Flow1On many occasions you start a project or set of work activities and find yourself stalled by an issue or bottleneck that emerges. The issue or bottleneck could be due to a resource issue, a skills issue, a lack of knowledge or not having a suitable process. The project could also be affected by your attitude, beliefs and mindset, with the lack of motivation being a defining factor. You then find yourself parking the project to work on another activity or to seek the missing requirements to complete the project.

Alternatively, on some occasions, you find that a project is working as planned or even better than expected. The tasks seem to be completed effortlessly and all elements are coming together as anticipated. You also find yourself so immersed and completely absorbed in the project that time goes by without notice. Furthermore, you experience a high level of motivation and exhilaration at the same time. This mental state of being is called “Flow“.

The Russian researcher Mihályi Csíkszentmihályi, through his work in positive psychology, coined the concept of flow as a result of interviews with people who described their mental state as if a water current was carrying them along while they were undertaking a particular project or work activities. The state of flow has also been metaphorically described by a number of terms including, being in the zone, being in the moment, being in tune or being on a roll.

Some of the key characteristics of being in a state of flow include:

  • Intense and focused concentration
  • Action oriented
  • Loss of self-consciousness
  • Personal control over the activities
  • Distorted sense of time
  • Intrinsically rewarding experience

In order to achieve a state of flow you need to perform the following activities:

  1. Clearly identify and define the task or set of activities that you wish to achieve
  2. Set clear goals on what you want to achieve and how you will obtain the results and outcomes
  3. Ensure you have the skills and resources to be able to meet the goals
  4. Before you begin, pause and take at least three deep breaths, holding each breath and then slowly exhaling
  5. Focus your attention on the immediate task, eliminate any distractions and concentrate on completing the activities.
  6. Ensure you have allocated sufficient time for each activity to allow you to become fully immersed
  7. Remain alert, keeping the mind fully attentive in the present state while maintaining a level of awareness
  8. Become completely absorbed in the activity as if it feels like you are playing a game
  9. Monitor your progress and your emotional state to ensure you are achieving your goals

If we can experience extended time in a mental state of flow, then we can improve performance and productivity, increase happiness and achieve success.

Dr John Kapeleris

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Mind Management

August 14th, 2012 | Posted by John Kapeleris in Mind - (2 Comments)

“It is not always easy for a man to trace the inward path by which he reaches his own conclusions; so much of the working of the mind is subconscious” Sir Edward Grey, British Foreign Secretary (1905-1916)

Our past thoughts, feelings, behaviours and actions establish certain patterns that we often repeat time after time because they seem quite natural. If these patterns are grounded in negative attitudes, fears, anxieties and doubts, then we are held back by these invisible chains that we have built for ourselves. They have the effect of limiting our beliefs, behaviours and actions, even though we don’t realise they are there. Conversely, patterns that lead us to positive attitudes, to enjoy life’s challenges and to believe in our own abilities, encourage beliefs, behaviours and actions that propel us to winning and successful outcomes in the future. For example, the self-disciplined individual focusses on the 20% of the high value activities that yield 80% of the desired outcomes.

A self-doubting person who focuses on negative thoughts and emotions will retreat in life and be influenced by external factors and people. To overcome negative thoughts you need to look fearlessly at your own emotions and face up to negative thoughts. You can then establish new and better systems of thought that will become habitual after you practice them each day for at least 20 days.

Following are some simple action steps you can take today to overcome negative thoughts and emotions:

  1. Take responsibility for your own life – You are the master of your own destiny. Take control of your own life and become proactive in designing your future.
  2. Surround yourself with positive people – There too many people around who are always negative (Black Hat thinkers). Take a moment to observe their lives, which are full of doom and gloom, and they always blame someone or something else for their situation. Seek out people who are positive, passionate, optimistic and successful. Take note that you generally become the average of the four to five people you associate with the most.
  3. Challenge your negative thoughts – Confront your negative thoughts by taking a piece of blank paper, writing down your negative thoughts, asking why you have those thoughts, and if you don’t have a valid answer tear up the sheet of paper and physically throw the negative thoughts in the bin. The physical action of capturing the negative thoughts on paper and then disposing of those thoughts can be very relieving.
  4. Change your thoughts from negative to positive – It is easy to think of everything in a positive tone. For example, instead of thinking to yourself, “Today I will make sure I do not feel negative”, turn the tone into a positive thought, “Today I will be positive and optimistic and take control of my life”.
  5. Use positive affirmations to change your state of being and your mindset – You can create a list of positive affirmations that you read daily or you can read positive quotes on your computer, mobile phone or from a list you post on the wall.
  6. Daily gratitude – Be thankful for what you have received and what you have achieved in life. List five things that you are grateful in life and read them every day when you wake up in the morning. It’s amazing what effect this activity can have on your life.
  7. Positive visualisation – Every evening before you go to sleep or early in the morning when you wake up, breathe deeply, relax your body, remove all thoughts from your mind (achieving a meditative state), and then concentrate hard on visualising your desired positive state. Picture yourself achieving the outcomes you desire in your work or personal life.

Make it a positive focus!

Dr John Kapeleris

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Improving Your Memory

June 7th, 2011 | Posted by John Kapeleris in Mind - (1 Comments)

Have you ever been in a situation where you have forgotten the name of a client after you just met them for the first time or returned from the supermarket and forgotten the one item you really needed? Memory lapses are very common and can be very frustrating. The issue is not with storage of the information but rather with retrieval – the information is already in your mind.

Memory is defined as the mental activities that acquire, process, store and recall information. Memory involves three major processes: encoding, storage and retrieval. There are three types of memory: short-term memory (STM), long-term memory (LTM) and sensory memory. Sensory memory is very short-lived, usually lasting up to 4 seconds, and consists of information that first enters your brain via your senses, such as sight, sound and smell. A small proportion of this input passes to your short-term memory for recall. STM is the information that we are actively thinking at a given point in time and usually lasts about 30-40 seconds which is enough time to memorize a telephone number or someone’s name. STM acts as a filter for the input the brain receives from the external world, only passing certain information onto LTM for storage.

Many people find it difficult to remember abstract facts or information. Improving memory involves making the information less abstract in your mind. One way of doing this is to categorize material in a more distinctive way or link the information mentally to a personal experience. For example, we can always remember what we were doing during the morning of September 11, 2001. A more familiar and common way of remembering is practice and repetition, which is commonly used by students but also actors. To memorize their lines, actors tend to read and then re-read the material quickly over a period of four days, approximately five to ten times a day. By the time they have read the material twenty times the lines are stored within their LTM.

When you arrive at a supermarket without a shopping list do you try to recall the name of the items or do you recall the image of the item? Memory recall can be either verbal or visual, therefore memory improvement techniques are grouped into these two categories.

To improve your verbal memory try the following techniques:

  1. Rhymes – It is easy to recall information when placed into a poem or rhyme e.g. “Thirty days hath September, April, June and November…” etc
  2. Acronyms – Devise your own using initials of words that you need to remember. e.g. ROY G BIV is used to remember the colours of the rainbow and their order.
  3. Acrostics – Similar to acronyms but consist of words that allow you to remember other words e.g. “My Very Educated Mother Just Sent Us Nine Pizzas” is used to remember the planets in our solar system and their order.
  4. Stories – Making up a story which contains all the key elements that you need to remember is a great way to remember a list of words, activities or presentation notes.

To improve your visual memory you need to picture images in your mind and develop a visual vocabulary:

  1. Mental images – Forming an image in your mind that captures the vital information is a very powerful way of remembering. For example, if I wanted to remember the following list of nine items: apple, briefcase, keys, umbrella, window, newspaper, tree, pen, car, I would form the following image in my mind – ” I am in a room with a desk and on the desk is an open briefcase with a newspaper next to it. I need to place the apple, pen and keys into the briefcase. Next to the desk I see an umbrella that I need to take with me. From the window in the room I can see a car outside parked next to a tree“.
  2. Grouping – Visual grouping involves associating a random list of items with unrelated objects. For example, if you were going hiking in the mountains, you would remember to take the following items because you would associate them with your trip: an umbrella could be associated with a tree; your hiking boots could be associated with rocks, a hat could be associated with a large flower; and food items could be associated with pine cones or other forest berries.
  3. Visual references – The use of visual landmarks to guide someone to a destination is very common e.g. buildings, intersections, bridges, schools, shopping centres, sports fields, statues, gardens, unique structures or places of business. An extension of this approach is to use visual references as anchors for remembering things. Also called “Method of Loci” this technique was used by ancient orators to remember speeches by associating paragraphs with the mental picture of the different rooms of a familiar building. As the orators visualized a “mental walk” through a building they would recite the paragraphs of their speeches that were associated with each room of the building.

