A Challenge: Trying New Things

Try New ThingsWhy do we try new things?

Most new ventures are driven by either Necessity or Enrichment. We NEED to do things so we might benefit in some way.


Its common understanding that many people fear change; but what are new things if not this?

And failure to react to change can leave us leave us disadvantaged in our ability to branch out in different directions.

In practice, new ventures can be either profound or minor; as simple as bringing on a new phone App or disruptive as career change.

Sadly, for some people the discomfort of change is as dramatic for inconsequential events as major; yet, it can become life-limiting if we are paralyzed to inaction as a result.

A sudden or unexpected need for change can be a shock to almost anyone’s system. The challenge is to embrace the need (and often inevitability), take a deep breath, accept what is essential and see the ultimate opportunity and benefit.

Being able to fearlessly embrace change is empowering. It is the gateway to new ventures, skills, places and experiences.

Driving a car at >150mph can be a thrill, but then if things goes badly wrong the consequences may be dire. Similarly, going sailing can be a great adventure but here the downside of (say) a little sea-sickness is more minor (assuming risk of drowning is low!).

So, on some occasions we might be gung-ho in trying new things, but it’s generally wiser to avoid truly reckless behavior.

We can take on simple or even adventurous new enterprises, expanding our own envelope, providing we understand and can live with the associated risks and consequences.

I believe people should push themselves and seek out new challenges; be they mental, emotional or physical.Try New Things 2

There is no reason we should back off doing what we can reasonably achieve throughout the course of our entire lives.

After all, when we no longer challenge ourselves we cease to grow. This is the path to stagnation.

I regularly meet people who are regretful about specific things they have not done. And sadly, these were clearly readily possible within their financial, physical and emotional constraints.

Certainly, unless fraught with rare psychological constraints, no-one need be that person full of regrets.

Aspire to what is possible for you.

For example, a young healthy person may not (say) be practically able to climb Mount Everest, but perhaps they are still fully capable of clambering up many Monroes (>3,000 feet tall mountains), if they just make the opportunity.

Similarly, older people might not even be fully mobile, but can still (say) get themselves wheel-chaired onto a plane, cross the country and attend that favorite nieces wedding.

We can often do more than we first think. There is always much that can be reasonably realized.

We only need to imagine and try; there is usually some way to make great things happen.

Got any skills you failed to develop? Any places you never went and still might? Any person you should have sought out and didn’t? Is there something you just never attempted?

Fortunately, it’s usually never too late.

Imagine what you might try, and make it happen!

Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter @ianrmackintosh



Fail and Succeed: A Winning Recipe

fail fastA large part of S
ucceeding is Failing.

Not that Failure is preferable to Success, but rather its often an inevitable step on the path.

Inventors notoriously fail repeatedly when refining their inventions. Thousands of failed attempts were made to perfect a viable light-bulb, for example.

Some failures are catastrophic and should preferably never occur; the Titanic comes to mind.

Ideally, we avoid and design out all failure and risk. But in practice we are often forced to discover problems retroactively.

Failures generally precede and are fundamental to ultimate success. Little is ever perfected without repetition and improvement; in such circumstances dealing successfully with failure is an imperative.

Triumph through failing is accomplished by our distinct Actions:

Recognizing the Failure

Analyzing the Problem(s)

Developing Corrective Action

Implementing the Next Pass


Fail Fast has been the mantra for Entrepreneurs, Inventors, Investors and Business people for decades.

Not all Failures are catastrophic; they are typically inevitable, likely or possible. The issue is to learn from them, adjust and move forwards.

These principals and Actions are by no means unique to Business and the Invention Process. They apply equally to many facets of life including, but not limited to Interpersonal Communications, Relationships and all the Sciences and Arts we might imagine.

It is our human ability to learn and move on that matters; our intellect, heart, appetite and resolve enable us to prevail and ultimately succeed.

The very act of practicing anything to perfect one’s skills is by its nature an acceptance of the role of failure in pursuit of success.

Yet the idea of Failure itself is not well received in most cultures. Nevertheless, embracing a methodology and philosophy centered around this seeming inevitability is of obviously great value.

And ultimately, we are all resultant products of our Success and Failures.

So-called, Failing Fast is critical to Manufacturing. If you’re building (say) complex or expensive goods it behooves you to test early and often to find unfixable defects quickly and eliminate further wasted investment. Both the success and profitability of most Corporations is directly tied to this approach. And of course, any fixable defects might also be reworked.

Relationships and Human Interaction can be quite similar, but might require more subtle handling. Here, sometimes rapid recognition AND correction of issues is critical; in other instances, simple early awareness and moderated reaction is more appropriate.

