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?

Our lives work to the extent we give up our stories (and the people/structures which keep them in existence)

“Hey kid, you’re stuck in bad stories. But they’re only stories…” Werner Erhard

Yesterday my wife was spinning her usual story (or the story was spinning her) about going out. I listened to her at the level of story, I did not enter into her story, I did not collude, nor validate her story. Nor did I make her wrong for her story. I simply said nothing until I was asked to say something. Then I pointed out that it was all a story. She did not like that one little bit. Why? The whole point of her telling me her story was to entice me to enter into her story, validate her story, provide sympathy and make her feel good.

To me occurred that she would be free of the need to have someone make her feel good if she simply gave up her story and listened to herself as a highly capable person who is up to that which is at hand. Or if she simply got present to the fact that she will be fine irrespective of how she handles the situation: her life will not come to an end – she will not even catch the common cold! This got me thinking about how many of us are simply stuck in bad stories and yet do not get that they are only stories.

We have a choice – live in/be with reality or live in/from our ‘story’:

We can live in ‘reality’ in so far as it is accessible to us through our senses (see, hear, smell, taste, touch….). Living in ‘reality’ can be described as living in ‘suchness’. The world of suchness is simply what is so. It is a world in which when seeing occurs one can describe what one sees. And words like beautiful and ugly do not exist in this world – beautiful/ugly is a distinction/story we impose on what is there. It is a world in which taste occurs and can be described as sweet, sour, bitter but not as good or bad. I hope you get the idea.

Or we can live in the world of stories. Most of us, for most of the time live in the world of stories. What is remarkable about our existence is that we live in and our living arises out of our stories and we are not present that this is the case. ‘Our’ stories own us and run us and we are not present to it.

It takes something to keep these stories alive. We play a big part in keeping our stories alive – we give them life through our thoughts and our feelings. And importantly through our thoughts and feelings about our thoughts and feelings. It can be even more complicated than that: through our thoughts and feelings about our thoughts and feeling about our thoughts and feelings …… So one access to having our lives work is to give up our stories. Yet, it is not as simple as that for most of us.

We live in relationship – always! Amongst other things it means that we exist in relationship with fellow human beings: our parents, our siblings, our friends, our school teachers, fellow students, our work colleagues, our customers, the church congregation, the media we listen to and watch…….. The interesting thing is that our stories (that own and run us) are kept in existence as much by the people that we are in relationship with as by ourselves. So a powerful access to stepping out of our stories is to ‘move home’. Became a part of a community that has no listening for, no agreement with the stories that run us. Imagine going from a major city and living with the Amish in their communities. Do you doubt that our stories would lost their stranglehold over us? That we would start to see our stories and by seeing them have access to stepping out of them.

You might think that the people who are most likely to help us step outside of our limiting stories into stories that inspire us, give us more freedom, gives us more vitality, more self-expression, more joy would be the people who are the closest to us. My experience is that this is rarely the case. The people who are closest to us are the ones who both shape and help keep our existing stories in existence. This is great if the story creates a life that works for you (joy, self-expression, vitality…) and is not so great if the story bring the opposite into being, into your life.

All of which brings me to the key point: if we want our lives to work then we have to be willing to give up our stories. To give up our stories we have to be willing, prepared and committed to giving me all up all that brings our stories into being, colludes with our stories, keep our stories in existence. In practice that means not only our media, our culture, our religion, our ideologies (e.g. capitalism, socialism….) but also the people who are closest to us. That is a hard ask and that is why most people who even when they know that they are ‘plugged into the matrix’ and their ‘lives our a delusion’ are not willing to ‘unplug themselves from the matrix’. Occasionally, events come along and do that to us – at first we kick and scream, later some of us get that it was a blessing and create new, empowering, inspiring stories.

Finally the access to Possibility and Transformation is letting go of all of your stories forever. When you are standing naked of all Story then there is Nothing and in the space of Nothing you and I can create anything. Put differently in the space of Nothing there is only Possibility – a domain of unlimited possibilities and of freedom.

Oftentimes what I, you, we don’t do has more of an impact than what we do

I was on the phone with my younger son today and he asked me what I had been doing.  I told him that I had been working.  So he said “No, I mean what have you been doing in the evenings?”  I replied “Working, I worked until midnight last night and I am working this evening.”  He asked “Are you getting paid extra for the work that you are doing in the evenings?”  I replied “No” and he asked “Why are you doing it then?”

Why have I been working during the evenings?  Simply put, a bunch of people who have placed their trust in me and who I care about are counting on me to help them accomplish something that matters to them.  And people’s jobs and lives are at stake – there is something huge at stake given the economic situation in this country.

