Today is Earth Day. We are now entering the 46th year of a movement that continues to inspire, challenge ideas, ignite passion, and motivate people to action.
I took part in a small project hosted by the Rotana Hotel in Fahaheel, Kuwait to plant bougainvillea shrubs to mark the occasion.
In 1970, the year of the first Earth Day, the movement gave voice to an emerging consciousness, channeling human energy toward environmental issues. Forty-six years later, they continue to lead with groundbreaking ideas and by the power of example.
Back then in the 70’s, groups that had been fighting against oil spills, polluting factories and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, freeways, the loss of wilderness, and the extinction of wildlife suddenly realized they shared common values and came together to make an annual global statement. Earth Day has now reached its current status as the largest secular observance in the world, celebrated by more than a billion people every year, and a day of action that changes human behavior and provokes policy changes – we hope.
Here in Kuwait, in the Gulf Region of the Middle East the message seemingly has not come through yet loud and clear, as apathy towards mother earth and real action against environmental disruption plays an all too common role. And yet, this is the area on the globe that receives arguably the most from mother earth in black gold – oil. Looking at the global initiatives that Earth Day has inspired this year, it is hugely disappointing to see there are only 17 projects in the whole of the Gulf and of those, only 2 here in Kuwait see here for the global map of projects. At The Rotana Hotel, staff and guests joined together to plant bougainvillea plants having first painted their pots. It was a lovely initiative by the hotel, and organizer Maricris Limbo agreed that little by little each year more people in Kuwait were becoming aware of such mini projects. Leading the front in the Gulf with inspired projects was the United Arab Emirates where perhaps a more enlightened group of parents see what they must leave for future generations. I personally know of a friend there who will be kayaking around the mangroves collecting discarded plastic bags. As the old saying goes, ‘its never over, until its over’ is at present the best wish and hope for this region of our planet. There are many flag bearers of earth consciousness here, they just need to speak up louder to open peoples eyes… I pray for a better response next year.
So wherever you are, today make a little difference to your part of the planet by planting a tree, tidying the garden or just tending to a plant pot – do something, every little helps…
A fantastic and beautiful way to end this blog is for you to go and watch a wonderful clip about mother earth, it is only 2 minutes long – trust me it will make you think…see it here
After overcoming obstacles all of his life, Dr. Martin Luther King was convinced that “the measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of convenience, but where he stands in times of challenge and adversity”
In our society, ‘fail’ has become an objectionable four-letter word, both personally and in business. We rarely use it, and most of us try not to even think about it, often resorting to blaming others about our personal misfortunes or perceived ‘failures’.
Young children learn early on that failing is not acceptable behaviour. In some cases, children are so frightened of failure that they often will not try out a new sport or accept a new challenge like learning a language. They have been conditioned to see failure as too harmful, too destructive and therefore to be avoided at all costs. It is far easier to say no and stay in a ‘comfortable’ place, than to risk ridicule from your peers and the outside world.
History is littered with examples of ‘failure’ that turned in some ways to triumph or success. The retreat of the British Expeditionary Force at Dunkirk in 1940, Apollo 13’s abortive space mission, Ernest Shackleton’s Antarctica disaster are all examples of ‘failures’ that turned into triumphs of some sort. I too, have faced ‘failure’. My Indian Ocean Row in 2003 was a failure – in that we did not get to the end goal of rowing across an ocean. Did I find it easy to accept then – no. Do I find it easier to accept now – yes. I see it now as a triumph in understanding and developing myself.
Conversely by turning it around, it is also interesting that success is usually preceded by failure. In fact, most successful people today find that their success is the result of persisting beyond the disappointments and failures. Usually, not one failure but many failures enables them to discover their route to success. A great example of course is Thomas Edison and his desire to perfect the electric incandescent light bulb. Many ‘failures’ eventually led him to success and his now famous quote “We now know a thousand ways how not to build a light bulb”. A good 10 minute talk about present day failures being something that you can embrace and even applaud can be found in the TED talk by Astro Teller called ‘The unexpected benefit of celebrating failure’ _http://www.ted.com/talks/astro_teller_the_unexpected_benefit_of_celebrating_failure/transcript?language=en#t-527199
So, what choices do we have when faced with potential or actual failure?
Without doubt, the easiest choice is to be satisfied with failure and give up entirely. I mean completely walking away from something and never thinking about it again - ever. However, I say a very real option is to be persistent in achieving success, and ‘sticking in there’ by thinking about the motivation behind these 3 ideas:
So, it is up to you entirely what to do when things get tough – elicit help of course, work hard naturally, but keep going yourself is the key. Shifting perspective is sometimes more powerful than being smart, so a different perspective on the feeling and word ‘failure’ can bring unexpected results. You can most certainly do much more than you think you are capable of.
Finally, I give you one of my favourite quotes ever. It sums up what we all know to be true. No-one can knock the person who actually tried and gave it their best, whatever the outcome.
“The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes up short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat”.
I downloaded an amazing sequence of photographs taken of space. You can see them on my new page called visual expression http://www.mikenoelsmith.com/visual-expression.html
I am personally in awe of such imagery and it sparked in me that ever searching question that I have (and I bet you do as well) - ‘why are we here’? When you look up at the night sky, or look down to earth from an aircraft cruising at 40,000 feet, you cannot help but pause and think of the scale of creation that we can witness first hand.
