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The Day Everyone Cried

Image – @leunigcartoons
Inspiration – How what is counter intuitive is often the best way forward in crisis.  
Provocation – Thinking about how challenging it is for so many to spend time alone. 

Note – I, like many others, have lived though a good share of loss and trauma, of both the economic and emotional kind. I know first hand how challenging it can be to react with calm and kindness. None of this is easy, but within every difficult life event there is that which is challenging, and the suffering which we create and mount on top of that challenge to make it near impossible. Today I am speaking to the later. 


 

Around day three or four of a mediation retreat something happens.

Almost everyone starts crying.

I’ve often thought of this as a moment of reckoning. As in, the moment that the participants recognise the true consequences of the decision they have made to take themselves away from the aspects of their life into something, that for many is the absolute opposite of their normal behaviour.

It’s a surrender of sorts. One where the war between quitting and leaving the retreat and the keeping of the commitment to do it in the first place come to completion and just under the surface of this, is the beginning of all the things you have been avoiding.

We live in a world, that has highly pervasive narratives around action.

How the doers among us, the strivers, the builders are the winners. We must keep moving forward. It’s patriotic to do so. Doing, is touted as the answer to most things. It is the foundation of shame. It’s imbedded into our language, our habits and our psyches.

This isn’t all bad, productivity has led us as a species to drastically improve our quality of life. As someone that’s founded companies and created things within the world, I have seen first-hand the magical outcomes that focused action can produce.

I have however also seen, what happens when a narrative turns orthodox.

 

To be a doer is anointed, to be a non-doer is almost sacrilegious within the practice of the social religions of our societal behaviour. To not do is to be unproductive. To not do is a privilege. To not do is lazy. To lack action is to miss out, mess up, fail.   

 

Here is a 2 minute excerpt from a recent podcast by Naval that frames this concept really clearly. 

So, what happens when we are all called to stop, all at the same time? When the future is more uncertain (for many) than it has ever been before, how do we create the kind of space we need to make the decisions that will align our circumstance to our longterm needs? 

Let’s go back to the retreat setting and walk though that from day one to three as a micro-example of global social isolation.


 

Day 1 –

First you arrive in your new place of isolation. Whatever has got you here, the reasoning that has led to this outcome, has passed, you have accepted that you are here.

You are looking around and although the accommodation looks familiar, like the photos from the brochure, you feel anxious, you ask yourself questions like; can I be confined in this space for this length of time and be ok?

You recognise that you have invested real effort to make sure you chose the environment that had the kind of people that are “your people” within it, but there is that decision, and then there is the reality of being in a confined place with only them for a long period of time. If you have chosen an entirely solo experience you question if you really understood the true consequence of that decision.

Yet you are here. You have no choice but to take it in your stride and you move forward.

Day one at a retreat, is akin to week one of social isolation. We all made it though week one. What’s next? 

Day 2 –

You have explored every square inch of your new space. You have walked all the paths, rearranged your space to match your preferences for comfort, kept to the script, followed the routine.

You feel a little strange. You say things like; this isn’t so bad, after all.

Your day feels strangely full, even though many of the things you would usually have done in a day you are not doing, there are other things that have filled this space and you feel secure in your ability to continue to fill that space, keep this pace, like this place.

You feel meta about the situation, philosophical almost, you miss your old life, but with a playful reverence. Can’t want to go here, do that, be there, tell so-and-so about that.

Day two of a retreat is akin to week two of social isolation. We all made it though week two, maybe some of us are slightly more afraid and others slightly more apathetic, but we made it none the less. So what’s next?  

Day 3 –

Today you woke up and realised that you are not yet halfway into this experience.

That you have tasted all the food, seen all the places, organised everything twice over, found all the things that annoy you and that are lovely. You have done all that can be done, have all that you need within the parameters of where you are, and this is it. This is it. Here you are.

Now what? You feel lethargic.

Disoriented, not only by the choices that put you here, but by this growing feeling like something has been stolen from you. You feel compulsive, reactive.

Your mind is searching, scrolling through your environment looking for entertainment. Something to steal your attention away. Somewhere to lay your discomfort to the side for a minute, or an hour or a day.

You feel a build-up, that you can’t quite put your finger on, at first it comes out as irritation.

Why does that door keep creaking and distracting me? Why can’t I get my food like this? Why is that person coughing, sniffling, moving, breathing? Why is everyone breathing so loud? Arrrrr.

You might even let this anger out. You spill it around you, over others, into the world. Yet, you still feel the same. It keeps building.

You click into the next level of action. You declare to yourself – “Let’s fix everything!”.

You ask, what can I contribute to? How can I take what I feel and give it away to a good cause?  How can I be useful?

You quickly realise that under the circumstance, even as cleaver as you are, what you can do to help, is limited and short lived. 

It keeps building. You flick though all your weapons of distraction, you eat, you exercise, you learn, you try to hijack the attention of others. It’s still building. You go to bed early, exhausted from doing nothing. You wake up at 4am, crying. 

Day three to four of a retreat, is akin of week three of social isolation.


 

It’s amazing how little people cry nowadays. Then when we do, we do so apologetically. The Inuit tribes would say that the feeling of sorrow comes when we are crying inside. So even with the absence of tears, we still cry, just silently. 

So why do we cry on day three?

When we break the patterns of our life. When the distractions fall still, and the compulsions are exhausted. What we are left with is a forced confrontation with ourselves.

 

In a society that has become religious about productivity, stopping to look inward. Being still and calm; Doing nothing, is seen as having chosen to fail. Like the ultimate life regression. You lose.

 

Day three of a retreat, (and the now impending week three, for many, of social isolation) is a breaking down of everything that prevents us from stopping.

