21 Rules of Life

Miyamoto Mushashi, known as Japan’s greatest ever swordsman, a Buddhist master, wrote these 21 rules two weeks before his death. Each rule teaches you to accept your circumstances in life, detach from outside forces you can’t control and be comfortable with who you are. These rules are powerful because the only way to cultivate acceptance is through continued practice in your actions and your attitude. The two things we actually have control over. And these rules give you the necessary guidelines to do just that. It might take months to rewire your brain, but it would be well worth it.

  1. Accept everything just the way it is. Acceptance is perhaps the most important attitude to overcome mental challenges in life. It’s a state of mind. There’s no destination or goal with acceptance. It’s simply the process of exercising the mind to be tolerant of anything life throws at us. Why is it powerful? Because instead of fighting against negative emotions like anxiety and stress, you’re actually accepting them the way they are. You’re not bitter, and you’re not creating more negativity out of your negativity. Through acceptance you pave the path for negative emotions like anxiety to become less powerful. You’re not fighting against them and making them worse. But to be clear: Acceptance is not the following: It’s not indifference or apathy. It does not involve giving up or not trying. It’s simply about accepting things without judging them. It is what it is. Whatever happens happens. It’s about being patient and allowing the natural flow of things to take place.
  2. Do not seek pleasure for its own sake. As humans, we are unhappiest when we become dissatisfied with what we have, and decide that we want more. When we seek pleasure for pleasure’s sake, we put ourselves in an endless loop of desiring that’s only temporarily satisfied when we experience that pleasure. But feelings don’t last forever. And before you know it, you’ll be back desiring again. This doesn’t mean you can’t have fun and enjoy pleasure when you experience it. It just means you won’t be constantly seeking pleasure for its own sake. You appreciate what you have in every moment, and sometimes that will be pleasurable emotions. But you also won’t be unhappy when you aren’t experiencing pleasure.
  3. Do not, under any circumstances, depend on a partial feeling. Same as above, feelings don’t last forever. Emotions are transient. You won’t be happy all the time, and wanting to be so will only make you unhappy.
  4. Think lightly of yourself and deeply of the world. When you think of yourself too much, you amplify your ego and your insecurities. Happy people are the ones who focus on helping others. There’s a beautiful Chinese Proverb which describes this perfectly, “If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap. If you want happiness for a day, go fishing. If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody.” In other words: Be humble, don’t take yourself too seriously and focus on helping others.
  5. Be detached from desire your whole life long. Buddhism says that desiring leads to suffering. Why? Because when you are desiring, you are dissatisfied with what you have right now. And when you get what you want, this leads you down an endless loop of desiring. If you can forget about the idea of wanting, you can learn to be comfortable and grateful for what you have right now, which is key to inner peace.
  6. Do not regret what you have done. Regret is a useless emotion, isn’t it? You can’t change what’s happened. Yes, you can learn from what happened, but that doesn’t involve experiencing regret. Sometimes we can’t help but regret things in life, but it’s important not to dwell on it. It’s useless to do so.
  7. Never be jealous. Another useless emotion. It also means you’re insecure with yourself, because you are envious of someone else. Instead, look inside yourself and be grateful for who you are and what you have.
  8. Never let yourself be saddened by separation. It sucks to separate from someone you want to be with. But getting sad over it won’t help you or them. Sometimes you just need to toughen up and appreciate what you have, not what you lose.
  9. Resentment and complaint are appropriate neither for oneself nor others. Again, complaining without action doesn’t help you achieve anything. It only serves to raise your toxic energy. And don’t let what other people do affect you as well. You’re not in control of what they do. But you are in control of how you react to what they do.
  10. Do not let yourself be guided by the feeling of lust or love. This one’s probably a controversial one for many. For me, too. I think we can all agree that you don’t want to be guided by lust. It’s similar to chasing emotions that don’t last forever and will only give you temporary fulfilment. Love, however, is a different story. I think that love is one of the most important emotions to be guided by. Your family is everything, whoever they are, and your life is much more fulfilled when you do whatever you can for them.
  11. In all things have no preferences. Similar to desiring, by having preferences, you’re not happy with what you have right now. You’re dissatisfied and unable to enjoy the present moment. So if you can, try not to prefer something over something else, especially if you can’t control it.
  12. Be indifferent to where you live. If you can change where you live, then by all means go ahead. And don’t stop looking for opportunities to do so. But besides doing that, it’s more fulfilling to appreciate where you are right now, rather than wishing it were different.
  13. Do not pursue the taste of good food. Interesting one. Focus on eating to be healthy and for nourishment. Desiring delicious food can lead to addiction and attachment. This goes for alcohol and drugs, too.
  14. Do not hold onto possessions you no longer need. It’s easy to get cluttered with junk that you don’t need. But if it’s not benefiting your life, get rid of it. More space and clear thinking is what’s needed. Not more stuff.
  15. Do not act following customary beliefs. Follow your own common sense. Do what makes sense to your own values, not what other people think. Decide for yourself. You know what’s right and wrong. You don’t need someone else to tell you.
  16. Do not collect weapons or practice with weapons beyond what is useful. A tribute to his swordsman time, but we can apply this for our lives, too. It’s better to be an expert in one thing, than okay at everything.
  17. Do not fear death. Extremely hard to do. But it’s something none of us will escape. We can either learn to accept that our own and our close one’s time will eventually come, or fight against it causing anxiety and sadness for the rest of our lives.
  18. Do not seek to possess either goods or fiefs for your old age. What good will they do you when you’re gone? Only collect what is useful. Don’t waste your time.
  19. Respect Buddha without counting on their help. Take responsibility for yourself. Don’t count on luck or god to pull you through. Tackle the endeavors you know are within your capabilities. Keep doing the right thing and everything else will fall into place.
  20. You may abandon your own body but you must preserve your honor. Don’t do anything that you won’t be able to live with for the rest of your life. Your actions define you, not your beliefs.
  21. Never stray from the way. Stay humble, do the right thing and always keep learning and growing.

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Season’s Greeting


Amazing Quotes from Unknown Authors

When it comes to a tidbit of knowledge, the author is more important than the message. People give weight to certain sayings and quotes simply based on who wrote them. But what about the unknown authors of the world? are their insights any less valuable? Some of the greatest quotes I have ever read came from sources that were either unknown or obscure. It’s not who said it, it is what was said that matters.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from unknown authors.

  • ‘Man sacrifices his health in order to make money.Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future, that he does not enjoy the present moment. As a result, he does not live in the present or the future, he lives as if he is never going to die, and then he dies having never truly lived.’’
  • “Spend the day appreciating every little thing that comes your way, and you’ll end the day feeling deeply grateful for your life.”
  • “The true mark of maturity is when somebody hurts you and you try to understand their situation instead of trying to hurt them back.”
  • “When you start doubting yourself, remember how far you have come. Remember everything that you have faced, all the battles you have won, and all the fears you have overcome.”
  • “Frame every so-called disaster with these words, ’In five years, will this matter’?”
  • “I’m only responsible for what I say, not for what you understand.”
  • “A flower does not think of competing to the flower next to it. It just blooms.”
  • “Open-minded people do not impose their beliefs on others. They just accept all of life’s perspectives and realities, doing their own thing in peace without judging anyone.”
  • “You have to take the good with the bad, smile when you’re sad, love what you’ve got, and remember what you had. Always forgive but never forget, learn from your mistakes, but never regret. People change, things go wrong, just remember, life goes on.”
  • “You don’t need religion to have morals. If you can’t determine right from wrong, then you lack empathy, not religion.”
  • “Faith makes all things possible. Hope makes all things work. Love makes all things beautiful.”
  • “Generally speaking, you aren’t learning much when your lips are moving.”
  • “A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there.”
  • “Let’s choose to see what we have in common.”
  • “In seeking happiness for others, you will find it in yourself.”
  • “A good life is when you assume nothing, do more, need less, smile often, dream big, laugh a lot, and realize how blessed you are for what you have.”

Readers! If you recognize any one or more of these quotes’ author(s), please make sure to point out who they are from.

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Fantasies Inhibit Happiness and Success

The older you grow, the quieter you become. Life humbles you gradually as you age. You realize how much nonsense you’ve wasted time on. What’s the biggest nonsense creator of them all? Your mind and the fantasies it likes to project into every facet of your life. You’ve likely fantasized your way into headaches and heartaches hundreds of times in the past and you aren’t alone either. We all stress ourselves out because of fantasies. We all procrastinate to the point of failure because of fantasies. We all get angry with others, with ourselves, and with the world at large because of fantasies. We all miss out on many of life’s most beautiful and peaceful moments because of fantasies. This might seem hard to believe at first, so let’s look at some common examples…

  • When we wake up and immediately start fantasizing and worrying about all the things we have to do, we aren’t really doing anything but adding stress to an otherwise pleasant morning.
  • When we fear the potential of failure, and we procrastinate in response to our fear, our fearful fantasies force us to miss great opportunities for success.
  • When someone upsets us, this is often because they aren’t behaving according to our fantasy of how they “should” behave. The frustration, then, stems not from their behavior but from how their behavior differs from our fantasy.
  • When we think about making a healthy change in our lives like getting in shape , we are initially inspired by the fantasy of how easy it will be, but that’s not reality. So when the reality of working hard to exercise and eat right surfaces doesn’t match up with our inspiring fantasy, we give up.
  • When we are having a conversation with someone, we are distracted with fantasies of how this person views us, or we are distracted by our propensity to fantasize about how to respond before they even finish talking, and thus we miss the opportunity to connect more deeply with them.
  • When we move through our days, our minds are stuck fantasizing about other times and places, and so we miss the pleasant surprises and simple pleasures surrounding us.
  • Of course, sometimes we get out of our own heads long enough to focus on the present and make the best of it, but it’s NOT often enough.

Just think about your life and how often you let fantasies get the best of you. How does it affect you? It certainly doesn’t lead to happiness and success. You start believing your own lies and your behavior naturally backs the lies up. You start procrastinating. You put your biggest goals on the back burner. You always feel guilty and regretful for not taking action. You give up when the first obstacle comes your way. You blame others. Your important relationships take a major hit. And the list goes on and on. And you know what the really scary part is? Most people don’t know they are digging themselves a hole by repetitively listening to their fantasies and the negative self-talk they produce.

To get yourself out of this mess, you need to literally rewire your brain and replace negative, distracted mindsets with positive, productive ones. For example, instead of saying, “I don’t think I have what it takes,” you must start saying, “I can figure this out!” And by doing so, you’ll stop saying, “I’m not ready yet,” and you’ll start taking action because the new mindset is something along the lines of “I am ready to learn and grow!”

Bottom line: If you’ve caught yourself stuck with similar fantasies and negative thought patterns, you need to take action ASAP. The longer you let these little demons linger around, the harder it is to get rid of them. And of course, if you’re struggling with any of this, know that you are not alone.

