Friday, January 9, 2015

The Power of Personal Experience

We live in a world where scientific inquiry and quantitative measurements form the basis of human knowledge. Nevertheless, we must not neglect the wisdom borne of personal experience and visceral wisdom in our quests to understanding truth and our own existential development. In truth, the biggest questions in life cannot be answered by science alone. If you choose to rely strictly on science for your understanding of reality, you forfeit rich storehouses of wisdom that can only be accessed internally and experientially.
Nearly five decades ago, British existential philosopher Paul Roubiczek argued that science is insufficient in understanding the totality of the human condition. In his words, "we have to admit experience as evidence." [1]

The powers of reason have strict limitations; ... a purely logical, rational, scientific way of thinking illuminates only a strictly limited sector of reality. ... Science, being impersonal, cannot help us when we want to deal with personal experience. ... [For example], Think[ing] in a purely objective way cannot help us to deal with feelings [because] feelings described in an impersonal way cannot be understood. If, for instance, we are given an exact scientific description of pain, physiological and psychological, including all the processes which take place in our body and all the nerve reactions, we shall still not know what pain actually is unless we experience it. [2]
Our experiences profoundly influence who who we are and what we become. Like it or not, we are all products of our experiences. No matter how similar two people may be to each other, each person's experiences are remarkably unique. Experience matters, not only because it shapes who you are and how you see the world, but because the ore of wisdom can be found in experiences. If you are willing to mine your experiences for this ore, you will be able to refine it to obtain insights worth their weight in gold (wisdom). Just as importantly, if you are willing to seek out new experiences that may be challenging, but will provide you with opportunities to learn and grow, you will reap all sorts of new riches.

No matter who you are, life is full of opportunities to gain worthwhile experiences. Sadly, many people fail to recognize opportunity when it is staring them right in the face. Sadder still is when they recognize opportunity, but fail to take advantage of it. The great business philosopher, Jim Rohn, once talked about his aged farmer father who, even in his last days on Earth, was still out and about well into the evenings attending the ballgame or going to the rodeo. Rohn's advice was to take advantage of every worthy opportunity that crosses your path. "If you live well," he said, "You will earn well." [3]. Notice he didn't say, If you earn well, you will live well. Rohn got the equation right. Living well is the key to earning well (financially or otherwise), not the other way around.


It has been said that, "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics." [4]. If you turn on your television, you will quickly perceive the insight of this statement. If you go online, you will find it corroborated even further. One Internet expert, Michael Maslansky, [5] recently put it this way: "You can go to Google, [and] find whatever facts you want. You pick any story out there, give me 15-minutes on Google, [and] I can give you facts that support both sides of the story." [6].

From media and politics to marketing and litigation, a diminishing ensemble of truth tellers face an uphill battle in their efforts to expose and indict the capable, determined, and well-funded 'spin doctors' who are far more interested in proving 'their point' than they are in revealing the true picture and the facts that support it. It is a tragic waste of intelligence and a perpetual embarrassment to our Country.

With the exception of BOOK THE FOURTH, where I present data collected from my own Action Research, I have intentionally chosen not to use statistics to support the arguments, points, and premises put forth in this book. I do this for two reasons. First, I am not a statistician, and I make a habit of not speaking, writing, or commenting professionally on topics of which I am not an expert. I am an educator, poet, philosopher, and amateur historian; my message, therefore, will be communicated through the lens of pedagogy, verse, philosophy, and history.

Second, no matter how reliable cited data may be, the veracity of the SAL theory and model cannot be validated strictly empirically. The honest consultation of heart and conscience must play a role. If you are unwilling to listen to your conscience and be honest with yourself, you will find little value in this book.

It is ridiculous to watch otherwise intelligent persons cite, and then spin, statistics in every which way--their only real intent being to protect and advance themselves and their agenda. Oftentimes the exact same statistics are used by opposing persons or organizations to champion entirely contrary conclusions and causes; it is an absurd insult to our intelligence. Individuals and organizations often selectively--and seductively--use statistics to provide so-called empirical data to corroborate whatever ideological, social, political, or marketing point they are paid to promote. It is nauseating.