I am also working in the evenings because I am mindful of a fantastic piece of wisdom from a master of life and living.  Like a zen master (and I say he is a zen master, I suspect he lives joyfully without labels) he sees reality and the human condition just as it is and just as it is not.  Here is what he says:

“It is important that you get clear for yourself that your only access to impacting life is action. The world does not care what you intend, how committed you are, how you feel, or what you think, and certainly it has no interest in what you want and don’t want. Take a look at life as it is lived and see for yourself that the world only moves for you when you act.” Werner Erhard

You, I , we act on the world by what we do and by what we do not do. Oftentimes what we do not do (that which we hide from ourselves) has more of an impact on the world than what we do do (that which is visible to ourselves and others). Unfortunately most of the time we are not present to this.

I was fortunate that I got present to the fact that what I did not do on Monday evening (structure and write up the information coming out of the workshops) was likely to make more of an impact on the project that I am working on/in than what I had been doing during the days (facilitating workshops).

Wow: I just got an insight into why my wife is unhappy with me right now!

What do I do when I have not lived up to my own expectations?

Here I am sitting in a hotel room in Ireland.  It has been a busy day and we got a lot accomplished.  Now that I am not busy designing and facilitating meetings & workshops – one after the other for the day – I am present to a certain sadness.  What am I sad about?

I did not manage my emotions.  My emotions played me and in that play my eldest son was hurt both by my words (of criticism) and by my actions (shouting at him).  As a result the affinity, the kindness, the love that was present between me and my son is missing.  This evening I did not even have the courage to ask to speak to him.  I got that was me being ashamed of myself and not wanting to  deal with the situation.  So I asked to speak to him and he refused to speak to him.  I totally get that and that is perfectly ok.  And it is also not ‘perfectly ok’ – not if I am ‘Playing BIG’ as cultivating relationships that work is a key part of that game (as I have created it).  So is managing my frustrations and emotions.

Now I can attach various meanings around me and what has happened.  I can make myself wrong, criticise myself, label myself as ‘bad’, can count that as another ‘failure’. And then I can withdraw, quit the game, beat myself up and just say ‘that is the way I am and that is the way I will always be’.  Yes, I can do that.  If I do that then what does that do for my son?  How does that address is hurt?  How does that rebuild our fractured relationship?

I am choosing to give a different meaning to what is occurred and what is present.  I am up for creating a meaning that leaves me in a powerful position to handle the rift with my son, to learn and to deal with the situations that ‘press my buttons’.  Specifically:

a) When I am under time pressure and I have multiple demands (simultaneously) on my time then I do not deal with that situation well at all.  I get into a state of distress.  Why?  Because I want to please all the people who are depending on me – asking something of me.  So I chicken out and try to do everything putting myself under more pressure.  And then someone pays the price of my ‘cowardice’ – failing to be straight with people and handling their disappointment when I say that I cannot do something they are asking of me.

b)  When people ask me for something at the last minute (and I already have a lot on my plate) I get annoyed and angry with that person. And that is simply because I do not say clearly and firmly “Sorry, this is last minute and I cannot help you now” and when they insist I fail to say convincingly “No is no!”

c) What there is for me to do is to talk with my son and ask him what I need to do to make things right and do those things such that they work for him and work for me;

d) Be mindful that these situation press my buttons and take the action to make sure that they do not arise and if they do then be straight with people and myself – what I cannot do I cannot do – and deal calmly with any disappointment.

The practice that I am taking on is the practice of saying “No” when the appropriate action is to say “No” and importantly BE “No”.  It is a challenge for me and I up for the challenge.  Now, what will it take to build that bridge with my son?  I believe I have an idea that will work for my son – take some of his pain away.  I rang just now and it is late and the family is asleep – I will call him tomorrow.


Giving up ‘responsibility’ and standing in the ‘space of Responsibility’ is a powerful access to getting stuff done

I want to share two experiences with you and what I have learned from these experiences.  Lets start with the experiences:

A number of times I walked up and down the stairs and noticed dirt on the stairs.  Each time i sang the following song: “Hoovering the stairs and keep them clean is my son’s responsibility.  Did he do his job of cleaning the stairs on Sunday?  Did he do the job right? i  don’t think so else the stairs would not be this dirty.  You simply can’t count on people to do what you are counting on them to do.  i should have a word with him and get him to hoover the stairs.”   What I (the one committed to ‘Playing BIG’) noticed is that nothing changed in the real world.  i did not speak to my son – not that it would have done any good.  The stairs continued to be dirty.  Furthermore, I noticed that it is I (and i) who wants the stairs to be clean.  Now if I want the stairs to be clean then who is generating that demand on the world?  I am.  Once I got that I picked up the brush and dustpan and cleaned the stairs – twice during the week so that they could be pristine. And I felt great about it.