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Simple Ways to Raise Your Consciousness

George Gurdjieff was an influential early 20th-century mystic, philosopher, and spiritual teacher. He observed that most humans live their lives in a state of hypnotic “waking sleep. To combat this, Gurdjieff developed a method to transcend to a higher state of consciousness and achieve full human potential. These are his “commandments,” simple ways you can progress on your journey towards waking up:

  1. Ground your attention on yourself. Be conscious at every moment of what you are thinking, sensing, feeling, desiring, and doing.
  2. Always finish what you have begun.
  3. Whatever you are doing, do it as well as possible.
  4. Do not become attached to anything that can destroy you in the course of time.
  5. Develop your generosity – but secretly.
  6. Treat everyone as if he or she was a close relative.
  7. Organize what you have disorganized.
  8. Learn to receive and give thanks for every gift.
  9. Stop defining yourself.
  10. Do not lie or steal, for you lie to yourself and steal from yourself.
  11. Help your neighbor, but do not make him dependent.
  12. Do not encourage others to imitate you.
  13. Make work plans and accomplish them.
  14. Do not take up too much space.
  15. Make no useless movements or sounds.
  16. If you lack faith, pretend to have it.
  17. Do not allow yourself to be impressed by strong personalities.
  18. Do not regard anyone or anything as your possession.
  19. Share fairly.
  20. Do not seduce.
  21. Sleep and eat only as much as necessary.
  22. Do not speak of your personal problems.
  23. Do not express judgement or criticism when you are ignorant of most of the factors involved.
  24. Do not establish useless friendships.
  25. Do not follow fashions.
  26. Do not sell yourself.
  27. Respect contracts you have signed.
  28. Be on time.
  29. Never envy the luck or success of anyone.
  30. Say no more than necessary.
  31. Do not think of the profits your work will engender.
  32. Never threaten anyone.
  33. Keep your promises.
  34. In any discussion, put yourself in the other person’s place.
  35. Admit that someone else may be superior to you.
  36. Do not eliminate, but transmute.
  37. Conquer your fears, for each of them represents a camouflaged desire.
  38. Help others to help themselves.
  39. Conquer your aversions and come closer to those who inspire rejection in you.
  40. Do not react to what others say about you, whether praise or blame.
  41. Transform your pride into dignity.
  42. Transform your anger into creativity.
  43. Transform your greed into respect for beauty.
  44. Transform your envy into admiration for the values of the other.
  45. Transform your hate into charity.
  46. Neither praise nor insult yourself.
  47. Regard what does not belong to you as if it did belong to you.
  48. Do not complain.
  49. Develop your imagination.
  50. Never give orders to gain the satisfaction of being obeyed.
  51. Pay for services performed for you.
  52. Do not proselytize your work or ideas.
  53. Do not try to make others feel for you emotions such as pity, admiration, sympathy, or complicity.
  54. Do not try to distinguish yourself by your appearance.
  55. Never contradict; instead, be silent.
  56. Do not contract debts; acquire and pay immediately.
  57. If you offend someone, ask his or her pardon; if you have offended a person publicly, apologize publicly.
  58. When you realize you have said something that is mistaken, do not persist in error through pride; instead, immediately retract it.
  59. Never defend your old ideas simply because you are the one who expressed them.
  60. Do not keep useless objects.
  61. Do not adorn yourself with exotic ideas.
  62. Do not have your photograph taken with famous people.
  63. Justify yourself to no one, and keep your own counsel.
  64. Never define yourself by what you possess.
  65. Never speak of yourself without considering that you might change.
  66. Accept that nothing belongs to you.
  67. When someone asks your opinion about something or someone, speak only of his or her qualities.
  68. When you become ill, regard your illness as your teacher, not as something to be hated.
  69. Look directly, and do not hide yourself.
  70. Do not forget your dead, but accord them a limited place and do not allow them to invade your life.
  71. Wherever you live, always find a space that you devote to the sacred.
  72. When you perform a service, make your effort inconspicuous.
  73. If you decide to work to help others, do it with pleasure.
  74. If you are hesitating between doing and not doing, take the risk of doing.
  75. Do not try to be everything to your spouse; accept that there are things that you cannot give him or her but which others can.
  76. When someone is speaking to an interested audience, do not contradict that person and steal his or her audience.
  77. Live on money you have earned.
  78. Never brag about amorous adventures.
  79. Never glorify your weaknesses.
  80. Never visit someone only to pass the time.
  81. Obtain things in order to share them.
  82. If you are meditating and a devil appears, make the devil meditate too.

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Principles of Modern Learning

What are the principles of modern learning? Well, that depends on how you define ‘learning’ and what you’d consider ‘modern.’

Richard Olsen had put together this in a useful visual way in 2013–a chart that lays out three categories of a modern approach to learning–Modern, Self-Directed, and Social. These broad categories are then broken up into four principles per category. Each principle is then described by its Reality (its function) and Opportunity (the result of that function). Honestly, these two categories are a bit confusing–or at least the distinction between some of the entries are (the ability to participate and enables modern learners to participate, for example). Overall, though, defining ‘modern learning’ through inquiry, self-direction, and connectivity is at the core.

Let’s take a look at what it’s saying by exploring the first category, Modern Inquiry Learning. The 4 principles in of Modern Inquiry Learning, according to the graphic, are Compile, Contribute, Combine, and Change, with their respective Realities and Opportunities shown below.


  • Reality The ability to save and retrieve information in a variety of formats.
  • Opportunity Give modern learners virtually unlimited capacity to retrieve and store information.


  • Reality The ability to participate in more complex projects.
  • Opportunity Enables learners to participate in more complex projects.


  • Reality The ability to reuse and build upon the work of others.
  • Opportunity Allows learners to move beyond individual and isolated projects.


  • Reality The ability to quickly obtain feedback from multiple sources.
  • Opportunity Enables learners to continuously improve work.

While the graphic doesn’t really get at the core values of what makes each approach Inquiry, Self-Direction and Connectivity valuable and worthwhile and so misses a huge opportunity, the trifecta of the three does in fact represent prevailing movements in progressive education. Technology, for example, would be a part of each. It supports inquiry and self-direction while being both a cause and effect of connectivity.

How should you use this to guide your teaching? You could take the verbs shown here e.g., contribute and correlate and design projects or activities alongside your students. You could also present a document like these at staff or department meetings by slamming it down on the table and asking ‘Where’s the progress? ”

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Choices You Won’t Regret

Every one of us has experienced feelings of regret. We regret the chances we didn’t take, the relationships we were too afraid to have, and the decisions we waited too long to make, the big opportunity you procrastinated on, that friend you never called, those important words you left unspoken, etc. But it’s not too late to set things straight. We’re still here breathing.

Today, we have an opportunity to change tomorrow. Right now we can choose to erase regret from our later years. It’s time to make the best of each and every day. Here are some ideas to get you started – you can start doing now that you won’t regret a decade down the road:

Let go of those who are already gone. You’re going to mingle with a lot of people in your lifetime. You’re going to have first kisses you feel all the way down to your toes and think “Oh my gosh, I love him,” but really… you loved the kiss. You’re going to meet a friend you think you will know forever, but then something will change and you two will go your separate ways. You’re going to explore different parts of your life with different people who aren’t in it for the long haul, and that isn’t a bad thing. Life is a series of stories, and the way our stories intersect is remarkable. Sometimes people are in our lives for the whole story. Sometimes they are just a short chapter or two. It takes a brave person to know when that chapter is over, and then to turn the page. Be brave. Embrace your goodbyes, because every “goodbye” you receive in life sets you up for an even better “hello.”

Work a little less and spend a little more time smiling with people you love. You’ve heard the saying, “The best things in life are free.” Well spending quality time with family and friends, enjoying the antics of a pet, seeing your son smile, experiencing intimate and heart-felt moments with your significant other – these times are precious and priceless. Don’t get so caught up in the rat race, working 60+ hours a week, to the point where you are too stressed and exhausted to enjoy your closest relationships. By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices to work on the right things, it is possible to live on less, and thus work fewer hours and enjoy more of what truly matters.

Practice relentless kindness. Kindness is always the best response to any situation. When you grow older and you look back on your life, you will inevitably forget a lot of the stuff that seemed so important when you were young. You probably won’t remember what your high school or college GPA was. You will look at your old classmates on Facebook (or some other online social network) and wonder why you ever had a crush on that girl/guy. And you will have the toughest time remembering why you let certain people from your past get the best of you. But you will never forget the people who were genuinely kind – those who helped when you were hurt, and who loved you even when you felt unlovable. Be that person to others as often as possible. And, as you know, what goes around comes around.

Pay more attention to the life you are actually living in each moment. Is there anything worse than getting somewhere and not realizing how you got there? Even worse is only realizing how great something is after it’s gone. Living in the present is a basic notion, but as with most simple things, we often find a way to complicate it. But there’s nothing complicated about learning to appreciate and notice life as it is happening. And trust me, you won’t remember the cool Instagram photo you saw on your feed anyway. You will, however, want to remember the conversations you had and the stories you lived through. So focus accordingly.

Many of us are right there with you, working hard to feel better, think more clearly, and live a life free of headaches and heartache. And believe it or not, I’m currently in the process of re-visiting and focusing my mind on these positive principles and keeping myself on the right track. And of course, if you’re struggling with any of these points, know that you are not alone.

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Living a Life of Gratitude

If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, ‘thank you,’ that would suffice.~ Eckhart Tolle

Try to humble yourself and hold a two minute gratitude session. Simply sit down or kneel, with no distractions, close your eyes, and think about what you are grateful for and who you are grateful for. You don’t have to do it every day, but let me tell you, on the days you do it, it will make you very happy.

Why should that be? Why should the simple act of thinking about who and what you are grateful for make such a big difference in your life?

Just a few reasons:

  • It reminds you of the positive things in your life. It makes you happy about the people in your life, whether they’re loved ones or just a stranger you met who was kind to you in some ways.
  • It turns bad things into good things. Having problems at work? Be grateful you have work. Be grateful you have challenges, and that life isn’t boring. Be grateful that you can learn from these challenges. Be thankful they make you a stronger person.
  • It reminds you of what’s important. It’s hard to complain about the little things when you give thanks that your children are alive and healthy. It’s hard to get stressed out over paying bills when you are grateful there is a roof over your head.
  • It reminds you to thank others. The simple act of saying “thank you” to someone can make a big difference in that person’s life. Calling them, emailing them, stopping by to say thank you and just taking that minute out of your life to tell them why you are grateful toward them is important to them. People like being appreciated for who they are and what they do. It costs you nothing but makes someone else happy. And making someone else happy will also make you happy. Simple acts of gratitude don’t cost you much (especially once you get over the initial discomfort some people feel with thanking others). But they can make a huge difference.

What you should thank for in your gratitude sessions? Thank your loved ones, for all they do to you. Thank strangers who’ve shown you little acts of kindness. Thank God, for the life he’s given you. Thank people around the world for the things they’ve done to make the world better. Thank yourself, for things that you’ve done because it’s important to recognize your own accomplishments.

If you want to live a life of gratitude, here are some suggestions:

  • Morning gratitude session. Take 2-3 minutes each morning to give thanks, to whoever or whatever you’re grateful for. You don’t have to do anything, other than close your eyes and silently give thanks. This one act can make a huge difference.
  • Say thank you. When someone does something nice for you, however small, try to remember to say thank you. And really mean it.
  • Call to say thanks. Sometimes you might think about something nice that someone did for you. When you do, pick up the phone and call the person to say thanks. Let them know what they did that you’re grateful for, and why you appreciate it. Takes a minute or two. If it’s too early to call, make a note to call later. Even better is telling them in person, if you happen to see them or if they’re on your route. Almost as good is a thank you email — keep it short and sweet.
  • Give thanks for ‘negative’ things in your life. There are always two ways to look at something. Many times we think of something as negative — it’s stressful, harmful, sad, unfortunate, difficult. But that same thing can be looked at in a more positive way. Giving thanks for those things is a great way to remind yourself that there is good in just about everything. Problems can be seen as opportunities to grow, to be creative.
  • Learn a gratitude prayer. There are many prayers that can remind you to be grateful. Find one you like, and print it out or make it your desktop wallpaper. Here is one , I like….

