Mind maps – sometimes making hard choices can be so simple

The ripple effect of what we do is sometimes only clear with hindsight which may not always have 20-20 vision. Many bad choices can be prevented by thinking through our actions – ok Coach…that’s kinda obvious. Why then is it that there are so many things people, even the smartest or most regarded of us, do that end with the person saying “I just didn’t think…” or “I didn’t realise…”.


Image Source Page: http://www.onlineschools.org/education-debate/the-hindsight-knew-it-all-along-bias-in-education/

Tim Mathieson suffered from foot in mouth the other day in something that a number of people found embarrassing, amusing, shocking but worst…offensive. As an ambassador for men’s health, his heart may have been in the right place – getting men to laugh and be comfortable with getting prostate checks. His execution and his position as the partner of the Prime Minister of Australia resulted in the wrong kind of attention to an important issue.  In writing his speech, I wonder if he’d planned to use that quip or whether it was a spur of the moment remark?

foot in mouth

Image Source Page: http://miscellany101.wordpress.com/2010/08/03/foot-in-mouth-award/

Recently I read in my Professor’s blog how he and his son had picked up a quote from Lance Armstrong while watching the Road to Paris during a break from slalom canoeing. They used this as a mantra for their training – now, nearly 12 years on, they know the source of the mantra they’d used was a liar and a cheat. There are so many obvious victims of the lies and bullying perpetrated by Lance Armstrong, but in all that time and in the aftermath now, do you think he has stopped to think of how far and wide his lies have reached? How so many people not even related to his sport believed in him and had hope because of what he achieved. As a cancer survivor I have no doubt there are people out there fighting for their life who believed in Lance and now whose mental strength has been shaken which will make real impacts on their recovery.

 creating a ripple

Image Source Page: http://lightworkers.org/node/146727

Getting back to my original thought though, mind mapping can be a lot of fun and can help with making tough decisions. When you know why you are making a choice, it becomes so much easier to make that decision to study or the decision to travel or even just the decision to take out the garbage! I haven’t done a mind map in a while but I found myself drawing one yesterday at work while my cohorts and I were doing some initial brainstorming on a task we’ve been set. As I doodled our thoughts, it reminded me of a brilliant mindmapper I met at the Day of Inspiration in Sydney last year. Guy Downes mapped the presentations given by each of the keynote speakers for which I was not only fascinated by all day long, I was jealous too – I wish I could draw! One of the boards from the day is pictured below.

Guys map

These are much more elaborate than my maps. Mine are often just circles with interconnecting lines, but they have helped me make some key decisions and stick to them. Once you start doing them, they then help you think outside the square and then make more considered and/or informed decisions and sometimes at a lightening pace.

Last weekend I was officiating a triathlon and came across an athlete who had fallen very badly on the bike course. I guarantee I wasn’t doing a mind map to decide what steps to take, but the thought process was the same. All of the thoughts that came into my head slipped quickly into an ordered pattern, I was able to sort important thoughts from useless info and I feel that I responded well in that situation.

Our choices are something we have control over. Mind mapping is one of many ways to make a choice that I use, pro’s and con’s are another. Choosing to practice mind mapping might lead to making better choices – will you choose to give it a go?

Do an internet search on mind map and you’ll find plenty of free software to do digital maps (I do most of mine by hand). There are also plenty of sites that will walk you through where to start and how to map your thoughts.

Big, Bigger, Bigot – by labelling someone a bigot are we ourselves bigoted?

**Please note that the intent of this post is to expand thinking. I’m not endorsing any one view point over another, just mulling over some aspects of where to draw the line on labelling someone a bigot (or any other label for that matter)**

I’m not sure how to express my feelings regarding the comments made by two candidates from the Australia party yesterday. I’m not angry, but I’m definitely not happy or supportive of their views. The closest way I can think to describe it is deeply saddened. I have no intent of repeating their views because in this case I feel it unnecessary to further promote them; however Mia Freedman covers it well in her open letter to the Australian Party (thank you Mia).

In trying to understand what a bigot is and how is someone labelled a bigot, I turned to my trusty online dictionary: dictionary.com (which often assists me with my online crossword: Cricklers – hey, it’s an American based crossword so some word interpretations or local knowledge is needed for things like ‘Chicago Airport’). I found that related words included ‘redneck’, ‘zealot’, ‘intolerant’, ‘fanatic’ and ‘dogmatic’… Then my mind started to wander having seen “The Fanatics” this week popping up at the Australian Open – these people are there for the fun and not to discriminate against others and so not all fanatics are negative which left me thinking – is being labelled a bigot a negative thing?


The Fanatics at Wimbledon

 Image sourced from: http://www.thefanatics.com/

Back on my fave online dictionary, along with the definitions and related words are some quotes. The first one that pops up led me to think: Is a bigot also potentially a well informed person who has made a clear decision and is sticking to it?

 “We call a man a bigot or a slave of dogma because he is a thinker who has thought thoroughly and to a definite end.”

  Gilbert Keith Chesterton


This is where my thinking behind my title for this blog comes from. If we think big and expand our knowledge we are more informed than we were.


think big

Image sourced from: www.calgaryartsdevelopment.com/

 If we think bigger and research more, we can not only be well informed, but then use that information to become a subject matter expert (side note, I was once told that in breaking down the word expert, ex is used as a prefix for former and no longer required, spurt [sic] is likened to an out of control drip and as such, an expert is a useless drip).

