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

Always Knowing WHAT To Do.

It’s often been said that, “The most constant thing in life is change.”

There are changes we want and those that are thrust upon us; some lie within our control and others decidedly do not. The type and range of changes we might experience can be vast.

So, let’s consider solely those changes we desire or need and which we can control at some meaningful level.

These represent are our life choices or essential adaptations. They might be alterations that address our situation or circumstance.

Perhaps we choose a new career path, partner, set of friends, behavior, past-time, lifestyle and so on. The list is endless and diverse.

Rather than just casually lean in a different direction, we typically need to truly cement any changes we undertake if we want them to succeed or persist.

So, many of these new directions will require real investments on our part. Relationships need effort, time and consideration. Careers need similar attention, as does behavior modification, lifestyle choices, etc.

All this means dedicated work. Without real, sustained effort our plans won’t hold; they just don’t stick.

The need for this effort is described in my last BLOG-POST, below (“Enabling Personal Development: Effective learning,” dated 4/4/18).

A colleague of mine read this post and commented, “but it’s often as big a problem to know WHAT to do.”

So, how do you know WHAT to do? Is there a way to set off in the right direction?

Indeed, there is. I believe the approach is intuitive and much the same, regardless of the situation you’re trying to address.

Whether refining (or choosing) a career path, tweaking undesirable behaviors, taking up a new recreational activity or working on a relationship we ultimately need to follow much the same UNIVERSAL, 5-PART PROCESS if we are to succeed

  •     Define the desired outcome. Develop a complete and extensive image of how we wish things to be. The more detailed and tangible the picture, the better will be our self-guidance in making it a reality. We can aim as high as we want but should be clinically honest and realistic.
  •     Identify the attributes of that outcome. Make a full list of those skills, behaviors and assets that must normally be possessed to secure the goal we desire.
  •     Make a prioritized list of what YOU must acquire. Recognize what you currently don’t have (be it skills, training, qualifications, behaviors etc.) and must obtain to reach the chosen outcome.
  •     Develop a PLAN to acquire what you need. Look honestly at what must be done and set realistic, prioritized, time-based and quantified objectives to put things in place.
  •     Work your PLAN. Follow up. Do the work required; if the outcome is important, this is the path to where you want to be.

Some objectives are easier to reach than others. A simple, quick plan to (say) switch your spending habits and purchase a car you want is not as persistent and complex as (say) laying out a long-term strategy to reach a specific level of seniority in your chosen field.

The standards for success can be set where you choose. Results may not always need to be world class, just where you need them to be, or in the general direction you want.

The steps we take through this process may be moreorless weighty (i.e. formalized) depending on the nature, magnitude etc. of the desired outcome and the perspective and position from which we begin.

Plans themselves are not generally hard to draft or envision. If the details of what must be done are fuzzy, complex or in some way unclear to you look for guidance, perhaps ask a trusted confidant who knows; just find out.

We can all make plans to reach those goals to which we aspire. Each of us possesses the ability to dream of what might be and invest in the means that carry us along our chosen paths. What differentiates us is the desire we possess and our commitment to do the work and follow-through.

Are there things in your life you want to achieve? Are there choices you should make and still can? Have you made the effort to PLAN and follow up?

There’s always time to get things on a preferred track. The possibilities are as great as your dreams.

NOTE: For those of you who want more detail and specific tools for Career Planning, try the book EMPOWER YOUR INNER MANAGER, Part II: Creating Your Development Plan (pages 139-149, Inc.), by Ian R. Mackintosh.

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


Enabling Personal Development: Effective Learning

Sometimes the obvious is not so clear. And occasionally, it just suddenly jumps out.

A few weeks ago a close acquaintance was reading my last Blog (see below) when a seemingly obvious point newly occurred to him.

“Most self-help are not all that profound or different. It just requires that you do the work.

We all have sudden realizations. Sometimes things seem so apparent we wonder how we’d never before been truly aware of them and their deeper meanings.

Important truths are often right under our noses.

In this case: to learn, we need to do the work.

Learning doesn’t simply happen by osmosis.

But The Work is different for everyone.

And Learning is not the same process for all.

