Questions to Ask Your Heroes

If you had a chance to meet one of your heroes, what would you ask them?
Here are my suggestions:

Starting Out

  • How did you get started?
  • Why did you choose this role?
  • Who were your heroes?

Keeping Going

  • What motivates you?
  • How do you manage your time?
  • How do you maintain your energy levels?
  • How do you your manage work / life balance?
  • How do you deal with failure?
  • How do you choose your priorities?
  • What does a good day look like for you?

Personal Growth

  • Who inspires you, now?
  • Have you ever read anything that has had a profound impact on your life?
  • Do you read a newspaper? Other news sources? What do you look for?
  • What is the best advice you have ever been given?

Working with Others

  • How do you build good relationships with colleges / customers?
  • How do you motivate other people?

The Future

  • What are your biggest challenges right now?
  • How do you want to be remembered?

What have I missed? What would you ask your heroes?

The Parable of the Talents: The Faithful Servants

The Parable of the Talents offers some powerful insights into effective investment and personal growth.


The Parable of the Talents is a story told by Jesus to illustrate deep truths about what really matters in life. As recorded in Matthew’s gospel, it reads like this:

A Story about Three Servants

14 … A man went away and put his three servants in charge of all he owned. 15 The man knew what each servant could do. So he handed five thousand coins to the first servant, two thousand to the second, and one thousand to the third. Then he left the country.

16 As soon as the man had gone, the servant with the five thousand coins used them to earn five thousand more. 17 The servant who had two thousand coins did the same with his money and earned two thousand more. 18 But the servant with one thousand coins dug a hole and hid his master’s money in the ground.

19 Some time later the master of those servants returned. He called them in and asked what they had done with his money. 20 The servant who had been given five thousand coins brought them in with the five thousand that he had earned. He said, “Sir, you gave me five thousand coins, and I have earned five thousand more.”

21 “Wonderful!” his master replied. “You are a good and faithful servant. I left you in charge of only a little, but now I will put you in charge of much more. Come and share in my happiness!”

22 Next, the servant who had been given two thousand coins came in and said, “Sir, you gave me two thousand coins, and I have earned two thousand more.”

23 “Wonderful!” his master replied. “You are a good and faithful servant. I left you in charge of only a little, but now I will put you in charge of much more. Come and share in my happiness!”

24 The servant who had been given one thousand coins then came in and said, “Sir, I know that you are hard to get along with. You harvest what you don’t plant and gather crops where you haven’t scattered seed. 25 I was frightened and went out and hid your money in the ground. Here is every single coin!”

26 The master of the servant told him, “You are lazy and good-for-nothing! You know that I harvest what I don’t plant and gather crops where I haven’t scattered seed. 27 You could have at least put my money in the bank, so that I could have earned interest on it.”

28 Then the master said, “Now your money will be taken away and given to the servant with ten thousand coins! 29 Everyone who has something will be given more, and they will have more than enough. But everything will be taken from those who don’t have anything. 30 You are a worthless servant, and you will be thrown out into the dark where people will cry and grit their teeth in pain.”

— Matthew 25:14-30 (CEV)

Who are The Characters in the Story?

The characters in the story are:

  • The Master
  • The Faithful Servants
    • 2TS, the Servant who received 2 Talents.
    • 5TS, the Servant who received 5 Talents.
  • The Unfaithful Servant, 1TS, who received just 1 Talent.

The Faithful Servants: What is their story?

The story of these two faithful Servants is similar, so we’ll consider them together.

  1. They receive Talents from the Master
  2. While the Master was away, they invested the Talents
  3. As a result, they double the number of Talents that they have
  4. They receive a reward from the Master on his return.

What are the servants given? What are Talents?

Many illustrations imply that a Talent is a small coin. However, a Talent is actually a unit of weight. When used as a measure of money, it refers to a talent-weight of gold or of silver. It is unknown exactly what the monetary value this represents, but the important point is that this is a very large sum of money.

Just as many assume that a Biblical Talent is much smaller than it actually was, I think many of us underestimate our own talents. But I’m getting ahead of myself…

What do these Talents symbolise?

