Nelson Mandela: A Master of Being?


I am not in a position to say anything about Nelson Mandela. Why? I didn’t know him at all, I simply know of him. What I notice is that a big deal is being made of his death. Why?

It occurs to me that Nelson Mandela embodied a certain way of being. A way of being that is uncommon in our age. What kind of being am I pointing at?   Being a stand for a possibility that speaks to many of us, a possibility that moves-touches-inspires many of us at the very deepest level:

“I think his main legacy will be instilling confidence among all people in South Africa, instilling the knowledge that people are equal, all people regardless of colour; that people can live in peace and harmony and love.”

-Fellow ANC political prisoner Ahmed Kathrada

Looking through is ‘work’ I find myself deeply touched by some of his saying. These I share with you for they may also call to you, touch you, and open up new possibilities and avenues. It occurs to me that if you and I are to generate value from these quotes then we have to live them not just read them.

There is no passion to be found playing small–in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”

“The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”

“One of the things I learned when I was negotiating was that until I changed myself, I could not change others.

Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”

“If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy.”

“There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair. That way lays defeat and death.”

“It is what we make out of what we have, not what we are given, that separates one person from another.”

“What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we led.

“There is a universal respect and even admiration for those who are humble and simple by nature, and who have absolute confidence in all human beings irrespective of their social status.”

One cannot be prepared for something while secretly believing it will not happen.

“There are few misfortunes in this world that you cannot turn into a personal triumph if you have the iron will and the necessary skill.”

A winner is a dreamer who never gives up

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


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

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

The happiest man in the world

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

Jessie Joy Rees and the Joy Jars

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

How can I help them?

 

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

 

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


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

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

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

This is what I make Laurence’s essay mean:

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

The being / love of a mother: truly extraordinary!


The other day the four of us went to watch a movie: The Impossible.  The film makers say it the true story of a family of five that were caught up in the 2004 tsunami that hit Thailand, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and 12 other countries. And killed some 230,000 people.

I was gripped by the move from start to finish.  What gripped me in particular was the being of the mother Maria:

– Her absolute love for her son Lucas. And her willingness to do whatever it took to ensure his survival.

– Her humanity in the most dire of circumstances that save a young life, that of Daniel and which ultimately ended with Daniel being reunited with his father; and

– How she inspired her son Lucas to let go of his fear and call forth his humanity – to save Daniel, to help others in need, to be useful when so many were in pain.

I was also touched by the humanity of many others.  People who in the most desperate circumstances put their humanity in action: shared what they had to share, put themselves out to save lives.

If you have not seen it then I encourage you to go and see The Impossible.  If you do choose to go and see it then please think carefully before you take any non-adults to see this movie.  It is not for the faint-hearted.  And it is one of the very best movies I have seen.

Ultimately, it is movie of possibility, of transformation and of leadership.

 

On possibility as an access to transformation


What is the access to transformation?  Specifically, what is the access – for you and me – to transform the quality of our living?  Put simply, it is shifting our being-in-the-world, and thus our showing up in the world, from impotent to potent.  What do I mean?  Let’s take a look at the definitions:

impotent

Adjective: unable to take effective action; helpless or powerless

Synonyms: powerless – weak – feeble – helpless – infirm

potent

Adjective: having a great power, influence or effect.

Synonyms: powerful – strong – forceful – intense

Let’s assume that you and I are up for transformation, up for shifting our being-in-the-world from impotent (the default) to potent.  What is the access to making this shift?  Willpower? No, this rarely works as many New Years resolutions show.  Is it setting goals? No, this rarely works because goals tend to rely on the exercise of willpower.  And willpower tends to fade.  So what is a suitable access?

The access to making the shift is inventing and living from one or more possibilities that move-touch-inspire us. Which begs the question “What is a possibility?” A possibility is not a wish.  Nor is it an intention.  A possibility is not a goal, an outcome, an achievement.  Nor is possibility a belief in that which is possible for a human being.

A possibility is like a context from which one shows up and gives life to one’s life.  A possibility is like a stand that one takes upon oneself.  A possibility is like a path that one chooses to walk of one’s own accord and thus gives up the multitude of other paths that are open to oneself.  A possibility is like a declaration one makes on what constitutes one’s life.  A possibility is always a choice one voluntarily takes upon oneself that gives shapes to one’s life and how one shows up in life.

Still looking for a pointer as to what constitutes a ‘possibility’?  Then let me share this quote from Nikos Kazantzakis (author of Zorba The Greek):

“By believing passionately in something that still does not exist, we create it. The non-existent is whatever we have not sufficiently desired.”  Nikos Kazantzakis

And when he speaks of believing he is talking about the following kind of believing:

“A belief is not merely an idea that is thought, it is an idea in which one believes. And believing is not an operation of the intellectual mechanism, but a function of the living being as such, the function of guiding his conduct, his performance of his task.”  Jose Ortega Y Gasset

A possibility gives meaning to one’s life and power to one’s being-in-the-world.  As such it does more than provide one with a reason to get up in the morning.  It provides one the access to transcend one’s psychology and push the limits of one’s biology as and when this is necessary.  It calls forth one to be unreasonable when unreasonable is what it takes.  In short, it the access to living a life that shows up as fulfilling.  A life worth living.

Why do I write this blog as opposed to put my feet up, watch a move, hang out in a bar?  Because I invented a possibility. What possibility?  The possibility of playing BIG, living an ‘extraordinary’ life, of being a source of contribution to a ‘world that works, none excluded’.  How about you?  What possibility leaves you moved-touched-inspired to be and create that which does not exist today?  What possibility are you up for inventing/living this year?

Please note, that all acts of leadership start with inventing a possibility that leaves one moved-touched-inspired to disclose and create that which does not exist today.

Christmas: a time to be of service and make a difference?


AldinePhotoChristmas2012

I dedicate this post to my wife, Aldine. For me, my wife is the embodiment of that which I want to share with you in this post.

Christmas can be just a ritual we go through or it can be a time to get present.  Present to  what?  Present to being of service and making difference.  Who to?  How about starting with the people who you/I are spending Christmas with.  And then allowing ourselves to ripple out from there to touch all the people whose lives touch our lives, however briefly and lightly.

