Playing BIG Can Be As Simple As Making A Telephone Call


Making-Phone-CallHello! I’ve been absent for much of 2016 and 2017. It’s possible that some of you have noticed. If you are interested in learning more about this absence then I invite you to read the second half (“My Story Told As Briefly As I Can Tell It”) of a conversation I posted on The Customer & Leadership Blog.

I say it feels great to be back in communication with you. Being away has allowed me to realise that I created a trap for myself and for you. What trap?  THE trap. The trap of calling this series of conversations: Playing BIG.  The issue. You and I find ourselves arising from and living amidst a specific time/place.  Where I live, we take playing BIG to point out at things like:  becoming a captain of industry, writing a best-selling novel, becoming a superstar/celebrity, making millions, ending world hunger …… You get the idea.

You may be saying to yourself “What’s the problem with that?”.  There is no problem with that if that is what playing BIG means to you and right now you are in action acting in/on the world to cause that to happen. Whilst there is no problem, there is a trap. The trap is that almost all of us feel inadequate, and/or show up for ourselves as small/insignificant is such complex world. For almost all of us playing BIG (as I have described above) is wishful thinking at best.  For others it likely occurs as the latest claptrap.

Today, I am committed to cutting through that. I say that when I step outside of my self-centred concerns, put aside my fears, and act – help others – I am playing BIG.  Allow me to share with you the actions that I have taken that show up for me as playing BIG in the way I show up & travel:

  • I make it my business to call my friend Richard once a week to say “Hello! How are things?  How are you doing? How’s your wife doing?  When/what are the latest results of your chemo treatment?” And I listen – really listen.
  • I make it my business to go see my friend Richard. We go for a walk. I walk by his left hand side so that he can bump into me not the lamppost etc,  the brain tumour has knocked out his left vision in both eyes. We have lunch together. We talk about our history working together at Peppers & Rogers, we talk about what we are dealing with today, we talk about the future that cancer holds for us.  Last week, we happened to talk about our childhoods and I learned that we are both Lancastrians – he grew up in Ormskirk and I grew up in Preston. Small world!
  • The other week, I got a call from my neighbour (Charles) whilst I was in the midst of doing business work whilst working from home.  He urgently needed a lift to get somewhere important. I dropped what I was doing even though the business-ey part of me objected as that work had a deadline. Instead I said “Give me five minutes”. Then I drove him to where he needed to go, waited in my car, then drove him back.
  • Yesterday, my oldest son (22 years old) was telling me off for not taking up shirts that my wife had ironed and left hanging on the chairs in the dining room. I said “Please don’t tell me how to live in my home. I pay for it, you are a guest!” He expressed his frustration (not so politely) with me. So I took the shirts and hung them up in my bedroom. A little later in the kitchen I mentioned how he and I used to watch the Lion King together when he was young. His response was something to experience: angry, telling me off, swearing, walking away in a huff.  What I noticed was hurt – deep hurt arising in me. Then I noticed the anger/rage rising up. Noticing it, I decided to play BIG and let it go.  He’s still a kid, and maybe (just maybe) he’s having a bad day.  Or maybe he got hurt earlier, got angry with me…. Like I was in the process of doing with him.
  • At work, I called it as I saw it.  I knew that calling it as I say it would upset some powerful people. And that I would pay a price. Fully aware of the consequences I chose to play BIG – calling it as I saw it despite the pressure (from the powerful) to be a ‘team player’, to not ‘rock the boat’… Whilst some of the powerful did not appreciate me ‘rocking the boat’ several members of the client did value the course of action I took as it is the one that puts the interests / wellbeing of the client at the centre.
  • This one took the most from me. I allowed my wife to accompany me to the visits to cancer specialists. This may not be a big deal for you, it is a huge deal for me. I grew up under a tyrannical father. And I made it through my childhood by not disclosing weakness – any weakness, and doing that which needed to be done on my own without counting on others. So to arrive at a place where I could be ok with my wife accompanying me really took something. Ask my wife!

I hope you get that which I am pointing at.  None of these actions have made a dent in the universe – the universe is oblivious to my existence.  Having said this, I am clear that the way I showed up & travelled has made some kind of dent in the lives of my friend, my neighbour, my son, members of my client.  That’s good enough for me.