There are different views:

  • The gospel
  • The gifts of the Holy Spirit
  • Natural abilities
  • Our material possessions
Some sources insist that the parable is only about one or other of these. Despite this, the parable appears to illustrate principles that apply in all these areas.

Where did the Talents come from?

From the Master:

Every good gift… comes from heavenJames 1:17 GNB

What are Your Talents?


  • Make a list of your Talents, big and small.
  • Highlight your main Talents in the list.


Interestingly, in a group where I asked about people’s talents, the initial reaction of some members was that they have no particular abilities or talents. However, even the things we often take for granted are important. Consider basic human abilities:

  • Body = ability to do things
  • Brain = ability to think
  • Hearing = ability to listen
  • Mouth = ability to speak

We may be a 2TS rather than a 5TS, but we all have Talents.

Compare 2TS and 5TS

What are the similarities between 2TS and 5TS?

  • They both take on responsibilities.
  • They are both faithful.

What are the differences?

  • They have different abilities.
  • They are given different starting points.
  • The gifts that they are given have different values.
  • Their potentials are different.

Why Two Faithful Servants?

The 1TS could look at the others and say, “They have more than me – I have been set up to fail!”. But the 2TS can look at 5TS and give the same argument. However, he does not do so – he is just faithful. By including both faithful servants in the story, Jesus shows that we cannot excuse ourselves by pointing to the differences between others and ourselves.


Make a list of the people with whom you compare yourself, and how.

  • Does this impact what you do with your own Talents?
  • Is this a good thing?
  • What can you do about it?

So, Does it Matter How Much We Have?

To some extent… but how effectively we use what we have is more important.

What Did the Servants do with the Talents?

We don’t know exactly. We know they invested them.

Did the Master tell them to Invest?

The Bible does not say so.

So, how did they know what to do?

Did they know because they knew the Master, because they observed him and saw how he did business?

Has our master left us alone (as he did with these servants)?

No! We have the Holy Spirit to help us.


Look through the list of Talents you made earlier.

  • Do you actually invest them?
  • Could you invest them more effectively?
  • Do you need help from others to develop your talents?


Consider your Main Talents. Set SMART goals for you development and investment of these Talents.

Did they work for themselves or the Master?

They worked on behalf of the master, not for themselves. Their initial funds came from him, and always belonged to him. And the return on their investment belonged to him, as well.
But they benefited, too.

What were their Rewards?

  • Praise
  • Greater Responsibility
  • Joy

What else did they gain?

  • Continuing to work for the Master (fellowship?)
  • Abundance
  • Increased influence
  • Greater opportunity to do more of the Master’s business

What was the praise for?

The Master does not praise them for their productivity, but their faithfulness.


Consider your responsibilities.
Make a list of the key people (or groups of people) in your life. List your main responsibilities to each of them.

  • Are you meeting your responsibilities?
  • Do these responsibilities play to your strengths? Do they fit in with your Main Talents?
  • Do you want more responsibility?
  • Could you take on more?
  • Can you shed some of the responsibilities that do not fit in with your Main Talents to focus on your strengths?

Did the Servants keep the talents?

It looks like it. In fact, they keep both the original talents and the ones that they made.

How do we develop/grow our talents?

By investing / using them.


These notes were made following a group discussion that I led some years ago. Thanks to all who contributed.

Further Reading

Despite my misgivings about some of the things taught by LDS, I would be remiss if I didn’t reference their beautiful illustrations of this story. Note that you’ll need permission from owner if you want to use these images (not from me!).

The Three Dimensions of Daily Renewal

Our personal productivity is primarily determined by three things:

  • Our motivation
  • Our physical ability
  • Our mental clarity

In order to stay on top of our game, we need to work on these daily:

  • Our purpose
  • Our fitness
  • Our organisation

As the good book says:

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.2 Timothy 1:7

Are You Ready for Growth?

Are you ready for growth? Here are 7 things you need to know when you’re about to embark on a voyage of change.

Life is a journey, not a destination.Unknown

1: Know Your Starting Point

You’re not really ready for growth until you’ve thought about the level you’re on at the moment.