Yet we treat everyone as if the way to learn IS a uniform, guaranteed program.

Consider the following…

In most cultures we prepare our children for the world by schooling, to ensure they have a prescribed set of essential tools.

And a schooling process is by definition, standardized. It presumes WHAT needs to be LEARNED and HOW it will be TAUGHT to best effect. Specific learning centers are set up to provide these services.

Well, this probably is the most effective way to simply provide mass schooling. It also may be an ideal (proven over centuries) method for many folks to learn.

But surely, it’s not ideal for all. And it is no stretch to realize that one set method for many may be completely unsuitable for others.

For Example: If you’re a hands-on person, so-called book-learning approaches won’t be the best way for you to absorb information. And vice versa.

Further, the way students prepare for examinations (i.e. revise) is indicative of the highly individualized needs we have for truly embedding learning.

For this situation consider these Examples of wildly varying approaches (to the revision process): Some people demand total silence, others need loud music. One student wants isolation, another seeks bustle and activity in their surroundings.

These differences are quite radical. A person needing any one such option is probably quite unlikely to be as successful in opposing situations. And this is just the process of revision.

What about the entire process of learning itself?

To learn we typically pass through predictable, generalized stages:

Exposure to Information

Ingestion of Data, Facts and Ideas

Adoption– where Information becomes part of our Knowledge-Base

Demonstration of Learning (as proof of Adoption; or Incorporation)

Yet every single one of these simplified learning phases can needs-be different for each person. For Example, Exposure: Some like to see (video), others read (book(s)), perhaps hear (be instructed), or experience directly and so on.

And what we are learning about might be better absorbed (Ingestion) by a varied or different approach. Another Example: Reading a Book about driving a car won’t be as sticky with a student as actually sitting behind the wheel.

The problem is compounded when considering the WHOLE PROCESS of Learning: Exposure, Ingestion, Adoption and Demonstration. Almost every individual will do better when each phase is optimally aligned with their specific and peculiar needs. This much seems obvious but is hard to satisfy in practice.

Teaching Institutions are funded and organized to best serve their communities with the resources available. The intent is to service the needs of many in the most practical way possible.

Schools, Colleges and Universities are from time-to-time incrementally redefined and configured in novel and unique ways (over decades and centuries) to satisfy these ends as best possible, thereby supporting and acknowledging unique requirements. Indeed, some minor amount of accommodation is out there and available, but there are largely set menus of how learning is provided.

And in cultures and communities where resources are scant, its Hobson’s Choice.

But there do exist in the world classes and courses developed for specialized learning…

In many industrialized countries we teach Managers and Executives with novel methods. Troops undergo specialized training and conditioning. There are many so-called hands-on and experiential courses and classes.

Yet these are mostly organized around the peculiar needs of teaching a specific subject and accommodating a particular type of person, not satisfying the distinctly different learning needs of any one individual.

It appears already reasonably understood that some subjects are best truly learned by employing different approaches. One size does not fit all.

The message here is clear: Take care not to limit your OWN learning and growth by HOW you get to learn. Choose methods that work for you (and others you care about).

So now let’s return to where we began this Blog, on the subject of Self Development

Surely there are people who WANT to improve themselves and evolve in their lifetime? But how many search out appropriate opportunities?

One would think anyone NEEDING to enhance their skills (for Career, Work or Social reasons) would be constantly heads-up, looking for ways and means.

Surely those with Behavioral Issues would be desperate to break loose and improve their lot?

Yet I believe most people are not intuitively AWARE of their (learning) needs.

Relatively few SEEK truly robust ways to improve. Even less will commit to do the work to make things happen.

The realization that it ultimately takes work to self-improve seems obvious.

Yet in decades of observation I’ve seen few individuals take up the challenge in other than more superficial situations

We may read a book to flirt with developing an occasional new skill, or perhaps embark on the odd challenge, but we do not seem ravenously hungry to grow ourselves. A gesture toward learning is not the same as solidly embedding real knowledge and establishing essential new behavior.

In many cultures daily work and responsibilities are permitted to consume and overrun our lives.

Ironically, we OFTEN desire to improve ourselves and evolve. We NEED and WANT to advance our qualityoflife, careers and experiences.