Lets part company today with this question:  “What are the little actions that you/i can take now/today that make a difference in the lives of others – your family members, your neighbours, your friends, the folks you work with at work?

I invite you/me/us to play BIG. It’s not the only way to live and I do not claim that it is the best way to live.  I do say that it is a GREAT way to live – I talk from my own experience.

Thank you for your listening.

As my French family say: A la prochaine!

Giftivism: Transforming Life Through Small Acts of Radical Kindness


I start by gifting you that which shows up for me as a profound truth:

“What we will do for love will always be far more powerful than what we will do for money. What we can do together will always be far greater than what we can do alone.”

– Pavithra Mehta

This wisdom, this truth, this gift found itself to me through coming across and listening to what shows up for me as the most radical-inspiring talk of recent times.

It occurs to me that the being of the speaker and that which the speaker shares is in complete alignment with that which I share in my speaking through this blog. As such I am paying it forward by sharing this profound-radical-inspiring talk with you.

http://youtu.be/p_QLGvp_stI

Here are some words that have caught my attention, may they speak to you and resonate with you. May they act as an opening for you to enter into and lift ‘giftivism’: small acts of radical kindness 

“So in a world where everything has a price — what happens to the priceless?

We live in a time where we have mastered the art of “liking” each other on Facebook but have forgotten the art of loving each other in real life.

Our purpose doesn’t lie in our commodities it lies in our sense of communion …. Compassion. Empathy. Generosity. Trust….

What practices, systems and designs emerge when we believe people WANT to behave selflessly?

Generosity is generative. Everybody wins because generosity is NOT a zero sum game.”

And I leave you with the speakers invitation:

“We begin to move from being a market economy to being part of a gift ecology.

 It begins with small steps. I invite each one of you to think about what your small step will be. What is YOUR giftivist resolution?

May we each take that step. May we change ourselves, may we change the world.”

At your service and with my love

maz

 

Everything That Shows Up Shows Up In Relationship; Everything Said is Said by Someone


In our default way of being in the world, in the West, we ascribe properties to objects. So without any conscious-deliberative thought, we say:

  • This rose is red;
  • This bag is heavy;
  • My husband-wife-partner is selfish;
  • My boss is harsh-selfish-demanding-stupid;
  • My work is boring;
  • The English are cold-unfriendly people;
  • The Americans are arrogant;
  • This food is delicious;
  • She has such an irritating voice ……

Let’s stop and ask ourselves the question, “Is what I take for granted really what is so?”  Let’s just consider the last assertion “She has such an irritating voice!”, as assertion made by a family member when she heard me listening to a podcast.

When I/you say “She has such an irritating voice!” what is it that I am sharing?  Am I pointing out an objective truth? Am I pointing out to the intrinsic ‘suchness’ of her voice?  It looks that way doesn’t it given that is our cultural practice: we stand aside from the world, looking at it as a scientist does, and describe the properties of the world – including the properties of people, of objects, of groups of people and objects. And in so doing we forget that it is i/you/we who are doing the describing!

It occurs to me that when I say “She has such an irritating voice!” I am not speaking an objective truth. Rather, I am pointing at and sharing my lived experience. If I were to describe this lived experience it would be something like this:

“In my state of being right now and the listening that automatically flows from my state of being, I find that her voice shows up as irritating. “

Do you notice the different between these two statements:

“She has such an irritating voice!” and

“In my state of being right now and the listening that automatically flows from my state of being, I find her voice shows up as irritating.”

Do you notice that the label ‘irritating voice’ points towards and highlights the flavour-tone-touch of  my relationship with her?  ‘Irritating voice’ is not a property of her. Her voice is simply her voice: it is neither melodious nor irritating.  Any irritation that shows me in me arises out of my relating with her voice. 

Summing up:

– man is being-in-the-world-with-others and as such always exist in relationship. Everything that shows up shows up in the space of relationship. There are no objects with intrinsic properties independent of others.  

– all descriptions, all labeling, all asserting is done by someone. Humberto Maturna is reported to have said “Everything said is said by someone”.  By this he meant that all acts of cognition-experience occur, are distinguished by, and spoken by someone.  This also means that “All that is heard is heard by someone.” 