If, however, that bigger knowledge leads us to form an opinion that we know in ourselves to be so true that everyone else who doesn’t agree is therefore wrong, is that bigotry or just a well informed stand point? If we are then proven wrong or the majority disagrees, should we then be forced to eat humble pie?


Image sourced from: http://surf.co.nz/forum/surfing-chat/990/

In thinking about this topic overnight, I remembered reading an article on Julian Assange that associated many labels to him including bigot (see ref below). A UK parliamentarian walked a similar path to the two Australia Party candidates calling other people a bigot and yet he was perhaps being one himself (again see ref below).

When it comes to sport – and this is something I’ll explore in another post – where did the bigotry line fall (if at all) when South Africa was prevented from international competition in the 80’s because of an international stand point on apartheid? Please note, I do not support segregation, however was the rest of the world being intolerant of an opposing view?

This blog post is definitely not about justifying the comments made yesterday or actions of the past, but my question is this: by labelling someone a bigot, are we ourselves expressing our own bigotry by being intolerant of someone else’s opinion (whether it is well researched or not)?



We_call_a_man_a_bigot_or_a. (n.d.). Columbia World of Quotations. Retrieved January 25, 2013, from Dictionary.com website: http://quotes.dictionary.com/We_call_a_man_a_bigot_or_a

Article on Assange: http://frontpagemag.com/2012/dgreenfield/assange-claims-america-deserved-consulate-attack/

Article from the UK: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2201746/Nick-Clegg-Fury-bigot-slur-gay-marriage-opponents-Church-leaders-attack-offensive-remark.html

Blogging is like a diet – I’ve tried several times but I just can’t commit!

This is, I think, my fourth attempt at a blog. Inspired by the movie Julie and Julia – where a young woman blogs about her attempt to complete all of the recipes in a particular cookbook in one year – I started my first blog in the lead up to the Race for a Cure: Asia Challenge that I went on in 2010. Disappointed that there was no one following/commenting on my blog I gave up even though I wanted it to be my virtual diary that I could look back on (I still do read it, but I stopped writing – you can find it here: http://mychallengeraceforacure.blogspot.com.au/). Then just before I went away, I got a second wind and started again (second blog: http://mcfi-race2010.blogspot.com.au/). I didn’t think anyone was following it – there were a couple of comments this time – but I was enjoying writing about the different world I was seeing as we raced and explored our way through Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.  When I came home and had proper internet access again, I found a stack of comments on my facebook page but when I returned to training with my tri club, I found loads of people had been following my trip and it had even become a topic of chat at one of the post-bunch ride coffee’s. By that stage I’d been offline a couple of months and I didn’t really get back to it.

Last year I began preparing to take on Mt Kilimanjaro to again raise money for and awareness of Cure Cancer Australia – my charity of choice. I started a new blog (I can’t even find that one), but it lasted maybe a week because I kept getting sick. In the end I had to pull out of the trip – I felt like I’d failed and still do feel that way – I’m still having trouble with migraines which I had during the previous challenge but I didn’t know that’s what was going on.  

Anyway….I’m now on beta blockers and anticonvulsants that I take twice a day and I’ve now also had 2 sets of botox injections into several points in my head (yes it hurts and yes botox actually has medical use beyond cosmetic – one of many articles available can be found here). The migraines mean I won’t be able to take on Kili or Everest base camp, but a new challenge has come up that is a swim one and I have my own challenge of completing a half ironman to keep me busy.

Meanwhile, through all the inconsistent training and the changes in medication, I have piled on the weight. I have tried, like blogging, to stick to a pattern of when I do things – routine used to work really well for me and after all, it’s the easiest way to change a habit right? I keep hearing and reading in different places that it takes 21days to create a habit, so I always try that with new things. Doesn’t seem to work with my diet because I never seem to be able to sit still/say no to opportunities “Fiona do you wannna see a movie tonight?” “Fiona are you up for a lake swim?” “Fiona we’re riding down the clyde (on motorobikes) this weekend – wanna come?”…..Even if I’ve packed food and have nothing else on that day, by the time it comes to eating lunch or afternoon tea, if I haven’t devoured it already because it looks great, then I don’t always feel like eating it (she says looking at her nectarine and wanting to want to eat it).

Then there are the different types of diets and support tools. If you google coachmcfi you’ll see I tried SparklePeople in 2006 and I had a crack at Biggest Loser too – I actually did quite well on that but then the whole migraine thing took hold. I’ve gone for high protein diets and no sugar diets (mega fail – I’ve never made it to a week never mind 21 days I’m so absent minded at times). Currently I am just trying to make healthy choices as often as possible and I have a new focus. I am reading a book by Barrister Ruth Fields (no not a sports practitioner) “Run Fat Bitch Run” which, as you can tell from the title, is a no nonsense book about running. I’m not far into the book, but the more I think about it, the times I succeed the most at things are the times I’m mentally prepared which includes all of the different sports I’ve competed in, jobs I’ve applied for, studies I’ve undertaken and even housework! The preliminaries of the book are about getting your head in the right space and I’ve had to laugh, as a Triathlon Coach, I feel really silly that some of these things haven’t occurred to me before! Ruth’s fantastic books (there is also “Run Fat Bitch Run Marathon Plan” and “26 Reasons to Run” amongst her work) are available on iBooks & Amazon and very possibly a book store near you!

So what do you find works for you when you are creating a habit or making a change? Can you teach an old dog a new trick? Should I start a sweepstake to see how long I’ll keep blogging?