Entries from January 2009 ↓

Arsene

This complete text of The Extraordinary Adventures of Arsene Lupin, Gentleman-Burglar by Maurice Leblanc is in the public domain.

I think that this is an opportunity for branding.

Arsene Lupin would now have been invented out of the imagination of Maurice Leblanc a hundred years ago. I cannot imagine the number of persons and the numbers of hours spent to read the stories of Arsene Lupin, neither can I think of the hours spent watching the movies and TV series.

Would you use the brand Arsene? Could we have Arsene T shirts or Lupin menswear? There might well be an opportunity to catch!

Aken Wong

J’ai eu le grand plaisir de passer la soirée d’hier à la Mi Voie en très bonne compagnie. Aken nous a rejoint à la fin du dîner pour le dessert et le café. La soirée était agréable tant par rapport au cadre de la région ouest de l’ile, dans une température idéale accompagnée une petite brise juste assez pour nous repousser les moustiques et faire rejaillir les senteurs, si suaves des plantes du jardin donnant sur la terrasse ou nous étions installés, sous la voûte céleste sans nuages timidement illuminée d’un croissant de lune que tant par la convivialité des amis présents.

Étant encore dans le cadre de la Fête du printemps, notre conversation fit un moment sur l’année du bœuf qu’aussi bien que sur la question politique. J’etais content d’écouter Aken sur la question. Voici selon ses propres mots, ses délires :

L’année du Rat arrive à échéance et le buffle qui va suivre aura besoin de beaucoup plus de courage que d’habitude. Si le Rat est signe d’intelligence et d’opportunisme, il n’est pas besoin de démontrer la capacité de travail du buffle, ainsi que son sens du devoir si son maître l’a bien traité et orienté. Contrairement au monde occidental, le Rat n’est pas vu comme un fléau qui ramène des épidémies. Sous contrôle « naturel et cosmique », il est signe d’abondance de grains au grenier, grâce d’ailleurs au gros travail effectué avec la collaboration du buffle. Selon une certaine légende, si le Rat est arrivé le premier, c’est tout simplement parce qu’il ne s’est pas fatigué lors de la convocation des animaux pour déterminer le cycle du calendrier lunaire et ce, dans l’ordre cosmique de la nature. Il aurait tout simplement monté sur le dos du Buffle pendant tout le parcours et ainsi arrivé pépère et fringant après que le Buffle eût assidûment fait tout le travail. Mais bon, ce ne sont que des légendes.

Quoique ? Retenons deux éléments seulement pour les ramener au contexte politique local de Maurice : l’intelligence et l’assiduité. Qui des leaders actuels peut réunir ces éléments pour motiver le pays entier à se retrousser les manches ? Oui, le pays entier, nous, puisque la tâche qui nous attend (quel que soit notre signe dans le calendrier lunaire) sera particulièrement dure dans les années à venir suite au tsunami financier que le monde a subi ces derniers temps ?

Restons en aux deux principaux leaders. Peut-on raisonnablement affirmer que l’actuel PM n’a pas fait preuve d’intelligence alors qu’il a la réputation d’être un « artiste » dans les calculs stratégiques pour gagner et garder son électorat, par exemple ? Que son équipe de proches conseillers ne sont que des paresseux et profiteurs (même s’il y en a certainement) ? Peut-on par la même occasion nier le fait que le vrai leader de l’opposition n’est pas « un Buffle » au travail ? Que ses collaborateurs ne sont que des « yesman » face à un rouleau compresseur en matière de courage au travail, d’idées et d’initiatives ? Maurice continue à être parmi les exemples cités dans les milieux internationaux. Honnêtement, c’est aussi grâce à tout ce beau monde qui y a apporté, chacun en son temps, sa contribution.

Comment maintenir ce cap et même faire mieux qu’avant, sans démagogie et durablement ? Il y en a des tas du côté des deux tendances politiques et de même si on élargit à d’autres tendances qui peuvent y contribuer. Ainsi, pour le travail qu’il y a à faire afin que Maurice devienne l’exemple de développement durable, il y a nécessairement besoin d’un certain consensus (voir mon article paru dans l’Express du 22 octobre dernier à ce propos.) Il y a aussi nécessité d’arriver au même consensus pour continuer à développer le pays tout court.