– when you and I get that, really get that, then the space of transformation (in our relating to ourself, to others, to the world in which we dwell) opens up and is available for reinterpretation. Whether you and I step into that space is a choice that we can accept or decline.  

 

 

 

I Am Always The Source of My Experience


“How dare she talk to me this way?”

It was evening, I was sitting in my comfortable chair working on my laptop. I heard my wife’s voice and she said something like “Maz, the French TV is not working! Clea says you played around with it yesterday!”  I felt the frustration and anger in her voice.

I didn’t take it well at all. I found myself telling myself “I cannot be the cause of the French TV not working. If you push the standby button, like I did, you do not break it!”  And there was a mood/tone underlying all this.  What was this tone?  “How dare she talk to me this way!”

People are only ever saying “Please” or “Thank You”

There and then I was in a place of no power. None at all. I was in my head telling myself that my wife was wrong, that I was not the cause of her problems, and that she was wrong for making me wrong.  I noticed that one minute I was kind of feeling sorry for myself. And the other minute I was feeling angry with my wife.

Then the word of Marshall Rosenberg came back to me.  These word went something like “Be yourself, be true to yourself, be true to your values. Don’t let people throw you off your centre.  And remember that underneath it all people are only ever saying “Please” or “Thank You””.

I got it. Underneath her anger lay frustration. She was clearly frustrated that she could not watch her French TV whilst she was on her exercise bike. Watching French TV was the way she exercised.  She had tried to put the French TV on and had not made it happen. So she was reaching out to me and saying “Please help me get the French TV working!”

Instantly, I was in different reality and my experience was totally different. I was calm. And the question that arose was a simply one: “Do I accept the request?”

I accept the request and help out

After consideration, I chose to come downstairs into the living room and figure out what was the matter.  I did the usual stuff like pressing the power-on button, checking the connection between the French satellite decoder and the smart TV…  I got the same results that my wife had gotten.

Then I went back to the source – the two power sockets in the wall that were feeding all the electronics – to see if the issue was at the source of with the French satellite decoder.  By switching the power plugs from one socket to another I got the French satellite decoder working. And after some help from my wife I had the decoder working with the TV.  I left the lounge and headed upstairs, back to my comfortable chair. What state was I in?  Happiness was present.

What are the insights here?

It occurs to me that there are two helpful insights here. Insights which have the potential to help us transform our relationships and our experience of living.

First, as Marshall Rosenberg says people are only ever communicating “Please” or “Thank You” irrespective of how they go about communicating this.  If I, get this, really get this, and show up for this perspective then I can be with whatever anyone says and how s/he says it. How? Because, I am only ever listening for the “Please” or “Thank You” that lies hidden in their communication.

Second, I am ALWAYS the source of my experience. As this experience illustrates I have choice in the matter of how I listen to others and how I interpret the circumstances.  When I listened to my wife as blaming me unjustly I got angry. When I listened to my wife as making a request “Please get the French TV working for me.” I became calm and helpful.

“You are absolutely correct!”


We go about living as if life is simple.  We assume that life is black and white. We assume that reality and truth is one dimensional, and not multi-dimensional.  We assume that we can access ultimate reality and truth.  We asume that the way that we see it and speak it, is that way that it is. And we are oblivious to these assumptions.  As such, we show up in the world and operate from these assumptions.  In doing so we generate conflict, we fracture relationships, and we hinder our ability to be effective in the world as it is.

Is there an alternative?  Yes, there is and it starts with getting a profound truth about our existence in this world.  It is the kind of truth that is pointed out in the following parable:

The Mulla Nasruddin [a wise fool in sufi teaching stories] was sitting court one day.  A husband and wife came to the court to settle the matter of who should be in charge of their son’s education. The wife argued that she should be given sole custody, giving many fine reasons to support her view.  Mulla Nasruddin said, “You are absolutely correct!” Then the husband spoke to defend his position.  In response, Mulla Nasruddin exclaimed, “You are absolutely correct!”. Immediately, a cleric in the back of the court stood up and cried out, “Nasruddin, they both can’t be right!”  To which Mulla Nasruddin replied, “You are absolutely correct!”