For about a week a bunch of boxes and the metal stand for the Christmas tree has lain upstairs on the landing.  Once, during the night, I tripped over the stand and almost hurt myself.  What came out of my mouth?  I cursed my wife for leaving the stuff there.  And I asked myself: “Why the heck has she not put the damn stuff up in the loft?  She wanted the Christmas tree and decorations.  So it is her responsibility to put the damn stuff away!”  Guess what that damned stuff stayed where she put it for the week. She was perfectly content for it to be there and so were my three children. Who was put out by it and wanted it moved off the landing and in the loft? Me.  Today, I and not i was present and it noticed that I is responsible for the demands that I (and i) place on the world.  Guess what?  In less than three minutes the stand and the boxes were up in the loft.  And I was left feeling joyful.  Why?  I had taken responsibility for making happen what I wanted to happen and not pester others to make happen what I want to happen.

So what is the lesson?  There is great wisdom in Nike’s slogan “Just do it!”  The access to just doing what I want done or what needs to be done is for me to stand in the ‘space of Responsibility’.  What do I mean?  Specifically, I mean stepping out of the already, always context (space) in which i, you, we are automatically embedded.  What is that space?  I call that was space “responsibility” – notice that it is responsibility with a small r.  In this space of responsibility when what i (you) want to happen does not happen then i (you) find someone to blame – i points the finger, i criticises, i bangs the table, i insists the other party does what i wants done.  The alternative place to stand and to live from is the space of “Responsibility” (notice that it starts with a big R).  In this space I (You) take the stand that I am Responsible for what shows up in my life AND I am Responsible for bringing into my life what I want in my live and keeping out of my life what I want to keep out of my live.  By taking this stand I look always to myself to get done what needs to be done. Now I might choose to get that done through other people and if I do go down that route and the stuff does not get done (or not the way I want it done) then I take a good look at myself and ask the following question:  who am I being such that I do not create the results that I want in my life?

Finally, I am clear that if I want to be powerful in my living then the access to that is standing (and operating) from the space of Responsibility and not responsibility.

The power of intention: it’s all intention!

This week I got present to the huge influence intention has on how I am being and what shows up in my life.  I also got present to the impact on myself and others when I have one intention and yet pretend to be, to do something else – something that is not a function of my intention.

Time is short and I have a powerful intention to honor my word

Its 12:15 and I have just got off an important conference call.  There is another conference call scheduled for 13:00.  That leaves me with only 45 minutes to get to the town centre, park my car, get to the shops, find the right phone case (for my son), pay the parking, exit, arrive home and dial into the conference call.  i (which loves to ‘play small’) comes into play right on cue: “You’ll never get it done today.  Too risky – you will be late for the conference call.  Son won’t mind if you don’t keep your word.  I am sure that I can come up with a good excuse…….”

Thankfully, being mindful I was present and I was adamant that I was going to play full out to honor the word given to son.  So I headed out to the town centre committed to playing the game full out to get the right phone case and get back in plenty of time to make the conference call.  No traffic.  No problem finding a parking place – too easy in fact!  Get to the first mobile phone shop. Can’t find the phone case.  Find an assistant and ask for help.  He shows me the phone case – only one type of phone case.  I look at it and it strikes me that that phone case is not the one that occurs as being the kind of phone case that son would like.  Make my way to the second retailer and look for the case.  Cannot find it and look for help.  There is only one person to help and he is already helping another customer.  Wait.  Great my turn.  I ask for help, get it, try out the phone case, it is just right, pay £10, thank the chap for being helpful.  I notice that he is smiling and I am smiling.  Leave, pay parking ticket, exit car park, arrive home.  What?  Still fifteen minutes to the conference call.  That means that I accomplished the mission in 30 minutes. WOW!

Fully into putting together an inspirational music playlist and my daughter enters

I had set my heart on putting together an inspirational music playlist.  It is around 18:45 and I am half way there – looking forward to getting this done and then taking a break.  Daughter marches into my room and ‘asks’ for my help in doing her homework. Out of guilt i drops what it is  doing and says “OK, I will help you” ignoring that other part of i which is not at all happy about this.  i and daughter go downstairs.  i and daughter sit around the dining table and she starts her homework.  i automatically finds fault with the way that daughter is doing her homework: she is just writing the answers and not showing the workings – how she arrived at the answer.  i tells daughter that it is not good enough to just write the answer, she also has to show how she got to the answer.  i tells daughter that this will help her in the exams: even if she gets the answer wrong she can get some marks if she is using the right method.  Daughter does what she does. i interprets this as you are wasting my time: “If you are not willing to listen to me and insist on doing your homework the way that you are doing it then you can do it on your own!” i makes its way back to the PC and finishing the music playlist.

