Absolutely everything that gets done gets done today, right now!

Nine months of putting off the tax return and then it is done in under a hour

Yesterday I finally completed my annual tax return – one day before the deadline, else I would have faced a penalty for late submission.   That probably does not mean anything to you unless I share that:

  • It only took one hour for me to get the paperwork ready, enter the right data into TaxCalc and then submit it electronically – just one hour!
  • I could have done this as far back as the 1st June 2011 – 9 months ago;
  • I had made a decision to get this done over Christmas and never did;
  • I made a decision to get this done in January and each weekend I found an excuse not to do it!

So here is what there is to get:

  • It needed to be done – that is simply what is so irrespective of my thoughts and feelings about it, reality demands it be done;
  • For 9 months I did not do it even though I have been aware that it had to be done – I kept putting it off; and
  • When I did do it, it only took me one hour – just one hour, it was that easy!

What is going on here?

Why would I decide it needs to be done and then i would find excuses for not doing it?  Why would i make such a fuss over so little work?  After all i has done all kinds of stuff that has taken more effort than doing the tax return?  One of the core practices of zen is to accept what is so and then inquire deeply to understand what is going on.  So what has been going on with me?  Having done that work I distinguished that:

  • i never wanted to do it and hoped it could get away with doing it;
  • Every time I showed up and said “It needs to be done” and set a date i found a way of not doing it;
  • i was able to get I to collude in that by doing “something that I considered valuable / worthy”;
  • When I became resolute, 100% resolute (not a grain of doubt was present) then the tax return got done inside one hour.

So what have I gotten out of my experience?

Nothing ever gets done someday.  The kind of mind that generates ‘someday’ will continue generating ‘someday’.  If ‘someday’ shows up in your world then know that it is being generated by mind, your i.  And that it is simply a ploy for i to not do what I says should/needs to be done.

Anything and everything that gets done gets done now – always, no exceptions! Do you get that?  It really is  something profound and getting it provides me, you, us access to being powerful and generating the kind of lives that we dream of and do not generate.

The access to get things done right now is being RESOLUTE – as ‘hard as a diamond’ in your stand.  This will get done and it will get done right now.  And remember that taking the first step right now is doing it right now.   Yes, it is: all I, you, we can do right now is to take that step and keep taking that step every moment until it is done.

I knew when the tax return would not get done and when it was going to get done.  I just knew it.  The difference? An inner conviction – a resolute stand as ‘fierce as a starving lion’ was present when the tax return got done, it was not present when it did not get done.

The mind creates demons and terrors out of nothing and is doing it all the time! The tax return did not get done because my mind (“i”) had convinced itself it was going to be hard AND unpleasant – i would have to pay more money in the form of tax that would be wasted by the Government.  i was totally convinced of that.  The reality: it took only one hour and the Government owes me just a little less than £2,000.  £2,000 I could have gotten back, into my bank account, over 9 months ago!  I believe Susan Jeffers coined a wonderful term: “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway!”  What wisdom there is in her words.

I love you, thank you for listening to my speaking.  What demons has your mind created?  Which aspects of your life would yield if your being was as resolute as mountain of granite?

Born free: a source of inspiration?

I watched Born Free at my daughters insistence and I am delighted that I did so.  I am left deeply moved by the love between Joy Adamson and Elsa.  And the words of the song speak to me and as such I want to record them and share them with you as there is real wisdom in the words of this song.

Born free, as free as the wind blows
As free as the grass grows
Born free to follow your heart

Live free, and beauty surrounds you
The world still astounds you
Each time you look at a star

*Stay free, where no walls divide you
You’re free as a roaring tide
So there’s no need to hide

Born free, and life is worth living
But only worth living
Cause you’re born free

Inventing Possibilities that move, touch and inspire us is the access to our natural freedom – something many of us either never got present to or forgot at an early stage.   Want that inspiration to invent a new Possibility for your life?  I recommend watching the Born Free dvd.  Why?  Because it expands the horizon of what is possible and yet most of us cannot see it.  Who would believe that the kind of love that existed between Joy/Elsa/George was possible?  Who would believe that a lioness that was trained as a ‘human’ and was utterly hopeless at hunting and killing could ‘find that within herself’, survive and go on to have a family?