Yet we allow the hustle and bustle of daily events to blanket our greatest desires. The present is permitted to smother our future.

In the end we each need to identify what we really want and who we wish to be. But to truly succeed we ultimately must just do the work.

Do you understand who you want to be? Have you followed through and determined what it takes to get there? It’s usually clear what needs to be done and how you should best approach Learning, to match your unique needs.

In the end you need to challenge yourself to just do the work, and you WILL get there.


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

Consider ALL Your Outward Behavior: Fix or Embrace?

Every experience we have is assimilated and used in some way by our minds.

The smallest events can precipitate miniscule adjustments or provide affirmations to our underlying beliefs.

Less familiar, but more significant issues might help update existing opinion(s) and create ideas.

And the clearly traumatic can found wholly new or significantly change existing beliefs and behavior.

By this accounting all our experiences build upon or create who we are. Our very personalities are a product of our exposure.

Current thinking holds that we mostly try and confirm what we already believe when confronted with new or even familiar events, circumstance or people. The primitive mind works hard to validate our existing beliefs be they right, wrong or off-key.

It would appear it takes quite a jolt to move us off pre-established mindsets. So, we are programmed for better or worse, by experience. And a corresponding safety-net is established in our primitive mind.

As a result, our outward behavior reflects what has been learned. And we will react in generally predictable ways based upon our experiences.

The extent to which we are affected and changed by events depends upon our established personality and vulnerability. A minor issue/occurrence to one person may be traumatic to another and vice versa.

Everyone has good and bad experiences. Highly influential and negative experiences (accidents, deaths, abuse, neglect etc.) all leave their mark in our patterns of behavior. We all exhibit them, whether they are normally subtly controlled beneath the surface or bubble up, sometimes appearing visible and irrational when stimulated by events.

Our level of self-control and coping mechanisms will determine our outward reactions.

Unless we hold a crystal ball we are generally on autopilot when surprised by events.

And, we will react to stimulus and situations based on previous experience(s). But why should we care?

Well, there can be times when we simply don’t want to have some of our (undesirable) natural reactions and behaviors on display. They can be unseemly, socially unacceptable or detrimental to ourselves.

These are problems we need address (*), especially when they:

Affect Others in a Negative Way

Harm Relationships

Diminish our Present Lives

Prevent us Living the Way We Choose

Affect our Future in Unacceptable Ways

Some issues can be seemingly fixed; some can just be managed and mitigated.

Whatever the case, if we have undesirable behaviors we can exert a level of improved control ONLY if we Acknowledge, Understand and Address the issue(s).

Well this seems familiar. It looks a lot like AA or some other addiction therapy.

But unless we go through such a process there is no remedy. Problem behaviors can often find confirmation and even harden with time, becoming more pronounced.

Individual steps we might take to remedy such issues may take moments or years to work through, depending on the nature/severity of the behavioral anomaly and our desire or ability to diminish its effects.

It can sometimes be hard to recognize these behaviors in ourselves. Often trusted family members, friends or even colleagues are able point them out. You may already be aware of them and this is merely confirmation; you may not be conscious of them at all.

But if you are looking to identify and understand such problems: When and where you feel safe, you can ask for inputs.

Determining the origins of troubling behaviors can be easy or profoundly difficult. Major events in our pasts often offer clues… if THIS happened to me, how would I EXPECT it to affect the way I act? Some answers are right there and obvious.

Other issues are much more subtle and elusive. Their beginnings might lie (say) within events occurring at a very early age or be hidden within repressed memories. It may take professional help to dig this out; seek that if necessary.

If you want to diminish or eliminate such problems (*) in your life, it’s usually best to understand their origins.

The analogy to this discovery process is being brave enough to go into a dark cellar and turn on a light; you must then find and peel the specific onion that conceals the underlying event(s).

Do you have any behaviors that impact your life in unfortunate ways? Are you affecting others that deserve better? Have you ever checked to ascertain if such concerns apply to your life; perhaps you should?


There are many quality-of-life issues that might be successfully improved. So, take that look in the mirror.

