Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Blue Dye Effect

A teacher brought a ten gallon aquarium of clear water into the classroom.  To this crystal clear water she added a few drops of blue dye.  The result?  Cloudy, blue water.

Looking out at her class, she asked the question, "How much water will I have to add back into the tank to get it crystal clear again?"

"Several drops?"  said one student.

The teacher added several drops.  Nothing changed.

Realizing it would take more, the teacher started adding water.  After adding several GALLONS of fresh water, the water was once again crystal clear.

People are just like that crystal clear tank of water.  And the blue dye?  One negative attitude.  It doesn't take much negative "blue" to taint a person, a family or a team.  And once the "blue" invades, it's going to take a whole lot of positive to get it clear again!

I think of this illustration often.  Unfortunately, I've watched "blue dye"infiltrate a crystal clear tank.  I hate to see this happen because the attitude of a person, family and team is so important!

I know for me, I have to guard my attitude because I can be my own worst "blue dye". I certainly don't want to pollute my own tank let alone taint another persons'.  So I know I have to limit the amount of negative I intake, and doing this ensures the amount of negative thoughts I think and words I say are limited.

One way I do this is by avoiding negative media.  Radio and TV are teaming with negative.  Instead, I listen to Team and LIFE Cds and read good books as much as possible.  I strive every day to speak all the positive I can.

I also limit my time in negative conversations.  I do this by reframing.  I appreciate what Orrin Woodward has taught my on this subject. (The Resolved book is an excellent source on how to do this.) If reframing doesn't work, I remove myself from the negative source completely.

Recently, I was reading an article that mentioned Socrates' filter test. (There's no evidence proving this is actually Socrates' filter test, but I think it's good enough to use anyway, regardless of who said it first!)  The filter test is an excellent way to filter the negative out of our own minds as well as that coming from others!

Socrates was said to hold knowledge in high esteem.  

One day an acquaintance met the great philosopher and said, "Socrates, do you know what I just heard about your friend?"

"Pause a moment," Socrates replied. "Before telling me anything, I'd like you to pass a little test.  It's called the Triple Filter Test."

"Triple Filter?"

"That's right," Socrates continued. "Before you talk to me about my friend, it might be a good idea to take a moment and filter what you're going to say.

The first filter is TRUTH.  Have you made absolutely sure that what you are about to tell me is true?"

"No," the man said, "Actually I just heard about it and......."

"All right," said Socrates.  "So you don't really know if it's true or not.  

Now let's try to second filter, the filter of GOODNESS.  Is what you are about to tell me about my friend something good?"

"No, on the contrary......"

"So" Socrates continued, "You want to tell me something bad about him, but you're not certain it's true.  You may still pass the test though, because there is one filter left:  The filter of USEFULNESS.  Is what you're about to tell me about my friend useful to me?"

"No, not really." 

"Well," concluded Socrates, "If what you're about to tell me is neither true nor good or even useful, then why tell me at all?"

Brilliant!  Speak all the true, goodness filled useful things you can!  That will certainly keep our mind crystal clear!  It will also help you guard your own family and your team from any "blue dye" that tries to cloudy the waters with thinking that isn't even true, good or useful!

I challenge you to be a crystal clear tank and guard yourself and others from untrue, bad and useless blue dye that only serves to make you feel lousy, slow you down and cloudy up an otherwise awesome day!

God Bless


  1. Oh my goodness! This is such a very personal topic for me. There have been DAYS I've been drowning in that ugly blue dye! And why is it that it's far easier to stay in the blue water? Could it be that it's alot of work to add that clear water? I know there have been many, many days where it's been far too comfortable for me to stay in the negative, but one day, I had a light bulb moment and realized that the negative is actually taking me farther away from living the life I've always wanted to live!

    A few things that have helped me to bring my life back into the "clear", along with your aforementioned CDs and books (I highly recommend the Psychology of Winning, Born to Win, and the Magic of Thinking Big), having a mentor/coach has been key! I have learned to be honest with her (thanks Mary Mazur!) about myself and my negative thoughts, an encouraging word helps to turn that switch in my mind. I have also learned the fine art of reframing, which encourages me to see the learning experience in every not-so-positive situation. The last item I have learned is the power of an affirmation statement (thanks Mike & Tonya Hartmann).

