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.

Kony2012:

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!”

Alberto Cairo: what shows up when you are OPEN to Possibility


The default human condition: dead to Possibility

The default condition of human existence is dead to Possibility. Are there any exceptions? Yes, young children – their world is Possibility and then we set about draining that out of them so that they can be like us, dead to Possibility. What do I mean when I say “dead to Possibility”? I got present to one instance of this just today. It was a beautiful day – sunshine, blue skies, calm – and I wanted to go for a walk just after lunch. I fell asleep. When I woke up it was around 4pm and it looked like that sun was about to go to sleep. Automatically, I was dead to the Possibility of going out for a walk and enjoying that walk. Why because I was dead to the Possibility that I could go out, walk and enjoy the experience of walking at that time. Nonetheless, I went out for that walk and walked for 90 minutes and thoroughly enjoyed that walk. And the sun did not go to sleep, it stayed and I even got to experience some of its magic on my face.

How else does ‘dead to Possibility’ show up in our lives? When I say this is how I am and am not – a nail in the coffin of Possibility. When I say this is how you are – another nail in the coffin of Possibility. When I say this is how they are – another nail. When I say this is the way that world is and is not – another nail. And especially when I say this is simply not reasonable, acceptable, practical, possible – that is a whole set of nails into the coffin of Possibility.

How do we live when we are living from the context of ‘dead to Possibility’? We do not take risks – especially not risks to our life, our financial security and our reputation. We do not break the rules – especially those that threaten our freedom, our standing, our financial security. And we ignore everything that is not a priority. The last one is a beauty. Why? Because the priority is simply surviving, fixing and striving to look good and avoid looking bad. Generating new realms of Possibility is a luxury, it is not a priority, and so we spend our lives surviving and fixing and then one day we die. That someday when everything is perfect and we can focus on what really matters to us, never arrives.

What shows up when one is open to Possibility?

Everything that is shows up in our world as new is because someone was open to Possibility. If I open to the Possibility of a new relationship with my wife then I set the context for that new relationship to arise. If I open to the Possibility of doing fulfilling work then I set the context for me to create that outcome and/or for that Possibility to show up in my life. And so forth.

I have a question for you. What is possible for this man in Afghanistan whilst the war is raging, no government is really in place, there is no law and order or social security, and where people are busy doing their best to survive:

  • He has no legs;
  • He has only one arm;
  • He is illiterate; and
  • He has no skills

I assume, if you are like me, that you would say not much. You’d say he is condemned to begging and that is exactly what Mahmood was doing. Wheeled about by his young son Rafi, he spent is days begging.

Enter Alberto Cairo and his right hand man Najmuddin. The first is a humane man, the second is an unreasonable man. Most of us get what a humane person is – s/he is a person that is willing to take risks to exercise care for his fellow human being. He is the one that even when the bombs and bullets are flying around (in Afghanistan) gets out of his car to help a man (Mahmood) and his young son (Rafi). Why? He can see that Mahmood is stranded in his wheelchair and Rafi is not strong enough to push the wheelchair (and Mahmood) to safety. He is the man that offers to give/make artificial limbs to Mahmood.

Perhaps it is more interesting to ask the question, “What is so about an unreasonable man?” An unreasonable man is simply one that is not ‘dead to Possibility’. He is man who stands in the space of Possibility – he can see what can be, he is willing to try out new stuff, to give it a go.

What is possible when you take people like Mahmood and put them in relationship with both Alberto and Najmuddin? Watch this touching-inspiring TED talk by Alberto where he shares a story that moved me deeply:

I want to leave you with a few quotes that really speak to me:

Alberto Cairo: “It’s not a priority!”

Najmuddin: “Listen, now we are here, at least we can start repairing the prosthesis, the broken prosthesis of the people. And maybe try to do something for people like Mahmood”

Mahmood: “You have taught me to walk, thank you very much. Now help me not to be a beggar anymore. My children are growing and I am ashamed. I do not want them to be teased at school by the other students.”

Mahmood: “I ask for a job. I am a scrap of a man but if you help me I am ready to do anything even if I have to crawl on the ground!”

Alberto: “Legless, only one arm, illiterate, unskilled. What job for him?”

Najmuddin: “There is vacancy in the carpentry shop!”

Alberto: “That’s insane. It is cruel to offer him this job knowing he will fail!”

Alberto: “I could not believe it….Mahmood was the fastest on the production line…The production was up 20%!”

Najmuddin: ” Mahmood has something to prove.”

Aberto: “Mahmood stood taller. What made him stand taller? Dignity. He regained his dignity thanks to the job.”

Final Word

Alberto, Najmuddin and Mahmood became open to and created a new Possibility: employing as many disabled people as possible on the production line, within the UN centre, and further.

If you have not watched the TED video (above) then I urge you to watch it. It is only 19 minutes long and that time will fly by – his talk is moving and inspiring.

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.

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.