Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Develop Piercing Insight into Yourself and the People Around You

Recently I was invited to attend a very special training. At first I was pretty skeptical because the course was about a personality / behavior profiling system and I tend to shy away from those because all the ones I've been exposed to in the past - and there are about 200 of them out there - have been pretty inaccurate and useless in my estimation.

It didn't take me long to realize, though, that this one is different.  This system is astonishingly accurate and has to be, given that the guy demonstrating it used to use it as a handler in human intelligence operations, where there's definitely no margin for error. 

The system is called DISC and it is dynamite!  In addition to providing a really accurate assessment of all of us on the course, it helped me finally understand one of my own kids!  The system maintains that all of us are a blend of four different personality styles and the predominance of one or two of those styles explains what we most tend to want, need, fear and get motivated by.

The DISC test:

The DISC assessment for adults consists of just 24 questions and can be done in about 10-15 minutes.  There are also specialized versions for teens and younger children.

Each letter stands for one of the personality styles.  When the four are placed in the "disc" formation, below, the styles on top (D and I) tend to be more outgoing, while those on the bottom (S and C) are more reserved.  However, the I and S styles share a tendency to focus on people and relationships, while the D and C styles are more task-oriented.  

The tendencies of each style, briefly summarized, are:

D - dominant, direct, demanding.  These people need choice, challenge and control.  They take charge, want results and have high self-confidence.  Their downfall can be a lack of empathy and ability to relate, not to mention arrogance.  People with a very high D profile represent only about 10% of the population.  

I - inspiring, influencing, impressionable.  The "I" folks want to be the center of attention and the life of the party.  They're motivated mainly by fun, and thrive on recognition, approval and popularity.  Warm and friendly, they run the risk of being ruled by their unpredictable emotions.  About 25-30% of the population have "I" at the top of their DISC profile.

S - supportive, stable, shy.  The "S" types among us are status-quo people, very security oriented, sentimental and often the sweetest people you'll ever meet.  They need lots of TLC, appreciation, assurance and to know their own situation is secure.  They're steadfast, dependable, great listeners and super team players.  When their "S-traits" get out of control, they may be indecisive, inflexible and seek peace at any price.  30=35% of us are "S" dominant.

C - cautious, cognitive and critical thinkers.  The "C" types are highly analytical and if you want to persuade them about anything, you'd damn well better get your facts straight, because they're not pushovers.  They run on reason and expect intellectual quality from others.  They pursue excellence and if you don't, then try to stay out of their way.  Orderly, conscientious and precise, they're an asset to any endeavor.  A "C" who goes off the rails, though, may be just annoyingly critical and inflexible, worshiping procedure for its own sake.  About one in every four to five people has a "C-dominant" personality style. 

So How Did Yours Truly Fare?

Well, as a child and adolescent I was a very high "S", with strong "C" undercurrents.  Right now I'd say C is definitely giving S a run for its money and when certain situations bring out my D traits, the people closest to me have learned to duck ;-)  As for "I", that's the lowest of the four on my chart.  

Keep in mind that none of these styles is either "good" or "bad".  They're simply descriptions of how we are "wired" from our nature (DNA) and nurture (experiences).  Of course, as we work on ourselves and our mindsets throughout life and go beyond our comfort zones, we gain flexibility and self-awareness, so we can grow beyond our instinctive "wiring".  That said, the wiring is still there and we tend to revert to it in times of stress.

Advantages of DISC

The class was unanimous that DISC is an unusually useful tool for understanding yourself, others and how you or they interact and behave.  Using DISC you can not only gain insight into the previously puzzling behavior of those closest to you; you can also learn to size up new acquaintances very quickly.  

The DISC tool can help leaders and managers understand and work through some of their challenges and assign the right kind of work to different team members based on what really motivates them.  The system works really well for conflict mediation and can enable you to "connect" with people you may have thought were just "impossible".  Teachers can more easily assess students' learning styles and make learning fun as well as effective, as this video with DISC founder Dr. Robert Rohm explains...

So, all in all, DISC is a remarkable tool for improving your personal resilience, since it helps you understand yourself and others, create better relationships and make decisions based on who you really are, rather than what others think you should be.  If you'd like to do the DISC assessment for yourself or have your spouse, kids or colleagues try it, just go here

~ Dr. Symeon Rodger

Monday, 16 May 2011

This Colon Cleanse Gave Amazing Results!

NOTICE: Just a friendly warning to you that if you're really put off by explicit talk about human bowel functions, this post sure isn't for you!  On the other hand, if you're intensely interested in radically improving your overall health, immunity and longevity, read on...