    With proactive practice and encouragement, the blue water doesn't stay blue quite as long!!! And as a result, I'm far happier, productive, and an encourager to others!

    Thanks for the great article!!!

  2. Marc... Thank you for the thought-provoking admonition! I am going to do my level best not to expose myself to unnecessary "blue dye" and just as importantly, I am committing not to add "blue dye" to OTHER people's "tanks".

    The "T-G-U Filter" is an excellent tool for preventing "blue dye" from entering and exiting me.

    Thank you for this great teaching and the tools to DO it!

  3. Great post Marc. Just a little blue-dye or a drop of oil can render a refreshing water supply useless. Keeping it out of our lives and thinking isn't easy, but with the help of life-changing information we can "flush the system" and help others do the same.

  4. I love this Marc! Better yet, it's what you and Kristine live! That's one of the most appealing characteristics that I believe draw people to you both! What a thought provoking test. Just imagine this Triple Filter Test being spread around the world. Would it be a quieter place or would people stand up and take the challenge to speak "positive" into other's lives. I chose to have hope and faith in people and believe that through LIFE we will be the positive change agent this world needs right now! Thanks for the encouraging and challenging info.

  5. Thank you! I've heard the blue-dye analogy before, but not the triple-filter-test story. We are studying ancient Greece in school right now. I can't wait to share with my kids this great story to lead them forward in their life decisions. I will also give them the caveat that it may not be Socrates, but the possibility of it being the great philosopher's test fits into our unit is too well to pass up! Thank you for enriching adults AND kids! The next generation will pass us up with great leaders as yourself, Marc!

  6. The best way I've heard of evaluating what we are thinking about saying! Thanks Marc!

  7. I just read this and it opened my eyes so much to the things I listen to as well as how I speak to others. I will definitely put this to use immediately. No one needs "blue dye" in their life and I shall do my best to keep the "blue dye" from entering my tank and others if I'm there to interject.

    Thanks for the amazing insight Marc,
    Have a blessed day.
    Joe Dodd

  8. In light of recent events, I believe that keeping the water crystal clear is more important than ever. Each day is a challenge to remain not only dye-free myself but to help clear the tanks of those who are so in need of cleansing thoughts!
    I am so thankful for the LIFE books, CDs and this amazing group of people who add the clear water to my tank, so that I can pass the gift on.
    Thanks for the continued inspiration, Marc!
    God Bless!

  9. Marc, I've read this a couple of times since you posted this so I've had some time to reflect and now look back over the past week. Its so easy to let the "blue dye" invade our personal water (The news, internet, discussions, things that go on around us and things that happen far away). It would be so easy to get immersed in that and let the blue dye invade me (I wonder if my skin would turn blue?) Blue that what would happen if I chose to keep listening to the news, to stay in the conversations that permits the blue dye to seep in? And not only blue skin but blue eyes, blue hair, blue nails!!!! What would it take to get all that blue out of me? It would take a whole lot of fresh clean water (CD's, reading, association, mentoring)and a whole lot of time. So what I did was to tune it out and turn it off. I'm in control of what I let in....and what I let out. I don't want to be the cause of someone else to have blue skin either. Good stuff in...good stuff out. I'll keep limiting the time for news and stay away from other negative factors and increasing the time for reading and listening and most of all associating with the best positive people.

  10. Marc, this is an outstanding test that we can all use to judge our own actions. After reading your blog and spending some time home over the holidays, I had a chance to reflect on some of the reasons that I sometimes have a bad attitude. Certainly the "mood of the room" can have a big impact, in either direction. I've learned through the LIFE materials and by watching you, that I have the choice to control the mood of the room and not just react to it. Since you and I share similar personality traits, your example continues to remind me that is it possible and powerful.

    I've also found that my attitude is significantly influenced by my health. Although I'm blessed to be in good health, just being tired or having low blood sugar seems to bring me down. By following the advice in the Fitness area of the LIFE program, has helped me in both areas. Watching one of the LIFE DVDs while running on the treadmill is a 2-for-1 deal. Listening to stories like the EDGE series interview of Paige Schreiber are so inspiring. This girl has had significant health issues for her entire life and still maintains a great attitude. Although I will still try to maintain my fitness, I certainly can't use "I'm tired" as an excuse for a poor attitude after listening to Paige's story.

    Marc, thank you for your insights and example.

  11. Great words Marc!! Keep up the good work!!