What Is The Cost of Being Right About Being Right?


I like to be right about being right

I say:

I like to be right,

I like to be right about being right,

I like to be right about being right about being right….

Am I addicted to being right about being right?

It occurs to me that I have just told a lie, so let me put it more accurately.

I am addicted to being right,

I am addicted to being right about being right,

I am addicted to being right about being right about being right …

Are we addicted to being right about being right?

I say that you are addicted to being right. Why am I confident that what shows up as being true for me is also true for you?  Because you and are both human beings; the same human machinery runs us.  Standing in this place it occurs to me that I still haven’t told the ‘truth’. So let me see if I can get nearer to the truth. I say:

It is in the nature of the human machinery that runs us,

to be addicted to being right,

And being right about being right,

And being right about being right about being right ….

What is the cost of being right about being right?

Yet, you and I are not merely human machinery.  We have the capacity to transcend the human machinery.  How? By seeing the human machinery. By being present, at the level of feeling, with the cost of the human machinery.  Right now I am present to the cost of being right about being right …..

What is the cost?  The cost is the lack of affinity between myself and me wife.  The cost is a certain melancholy that is present right now in my house of being.  The cost is a wasted evening yesterday. And a day without intimacy-friendship-laughter-joy today.

The choice facing me, facing you

I have a question for me, for you, for us.  What is the cost each of us have paid for being right?  What is the cost each of us have paid for being right about being right?  How many relationships have we sacrificed?  How much affinity have we given up?  How much joy have we given up?

And what is the cost am I, are you, are we, paying right now for being right about being right?

All of which reminds me of something I heard in Landmark Education some 10 years ago:

You can be right, 

Or you can be in relationship,

Choose. 

It snowed, there is snow, is that all there is to it?


The folks at the weather station predicted snow.  And then it snowed. And there was snow.

Upon seeing the snow the youngest two members of the family ran to the windows.  They became smiles and excitement.  They lived into a future that gave them joyous being: schools would be shut, no school, stay home, play with friends in the snow!

Upon being alerted to the snow, I reluctantly put on my shoes, headed outside and drove my car off the drive and towards the top of the hill.  I lived into a future of risk/struggle/fear.  The risk associated with getting my car off the drive.  Last time it snowed heavily and did that I couldn’t. And when I persisted the car skid into a wall and required costly repairs.  Struggle because every time it snows heavily it is a struggle to get anywhere without considerable effort. Why fear? Because twice in the past my car skidded in the snow/ice, I lost control, felt helpless, felt fear, and the car hit something.

Upon being alerted to the snow, my wife said and did nothing.  She just got on with what she was getting on with or needed to get on with.

The next day, we had to go out.  My wife drove and I was happy for her to drive.  Later we are told that the schools have closed and have to go and pick our son up.  There is a lot of snow on the ground. And it is snowing hard.  We are not at home.  There are long queues of cars.  The sat-nav does not work, I am fretting.  My wife, she is calm. It takes us over an hour to do a fifteen minute journey.  I am uneasy, I am cursing the snow, I am fretting about not being able to get through to my son – he is not answering his mobile phone. My wife? She is calm, she is patient, she drives, she finds her way.

We get home. The children in the street are playing in the snow. They are laughing, they are clearly making it a great time for themselves, playing in the snow. Someone is rolling in the snow.  It is our daughter, the youngest member of the family.  Her face is red. Her clothes are soaking wet. And she is experiencing pure joy – out rolling in the snow.  I look at her in astonishment and head inside where I can be warm.

What shows up for me?  I am present to several distinctions, that I first came across in Landmark Education, that are in operation in each of us:

Event/Story: The event is simply that there is some 15m of snow.  And then each of us, me,  wife, son, daughter, made a different story of the snow.

It is the future that you are living into that gives you your being-in-the-world right now.  My children were living into a future of no school, playing with friends, snowball fights. And their being was joyous.  My wife was living into a future of ‘no big deal and it snow can be pretty. So her being was undisturbed, she got on with what she needed to get on with.  Me, I was living into a future of fear/risk/struggle – of losing control of the car. And so my being-in-the-present was annoyance with the snow.