What does it take to make a difference?

What does it take to make a difference in our lives, in the lives of our fellow human beings, in the world within which we dwell?  It takes courage. What kind of courage?  Let’s listen to a master of the human condition:

“All it takes to make a difference is the courage to stop proving I was right in being unable to make a difference… to stop assigning cause for my inability to the circumstances outside of myself …… and to see that the fear of being a failure is a lot less important than the unique opportunity I have to make a difference.” Werner Erhard

What does it take to make a difference to the people whose lives we touch?

Our ordinary, default, way of showing up in the world does not lend itself to generating great relationships and making a difference.  Why?  Because, if you are like me then you are great with people when they are being great. And not at all great with people when they are not being great.  Put differently and simply, if you are like me then you struggle to put up with people’s garbage – even at Christmas.  What am I pointing at?  I am pointing at the kind of stuff that people say and/or do that drives me up the wall.

Is there another way of showing up in the world that does allow us to be great with people, to generate great relationships, to make a difference.  There is. Here is how Werner Erhard puts it:

“My notion about service is that service is actually that kind of relationship in which you have a commitment to the person. What I mean, in fact, is that for me what service is about is being committed to the other being. To who the other person is.

To the degree that you are, in fact, committed to the other person, you are only as valuable as you can deal with the other person’s stuff, their evidence, their manifestation, and that’s what’s service is about. Service is about knowing who the other person is and being able to tolerate giving space to their garbage. What most people do is to give space to people’s quality and deal with their garbage. Actually, you should do it the other way around. Deal with who they are and give space to their garbage.

Keep interacting with them as if they were God. And every time you get garbage from them, give space to garbage and go back and interact with them as if they were God.”  

It occurs to me that over the last 20 years I have given my wife plenty of my garbage to deal with.  And the only reason that we are still together is that she has a commitment to me (as a ‘soul whose intentions are good’), to our marriage, and to our family.  Out of this commitment she gives space to my garbage and keeps reminding me of who I am.  And for that I am truly grateful!

And finally

I wish each and every one of you a great Christmas and the very best for the New Year. And I am clear that my wishes make no difference at all!  Who makes the difference?  You do!

How do you make the difference?  By getting present to being the authors of your lives.  By getting present to the fact that you matter in how you show up in the world.  By generating the courage to stop proving that you are small and unable to make a difference.  By being of service – the kind of service that Werner Erhard is pointing at.

Leadership always starts with leading oneself from the place of ‘victim’ to ‘author of one’s life’.  From showing up as unable to make a difference to being committed to making a difference.  From playing small to playing BIG!

Existential choice: a life in the stands (as spectator) or a life in the arena (as creator/player)?


As beings-in-the world that are thrust into the world there is so much over which we have no choice. We don’t get to choose if we come into this world. We don’t get to choose the timing – we are thrust into this world when we are thrust into this world. We don’t get to choose our family – we get what we get. We don’t get to choose our language – we get what we get. We don’t get to choose our culture – we get what we are given. And so forth. So it is tempting to fall into the pattern ‘I have no say in the matter of how I show up in life!’ and live accordingly

We do have a fundamental choice over how you/I are being as beings-in-the-world. I get that most of us are not present to this choice nor the default setting. Yet, that does not change the fact that we do have this fundamental choice. What am I talking about? I am saying that you and I have a say in how/where we show up. When I say how/where we show up I am talking ontologically – that is to say I am pointing to a way of being-in-the-world. So what exactly is this fundamental choice?

You/I can show up in the stands as spectators watching the spectacle – life – occurring in the arena. And as such we can observe, we can comment, we can criticise, we can enjoy or not enjoy…… Whilst it is less effort, more convenient, it is also the case that for many of us it leaves us unfulfilled, without joy, and from time to time wondering “Is this all there is?” Showing up as spectators in the stands is the default setting

Alternatively, you/I can actively leave the comfort of the stands and step into the arena. Put differently, you/I can choose to show up in the arena and shape how the game (of life) turns out. Being a player on the arena involves more effort, more work. It also requires courage because we are on show standing for what we say matters to us and thus open to criticism, ridicule and even attack. In some cases, we even put our lives at risk like Malala Yousafzai, 14 year old girl, attacked for championing education for girls and highlighting Taliban atrocities.

By this stage, you/I might be wondering why leave the safety/convenience/comfort of the stands for the risk/effort/vulnerability of being in the arena? Because you/I want to experience a certain kind of living, a certain kind of life. A life of meaning, of absorption, of fulfilment, of joy. It matters to us, at some fundamental level, that you/I live lives that matter, that are authentic, that are fulfilling. Those of us who chose to show up in the arena as players/actors/creators are not faced with the question “Is this all there is?”.

As you/I ponder this fundamental existential choice, I wish to share this “Man in the Arena” passage from a speech from President Theodore Roosevelt, Speech at the Sorbonne, Paris, France, April 23, 1910:

“It is not the critic who counts, nor the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; Who, at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who, at the worst, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”

Sin revisited


Christian doctrine of ‘original sin

If I have understood the concept of ‘original sin’ then it arises as a result of the ‘ fall of man’ whereby Adam disobeyed God.  As such every human being is born sinful – being sinful is the original condition of human beings.  Put differently, ‘badness’ is our nature and we have to strive to be good.  Who can redeem us from this state of ‘original sin’? God – if and only if he chooses to do so.

The Kite Runner: Baba’s view of sin

Some years ago when I was reading the  Kite Runner.  In this novel a conversation takes place between the principal character and Baba (his father.   This is what Baba says about sin:

“There is only one sin, only one. And that is theft. Every other sin is a variation of theft… When you kill a man, you steal a life. You steal his wife’s right to a husband, rob his children of a father. When you tell a lie, you steal someone’s right to the truth. When you cheat, you steal the right to fairness.”