Examples of this might be (say) the difference between clearing a building that’s on fire, versus working through corrective action(s) for a child’s bad behavior. In both these cases knowing early on helps, but the need for immediate and brisk action can be different.

In most all instances, rapid RECOGNITION of Failure is valuable. The issue is to have the recovery process and Actions consistent (in both timing and severity) with the significance and urgency of the Failure (or, Problem).

Clearly NEW products, situations and events blatantly cry out for this type of analysis and thinking.

Thus, it’s easy to overlook established processes in need of fresh review. Initiating insightful investigation (even belatedly) often uncovers valuable new opportunities for both great and small improvements, simply by using a Fail Fast approach and mindset.

And again, these principals apply equally to Business, Personal and Family Life, Engineering, Sciences and Arts alike.

So, are you Failing Fast, when you should? Checking for troubles, early on? Are you adjusting and correcting in the appropriate timeframe?

There’s no time like the present to run these ideas and principals by your Work and Private Life to discover just what benefits and improvements are there for the taking. Give it a try.

Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter @ianrmackintosh

Culture to Personality: Curse & Blessing


Image result for culture and personalityEvery day most of us wander out into the world and deal with people.

It doesn’t matter if you lead, manage, supervise, parent or just communicate, you’ll be interacting with complex personalities.

Often it’s convenient to deal with people as groups, in some set manner, but it’s preferable we understand and address them as individuals.

Whether we’re working on personnel issues, negotiating or just generally communicating we are better prepared and able if we understand the unique personality of those involved. This is a complex problem and can be a tall order.

Yet it’s clear that the deeper and more specific our understanding of an audience, the greater our ability to Be Authentic, Connect and Communicate Effectively. So, we should attempt to consider and account for individuality.

Now, unique Personality is defined as: the combination of characteristics or qualities that form an individual’s distinctive character.

No simple explanation of how personality is formed is universally accepted.

However, it is possible to make overarching judgements about what certainly affects personality, even if today no definitive model seamlessly explains how these elements interact.

Personality is created and affected by:

Culture– Programming the self

Experience(s)– Environmental, Physical and Mental

Brain Function– Baseline; also including Development, Growth, Evolution and Performance

Genes– Base Physiology and Persona

Health– Resulting from Lifestyle and Exposure

All this plus a person’s ability to Adapt to these factors helps establish a unique Personality; this fuels the outward expression of individuality.

Further, any of these elements listed above may have a lesser, greater or even disproportionate impact on the outbound personality; and elemental interaction may be either simple or complex.

I suppose this explanation is in some ways analogous to Atomic Theory: Waves explain some things nicely, Particles others and yet nothing comprehensively and elegantly really ties these very complex worlds together, either.

Now, these five (5) Elements (Culture, Experience(s), Brain Function, Genes and Health) individually each warrant extensive comment. But practically, this is a BLOG not a book.

So, let’s just explore one aspect to help advance our understanding of Personality.

I’ve always thought there isn’t enough attention given to the profound importance of Culture. Let’s focus on this

Culture is defined as: the ideas, customs and social behavior of a particular people or society.

I believe we are programmed throughout our lives by culture. Everything we experience is biased by the prevailing culture in which we are immersed. It dictates the very way we perceive the world.

Culture can impact our every action and deed; how we eat, drink, smile, laugh, sit, stand, sleep, bathroom, dress, seek partners, interact with others and more are all influenced at some level.

Religious Opinions, Social Beliefs and Values constantly bombard us though our immediately surrounding culture.

What we might truly independently believe and think can easily be lost with such overwhelming, ongoing immersion and social pressure. Also, many cultures seem to additionally immerse and burden females relative to their male counterparts.

Why is all this important?

Well, if we are raised in one culture versus another, then our behaviors, reactions, values and beliefs can all be quite different; a recipe for likely conflict.

Consider (say) a born-and-bred New Yorker relative to a Saharan Bedouin. Obviously such radically divergent exposure and upbringing would be expected to deliver notable culture (and thence personality) differences.

But must we consider only dramatically dissimilar environments to see such significantly different results? I think not.

Consider (say) the case of Scandinavians: Internally I am told their own various cultures consider Swedes to be paralytically PC, Danes frighteningly outspoken and Norwegians quite dull and less imaginative.

It’s not clear if such characterizations are wholly fair (certainly they’re not PC), but they are commonly held and have substantial general acceptance within these (physically close) cultural groups. These are relative impressions.