What am I present to? All that happened was that it snowed.  All there was was snow, ice, slush, more snow.  Yet, none of us left it at that. All of us made it mean something. And our being-in-the-world was a function of the meaning that our human machinery gave to the snow.

Which means that my being-in-the-world, your being-in-the-world, is a function of the story that runs me, runs you.  And our freedom lies in our ability/freedom to create better stories – stories that move-touch-inspire us.  Our ability to change reality – whether it snows or not – can be limited.  Our ability invent stories, invent possibilities, is unlimited.  So, ultimately, our freedom lies in the domain of possibility and of story.

Putting the past in the past opens up the future and the experience of freedom


One of the most important insights that I got out of my participation in the courses offered by Landmark Education is this one: the default mode of being-in-the-world is one where you/i walk into a future that is already given, already bound, already constrained.  And as such the domain of freedom, the freedom to invent a future that moves-touches-inspires-uplifts us, is small and sometimes non-existent. Therefore, if you/i want to increase our zone of freedom / open up our future we have to put the past in the past.  Put simply, putting the past in the past is the access to opening up new realms of freedom, of possibility.  How to make this real/concrete?  Let me tell you a story.

I notice that I am fearful about going to the USA

One of the roles I have chosen to play in life is that of management consultant – it requires a willingness to travel.  Towards the end of September it became obvious that I had to travel to Texas, USA.  I noticed that something was up, I did not want to travel.  Why?  I had it that it was going to be an ordeal and fear/worry was present.  Why?

It was July 2008 and I was on my way to Detroit to meet my new boss.   On the way through security I was singled out and made to wait for some 45 minutes.  Why?  To be given the approval to fly to the USA by the US authorities.  I got it and boarded the aeroplane.  After a long journey, I was delighted to get off the aeroplane and looking forward to making my way through passport control and onwards to the hotel.  It didn’t work out that way.

I was asked the same questions (as I had been in London, UK) and I provided the same answers.  The ‘immigration officer’ asked me to follow him and lead me to large rectangular room.  It was full of people who did not look white Anglo-Saxons, all waiting, all looking at the ‘immigration officers’ who sat on an elevated platform to make them look bigger/stronger/more powerful than the rest of us.

The rational part of me told me that it was all a game and I had nothing to worry about as I was no threat to anyone and never had been.  Yet, another part of me did worry and was fearful wondering if I would be shipped off to Guantanamo.  So it took something for me to be calm and read a book for two hours or so.  Eventually, I was called up, asked questions, answered the questions, which they verified with my boss and let through.

What did I do with that experience? 

What did I say to myself as I made my way out of the airport and to the taxi stand?  I told myself that I could so easily have ended up in Guantanamo.  And that if I had ended up there I would not have survived (not having anything in common with the inmates or the guards) and as such would have let my wife and children down. Did I stop there?  No.

I made the decision that I would avoid travelling to the USA.  I told myself it was unwise and selfish to travel to a country whose default position is to assume that people like me are terrorists and have to be locked up without evidence, without trial.  And I acted in accordance with that decision including turning down invitations to visit friends in the USA.

I draw your attention to what happened and what I did.  I experienced what I experience and what happened happened at Detroit airport.  Yet, I did not leave it there.  I took that experience and made a decision out of it.  And where did I put the decision?  In the future: going forward, in the future, I am going to / I have to avoid travelling to the USA!

What was the impact of that decision?  It closed down the zone of freedom, of possibility, in the future.  Put bluntly, in my future a visit to the USA was out of the question.  So even when I got invites to visit the US, from friends or business organisations, I turned them down.

How did I put the past into the past and open up my future

First, it is worth pointing out that circumstances played their part. I had to go.  There was nobody who could go and do what I do.  And I was not prepared to let my client and colleagues down.  It occurs to me that sometimes unwelcome circumstances are exactly what we need to get us present to and out of the rut that we have fallen into.

