in your body and can cope with real problems more effectively.

Principal Trainer and Director of Shifting Visions, Janeen Vosper, typically works with Sales Teams, Small Business Owners and Entrepreneurs to overcome their fear of selling and cure cold calling reluctance. She assists people to identify and crush hidden fears that block their potential as presenters to learn how to make speeches with ease and confidence…and also offers easy techniques to conquer Fear of Failure that affects many components of life.  You can view Janeen's profile here  =>  http://bit.ly/16p0UH9

Practice Creativity

 

Imagine someone asking you "How many hours a week do you spend working?" or "What do you do?" you are likely to answer something like, "I am a full-time student and I work part-time at a department store," or "I am a full-time mom of three boys," or I am a professor," or "I am a computer analyst", etc. Your answer describes the daily routine of what you do for a living, which is a job that gives you income, a social identity, a certain professional status and, sometimes, public recognition. However rewarding, very often a job includes duties, tasks and requirements that we are obliged to perform, whether we like them or not. Our freedom to do only what we like in our job is almost always limited. This is a main reason why so many people suffer from job-related dissatisfaction and see their work as the necessary evil they must endure in exchange for a monthly paycheck.

Now, imagine someone asking you "How many hours a week do you spend creating something that gives you joy?" or "Do you have a creative habit that helps you handle stress?" Think of your answer: you may take a little longer to give a reply and, when you do, you may say something like: "Hmm, you know, I'd like to be creative but, truth is, I'm too tired", or "Well, I'd love to have some time for creativity, but I'm too busy with other things," or "It would be awesome to have a creative habit but that's a luxury for the rich and I have bills to pay" or "Me, creative? But I'm not an artist, I am an office manager!"

If your answer to the question about creativity resembles any of the answers above, it is high time you changed your attitude toward your ability to be creative. In this chapter, you will be introduced to a number of mythic characters and real people who consider creativity not as a luxury, but their birthright. The truth is that we are all born with the ability to be creative, just as we are born with the ability to think, dream and imagine. But, while some of us continue to honor creativity throughout our lives and enjoy the benefits of a creative habit, many others betray our creativity as we seek joy in habits that are not only non-creative but, oftentimes, self-destructive.

The prices we pay when we stifle our right to be creative are as high as those we pay when we stifle our dreams. In my practice as a psychotherapist and coach, the majority of clients complaining about feelings of depression, insomnia, panic attacks, low self-esteem, or sense of meaninglessness are the ones who ignore their dreams and their own creative impulses. Over the years, I have helped a number of people reconnect with their natural ability to create, watching them enjoy the benefits of their creativity: a recovered self-confidence, an improved ability to handle life's daily stress, freedom from depression, and a sense of fulfillment that no medical treatment alone can ever catalyze.
As you are working through the fourth phase of this method, it is essential that you experience the joy of developing and maintaining creative habits. Reconnecting with your creativity will allow you to be spontaneous and daring as you suspend judgment about the outcomes of your creative efforts. Your benefits from becoming creative will be a sense of sustained pleasure, inner freedom and independence from other people's approval. The more you allow yourself to be creative, the more self-confident you will be and the better you will like yourself.

CREATIVITY 101

"To create" means "to cause to exist"; "to bring into being something that has never existed before". Everything created is first imagined. Therefore, creativity is the human activity in which we use constructively our imagination by giving material form to our creative ideas. I In this context, a creative person is not only prolific in ideas but also active in materializing creative ideas in the real world. This creative input enriches not only the individual life of the creator, but also the world at large.