I must admit through years of travel and international dealings I’ve found some characterizations to be surprisingly meaningful; be they crude and unflattering in some cases. And the same is true across the world.

For example, a Bostonian is certainly not a San Franciscan; neither are they like a Londoner, Singaporean nor a Muscovite. We are an amazingly diverse species and yet generally quite strongly aligned locally, when within shared cultures.

Each culture when observed from any other often seems quite strange. It is not just the actual cultural differences that create this view but also the perspective from which they are seen.

And, cultural differences can be startling.

I once communicated with supposedly agreed, polite hand-written notes and brief voice-messages to a colleague as a solution to mutual meeting schedule conflicts. What was originally well-meant and efficient was ultimately taken as demeaning and rude. In this case there were pronounced West meets East and other disconnects; inevitably, significant cultural differences are prevalent within multicultural societies.

Never underestimate the importance of contrast existing between cultures. And, human tolerance of such differences is far more tenuous than their acceptance.

We are all products of our cultures. Most of us are heavily programmed to the preponderance of the culture in which we were formatively immersed.

In this sense those of us with very similar upbringing can be greatly alike, sharing many commonalities. And yet in practice, the other elements of personality (Experience(s), Brain Function, Genes and Health along with our adaptability) still cause us to develop unique identities.

It is generally held that our personalities are formed early in life: “Give me the child till age seven (7) and I’ll show you the man/woman.” Many of us will have personally witnessed reasons for such a claim.

So in summary, if we want to interact successfully with others it only makes sense to be well aware of their predominant cultural influences. It is one key window to who they are, what they feel, value and believe.

Are you involved with diverse cultural groups? Perhaps your communications should be better sensitized to serve your audience?

Are you the one from a different culture? Maybe some individuals you meet need more carefully considered interactions than you’ve previously offered?

Take a close look at the folks with whom you interact. Sometimes a lack of cultural awareness can burn both you and others.

 Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter @ianrmackintosh


Growth in Pretentiousness Fueling Social Value

Image result for PretentiousI was never a fan of pretension. And, I believe we are experiencing an unprecedented explosion of the behavior.

The Definition of Pretentious is attempting to impress by offering greater importance or merit than is actually possessed.

After the casual observation that pretension is seemingly everywhere these days, I was wondering what might explain the apparently uncommon growth in this trend.

Certainly, there are some obvious current Contributing Factors:

Social Equalization. Lack of growth in or reduction of household economic situations will cause many individuals to seek ways to differentiate themselves and feel special; a human need.

Information Access. Google anything and read for 15 mins and you can usually surpass most people’s general knowledge on any subject; it’s easy to appear expert.

Knowledge Compartmentalization. Experts in maturing, competitive fields must generally evolve more vertical knowledge in lieu of broadening their expertise; they are driven to go deeper and so inevitably become less broadly expert and educated. We are in an era where a thinning veneer of disaggregated public knowledge exists; it is harder to be broadly expert.

Political Correctness (PC). There’s declining cultural willingness to openly expose or confront flawed thinking, facts or claims in social situations; this provides opportunity for pretension to thrive, even in a time of more readily accessible information.

Time is Short. Who can investigate every suspicious or questionable claim?

Unthinking Acceptance. People are often easily fooled. Humans tend to readily believe what’s in print or comes from a perceived, historically reliable source; though Fake News must now be shaking this foundation.

A Pretension is a claim or aspiration to a particular quality. Being pretentious generally connotes such a claim is unworthy.

But how do we KNOW which claims are overstated or false?

Certainly we live in an age where perception is reality as the accepted norm. Indeed today, most celebrity is built on completely manufactured perception. And the speed of acceptance is such that if something looks like a duck, it’s a duck; whether or not it quacks.

We are inundated with facts and information of obvious increasingly uncensored quality. It is an era spewing fake news and prejudicial reporting on every side; so then, who can or would routinely trouble to (say) run down every minute detail of an acquaintance or colleague’s perceivably questionable claims and assertions? There is often too little time or real importance.

Image result for kardashians

If someone lays claims we are unmotivated or unable to check, perhaps we deserve them as our reality. Certainly History itself is built on such foundations.

Personally, I have lived in cultures where pretension is thought of as something as a character flaw. In an increasingly PC world it can become less clear when such behavior should even be outwardly highlighted.

Perhaps if someone purports or displays modest vestiges of some skill, knowledge or association we should always give them the benefit of the doubt with their claims? As individuals I think we tend to do this (to keep the peace; not rock the boat), even when we occasionally also record a question mark about their validity in the back of our minds.