Once i had retired and I came into play I noticed that i never had the intention to be of service to daughter.  The hidden intention was to get the music playlist finished.  Everything that occurred – the words, the behaviour – on the surface was just a sham.  i pretending to i and i pretending to daughter.  I also notice that i created exactly the situation that it wanted to get its desired outcome!

Lesson learnt

What is and is not showing up in life (including my experience of what is showing up or not) is function of my intention – whether I am aware of it or not.  So all I have to do is to look at what is showing up and then asking myself the question “What intention would result in this showing up (or not) in life?”  And if I answer that question truthfully then I have the access I need to create the intention that sources the kind of phenomena I want in my life.

‘Playing BIG’ – what the heck is that?

I’ve noticed something interesting.  There appears to be default listening around what constitutes ‘Playing BIG’ when it comes to the people that I know and have shared this Possibility with.  This default listening involves a vision of the future, bold goals, striving after achieving those goals.  There is also an element of ‘being someone’ rather than simply another human being.  So a great example of ‘Playing BIG’ within this listening would be to set up a vision of being at the top of Mount Everest, setting up the goal of being there at the top say by the end of this year and then getting busy making that happen.  And when that vision is achieved then I become someone ‘BIG’ – as now I am someone rather than anyone!

That is not how I speak or listen to ‘Playing BIG’ – not for me, not for you. I am clear that ‘Playing BIG’ will show up differently for different people.  For me ‘Playing BIG” occurs primarily in the domain of who I am being rather than what I am doing or what I am getting out (achieving) of life.   For you ‘Playing BIG’ may occur in the realm of achieving e.g. generating a $1 million in this calendar year, climbing Mount Everest or lifting 100 children out of poverty.

Looking more deeply into ‘Playing BIG’ I see that for me ‘Playing BIG’ involves the following:

a) Allowing my fellow human beings and especially my family members (who I interact with daily and share a living space) to be – just as they are and just as they are not. This occurs as a BIG ask as my default position is not to do this – it is ‘force’ them to fit into my point of view on how they should be.  I am noticing that I have been failing at this often despite my commitment to ‘Playing BIG’.

b) Allowing the world to be – just as it is and just as it is not.  Just the other day I was in a hurry to buy a phone case and I noticed the volcano of frustration and annoyance building up in me.  I get that my default position is that the world should work so as to accommodate my desire, my wishes – instantly.

c) Expanding my circle of concern beyond myself.  WOW – whilst meditating this morning I got that I have been so attached to ‘Playing BIG’ that in the process I have been ‘attached to not losing my face’ with the people who I have shared my stand in life (including that of ‘Playing BIG’) and as such I have been being selfish.  Specifically, I have not been being generous (compassionate listening, making time available, doing what was natural to do in the moment) with my family.

d) Expanding the zone of my self-expression and vulnerability.  Specifically, breaking out of the prison that I have allowed to build up around my self-expression.  In the process of expanding this circle of ‘self-expression and vulnerability’ I have opened up this blog to Google (before you had to know it existed to find it).  I have been singing.  I have been dancing.  I have been giving hugs.  I have been playing table-tennis.  I have been disclosing parts of myself that I have not disclosed before.

e) Dealing with my emotions (and upsets) in a way that creates harmony with self and fellow human beings rather than creates upset and discord.  When immersed in ‘Playing small’ i tends to let emotions fly and land where they land.  i does not take responsibility for what it is doing and the impact it is having on self and others.

f) Coming from the stand that I am responsible for my life (how it occurs to me, what phenomena show up) and letting go of the position ‘I am small and simply one of the pawns in the game of life‘.  That is a big one especially when I notice that I am automatically immersed in a world where the default condition is that almost no-one (from the ‘top to the bottom’) takes responsibility for their lives and the world that we live in.  We are all so busy ‘playing victim’, being self righteous and pointing the finger.  When it comes to that game, my i is as good at playing that game as anyone else that I know on this Earth.

To sum this up I’d say that for me ‘Playing BIG’ occurs as ‘mastery over my ‘self’, the ‘i’ that tends to run me.  For you it might be ‘mastery over the world or some aspect of it’.  And that is OK.

Now when I say that this is how ‘Playing BIG’ occurs to me.  Specifically, I mean that is how it occurs to me right now.  If new stuff  shows up then I am open to letting that influence how ‘Playing BIG’ occurs for me and how I play ‘Playing BIG’. And that means letting go of attachment to ‘my face – winning it or losing it’.  If you are remotely like me then you will know that is a HUGE ask: being who you are being, doing what you are doing, having what you are having without consideration of ‘looking good and avoiding looking bad in the eyes of others’ is truly ‘Playing BIG’.  How many of us play that BIG?

How do you contribute to someone when you cannot ‘fix the situation’?