Is it possible that each and everyone of us has some access to truth?  Is it possible that there is some truth in everything?  Is it possible that despite our best efforts all we can ever arrive at is some approximation to truth?  And what would be possible if each and everyone of us showed up in the world being present to and living these questions?

The power of shifting the conversation from who is wrong to what went wrong


I dedicate this post to my wife who is the source of this insight, this conversation.

The default: one party is good/right, the other party is bad/wrong

When conversations, actions, events and relationships don’t work out as we want or expect them to work out what happens?  Look carefully and you will find that the default is that we look to figure out who is wrong.  And from there we go and label some person/group as bad/wrong and another person/group as good/right.  If we are one of the parties to the upset/conflict then we end up declaring ourselves as good/right and the other person as bad/wrong.

Even as an observer, if you listen to one of the parties to the conflict sharing his story, his take on the situation, the temptation and the default way of being is to want to work out who is right and who is wrong, who is good and who is bad. Even as an observer we get drawn into and cannot resist taking sides.  And in taking sides we validate one person and invalidate the other – usually without even hearing the others side of the story.

How does this default way of being/showing up in the world tend to work out?  My experience is that it does not tend to work out.  Taking sides  – labelling one person ‘good’ / ‘right’ and the other ‘bad’ / ‘wrong’ just perpetuates the myth: some people are ‘good’ and some people are ‘bad’. And it keeps us stuck in the existing context which says that ‘bad’ results are the result of ‘bad ‘people.

Creating an ‘extraordinary’ context for dealing with that which shows up and which does not please us

Leaving aside evil people and I am clear there are evil people – they tend to be labelled psychopaths – is there value in operating from a context of whole-complete-perfect?  What do I mean?  What would become available if we acted as if each person is whole-complete-perfect?  Put differently, what would become available if you/I operated from a context that each person is doing what shows up for him/her as reasonable, as good, as right?

What my wife and I have noticed is that if we operate from this context then we have a powerful way to deal with the upsets and conflicts that show up in our lives as we go about in the world.  How exactly?

Operating from a context of each person is being rational/reasonable given how the world show up for him/her we can ask the question that is almost never asked:  how is it that two (or more) reasonable people ended up creating this undesirable situation/outcome?  Put differently, we focus on the question of what went wrong and not who is wrong.

What we have found is that when we relate to people as whole-complete-perfect and focus on what went wrong we get powerful insights that enable us to:

  • deal effectively with what went wrong;
  • figure out how exactly (step by step) it ended up working out the way that it worked out;
  • generate insight and affinity with the people who are involved in the events unfolding as they have unfolded; and
  • prevent the reoccurrence of that which occurred and left all parties unhappy, resentful, frustrated, angry and even violent.

Summing up

If you want to be powerful in the way that you show up in the world for yourself and for the people with/around you then:

  • shift the context from ‘good’ people and ‘bad’ people to everyone is ‘whole-complete-perfect’; AND
  • shift the conversation from who is wrong to what went wrong – how is it that events turned out this way given the good intentions of all parties.

An ‘extra-ordinary’ life is distinct from an extraordinary life


When I speak, I speak. When you listen, you listen to me speaking.  Yet, I live in my world – a unique world.  And you live in your world – a unique world.  Given that is the case how can I be sure that I have generated the understanding, the experience, that I intend with my  speaking?  And how can you be sure that what you have heard me say is what I actually spoke?

This speaking and the listening brought to the speaking is particularly troublesome when it comes to ideas like extraordinary.  So it is likely that some of you upon hearing me speak of an ‘extra-ordinary’ life or ‘extra-ordinary’ living will have collapsed this with extraordinary life and extraordinary living.   They are not the same, they are distinct.  Allow me to bring the distinction to life through a personal story.

When I was a child, before the age of 5, my life showed up as ‘extra-ordinary’ and there was nothing extraordinary about me or my life.  I grew up in a farming community in a poor part of Pakistani controlled Kashmir.  My mother was poor and we lived in a mud house.  We had just enough to eat.  I remember pleading with my mother for some milk which she would not give me because she sold it to buy stuff that she did not grow. The outward appearance was distinctly ordinary for that part of the world: one boy among many boys; one farmer’s dwelling just like many of the other dwellings in the area.