I would like to share with you a paragraph from my book Wild Waters in the Roar:
‘Tonight the sky was clear and I became mesmerised by the shooting stars, some of which I tracked across the sky for several seconds. They appeared in all directions. I idly wondered if they might break through the earth’s atmosphere and crash fierily into the ocean … maybe into our patch of the ocean? The night sky was incredible. Literally billions of stars announcing their presence as far as the eye could see. It made me humble in that moment on deck. How small we are in comparison to the Universe that we know of, and in others that we do not know yet…’
I challenge you to feel anything other than humble, privileged and awestruck by the unfolding vista on a clear starry night.
Scientists, almost on a daily basis come up with some quite complicated theories as to how we came about and the universe around us. We have also have a complex system of deities across our planet to explain, again, how we came about, whom we should believe in and how we should conduct ourselves. My only view on that would be to echo the great comedian Dave Allen of the 1970's and 80's who always concluded his shows by saying, ‘and may your God go with you…’
I do believe however, that we are here for some reason. Having a sense of meaning and purpose is usually a pretty good motivator both at work and at home and can sustain us through difficult times as well as the good ones. I also think that whatever you believe in, that we are here to be happy, not sad, depressed or hurt. So, my template for enjoying our time that we have on this earth is to:
Experience – all that you can and marvel at this beautiful planet we are on. Try to go out and see things that you have only seen in pictures or on TV, because connecting first hand with the ‘place’ wherever/whatever it is, seeing an animal in the wild or marveling at a beautiful flower adds a strong connection and majesty to the moment of experience that we build as we journey through our lives.
Create, Innovate and Try – do things that you thought (or were told) that you could not do, go on paint, sing, model clay, blow glass, take up cycling, try building a house – anything that you have a sliver of an interest in! The power in new thoughts and creations that we attempt stimulates the brain and also encourages the heart in such a way that ‘allows’ us to form new and lasting relationships with ourselves and our purpose.
By joyful – be happy with your lot, even if you think it is comparatively small compared with someone else – because that is all it is - comparison. By spreading that smile, and really engaging in what you are doing with a passion will open your heart to joyful acceptance. So go out today and be merry, bubbly, exuberant and radiant – you may feel silly doing that but try it out. It is not easy to do all the time, but at least try to make it a common occurrence in your life.
Be Helpful – I was once encouraged by a friend to make a ‘random act of kindness’, a simple small task to help someone that day. All I did was stop and chat to a homeless person selling the ‘Big Issue’. I would not normally have stopped, but I spent 10 minutes chatting about life in general. The guy was really thankful that I had taken the time to share some thoughts with him. On other occasions I have given a tip to someone who was not expecting it. Whatever you do, at least think about helping someone or being helpful to those around you. The maxim, ‘what goes round, comes round’ is very true!
Fun – finally, we have to enjoy and have fun. That might be a walk up a hill, taking part in a family occasion, playing with children or kayaking on the sea! Having fun is a very important catalyst to many of the others things that you have read above – you cannot be forced to have fun, but make an effort to enjoy yourself every day in some way.
So, when you next ask, ‘why am I here’ try doing these 5 simple acts to discover more about the answer for yourself…
Final note. If you want to watch and hear something extraordinary about deep space, check out Tabatha Boyajian’s TED talk about the anomaly that is KIC 8462852 – standby to be amazed - http://www.ted.com/talks/tabetha_boyajian_the_most_mysterious_star_in_the_universe?utm_source=newsletter_daily&utm_campaign=daily&utm_medium=email&utm_content=button__2016-04-07
Emotional intelligence is something that affects all of us, every day of our lives, and in each interaction that we have with others. It is said to be a fundamental key to being an effective leader and a critical factor to the quality of both our personal and business relationships. As such, emotional intelligence directly affects our quality of life, level of happiness and degree of self-satisfaction.
Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand and effectively manage one’s emotions. People who have a high degree of emotional intelligence are able to better manage feelings like anger, happiness, insecurity, or fear and are therefore able to react to many situations in a more appropriate and effective manner than those who posses a lower degree of emotional intelligence.
Studies show that as much as 80% of the average person’s success, in both their personal life and career, can be attributed to their level of emotional intelligence. This means that as little as 20% of a person’s success is as a result of their IQ (intelligence quotient or cognitive intelligence). So, leading with your heart over what your brain is saying seems to be true in this respect. However, how often do we go with our intuition or that ‘gut feeling’?
Intuition is basically how you quickly tap into your subconscious mind, which is where you "archive" all kinds of information that you do not remember on a conscious level. It might be real fears, such as a phobia of spiders. I know that some people will not travel to countries that are known to have deadly and poisonous spiders such is their fear of this small animal. At some stage in their lives, probably at school, information about a deadly spider was stored away in the subconscious and that pops up whenever the subject is raised – despite statistical evidence of the un-likelihood of them being bitten at all. We thrive in a culture that believes rationality and prevailing scientifically proven logic, rules over our gut feelings.
In order to be happier however, my advice would be to go with your initial ‘gut feeling’ - it is so often the right thing to do, and will prevent much procrastination which not only holds us back, but can be hugely stressful and frustrating to all concerned. Great leaders in history have shown this time and time again, where their conscious ‘gut feeling’ proved to be correct, whatever the outcome!
So to be more emotionally intelligent, connect more with your heart and your gut feeling – you will seldom be wrong!