Paul McKenna and the search for self-fulfillment

January 12, 2015

Until last week I had never heard of Paul McKenna. Now I have become aware of his claims to help me change my destiny, which seems a bit of an oxymoron

The whole thing about destiny, I used to think, is that it’s what fate has arranged to happen to you, come what may. So I listened up, when I heard somebody called Paul being interviewed on BBC Radio Five who claimed to have cracked the destiny business.

Paul spoke with the authority and conviction of a prophet bringing good news to the previously unenlightened. He wanted listeners to buy his new book, plus assorted multi-media aids to enlightenment.

At first, I wondered if Paul was one of those callers with a bee in his bonnet, and whether the interviewer had allowed him to rant on during an afternoon in which callers were scarce. Then he said there was scientific evidence and research backing up his system of do-it-yourself destiny control. I must find out more about Paul, I thought.

It’s all in the Daily Mail

It was a simple matter to track down Paul. He obligingly mentioned the title of his new book several times during the interview.

I found that Paul had outlined quite a bit of his approach in The Daily Mail just a few weeks earlier.

A few sentences will be enough to indicate what he is about:

Congratulations — today is the day you are going to alter your destiny. In just a few hours, the entire direction of your life will change for the better.

A dramatic claim? Certainly, but with just a little input from you, I know we can make this happen.

It may seem like magic, but it’s actually grounded in some astonishing recent breakthroughs in science, psychology and spirituality.

Cynicism and rejection

A few comments on his article were from those who had begun the few hours of effort and had begun to see their destiny changing.

But as happens with charismatic thought leaders, Paul also faces cynicism and rejection. Quite a few comments were hostile to the point of abuse. But that’s the nature of denial and the right to express views on the social media, isn’t it?

How I overcame my fear of flying

Paul mentioned the influence of his training in Neuro-Linguistic Programming. I can offer testimony to the effectiveness of applying these principles, although that was quite a few years ago, and I have not caught up on the astonishing breakthroughs Paul mentions.

What works for me is deep breathing. There you have it. A philosophy in a phrase. Deep breathing.

Deep breathing and visualisation

Paul also mentions brain-calming through visualisation. Yes, that works for me too, even that stuff about imagining you are on a sunlit beach. Lesson two. Visualisation.

Paul’s new book is called …

The Daily Mail did not mention the title or publisher of Paul’s book. This puzzling oversight was quickly remedied through a visit to the mighty Amazon. The book is called The 3 Things That Will Change Your Destiny Today !

Paul has also written books about wonderful things to do with gastric bands, and has helped smokers to quit, losers to stop losing, and the poor to become rich.

It works

I quickly found more evidence of how his methods work. A remarkable number of reviews have been submitted to the Amazon site within weeks of publication of The 3 Things That Will Change Your Destiny Today !

There was little of the cynicism of the Daily Mail readers. These Amazonian reviewers had been compelled to write in within days (sometimes hours) of receiving their copy of Paul’s book and tapes to say how they were finding their destiny. They could not restrain themselves from sharing the good news with others.

If that’s not evidence of the powers of Paul’s message, I’d like to know what is.

Map-Making and Leadership

March 16, 2010

Leaders need maps to lead. The processes of map-reading, map-testing and map-making have made important contributions to the development of our leaders and civilizations

Maps and Map-making have played an invaluable part in the advancement of human knowledge and discovery processes. Maps in Anatolia (modern-day Turkey) have been dated as over nine thousand years ago. Maps have been found in the archeological remains of early civilizations around the world, supporting domestication trade, exploration, and military ventures

The principles of cartography were clarified in the influential writings of Arthur Robinson at the University of Chicago who emphasized that a map is above all something designed with a particular group of users and for some particular purpose or set of purposes. .

The Map is Not The Territory

A well-known saying in management courses is that the map is not the territory. The idea has been popularised by the distinguished organizational theorist Karl Weick in several of his books and lectures. His accounts are based on a poem by Miroslav Holub about a Hungarian reconnaissance unit lost in the Alps. In the poem, the soldiers faced an icy death, until their leader found a map which he used to lead the platoon to safety. On their return, however, it was found that the map was not of the Alps but of the Pyrenees

“we considered ourselves
lost and waited for the end. And then one of us
found a map in his pocket. That calmed us down.
We pitched camp, lasted out the snowstorm and then with the map
we discovered our bearings.
And here we are.
The lieutenant borrowed this remarkable map
and had a good look at it. It was not a map of the Alps
but of the Pyrenees”

The story has been interpreted in various ways. It has been seen as illustaring Weick’s concepts of sense-making, indicating how a map does not have to be accurate to be a means of finding your bearings.

The saying has also become a fundamental principle in the behavioural theory of neurolinguistic programming, in which it stands for the belief that individuals have cognitive structures or maps which provide differing perceptions of their psychological world.

The processes of map-reading, map-testing and map-making are important elements in the text (map) Dilemmas of Leadership.

To go more deeply

Basbøll & Graham, two Danish philosophers, have been untangling the significance of the Weickian anecdote and provide good primary source references. Karl Weick has replied to their article in the same e-journal.