There are two main reasons why this is important:

  1. It helps with planning. You can’t plan a route unless you know your starting point. In the same way, you’re not ready to grow until you know what needs to be changed.
  2. It provides motivation. When you see the difference between where you are now and where you want to be, you experience tension, and that tension can fuel your desire to move forwards.
  3. It helps you see progress. There are two ways to measure progress. One is to see how far you have come, and the other is to see how far you have yet to go. To work out how far you have already travelled, you need to know where you started from.

So, if you’re heading out on a journey of personal growth, it would be well worth pausing to reflect on your current:

  • finances
  • relationships
  • fitness
  • values
  • emotions
  • skills
  • limitations
  • personality
  • strengths
  • dreams
  • knowledge
  • beliefs
  • weaknesses
  • talents

2: Know Your Direction

You’re not ready for growth if you don’t know which are of your life you want to grow in. As someone once said, if you’re headed nowhere in particular, you’re likely to end up there!

The good life is a process, not a state of being. It is a direction not a destination.Carl Rogers

So, what does your ideal direction look like? To narrow it down, ask yourselves these questions:

  • How do you enjoy spending your time?
  • What kind of people do you enjoy meeting?
  • What contribution do you want to make?
  • How healthy do you want to be?
  • What do you want to achieve in life?
  • What sort of environment do you like to be in?

One of the problems in choosing a heading is that we can be overwhelmed by the options. Know what matters to you most about where you want to go, as this may help you choose between the options available to you. Then, if you still have more than one possibility open to you, choose the one that looks like it will be most fun!

Of course, not everything will work out they way you expect. So be prepared:

  1. To compromise. None of us can have everything we want. But we can have the most important things.
  2. To change direction as you travel. It is wise to revise your travel plans as you go, to take into account the things you learn along the way.

3: Know Who is Travelling With You

Sometimes we travel alone, but at other times we have company along the way. Either way, you’re not ready for growth until you have at least some idea of who you’re taking with you.

  • Who is travelling with you at the moment?
  • Who else who should be travelling with you?
  • Do you need to revise your commitments to people who are already your travelling companions?
  • Are there certain kinds of people you need to hook up with along the way?
  • Are there others you need to avoid?

And when you consider these people:

  • What are they looking for in a destination? It may not be the same as you.
  • What are their limitations? Not everyone can travel as fast as you, for example.
  • What are their resources? Sometimes they’ll bring things that you can’t bring.
  • What you can offer to them? Sometimes you’ll bring things that they can’t carry.

Sometimes the journey is hard. But, no matter what you’re going through, someone else has been through something similar before. Seeking out those people and learning from them can make the rigours of travel a lot easier to bear. Indeed, personally, I take great in this verse from the Bible:

Don’t panic. I’m with you. There’s no need to fear for I’m your God. I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you. I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you.Isaiah 41:10 – The Message

4: Know Your Travel Options

There is usually more than one way to make a journey: by boat, aircraft, train, or on foot, for example. The happiest travellers assess their options before chosing their mode of transport. You’re not ready for growth until you’ve explored at least a one of your options.
So, what are your options for closing the gap between where you are now and where you want to go? What are the pros and cons of each?
When you’re considering your options:

  1. You don’t need to over-analyze. You don’t need to evaluate every detail of each option – stick to the main features such as cost, speed and comfort.
  2. If you can’t see how to get from here to there, you may need to seek help, either from someone who has travelled that way before, or from a professional travel guide.
  3. Sometimes you find that your destination is unreachable from where you are now. If that is the case, you’re going to have to pick a more realistic destination.

5: Know Your Route

You’re certainly not ready for growth until you have a growth plan. So, once you know where you are going, who is going with you and how you are going to travel, you can begin to plan your route. You don’t need to plan it all in detail. After all, you can’t know everything that will happen on the journey, so you are likely to have to make course adjustments as you go. Nevertheless, you can plain in the main waypoints, and you can plan the first leg of the journey in some detail.

6: Know How To Take Your First Steps

You’re ready for growth when you know what to do next and how you need to do it.
Once you’re ready… just do it!

