What will be inscribed on your headstone? “something was left” or “used up!”

A funny story my physics professor told me

In the final year of my physics degree I told the professor that I was thinking of going into business upon graduation.  On hearing this he told me this story:

“A wounded soldier is flown back to the USA.  Due to the miracles of medicine the medics heal all kinds of wound and after some time the soldier is once again walking around.  There is only one problem his brain is damaged and needs to be replaced.  Luckily for this soldier the USA has pioneered the process of brain transpanting.  The day comes when the soldier has to choose a brain.

The soldier is greeted by the surgeon.  The surgeon tells him “We’ll do the transplant but you need to pay for the brain.”  And then proceeds to show the soldier some brains (in vats).  The soldier asks “How much is this brain?” The surgeon says “$500”.  Then the soldier asks “How much is that brain?”  The surgeon replies “$500,000!”.

Shocked at such a big difference in price for two brains that look identical, the solder asks “Why such a big difference in price?”  The surgeon replies “The first brain belonged to a physicist and it has been heavily used.  The second brain, well that belongs to a businessman – its never been used!””

Lets move from the brain to life – and death.

What will be inscribed on your headstone? 

When you die and end up in grave what will be inscribed on your headstone:

Will your headstone read “Something left over” or will it read “All used up!”?  Let’s listen to what Werner Erhard has to say on this.  Here are his words:

We’re willing to give up, to sacrifice, our own self expression.  You see on your tombstone, what they are going to put on your tombstone, when you die?  Something was left.  And we don’t know what it is or was. See, they ain’t going to put on your tombstone: used up.  Cause you ain’t going to get used up. Uh-uh!  You’re going to save it, till prince Charming comes, then you’re going to give it.  But not now, not here, not for this, not for what you got.

Most people are going to go to their grave with the sense that there was something in them that never got expressed.  That there was something there, something of real value, something that could make a difference, something that could have been a contribution that just never got expressed.  And most of us are going to our grave like that.  Because we are willing to sacrifice our own full self expression for the avoidance of responsibility. To avoid the domination of taking on life like an opportunity……”

“Playing BIG” requires you, me, us to let go of the default

Let’s be clear the default setting is such that our headstone will read “something left over – had something of value to express, to contribute, and never expressed it, never put it into the game of life”.  That is simply what is so.  How does that sound to you?  Is that how you want to live your life?  Is that the legacy you want to leave behind?

How about gettting off our metaphorical backsides and being cause in the matter of our lives.  How about a ‘Playing BIG’? How about being ALL used up by the time you arrive in your grave?  Wondering what that looks like?  Here is a wonderful quote from George Bernard Shaw:

“This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish selfish clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no ‘brief candle’ to me. It is sort of a splendid torch which I have a hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it over to future generations.”

‘Playing BIG’, living an ‘extraordinary’ life is a choice that I, you, we, have to make and keep in existence knowing full well that we will meet all kinds of obstacles – they simply go along with choosing this path.  They are essential to this path – they test our commitment, they are the fire that forges us from “the small man”, the “common man” to the “superman”.

Remember: not choosing this path (again and again and again) is choosing the default a life of ‘smallness’ and a tombstones that reads “something was left – something of value was never expressed!”

Want to cultivate great relationships? Embrace the stand “people matter more than stuff”

How to cultivate great relationships with people and enrich your life

Relationships enrich our living.  That is simply so, if it was not so then most of us would be living the life of hermits – isolated from our fellow human beings.

If you accept that relationships enrich our existence then you would want to generate goodwill with you fellow wo/man,  With some you’d want to go further to become more entangled with one another and thus co-create intimacy.  How do you do that?  What is the insight that allows us to come up with the right practice?  The insight is that each of us wants deeply to matter!  We want/need/ strive to matter to the people with whom we interact.  That includes family, friends, work colleagues, our neighbours and our community.

Given that insight what is the core practice that builds relationships with our fellow human beings?  The core practice is encapsulated in a saying that I heard my friend Analia say to her young daughter:  “People matter more than things!”  I rephrase this “People matter more than any stuff that you are up to and any things that you want/own!”

How does this work in the real world? A personal story

Yesterday I was watching a movie with my wife and my youngest son.  We were really immersed in the story that was being told.  Then my eldest son came into the room and asked me for a hug.  What was my first reaction?  It was to say no! ” No, I am right in the middle of watching a really interesting movie.  I cannot just stop it and give you a hug upstairs in your room – your mother and brother are watching it with me.” And that is the approach that I took though I put it more politely than that.  After a couple of minutes I got present to “People matter more than stuff!”.  So I told my wife and youngest son to continue watching the film without me and headed upstairs to find my eldest son.

He was delighted!  He got that he matters to me, that I love him, that he is more important to me than stuff.  And here is the truly beautiful piece of this story:  I got that I matter to my son – his whole face lit up when I lay down on the bed and put my arms around him.  It is when we put aside our “stuff” and give ourselves to our fellow human beings that they get that they matter.  I was only upstairs with my son for 5 minutes – just 5 minutes out of “stuff” and those 5 minutes make all the difference to our relationship.  We both know that we matter to each other.