However, if we have questions about people’s pretentions, we are unlikely to ever fully trust them on any matter of importance. Surely Leaders, Managers and friends should educate their acquaintances accordingly.

We’ve all seen people make questionable, pretentious claims regarding their jobs, lifestyles, experiences, possessions, family, associations and expertise. There’s frequently a wannabee expert proffering dubious wisdom and status at every party, dinner and social event, too.

So, it should be carefully noted that bold pretension is generally offered by a very insecure person. Ultimately, they feel vulnerable so need to make themselves more, or others less.

Now, we’ve all tweaked someone’s nose when they’ve made claims with visible flaws. Perhaps we even did this to avoid appearing gullible or unknowledgeable?

Whatever flawed claims and aspirations individuals present to us, maybe we should most commonly just let the buyers beware and bite our tongues? However, in the event of actual or material damage affecting others, it really is time to speak up. Even then it’s always wiser to be discrete and minimize any confrontation when doing so.

Humans possess and will often display unique, complex outward reactions to unwanted stimulus. And, the spur of outrageous pretentious behavior can be truly profound. Despite this, sometimes just being PC and letting things pass unacknowledged is often the wiser approach.

Do you work with a lot of pretentious people? Meet many in social situations? How do you react to these individuals?

It is easy to lose respect for people who put on airs. It is harder to walk in their shoes and understand why they do so.

So, next time you see such behavior, take a look in the mirror and check if your own peacock feathers are on display, or perhaps even stimulating the problem.

 Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter @ianrmackintosh



Ready? And Prepared?

late travelerI was travelling recently and began to observe the behaviors of people preparing for subsequent legs of their journeys; how they schedule, allocate time, etc.

Over the years I’ve noticed travelers are either generally on-time, hit-and-miss on readiness (unpredictable on every occasion) or routinely, late. And, most folks seem to reside quite persistently in one of these brackets.

I’m one of those people that are always on-time. Any set-backs during preparations and I still stay on schedule. After all, if you’re ultimately ready several minutes early you can grab a drink or make room to move up downstream AIs. So, why not make the effort?

Yet this behavior is hardly the norm. Most travelling companions I’ve had over the years barely make it on-time or more commonly run a few minutes late and seem quite stressed as a result. And this occurs with people from a broad range of professional levels, skill-sets, ages and personality-types. Why is this?

Personally, I find risking schedules and having to rush to recover to be really undesirable. One more glitch can be a tipping point to a blown outing. Clearly, not everybody feels the same.

Certainly, everyone’s motivations are different, too. I find being ready gives me the capacity to adapt quickly if and when those unpredictable events occur, which they often do.

But from observing others it seems most people operate more from reaction than pro-action in preparedness. This is purely an anecdotal observation, but it’s made after many years bearing witness.

So why do most people appear to run late?

Procrastination means people will put things off. This can be caused by many factors; perhaps Fear of Failure, Dread of particular Events, or even Tiredness and Health Issues could all make people engage later than they should.

Whatever their reason, I don’t choose to be one of these folks who run late, miss appointments and need to react frantically when hiccups occur. And in my case, I believe this really is a choice.

Correspondingly, I’m guessing those same people who have such performance and schedule challenges have little desire to push themselves to be the always-on-time guy. It’s safe to assume that at some level this must be their choice, too.

The biggest problem I see with running late (or, close to failure) is that it appears to be symptomatic. And, those that practice this brinkmanship in the simple matter of being on-time for travel are usually the same folks who struggle more broadly with commitments.

The individual who generally fails to be on-time is typically the same person who doesn’t complete AIs in a timely manner, or blows hard deadlines and often seems unprepared, less able to respond to change.

Such performers appear unwilling (or unable?) to push themselves to achieve unless their hair is blowing in the wind as they play catch-up.

My personal philosophy is that we need to push ourselves to perform. If you give yourself too much slack you can hang yourself as a result. This does not mean we all must be constant, stoic Spartans. But we are usually better-off getting ahead of things and proactively addressing even those seemingly simple matters that have downside potential.

The reasoning for this is simple. You cannot manufacture time; it’s a critical dimension in an increasingly busy world. So, if you might run out of it, you’d better already be appropriately ahead of potential liabilities.

I’m not fanatical about risk, either. Allowing a little extra time (seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, even months or years, as is applicable) is generally a matter of Common Sense, Risk Management and Prior Experience. There is usually (NOT always) no point in overcompensating for low-likelihood setbacks.

So what is the conclusion here?

I don’t believe everyone can or should act, plan or schedule the same way. It’s improbable the huge range and variety of human personalities might easily align to prescribed, infallible, drone-like ways; certainly most would not wish to do so. Yet I do believe many folks would help out their Stress Levels, Health, Self and Professional Images if they didn’t underperform and fall-short in the described areas.