Memory joggers can also assist you to remember specific items:

  • Keep a small notebook with you at all times and write notes to yourself. You can also use your electronic notes function on your phone or 3M Post-It notes.
  • Write lists of items that you need to remember e.g. shopping list, list of travel essentials, holiday destinations list, To-Do list
  • If you need to take something with you in the morning leave it by the door or in your car.
  • If you keep losing essential items such as your keys, decide on a specific location where you will always place the keys.
  • For medication or vitamins taken daily, place the items with something that you will use daily such as your toothbrush or drinking glass.
  • When you put something away or file a particular item, record the item and its location on a log, running list or simple database

What approach do you use to remember important items?

Dr John Kapeleris

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In our current busy world being able to concentrate and focus is extremely important for work and everyday life. Focus can provide clarity and at the same time magnification of the tasks we want to achieve. If we focus on the high value tasks that will make the difference in our work and personal lives, then we can easily become successful. Focus has made many individuals and organizations achieve success beyond the achievements of their their nearest rivals who may be more diversified. e.g. compare Intel with Motorola – Intel is focused on silicon chips while Motorola is involved in a number of different products.

The key questions you will need to consider when determining your level of focus are:

  1. Am I focused on my strengths?
  2. Am I focused on high value activities to achieve my goals and objectives?
  3. Do I need to shift my focus?

Al Reis has been a strong advocate of “Focus”. He has stated that success is achieved in business and personal life when you narrow the focus. Al Reis also described a number of characteristics related to focus, including:

  1. Focus is simple, memorable, powerful and revolutionary
  2. Focus needs enemies, is the future, is internal and helps organizations and nations
  3. Focus is selective, easy to find, long-term, but isn’t forever

If you want to improve the concentration and focus of your mind, then you need to work out and exercise your brain.  The correct brain exercises will improve the way your brain works, and develop better focus and concentration. Brain exercises are excellent tools for people of any age who would like to strengthen their mind! Following are some simple and effective brain exercises that can help you develop and improve your brain concentration:

  1. Crossword or Sudoku puzzles. Crossword and Sudoku puzzles can help improve your concentration and at the same time are a lot of fun.  Crossword puzzles are great for strengthening your long-term memory, while Sudoku is great for improving logic based problem-solving. Taking only 15 minutes daily to work on crossword or Sudoku puzzles can benefit you. You can purchase a crossword or Sudoku puzzle book, check your daily newspaper, or search online to find free  puzzles.
  2. Eat foods that help your brain. Your brain will stay healthy and function effectively if nourished with nutritious foods. Proteins are great for the brain, and may be found in cheeses, meats, fish, and milk. Complex carbohydrates are important as well, and these come from fruits, vegetables, and grains. The brain also needs some fat, derived from healthy oils like olive oil or fish oils. Eat foods that include Omega-3s, such as trout, salmon, and tuna. Some nuts contain these fats as well and are healthy food for the brain. Other specific foods associated with improved brain function include, cacao beans (chocolate), green tea, Greek-style yogurt, blueberries, flak seeds and broccoli. Of course you will also need plenty of water – about two litres per day.
  3. Exercise regularly. Exercise not only improves your health and fitness, it also provides important oxygen and glucose to the brain through increased blood circulation. Walking briskly is one of the easiest and effective exercise routines to assist in brain function.
  4. Changing your daily routine. Changing your daily routine takes you outside your comfort zone, which challenges your brain. This influences and and improves your problem solving abilities. One way of achieving this is taking a different route to work or changing your morning exercise routine.
  5. Start a new hobby. Trying a new hobby is another way to expand your interests and use your brain to learn something new. Being busy and learning new things expand the way the brain thinks and gets you out of a rut. Join a local club or take a class at a hobby store or community college. Challenging yourself and improving brain function is something that any person can do.
  6. Brain training games and puzzles. Mental exercise for the brain can be achieved through brain training games and puzzles. Brain activities and puzzles can enhance the logical, analytical, creative, spatial, memory and problem solving abilities of the brain.