Why is it important to put people before stuff?

The being of human being is a social one.  What am I pointing at?  I am saying that human beings are ‘herd animals’ – we are truly ourselves when we are in relationship with one another: speaking, listening, sharing, giving, taking, offering help, receiving help…  Put differently, we exist in relationship.  Even our ‘individuality’, our ‘self’, flowers and exists in relationship.  There is no-one alive who is alive without the help of another human being.  There is no-one alive, no matter how ‘individualistic’ he sees himself, who has not been shaped by other living beings – usually parents, siblings, school students, school teachers, neighbours…..  Individuality is response to and flowers out of relationship and connectedness!

Yet, in the West, we ‘throw into and life from’ a worldview that does not recognise nor value our relatedness – mutually interacting and influencing one another.  It does not recognise the impact we make on another.  And whilst it speaks about individual rights it does not speak of our responsibilities to one another.  The dominant idea is to allow everyone to do his own thing provided he/she does not interfere (actively) with other people and what they are up to.   What we are not present to is that we matter to our fellow human beings: what we do or do not do matters –  it affects the health, the well being, the happiness of our fellow human beings.  Think about the rampant loneliness, the existential angst of leading ‘meaningless’ lives, the boredom that youngsters increasingly experience.  How does this show up?  Look around you the signs of social decay (ruptured human bonds) are all around us: excessive drinking, drugs, crime, corruption, gated communities, inner cities falling apart……

Are you ready to live from the stand “people matter more than stuff!”?

Is it time to hold a correct view of the world and our being as human beings?  Is it time to embrace and live the stand “People matter more that stuff – whatever form that stuff takes and no matter how seductive it is!” ?  Whatever you chose, notice that my choice affects you and your choice affects me – we are interdependent.

What shows up in our lives when we stand in the clearing called Possibility?

Possibility (or the lack of it) is what gives us being in the present

Possibility (the future we are living into) is what gives us Being (how we are being right now, what we are doing or not) in the present.  What do I mean?  Let’s take a look at Spring.

Spring has arrived in Berkshire and I notice that the people all around me – my family, my neighbours, the folks in the village – are smiling, their faces have lit up, they have a spring in their footstep.  Why this dramatic change?  What is is about Spring that has brought this on?  Isn’t it the Possibility that we associate with Spring?  The possibility of: being outdoors in a T-shirt’; of the sun kissing your face; of flowers blooming…..?  Notice, how the Possibility associated with Spring is radically different to the Possibility associated with Winter.

What is possible?

I am not asking you a theortical question.  I am asking you a personal question: what do you think is possible for you, for us, for life on this planet?  Go deeper and ask yourself: “what is my relationship to Possibility?”  Are you one of those who has an optimistic outlook on life (open to Possibility) or are you a pessimist (‘dead to Possibility’)?  Now I ask you which game, if entered into fully, is more fun to play – ‘open to Possibility’ or ‘dead to Possibility’?

Do you want to reorient your relationship to Possibility?  Then watch the following video (1 minute long) and see for yourself what was once considered impossible and today is simply taken for granted:

The music of Possibility:  a moving, touching, inspiring example of Possibility

What is the Possibility for a baby born to ‘ordinary’ parents?  Now, lets go further.  What is the Possibility if you are that baby and I tell you that you are born without eyes?  That narrows done that zone of Possibility somewhat, right?  Lets, go further because the ‘bad news’ doesn’t stop there.  What if I tell you that you are born such that you have a tightening of your limbs and joints that prevents them from every straightening?  What Possibility is present for you?  What is the future you are living into?   Not much!  Isn’t that what pretty much all of us would say without having to think.  That is my point when it comes to Possibility most of us are wrong most of the time and yet we do not see it.

Allow me to share with you the Possibility that Patrick Henry Hughes and his father co-created, lived from and having been living into, and the results that have showed up for them, for their community and for us.  Please watch this 5 minute video – I am confident that this will open up your world (your mind as to what is possible) and touch your heart:

My question for you?

What would show up in your life if you lived from Possibility rather than Impossibility?    What would show up in your life if like Patrick Henry Hughes you did not accept the labels others put on you (and you have been putting on yourself)?   What would show up if you moved from “disabilities”to “abilities”?   What would show up if you gave up playing “victim” and became totally responsible for you life and played “god the creator”?

I invite you to get present to your living right now?  Is joy present?  Is self-expression present?  Is vitality present?  Is relatedness, connection, belonging present?  Are they all present?  If not then are you willing to be 100% responsible for what is so and is not so in your life?   OK.  Are you present to the cost of not living a life from the context of Possibility?  Great then you are in the right place to to let go of your prejudices, your doubts, you fears to step into the clearing of Possibility and invent possibilities that move-touch-inspire you?


It is the future that you are living into that is giving you your being in the present (right now)!   You can change your being by inventing a future that moves-touches-inspires you.  All leadership starts with your self and the Possibilities that you envisage, commit to and play full out to bring them to fruition.  The paradox is that it is the path that matters more than the outcome!  Being on the path, wholeheartedly, is transformation.  Enough for today.

