Always KNOW if the Work will get Done.

Life is a series of jobs, tasks, projects and programs. Normally much depends upon the successful completion of these undertakings.

Their success or failure can have immediate or indeed enduring, life-long ramifications.

When we look to others for execution of such assignments we frequently wonder, what will be the result? And often ask ourselves, what can we do to most likely ensure a successful outcome?

A Desirable Result is “The Goal being accomplished, as or better than required and on-time.”

Well, there is a universal approach we can employ to both Assess and Secure the likelihood of positive outcomes.

We can use this same simple methodology whether we’re considering massive undertakings or merely wondering if (say) a child will complete a routine homework assignment.

The approach is straightforward and fully described, below…

Basically, for successful outcomes the participant(s) must possess enough PASSION and impending OBSTACLES should be adequately removed.

PASSION means participant(s) has

  1. Desire (Wants the outcome)
  2. Energy (the Drive/ no laziness or indifference)
  3. Decisiveness (no Procrastination)

Overcoming OBSTACLES means participant(s) has

  1. Know-How (Essential Skills)
  2. Authority (to Proceed and Act)
  3. Resources (Infrastructure and Tools)
  4. Time (to Complete on Schedule)

These are The SEVEN (7) Necessary Pillars of Success.

They are really all it takes to support the likelihood of a positive outcome. 

We can simply look at the Participant(s) situation and quickly evaluate if they have what it takes to achieve a Desirable Result

Do they have the Personal Attributes and Skills? Are there real Obstacles to their success?

For example: the LIKELY results we might predict are:

  • All 7 Pillars being sound = STRONG Likelihood of success
  • < 7 pillars sound = varying outcome/results should be expected
  • Weak PASSION Pillars = mediocre or failed outcome
  • I severe OBSTACLE, likely prevents favorable results

When we are supporting or championing the participant(s) we need to assist in ensuring they have strength in all Seven (7) Pillars.

On those occasions we are simply (well-informed) observers we can at least diplomatically facilitate and highlight required fixes when we see liabilities/ weaknesses.

So here we have it, “The SEVEN PILLARS of Successful Outcomes.”

These quick observations (of the 7 Pillars) can help us rapidly and accurately assess the likely success of both the smallest Tasks and greatest Programs. They leverage universal factors that illuminate probable outcomes and provide essential insight.

Correspondingly we can be forewarned if projects are weakly supported with inadequate Pillars.

It is usually better to fail early when essential fixes to supporting Pillars cannot be made as required.

Do you have any major Programs that don’t pass muster, lacking sufficient strength in their Seven (7) Pillars? Need to quickly assess some Projects and reconsider?

When it’s important you can always proactively glimpse how things will likely proceed, using this method. Why don’t you give it a try and embrace this valuable approach?

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

Learn Anything Today?

Learning is a characteristic of being human.

Even when we seem to not invest in learning, it just happens. Our experiences cause us to learn; the richer, the better.

And we are not alone. Mammals and reptiles alike teach one another; how find food, shelter, protect themselves, etc.

Learning is continuous, like breathing.

Say I simply walk to my car. I’m checking for rain (assessing weather patterns), navigating traffic, avoiding impediments that might trip me, ducking under overhangs and more.

We constantly learn from our experiences, watch for patterns and register things to remember; continuously building and refining our reservoir of information and knowledge.

Learning is systemic within the fabric of our existence.

We learn for several reasons. Consider here…

  • Necessity

Required exposures from teachers, parents and leaders; establishing basic awareness and developing relevant skills culturally accepted as essential.

  • Desire

Learning and knowledge we search out; creating deeper awareness, extra skills and more advanced specialization.

  • Happenstance

That learning resulting from our experiences and exposure.

There is little universally held theory of HOW we learn and WHEN we do so most effectively. Although it is commonly accepted, we accomplish more readily when younger (< 10 years of age) and make inroads less quickly as we age.

And at some stage in our lives most of us need to assist others with their learning.

