Is this the most revolutionary truth about life?


You and I have been conned.  What have we been conned out of?  We have been conned into living out of a certain story about ourselves and the world. It is story that says there is right and wrong. It is a story that there is good and bad. It is a story that say the way that it is is the way that it is. And that we are small and powerless to influence-shape-change-transform the way that it is.

It is story that educates-programs us into believing that life is about figuring out how to survive. And get ahead.  It is story that tells us that there are rules to follow. And secret recipes.  That the way to be is to figure out the rules and follow them.  To fit into the box that is society-world.  And that the way to get ahead is to access the secret recipes and use them to rise to the top of the box.  So that we can dominate rather than be dominated.

There really is no space for ease-beauty-love-acceptance-joy-creative expression.  There is no space in this story for putting a “dent in the universe”.  And if we should share our dreams of putting a dent in the universe we are shot down quickly and aggressively.

Yes, we are small. But only if we buy into the story that we are small.  Yes, we are powerless but only if we buy into the story that we are powerless. Yes, our lives are about surviving-fixing-approval-getting ahead but only if we buy into the story that our lives are about surviving-fixing-approval-getting ahead.

From time to time people have turned up to remind us that we can choose to play BIG.  That showing up in the world as small or BIG is a choice.  A choice that we make – every instant, every day. And as such we can choose to change our choice.  These people remind is that life is ALWAYS created.  It is the way that it is because we create the way that it is.  They remind us of a fundamental truth our world is created by us.  It has not stood still. Why? Because some of us have not bought into the myth that we are small and powerless. And have acted to influence-shape the world. To make a dent in the universe.

I leave you with this revolutionary short talk by Steve Jobs. A person who set out to make a “dent in the universe” and did so.

Here is the transcript which I recommend memorising by heart. And living every day:

When you grow up, you tend to get told that the world is the way it is and your life is just to live your life inside the world, try not to bash into the walls too much, try to have a nice family life, have fun, save a little money.

That’s a very limited life. Life can be much broader, once you discover one simple fact, and that is that everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use. Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.

And the minute that you understand that you can poke life and actually something will, you know if you push in, something will pop out the other side, that you can change it, you can mold it. That’s maybe the most important thing. It’s to shake off this erroneous notion that life is there and you’re just gonna live in it, versus embrace it, change it, improve it, make your mark upon it.

Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.

What can we learn from the happiest man in the world and Jessie Rees?


A lot of pain has been present in my living over this last week.  So much physical pain that I have done little even though I had plans to do a lot.  Truthfully, I have been much less than I aspire to be.  I found myself distant from my family. I have found myself being snappy with one of my son’s.  I found myself just wanting to be left alone to deal with my pain. And when it got too hard I took the easy way out: I took muscle relaxants which eased the pain and knocked me out.

And in this very week, what shows up in my world?  Inspiration.  Heart touching-moving inspiration from two sources.  The first is from “the happiest man in the world”.  And the second is from 12 year old Jessie Joy Rees.

The happiest man in the world

I find myself watching this man, listening to him and being captivated. Captivated by what?  His stance in life. The way he shows up in life.  The way he counts his blessing.  His philosophy of life. His wisdom. I am clear that he gets it. And as such I am delighted that I have come across him.

Jessie Joy Rees and the Joy Jars

What can I say? I find myself watching this video and there are tears running down my cheeks. I am inspired to ask this question:

How can I help them?

 

I have a question for you: how can I help you?  Please think about it and let me know.

 

Listening: is this the most valuable gift we can give one another?


Do I show up for you as one who cares for you?

It is easy for me to say that I care.  It is something else entirely to show up in your world as one who cares.

It is easy for me to reassure you that everything will be fine. It is something else entirely to show up in your world as one who cares.

It is easy to tell you what to do. It is something else entirely to show up in your world as one who cares.

It is easy to go out and buy stuff for you. It is something else entirely to show up in your world as one who cares.

It is easy for me to give you money. It is something else entirely to show up in your world as one who cares.

It is easy for me to fix it for you. It is something else entirely to show up in your world as one who cares.