Second, I put the past in the past.  How?  I examined the Detroit incident by looking at what actually happened and gave it a liberating interpretation.  After some questioning, the US immigration handed me my documents and sent me on my way.  Throughout the encounter he was professional – neither kind nor mean.  And I left my drivers licence with him, by mistake, and he forwarded it to my boss! The new interpretation that I gave this experience is this one: the immigration officer did his job and everything worked out just fine.  All that really happened is that I was delayed by two hours which could easily have happened on the flight itself and if it had happened it would not have put me off travelling on an aeroplane!

Third, I found out that to get into the USA you have to go and apply online.  Which I did and within a few minutes I got a written confirmation that I was authorised to enter the USA. This strengthened my confidence, my resolve, my interpretation that it was ok/safe to travel to the USA.

Fourth, I remembered the ‘kindness of strangers’ the last time I had travelled through Texas and so I invented a future that was full of the possibility of kindness/generosity and a great experience.

How did I turn out?

It turned out delightfully.  Texas was warm and the people that I encountered were warm.  And during my time there I was bathed in fellowship. I got to experience the ‘big heartedness’ of the folks that I encountered.  And when the time came to come back I was a sad to leave and looking forward to my next visit to the USA.

What can you/I take away from this?

You/I might think/act as if our past is in the past.  And that is not the way it is for us human beings because we put the past into the future.  We do that by making decisions on/about the future.  This in turn constrains our options around being/doing and thus limits our freedom, our self-expression, the possibilities that we can invent and live from/into.  And it does not have to be this way!

You and I can chose, as a deliberate act, to take the past that is sitting in the future and put it in the past.  And we can incorporate this practice into our way of being-in-the-world: on the look out for the past that has got misfiled in the future and keep putting it in the past.  Thus we end up with future that is wide open to invention and we experience a freedom to be/do that we may have not experienced for a long time.

And finally

You could sum up the work of Werner Erhard and the work of Landmark Education (“Transformation”) as being exactly this: enabling the human being to take his/her past out of his/her future and put it into the past thus leaving absolutely nothing in the future – a future wide open to being invented unconstrained by the past.

You are the cause of your suffering / are you running a ‘racket’? (Part III)


This post continues the conversation that commenced earlier and which you can find below:

How can you be about/deal with ‘tiredness’ and ‘hopelessness’? (part I)

You are neither the thoughts nor the feelings that show up (part II)

Let’s get present to where your are at (or were at)

“I tend to always fall for men that are dominant and players. It is difficult for me to be attracted to someone who is less witty and dominant, as I have a strong character. Although I know that it will always lead to hurt and abandonment, am like a moth to a flame.

This is one aspect of your life that you shared with me. You also shared the following with me:

  • “I guess I am feeling the loss of physical intimacy, someone to just be there to hold me when I’m feeling lost and alone.”
  • “Tired of searching for ‘the one’ to be my life companion – whilst desperately longing for one.”

You are the cause of your suffering and you can give it up this instant

There is what you want to be so. There is what is so. There is a difference between what you ‘want to be so’ and ‘what is so’. This difference shows up as ‘painful’ – an issue to be dealt with / a problem to be solved. And you are probably telling yourself that once you have solved this one, met the ‘one’ your life will work out and you will live happily ever after.

Do you notice something interesting? There is no ‘issue’ no ‘problem’ in the world as it is. You are generating this ‘issue’, this ‘problem’, this ‘upset’ and the suffering that goes with it. Let me be plain: YOU are the cause of your own suffering! And you can choose to not suffer – you can do that right now. Let’s take a look at this in more detail:

You have bought into and are living out of a myth. Here is how it goes: I can only be happy if/when I find the ‘one’; the ‘one’ is out there; once I find the ‘one’ or he finds me then all will be great and I will live happily ever after. I know many people who have found the ‘one’ and then found out, later, that life has not worked out and bliss is not ever present. I know of people who have found the ‘one’ only to lose the ‘one’ through death – and they are left grappling with that. I know of people who have found the ‘one’ and then the ‘one’ has cheated and/or left them for another – and these people are left grappling with that. What if you let go of this myth? What if you let go of putting conditions on happiness? What if you choose to be with the fact that right now the ‘one’ is not in your life and you choose to put happiness into your life? Notice that when you put these conditions onto life you are constructing your own prison.