So eventually we all care about what motivates others to be receptive to our teachings.

It doesn’t matter if we are parents, teachers, managers, supervisors, executives, officers, colleagues, writers, friends, acquaintances or significant others. At some point we desire to pass on specific information or knowledge to others. And we WANT and/or NEED them to learn; the message must stick.

People like to hear great stories. That’s often a useful conduit to parse knowledge. But there is no set recipe or guaranteed approach.

My own experiences suggest people are far less motivated than I’d imagined in initiating and undertaking formal or self-planned learning.

For many individuals to be moved to action there must be Compulsion. SomeTHING or SomeONE is typically required to stimulate and/or compel activity.

It appears people learn more successfully when motivated by involvements that are….

  • Physical

Causing them to directly experience and practice what they are to learn.

  • Mental

Requiring them to think, consider and evaluate the relevant materials.

  • Communal

Exposing them to groups immersed in the material and subject to the learning.

So, when we are trying to TEACH something, we have many avenues and approaches available. The same is true when we are trying to LEARN.

And the vehicle for best results can vary based on the recipient, resources, circumstances, subject, time and much more.

Although the breadth of variables can appear disconcerting, usually ANY reasonable attempt is better than none.

It is likely you currently need to teach somebody about something. This may be at work, socially or in your home.

If you really must get your message across and need the information to be embraced you should consider the factors, above. Stickiness matters.

Similarly, if you need training yourself, contemplate what would provide the best exposure and ensure an optimum learning experience.

We all have an on-going need to learn and we often need to teach.

When it matters, make sure you identify ALL the critical issues and opportunities involved and follow-up with practical, winning approaches to both your own Learning and Teaching.

 

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

Things That Hold You Back

Most of us want to progress at work and socially. Some are more driven than others.

Certainly, promotion and recognition bring benefits we all usually value and enjoy.

Being good at what we do is a critical component in becoming successful.

But advancement requires more. We must also avoid bringing negatives to the table which torpedo our opportunities and detract from our worthiness.

Being a strong candidate often demands a broad, multi-faceted and proven skill-set. Correspondingly, our personal accompanying detractors might be subtle or obvious, diverse and numerous.

And rightly or wrongly, extremes and perceived cultural aberrations we exhibit are often just not appreciated or wanted.

So, to be selected and succeed we must simultaneously avoid DESELECTION. Simple detractors can scupper the strongest candidate.

When we recognize our liabilities, we must repair or at least diminish their significance in the eyes of selectors.

If we don’t know what these issues are, we can seek insights from trusted friends and colleagues. So, ask.

And it is not always the obvious flaw(s) that might derail our cause, it’s the one(s) that in some way offend or dissuade the individual decision maker(s).

In addition, selections are often influenced by more persons, history and circumstances than meet the eye. Practically we can usually only recognize and address the more obvious and likely concerns.

So what behaviors and attributes might we exhibit or display that could cause us problems? Consider rectifying or improving negative characteristics you exhibit regarding:

Clothing

Personal Hygiene

Sloppiness… correctness, quality and timeliness

Tardiness

Untidiness… disorganization

Physical Appearance

Procrastination

Gossiping

Politicizing, Backstabbing and Spitefulness

Body Language… Dumb Insolence

Complaining

Active Obstinacy… Resistance

Prejudice… Fixed Opinion and Bias

Too Much / Little Enthusiasm

Lack of Empathy

Treating Others Unfairly

Exerting Undue Influence

Inappropriate Actions / Behavior

Unsavory Habits

Attitude of Superiority… Pretentiousness

Ingratiating Behavior

Unpopular Associations

Being Too Loud, or Seeming Invisible

Acting Too Clever, or Appearing Dull

Being Self Not Team-Centric

Quite a daunting, unprioritized list. It’s sufficiently extensive and complete for our purpose here.

I have personally seen individuals who have unwittingly held themselves back by exhibiting some and (often) many of these characteristics. Likely you have, too.

