The Broken Window Theory and how Context defines Meaning and Motivation

Two Fish SwimmingTwo young fish were swimming in one direction when they happened to meet an older fish heading the other way. The older fish nods at them and says… “Morning boys. How’s the water?” The younger fish swim on for a bit and eventually one of them turns to the other and says… “What the hell is water?”  Even though this story told by award-winning novelist David Foster Wallace is all about ‘missing the obvious’ it also a salutary lesson about context and how it defines meaning. Fish are defined by their water environment. Without it they wouldn’t exist, but as the story goes, it is so pervasive in their lives that they remain blissfully unaware of it even though they exist only because of it. And so it is with people. We are who we are because of the context in which we find ourselves, and that can have a huge impact on the type of profiling assessments organisations use in recruitment, and why I believe it is wise to steer clear of ‘personality profiles.’ [Read more...]

It’s Halfway through the Election Campaign and have you noticed the Subtle Shift in the Language of our PM?

Kevin RuddMany commentators are now talking about the negative shift in advertising by the incumbent Labor Government towards a fear-mongering campaign. This comes as Mr Rudd departs from his pledge for kinder politics and launches into a negative advertising campaign attacking the opposition leader. There is no coincidence that this shift in campaign focus follows the latest opinion polls indicating that Labor’s primary vote is falling away dramatically. However I want to draw your attention to another far more subtle indication that the personal focus of our Prime Minister has shifted considerably in the past 48 hours. [Read more...]

‘Idealisation’ – A New Word with a BIG Meaning

Thank You WaterThere’s a new word to describe a wonderful movement that started here in Melbourne just five years ago which has been taking our country by storm. Idealisation – The Realisation of an Ideal through an Idea whose time has come. The cause that I speak of is Thankyou Water – until recently a little known social enterprise which is destined to have a global impact on the provision of safe water to those communities for whom safe drinking water, staple food and basic hygiene is a non-existent commodity. I know that the catch-phrase ‘Social Entrepreneurism’ has been bandied about to explain this new breed of thinking where ‘making a difference’ in the world goes well beyond just plain charity, but I believe that this new description of mine, “Idealisation,”  better describes the essence of what this amazing young team of social entrepreneurs is all about. Here’s a short history of their incredible journey so far… [Read more...]

Election Time in the Land of Oz and Ten Things you are Guaranteed to Witness

Australia VotesBuckle up folks, the campaign has begun.  Five weeks of claim and counter-claim; five weeks of promises, promises, promises… or should I say… core promises; non-core promises; generalised promises; promises that say a lot but mean very little; promises to undo; promises to stitch up; motherhood statements; quick grabs of meaningless platitudes and so the list goes on. Call me a cynic, but as a student of language and behaviour, this next five weeks is sure to give me heaps of material to share with you. To start the ball rolling, here’s some of what you can be sure to see and hear… [Read more...]