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Ideas for people pursuing an empowered life,




Managing « transformation » in Nature

Last month I celebrated 25 years in a wheelchair. As I say "celebrate", understand that I left the hospital with a rather short life expectancy ...so every passing year does indeed give me reason to rejoice.

This anniversary, I reflected on time spent learning from the creative intelligence in Nature. Thinking back, I recalled one particular August when a health crisis sent me back to the hospital. There's never a good time for it, but those hot clammy days of August are probably the worse days to be sick. Highly infectious, I remembered being placed in an ice-bath, with 2 fans blowing on me, in order to lower my fever.

At last, the problem was isolated and an antibiotic program begun. Crisis averted, in a couple of weeks I was released - tired, weak, pale and thin. I knew I had a steep hill to climb to regain my strength but before I could get myself into a funk over it, a friend invited me to spend a week in Vermont's Green Mountains with her, reminding me that it would build up my body and my mood. I eagerly accepted and we set off for some serious R&R.

We got there on the Sunday before Labor Day and - as the neighbors returned to the city - we were alone in a beautiful wooded glen the whole time. Glorious weather helped build me up and I was lolling in the pool on late Tuesday, when my friend returned from a walk in the forest excited and insistent on showing me something wondrous. I followed her along an easy, wooded path for about 10 minutes, as if we were on great adventure. Then we reached a spot with fairy-tale view, in shadows about 15 feet above a large pond. Hushing me, she pointed out several beavers very busily working on a complex project. I was instantly enchanted.

I watched them, enthralled, for the rest of that day and - aside from the time I invested in my "get fit routine" - my week was then spent learning how and why beavers do what they do - directly from the source. They transform entire ecosystems - from any forest with a stream running though it to an open, rich, fertile meadow - for their own benefit and the good of the whole geography.

A large group lived there, I'm not sure how many - mature adults, young adults and kits. Their lodge was immense, mainly underwater but quite visible across the pond. It was a fortress sealed off from all predators. Below us, in that direction, the forest was a wooded, mystic swamp, covered in water, far into the dark distance.

I watched those beavers for 3 full days and took notes. My first impression was about the sense of urgency and importance they gave their work. Winter was coming quick enough. They were busy before I got there in the morning and were still at when I left at night. I noted that they seemed to consult with a couple of elders - who directed the efforts of the whole team with slaps of their tail and other, sometimes quite insistent, directives.

Beavers will cut through trees with a 60 cm (2 ft) diameter and chew them down to desired size; they'll grasp branches, heavy stones and clumps of mud in their hands or carry them in their mouth - even underwater as they can shut the back of their throat. Powerful webbed feet propel them below the water, often with heavy loads or with buoyant timber, while an oar-like tail positions them where they'll use great dexterity and do very delicate work.

I don't know if the beavers start with a meadow in mind, but they do cut that huge job down to size. This team was well managed and each did its thing: dig a channel to float a log into place, build a retainer walls to shore up a bank, redirect a stream to where it could drown and uproot a particular tree. Meantime, some sought out exact materials to complete a task at hand and others selected the juiciest branches to store in their growing, prosperous lodge.

I'm still amazed at how beaver society is organized. I checked and found that experts agree - any successful transformation will benefit from the following 8 general steps:

1. Establish a sense of urgency;

2. Form a powerful steering committee;

3. Create a clear vision of what's required;

4. Communicate that vision effectively;

5. Empower others to act on the vision;

6. Plan for successive « visible » short term gains;

7. Consolidate improvements and build on successes;

8. Integrate new approaches throughout the organization.

Early settlers first homesteaded meadowlands transformed by beaver « teams on a mission » and so they instantly had highly productive farms that still exist today. Importantly, I learned that success is organized around work and that beavers don't quit just because they face a little adversity. I came back from that week ready to tackle my dreams. With the keep "busy as a beaver" example, why not decide to transform something that will profit from your efforts?



« Enlightened thinking » is an exercise in relaxed contemplation that's a powerful way to consider the impact of your plans, goals or objectives. Use it to see how a significant decision will affect other people and resources. The technique allows you to preview the fall-out of your ideas so you can prevent, minimize or plan to repair any negative impact.

Be enlightened in your reflection, check out here.



Today's business climate is "change at the speed of thought". This is more than just theoretical idea - it has created a need for rapid-response teams who can come together quickly and for shorter time-frames than ever before. Consider then, how "team building" and self-empowerment are needed to participate more effectively in that new environment.