Creative people are not necessarily professional artists. They come from all walks of life and their creativity applies to all aspects of our civilization: they may be scientists discovering the hidden laws of the universe or new cures for terminal diseases; business people creating breakthrough opportunities in national economies; lawyers excelling in their field thanks to their creative problem-solving ideas; visionary politicians leading nations to freedom and prosperity; teachers creating innovative methods for the classroom; farmers creating breakthrough methods of farming or breeding; cooks creating culinary masterpieces or revolutionary cooking methods; administrators guiding organizations into success through creative leadership; police detectives solving mysteries and incarcerating criminals thanks to creative thinking. Age, level of education and socio-economic status do not matter: a creative person can be a child, an adolescent, an adult, or a senior. He or she can be single or married, divorced or widowed, childless or with children. Individual differences may be unlimited. But there are three characteristics, listed below, that all creative people share in common, which you must also develop as you work with this method:




a. Creative People Honor their Creative Impulses

Creative people know the relationship between creativity and productivity, and they are careful to keep them in balance. They nurture their creative needs by taking the necessary time and space to access imagination and stimulate creative thinking. And they bring their creative ideas into fruition by being productive. They also honor their creativity by protecting and nurturing their ideas and by following a discipline that involves hard work, concentration, isolation, unusual decisions, sacrifices, dedication to the creative purpose, and trust in their inner voice. Nevertheless, in spite of the demands of the creative process, staying loyal to their creative pursuit is never a burden for creative people. The joy from seeing their completed creation is so pure, that it redeems all the strenuous efforts exerted during the process.

Examples of movie characters portraying creative individuals abound. Some of them are introduced in this chapter. I encourage you to see the respective films and notice how different those characters are, yet how similar in the way they honor their creative impulses. These characters represent simple people yearning for the joy of creating, much as we all do. As you watch the films, let them inspire you to reconnect with your own creativity and feel the joy that you see them experience in the films.
Working Girl, is the story of a young woman's determination to bring her creative ideas into fruition, having to protect them from being appropriated by her boss. Tess McGill, the main character, is a thirty-year old administrative assistant who lives in Staten Island and commutes every day to her work in the Manhattan financial district. On the ferry, she reads and, in the evenings, she takes classes. Tess wants to become something more than a secretary. She is bright, talented, informed, and, most importantly, she has creative ideas about mergers and acquisitions that she presents to her new boss, Katharine Parker, hoping to be appreciated and offered a better position in the company. But Katharine has different intentions: when Tess offers her a brilliant idea that will save a large company from a foreign takeover, Katharine steals it and presents it to her clients as her own, advising Tess to not mention it anywhere else.

It is not too long before Tess finds out that her creativity is being exploited. She vows to protect her idea and use all means available to make it happen, even if this means that she will pretend to be Katharine. While Katharine is away recovering from a skiing accident, Tess assumes Katharine's identity and follows through with her plan, fighting to see her idea become reality until the very end, even after her true identity is discovered and she is exposed as an imposter. But, thanks to her persistence and willingness to take risks for her own creative idea, Tess does not give up. Exposing Katharine minutes before she signs the deal with the clients, she proves that the idea was originally hers, and wins. When Oven Trask, the client, asks Tess why she had to do this and risk her reputation, her answer is:

"You can bend the rules plenty once you get to the top, but not while you're trying to get there. And if you're someone like me, you can't get there without bending the rules."

Oven, admiring her courage to fight for her idea, responds:

"You've got a real fire in your belly, Ms. McGill.

Tess's answer to this complement only means that fighting to protect one's creativity is never easy:

" I'm not quite sure what you mean, sir. I've got something in my belly, but I think it's nervous knots."

Tess McGill is not an artist. Her creativity is not expressed through poetry, writing, or painting, but through brilliant ideas creating multi-million dollar breakthroughs in the financial world. But, just as an artist who fights to protect her work from being appropriated, she fights to have her idea recognized as being her own. She is diligent, thorough, brave, and she loves what she does. She does not rest until she sees it take form in reality. And, considering her limited means, she thinks and acts creatively throughout her ordeal against all odds, until the truth surfaces and she fulfills her dream.

Another tribute to creative people is the epic Titanic, which is filled with characters honoring their creativity till their last moments, even as they are drowning with the "unsinkable ship" into the abysmal depths of the North Atlantic. The story is told eighty four years later through flash backs by Rose de Witt, a survivor, as she is sitting in her pottery studio. Rose is a hundred and one years old and she is still creating pottery. Surrounded by her works, she recalls her fateful travel and introduces Jack Dawson, a young artist and the love of her life, who died during the tragic voyage. She spent only hours with him, but their love became immortal.