At one time or another everybody exhibits some or several of these tendencies; most noticeably when they are stressed.

So not surprisingly, when people are being considered for selection, reviewers and selectors must often turn a blind-eye (if they can) to less obtrusive shortcomings, or perhaps diplomatically review their concerns with candidates ahead of any planned promotion. Major concerns are not generally ignored.

When our liabilities are known to us (as future candidates), we should understand which are likely to present the most negative impact to our prospects. If it’s not obvious, ask those you trust.

Many of the problems listed above have simple intuitive remedies. Some require real fixes to the psyche.

If you care enough you will find the ways to at least diminish the outward impact and visibility of your most egregious weaknesses. So, determine the Corrective Action and follow up.

And don’t forget, these very same detractors you carry into the workplace often similarly affect all your relationships and interactions with others; in social settings and the home.

Are you aware of your negative behaviors? Do your personal foibles lessen your prospects and relationships?

We can often identify liabilities in ourselves. When we cannot, we should find someone trustworthy and ASK.

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

Good Help, Bad Help: Giving and Receiving

Most of us like to help others. It’s practically useful, solves problems and usually makes us feel good about ourselves.

Yet help isn’t always beneficial. Consider…

Sometimes poor assistance or advice is rendered that either exacerbates problems or even creates issues.

And perhaps too much help is proffered.

How might there be too much assistance?

Maybe the support is overkill; a little guidance or direction is all that’s required, and the beneficiary wants nothing more.

In some cases, the old adage fits well: “Give someone a fish and you provide a meal, teach them to fish and they can feed themselves for life.”

Guiding and assisting is often all that’s needed. This can sometimes be counter to the emotional needs of providers who often want to show off their skills and be seen to solve problems; often they need to control, too.

If someone is self-sufficient then guidance and direction is usually all that is wanted. However, should they be in some way actually incapacitated then (diplomatically) completing the job for them can indeed be appropriate.

Intervening too much means exercising unnecessary and unwanted control that inhibits an individual’s independence while diminishing their sense of self-reliance.

So, can we offer help and consequentially do more harm than good? Yes indeed.

Imagine a young child needing to develop specific skills, self-sufficiency and confidence. It seems they would often be candidates for the guidance and direction approach in non-urgent, less serious situations where their long-term development can benefit.

Correspondingly, a Doctor would normally provide a comprehensive fix to patients; a specific and complete solution is typically required. Perhaps this is complemented with longer-term maintenance instruction and guidance.

Diverse types of problems require different levels and methods of assistance. And this affected further by the make-up and skills of the recipient and provider, circumstance and timing.

Consider next the highly analogous area of mental health…

Every human has a unique, distinct personality and psyche.

Individuals are created and/or defined by their DNA, experiences, culture and position. Normally their outward behavior is affected and determined by any combination of these elements.

So typically, they can sometimes have problems as a result. These may be minor, or significant and prominent displays, subject to situational stimulus… some things bring out the worst in people.

And these problems attract helpers.

So what type of help should be rendered? Is this a case of providing a fish or offering a lesson in the art of fishing?

The same basic principles apply.

Teaching awareness and guidance is a great first step. Independent and self-aware individuals might hopefully thrive from just this.

It is only the truly impaired that require more profound and continuous support.

And here is the mental health dilemma…

When is enough, enough? Are we sometimes in danger of overkill with excessive or protracted help; perhaps creating needless dependencies and providing crutches when we should not?

Must not the goal always be to establish self-sufficiency though awareness inherent in the support we provide?

Certainly, many people can benefit from the professional help provided by Mentors, Counsellors or Therapists. To some these services and support are essential.

But is strength, awareness and independence sometimes better fostered for the long-term by occasional influence, rather than prolonged exposure?

Are you reaching out and helping others? Is the way you lend assistance best suited to the recipient?

Is someone lending you a hand? Are you growing and becoming the self-sufficient individual you want to be?

