I have this thing about fours.

Nearly everything I work with lately comes in a package of fours.

I started laughing about this when I was designing workshops for next year.

And I realised I had a whole bunch of cool stuff that I could use to do a keynote address for.

Here’s the outline …


Personalities, Mindsets, Tendencies and Intelligence's

When it comes to how your mind works there are a multitude of approaches, each with a different way of exploring how our minds handle the world.

This interesting and exciting keynote examines how these four frameworks provide insights into the dimensions of our mental health and how each of these facets impacts on our well-being.

This highly interactive, fast paced, challenging and enjoyable workshop delves into…

The Four Humours which looks at how your personality effects your world view using observations first made by Hippocrates from 700BC.

The Four Mindsets that highlights your developmental mindset growth and introduces you to new mindsets that you may not be aware of. That’s your Fixed, Growth, Benefit and Universal Mindsets.

The Four Intelligence's that looks at your IQ, EQ, PQ and CxQ, that’s Intelligence Quotient, Emotional Quotient, Positive Quotient and Connectional Intelligence.

The Four Tendencies which is all about how you deal with expectation. Based on Gretchen Rubin’s work on how people deal with the tension between their inner and outer expectations everyone us is either the Obliger, the Rebel, the Questioner, or the Upholder.

Throughout the keynote you will track your own responses and gain real insights as to how we interact in and with world and how wisdom of the centuries can be used to align our well-being today.

But then it got crazy…


While I was digging around I found this quote from Aristotle…

“Anyone can become angry - that is easy.

But to be angry with the right person,

to the right degree,

at the right time,

for the right purpose,

and in the right way -

this is not easy.”

The Nicomachean Ethics

I then found this…

Happiness is not a simple concept. Aristotle distinguished between four different levels of happiness.



Happiness from material objects

Happiness at the first level is simply about sensual gratification based on things / something external. This kind of happiness can be intense but is short-lived.

People focusing exclusively on level 1 risk to hit a crisis where life seems shallow and without meaning. In other words there is a limit to the pleasure you get from a new car, a holiday, a nice meal etc. if this is the ONLY source of happiness. As long as you don’t forget the other levels there is absolutely nothing wrong with enjoying the pleasures of level 1 that life can provide!



Ego gratification. Happiness from comparison: being better, more admired than others etc.

You feel this type of happiness when you for example win in sports or get a promotion.

Everyone likes admiration and winning to some extent but people varies a lot regarding how strong their competitive nature is. For some it’s everything, for others it’s just a very minor and very short lived pleasure.

Happiness from continuous comparison with other people is unstable because no one (or very few people) can win in all domains of life all the time. In case of failure, focusing too much on this level can lead to frustrations and a sense of worthlessness.

Excessive focus on comparison and self-promotion also risk to alienate the people around you and can lead to self-absorption, jealousy, cynicism, and the oppression of others.



The happiness from doing good for others and making the world a better place.

This level of happiness is based on the human desire for connection, goodness, meaning, compassion, friendship and unity. Some has summed it up as simply: “Love!”

As this level we move away from ourselves to focus on the well-being of others. In essence our own happiness depends also on the happiness of others.

Level 3 happiness is more lasting and, for most people, provides a deeper feeling of meaning than level 1 and 2.

The limits of level 3 happiness can be said to be human imperfections. Nobody is perfect and human relationships involve disappointment, jealousy, and the risk to be hurt. That’s part of life.


Sublime Beatitudo.

Ultimate, perfect happiness

Level 4 happiness is the most difficult to describe. It involves a search for fullness and perfection. It has to do with finding the right balance between the other levels... and then some.

Psychologists have labelled this desire for ultimate happiness a call for connection to the larger universe or a sort of transcendence.

Some fulfil this desire through spirituality or religion, others through philosophy, art, or scientific endeavours to find answers to some of the big questions of life, human existence and the universe. There’s no definitive or universal answer. You have to find your own calling!

This lines up incredibly with the mindsets, and the tendencies but it transcends the Personalities and the Intelligence's.

So then I went searching for some of my favourite people and saw what they had boxed up in fours…


Please skip the first four minutes of the clip and then be entranced…

I remember reading the Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz from Mexico, years ago and have a copy on a shelf so it must have had an impact this is basically what it says:

The agreements are basically

Be impeccable with your word. Don't take anything personally.Don't make assumptions. Always do your best.