Yet, when I travel back in time and re-experience my life, at that age and in that place, it shows up as an ‘extra-ordinary’ life. I flowed with life and life flowed through me. In this ‘extra-ordinary’ living I don’t remember ever saying to myself “I am better or worse than someone else”.  And I don’t remember saying to myself “I am good/bad”.  I don’t remember saying to myself “There is something great/defective about me.” And I don’t remember thinking “I need to improve this/that about me.” I don’t remember saying “Something is missing.”  Nor do I remember saying “This is hard work”.  And I don’t remember saying to myself “I am bored, I need to find something to do”.  I don’t remember saying “This is a good person, this is a bad person.” Nor do I remember saying to myself “I am poor or we are poor.”  I am sure that I never said to myself “There is something wrong with my life.”

I do remember that some of the baby chicks that I loved and was responsible for feeding (water and food) died. I don’t remember saying “It is my fault. I am bad.” Nor do I remember saying “It is his/her fault for not giving me the water/food I needed to feed my baby chicks!”

I do remember being absorbed in living.   I remember getting up early and being occupied for the entire day and going to sleep exhausted.  I remember liking some people and not liking others – yet just getting on with them, with living.  I remember liking being with my dog and not liking my mother chaining my dog up and not letting me play with him.  I do remember joy in playing out all day.  And I do remember great sadness when some of my baby chicks died. I remember laughter (lots of it) especially when I was playing with my dog and my friends.  And I remember a waterfall of tears when I woke up to find my dog (my best friend) missing and not finding him day after day.  I remember that one day the tears dried up and I got busy being absorbed in life and living.

I hope that you have gotten the difference between ‘extra-ordinary’ living and extraordinary living.  You and I have the power to transform our experience of living from ‘ordinary’ to ‘extra-ordinary’ whilst living an ordinary life or an extraordinary life.

It occurs to me that so many of us are chasing that extraordinary life (of being the best, of being rich, of being looked up to, of pleasure….) and in the process we sacrifice the experience of ‘extra-ordinary’ living – the kind of living that I experienced in the first five years of my life.  And I say it is never too late to transform the quality of our lives – to shift from the chase of the extraordinary life to generating the experience of ‘extra-ordinary’ living.

My life, your life: is this what it is ultimately all about?


We celebrated a birthday in our home yesterday.  It was all going fine – the five of us and my wife’s aunt (Lisa) were sat around a dining table enjoying food, drink and conversation.

The thought popped up, now is the time to play the track.  So I got up and played “Happy Birthday” by Stevie Wonder – it is a track that I play at birthdays and daughter (whose birthday we were celebrating) likes it.  Daughter started moving (sat down) and singing along to the track.  Suddenly, she was up dancing and one of her brothers joined her.  Then she grabbed me and I joined in as well.

When the track came to an end, daughter asked for “You’re a lady” sung by Tom Jones.  So I put that on and she LOVED it.  How do I know?  The way she danced.  And my son, who was dancing too, loved it too. And I loved it too – listening, dancing to it, with it.  When that came to an end, I played “Sex Bomb” and that went down well with with us.

After that my son, who was dancing, complained about the songs that I was playing.  They did not show up as modern enough, as cool enough, as sexy enough – not to his taste.  All the time, daughter was just fine, enjoying the music – dancing and taking it easy.  Struggling to find the right tracks, I got another complaint from my son.  This time, I said with some frustration “How about being grateful that you have a father that cares and does this?”

Later, in the evening as I was getting to go to bed my son searched me out.  He looked me in the eyes, give me a hug and told me that he was sorry.  I welcomed that and was ready to go to sleep.  The he spoke words and I got present to being moved-touched deeply – almost at a primal level, the level of the automatic functioning of the ‘machinery of being human’.  Let me share these words with you:

“Papa, you are special.  I will miss you when you are gone [dead].  I love you. You matter to me, you make such a big difference to my life.” 