A powerful way of looking at sin

If we are going to create and live from/into stories then how about generating a story that leaves me being powerful in my living?  I say that we are born ‘whole-complete-perfect’ – we are thrown into this world with all that we need to play fully, our part, in the drama called ‘Life’.  Thrown into this world we are neither ‘good’ nor ‘bad’.  We simply are.

Yet somwhere along the the line each of us does commit ‘sin’:

I sin when I say that I am not ‘whole-complete-perfect‘.  I put myself down in any number of ways: I am not enough, I am weak, I am powerless, I am helpless, I don’t count, I don’t matter…….

I sin when I fail to take responsibility for what is so – that includes my life, my community, my tribe, my nation, the state of the world.  Chaos theory shows that a miniscule change can influence dramatic changes in the world.  And history shows that everything starts with one wo/man – a man that takes a stand and operates from that stand.  Think Jesus, Mohammed, Stalin, Hitler, Luther, Alexander the Great, Gandhi, Joan of Arc, Florence Nightingale, Marie Curie……..

I sin when I fail to recognise that any moment I can reinvent my life simply by inventing and living from/into possibilities that leave me moved-touched-inspired-uplifted.  To be human is to be granted with imagination – the capacity to envisage a life other than one I am living now, I world other than what is so today – and the capacity to act on the world, to live that possibility and bring it to fruition.  The happiness research shows that it is not arriving at the destination that generates happiness.  No, happiness is a byproduct of being on the right journey.

I sin when I hold myself to separate from my fellow human beings, from all other living beings and the earth itself.  When I hold myself as being separate I close to my eyes to the fact that in the drama called ‘Life’ everything, everyone, all of life is interdependent.  Each and everyone is in relationship.  Look deeply into this and it is obvious that I have never been independent – I, you, we would not be alive today if it was not for the air, the water, the plants, the animals, our fellow human beings……..

I sin when I steal and like Baba says I steal in so many ways.  I sin when I withhold my compassion, my love for to be human is to be social – to search for and need compassion and love from my fellow man.  I sin when I treat living beings as merely objects – objects/resources to be used/abused for my benefit.  I sin when I criticise, I condemn, I belittle, I diminish the humanity of the other.  And the other includes all sentient beings e.g. the great apes, elephants, dolphins…..

What is the ‘good’ news?

I do not have to wait for God or for any other entity for any kind of redemption.  Right now and at any moment I can give up my ‘sinful way of being/living’.:

  • I can live from the context of being ‘whole-complete-perfect’.
  • I can choose to be responsible/accountable for my life, for the state of the world.
  • I can invent and live from/into possibilities that leave me ‘moved-touched-inspired-uplifted-joyous’.
  • I can recognise that the nature of existence is relationship – to be alive is to be in relationship – and I can act accordingly.  I can ask myself “How would I like to be treated if I was born cat, dog, monkey, elephant…..?”  And I can show the care that I expect others to show for me.

I took the road less travelled and it really did make a difference.


The story

Sitting in the car travelling east on the M61 to meet a friend that I have not seen for some time.  Eager to honour my word – to arrive at 6pm – leave from parents home with a fifteen minute margin.  Grateful to my brother for fantastic job he’s done on servicing/valeting the car – it sparkles, it drives well.  Looking forward to spending time with friend – has been many years since we last talked openly and shared a meal together.

Signpost says there are long delays on M62 junctions 20 and 24 due to accident.  Wondering “Does it impact me?” as it could on the western route or the eastern route.  Hit the M62 traffic flows and then hits me that accident, that delay is on route and will impact me.  Frustration, annoyance shows up – why me, why today?   Temptation to stay on M62 is strong: have travelled this route many times and don’t know how else to get there!  Nonetheless, turn off at the first exit before the blockage – part of me gets that is the wisest choice.

Driving along the slip road and a roundabout shows up. Many exits, which exit to take?  Take one, find place to stop, get SatNav out, enter in destination, wait, route is calculated.  Remaining 30 miles will take hour and half instead of 30 minutes – will be late.  Annoyed.  Make call to friend and leave message so she knows what is so and how it is likely to turn out. Put myself in the hands of the SatNav.

The road is dirt track, no other cars travelling on it, pot holes everywhere, drive slowly.  “Am I on the right road?  Is this a dead end?  Has SatNav got it wrong?”  Uncertainty and vulnerability is generating fearful thoughts.  Plough in – trust that it will all work out, can be with whatever shows up.  Soon driving on a proper road.  Relief.  All is well for 10 minutes or so then end up on built up areas of local town.  So different from my world – town is dirty, poor, signs of neglect everywhere, was really something during Industrial Revolution and now looks like Detroit.

Frustration, annoyance and anger are all present:  built up areas, 30mph speed limit, traffic lights everywhere, traffic, stop, start, not getting anywhere.  “It’s not fair, why me, why trapped here in hell?” Towns, cities, built up areas don’t speak to me.  Nonetheless an angel is present and speaks “Be with what is and what is not.  Be patient.  Accept world just as it is and just as it is not.  That is freedom:  being with what is and what is not is the access to authentic freedom!”  Now relaxed, no hurry, simply taking in the scenery, listening to the music on the radio.

Suddenly, road leaves town centre behind and starts to wind and climb up.  One bend after another, climbing, car struggles, change down a gear. Arrive at top of big hill, look down and this thought shows up “Wow, how beautiful!”  Countryside everywhere: rolling hills, country road, no traffic, clear roads, now travelling at 50mph.  “”Wow, how beautiful to be so high up, here in God’s country!  What luck.  If it had not been for the accident, the traffic jam, this world would never have been disclosed to me!”

Joy is present, wonder/awe is present, peace is present whilst driving on the ideal road for me – one that snakes around from side to side and up and down. Water!  Lake?  Reservoir?  Stop car by side of road.  Get out and just look – really look at the sunshine hitting the water and the wind caressing the water – water is rippling.  How beautiful!

What fun, what joy, what beauty, how wonderful the experience of driving is.  Have not traveled on this kind of road for a long time.  Then another ‘lake/reservoir” shows up.  “Wow.  This is the body of water that has shown up many times on my travels on the M62.  Each time wanting to get off M62 to take a closer look.  This time, today, that closer look is taking place.