Net:  I find that accessing inspirational stuff provides me with powerful access to inventing Possibility that leaves me moved, touched and inspired.  It may do the same for you.

Glitter and gold: remember your friends & take care of your soul!

I listened to this song this weekend and it speaks to me.  It is worth sharing and so I am sharing it with you.  If it speaks to you – perfect, if it does not speak to you – perfect.  Here it is:

How good or bad, happy or sad,

Does it have to get?

Losing yourself, no cry for help

You didn’t think you need it?

And old friends are just a chore,

But no you need them now more than before.

All that glitter and all that gold

Won’t buy you happy when you’ve been bought and sold,

Riding wild horses you can’t control,

With all of your glitter and all of your gold,

Take care of your soul,

Take care of your soul.

How high, how low,

How on your own,

Are you gonna get, because

Losing your soul will cost you more,

Than that life you’re paying for,

And all those friends you left behind,

You might need them when its cold outside.

All that glitter and all that gold,

Won’t buy you happy when you’ve been bought and sold,

Riding wild horses you can’t control,

With all of your glitter and all of your gold,

Take care of your soul.

One day you’re gonna wake up and find that,

New dreams is losing its shine and,

Nobody is by your side,

And when the rain comes down you’ll be losing your mind,

So who you gonna run to, where you gonna hide

Glitter and gold won’t keep you warm,

On those lonely nights,

And all those friends who were such a chore,

You’re gonna need them more than ever before.

All that glitter and all that gold,

Won’t buy you happy when you’ve been bought and sold,

Riding wild horses you can’t control,

With all your glitter and all of your gold,

Take care of your soul

With all of your gold

Take care of your soul

Sung by Rebecca Ferguson on her first album titled ‘Heaven’

Boredom: how you can use it and transcend it

Is boredom the source of ill?

i finds oldest son ”amazing’ except when he is bored.  i rarely gets bored – from an early age i was beaten into an able reader.  In younger days, i was ‘imprisoned’ inside the house whilst friends were playing outside – cloudy days, sunny days, rainy days.  Home life occurred as dull (neither parent was educated, literate or passionate about anything in particular).  i gained wings and escaped the prison by losing itself in the Greek myths at the age of 7 or so.  Later i moved on to Alistair MacLean novels and so forth…….  To this day, i rarely gets bored – there is a treasure house of amusement in the form of modern stories, classics, philosophy tomes, psychology classics, spiritual thrillers….. i also has access to the internet and through that all manner of interesting stuff like the ‘remarkable talks by remarkable people’ on TED.  When the opportunity arises then i loves to: go for a walk – especially in the mountains; sit by the stream, river or sea; walk on the beach; cycle around; play table tennis; play pool; watch a movie; talk with friends; write blogs and so on.  i simply does not get how it is that people get bored!

When ‘amazing’ son gets ‘bored’ he ‘acts up’: he makes all kinds of noises (which occur as irritating to i); he barges into other people’s rooms without knocking or asking for permission; he ‘picks on his younger brother and sister’; muscles into other people’s activities with no consideration for their needs; he eats junk; he leaves stuff lying around the house; he ‘asks for and insists on’ hugs……..  All of these activities really press the buttons that activate the worst aspects of i: irritation; contempt; withdrawal; shouting……. i has been struggling, really struggling, with situation at hand.  I have noticed that i expects ‘peace, harmony, reasonableness’ and when i does not get it then i does not like it at all and like a two year old child i throws temper tantrums.

Is boredom is the context within which most people in developed countries live / operate out of?

I noticed that i was firmly in control and out of control so I made the choice to take time out – to read some spiritually uplifting stuff.  And in the process I am able to be at peace with my son (just gave him a big hug now).  What was the access to being at peace with my son?  Getting that ‘boredom’ is the condition that drives the modern world.  Yes, most people in the developed countries (those living in towns and cities) are bored with their lives.  Yes, we are: most of us are bored with our lives most of the time.  We hide it by taking tranquilizers and painkillers.  I could go further and say the ‘welfare of the modern economies’ rests on boredom – creating it and alleviating it.

