One of my favourite quotes about developing healthy human relation insights comes from Stephen Covey, author of 7 Habits of highly effective people ~ ‘Seek first to understand then to be understood’

The idea of transparency and honesty is only half the equation when it comes to building strong relationships.

Wether it’s family matters, building communities or the top end of town business deals, understanding the other person is not the first thing we think of.

What we may think is understanding is often assumptions. We are quick to judge which stems from immaturity or an underdeveloped character, or at worst deliberate selfishness.

To truly understand another human being, we have to take time out for a moment and remove ourselves from our own expectations, world view and ingrained prejudices. So as you can see, being honest is only half of the equation.

I know what it is like to have my opinion exercised through sheer manipulation. This is nothing more than a jungle mentality. Only the strong survive. Unfortunately this type of mentality gets us to a point of exhaustion and isolation. Isolation leads to mental health issues where all sorts of phobias are planted in our minds like unwanted weeds. We believe our honesty is enough and unfortunately our honesty at this point is just a one sided skewed view of the world.


The bigger picture invites us to grow in our thinking and being honest about what we see in this fascinating world of integrity and empathy.

I remember trying to teach about a dozen high-rise construction site managers at their weekly leadership meeting this vital lesson in seeing the bigger picture. Anyone who has worked in a high energy environment of high-rise construction knows, managers verbally fight like cat and dog all the time. The construction boss watched on as I drew an imaginary number in the middle of the circle where all the managers sat.

What do you see?

I went around the room and asked, “Which number did I draw?”

The room was divided in their answer, about 50% said I drew the number 6 and the rest insisted that I drew the number 9. Backwards and forwards they started to defend each other’s positions, insisting it was a 6 or a 9.

I was the only one who knew what number was in the middle of the room. I could’ve allowed chaos to continue and agree with both parties and therefore manipulate everyone in the room one by one or I could be honest and tell them what number I drew.

I stood up and walked over to the other side of the room and asked if they would walk back with me to my side of the room. I revealed that I drew a 6 even though they kept saying from their perspective it was a 9. It wasn’t enough just to correct them, it was important that I won their confidence by reaching out to them and asking them to cross over to my side.

I understand that they saw a 9 and from where they sat, they were honestly wrong. There honesty wasn’t enough. People end up fighting on the wrong battle field just because they are honest but not willing to be shown a different way.

The construction boss loved the demonstration and grabbed the principle like a gold nugget.

Wether it’s raising a family, building long term friendships or developing your career, you can only get so far by being honest about what you see without first seeing the bigger picture.

Take time out to put your opinion on hold. This is not as easy as it sounds, especially for go getters like me. But it is worth it in the long haul, your ability to make decisions based on the bigger picture will give you far greater impact, influence and integrity with others.

On the flip side, you will always have negative people that will never see your point of view no matter how much you reach out to them or try and understand them. This should stop you from being the bigger person and loving them anyway. Maybe in time they will want more than a superficial connection, but if not, you won’t allow them to poison you.

I have two guiding laws that govern me, which helps me always to try and see the bigger picture.

I love God with all my heart and I love humanity like I love myself. Sometimes I tell people I still love them, but I don’t necessarily like them at that moment because of the way they are behaving. I also accept that I behave unpleasantly from time to time and I check myself why? Am I tired, feel taken advantage of etc… regardless, it’s my responsibility to adjust and make things right, often by apologising first to maintain the relationship.

I call this honesty as seeing the bigger picture.

Never dismiss others indefinitely, be open to make things right at some point even if the opportunity didn’t present itself, just stay open.

It’s natural to want to live a life with minimal disruption, but life without the salt of adventure quickly kills the spirit.

What’s perhaps new to us isn’t necessarily new at all.

Entertaining ideas of starting a business, getting married, having children or travelling for a year are some of the most normal things humans can do, but for some it can be terrifying.

Being open to new ideas is what makes us grow in life. It’s when we settle before reaching any level of maturity, that we shrink emotionally, mentally and spiritually.

We end up building castles, with high walls and one gate, in some shape or form and then lock ourselves in.

Types of castles we build that have closed the door to new ideas.

1. Getting a job we hate and never moving on to find a career we love.

2. Being part of a community that has stopped in time. Your whole life revolves around the same people that are happy to settle, who have little appetite to grow the community into relevant significance.

3. Believe that you have reached your peak and it’s all down hill from here, nothing could be further from the truth.

Awakening the pioneer spirit, by allowing God’s voice to communicate in areas of our life we have shut down

A pioneer spirit develops an itch that is so irritating that it must be scratched to get relief.

A pioneer spirit is the one that day dreams of all sorts of possibilities.

A pioneer spirit believes retirement happens only when we reach the grave.

One of the most encouraging pictures of a pioneer spirit is so ancient, most wouldn’t know the story, but it is classic.

A man called Abram heard the voice of God to leave everything familiar to him and go to a land filled with possibilities. He was challenged to take his immediate family into a completely different environment and it was there that his destiny would be revealed.

Imagine that still small voice agitating you to leave your mother land, culture and extended family to a land that looks like a desert in the hope of finding an oasis.

Millions of people have done that throughout time, migrating across oceans to find a better life for themselves.

Abram being an early pioneer of this concept experienced a transformation of character during this journey. His name changed from Abram to Abraham, meaning ‘Father of Nations’. It was his response to obeying the still small voice of God that led to opportunities beyond his comprehension.

In life, we always have a choice to settle with what we think we know or be open to the spectator. Trusting the voice of God to take you through the desert until the oasis appears.