As she recalls their moments together, Rose brings us eighty-four years back to "the most erotic moment of her life", that she lets us witness it: hours before his death, Jack is drawing a nude of her wearing only a necklace with a big, blue diamond. The beauty of a seventeen-year old Rose in love is immortalized in the drawing, seen through the eyes of the artist. "I couldn't stop shaking" old Rose confesses, alluding to the erotic intensity of the experience that stayed with her forever. Jack's art captured a lifetime of love that survived his death. For Rose, his art did not only create her drawing; it created Jack's immortality.

As Rose remembers, we live with her the tragic scenes that unfold as the ship is about to sink. We are shown five musicians of the ship's orchestra completing their last piece of music. We watch the unknown musicians bid their last farewell and walk away; except for the violinist, who stays in the same place and starts playing solo. As the other orchestra members hear him play, they stop, return and join him in the piece. Amidst a crowd of screaming passengers running in vain to save their lives, these musicians peacefully accept their imminent death and choose to celebrate life with their music, until the dark ocean swallows them playing their last note. Defying death by remaining creative till one's last breath is one of the most powerful messages in this epic, which is also a tribute to inner freedom, immortal love, and the inexorable right to honor one's truth.

b. Creative People Regard Creating as Healing

Creative people are healers. They create to bring wholeness to the inevitable wounds inflicted by life. Their creative output is their answer to aggression, deprivation, unfairness and injustice that, unfortunately, abound in reality. Through creating, they contribute toward increasing beauty, harmony and love, without which life cannot exist. Creativity is their only weapon against the afflictions of depression, boredom or loneliness and the source of strength, courage and hope. Creative people do not allow the burdens of life to discourage them. They create in spite of the daily pressures and dramas to conquer pain, fear, poverty, illness and, even death.

"When I dance, something happens and I sort of disappear" says Billy Elliot during his interview with the Committee of the Royal Ballet Academy. "It's hard at the beginning, but then something happens and I start flying. I feel free. I disappear into the air like a bird, like electricity. Yeah, like electricity..."

Billy calls "electricity" the divine light that sparks in him when he is immersed in the creative process, enlightening his existence and the world around him. Through dancing, his essence becomes one with The Creator as he, little Billy, disappears. The joy of dancing heals his grief for his diseased mom, his worry for his ill Grandma, his sadness for being mistreated by his brother, and his sorrow for being rejected by his father. Billy's wholeness is in his dance. That is when his daily life becomes secondary and he feels truly alive.

There is no process livelier than the creative process. Its essence is the very stuff of Life, which is Nature's will to push beyond limitations in order to accomplish Creation. And, once the creation is accomplished, there is no joy deeper for the creator than the joy of sharing it with the world. A modern myth describing how the creative process brings wholeness not only the creative agent but also to those who commune with the creative outcome is Babette's Feast.

Based on a short story by Isan Dinesen, Babette's Feast is set in remote Frederikshavn, a small Lutheran community on the Jutland peninsula in Denmark, in the second half of the nineteenth century. The villagers are fundamentalists adhering to a rigid puritanical dogma. Their life is dedicated to religious observance, reciting of the scripture, material poverty, and avoidance of all temptations of spirit and body. Their Spartan homes and churches are devoid of embellishments or furniture that might provide the slightest comfort. Their manners are restrained; wordy interactions are restricted as silence is enforced to maintain the spiritual tone of relationships; indulging in simple pleasures such as food or other, more complex, physical desires is simply unfathomable. For this community, joy is a sin.

One day, a French woman arrives at the village, offering her services as a maid to Martina and Philippa, the two unmarried daughters of Pouel Kern, the diseased spiritual leader and founder of this community. During his life, father Kern managed to forbid his daughters to have any relationship with the outside world, forcing them to abandon all prospects of marriage or career. Due to his intervention, Martina's ended her love for a young officer wanting to marry her, while Philippa ended on her own accord her friendship with a Parisian opera singer, afraid of the joy she experienced during their singing lessons. Years later, the same opera singer sends Babette to their home, who agrees to be their servant and work without wages. For fourteen years she does so, following diligently the community's rules, cooking simple meals, observing the silence, and helping the two sisters with their community service.