Be Thankful

Be thankful that you don’t already have everything you desire, If you did, what would there be to look forward to?

Be thankful when you don’t know something, For it gives you the opportunity to learn.

Be thankful for the difficult times, During those times you grow.

Be thankful for your limitations, They give you opportunities for improvement.

Be thankful for each new challenge, It will build your strength and character.

Be thankful for your mistakes, They will teach you valuable lessons.

Be thankful when you’re tired and weary, It means you’ve made a difference.

Be thankful for the good things in your life, Life of fulfilment comes to those who are thankful for the setbacks.

Be thankful for your troubles, Gratitude will turn them into blessings.

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The Power of Failing

It is impossible to live without failing at something , unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all in which case you have failed by default .~ J K Rowling

Amazon’s Fire Phone was a failure. It’s the kind of thing most managers hope people soon forget about. But Amazon embraced it. Jeff Bezos said in an interview not long after the phone was pulled: “If you think that’s a big failure, we’re working on much bigger failures right now. I am not kidding. Some of them are going to make the Fire Phone look like a tiny little blip.”

Netflix just announced the cancellation of several expensive original shows. This is also the kind of thing most media CEOs get mad at and demand a strategy shift. Which is what Reed Hastings did. Except his demand was that more Netflix shows should fail: “Our hit ratio is way too high right now. I’m always pushing the content team. We have to take more risk. You have to try more crazy things, because we should have a higher cancel rate overall.”

Amazon and Netflix owe a lot of their success to their ability to fail well. It’s a unique trait. It’s just failing. And it’s not just accepting failure in order to learn something. Failing well is a special, difficult, thing. What sticks out is that many startups and venture investors embrace risk with both hands, while many public investors view their job as taming and avoiding risk. Both can learn from each other. Because either can be a disaster.

Anything competitive requires trying something new, and a lot of new things don’t work as planned. But risk has to be taken in manageable doses, avoiding catastrophic errors that could put you out of business. This sounds simple but it’s so rare and difficult to execute on. Risk is easiest in two speeds: All in, or none at all. It’s the balance between the two that lets you survive long enough to reap the rewards of things with big returns, since big returns come from things with low odds of success.

No one makes good decisions all the time. The most impressive people are packed full of horrendous ideas that they often act on. But those who stick out can absorb the damage of their bad ideas. They fail at lot, but they’re really good at it. They consciously take big enough risks to move the needle but not so big that they can’t live another day to fail at something else. Compounded over time this can add up to something extraordinary.

The Chris Rock show on TV is hilarious, flawless. The Chris Rock that performs dozens of small clubs each year is just pretty good. This is by design. No comedic genius is smart enough to know what jokes are sure to land well. Every big comedian tests their material in small clubs before using it in big venues. The stakes are lower in small clubs – you may disappoint 30 drunk people, but you won’t hurt your reputation with HBO. It’s manageable damage. Rock was once asked if he missed small clubs. He responded: “ When I start a tour, it’s not like I start out in arenas. Before this last tour, I performed in this place in New Brunswick called the Stress Factory. I did about 40 or 50 shows getting ready for the tour. “

One newspaper profiled these small-club sessions. It described Rock thumbing through pages of material, not all of them landing. “I’m going to have to cut some of these jokes,” he says in the middle.

Everyone needs their own Stress Factory Comedy Club – a strategy to try something you don’t know will work and absorb the damage of its failure in a manageable way.

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Happiness is a Choice

How do we heighten our happiness? There are many ways and one size does not fit all. Below are a few suggestions that I am hopeful will work to give you happiness.

Savor the joy of simple pleasures. The best things in life are free. They come in the form of simple pleasures and they appear right in front of you at various locations and arbitrary times. They are governed by Mother Nature and situational circumstance and captured by mindful awareness. It’s all about taking a moment to notice the orange and pink sunset reflecting off the pond water as you hold hands with someone you love. Noticing these moments and taking part in them regularly will bring unpredictable bursts of happiness into your life.

Look for happiness in the right places. When we’re young we look for happiness in drugs, sex, alcohol, parties, fast cars, extreme sports, etc. Then when we get a little older, we look for happiness in more “mature” ways – a stable partner, romantic getaways, walks along the beach, jazz music, a night at the bar with some friends. Do they work? Do these things make us happy? Sure they do. They raise our happiness temporarily. But people have a baseline of inner happiness. Certain events and possessions, like an unexpected windfall, might raise or lower our happiness momentarily, but soon we return to our inner baseline. The key is to gradually raise this baseline. Enjoy the moment, but don’t completely ignore long-term goals. What will you be proud to have accomplished, or disappointed that you didn’t do, five years from now?

Perform random acts of kindness on a regular basis. Pay for a stranger’s coffee in line at Starbucks. Buy the office receptionist flowers just to say, “Thank you.” Help an elderly lady with her groceries. There’s nothing more rewarding than putting smiles on the faces around you.

Help others when you’re able. In life, you get what you put in. When you make a positive impact in someone else’s life, you also make a positive impact in your own life. Do something that’s greater than you – something that helps someone else to be happy or to suffer less.

Share time with people you care about, and experience life together. The quality of our personal relationships correlates directly with our overall sense of worth and happiness. Sometimes in the midst of life’s chaos we forget to do the little things that remind us we’re part of something greater than ourselves. We need a certain amount of meaningful contact with other people to feel fully alive. There are few things more satisfying than recounting the greatest moments of your life with your family and closest friends who lived these moments alongside you. And remember, you don’t need a certain number of friends, just a number of friends you can be certain of.

Accept things when they are less than perfect. If you find yourself at a point of intense decision making where you’re caught in a spiral of over-analysis and you’re making no progress, take a deep breath, break the spiral, make an educated guess on the next logical step, and take it. Even if you get it wrong you’ve learned something, which is better than doing nothing. Your failures along the road to your goals are simply opportunities to learn and grow. Remember, the real world doesn’t reward perfectionists; it rewards people who get things done.

Invest a little time, energy and money into yourself every day. Happiness comes as a side-effect of learning new skills and challenging yourself. Read, listen, adapt and stretch to accommodate new ideas and new information. When you invest in yourself, you can never lose, and over time you will change the trajectory of your life. You are simply the product of what you know. The more time, energy and money you invest acquiring pertinent knowledge, the more control you have over your life.

And of course, if you’re struggling with any of these points, know that you are not alone. Many of us are right there with you, working hard to feel better, think more clearly, and live a life free of headaches and heartache. Be happy and remain happy. Remember , happiness is a choice, choose happiness everyday.

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Bad Habits That Hold You Back

A change in bad habits leads to a good change in life. Here are twenty bad habits many of us repeatedly struggle with:

  • Focusing on the negative. Positive thinking isn’t about expecting the best thing to happen every time, it’s about accepting that whatever happens is good for this moment, and then making the best of it. So stay positive, and hold on to what’s truly important.  Let your worries go.  No matter how you look at it, some outcomes just don’t make sense right away.  Choosing to carry on with your goals through this uncertainty is what matters.
  • Expecting life to be easy. Nothing starts easy; everything begins at some level of difficulty. Even waking up in the morning sometimes requires notable effort. But one beautiful thing about life is the fact that the most difficult challenges are often the most rewarding and satisfying.
  • Overlooking your true path and purpose. What really matters in life is not what we buy, but what we build; not what we have, but what we share with the world; not our capability but our character; and not our success but our true significance. Live a life that makes you proud – one that matters and makes a difference.  Live a life filled with passion and love.
  • Chasing after those who don’t want to be caught. Do not chase people. Be you, do your own thing and work hard on your passions.  The right people who belong in your life will eventually come to you, and stay.
  • Not asking for help when you know you need it. No matter how far you’ve gone down the wrong road, you can always turn back. Be strong enough to stand alone, smart enough to know when you need help, and brave enough to ask for it.
  • Letting one dark cloud cover the entire sky. Take a deep breath. It’s just a bad moment, or a bad day, not a bad life.  Everyone has troubles.  Everyone makes mistakes.  The secret of happiness is to count your blessings while others are adding up their troubles.
  • Holding on to things you need to let go of. Letting go doesn’t mean giving up, but rather accepting that there are things in life that should not be. Sometimes letting go is what makes us stronger, happier and more successful in the long run.
  • Spending time with people who make you unhappy. People can be cruel, and sometimes they will be. People can hurt you and break your heart, and sometimes they will.  But only you can allow them to continuously hurt you.  Value yourself enough to choose to spend time with people who treat you the way you treat them.  Know your worth.  Know when you have had enough.  And move on from the people who keep chipping away at your happiness.
  • Not making time for those who matter most. When we take things for granted, these things eventually get taken away. Too often we don’t realize what we have until it’s gone.  Too often we are too stubborn to say, “I’m sorry, I was wrong.”  Too often it seems we hurt the ones closest to us by letting insignificant issues tear us apart.  Appreciate what you have, who loves you and who cares for you.  You’ll never know how much they mean to you until the day they are no longer beside you
  • Denying personal responsibility. You’re getting almost everything you’re getting right now based on the decisions you have made; and you will continue to receive the same things until you choose differently. You always have some element of control.  There are always other options.  The choices might not be easy, but they are available.  You will not get a different result until you exercise a choice that forces you to grow by habit, by action, and by change.
  • Letting everyone else make decisions for you. Never allow someone or something that adds very little to your life, control so much of it. You’ve got to stop caring about what everyone else wants for you, and start actually living for yourself.  Let go of the people and things that continuously hold you back and no longer serve you, because you only get one shot at life.
  • Giving up who you Remove yourself from any situation that requires you to give up any one of these three things: 1) Who you are.  2)  What you stand for.  3)  The goals you aspire to achieve. 
  • Quitting as soon as things get slightly difficult. An arrow can only be shot by pulling it backward; and such is life. When life is pulling you back with difficulties, it means it’s going to eventually launch you forward in a positive direction.  So keep focusing, and keep aiming!
  • Doing too much and pushing too hard, without pausing. Plenty of people miss their share of happiness, not because they never find it, but because they never stop long enough to enjoy it. Sometimes we are so focused on what we want that we miss the things we need most.
  • Discrediting yourself for everything you aren’t. Stop discrediting yourself for everything you aren’t. Start giving yourself credit for everything that you are.
  • Running from current problems and fears. Trust me, if everyone threw their problems in a pile for you to see, you would grab yours back. Tackle your problems and fears swiftly, don’t run away from them.  The best solution is to face them head on no matter how powerful they may seem.  Either you own your problems and fears, or they will ultimately own you.
  • Constantly mulling over past hardships. You’ll never see the great things ahead of you if you keep looking at the bad things behind you. To reach up for the new, you must let go of the old.  You are exactly where you need to be to reach your goals.  Everything you’ve been through was preparation for where you are right now and where you can be tomorrow.
  • Denying your mistakes. Remember that most honorable people of all are not those who never make mistakes, but those who admit to them when they do. And then go on to do their best to make the wrong things right.
  • Expecting your significant other to be perfect. Remember that you will never find a perfect partner to love you in the exact way you had envisioned, only a person who is willing to love you with all that they are. Someone who will accept you for who you can and cannot be.  And although they will never be perfect, finding a partner like this is even better.
  • Never allowing things to be good enough. We are human. We are not perfect.  We are alive.  We try things.  We make mistakes.  We stumble.  We fall.  We get hurt.  We rise again.  We try again.  We keep learning.  We keep growing.  And we are thankful for this priceless opportunity called life.