9 practices for ‘playing BIG’ and living an ‘extraordinary life’

Please click on the following image to enlarge it so that you can read it more easily:


Life is difficult and painful by its nature, not because your are doing something wrong!

Life and painful experience go together like heads and tails go together

All of us have experienced painful feelings and all of us who continue to live will go on to experience more painful experiences.  That is just so – it is simply what goes with being an exquisite sensory organism participating in the drama called life.  If I use the analogy of a coin then life and painful experiences go together like the two sides of a coin; you can’t have a coin with only one side.

How do, you and I, in our ordinary way of living interpret and deal with our painful experiences?

How outraged would you be if you turned up at a disco and found loud music and flashing lights?  Not at all, right?  Why?  Because you have the correct view, the correct understanding, of a disco.  What happens when we painful experiences arise?  How do we interpret them?  How do we deal with them?

If you are like me then you want the pleasant (good)feelings and do your best to avoid the painful (bad) feelings.  When the good feelings show up I want to hold on to them and not let them go – I / you want to be happy forever!  Do we take the same attitude when painful experiences show up?  No, we react, we struggle, we complain, we resist – we do our best to fix things and fix ourselves so that we can get it right the next time.

Isn’t it true that you, I, we, believe that there is a magic formula to get it right, to live a life of bliss?   Don’t we secretly believe that if we can just act right, then will never encounter painful experiences only pleasant experiences?  I’d say that is why self-help books sell in the millions and self-help gurus are wealthy.

There is a magic formula and I share that with you for free

Do you want to give up all the struggle that goes with finding that magic formula and fixing yourself?  Would you rather have some ease, peace and grace in your living?  Then here is the formula:

  • Get that our painful experiences do not represent a flaw in us;
  • Get that life is painful and difficult by its nature, not because you are doing it wrong;
  • Accept, be with your painful experiences rather then resisting them – when you accept rather than resist you are present to the pain and let go of all the suffering you heap onto the pain and that is much lighter load to carry.

A personal experience

Conflict occurs as a painful experience for me – one of the most painful.  You’d understand that if you had the kind of growing up experience that I had.  So when conflict shows up I either dive into fixing the situation and/or flee so that I do not have to see it, hear it, experience it.  Guess what shows up when you are member of a family of five people. you have deliberately bought up your kids to think for themselves and stand up for themselves; and each of the members of the family have different interests / characters and temperaments?  Conflict.

What did I do about it?  I tried my best to fix it.  For example, the kids fought over the one home computer so I bought another one.  They fought over these two, so I bought another one – today each of us our own computer.  Did that stop the conflict?  No.  They started fighting about printers?  So I thought I am to blame because they have to share a printer. So now each of the kids has their own printer.  Did that stop the conflict?  No.

Then one day I got it:  conflict goes with family (and relationships) like loud music and flashing lights go with disco.  That allowed me to let go of the position “It is all down to me, I brought the kids up badly, I am a bad father!”  When I got that I stopped fixing things / people.  Two things happened:  the burden that I was carrying fell off and the kids got better at resolving their conflicts!

Question for you?

Are you willing to embrace life fully from the stand that painful experiences are just that painful experiences?  They do not in any way indicate that you are ‘bad’, that you are flawed or that you are doing the wrong things.  Are you wiling to accept that painful experiences are sign that you participating in the game called life.  Are you willing to extend the same to our fellow human beings?

A powerful access ‘extraordinary living’: whole, complete and perfect

Before I share with you a powerful access to ‘extraordinary’ living  I want to share with you what is so about ordinary living: the point of view that keeps is embedded in ordinary living and the price we pay.

Ordinary living: I am flawed, you are flawed

Dig into your experience, dive deep, and you will find that the culture tells you that you should be whole, complete, perfect.  Yes, you should!  Yet, the message that you (and I) have been getting from our parents, our school teachers, our colleagues, our media, our places of work, even our religions is that we are not whole, we are incomplete and we are imperfect.  Christianity is the dominant religion in the Western world and what does it say?  You are born a sinner and you have to seek redemption!  That is exactly what most of us buy into and do yet we fail to find that redemption because we are no a fool’s errand, we have a mistaken view of us, of life (more later in the post).

When you look at yourself, relate to yourself, experience yourself, you (and I) see ourself as something like this:

What is the price that I pay, you pay, he pays, she pays?  What is to like to know/feel/experience being not whole, not complete, imperfect when the culture around you spins the myth of perfection?  I know what that is like. You know what that is like!  He knows what it is like and she know what it is like.  We keep that shame of imperfection hidden.  We strive and strive and strive to be complete, to be perfect, to be whole.  Yet, the way that we go about is guaranteed to keep us rooted to being incomplete, broken, faulty, worthless, inferior, imperfect.  If you sense of wholeness / perfection is tied to your partner then what happens when your partner becomes unhappy with you, starts an affair, or leaves you?  If your sense of wholeness / perfection is tied to your job then what happens when you lose your job?  If it is tied to your wealth then what happens when you lose your wealth or are in danger of losing it?