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

How We Behave: Lasting Impacts

We inherit from our parents. Not just goods and property, but genes.

We carry the bloodlines of our ancestors and all that accompanies them as physical attributes, medical conditions and even elemental mental tendencies.

Some characteristics are prominent, some fade and others might re-emerge in downstream generations.

We pass such things from generation to generation as we evolve.

But that is not all that passes forwards.

I believe the IMPACT of our Behaviors transfers from generation to generation, too. And it is also capable of crossing blood-lines to non-familial contacts.

We do and say things that strongly influence others. And often more profoundly than we realize; frequently we are completely unaware of our impact.

Behaviors and attitudes surround us as we live out our chosen lives under the overwhelming influences of cultures and societies in which we are immersed.

As children we are influenced and affected by events, strong impressions and surroundings. This will occur whether-or-not a parent is present or even exists.

And, this Resultant is not about bloodlines.

Exactly how strongly any new effect takes hold on an individual is influenced by genetic make-up and predisposition. Engulfing or dramatic events can have overwhelming impacts.

The net result is our Behavior being affected by experiences.

The more insidious prospect is that we then carry forward our own resulting behaviors which can influence others.

Inevitably, everyone we contact will be exposed: colleagues, workers, spouses, children, relatives, friends etc.

When we closely associate with others over prolonged periods their exposure to and likelihood of adopting (or being influenced by) a Transferred Behavior, increases.

Long-term working relationships have us swimming in one another’s Behavior Pools. Inevitably, children are subjected to major immersion within the home.

Where such exposure is positive and advantageous, perhaps all is well. It is almost Darwinian in nature and helps the most fit (best suited) prosper and survive.

But what if the observable behavior is inherently negative or harmful? Some behaviors are useful if experienced in moderation yet prove damaging when consumed in excess.

Imagine (say) a child having suffered some harm from a stranger. He/she may either develop (say) a healthy wariness of new acquaintances until validated or acquire a dysfunctional and visible distrust of others, as a consequence.

Eventually this same child grows up closely interacting with others and in time (say), his/her own offspring. This (now adult) person will strongly (or weakly) imprint their own learned resultant behavior on others. Why would they not.

Again, everything is fine if the behavior is positive and helpful. But if it is not?

We all have strongly imprinted behaviors. Many we have learned or absorbed from parental or other significant influences in our lives.

Not all our behaviors (or Beliefs, too) are sound, appropriate and constructive in our lives. Many may be so, but certainly NOT ALL. So, it’s important we can recognize our behaviors (or, opinions, too) for what they are and preferably understand or decipher their origins.

What of the influences that pre-date our conscious memory?

Many people are unfortunately traumatized when very young. Memories are then not always formed or might even be suppressed in such cases.

And yet it is likely we will begin to demonstrate related behaviors and traits in our personalities as a direct result of these significant events.

More troubling is our legacy.

If our behavior is affected these same behaviors and their consequences can be transposed onto others.

This might be a positive advantage or be equivalent to passing contagion; like spreading a disease forward and outward to others.

Let’s consider this effect with a positive example

Imagine a small child out with parents during Summer holiday on a sunny beach. Child wanders off roaming carelessly and unafraid for an hour or more. Parent has been following quietly at a distance making sure all is well, safe and child is not distressed or concerned.

Eventually parent quietly and re-assuringly approaches child without rapprochement and caringly asks how they’re doing, what they saw, etc. Risks and dangers of wandering off alone are covered calmly and rationally at another time.

The result: Child grows to adulthood always open to exploring the world and new places. He/she then passes same mentality along to own children who also explore and travel.

So here we have it. The behavior (and attitude) is passed along; through generations and to others indirectly exposed or influenced… almost like a gene when within the familial group.

We can similarly envisage a negative outcome to the same events… screaming, panicked parent grabs-up wandering child, scolds them relentlessly, inflicting fear of getting lost or being carried off.

Imagine how that child will likely (not certainly, perhaps) grow regarding adventure, travel and exploration of the new and unknown.

More troublingly, consider the likely future influence they then might unwittingly exert upon the development of others, downstream.

Behaviors (and Attitudes) can be sticky, persisting over time and through generations.