Genuine listening is the foundation of caring and relationship

I thank you for teaching me that listening is caring. What kind of listening?  When I listen to you as person of worth. When I listen to you as person who matters. When I stop everything that I am thinking-speaking-doing and sit there.  Sit there doing what? Being a listening for you – wherever you are at, whatever you are thinking, whatever you are feeling, whatever you are needing, whatever you are requesting of me and the world

When through my listening I create a space for you to show up and express yourself fully. To speak that which is there to be spoken.  Then you feel gotten. And when you feel gotten you feel connected with me and vice versa. When you feel connected you feel loved. When you feel loved you feel that you matter, that you are safe, that you have a safe platform to take risks.

It occurs to me that if each of us provided empathic listening to the people closest to us, at home, at work, in the local community, then our experience of living would be transformed and collectively we would end up transforming the world.

I invite you to join me in being a source of empathic listening. Being a stand for empathic listening. Just listening: not reassuring, not advising, not telling, not fixing…. just empathic listening of one heart to another heart.

Oh and I get that it is hard. And is it not that way for the baby that struggles to walk. Does the baby give up each time s/he falls?  Does the baby stay content with just crawling just because s/he falls down and hurts herself?  Just about everything shows up as hard until it becomes us and then it is easy even automatic.

If you are wondering what I am making such a big fuss about then I leave you with this quote from Dorothy Moore:

When you ask someone when was the last time a person listened to you, they often can’t even give you an answer. Listening, really listening, is the key to caring!

Friendship and Love


We spent a large part of last weekend at the home of our friends: Gisela, James, and Jasper.  As Gisela says, it is our home in the countryside. It strikes me that coming from someone else this would strike me as mere words, intentions, or simply being nice, being polite.  Yet, Gisela’s words do not show up that way for me: they show up for me as truth – my home in the countryside.

What is it about Gisela, James, and Jasper that leaves me feeling loved and loving them as I do?

1.  I notice that there is genuine joy in their being when I show up in their home. And vice versa.

2. It never occurs to me that I am being judged: right-wrong, good-bad… And I do not judge them. What is presence is acceptance and the space that creates for us: to simply be.

3. One-upmanship is absent: nobody is out to show that they are better, or not, than anyone else.  Yes, we rejoice in each others gifts. And we leave it at that: there is no judgement about those gifts. We take delight in each other, not judgement/evaluation.

4. I am not being advised nor educated about life.  Nor am I being questioned or interrogated.  There simple is no space in our being for that kind of conversation to show up.

5. Nothing shows up as being forced.  It does not occur to me that anyone is doing their best to please others against their own feelings-needs. It occurs to me that there is an absence of pretence. And as a result there is a certain ease and gracefulness.

6. There no faking, no bullshitting, no preening, no grandstanding, no falseness going on – none that I pick up or have picked up yet.  What there is, is, even if it is deemed to be “bad” or “inappropriate” by conventional wisdom and morality

7. We share. We share the shopping if there is shopping to be done. We share the cooking if there is cooking to be done.  We share our speaking and listening.  We share our joy in being present with one another. We share smiles. We share hugs.  We share what we have found on TED, or elsewhere, that speaks to us.  We share the joys, challenges, disappointments and heartaches of life: that which works and that which does not work in our lives.

8. Smiles, hugs, laughter and even play is present.  And what an amazing difference that makes.  To get up in the morning and be greeted with genuine warmth/affection made visible through smiles and hugs.

I am left asking myself, “What if I showed up for all the people in my life, the way that I show up with Gisela-James-Jasper?” And the thought occurs that it would be “Awesome”. What a way to show up in the world!

It occurs to me that if you and I treat everyone that we meet the way we treat our very best friends then together we would transform our lives and the world. What do you say?

Improving the workability of our lives, our relationships, our world


Laurence Platt over at Conversations For Transformation (Inspired by the Ideas of Werner Erhard) has written a fabulous piece: The Illusion of I.  Here I simply wish to share with you the two paragraphs which occur as being particularly enlightening about life:

Try this on for size: the world doesn’t work when run as a “you or me” world. It’s not designed to be run that way. And if we unknowingly try to run it as a “you or me” world when it clearly doesn’t work as a “you or me” world, there’s no use claiming we didn’t know it doesn’t work as a “you or me” world. That doesn’t fix it. That doesn’t make it work any better. For the world to work, a shift is required in what we don’t know  about making it work.