What we have denied, what we have avoided, what we have lied to ourselves about. It’s sitting just behind our distractions. Realising that no one is going to rescue you. 

I know what you are thinking! This is not the break through that’s often touted about retreat experiences, far from it. Sorry to be the one to tell you, but to break though, you first need to break down.

Day three is simply brokenness.  A clear view of everything that’s broken in our lives, that is of course, if we are willing to look.

It’s confronting when we remove all the forces that distract us, steal our focus and occupy our sensibilities. Often, it makes us cry. Not in the sad movie kind of way. We cry as a release.

The truth of how things are, even when everything is beautiful, is raw and moving. Everything alive, needs moisture to survive. Crying, enables a process to continue when it would otherwise collapse. A release when the build-up is to much to hold inside.

This kind of crying, jut like this kind of isolation, makes space for us to see all the things we have stolen from ourselves, deprived from our relationships, our creative lives, our potentiality in the name of productivity or social norms.

We start to ask ourselves, as we move into this kind of isolation, what is it in us that needs to be released? Freed? Let go?

In accent fairy tales and indigenous tribal stories there is a leitmotif called the “thrown object”. This might be depicted as the magical object thrown to the ground that builds a wall of protection or a potion that creates immunity, or a trap that slows the pursuer from catching the pursued.

Perhaps if the world all made the choice to look clearly at the truth in front of us, at this time, we would brew the kind of potion that gives us clear eyes to look out at what we have all created. To see clearly the decisions we have made that have stolen and extracted resources, from ourselves and others, in excess of what we really need. The decisions that have led us all, in some way to extract more than we have given to society, the earth.

I’m not suggesting that you meditate. Nor do any other kind of practice. I’m simply suggesting that, while we are all here, in isolation, we have an opportunity of sorts. Perhaps it’s time to check in with where we are. What we are creating and tell ourselves the truth about it.  A minute even, to stop focusing on what comes next. Accept where you are today. Let go of needing something or someone to save you.

Here is another clip from Naval that says this in a different way.

Self-soothe. Hold yourself. Make space for yourself. Tell yourself some truth.

Understand what it is that you are really experiencing, what decisions you are making and what truth you can tell yourself at this time that will enable you the freedom to react and respond to the real challenges that we still face ahead, in a way that is in our individual and collective best long term interests. 

If you so dare to use this time, to stop everything, to stand still. You may stumble across a new path that can not just elevate you now, but always. 

 

“The challenge of being forced outside your normal patterns can lead to new ways of thinking and behaving that open doors never noticed before” – Rick Rubin. 

 

I know, it’s hard, it’s painful and it’s scary. I in no way wish to diminish your experience.

What i’m suggesting is that if you can release all your expectations, let go of your plans (as good as they were), assess your distractions and reconsider your dreams, this might turn out to be the most productive few weeks of your life. 

 

– End –

 

Personal Note – 

If you think I can assist you with anything you need at this time – send me a note here 🙂

 

 

A few simple ways to build your immunity

One of the consistent messages that I’m seeing around the spread of the coronavirus is that it seems to be less risky to turn into life threatening health issues if you have a strong immune system. This is good news in among the many terrible things about this virus.

The thing is, most of our immune systems are actually compromised. We have exposure to a heap of toxins and system depleting behaviours each day, and we also, for the most part, don’t really eat enough vital nutrients (like fresh vegetables) to have a robust immunity to new pathogens. I’m not here to point fingers at that or anyone, but to try to offer some tips and paths to quickly boost your immune system in ways that are both affordable and easy to do.

Within are some things that you can do today, to help bolster your chances of being one of the maybe 40% of people that don’t catch this virus.

NOTE: This blog does NOT constitute any kind of medical advice nor is it some kind of cure to all. Just ways you might like to employ to help protect you and your family from the virus that have in the past worked for me.

Immunity Tonic #1

Tonic

I’ve been using this tonic for a few years now as my first line of defence when my son or I have felt the onset of a virus – it has worked incredibly well for us, usually knocking anything out before it starts with one dose in the morning & one in the afternoon.

Any naturopath / health food store that has a herbal dispensary can make this for you. It costs me $25 for 100mls


Golden seal (30ml),
olive leaf (20ml)
echinacea (30ml)
Thyme (20ml)

Dose –
7mls for an adult
3mls for a child
Mixed in 20mls of water
(I mixed mine with raw honey – because it does not taste great!)


 

Immunity Tonic #2

firetonic_original

Fire tonic is an unfiltered apple cider vinegar (ACV) tincture. It’s called fire tonic because it’s – well, spicy. It’s packed full of immune boosting ingredients like ACV (apple cider vinegar, raw local honey, chillies, turmeric, garlic, horseradish, ginger, carrot, celery, red onion, brown onion, apple, orange, lemon, mustard seed, parsley, rosemary, oregano, thyme, juniper berries, peppercorns, bay leaves, Szechuan pepper & Himalayan pink mineral salt.

I have found it to be great used alone (a small shot of it) or as a tea base with raw honey.

For my son, I mix it with some honey & give him a tea spoon full every couple of hours. I used this when he had whooping cough (a terrible experience for any parent) and found it to be the only thing that would give him a reprieve from coughing.

It costs $AUD20 & is available to order here

 

Throat spray

Mushroom spray

Anyone familiar with Paul Stamets and his mushroom products know how amazing they actually are!!

It contains organic mushrooms such as Agarikon, Chaga & Reishi and as dispensed as a liquid extracts it provides rapid absorption.

I get mine from iHerb, but it’s widely available & costs around $25 – You can find some on amazon here.