It feels so strange... moving my jaw up and down in order to pulverize food for easier digestion.  The action stirs distant memories of a time long ago... five days ago, in fact, which was the last time I chewed anything!

The Past Week's Adventure in Resilience 

That's because I've spent the last week doing Blessed Herbs' Colon Cleanse, and what a super cleanse it is!  What basis do I have for making that claim?  Simple, by the visible results.

You see, with a colon cleanse, seeing is believing.  What you're out to eliminate from your system is the toxic mucoid plaque that's lining you colon / large intestine / bowel.  And it's easy to identify because it's totally different in color and texture from your usual bowel movement.  Here's what it looks like (no, this isn't mine ;-)

Mucoid plaque is long, rubbery, usually somewhere between very dark green and black.  This was the first time using an all-herbal colon cleanse that I've been able to eliminate this stuff. 

Previously, I was convinced that the only way to do this was by doing colonic hydrotherapy - that is, using water under pressure to flush out the colon.  The only problem with the latter is convenience, because it will probably cost you a few hundred dollars to have it done professionally, or you can probably get set up to do it at home for a couple hundred or so. 

So kudos to Blessed Herbs for a really effective colon cleanse that's so convenient to use and doesn't require colonic hydrotherapy!

Why Bother Cleansing Your Colon?

Of course, the begs the question of why you would want to cleanse your colon.  Well, if you're a reader of this blog, you probably already know, but briefly, here's why:

  • As the plaque builds up over time, it leaches toxins directly into your blood stream, compromising the function of all you cells and significantly increasing the toxic load on your system
  • The plaque inhibits your ability to absorb nutrients from your food, creating a kind of internal "malnutrition" no matter how good your diet is
  • If you have spent any of your life on the "Standard American Diet" (SAD), you can be sure you're carrying around some unwanted pounds of this stuff (consider that even though my diet is heavily organic, mostly follows the rules of food combining and that I've done colonic hydrotherapy in the past, I still eliminated about eight feet of plaque this time around!)
So naturally, when you cleanse your colon of mucoid plaque build-up, you eliminate all these problems and return your metabolism to a higher level of functioning and overall resilience. 

Know What You're Getting Into...

Now, before you run off to grab their kit, let me tell you up front that this does require some adjustments to your lifestyle for the duration of the cleanse.  You go through three stages:

  1. Stage 1: The 3 day pre-cleanse, where you eat ever decreasing portions of raw, organic food.
  2. Stage 2: The 5 day liquid-only cleanse.  That's right, NO solid food, for reasons I'll explain below.  And as my business advisor, Kathy, so kindly reminded me last week, "liquid only doesn't include having a beer on your patio!"  You'll be on water and organic fruit juice, with some vegetable broth if you want it.  Even my traditional fruit smoothie was out of bounds.
  3. Stage 3: The 1 day break-the-fast, where you start slowly (since your digestive system has been largely in shut-down mode for several days), with a diet of fresh fruits and veggies, steamed veggies, brown rice or baked potato.
Just to clarify, the reason for no solid food is simple: their Toxin Absorber, that you'll be taking every three hours mixed into apple juice, binds to the mucoid plaque and escorts it out of your body.  If you still have solid food in your digestive system, the Toxin Absorber will bind to that instead and leave the toxic garbage inside you - not a great idea!

So there you have it - nine days invested total and well worth it!!

~ Dr. Symeon Rodger


Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Why the Key Life Skill of Leadership is Vital to YOUR Personal Happiness

Just a few quick thoughts on why leadership is a key life skill you need to live a deliberate, powerful and stress-free life and experience maximum fulfillment and success in everything you do...  

...even if you don't think of yourself as a leader.

And there's a special leadership challenge waiting for you below...

  • You are a leader - almost everyone is at various times in their lives
  • You may be a leader within your own family, your community, on a sports team, at work, at your place of worship or in lots of other venues
  • Leadership isn't always a position with a title - Gandhi was one of the greatest and most successful leaders of the twentieth century, yet he had no position and no formal authority at all
  • I submit that you have probably found yourself taking on the informal role of leader on many occasions in your life, however humble
  • Leadership is seldom easy - as a great fictional character once put it in reference to leaders in training, "You will be tested, well beyond your current limitations."
  • Every parent is a leader and every parent can attest to the truth of those words!
  • I just watched last year's best picture, The King's Speech
  • There you see King George VI, the most reluctant of monarchs, who has leadership thrust upon him and who overcomes a devastating handicap to become a powerful symbol of resistance during Britain's "finest hour"
  • Leadership is a key life skill, not just something for rare people at rare times
  • How so?
  • Without it, you can neither pull your own life together nor can you help others meaningfully
  • Now think about that and consider the consequences for a society that does not train its people in leadership - what hope could there be for such a nation?