I was meditating this morning.  Whilst I was still sitting in the lotus position (after having completed the meditation) my daughter came into the lounge.  Just by looking at her I could tell that she was upset.  She asked for a hug and I invited her to come and sit on my lap. Once she sat on my lap I asked her what she was upset about.

She told me that she did not want to go to school.   She told me that she finds school boring.  She told me that the teachers spent too much time on the academic subjects (English, Maths..) and almost no time on the creative subjects that breathe life into her and give her wings: art, painting, dance….. She told me that the teacher his moved her best friend to another part of the classroom and so they are no longer sitting next to each other.  She cried. I felt her pain – really, I FELT her pain.  And I also got that I could not fix the situation.  Life is life.  Sometimes it throws up several flavours like Vanilla, Chocolate, Strawberry…. At other times life throws up Vanilla and when that is so you can choose Vanilla or you can ‘resist’ and you are still faced with Vanilla: there is no escaping Vanilla when all there is, is simply Vanilla.

I got that I could not fix it for her.  So how do I help my daughter given that I cannot fix the situation for her?  I held her tight (but not too tight) and I allowed her to cry – to express and share her pain without any judgement.  And after with what was so for about five minutes she got up and got ready to go to school.

Sometimes the most profound way that we help our fellow human beings is to a create a safe space where they can be who they really are.  A safe space where they can share what is really going on for them without fear of judgement.  A safe space where they know that we will not make any attempts to tell them what to do, to fix them.  A safe space where the communication in our being and relating simply says: “You are equal to the circumstances that you are facing.  And I am here for you.”

A remarkable experience on the way to college

This post is related to the following post:  Getting, owning and letting my disappointment be sets me free!

Usually my wife drives my daughter to school (along with two young girls from next door)  and my eldest son takes the bus to college.  Something came up, my wife asked for my help and yesterday I committed to taking the three girls to school.

This morning I was completely at peace after finishing my morning meditation.  Being in that space the thought came to me: “I can be of service to my eldest son – drive him to college”.  So I called in my son and told him that I would be leaving at 8:30 to drop the girls off at school and if he came with me then I’d drop him off college (after we dropped the girls at school).  He was pleased: he had overslept, would not have been able to do what he needed to do, get the bus and get to college by 9:00am.

After we dropped the girls off school and there was just the two of us my son apologised.  He said he was sorry for the way that he had behaved the previous day during our time playing table-tennis together at the sports centre.  How did this occur to me?  A genuine sharing of what was so for my son: he simply said what there was to say.  He did not occur as ‘making amends’ because that was something expected of him nor of  ‘sweet talking me’ to get something out of me.  He went on to share that he did not know why he had behaved the way that he had behaved.  I listened – just listened.

How was I left feeling?  I was touched – nothing more, nothing less.  I felt no sense of satisfaction like I would have done previously.  Nor did I feel proud of my son (as he had done the right thing) as I would have done previously.  I did not feel or think any thoughts of forgiveness because it did not occur that I had anything to forgive: I had seen into the nature of my disappointment and accepted it totally on Sunday and through that processes I had set myself free.

I was more than simply touched, I was touched deeply.  I got that my son had been living with the disappointment of Sunday’s table-tennis session.  His disappointment was worse:  he had no-one else to blame and was left with only himself to blame.  He also felt guilty at letting me, his dad, down and he had been carrying around this pain for the better part of a day.

How did I respond?  I thanked him for getting my disappointment and sharing his disappointment.  I also told him I loved him – that was simply what was so and I felt it deeply.  I was experiencing compassion and love for my son.  And I told him that I was looking forward to playing table-tennis with him.  I noticed that some of the heaviness that he was carrying about his being lifted.

What is the insight?

I am not the only one who experiences disappointment.  So do others.  I am not the only one that experiences suffering.  So do others.  I am not the only one that is puzzled and asks himself “Why did I do that?”. So do others.

If I can own and be with my experience without getting wrapped up in my ‘story’ then I can be free – at peace – to be compassionate towards my fellow human beings.  And I can put that compassion into the game of life and so take some of the burden off the hearts of my fellow human beings.

Getting, owning and letting my disappointment be sets me free!

Doing more of that which brings joy and human connection into my life is part of the game I have created for myself called ‘Playing BIG’.  Coming from that context I booked a table-tennis table at the sports centre for 9:30 am today.  I was so excited at the thought, picture, of my sons and I playing table-tennis together on a proper table and in a room with lots of space to move around freely – as opposed to playing table-tennis in our lounge.

This morning I rang my son at 8:30 to let him know that I’d pick him up from his friends at 9:15.  And that is exactly what I did.  My son appeared to be in good spirits and I took that to mean that all was fine and I could expect a great experience: playing table-tennis with my son who enjoys playing table-tennis!  We got there, I paid £5 and headed to the table-tennis table.  When we got there delight was present for me: single table set-out in a large room (lots of space) just for us.  This is great and this is going to be great – that is the conversation that I was having with myself.