“I know that it will always lead to hurt and abandonment”. Is this so? Let’s take a look at hurt, specifically how you (and I) create hurt. Notice that hurt arises in relation to people and pets. How does it come about? We create and live out of expectations around people – especially those who we are close to / those close to us. We may or may not share these expectations with them. They may or may not agree to our expectations. When the expectations are not met what shows up? Hurt. The bigger the gap between the demands we place on people (whether communicated or not) and what we get/do not get from these people the bigger the hurt. If you and I genuinely want to be free from hurt then we can do that right now: give up any and all expectations of people. You can even go further and ‘expect’ that every single person will act to get what he/she wants out of life – to act ‘selfishly’. Don’t you do the same? So what is the big deal when others do the same as you, same as me? If you practice this you will notice that there is no space for ‘abandonment’ in your life. ‘Abandonment’ is a function of making demands on people, on life, that life does not fulfil. Put differently, it is label for a specific kind of hurt.

Are your running a “racket”?

During my participation in Landmark Education I was exposed to the distinction “racket”. What is a racket? I say a racket is made of the following:

  • Fixed way of being e.g. being demanding, being critical, being helpful, being miserable…
  • Fixed set of behaviour – doing the same things over and over again
  • Recurrent complaint – about someone, something, about yourself
  • Payoff – usually hidden, not acknowledged – what you get out of being/doing what you are being/doing

Let’s get clear on this: you find a certain type of man attractive; you go for this type; you get what you get and you take it; at some point the ‘hurt’ and ‘abandonment’ shows up in your life’; you ‘beat yourself up’ in some way or form; you do the same again and again; and then you plead that you are simply a ‘moth to a flame’.

Well you are not a ‘moth’! You are human being who can envisage future, see possibilities, be other than that which you are being, pursue possibilities/paths other than what you are on today, do stuf that you are not doing today, stop doing stuff that you are doing…. you can even choose to give up your life. To be a human being is to be ‘the one that is always the chooser, always, not that which is chosen nor that which shows up or is imposed’. You can play at being ‘small’, ‘helpless’ even ‘pathetic’, that might work with you friends/family – it does not work with me. I relate to you as a ‘force of nature’ who can at any and all times invent and live into futures that leave your experience of living transformed. You are ‘BIG’, you really are. The question is, when will you choose to ‘play BIG’?

So now that we have distinguished the upper most level of racket – playing ‘small’ and asking for ‘leniency’ or ‘help’ let’s move on to the second level of your racket as I see it. Notice, I am not making truth claims. I am simply sharing my perspective with you, you might not like it and I say that is fine, try it out and see if it works. If it works then keep it, if it does not then you can drop it – I am not attached to it, you won’t hurt my feelings. Back to racket.

I say that you ‘ok’ with what is so including the ‘hurt’ and ‘abandonment’. Why? Because whatever it is that you are getting is of more value to you then the cost that you are paying. Put differently, the ‘payoff’ exceeds the ‘cost’ and so you continue doing what you are doing. Do you want to create the space in which you can choose to give up this game? Then look ruthlessly at the payoff – this will taking brutal honesty with yourself and we, human beings, are poor at that. What might that ‘payoff’ be?

  • You get to be right about men – they cannot be trusted, they are selfish;
  • You get to be right about yourself – you are small, helpless, cannot help yourself, cannot control yourself, you are passionate-different-trusting…..
  • You get sympathy – you can tell the story of how life is not working out and get attention, get sympathy………..
  • You get out of demands that you or others would otherwise place on you – after all if you are ‘hurt’ and ‘abandoned’ then you can give yourself a ‘get out of jail for free’ card and others typically do the same for you
  • By playing this ‘game’ you keep yourself occupied rather than being bored – it is better than ‘nothing’
  • Your belief in the myth of the ‘one’ continues intact and your dreams are not shattered……

The list is endless yet the buckets are not. What do I mean? Some wise folks have pointed out that human behaviour is driven by:

  • Looking good avoiding looking bad – which is why walk around with masks and are almost never truly ourselves
  • Being right and making others wrong – even if that means going to war and millions get killed
  • Dominating others and avoiding being dominated – in a family there is no-one as dominant as the one that gets the others to believe that he/she is helpless, ‘small’ and needs to be given special exemptions and be looked after!
  • Validating yourself (everything including your beliefs and points of view) and invalidating others – I experienced a great example of this morning when Matthew, Jehovah’s witness came to my door to show me the error of my ways and convert me.