Make just one change today to stimulate your brain. You won’t notice any drastic changes overnight, but with time and practice, eventually you’ll find that you can solve problems more easily, improve your memory and enjoy improved concentration and focus.

Dr John Kapeleris

_________________________________________________________________________

Try the following Brain Puzzles and add your answers as comments:

  1. A man and woman are walking together. At this very moment their right feet are striking the ground. For every 3 steps taken by the woman the man takes 2 steps. How many steps must each take before their left feet strike the ground together?
  2. A horse trader brings a string of horses to a horse fair. As admission charge, he gives up one of his horses. At the fair he sells one half of those remaining and on the way out he is charged one horse as a trading fee.
    He proceeds to a second fair where similar conditions prevail. There he pays one horse to get in , sells half his horses he still has on hand and pays a single horse as a trading fee.
    Not content he proceeds to a third fair. Here again he pays one horse to get in , sells half of his horses remaining and is charged a single horse as a trading fee. He then has one horse left which he rides home with the proceeds.
    How many horses did he start with?
  3. A bag contains one marble, known to be either black or white. A white marble is dropped into the bag and shaken, and a marble is drawn out, which proves to be white. What is now the chance of drawing a white marble?
  4. A man pointed to a one person in a family portrait and stated, “Brothers and sisters have I none, but that man’s father is my father’s son”. Who did he point to?
  5. A hunter travelling by train to the forest carries with him his gun, which is 2.3 metres long. Unfortunately, the baggage regulations of the train company do not allow any object more than 2 metres long. How does the hunter get around the rule?

Good luck!

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Stress is a natural reaction or response, both physical and emotional, to external threats or stimuli whether actual or imagined. A certain level of stress is required by the human body to ensure the nervous system responds to challenges, stays focused and remains alert. It is a way for the body to protect itself against external threats.

Excessive stress, however can be detrimental, and could result in the following health issues or symptoms:

  • increased blood pressure;
  • suppressed immune system;
  • increased risk of heart attack and stroke; and
  • accelerated aging.

Chronic or long-term stress can also impact on your mind by making you more vulnerable to depression and anxiety.

The following strategy will help to manage stress successfully:

  1. Allocate time for yourself. Spend some time each day relaxing or doing something that you really enjoy.
  2. Make time for other people in your life. Invest time with your close relationships by talking to them and listening to what they have to say.
  3. Start the day with a relaxation activity. Spend at least 15 to 30 minutes every morning exercising, thinking, or undertaking a relaxation exercise, such as reading or creative visualization.
  4. Allow enough time for travel. Avoid rushing to meetings and appointments by allowing enough time for travel so that you arrive in plenty of time stress-free.
  5. Get organized. Avoid clutter and chaos by being proactive in organizing your time (through your calendar), your files (as the documents become available) and your information systems (action and delete your emails).
  6. Be assertive and proactive. Be assertive but avoid aggressive behaviour which could result in stress. Say “no” to distractions and time-wasters. Furthermore being proactive by anticipating in advance what needs to be done will avoid stress in the future.
  7. Start a hobby. Find a hobby that is relaxing and non-stressful, such as reading or taking walks in the park.
  8. Avoid stressful situations. Avoid situations which could be stressful for you.
  9. Make lists and plans. You will be able to think more clearly by writing down your list of actions and plans.
  10. Relax before you go to bed. Before going to bed spend some time relaxing through reflection, creative visualization and relaxation activities, or simply reading a book.

Worry is another behaviour that can create excessive stress. Most of the things we worry about do not even come true. This is well illustrated by a quote from William R. Inge, “Worry is interest paid on trouble before it is due. Therefore, the best way to avoid or manage worry is to quickly evaluate a situation using a simple checklist by asking the following questions:

  1. What is the worst thing that can happen when confronted with the situation?
  2. How would I deal with the situation?

You will find that virtually any problem or challenge that is confronted can be solved in some way thereby avoiding the need to worry. Taking immediate action to solve the problem or challenge will ensure that the issues do not escalate and become unmanageable.