How many of us do the following out of boredom:

  • Flee to the shopping centres and buy stuff we really do not need?
  • Watch mindless stuff on television?
  • Watch DVDs, go to the movies?
  • Read newspapers and magazines?
  • Play around with consumer gadgets?
  • Surf the internet?
  • Read books?
  • Escape to theme parks?
  • Visit art galleries and museums?
  • Have affairs, divorce, find new partners?
  • Change jobs?
  • Go to the pubs, cafes, clubs?
  • Drink and eat unhealthy stuff to unhealthy levels?
  • Do drugs?

Dive into this and you might just find that the list is endless.  Just think of the impact

How to deal with boredom?

First, recognise how ‘boredom’ shows up in your world, in your living, in your experience.  What do I mean?  I mean that you can investigate boredom: when it does it occur, how often does it occur, what specific circumstances give rise to boredom showing up for you.

Second, get that ‘boredom’ like ‘stress’ and ‘fear’ is a phenomenon we can use rather than let it use us.

Third, get that you, I, we are here and we might as well make ourselves USEFUL.

Operating out of a context of being USEFUL is a great access to transcending boredom

You can be USEFUL to others.  What can you do to make a difference, to be of service, to be a source or contribution to others?  Your family, your neighbours, your community, your colleagues, your profession, animals, plants, environment?

You can be USEFUL to yourself. How about taking up a sport – one that you have wanted to play and never have or one that you used to play, enjoyed playing and stopped playing?  How about learning a new skill – something you know that would make a difference to the quality of your life? How about stepping out of your comfort zone and doing something that scares you so that you can be free of that fear?  Does that occur as too much doing for you, too much effort?  Then how about finding a quiet room in you home and just sitting and being with yourself – meditation?  Incidentally, the latter is the hardest!

To Walk With Lions: why did we cry?

My youngest loves animals.  A year or so back I read Jane Goodall’s book ‘My Life With Chimpanzees‘ and she loved it.  At the end of the book my daughter made a choice – she chose to stop eating meat.  Why?  She was deeply touched by the story Jane shared and the fact that Jane went from being a meat eater to a vegetarian.   A few weeks back I came across a move on Sky that I thought she would like (because it is a story of people and animals) and I recorded it.

Yesterday, the two of us sat down and watched ‘To Walk With Lions‘ a film that can be described as “Set in Kenya in the late 1980s, British backpacker Tony Fitzjohn is fired from his safari driving stint and lands a job assisting the aging George Adamson at his wildlife reserve. After a shaky start with the lions, Tony soon develops a rapport with the animals and also a strong bond with George who continues to battle the government and poachers to protect the magnificent creatures that mean so much to him.”

Both of us were captivated by the movie: George Adamson’s love of the lions and his absolute commitment to his cause, his stance, the Possibility that had fired him through his life; Terrance (George’s brother) and his love of /devotion to the elephants; and Tony Fitzjohn and his transformation from a lost soul into one fired by his love of George Adamson and the Possibility that George is living into and living from – the right for lions to be exist, to live, to live free in the wild.

At the end of the movie my daughter and I were both crying.  She was crying at the slaughter of the animals (rhinos and elephants for their tusks) and the killing of George Adamson (an 83 year old man) and his associates by the local populations.   She could not make sense of why man does what he does.  Why man cannot let the animals live freely?  Why man kills fellow man just because that fellow man loves animals and insists that they be allowed to exist freely rather than being hunted to extinction or put into prisons called zoos.  And she could not understand how anyone would kill an 83 year old man.

For my part I cried deeply for a very different reason.  George Adamson lived as a ‘God’ and if you do not like that word then lets use ‘ GIANT’.  Each of his days was full of absolute commitment to an unshakeable stand (coming from Possibility that was lived from).  And from that context George lived fully, completely, deeply.  George’s life was simply a vehicle to serve a purpose that touched, moved and inspired him so profoundly that the ordinary pettiness of life (vanity, status, money, power…..) had no place in his life.  And it was this that infected Tony Fitzjohn so deeply that he became George Adamson in the sense of being a ‘GIANT’.  Within and from that context I got that for the bulk of my living has been wasted.  I cried for myself and all the moments, days, years that have been wasted.  Oh to have lived one day as George Adamson did?