Travelling along the Pennines, time no longer matters, just joy of driving and being here right now.   Suddenly it ends just as abruptly as it began – now travelling in the suburbs of a city.  Joy and gratitude are still present.  Drive slowly, calmly and fifteen minutes or so later the car sits on my friends drive.

What is the meaning of this story?

Life is simply more fun on the road less travelled.  And the price is the willingness to be with fear, uncertainty, doubt, vulnerability, fear, frustration, annoyance, resentment and even anger.   A glitch in the matrix of everyday life showed up in my life and awoke me from the slumber of the everyday.  Having awoken, taking responsibility, handling fear, chose the road less traveled.  And that made all the difference – an experience that will be with me always.  An experience that shows me that the ‘unexpected’ can be gift, an access to see that which is hidden, to experience that which has not been experienced, to grow. 

On the road less travelled it helps to have the right tools: what would have showed up, what would the experience be like if the SatNav had not been present to take care of working out the route?

Insights into self: self and built areas simply do not go together naturally/effortlessly; self, countryside, rolling hills, mountains, lakes, rivers, ocean go together perfectly.  Home, for me, is the natural world, the natural landscapes.  Leave towns, cities, shopping malls, built up areas to fellow human beings who find joy in them.

Final thought

Isn’t the essence of possibility, leadership and transformation the willingness, the determination, the commitment to envision, communicate and travel the road less travelled?  Sometimes one creates the opening and sometimes the opening shows up and one simply has to step into it.

It takes inner strength to be yourself; being yourself is the greatest accomplishment


The illusion of individuality

Those of us who are thrown into Anglo-Saxon cultures (at birth) live under the tight grip of the illusion of individuality.  We buy into the following myth: I am an individual and you are individual and as such you and I are free to be just ourselves – no constraints.  People thrown into Easter cultures have a much deeper appreciation of how much it takes to really be an individual – to really stand for who you are, what you believe in.

The being of human beings is that we are beings-in-the-world.  What is a prominent feature of this being-in-the-world?  From the moment we are born we are in an intimate relationship with fellow human beings.  Our life is in their hands and we become masters are doing what it takes to please people – at least those that have a strong influence on our lives.  Furthermore, every culture ensures that playing the game of ‘looking good and avoiding looking bad’ becomes our nature, our default setting.  Let’s be precise – we do just about anything to ‘look good and avoid looking bad’.  It takes inner strength to go against this default, to be who you are (naturally) and to stand up for what you believe.  This was brought home to me this week by my son.

It takes real inner strength to be kind when there is no permission, no agreement, for kindness

My son was sitting next to me and I must have said or did something that made him a little unhappy with me – I honestly cannot remember how it started.  So he starts tapping me softly on my legs.  I blurted out something like “Don’t be a p****y, if you are going to hit me then hit me hard.”  Then my son said something and the way he said it opened my eyes and my heart:

“I know you think I am a p****y.  What you don’t understand is that it takes real strength to be kind, to be gentle,  when all the boys in school are the opposite and pushing me to be the same as them.  Yes, I am kind and I don’t like to hurt people or be hurt by people.  If that means that people call me a p****y then so be it.”

It will be one of those moments that will be with me for the rest of my life.  I was (and still am) in complete awe at his inner strength as I never got what it takes for him to be gentle and kind in his world where ‘criticism, ridicule, indifference or cruelty’ is the norm.  I also got why there is so little genuine kindness and gentleness in the world that I live in: we live in a male dominated world and in this world there is no permission for kindness and gentleness.  It takes something, real inner strength, to against the prevailing wind.

To simply be yourself is the greatest accomplishment

Are leaders – big or small, recognised or not – people who have found the inner strength to simply be who they naturally are and stand up for what matters to them?  Is the biggest transformation of all that which occurs when we give up ‘looking good and avoiding looking bad’ and simply be who we are moved-touched-inspired to be?  Here’s what Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote: “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment”

Want to live an ‘extraordinary’ life and show up as leader? Then get to grips with and live from the following distinctions and insights


Ordinary living: we play ‘victim’, we avoid responsibility for what is so and what is not so, we are left complaining

Engaged in a conversation on leadership, my partner in this conversation asked something like “What is the cause of poor leadership and how is it that poor leaders stay in power?”  I replied something like “Us”, he looked puzzled so I continued “I am the cause, you are the cause, we are the cause!”  This response took him by surprise.  So I continued “By following ‘poor leaders’ we tell these leaders that they are ok, their leadership style is ok. And as such we encourage them to continue being who they are being and doing what they are doing.  We are the cause of poor leaders and poor leadership”

He got it instantly and dropped the conversation – the ‘complaint’ around/about poor leaders stopped instantly.  I saw that my partner got access to the ‘truth’ and that this ‘truth’ opened his eyes and set him free – free from his ‘complaint’.   This got me thinking that it is time for me to share, with you, some powerful distinctions and insights which are the pillars of this blog.

‘Extraordinary’ living: what is the access to living powerfully, living a transformed life?

The access to ‘playing BIG’, living powerfully, living an ‘extraordinary’ life and generating a transformation in the quality of  living requires that one creates a map of the territory (of our lives, the situations we find ourselves in, the world at large) that is both ‘accurate’ and which leaves one being an ‘author’ rather than a character (or characters) in the play of Life.

Let’s listen, profoundly, to a master of living – Werner Erhard. Why?  Because you want to have your life work.  Right?  Because you understand that you only get one go at living and you want that living to count.  Right?  Because you don’t simply want to live you want to feel ALIVE. Right?  If that does not resonate with you then stop reading and go do something else.  If it does then stop everything, be silent, be present and soak in the mind-blowing insight / wisdom that Werner Erhard unconceals for us.  Why?  Because you and I are locked inside the prison of ordinary living and Werner is giving us the keys to our freedom, to living an ‘extraordinary’ life.

Responsibility: is the access to being powerful and living an ‘extraordinary’ life?

“Responsibility is not burden, fault, praise, blame, credit, shame or guilt.  All of these include judgments of good and bad, right and wrong, or better and worse.  They are not responsibility.