 

Activated Coconut Charcoal

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The wide benefits of charcoal has been highly documented – you can read about it here. I currently use bulletproof brand– but you can get coconut charcoal at every pharmacy.

Ways to use it:
Tablet form – pretty straight forward
Powder & water – when I have a throat ache I mix some with water & gargle
Toothpaste – mix it with your toothpaste & use it to brush your teeth & clean your whole mouth out. It’s incredible how good this has been for my son when he has a cold.

A 6 months supply of charcoal shouldn’t cost you more than $20!

NOTE – Remember charcoal knocks out all other remedies – so take this first thing or at least 20 minutes apart from anything else.

 

Soup & Broth

Soup

For me, a good bowl of broth is an immediate uplift in my overall feeling of good health.

Here is a great recipe – If you are making some, consider doubling it and making some for the elderly people in your neighbourhood. The oxytocin will boost you both!

If you can’t be bothered making your own buy an organic one.

Here is a great Australian company that makes broth. This one is good from the USA.

Vegetable broth is a good alternative for vegetarian and vegans. This one here is an amazing “just add water” option if you don’t want to make your own.

Personally I find a small cup of broth a day makes me feel great! I use broth to cook my sons rice (as a replacement for water), in sauces, to steam vegetables & poach eggs.

 

Vegetables / Superfood powders

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Increasing your intake of fresh, green, in season vegetables is an instant way to build up your immune system. It may seem obvious, but most of the worlds population eat well below the recommended daily serving of vegetables.

If you can’t, don’t or won’t eat your greens daily, consider replacing that intake with an organic superfood greens powder.

There are hundreds of options here on iHerb – I highly recommend getting the ones without any sweetener (like stevia) and adding honey or a banana instead! I use this one.

 

Sleep

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Another obvious one that many forget and often neglect.

A few early nights can really improve your bodies ability to fight off any infections. Turn your devices off early & go to bed! Your body will thank you for it. Two to three nights in a row of quality sleep will totally change your whole biological systems ability to function & fight off pathogens, not to mention elevate your mood!

 

Extra things in my cupboard –

  • Oregano oil:  A strong anti fungal, immune builder that you can take (in very small amounts) in water.
  • Peppermint & Eucalyptus oil blend: For humidifier/ rub on bottom of feet & to drop in the bath
  • Raw honey – for tea/ taste & mixing with bad tasting tonics !!

Prevention must haves
Alcohol wipes: I’ve been using them in my car, out and about (on doors etc) and on all my electronics.

All day eye glasses: Covering your eyes is technically better for prevention than a mouth mask – get some daytime blue light blockers – or just a pair of random cheap non prescription glasses from your local discount store and ware them when you are out in public.

Wash your hands:  Please just do this anyway. Plus, stop touching your face & other people – seriously – it’s not that hard, and a good habit to have at all times.

 

Everything on this list can be found for an affordable price / mostly online. Hope this helps in some way 🙂 take care of yourself & your loved ones.

 

What does Humility have to do with Leadership?

Inspiration:

I was recently asked a huge question by a leading global organisation

– Q How do we cultivate greater humility among our leadership ranks?

Albert Einstein supposedly said “the release of atomic energy has not created a new problem. It has merely made more urgent the necessity of solving an existing one.” I think the same can be said about technology. It has not created a new problem within humanity, it has exposed existing human problems. This post is an idea, my attempt on how we might address this question and the human problem at the heart of the current state of Leadership.

There is a battle being fought at the very heart of society; that a change in human behaviour is fundamentally required to meet the future landscape of the world.

This shift has been brought on by the combined forces of a new urban close quarter living, technology changing the fabric of society, and the blurred lines between what is work, what is living. It is a shift in what it means to be a civilian, a human, within society.

It’s a global grappling with democracy and freedom, what was historically black and white is now grey, contentious and confusing. More deeply, it’s a grappling with the reality of our own lives, our own purpose and our own truth.

The search for balance, for interpersonal truth, for meaning, contribution and new ways to live life requires a kind of transformation to materialise. With this, the leaders of the future must emerge. The world not only needs new ways to live, it needs new ways to lead and be led.

The new leader will be placed in front of decisions and situations that have never been seen, requiring a new kind of strength.

I want to propose the cultivation of a strength in leadership of a radical kind. I call this new strength ‘Sincere Humility’. It is my position that a foundation of sincere humility will be a key ingredient of the future of leadership of all kinds.

This is an idea, a thought experiment, that could serve as the basis of a kind of learning and development that may be able to seed a viable path to a solution for the global leadership need.

To break this down on a basic level, I pose and answer two questions:
1. What is Sincere Humility?
2. How can it be taught?

What is sincere humility?

Humility, by its very nature, is sincere.

Embodied, active humility results when an individual has the preparedness and resilience to live in complete inward honesty. A persons outside behaviour then becomes a reflection of that.

Humility means changing the threshold of individual acceptability.
At its core, there is one key skill of individual acceptability: the ability to tell yourself the absolute truth.

Having humility, is to deeply understand and mitigate your inner conflict to a level where you are able to separate it from your external environment. This is to say all conflict at its root, is self-conflict and our behaviours are a manifestation of our internal state. Being able to understand this internal state and affect it honestly enables a naturally sincere humility. This is then reflected outward in our environment through behaviour.

To be able to sincerely lead with humility, an individual needs to access their own truth within an instant, in any given interaction. This is, in essence, a combined mastery of an authentic Leadership based in self-awareness, self-assessment, communication, integrity & moral courage, acted out in the moment.

Despite the simplicity of that statement, the journey to mastery is one that requires a depth of understanding, framing and experience that can’t be won in a 5-step program or a one day intensive.