Certains ont déjà exprimé directement ou indirectement le vœu que ce pays soit dirigé de la manière suivante : Navin comme PM et le moustachu comme vice-PM. Ne serait-ce pas l’idéal des meilleurs scénarios que l’on pourrait espérer ? Ils vont sûrement y aller chacun de leur côté avec leur propre parti et partisans respectifs pour exciter les masses et gagner le maximum de voix. C’est tout à fait possible qu’après le comptage des voix, la démagogie fasse place à l’intelligence et à l’assiduité au travail. Dans le contexte actuel, cette idée pourrait paraître saugrenue, impensable et limité à un nombre restreint de personnes. L’élite intellectuelle, notamment. Si c’est bien le cas, cette élite devra aussi se retrousser les manches et faire son devoir de citoyen pour pousser à ce que l’intelligence et le courage au travail prennent le dessus sur la démagogie politique. Les « hurleurs » politiques vont crier : « impossible, nous n’avons pas la même vision idéologique, pas les mêmes ambitions …… pour sauver le pays, pour le bien de la nation toute entière et, par la même occasion, pour le « bonheur du peuple ». D’autres vont chercher à savoir qui est plus Rat ou Buffle dans le profil de ces deux leaders. L’heure n’est plus à ces réflexions de bas étage. D’ailleurs, ce calendrier lunaire a le mérite de permettre à chacun d’entre nous de s’y retrouver en bonne harmonie dans cette grande tradition millénaire de l’ordre cosmique des choses. C’est ce qui a permis à un peuple travailleur qui tient compte de cette tradition de réaliser certaines grandiosités que l’humanité entière reconnaît.

L’intelligence et le travail au pouvoir : souhaitons le. Avec de la bonne foi, « yes, we can » puisque c’est d’actualité. N’attendons pas la prochaine année du Rat (12 années, il se passera assurément beaucoup de choses) et souhaitons donc pleinement Kung Xi Fa Zhai à l’intelligence et à l’assiduité des mauriciens, « morisyin, malin sa ».

Aken WONG

Thomas d’Aquin

Hier était le jour ou l’Eglise fête un grand maitre : Saint Thomas d’Aquin.

Qui était Saint Thomas d’Aquin et pourquoi jouit il d’une réputation  8 siècles après sa mort? Mon grand admirateur, philosophe contemporain, Andre Comte-Sponville, que j’ai eu l’occasion de voir a l’œuvre dans ses exposés, soit en personne à Paris ou en vidéo, ne cesse de citer Saint Thomas ou Saint Augustin à tour de bras. Déjà en classe de primaire, mon maitre Monsieur Laval nous racontait des histoires de ses fameux saints.

Profitant du jour de sa fête, je me suis mis à rechercher les écrits sur Thomas d’Aquin. J’ai trouvé un filon des plus intéressants, qui me sauvera quelques roupies d’achat des livres. Depuis hier je m’attèle a lire Saint Thomas à petite dose. Première trouvaille : un sujet qui m’est cher « be happy » la béatitude !

Saint Thomas d’Aquin
Frère prêcheur, docteur de l’Eglise
(1225-1274)

Né dans une noble famille napolitaine, élevé à l’abbaye bénédictine du Mont-Cassin, Thomas choisit cependant, à 19 ans, d’entrer chez les Frères Prêcheurs. Ce n’est guère du goût de sa famille, qui le fait enlever et enfermer. L’ordre dominicain est un ordre mendiant, fondé quelques années plus tôt, et il n’avait pas bonne presse dans l’aristocratie. Au bout d’un an, Thomas peut enfin suivre sa vocation. On l’envoie à Paris pour y suivre les cours de la bouillonnante Université. Il a comme professeur saint Albert le Grand. Pour ce dernier, il faut faire confiance à la raison et à l’intelligence de l’homme pour chercher Dieu. Le philosophe le plus approprié à cette recherche est Aristote. Saint Thomas retient la leçon. Devenu professeur, il s’attelle à un gigantesque travail pour la mettre en oeuvre. Connaissant très bien Aristote et ses commentateurs, mais aussi la Bible et la tradition patristique chrétienne, il élabore une pensée originale, qu’il expose dans de multiples ouvrages, dont le plus connu est la “Somme Théologique”. Comme professeur, il doit aussi soutenir de véhémentes controverses avec des intellectuels chevronnés. Il voyage aussi à la demande des Papes. Mais c’est l’étude qui a toute sa faveur : à la possession de “Paris la grande ville”, il dit préférer “le texte correct des homélies de saint Jean Chrysostome sur l’évangile de saint Matthieu. Il meurt sur la route qui le conduisait au Concile de Lyon, le 7 mars 1274, dans l’abbaye cistercienne de Fossanuova. On célèbre sa mémoire au jour anniversaire du transfert de son corps au couvent des dominicains de Toulouse, les Jacobins, en 1369.

Il est le Saint Patron de l’Enseignement Catholique.

Yes We can

I am inspired by an article written by Dick Mc Cann, an australian business coach, who like the President Obama proclaims “Yes We can”. Yes, we need the optimism to move out of today’s zone of turbulence, where and every day the media keeps reminding us of the gloom. I see this very morning a very bright sunshine through my window and breathe the fresh air and look forward to a wonderful day. I rather listen to my inner voice that peps me than the news on the Radio. Yes I am making my day. I wish that the optimism with the firm belief that I have the capacity and  the will to move ahead is more spread in the Mauritian population.