We got playing.  First my son said that he had to hit the ball harder (than home) – he occurred as being surprised and put out by this.  After practicing for five minutes or so he told me he wanted to play a game.  “Fine, let’s play a game” was my response.  When we got playing he kept asking me if I was playing my best and I kept telling him “Yes”.  He was not happy with this – he seemed to be convinced that I was taking it easy on him.  What was happening in my world: “How the heck do you expect me to play better given that you cannot cope with the level that I am playing at right now?  And yes, I am playing the best that I can play given the circumstances.  Quit asking the same stupid question and just focus on playing!”  On the outside I was calm because whilst i was getting activated by what occurred as a ‘poor attitude’ on my son’s part, I was in control and able to transcend i.

I won the first game – no surprise, no significance to it. We started playing the second game.  Now the room was too hot for my son – he kept saying how hot it was.  I offered to open the double doors – he refused. Then he kept telling me he was thirsty and so I offered him money so that he could go and get a drink – he declined.  All the time I kept calm and simply played table-tennis when there was table-tennis to play.  It soon became obvious to me that the table-tennis that we were playing did not match the ‘table-tennis schema’ that my son had in his head and so he did not want to play table-tennis.  Actually, there was no genius on my part – he kept repeating that he was bored.  At 10am – half an hour in reality yet an eternity in my experience I put a stop to it.  I simply said that I could see that the situation was not working for my son and so we should go home.d

What was there for me?  What was happening underneath the surface?  I noticed that I was disappointed and i (my automatic machinery) was disappointed and angry:  i kept wanting to blame and criticise my son; i felt betrayed; i felt that it’s time had been wasted; i did not approve of people who quit especially when that person is my son – i was brought up to finish whatever it started or it got punished big time.

Yet, I stayed calm and did not let i run me like it usually does.  How did that come about?  I was present to the fact that reality was perfectly OK (just great the way it is and the way it is not) and i noticed that the disappointment was a natural result of how i works.  i had jumped into the future and mapped out how it would be (a great game of table-tennis and a great bonding exercise with my son).  And when reality was reality and it did not match up with what i had expected then i had got upset.  I could see that i had created and was continuing to create my disappointment.  When I got this I owned that i was creating this disappointment and not my son.  I noticed that I soon as I got that and owned my disappointment and let it be without resisting it, it vanished.  And I was left with everything is OK – just the way it is and the way it is not – and that set me free to get on with what I needed to do this morning in complete peace!

How about you?  Are you owning your disappointment and thus setting yourself free?

Want a life that works? When you notice you are ‘on it’ then ‘get off it’!

If I want to ‘Play BIG’ then it is necessary that I be present to and mindful of ‘i getting on it’. And when I notice that ‘i is on it’ then ‘I get off it’. Sounds a bit abstract so let’s make it concrete and personal by sharing what happened this morning.

Guess what happened this morning?

Everything was OK, I had just returned home from dropping my daughter off from school.  I was in the kitchen (alone) and enjoying the peace.  Then my wife came into the house and started asking where the three boxes of presents (I assume they are presents as they were gift wrapped) came from?  My eldest son replied that he did not know.  I said that I did not know – I had not even noticed that they were there sitting on the black granite kitchen worktop.  Either my wife did not hear us or more likely her automatic machinery was hooked by the presents because she looked agitated and continued asking where the presents came from.  At this the automatic machinery that runs me kicked in:  she is being unreasonable and demanding so let her have it and i let my wife have it.  i made my wife wrong for continuing to ‘demand’ that we tell her what was in the presents and who they had come from.  Clearly i was on it and giving my wife a hard time.

Then my wife brought my attention to what i was doing by telling me to get off her back.  What she told me and the way that she said it paused i and brought I into the foreground.  And I being that part of me that is mindful and present to the game that I am playing allowed me to see that I was acting out of Integrity with my Possibility and my Stand.  Noticing that ‘i had been on it’ I got off it: stopped telling my wife off and apologised for my behaviour.    And I was back to being peaceful.

If you need the theory then here it is

If I want to ‘Play BIG’ then it is necessary that I be present to and mindful of ‘i getting on it’. And when I notice that ‘i is on it’ then ‘I get off it’.  When I say this what am I saying?  Let’s unpack this a little:

When I speak “i” I am simply pointing towards the machinery that is always running me, you, us  (the default condition that goes with being human)’.  The psychologist and Nobel Laureate in Economics calls this machinery “System 1” and he is clear that it runs us the vast majority of the time and we (“System 2”) are unware that we are being run as it occurs outside of our conscious awareness.