Ultimately, unlike any other skill, when considering behaviour that is founded in sincerity, cosmetic behavioural change is not enough. What you need is transformation and transformation can’t be taught. It is something the individual must choose.

That takes us to the second question:

How can it be taught?

The simple and direct truth is; humility cannot be taught.

On this basis, the challenge changes from cultivating humility itself, to the cultivation of the correct conditions for transformation to take place.

The social psychologists Kurt Lewin, (known for Field Theory) proposed that there are two ways to change behaviour. The first is to apply pressure in the direction where you want people to go. i.e.: you cause change using force leavers like incentive or threat. The second way to change behaviour is by making it easy.

Quickly one can see how the first method contradicts any hope for the presence of sincerity. Let’s look closer at option two; Making it easy.

In thinking about the merit of cultivating sincere humility to a level of mastery, it becomes not about ‘how’ to do this. It’s more of a question of; what’s preventing any individual themselves from doing what is necessary to reach mastery? When this is the question, the role of the teacher changes to one of removing obstacles. Once obstacles are removed, change itself can happen.

As previously defined, humility is a personal, individual transformation such that is something each individual must choose. The focus shifts from teaching specific skills, to creating a model of understanding that sets the space, tools & framework for the student to make that decision with ease.

That is a deceptively simple statement to make. It requires deep, strategic consideration to successfully materialise such an outcome. This is not a path made of tips, tricks and ‘how to’s’ that will cause a swift and efficient change to pop out a “Instant leader” (think the instant noodle of leadership creation).

If what you are really asking is; How do I stop involuntary thought? How do I impact the very core of how I, and each of my people think, act and react? It’s like asking ‘how do I hold the volume of the ocean in a 250ml cup’? You simply cannot;

And this is why this is an ideal focused on the environment needed to transform people into humans that lead with sincere humility, not on humility itself.

It’s about creating an atmosphere and space to ask the question of themselves.
To choose themselves.
To be themselves.

The shift happens when one starts to realise that all the tips and techniques have got them nowhere close to a mastery and true sincerity. In order to do that it requires there to be a letting go of the need to fix or prescribe solutions. The focus then shifts to one of honest cultivation of these conditions, allowing then the space to arrive at truly examining the self.

I am talking about creating a pathway to understanding. The real work. The true transformation will come when the individual chooses this themselves.

This moves against every traditional, normalised approach to skill acquisition. This model is not about the over intellectualisation of an abstract theory of behaviour or technique that provides a trick or hack. There is no qualification, or score. You cannot pass or fail. When I talk about a model, I am not talking about a mental model.

This is about an arrival to personal truth.

An idea to set out a path internally, giving an yourself, the permission to ask yourself real questions. Here is where they you may come to your own true understanding and truth.

There are ways, I am sure, we could build and scale this is by using all the tools available in technology, resource and structure. Using all the knowledge we have to focus on building an atmosphere that leads to truth, humility and transparency.

The best in the world (at anything) don’t become the best in the world by trying to perfect themselves for others. They do it for themselves. It’s a sincere choice of self.

This concept is about creating an environment for yourself, for others, at home and in business, that creates the space and path that gives permission for you and other leaders to choose.

This leadership problem we have, is a human problem.

There are no tricks or a crazy techniques to solve human problems. Cultivating sincere personal truth is one of the hardest life choices of all.

To be blunt, addressing such a fundamental and unique human challenge with old, outdated techniques would be a waste of time. By designing a better environment for ourselves, and others, change will naturally happen.

This question about humans, leadership and creating a future we thrive in is not one I can answer alone, so I will end with a question for you.

How can you use your skills, your technologies, your creativity to change your and our environment to one where we are a people who choose to lead with sincere humility?

IMAGE –  Rene Magritte’s painting as part of the  La trahison des images
The words on the painting  “Ceci n’est pas une pipe.”, are French for “This is not a pipe.” The statement means that the painting itself is not a pipe; it is merely an image of a pipe. A painting about the truth of what is, verse what we choose to look at.

 

I Surrender.

Artwork by Fabio Bacchini – Instagram @_baccc

 


 

I want to have a conversation with you about surrender.

It’s a big topic, one that I’ve been thinking about for some time.

More recently I’ve come to a theory.

The theory is that surrender is one of our primal needs. Like love or touch (as opposed to food and water type needs).

On that basis – I’ve been watching.

I’ve tried to really consider how and where it shows up, and have been tracking it, to see any common correlations.

January has been a super month; this year has gotten off to an amazing start. Full to the brim with lessons and opportunity to show up more as myself. It’s the scary, messy kind of opportunity that you don’t always wish for but know deep down are the most valuable.

Something ended last week. Within this I noticed how my head was full of thoughts about it that I couldn’t shift. Even nonsensical stuff. I started to think about what it was to be stuck thinking about things within the context of loss (in this case loss of future connection).

Once you frame it in the context of loss, you see almost instantly (well I did anyway) that it’s not “thinking”, it is control.

The sticky thoughts are not you actually really thinking… it’s just control disguised as that. It was an unwillingness to surrender to the loss. Like a last ditched attempt to somehow change the outcome.

This then got me thinking about how loss brings a forced surrender. It (whatever ‘It’ is) is gone, and you don’t get any further choices. You can’t control what isn’t there, so all you can do is just surrender to it.

Back to the theory. 

If surrender is in fact a primal need. Then it will find its way into our lives whether we like it or not. It will creep in and it will push and influence out choices – mostly unconsciously, if we have not given it the space it deserves, as a primal need.

Alas, I came to think.

That maybe there is a correlation between the amount of loss you experience and the amount you are willing to surrender in life.