Where does “Yes We can” come from?

Mc Cann writes:

The Linking Leader Model identifies six People Linking Skills, five Task Linking Skills and two Leadership Linking Skills. Successful managers need to be good at the People Linking Skills and Task Linking Skills but it’s the two Leadership Linking Skills that make the difference between a manager and a leader. Let’s look at one of them – Motivation.

For most people, individual jobs need to be connected to a larger purpose or achievement to be genuinely motivating. Motivation is all about engaging people in an endeavor that will inspire their commitment and energy consistently over a longer period and cause them to put extra effort into the challenges that lie before them. We can break down the skill of Motivation into six measurable elements:

1. Articulates a compelling vision of the team’s future

2. Focuses unwaveringly on clear goals

3. Is someone team members want to follow

4. Can make others feel optimistic about the future

5. Inspires team members to perform

6. Takes a stand on controversial issues affecting the team

Effective leaders articulate a compelling vision of the team’s future (item 1). If people are to give of their best they need to have a clear picture of what lies ahead. In addition they need to be persuaded that this vision is worth pursuing and it’s here that the linking leader has a real chance to motivate the team. Along with the vision there needs to be a set of clear goals that act as beacons to follow (item 2). A leader who focuses unwaveringly on these goals will inspire team members to give of their best. Nothing demotivates people more than when the goals are constantly changing.

To articulate a compelling vision for the team a leader must believe in the value of their aims and are willing to explain and defend them, even in the face of a challenge. A vision of this kind can’t be contrived. It is rooted in a person’s sincerely held belief about the intrinsic value of their end goal and is fired by a genuine desire to achieve it. It is this that brings the vision to life for them and others. Most commentators on the USA Presidential Elections would give Barack Obama a good rating on how he presented a compelling vision of America’s future and the voters have certainly indicated that he is someone they want to follow (item 3).

The importance of optimism (item 4) to the human race is shown by Martin Seligman’s work (Seligman, 1991) in analyzing USA political speeches using his CAVE technique – Content Analysis of Verbatim Explanations – where he analyzed the nomination acceptance speeches of candidates for the American Presidential Elections. In the 22 Presidential Elections from 1900 to 1984, Americans chose the more optimistic-sounding candidate 18 times. In all elections in which an underdog pulled off an upset, he was the more optimistic candidate. The exceptions were three elections contested by Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Humphrey-Nixon election of 1968. Roosevelt’s proven ability in a crisis and the impact of the Chicago riots at the time of Humphrey’s speech seemed to have more than negated the opposition candidate’s more optimistic speech. It seems that people want to hear about rosy futures and will support someone who helps create a sense of hope, optimism and wellbeing within an individual.

In the classic book, Pollyanna, by Eleanor Porter, we can see how someone with a focus on opportunities can affect those with a negative view of life. Pollyanna’s positive attitude helps Aunt Polly, Mrs Snow and Mr Pendleton see the world in a new light and the book is a tonic for anyone who feels at all depressed.

Pollyanna’s behavior is often described as a naïve form of optimism. She believes that things will always turn out for the best and that no matter what happens, there is always something to be glad about. There are never any obstacles, only opportunities!

Pollyanna would cope with any misfortune by playing the ‘Glad’ game. She teaches her game to several characters in the book who have a decided tendency towards seeing the obstacles. It lifts their spirits enormously and has a major effect on their lives. Pollyanna’s attitude to life has led to the coining of the psychological term known as ‘Pollyanna-ism’. Pollyanna accepts anything that happens to her by reflecting that things could always have been worse.

This noble view of the world is not always an asset in managing a business or running a country. The reality of the business and political world is often summarized, tongue-in-cheek, by Murphy’s Law, ‘If anything can go wrong, it will‘. Therefore it’s important not to sit back, accept what happens and continue to paint a rosy picture of the future. It’s essential to identify all the obstacles that might occur and have an alternative plan of action to implement, should things go wrong.

So it’s easy to say, ‘Yes we can.’ This is the compelling vision that people want to hear. But in a few years will we be able to say, ‘Yes we have,’ or will the President-Elect of the United States of America follow the path of the overwhelming majority of nation leaders whose political career ends in failure?

Leadership like Parenting?

In my life, I play two main roles: Corporate consultant to leaders and parent of two teenagers. I am often struck by the similarities between these two “jobs.”

As I see it, many leaders spend their day trying to “make up” for parenting that didn’t happen. And, if you happen to be doing both jobs – you have the perfect opportunity to cross-train.

I consider these 6 rules the basic foundation of a happy family and a happy workplace. See how you can apply them to both domains in your world:

1) Share your toys.

