How secure are you?

That is a tough question to answer! Until our foundations are shaken it is very difficult to determine how secure in ourselves we actually are. You only know how deep down your roots go when either the challenges and storms of life come or when there is success. By then it is often too late. (For more on dealing with the storms of life see here).

TMW_-_Ford_Model_T_2The 12th law of leadership from John Maxwell says that only secure leaders give power to others. When we are not secure in ourselves it is very easy to look at others with an attitude of inferiority or of lack. To feel that their progress or advance is a threat to my value or self-worth.

How often have you said to yourself, “Its much easier if I just do it myself. I know what is best and right and no one else can or should interfere.” I know I have and it can be a sign of insecurity.

A case example of the Law of Empowerment is Henry Ford, the founder of the Ford Motor Company. In 1903 the main form of transportation was the horse and cart with longer distance travel by train. In towns and cities the horse and cart dominated streets. One of the big public health questions was how are we going to cope with the amount of horse manure on the streets – if it keeps on increasing at its present rate we will be literally drowning in the stuff!

It is in that context Henry Ford made the following statement:

“I will build a motor car for the multitude. It will be large enough for the family, but small enough for the individual to run and care for. It will be constructed of the best materials, by the best men to be hired, after the simplest designs that modern engineering can devise. But it will be so low in price that no man making a good salary will be unable to own one – and enjoy with his family the blessings of hours of pleasure in God’s great open spaces.”

The quote is similar in its visionary quality to that of Bill Gates in 1980 when he said, “A computer on every desk and in every home.” What was almost prophetic about this statement was at the time Microsoft did not even make computers and hardly anyone saw a need for them. Many of us have seen the outworking of Gates’ vision in our own life times. In fact, we have now gone way past Gates’ vision as with smartphones and tablets there are more around (7 billion) than people on the planet with the projection that by 2020 80% of all adults will own and be using one.

Coming back to Henry Ford, Ford saw comparable success with his Model T as the face of 20th century American life was transformed. The car was introduced in 1908, making up 50% of all cars by 1914 and with a total of over 15 million manufactured by 1927.

But in spite of all this apparent success Henry Ford was not a secure leader and he did not live by the Law of Empowerment. He was so in love with his Model T that he did not want to make any change or improvement to it. In 1922 Ford wrote in his autobiography, “Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black”.

Ford was so resistant to changing his Model T that when a group of his designers surprised him by presenting him with the prototype of an improved model, he is reported to have furiously ripped its doors off the hinges and proceeded to destroy the car with his bare hands. It was only by 1927 that he grudgingly agreed to offer a new car to the public.

Ford’s apparent success made him more eccentric as he undermined his leaders and looked over the shoulders of his people. He even created a so-called Sociological Department within the motor company. Thousands of immigrants and migrants came to Detroit to work at what was then an extremely generous $5 a day pay rate. This department had investigators who monitored employees at home, as well as on the job. They made unannounced visits to employee’s homes and evaluated the cleanliness of the home, noted if the family had renters, checked with school attendance offices to determine if children were attending school and monitored bank records to verify that employees made regular deposits. Sociological Department investigators also assisted worker’s families by teaching wives about home care, cooking and hygiene. Although well- intentioned such actions were disempowering to others.

Ford also did not believe in accountants. He amassed one of the world’s largest fortunes without ever having his company audited under his administration. He apparently once went into his accounting office and tossed the company’s books into the street, saying, “Just put all the money we take in a big barrel and when a shipment of material comes in reach into the barrel and take out enough money to pay for it.”

Historians comment that the company only managed to stay afloat and in business because of Henry Ford’s son Edsel who worked hard around his father to keep the company going.

In the next blog post we will look at how The Law of Empowerment can make such a difference to our lives.

Please feel free to leave your comments and observations.


How Actually Expressing Your Gratitude Can Be Beneficial To Your Mental Health

The following 7 minute video powerfully illustrates why when we take the time to actually show someone how much we appreciate them the effects can be truly transforming. I would encourage you to take 7 minutes out of your day to watch this video. I don’t think you will be disappointed and it may well make your day.