Look at the help you both render and receive. Make sure things are on-track and thoughtfully aligned with the recipient’s best interests in mind.

 

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

Things Change: Can YOU? Do YOU? Should YOU?

I believe the most important skill we might possess is our Adaptability.

Everything moves on.

Humans evolved through being Hunter-Gatherers to Farmers, then to Consumers of produce into industrialized Participants. These are huge transitions and changes.

If we fail to Adapt, we miss the benefits of improvements that any change might bring.

It is essential we move on in practical matters that benefit everyday life.

The principal holds true for our physical well-being. New remedies, treatments and understanding constantly emerge; we should naturally embrace any true advantages we encounter.

And this equally applies to our mental health.

There is a constant barrage of change in our personal lives. People lose loved ones, gain others, both suffer and thrive. Change is simultaneously constant and transient.

Yet Adaptability varies by individual pre-disposition. And we are each uniquely defined in this regard by our genetic makeup, DNA, circumstance, experiences, position, culture and environment.

So, some individuals are considerably more able to ADAPT than others.

Failure to Adapt can result in outcomes ranging from Fortuitous to Inconsequential through to Catastrophically Fatal.

It is better we recognize a NEED for Change and rationally choose the level to which we respond.

Reacting prematurely or excessively can be as great a liability as a lack of awareness. Similarly, the opposite is true where Urgent Action is essential.

Some of us are good at recognizing warning signs. Others remain oblivious to the very same signals.

Certainly, more Introverted Individuals appear at greater risk than those who are Outwardly Focused on potentially threatening and changing external circumstances.

Both events and situation that should cause concern constantly surround us: we are inundated at Work, in the Home and our Private Lives. And this continues throughout our lifespan.

So, our Ability to Adapt may be critical, but this is of little use if our Sense of Urgency or Danger is weak or impaired. Thus, a keen awareness of this liability is usually an essential complement to Adaptability.

But again, being ABLE to ADAPT remains of paramount importance, even when we are slow to understand the NEED to do so.

Do you recognize the Changes currently occurring in your life? They are there; you only need look. Are events trending in a direction or at a rate that will cause you problems SOONER, or maybe LATER?

Change features in every aspect of our lives.

Take the trouble to Recognize, Consider and ADAPT. And, in an appropriately timely fashion.

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

Abuser or Abused: We are ALL Familiar

To be Human is to have experienced Abuse.

Whether Victim or Protagonist all our lives are touched by Abuse.

Regardless of our cultures or demographic we have witnessed or experienced its barbs albeit to greater or lesser extent; it occurs as either Mental, Physical Harm or Neglect.

By Classical DEFINITION: Abuse – use (something) to bad effect or bad purpose; misuse.

With such blatantly common and prevalent presence, you would think we should all be well-versed and aware in our understanding of associated phenomena? Perhaps we might have been weaned with solid personal comprehension or at least received some basic formal education to affect our awareness and aid in self-protection? But none of this is true.

Rather Abuse is hidden, and events are often unspoken. The result is that social mechanisms provide cover, allow perpetuation and can even effect escalation.

As a Primer, consider these useful pointers regarding Abuse. These are SOME of its features about which everyone needs to (and should) be aware:

  • The Susceptibility of a victim determines the extent to which they are affected by Abuse.
  • Susceptibility is a greater or lesser product of an individual’s genetic makeup, intellect, culture, experience, position and the exposures that establish their personality.
  • Damage from Abuse is not solely what is done to someone, but what is taken away.
  • Dispensing Abuse is teaching abusiveness.
  • Most Abuse is about Control. And Bad Behavior is rooted in Insecurity.
  • Abuse crosses generations, touching close and distant acquaintances alike.
  • Unimpeded Abusive Behavior normally becomes entrenched and often escalates.
  • Chains of Abuse are best (and sometimes only) broken by profound dislocation and dissociation.
  • Opportunity stimulates Abusive actions.
  • Victims typically Blame themselves.
  • Victims often Protect Abusers.
  • Victims are not readily restored nor often made whole.
  • Abuse is behavior or circumstance that diminishes quality of life or peace of mind for another, whether intentional or not.
  • Abuse is sticky, being more likely reinforced to grow than fully removed.