Responsibility starts with the willingness to experience your Self as cause in the matter……  Responsibility starts with the willingness to deal with the situation from the point of view, whether in the moment realised or not, that you are the source of who you are, what you do and what you have.  This point of view extends to include even what is done to you and ultimately what another does to another.  Ultimately, responsibility is a context – a context of Self as source – for the content, i.e., for what is.”   Werner Erhard

Wow!  Do you get that?  Responsibility is a choice.  It is a choice that only you can make.  It is gift that only you can give yourself.  Why is it a gift?  Because choosing to view yourself and operate from the context ‘I matter, I have a say in how I am being, how I live, how the world works, how the world turns out’ transforms your being, your experience of yourself and your living.  It moves you from being a ‘victim’ and ‘complaining’ to a creator of possibilities, the Director of the play called ‘My Life, My World’ and this leaves you being powerful (powerful as opposed to forceful)  in the world.  It is really important that you get the distinctions ‘context’ and ‘content’.

Accountability: the access to joy, fearlessness, energy and satisfaction?

“Accountability is the opportunity to live at choice rather than accidentally.  Accountability is the opportunity to carve out a future rather than sit back and have it happen to you.  Accountability held as stand ‘as one’s word’ is the ground from which one’s own transformation is created ongoingly.   Transfomation lives in accountability.  Without accountability, without committed speaking, without promises and declarations, there is no transformation…..

A promise has real power.  A promise made from the stand that ‘who you are is your word’, engages you as a participantYou cease to be a spectator, and your words become actions that impact the world.  With a promise you create a condition that supports your commitment rather than your moods.  When motivational dialog comes up about your preferences versus your commitments, and you disregard the dialog in favour of doing what you said you would do solely because you said so, you distinguish yourself from your psychology.  In that moment you are your word as an action, rather than only an idea you have.  In that moment, the promise becomes who you are rather than something you said and your relationship to the world shifts.  You find yourself producing results that seem discontinuous and unpredictable from the point of the view of the spectator.   The experience is one of joy, fearlessness, irrepressible energy and satisfaction. ”  Werner Erhard

If you get this, really get this then you, your living, how you show up in the world, your experience of living will never be as it was before you read this.  If you didn’t get it that way then go back and read it again – read it out aloud to yourself, read it slowly savouring the words.  Let the words sink in.  If after that you are still left untouched then move on:  the master will appear when the student is ready – always.

Integrity:  why it matters and the price we pay when we give it up

“You and I go through life and you would be surprised how much of the time, in life, the question, ‘How can I live and have integrity at the same time?‘ is present.  It’s very difficult for people to live with integrity.  Usually, there seems to be a conflict between integrity and living.  The fact is that you give up your life when you compromise integrity.”  Werner Erhard

Be careful how you read this because when Werner speaks ‘Integrity’ he is not speaking what you are most likely to be thinking he is speaking.  When Werner speaks ‘Integrity’ he is not referring to morals and virtues – being a ‘good person’ or a ‘upstanding citizen’.  No.  Werner is pointing out / speaking on the subject of wholeness; the match between your word, your being and your actions; the fit between who you hold yourself out to be for yourself and the world and how you show up in terms of your being, doing and having If I say “I am going to drive over to your home and smash your car tomorrow!” and then tomorrow I drive over and smash you car then in a sense I am in Integrity.  Yet, it is not as simple as that.  If I declare myself to be “kind, calm, considerate and law abiding citizen” then I am out of Integrity when I say “I am going to drive over to our home and smash your car tomorrow!”

Making a difference: what does it take to make a difference?

“All it takes to make a difference is the courage to stop proving I was right in being unable to make a difference….. to stop assigning cause for my inability to the circumstances outside of myself….. And to see that the fear of being a failure is a lot less important than the unique opportunity I have to make a difference.”  Werner Erhard

There it is!  If you and I are serious, as in moved-touched-inspired, about making a difference in the world then Werner has left us nowhere to hide.  Werner is telling us that we have the capacity to make a difference and to make a difference we simply have to quit ‘playing small’ – quit making excuses, quite playing ‘victim’, quite being small in life.

Summing it up

You and I want our lives to work.  You and I want the ‘world to work’.  What does it take, what is the access having a a life that works and a world that works?  The access, according to Werner Erhard as I understand Werner Erhard, is Responsibility, Accountability and being in Integrity – as explained in this post not as commonly understood and spoken about in our day-to-day living.

Incidentally, when you live into and from these distinctions, and the context that is intimately associated with these distinctions, then you will show up as a leader.  Showing up as a leader in the world is simply a side effect of living from/out of Responsibility, Accountability and Integrity.


What is the greatest gift you can grant another (and yourself)?


Do you really want your life to work?

Do you want your life to work?  Really, truly, deeply do you want your life to work?  Do you really want your life to work or do you want to be right, dominate, have the world work to your wishes, your whims, your point of view?  If you are honest then you’d be present to the latter – your focus on being right, validating yourself, dominating others, insisting that the world work according to your fantasies.  How has that been working out?  Has it brought you peace, freedom to be, self-expression, vitality, connection, love, joy?   Are you up for, really up for, having peace, vitality, connection, love, joy present in your life?  If so then this post is for you.

People matter – are central to the quality of our life, right?

Have you noticed that you are not alone?  Have you noticed that the Earth (amongst other processes) ‘peoples’ and so wherever you are you there are people?  People show up wherever you are, right?  At home, at work, whilst your are walking, driving, shopping, eating, sleeping watching television……  Is it accurate that you cannot escape from people even when you are on a deserted island?  Even on a deserted island, do people show up in your thoughts, do they show up in your feelings?  People matter, our relationships with people matter, connection or the absence of it matters, friction-full or friction-free relationships matter to your living, our experience of life.  Right?

What is the greatest gift you can grant another?

How do you build great relationships with people?  What is the secret?  The secret is to grant them a gift, the greatest gift that you can grant another.   What is this gift?