When you choose to surrender you are choosing things like love, trust, connection, focus, orgasm, achievement (think the athlete in flow, pushing past their known ability to win). That’s the kind we choose.

The reverse of this is, then, when surrender will choose you, and as the brilliant beings we are, when it’s primal, and it’s a need, we always choose the quickest and easiest path.

Loss. Pain. Fear. The death (metaphorically speaking) of something.

So, the theory of surrender has expanded.

We must surrender to survive.

Therefore, if we are unwilling to do so in love & trust, achievement or connection we will unconsciously break our lives over and over, so we surrender to loss – because loss is the fastest, most effective way to fill that need.

My focus for this year is to cultivate more joy. To live this, I’m making decisions that minimise suffering. Doing something every week that pushes me into unknown outcomes, things I can’t control, things I need to trust and connections that require love past my perception of my own ability, choosing to surrender over and over, in as many ways as possible, may just be the path. Or not. I don’t actually know.

I don’t know about you, but I’m going to surrender to that & see what happens.

Image

Digital Tribalism

Inspiration

“You must be the change you want to see in the world” ~ Gandhi.

Motivation

Has connection got worse since we became so digitally connected or do we simply need to up-skill to catch the wave of modern tribalism?


 

Digital Tribalism

It’s difficult to miss the extent of which the world has changed in the past three decades. The exponential growth of technology has created a dynamic shift in every aspect of our everyday lives. How we eat, interact and work has shifted onto a mobile platform from dinner via UberEATS to a corporate employment strategy that involves filters on Snapchat, the world is different.

All of the above has been given a lot of airtime and a lot of consideration around how it impacts us on personal, country and global levels.

How we create, build and interact within community has also experienced exponential change. This change has caused great impact on the individual level that has been the focus of considerable negative coverage.

People feel disconnected. People feel lonely.

The thing is, loneliness is proof that your innate search for connection is still intact. The philosopher Aristotle, in his famous conversations with Plato said that there should be three parts to a loving friendship: Unity, Pleasure and Goodness. These are innate skills we are all equipped with, so the only thing standing between any person and their ability to create deep bonds with another is lack of access to others.

I have thought about this a lot. How it could be, that in a time where we are more connected to more places and people than ever before, the average persons experience of connection has decreased.

People have been saying tribal communities are a thing of the past, but I find myself questioning if this is really true, not to belittle the personal experience of people feeling this, more so to understand if it is that the opportunity to connect has actually increased (as you would expect inline with the advancement of digital connectivity) and we just all missed the how-to on YouTube?

Do we need, as a species; to rewrite the way we think connection is made, in order to open the gates to our new global tribe?

Historically if you connected with someone outside of your direct community, it was dangerous, often resulting in loss of life, so we have some deep wiring that unconsciously drives us to be afraid of reaching out into the unknown. Our wiring needs to untangle from the past and we need to reset our thinking about how and where connection is created.

If you set aside, all of the notions you have for how friendship, real lasting deep connected friendship is created historically, and forget any rules or conditioning you have around where it’s found and just look at the tools you have at your fingertips to create new connections in your life, how would you do it?

How would you search for your tribe?

It’s a question that forces you to look deeply within, past the stuff you do or the job you have or your role in your direct family. It is an asking of self; who am I? What kind of person am I? What am I really passionate about? And how do I find people that I will relate to?  What do I admire in others, what am I interested in learning about or being exposed to? What languages, places, subjects or activities are am I interested in?

Well, the chances are, if you set aside a day, just one Sunday even, to search online, on the global platform of connectivity you have at your fingertips, you would probably find groups, conferences, communities and institutions that share your interests. You will probably find them locally, or within your country, but you would also find them globally, in new and exciting places. You even have algorithms that have been specially created and optimised to support your search, and could probably find options that tick many boxes on your tribal wish list.

Perhaps the issue with digital social connection is not that its all “surface level” but that we, the user, are treating it that way and the results are simply a reflection of what we are putting in.

Friendship, the kind that Aristotle spoke about, with unity, pleasure and goodness takes effort. Real life effort. Regardless of where and how they are formed, this rule applies.

You make the connection. Then you do the work. Then it takes time. After all tribal trust was built over generations, not over night, and even with this generational membership every new generation underwent initiation and event to prove commitment to the tribe.

Finding your tribe is not as easy as a click of the button, the click and the button is just the new pathway for you to build and grow with other humans. Creating lasting bonds however is your personal choice and responsibility towards commitment.

Maybe when everyone stops dismissing digital social connection as “just fun” or “not important”, and starts approaching it as you would any other community, asking what are it’s needs, which needs do you personally want to serve and how it can serve you in return.

Ultimately, it comes back to what it always has, how much time, energy and effort are you prepared to put into building connection in your life? And how prepared are you to reach out and be vulnerable to create that connection?

It’s easy to read the Gandhi quote at the top of this and jump to the “change the world” narrative, however I urge you to consider it in another way, a little closer to home, “You must be the change you want to see in the world”, in your world, in your life, with your own personal ability to connect. Be the one to change your view on how, so you can head out into the world and find your tribe.

I like to think of this as a life changing kind of crowd-sourcing…I call it Digital Tribalism.

A Skeptics Guide To Organic Food

Over time, in the act of doing what I loved, I became a bit of a, dare I say it “organics advocate” and it has caused me some grief.

The thing is, people don’t like organics… and as it turns out they don’t like the advocates of it either! At first it baffled me as to why – why would people be so offended by the concept of eating clean fresh, sustainably grown food?

But then I realized. People are afraid and confused.

The fear and misunderstanding is real. The mixed messages within the media who confuse rumour with fact, and the branding laws around organics are confusing at best.