The good life is a process, not a state of being. It is a direction not a destination.Carl Rogers

7: Know What You’ve Learned So Far

Once you’ve been on the road for a while, you’re likely to have learned a few things about travelling. So, make the most of your experience. To make yourself even more ready for growth, reflect on the journey so far:

  • What have you learned?
  • What will you do differently on the next leg of your journey?
  • What will you do more of?
  • Or less of?
  • Do you need to adjust your course?
  • Or alter your destination?
  • Are you ready to pick up a new travelling companion?
  • Or let go of an old one?
  • Are you slowing others down?
  • Are others holding you back?
  • Is your mode of transport still appropriate?
  • How can you help others on their journey?
  • How can they help you?

Bonus: Remeber Why You’re Travelling

Whenever you set out on a journey, you have a reason for going. When the road gets tough, it can be helpful to remember what made you go in the first place. Similarly, personal growth can sometimes be hard. You may get tired, bored, lonely… Keep your spirits up by reflecting on the reasons you started out, and you’ll always be ready to take the next step on your voyage of change.
Thank you for travelling through this article with me. I hope you have enjoyed the trip, and I wish you a very pleasant onward journey.


  • Image by Doris Antony, Berlin (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons.

Today is Father of Tomorrow

Who do you want to be tomorrow? What do you want your life to look like?

To some extent, the direction of our lives will always be influenced by factors that are outside our control. Nevertheless, the older we are, the more our circumstances are shaped by our own past actions. Much that is good or bad in our lives today is the result of what we did in the past. It follows, then, that much that will happen to us in future will be determined by what we do today.

The effects we experience today are a result of yesterday’s causes. The effects we will experience tomorrow will be the result of today’s causes. We reap, as they say, what we sow.

For example:

  • The seeds we plant today determine the crops we can reap tomorrow.
  • The choices that we make today determine the choices that are available to us tomorrow.
  • The things we attend to today feed the thoughts we think tomorrow.
  • The friendships that we nurture today are the friends we have tomorrow.
  • The questions we ask today determine the answers that we’ll receive tomorrow.
  • What habits we grow today determine who we become tomorrow.

Who do you want to be tomorrow? What do you want your life to look like? And what are you doing about it?


Some People Won’t Get It

Some people just don’t get it, won’t get it or can’t get it. And you can’t make them.

Perhaps they don’t know, don’t think, or they just don’t care. Perhaps they’re insecure, or they’re jealous or they’re afraid that they‘ll lose if you win. Or, perhaps they’re afraid that you will get hurt, and they’re trying to protect you. Whatever the reason they don’t get it, don’t let the witless and the grit-less stop you from believing in yourself.

Now, if someone you trust says you’re wrong, you had better take note, because maybe they’re on to something. So, check your facts, check your logic and double-check your heart. And if it all comes out good, don’t sweat the doubters and the haters. When all is said and done, their problem isn’t with you, but with themselves.

Sometimes it is the people you least expect, the ones who really should know better. Sometimes it is your leaders, your advisors and your staff. Sometimes it is your friends, your family, or even your spouse. And sometimes, it is the whole jolly lot of them.

And sometimes, let’s be honest, sometimes it has been you, and me. So let’s not get all self-righteous about this. We all get it wrong, sometimes. So, “patience grasshopper”. Some of them will get it if you take the time to explain it, some will get it when they see it, and others will get it when they try it for themselves.

But, there will always be the ones who’ll never get it, no matter what you try. Even the Master had problems with the citics and the haters, the flouters and the doubters. ‘Cos haters gonna hate and doubters gonna doubt. That’s just the way it is. So, just let it go, and let them be. And above all, don’t let them stop you doing what you need to do. Because, when you’re right, you’re right.

Some people just don’t get it, some won’t get it and others just can’t get it. And you can’t make them. But if you get it, then live it. When all is said and done, that’s what counts.



You are like grass. I am like grass.

Even the Book says so:

All people are like grass…1 Peter 1:24 (NIV)

Ways that people are like grass:

  • Grass grows.
  • Grass needs to be looked after.
  • Grass produces more grass.
  • Grass is hungry for light.
  • Grass looks good. That’s part of its purpose.
  • A single blade is unimpressive. Grass is better in community.
  • Grass provides nourishment.
  • Faced with a barrier, grass doesn’t give up. See the way it opens up the cracks in pavements? With enough persistence, life can find a way.

