Blog Archives

The need for contemplation


As I start  this new day I take a few moments just to think, contemplate, meditate, pray and take time to allow my thoughts to settle.

It is my cave (or quiet) time, where nothing matters apart from stillness of the heart and mind. I can sit and watch the world go by without participating in its busy-ness. Sometimes I think about the work I must do, but, the most  important thing I do is to just sit and in quiet contemplation just allow myself to listen.

Contemplation, meditation and prayer, to me, are much more about spending time listening than about the process or method or in the case of prayer, speaking or asking for things. When we sit and listen we discover many things about ourselves. Some are good some are not so good, but it is always for us to be encouraged about something or challenged to work on other things or even just to be a peace for a short time in our busy world.

Whether you are a Christian, as I am, or have another faith or even no faith at all, let me encourage you to practice the art of just “being”, sitting for a few  moments everyday in quietness just to listen. You will be amazed at what you will discover.

Paul S Allen

The Art Of Good Communication

Here are a few points about communication for you to reflect on. Ask yourself “how well do I measure up on these?” then ask someone else to use the same statements to measure you.

Learn the art of good communication.

These are just a few point to help with basic communication. If you are a leader you need to be able to communicate well and this does not mean just issuing commands, it will require practiced skill. Get training to help or find a good mentor to give you honest evaluation of your ability. Do not assume that you communicate well or that others know what you are about.

This is a very large subject and this is just a scratch at the surface of it

Paul S Allen

TEDxDunedin (A Reflection) 2

A reflection on the second TEDxDunedin event held 16 April 2010.

TED has the tag line “Ideas Worth Spreading”, this was again true tonight.

If I were to sum up the night succinctly it could be said like this… Don’t get stressed about what you do not have, live a simple but enjoyable life and when you come to leave this life make sure you have made your peace over what really matters.

The Speakers

Professor Andrew Bradstock “Mind the gap: why inequality effects us all”

It was a interesting to hear that New Zealand has the sixth largest equality gap between rich and poor in the world. It is not however a surprise to hear that this large gap has a negative effect on the whole of society. “We are all poorer because of inequality” The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer in New Zealand and across the western world. What we fail to grasp is that more wealth does not equal more happiness. It is not for us to judge that one materialistic rich life is better than a simple but content life. I have said in a previous article “Mediocrity to one person is excellence to another. It is not for us to judge the other, especially if we do not know all of the circumstances of the other.”

Andrew finished with an open call for dialogue around the question “What makes for a better society?”. Let me echo that call.


Kate Wilson “The Measure of Happiness – and Other Unmeasurables”.

The main message from Kate was that a happy life is not dependant on having things or more money or looking like this model or being rich. It is by working out your own values, that is what is really important to you. Contentment is not measured by commodities or consumer products or even the size of your bank balance.

Money is not part of this question. Money is just a tool.

The question to ask of yourself is “What is your measure of contentment?”.


Richard Egan “How To Die Well”.

The trend has been over the last few centuries that we are “living decades longer” but “dying badly” (especially long drawn out cancer and heart decease) and there has been a “growth on meaninglessness”.

Spirituality and death can not be separated, one could say that death is in every way a spiritual act, whether there is a particular faith or belief the act of dying is deeply spiritual. To die well implies that one has to prepare spiritually while still alive.

The spiritual is important and needs to be looked after regardless of personal belief systems.

A question was asked “how do we prepare for death?” This is not easy to answer but each of us needs to search for the answer, as Socrates said “an unexamined life is not worth living”.


I have personally had my brush with death as when I was five I nearly drowned and had to be rescued after I became unconscious , death now has no sting for me, I remember that it was very peaceful and knew I was in the safest place. I have a deep faith in God that sustains me. My father, who also has a strong faith, says “death is an exciting adventure waiting to happen” (he has a heart condition).

The whole evening topics could be summed up Live well, find out what makes you content, help others on the way and know how to die well.

Also part of this event was a video from Hans Rosling from TED India(Click the link below)

“Hans Rosling was a young guest student in India when he first realized that Asia had all the capacities to reclaim its place as the world’s dominant economic force. At TEDIndia, he graphs global economic growth since 1858 and predicts the exact date that India and China will outstrip the US.” (TED)

This was another excellent night and thanks to all those who organised and hosted this night.