The price that we pay is the cost of wearing a mask.  We can never put ourselves in the world as we are – we give up self-expression.  We can never build genuine human bonds – the cost is genuine relatedness with our fellow human beings.  We can never relax into the world – the cost is shows up as alcoholism, drug taking, stress, disease and an early death.  Right?

Access to ‘extraordinary’ living: “I am whole, complete, perfect – just as I am and I am not.  You are whole, complete, perfect – just as you are and just as you are not”

Look into Buddhism and you get a central insight into the human condition: we cause our suffering by living from/into an incorrect/false view of ourselves and the world.  The false view is that I, you, he, she, they, we are broken, incomplete, imperfect!

The correct, the right, view is that I am whole, complete and perfect, just as I am and just as I am not.  There is nothing to add and nothing to take away!  And that applies to everyone of us.  Sound philosophical to you?  It is.  Let me make it more concrete to you – take a look at the diagram below:

Do you see it?  Do you see / get the beauty of what is so?   Look at the diagram again.  If you look at each shape in isolation you can easily say that it is incomplete, imperfect, something missing – none of the shape are a square or a circle!  Now look at the picture as a whole – how the shapes connect to make a beautiful figure.   And the figure is never completed!  No matter how big it grows the design allows more and more piece to connect.  The design of the design is connection!  You only get this when you stop looking at one individual piece and start looking at the whole show.  Sound abstract?  Think about an orchestra – you can zoom into only one member of the orchestra or you can use a wide angle lens and see the whole orchestra.  Both are there!  Each individual member of the orchestra and the orchestra itself. 

Here is the truth of our design, of our situation, our existence on this planet:  we are social beings: you, me, they, we, have been designed for connection – we are perfectly designed for connection.  We have whole, complete and perfect for connecting with our fellow human beings.  Think about language and the connection it enables: I see you, you matter, you make a difference, your existence matters to me, you contribute, I love you.  Neuroscience tells us that we have mirror neurons:  I see you crying and seeing you crying, my mirror neurons enable me to feel/get your experience and thus I have the access to connect with you.

Look around you, look around you, wherever you want in the world.  What do you see?  People live with one another, people live next to one another, people work together, people trade with another.  Now think about this, you are invited to party you are told how amazing it will be – the food, the drinks, the place (say Hawaii or whatever your favourite place), the music will be just so, exactly they way you want it.  Can you imagine yourself at this party?  How delightful does it feel?  There is catch to this party.  No other human being will be present. The drinks and the food will be served by robots.  The dj taking care of the music will also be a robot.  How excited are you now?  Are you going to that party? No, right?  That is the truth of our being, our design, that we do not see and we are not encouraged to see.  Hell for us is solitary confinement: have you ever wondered why this is the harshest punishment meted out in prison?  Because the prison guards gets what is so – the truth of our design as human beings.  People matter to us. People contribute to us.  We are only human when we are connected to, contributing to, one another.

A movie recommendation: The Way

Are you up to getting present to what I am speaking about?  I recommend that you watch “The Way”: Michael Sheen plays Tom, an American doctor who comes to France to collect the remains of his dead son, killed in the Pyrenees while walking The Camino de Santiago.  Driven by profound sadness, and desire to understand his son better, Tom decides to embark on this historical pilgrimage.  Tom navigates this 800km journey and soon meets others around the world, all looking for greater meaning in their lives.   This is a moving, inspiring movie that provides a powerful access to the human condition and our greatness.

And Finally

If you are still wondering about your greatness then let me repeat:  our greatness is that we are whole, complete and perfectly designed for reaching out, connecting, uplifting, healing, completing one another and generating a beautiful pattern called life on Earth.  I leave you with this picture to ponder – it is visual metaphor for our lives:

I thank you for your listening.   The context from which I am living my life is “I matter, you matter, they matter, we matter, let’s live extraordinary lives and co-create a world that works, none excluded”.  Are you up for joining me?  You Matter, your answer matters and shapes our world that we share!  I love you. I hope you will join me.

Live a life of freedom: dismantle the prison bars by dismantling positions that limit

Live is full of experiences – some of them painful

Come take a walk with me down memory lane.  Imagine that you are around 7 years of age, it is autumn, it is cold, you have just got off the school bus and you are walking home with you school bag slung over your shoulders.  After a five-minute walk you are happy to arrive home.  You knock on the door.  To your surprise, your father opens the door instead of your mother.  You and your father don’t get along so you are already a little anxious.

There is a problem: you want to get into the house and your father doesn’t let you.  There he is, a big strong man, standing at the door and refusing to let you in.  “Why?” you ask and he says something like “This is not your home.  You are not my son.  You’re not allowed to come in, go away!”  You are only 8 years old, you are puzzled, wondering what is going on here.  So you ask “Where’s my mum?” and your father tells you she is not at home.  So you wonder what has happened to your mother – you love your mother.