And being anxious, failing to achieve goals and objectives is certainly not a recipe for personal success.

Do you blow deadlines? Miss flights, occasionally? Show up late for meetings? Delay results to the frustration of others? If so, first just recognize the fact.

Next, I recommend you consider the consequences of these failings.

Lastly, when there are upcoming events where it’s a problem should you deliver late, be a little more proactive. Think things through and allocate more time. After all, when everything goes smoothly everybody wins in one way or another.


Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter @ianrmackintosh

Enthusiasm: The REAL Key to Leadership

Image result for enthusiastic leaderGreat Leadership is not common.

The behavior and characteristics of truly outstanding individuals has been extensively studied. It is generally agreed that:

Great Leaders Inspire, Empower and Engage people they meet, their reports and coworkers. This is traditionally accomplished by…

  • Motivating
  • Communicating
  • Accomplishing major Results

      In addition, they share a clear Vision and possess a truly Positive Outlook.

So, there are numerous critical components to this profile.

Yet in many ways it seems to me that the most compelling skill/characteristic is that a leader ENTHUSIASTICALLY Communicate. After all, if they can’t get fired-up about their own ideas and plans, who would?

And, it’s equally clear that too little ENTHUSIASM can damage any message.

This doesn’t mean that accomplished leaders are all outwardly gushing and energetic. Indeed, successful leaders can be seemingly subdued, introspective, yet still convey a truly Positive Outlook.

Invariably, outward Enthusiasm is hard to resist and ignore.

To be a compelling Leader it’s essential to support and recognize:




          Groups (Organizations, Teams and Families)



          And, more

Generous, enthusiastic support should be for BOTH yourself AND others, in all these areas.

Lavish, consistent and visible praise should be given freely. People enjoy being recognized, but in appropriate ways.

Maintaining enthusiasm can be a challenge. This can be accomplished more readily when a leader knows and practices good:

          Health Regimes (Sleep, Diet and Exercise)

          Work-Life Balance

And, Enthusiasm needs to be on-tap whenever needed. It’s important to be up for both impromptu one-on-one meetings as well as planned, formal events.

At the same time, enthusiasm should be authentic and genuine. Faked reactions and responses can be a major turn-off.

Remember: The more you seek out the Positives around you, the more readily you exude sincere enthusiasm.

Being overly enthusiastic without bringing some measure of other leadership skills to the table can appear boorish and overdone; outward demeanor should be consistent with leadership stature. So, be sure to continuously raise your game across the entire spectrum of the behaviors described (above).

Now consider your own performance. How is your enthusiasm level at work and in private life?

Take a hard look at just how compelling your own Presence, Support and Interactions are right now. It’s likely you can better serve yourself and others by giving more and Communicating More Enthusiastically. Give it a try.

Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter @ianrmackintosh


Managing Distressed Workers & Friends

Most industrialized cultures have become increasingly sensitized to the
impact of stress on workers and the workforce.

Let’s face it, distressed people are bad for business; Productivity, Morale, Health, Safety and more can be compromised. And, these liabilities are equally problematic outside the workplace.

Trauma causes stress that may be PHYSICAL and/or MENTAL. It may affect an Individual or a Group.

Whatever the source, I believe there are THREE (3) Golden Rules in dealing with Distressed Individuals:

  1.   Address the issue in a timely fashion.
  2.   Determine appropriate Action/Assistance, then
  3.   Implement and Follow Up.

Ignoring or delaying unnecessarily is imprudent. Failure to Recognize, Accept and Address problems usually allows them to ferment.

Correspondingly, rushing in like a bull in a china shop is usually unwise. Judgement is required.

It is important to first consider the nature of the distress we might be addressing…

I have seen people (Adults and Children) react to Physical Trauma in vastly different ways. Within these TYPES of response, some cry, others complain incessantly, some go into a shell (even sleep) and others become loud or outwardly vocal.

Even very similar traumas can illicit strikingly varied responses from different people. We react differently to the same problem; the variations can be surprising.

Similarly, the response you might see from a particular individual to PHYSICAL harm will generally be quite different to their response to MENTAL Trauma. Differing stimuli effect different reactions.

Responses to a specific TRAUMA can vary by Age, Personality, Fatigue, Health, Strength, Experience and more. It’s never certain what response you might witness. And, with each general type of response there are innumerable, personal variations.