I have been thinking and it occurs to me at the primal level of ‘the machinery of being human’, you and I, strive to:

  • be loved and love;
  • live lives that matter, that make a contribution to ourselves and those that we love;
  • know/feel and be told that you and I are special – at least to one person who matters to us.

At the deepest, most fundamental, level of the being of human being is that what matters?  Is that what human life is ultimately all about?  Being loved, living a life that matters, and showing up/feeling special at least to one other person that we are in relationship with?

If the right listening is there then this is all it takes to restore relatedness


A couple of days ago there was a disagreement between two of my children.  Being next door and hearing the heated voices, I intervened to stop hurt taking place.  Nonetheless, hurt took place.  Daughter was so upset, so angry that she threw the iPad and ran out of the room crying; the iPad was a present from my sister; the two of them were fighting over the iPad and Netflix.

Confusion and upset was present in my house of being.  The thought that I had been unfairly treated, that I did not deserve that which I had received surfaced.  I picked up the iPad and went back to my study and got on with what I had been doing.

Later that evening the following was pushed under the door and into my study:

That is all it took for the healing to take place between daughter and me, for the relatedness to be restored.  How is it possible that my daughter would write this card so quickly after being so upset?  And how is it possible that I would receive it with gratitude as quickly as I did?  How is it possible that we would ‘forgive’, putting the past in the past, and move forward together with our relatedness intact, perhaps even stronger?

LISTENING!  I listen to daughter as one who loves me unconditionally.  And she listens to me as as one who loves her unconditionally.  And we listen to each other as souls whose intentions are good.  And we listen to human beings as beings who make mistakes.

What is the insight here that is of value?  The listening is the background that gives meaning and shapes that which shows up in the foreground.  Too many of us get busy on ‘fixing / dealing with’ the foreground (the events that occur) and few of us work on the background: the listening.  Yet, the power, the leverage, is in the listening!

If your relationships are not working out then focus on the listening that you bring to it.

On being wanted, loved and cared for: how I arrived with one sister and left with four sisters!


“According to Mother Theresa, the greatest disease in the West is not Tuberculosis or Leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, uncared for.” Tim Sanders, Love Is The Killer App

A life full of ‘business as usual’ encounters

Can you remember a time in your life when you turn up at someone’s house because it is something you should do. And as you knock on the door you expect a superficial experience because the people are in the room and humanity has gone walkabout – including your own? My life if it was a container would be full of these superficial encounters: unwanted, unloved, uncared for. And I am confident that I have had the same impact on many of my fellow human beings.

Three extraordinary sisters and an extraordinary day

Yesterday I encountered Asma, Saima and Selena (sisters) as I have done several times before. Yet this time I so enjoyed their company that I did not want to leave and return home. The speaking, relating, listening and the experience of each others company was extraordinary. Full of humanity – genuine sharing, caring and laughter. What was present that had been missing in previous encounters?

I was coming from the context of ‘Playing BIG’ and being the source of powerful conversations that bring the experience of the extraordinary into being. And the people I interacted with (including Asma, Saima and Selena) were touched by my honest sharing (including vulnerabilities and mistakes) and put their humanity into the mix with me. Together we touched each others lives in an ‘extraordinary’ way – definitely not a ‘business as usual’ experience’!

I got that I have four sisters and not three: I simply had not been willing to see this before. Asma is amazing and loves me; I got that Saima is amazing and loves me; I got that Selena is amazing and loves me; I got that they are amazing together and love each other; and I got that they are being loving towards their mother and father.

I love my sister Freda and the relationship is so strong that I have never wanted or wished for another sister. Today I ‘have’ four sisters. Put accurately, I declare that I am an elder brother to four sisters: Fred, Asma, Saima and Selena. And as such I take on all the ‘stuff’ that goes with ‘playing that game’. How do I feel? Great.

Final thought: ‘Playing BIG’ has expanded my circle of concern and of care. And it has also enriched my life I am delighted to be in relationship with four sisters – each of them being amazing.

I love you Freda, Asma, Saima and Selena, Please know that you have a brother in me and all that goes with that. Asma, Saima and Selena I apologise that it took me so long to get that you want, love and care for me as your older brother. I totally get that you are amazing and it is a privilege to step into being your elder brother.