To your success!

Dr John Kapeleris

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“The purpose of man is in action, not thought.” — Thomas Carlyle

We are fast approaching Christmas and this is always a sign that we have once again reached the end of another calendar year. I always find the end of the year to be a time of reflection and review. It is also a time to evaluate the progress of your life purpose, goals and objectives that were set at the start of the year or the longer term goals set in previous years.

The end of the year also offers a fresh start for activities that we had intended to do but never got around to doing them. Although I had previously stated that any day can be the start of the rest of your life, the end of the year can be a special time because it can provide closure to outstanding action items that may no longer be relevant, but also removing limiting beliefs by leaving them behind in the current year. The dawning of a new year provides the incentive to start a fresh action list and the motivation to get things done.

Many people make New Year’s resolutions, however, they quickly discover that the resolutions fade even before the first quarter of the calender year is reached. It is not just about making New Year’s resolutions at the dawn of the New Year, it is about making a committed effort to set written goals and objectives for the coming year and for the medium to longer term timeframe.

I challenge you to make a committed effort, that is, take ACTION, to review your previous goals and objectives, and to set new goals and objectives for 2011. Begin by identifying the major achievements and highlights for 2010. These could include work achievements, financial objectives, family highlights, personal development, educational achievements or personal success outcomes. Achievements should also be acknowledged and celebrated to ensure mental reinforcement and capitalizing on the motivation that this can provide to your subconscious mind. I try to reward myself when I achieve a particular goal or objective. For example, I will buy a gift for myself that reminds me of the success that I have achieved, or I will organise a special holiday trip for myself and my family. Last January I decided to go to Byron Bay and live in a beach house for ten days to celebrate a very successful 2009. In previous years I bought myself a Tag Heuer watch to remind me of a successful multi-million dollar deal I had closed in the year.

I use a visual journal with white pages to document my goals and objectives for the new calendar year. Once I complete this activity I then develop Action Plans for the major goals and objectives. Throughout the year I periodically review my goals and revise any action plans that are not progressing as expected. You should also prepare a vision board which consists of a portfolio of visual material or a collage of images that portray your vision, goals and objectives. The vision board helps to stimulate your reticular activating system in your mind to reaffirm your subconscious.

Like most people I also identify a few missed opportunities or disappointments for the year. This allows me to learn from the experience so that I can strengthen my future plans moving forward. Go ahead and document the missed opportunities and disappointments. Ask yourself, “What could I have done differently to capitalise on the missed opportunities or overcame the disappointments?”, and document potential changes and actions for the future. Don’t spend too much time regretting the missed opportunities. The rest of your life starts now, therefore focus on your future goals and plans for 2011. Some of these goals could also be carried over from 2010. Particularly goals that were over ambitious, which is common amongst high achievers.

I had also previously posted a number of blog entries that can provide further detailed information on developing your goals and objectives (see below). Furthermore, I have included a Personal Development Plan Template that may also be used as a guide. A decent driveway paint site will get you the driveway paint you want.

What does your personal development plan look like?

Have a merry Christmas and I wish you every success for 2011!

Dr John Kapeleris

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“Theirs not to reason why, Theirs but to do and die.” Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Did you know that if you ask “Why?” three to five times you can identify the root cause of a problem or issue? Children often ask “Why?” because their curious and open mind is trying to explore how things work or they are trying to better understand their surrounding environment. As adults we tend not to ask “Why?” that often because we either have already formed our own preconceived perceptions or are afraid to challenge the status quo.

A Why-Why diagram can be used to identify the causes of a particular situation in a systematic way[1]. The Figure below shows an example of a Why-Why diagram. The problem statement is written on the left hand side and then by asking “Why?” a number of possible causes are identified. Asking “Why?” again leads us to further causes and finally to the root causes of  problem. Even though it is simple, this technique is very powerful because it looks at the overall problem as opposed to focusing on a single cause.

The example in the Why-Why Diagram above aims to solve the problem of poor sales relating to a particular product. In many organisations the result of poor sales of a product is usually perceived as poor performance of the Sales Manager and/or the Sales Team. The first inclination is to replace the Sales Manager and/or the Sales Team, however when this is done inconsiderately the result is typically the same – continuing poor sales. The organisation has failed to clearly identify the root cause of the problem. From the example above there can be a number of different reasons why a product has poor sales. The Why-Why Diagram provides a disciplined approach to explore all the possible causes of a problem and not to focus on a single preconceived possible cause.