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We Are All Made to Fly

falcon-03Once there was a king who received a gift of two magnificent falcons from Arabia. They were peregrine falcons, the most beautiful birds he had ever seen. He gave the precious birds to his head falconer to be trained.

Months passed and one day the head falconer informed the king that though one of the falcons was flying majestically, soaring high in the sky, the other bird had not moved from its branch since the day it had arrived.

The king summoned healers and sorcerers from all the land to tend to the falcon, but no one could make the bird fly. He presented the task to the member of his court, but the next day, the king saw through the palace window that the bird had still not moved from its perch. Having tried everything else, the king thought to himself, “May be I need someone more familiar with the countryside to understand the nature of this problem.” So he cried out to his court, “Go and get a farmer.”

In the morning, the king was thrilled to see the falcon soaring high above the palace gardens. He said to his court, “Bring me the doer of this miracle.”

The court quickly located the farmer, who came and stood before the king. The king asked him, “How did you make the falcon fly?”

With his head bowed, the farmer said to the king, ” It was very easy, your highness. I simply cut the branch where the bird was sitting.”

We are all made to fly– to realize our incredible potential as human beings. But instead of doing that, we sit on our branches, clinging to the things that are familiar to us. The possibilities are endless, but for most of us, they remain undiscovered. We conform to the familiar, the comfortable, the mundane. So for the most part, our lives are mediocre instead of exciting, thrilling and fulfilling.

So let us learn to destroy the branch of fear we cling to and free ourselves to the glory of flight ! Make it a great life!

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Timeless Pieces of Advice on Valentine’s Day

abcWhether you’ve been married 50 years, you’re just dating, or you’re single, there’s one day on the calendar set aside to think about love and romance, Valentine’s Day. The holiday has its origins in the ancient Roman fertility festival of Lupercalia. More than 1,500 years ago, Pope Gelasius I abolished the festival and declared February 14 St. Valentine’s Day, and people around the world have celebrated it ever since. In the United States alone, we send nearly 200 million Valentine’s Day cards and spend at least $100 per person to show our loved ones that we care. That’s a lot of flowers and chocolate!

This article aims at giving you some timeless pieces of advice to help and guide you and your loved one to remain in love and in the mood of romance, always.

  • Don’t stay with someone who antagonizes you or belittles you.
  • If you feel lonely, you’re better off being alone.
  • Know when to walk away.
  • You can gauge a person’s love for you by how they treat you when they are upset with you.
  • Love is a verb, not a noun.
  • When a light bulb goes out, you fix the light bulb. You don’t get a new house.
  • Don’t settle for someone who has zero regard for your feelings or wants just because you’ve been together a long time.
  • Just because you love each other does not mean that you’re good together long-term.
  • No relationship is perfect and there will be conflict. What matters is the desire to solve the problem.
  • Always fight the problem, not the other person. If you keep this in mind when arguing, you’ll be able to actually resolve the issue than be mad at each other.
  • Don’t look for a girl you want to treat like a princess, look for a girl you want to treat like a partner.
  • Don’t disparage your SO behind their back.
  • Confidence isn’t “I know she likes me”, confidence is “I’ll be okay whether she likes me or not.”
  • There are a number of people you can be compatible with. No one is perfect. You have to work at love.
  • You’re not required to set yourself on fire to keep other people warm.
  • Marry the one who gives you the same feeling you get when you see food coming at a restaurant.
  • The grass is not greener on the other side, it’s greener where you water it.
  • Stop trying to find the right person and start trying to BE the right person.
  • The person who cares least in the relationship has the most control.
  • Don’t listen to other people’s comments. Make your own relationship rules.
  • It’s better to be happy than to be right.
  • Always be the first to genuinely apologize after a fight.
  • You can’t expect someone to love you when you can’t love yourself.
  • Just because you liked the friend-version of someone doesn’t mean you’ll like the relationship-version of them.
  • Before you move in with your partner, go on a road trip with them.
  • Don’t be afraid to open up and be vulnerable. Vulnerability can bring you closer together and strengthen the two of you.
  • When you and your SO are arguing, remember—it’s you and them versus the problem. Not you versus them.
  • Just because someone doesn’t love you the way you want them to doesn’t mean they don’t love you with all they have.
  • Don’t fall in love with someone’s potential.
  • It takes two happy individuals to make a happy relationship.
  • If the world didn’t give each other second chances, we would all be single.
  • Everyone is searching for the perfect person, but no one is trying to be the perfect person.
  • If you love the memories more than the relationship, it’s time to move on.
  • Just because a person is right or perfect for you, you may not be the right one for them.
  • If it’s broken, fix it. If you’ve lost count of how many times it’s broken, or the cost of repair far outweighs the initial outlay, throw it away and move on.
  • Out of all the things needed for a successful relationship, love barely makes the top 5. Honesty, loyalty, trust, and communication all have to be there.
  • Always hold hands when talking about the hard stuff. It helps to keep the negative emotions in check & shows you care.
  • Be the man or woman you would want your future or current child dating.
  • Love is about appreciation, not possession.
  • Don’t go to bed angry. Everything will be there and worse in the morning.
  • Always seduce your lover, even if you are in a committed relationship. Otherwise, another person will.
  • Talk to each other about problems, not friends and family.
  • Keep no secrets, tell no lies.
  • Sometimes you gotta wise up and let go. Yes, it hurts. But it’ll hurt more in the future.
  • Relationships aren’t hard. If it is hard, you are probably with the wrong person.
  • Love is not a feeling. Feelings fade, change, respond to situations and events. Love is a choice.
  • If it feels wrong at the beginning, it probably won’t get better.
  • If you’re keeping score you already lost.
  • Love is an action, not a feeling. It’s learned and developed skill, not an experience. Not that the romantic feeling doesn’t exist or isn’t a wonderful part of the relationship, but it doesn’t make it last.
  • The best sign of a healthy relationship is no sign of it on Facebook.

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2016 Canadian Higher Education Year in Review

img_20170211_065456A Happy New Year to all the members of the higher education community in Canada and beyond. We look forward to sharing many incredible stories with you in 2017, but for now, we’d like to take a look back at the year that was with our Second Annual Canadian Higher Education Year in Review. Instead of highlighting the top ten individual news items of 2016, we’ve decided this year to curate and explore the ten themes that most defined the Canadian PSE landscape over the past twelve months. So without further ado, this year’s themes are:


After Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission released its recommendations in mid-2015, 2016 saw postsecondary institutions from across Canada working to implement these recommendations in a variety of ways. These efforts often fell under large-scale indigenization initiatives, and included a host of new programs and community consultations designed to make schools more welcoming to and representative of Canada’s Indigenous peoples. Moira MacDonald wrote a comprehensive article on the subject of indigenization for University Affairs, while Academica Group published a piece outlining concrete ways that institutions can pursue indigenization initiatives.

On the federal level, critics challenged the Canadian government’s decision not to include $50M per year in new funding for the Post-Secondary Student Support Program, which the Liberals had pledged to do during their 2015 election campaign. An Access to Information request filed by the federal NDP later revealed that postsecondary funding for Indigenous students had declined by 18.3% between 1997 and 2015, due in part to a 2% cap on yearly increases in funding to the PSSSP that has been in place since 1996.

In April, the Supreme Court of Canada unanimously ruled that the federal government has a constitutional responsibility to Métis, Inuit, and First Nations peoples without registered Indian status, which extends to the delivery of social programs and services such as the Post-Secondary Student Support Program.

Conflicts in Campus Culture

2016 saw a number of high-profile conflicts concerning the culture of institutions. Trinity Western University won legal victories in Nova Scotia and British Columbia to secure accreditation for its proposed law school, while it lost a bid to overturn a denial of accreditation in Ontario. These legal battles drew attention to TWU’s community covenant, which critics alleged amounted to discrimination against the LGBTQ community; yet TWU and its supporters insisted that denying accreditation for its law school constituted a violation of the school’s religious freedom. In November, the Law Society of British Columbia announced that it would take its case to the Supreme Court of Canada.

The year also saw University of Toronto Professor Jordan Peterson criticize a proposed federal human rights bill and state that he would refuse to use genderless pronouns if a student asked him to do so. Peterson’s positions on free speech and related issues have sparked national debate about a potential conflict between academic freedom, campus inclusiveness, and human rights law.

The events of Brexit and the US presidential election further fueled debates about inclusiveness and freedom of speech on postsecondary campuses. Critics have accused students and social activists of being unwilling to hear uncomfortable or different points of view, while others have argued that appeals to rational dialogue and freedom of speech disproportionately benefit those who are already privileged and make campuses less welcoming for members of marginalized groups.

Sexual Violence

Sexual violence figured prominently in many higher education news stories throughout 2016, as concerns grew about a lack of accurate data on the subject and institutions pushed for the development of sexual assault policies. In April, British Columbia joined Ontario in mandating that all postsecondary institutions develop standalone sexual misconduct policies. In October, the Manitoba government also introduced new sexual violence legislation that was praised by the Canadian Federation of Students.

While some institutions had a relatively smooth experience developing and installing new policies, others encountered difficulties or barriers that highlighted the complexity of the process and the issue at hand. The Ottawa Citizen ran extensive coverage of the creation of Carleton University’s sexual assault policy, which was approved by the university’s board in early December following months of debate.

Throughout 2016, a number of schools across Canada were accused of not properly supporting victims or not taking enough action against those accused of committing sexual violence. These accusations often grew into larger debates about the role that postsecondary institutions should play in policing matters of sexual assault.


The emphasis on internationalization in 2016 was nothing new compared to recent years, but what was new was the changing nature of this term and what it means for Canadian higher ed. For starters, 2016 saw a greater emphasis on the two-way nature of internationalization, with a growing emphasis on the need to encourage more Canadian students to study abroad. In April, Academica released a StudentVu report charting Canadian students’ attitudes toward study abroad.

One of the year’s biggest developments in the area of internationalization was a set of changes that the federal government made to policies impacting international students coming to Canada. In March, the government introduced legislation reducing the period of physical residency required to apply for citizenship and allowing students to count time spent studying in Canada toward this requirement. In November, a new change to Canada’s Express Entry immigration system also increased the number of points awarded to applicants who obtain a university degree in Canada.

But perhaps the biggest theme in internationalization in Canadian higher education this year was Canada’s demonstration of openness to the world at a time when other western countries appear to have become more closed. Many Canadian institutions brought in new programming to support Syrian refugees who wished to attend Canadian institutions and in the wake of both Brexit and the election of Donald Trump, Canadian institutions and policy analysts began reporting higher numbers of inquiries for enrolment from international students. In recent months, school presidents have also made explicit calls for Canada to embrace openness at a time when other countries have not. This openness toward international students was echoed by Canadian students in a StudentVu report published in April.