Puzzled, cold, frightened you plead with your father to let you in: you tell him that you are his son, that this is your home and you plead with him to let you in.  He stands his ground insisting that this is not your home and that you not his son.  This goes on for something like 10 minutes.  Then something changes for you – tears flow down your cheeks as you turn around and walk back the way that you came.

Lets stop for a minute.  You the 8 year old child, walking away from home, what do you say to yourself?  Take a moment, given your experience, what is the conversation that you are having with yourself as you are walking away with tears running down your cheeks?

Here is the position that I took and the prison I entered into

I am that 7 year old child walking away thinking that I am all alone.  As I walk I tell myself that I will never see my mother again: maybe she is dead, maybe she has left and taken my brother with her.  I wonder where is my brother, will I ever see him again?  Then it hits me: how am I going to survive?  Who can I count on to help me, to look after me, to care for me?  My mother!  But she is not here and I don’t know where she is.

What would you say to yourself, if you were in my shoes, experiencing what I am experiencing, speaking what I am speaking to myself?

Here is what I said.  From somewhere I heard these words spoken with absolute confidence: “There is nobody that I can count on to help me.  That’s OK, I’ll count on myself.  I will survive, no matter what it takes, and I will find my mother and my brother.  I don’t need anyone, I can do this by myself!”  Repeating these words, the tears dried up, my back stiffened and fierce resolve took hold. That is the day the 7 year old child gave up his childhood and became a ‘man’.

Every position has a payoff

I didn’t just speak those words.  I became convinced that my speaking was a truth about myself, people and the world.  And from then onwards my living, my life was shaped by that position.  What do I mean?  I wouldn’t say that I did not ask anyone for anything, I would say that I never asked anyone for anything that mattered and they might say no.  No way, was I going to repeat the experience that I had experienced with my father.  No way was I going to allow people to let me down and upset me.

So from the age of 7, I stopped asking for and expecting any help from anyone. I was the hero of my life and I was going to do it all myself:  I dived into the Greek legends full of heroes and heroism – I read these legends every day.  I got totally absorbed with Alistair MacLean novels – full of heroes, villans, adventure.  I stopped showing any weakness and focussed relentlessly on doing well. And by the age of 30 I attained everything that I set out to attain: I had my own flat that I loved; I was being paid a great salary and had lots of money;  I was driving a BMW;  I had my own office; and I was managing businesses

Every position has a cost

The position I took at the age of 7 sounds marvellous doesn’t it.  Look at the fruits it delivered: money, status, power, possessions…  Don’t fool yourself and don’t be fooled, every position has a cost: imagine each position as a stick with one end being the payoff and the other end being the cost – a stick always has two ends.  So what was the cost?

The cost was that I was alone.  I stood alone, always.  I relied on no-one and I never asked anyone for anything.   I always had to be strong, I could never be weak:  if any signs of vulnerability, of weakness showed up then I despised myself and stamped upon these weaknesses.  How did that show up? I had a small circle of friends that I had made at university and loved (Tim, Jim, Dave, Andy, John, Simon) and I was distant from just about everyone else.  It would be fair to say that whilst people valued my efficacy then did not want to party with me.   I was lonely whenever I was not occupied with work and personal development.

Ah, personal development, that was my religion – relentlessly focussed on learning and developing myself.  That had come in handy and delivered the fruits and yet in the process I had become addicted:  there was always something more to learn, something to change/improve about myself…..  What did I do with my free time and money?  Spend it on personal development as I had be stronger, more capable, more resilient – after all I am on my own right and I have to face the whole world!

How to dismantle your positions and why I will never forget Karl

I, you, the self is made up of many positions, we call them beliefs.  During my participation in Landmark Education courses I got present to and let go of many of my positions (the prison bars that construct the self) and thus opened myself up to freedom and self-expression that I had never experienced before. Yet, there was one position, the one I have shared with you here, that I would not let go of.  That was until the day that I chose to step out of my position.

I was participating in the ILP course.  To get certified, to achieve the outcome, I had to do a whole bunch of stuff.  I was committed to achieving the outcome and the issue was that I was struggling with the ‘bunch of stuff’ that I had to do.  The more I insisted on doing it myself, not asking for help, the more I struggled and the more I fell behind.  Finally, out of desperation, and at the insistence of my coach I asked for help.  No help came: the first person was busy; the second person was busy; the third person I could not get hold of; the fourth person was busy…. I had left it too late – to the very last minute to ask for help and all of these coaches were busy helping others who had asked for their help.  What did I make it mean?  How stupid of me to listen to my coach and ask for help: hadn’t life taught me that I couldn’t count on anyone else!

Shortly thereafter, I was assisting at a Landmark seminar – setting up the room so that it was just so.  One of the people doing that work was a chap called Karl.  Karl and I got talking and in that talking I shared what I was doing with/at/via Landmark.   When he found out that I was on the ILP course he told me that he had gone through it.  He asked me about how I was doing. I told him the truth – I am good at being straight with myself and others.

To my shock, Karl volunteered to help me.  That’s right, he volunteered to help me, without me asking.  Karl set aside a full day – a full day – of his time to coach me and coach me he did.  Again and again and again: we started the work around 10am and we finished around about 7pm.  I expected the work to last about 2 – 3 hours.  The love oozed out of Karl – he was patient, he was demanding, he was ruthless and behind it all was love.