None of these points (above) are expounded upon or explained by example. Their presentation is styled to afford reflection and personal awareness.

If you search your past there are instances of both Abuse and Abusiveness. Can you find yourself as both Protagonist and Victim? We each have our peccadillos, propensities and secrets.

The challenge is to recognize, accept and then act to achieve what your better part should wish for (both self and) all those people you affect.

Only the most determined efforts and meaningful breaks from established practice, habits and environments enable us to change things for the better.

Is there a path you would prefer?

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

Those that DO, they who WATCH

When we look around our lives, the workplace and family we’re surrounded by prolific achievers through modest accomplishers and minor change artists, along to those who simply choose stagnation; the entire range of human endeavor.

However, the world is moved by action and those that initiate and make changes.

There are those who are prolific in this regard, seemingly constantly having an effect, making a difference.

But certainly not everyone behaves this way. Many abhor change and seek the status quo. Change is often uncomfortable and makes many fearful.

Others talk of change and what they plan yet do little or nothing towards achieving these ends. Sometimes they seem paralyzed; often considered as talkers not doers.

Not everyone wants change. Some thrive upon its turmoil, others hide away and address only those issues they must.

New situations can be driven by irresistible forces outside our control (social, climatic, disease, political, seasonal, etc.) but many are driven by people with whom we interact. We can make personal adjustments to address effects and impacts upon us from both.

It seems that those who initiate change and strive to impact their own and other’s worlds often live what are regarded or termed full lives.

To many this may be enviable, to others something to be avoided at all cost. After all, to some such prominence and action implies risk.

But being your own Master (/Mistress) over tides of change seems preferable to becoming the flotsam they carry.

In the last decade much has been written and theorized about those who Procrastinate. Certainly, one would think such perceived prevarication impedes an individual’s ability to drive change and novelty.

But Procrastinators can sometimes be highly productive, once direction is set and inevitable they are freed to act.

And Procrastinators are known to often be highly intelligent and capable.

It remains currently theorized that their behavior is driven by three factors:

  • Fear of Failure  
  • Fear of Success
  • Paralysis of Perfectionism

Procrastination has even been linked to psychological disorders:

  • Depression
  • Low Self-Esteem
  • ADHD and more

Most recent theory characterizes the brain as being hard-wired in such ways that they who procrastinate are considered to simply to have poor connections between (and in) the part of the brain that Considers and that which enables Action. It seems intuitively likely this would leave people locked into inaction.

Given the diversity of expert opinion on the subject we are free to choose from theories that best suit our personal perspective, observations and appears most likely.

Certainly, procrastination is a behavior that is often aligned with inaction, rather than doing.

And we can perhaps gain insight about Doers by reviewing these perspectives (above)…

For instance, if someone will take charge of their own and other’s future they are far less likely to be strongly burdened by Fears of Failure, or Success. And anyone demonstrating a prolific output is unlikely to be Paralyzed by Perfectionism.

I am a strong believer that people should take all initiative possible and self-determine their futures and life-styles.

I also believe we should take great care to understand how our actions (and inactions) will influence the behavior of others.

It is not realistic to assume that a strong Leadership Quality (of Doing) will reside in everyone. Our societies and populations are clearly biased towards a dominant mix of Followers.

A society heavily populated by dominant Leaders would be short-lived. We have accordingly evolved to a balanced mix of subordination in our populations; this is more comfortable, less stressful and easier to control.

In practical purposes this means most social groups are in-bred to go with the flow. However, this general homogeneity can diminish the individual’s life and fuel a sense of being unfulfilled.

It seems where something important to us (dreams, goals, ambition etc.) is going unserved and fading away, we’d be wise to quickly recognize/accept the loss and the underlying reason.

