Tag: Choice

Mindset Matters

Posted on 10/19/11 by admin

EagleI am constantly amazed by the impact of a mindset. I see it in business. I see it in with my friends. I see it in rugby all the time.  Often success is a result of the view we have formed of ourselves and our norming behaviour ( behaviours that move our outcome up or down towards our expected outcome).

In business it’s seen in the can-do attitude of for example a Saleperson, in Rugby the reaparrance of a bogey team that we lose to again and in some friends their refusal to “go for it” feeling they are not good enough.

This is of course not a new idea. Henry Ford is famous for many things especially his production line processes that brought motoring to the masses in the US. One comment he made is well quoted – “whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t you are right”.

A friend of mine Declan Coyle who gives courses which involve internal change often says to his class “If you think this is Pop Psychology – you will probably prove yourself right!”.

I came across a very nice story recently told by Tony De Mello:

A man found an eagles egg and put it in the nest of a barnyard hen.
The eaglet hatched with the brood of chicks and grew up with them.
All his life the eagle did what the barnyard chicks did, thinking he was a barnyard chicken.
He scratched the earth for worms and insects.
He clucked and he cackled. And he would thrash his wings and fly a few feet up in the air.
Years passed and the Eagle grew very old.
One day he saw a magnificent bird above him in the cloudless sky.
It glided in graceful Majesty among the powerful wind currents with scarcely a beat of its golden wings.
The old eagle looked up in awe. “Who’s that?” he asked.
“Thats the eagle, the king of the birds,” said his neighbour.
“He belongs in the sky. We belong to the earth – we’re chickens”
So the eagle lived and died a chicken, for thats what he thought he was.

If we think about it we can see that this behaviour is entirely internal and therefore a choice. We may have been listening to those voices who point to our flaws and never our brilliance or who continue to tell us why we can’t do something they never will. These are the people Teddy Roosevelt called those that “dwell in perpetual twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat”.

Because its a mindset matter its internal and therefore under our own control. Positive thinking and a reset of our norm can bring great results. First however we need to wake up to its existence and to observe it in action. Once again awareness is critical. Its easier of course for those of us with confidence but its just a longer journey for those who don’t.

My mother always told me I could do anything. I believe her!

Aidan Higgins

First Published Feb 2008

Want to feel better?

Posted on 05/19/11 by Aidan


People are suffering all over this country at the moment.  I heard a story the other day which really hit me hard. That of a teenage girl who was skipping school on Thursday and Friday because she was being bullied. The timing element was due to their being no electricity at home due to her family being unable to pay off their Electricity bill.  I hear similar stories of folks being cut off, on arrears and losing jobs – all over. Times are tough there is no doubt.  And people are suffering. Some suffering however is brought about by ones attitude. I have been speaking to lots of people and I find its surprising how useful a simple change of perspective can be for many of the people I talk to.

I can recommend three simple exercises to make yourself feel better.

The first is to let go of attachments. According to some traditions attachments are the major source of unhappiness. Attachments to the “things” in your life that are not strictly necessary – that flash car, that social scene you used to have, that high powered role you played, that group relationship you had. If you really look you will realise that you don’t NEED a lot of the things you worry about. It helps to make a list of the attachments you have and list those you could not survive without. I have met a number of people on my travels (and I’ve been there) who had to give up the flash car and the golf club membership and beat themselves up daily because of what’s gone. Rather than focus on what they do have – like health and family.

The second is to engender Gratitude. I went through some hard times in the early Noughties and was feeling miserable as a result. That was until I saw friends of mine going through suffering which involved their family which put my problems in such perspective as to almost make them disappear. I suddenly became grateful for what I had rather than mourn for what I had lost. Just that simple change in your perspective can alter your whole outlook. You should always spend a little time each day focusing on what you are grateful for. Even a minute, two or three times per day, will do it.

The third exercise is to look at the choices you have and the choices you make each day. I find that much bad feeling is around helplessness. It helps to understand that you are not without options and resources. When problems arise you look at them and analyze them and then you need to make a choice – what to do. We always have options open to us the trick is to find them. Sometimes we are overwhelmed by the weight of what’s in front of us. The problem can usually be broken into small bits. The problem can usually be resolved over time with small steps. Small goals. When you break it into small steps then the key is NOW. What can you do NOW?  What can I do right now to start resolving the problem? What choices do I have?

The good news on these three exercises is that they cost you nothing,  they are within your power and I have seen them work on others and also used them myself. If you are feeling low, helpless and stuck, try them to shake yourself loose, get the energy back in your life and get moving in the right direction.

Aidan Higgins

Against the Ice the Tiger and the Bear

Posted on 08/23/10 by Aidan

This was sent to me just after I delivered a Management Development Course last week that included the Enneagram. Its from Dr David Daniels who has been to Ireland a number of times and I have been lucky enought to spend a bit of time learning from him. As with most things this former Professor of Psychiatry from Stanford University has a wonderfully clear way of getting to the root of things and explaining them succinctly.

So, Why the Enneagram – By David Daniels

The need is not really for more brains,
The need is now for a gentler, a more tolerant people
Than those who won for us
Against the ice, the tiger, and the bear.”

From the Immense Journey by Loren Eisley

This is one of my very favorite quotes. For to me it represents our crucial human need to develop past our earlier levels of being on the planet. We need an expanded appreciation of the positive possibilities for our species. And the Enneagram offers a key way to evolve ourselves into expanded and more inclusive levels of consciousness. For the Enneagram is all about understanding ourselves and others; all about appreciating differences; all about reclaiming a separate self from which we can truly join in union with others; all about opening our hearts to ourselves and others in nonjudgment; and all about reclaiming and integrating in our higher qualities – all representing the work of transformation.