When I was getting ready to leave, I gave Karl a big hug and thanked him for his contribution to my life.  He had helped me to dismantle the position that had run my life to that day.  Karl had shown me that my position was false.  I can count on people to help me, I do not have to do it all on my own and I cannot do it all on my own.  And I experienced joy in doing the work with Karl – collaborating with a fellow human being.  Karl thanked me.  Yes, he thanked me for spending the day with him.  “What?  I have taken a day of your life and you are thanking me!  What is going on here?  Are you simply being polite?”  Karl told me that life had been a struggle for the last six months or so – some days he had found it hard to get out of bed.  He had lost his job, his marriage had fell apart, his wife had taken the children with her and he only got to see them at weekends…..

Then Karl told me something that opened up my world, offering me an opening to asking for help from a context that I had never considered.  What did Karl say?  Karl told me that me asking for his help, being open to his help, taking his coaching for the whole day it allowed him to experience being worthwhile.  Our interacting had impacted us both deeply.  I was not the only one who had dropped a position that curtailed my freedom and locked me into prison, Karl had done the same.  Through our interexperiencing Karl let go of his position that he was a failure, that he had nothing worthwhile to contribute.  Instead, he experienced being useful and powerful – the Karl that he used to experience himself as.

Putting in place a more powerful position

What happens when you take out all the old furniture from your living room / lounge and send it away?  You are left with an empty room, right?  What happens with this empty room?  It gets full again – either all in one go or in little steps.  Right?

The same applies to the human mind and positions.  So the trick is to replace old positions that limit you and your freedom and replace them with powerful positions that provide you with freedom and self-expression.  What did I do?  I replaced the position “I can’t count on anyone so there is no point in asking anyone for anything; I’ll do it all by myself” with:

  • “I will ask people for their help whenever I need help and sometimes when I do not need the help.  I will give people an opportunity to contribute to me and in so doing I am contributing to them: allowing them to get present to being useful, being powerful, being worthwhile, being great human beings.”

How powerful is that? For me, powerful.

Question for me, for you, for us

Am I, are you, are we willing to search for, examine, let go of the positions(beliefs, fixed points of view, decisions) that limit us, that restrict us, that are the bars of the prison we construct around ourselves?  And replace them with positions that provide the context for freedom, self-expression, joy and power: the power to create the life / the world that we are up for living in?  I know where I stand. What about you?  Are you up for a life of freedom, self-expression, joy and living powerfully?

I thank your for your listening and I love you: I know, that like me, you are a soul whose intentions are good and underneath all the muck you are a ‘god’.  Do you get that?  Really, do you get that?

Given ordinary living (‘playing small’) failure is certain – here is the way out of the trap

The predictable future of ‘playing small’ : failure

I came across this fantastic TED talk ‘Why you will fail to have a great career’.  I don’t like the title. It would title it ‘Why you will fail to create and live a great life’.  There is a way out of this trap.  Like Buddha said life is suffering until you get the suffering and the conditions that cause that suffering.  When you get that then you can escape the trap if you wish to.  Back to this fabulous TED talk: I urge you to be compassionate with yourself, watch it attentively.

TED: why you will fail to have a great career

How to break free of the trap, how to ‘play BIG’

There really is no secret to breaking free of the trap other than seeing that trap and getting present to where it will lead.  Just imagine that your mission, the reason you came into this world, was to flower as yourself.  No-one on this Earth was ever like you nor will anyone ever be like you.  You are unique.  You were given the privilege of life to flower.  You went through the motions of life and yet you never flowered as yourself.  You squandered your inheritance.  And on your deathbed, on your last breath, you get present to that.  How does that feel?  Would you wish you had a second chance – to live again and do it right?  Yes?

The access to ‘playing BIG’ is getting present to your passion AND getting present to the cost of not pursuing your passion.  The cost of not pursuing your passion is a ‘passionless’ life.  What shows up in such a life: the lack of joy that is present in your living.  That is the acid test. If in your living, joy is missing, then you are not pursuing your passion.  And slowly this kind of life destroys you from the inside.  Yes, you have security, safety, money, status, comfort, privilege.  The cost: giving away the source of joy which makes life an experience worth repeating again and again.  Enough – at this point you get it or you don’t get it, that is OK.  When you are ready you will get it: I was asleep for about 10 years before I got it, again.

If you took this visualisation seriously, really entered into and played into it full out and your answer is yes then you might want to read the following.  Then memorise it so that you know it by heart.  And recite this to yourself every day: when you wake up, when you go for lunch, when you eat your evening meal, when you go to sleep.  Breathe it, live it.


If you want to buy this poster than you can do so by clicking here.

I love you and thank you for your listening.  Whatever life you choose, choose it!

Are you ready to face the scariest truth of all? You matter

Intentionally blind to the truth of our existence?