Humans need to continue to ask “Why?” as a means of fulfilling the needs of their curious minds. We also have been given the freedom and opportunity to challenge the status quo in our society, in our environment, of our governments and in our working lives, otherwise we will become complacent and accept what we have been told by someone else.

As an exercise try applying the Why-Why Diagram technique to a problem you are facing in your personal or business life. You can use the template I have provided – Why-Why Template.

Dr John Kapeleris


[1] Higgins, J.A. (1994), 101 Creative Problem Solving Techniques, New Management Publishing Company, Florida

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Six Thinking Hats

October 26th, 2010 | Posted by John Kapeleris in Creativity | Ideas | Innovation | Mind - (8 Comments)

“If you wait for opportunities to occur, you will be one of the crowd”. Edward de Bono

Dr Edward de Bono introduced a simple, but powerful technique called the Six Thinking Hats[1]. The technique outlines different thinking styles that are associated with a different coloured hat. This parallel thinking approach forces each of the participants in a team meeting or focus group to adopt the particular thinking style represented by each coloured hat. By conceptualizing each type of hat, the person focuses on the style of thinking associated with each colour. For example, when wearing the RED hat a person will state what he or she feels about a particular situation. Wearing the YELLOW hat compels people to think about the positive aspects of a topic or situation, while the GREEN hat encourages people to adopt a creative thinking focus. The Six Thinking Hats encourage even the most pessimistic or negative people to think of the positive outcomes of a given situation.  By adopting the Six Thinking Hats technique in meetings or problem solving sessions, participants have found that they achieve a number of outcomes, including:

  1. Efficient meetings where meeting time is cut by one to two thirds of traditional meetings
  2. Productive meetings with solid outcomes generated from different thinking styles that can be explored further
  3. Quickly identifying alternative solutions to problems
  4. Effective thinking techniques where participants experience different perspectives using parallel thinking

A summary of each hat is outlined in the Figure below:

The key factor in successfully using the Six Thinking Hats and applying them in a practical situation is to better understand the sequence that the hats are used. The following diagram shows a typical sequence when using the Six Thinking Hats and applying them in a practical setting or meeting.

When considering a specific problem or topic it is best to start with the WHITE hat as this allows all the background information to be presented and documented. Once the problem or topic is fully defined then the RED hat is used to ask participants how they feel about the problem or situation. Participants’ feelings are documented. The general tendency for a proportion of people in a meeting, at this stage, is to present the negative aspects of the problem or situation, however in this process the next step is to use the YELLOW hat to capture the positive aspects of the problem or situation from all participants. This step is then followed with the BLACK hat when everyone considers the negative aspects of the problem or situation. The BLACK hat is then followed by the GREEN hat where everyone is encouraged to use creative thinking to overcome the negative issues but also develop new alternatives to solving the problems or resolving the situation. The RED hat is used again at this stage to gauge the feelings of participants. Generally, most participants who were previously concerned about the problem or situation would now be feeling more positive after having gone through the process of using the different hats. Finally, it is always appropriate to use the BLUE hat as this allows participants to evaluate whether the process has offered solutions or conclusions. The BLUE hat also provides process control to ensure the right technique or approach was used by participants. If a solution or resolution was not identified then another approach or process would be suggested as more appropriate in solving the problem.

Add your comments on whether you have found the Six Thinking Hats effective in your business and personal life.

Dr John Kapeleris


[1] De Bono, E. (1999) Six Thinking Hats, Back Bay Books, New York

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“Genius (success) is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration”  Thomas Edison

Having the right mindset and attitude through positive thinking is the first step to achieving success. However, ultimately achieving successful outcomes will require action through the power of positive doing.  Success will only emerge from the actions you implement in life, once you have taken the opportunity to think about what you want and then plan what you are going to do.

Positive doing is about being motivated to take responsibility and to action a number of activities that result in progress along a planned roadmap or action plan. Even though we may deviate from our initial plan the key to success is the power of positive doing.