Conversation and fellowship: I am starving how about you?


Dear Simon, Fred, Derek, June, Enzo, Saffron, Zara, Emma, Stefanie, Rohan, Simon, Leigh and James

The last two days of my life I have experienced as wonderful and you have all helped to fill me with joy.  Please know that I consider it a privilege that our loves have touched and that we are family.  Each of you is wonderful and collectively we are awesome.  In can honestly say that this has been the BEST Christmas that I have participated in and experienced in my whole life.  What showed up this Christmas that was special?

The food and drink was great.  Yet that is not what made the difference even though I thoroughly enjoyed the food and totally get/got the love that went into the food and the cooking.  Thank you Simon and Fred for the food, drink and the hospitality.  I felt loved by you before arriving, I felt loved during my stay at your home and I felt loved in departing from your home.

So what was present (as viewed through my experience) that has not been present in previous Christmases?  Conversation and fellowship.  I was throughly immersed in conversation with one or more of you during the two days.  And that communication occurred in the context of GREAT fellowship.  What do I mean?  I mean that we all respected each other and as such treated each other with dignity and respect.  LOVE was present: the human connection was present and that makes a difference to me.  During my time with you we talked about our childhoods, our parents, our friends, our hobbies, our travels… And we shared, explored, discussed but never debated views on morality, justice, economics, politics……  Be being in conversation with me in the spirit of great fellowship you enriched my life – I will remember this Christmas to the end of my days.  Thank you for the privilege of being a part of your life and for sharing your life and yourselves with me.

You have got me present to the fact that I have been starving (for a long time).  What am I starving from?  It is certainly not food or drink.  It is the kind of conversation that we co-created (in the spirit of great fellowship) that I have been starving from!  Conversation – sharing, listening, exploring, learning, connecting through conversation makes a huge difference to the experience and quality of my living.  What is so is that this kind of conversation is totally absent in my day to day living.  Derek and June I know why I love being in your company – it is the great conversation which arises as a result of us having diverse experiences and diverse views within the context of respect and love of each other.  I love you and thank you for the privilege of your company, your fellowship.

Now that I know that I have been starving myself of good conversation and great fellowship (TED is a great and yet a poor substitute) what am I going to do about it.  First and foremost I am creating (right now) the Possibility of great conversation and fellowship.  Second, I declare that I am a STAND and CLEARING  for great conversation and fellowship.  What is left to do is to take UNREASONABLE action in support of this Possibility and Stand.

What do I want from you – my friends and family?  I request that you act as an existence structure (a powerful conscience) that continually reminds me of this Possibility and Stand and moves me to act in alignment with this Possibility and Stand.

I love you.  And that goes for family and friends in the USA (Dan, Lora, Kevin, Dawood, Ray….), New Zealand (Jon, Natalie, the boys), Germany (Frank, Petra, Ida, Paul, Anton, Stefanie), Switzerland (Stefanie), France (Hugues, Suzanne, Aldine, Marco, Clea, Ralf, Christelle, Will, Meme, Lisa, Roald, Beatrice, Michel, Jacqueline, ………….),  Belgium (Tim + family, Karl), Spain (Gloria, Andrew), Thailand (James), UK (Gisella, James, Ansar, Lois, Shamim, Anjam, Amjad, Saima,………), Israel (Arie), Italy (Luciano)…..  I wish you the very best for 2012 and look forward to the day we meet face to face and I have the privilege of your company.

 

 

How one simple practice can help build strong relationships


I have been married to the same woman for over 15 years and we have known each other for longer than that.  Over that time we have gone through the roller-coaster of relationship many times: spring, summer, autumn and winter.  There have been times when we have created and bathed in a delightful relationship.  There have been times when the relationship has been simply ok.  And there have been times when it has been so painful that I have wondered how I got myself into the relationship and into that position.