If we can repair a weakness or address a fear, then maybe we should.

Look at your own dreams and goals. Are they slipping away?

Maybe a friend, professional or loved-one can illuminate your loss?

Perhaps you can see your own underlying inhibition or fear and can suppress your misgivings? Certainly, you already know the rewards.

 

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

Getting Ahead of Life Lessons

The Human Experience involves us each living unique lives, exposed to diverse encounters, factors and events.

Yet there are universal themes and issues within our exposure(s) that are common to us all. For Example, we each Emerge from family groups, Interact with others in the population and Learn.

Some thrive from their experiences, others fail. Most have mixed results.

How well we fare can easily be affected by basic training, or pro-active exposure.

But how are we normally prepared in practice to address the life challenges we will encounter?

One might suppose it to be in the home. Adults immerse children in their prevailing Culture, Values and Perspectives as they see fit.

Certainly, this is a hit-and-miss process; dependent on the skills, intellect, commitment and awareness of the adults involved. This, plus the overwhelming expectation(s) of the culture in-play.

So, from the earliest age we are fated to deal with generic (and predictable) classes of problems but are each armed quite differently.

And all this occurs during formative development.

Predictably we get a rich diversity of personalities emerging from these early years.

At one stage these individuals may be moldable clay but ultimately will inevitably become largely fixed in Personality, View and Beliefs.

This is the whole, “give me a child until (s)he is seven and I will show you the (wo)man,” scenario and theory (a la Aristotle).

The specific age by, or strength to which an individual might be cast is not the point in this Blog.

The issue is WHAT might we learn and WHEN to best position ourselves to embrace our later life?

Some individuals must learn troubling lessons early: to address (say) extreme safety and survival issues. That is not the majority, however.

Growing up in an industrial, western-style culture there are simple lessons that can commonly provide solid foundations for most individuals.

If we look across the personalities and skills of typical people we encounter there appear common themes of challenges we will all need to address in life and where some basic knowledge gleaned beforehand would be most helpful.

For Example, I believe most people would benefit from basic training in or exposure to what is a reasonable expectation of behavior in:

  • Groups (Familial, Social, Educational and Work)
  • Personal and Partner Relationships

Certainly, if you didn’t know what to expect, you’re liable to tolerate the UNreasonable, to the detriment of yourself and ultimately, others you will influence.

In addition, I’ve seen many people who would clearly have benefitted by exposure to and awareness of:

  • How To Study
  • Common Medical issues
  • Mental Health

Again, if you have no exposure to things you will encounter there are no guarantees you (or others you influence) will manage the challenges well.

There are other generic challenges most of us will encounter. The suggestions herein are simply common (Example) areas to which we will all be exposed.

The more people I meet the more it’s apparent that few received such guidance or training. And the lack of exposure is normally detrimental.

Leaving individuals devoid of such (Examples, above) knowledge and preparedness seems like sending untrained soldiers out to war. Predictably, things will commonly not end well.

It is not a matter for this brief BLOG to identify exactly WHAT exposure should be given, WHEN or HOW; rather the purpose is to flag the dearth of obviously important preparedness.

I am certain that exposure to, awareness of just such example basic elements (Groups, Relationships, Study, Medical and Mental, listed above) would have saved many people I have personally observed from needless disasters, pain, misdirection and grief.

Equally I believe that we have each stumbled through related issues; even when we considered ourselves to have overcome such obstacles we are often merely soldiering on with deeply flawed, self-delusions.

And, we all influence others. Our resultant false impressions and beliefs are foisted upon the unaware and unprotected.

We infect family, friends, acquaintances and colleagues with our adopted Cultural, Belief and Value systems.

Are there lessons you failed to pass along? Are there life-lessons you still have not really learned; do you see warning signs?

Take a close look at your own preparedness and what might still be learned. Significant changes may be essential for your long-term well-being and any level of self-awareness achieved is a great beginning

 

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

Knowing the Truth when you hear it

How do you know when you’re being told the truth?

