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Charlotte Amalie
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HomeNewsArchivesMay 2005 Brainstorm E-Bulletin

May 2005 Brainstorm E-Bulletin

We're racing toward summer, the halfway point of the year. A good time to take stock and get some fresh inspiration:
1: Who's on Your Dream Team?
Researchers at Northwestern University studied two very disparate groups–the people behind successful Broadway shows and those behind successful science projects–to determine what makes up an ideal team.
They found that it boiled down to making sure that you include some newcomers with a team of established people who are best in your field.
Just hiring friends is a danger. If the mix is right, the newcomers bring totally fresh thinking to the enterprise, and are nourished and supported by the longer-established members of the team.
ACTION: If you put together teams, be sure to include at least one person who will bring a new perspective, and go for the best people, whether or not you have worked with them before. For the solo artist or entrepreneur, it may be worthwhile simulating a team effort like this.
In other words, from time to time, pretend that you are coming to the project totally fresh and dare to challenge all the assumptions behind it. Jot down every thought and question that occurs to you, without censorship or regard for how thing have always been done. Then see whether any of these offer new and useful insights.
2: Bust Your Gremlins!
Coach and trainer Marilyn Atkinson helps people to move beyond their Gremlins; she quotes Dr. Sally Jenkins as defining the Gremlin as "the inner voice that abhors change and keeps you from moving forward and getting what you want in life." She mentions four gremlins, one of which is System Identification. This means assuming that things must be done a certain way and you have no hope of breaking out of that system.
If you ever feel caught up in that, she suggests asking the following questions: (1) Is it true? (2) Am I absolutely certain it is true? (3)Is there an old agenda when I think that thought? (4) Who might I be without that thought?
ACTION: The next time you feel that a system is limiting you, try asking these four questions. You may find that you have greater freedom than you thought.
3: Turn 180 Degrees to Learn
Marketing guru Sean D' Souza suggests that brave companies and individuals try the 180-degree exercise. That is, instead of asking "How could I build up my business (or relationship, or health, or anything else)", try asking "How could I destroy it?" For a business, this could mean, "How can I drive customers away?", for a relationship it could mean, "How can I drive this person away?" Make a list.
For a company, the list might include, "make people spend endless time on hold," "have the first contact with our company be with an unfriendly or untrained person," and "make sure people have no easy way to contact you if they're unhappy."
For a relationship, it might be, "remember to criticize, but forget to praise," "have time for everything but this person," and "never tell the person how much they mean to you."
The shock comes when people realize that they are actually doing many
of the things on their list!
ACTION: If you're feeling brave, try doing the 180-degree exercise for any areas of your life in which you think you might like to make improvements. These could relate to career, finances ("how could I make sure not to have money when I retire?"), relationships, health, or anything else. See which of the steps you're actually taking. Then figure out their opposites and start doing those instead.
4: Make Good News Exciting, Too
The media often are criticized for reporting mainly negative news. In an article in The Futurist magazine, Lane Jenningssuggests, "Besides reporting murders and muggings every night, why not devote a little time to covering nonviolent conflict resolutions among enemies or showcasing achievements by inspiring individuals who deserve to be more widely known and imitated?"
Good advice, but what I realized upon reflection is that we, as individuals, tend to do the same thing. Coming back from a recent enjoyable holiday, I found myself talking more about some of the negative events (delayed flights, annoying people at the airport, etc.)because they're easier to make entertaining.
ACTION: Monitor the stories you're telling. What's the balance between negative and positive? Might it be worthwhile to put a little more effort into noticing and talking about the positive stuff? (If you're not convinced, see the Yiddish folk tale below.)
Masterclass in Right-Brain Writing in London: on Saturday, June 18, I'm presenting a one-day intensive workshop in right-brain scriptwriting at the Royal Academy for Dramatic Arts, central London. The creativity techniques will also be applicable to people writing novels, short stories, poetry, and creative non-fiction. The session is subsidized and therefore costs only ££50. For more information, send an email to