This one week agenda examines how people from different cultures, backgrounds and mindsets can come together and « gel » into creative and effective teams. Our unique program is an adventure in learning that offers participants a fascinating opportunity to explore the creative self-empowerment process.

The itinerary will expose travelers to themes that demystify why "altruistic self-interest" is Nature's rule for building high performance teams. Check it out by clicking here.



Chat up evolution before the revolution. The Utne Reader is a magazine of alternative ideas and the instigator of the "Salon movement". They believe we can "chat" our way into a higher and better understanding of ourselves and others. A grass roots gathering of people, their "Salon" brings edifying rules to the fine art of conversation. Join in, at http://www.utne.com/salon .

The "Public Conversation Project" at http://www.publicconversation.org shares many conflict resolution techniques and, meanwhile, over at the "World Café" - http://www.theworldcafe.com - people chat together in small groups (just like in a real café) and are encouraged to use creative tools while discussing topical issues.

The Commons Café at http://www.commonway.org purports to gather people from a wide spectrum of the culture, helping bridge gaps across their divides. The "Heartland Institute" moderates discussions that center on our spiritual nature at work. Check them out at http://www.thoughtleadergathering.com.



A noble man compares and estimates himself by an idea that is higher than himself; and a mean man, by one lower than himself. One produces aspiration; the other ambition, which is the way a vulgar man aspires. Henry Ward Beecher

The greatest accomplishment is not in never falling, but in rising again after you fall. Vince Lombardi

Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try. Yoda

If we don't succeed, we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

There is no such thing as a self-made man. We are each made up of thousands of others. Everyone who has ever done a kind deed for us, or spoken one word of encouragement to us, has entered into the makeup of our character and our thoughts, as well as our success. George Matthew Adams

As a general rule, the most successful man in life is the man who has the best information. Benjamin Disraeli



You know the old story: Ants work hard in the summer heat, build their nests, bring in supplies and prepare for winter. Grasshoppers laugh, dance and generally play the summer away, and think the ant "life-style choice" is rather foolish.

But have you heard the modern version? Come winter, a shivering grasshopper called a press conference and demanded to know why ants should be warm and well fed while others are cold and starving. The major networks covered the story, dug up some facts and showed pictures of cold, destitute grasshoppers next to well-to-do ants in comfortable nests, feeding on the finest foods.

The world was stunned by the contrast. The markets shook. How can it be that, in the 21st century, poor grasshoppers are allowed to suffer so? Corporate greed was the answer. Ants had too much.

A representative of the NBBB (National Brotherhood of Bigger Bugs) appeared on the Nightly News and charged Nature with BBB - Bigger Bug Bias - and made the case that grasshoppers are the victims of million years of BBB. Kermit the Frog appeared on Oprah with a grasshopper-buddy and touched hearts by singing "It's Not Easy Being Green."

An esteemed member of Government made a special guest appearance on CBS Nightline to tell a concerned Ted Koppel that the Feds were doing everything they can for the grasshoppers. A University professor offered that grasshoppers have been denied the prosperity they deserve by corporate ants who benefit unfairly from the system. He had a student-petition claiming the campus for the pro-grasshopper side. An author insisted it wasn't "all the ants" but he was shouted down.

The opposing party rebutted, telling how measures to safeguard the ecology were dismantled by the present Government - who did most damage to the grasshopper cause and ability to sing and dance and still prosper.

Several Canadian leaders, in a group interview on Larry King Live, claimed that ants are getting rich off the backs of grasshoppers, and called for an immediate tax on all ant assets, to make them pay their "fair share".

And, the European Union drafted the "Economic Equity and Anti Big Bug Disparity Act", retroactive to the beginning of the Union - but excluding those states that do not export various foodstuffs. The American Free Trade Arbitrary Arbitration Panel decided ants should be fined for failing to hire a proportionate number of bigger bugs. Ants, having nothing with which to pay their taxes and fines, had their home confiscated, and so they just left.

The world's biggest law firm represented the grasshoppers in a class-action defamation suit against some ants who apparently grumbled on their way out. And the case was tried before 12 federal judges appointed from a list of jurists who wanted to be stars on a new reality-based TV show.

After a top-rated season, the ants lost the case and have not been seen since.

My story ends as a Special Report shows us a grasshopper family, finishing up its last bits of food, in their government subsidized housing, which just happens to be modified ant nest. Hopelessly too small for them to dance in, their home is collapsing around them, as they can't and won't maintain it, and they don't sing much anymore either.

Then we see the President, standing before a wildly applauding crowd, announcing that we won the war: A new era of "fairness" is dawning - "Ant Corps will abuse us no more."

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