 Free PSE Tuition

In 2016, Ontario and New Brunswick became the first provinces to offer free tuition to students from low-income families. The move in NB generated backlash, as many protested the elimination of the province’s tuition tax credits and private colleges threatened legal action for not being made eligible for the province’s Tuition Access Bursary program. In Alberta, a decision by the NDP government to continue a provincial tuition freeze was met with concern from some PSE leaders, who said that the inability to raise tuition would force schools to look elsewhere to make up for budgetary shortfalls.

In April, Canadian Alliance of Student Associations Chairman Erik Queenan published a piece suggesting that the introduction of free tuition models in other provinces was highly likely following the decisions in ON and NB. On the national stage, the Canadian Federation of Students released a report calling for free PSE tuition across the country and held a nationwide day of action in support of this mission.

Student Mental Health

2016 saw a number of concerning reports on trends in student mental health across Canada. A national survey of 44,000 PSE students showed an increase in the number of students reporting serious mental health crises. A study of Ontario teenagers also found that 14% of students qualified as having “serious” psychological distress compared to 10% in 2013. Among the most concerning studies was the National College Health Assessment survey, which showed that one in every eight postsecondary students in Alberta had “seriously considered” suicide within the past year. The cross-country numbers on mental health correlated with reports of increased demand for mental health services at some campuses, leading to concerns about whether the supply of such services could keep up with demand.

These concerning numbers, however, also gave rise to a number of stories on how Canada’s postsecondary institutions were responding to the declining mental health outcomes of postsecondary students. A number of Atlantic institutions participated in a three-year initiative to “create, evaluate, and disseminate a comprehensive and effective campus mental health framework.” The Torontoist also ran a piece featuring some of the positive initiatives undertaken by colleges and universities in the Greater Toronto Area.

Work-Integrated Learning

There were few trends in learning that generated as many headlines in 2016 as work-integrated learning (WIL), with countless members of the higher education community and the general population calling for more WIL opportunities for Canada’s postsecondary students. Among the most highly touted benefits were the workplace preparation, professionalization, and industry partnerships that WIL fosters .

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne garnered both skepticism and support after boldly calling for 100% of postsecondary students in ON to complete some form of WIL before graduating. Some questioned whether so many opportunities could be created, and if so, what quality of learning they would provide. Prominent higher education leaders such as University of Calgary President Elizabeth Cannon and George Brown College President Anne Sado also called for universal WIL opportunities, co-authoring a piece that laid out four fundamental principles that will set Canada on the path toward this goal.

Canada’s Business Higher Education Roundtable also made headlines in June with a call for universal WIL opportunities across Canada. To support this mission, the BHER commissioned Academica Group to produce a comprehensive report on the state of WIL in Canada and how it might be expanded and improved going forward. The Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario also released a helpful guide to better clarify what makes for a positive WIL opportunity.


2016 saw an increased awareness around cyber attacks against postsecondary institutions. One of the most prominent examples was a “ransom ware” attack in which the University of Calgary paid a hacker $20K in order to retrieve encrypted data. One UK report later revealed that 63% of PSE institutions in that country had suffered these types of attacks, with one institution reporting that it had suffered 21 distinct attacks during the reporting period. In September, David Shipley, Director of Strategic Initiatives for Information Technology Services at University of New Brunswick, spoke with the CBC about the school’s four point strategy for handling cyber attacks. Memorial University launched a ransom ware awareness campaign after experiencing its own attack in an effort to help students understand how to avoid ransom ware attacks and what to do in the event of one occurring.

These stories gave rise to a new awareness around the frequency and commonality of these attacks. This trend has coincided with a number of schools making significant investments in cyber security research and training.

Learning Outcomes, Employability Concerns

2016 saw continued growth in the number of stories relating to postsecondary learning outcomes and learning outcomes assessments. One of the more striking stories came from a Statistics Canada report in September, which showed that many postsecondary graduates who had been considered “overqualified” for their jobs lacked basic skills in reading, writing, and numeracy.

The Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario also announced that it would pursue large-scale assessment of core skills for both the college and university sectors. The organization also produced a report demonstrating that in practice, colleges and universities tend to use learning outcomes assessment in similar ways.

Conversations about learning outcomes assessment have often overlapped with concerns about the employability of today’s postsecondary graduates, and about what skills employers are demanding in greater numbers.

In May, the Conference Board of Canada released a report calling for a greater alignment of Canadian PSE and the demands of the labour market, beginning with the production and communication of better labour market data. In its pre-budget submission for 2017, Polytechnics Canada petitioned the federal government to take a more active role in connecting students with employers, beginning with the production of better labour market data.

College/University Co-operation

2016 saw colleges and universities continue to deepen their connections through a number of pathway agreements, collaborations, and other initiatives. Perhaps one of the most significant collaborations came at the beginning of the year, when Colleges and Institutes Canada and Universities Canada launched an online resource to support universities and colleges looking to foster new cross-sector collaborations and partnerships. In the summer of 2016, six postsecondary institutions based in Edmonton announced that they would work more interdependently to make Edmonton itself a more desirable destination for PSE.

These broader collaborations were complemented by dozens of new articulation agreements, guaranteed transfer agreements, and diploma-to-degree pathway agreements between Canada’s universities and colleges. In April, University World News ran a piece arguing that as students’ take increasingly diverse paths through PSE, governments and institutions will need to bolster their efforts to ensure that credit transfer policies keep up with changing times. The article specifically highlighted the efforts of the Ontario Council on Articulation and Transfer, which it suggests can offer a potential model for other jurisdictions looking to make the boundaries between institutions and PSE sectors more porous.


Notes: While by no means exhaustive, this list has been prepared by our editorial and management team to reflect the themes chosen by you, our readers, through your level of engagement with the stories published in our Academica Top Ten throughout 2016. We considered reader engagement data in combination with how frequently certain topics were covered by regional and national media, while also drawing on our team’s understanding and experience to determine which subjects had the greatest impact on the higher education landscape.


Courtesy: Academica Group / academica.ca

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Profound Wisdom from Japan

profound-wisdom-from-japanYou could probably talk about the mysterious and inscrutable nature of Japanese culture for hours on end. What is most fascinating and captivating about this country is perhaps the fact that despite its embrace of modernity and immense technological achievements its people continue to maintain very strong links with their roots and ancient traditions. Perhaps this is where the root of enlightenment is to be found. To help you get an insight into the culture of this fascinating and deeply wise nation, here are some ancient Japanese sayings.

  • If a problem can be solved, then it’s not worth worrying about it. If it can’t be solved, then it’s useless to worry about it.
  • Having taken the time to think, venture to act. Once you’ve done so, stop thinking.
  • Do not hold back that which is departing; do not chase away that which is arriving.
  • Fast means going slowly without interruption.
  • It is better to be the enemy of a good person than the friend of a bad one.
  • There has never been a great individual who did not have ordinary people at their side.
  • He who strongly desires to rise up will think of a way to build a ladder.
  • A husband and wife should be similar to a hand and an eye: when one’s hand hurts, the eyes cry; and when the eyes cry, the hand wipes away one’s tears.
  • The sun does not know who is right or who is wrong. It shines without purpose and provides warmth to all.
  • A frog in a well does not know the greatness of the sea.
  • A long journey always begins with a short one.
  • He who drinks does not know the dangers of wine; he who doesn’t drink does not know its benefits.
  • Even if a sword is only required once in a lifetime, it should be worn all the time.
  • Beautiful flowers do not bear good fruit.
  • Grief, like a torn dress, should always be left at home.
  • When one is in love, even the scars left by smallpox are as beautiful as dimples on a person’s cheeks.
  • No one has ever stumbled whilst lying in bed.
  • One kind word can keep you warm for three months of winter.
  • Always make way for fools and madmen.
  • If you want to paint a branch, you have to hear the breath of the wind.
  • Check seven times before ever doubting someone.
  • Do everything that you can and leave the rest to fate.
  • Excessive honesty often borders on stupidity.
  • Fortune will always come in to a house with laughter.
  • He who endures for just half an hour longer than his opponent can achieve victory.
  • As soon as stones can swim, leaves will sink.
  • Even monkeys can fall from their trees.
  • Cold tea and cold rice are tolerable; what is intolerable is a cold gaze and harsh words.
  • If you do not enter the tiger’s cave, you will not catch its cub.
  • If a woman wants something, she’ll climb a mountain to get it.
  • Ask a question and you feel shame for a moment. Not asking and not knowing means you will feel shame for your whole life.
  • A bad craftsman never made a perfect vase.
  • The earth always hardens after the rain.
  • The deepest rivers flow in silence.
  • If you decide to set off on your own journey, you’ll find yourself alone for a thousand kilometers.

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New Year’s Resolution Ideas

new-yearGet in shape: Losing weight is the top resolution for Americans, and combined with “exercise more” and “stay fit and healthy” it is something that over a third of the population wishes to achieve. It’s easy enough to start an exercise and diet program, but the trick is to find a decent one that will give you steady results and will be easy to stick to in the long run. Have a look at these tricks, hacks, exercises and mistakes to avoid the best of your resolution.

Start eating healthier food, and less food overall: This is usually an extension of the previous resolution. Switching to a healthier diet can be incredibly tricky when we are surrounded by cheap junk food. However, with a good amount of determination and some basic tips you can slowly develop healthier eating habits. Learn to control emotional eating, be aware of reasons for diets to fail.

Stop procrastinating: The biggest barrier that keeps most people from reaching their goals is the desire to relax and do something fun instead of working hard. Once you get used to procrastinating it’s difficult to snap yourself out of it, so you’ll need to put in a lot of work to change this bad habit. There are many useful tips out there to find your way to stop procrastinating. There are also tools which can help you achieve this task.

Improve your concentration and mental skills: People have been trying to find ways to improve their focus and cognitive capacities for thousands of years, and most ancient civilizations had some combination of mental exercise and herbal medicine to help them reach this goal. Today we can use anything from apps to ancient meditation techniques to boost concentration and hone our mental skills. If you go through with this, you will be able to control your mood, learn faster and have an easier time solving problems.

Meet new people: When we get stuck in a rut, we usually end up staying at home most of the time, missing out on a lot of interesting opportunities for networking and having fun. Meeting new people can be beneficial to your mental well-being and help your career, so don’t be afraid to get out there and make some friends. Overcome your shyness, get some knowledge and go and get to know new and interesting people.

Become more active: Some people don’t really have a big weight problem, and they even get some exercise a few times a week, but they just sit around the most of the time at home and at work, which can have a negative effect on their posture and health. In that case, all you need is to find ways of moving around more throughout the day instead of staying hunched over the computer. It’s even more fun if you share your activity with friends and family.

Become more confident and take some chances: If you are confident other people notice it, and it is much easier to have your opinions heard, ask people out on dates and get ahead at work. A good dose of self-confidence will help you lead a much happier life overall. Don’t hesitate to get some input on ways to boost your confidence.

Earn more money: Even billionaires are always looking for ways to earn more money, and we common folk can definitely use an additional source of income to make life a bit more comfortable. Fortunately there are plenty of options available, like having side jobs, working as a freelancer or using the internet to your advantage.

Become more polite: Good manners have always been an important part of a civilized society. They make it easier to connect with others, avoid offending people and will ensure that others perceive you as a good and trustworthy person. So know the etiquette, be prepared or other manners in other countries, deal with rude people in the right way and learn how to say no.