No one knows that Babette has been a gourmet chef in "Café Anglais," a famous French restaurant, until, one day, she asks the two sisters if she can prepare a lavish French dinner for the entire village, to celebrate their father's 100th birthday. Babette offers to pay for the entire feast, with the money she won in the Paris lottery. The sisters hesitate but finally agree, on the condition that the guests observe the vow of silence throughout the meal, so as not to indulge in pleasure. Babette orders the food from France and sets out to prepare the feast. Soon the ingredients arrive: live turtles for soup, game and meats for the main courses, a wheelbarrow full of offal, bottles of champagne and fine wine, and trunks with fine china, silver, crystal glasses, lace linen, and fancy candles. For days Babette works at the kitchen, creating a feast of love, a true art masterpiece that will forever change the life of the community.

As the evening of the feast arrives, the villagers congregate around a table where they taste caviar with mussels in vodka sauce, turtle soup, quail filled with foie gras and truffles, fine meats, expensive cheeses and exquisite deserts. As they raise their glasses to drink Veuve Clicquot, superb champagne, they cannot help it: moved by the spirit of the food and enveloped in the delight of its taste, they break the vow of silence and begin interacting. For the first time they realize that spiritual prosperity can be enjoyed through material abundance. As the joy of tasting Babette's food is lifting everyone off the ground into higher spheres, the retired General, Marina's discouraged suitor from the past, suddenly raises a glass to declare that nothing is impossible. Babette's abundance has brought to everyone joy beyond words, empowering their spirit with the hope that no opportunity in life is truly missed, as long as one wants to achieve a dream wholeheartedly. Her feast, creating such spiritual and emotional abundance for that deprived community also proved that the one who creates is never poor.

While the villagers delight in the majesty of the senses, Babette, alone in the kitchen, delights in the fulfillment of her dream: her culinary art has healed an entire village, banishing everyone's fear of joy. Looking at us, she reaches out with a plea that speaks for the desire of all creative people to create wholeness:

"From across the world there goes one long cry from the heart of the artist: Give me leave to do my utmost."

c. Creative People Pursue their Projects to Completion

Out of the creative projects you have begun over the years, how many have you actually finished? Remember, "to create" means "to bring something into full existence". If your creative projects are begun ideas that have never found completion, they do not count as creative endeavors. Sorry, but these are only abandoned efforts patiently awaiting your honest attention.
We all have "abandoned efforts" hiding somewhere at home, in our drawers, in our computer's hard drive, even in our mind: a screenplay that is twenty-five pages before completion; an incomplete needlecraft, quilt or knitting project; a bookcase we built in the garage but never varnished or placed in our son's bedroom; an antique car that we have been rebuilding for the last ten years; a foreign language that we never learned to speak fluently; a dance that we never learned to dance without stepping on our partner or causing public embarrassment; a recipe for the special cookware we purchased but never unpackaged; an idea to expand our business that we never pursued beyond writing it in our notepad; and so on.

What causes us to abandon our creative projects and betray the joy of creating? A usual explanation is that we stop the creative process because we give into "fear of criticism" or "fear of failure". This is only partially true considering that, in reality, we engage in many self-destructive endeavors, ignoring criticism and inviting failure in our health, finances, as well as personal and professional life: we indulge in junk food knowing that our cholesterol count will go up; we watch countless hours of television, neglecting to communicate with friends, family, and loved ones; we spend money compulsively, knowing that we are damaging our credit; we cut corners at work, knowing that we will eventually be discovered and called accountable; and so on. The truth is that the reason for abandoning creative projects is not our fear of criticism but our fear of commitment to a challenging process, period. It is in our nature to abandon a creative habit when arising difficulties cause discomfort and to indulge in destructive habits just because they are easy and immediately gratifying.