When dealing with distressed individuals, it’s important to first recognize Clues alerting us something is wrong. These may be subtle changes in Attitude, Behavior, or perhaps even flagrant Mood Swings and Outbursts.

Whatever the situation, something tips us off; we become Aware.

A person who’s upset or out-of-sorts should only be approached by someone they can trust and do respect. If that is not you, channel a discrete alternate to intervene.

Approaches to distressed individuals should be private and not-too-invasive. Allow the person (s) to open-up or back-away if they must. But there should be an approach, whichth occurs in a safe, neutral place. And, always begin by establishing rapport.

It’s typical to open the discussion by generally noting an individual doesn’t seem themselves, or appears troubled by something.

Next, asking if everything is OK, or is there something I can help you with is a simple, open-handed introduction to identify and address the problem.

Be sensitive to the person’s distress. Downstream you may consult, advise or even direct the individual concerned, but not at the outset. Job one is to LISTEN and LEARN; so, be authentic, empathize.

Once the root of the problem is clearly understood, get the best expertise necessary to help resolve the issue(s). You may be the right person, you might not; recognize your limits.

If third parties are brought in, make sure they are acceptable to the distressed individual(s) and offer no further threat or complication to the existing problem(s). Such outsiders must be appropriately discrete and confidential in their dealings.

When the person is on a recovery path, check in on them. Do this regularly and as non-invasively as possible. Again, offer authentic, appropriate support; never be an unnecessary crutch or that person who interferes inappropriately.

People are traumatized by so many elements of life. Small things to some are life-changing to others and vice versa.

Correspondingly, something traumatic to someone one day might be only a simple annoyance at another time. We each react differently and in sometimes inexplicable ways; the dynamics can be complex and varied.

People in the workplace and your personal life are constantly barraged with challenges and difficulties. Sometimes they suffer set-backs from these impacts.

Even though we should not stick our noses into everyone’s affairs, there’s often times when it’s our job or responsibility. Then, we are the ones who need to make a difference and ease the load.

And note, when in any doubt about the underlying seriousness of someone’s trauma, we should ALWAYS seek professional advice.

So, take a look around. Has someone’s behavior changed? Are there subtle or obvious symptoms of Stress, or Distress?

When people are in trouble, address the issue. By all means take a moment to prudently consider the appropriate approach, but don’t ever fail the person; step up to your responsibilities.


Post Script: For purposes of brevity the clinical meanings of Stress, Distress and Trauma have been applied loosely in the most generally accepted terms.

Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter @ianrmackintosh


Enjoy Business, Work & Life: Choosing Buckets and Balloons

Image result for choose your attitude quotesWhen it really matters, you choose your mood. At some level, everybody does.

We put on the face/front for that meeting, party or social event. We are already choosing our demeanor.

And, given a level of commitment and practice we can similarly start, or reset each day to the tone we’d most prefer.

Rather than drag ourselves out of bed and run into the turmoil of the day we can set ourselves up for a happy daily entre and even recover crisply from (seemingly inevitable) emergent setbacks.

Most folks carry around their personal, “bucket of troubles.” It seems we all choose how many woes and problems we’ll take on.

Some carry larger buckets than others; that’s a choice. And then, we allow those buckets to fill till they spill over. Only in this way do we limit what we take on.

By analogy, the larger the bucket, the heavier is the load. The weight (burden) is determined by what we are prepared to accept.

What if we simply chose not to allow deposits into that bucket? Just shrug things off (responsibly), don’t let them weigh in immediately and only fully embrace troubles when we choose.

Simply put, take on the issue later when preferred and only drop a note to address the problem into the bucket, for now. (SIDE NOTE: truly immediate issues are just that, so act accordingly. But, most things are not).

This doesn’t mean we ignore problems, concerns or issues. It does mean we should not burden ourselves with unknowns until we’re ready to focus.

Such an approach is truly Zen-like. We should “eat when we eat,” just attending to that of immediate concern to us. In this case, it is the simple, need-to-addresslater note.

This unburdens us nicely. No rapid-fill of that bucket.

We might even soon learn to reduce that bucket’s size as our skills develop. Why leave room to potentially unnecessarily burden ourselves with things we often can’t address till later, anyway?

Buckets weigh us down. Similarly, balloons can buoy us up. So why not carry a few of those around?

Happy thoughts, good news all serve to lighten our footsteps.

Image result for colorful balloonsWe begin each day with a host of blessings to enjoy. Our relationships, work, family, friends, even possessions can boost happiness, enjoyment and self-worth.

So, reflect on a few of these positives to start each day and renew yourself throughout. Carry a few happy balloons around and offset the weight of that essential bucket.

