Tuesday, February 7, 2012

You've got to love those skinks!

The skink was back on Sunday.

Well, I'm not really sure if it was the same skink about which I wrote a week or so back, but there certainly was a skink back in the kitchen - and the cat was still around.

For those of you not familiar with Australian fauna, the common garden skink (Lampropholis guichenoti) is found virtually everywhere in South East Australia. It has a smooth dark greyish body with a dark stripe running along each side - a very beautiful creature that is totally harmless, good for the garden, and enjoys sunning itself on rocks and ledges. From tip of nose to end of tail the ones around here seem to be about 18 cm (about 7 inches) long.

But we seem to have a skink with a penchant for danger - or one that
knows that there is a short cut between the front and back gardens if one goes through the house! The cat was sleeping near the door when the skink arrived on the porch, paused, looked at the cat, then scurried inside close to where I was reading a newspaper. There were a few moments of activity then, safely caught in a bag, the skink was removed and released into the front garden.

Now I know that skinks can't think rationally (and probably can't really think at all) but I had to wonder why a creature with no defence mechanisms other than flight or freeze would stray into the path of danger (the cat) and away from an environment in which it can find plenty of places to safely hide. And that got me thinking about the behaviour of people. How often do we act without thinking (virtually operating on 'auto pilot') and put ourselves and others in some form of danger?

We all see it every day. Someone puts an item on the stove (or a bench, or a table), close to the edge and with a handle sticking out in such a way that it could be easily bumped and dislodged; someone listens to music or talks on their phone whilst walking along a street totally oblivious to other people, traffic, or immoveable objects; people remove children and/or items from their car using the door that juts out into the traffic flow endangering both themselves and that which they are moving and passing traffic; people in shops block an entire aisle with their shopping basket or while chatting with a friend; and so on. There are myriad everyday examples, with which we are all aware, of unthinking risky behaviour. People operating on auto pilot with no manual override apparently present!

We all have 2 minds - a childlike mind that operates without thinking and an adult mind that is capable of rational thought, of planning, of "thinking outside the square", and generally enabling us to be creative, exciting people who are aware of others and our surroundings and who seek to operate safely and successfully without endangering ourselves or others. A childlike mind is totally acceptable in a child - in fact it is one of the endearing factors of children - but its not the best mind from which to operate when we're grown up.

You can shift your brain's control to the adult mind. Its not all that hard - all you've got to do is to access something that is already there; that you use frequently; and make it your default way of thinking and acting. There's some more information about how you can do this on http://www.evancarmichael.com/Leadership/5178/summary.php

Why not let me know what you think? You can place your comments below.

More about Doug Long on http://www.dglong.com

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