Unless you have an only child, you spend a great deal of time working on this rule in your family. In our family, it’s OK to have a few things to “call your own” but I want my kids to learn that sharing is better than hoarding. It just feels better in the long run (even when a 4-year-old doesn’t want to) because it creates relationship. And relationships are what humans are built for.

Leaders find themselves navigating this territory daily – Whose territory is that global customer? Who gets our limited IT development resources first?  Which business unit(s) should we pour our resources into this year?  How can several urgent needs for “shared services” share the “toys”?  Running interference with people who wear the “That’s mine!” hat, wears many leaders out.  In our work, much of what we do is help leaders facilitate clarity on what fluffy concepts like competition, collaboration, coordination, and compromise really mean in their business.

If people were rewarded for “generosity of spirit” as much as competition and winning, I wonder how families and the corporate world would benefit?

2) Tell the truth.

Most parents reading this would say “telling the truth” is value #1 in their family. Integrity or honesty typically appear on every corporation’s “Values” list.

It’s the grey areas where this gets interesting. Businesses are spending billions of dollars on mandatory “ethics training” …. And in my experience, 99.9% of people know what it means to “do the right thing.”

My son (age 12) is keenly aware of “What is a lie?” Saying something you really don’t mean, such as a compliment?  Promising attention or rewards, but you get busy and can’t follow through at that exact time or day?  Saying one thing, realizing later it wasn’t accurate?

In the corporate setting, putting aside conscious mis-use of power and dishonesty, there is an epidemic of “soft-pedaling the truth.” Phrases like “career limiting move” are used to describe what will happen when you say what you really think. Fulfillment and development groups struggle to meet the expectations that have been set by salespeople.  You tell the boss what they want to hear, even when you know it can’t be done.

If “telling the truth” were something we each decided to take on, as the commitment to accepting responsibility for what you know, acting in alignment with that knowledge to the best of your ability, and not tromping on other’s rights in doing so … I wonder how families and the corporate world would transform?

3) Ask for what you want.

The word “No” is one of the first things a child learns in our culture (and most developed cultures as well). Nature’s way of establishing ourselves as individuals and self-empowerment, I suppose. The inundation of negative messages from the popular media and the over-desire to protect our children at all costs has led most people in this culture to put more attention on what we don’t want, versus on what we can say “yes” to and what we do want.

“What I’d like is…”  “What I wish for is….” “Can I have ….”  “

Being clear what you want … and then asking nicely for it: Practice this daily and create a revolution in the family and the corporate world.

4) Play nice in the sandbox.

In NLP, this is the presupposition “Every behavior has a positive intent. “  Pretty simple.

“Mary didn’t wake up this morning to be mean to you.” I wonder what her intention was?

“Paul didn’t wake up this morning to derail your project.” I wonder what his intention was?

Regularly reminding people about the presence of positive intent can transform any situation. Only hard-core cynics remain committed to the mischievous nature of the human race in the face of realizing that we all really want the same things: Love, respect, a sense of belonging, being useful.

If you asked the question “What do we imagine the positive intention of that person was?” on a regular basis, you’ll find out how powerful transformation can happen from one simple question.

5) When a fight breaks out, both parties are equally responsible.

While this may not be the exact truth, it’s helpful to act as if it is.  Disagreement that de-rails into fighting is never one-sided. I’m not talking about bullying – or oppressive dictatorship.  That’s not about disagreement, that’s about power as a substitute for Love.

This rule is about learning to internalize the concept of personal responsibility.

Once you get past the “he said, she said” polarity of any two positions, you can turn your attention to explore concepts of “What is the common purpose in this situation, that you both share?”  “What kind of give-and-take might allow you both to have something you want?”  Or, if you can’t agree “If we agree to disagree on this, what can we each do to ensure the relationship maintains trust?”

Want to save hundreds of thousands of dollars in negotiation and conflict resolution training?

Apply these simple questions in your family and workplace.

6) Structure works better than no structure.

My daughter had 9 years of early Montessori education, premised on the truth that children (really, all people) learn best by experience (versus “lecture”) and that self-directed learning creates greater motivation. She thrived in an environment where the schedule was known and the goals were clear, but she was also given the freedom to choose within that.  8:00 – Circle time to set our day.  9:00 – Time for math (which was assigned but you got to choose the order of the work you completed during the hour, or pick from several activities). 10:00 – snack.  11:00 – Storytime.  11:30 – lunch.

She became a super-responsible and disciplined person as a result of that environment.

When my kids have a sense of routines and what to expect from the weekend, our weekend goes better.  Chores on Saturday. Pancakes on Sunday. Movie in the afternoon after our work is done. One of their most-requested routines is the weekly menu that gets posted on Sunday afternoon – that way, they know what’s for dinner the whole week.  Simple stuff, but it helps ground us amidst the crazy “unknown-factor” we all experience.