The nature of machinery “i” is stimulus-response. When certain things happen in the world (stimulus) our machinery kicks into action and we ‘get on it’ meaning we become righteous, we act out of the mode that something/someone should be this way and not that way and we start ‘throwing our weight around’ in some way – some of us do this through aggression other do it in other more subtle ways best described by those that are experiencing the effects as ‘death by a thousand cuts’.

When I say ‘I get off it’ I am pointing out that at some point mindfulness will be present and I will notice that my machinery is hooked and throwing its weight around (‘i is on it’) and so it is the responsibility of I (what Kahneman calls “System 2” and Stanovich calls “algorithmic mind”) to get off it – I think of it as unplugging the automatic machinery and getting of ‘shoulding’, being self-righteous, dominating the situation (with my story) and invalidating others.

Insight and practices for noticing that ‘i is on it’ and for ‘getting off it’

‘Playing BIG’ requires that I be a master of noticing when ‘i is on it’ and then ‘getting off it’.  How do I become a master of this?  First by practicising mindfulness – the daily meditation is making a difference here.  Second, by deliberately putting in place times/practices during the day (e.g. lunch) that call me to be mindful.  Third, committing to ‘getting of it when I notices that i is on it’.  Kahneman points out that spending time in advance thinking/picturing what we want is a good way of programming ‘System 2’ (the reasoning mind) to do a better job of monitoring/controlling the automatic machinery.  I used to be pretty good at these practices (and they worked) before I gave them up and entered a long period of darkness.  So I am confident that I can be great at them this time round.

Own your story, own your experience and tell the truth, ruthlessly, to yourself and others

Yesterday the family (five us) spent some time just being together and sharing what we were happy to share about our lives.  I found myself laughing when my younger son was sharing his encounters and experiences at school: it was not the content that ticked me, it was the way he was being and how he was expressing himself.  At one point all of us were laughing and I could see that my younger son was enjoying the relationship – our laughing had him laughing.   Then the laughter died – at least inside of me.  How?  Why?

My son mentioned that he was going to the taking the foundation course in English.   There is nothing to that statement – it is just words.  Yet, that is not what the mind (I hesitate to call it my mind as I do not own it and I do not control it, it controls me and in that respect i belong to it) made it mean.  Straight away my experience was that of disappointment and anger.  Given that was the case, what do you think I said?  I found myself listening to the following: “I don’t care, do whatever you want, it’s your life!”

Reflecting on that experience I am present to the fact that I lied.  I made that statement to persuade / convince myself that “I do not care, do whatever you want, its your life!”.  Why did I need to convince myself?  Some part of me cared deeply about what my son studies and how well he does.  And that part was disappointed that my son had not stayed with the original course: it listened to the foundation course as a lesser course and listened to my son as someone who does not have high standard.  Once I got what had occurred and that I was the source of my experience all of my disappointment and anger just flew away (instantly) and I was left  with “What a jerk I am when I am playing small!”

If I was ‘Playing BIG’ I would have owned my experience and been truthful.  I’d have said: when you said “I am doing the foundation course in English” I noticed that disappointment and anger were present in my world and I noticed that my stomach tightened up as if I was going to be sick.  That tells me that I have a point of view on what course you should be taking in English.  It also tells me that I have a stake in what you are doing and how well you are doing.

If I had been ‘Playing BIG’ I would have owned by story and been truthful.  I’d have said: “I know that you have extremely high standards.  In fact sometimes I think your standards are too high – unreasonable.  It just does not strike me that you have to play to get A* in all of your subjects.  I know that you are on track to do well.  I also know that you struggle to do well in English and realistically you expect to get a B.  Will the foundation course allow you to get a B?”  Most likely he would have said (which he later did say) “My teacher and I are aiming for a B and the foundation course will allow me to get that without all the stress I am putting myself under trying to get an A/A*”.  And I would have said “I wonder what it is about me that I am or was disappointed and angry when you mentioned that you are going to switch to the foundation course?”

It strikes me that a core part of ‘Playing small’ (which is what I have been doing for the last 10 years) is lying to myself and others.  It also strikes me that another core part of ‘Playing small’ is not taking responsibility for ‘my story’ (what I tell myself about how I should be, people should be, the world should be) – noticing it and owning it.  Not using it to beat up others even if the beating up is indirect through statements like “I don’t care, it’s your life, do what you want!”

So if you are up for entering into the game of ‘Playing BIG’ full out then you also need to adopt these practices:  own your story, own your experience and be ruthlessly honest with yourself and with people you are in relationship with.

Are you a ruthless stand for a ‘life that works’

Werner Erhard is a ruthless stand for ‘lives that work’ and a ‘world that works’

Werner Erhard is the man that synthesised a whole bunch of stuff and invented EST.  I have been listening to Werner speak and this is what he says:

“Yes, I am ruthless.  I am ruthless in the sense that I see no need for people to suffer. 