Realistically, can we completely shut down irrational or unwarranted behaviors in our self? Perhaps not, but if they are detrimental or limiting to us or others we should try.

 Strong influencers in our behavior may be difficult to mitigate. Realizing we have such traits and trying to dial them back can help, but if overall behavior is significantly ingrained a complete fix is difficult.

We can advise and instruct others against following us too closely on affected matters. This has greater impact if underlaying reasons for our traits and propensities can be explained; sometimes social norms and relationships can make this approach difficult or simply not viable.

In the end it is hard to fully prevent the carry-forward impacts of our actions and behaviors.

But, we must try.

Are you passing along attitudes that others would be better without? Are your behaviors an unhelpful legacy? Review the most basic interactions you have with people. Are there unfortunate elements that may have undesirable, lasting effects?

As a minimum, take actions with yourself to best help and guide the people that matter to you most.

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

Consider Your Appearance: Asset or Liability?

I did some travelling over the recent seasonal holidays; lots of airports, train stations in several cities and different countries.

At one point I was struck by the overwhelming similarities between people, effected simply by their dress. There is surprising conformity. Suddenly I realized…

Everyone is in one uniform or another. And, all the time.

What do I mean by uniform? Well, in this instance it’s our clothing, which also serves as a personal statement.

People dress for either

Practical Purposes, or   


We put on the clothes we believe suitable for our activity, or those that help us portray who we are/ wish to be. And dress choices speak volumes about our lives.

In the Western world (and indeed most other places) personalized clothing selection is squarely embedded in each culture and micro-culture, providing people possess the resources (i.e. they are sufficiently affluent) to warrant the investment and are so enabled to buy and wear what they choose.

Although we might believe we dress to uniquely identify and express ourselves the majority effect is still surprisingly great conformity as defined by what we are doing with our lives.

And there is also great uniformity in the various regions of the world as to what clothing types and styles are available; a result of low-cost, mass production and widespread distribution.

Military and service professionals dress in specific and like clothing to identify themselves and make them obvious members of defined groups. Armed Services, Police, Nursing, Judiciary, Fire Department etc. professions all support this classification.

But there is also the less specific and unregimented dress of those such as house painters, mechanics, medical practitioners, attorneys, office workers, engineers and scientists, etc. Yet they still dress uniformly enough that we usually know when we see one. There is a general expectation and understanding of how they might be dressed.

In practice the preponderance of people strongly align their attire (and even manner) to the prevailing and dominant image typically already well-defined and accepted within their culture.

Why would we do this? Why should we do this? There can many reasons, but they generally revolve around our needs to:

Be Identified

Receive Recognition   


And most people will readily accept and trust an individual when their appearance more closely conforms with and aligns to established cultural norms.

In addition, most humans have a strong inherent desire to fit in; young children are notoriously mortified if they look different or draw unwanted attention related to any differentiations.

There are also those who wish to stand out. They dress differently, sometimes even flamboyantly; whatever it takes for them to separate from the herd.

Actively making yourself prominent and differentiated by affecting the way you dress is in its’ own way also, wearing a uniform. In effect you are donning the unconventional clothing style (or uniform) of the group that seeks (or needs) self-identification.

It’s long been accepted that people are pegged or evaluated by others during the first seven (7) seconds of an encounter. More recently, respected researchers have claimed these assessments are probably made even more quickly (I have seen 3 or 4 seconds quoted and even “in the blink of an eye”).

And Trustworthiness is now believed to be a primary in these first, rapidly-formed opinions; likely as an inherent survival mechanism.

However quickly we make judgements it will be founded upon snap views of an individuals discernable Facial Expression, Stature, Gestures, Gait, Apparent Confidence and Dress/ Appearance.

Clothing throws out loud and clear messages within all cultures. It is a large part of the image captured in a glance.

And following initial contact the human mind works feverishly to confirm and re-enforce first impressions at almost any cost (often regardless of subsequent observations and data).

So, our Dress can be useful to initially sell ourselves favorably and promote an image.

Hence the dress for success movement to which so many professionals and workers adhere.