Ways that people are not like grass:

  • Grass is green. Most people are not green.

Yes, I have an odd sense of humour.

Image Credit

Image by By LoggaWiggler [CC0 or CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

Truth: The Foundation of Growth

Truth is the cornerstone of personal development and growth. Why is that? And how can you go about discovering the truth?

Understand the Vital Importance of Truth

In order to live effectively, we need a mental model that is based on reality. The extent to which we have understood the real world determines the extent to which we are able to operate within it.

The way we perceive reality important because the things we believe will always determine our actions. For example, if you believe that you’re intelligent and have a gift for learning then you might choose to apply to University, whereas if you have a mental picture of yourself as someone who is incapable of achieving academically then you’re unlikely to pursue higher education. Instead, as your schooling comes to an end, you’re more likely to choose a vocational course or to get a job that involves working with people or using your manual skills.

Knowing yourself is particularly important in this regard, because your strengths and limitations will determine the parameters in which you operate.

Wherever you go, there you’ll be.

Of course, our perceptions are not always accurate. Unless we discover these errors we’ll inevitable do ourselves and others a  disservice. For example, we’ve all heard of people think that they have the voice of an angel, but who cannot, in fact, sing for toffee. Labouring under their delusions these unfortunate people may even persuade others to let them perform. The consequences can be amusing, but can also be devastating when the would-be vocalist has invested themselves into their performing career.

Facing the truth isn’t always easy. It can be hard to admit to your flaws and failures, for example, and it is difficult to accept that there are areas of our lives that we’re powerless to change. Nevertheless, growth requires honesty, and when we embrace reality we’re infinitely better placed to tackle our struggles and setbacks head on.

If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair.C. S. Lewis

Understand the Value of Learning

Our mental models are not fixed, but are constantly being readjusted in the light of new information.

In some ways, our brains are just very powerful pattern finding machines. As we gather data about the world, our brains actively look for patterns, and from these patterns our brains derive rules or principles that help us to make sense of things. This effort to make sense of the things we perceive is very powerful, to the extent that we sometimes find patterns where none actually exists. For example, we might see faces on the moon or pictures in the clouds.

When we start learning about something, we’re prone to over-generalizing the rules that we’ve discovered. When small children learn language, for example, they often apply their rules of language inappropriately. That’s why children say things like, “foots” instead of “feet”, or “it goed away” instead of “It went away”. As we learn more, we tend to correct our misapprehensions, and our inner model improves.
For the most part, the mental model-building happens automatically: we are not consciously aware of it. Children don’t usually need to be told about their language mistakes, for example, and will just correct them without thinking about it as their mental model matures.

Learn How to Accelerate Your Learning

Learning, then, is the process of refining our mental model. Because we’re always encountering data, we’re always refining our understanding of what is true. Fortunately, the model-building process can be accelerated if we pay attention to it and nudge it in the right direction.

Here are some ways to accelerate learning:

Seek Experience

If we have more data available, this naturally accelerates the learning process. My son’s vocabulary has increased because we’ve exposed him to a wealth of books, for example. It can be beneficial, therefore, to go out of your way to seek out novel information.

For example:

  • Get to know a wide variety of people
  • Read widely
  • Travel… even if it is just taking a different route to the shops
  • Go exploring
  • Play


Another way is to seek feedback on the things we think we know, and the best way to do this is to take act on our understanding and observe what happens.

For example, you could:

  • Taste something you didn’t like eating as a child
  • Step out of your comfort zone… even a little bit
  • Learn a little about something that frightens you
  • Get to know someone you wouldn’t naturally be drawn to

 Seek Feedback

Some errors persist until we’re told about them. My son, for example, used to pronounce the word “teacher” as “cheacher” until he was corrected. Fortunately we can become aware of our mistakes by seeking feedback.

For example, do you have a friend who can tell you honestly about the mistakes you when:

  • What you wear is just not flattering
  • You are being rude, boring or stupid
  • You eat too much, too little, or the wrong thing
  • You’re just not being honest with yourself


Another great way to promote truth – especially about yourself – is to reflect a little.