One of the most deceptive beliefs about the creative process is that it is a constant source of joy, freedom and success. Nothing could be farther from the truth: the creative process is as challenging as any other endeavor and it requires heartfelt commitment from the beginning to the end. Every creative project presents challenges, obstacles, difficulties and problems that suspend pleasure until we resolve them. This is why the joy of creativity is ten percent in starting a project, zero percent in persevering through its challenges, and ninety percent in accomplishing it. But, once the creation is completed, the experience of the creator from sharing it with the world is filled with pure delight. In western religious teachings, the Creator's profound, restful enjoyment from having completed the universe is described as the Seventh Day of Creation. Creative people seek this joy and, therefore, do not abandon their efforts as unwanted children; instead, they treat their creative projects as children needing to be parented until they become self-sufficient through consistent love and dedication despite challenges and rough spots.

An example of creative person who accomplished her project with amazing determination, overcoming criticism and personal attacks of national proportions, is Maya Lin. Her story is the theme of the documentary A Strong, Clear Vision, a tribute to her creative work with a special focus on her remarkable achievement, the Vietnam Memorial Wall. In 1981, as a 21-year-old senior architecture major at Yale, Maya Lin won first prize in the contest to design the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in the northwest corner of the Mall in Washington D.C. She had proposed a simple, graceful, and abstract design of two 247-foot-long walls of polished black granite, set below grade and connected at a 125-degree angle, on which the names of all the more than 58,000 American dead and missing from the war would be carved in letters a little over half an inch high and arranged chronologically, according to the year of death or disappearance.

Lin's winning design did not enjoy the public acceptance one would have expected. As soon as it was publicized, it triggered the bitter criticism of a small but powerful group of Vietnam veterans about its color, proposed placement below ground level, and lack of heroic quality. The design was characterized a "black ditch" or "black gash of shame." A few conservative politicians supported the opposition until a compromise was reached. Following a number of highly publicized meetings, in which Maya Lin was personally attacked and repeatedly forced to defend her project, it was finally agreed to add to the monument an American flag on a 60-foot pole and a group of three realistically-modeled, seven-foot bronze figures of Vietnam-era American soldiers by another artist. Fortunately, these additions were placed far enough away from the wall so that its artistic integrity was not seriously affected.




Maya Lin withstood unfair, chauvinistic and, occasionally, racist attacks with admirable strength and inner composure. She never compromised the integrity of her vision or negotiated the principles of her conception: the Memorial Wall was a healing monument, offering visitors an intimate and contemplative experience as it allowed them to experience the deep sense of loss it conveyed. Lin's perseverance resulted in the phenomenal success of her project, once it was completed. The monument was dedicated and officially opened to the public on November 11, 1982, Veteran's Day. Since that day, more than ten thousand people per day visit the Wall; amongst them are Vietnam veterans, families of the fallen, and the public at large who experience profound healing as the names of the dead or missing, which seem to float on a transparent black plane, exert their power evoking strong emotion. Additionally, as the visitors can see their own face dimly reflected on the polished black granite, they are invited to enter a dimension in which life and death are two facets of one continuous experience. The monument, in silence, speaks to each visitor in a very personal yet universal way about life and death, grief and loss, and embracing what one cannot change.

Another remarkable woman who left a legacy of overcoming difficulties in order to bring a creative project to completion is Roberta Guaspari, the heroine of Music of the Heart. Based on the Roberta's real life, the film tells the story of a schoolteacher's struggle to teach violin to underprivileged children in East Harlem. After her devastating divorce, Roberta finds herself with two children and in need of work. A music teacher facing few opportunities for work, she becomes aware of an opening at an East Harlem public school. After convincing the school principal about the value of teaching music in her school, she is hired. Roberta begins her work in a problem-ridden environment, filled with burned-out, underpaid teachers, accustomed to expect very little of themselves and the school system. In addition the children, most from troubled families, have little support at home for academic achievement let alone learning the violin.