The fear runs deep, because part of the issue is quite personal. To admit that there is a legitimate reason to eat organic food is also to admit that the whole industry you have trusted to supply you with quality food, the food that keeps you alive and healthy has been lying to you. It also means feeling a little like a fool in some way. The manipulation of perception about what is happening within the food system by major brands is a big truth to swallow.

I get it, really I do. I too have been there and it is no walk in the park. Accepting that you no longer choose to part of the mainstream changes everything and for many, blissful ignorance is a seemingly easy option.

I can’t really help a lot with the second part, that is a journey people need to walk for themselves. What I can help with is clearing up a little of the common misunderstandings around organics.

 

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In my experience so far the misunderstand comes in these four main areas:

Organics Is Not A Dietary Choice.

When people think of the words “organic food”, they automatically think about
dietary choice like vegetarianism, veganism.

The connection between veganism & organics started because the initial pioneers oforganic farming as the vegan movement in fact started a mainstream food option. As a part of their ethos they felt it was imperative to protect the earth and the wildlife by growing food in a way that did not include harmful chemicals. Unfortunately, with many modern vegans choosing mass-produced chemically grown wheat, corn, soy and legume products, this ethos has slipped away, but nonetheless, we credit them for starting the movement towards sustainable growing practices.

Eating organic is simply about the way the food is produced. This includes all food types, from sugar to beef, leafy greens to tofu. It has no connection at all with any kind of preferred eating style or diet.

Organic Food Costs Too Much

It is an assumption that organic equals expensive

Organic food is 10-15% more expensive than conventional food, mostly because small local producers that have higher overheads grow it.

The costs reflect what food should cost when the farmer is actually making money for producing food. When the costs actually get out of line (meaning they are 50-80% more than conventional foods) is when the farmer is forced to sell via a centralised markets that are then adding substantial margin onto the goods before selling it to stores. It should be noted, it is usually the case the higher the retail price, the less money the end grower usually is making. I point this out, because the issue is not the growing of organic food for a reasonable cost, the issue is the supply chain that gets the food from the farm to the store, it is an important differentiation and one that gives farmers (the real hero in all this) much torment.

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The Science Says…

When people hear the words “organically grown or chemical free”, they often jump
into a scientific argument about the nutritional content of a particular plant grown conventionally v’s organically.

The nutritional benefit of food comes from three areas, the quality and makeup of the seed, how rich in nutrition the soil is which it’s grown and how the body absorbs the nutrition once it’s been consumed. The main purpose relating to nutritional value, of eating organic food is to reduce the amount of chemical exposure to your body, so your body can function at an optimal level and absorb more nutritional value from the food you consume.

A study conducted by The National Institute for Research in 2006 was able to demonstrate that an organic diet provides a dramatic and immediate protective effect against exposures to pesticides that are commonly used in agricultural production. More so they concluded that these children were most likely exposed to these pesticides exclusively through their diet.

In 2014 Australian University RIMT conducted a 7 day study that put participants on an exclusively organic diet for 7 days. The organic eating participants were found to have a 89% reduction of chemicals in their system.

It is actually astounding that within just 7 days, there was such a significant reduction in chemicals in the systems of participants.

Is It Really Organic?

When people hear “certified organic” they feel mistrust and don’t understand why
statements like “organic ingredients” and “all natural” can be used on non certified items.

Trusting our food is actually organic.

For me, and many others this is one of the hardest hurdles to cross. The biggest problem in this space is the labelling laws around the use of the word “organic” on products. At present there is no clear law that protects organic producers. What that means is anyone can use say their product is “produced with organic ingredients” or “naturally grown” or “natural” and it is hard for the customer to tell the difference between what really is organically grown and what is branding.

The easiest way to ensure that you are eating something organic is to look for certification. At present there is a global standard that the following certification bodies adhere to:

USDA (USA) NASAA (Aust) ACO (Aust) Bioc (Europe) AB (France) BIO (Europe) COBA
(Canada) JAS (Japan) BIODYNAMIC (Global biodynamic certified)

It’s confusing that there are so many, and it would be a better future for the market if they consolidated down to one or two main peak bodies and rules, however for now this is what we have. The certification process is complex and producers, distributors and manufactures are held very accountable for keeping in line with the standard.

I owned and ran a catering business that was certified organic and from first hand experience know that the audit process is very real, and comprehensive. If you would like to learn more about what it means to be certified organic you can do so here.

People are confused, fearful and annoyed by organics! And with every voicing of the word “organic” it prompts one of these reactions.

So lets drop this word & start thinking & talking about what actually important here.

Let’s start by asking a question. What am I eating?

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The system is complex, not because it necessarily needs to be, more because that is the way it has been created. It has left us, as a society, so disconnected from what is real about food, where our food comes from, how it is grown and produced and more so how it is marketed to us. If we all were to tell ourselves the truth about what we are really eating we would be overwhelmed with the disrespect we have been shown by the companies we have entrusted with the role of nourishing us.

Which is why, now more than ever we must step forward and take direct responsibility over the way we feed ourselves, our children and our families, the earth and nature as a whole.

We live in a time when we can recite the words of the latest hit song, when we know which celebrity is dating who and what the president of America tweeted 10 minutes ago, and yet we don’t know where our breakfast came from. Let’s not give away our ability to live a long and healthy life simply because we don’t put the time in to understand what we are eating and ask ourselves this question.

What am I eating?

Next time you hear the word organic, don’t think about diets, about debates, the
word organic or the science, just focus on the food. Is it in season? Is it fresh? Where was it grown? How was it grown? Who is the farmer? How is it best prepared?

What am I eating?

Be in ore of the simple fact that in doing so you simultaneously nourished your mind, help the earth and supported a local farmer and take care of your heath.