It is uncommon to see people entirely ignore trends or even discount unwritten conventions for attire. If individuals want to be perceived a certain way they will dress according to prevailing cultural expectations.

It is extremely difficult to modify someone’s opinion once they have locked into their perception of who you are. So, most individuals should think twice about diverging strongly from accepted norms.

When people have opportunity to dress differently than the expected manner they seldom do. Again, human wisdom is to align and generally support established expectations; why create unnecessary downstream battles where unwanted first impressions must be undone?

Personal image and branding is crucial to the psyche of most all individuals. Being unique can be rewarding but not if it be at the expense of unintentionally appearing strange or too different.

In business, even the most minor divergences from or updates to Corporate Image are heavily scrutinized and reviewed. This attention to detail is gleaned from understanding the basic human desire for things to appear as consistent, expected or preferred.

Each of us can easily update our image by tampering with our established Dress Code. But do we want to do this? Should we? What are the ramifications?

Many changes we might make to ourselves can be for the better, but when making appearance modifications we’d be wise to align intended upgrades appropriately. Care is required to avoid jarring inconsistencies in new renditions of ourselves.

For example: A white-coated GP might not want to suddenly change to a Tie-dye T-shirt and blue jeans workclothing arrangement; he/she would run the risk of making existing patients nervous if appearing less professional, newly erratic or even unpredictable.

Consistent and steady change is often a wiser migration unless a shock factor is intended or required.

So, following these thoughts and discussions do you recognize your uniform? Does it match the image and value(s) you want to convey? Do you conform too much or indeed too little to the image you desire?

Take a close look at that uniform. Consider what it says to both new and established colleagues, friends and family. Perhaps it’s time you made a change.

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

So, You Thought I Said THAT? You Meant to say WHAT?

Ever get your wires unfortunately crossed in a 1on1 communication?

This can occur in the briefest F2F, Voice-message, Email, Text, Meeting Aside, Phone Call, On-line Posting or even with a conventional Letter.

No matter what we do…people just hear what they want to hear. But why?

Any individual will Understand Inputs while being affected by:

     – Their Personality (as defined by, “Culture to Personality: Curse & Blessing,dated 03/15/17)

     – The Situation

     – Their Mood

     – Timing

     – History with the corresponding Communicator

     – Their Intentions and Needs

     – Medium Employed

     – And, past Personal Experience

When people Communicate Outwardly they are influenced by much the same things.

So, there are numerous dynamics affecting messaging.

And we can face daunting resulting challenges with individuals in the way they both Interpret and Send their signals.

In distant human origins we had simple grunts and gestures to facilitate communications. Constantly evolving speech, language, vocabulary, tools, time-sensitivity and media applications have dramatically modified even the simplest interchanges.

One would intuitively believe this array of options would greatly enhance our ability to communicate more flawlessly; in many ways this is true in others, not.

Some vehicles just don’t lend themselves as well as others for any given application…

For Example: You would not Mail an SOS Alert to the Coast Guard; few People would propose Marriage via a Text message, or execute a Firing by Email, and so on.

And at the heart of the communication challenge is that Human Element: The ability to flawlessly communicate in the most suitable manner and the skill to appropriately interpret on the receiving side; this skill is by no means universal nor even common.

It’s clear that people can often make poor choices in sending messages.

It’s equally clear many folks just don’t make good reads of what they receive.

Humans are profoundly affected by their mental Pathology. They believe what they choose to believe and can seemingly rationalize quite wild opinion.  

Even communications with familiars may be subject to startling misunderstandings. So, a swing-and-a-miss with a more casual acquaintance is often a likelihood.

Such misinterpretations are often fueled by underlying, obscure Personal Insecurities.

How can we know what sensitivities and neurosis lurk just below the surface in newer relationships? It can sometimes be daunting to speculate what personality traits might emerge in seemingly everyday situations, let alone during stressful times.

When communications become confused or perhaps volatile relationships are either forged or bridges burned.

And in practice we often learn more quickly about the peccadillos, neurosis and pathology of others by rapid exposure and tribulation.

As a result, we choose fight or flight. Do we digest and persevere with problem situations or just walk away and avoid?

There is no one solution; the choice is situationally dependent. What is the value and/or risk?