Roberta begins working with the zeal and stubbornness of a neophyte, as the children challenge her authority and question the value of her work. But she does not get intimidated. Showing determination, amazing inner strength and genuine interest in the children, she eventually wins their trust and connects them to the violin. As her students learn to play, their improving self-confidence has a positive influence on other aspects of their lives. Their parents, formerly skeptical about Roberta's function in their school, notice their children blossom and begin to respect and admire Roberta. She has earned everyone's trust.
For ten years Roberta's program flourishes, earning great reputation in the City until, in 1991, the school board seizes the funding. Roberta will not allow this to happen. Determined to give the biggest fight of her life, she summons the help of the parents, a journalist, and a number of the world's best violinists, and organizes an amazing concert at Carnegie Hall to raise funds and save her program. The concert, in which she and her students share the stage with artists such as Isaac Stern, Arnold Steinhardt, Itzhac Perlman, and Sandra Park, is a phenomenal success and raises funds that ensure the survival of her program for several more years.

Roberta Guaspari is a living legend. An Italian-American woman who made Harlem her home, she had been playing the violin since nine years of age. Music gave her peace, sanity, and inner strength when her divorce shattered her life. She brought her gift to inner-city schools and shared it generously with the children, empowering them to honor their creativity and always pursue their dreams.

THE CHARACTERISTICS OF A CREATIVE HABIT

In the next section you will be encouraged to develop a creative habit following recommended activities and exercises. As you discover and nurture your own creative habit, keep in mind its main characteristics. A creative habit:

1. Gives you energy.

2. Holds your interest.

3. Gives you the freedom to make mistakes and see them as learning experiences.

4. Challenges your thoughts, stretches your imagination, and generates new discoveries and problem-solving ideas.

5. Increases your self-confidence and self- acceptance.

REEL FULFILLMENT IN ACTION

A. MOVIE TIME! WATCH A MOVIE FOR FUN, LEARN A LESSON FOR LIFE

The following films portray different characters with one thing in common: their lives are determined by their willingness to be creative. Choose a film and watch it alone or with your groups. Answer the questions at the end of the list in writing and discuss your answers with your group. Repeat the same with more films of the list, as your time permits:

A Chef in Love (1997); directed by Nana Dzhordzhadze

Amadeus (1984); directed by Milos Forman

Artemisia (1997); directed by Agnes Merlet

Babette's Feast (1987); directed by Gabriel Axel

Big Night (1996); directed by Campbell Scott and Stanley Tucci

Billy Elliot (2000); directed by Stephen Daldry

Camille Claudel (1988); directed by Bruno Nuytten

Chocolat (2000); directed by Lasse Hallström

Finding Neverland (2004); directed by Marc Forster

Frida (1988); directed by Paul Leduc

Frida (2002); directed by Julie Taymor

Immortal Beloved (1994); directed by Bernard Rose

Like Water for Chocolate (1992); directed by Alfonso Arau

Maya Lin: A Strong, Clear Vision (1994); directed by Freida Lee Mock

Music of the Heart (1999); directed by Wes Craven

Pleasantville (1998); directed by Garry Ross

Pollock (2000); directed by Ed Harris

Shall We Dansu? (1996); directed by Masayuki Suo

Shall We Dance? (2004); directed by Peter Chelsom

Surviving Picasso (1996); directed by James Ivory

The Agony and The Ecstasy (1954); directed by Carol Reed

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947); directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz

Titanic (1997); directed by James Cameron

Working Girl (1988); directed by Mike Nichols

Questions to Answer:

1. What role does creativity play in the life of the main character of the story?

2. How does the environment respond to the main character's creativity?

3. What other forces in the life of the character do oppose his/her creativity?

4. Notice that these forces may be not only external, but also internal.

5. How does the character stand up for his/her need to stay creative? How does he/she defend his/her creativity? List his/her actions and evaluate them.

6. How does the story reach you and what lessons did you learn about your own creativity?

7. What are you prepared to do to be more creative?

B. PRACTICE CREATIVITY: EXERCISES FOR YOU

1. Developing a Creative Habit

1. Think of something you have long wanted to do or something you used to like doing as a child but later abandoned because you got on with life obligations. It must be something that used to give you pleasure.