Some exercises can help with this process:

  • Keep a journal
  • Physically take a look at yourself in the mirror
  • Talk to yourself
  • Go on a retreat (or just take a stroll)
  • Do something artistic
  • Do a life audit… or just think about where you’re headed in one area of life


Without a commitment to truth, you cannot be effective, but actively seeking truth can give you choices that you would never have had otherwise.

The truth will set you free.John 8:32


  • Original image “Truth”, a sculpture by Walter Allward, courtesy Wikipedia.

13 Laws of Personal Growth

seedlingSome laws of personal growth:
  1. The Potential Principle: We have unlimited capacity for growth
  2. The Grow or Die Principle: If you’re not growing then you’re dying
  3. The Process Principle: Growth is a process
  4. The Investment Principle: Growth requires investment
  5. The Reproduction Principle: Things reproduce after their kind
  6. The Roots Principle: The growth you see is underpinned by the growth that you don’t see
  7. The Clone Principle: You become like the people you spend time with
  8.  The Fruit Principle: The purpose of growth is the fruit, not the leaf
  9. The Seasons Principle: Growth has it seasons
  10. The Pruning Principle: Healthy growth requires pruning
  11. The Environment Principle: Growth can be stimulated or frustrated by our environment
  12. The Responsibility Principle: Maturity is the ability to take responsibility
  13. The Levels Principle: The steps that brought us here are not the steps that will take us where we want to go

Image courtesy Jean-Paul Brouard via Stock.Xchng

In a Year of Growth, How Will You Grow?

Are you planning to make this year a Year of Growth? What development areas have you chosen? Here is a list of suggestions to help you decide.

How to Use This List to Get Results

Here are some suggestions on how you can make best use of this list.

  • Don’t try to tackle everything! You’ll be a lot more effective if you focus on a few key areas.
  • Choose topics that will give you the greatest long-term benefits.
  • For each area you choose, decide what action you’re going to take.
  • Plan how you’re going to take action.
  • Remove barriers that will slow you down.
  • Enlist others to help you.

How Will You Grow Physically?

Will you look after yourself better in each of these areas:

  • Nutrition and hydration?
  • Exercise?
  • Rest and relaxation?
  • Personal safety?

How will you look your best? Will you improve your:

  • Grooming?
  • Wardrobe?

How will you get better organised? Will you simplify:

  • At work?
  • At home?
  • At play?

How will you take care of your valuables? Will you:

  • Service?
  • Clean?
  • Tidy?
  • Repair?
  • Backup?
  • Secure?

How will you manage your time more effectively? Will you get better at:

  • Managing your to-do list?
  • Scheduling?
  • Estimating?
How will you improve your financial situation in each of the following areas?
  • Earning?
  • Spending?
  • Borrowing?
  • Saving?
  • Protecting?

How Will You Grow Intellectually?

How will you develop your skills and knowledge? Will you take action by:

  • Reading?
  • Attending a course?
  • Asking questions?
  • Mentoring / being mentored?
  • Teaching?

How will you develop your creativity? Will you:

  • Write?
  • Teach?
  • Compose?
  • Design?
  • Produce?

How Will You Grow Your Relationships?

Will you develop in each of your roles?

  • As a family member?
  • As a friend?
  • As a colleague?
  • As a neighbour?
  • As a citizen?

How will you improve your emotional intelligence?
How will you become a better communicator?

  • As a speaker?
  • As a listener?
  • As a writer?

How Will You Grow Spiritually?

The growth of your spirit underpins every other area of growth in your life.
Will you clarify your purpose? Will you:

  • Know your strengths?
  • Know your passions?
  • Know the need?
  • Live your mission?

Will you hone your character? How will you be more:

  • Loving?
  • Joyful
  • Peaceful?
  • Patient?
  • Kind?
  • Good?
  • Faithful?
  • Gentle?
  • Self-controlled?
How will you practice the spiritual disciplines?
  • Solitude?
  • Meditation?
  • Prayer?
  • Study?
  • Fasting?
  • Worship?
  • Celebration?
  • Confession?
  • Giving?
  • Simplicity?

What Are Your Thoughts?

Have you picked your growth areas? I’d love to hear what you’ve chosen and what you plan to do about it. Also, please do share if there is  something missing from my list: I’m sure others will benefit from your insights.

Have a great year!