In all our communications we must necessarily remain sensitive to opportunities and liabilities of human, situational and channel implications.

Have you come unglued with anyone, recently? Was it truly warranted, or a likely product of your own vantage point or insecurity?

Anyone derailed on you? Been initially lost as to what in their pathology triggered an outburst?

Take some time to consider recent fraught communications. Often you can readily mitigate problems, sometimes you should not even try.

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

What Are You Trying to Say?

CommunicationEver embarrassed yourself by giving imprecise or carelessly ambiguous information? I have.

My major gaffe was as a young graduate in my first professional role. The reaction I received to my waffling was severe and thankfully proved a valuable epiphany.

Fortunately, I was in an after-work situation, but talking loosely about what was a complex, job-related technical issue.

I was corrected, admonished and appropriately lectured by an older, more seasoned peer. It turned out to be one of the best lessons I’ve ever learned; never resented the chiding even as it occurred.

At the time I was coming newly from academia, enamored with glib word usage and style, characteristic of a less demanding, largely non-critical and more forgiving environment.

My new work outside of this needed a more disciplined and precise style of communication. I was fortunate to have learned this early on. It was a rapid and effective cultural adjustment.

Now, business usually demands greater rigor, orientated around rapid problem-solving.

Yet even today, most people I meet tend towards imprecise conversation and communication. It’s just easier and less demanding.

Also, many cultures seem to revere a more relaxed delivery and statement. Demonstrating an unhurried, manana (Spanish lang.) approach is often considered more polished, even sophisticated.

But there are times when precision and accuracy are important; indeed, they are essential.

For Example: Ever been burned by someone who’ll see you by noon. What does this even mean? This is not helpful if you then need to hang around wondering if the term implies a 9-12 window, or maybe not long after 12 o’clock (?). It’s virtually impossible to know what is intended.

Now perhaps it does not matter so much if this person’s (say) arriving at your house for an afternoon or evening social event, but if it’s to an office meeting where folks must be on-call, juggling lunch… well, it’s a mess. It’s inconsiderate.

Similarly, consider any situation where someone is trying to solve an important and urgent problem. They don’t want to hear your feelings and suspicions about an event, they need to know WHAT happened, WHEN, WHERE and to what EXTENT.

When you routinely fail to provide appropriate (aka essential and/or required) details you are likely to appear either foolish, unconcerned, indifferent, uncalibrated, inconsiderate or even unintelligent. Such behavior just seems flakey.

It is wise to communicate with the clarity and precision the situation demands.

It is unwise to fail to recognize such situations in BOTH business and personal settings.

Circumstances are worsened further when people are reasonably pressed for clarification and their apparent prevarications continue. This is easily taken as insensitivity or aloofness.

Being sensitive to the informational needs of others is often just common courtesy.

The burden on those requiring facts and accuracy can be profound, too. They typically press for details

out of necessity, not some misguided need to control (though this can occur).

Demanding clear communication from others can be exhausting. It is often essential.

Relationships, businesses and friendships are built on trust, which requires clear communication.

Sometimes it IS appropriate to relate matters in terms of feelings and opinions. But when specific problems must be resolved hard facts need to emerge.

Encouraging others to communicate more clearly can be done in a several ways. These revolve around either gently and systematically routinely questioning inputs to seek such clarity, or outright demanding such delivery.

The former approach conditions behavior and grows awareness, whereas the latter seeks immediate compliance.

Training a behavior though awareness is the most congenial approach.

Demanding accurate, concise communication is sometimes essential. It may however require later follow-up, social repairs or explanation.

In most cultures, business, time pressure and the requirement to get results will not allow participants to wander about with waffling communication styles.

In truth, precision for its’ own sake is seldom required. Yet when accuracy really IS REQUIRED, do NOT be the person offering vagaries.

Do you need to seriously improve the way you communicate with others? Are you frustrating relationships with your lack of clarity?

Should you speak to a worker or colleague about their frustrating imprecision? Is there specific guidance you might provide to improve such weaknesses in others?

Carefully consider how these issues affect your professional and personal lives. Perhaps now is the time to address the problems before frustration and resentments compound.

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