What the video shows using real live human scenarios is that one of the greatest contributing factors to overall happiness in your life is how much gratitude you genuinely show and express to the important people in your life. This has been scientifically proven in a study by 3 psychologists (Seligman, Steen and Peterson, 2005). You can pick up the study if you are more interested directly from the video. Here is a brief synopsis.

Making Sense of God, Money and Happiness

We tend to think that money brings happiness (who wouldn’t be happy to be offered a million pounds or dollars?).

Coins and happiness

Yet there is something about the achieving of financial wealth that does not ultimately satisfy. Rather than listening to me, here are some quotes from five wealthy men of history that powerfully illustrate this:

John D. Rockerfeller: “I have made many millions, but they have brought me no happiness.”

W.H. Vanderbilt: “The care of $200 million is enough to kill anyone. There is no pleasure in it.”

John Jacob Astor: “I am the most miserable man on earth.”

Henry Ford: “I was happier when doing a mechanic’s job.”

Andrew Carnegie: “Millionaires seldom smile.”

And yet at the same time I do not want to give the impression that wealth per se is a bad thing……

The Surprising Connection Between God, Money and Happiness

The combination of God, money and happiness may not at first glance seem to go together, but it surprising and intriguing how they are linked.

Wilting flowerIn fact it is quite remarkable how much the Bible has to say about money. The following statistics illustrate this in a dramatic way. There are approximately 500 verse in the Bible on prayer and another 500 on faith. However, when it comes to money and possessions there are a staggering 2,350 verses! Apparently 15% of Jesus’ words are on money and possession – that is more than he spoke about heaven and hell! Of Jesus’ 38 parables, 16 (over 40%) are about money. Why should that be? It is surprising to think that a spiritual book should say so much about money. What does money have to do with spirituality?

Here is how Richard Halverson puts it:

Jesus Christ said more about money than any other single thing because, when it come to a man’s real nature, money is of first importance. Money is an exact index to a man’s true character. All through Scripture there is an intimate correlation between the development of a man’ s character and how he handles his money.”

To help us think about this further I want to focus in on the words of James, the blood brother of Jesus in what was almost certainly the first book of the New Testament to be written around 45 AD (or just over a decade after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ). Here is the paraphrase from the original Greek in chapter 1 verses 9-11:

“When down-and-outers get a break, cheer! And when the arrogant rich are brought down to size, cheer! Prosperity is as short-lived as a wildflower, so don’t ever count on it. You know that as soon as the sun rises, pouring down its scorching heat, the flower withers. Its petals wilt and, before you know it, that beautiful face is a barren stem. Well, that’s a picture of the “prosperous life.” At the very moment everyone is looking on in admiration, it fades away to nothing.”

2 Further Ways That Money Can Buy Happiness

As we continue to look at how money can actually buy happiness, we come to 2 additional ways from the book by Dunn and Norton. (For the first three see 3 Ways That Money Can Buy Happiness).

Public domain image, royalty free stock photo from

4. By paying first and only later consuming.

There is something about anticipating and looking forward to an event or a purchase that enables us to enjoy it more. On one level that seems common sense. If I get everything that I want right now then I am more likely to take it for granted and keep looking to something else for gratification and pleasure. But common sense is not common practice. And even more so in our technologically driven, easy credit culture where almost everything can be made immediately available. There is something powerful about being able to anticipate the future in a positive way.

Quoting from the book:

3 ways that money can buy happiness

We have all heard the saying ‘money can’t buy happiness’ and there is truth in that – especially when we place too high an expectation on what we think we can achieve with money. Public domain image, royalty free stock photo from

However, according to Dunn and Norton in their book ‘Happy Money: The New Science of Smarter Spending’ there are some principles  behind how we can use money that can dramatically affect our overall level of happiness.

I am not sure I agree with all that they say in their book, but here are 3 of their 5 principles about how money can actually buy happiness. I supplement their observations and research with my own reflections:


How Finding The Right Question Can Literally Change Your Life

Working as a psychiatrist in effect means that I get paid to ask questions, listen carefully and decide a course of action.  I have the privilege of asking some incredibly personal questions to a huge variety of people. What I find fascinating is that you never quite know where your questions will take you.

listening-photoThe questions we ask ourselves and others can go in two possible directions. They can drag us down or they can have the potential to be powerful and even life-changing.

