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A Pale Blue Dot

What is your ๐ฉ๐ž๐ซ๐ฌ๐ฉ๐ž๐œ๐ญ๐ข๐ฏ๐ž?
It is our turn on earth.
We live in troubled times.
Every day there are awful atrocities throughout our tiny planet.

โ€œLook again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there-on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot.

Pale Blue Dot

Our posturing’s, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.
The Earth is the only world known so far to harbour life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.
It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.โ€
– Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space.
Put things into ๐ฉ๐ž๐ซ๐ฌ๐ฉ๐ž๐œ๐ญ๐ข๐ฏ๐ž…
Frequently Iโ€™m asked โ€“ โ€œIs there a God, is there a creator?โ€
In answer to that question, consider this responseโ€ฆ
โ€œWhat are the odds that a tornado spinning through a junkyard would create a Boeing 747?โ€ โ€“ Bruce C. Hafen.
Let us focus on those things that will sustain a lasting peace of mind and heart.
That is my ๐ฉ๐ž๐ซ๐ฌ๐ฉ๐ž๐œ๐ญ๐ข๐ฏ๐ž.
Where can you turn for peace?

Don’t forget to laugh!

A fun experience from Belgium last week.
Departing our hotel room, on the second floor, fully loaded down with all our luggage, we arrived at the lift.
Our unspoken plan was to take the lift to the ground floor reception and checkout.
The visual indicator showed that the lift was on the ground floor โ€œ0.โ€
We both looked at the lift call buttons and independently of each other, we pushed the call buttons.
One button pointed upwards, the other button pointed downwards.
One of us pushed up, the other pushed down.
Quizzically, we looked at one another, thinking โ€œWhy did you do that?โ€
Do you remember the classic book on communication styles, โ€œMen are from Mars, Women are from Venusโ€ by John Gray?
The book highlights the key differences between how men and women think, act, and communicate.
I must admit โ€“ that was my first thought as we stood waiting on the lift to arrive.
We turned to one another again and laughed!
It was a silly moment, but one that highlighted the simple differences between our thinking.
Stepping into the lift, we did finally arrive at our destination, after a short detour upwards, to the third floor!
After 28 years of marriage, our conclusion is thisโ€ฆ
No two people ever see all things precisely the same!
Understanding and appreciating one anotherโ€™s differences is the key to healthy relationships.
And donโ€™t forget to laugh โ€“ often!! ๐Ÿ˜…
๐€๐ซ๐ž ๐ฒ๐จ๐ฎ ๐ฅ๐š๐ฎ๐ ๐ก๐ข๐ง๐  ๐ž๐ง๐จ๐ฎ๐ ๐ก?

Procrastination!

Are you putting things off – again!?
Aren’t you tired of that lame old excuse?
Have you considered and reflected upon what really matters most in your life recently?
Far too frequently do you allow distractions of the world to cloud and distort your judgement, causing you to delay making important decisions in life? Is that you perhaps?
Procrastination is a stubborn enemy for many of us.
For some it will raise its head, over and over and over again.

โ€œProcrastination is my sin.
It brings me naught but sorrow.
I know that I should stop it.
In fact, I will โ€” tomorrow!โ€

โ€”ย Attributed to Gloria Pitzer

Many, many years ago, I was given a little gift – similar to the picture above.
It was a “๐‘๐Ž๐”๐๐ƒ ๐“๐”๐ˆ๐“”
I am sure many of you will have seen one, or may have given or received one.
Today – I wish to gift a virtual one to everyone!
Now is the time. Seize the day…!
Set out to accomplish those things that need to be done.
Change your perspective – reframe.
By doing so, it will enable you to see that things that seemed so important only a moment ago, are actually of little interest.
Don’t let those unimportant things distract you from what really matters most. Your life, your happiness, your family, a career that you enjoy, an organisation that has values congruent with your own.
Step back.
Reflect.
Take action.
Apply this virtual gift today.
……What do you need to consider?

Disappointment

After coming in contact with someone with Covid this week, weโ€™ve been in isolation for a few days.
Yesterday, despite our great determination, because of a number of growing cases of covid in the mission, we took a difficult decision to postpone (again) a mission conference, planned for the week ahead, with a visiting general authority of the church.
Our hopes were dashed once moreโ€ฆ
Disappointment, discouragement and being a little down were not far from our thoughts yesterday, as we knew the impact the decision would have on our missionaries. Dealing with disappointment is not easy and it brings a kind of sadness with it too.

What did we learn?

Yet, setbacks are part of our experience as human beings.
I have learned in life too, that as we deal with disappointments, we need to understand that these temporary blips in our lives are just that โ€” temporary!
The key, however, is to boldly face disappointments and to master and control the emotions that arise.
Maybe it is required of all of us to know that through disappointments in life we may experience that which was taught in Doctrine & Covenants 29:39 โ€œif they never should have bitter, they could not know the sweet.โ€
All that said, in one of my favourite scriptures we read in Doctrine and Covenants 61:36, โ€œAnd now, verily I say unto you, and what I say unto one I say unto all, be of good cheer, little children; for I am in your midst, and I have not forsaken you.โ€
So โ€“ in the midst of our disappointment yesterday, after dealing with and sharing our emotions with one another, we chose to change and cheer ourselves up. We put things into perspective!
It was our day off after all.
We put up the table tennis table and played for a little while. Then we had a game of Sequence, we ate some warming soup, had a chocolate or two, and finally we listened and danced to some cheerful Irish folk music โ€“ all of which lifted our spirits.
What do you do to overcome disappointments?