Breaking free from your “racket”

‘Sister’ be ruthless with yourself and get clear on the ‘payoff’ and the ‘cost’ of playing this game. When it comes to ‘cost’ look at both the cost that you pay now, that you are paying longer term, and the cost that the people in your life pay. When you have written that out then get present to it – step into it, experience it. Once you have done that – are clear on the ‘payoff’ and ‘cost’ as experienced – then choose. Choose to play this game of falling for/going for the dominant men, the players, and if you do this then you give up complaining. Or choose to give this game up. If you choose to give it up then you create space to invent a more inspiring-moving-touching-uplifting game.

Finally, remember what I said earlier – you are creating your own suffering and you can give that up right now. How? Be with life as it is and as it is not. I wish you well and it will not make a difference. You, only you, are the difference that can make a difference to your experience of your living. Your destiny lies in you.

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


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

 

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?

The real poverty in life is playing small and I have been playing small for quite some time, no longer


I spent most of yesterday doing what used to come naturally – taking time out from the doingness of living to reflecting on the human condition.  Then I spent most of the night thinking about my life.  Here is what I got:

There are many kinds of poverty

Material poverty – not having the resources (money, food, water, shelter…..) to take care of the basics of life.   It is the kind of poverty when your mother cannot give you milk (even though you ask for it again and again) because she sells the milk to put food on the table.  It is the kind of poverty where your parents cannot afford clothes and you wear hand downs from other people: you turn up in your new school everyone (EVERYONE) is wearing the school uniform (black blazer, black trousers) except you – you are wearing a green blazer and black trousers.  It is the kind of poverty where you have toilet or shower inside and you take a shower outside using a bucket of hot water.  You get the idea.

Mental (intellectual, cultural) poverty.  This is the kind of poverty where you born into and live into one culture without exploring any other cultures.  It is the kind of poverty where you are born into a religion and you totally accept that without exploring other religions.  It is the kind of poverty where you are embedded into a certain worldview (given to you by your parents, teachers, the society you were born in) and you do not even know that other worldviews exists.  It is the kind of poverty where access to knowledge is widely available except to you because you cannot read.

Emotional poverty.  This is the kind of poverty particularly prevalent in Anglo-Saxon culture.  It is where you suppress your emotions and practice the ‘stiff upper lip’.  You do your best to be a rational human being – standing apart from life.  You do not show emotion until you are simply not present to emotion and to others who come from a warmer, emotionally expressive culture, you come across as cold.  Their experience of you is that you are simply machinery; you on the other hand do not even know that you are poor and even if you do know it you hide it.

Self-expression.  This is the kind of poverty where you self-expression is restricted so that only the desired, acceptable, behaviour is tolerated.  It is the kind of poverty where you see your friends playing outside and want to join them yet you are locked up and forced to study.  It is the kind of poverty where you get a thrashing for not doing as you are told.

Playing small.  This is the kind of poverty which stops you from dreaming your dreams.  It is the kind of poverty that leads to resignation and cynicism – the world is the way that the world is and you simply have to fit in, you cannot make an impact on it.   This kind of poverty leads you simply to go through the motions of life – to survive.  Yet, the price that you pay is that you joy, vitality, self-expression are simply not present in your experience of yourself and your living.

Whilst I escaped many times of poverty I did not escape the one that really matters

I escaped the poverty of material goods and that of self-expression by getting to university and leaving my parents and their world behind.   I had a flat, I was driving a BMW, I went out and spent £2,000 on clothes in one afternoon, when I went for a meal with friends/family almost always I picked up the full tab, people worked for me and called me ‘Sir’.  One day I came into work and got I had achieved all that I had set out to achieve and I was only 28!  Whilst that might sound great it did not occur as great to me.  What the heck do I do now?  My whole life script had been around achieving: money, independence, freedom of self-expression, status and power.  Now that I had achieved it my life script did not work – I no longer had the drive to work hard to achieve.  For the first time I started something and did not follow it to completion.