I see no need for people to live lives of if only or I could have been.  Or for somebody to be on their deathbed and realise that they had something to give, they had something to contribute.  They had something of themselves to express that never got expressed. 

I’m ruthless, ruthlessly against that, ruthlessly for people having ALL of it.”  

How about you and I?

Are you and I a ruthless stand for ‘a life that works including having ALL of it’?  For ourselves?  For the people that matter to us?  For the people in our organisations?  For the people in our societies?  For the whole world that peoples us, feeds us, houses us…?

If we are honest then we would say that we are not – we compromise, we live for ‘someday’, for most of us ‘someday’ never comes, and for those that get to ‘someday’ they end up asking “Is that all there is?”.   What will it take for you to be a ruthless stand for your life to work and for you to have ALL of it – meaning, purpose, relationships, vitality, full self-expression?

What will it take for me to play full out for a ‘life that works and having it ALL’?  ? I know that this Christmas I went through the dark night of the soul and coming out of the night I was blessed with seeing my life with such a clarity that I know that I have been ‘playing small’ for the last ten years and that with that came a loss of power, possibility, zest for living, sacrifice of self-expression.  I also know and declare that there is no going back.  Why?  Being present to Possibility (each day) and acting in line with that Possibility my life occurs as a blessing and an opportunity to contribute, to make a difference, to simply dance with life including savoury all the stuff that I took for granted like the smell of soap or the feel of the water on my skin when I shower, or the feel of the leather steering wheel when I drive.

What will it take for you to play full out, to be a ruthless stand, for being/authoring/having a ‘life that works’?

Are you open to miracles? Yes, they do happen – here is mine

Teachers and educational psychologists say my eldest son is dyslexic.  What does that mean?  It means that from an early age he struggled to read, to comprehend, to spell and write.  We knew there was something special and unusual about him when he was about 2 – 3 years old.  Whilst he has curious and great with stuff like using remote controls to work the television and VCR we noticed that he struggled to use words to voice what there was there for him to voice.  Somehow it never came out right.

At the age of 7-8 it was official: your child is dyslexic.  That did not worry me as I had chosen to put him in a Montessori School from the age of 5.  And if there was a schooling method and system that would help him then the Montessori method and associated school would help – I was totally confident.  We (my wife and I) searched out all manner of ‘quacks’ that offered hope of helping our son and spent quite some money.  Why?  We were open and committed to the Possibility that our son would read, comprehend, spell, write and would not be limited by the way that his brain is wired.  On top of the private Montessori school we found private teachers who specialised in helping dyslexic children. Why did we make this effort?  We love our son.  And because he is smart when it comes to the three dimensional world – the real world: he struggled only in flatland (two dimensional world of reading and writing).

When our son moved from primary school to secondary school he went from the private education system to a state school.  This is when our ‘battle’ with the education system began: in theory (and under the law) our son should have got specialist teachers, in reality he did not. At the age of 12 his reading age was around 8, his comprehension age was around 6.5 years – this meant that he was unfit for and could not cope with being in a secondary school.  Even in subjects like mathematics or business that he is good in he struggled in exams because he could not read, understand and then write answers to questions!

After fours years of fighting and a mountain of paperwork we finally won our case in Court and our son got the specialist teaching support that the law said he should be provided with.  In the meantime I spent considerable time, energy and money in finding all kinds of material to help me: computer, software, books….. And I spent quite some time ‘teaching him’

By the time my son had left school he had done much better than we had expected in many subjects including getting several A grades.  That was a relief.  On the other hand his reading and comprehension age was around 11 years.  And most importantly he hated reading and rarely read.  Once I had stood for the Possibility that my son would be competent in reading, comprehending, spelling and writing.  By the time he left school I was utterly defeated – I accepted that my son would never read, comprehend or write at a level to reflect his age.  The Possibility that had been so strong and for which I fought fiercely had died and instead resignation reigned supreme.

This week I found a book in my son’s room.  Not only that he told me he had read 15 pages the first night.  The other night he told me that he had read 50 pages and was going to bed early so that he could read more.  My reaction: what a marvellous miracle!  Who would have thought my son would voluntarily read and enjoy reading?  What made the difference?  My son loves business and he is great at it.  He loves watching Alan Sugar and the apprentice.  He works in a charity shop and the people around him recognise his passion, his skill and the contribution he makes.  One of the good folks gave him Alan Sugar’s autobiography!

Lesson 1:  when you and I are intrinsically motivated, because your heart is called into play, we can do the most amazing stuff

Lesson 2:  be open to Possibility, be open to miracles, never ever give up on your dreams!