Realistically, we cannot expect to exist in a bed of roses on a flat, stable and worry-free plane. Yet too much volatility in our ups and downs is ultimately wearing, dulls our judgement, exhausts the ability to enjoy life and often harms our health.

Daily routines and encounters can be a grind. Things can wear on us and beat us down.

Life is not all smiles, happiness and positive events. It’s pretty tough for everyone. We need to both reduce our burdens and lighten our steps. So, a handful of balloons and a less substantial bucket can serve us well.

How is life wearing on you? Need to downsize that bucket and lighten the load?

Make life more enjoyable: every morning grab a few balloons, choose a smaller bucket and enthusiastically greet the coming day.


Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter @ianrmackintosh



How Sharp are YOUR Mental Skills? Important Insights

Image result for brain gamesI’ve always personally enjoyed mental exercises and games.  They can be great time fillers, keep you alert and in the moment. I believe they offer some level of personal improvement and improve mental acuity.

It turns out the research and writing around this subject area offers some useful additions to my personal perceptions.

A whole industry surrounds the training of the brain. It’s generally accepted that improvements can be made in personal function for Flexibility, Speed, Memory, Problem Solving, Learning Power etc. Progress can be measured on these fronts and dozens of exercises and games can be readily found in books or on-line.

Healthy lifestyle advocates promote Brain Fitness, which includes Proper Nutrition, Sleep, Physical Exercise and Stress Management.

Similarly, it’s accepted that cognitive skills are harmed by Stress, Anxiety, Depression, Aging, Air Pollution and internal Chemical Imbalance (both hormonal and drug induced).

Cognitive Training (aka Brain Fitness) promotes the idea that skills can be developed or maintained by exercising the brain in much the same way physical condition is improved by body exercise.

Scientific material rarely supports or advertises the concept of brain fitness, but personal development materials have promoted the idea with products and books since the 1980’s.

In practice, mental exercises can have measurable benefits; even more so the lower the starting base of the trainee. Any way you look at it, you can improve your brain function to some degree by practicing and training appropriately.

There’s recent evidence that mental training leads to a decrease (33% reported) in the risk of dementia onset. And, training children for academic improvement only appears to have benefits where the specific training is obviously and directly applicable to the specific area of study involved.

So, there is no silver bullet here where one approach fits all needs.

Certainly, some games and puzzles are fun and I personally enjoy a sense of accomplishment taking on new challenges and becoming more skilled and proficient over time.

Many people turn to outlets such as Crossword Puzzles, Sudoku, Solitaire, Bridge, etc. as a more productive use of otherwise dead time. It’s common to see people engaged in such activities in waiting areas, when travelling etc., even where other (such as TV) entertainment is present.

There is undoubtedly an increasing cultural search for alternative occupations that often more directly physically engage and personally challenge us. And there is a huge proliferation of available options.

Whatever our reasons for doing a little personalized brain-training (or self-entertainment), it typically provides us an enhanced sense of accomplishment and is usually a lot more fun than the other immediately available choices.

So, as another alternative suggestion, let me offer you a brain teaser to consider over time. You may solve this in a few minutes or be working on it many weeks from now. Either way, consider this…

There are twelve (12) natives stranded on an otherwise deserted Island.

Eleven (11) of the natives are the same weight, but one (1) weighs slightly less (or more) than the others.

Also, on the island is a see-saw (teeter-totter) that you may use in your investigations, but only three (3) times.

Your challenge is to discover which Islander has the different weight AND if that weight is more or less than the other eleven Islanders.

End of Challenge.

Whatever your predilection for cognitive development, let me recommend its benefits to both your practical personal development and self-esteem. Wishing you the best on your chosen path!


Image result for brain games

Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter @ianrmackintosh


Travelling? Watch Out! Scams & Risks to Avoid

Image result for travel scamsI’m barely half way into a two week jaunt through France, Spain and the UK, unfortunately encountering unprecedented Scams and new Risks.

In just 72 hours after landing at Paris (CDG) I’ve run into some ten different types of problems, which include:

Overbillings/re-imbursement issues: Taxis, Hotels and Flights

Unwanted assaults by Petty CriminalsImage result for travel scams

Robbery and Theft

Personal Security Risks          

Persuasive Extortion

Local Driving restrictions

I’ve been ducking problems like these during decades of global travel. Yet it appears these kinds of liabilities are now on the increase. Attacks and affronts have become more insidious and aggressive.

It’s tough to admit, but I did just fail to thwart a couple of my own problem travel situations. And they occurred, despite considerable prior exposure and much past experience. Fortunately, in these recent situations I can view myself as VERY lucky in the way my troubles were resolved, this time.