Its all a matter of perspective

Recently, on a couple of instances, our attention has been drawn towards crickets.
Departing Eindhoven on Sunday, a cricket landed on the bonnet of our car, and stayed there for a few moments even after we drove off.
A few weeks earlier whilst in Belgium, we were momentarily distracted by a large cricket as we sat chatting with our hosts Angelo and Candice. We were assured that this was a small one, but for Monic and I, we thought it was huge!
It’s all a matter of perspective, I thought.
Some things look much different when you are up close.
Perspective is the way we see things, when we look at them from a certain distance. In that brief moment, we saw the true value of this remarkably large or small (depending upon your perspective) insect.
Each of us see things ever so slightly differently, dependent upon our own personal experiences in life.
For Monic and I our familiarity of crickets in life, has been almost nil. Thus this cricket was huge! Yet, for Angelo and Candice, it was at the opposite extreme on the spectrum of cricket experience and thus the cricket was small!
Fascinating!
In that brief moment, our eyesight drew us close to this captivating creature. Yet there was more a sense of awe, wonder and an appreciation of beauty in those few seconds of time, before it hopped off to find something much more interesting than our gawking eyes!
In this fast paced life, do we ever pause momentarily, just long enough to enjoy the simple little things?
Why not pause, reflect and stop long enough today, to really see some of those things that really matter most of all. It may just give you a new perspective on lots of things.
Enjoy your discoveries!

Lessons in Leadership

Being appointed to lead an organisation brings with it a host of feelings – ranging from excitement, to sheer terror!

I recall one appointment manyย years ago and during the first few days thinking to myself “Have they got the right person here? – just what can I do?!” Several weeks into the new role, as I was considering the future of the organisation, a rather unusual image of conflict and war kept coming into my mind. I scoured the internet for as close an image to what I had in my mindโ€™s eye and eventually settled on this picture “The Periscope in the Trenches”.

I have reflected upon this image on many occasions and time and time again it has taught me so many insightful lessons. There will be yet more said on the start and end of the Great War.ย  Conflict is a daily occurrence in the world, whether it be Israel, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Ukraine or elsewhere – it is inescapable.

This image however of conflict and its application in the leadership world is a powerful one – let me explain.

  1. Periscopes

    What do these simple and yet powerful tools actually do? “A periscopeย is an instrument for observation over, around or through an object, obstacle or condition that prevents direct line-of-sight observation from an observer’s current position. In its simplest form, it consists of an outer case with mirrors at each end set parallel to each other at a 45-degree angle. This form of periscope, with the addition of two simple lenses, served for observation purposes in the trenches during World War 1″ (Wikipedia). From a position of safety, in this image, the periscope allows the soldier to see things at a different height level or in other words raises the vision of the soldier to view the atrocities of the battlefield above him. Over the years, I’ve discovered many tools to use as periscopes, to lift, inspire and raise the vision of others. Invitation #1, consider, or discuss with colleagues, what is the instrument or tool that will raise your organisation’s vision?

  2. Check in Often

    In order to assure his own and his company’s safety, the soldier had to regularly observe through his periscope the conditions that were prevailing above on no man’s land. In essence, frequently checking in on the activities on the battlefield enabled him to call for the correct actions to pursue. And so, it is as we establish the vision for any organisation, we must frequently check in on the condition of our people, their skills, abilities and needs, establishing changes in tactics and employing the right tools to ensure success. Invitation #2, when did you last check in on your people’s skills and abilities – are your key talent in the correct role?

  3. Courage

    I’ve often thought about the courage of these men who fought so valiantly, who gave their today’s that we could have our tomorrows. There is at least one moment of truth in everyone’s life; an instance, a tipping point in time where strength of character should be shown, or a stand against the odds is required. For thousands of young men, that moment over 100 years ago, began with the sound of a whistle and the command to go over the top. We need to be prepared to step up on to the firing line or step forward. Courage comes in different forms, physical and moral. Where physical courage often prompts others to follow and take action, moral courage can be very isolating. When a person stands on principle, speaks truth to power or tells peers what they are doing is wrong, others may sometimes fall away. Moral courage frequently puts people in a lonely place; however, to increase our vision, strength of character is often required by anyone to display moral courage in all of their actions. Invitation #3 – consider the courageous decisions you have made recently, have you faced up to doing the right thing?

  4. Keep it Simpleย 

    During the 2012 Olympics in London, two of my children and I visited the Science Museum on Exhibition Road in London. Whilst there, I was able to see close up, a periscope similar to the one on the image displayed here. As I looked at the construction of the periscope, it was a fairly crude and rudimentary instrument, much larger than I thought, made from wood, with mirrors used at the correct angles to provide a simple and yet extremely effective tool. I’ll repeat that phrase again, “Simple and yet extremely effective tool”. In order to increase our vision, don’t over complicate processes and procedures – keep it simple…..All of the time! Invitation #4 – What processes and practices currently in place, need to be simplified?

  5. Perspective

    Two soldiers are shown in this image and I’d like to think that they took it in turn to view the battlefield above them, and then discuss each other’s perspectives on the course of action to pursue. Likewise, it is with us in the organisations we serve as we consider how to increase our vision. Trying to increase vision in isolation is difficult and challenging – sharing insights, observing conditions, getting feedback from trusted colleagues is critical to success. Invitation #5 ask yourself what more can I do, to ensure that other leaders understand my perspectives?

These are only some of the lessons I’ve learned about increasing vision from this WW1 image.

What are yours?