One should never underestimate the power of real food.

Balanced-Meal

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The New Power

The recent wave of political decision relating to visa and immigration got me thinking about how we distinguish authority from power.

As the elected officials of the countries by which we reside the political figures have the ability to impress these decision upon us. It is however fundamentally important that we as individuals start to differentiate the legal authority and ramifications of these decisions and the actual real power they have over our ability to move forward.

One of the big conversations that have come out of these recent decisions around immigration has been how the restriction of employment of foreign talent is seen as a restriction on innovation. Maybe on a surface level this holds some truth however it strikes me that perhaps the government backwards step on immigration has really done us all a favour. Allow me to explain.

Over the past twenty years during the rise and rise of technological advancement, it’s difficult to cover the depth of change that has occurred within every aspect of the commercial landscape. A rate of dramatic change that shows no real signs of slowing any time soon. One of the biggest casualties of rapid change can be our ability to change our mindset and approach to match it. If you really look at the way we approach innovation within companies, how much has the way we acquire talent and pursue innovation really changed to match the environment it’s trading within?

Historically the model has been that the key innovative skill in any organisation was derived from its core internal team. That specialty, solutions and technicality was really something you held within the company. When looking at this model it is easy to understand why large established or even new organisations following this model might feel a little concerned when their access to directly employ core skill is largely restricted.

If the current path is no longer viable, is it time for the company to try something new?

When approaching how we solve core problems and innovate does the organisational model need to be reengineered?

The new book by Andrew McAfee & Erik Brynjolfsson’s called ‘Machine, Platform & Crowd’ goes on a deep dive into the current and potentially new way of to approach the place of the company in society. They break it down in a great way, proposing that companies have three core aspects of function. In the past it has been focused on “Mind, Product and Core” verses a new system of “Machine, Platform & Crowd”. At the heart of this topic the real questions that companies are contending with is how do they balance and operate in an environment when “Machine v’s Mind”, “Platform v’s Product” and “Crowd v’s Core.” are being asked of everything they do?

This way of thinking raises a number of key questions around how you approach, acquire and use talent and innovation within an organisation. It’s a back to the basics conversation to consider what the core role of the company actually is in a future where Machine, Platform and Crowd hold so much power and potential. Is it the company’s role to be able to solve all the problems internally or has its role shifted to be able to take an externally created innovation or solution to an internal problem and turn that into a deliverable product or service. Historically it has been a game of both or nothing, but with the advance of technology within the crowd sourcing environment have the rules of the game now changed?

The discussion around this topic can get heated when it starts taking a road of one or the other, so for example, is machine a full replacement of mind. However that narrative is missing the critical point of this evolution. The real space that the company requires the focus is how to augment the two for its greater benefit and the benefit of those it strives to serve and going back to the simple questions is where it starts.

What is the best way to use machine technology and platforms to assist and expedite growth when these tools are coupled with the smart and agile minds of the organisation?

Under the operational model the company needs to let go of being the problem solver and become specialists in how to clearly define the problem needing to be solved. They need to become havens for defining what they really need to innovate to achieve their desired product or service and in turn how to clearly articulate this to the crowd.

The company needs to let go of being the problem solver and becoming specialists in how to clearly define the problem needing to be solved.

The crowd then becomes the innovators and the problem solvers.

Once the solution or innovation is sourced, the company must be prepared and setup to bring that innovation back into the organisational fold, to tweak and personalise the functionality to fit within the real service offering required.

It means the companies core focus is predominantly where it always should be; focused on what the client, market segment or industry its serving really wants and needs. More so focused how they can best deliver that in a timely manner.

It means that the success game will shift from being company’s that lead because they have the best talent, to company’s leading because they ask the best questions and can clearly define the specific needs of their target client. In the crowdsourcing of talent, everyone has an equal platform, the difference in outcome relies purely on the parameters given to be solved.

One of the most exciting (and interesting) aspects of this is that in so many instances the best solution does not actually come from the typical skill set or person an organisation would have hired for the purpose. This has been shown in countless examples to date, and will no doubt continue to trend in this direction. When single mums in London can deliver a coding improvement over all the qualified engineers and a student in India can invent major environmental advancements the social impact of organisations outsourcing innovation far outreaches pure commercial gain.

Now that governments all around the globe are taking restrictive steps with visa’s of skills workers, it is time for organisations to step up and recognise that governments might have authority to make these decisions, but as founders, leaders and individuals we have the real power to decide how and where innovation comes from and how much of it we want to have flowing through our workforce. ­­­


You can find yourself a copy of ‘Machine, Platform & Crowd’ on Amazon by clicking here 

Before We Flow

Inspiration

“Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable. Every step towards the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering and struggle”.  ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

Motivation

Have we been so seduced by perfection that we have forgotten the beauty of struggle?


Before We Flow

Over the past ten years, there has been a group of Neurologists that have been studding the science and biology of flow states. That mystical state of being where you lose time, where you are in the “zone”, where everything has a new beat, a perfect rhythm, where it all flows. Flow is deep creative expression. Flow is inspiration. Flow is pure focus. Transcendence.

It’s truly a fascinating space, like a sneak peak into a part of humanity that we have all known, but never quite understood. One of the most interesting discoveries is that flow has stages. Four stages in fact. There is a preparation (like an education), there is the struggle (turning what you have learnt into a practical reality, taking risk) there is a the flow (where the meeting of what you know and what you do are greater than their individual parts and you transcend your perception of your own ability) and then there is a stage of recalibration, like a resting.

I want to talk a little about the struggle.