In terms of levels of development simply put we will in the process become more world centric. I have simplified the levels from integral psychology into four basic ones. We can readily understand these.

• Pre-conventional: Impulsive and Self-protective (ego centric). We all know that we can do destructive behaviors when upset. But this impulsive, totally self-referenced level explains why we as a species can so readily kill and pillage others who don’t give us what we want or need. Others are simply objects, basically nothing more.

• Conventional: Conformist (ethno centric). Here we can love those with whom we are identified – our religious group, race, culture, and even team. But we can denounce and even annihilate those who aren’t in our group. They are children of a lesser god so to speak. We all know this from “ethnic cleansing” and the daily news. This explains how mothers (and fathers too) send off their sons into battle for the sake of the church, country or whatever.

• Post-conventional: Self-aware to Autonomous (world centric). Here there is an ability to include diversity, to expand the boundaries of inclusion and see other groups’ point of views. The down side results from belittling the “lesser” levels.

• Non-conventional: Integrated and Unitive (universe centric). This is a rare “species”. This is live beyond ego and ethnic identifications. Very, very few of us have reached this level, certainly less than 1%. Yet it remains a possibility.

The Enneagram work helps us move into the world centric stance thus providing hope for the future for all who embrace it.. I believe this move represents a core value of the various Enneagram schools. It gives hope to Loren Eisley’s words of our need for a more “gentler, a more tolerant people than those who won for us against the ice, the tiger and the bear.”

Motivate Yourself First

Posted on 10/31/09 by admin


I recently gave a talk before Cavan County Enterprise Boards recent Awards Dinner on the topic of Motivation, with reference to the current economic climate. The reaction to the talk was extremely positive and also the feedback was particularly interesting.

I told the group that there are times I think when we forget the basics and lose ourselves in worry about things we don’t really need. This leads to suffering on a personal level that is not necessary and totally within our own control. Cutbacks and reductions can have an overly negative effect on us if we do not see that often these are necessary to moving forward. Often we attach meaning to things that causes us grief and worry. The way to address this is to sit down and think about what is really necessary at the end of the day and what of those things we worry about  are supports to our Ego rather than to our well-being and happiness.

Entrepeneurs and Small business owners in particular need to remain motivated and optimistic despite the current travails and to influence and motivate those around them as well. Someone once said “Sincerity is the secret – if you can fake that you can achieve anything!”. Well it can’t be faked, the people around you have a good idea whats going on really. So the feeling of motivation has to be real and come from within. Taking action every morning to bring a positive outlook into play by focusing on the positive things in our life can set the mood for the whole day. And bringing it to work influences those around us particularly small business owners.

The folks from Cavan had an interesting perspective. They reckoned the Celtic tiger hadn’t done much for them and so they didn’t miss it. “We never had too much around here anyway” they said and so we don’t miss it either. And this from as chirpy and cheery bunch of people as I’ve met. You know when you see what some have lost in terms of happiness and clarity in their lives its great to see that some have held on to what matters.

Aidan Higgins

Stay Foolish?

Posted on 07/15/09 by Aidan

Steve Jobs is well known as the creator of the Apple Mac, the iPod and the iPhone. Without formal qualifications he became a world class innovator and thinker and he is someone who has made an impact on our world. I came across this speech he made at Stanford. I was taken with his 3 key points – some elements of which are developed from other angles in this blog. Have a look and enjoy – its well worth the 15 minutes.

Attitude is a Decision

Posted on 04/30/09 by Aidan

Light through the trees

I was driving through the pouring rain the other day and I was listening to the latest ESRI figures describing the contracting Irish economy and the increasing number of unemployed. As I arrived on this dark dank day at my destination –  a conference –  I walked into the room and the speaker was talking gloomily about Swine Flu and the imminent danger it represented. I was greeted by one of the conference organisers – “You the motivation speaker?” …”Yes” I replied and wondered to myself if I wasn’t up against it on this one….

But no – I thought again about what I was to talk about and I brightened considerably. For I went on to talk about attitude.

And attitude is everything. Some will look out on a rainy day and think “oh what a horrible day” – well no – its not horrible its just wet. We tend to add the adjectives that make stories which drag us into a state of mind that can be hard to get out of. We need to remember that things are as they are. Our reaction to the situation can be either empowering or destructive – but we get to choose which.

Viktor Frankl – a Psychiatrist who was interned in various concentration camps during the second world war wrote that choice was the last of the human freedoms – he tells us that “Even under the most terrible conditions of psychic and physical stress, we, who lived in concentration camps, can remember men who walked through the huts to comfort others and give away their last piece of bread …They may have been few in numbers, but they offered sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a person but one thing, the last and the greatest of human freedoms, to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way of life!” Frankl founded a school of Psychiatry to rival Freud and made an impact all over the world with the theories he engendered from his observations.

Given this truth can we not choose our attitude? I believe so.

Its well known that one can alter state by conscious choice. There are methods which do this such as visualising happy events, or positive outcomes or repeating a mantra which evokes powerful and positive feelings. Once you achieve the new state of mind your (always) subjective perspective can alter too allowing you the freedom and energy to get into positive action.

And we need plenty of positive action right now.

Aidan Higgins