Recently, I have noticed that my relationship, my relating, with my wife has gone up dramatically.  And all because we have incorporated a practice into our lives.  Because it works so well I want to share that with you.   Here is how this practice works:

  • Twice a week, every week, we spend time together and talk about our experience of our relationship.  What is working, what is not working, what can be improved.
  • We are clear that the purpose of these sessions is to build the relationship and not to simply vent. And so any sharing has to be mindful.  Yes, I can share what my wife did (Teh behaviour that occurred), how it landed for me and how it has left me feeling.  No, I do not give myself permission (nor does my wife) to  label, criticise or condemn her.  Why?
  • Because we have agreed that we will listen to each other as persons of worth – each of us being up for building a loving relationship and going about it as best as we can.  And so any behaviour that does not contribute to that is open for discussion but not the worth, the dignity, the motivation of the other.
  • We start by checking in and compliments.  Checking in is simply getting present to where you are at in the relationship. Specifically, are there any issues, grudges, resentment, anger that stands between me and my wife.  Once I have shared this then I get present to what specifically my wife has done that has made my life easier, better or simply enjoyable.  Then I share that with my wife and thank her.   Then she does the same.
  • Next, we take turns to share whatever stands between us – the irritations, the disappointments, the upset, the grudges, the frustrations etc.  And we do that using non-violent language.  In the process, I may find that I have done something that has landed badly for my wife and I had simply been unaware of it.  For example, I may have made a casual remark that hurt my wife’s feelings.  When that happens I tend to be genuinely remorseful and apologise.  That tends to be enough for my wife because she gets that it is genuine.  On the other hand it may be that I am asked to do something that my wife needs me to do.  Or to stop doing something.  We discuss, we understand, we make requests, we come to an agreement.
  • During our talk, our sharing, we have agreed to focus on specific events and behaviour that happened between the last time we talked and this time.  That means that we tend to be talking about stuff that happened in the last three days.  I find that really works for me because I am dealing with specific behaviour rather than generalities and grudges that were born, weeks, months, years ago and have not yet been killed off.

Do each and everyone of these sessions go smoothly?  No.  We have worked out that it is better to rearrange if you are feeling down or simply juggling with so much stuff that you are not in the state of mind to be the kind of person you need to be to honour these sessions and make them work as intended.  Have these sessions helped us to understand each other, to empathise?  Yes.  Have these sessions helped more love enter into our lives?  Absolutely.  Do we listen to each other differently every day?  Yes and that makes all the difference.  It is amazing what can grow when you listen to each other as persons of worth up for and playing the game of lets build a great relationship, a great life.

Here is a link to an interesting talk on TED.  It is all about walking in the shoes of the other and how that builds understanding.  I suspect that is what we are doing through these sessions.

On relationships or why I simply love Rosemary!


How you ever stopped to really consider what is a ‘relationship’?

Do you think of ‘relationship’ as a  solid object that once created lasts for a long time, perhaps even an eternity?

Do you think of a  ‘relationship’ as being like a holiday – a clear starting and end point and in between there is lots of adventure, excitement, novelty and fun?

Do you think of ‘relationship’ as communication – talking, discussing, debating?

Do you think of ‘relationship’ as a meal around a table – the meal has to be created, the people invited to the table and there is sharing of food and conversation?

I realise that I have thought of my relationship with my wife as rather like an enduring object.  We created that object many years ago and having been created it should simply last.  After all we have been together for some 19 years.

Today, a wise friend (Rosemary) reminded me about an aspect of ‘relationship’ that I had perhaps never realised and if I did do so then I had certainly forgotten it.  She stated “A relationship needs to fed and nurtured”.

Yes, a relationship has to be fed and nurtured.  And that reminded me of gardening.  When I plant a seedling it needs lots of attention in the form of feeding an nurturing (light, water, heat etc).  As the seedling grows into a young plant it still needs feeding and nurturing.  As the young plant grows into a strong and healthy established plant, it still needs feeding and nurturing. All that changes is that the both the volume, regularity and form of that feeding and nurturing.  If you forget this and fail to feed and nurture the plant, even a strong established healthy plant, it will wither and die eventually.

I realise that to date I have had a mistaken picture of some of my closest relationships.  Thinking that they are now well established plants, I have mistakenly assumed that they no longer need to be fed and nurtured – they can look after themselves.  Thankfully, these relationships are not dead, simply withering and looking for some tender care.  That is my commitment: to give that care in the form of regular feeding and nurturing.

Thank you Rosemary for awakening me from my sleep!