And I get that I am still alive and I can invent and live into any Possibility that calls me and causes me to live as a ‘GIANT’.  Yes, I can do that, you can do that, we can do that.  And now that I get that, really get that, I am smiling on the inside and the outside.  Are you?

The Possibility that I am ‘re-inventing’ for myself and my life is that of ‘Playing BIG’: of inspiring myself and my fellow human beings to live an extraordinary life, to be of service (to our fellow human beings, to animals, to plants, to the earth, to the universe itself) and to contribute to a ‘world that works’ for all – no-one excluded.  That moves, touches and inspires me.  What Possibility touches, moves and inspires you?  What Possibility lifts your heart, gives you wings and in the process you find you have transcended your life and current circumstances?

Finally, leadership is simply OWNING your life, your living, what is so, COMPLETELY!  George Adamson was a leader.  Tony Fitzjohn became a leader simply be being around George Adamson.  Enough for now.

I love you, I thank you for listening to what I say.

Possibility is the access to extraordinary living: meet JDB

Is this HELL?

Imagine that you are 43 years old and on top of the world.  You have two homes (one in the city, one in the country), you have a wife and children, you drive an expensive sports car, you have a mistress, you have a great job, plenty of money, status……Then whilst you are out driving with one of your children you suffer a stroke.  20 days later you come out of a coma.  Coming out of that coma you simply think it was bad dream and you will shortly get up and resume your life.

Slowly you learn that you will never return to your normal life.  Your mind is just as it was before the stroke.  You can see, you can hear, you can smell, you can feel – all of your senses work.  Only one issue – your body does not work.  You are in hell.  You are aware of everything but you are locked inside your body.  You cannot move your head, your arms, your legs, you cannot swallow….  Everything has to be done for you: you exist because the feed you via a drip, you pee via a catheter…….. You are in the middle of watching a football match, you are really into it, it is half-time and someone comes and switches it off.  The machine that is monitoring is beeping loudly, you are going insane with the noise, you catheter has fallen off, you are totally soaked, you are in misery.  You cannot call out.  You have to wait and bear what is so until someone comes and does something.  Your life is at the mercy of other people – totally.

What is your experience of life?  Would you be tempted to end it all?  Would you feel like a victim, cry and grieve for your lost life?  I suspect many of us would do that.

Introducing Jean-Dominique Bauby

What did Jean-Dominique Bauby  (“JDB”) do?  JDB noticed that he could do something – he could blink his left eyelid.  With the help and inspiration of an amazing speech therapist he learned to communicate using an optimised alphabet.  This required commitment, dedication, patience on the part of JDB and the people around him – with that in place he was able to communicate with many people.  Yet, JDB did not stop there he went further.

JDB invented a Possibility for himself and his life that enabled him to transcend his circumstances, to leave a legacy to his children and all of us.  A legacy that we can use to be grateful for all the simple things (like being able to swallow, turn our head, wash ourselves) that we can do often without thinking about it.  And a legacy that calls our attention to the power of Possibility as an access to extraordinary living – a life lived with meaning, with purpose, with fulfilment.

What Possibility did JDB inventthat inspired him to live a meaningful, purpose life where he was the author of his life, up to meeting the challenges of his circumstances?  JDB invented the Possibility of writing a book (something he had dreamed of and never done) and leaving a legacy to his children.  He also wanted to show some former friends, colleagues and associates that contrary to what they thought he was not a vegetable – a word that they used to describe.  This Possibility kept JDB going for about two years.