It matters. We can’t run around functioning on misunderstandings or lies; when you build from fiction you’re not on solid foundations.

There are many ways we compromise ourselves when truths are distorted. These range from us naively accepting things because they fit what we WANT to believe, to willfully positioning facts in ways that help make a case and unfairly influence others.

Truth depends upon the source. Individuals base their realities on their self needs, beliefs, exposure, experience and relative position. The written word is produced in much the same way.

Consider (say) the simplest situation where you might need to glean the truth by playing Solomon to resolve differences in arguments by interpreting from two direct individual inputs. Basically, you listen to both sides and as tactfully as is appropriate determine the most credible and realistic truth of the matter. Then you act on it as the situation dictates.

Some folks are better at this than others: Problem Solving, Communication, Diplomacy, Technical and other skills routinely come into play. Not everyone is optimally trained for the challenge(s). Many are ill-equipped. Others are biased towards desired or preferred outcomes.

But what about picking out undistorted reality (truths) in News Stories? Here you’re on your own; just you and the reporter at the outset. The latest polls are now saying around 70% of people in the US think the stories covered by MSM are questionable in some way… accuracy, bias, portrayal and so on.

Your political leanings and cultural origins should not affect your hunger for truth; unless you prefer just not to know? Some do; many are simply oblivious, unaware or unmotivated.

The need to search out reliable underlying facts is not new. Misinformation has been the way of the world since the printing press was available. Its’ earliest applications were steeped in misrepresentations and portrayals from vested interests wanting to control community perception(s).

Printing, Radio, Movies, Television have all been aggressively used to support agendas and bias opinion since their very inception. All that’s really changed through centuries and recent decades is the general proliferation of accessible sources and escalation of information more quickly available via mass outlet channels and most recently, the Internet.

And before these industrial communication mechanisms existed we used primitive images, speech and handwritings to accomplish the same end, albeit less efficiently. We have an innate desire to not only share information, but also specifically control how it is portrayed by ourselves and then perceived by others.

Today we even encounter fact-checking bodies getting caught biasing their supposedly neutral reporting.

There are political philosophies, institutions and social behaviors built upon leveraging misinformation and outright lies. This is often achieved by simply repeating an untruth until it’s eventually believed; be this through overwhelming exposure or fear of perceived threat.

And even revered historical records are normally based upon the writing and words of victors and survivors; those persons who prevailed. Not too many winners wish to generously heap praise upon those they vanquished. Nor do they extol the virtues of the losers’ beliefs, practices and culture. Why

would they, beyond offering comparisons and pointers that only further enhance images of their own cause, perspective and position.

No more do most individuals blindly believe the trusted reporter (news anchor or investigator) as an ultimate purveyor of truth. Things have apparently changed from the quite recent past.

Which brings us full circle. How can we know with any certainty when we’re hearing the untainted truth?

Well, it takes work. You must dig out the underlaying facts for yourself. Fortunately, there’s generally plenty of information access these days (if we’re not knowingly or unwittingly subject to censorship and bias in our search).

Yet even so, those golden nuggets of truth aren’t just lying around ready for harvesting.

And realistically we simply cannot practically hope to exhaustively research everything that causes us to raise our eyebrows and question. So, you must to pick your battles. Focus on the issues that directly affect your interests or are important you personally.

If you’re lucky you have a trusted friend or colleague that knows their stuff and/or checks carefully and reports predictably. If not, your own legwork is required.

My own trick in efficient research is to only start to believe reports when I see them emanate from a couple of known, at least usuallycredible sources. When this information then appears to NOT be the exact same line repeated over (while stated differently) and has plausibly dissociated origins, then I begin to trust more deeply.

Above all, we must check both sides of any argument even when one view appears to be off-the-rails or somewhat incredible. In such cases there are still often embedded elements of truth that help complete a more plausible overall view of the jigsaw puzzle.

