“Pink Bat” Cure

October 17, 2010

Last October I wrote the following:

It’s late. The final Pink Bat manuscript is due tomorrow. From my office I can see several Chicago landmark buildings lit with pink lights. It’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Amidst this pink glow—the posters, the ribbons, and special events—we are all reminded of the search for solutions to save lives. The color connection to this cause… and my book title… is obvious. Less obvious, but more relevant, is the thinking found inside.

For every problem, there exists a solution… and at the very least, an opportunity. Breast cancer is no different. But it takes an open mind… imagination, purpose and passion… to find it. In time, this “problem” will be viewed differently… and an unseen solution will appear. Perhaps an outsider will see what experienced insiders have missed. Someone less influenced by perceptual blindness… an unlikely suspect.
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Are You Hypnotized?

June 8, 2010

The first time I saw a stage hypnotist perform was in college. It was remarkable. Within minutes, the hypnotist had a volunteer strutting around clucking like a chicken. Was this just an act, was the volunteer really hypnotized, or was it something else? I wasn’t certain. From what I’ve read, stage hypnotists deploy a combination of psychological factors such as peer pressure, social compliance, participant selection, suggestibility, physical manipulation and trickery, to name a few.

What struck me most was how the hypnotist had implanted a post-hypnotic suggestion. After the volunteer was “snapped” out of his trance, whenever the hypnotist said, “Chicken,” the volunteer instantly clucked… and did so loudly!

After the performance, I talked to the volunteer. He didn’t recall acting like a chicken… nor did he know why he clucked. His claims rang true and he seemed most sincere.

Over the years, I’ve observed that in some ways many people appear to be hypnotized… myself included. While few people cluck when “chicken” is mentioned, certain other words do elicit equally abrupt and predictable responses. Sometimes I wonder if our society is operating under post-hypnotic suggestions? Just bring up religion, politics, abortion, offshore drilling, healthcare, diet or lifestyle issues… and observe what happens. The mere mention of certain subjects or words often elicits uncontrollable clucks… I mean auto-responses. It’s difficult to have a meaningful conversation when someone starts clucking before you can finish asking your question or sharing your idea.

In order for a volunteer to be hypnotized, he/she must willingly enable the hypnotist to take control of his/her critical thinking. Recently, I’ve observed many people have willingly enabled radio talk show hosts, cable TV personalities, religious leaders and politicians to do the same. For many, blind trust (following) has replaced independent critical thinking. Read more

Time Traveling

June 4, 2010

I love time traveling. I’ve done it most of my life. I’m finding the older I get, the easier it becomes. I don’t have a time machine… I just read, think and mostly use my imagination to propel me. Sometimes I travel back in time; other times I project myself into the future. The biggest benefit of time travel is returning to the present with wisdom.

What started me time traveling was realizing many of the people that influence my thinking had left this world before I ever arrived. Compelled to meet and understand my influencers, I started visiting them. After several trips, patterns started to emerge. I found many of my heroes weren’t heroes at all… at least not during their lifetimes. Some were rejected by society. Many were considered radical, dangerous, or even insane. Traveling forward from these places in time, I observed how it took future generations to start understanding the courage, brilliance and insight these individuals possessed. Looking back from the present, it’s hard to believe these people weren’t celebrated. Then again, future generations will see us in the same light… and wonder the same.

During one of my journeys, a great hero of mine from the 1400s explained that expending too much time and energy trying to convince people from your own time period is unproductive. “Think, write and create for the unborn,” he said. “They will come to understand and value your insight and effort.” In his case, no truer words could be spoken… and I told him so. I appreciate his advice and often heed it.

The more you travel, the clearer one thing becomes… time exposes the truth. As it turns out, many past “heroes” weren’t heroes at all. They were popular charlatans, people of privilege or barbaric leaders driven by self-serving agendas. These individuals weren’t whom they claimed to be… or what they were perceived to be during their time. Many were truth twisters and propaganda creators on a mission to gain power and prestige in their lifetime… and were willing to achieve it at any cost. Whether it’s past, present or future one thing remains consistent—leaders need supporters and followers to succeed. Read more

Categories Don’t Define Reality—We Do

October 16, 2009

When European scientists first saw a stuffed duck-billed platypus in the late 1700s, they thought it was an elaborate hoax created by Chinese taxidermists and sold to some naive sailors. One very respected scientist even pulled on its bill to see how they managed to stitch it on so neatly. But when more of these critters showed up, scientists reconsidered their position, took a closer look, and accepted the platypus was, in fact, real.

Why didn’t they accept it at first? Simple. With a duck-like bill, an otter-like body, a tail like a beaver, and webbed feet, the platypus didn’t fit an established category. So it couldn’t possibly be real! While this may seem funny, the idea of rejecting ideas (new realities) that don’t fit neatly into accepted categories, still happens on a regular basis.

*MJ-RareAirI learned this firsthand while working with Michael Jordan on his book, Rare Air. It was my first retail book experience so I was naive to the process. After working hard and putting a presentation together, I flew to NYC to meet with several prominent publishers. (By the way, when Michael writes a letter on your behalf, asking someone (anyone) to meet with you… they will.) By the end of my first meeting, I learned that since Rare Air didn’t fit an existing category, it couldn’t be “real.”

Like the scientists and the platypus, every publisher who initially saw Rare Air rejected it. By reinforcing each other’s beliefs… they shook ours. When Michael asked whom we had selected to publish his book, we were speechless. Read more