In the business world, there is usually an imbalance in this territory:  Typically too much structure and micro-management on some areas, and too little structure in others.  The definition of “bureaucracy” is “activity that is disconnected from purpose” – or over-structured activity that has lost its meaning.  Meetings or reports or projects that keep us busy but don’t make a difference – that’s an application of structure without purpose. On the other hand, most corporate meetings could benefit from a more involved, engaged structure to facilitate discussion and problem-solving, rthe one-way PowerPoint “drills” that don’t have a clear purpose or goal.

In a world where change is the name of the game, the rule of structure is simply being mindful of letting  people know what you’re thinking and what they can count on, even when you don’t have all the answers and when things are uncertain.  For me, the commitment to be still for 20 minutes and walk every day is an important structure.

If we all gave a little more attention to creating structure that allows for healthy self-discipline and clarity for how to participate, I wonder how our families and the corporate world would benefit?

If I spent the rest of my life putting these rules into practice, it would be a worthy life. There’s never a shortage of people and situations seeking better methods to stay connected, take care of what’s important (ie, each other), and feel a sense of meaning and purpose.

Nobody needs a whole mess of new rules to follow.  But, we each “lead” someone in some way. I try to follow the “Yogi wisdom” of showing up with the same “face” wherever I go.

Bon chance!

Xin Nian Kuai Le

We  have greeted the Chinese New Year of the OX today.

It is another opportunity to wish all of you a happy and prosperous year.

The Chinese Zodiac is a 12-year cycle. Each year of the 12-year cycle is named after one of the original 12 animals. Each animal has a different personality and different characteristics. The animal is believed to be the main factor in each person’s life that gives them their traits, success and happiness in their lifetime.

The ancient Chinese astronomers called the 5 major planets by the names of the elements they were associated with: the dragon is the rat’s servent.

NOTE: These are listed in order of the elements and the animals associated with them, not the actual order of the planets from nearest to farthest the sun. In some texts, Wood is placed before Metal.

This year is the start of the Earth OX.

We are really at the very end of the cycle of the five elements and that of 12 animals Zodiac. Will we be propulsed into a new era? It it the begining of a new world?

Reflexion Dominicale

C’est la lecture des actes des Apôtres sur la conversion de St Paul qui a retenu mon attention de ce matin.
La CONVERSION de SAINT PAUL
(34 OU 35)

Saint Paul était Juif, de la tribu de Benjamin; il naquit à Tarse, en Cilicie, dont les habitants étaient considérés comme citoyens romains. Son attachement aux traditions de ses pères, sa haine contre les chrétiens, sa présence au supplice de saint Étienne, son acharnement à poursuivre les disciples de Jésus-Christ, à les traîner en prison, à les battre, ont poussé les interprètes de l’Écriture à voir en lui la réalisation de la prophétie de Jacob, concernant son fils Benjamin: “Benjamin est un loup ravisseur.” Mais une hymne chrétienne a heureusement complété l’application de la prophétie, en disant: “Le loup ravisseur s’est changé en agneau.”

Saul (c’était le premier nom du grand Apôtre) approchait de Damas, où il allait persécuter les chrétiens, accompagné de soldats et d’émissaires de la synagogue de Jérusalem, quand tout à coup il est renversé de son cheval et couché à terre par une force invisible. Une éblouissante clarté l’environne et une voix lui dit: “Saul, pourquoi Me persécutez-vous? – Qui êtes-Vous, Seigneur? — Je suis Jésus, que vous persécutez. — Seigneur, que voulez-Vous que je fasse? — Levez-vous, entrez dans la ville, et là vous apprendrez ce que vous devez faire.”

Saul était devenu aveugle; ses compagnons le conduisirent à Damas. Un serviteur de Dieu, nommé Ananias, averti en songe, alla le trouver, lui rendit la vue et lui conféra le baptême. Dès lors, Saul, devenu Paul, n’est pas seulement un converti, un chrétien, c’est un apôtre, c’est l’Apôtre par excellence, qui étonnera le monde et fera l’admiration des siècles par ses écrits sublimes et inspirés, par ses saintes audaces, ses travaux, les merveilles de son apostolat et la gloire de son martyre.

Que de leçons dans cette conversion étrange et foudroyante! Nous y voyons la puissance toute divine de la grâce à laquelle rien ne résiste; la sagesse de Dieu qui se plaît à confondre la fausse sagesse du monde; la miséricorde inénarrable du Seigneur, qui ne rebute personne et peut faire du plus grand des pécheurs le plus insigne des saints. Ne désespérons jamais du salut de personne, tout est possible à la prière et à la grâce.

Nous ne comprendrons bien qu’au Ciel quelle a été l’influence de la prière dans le monde et combien de pécheurs devront leur salut à l’intercession des justes. Saint Augustin a dit fort justement: “Si Étienne n’avait pas prié, nous n’aurions pas saint Paul!”