I am blind to something and if you are like me then you are likely to be blind to something.  Why am I blind to this particular truth?  Because, to get present to this truth leaves me no excuses.  When I, you, we get present to this truth there are no escape routes.  I, you, we become responsible for a ‘world that does not work’ and then the usual avenues of excuses and complaining are closed to us.   For most of us that burden is so heavy to bear that we go about absolutely convinced of the opposite of what is so.  Before I share this truth with myself and with you let me share with you what is so in the taken for granted, ordinary, mode of being.

The ordinary mode of existence: I am puny, I do not matter, I am not responsible

In our day to day existence we tell ourselves that we do not make a difference.  That’s right we feel small, we occurs to ourselves as being insignificant in comparison to the powers that matter, that shape the world.  We are puny in comparison to; the nation states; the institutions of the nation state including government, judiciary, the police; the global corporations that often wield more power than many nation states; and the media which decides that which gets attention and what gets ignored.

Take a look at the picture.  Do you not see yourselves as one of those small dots – one amongst an ocean of small dots surrounded by, subservient to the powers that be?  And do you not just give up – go with the flow, accepted practice, doing you best to fit into the way that the world is.  If you have more gumption, more intelligence, you may make the effort to carve out a place for yourself in the world where you can simple be – rather like a hermit or a warlord, depending on your disposition.

Seeing ourselves so puny do we (you and I) not comfort ourselves with the notion that we ‘victims’ of the way that the world is?  Do we not say that the way it is has nothing to do with us?  Do we not escape any and all responsibility to do with the way that it is and the way it is not?  And as such we can comfort ourselves saying the world may be ‘bad’ but we are ‘good’?

A funny thing happened in the office recently

I turned up at the office recently and talking with a member of leadership team I was confronted with what is so and I do not wish to face. What exactly am I talking about?  I was told that my presence in the office was missed!  He was telling me that it matters (to him, to the leadership team, to the company) whether I am present in and work out of the office.  My automatic reaction?  What are you talking about?  I don’t matter to you, to the leadership team, to the company!  I do matter to my clients and I take care of my clients – I make sure that I take care of my clients.

Then it hit me.  How many times have I been told that I matter?  How many people have told me that I matter?  How many people have told me that I have changed their lives simply by being me and doing what I naturally do? What is my response – what goes on in my mind?  Sometimes I discount what I am told, other times I am simply embarrassed and most of the time it is both.  My reaction? “You cannot be talking about me.  I am ordinary.  I make no difference.  You are just being nice.  No, you cannot be serious, I’m just an ordinary fellow getting through life as best as I can.”  Outwardly, I simply say “Thank you”.  The conversation finishes, I am glad it is over and so I can forget about it.

‘Extra-ordinary’ living:  I matter and I take the stand that I am responsible for EVERYTHING as it is and as it is not

I matter, you matter, they matter, we matter!  Through our speaking and our acting – including that which we do not speak of and that which we do not do – we influence, shape and create the world we live in.  Why is that?  Because, our existence is like a wave that ripples and touches many others.  We are waving all the time and so we are touching others all the time Contrary, to our beliefs and our cultural worldview, we are NOT particles.  No, we are waves: we are constantly touching others and being touched by others; we influence others and they influence us – all the time.  This influence extends to our death – we touch others through our dying.  And even beyond the grave we touch others with the legacy that we have left – either through action or inaction.   Allow me to share a quote with you:

“We cannot be deceived.  Men can and do destroy the humanity of other men, and the condition of this possibility is that we are interdependent.  We are not self contained monads producing no effects on each other except our reflections.  We are both acted upon, changed for good or ill, by other men; and we are agents who act upon others to affect them in different ways.  Each of us is the other to the other.  Man is a patient-agent, agent-patient, interexperiencing and interacting with his fellows.”  RD Laing, The Politics of Experience

It matters:

  • whether I work here at home, with my clients at their offices or at the offices of the company I work for;
  • whether I look my fellow human beings in their eyes and smile;
  • whether I choose to let one of my fellow human beings cut into the main road from a side road given that I have the priority;
  • whether I cycle to work or drive a gas guzzling car to work;
  • whether I help the old man in the start that has fallen over and is lying on the pavement;
  • whether and how I speak to you when we encounter each other in the office;
  • where and how I spend my money..

EVERYTHING I, you, we speak or do not speak matters;  EVERYTHING I, you, we do or do not do matters; EVERYTHING we focus or do not focus our time-money-effort on matters.  I, you, we matter, ALL THE TIME.  That is simply what goes with existing – being a part of the pattern called life.

EVERY action or inaction, no matter how small matters: we live in a non-linear world where small changes can have a huge impact.   The ‘Butterfly’ principle shows that in the world as it is EVERYTHING is interconnected, interdependent AND a miniscule change, action, like a butterfly flapping its wings can change the weather half way across this planet. 

Now more than ever I, you, we are enormously important and powerful.  It is easier than ever for each SINGLE one of us to change the world. The internet, mobile telephony and social media allow us to come together and effect change in the world. 