1.  Let people be.  Let every person that shows up in your world be just as he is and just as he is not.  What is the access to letting people be?  Accept them (looks, clothes, voice, speaking, behaviour, history..) just as they are and just as they are not.  Choose to be totally OK with them just as they are and just as they are not.  If you let people be just as they are and just as they are not what is likely to show up in your world?  Peace?  Freedom?  Ease?

Are you up for going further – putting more into life, making a bigger contribution and indirectly being granted much more than peace, freedom and ease?  Then take on / live / be the following practices:

2.  Be a stand for the wonder and greatness of people – believe in them more than they believe in themselves.  How can I best point out / show what I am talking about?  Read and get present to the following words by Viktor Frankl who has a profound lived understanding /experience of our fellow human beings in all of their manifestations:

If we take man as he really is then we make him worse.  If we overestimate him……overrate man, then we promote him to what he really can be. So we have to be optimists idealists in way so we wind up as the true realists”

If you are willing to make four minutes available to yourself, to treat yourself, then watch this video: http://youtu.be/fD1512_XJEw

3.  Belive in and be enthusiastic about the ‘life projects’ that matter to people.  Your fellow human being, the one that you are thinking about right now, is not simply defined by who he is, where he came from or what he does.  He is much more.  A huge part of him is the future he is living into and the ‘life projects’ that inspires him.  Yes, I get that he is a teacher, a family man, in his late forties.  Do you get that one of his most crucial ‘life projects’ is to be a musician – to pursue a dream he gave up early in life and which really matters to him?  ‘Life projects’ are simply possibilities that we imagine, create and project in the future.  They are hugely important because they give shape to our being today and influence/shape our choices including how we spend our attention/energy/time.  So leave aside your critical mind, your fears, your insecurities and step into the possibilites that you fellow human being (wife, husband, son, daughter, brother, sister, friend, neighbour, colleague, manager…) has created and which give him and his life meaning.  Step into that possibility and be enthusiastic. If you are in position to do so then go further – lend a helping hand, help to open doors, to provide resources (including your encouragement), carry some of the load.

4.  Be there for the people that show up in your life.  Be there during the good times to celebrate – celebrate with them, acknowledge, congratulate, laugh, lift them high ‘onto your shoulders’.  Be there for them during the difficult times when stuff does not turn out as they would like it to.  Provide: an empathic ear;  a solid-warm-friendly shoulder for them to rest their head; create a ladder/scaffold and help them climb up when you judge that the time is right; lead the way up the scaffold, give them your hand and help them to climb up.   Do this freely and wholeheartedly and you and your relationship will never be the same again.  One of my most enduring relationships was built by literally helping a ‘friend’ climb a mountain – giving up the lead, letting others take the lead, providing encouragement to this friend in words, being a little ahead of him when I needed to be and offering him my hand when he found it difficult to climb up the mountain.  We may not speak for many months and the love is there – neither of us have forgotten that day, that experience.

What is the greatest gift you can give yourself?

OK, by now you should be clear that the greatest gift that you can grant the people in your life is made up the following: letting them be just as they are and just as they are not; believing in them more than they believe in themselves; being enthusiastic about and contributing to their life projects; and being there for them.

Now I have as surprise for you.  The greatest gift you can give yourself is to grant this ‘greatest gift’ to the people that show up in your life!  You might be wondering “What?”  Think about it.  When you grant this gift to the people that show up in your life and living you get the following treats:

Peace / Ease / Freedom – you no longer struggle with people because you have giving up ‘resisting’ them as they are and as they are not and that shows up as a heavy burden lifted off your shoulder!

Relatedness / Connection / Enthusiasm / Love / ‘Sense of Adventure‘- by choosing to let people be and enter into their lives through encouraging/supporting/contributing to their ‘life projects’ as well as being there for them through the good times and the difficult times you create the space for relatedness, connection, love, enthusiasm and a sense of adventure to show up in your experience of living.  Whenever we take part in ‘life projects’ we take part in ‘giving birth’ to something new and this shows up as a sense of adventure – we feel more alive!

My guarantee to you and my challenge for you

I guarantee you that the moment that you grant this ‘greatest gift’ your experience of living will be transformed – the quality of your life will be transformed.  To keep this transformed live you have to consciously keep granting this ‘greatest gift’ again and again – every day, every moment.  Are you up for transforming the quality of your life?  Are you up for taking me up on my guarantee?

Love and Life – not your usual perspective!


Occasionally I read or hear something that introduces a glitch in the ‘matrix of my mind’, lifts me out of my default state of ‘fallenness’ and provides an opening into a ‘new world’, new way of being. Before I share that with you let’s get present to what is so in the ordinary way of living in which almost all of us are embedded almost all of the time.

Ordinary living: love as finding someone special and ‘being in love’

What is ordinary way of think about love?  If you are like me it is likely to be something like:

  • Love as a feeling – as in ‘I love you’ which more accurately said is “I feel love for you”;
  • Love as quest for that special someone – as in ‘I need to find someone to love me for me to feel OK, to feel complete’; and
  • Love as in falling in love – it is not enough for us that someone loves us, we strive to find that someone we love and who loves us!

What shows up when we approach love standing in this clearing: one of wanting, need and feeling?  If you are like me and I say that you are, more accurately most of you are, then it does not work out that great, does it?  It is not that easy to find that someone special.  And even when you do, how long does that feeling of ‘being in love’ last?  How do we react when that feeling is no longer there?  Does frustration, disappointment, anger, bitterness, self-criticism ofr choosing the wrong person (again!), restlessness, feeling cheated, feeling deprived – do these seem familiar to you?

In life and living there is risk and there is pain – that is simply what is so.  What is not within life itself is suffering.  Suffering –  this is what we introduce into our lives because we have a faulty view of life, of reality.  And I cannot think of a domain of life where are as mistaken as we are in the domain of life called ‘love and loving’.  Consequently, we suffer greatly.

Extraordinary living: Clea Iqbal speaks a forgotten ‘truth’

Here are the words that introduce a glitch in the ‘matrix of my mind’, lift me out of my default state of ‘fallenness’ and provide an opening into a ‘new world’, new way of being.