Pope’s Message on World Media day

“New Technologies, New Relationships”

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 23, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Here is the message Benedict XVI released today for the 43rd World Communications Day, which will be observed May 24.

The message is titled “New Technologies, New Relationships. Promoting a culture of Respect, Dialogue and Friendship.”

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In anticipation of the forthcoming World Communications Day, I would like to address to you some reflections on the theme chosen for this year — “New Technologies, New Relationships: Promoting a culture of Respect, Dialogue and Friendship.” The new digital technologies are, indeed, bringing about fundamental shifts in patterns of communication and human relationships. These changes are particularly evident among those young people who have grown up with the new technologies and are at home in a digital world that often seems quite foreign to those of us who, as adults, have had to learn to understand and appreciate the opportunities it has to offer for communications. In this year’s message, I am conscious of those who constitute the so-called digital generation and I would like to share with them, in particular, some ideas concerning the extraordinary potential of the new technologies, if they are used to promote human understanding and solidarity. These technologies are truly a gift to humanity and we must endeavour to ensure that the benefits they offer are put at the service of all human individuals and communities, especially those who are most disadvantaged and vulnerable.

The accessibility of mobile telephones and computers, combined with the global reach and penetration of the internet, has opened up a range of means of communication that permit the almost instantaneous communication of words and images across enormous distances and to some of the most isolated corners of the world; something that would have been unthinkable for previous generations. Young people, in particular, have grasped the enormous capacity of the new media to foster connectedness, communication and understanding between individuals and communities, and they are turning to them as means of communicating with existing friends, of meeting new friends, of forming communities and networks, of seeking information and news, and of sharing their ideas and opinions. Many benefits flow from this new culture of communication: families are able to maintain contact across great distances; students and researchers have more immediate and easier access to documents, sources and scientific discoveries, hence they can work collaboratively from different locations; moreover, the interactive nature of many of the new media facilitates more dynamic forms of learning and communication, thereby contributing to social progress.

While the speed with which the new technologies have evolved in terms of their efficiency and reliability is rightly a source of wonder, their popularity with users should not surprise us, as they respond to a fundamental desire of people to communicate and to relate to each other. This desire for communication and friendship is rooted in our very nature as human beings and cannot be adequately understood as a response to technical innovations. In the light of the biblical message, it should be seen primarily as a reflection of our participation in the communicative and unifying Love of God, who desires to make of all humanity one family. When we find ourselves drawn towards other people, when we want to know more about them and make ourselves known to them, we are responding to God’s call – a call that is imprinted in our nature as beings created in the image and likeness of God, the God of communication and communion.

The desire for connectedness and the instinct for communication that are so obvious in contemporary culture are best understood as modern manifestations of the basic and enduring propensity of humans to reach beyond themselves and to seek communion with others. In reality, when we open ourselves to others, we are fulfilling our deepest need and becoming more fully human. Loving is, in fact, what we are designed for by our Creator. Naturally, I am not talking about fleeting, shallow relationships, I am talking about the real love that is at the very heart of Jesus’ moral teaching: “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength” and “You must love your neighbour as yourself” (cf. Mk 12:30-31). In this light, reflecting on the significance of the new technologies, it is important to focus not just on their undoubted capacity to foster contact between people, but on the quality of the content that is put into circulation using these means. I would encourage all people of good will who are active in the emerging environment of digital communication to commit themselves to promoting a culture of respect, dialogue and friendship.

Those who are active in the production and dissemination of new media content, therefore, should strive to respect the dignity and worth of the human person. If the new technologies are to serve the good of individuals and of society, all users will avoid the sharing of words and images that are degrading of human beings, that promote hatred and intolerance, that debase the goodness and intimacy of human sexuality or that exploit the weak and vulnerable.

The new technologies have also opened the way for dialogue between people from different countries, cultures and religions. The new digital arena, the so-called cyberspace, allows them to encounter and to know each other’s traditions and values. Such encounters, if they are to be fruitful, require honest and appropriate forms of expression together with attentive and respectful listening. The dialogue must be rooted in a genuine and mutual searching for truth if it is to realize its potential to promote growth in understanding and tolerance. Life is not just a succession of events or experiences: it is a search for the true, the good and the beautiful. It is to this end that we make our choices; it is for this that we exercise our freedom; it is in this – in truth, in goodness, and in beauty – that we find happiness and joy. We must not allow ourselves to be deceived by those who see us merely as consumers in a market of undifferentiated possibilities, where choice itself becomes the good, novelty usurps beauty, and subjective experience displaces truth.

