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Feng Shui Dilemmas: Put Empowerment First

Feng Shui Dilemmas: Put Empowerment First

    In feng shui the goal is to create environments that are utterly comfortable, spaces with a predominance of positive energy and few sources of negative energy. There are times when environments present insurmountable energy challenges and a choice must be made between two options, neither of which is optimal. It’s then a matter of determining which solution has the least negative effects.

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    This past weekend I ran into that type of situation in a meeting room in a hotel. “You won’t believe what this room looked like when I got here,” said Mark LeBlanc of Small Business Success, the presenter. “There was a sofa bed and large black chairs in here. It looked like a storage room.” In Mark’s new arrangement the chairs were arranged in a U with Mark’s flip chart positioned at the open end of the U. He was immediately visible upon entering the room.

    “It looks nice,” I said, “unfortunately you’re not in the power position.” When he looked at me quizzically I explained, “To be fully empowered, you need to have a solid wall behind you and a full view of the door. In your current position you are facing into the room, not toward the door. And, the energy coming through the door just slams right into you. You would be more empowered if we flipped the U and had you present from the other end of the room.”

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    “That’s how I initially had it set up, but then I noticed that the large light fixture is at this end of the room. The only light sources at the other end are those two side table lamps. Do you think that would be enough light?” Mark responded. I agreed with Mark that the light was rather dim. So, now we were at a choice point. Was it more important that Mark be well lit? After all, light would stimulate his thinking, inspiration and energy. Or, was it more important that he be speaking from the power position?

    “Well, you could speak from this end today and then tomorrow we can rearrange the room for you to speak at the other end. That way you can compare and decide which works best for you,” I suggested.

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    Mark agreed to that plan. The next morning we rearranged the room and Mark spoke from the other end of the room for the next day and a half. As I was driving Mark to the airport I asked him whether moving him to the power position in the more dimly lit end of the room had been a good decision. He said, “I definitely felt better at that end of the room, away from all the distractions near the door. And, though the light was dim, it was preferable to the light at the other end. That light was just too bright (it was lit by a high power fluorescent fixture). At the end of the first day (3 hours of presenting), I was exhausted!”

    We talked about the fact that in some circumstances you just cannot get a perfect feng shui solution and must make choices. In this case Mark and I decided that putting him in the power position was the priority with lighting being a secondary concern. Though the lighting in the power position was not optimal, as it turned out, it was preferable to being in the path of energy coming from the door, the noise and distractions at the door end of the room, and being drained of energy from the bright light of a fluorescent fixture. Mark and I also noted that he is a strong, compelling speaker with a powerful message whose inner light of passion for his message was bright enough to offset the light deficit.

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    When you find yourself at a feng shui choice point when no solution is ideal, remember to look for the arrangement that has the least negative impact on the people that will be affected by it. When ever possible, place yourself in the most empowered position possible and minimize other sources of negative energy.

    Image: Ben Tanabata

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    Last Updated on January 21, 2020

    Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

    Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

    Most of the skills I use to make a living are skills I’ve learned on my own: Web design, desktop publishing, marketing, personal productivity skills, even teaching! And most of what I know about science, politics, computers, art, guitar-playing, world history, writing, and a dozen other topics, I’ve picked up outside of any formal education.

    This is not to toot my own horn at all; if you stop to think about it, much of what you know how to do you’ve picked up on your own. But we rarely think about the process of becoming self-taught. This is too bad, because often, we shy away from things we don’t know how to do without stopping to think about how we might learn it — in many cases, fairly easily.

    The way you approach the world around you dictates to a great degree whether you will find learning something new easy or hard.

    The Keys to Learning Anything Easily

    Learning comes easily to people who have developed:

    Curiosity

    Being curious means you look forward to learning new things and are troubled by gaps in your understanding of the world. New words and ideas are received as challenges and the work of understanding them is embraced.

    People who lack curiosity see learning new things as a chore — or worse, as beyond their capacities.

    Patience

    Depending on the complexity of a topic, learning something new can take a long time. And it’s bound to be frustrating as you grapple with new terminologies, new models, and apparently irrelevant information.

    When you are learning something by yourself, there is nobody to control the flow of information, to make sure you move from basic knowledge to intermediate and finally advanced concepts.

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    Patience with your topic, and more importantly with yourself is crucial — there’s no field of knowledge that someone in the world hasn’t managed to learn, starting from exactly where you are.

