Clarity & Sovereignty

Inspiration –  “The truth is not simple it’s just profoundly clear” – Forrest Landry

 

Sovereignty is a deep seeing and honouring of what’s true and real within us.

It’s freedom of compassion, of empathy & creativity. The ability to make sense of the world and live with agency over our thoughts, choices & actions.

Whatever path you are walking towards your sense of self being, in whatever way that is working for you, is a kind of evolutionary path to increasing your individual sovereignty. It is a journey inward away from the conditioning that keeps us small to an enabling of  the larger, ever emerging potential of who we are.

The personal freedom to no longer be the protagonists of the movie of (your version) of the world, so you create one where you are alive to the joy of replenishing the natural ecosystem you live in.

The freedom to stop playing your life though the filters of a win/loose game and simply start living. Creating. Replenishing.

Others can help us be sovereign by helping us remember who we really are.

By helping us see past what we have identified with as us, so we can see through to the foundation of us, that of our truth and potential.

Even when we are aware of our identity filters, we often fall into the trap of wanting approval or behaving in a way that seeks out the reaction we want from others, to elevate our mood or status in line with them. In these interactions we often maintain and sustain a limited self. Trying to present the version of ourselves that gets the reaction we want, but it’s always at a cost of being heard, seen and ultimately the potential for a real connection.

What ends up happening when we behave and make sense of the world from a perspective that is disconnected and limited, is we lose our way.

If we want to be in continuity with others, we first must be so with ourselves.

If we want to change the reaction, we must change the action.

If we want to change the expression, we have to change the root.

Individual Sovereignty is the root. The founding path to building an interior ecosystem of continuity. So, each individual has the founding capacity, wisdom and vision to create an ecosystem that is inclusive, replenishing and set’s others up to thrive.

As Forrest Landry said. “The truth is not simple it’s just profoundly clear”, learning what the truth is, starts with gaining a clarity of self.

 


Notes:

 

1. With respect to the word truth – I have taking an excerpt from Forrest’s website to explain how we use it in this context. You can read further about this here.
Truth is more than “that which one can consider” (perceive) with total confidence, clarity, and certainty.

Truth is that with which one can personally act with total confidence and effectiveness. Truth is not so much about correctness in thinking as it is about the significance and efficiency of choice. It is not so much about perceptual certainty as it is about expression with clarity, effectiveness, and confidence.

One knows truth as much through the process of feeling as through the process of thought. It is only when both feeling and thinking are used together that one may know Truth.

2. If you would like further reading on defining the concept of human sovereignty you can find some here

Artwork: 
Brett Whitley – Self portrait in the studio 1976

Whiteley’s tiny mirror self-portrait reflects the influence of Eastern art in his portrayal of man as merely part of a larger landscape. However, this painting also hints at a darker side, as Wendy Whiteley explained in 1995:

… he was warning himself and other people watching. It was the cage of his interior, his addiction, the window or a glimpse of possible escape into paradise: the escape from one’s psyche.

This painting won the Archibald Prize in 1976 and was acquired by the Art Gallery NSW in 1977.

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.

 

Image

The Ironic Truth

Inspiration

“We’re so complex; we’re mysteries to ourselves; we’re difficult to each other. And then storytelling reminds us we’re all the same.” Brad Pitt.

Motivation

Understanding – is that how to tell our truth?


The Ironic Truth

You know those moments when someone tells you something deeply personal, particularly heart braking and overtly confronting about their past, where you are left, with a feeling of being powerless to respond, so you say… I am sorry. I’m sorry that happened to you, I’m sorry you went through that, I’m sorry.

Sometimes this can be a considered reply, and the right reply for the moment, however, much of the time it is a stop gap, of sorts, a way to bridge over your real, internal (usually uncomfortable) reaction to the information being presented. Maybe with good intention, say, to not offend, or not upset or isolate someone you care about through your reaction. What’s interesting and paradoxical about this situation, is that the apology should probably come from the person telling the story.

Let me explain.

As the person telling the story, the one telling the truth of your life, of your circumstance, of your heartbreak or pain, take a moment now to think about how much time you have had to consider this truth. Not only the actual instance that caused it, but also how much time you have had to consider, process and get comfortable with other peoples reactions to it. In fact, it’s not new. By the time you say it, even for the first time, you have probably thought deeply, openly and at length about how you will feel if some one doesn’t understand, how you would react if someone does, and all of the potential in betweens.

On the other hand, you have the person listening, for the first time. They have never been confronted by this exact piece of information before. They don’t understand your relationship to the trauma of it and they don’t really understand their own. Even if in the moment they get the feeling that it impacts or activates their own internal daemons, they don’t really know how, why or what to do with that just yet. What I am proposing is, that this moment, right here, requires deep empathy from the story teller.

Being a better story teller is something I would like to be in my life, and thinking about the audience in this way, makes me consider how I can use understanding within that. How by framing, preempting understanding and personalising your narrative opens hearts and ears, so instead of shutting down an experience with an I’m sorry, you leave your audience, loved one, friend or stranger open to a conversation. Invite them to become a participant in the evolution of the story itself. Creating an exchange that is both deeply meaningful and truly honest. Which is, in essence, connection.

Is it that being understood starts with being understanding?

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.