These are said to have come from Toltec Wisdom.

The Toltec lived in central Mexico, and their traditions were those of education and passing knowledge down to the next generation. The Four Agreements shows how the Toltec concepts and ideas can help us realize our full potential as well-balanced and happy people, and how to remove the weight of other people’s expectations of us.

Ruiz tells us that we are all taught strict rules as children, which we make ourselves live by as adults.

The society we live in imposes many things upon us, including the collective ‘dream of the planet’.

The rules of this collective dream are impressed upon us by our parents, schools, religions and other influences. We learn how we are meant to behave through this, and what we should believe and accept as normal. Ruiz says that because we didn’t choose these rules and agreements, we should question why we accept and live by them.

As children, if we rebelled or behaved “badly” we were punished by parents and other authority figures for not following the rules. When we were “good”, we got attention and praise from parents and others.

The Four Agreements shows us that there is a different way. By breaking free from the societal structures and expectations, we can make new agreements for ourselves.

1. The First Agreement is to be impeccable with your word, and never use it against yourself or others.

What does “impeccable” mean? In this context, it comes from a Latin word that means “without sin”. Being impeccable with your internal language means not judging or blaming yourself. Simply having those thoughts means you’re sinning against yourself. You need to change this, and start telling yourself how great you actually are, and giving yourself some TLC.

A key point is that we should remember is that the words we choose to use are powerful – they can liberate or enslave you and others. How many times have you told yourself you’re stupid, or no good at something? Every time you do this, you are making an agreement and choosing to stick by it.

Your words transform the way you think, and affect the opinions of others, so choose them wisely.

2. The Second Agreement says that you won’t need to take things personally if you have a strong sense of yourself.

When people are rude to us, it can often stay in our mind for too long, and we constantly repeat the words in our heads. When you take things personally, you begin inadvertently agreeing with the slight and making it yours, even if it had nothing to do with you.

The reality is that nothing people say or do to you is actually about you – it’s all about them.

When you get upset by something someone said to you, it’s about your own fears and experiences, which makes it essential to deal with this.

Overcoming this issue means you have to know who you are, because then you don’t need to have other people’s acceptance, and nothing they say will hurt you. Everyone looks at the world from a different viewpoint, and you should also recognize your own perspective in this.

3. The Third Agreement tells us that instead of making assumptions, we should ask questions instead.

We often jump to conclusions and make assumptions that are wildly wrong. If you say “hi” to a friend, and they don’t reply, you would perhaps make the assumption that they were mad at you without any real evidence.

When you have trouble understanding something, you assume you know what it means. When things become clear, you can see that it means something else entirely.

We also make assumptions about ourselves, such as whether or not we can do a particular task well. We might think we can, fail, and then feel bad for overestimating our abilities. In reality, we may just have needed to ask more questions to make it a success.

You need to replace assumptions with questions instead. This can be difficult, but it’s the only way to get the answers you need.

4. The Fourth Agreement shows you how to put the first three into practice. This agreement is to always do your best, even if your best constantly changes.

If you were told to always do your best as a child, it was actually sound advice. Doing your best depends on the situation you are in, and is not a one-size-fits-all thing. On certain days your best will be world-beating, and on others maybe it’s just a struggle to get something positive done, but you do something.

To do your best, you should do things because you want to, not because of external motivation like a pay check. Doing a job that you dislike just for a salary is difficult and joyless, and is sometimes the reason you will end up drinking and partying at the weekend, just to forget your frustration.

If you love the job or task you’re doing, you’ll do your best without even trying. Your work will feel effortless and you’ll perform much better. This final agreement will help you to increase the power of the other agreements, while freeing yourself from old patterns.

The Takeaway Message?

The key message of this book is that from the moment we’re born, we are made to conform to society’s rules. This stops us from finding our true selves, but by using the ancient Toltic wisdom it’s possible to replace societal rules with the Four Agreements.


My next stop was Brene’ Brown. She is a super star of TED fame but what I love the most that came out of that talk was the four questions she asked herself and will work for you too, particularly when you are feeling not so brave…


When Daring Greatly best-selling author Brené Brown made a brave decision to talk about her own struggle with shame and vulnerability at a TEDx Talk, she had no idea her life was about to change. Not only did her talk go viral, an incident she calls “happy accident,” but being thrown into the spotlight has also made her realize that the only way to live is to live bravely.