    A Feeling for Connectedness

    This is the hardest talent to cultivate, and is where most people flounder when approaching a new topic.

    A new body of knowledge is always easiest to learn if you can figure out the way it connects to what you already know. For years, I struggled with calculus in college until one day, my chemistry professor demonstrated how to do half-life calculations using integrals. From then on, calculus came much easier, because I had made a connection between a concept I understood well (the chemistry of half-lifes) and a field I had always struggled in (higher maths).

    The more you look for and pay attention to the connections between different fields, the more readily your mind will be able to latch onto new concepts.

    How to Self-Taught Effectively

    With a learning attitude in place, working your way into a new topic is simply a matter of research, practice, networking, and scheduling:

    1. Research

    Of course, the most important step in learning something new is actually finding out stuff about it. I tend to go through three distinct phases when I’m teaching myself a new topic:

    Learning the Basics

    Start as all things start today: Google it! Somehow people managed to learn before Google ( I learned HTML when Altavista was the best we got!) but nowadays a well-formed search on Google will get you a wealth of information on any topic in seconds.

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    Surfing Wikipedia articles is a great way to get a basic grounding in a new field, too — and usually the Wikipedia entry for your search term will be on the first page of your Google search.

    What I look for is basic information and then the work of experts — blogs by researchers in a field, forums about a topic, organizational websites, magazines. I subscribe to a bunch of RSS feeds to keep up with new material as it’s posted, I print out articles to read in-depth later, and I look for the names of top authors or top books in the field.

    Hitting the Books

    Once I have a good outline of a field of knowledge, I hit the library. I look up the key names and titles I came across online, and then scan the shelves around those titles for other books that look interesting.

    Then, I go to the children’s section of the library and look up the same call numbers — a good overview for teens is probably going to be clearer, more concise, and more geared towards learning than many adult books.

    Long-Term Reference

    While I’m reading my stack of books from the library, I start keeping my eyes out for books I will want to give a permanent place on my shelves. I check online and brick-and-mortar bookstores, but also search thrift stores, used bookstores, library book sales, garage sales, wherever I happen to find myself in the presence of books.

    My goal is a collection of reference manuals and top books that I will come back to either to answer thorny questions or to refresh my knowledge as I put new skills into practice. And to do this cheaply and quickly.

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    2. Practice

    Putting new knowledges into practice helps us develop better understandings now and remember more later. Although a lot of books offer exercises and self-tests, I prefer to jump right in and build something: a website, an essay, a desk, whatever.

    A great way to put any new body of knowledge into action is to start a blog on it — put it out there for the world to see and comment on.

    Just don’t lock your learning up in your head where nobody ever sees how much you know about something, and you never see how much you still don’t know.

    Check out this guide for useful techniques to help you practice efficiently: The Beginner’s Guide to Deliberate Practice

    3. Network

    One of the most powerful sources of knowledge and understanding in my life have been the social networks I have become embedded in over the years — the websites I write on, the LISTSERV I belong to, the people I talk with and present alongside at conferences, my colleagues in the department where I studied and the department where I now teach, and so on.

    These networks are crucial to extending my knowledge in areas I am already involved, and for referring me to contacts in areas where I have no prior experience. Joining an email list, emailing someone working in the field, asking colleagues for recommendations, all are useful ways of getting a foothold in a new field.

    Networking also allows you to test your newly-acquired knowledge against others’ understandings, giving you a chance to grow and further develop.

    Here find out How to Network So You’ll Get Way Ahead in Your Professional Life.

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    4. Schedule

    For anything more complex than a simple overview, it pays to schedule time to commit to learning. Having the books on the shelf, the top websites bookmarked, and a string of contacts does no good if you don’t give yourself time to focus on reading, digesting, and implementing your knowledge.

    Give yourself a deadline, even if there is no externally imposed time limit, and work out a schedule to reach that deadline.

    Final Thoughts

    In a sense, even formal education is a form of self-guided learning — in the end, a teacher can only suggest and encourage a path to learning, at best cutting out some of the work of finding reliable sources to learn from.

    If you’re already working, or have a range of interests beside the purely academic, formal instruction may be too inconvenient or too expensive to undertake. That doesn’t mean you have to set aside the possibility of learning, though; history is full of self-taught successes.

    At its best, even a formal education is meant to prepare you for a life of self-guided learning; with the power of the Internet and the mass media at our disposal, there’s really no reason not to follow your muse wherever it may lead.

    More About Self-Learning

    Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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