When thinking about the impacts that social media has on our lives, the newly found access to one another’s lives that the Internet has opened for us in recent time has confronted us with the overt proliferation of fake news. Not the fake news/ alternative facts from the actual news corporations (that’s a totally different topic) but the fake life stories that flood our news feeds and make up the majority of all social platforms, the ones that come from everyday people.

I’m talking about the touched up selfie (#iwokeuplikethis), the manufactured shots, the product placement that fills peoples lives with things that are not even theirs, that they pretend are (#ad the least used hashtag on the internet!), the overly groomed, best view, polished, exciting, social, adventurous dream lives that flicker into view daily.

It got me to thinking about what potential deeper impacts this is having on us culturally. Obviously, as a million articles already published will tell you, it’s probably hurting our relationship with ourselves, and reality, but I’m not so sure this is the worst of it.

The age of FOMO has turned into the age of FAKE. It is fake, not because of the impossible image of perfection it portrays but because this mass misrepresentations of life denies the existence of any struggle to get it.

As cliché as it is, good things take time, energy and effort to create. Good lives, take time energy and effort, loss, mistakes, misunderstanding, wasted time, messy endings and hurt to create.

I should preface, I am not anti social media. I actually love the power and potential that social media has to offer the world. If ever there was a time in history that we could say “power to the people” it most certainly is now. I marvel that I live in a time where all the “people” are actually connected on a freely available truly democratic interconnected energetic link.

But let’s be real here, socially speaking, things are not going so great in the world. Globally, more than eight hundred thousand people commit suicide every single year. This is an epidemic. How can so many people be ending life at their own choice on the very (scarily) common notion of “I’m not good enough”. Do you stop to ask, “good enough compared to what?” What are they comparing themselves to?

People are comparing themselves to what they see most.

The most powerful tool ever created for positive social change has turned into the most powerful tool for the inciting of crazy misperceptions of how reality is and more so the kind of reality we should be striving for.

It is causing so many people to feel that because they struggle to meet this perfection, they are somehow unworthy of life.

When reality for many people is not even close to this image they strive for. Reality for so many is figuring out how to simply survive day to day. Faced with this stark disparity day in day out, people end up believing that they are doing life wrong. That the inability to meet this impossible standard translates to not being worthy of life.

If you deny the struggle you deny the flow. If the very act of struggling is banished to the dark corners of life, in private places, where it can’t be seen or acknowledged, then life will never meet flow. Life without flow is depressed, repressed and unexpressed.

If this were the end of the story, it would be kind of easy. Easy to find a solution, but no, as this topic suggests nothing about this is easy.

The problem with suppressing the struggle is you become a victim of it. As soon as you fail to acknowledge that the act of struggling has real purpose in both public and private life, you begin to suffer.

Suffering is expressed in many ways, but more commonly as martyrdom. It is expressed as trolls, lies, victimization, abuse, addiction, aggression and destructive vindictive behavior. Suffering has become the hash tag to modern life. The seduction of suffering is the drama. Drama generates attention, a behavior that is reinforced daily in our news feeds. Seeking attention through drama is the misappropriation of a real human need. The need to be truly seen, as you are by others. The need to be vulnerable as a human and connect with other humans means countless interpersonal struggles, drama and suffering is the empty ended shortcut to this need.

There is a difference between suffering and struggling. I think we all know this. I think we understand as beings, that suffering is when we are denied the basic means to survive. Everything else, every other uncomfortable experience is a struggle, in the name of learning, in the name of progression or in the pursuit of passion and love.

Could we start looking at struggling as a gateway to flow? Could we start seeing the beauty in the mess? Could it be that if we embrace the difficult, messy, imperfect path we take to growth with open arms, open minds and open hearts ready to work for our own kind of bliss, we will set a new benchmark for beauty?

Martin Luther King Jnr once said “Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom.” My favorite line of this quote is “And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom.”

We work for our freedom each time we struggle for our flow.

 


For more info on flow states & the science of flow check out this page.

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In Culture We Trust

Inspiration –  

Listening to Terence McKenna talk about trust. Why it’s so hard to trust ourselves and the world as a whole. Felt relevant given the ongoing status of “fake news” & ever growing acceptance of ballshit as a socially acceptable form of communication.

Mindset – 

Why is it so dam hard for me to fit into the way the world works? Why does it bother me so much?


In Culture We Trust

Terence McKenna once said, “culture is not reality, it’s just mass accepted hallucination”. I think about this a lot.

I have always struggled with the cultural way of the world. It’s never ever made sense to me. The way cultural rules seem to decide huge directional decisions in our lives… and how people just accept this. The social status decided when you are an adult, the course of who & how we should love & what is “legitimate” within love, how we should speak, what success is, what is cool.. it goes on.

Don’t think for yourself, just wait for the green light.

Then you add the most frightening layer – when culture is made into law & dictates whom we can legally persecute.

If you stop to think just how many laws fit into this category right now, it’s actually frightening. I would like to blame this misuse of law making power for my underlying anarchist tendencies, but it would leave me with little grounding since so much of the way society works is wrapt up in abiding to this social norm.

What it really makes me wonder is what ever happened to respecting our ability to understand and know, what we feel, what we need, and how we want to exist in the world?

What ever happened to our divine gift to actually choose our own individual experience? If we had complete ability in the use of this gift of choice, would we still choose what society and culture has enforced on us? Do I even trust myself enough, to exist free of the constructs of culture? Is it even possible to do so?

This topic always leaves me with far more questions than answers, humbled by how little I know of myself and the basis of my own actions. It shows me just how much more I need to dig through the way I am, to uncover that which is inherently me, separate to that which has been enforced upon me and implanted in me though exposure to a construct of cultural norm that I never actually chose to make my own in the first place.

If you would like to listen to Terence speak on this topic click here.