In an effort to avoid such sophistry, I have chosen to steer clear of statistics altogether. Instead, I rely on the intuitive, visceral, common sense-based, experiential wisdom of my readers to determine for themselves the veracity of the message. This involves approaching the material with an honest and open mind, listening to your heart, and tuning into your conscience throughout the process.


"It is funny how mortals always picture us [devils] as putting things into their minds; in reality our best work is done by keeping things out."
- C.S. Lewis
(1899 - 1963) 

Never underestimate the power of a well-cultivated idea. One idea properly planted in your mind and heart and then nourished with action can change your life. I have experienced this phenomenon time and again. For example, the ideas planted in my mind and heart as I read and studied Stephen R. Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People changed my life as a young college student. Not only did it produce many of the seeds that eventually grew into the tree of this book, but it has also indirectly been worth tens of thousands of dollars to me in my career. In fact, one of the reasons I landed my first professional seminar training position was because I was able to effectively teach the 7 Habits model spontaneously during a pre-audition phone interview. I wouldn't be surprised if those same seeds planted by Covey's 7 Habits are worth millions of dollars to me before I retire.

Communication is, among other things, a process of planting the seeds of thought in the mind of another. Leadership is about putting the right ideas into the minds, hearts, and spirits of those you lead, and then inspiring them to act on those ideas. Individuals can become capable and powerful beyond measure when truth is allowed to properly germinate within. The proliferation of right principles was the foundation of Churchill's genius during World War II. Constantly planting thought seeds of liberty, freedom, resilience, resolve, calmness, endurance, patience, personal power, national identity into the minds of his people, Churchill the leader, "Mobilized the English Language and [successfully] sent it into battle,"[8] to the benefit of all of us.

This book provides a storehouse of ideas you can ingrain in the mind, heart, and soul of yourself and those you teach, lead, and love. We invite you to plant these ideas by reading and pondering the words. Then water and fertilize them by setting goals, working hard, and exercising persistence. Finally, allow the sunshine of Serendipity to nourish your newly sprouted knowledge and skills. If you will do this, you will come to find that over time, the tree of your life will bear many bountiful bushels of delicious fruit in the form of personal freedom, existential growth, and achievement.


I am not a perfect human being, and I do not claim to have all the answers to the mysteries of life. I do, however, place enormous confidence in the SAL theory and model because it has been developed, tested, and refined through the fiery crucibles of my own experiences. Existential Growth, like emotional intelligence, is not limited by your genetic makeup or mimetic influences alone. Others who have humbly and diligently learned and practiced SAL principles over time have likewise experienced great success. They wouldn't have known them by this name, but that is okay because I didn't invent the principles or practices; I merely organized and articulated them into an original package and gave it a unique name. The beauty of SAL philosophy lies in the fact that there are no limits to how much you can grow existentially. This fact engenders enormous hope for anyone interested in, and willing to, apply it. It means you are able to move forward as long as as far as you are willing to keep trying. The questions to ask yourself then are:

How much will YOU choose to grow? and...
How far will YOU choose to go?

Found Your FLOW in 2015 yet?

Are you familiar with FLOW theory? I recently read a fascinating article on the subject by Dr. Bruce H. Jackson that I would recommend to you. If you are interested in this useful concept that can dramatically enhance your life, I invite you to visit Dr. Jackson's -- a leading expert in FLOW theory -- website where you can read some of his articles and sign up for his newsletter. It can be accessed by clicking HERE.

One of the things I love most about my work is that I regularly find myself in FLOW states. Learn how you can better Find your FLOW in life by visiting Dr. Jackson's webpage today.

[1] Roubiczek, P. (1964). Existentialism: For and Against. Cambridge University Press. Page 5.
[2] Ibid. Pages 1, 4-5.
[3] Rohn, J. (2000). Building Your Network Marketing Business. VideoPlus.
[4] Attributed to Mark Twain and Benjamin Disraeli, among others.
[5] Michael Maslansky, author of The Language of Trust: Selling Ideas in a World of Skeptics.
[6] Micahel Maslansky speaking on The O'Reilly Factor. Fox News Channel. January 6, 2015.
[7] Lewis, C.S. (1995). The Screwtape Letters. New York: Bantam. Chapter IV, Page 11.
[8] President John F. Kennedy said this of Churchill upon granting him honorary U.S. citizenship nearly two decades after the end of World War II.

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