Can I encourage you to go outside the castle you’ve created around yourself and see the huge world waiting for your discovery. It may not feel safe, but it will awaken the pioneer spirit in you.

Your best days are always ahead of you.


Nostalgia : A state of being homesick : homesickness or a wistful or excessively sentimental yearning for return to or of some past period or irrecoverable condition.

Old wine skins were new wine skins at some point that welcomed the effervescent nature of new wine. When old wine skins lose there ability to be flexible, containing anything new becomes hazardous.

The moment we start to yearn simpler days, we begin to fabricate how great things were. Rather than seek new wine skins to contain current possibilities, we begin to leak out all our enthusiasm on yesterday’s missed opportunities.

Fact number one, change is inevitable.

Fact number two, if we do not believe fact number one, we will not prepare for new opportunities.

We have to move with the times in order to stay relevant, valuable and the most important all, stay enthused about life.

Giving up is not an option, giving in is not an option, GIVING is the only option.

Giving What?

When I know things aren’t right, the temptation to blame, make excuses or just throw my hands in the air with discouragement is ever before me.

Alternatively, I can GIVE myself entirely to renewing the way I see the problem or challenge and rebirth my thinking process. Renewing my mind is where enthusiasm stays alive, new paths of creativity are forged, ready to meet new opportunities.

Old ways of thinking with new opportunities presented, are often incompatible, this is as old as time. The analogy of New Wine destroying Old Wine Skins is ancient.

Are you feeling stuck?

Don’t yearn for the past to return, this widens the void you already feel.

Take the opportunity to see the problem or challenge as a season of complete renewal, allowing you to be flexible and open. By doing so, you give yourself every chance to help you grow to your full capacity.

Remember, if you’re not growing, you’re going.

It’s a great day to be alive.

The moment forgiveness is released into the air, all sorts of transformations take place.

Forgiveness is a living thing, it’s not a thought process or a program. Just because people coexist, it doesn’t imply forgiveness has taken place. Some of the most angry and bitter people can coexist for years harbouring bitterness and resentment.

Being civil isn’t forgiveness, being civil externally prevents wars, but civility without forgiveness cannot bring about harmony.

Wether it’s a married couple or work colleagues or enduring friendships, forgiveness plays a huge role in creating harmony.

Tolerance to some is a form of forgiveness, as individuals see themselves as the measure of right and wrong, missing the freedom and power of harmony.

Civility & tolerance are often the last resorts before breakdown and bloodshed.

Forgiveness on the other hand seeks harmony as the last resort.

Forgiveness must start with someone willing to give in and let go of hurts, be they real or imagined. Forgiveness seeks to wipe the slate clean of all mistakes, conscious or unconscious.

If a marriage, family or relationships are is to go the distance where harmony is the end game for all parties, forgiveness is the only solution.

Some believe that just changing environments are the solution. Unfortunately we take our bitter heart with us wherever we go and we infect everyone along the way.

I know in my life, the greatest gift I’ve given myself is forgiveness, and in turn am able to pass it on to whoever I’m dealing with.

I know in my life, the hardest thing I’ve done is to forgive myself, grappling wether I deserved forgiveness.

I had no alternative, I wanted more than anything ‘HARMONY’. I got to a point where civility and tolerance was not enough, so I forgave myself first.

You can’t give what you haven’t got

For you and I to expect dramatic changes from others, I believe dramatic changes starts at home, in our own heart.

This is the foundation of why I trust in the teachings of Jesus so much, His whole message which has come to be known as the Good News, is all about forgiveness.

Forgive & forgive & forgive some more until it’s contagious. Live in a constant state of harmony with all those around you. If those around you are trapped in anger, civility or tolerance just to exist, be liberal with your forgiveness and let them catch what you have.

They need you perhaps more than you need them.

Critical Thinkers have an incredible ability to see things from many perspectives. They can draw conclusions, bring out unseen opportunities, while spitting out irrelevant information that others see as critical information.

Critical Thinkers in their formative years can come across as abrasive, know it alls. Like any immature process, if a Critical Thinker doesn’t embrace humanity with all its flaws and potential, they begin to deify their thought processes, thus making them void of future Critical Thought.

A Critical Thinker who seeks to remain pure in their endeavours will continue to see the world with all its possibilities. Three attitudes are required.

1. Stay inquisitive, no matter how much knowledge we believe we have.

2. Allow knowledge to flow from many sources. Sometimes what we seek can come from a person or experience completely opposite or foreign to us. Critical Thinkers leave all their prejudices at the door, especially when they sense breakthrough coming.

3. Give credit where it is due. There is nothing more welcoming when we hear words of gratitude from those who are thought leaders.

“This person showed me something that I never even thought of”

“I thought I was an expert in this field but after listening and watching how it can be done so much easier, I’m happy to start again”

A Critical Thinker in their purist form resembles a child like temperament, drinking in new bits of information with gusto and enthusiasm.

The greatest Critical Thinker in my world comes from the teachings of Jesus. There are too many examples to share, one just needs to read one of the four gospels to see that.

Jesus taught a most valuable foundational truth to seeing how the cosmos was framed and put together. He said “You must change the way you think and become like a child again”

Children don’t see what we adults have been forced to see, children see every possibility.

Perhaps take time to let go of everything you think you know and be open to a hundred or a thousand other possibilities. This is where Critical Thinkers thrive and come up with ideas that seem to fall out of the sky.

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CONTACT Tom Smilovitis direct through WhatsApp to discuss your Leadership & Personal Development journey.
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