  • And yet, everywhere around us we see the failure of key institutions, including governmental institutions, financial institutions, religious institutions and, of course, corporate entities
  • Close examination will reveal in nearly every case a catastrophic failure of leadership - people in positions of authority failed 
  • Failed at what?  Did they just make mistakes?  
  • No.  In nearly every case they failed the test of character - they too self-interested to tell the plain truth and do the right thing, or too proud to listen to anyone's advice
  • Personal integrity is the rock upon which leadership is built - that is an unalterable principle that history has shown us time and time again
  • As one great fictional speech on leadership puts it, "I am not interested in the names of your fathers, nor in your family's lineage.  What I AM interested in... is your breaking point!  How will you conduct yourselves in battle?  How far will you go to preserve your honor, to fulfill your duty?  These are simple questions that will decide the fate of our empire."
  • It is through the skill of leadership that these same questions will determine the fate of every civilization
  • Leadership begins with resilience and no one without resilience can succeed as a leader
  • Notice in today's two videos - to be a leader, you have to lead from the front, be willing to show the way, get your hands dirty
  • This means you have to be a role model - the people you lead must see in you what they wish to become
  • So if you're flabby, self-indulgent, too timid or self-interested to make tough decisions, or lack the personal integrity to tell the plain truth every time, then you'll fail
  • So leadership depends on self-leadership - your ability to be the leader of your own life, to get your act together, to become a person of character
  • Of course, without resilience, you cannot acquire self-leadership
  • Resilience means Psycho-Physical Resilience, Character-Value Resilience and Spiritual-Noetic resilience: without these, you can't get your act together, and hence self-leadership becomes impossible
  • So, in the final analysis, leadership itself depends on cultivating your personal resilience
  • Now you can see why the critical life skill of leadership is vital to living a deliberate, powerful and stress-free life and to maximizing your own personal fulfillment and happiness

  • So if you're ever again tempted to think of yourself as someone who is "not a leader", slap yourself upside the head and think again
  • You've been a leader before and you'll be one again
  • And since that's the case, you have a responsibility to the people you'll lead - and to yourself for that matter - to become the very best leader you can be
  • Leadership challenge - identify at least one situation you are in this week in which you function as a leader (formally or informally) in some capacity, and apply just one of the principles in either of these videos to yourself while in that situation and watch the difference it makes!

    ~ Dr. Symeon Rodger

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Identifying "Spiritual Life Gone Wrong" - Part 2

Identifying "Spiritual Life Gone Wrong" - Part 2

As it has been so wisely put, "You can be sure your religion has gone off the rails if its 'god' hates all the same people you do!"

And that pretty well defines what the media usually labels, though somewhat simplistically, as "religious extremism" or "religious fanaticism".  Whatever you call it, though, it's all around us today and it's attempting to redefine our world, often through violence, coercion and intimidation.  So today we're going to look at the five main symptoms or manifestations of this kind of "perverse spirituality".

Just before we get there, though, I thought you'd enjoy this break with British comedian John Cleese, who explains very clearly why being a religious nut-job is so much fun:

So just what are the five main features of religious extremism?

1. Divine Fascism

Divine fascism is the ridiculous belief that the divine being is so insecure and neurotic that he has to demand total conformity from you in all aspects of your life and will punish you if you don't.  

Contrast this with the viewpoint of Authentic Ancient Traditions (as I've called them in The 5 Pillars of Life) that the divine being or Absolute is overflowing love.  As St. Silouan of Athos (d. 1938) put it, based on his own mystical experience, "God is love insatiable".

If you belong to a religious group that preaches "divine fascism" and you're using it as your personal worldview, then you must believe that:

  • Your religion is totally, 100% correct and those who don't follow it are somehow lesser human beings
  • Your mission is to bring these lesser human beings under your religion by whatever means you can
  • For anyone to deny the truth of your religion is an insult that your (insecure and neurotic) god can't bear - they must be punished
  • Everyone within your religion must conform rigidly to its norms of behavior
  • No one is allowed to leave the group - there are severe penalties for "apostasy"

All of these presuppositions set the stage for the next feature of religious extremism:

2. Religious Violence

Once you subscribe to religious fascism, it's a very simple leap of logic to convince yourself that you're doing God's will and creating God's kingdom on earth by using violence to get your way.  And there are many forms of violence, including intimidation (making people afraid to speak out), direct threats, verbal violence and, of course, physical violence itself, whether that's organized military violence or not.