The concept of friendship has enjoyed a renewed prominence in the vocabulary of the new digital social networks that have emerged in the last few years. The concept is one of the noblest achievements of human culture. It is in and through our friendships that we grow and develop as humans. For this reason, true friendship has always been seen as one of the greatest goods any human person can experience. We should be careful, therefore, never to trivialize the concept or the experience of friendship. It would be sad if our desire to sustain and develop on-line friendships were to be at the cost of our availability to engage with our families, our neighbours and those we meet in the daily reality of our places of work, education and recreation. If the desire for virtual connectedness becomes obsessive, it may in fact function to isolate individuals from real social interaction while also disrupting the patterns of rest, silence and reflection that are necessary for healthy human development.

Friendship is a great human good, but it would be emptied of its ultimate value if it were to be understood as an end in itself. Friends should support and encourage each other in developing their gifts and talents and in putting them at the service of the human community. In this context, it is gratifying to note the emergence of new digital networks that seek to promote human solidarity, peace and justice, human rights and respect for human life and the good of creation. These networks can facilitate forms of co-operation between people from different geographical and cultural contexts that enable them to deepen their common humanity and their sense of shared responsibility for the good of all. We must, therefore, strive to ensure that the digital world, where such networks can be established, is a world that is truly open to all. It would be a tragedy for the future of humanity if the new instruments of communication, which permit the sharing of knowledge and information in a more rapid and effective manner, were not made accessible to those who are already economically and socially marginalized, or if it should contribute only to increasing the gap separating the poor from the new networks that are developing at the service of human socialization and information.

I would like to conclude this message by addressing myself, in particular, to young Catholic believers: to encourage them to bring the witness of their faith to the digital world. Dear Brothers and Sisters, I ask you to introduce into the culture of this new environment of communications and information technology the values on which you have built your lives. In the early life of the Church, the great Apostles and their disciples brought the Good News of Jesus to the Greek and Roman world. Just as, at that time, a fruitful evangelization required that careful attention be given to understanding the culture and customs of those pagan peoples so that the truth of the gospel would touch their hearts and minds, so also today, the proclamation of Christ in the world of new technologies requires a profound knowledge of this world if the technologies are to serve our mission adequately. It falls, in particular, to young people, who have an almost spontaneous affinity for the new means of communication, to take on the responsibility for the evangelization of this “digital continent”. Be sure to announce the Gospel to your contemporaries with enthusiasm. You know their fears and their hopes, their aspirations and their disappointments: the greatest gift you can give to them is to share with them the “Good News” of a God who became man, who suffered, died and rose again to save all people. Human hearts are yearning for a world where love endures, where gifts are shared, where unity is built, where freedom finds meaning in truth, and where identity is found in respectful communion. Our faith can respond to these expectations: may you become its heralds! The Pope accompanies you with his prayers and his blessing.

From the Vatican, 24 January 2009

St Francois de Sales

François de Sales (15671622), né au château de Sales près de Thorens-Glières (ville du duché de Savoie ; et aujourd’hui commune du département de Haute-Savoie), est un saint et docteur de l’Église catholique. Issu d’une famille aristocratique, il choisit le chemin de la foi et devint l’un des théologiens les plus considérés au sein du christianisme. Ce grand prêcheur accéda au siège d’évêque de Genève et il fonda l’ordre religieux de la Visitation. Il exerça une influence marquante au sein de sa religion mais également envers les détenteurs du pouvoir temporel que furent, entre autres, le roi de France ou le duc de Savoie. Consacrant sa vie à Dieu, il renonça à tous ses titres de noblesse. Homme d’écriture, il laissa une somme importante d’ouvrages, témoignage de sa vision de la vie. Il est considéré par l’Église catholique comme étant le saint patron des journalistes et des écrivains, et cela en raison de son usage précoce du progrès que constituait l’avènement de l’imprimerie. Ses publications imprimées comptent parmi les tout premiers journaux catholiques au monde.

Aujourd’hui l’Eglise fête Francois de Sales. J’ai parcouru son livre : ‘introduction a la vie dévote’ que j’ai trouvé intéressant et qui est encore aujourd’hui le livre d’étude des nombreux chrétiens. Je serai heureux de vous envoyer un exemplaire e –copie sur demande.

C’est au cours de l’année 1609 qu’il écrivit son œuvre la plus connue, Introduction à la vie dévote. Au début, François de Sales écrivit de nombreux conseils à sa cousine madame de Charmoisy qui voulait apprendre à être dévote, et connaître une vie de prière. Pendant deux années, François de Sales entreprit donc une correspondance avec sa cousine, lui prodiguant des conseils spirituels. Or celle-ci faisait lire les lettres de François de Sales autour d’elle, jusqu’à ce qu’un jésuite lui demanda de les publier. François de Sales accepta donc de reprendre les lettres et de les publier après quelques retouches, sous le titre d’Introduction à la vie dévote. Le langage et le style utilisé pour cet ouvrage était très simple pour l’époque, sans citations latines ni grecques ; proposant des conseils de prières aux hommes et aux femmes, il permettait une lecture beaucoup large que les traités spirituels de l’époque.

