Setting your state to resourceful.

This is the first in a series of article designed to help you put yourself into a resourceful state. It uses NLP and some of the principles from the Trousers of Reality books.

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Deliberate Habit

There are many ways to manage your own internal state but I find that cultivating deliberate habit is the best. When I started writing my books I found that I was tempted by so many distractions. The daily news is an addictive habit and in many ways it is good to keep on top of current affairs. However I rarely found I was in a resourceful state as a result of reading the paper or listening to the news.

Here is something that has really helped me.

Try this exercise

One of the exercises I do with people to demonstrate a very important principle is to ask them to look around and notice all the blue things they can see. Do it yourself now. Have a look around before you read on and notice how many blue things there are around you.

Have you noticed the blue things? If you cheat you are only cheating yourself. When I explain later it becomes clear that this is not a trick. It is a demonstration of how one aspect of consciousness works. Because it is not a trick I will explain the logic later on. If you bear with me and you have not tried this experiment before, the kick of doing this for the first time is worth just going along for a few minutes and really noticing those blue things.

Alright – I trust you. You have noticed lots of blue things. Now keep looking at the screen. How many red things did you notice? Keep looking at the screen and think about it and resist the temptation to have another look around. Most people find it hard to remember seeing any red things at all. Now look around again and notice the red things. Surprised? I was surprised the first time somebody demonstrated this to me.


We tend to notice the things we focus on. That's it. That's the lesson. You may have heard of confirmation bias where we only notice things that support our beliefs. This is all part of the same mechanism. Stage magicians, salesmen, psychics politicians and anyone interested in manipulating you knows all about priming. They make clever little suggestions to your unconscious and start that brain of yours noticing what they want it to notice and ignoring what they want it to ignore.

If you are full of negative news, suspicion, horror stories and focussed on the unfairness and ugliness that undeniably exists in the world, you are primed to notice it. Think of it as the blue things. This can create and maintain a very unresourceful state. It is kryptonite to creativity and communication. It feeds on itself and people are very good at living up or down to your expectations. Yourself included.

Constructive Distinctions

I never really got on with either the jolly hockey sticks or West Coast American brand of positivity. It all seemed a bit to trite and shallow to me. Too much pretending involved for my tastes and bordering on denial, which is never a good thing.

However I did notice that certain things really made me think differently. I do not mean sentimental feel-good thought-for-the-day inspirational fluff. (A well meaning friend once recommended a site that proports to give you a daily message from the universe – not only was it tooth rottingly saccharin but it always amounted to a message that said “Barry, your are a unique snowflake and you deserve to be rich. Be a selfish shallow megalomaniac. Love, The Universe. PS buy these products.”). No, I mean things that have real intellectual traction as well as appealing to the finer feelings. This state of head and heart being totally congruent is a natural high.

Good news in popular culture

A good example is Russell Howard's Good News. I am not a big fan of his constant stream of bum jokes but otherwise I do like him. I particularly like that he ends his shows with a good news story and usually one that leaves you feeling “Okay, gave me a lump in the throat but that guy climbing Everest with no legs or the guy that makes solar lights for people in a shanty-town with old bottles involves brilliant and creative lateral thinking and a fearsome helping of guts.

Resourceful Association

Now here is the thing: When I see these sorts of things I see the red in people where I had only been seeing the blue. I see what was there all the time in them and in me. Because I am primed to humanity and genius I start to see people differently.

My best days of writing are when I seek out something to make me feel that way and set my state to resourceful. Not only do I get resourceful but I see the resourcefulness in other people around me. When I am coaching a team that is a tiger in my tank.


I have some rules

  1. It must be real.
  2. It must appeal to my intellect and to my logic as well as making me feel good.
  3. It must offer hope even if it addresses something fearful.
  4. It must bear some serious scrutiny
  5. It must acknowledge its converse – i.e. unicorns and rainbows do not do it for me.
  6. It must have the same effect each time I go to it.
  7. It must be honest

The Proposal

So what I am going to do is to share these things with you as I find them and give a brief explanation for each one as to why I like it, what I find in it how it compliments the rules. The purpose is not a lesson for the day but a more practical one. Its purpose is to set my state to resourceful and if it helps set yours too all the better. Some, perhaps most will be things you have seen or read before. I have a preference for articles, videos and talks that make me laugh. I have even more of a preference for things that make me laugh and think at the same time.

The first one I will direct your attention to is something that impresses me to hell and back every time I hear it again.

#1 Dictating Hope

In 1940 Charlie Chaplin wrote, produced, directed and starred in a masterpiece called The Great Dictator that he had been planning for years. Europe was at war and America was still at peace. Chaplin plays Hynkel the savage dictator and he also plays a kindly unnamed Jewish barber. Through some plot twists, involving temporary amnesia, the barber is unaware who Hynkel is and, toward the end of the film, inadvertently swaps places with him. The speech he makes at the end of the film as the barber, now pretending to by Hynkel and in fear for his life, is truly magnificent. The more I hear it the more I wonder how it is that this comic actor puts his finger on so many truths of his day and truths which still echo like thunder today.

“In this world there is room for everyone and the earth is rich and can provide for everyone. ”

“The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed, the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress: the hate of men will pass ...”

“You the people have the power to make life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure.”

“Let us fight for a new world, a decent world that will give men a chance to work, that will give you the future and old age and security.”

The cleverness of his casting himself as both characters is deeper than just the comic possibilities. I think he is telling us that this is two versions of the same man. One has taken one path and primed himself for power and its rewards, the other has taken a different path and primed himself for kindness and its rewards. In the end he does not resort to the Shane trick of having the quiet man being the better fighter beating the bad guys at their own game. The little barber is a classic Chaplin character. He is well meaning, initially myopic and makes mistakes. Because he has not been conditioned to fear the storm-troopers he still believes in fair play and stands up for what everyone knows is right and in so doing gives other people courage. His strength comes from his kindness and his pathos. He is affecting becasue we can hear that at his core he is a decent human being willing to stand up to the powerful despite his personal fear of the consequences. You never find out what happens to him because the movie ends on the speech and the very clear message that it is up to you to choose what sort of world you want to live in.

Click here to watch a clip of the speech on YouTube

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