2. Set time aside and begin the process of developing a creative habit. At the beginning you may feel awkward, as though you were out on a first date. Do not give up; in time, awkwardness will dissipate and will be replaced by delight.

3. From time to time, check your progress of becoming creative by running through the five characteristics of the creative habit described above. Remember: you will know that you are becoming creative because you will feel inner joy and trust in your ability to resolve problems in unusual, new, surprisingly intelligent ways!

2. How Much Do You Avoid Being Creative? A Check-in

1. Use a daily schedule to count the number of hours you spend watching television in a week.

2. Also, count the hours you spend every day surfing the web, chatting on the internet, or reading and writing e-mails.

3. Promise yourself to spend half of this time on television and the internet and the other half doing something creative. Challenge yourself.

3. Dare to Be Creative: Some Ideas

1. Do something you have wanted to do by have been postponing for a long time. E.g.: learn how to cook, work on your car, decorate a room in your house, develop a business idea, learn how to dance, begin a collection, learn how to make jewelry, learn a foreign language. Follow your desire and listen to your heart.

2. Make it your habit to do something constructive or creative when you are in the grips of an unhelpful emotion, such as anger or sadness. Keep a log of your activities and progress. You will be amazed with the results in your life, in a very short time. (Hint: Watch Billy Elliot dance his anger off in the film listed above.)

3. Join a group or a class and learn to do something with your hands (e.g.: pottery, gardening, baking, making jewelry, welding, making furniture, knitting, etc.) Engage your body in the creative process, especially if you spend hours in an office.

4. If you like music, join a choir or learn an instrument. Organize music nights at your home. (A client of mine organized 'opera nights' in her home; her guests dressed up as famous opera characters and each performed their favorite aria. Then, they had champagne and a lavish, home-cooked dinner.)

5. Finish a project that you began and abandoned some time ago. When you finish it, have a party to celebrate your completed creation.

6. There are hundreds of books and video-tapes on craft-making. Borrow a few from your public library and read through them. Find a craft or activity that interests you and emerge yourself in it. Allow yourself to have fun in the process.

7. For Christmas, a birthday, or for a special a holiday, make your gifts for your family, friends or loved ones, instead of buying them: they can be hand-made cards, home-made cakes, a craft, a knitted sweater, a carved toy, a framed sketch, a collage, anything that excites your fantasy and gives you pleasure to create. Invite your family to do the same. Hand-made gifts are special and very meaningful not only for those who receive them but also for those who make them. They are less likely to be thrown or put away, and gain value as time goes by.

8. Take a cooking class or create your "Party of Chefs", in which you invite friends to participate in a collaboratively cooked dinner. Rent a cooking video, open your recipe books, and have a lot of fun creating in the kitchen!

9. Interview three people that you consider creative in any domain. Ask them about their creative habits and their relationship to their creativity. Ask them about the gifts they received from their creative habits. Ask for advice of how to develop and maintain a creative habit.

10. Write the names of three people who drain your creative energy due to their actions, words, or attitudes. Resolve to limit your contact with them to the minimum, and use your time to develop a creative habit.

11. List three activities that drain your creative energy or consume your time from having a creative habit. Resolve to stop engaging in those activities immediately and save your creative energy.

C. THINGS TO REMEMBER

● Creativity needs practice to grow into a habit.

● When are creative you feel free. When you feel free you have an open mind that allows others the freedom of being creative. This makes you attractive and, very often, irresistible.

● Creativity and Joy are twins.

Maria Grace, Ph.D., is an expert at teaching people how to learn lessons from popular movies to find the job, home, relationship, and healthy body and mind they want. She is a Fulbright scholar, licensed psychotherapist, sought-after public speaker and coach, and the author of “Reel Fulfillment: A 12-Step Plan for Transforming Your Life through Movies” (McGraw-Hill, 2005). “Reel Fulfillment” was praised by Publisher’s Weekly as one of the top “self help books out of the self-help box” for 2005-2006.

For more information visit http://www.mariagrace.com and [http://www.reelfulfillment.com]