For many, vulnerability is not a comfortable subject to discuss. Many shun the idea of feeling vulnerable because it’s often seen as a sign of weakness. On the contrary, Brown argues that vulnerability is not weakness, but the most accurate measure of courage. Courage, by definition, is being extremely uncomfortable and vulnerable.

Brown herself displayed vulnerability when she shared her story on TEDx Talk. She talked about how she loves certainty and how she hates ambiguity, and that the only reason why she was trying vulnerability was because, at that time, about 70,000 pieces of data indicated that the one thing men and women who live wholeheartedly share in common is their willingness to be vulnerable.

Brown admits that the idea of vulnerability freaked her out so she decided to see a therapist to help her grapple her own fear of it. “I kid you not, I went to my therapist with an Excel spreadsheet of all the things I want to talk about and the time I will allot on each topic. I also wrote on this spreadsheet: No childhood bullshit,” she says, laughing. But despite being uncomfortable with vulnerability, she decided to embrace it and, in the process, chose courage.


When her TEDx Talk became viral, Brown suddenly found herself the subject of vicious online attacks. Reading through online reviews about her physical appearance, she was hit hard by shame. “Shame is how we see ourselves through other people’s eyes,” she says. “The only people not capable of shame are those without capacity of empathy or connection.” For years, she avoided harsh criticism by staying small. “I have always chosen to not venture out completely into my power because that would be too much exposure and would create opportunity for criticism,” she says. “The problem when you stay small and engineer a little bit of smallness is that it’s always served up with resentment because you are always looking at other people and thinking: ‘The only thing standing between me and trying something like that is my own courage.’”

It was during this moment of shame that she stumbled upon former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt’s “The Man in the Arena” speech. “That speech changed me. I’ve decided to live my life in the arena. To live a brave life. The two values I hold closest in my life are faith and courage,” she says.

According to Brown, if you are brave in your life or business, there’s one thing certain: You will get your ass kicked. “It’s just the physics of courage that if you put yourself out there and try new things, it’s not going to work out every time. But here’s the question: Will you show up and be seen even when you cannot control the outcome?” she asks.

The answer, Brown says, is “yes.” In today’s world, you have to be courageous in your business and in yourself because the world is changing too fast. “You have to be willing to fall and fail, and you have to have a culture that can survive that,” she says. “You have a call to courage to set up environments where your employees stay out of shame and the people who see you stay out of shame.”


“If you are not in the arena getting your ass kicked, I am not interested in your feedback. Period. Why? There are a million cheap seats today full of people who will hurl mean­-spiritedness, judgment, advice and criticism, but never once stepped foot in that arena. You can’t afford to listen to them,” Brown cautions.

She says, if criticism no longer hurt or you’ve developed an “I don’t give a shit what others think” attitude, you have a bigger problem than the criticism. “This is because there is no mastery without feedback so you have to let some feedback in, but the trick is in allowing only what’s constructive from the people whose opinion matters most to you. She suggests writing down on a one ­inch by one inch piece of paper the names of people whose opinions matter. “If you need more space than that, you need to edit because the only names that need to go in that piece of paper are the people who love you and care about you, not despite your imperfection or vulnerability, but because of it. That piece of paper should be sacred to you,” she says.


According to Brown, there are four pieces of courage: vulnerability, clarity of values, trust and rising skills or the ability to rise back up after a fall. “Some rise up and become more tenacious as a result of that fall. The only way we find our way back after a fall is through vulnerability,” she says. Vulnerability, after all, is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy and innovation.

Many times, however, we find ourselves mentally “dress-rehearsing” tragedy in the middle of great things. Why? “The reason why we dress-rehearse tragedy and great moments is because the most vulnerable emotion people feel is joy. Men or women with the highest capacity of joy are those who actively practice gratitude,” she says. In other words, to have courage is to also have a heart full of gratitude.

There will be more fours to come … next year.

Starting with the Teaching Well From Within Workshop on the 23rd of January, where you can learn a 4 step framework to empower teachers to be more resilient to stress, while creating positive learning environments and mindful students.

Click here to learn more about this incredible professional learning opportunity.

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