With the help of an extraordinary young women (Mendibil) he got his book dictated and then published.  The book is called the The Diving Bell And The Butterfly it was published on 7th March 1997.  To get it to that stage JDB did the following according to the Independent:

  • He would spend most of the night editing his thoughts and composing sentences, which he memorised so that when Mendibil arrived in the morning he could dictate the latest instalment to her in a succession of blinks.
  • He was able to write his book, using only his ability to blink at the most frequently used letters of the alphabet – E, S, A, R, I, N, T and so on, while Mendibil pointed to them on a screen: one blink for “yes”, two blinks for “no”.

So JDB suffered his stroke on 8th December 1995 (age 43).  His book (The Diving Bell and The Butterfly) was published in France on 7th March 1997 – 15 months later.  And JDB died 2 days later.  Is it too much to argue that it is this Possibility that JDB invented that helped him to endure, to transcend his circumstances and live long enough to see his Possibility delivers the fruits of its existence?

The life lesson for us all

By inventing and living into a Possibility that inspired JDB and gave meaning to his life JDB transcended his circumstances and left behind a book that is described by the Financial Times as ‘One of the great books of the century’ and Edmund White says ‘Read this book and fall in love with life.’

So what is the example, the life lesson that JDB has left for us if we want to listen?  I assert that the life lesson is simply this: no matter what our circumstances we can choose to invent a Possibility for ourselves and our lives that leaves us being powerful in the face of these circumstances, allow us to transcend these circumstances, gives our living meaning turning ordinary living into extraordinary living.  And by doing that we can leave a legacy behind: inspire our friends, our children, our fellow human beings.

The question is this:  Will I take this path?  Will you take this path?  Will I, you, we invent Possibility(And live from Possibility) that leave us as authors of our lives, people who are up to the circumstances at hand, people who make an impact/contribution to ourselves and others?  Or will be simply act as ‘victims’ and ‘blame circumstances’ for pissing our lives down the toilet.

Never good enough!

It is about 9:35 on Sunday evening and I am Heathrow Airport’s terminal  1 headed towards gate 80 to catch my 22:00 flight to Ireland.  The boarding card says that boarding will close at 9:40 so I need to get moving and get to my gate.

I arrive at a ‘checkpoint’ the lady at the checkpoint is talking with an African gentleman.  I stand and watch hoping that they will conclude their business so that she can scan my boarding card and let me through.  After a couple of minutes I notice that there is an issue and it will not get resolved quickly.  I stay calm despite the urgency to get through this checkpoint.  They keep talking and it is clear he does not understand what she is saying.  She keeps saying that she cannot help him and he has to wait until tomorrow to get his flight and he will then get food on the flight. I intervene.

“What’s the issue that this gentleman if facing?” I ask.  She replies that he is hungry, that he does not have money, that he has to wait until the next day to catch his British Midland flight. I am DELIGHTED – an opportunity to put my Possibility of being of service to work.  I open my wallet and hand over £20 to the man.  The man smiles.  The checkpoint lady says “That is generous of you sir. Thank you.”  I say “Happy to be of service!”.  She scans my boarding card, I thank her, shake hands with the African man and make haste for my boarding gate hoping I will still catch my flight.

I could be happy now.  Some people might even say that I should be happy with myself – I have made a difference to two fellow human beings: one that was hungry and the other who wanted to help him and yet was struggling to do so.  How am I feeling?  I am feeling BAD.  Why is that?  There is a voice in my head and it says “How selfish you were!  What is £20?  It is nothing, you should have given him at least £40! You did not do enough.  You could have done better and SHOULD have done better!”

Then I get it.  This is one of my default positions: NOTHING I do is ever good enough.  I remember all the times I would come home from school and share my test results with my parents.  It was NEVER good enough.  I might have got 86% and it was not good enough because I came second.  I might have come first and that was not good enough because I only got 72%.  I might have got A’s in various subjects and that was not good enough because I got several B’s or a C.

So one of the default settings for my machinery is “Never good enough!”  What can I do about it?  Be mindful and when it talks, let it talk yet pay no heed to what it says.  No more than I would pay heed to what an insane person says.  Nor what a person who is talking gibberish says.  Nor to what a drunk says.  That is the strategy and it does take something to put it into practice because the pull of the default setting is so strong – a lifetime of ‘not good enough, you can do better, you should do better’.

What runs you?