Not surprisingly, a good deal of the violence inherent within religious fascism is actually directed within.  And here we're not talking about the good and beneficial violence of spiritual struggle you find in authentic traditions.  Instead, this violence is about enforcing conformity within the group, keeping the group's social order and putting down any tendencies toward asking the wrong questions or other forms of "free thinking".  Naturally, most of this falls upon the most vulnerable segments of the group's own population - women, children and minority groups like gays, intellectuals and dissidents.

Notice that authentic traditions create an atmosphere of unconditional love and acceptance, and their most serious ("extreme") practitioners are deeply humble, whereas religious extremists have a strong tendency towards arrogance and violence.

3. Victim Syndrome

This tendency towards violence is helped along by the group's standard narrative, which is really good at establishing the existence of strong and powerful "enemies" that are out to destroy the group.  And since the group is somehow chosen by God above the rest of humanity, this forms a kind of siege mentality where everything that goes wrong for the group, all of its intractable socio-economic problems and the rest, can all be blamed on these powerful "enemies".

So it really is just like John Cleese says: when you've got your list of enemies, you can start blaming them, abdicate all responsibility on your own part and start the violence.

4.  Sexual Repression

Another frequent manifestation of religious extremism is its total inability to deal with one of the most basic forces of real human life - sexuality.  Since the group narrative often puts forward a divine basis for circumscribing human sexuality and confining it within some socially acceptable boundaries, any attempt to question these boundaries or break out of them is seen as pretty close to apostasy.

This is very convenient too, because when the group's sexual norms are different from those of surrounding cultures, the group can paint those surrounding cultures as licentious and immoral, further reinforcing their own siege mentality and sense of victimization.

This repression of sexuality has some hideously violent outcomes around the world and is creating untold misery on a daily basis.  These outcomes include:

  • Forced marriage (where women have no say in deciding whom they will marry)
  • Violence against women (regular beatings sanctioned by the religious group)
  • Female Genital Mutilation or FGM (surgical removal of the clitoris and labia in a usually unsuccessful attempt to remove female sexual desire and capacity for pleasure.  This is usually performed on young girls without their consent, without anesthetic and in a non-sterile environment)
  • Honor killing (where male relatives will murder a young woman for losing her virginity, having a boyfriend or otherwise violating the group's sexual norms)
  • Sexual neurosis (repressing sexuality always leads to significant neurosis, as it is deeply disruptive to human emotions and the human energy system)

5. The Vice of "Identification"

The easiest way to understand the problem of "identification" is probably from what I've written about the "warrior's way of life" in The 5 Pillars of Life:

What Warriors seek to avoid and to root out of themselves is the neurosis of identification – the psychological need to belong, to be validated, and to identify with one’s own culture, which is the matrix of opinions, attitudes and values comprising the worldview of those around you.  But as for the inability or unwillingness to understand others, the psychological need to be right and have others be wrong - the Warrior’s life is directly opposed to all this.

The identification that the Warrior is against is not the conscious and deliberate adherence to an authentic tradition.  He is only against a semi-conscious, neurotic, ego-driven and insecure identification of self with any given set of values, attitudes and opinions, however “right” it may be.

So "identification" is essentially a neurosis where you have a deep psychological need to belong, but also a need to be right and therefore have others be wrong.  In other words, you need an external enemy to validate your own victim status.  

Look closely and you'll see that religious extremism ALWAYS has external enemies whom it blames for everything from its own poverty and powerlessness to the Japanese earthquake and Tsunami.

All of this begs the question: "If your god is as angry as you say he is and as powerful as you say he is, and if you're as righteous as you say you are, while your enemies are as evil as you say they are, then why doesn't you god just ZAP the bastards and be done with it??"  Since this isn't happening, could it be that the universe is just a little more complex than you think?

The ONE Thing No Society Can Tolerate

Tolerance is a great virtue.  Truly.  For all its faults, Western civilization is the beacon of hope to the world primarily because it has set up not just a prosperous economic framework, but a political model that allows you to be who you are and to put forward your viewpoint without fear.  However, there is still one thing that Western civilization cannot be expected to tolerate - the existence within itself of religious or any other kind of extremists who do not accept the fundamental values on which it is based, including individual rights, freedom of speech, separation of church and state, and equal rights for all social groups.  Tolerating intolerance is NOT a virtue; it's a fundamental stupidity.

With some thoughts on that, here's author Richard Dawkins.  Since Dawkins is a well-known proponent of atheism, I naturally don't agree with everything he says, but I deeply appreciate his commitment to the fundamental value of free speech and his willingness to listen and respond thoughtfully and rationally to anyone:

~ Dr. Symeon Rodger