Il se divise en cinq parties, la première partie enseigne comment passer du désir de Dieu à sa réalisation ; la deuxième partie cherche à apprendre la perfection ; la troisième partie est consacrée à la pratique des vertus ; la quatrième partie indique les obstacles à la prière ; et la dernière considère la façon de renouveler la ferveur du dévot.

Ce livre eut très vite un énorme succès, il fut ainsi réimprimé plus de quarante fois du vivant de François de Sales. Le roi Henri IV lui même le lut et sa femme en offrit un exemplaire orné de diamants, au roi d’Angleterre.[

Managing Crises

I have been reading Ian I Mirtroff and Gus Anagos on managing crisis which is a worthwhile reading in this current Economic crisis. I have captured some salient points which I am storing for memory.

What Is a Major Crisis?

It’s not possible to give a precise and general definition

of a crisis, just as it’s not possible to predict

with exact certainty when a crisis will occur, how it

will occur and why.

We can, however, propose a guiding definition of a

major crisis. First, a major crisis affects, or has the

potential to affect the whole of an organization. If it is

an event that will affect only a small, isolated part of

the organization, it may not be a major crisis.

A major crisis will also exact a major toll on human

lives, property, financial earnings and the reputation

and/or general health and well-being of the organization.

Often these effects occur simultaneously. As a

result, a major crisis cannot be completely contained

within the organization’s boundaries.

And some major crises, such as the one suffered

by Barron’s Bank several years ago, will actually

destroy the organization.

The Systemic Nature

of Crisis Management

A complex system involves a number of intertwined

parts working together. The separate parts of the system

cannot exist nor function in isolation from one

another. For instance, you can’t remove the heart or

lungs from a human body and have the human body

survive. Also, because systems are so tightly interconnected,

one event in one part of the system can

have system-wide effects.

These characteristics of complex systems are

reflected in modern society. We are much more interconnected

than before. The impact of one event in our

society will have much wider implications than in the

past.

For example, 60 years ago, the impact of humancaused

crises, such as a mine disaster or an explosion,

would have been limited to one particular community

or region. Today, crises can impact vast areas

of the globe in little time. A rogue trader in the Far

East, as was recently shown, can bring down one of

the oldest blue-chip banks in the world. Or a nuclear

disaster such as Chernobyl can threaten the health of

people on two continents.

As a result, crisis management must always include

the big picture. For example, ask yourself: “How can I

temper how a crisis in one area of the company will

impact the entire company?” “How can I prevent one

crisis from causing another crisis or a chain of

crises?”

The systemic nature of crisis management also

means that it must be integrated with other important

organizational programs in your company, such as

quality assurance, strategic planning, environmentalism

or issues management. Crisis management

should never be viewed as another separate, standalone

program.

Risk Analysis vs.

Crisis Management

Author Ian Mitroff strongly counsels against traditional

risk analysis for companies. The reason: Risk

analysis mainly selects crises with which the company

or the company’s industry is familiar. One of the

fundamental steps for traditional risk analysis is to

construct models of the probability of occurrence of

past crises. These models will give a higher ranking

to certain types of crises based on how likely they are

to occur. Conversely, the models give low rankings to

crises that are least likely to occur.

However, it is precisely those crises that have never

occurred before that must be anticipated. Yet, using

traditional risk analyses, companies will not prepare

for a crisis until it happens — at which point, of

course, the unprepared company can be significantly

damaged

. Four Types of Signals

Signals can be differentiated along two dimensions.

The first dimension relates to the source of the signal.

In this dimension, signals can either originate from

inside or outside the organization.

The second relates to the kind of signal. Signals

can be either technical (recorded by remote sensing

devices), or noticed by people.

If you put these two dimensions together, you have

four types of signals that apply to every company:

1. Internal technical signals, such as monitoring

devices for hazardous operations.

2. Internal people signals, for example, people

working in a plant.

3. External technical signals, such as monitoring

of plant emissions carried out by environmental

activist groups.

4. External people signals, including members of

surrounding communities who may literally “smell”

that something is wrong.

Needed: One Champion

For an organization to successfully instill a crisis

management program, it must find an organizational

champion to lead the way. This champion should be

a leader who has championed other system-wide

programs. He or she must be able to see the big picture

and make the connections between the various

parts of the organization. The champion also needs

to understand and be able to explain to top executives

how a major crisis will derail the major business

objectives of the company.

Crisis Management: An

Exercise in Creative Thinking

Crisis management requires individuals and companies

to think about the unthinkable. It is, in other words,

an exercise in creative thinking. Creative thinking is

especially important in preventing a crisis from escalating

into a worse situation..

My NLP training refers me to the ‘what if” frame….