“Love is something everyone wants,

many do not realise they are loved,

someone cares for them lovingly,

and watches out for them.
________________________________________

Many people go out looking for love to be happy,

and they don’t realise,

to be happy,

you don’t need to love someone,

nor have someone love you.

_________________________________________

You need only to love life itself!”

Do you get the wisdom, the beauty, the power, the freedom, that Clea has made available to each of us?  Being alive – see, hear, feel, touch, play, create, taste – is a privilege!  That is what Clea is pointing out.  What would show up in your living if you lived your life from this vantage point, from this stand?

Leadership is about disclosing new worlds, new possibilities and modeling that behaviour.   What impact would you have on those close to you, those you work with, those come across, the world at large?  Would it not show up as a transformation in the quality of your living and of our world?   Are you prepared to be that big and ‘play BIG’?  Are your prepared to be a leader?

About Clea Iqbal

Clea is daughter to me as I am father to her.  From time to time she comes out with profound insights that blow my mind and my heart.  So I invited her to share her voice and her insights with all of us both as self-expression and as contribution.  She took me up on this invitation and we set up a blog for her: Clea’s Blog

A final thought: perhaps one of the practices that we can incorporate into our living and of loving life is allowing/encouraging/enabling our fellow human beings to speak authentically and put that speaking into the world.

Resist or be with that which shows up in your life?


‘Ordinary’ living: judging, embracing, rejecting what shows up

Have you noticed that the default setting of your life is such that you struggle ‘being with’ that which shows up in your life, your living?  Have you noticed that stuff shows up in your life and automatically your machinery gets busy classifying into any number of buckets: ‘good’, ‘bad’, ‘right’, ‘wrong’, ‘great’, ‘awful’, ‘ok’, ‘not ok’?  Have you noticed that once your machinery (which is always on 24x7x365) has slotted stuff that shows up into one of these buckets then it generates an automatic response?  I am talking about the feelings that arise, the thoughts that arise, what you say to yourself or to others.

What do you do with the stuff that shows up in your life and which is not OK with your machinery?  If you are like me and most of your fellow human beings then your natural, automatic, response is to resist.  Yes, the ordinary being of human being, is to resist that which does not fit in with our needs, our expectations, our desires, our view of the world, of ourselves.  How does that tend to turn out?  Does your resistance to what shows up work?  Does it leave you with insight, with a greater freedom to be, with peace, with joy?  It does none of those for me.  The more I resist the more trapped I become, the less present I am to life, the less present I am to the beauty in life and all the stuff that I can be grateful for: the ability to see the sky, the clouds, the flowers, the face of my children, my wife, you; the ability to hear – my favourite music that makes me feel and usually gets me dancing with a huge smile on my face; the ability to touch / hold my wife, daughter and sons……

How can I help you to visualise this?  Think about gusts and tornados.  Many years back (I think it was 1987) really powerful gusts hit the UK and felled many trees all over the UK.  The interesting fact is that the trees that fell were the older, bigger, stronger trees.  When these fierce gusts hit these ‘proud and strong’ trees stood their ground.  They resisted and many of them fell.  On the other and the younger trees, those that were supple, simply bent with the gusts, let them pass and then straightened up and went back to the way they were before the gust arrived.  Most of us are like those older trees whereas toddlers/young children are like the younger trees.

‘Extraordinary’ living: be with what shows up

When you stand in the clearing called ‘extraordinary’ living then you purposefully take a particular stance with that which shows up in your life.  You accept that which shows up in your life and you be with whatever shows up just as it is and just as it is not.  One way of pointing at and showing up the attitude associated with this stand is “Wow, how interesting?  Who am I being in the world that this shows up in my life?  What is the lesson that this is bringing with it?  What test am I being put through?  What questions am I being asked?”

Let me give you an example to further illustrate this.  On Saturday, waves of sadness and melancholy hit me out of the blue.  I found tears running down my cheeks.  If I had been immersed in ordinary living then I would have made this wrong.  I would have called myself weak and told myself to stop being a baby and be a man.  Furthermore, I would have told myself to get a grip because “you have no reason to cry, life is great, you have so much to be thankful for!”

As it happened I was present and so was able to step into ‘playing BIG’ and coming from that space I accepted that what was so was so. Instead of judging it, categorising, resisting it, I chose simply to be with it.  Actually, I went further, I dived into it – kind of became one with it.  I felt the feelings deeply, I connected with the parts of my body that were generating those tears, I noticed the rythm….. What was remarkable about this experience?  The sadness/melancholy was present, the tears were present, the deep sobbing was present and yet I was totally peaceful, totally relaxed!

By the end of day the waves of sadness/melancholy departed as quickly as they arrived and as far as I can tell for no reason.  What was I left with?  I was left with the insight that the ’cause’ of those waves of sadness/melancholy was me reading a particular chapter of The Brothers Karamazov.  What I got present to was that the waves of sadness/melancholy were the speaking of a certain part of me – the spiritual side.  Why the sadness? Because until recently, and for a long time, I had locked up that side of me.  The spiritual side of me had been in prison, bound hand and foot, gagged, kept in the dark, unfed.  And through those waves of sadness/melancholy it was simply letting go of the pain.  What I got present to was that those waves of sadness/melancholy were and are a gift.  A gift that shows me that ‘being a decent human being’ matters to me.  A gift that shows up that a natural and powerful part of my self-expression is to speak my truth, to be of service to my fellow human beings, to contribute, to put something into the game of life, to work to co-create a ‘world that works’, none excluded.

I leave you with this question:  what would have been my experience (and where would I be now) if I had resisted those waves of sadness/melancholy?   Now I ask you a question: are you willing to ‘play BIG’, to accept/be with what shows up in your life and ‘learn’ that which there is to learn, to face the question that life is posing, to undergo the test that life is putting you through?  Or you are going to go with ordinary living and resistance?

Remember:

a) ‘playing BIG’ is a gift that you grant yourself and only you can grant that gift to yourself.

b) Leadership ALWAYS starts with yourself – if you can be with that which shows up and learn from it then you can model that stance for the people you are leading.