And naturally we should all tune out and temper what we WANT to believe, too. Most of us think we have great noses for sniffing out the truth. But, we don’t. Our own judgement is too often flawed even when generally good; we are biased and driven by our personalities, core beliefs, cultures, exposures, needs, prejudices and more.

So, watch out for your own agenda. Try and keep things in the perspective of likelihood… perhaps liberally apply Occam’s Razor where you might; even though sometimes, just now and then the seemingly unlikely is the actual reality.

Finally, when you believe you have the real story, then Review (R), Question (Q) and Validate (V) to confirm. When things really matter to you, fall back on the old RQV approach.

And never lazily skim over illuminating or inconvenient details that suggest you dive deeper.

This is what it takes to uncover what is important. Being spoon-fed can be a naïve and dangerous option, so check when you should. It’s the only safe approach when accuracy really matters.

Got any truths youre buying into that don’t seem too credible; especially when you stand back and acknowledge the influence of what you want to believe? Are you unthinkingly buying into the positioning and agendas of others? Should you be questioning your sources?

Figure out what matters to you and seek out trusted purveyors. If theyre hard to come by, then do your own digging; but always reliably confirm what you find.

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

Adapt or Die: Recognize, Manage & Survive Change

It can appear as if we wander through life being the sometime victim or beneficiary of Changes.

Often these are thrust upon us, other times they are the consequences of our own actions.

Occasionally, events are monumental, traumatic and appear as frequent and overwhelming occurrences in our lives, but then we often seem to experience periods of relative tranquility.

This appearance derives from what affects us personally, as in practice there is a constant barrage of unceasing and continuous change; just not everything has sudden or immediate impact on us individually.

Some occurrences are subtle and seemingly non-invasive.

Consider, for example: If you (say) drove a vehicle in Western Europe 60 years ago there were minimal road markings, limited signpostings, very few (often no) traffic lights. Now all these things are prolific; there are rigorous lane controls with extensively policed and automated speed enforcement.

These huge changes occurred seemingly invisibly to the indigenous population who were bathed in and anaesthetized by Normalcy Bias. Time mitigated sensitivities and obscured visibility.

Consider also (say) the rules, regulations and Laws constantly enacted; in the US alone over the last few years there were 1000’s of new Bills involving many 100’s of 1000’s of new laws being passed by Congress.

All people governed by Laws are in some form ultimately subject to and affected by these changes and regulations.

Whether specific changes are essential, important or valuable is not the issue, here; it is the extent, pervasiveness and impact of change itself that is under discussion.

And importantly, CHANGES themselves can also take many forms:

NATURAL. Fire, Floods, Earthquakes, Climatic events, Environmental, etc.

SOCIETAL. Driven by Trends, Laws, Technology, Events, Wars, Commerce and more.

INDIVIDUAL. Death, Births, Sickness, Employment, Relationships, etc.

These events flow in an endless stream. Their impact on us as individuals depends on our personal situation and position.

So, if we can’t turn off the spigot, what are our choices?

There is only one choice and that is to Adapt (in some form). Our ability to do this and the way this is achieved affects the impact of the change upon us individually.

We can CHOOSE our Adaptation. We might accept gracefully, resist or do anything in between.

Whatever we choose the Adaptation can be stressful and/or result in Dislocation (Social, Physical, Mental or Individual).

Even going with the flow can ultimately bring its stressors. Being constrained or channeled to anything different can ultimately be contrary to our free will and psyche.  

So, our skill in Adaptability is key. And our flexibility in this is not without consequences. Even lessobvious and apparently simple concessions in changes can eventually take their toll.

Have there been major changes or events in your life? Have you become an unwitting or unwilling victim of circumstance and subtle change?

Are you in control of the path you are set upon?

Look at the obvious and gently changing circumstances that are your life. Are these what you ultimately want?

Maybe it’s time to carefully review where you are and are headed. Perhaps action is required.

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