At the heart of what we don’t know about making the world work, is an error akin to unknowingly trying to run a diesel powered Mercedes-Benz with gasoline. Running the “you and  me” world unknowingly as if it’s a “you or me” world, is this error. This error is based on an illusion. Yes an illusion. It’s the illusion of I. I is an illusion. And it’s the illusion of I which leads to individual territoriality instead of individual co-operation – which leads to political parties’ territoriality instead of political parties’ co-operation, which leads to nations’ territoriality instead of nations’ co-operation.

This is what I make Laurence’s essay mean:

We are given birth, embedded in, and living in a ‘you AND me’ world.  A world where relationship-interdependence-unity is built into the very fabric/structure/working of the world.  In such a world cooperation and collaboration is the way.

Yet our language, our training, our way of being-doing in the world is to operate from a ‘you OR me’ context.  We divide the world into you and me. And spend the rest of our lives competing with each other –  ‘you OR me’ – and feeling disconnected from one another, and sometimes life itself.

The major issues that show up in our world – personal life, family, work, community, the world – arise from operating from a ‘you OR me’ context when we live in ‘you AND me’ world.

Shifting from the ‘you OR me’ way of being-in-the-world to a ‘you AND me’ way of being-in-the-world gives us access for transforming the quality of life, for all, on this planet that gives us life. And making this shift  personally and inspring-empowering others to do so is the ultimate act of leadership.

What showed up for me this week? “I am love!”


There is a young man called Jasper.  He is the son of my friends Gisela and James.  There is a big difference in age between Jasper and me.  He is still playing with toy cars and watching cartoons. Yet, I find that I love being with him. In particular, I love the way that he is in my presence – comfortable. And the way he hugs me – with love, complete love.

This week a questions grabbed me: why is it that Jasper shows up as so special for me?  It hit me that Jasper is a bundle of love.  That is what he is for me – a bundle of love.

As I got present to this another question came up: why does this bundle of love make such a huge impact on me?  And then the following three words came up from deep inside me and took me by surprise: “I am love!”.  And getting present to this insight took me back to my childhood – before I came over to the UK.

At first I struggled with this – to accept this.  A part of me stepped in to say “This world is no place for someone whose being is I am love!”  And I got to see what had happened to “I am love!” and how it got suppressed.

Now, I get what is so. What is so is  “I am love”.

“I am love!”  Yes, I can be with that.  Being with that I can choose better strategies to express “I am love!”

What are you?  When you strip away the layers that you have built over yourself, then what are you?

Perfect or imperfect?


Let me share a story with you

Allow me to start the conversation through a story especially as daughter loves stories:

A long time ago in India, a group of disciples (monks) were watching their master make chapatis.     The master would take a small portion of dough and roll it out using a rolling pin. Then he would place it on a hot griddle (pan) and proceed to cook both sides of the chapati. As it cooked he would smile and say, “Perfect.”

The disciples were puzzled.  Each of the chapatis was a different shape, some of them were burnt around the edges, and none were perfectly round.  Finally, one of the disciples said, “Master, how can these chapatis be perfect? Chapatis are supposed to be round, and they are not supposed to be burned!”

The master took the last chapati of the griddle and handed it to the young disciple.  The chapati was more oval than round, and it was burned around the edges. “Perfect,” he repeated.

Is the world perfect or imperfect?

It occurs to me that you and I hold an idealised picture of how things are supposed to be.  In our everyday lives, you and I constantly attempt to fix reality.  We want it to fit into our concept of “perfection”.  How does this leave us?  If you are like me then it tends to leave you disappointed, frustrated, annoyed , ungrateful, joyless and exhausted.

Is it possible that the world is neither perfect nor imperfect?  Is it possible that the world simply is and as such it is beyond any labels we choose to apply to it – including the label “it”?

It occurs to me that the world, the universe, works the way that it works.  It unfolds as it unfolds. It dances to the tune that it dances to.  It occurs to me that the world is indifferent to our ideals, conceptions, and preferences as regards what should be and what should not be.  Just consider the weather!