Now to business: Its true Petty Theft warnings (primarily for pickpockets) are often well signposted in most high-traffic tourist areas; even helpful cab drivers will provide you with unsolicited warnings. Yet there are a host of other (mostly) organized Scams and Liabilities to avoid, too.

Rather than detail the incidents to which I was personally exposed, let me provide some useful suggestions you can keep in mind to avoid unwanted impacts on your own travels.

Good TRAVEL practices should include:

Online Bookings

Watch out for built-in fees on Hotels and Flights. Check what IS and IS NOT included and keep a print-out or copy readily on-hand of what you bought. For Example: Airlines sometimes charge for bags up-front and then demand payment again while you’re trying to check in. Also, Hotel advance payment and cancellation policies often need checking closely.

Again, it’s essential you can quickly SHOW confirmations and complete, relevant copies, on-the spot.

Street Vendors

Don’t get hassled into the waves of seemingly innocent surveys, petitions or suchlike. Often participation quickly produces unexpected downstream demands for donations as you’re trying to extricate yourself. You’ll be fighting off purveyors once you engage.

Unwanted Purchases

Flower (or other) vendors often gain access to restaurants and bars, twisting the arms of couples and travelers to buy considerate or loving gifts. If you DON’T want them, decline firmly. If you do buy, politely NEGOTIATE on a price. It may not be seem appropriately romantic, but you’ll usually more than halve the initial asking price.

Taxis and Other Transports

Whenever possible know the regular fare involved for where you’re going; ask someone credible if you don’t. Legitimate operators are generally endorsed or secured by Airport/Hotel service staff. Prices are often posted for specific trips. Don’t get suckered by vendors who produce a surprise fare AFTER you’ve made the journey. Ask before embarking and be aware that even pricey Hotels have valets that’ll put you in a known-overpriced Taxi; it’s sometimes surprising to discover who’s working with whom.


Watch over your luggage and bags, always. If you’re in a group have one person keep vigil when working through distractions (like getting a cab, renting a car, etc.) in busy areas. Purses, carry-ons and baggage can be lifted, disguised and gone in seconds. So, carry all critical goods in a single closed bag and never release it; money, travel docs, tickets, credit/debit cards and mobile devices are best kept together whenever possible.


Room safes are often provided; use them. Check the door of that budget room truly locks when the door closes; amazingly, some DO need to be keyed from both inside AND outside to secure the lock on the handle. And, if there’s a separate deadbolt/chain inside, use that, too.

Money Exchange

Establish what reasonable exchange rates should be expected in countries you’ll visit before you change money. Watch for hidden fees and use ATMs with known-tolerable rates, whenever possible. It’s better to know what your credit/debit card rates will be before travelling, too.

In-Room Services

Honor bars are notoriously pricey. Buy out where you can. Also, keep some track of all in-room purchases for checkout; BE AWARE that auto-recording purchases may occur when you momentarily remove, move or even just lift-up products in stocked bars and refrigerators.


 These guys are seemingly everywhere folks gather in numbers. Keep your valuables zipped, pocketed and/or covered. Even then experts (often in teams) who target you can and will get access. It’s just wiser NOT to be the most obviously tempting prey in the pack; let others be the easy marks.

Car Rentals

Spanish Police are now fining renters they stop who are not driving on formal, International Drivers Licenses. They’ve specifically notified Hertz employees to this effect at the location I used (with my US, Calif. Driver’s License) in Valencia, Spain. Don’t be surprised if other Countries are already following suit.

I find it amazing that every single one of the vulnerabilities listed above was directly relevant and also immediately present during my current travel.

The list of things to watch for is long. All trips can have downsides and even the smallest bad experience can taint highly anticipated journeys.

We should not be paranoid about our every move when enjoying travel or a well-earned holiday. But the consequences of lost funds, equipment, goods or documents can be both traumatic and cumulative. It leaves us feeling violated.

So, keep your wits about you and make appropriate preparations. Be aware of where you are and what’s going on. Better a little vigilance than wasting time downstream to repair avoidable (and perhaps major) consequential damages.

Got any personal travel panned? Have any more business trips looming shortly? Put a little thought to what you’re doing and who’s around; be alert when these liabilities can exist and make sure YOU aren’t a victim. A little attention and awareness on your part can avoid a lot of grief.

Get ahead of the scams, problems and tricksters. Travel should be fun. So, make sure YOU will enjoy YOUR trip.

Let me wish you Happy Travels and Memorable Experiences!

Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter @ianrmackintosh