Two great examples of the impact we can make if we choose to make it

The first is our fellow human beings, in Brazil, putting their humanity into action and saving 30 stranded, in pain, dying dolphins.   Their actions matter – notice that it started with one person moving from the beach into the sea and this set the cue for others to follow, to join in.  And that video has been viewed over 2 million times.

People in Brazil save 30 beached dolphins:

The second video is part of the most talked about social campaign in existence today.  It has been viewed over 69 million times and as a result Joseph Kony is now a well known name.


Final question: am I, are you willing to give up the delusion and live as ‘gods’ and shoulder the responsibility that comes with that?

I matter, you matter, they matter, we matter – that is simply what is so and it is even more so now, today, than any other time in our history.  Our delusion is that we think, we believe and we go about our living from the context that “I am insignificant, I am puny, I do not matter.  So I can do whatever I want as it has no impact on anyone else.”  We do not leave it there.  We add a fool’s errand on top of this delusion, actually it is only possible if this delusion is there as the foundation.  What is this fool’s errand?

Fools errand: being deluded that I am puny, I am in signficant, I do not matter, I set about doing all manner of stuff to prove to myself, to you, to my work colleagues, to the world that I do matter.  Hey look I matter, I am important, I am significant.  Look at my job title.  Look at my big, new house.  Look at my latest, expensive car.  Look at my clothes.  Let me tell you where I went on holiday this year……

I can give up the fool’s errand and so can you.  You and I can face up to the scariest (and most powerful) truth of all: you matter, I matter, we matter all the time.  Everything that we do or do not do has an impact (especially now in the days of the internet and social media) and because of that you and I are 100% responsible for EVERYTHING that is so and is not so in this world.   What an awesome responsibility that is.  What an awesome opportunity that is.  What an awesome context to operate from!  And this context provides the access to live a transformed life.

The difference between ordinary and ‘extra-ordinary’ living makes all the difference: wake up!

Ordinary living

What characterises ordinary living?  What if I said:

Separation.  I occur to myself as being separate from all else that is – the tree, the grass, the river, the mountain, you.

Survival.  I am committed to my survival – to make to the end of the day, intact.  You could say that my genes have wired me to survive so that they can pass on to the next generation.

Fixing.  I am fixing stuff that is not as I say it should be.  I strive to fix myself, fix you, fix this, fix that.  Fixing shows up as necessary to ensuring my survival – my place in this world.

Searching.  I search for answers on as to how I should behave, how you should behave, how to fix stuff, how to get ahead in the world – from books, from magazines, from the internet, from you, from the gurus / experts, and sometimes myself.

Striving.  I am constantly striving to get somewhere other than where I am.  Striving bo be somebody rather than whom I am, a nobody or not good enough.  Striving to attain money-status-position-power.  Striving to look younger/older, more beautiful/less beautiful.

Someday.  I tell myself that someday I will be the person who I want to be; someday I will be living where I want to live; someday I will be living how I want to live; someday I will be living with the kinds of people I want to live with; someday I will have the money that I need to have; someday I will have the right job for me……..

The Matrix.  I am fully enmeshed in the matrix that is my mind – concepts, ideas, fantasies, dreams, ideologies, points of view, fears, concerns, desires, attachments – and in the process I am not present to the experience of living.  I drink tea and am not present to the experience.  I drive and cannot even remember driving.  I eat and do not taste my food…

Faulty / Not Good Enough.  I occur to myself as ‘faulty’, ‘insufficient’, ‘incomplete’, ‘not good enough’ and so I do my very best to ‘look good, avoid looking bad’.  So I strive to achieve to get access to the symbols that show people that I sufficient, complete, good enough, important, signficant…..Yet no matter where I get to the context that gives me being (and the doing that arises from that) is one of being ‘faulty / not good enough / incomplete’.  I might fool others, I don’t fool myself – not for long anyway.

Present to what is missing/wrong.  I look at life through the lens of the ‘glass half empty’.  Something is missing that I really need to be OK with what is so, to live fully.  Something is wrong – it does not match my point of view on what should be so.  So I either complain or start fixing.  I am not present to the ‘glass being half-full or completely full’.

Struggle.  Life, our living occurs as a struggle – at work, at home, with family, without family, with friends, without friends…. – a never ending struggle to have things be the way that I want them to be.  And as soon as I get what I want, I want something different or I want what I have to be different.

‘Extra-ordinary living’

What is the access to extra-ordinary living?  I have been reading (again) a book  that I read many years ago and thoroughly enjoyed.  This time I read it very differently and this passage showed up which I want to share with you as it provides an access to ‘extra-ordinary’ living:

“Wake up! Wake up! Soon the person you believe you are will die – so now, wake up

and be content with this knowledge: There is no need to search; achievement leads nowhere.  It makes no difference at all, so just be happy now!

Love is the only reality of the world, because it is all One, you see.

And the only laws are paradox, humour, and change.

There is no problem, never was, and never will be.

Release your struggle, let go of your mind, throw away your concerns, and relax into the world.

No need to resist life; just do your best.

Open your eyes and see that you are the universe; you are yourself and everyone else, too!  It’s all the marvelous Play of God.

Wake up, regain your humour.

Don’t worry, you are already free!”