Reduce stress: They say that stress is one of the biggest killers out there, and it can have a very destructive effect on your relationships as well as your health. It may be an unavoidable side effect of our hectic modern lifestyles, but it can be effectively managed with the help of useful, unconventional and easy to practice tricks for stress management.

Learn to be happier with your life: Even those that are in decent shape, make a good living and have stress under control can still be unhappy. It takes time and patience to learn how to find joy in the little things and not to let problems bring you down.

Get more quality sleep: With big TV’s, computers, smart phones, tablets and all sorts of gadgets with glowing lights and beeping alerts, it can be hard to get enough sleep at night. You should be gunning for at least 8 hours of sleep a night, and there are fairly simple ways to achieve this number if you make use of science and everyday hacks.

Give up cigarettes: A bit of bad habit that a lot of people don’t know how to kick, smoking will not only endanger your health, but can burn a hole in your wallet as well. Just be prepared to dedicate a lot of will power to giving up cigarettes once and for all.

Watch less TV: The average person wastes a lot of time in front of the TV, time that could have been better spent developing skills, learning or keeping your body active. Once you manage to cut down on TV time, you will realize just how long and productive a day can really be.

Read more: Books are an excellent way to gain a lot of knowledge on a huge variety of topics, and are also a great exercise for your brain. It’s not that difficult to go through 20 or more books in a year – you only need to make it a habit, discover your type of books and find a bit of time for reading here and there.

Find a significant other: We all need someone to hold at night, talk to and share our deepest secrets with, but finding the right person is a matter of trial and error. We need to go out and get to know a bunch of potential partners before we can find the one that we can get along with really well. Get inspired on your way towards love by these tips on the best places to meet people, asking someone out, and having an amazing and original first date.

Have better sex: Any healthy relationship requires a good deal of intimacy, and sex can actually help keep us mentally and physically healthy. The idea is to make it a fun and rewarding experience, and this is something that comes with practice and exercise.

Become tidier: There are a lot of slobs out there who can’t really get their stuff organized, and a cluttered desk or chaotic home will negatively affect your productivity and even your mood, so it helps to clear the clutter, clean your house and lead a tidier and more organized life.

Learn how to dress with style: The way you dress can say a lot about you, and wearing the right clothes can make you seem powerful and confident, which in turn can help you land a job, get promoted, and catch the eye of a lovely guy or girl. No matter if you’re male or female, know the dress code and live with style.

Spend more time with the people that matter: There is just too little time in this life for us to waste it on insincere, duplicitous and toxic people. We should focus on the people who we care about deeply and who care about us, as this is the best way to stay happy.

Start drinking in moderation or quit drinking altogether: While it is completely safe and healthy to drink one or two servings of an alcoholic beverage of your choice per day, not a lot of people can say that they can follow this rule effectively. Getting your drinking under control has plenty of benefits, but it can be a difficult process.

Get out of debt: You can’t really move forward in life if you are weighed down by debt. The road to financial freedom is a rocky one, but it is definitely manageable with a bit of planning and self-restraint. Take a look at these strategies and methods and pay off your debt. You won’t believe how good it will feel.

Start saving money: Once you have your debt under control, it’s time to start putting some money aside. A rainy day fund and some extra money that can go towards traveling abroad, fixing up the house or buying a new car are a welcome change of pace. Make use of these hacks and apps to save money efficiently.

Learn a new language: Not only will learning a new language help improve your communication skills, it will also look great on your resume and possibly open up some doors for you. These days there are plenty of resources that allow you to learn a language for free and in your spare time.

Volunteer and give more to charity: To devote your time and energy to helping those in need is a noble gesture and a reward in itself, but it is also an opportunity to meet new people, learn new skills and boost your resume. Here’s how you can find time to volunteer in your busy life.

Pick up useful skills or fun hobbies: Just sitting around all day won’t get you anywhere. It is much better to use your free time in a constructive manner and pick up new skills while having fun at the same time. The Future-You will be glad that you did. No matter if you’re interested in communication skills or sports, find out how to learn new skills and hobbies in a short time.

Learn to let go of grudges and avoid moping: Times can be hard, and it may take a lot to overcome adversity, but sitting around and moping about it is just counterproductive. If you have a big fight with someone and fall out or get hurt over a small issue, you will only lose a friend or life partner and remain sad and bitter. Forgiveness is a much healthier way to deal with issues that should be left in the past.

Adopt a cute pet: There are tons of animal lovers out there that would be great at caring for a pet, but they often over think things, while some people just rush out and get a pet without understanding the responsibility involved. Be sure you know what you are in for and find a pet that fits your living conditions and lifestyle.

Become more organized: It doesn’t matter how much time you have on your hands if you can’t manage it properly – you’ll just spend most of the day running around aimlessly. When you get organized there will suddenly be more time to spare and things will start falling into place. Make it a habit, get help from apps and tools and enjoy your newly found leisure-time.

Travel more and see the world: You’ll need to have your finances in order, get the right equipment and invest some time and effort before you consider traveling across the globe, but there are ways of experiencing different cultures and visiting faraway places even on a tighter budget.

Learn to cook: Cooking is one of the essential skill that every man and woman should possess. It allows you to save money, eat the food you love just the way you like it and impress dates with lovely meals shared under candlelight. If you go through useful tips, keep your kitchen clean and avoid common mistakes, nothing stands between you and your 3-course-meal.

Go see your doctor more often: Staying healthy should be your top priority, but many people seem frighten of doctors and don’t go to the hospital nearly as often as they should, often waiting for their condition to significantly worsen. Regular checkups are a must, no matter how healthy you feel at the moment.

Reinvent yourself: If you don’t feel quite happy no matter what you do, it is perhaps time to make some serious changes in your life. Reinventing yourself can give you a whole new perspective on life and take you in directions you may never have dreamed were possible.

Stop being late all the time: Punctuality is a virtue that is held in high regard in our society. Being on time is a mark of a true professional, a dependable friend and caring partner, so it is a good idea to pick up a few tricks that can help you stay on time.

Learn how to be more self-reliant: Technology, a relatively decent government and corporations offering cheap ready-to-eat food and all manner of useful tools – these things have made us somewhat spoiled, and we often get well into adulthood without having what it takes to be independent and self-reliant. These skills are important to learn.

Turn your hobby into a career: If we could all manage to marry fun and productivity, and be able to make money doing what we love, we’d be a much more content and well-balanced society. This may not always be possible, but there are cases where a hobby can be turned into a lucrative career.

Get over an ex: It may be better to have loved and lost, than to never have loved, but it still hurts like crazy. Healing a broken heart is a process that takes time, but there are ways and tricks to make it through this difficult time without too much pain.

Learn to control your emotions: Uncontrolled anger can get you into a lot of trouble, but things like jealousy and pride are destructive in all circumstances. Gaining control over your feelings allows you to keep a level head and think more rationally, even during emotionally charged conflict situations.

Start being more responsible: A big part of growing up into a mature adult is the ability to think before making a decision. It is important to take responsibility for ones actions and avoid blaming everything on someone else, just as it is important to protect your family and provide for them.

Learn more about art, music, culture etc.: The best way to fit in when talking to a variety of people from different backgrounds is to have a well-rounded education. Topics like art, music, history and culture often baffle people, but they can be easy to comprehend if you spend enough time learning about them using helpful websites and online courses.

Spend less time on social media: Some people might not spend hours in front of the TV, or playing video games, but social media has become a serious addiction among a wide range of demographics. It’s fine to stay in touch with friends and family, but if you consistently spend more than an hour every day on social media, it’s time to make a change.

Learn how to defend yourself: Being able to ensure your own safety, and the safety of those you love, is a very important skill set to have. It’s not all about groin kicks and palm strikes, however. You need to learn how to conduct yourself and what kind of behavior to look out for in others.

Become more romantic: Romance is often the first casualty in longer, more serious relationships, but it doesn’t have to wither away. A few romantic gestures here and there can keep the passion going for decades. It will be fun, even if you’re not the romantic type.

Start remembering important dates: Speaking about romance and keeping a serious relationship fun, you don’t want to keep forgetting birthdays, anniversaries and other important dates. There are plenty of memory tricks that take very little time to master, so you’ll never forget another date again.

Become more social: Being a man, or woman, about town has its perks. You get to have fun, meet new people and find out interesting things, but you can also develop leadership skills and learn to work in a team. Even if you are an introvert or very shy and feel uncomfortable talking to others, there are ways to become a fairly active member of a community.

Start being more creative: There are times when we get mentally fatigued and our creativity just goes out the window. This is particularly bad if your job or hobby depends on you coming up with fresh ideas and thinking outside the box. As with anything else, there are many resources that help you spark your creativity in a number of different ways.

Start expressing yourself artistically: While some of us are more logical, with a scientific mind, most people still have a bit of a creative spark in them. Expressing yourself in some creative artistic way is a great form of stress relief and helps keep your mind sharp. Some of these activities will also help you stay active and burn some calories. So go in the arts, write, craft, make DIY projects – whatever makes your soul free.

Face your fears and insecurities: You will find this particular point masked beneath other New Year’s resolutions, but fear and insecurity are often the cause of several problems that we want to address. You need to think of it as surviving and controlling your fear rather than overcoming it, and it will enable you to shed off a lot of the insecurities that you have.

Start writing a book/journal: You’d be surprised to know just how many people out there have an interesting story to tell, but lack the confidence and skill to write everything down. Even if it is just a few random thoughts scribbled daily in a journal, you shouldn’t be afraid to give writing a go with a few tips and tricks.

Stick to the good healthy habits you’ve developed: The last, and most important point to mention is that all the positive changes you make have to be permanent. You will need to work on sticking with the good habits you have adopted, until they just become a natural part of who you are. That is how you achieve true self-improvement.

Well, there you have it – an extensive list of advice, tips and tricks to help you see your New Year’s resolution through and make some long-term changes in your life. I wish you all a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year.

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Napoleon Hill’s Principles of Personal Achievement


Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, the mind can achieve.

1: Definiteness of Purpose. Definiteness of purpose is the starting point of all achievement. Without a purpose and a plan, people drift aimlessly through life.

2: Mastermind Alliance. The Mastermind principle consists of an alliance of two or more minds working in perfect harmony for the attainment of a common definite objective. Success does not come without the cooperation of others.

3: Applied Faith. Faith is a state of mind through which your aims, desires, plans and purposes may be translated into their physical or financial equivalent.

4: Going the Extra Mile. When you go the extra mile, the Law of Compensation comes into play. Going the extra mile is the action of rendering more and better service than that for which you are presently paid. When you go the extra mile, the Law of Compensation comes into play.

5: Pleasing Personality. Personality is the sum total of one’s mental, spiritual and physical traits and habits that distinguish one from all others. It is the factor that determines whether one is liked or disliked by others.

6: Personal Initiative. Personal initiative is the power that inspires the completion of that which one begins. It is the power that starts all action. No person is free until he learns to do his own thinking and gains the courage to act on his own.

7: Positive Mental Attitude. Positive mental attitude is the right mental attitude in all circumstances. Success attracts more success while failure attracts more failure.

8: Enthusiasm. Enthusiasm is faith in action. It is the intense emotion known as burning desire. It comes from within, although it radiates outwardly in the expression of one’s voice and countenance.