The right question can open doors to previously unexplored places. It can open up amazing opportunities and possibilities. Alternatively the wrong question can close doors and cause walls and barriers to come up – maybe never to be opened.

Finding and asking the right question in the right way and right time is an art and a skill that can take a life time to master. And as people are so varied and complex it can lead to countless avenues and openings.

At any point in the day, as life happens and things go our way or don’t go as we plan or hope for, we find ourselves with a whole range of thoughts, feelings and emotions. At every point we find ourselves at a crossroads. Either we can choose to learn from what has happened or we can react and judge from what has happened.

The judger questions are along the lines of:

Further Thinking About Why In A New Year

We have been looking at this 18 minute TED talk by Simon Sinek. In it he answers the question as to why is it some people and organisations are more inventive, pioneering and successful than others. Is it just a matter of luck or more opportunities? Sinek’s answer is that it has to do with the most fundamental and basic of questions – the question of why.

The power of  why can be seen from both a personal and organisational perspective. The question of why is so fundamental that when people lose their why then they eventually lose their way. They become distracted and side tracked by all sorts of good or potentially good ideas, but they lose their fundamental core of what they are really about and why they do what they do.

But when we became crystal clear about our why and can articulate that to others, then we either attract or repel them. What we lose is lukewarm, tepid neutrality. Here is how Sinek puts it on the video:

Why the Best Way to Start this Year is with the Question Why

Have you ever wondered why some people seem to make incredible progress with their lives and others seem to get stuck or even go downhill? Why in some cases 30 years of experience is just one year of experience repeated 30 times?

The following 18 minute TED talk by Simon Sinek powerfully explains why this is. He uses the examples of large companies like Apple, the innovation of flight by the Wright brothers and the impact of Martin Luther King. However, at the start of a new year I believe what he is saying has important implications as we seek to grow and develop in our lives and the things that matter to us personally.

I would strongly encourage you to take 18 minutes out of your day to watch this video. You won’t be disappointed and it might just change the way you look at life. It is also apparently the second most popular TED talk of all time:

Sinek has very helpfully simplified the process into what he calls the golden circle…

7 Questions to ask yourself as we enter a new year

A new year beckons us! What will 2015 hold in store for you and your family? What are you looking forward to or maybe even dreading? What did you learn from this last year?

wisdom-2The start of a new year gives a natural opportunity to appraise how the last year has gone and make preparations for the months that lie ahead.

Søren Kierkegaard has a helpful quote that says, “Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forward.”

Indeed those who do not learn from the past are invariably doomed to repeat the same mistakes or find themselves getting stuck in their relationships or other areas of their life. It is so easy to reach a lid to your potential. As someone has said, there is a world of difference between 30 years of experience and 1 year of experience repeated 30 times!

There is also  a real danger of continually living in the past and what might have been. The so called ‘if only ____’ syndrome (you fill in the blank). What I think is much more helpful is the U.S. Army evaluation system:

#1 Acknowledge what happened.
#2 Learn from the experience.
#3 Adjust your behaviour accordingly.
So with that in mind how was this last year for you? What are the lessons you learnt that you are going to aim to move forward with in 2015?

I am grateful to Michael Hyatt for the following questions to appraise 2014 and look ahead to 2015. He has a very helpful programme called Your Best Year Ever which you can access here.

I will also share my answers with you to help you think through your thoughts about 2014. I would strongly encourage you to also write down your own answers and not just keep them in your head. As we write, our thoughts begin to disentangle themselves and bring clarity in a way that is otherwise just not possible.
As I share the questions below I have added some of my own reflections to help you think through your own experiences. If you want more clarification from me feel free to ask in the comments section below. My hope for you as I indulge myself in this way publicly is that you will be prompted to have insights that will put you in a stronger positions for whatever this new year has in store for you.

So here goes!