Paul S Allen

Find out more about a TEDx event near you.

The Wisdom of the Guitar

I am a guitarist and I play various styles of music from folk to rock to classical. I write my own music too, again in various genres.

(here is an example “Here In This Place” I played all the guitars and the mandolin, sang and looped the drums.  Also, I am a singer/song writer you can find more about me at or buy my music at ).

My Guitars - 1 electric, 2 steel string acoustic guitars one with alternative tuning, a classical guitar and a mandolin.

If I were to just rely on a single guitar which would I choose, and would I be able to play all the music I like.

As I was thinking about this this mirrors life in many ways. so here are some parallels  from the humble guitar.

1. There is more than one type of guitar.

You need to choose the write guitar for the purpose and sound you wish to achieve. The right tools will always make your tasks easier.

2. Make sure the guitar has the right number of strings.

Generally a guitar has 6 or 12 strings but some have 7 and bass guitars have usually 4, 5 or 6. Again the sound that you will make will depend on the number of strings your guitar has.

3. The guitar has to have all of the right components.

A guitar has a number of strings, a head to keep it tuned, a long neck, a body, a bridge to anchor the strings, but without a player the guitar will remain silent.

4.Guitars need the right amount of stress and tension to make a good tone.

We need the right amount of tension and stress in us to shine as a guitar needs tension and stress for it to make music. Too little and the guitar will not sound and too much and the guitar will break.

5. Keep it tuned and replace the stings from time to time.

Nothing worse than the sound of a badly tuned guitar or lifeless flat strings. Have a maintenance programme for yourself and your skills.

6. Unless it is played it will not make a sound.

Use your skills and abilities often.

7. The shape or type of guitar does not determine whether it produces good music, the player does.

Practice, practice, practice.

Paul S Allen

TEDxDunedin (A Reflection)

A reflection on the first TEDxDunedin event held December 4, 2009.

The thought processes I find myself having when attending events like this, seem to wander from what the speakers are actually saying to the implications of what they are saying. I found the process of the TEDxDunedin event to be a dialogue rather than just speakers talking to a crowd. This dialogue is more about a meeting of minds rather than sharing of words.

Some bullet points from the night…

Phil Osbourne (University of Otago) “The Power of Free”

  • “Customers happy with value don’t complain about the price.”
  • “What are you going to do when your competitors go free/style?”
  • Most important  “The future is not about business as usual”

Matt Ayres (Polson Higgs)

  • “What happens when your model of service is under threat?”
  • “Your most valuable asset for the future is your insight into the problem your organisation exists to fix”
  • “The future is inside the people you serve”
  • “Fundamental for all organizations… it is about serving people better”

Jason Leong (The Distiller/Pocketsmith)

Growing up great, this was about the thought that business start ups are like “orphans” and that a model of incubation where a group of start up businesses are in an environment where they “Contribute – Collaborate – Share” is important.

Daniel Belton (Good Company Arts)

Daniels presentation was of interest to me as the video of dance that he showed caused me to think about the convergence of two seemingly opposite views, the rigid and the fluid.

The rigid and the fluid need each other to work in harmony; in fact one without the other is structure without life or chaos. As Itay Talgam has said in another TED video “You need process and content to make good music” Process is the structure, whether in business or other activity, and content is what makes it “human” or alive.

A quote from Daniel “[it is] Important that we don’t just “look” but we “see”.”

There was also a video from a neurological specialist talking about her experience when she had a stroke, describing the differences between left and right hemisphere thinking, the left hemisphere being structural the right being experiential. The encouragement from the speaker (Jill Bolte-Taylor)1. was to spend more time on the right hemisphere to spend more time in the metaphysical and creative side.

This video matched well with all the people presenting tonight as the only way to move on is to change the way we think, and to do that we need to be creative in all areas of life and business.

To achieve great new things we cannot do what has already been done.

The world is changing around us whether we like it or not. How we respond to change will determine how we will cope and how we will fit in the future.

Please check out the TEDxDunedin site.

This was a great event and look forward to continuing the dialogue.

Paul S Allen

1. The video by Jill Bolte-Taylor

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