Tips to becoming more positive in life:

  • Focus on positive thoughts and remove any negative thoughts from your mind
  • Take responsibility of your life or someone else will
  • Find your direction and sense of purpose in life
  • Be assertive by cultivating your self-confidence
  • Value and respect yourself to improve your self-esteem
  • Face your fears and challenges in life as a first step to releasing your negative blocks
  • Get involved and make a contribution through the actions you take
  • Enjoy and celebrate your achievements

Positive thinking must be followed up with positive doing. Although I am a strong advocate of positive thinking, this alone will not achieve the outcomes you desire. You must act upon the positive thoughts, ideas and plans that you establish by implementing positive action.

Following are the ingredients to implementing  a positive action plan:

  1. Determine the goals and objectives
  2. Define the “what, who, when, where and how”
  3. Identify the specific tasks and sub-components
  4. Determine the key milestones
  5. Assign responsibility for each task and the timeline required
  6. Implement tasks and monitor progress
  7. Revise any tasks as required and celebrate the outcomes

You can use the following template to develop and implement your action plan.

The key to positive doing after establishing your action plan is to just START. Many people fail to execute their plans because they don’t start implementation for a number of reasons, including procrastination, not knowing how to begin, wanting everything to be perfect, mental roadblocks, or fear of taking action.

To implement a “positive doing” strategy in your life you must:

  1. Start your action plan
  2. Begin taking positive action steps
  3. Maintain self-discipline
  4. Persevere
  5. Periodically stop to reflect and evaluate
  6. Continue to drive your actions
  7. Check off your milestones

Dr John Kapeleris

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“In the field of observation chance only favors the prepared mind.” Louis Pasteur

Tacit knowledge has been defined as non-codified, intangible know-how that is acquired through the informal adoption of learned behavior and procedures.  Polanyi describes tacit knowing as involving two kinds of awareness: the focal and subsidiary.  While individuals may be focused on a particular object or process, they also possess a subsidiary awareness that is subliminal and marginal.  Tacit knowing also involves subsception, that is, learning without awareness and this is associated with serendipity.

Serendipity is defined as a random coincidence or accident that triggers an idea or concept when the individual is not actively seeking an idea i.e. without awareness of a problem or need. While a discovery that involves focused awareness is usually termed synchronicity since the individual is actively seeking an idea or a solution to a problem.

Serendipity has resulted in a number of accidental discoveries producing innovations that have contributed to significant value for society. For example, penicillin was discovered by Sir Alexander Fleming when he observed an anomaly on a bacterial culture. Another example of an accidental discovery was Scotchgard by Patsy Sherman when she accidentally spilled a polymer on her tennis shoes. The table below shows a number of innovations resulting from serendipity or synchronicity:

Although accidental discoveries and observations in nature lead to new innovations, the person making the discovery or observation needs to have a mindset that is conducive to identifying the opportunities. Sir Alexander Fleming could have thrown out the bacterial cultures when he found an anomaly, but instead continued to investigate the cultures to determine the cause of the abnormality, as a result of his curious and open mind.

The prepared mind, as stated by Louis Pasteur, is characterized by specific patterns of brain activity that place a person in the right “frame of mind” through the establishment of new pathways or networks of thought. The prepared mind has the ability to sense, understand, decide and act upon observations and opportunities that suddenly appear by chance.

Welter and Egmon in their bookThe Prepared Mind of a Leader describe eight mental skills that can further develop and prepare your mind to identify opportunities, solve problems and enhance decision-making:

  1. Observing – Look for non-conforming information generated by the constantly changing environment, that can provide new ideas and opportunities.
  2. Reasoning – You need to be able to answer “Why?” when you are proposing a course of action.
  3. Imagining – The ability to visualize new ideas and linkages.
  4. Challenging – Challenge your assumptions and test their validity.
  5. Deciding – You need to make timely decisions or influence others’ decisions.
  6. Learning – Continuous learning will move you forward.
  7. Enabling – You need people with the knowledge and ability to progress opportunities.
  8. Reflecting – Allocate the time to think and reflect to determine whether a particular decision was successful.

How are you preparing your mind to solve problems and capitalize on opportunities?

Dr John Kapeleris

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