Reflections for a life of Possibility, of Transformation and of Leadership- only for the courageous! (Part I)


I say that the most philosophically profound and politically revolutionary movie that I have ever watched is The Matrix series.  Yes, you can take it as a sci-fi yarn or you can get present to the hidden, profound and revolutionary, messages.  Today, I simply wish to share some with you.  Before you read further, I warn you that these deeply uncomfortable ‘truth’s for the mass of humanity that is in a state of “fallenness” – fallenness of “victim”, of “conformity”, of “idle chatter”, of “mass culture” – and so you may want to do what you do by default, not look at anything that disturbs your sleep.  The choice is yours – it has always been thus.

Choice

Neo: “Choice.  The problem is choice.”

Yes, you have been thrown into this world – you did not get a say in the matter.  Yes, stuff happens that happens and you did not get a say in that matter – call that ‘fate’.  And you have ‘free will’.  How?  You are present to possibilities and you can project possibilities – you can envisage ‘that which is not and could be’ as well as being present to ‘that which is’.  Being present to possibilities, as yet unborn, and ready to be born you are confronted with choice.  Choosing not to choose – accepting the default (what is and is not) – is a choice.  You make it, every instant, even if you are not aware of making that choice.  There is no escaping choice.  Choice – being confronted with choice – is the sign that you are ‘free’.   With choice comes the ‘problem of choice’.

Death

Morpheus: “Then tomorrow we may all be dead, but how would that be different from any other day? This is a war, and we are soldiers. Death can come for us at any time, in any place.”

You are not going to live forever. Death is not a tragedy, it is the gift that allows us to get present to the privilege of being alive and presses us to live fully, to give fruit to our gifts, our dreams, you self-expression. And even if death shows up in your world as a ‘tragedy’ as a ‘horror’ then get present to the fact that you will never escape death. NEVER.  Death is sitting on your shoulder ready to tap you anytime. That is what is so.

The real tragedy of your life is that you are tiptoeing ever so delicately through life (in order to avoid death) only to find that you arrive safely at death!  And when you arrive there (at deaths door) you are confronted with the question: “Why did I not live fully?  Why did I not create inspiring possibilities and seize them fiercely? And your are left with the awareness and feeling that “You could have chosen otherwise.  You could have lived more courageously.  You could have put your natural self-expression into the world. You could have chased your dreams.”  At death, your are once again confronted with choice – you had say in the matter of your life, always.

The Past

Morpheus: “What happened, happened and could not have happened any other way.”

Do you get it?  Do you get that your past is past, whatever happened, happened and could not have happened any other way?   By all means ‘learn’ from the past.  But there really is no value in getting stuck in the past, of beating yourself up, or beating others up.  Get present to the profound, liberating, truth of Morpheus’ words.  If you take this vantage point on your past then all the chains that keep you stuck in the past break apart instantly and you are totally free from the past, present to the present and in the clearing to create/project possibilities (that move-touch-inspire you) into the future.

Which is the more powerful way to live?  Spend your day living in the past most likely complaining about how things turned out and/or beating yourself up?  Or is it more powerful to let the past be in the past and so be present and live fully in the present with a total commitment to inventing and living possibilities that make it a joy to be alive?  Once again you are confronted with choice.  And in making that choice remember that Death is sitting on your shoulder ready to tap you anytime: you don’t get a second go, a second life!

Knowing v Acting (Doing)

Morpheus: There is a difference between knowing the path and walking the path.

Look, get real!  Knowing, knowledge really does not make a difference – not a tiny jot of difference.  You can know all there is to know and if you do not act on that knowledge then what difference does it make in the real world?   What is the value of knowing if you do not act on that knowledge so as to transform the quality of your life, your living?  Get real, in the real world it is action (doing), ONLY ACTION, that impacts/influences/transforms the quality of your life and the world that is ready at hand. Let me put this differently, if you do not walk the path then of what value is ‘knowing the path’?

I know that you are hoping for miracles even if you are not aware that you are hoping for miracles.  Buying more dieting books / attending more dieting courses are not going to make you slimmer or fitter.  Being mindful, eating the right foods in the right quantity at the right times and exercising – action – that is what it will take for you to turn out slimmer and fitter.  Hoping for better relationship with your spouse?  How long have you been doing that?  How has that turned out?  What good has knowing done without the doing?  Look your relationship with your spouse will only be different when you be/act differently, consistently!

Please get that we are living in an age addicted to the most useless artifact there is:  information and knowledge.  In the real world information/knowledge/knowing makes no difference.  What makes the difference?  How you are being and what you are doing (and not doing) every day of your life.  You can continue to be the fool chasing information and knowing or you can be the ‘warrior’ that acts decisively to create/project/bring about possibilities that move-touch-inspire you – possibilities that manifest themselves as joy right now in your living.  Once again you are confronted with choice  – what choice will you make?

Enough for today.  I will continue with this theme in a later post.  Before I go, I want to leave you with a final quote, a final message, a final provocation to stir you out of your slumber of ‘fallenness’:

Morpheus: “I’m trying to free your mind, Neo. But I can only show you the door. You’re the one that has to walk through it.

How would you experience living if you lived from this stand? I love me!


I walked into my daughter’s room and saw this morning and upon seeing it I marvelled at and simply have to share this with you:

How would our experience of living (individually and collectively) occur / show up for us if each and every one of us operated from this stand: I love me!!!

And loving ourselves would’nt we be more generous, more accepting, more considerate, more validating of all our fellow human beings?

And loving ourselves wouldn’t we put ourselves fully into the world as our natural self-expression?

And in doing that would we not create the space for our fellow human beings to do the same: love themselves, play full-out in the game of Life, put themselves in the world as their self-expression, Be just as they are and as they are not?

If I were to make any change to what daughter has written I would say the following, this would be my manifesto:

“I love me! And I love you!  And I love him/her! And I love them! And I love us!  Let’s ‘join hands and hearts’ and co-create a ‘world that works’, none excluded, where joy is present for each and every one of us!!”

What kind of transformation would occur, in your experience of living,  if you were to join with me?

How about you?  What would be your heart’s wish, your manifesto for your life and the world that you and I live in?

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.

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.