Which begs the question, “Which stand is more powerful: the world is perfect just as it is and as it is not, or that the world is imperfect?” That is to say, is the stand of the master more powerful than the disciples or vice versa?

It occurs to me that, perhaps, the more profound question is this one, “What would be our experience of living if we dropped all labels and simply worked with reality just as it is and just as it is not?” Is it possible that our experience of living would be transformed?

The Art of Asking: asking in a way that creates a wonderful world


When you and I are first given our part on the stage of life, life shows up as wondrous.  We live in possibility. More accurately, we are infinite possibility.  Nothing occurs as unreasonable, unrealistic, naive, silly.  We are not present to criticism. Nor have we suffering rejection. Slowly and surely possibility is driven out of us and its place is taken up with right/wrong, good/wrong, appropriate/not appropriate, success/failure. And our house of being is filled with shame, guilt, duty, obligation..

Today, I’d like to get each and every one of us present to possibility once more.  What is possible in the music business if you allow yourself to be vulnerable and simply ask?  That is the answer that Amanda Palmer shares in this fabulous TED talk. I challenge you not to be touched-moved-inspired-uplifted.

This talk gets me present to that which is much neglected: asking/receiving can be a source of contribution when our asking shows up as giving.  The kind of giving that generates possibility – a possibility that enables connection and mutual contribution – and enables a transformation in our experience of living.

Is it possible that the defining act of leadership is generating possibilities that call to our fellow human beings, engender connection, and create an opening for people to join together and co-create a world that works for us all, none excluded?

Am I willing, are you willing, to put in that which is required to play the game of possibility, transformation & leadership?  What am I pointing at?  The courage to connect with our deepest call, the courage to respond to this call, the courage to be vulnerable – to share that which calls us and ask for our fellow human beings to contribute.

Put differently, are you and I willing to generate the courage to ‘play BIG’ and give up ‘playing small’? To choose to be ‘extraordinary’ and risk criticism, even abuse, rather than stay comfortable (and dead) in the ordinary?

The Bus Driver’s Gift


Our default way of being-in-the-world is to deny our freedom. Which freedom?  The freedom to choose.  Whilst I can talk about this philosophically, I prefer to point this out using a story.

The Bus Driver’s Gift

One afternoon a bus driver was taking 40 children home from school. As the bus made its way down a steep grade, the brakes failed. The driver was unable to steer the bus to the left because of a high embankment or to the right because of a steep cliff.

As the bus hurtled down the hill, the driver recalled that there was a narrow gate at the bottom which led into a field. He decided to try to steer the bus through the gate and into the field, figuring it would eventually come to a safe stop.  He hoped that no cars or other obstacles would get in his way before he got to the gate.

When the bus reached the bottom of the hill, the driver saw the gate approaching fast. But to his horror, he noticed a small child sitting on the gate, waiving at the bus.

It was too late to change plans now. If the driver tried to avoid the gate, 40 children would die. He cried out in anguish as the bus slammed directly into the game. The innocent child died instantly in the collision, but that bus and all of its passengers were saved.

Emergency vehicles were the first to arrive on the scene, followed shortly by relieved parents and grandparents. Many of them wanted to show their appreciation and gratitude to the driver who had kept the bus under control long enough to save their children. But the driver was nowhere to be found. They asked the police officer where he had gone.

“They’ve taken him to the hospital,” the officer said. “He’s suffering from severe shock.”

“Well that’s understandable, ” they replied.

“No, you don’t understand, ” said the officer. “You see, that little boy on the fence was his own son.”

To be human is to be be free, condemned to choose

We play little, we find excuses, we pretend that we are merely ‘victims’ or ‘passengers’ in the game of life. What this story does is to remind us of a truth that we’d rather not see nor face up to. Why?

Because with this truth, comes responsibility: responsibility for the way our life is, responsibility for the way our community is, responsibility for the way our organisations are, responsibility with the way life is.

Stuff happens, that is simply the way the universe works.  Sometimes, even often, we don’t get to choose what happens.  And always we get to choose how we will respond to that which the universe puts our way.  This is the essential truth that this story brings alive for me.