5: Jack Welch's Imagination
In Fortune magazine, tech exec Vivek Paul shared an important lesson he learned from super-exec Jack Welch: "He was commenting that every time he lands in New York (from a trip abroad) he imagines that he's just been appointed chairman and this is his first day in the role, and the guy before him was a real dud. He said, 'Every time, I think, What would I do that was different than the guy before? What big changes would I make?' I took that seriously. You should always think, 'How can I regenerate myself?'"
ACTION: When you wake up tomorrow, imagine that you have just been made CEO of your own life. Maybe the guy or woman before you was a dud in how they handled some aspects of your life. Now it's your turn: what do you want to do differently? How will you start?
6: and That Yiddish Folk Tale…
An old man sat outside the walls of a great city.
When travelers approached, they would ask the old man, "What kind of people live in this city?"
And the old man would answer, "What kind of people live in the place where you came from?"
If the travelers answered, "Only bad people live in the place where we came from," the old man would reply, "Continue on; you will find only bad people here."
But if the travelers answered, "Good people live in the place where we came from," then the old man would say, "Enter, for here, too, you will find only good people."

Until next time,
p.s.: Below is another installment from the collection I call "Letters to an Unknown Friend":
Dear Friend,
Some time ago I was staying with my mother for a few days. One evening I told her I was going to the local bookstore for a little while——walking, rather than driving, which admittedly is a bit odd in California. She looked worried and went and got me one of her walking sticks. I asked her why I would want to take a walking stick; I’’m not infirm. She said in case anyone tried to attack me, I could use it to defend myself.
Now you have to understand that (a) this was in Menlo Park, a Silicon Valley town in which a mugger would starve before he’d see a pedestrian, and (b) I’m very tall and although I’m not trained in the martial arts, I think at least most short muggers and maybe some average ones would think it easier to choose a different victim.
I managed to make it to Kepler’s Book Store and back in one piece, but on the walk I reflected on the fact that no matter how old we get, to our parents we’ll always be kids who need to be protected, and to be told to remember to bundle up when it’s cold outside, and nagged to eat our vegetables.
When I was younger, I resented this kind of treatment, maybe because
deep inside, I fea
red I had not really grown up.
Nowadays, that’s no longer a fear, it’s just a fact. I’ve come to recognize that most of us learn to put on the trappings of maturity
(mostly this seems to involve paying a lot of bills), but inside we are still kids.
The toys we buy are more expensive, but they’re still toys–or do we believe we really bought that sports car because it gets superior mileage?
We stop having tantrums in public, but we still want what we want when we want it.
Maybe we learn to share a little better, but when the person across the street gets a shiny new something, our little child’s heart still starts beating faster.
Maybe some Buddhists have learned non-attachment; most of us still have the equivalent of the teddy bear or blankie that Mom took away at her peril, although today it may be a car, a favorite shirt, or a job title.
You know what? I like it that way. It makes life a lot of fun. And anybody who disagrees can eat worms.
your friend,
PS: Call your mother. She’s worried about you.
***This month is the end of the special limited-time sale on my Power Trances CDs. These include guided visualizations for relaxation, for dealing with your inner critic, and a powerful way to plan long-term projects. We're offering 2 for the price of 1. That means 12 pounds UK, 20 dollars US, or 25 Euros, including postage and packing. Contact Sheridan Bolger at BrainstormUK@aol.com for ordering instructions so you can treat yourself AND a friend to this powerful experience.
*** Also for this month only we are holding a competition as it is the fifth anniversary of the E-Bulletin. We have 5 copies of Jurgen's book "Do Something Different" to give away. All you have to do is send in your name and email address to BrainstormUK@aol.com and the winners will be picked when June's E-Bulletin is sent out. This competition is open to everyone wherever you are worldwide.
We welcome feedback and new subscribers! If you think your friends or colleagues would enjoy this e-bulletin, please forward it to them with the suggestion that they subscribe, too. We never sell or share our mailing list, and it's easy to unsubscribe if desired. Address your emails to:BrainstormUK@aol.com . You may also want to have a look at our website, www.BrainstormNet.com, and my book, Do Something Different, published by Virgin Books.
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