9: Self-Discipline. If you do not control your thoughts, you cannot control your needs. Self-discipline begins with the mastery of thought. If you do not control your thoughts, you cannot control your needs. Self-discipline calls for a balancing of the emotions of your heart with the reasoning faculty of your head.

10: Accurate Thinking. The power of thought is the most dangerous or the most beneficial power available to man, depending on how it is used.

11: Controlled Attention. Controlled attention leads to mastery in any type of human endeavor, because it enables one to focus the powers of his mind upon the attainment of a definite objective and to keep it so directed at will.

12: Teamwork. Teamwork is harmonious cooperation that is willing, voluntary and free. Whenever the spirit of teamwork is the dominating influence in business or industry, success is inevitable. Harmonious cooperation is a priceless asset that you can acquire in proportion to your giving.

13: Adversity & Defeat. Many so-called failures represent only a temporary defeat that may prove to be a blessing in disguise. Individual success usually is in exact proportion of the scope of the defeat the individual has experienced and mastered. Many so-called failures represent only a temporary defeat that may prove to be a blessing in disguise.

14: Creative Vision. Creative vision is developed by the free and fearless use of one’s imagination. It is not a miraculous quality with which one is gifted or is not gifted at birth.

15: Health. Sound health begins with a sound health consciousness, just as financial success begins with a prosperity consciousness.

16: Budgeting Time and Money. Time and money are precious resources, and few people striving for success ever believe they possess either one in excess.

17: Habits. Developing and establishing positive habits leads to peace of mind, health and financial security. You are where you are because of your established habits and thoughts and deeds.

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Dealing With a Psychopath

sociopathExperts bet you encounter a psychopath more often than you think. I know what some people are thinking: I’m never going to deal with psychopaths. This is just more sensational junk. Wrong. The experts are betting you probably encounter a psychopath every day. In fact, a lot of what you think you know about psychopaths is very wrong.

Yes, psychopaths are more likely to be in jail than most people — but the majority of them aren’t. There’s a whole class of people who don’t have a conscience or feel empathy, and in all likelihood you deal with at least one all the time. And they probably make your life miserable. They’re “sub clinical psychopaths.” With biology, you either have tuberculosis or you don’t. Black and white. There’s no “kinda.” In psychology there’s a lot of “kinda.” People with sub clinical psychological disorders are like this. Not bad enough to go to prison, but plenty bad enough to make your life awful. The Machiavellian manipulators at work who do all kinds of nasty — but without leaving fingerprints. The bad boyfriends and girlfriends who drive you crazy — sometimes quite deliberately. Think Frank Underwood in “House of Cards” — but without the murder. And research shows many US presidents have had psychopathic traits. Which profession has the most psychopaths? The answer is: CEOs.Yup, studies show there are a disproportionate number of psychopaths in corporate America. (In fact, some psychopathic traits are more common in CEO’s than in mentally disturbed criminals.)

But nobody in HR tells you might be working with some really awful people, let alone how to survive next to them. Corporations say things like, “We do not tolerate abusive or disrespectful treatment. Ruthlessness, callousness, and arrogance don’t belong here.” That’s from Enron’s 1998 Annual Report, by the way. Alright, we got some learning’ to do. Let’s find out from research and experts what the real deal is with psychopaths, and what you can do to protect yourself from these very toxic people.

What Is A Psychopath?

Psychopath. Sociopath. For our purposes they’re the same. And don’t get them confused with “psychotic.” Psychotic means you’re seeing elves and unicorns. Psychopaths see the world quite clearly. Perhaps too clearly. As Ronald Schouten, professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School explains, they don’t let pesky things like conscience or empathy get in the way. Because they don’t possess either of them.

From Almost a Psychopath: Psychopathy is a psychological condition in which the individual shows a profound lack of empathy for the feelings of others, a willingness to engage in immoral and antisocial behavior for short-term gains, and extreme egocentricity.

No, they don’t all have cold, dead eyes and wear a hockey mask. Many are witty and quite articulate. They’re narcissistic and impulsive. And because they lack empathy they see other people as objects to be used. Just because they don’t feel empathy doesn’t mean they don’t understand it. And many get quite good at faking it. All the better to manipulate you to get what they want. Neurosciences research shows the emotional centers of their brains don’t respond the way yours do.

From Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work: In several functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) brain imaging studies, Hare and his associates found that emotional words and unpleasant pictures did not produce in psychopaths the increases in the activity of brain (limbic) regions normally associated with the processing of emotional material. But it’s worse than that. As Ronald Schouten reports, when neuroscientists did a PET scan of psychopaths after giving them amphetamines, the nucleus accumbens section of their grey matter produced four times as much dopamine. Translation: rewarding stuff is far, far more rewarding to them. So you consider doing something mean and your conscience slams the brakes. But psychopaths’ brake line has been cut. And stuff they want is four times as rewarding to them. So someone also put a brick on their accelerator. Some people might think: I have done bad things. And I find some things really rewarding. Oh my god! I’m worried that I’m a psychopath! If you’re worried that you’re a psychopath, you’re not a psychopath — because psychopaths don’t worry.

From The Psychopath Test:…suffering from anxiety is the neurological opposite of being a psychopath when it comes to amygdala function. So how do we make these people better? We don’t. In fact, treatment makes them worse. Teaching them about empathy doesn’t make them more empathetic. It just teaches them how to fake it better. They see treatment as “finishing school.”Violent psychopaths given counseling were 20% more likely to re-offend.

From The Psychopath Test: …two researchers in the early 1990s had undertaken a detailed study of the long-term recidivism rates of psychopaths who had been through Elliott’s program and been let out into society. Its publication would surely have been an extraordinary moment for Elliott and Gary and the Capsule. In regular circumstances, 60 percent of criminal psychopaths released into the outside world go on to re-offend. What percentage of their psychopaths had? As it turned out: 80 percent.

Okay, but this sounds extreme. And it is. You probably don’t know any full blown psychopaths, impulsively going after whatever they want with no conscience to reign them in. But you probably do know a “subclinical” psychopath or two…

Subclinical Psychopaths. So what happens when you dial down the psychopathy a bit, turn off the impulsiveness and add in a little conscientiousness so they can graduate law school or business school? You get a psychopath who blends in at work just fine. And they chase their rewards, ignore morality and are quite good at covering their tracks. Robert Hare, the criminal psychologist who developed the test used to evaluate psychopaths explains:  …many psychopaths never go to prison or any other facility. They appear to function reasonably well— as lawyers, doctors, psychiatrists, academics, mercenaries, police officers, cult leaders, military personnel, businesspeople, writers, artists, entertainers, and so forth— without breaking the law, or at least without being caught and convicted. These individuals are every bit as egocentric, callous, and manipulative as the average criminal psychopath; however, their intelligence, family background, social skills, and circumstances permit them to construct a facade of normalcy and to get what they want with relative impunity. And how many people like this are running around? Now full-blown psychopaths are about 1% of the population. So that’s 3 million in the US alone. But subclinical psychopaths? Schouten says they’re more like 5-15%.

From Almost a Psychopath: Studies that examined the prevalence of subclinical psychopathy in student populations in the United States and Sweden showed rates in the range of 5 to 15 percent… 5 to 15 percent of the population means that for every twenty people, up to three of them may fall within the almost psychopath range. So subclinical psychopaths aren’t chopping people up with an axe. But they are ruthlessly going after what they want without any concern for those around them. How do they do it? If they’re breaking hearts and infesting corporations, how do they not get caught?

How Do Psychopaths Get What They Want?

Hare says that whether subclinical psychopaths are screwing up your love life or your workplace, they usually follow a three step process:

They assess the utility, weaknesses and defenses of those around them,

They manipulate others to bond with them and get what they want,

They abandon their targets and move on… Or, in a corporate environment, often move up.

From Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work: First, they assess the value of individuals to their needs, and identify their psychological strengths and weaknesses. Second, they manipulate the individuals (now potential victims) by feeding them carefully crafted messages, while constantly using feedback from them to build and maintain control. Not only is this an effective approach to take with most people, it also allows psychopaths to talk their way around and out of any difficulty quickly and effectively if confronted or challenged. Third, they leave the drained and bewildered victims when they are bored or otherwise through with them. If they invade your personal life, they turn on that artificial empathy and charm. They listen to hear what you think of yourself and reinforce that. The message? I like who you are. Then they pretend they share similar qualities. Message? I am just like you. It’s not much different at the office. They get to know everyone and use that fake empathy to make a good first impression and quickly figure out who has the power.

From Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work: Once they join the company, psychopaths try to meet as many people in the company as they can, spreading positive first impressions and collecting as much information as possible. While meeting and greeting organization members, they study their coworkers’ organizational roles and almost instinctively assess their short-and long-range utility or value. A person’s value is based on where he or she fits into the organizational hierarchy (sometimes referred to as position power), technical abilities (expert power), access to information (knowledge power), and whether he or she controls staff, money, and other assets (resource power). Turns out it’s quite easy for them. Their thrill seeking nature is mistaken for prized employee qualities like “high energy” and being “action oriented.” And their lack of feelings? Oh, in the business world we call that “ability to make tough decisions.” Or someone who is “cool under fire.” You know… the stuff leaders are made of. And then they go to work making sure they look good, their rivals look bad and that all the evidence is well hidden.

From Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work: Specifically, their game plans involved manipulating communication networks to enhance their own reputation, to disparage others, and to create conflicts and rivalries among organization members, thereby keeping them from sharing information that might uncover the deceit. They also spread disinformation in the interest of protecting their scam and furthering their own careers. Being exceedingly clever and secretive, they were able to cloak their association with the disinformation, leading others to believe that they were innocent of manipulation. If they’ve invaded your personal life, they use that bonding to start getting what they want from you. In the workplace they quickly distinguish between “pawns” and “patrons.” Pawns are the co-workers and subordinates they manipulate like chess pieces. Patrons are upper management who they get close to for help climbing the corporate ladder. Maybe someone does catch on to their schemes. But did the whistle blower spend time making sure upper management likes and trusts them? Because the psychopath did. Guess who senior management trusts?

From Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work:  We believe that a breakdown begins to occur when the psychopath’s web of deceit and manipulation becomes unwieldy and too many people have had glimpses of their dark side. Eventually, someone tries to do something about it. A former pawn might challenge or confront the individual, and perhaps even try to bring the situation to the attention of higher-ups. Unfortunately, by this time the psychopath is well positioned through the influence networks already established with others in the power hierarchy. The tables are turned because the credibility of the complaining employee has already been “managed” and undermined.

Now is not the time to stop reading. As Yoda said, “If you end your training now – if you choose the quick and easy path as Vader did – you will become an agent of evil.” So if psychopaths are so good at covering their tracks, how do we spot them?

How To Identify A Psychopath

Now don’t go falling into the trap of playing amateur psychoanalyst, calling everyone who has ever been mean to you a psychopath. But, that said, this is an area where the research says you actually might be able to “trust your gut.” Studies show psychopaths really do make some people feel queasy. Why? The researchers suspect it might be an evolutionary response to an “intraspecies predator.”

From Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work: In a recent study, researchers J. Reid Meloy and M. J. Meloy studied the reactions of mental health and criminal justice professionals concerning their “physical reactions” while interviewing psychopathic offenders or patients. The reactions were varied and included sensations and feelings that were gastrointestinal (queasy stomach, feeling of illness), muscular (shaky feeling, weakness), cardiovascular (pounding heart), pulmonary (shortness of breath.) The authors suggested that their findings could be interpreted as suggestive evidence of a primitive, autonomic, and fearful response to a predator. They described the psychopath as an intraspecies predator. (Sad part is that psychopaths have a “Spidey-sense” too. Research shows they actually can tell which people are vulnerable targets, just by looking at them.) Beyond that, be skeptical of people who aggressively turn on the charm. If someone is going out of their way to flatter you, ask yourself “Why?” And you know that old saying about not trusting people who are nice to you but mean to waiters at a restaurant? Turns out it’s true. Psychopaths and narcissists are extremely status conscious with a strong tendency to “kiss up and kick down.”

From Without Conscience: Referring to psychologist Harry Levinson’s work on healthy and unhealthy narcissism in managers, Hogan noted that unhealthy narcissists have an almost grandiose sense of certainty and a disdain for subordinates. “They are particularly good at ingratiating themselves with their seniors but brutalize their juniors,” he is quoted as saying.

Alright, so you’re pretty sure this new person in your life or that new co-worker at the office is manipulative and playing puppet-master.

How do the experts recommend you deal with them?

1) Don’t. The End. Oh, if only it were that easy… All the resources I looked at had the same primary suggestion: just get the heck away from them. If it’s your personal life, that’s do-able. At the office, that may not be an option. Companies can avoid hiring sub clinical psychopaths in the first place by using multiple rounds of structured interviews. Flexible interviewing procedures allow charming predators too much room to use their powers of influence. And check references. Psychopaths lie on resumes. A lot. But if you have to deal with them as an individual, and you can’t get away, don’t play their games. They’re better at this than you are. They’ve done it before. Harvard psychologist Martha Stout says you might think you’re being a hero but you’re actually charging into an ambush.

rom The Sociopath Next Door: Do not join the game. Intrigue is a sociopath’s tool. Resist the temptation to compete with a seductive sociopath, to outsmart him, psychoanalyze, or even banter with him. In addition to reducing yourself to his level, you would be distracting yourself from what is really important, which is to protect yourself. Even if you win, guess what? Now you’re using manipulative games. Stanford professor Bob Sutton, author of Good Boss, Bad Boss, tells all of his students: When you take a job, take a long look at the people you’re going to be working with — because the odds are you’re going to become like them, they are not going to become like you. You can’t change them. If it doesn’t fit who you are, it’s not going to work. But what’s the attitude most people get wrong when dealing with a possible psychopath?

2) Accept That Some People Are Just Bad News. You might believe all people have good in them. Or that every person can be fixed. Or that they’d be better if. That’s not going to fly here. Sorry.

From The Sociopath Next Door: The first rule involves the bitter pill of accepting that some people literally have no conscience… Do not try to redeem the unredeemable. You can’t change them. What you can do is get to know how they work and get to know yourself better. Know where your vulnerabilities lie. Because psychopaths are experts at figuring them out. Address your weaknesses before they exploit them.

From Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work: As one psychopath put it, “I love do-gooders because they do me such good.” Often a subclinical psychopath is telling so many lies it can be hard to see straight. How do you keep your head clear?

3) Pay Attention To Actions, Not Words. This is another one all the sources agreed on. Don’t listen to the excuses, rationalizations or outright lies. Don’t listen to what they say they will do. Pay attention to what they do . Harvard’s Martha Stout recommends using the “Rule of Threes” to tell honest mistakes from manipulative behavior.

From The Sociopath Next Door: One lie, one broken promise, or a single neglected responsibility may be a misunderstanding instead. Two may involve a serious mistake. But three lies says you’re dealing with a liar, and deceit is the linchpin of conscienceless behavior. Okay, you’re on to them. But they’re a vindictive bunch. How do you protect yourself from retaliation at work?

4) Build Your Reputation And Relationships. The psychopaths at work are always recruiting unsuspecting “patrons” in upper management to unknowingly provide cover for them when rumors about their shady behavior start to circulate. And they’ll also be leveraging these relationships to spread disinformation and lies about anyone who gets in their way or poses a threat. And that might include you. So make sure to build your own relationships and keep a reputation as a hard worker. Be above reproach. Don’t be a complainer. That way when you do complain — senior people listen.

From Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work: To protect yourself, make sure you invest energy in managing your own reputation, build open and honest relationships with peers and your boss, work up to your abilities, and follow applicable policies and procedures. And if you’re dealing with a possible psychopath in your personal life, relationships are just as important. Friends can often be more objective than you can. When multiple confidantes say “He/She is no good” you might want to listen.

Alright, you’ve tried everything but you still need to work with them. What’s the best way to do that?

5) Win-Win Agreements. Psychopaths are aggressive personalities. They want to win. If you can make it so it’s easier and more enticing for them to work with you than to try to subvert you, you might be able to keep their ruthlessness in check.

From In Sheep’s Clothing: Understanding and Dealing with Manipulative People: When you bargain with any aggressive personality, try to propose as many win-win scenarios as you can. Doing this is extremely important and requires creativity and a particular mind set. But in my experience, it’s perhaps the single most effective personal empowerment tool because it puts to constructive use the aggressive personality’s determination to win.

Alright, we’ve covered a lot. Let’s round it up and learn the most important thing you need to remember for the long term so a psychopath doesn’t really screw up your life…

Sum Up

 Here’s how to deal with a psychopath:  Don’t. 1) Run. 2) Are you sure you can’t run?   3) Accept that some people are just bad news: A tiger is not a good house pet. And you will not change that fact. 4) Pay attention to actions, not words: No excuses. No BS. Use the “Rule of Threes.” 5) Build your reputation and relationships: You need a good defense and good advice.  6) Win-win agreements: Make it easier to go through you than to destroy you. When in the middle of a death match with a ruthless monster of a human being, being cynical is like having ESP. A jaded perspective can keep you one step ahead of them. But in the long term it can be toxic. Don’t give up on all people just because you dealt with a really bad one.

Mother Nature has a sense of humor. On one hand you have psychopaths, who have zero empathy. On the other hand, there are people with Williams Syndrome. They have too much empathy. They trust everyone. They love everyone:…kids and adults with Williams love people, and they are literally pathologically trusting. They have no social fear. Researchers theorize that this is probably because of a problem in their limbic system, the part of the brain that regulates emotion. There appears to be a disregulation in one of the chemicals (oxytocin) that signals when to trust and when to distrust. This means that it is essentially biologically impossible for kids like Isabelle to distrust. Some people are too good, some too bad. And most of us are somewhere in the middle. Don’t let a bad experience with one person ruin the party.

From The Sociopath Next Door: Do not allow someone without conscience, or even a string of such people, to convince you that humanity is a failure. Most human beings do possess conscience. Most human beings are able to love. To have a happy life and a productive career, you may need to give up on particular people. But that doesn’t mean you have to give up on people.


Courtesy: 5 Ways to Deal With a Psychopath by Eric Barker, TIME Oct.18, 2016.This article originally appeared on Barking Up The Wrong Tree.

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The Art of Letting Go

whatever-comesSooner or later, everyone you know will disappoint you in some way. They’ll say something or fail to say something that will hurt you. And they’ll do something or fail to do something that will anger you. It’s inevitable. Unfortunately, you make things worse when you stew over someone’s words and deeds. When you dwell on a rude remark or an insensitive action made by another person, you’re headed for deeper problems.

In fact, the more you dwell on these things, the more bitter you’ll get. You’ll find your joy, peace and happiness slipping away. And you’ll find your productivity slowing down as you spend more and more time thinking about the slight or telling others about it. Eventually, if you don’t stop doing it, you’ll even get sick. So what should you do the next time someone betrays you?

Take responsibility for your feelings. Even though the other person may be at fault, even though the other person wronged you, you are still responsible for your own feelings. In other words, other people do not ’cause’ your feelings. You choose them. For example, two different people could be told that their suggestions made at the staff meeting were ‘stupid and idiotic.’ One person may ‘choose’ to feel so hurt that he never speaks up at any other meeting again. The other person may ‘choose’ to feel sorry for the critic, sorry that the critic couldn’t see the wisdom and necessity of her suggestions.

As long as you blame other people for your feelings, as long as you believe other people caused your feelings, you’re stuck. You’re a helpless victim. But if you recognize the fact that you choose your feelings and you are responsible for your feelings, there’s hope. You can take some time to think about your feelings. And you can decide what is the best thing to say or do.

Walk away from disappointment. It’s difficult to do, but it’s possible. The famous 19th century Scottish historian, Thomas Carlyle, proved that. After working on his multi-volume set of books on ‘The French Revolution’ for six years, Carlyle completed the manuscript and took volume one to his friend John Stuart Mill. He asked Mill to read it. Five days later, Mill’s maid accidentally threw the manuscript into the fire. In agony, Mill went to Carlyle’s house to tell him that his work had been destroyed. Carlyle did not flinch. With a smile, he said,’ that’s all right, Mill. These things happen. It is a part of life. I will start over. I can remember most of it, I am sure. Don’t worry. It’s all here in my mind. Go, my friend! Do not feel bad.’ As Mill left, Carlyle watched him from the window. Carlyle turned to his wife and said, ‘I did not want him to see how crushed I am by this misfortune.’ And with a heavy sigh, he added, ‘Well the manuscript is gone, so I had better start writing again.’

Carlyle finally completed the work, which ranks as one of the great classics of all time. He had learned to walk away from his disappointment. After all, what could Carlyle have done about his burnt manuscript?  Nothing would have resurrected the manuscript. All Carlyle could do was to get bitter or get started.

And what can you do about anything once it is over? Not much. You can try to correct it if it is possible, or you can walk away from it if it isn’t. Those are your only two choices. Sometimes you’ve just got to shake it off and step up. It’s like the farmer who had an old mule who fell into a deep dry well. As he assessed the situation, he knew it would be difficult, if not impossible, to lift the heavy mule out of the deep well. So the farmer decided to bury the mule in the well. After all, the mule was old and the well was dry, so he could solve two problems at once. He could put the old mule out of his misery and have his well filled. The farmer asked his neighbors to help him with the shoveling.  To work they went. As they threw shovel-full of dirt after shovel-full of dirt on the mule’s back, the mule became frightened. Then all of a sudden an idea came to the mule. Each time they would throw a shovel-full of dirt on his back; he would shake it off and step up. Shovel-full after shovel-full, the mule would shake it off and step up. In not too long a time, the exhausted and dirty mule stepped over the top of the well and through the crowd.

That’s the same approach we all need to take. We need to shake it off and step up.

Forgive. It’s difficult, especially when the other person doesn’t deserve your forgiveness or doesn’t even seek it. It’s difficult when the other person is clearly in the wrong. Part of the difficulty comes from a common misunderstanding of forgiveness. Forgiveness doesn’t mean that the other person’s behavior is okay. And forgiveness doesn’t mean that the other person is off the hook. He’s still responsible for his misbehavior. Forgiveness is about letting yourself off the emotional hook. It’s about releasing your negative emotions, attitudes, and behaviors. It’s about letting go of the past so you can go forward to the future. Everyone in your life, everyone on and off the job is going to disappoint you. If you know how to respond to those situations, you’ll be way ahead of most people. You’ll be able to live above and beyond your circumstances.

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