For some years I drifted aimlessly.  Then at the age of 30 I assumed the mantle of father and provider for the three of us.  Since that time I focussed on making money to take care of the three of us, then four and finally five of us.  I not only had to make the money (according to the story that I told myself) I also had to bring my children up differently so that they did not ‘suffer’ as they suffered.  Get this I would let my first child hit me when he was 2 -5 years old because I did not want to dampen his self-expression!  I would let him destroy my CDs (my treasure at that time) because I did not want to dampen his self-expression and so forth.

The profound insight that I had yesterday is that since the age of 30 I have been immersed in the poverty of playing small.  I gave up my on hopes, my dreams, my spiritual and self-development practices including isolating myself during Christmas to be, to reflect, to get ready for the next year….  In the process I died: I doubt anyone who knew me before would recognise who I have been playing since then.  In the midst of this sleep there were moments of light.  For example, I came into being when I assumed the role of Client Director of Blast Radius and I got to play in the theatre that is natural to me: people, relationships, performance, integrity, ethics – creating a situation/environment where all the people can work effectively to produce a result that works for all.  I loved my work so much – it simply did not occur as work.  I had another glimpse when I was at Urban Science and ended up creating and then delivering a brand new course and the participants loved it – some said it was the best course in the company and all the other courses should be redesigned along the lines of the course I had developed.  I also got present to my ‘gift’ of opening people’s eyes to new possibilities and coaching them to improve their performance and the quality of their lives.

When I participated in the series of Landmark Courses (which I throughly recommend) I became alive again.  I related to myself powerfully and took on a project to repair my relationships with my cousins and to raise money for the poor.  The project was a success: I stood for the possiblity of the project, I enrolled people into that possiblity, I built a team of core people, I coached the people and took on the tasks that no-one wanted to do and together the team pulled off a great project and realised the possibility.  As a result of my participation in Landmark I was the cause in the change in some people’s lives.  So I started another Landmark Course and then I crashed the whole thing.  How?  One evening I was leaving to progress the Landmark project I was working on.  As I headed to the door to leave one of my sons said “You do not love us anymore.  You do not spend anytime with us.  It is all Landmark isn’t it?”  Whilst I did go out the enthusiasm died inside of me.  I quit once more and assumed the mantle of father and husband and fell back into playing small. By playing small I gave up vitality, self-expression, power and joy.  I took on Duty and Duty is heavy burden to carry – it crushed the life out of me.  Is it any surprise that in recent years I have been plagued by various medical illnesses; Health (in the broadest sense) is function of full participation in playing BIG!

Joy, vitality, power are present only when I choose to play BIG

I come into being only when I play BIG!  I come into being only when I am working with people to co-create a world that works for ALL of us – none excluded.  I come into being (and am never tired) when I take on the role of educator, teacher, facilitator, coach, leader.   Here is the thing I love people and the possibility that inspires me is a world where we work together in harmony, are compassionate and love one another, work to co-create a world that works for ALL of us.  This is why I am moved to tears by movies like Schindler’s List, Dead Poets Society, Awakenings, The Blind Side, Rain Main, The Green Mile.

During the course of my participation in Landmark I saw this.  I was most attracted to and inspired by the possibility of living an extraordinary life and making an extraordinary contribution to a world that works for all of us.  Then I started to have concerns that this was all EGO.  So I tried to live an ordinary life so as to deal with my ego.  Here is what I got: my ego is always present and it is particularly powerful when I playing small and living an ordinary life.

Given all of this I am choosing right now to play BIG.

Why I am communicating this?

Where in your life are you playing small?  What is the price that you are paying and the people you love (and the world at large) pay for you playing small?  Are you up for playing BIG?  Are you up for being a stand (and support) for me playing BIG?

For my part please know that I am a stand for you playing BIG?  What can I do to support you in playing BIG?