Archives for December 2010


Merry Christmas!

Christmas Cat and DogIt’s hard to believe another year is almost over!

And what a year it’s been –   full of the usual ups and downs of this amazing journey we call life.

A Merry Christmas to you,  and may 2011 be a year of health, happiness and peace for all.

Here is a cute video from YouTube to wish you all the joy and fun of this festive season.


A Serious Possible-ist!

Hans RoslingRecently I came across several presentations by Hans Rosling, Professor of International Health at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden and Director of the Gapminder Foundation.

His analyses of global trends are based firmly on statistical data … and he demonstrates that, contrary to popular myth, the world is NOT going to hell in a handbasket! :)

Rosling says he is neither an optimist nor a pessimist – he’s a “very, very serious possible-ist.”

I really like that!

Watch the video below, visit the Gapminder website – or see links to more of his presentations in the recent December issue of our Starlink newsletter.


Discretion Redefined in the Digital Age

Man in train with phone in handYesterday morning I was in the train, on my way to a meeting in the city. Behind me a man was making a mobile phone call. His voice was loud, and I’m sure many if not most people in the carriage could hear all he had to say.

The conversation was about the fact he had recently taken up a senior position in the organisation where he worked, and he was calling the woman at the other end of the phone call to sound her out about joining their team. I guess it was what you might call a ‘head-hunting’ call.

During the conversation, the woman’s name, the name of the organisation, and the name of the department in which he worked were all mentioned. So imagine my surprise when, towards the end of the phone call, he was assuring her of the confidentiality of the situation and that he was making ‘discreet enquiries’!

The conversation certainly did not fit within my definition of ‘discreet’!

In reflecting on the experience, I was also reminded me of a professional colleague who produced several Facebook updates in which he had aired an angry and at times rather crude tirade against his ex-wife. Or of several folk who have posted Facebook updates about their drunk or debauched activities the night before.

And let’s not forget the red-faced embarrassment of those who thought their ‘discreet’ messages would be safe, but found their thoughts aired to the world at large through the ‘cablegate’ of Wikileaks. :)

In this digital age, boundaries between private and public life have often shifted, blurred or disappeared.

And ‘discretion’ has apparently been re-defined! :)


The Secret to Peace is Us

After far too long an absence, I’m inspired to return to the blogosphere by a wonderful TED talk given by William Ury.

As Ury says, “‘the secret to peace is us!”  We are the surrounding community – the other family members, the friends, the allies, the neighbours – all those not directly involved in the conflict itself. And as the ‘third side‘ in any conflict we can play an incredibly constructive role:

Perhaps the most fundamental way in which the third side can help is to remind the parties of what’s really at stake. For the sake of the kids, for the sake of the family, for the sake of the community, for the sake of the future, let’s stop fighting for a moment and start talking.

This resonates very much with my own experience with many groups over the years, as well as with my time working as a family mediator some time ago. And I find myself reflecting again on how solutions to conflict can often be elegantly simple – but incredibly difficult to do!

This ‘third side’ Ury talks about can help. “When angry, you will make the best speech you will ever regret“! :) And, as he goes on to explain, the third side helps us ‘go to the balcony’, a metaphor for a place of perspective. It’s about reframing .. or, indeed, moving outside the frame to find creative solutions.

It reminds me of the story of the two sisters who were fighting over a single orange.  At first, the ‘obvious’ solution might have been to cut it in half – but both insisted they needed the whole orange. Only when they stopped fighting over who would get the orange and started talking about why they wanted it, did the best solution emerge.  One wanted a drink of orange juice, the other needed orange peel to make  cake. Both could have the whole orange.

Sometimes the simple answers are hard to find – unless we’re prepared to take a breath, take a break from anger, and go to the balcony.

Akin to Ury’s great opening story about the eighteenth camel! :)

There’s much more to his talk than I’ve covered here – so please listen to it. I’d love to know what you think!