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.

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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?

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A Dance With My Future Lover

Inspiration –

“If you had to envision your most remarkable life, what would any random day of that look like” Milton Glaser

Mindset – 

I love this task, writing a day in your life, of the most remarkable life you could imagine. I found it truly liberating and so full of self love. Here is an excerpt from my story, focused on a morning with my future lover..


A Dance With My Future Lover

Sundays always feel so good. Sundays in summer, well they feel even better, you know when you wake and can already feel the sunshine, even in the dim light of my room, and I feel the summer happening right outside the window.

On these summer mornings I find it so easy to wake up and immediately smile. The air and the heat and the dim light in my room, and the instant knowing that the day is full of vibrancy. Even more so on days like this when he is home. I turn slowly, softly, almost not moving a single layer of fabric on the bed to let my eyes take him in.

There is so much to be said of time apart. Most people go on about “I miss you” or cry out “you missed this” but that’s not me. I said it from the very start, and even before we met, I knew this. I would never miss you, if you were away, you were pursuing your life, and your dreams, and your passions in the world and you need to be in that for yourself, to be the version of yourself that I want to wake up and love (and make love to) and love some more. So as I lay here, and my eyes take you in, I feel such gratitude to have you close knowing that I appreciate it, you & us with deep reverences for not just our time together but also the time we are apart, it is the two that creates this.

It strikes me with a little nervousness, which never goes away, how deeply I love you. I watch you. Sometimes, like now, when you are sleeping and don’t know I’m looking I look away because I feel a little creepy! It is so palpable that I could eat it. It’s something I consume as much inside me as it is a concept in front of me. “I am in love with you”, I say in my head.

He is trouble, but the kind that you choose.

I contemplate waking you, which would be almost 100% selfish, but I contemplate it anyway. With a little smirk, I think if you only knew how kind I am to you… I slowly move to get up out of the bed. But before I do, I lean over, and just above your cheek bone, between the cut of your beard and the resting place of your eyelashes, I gently, slowly let my lips hit that small bit of your face that seems the size that is made just for them. My mind may not have missed you but my lips sure did.

I slide out of bed, the tug of my morning rituals calling. I like that you sleep later than me, I like that I get the morning to find my pace, some space and I like not talking before meditating and coffee.

10.05am. Ok, now, I can go wake my man. Not that I’m counting down the minutes.. ok, I’m counting down the minutes. There is never a day, he is here and I don’t feel this little pang of newness and nervousness within that. I honestly don’t think I believed I was even capable of really loving someone openly and consciously until well into my 30’s. I was forced to look at the fundamentals in my being, and I was so closed to love, like being loved, loving and trusting someone, a man even worse than women, it was so far removed from me, like 3 degrees of separation. I could tell you all about it, I could see it in others, I could imagine its vividly, but to do, to act, to be that. No way. So in a sense, it is new. It’s new for me. New to love; new love. I try, and I think succeed to be so kind to it. To myself within it, to shower him with kindness, understanding and open hearted truth. Radical honesty we call it.

I walk up the hall, and into my dim bedroom, I can feel him, his energy is so large, I feel him as soon as he is in my space, he has a presence even when he sleeps. It’s remarkable, that someone could have so much life that even in rest they fill a room. It is surly one of the things I love most about him. This touchable, presence that people don’t quite know what to do with. He turns it up and down and opens it and closes it off, it’s a mastery, a performing art I’m awed by, in a kind of uncomfortable way that makes me both swoon and nervous at the same time. He knows, that despite all my strength, he can bring me on a journey (one I often surrender to) into a world of emotion and feeling I never knew possible, at the flicker of a look or the tilt of an arm. He captivates me. I obviously don’t let him know this all the time. Ha, one must maintain a sense that he could indeed not move me so, but he has me so twisted and I choose him every single time.

As I walk into the room I throw off my tee, because, there is simply nothing better than the feeling of his hands on my naked back. It’s the way he moves my hair I think, or the way he puts his hand around the back of my neck, or the way he pulls me close, like I’m never close enough, or just all of them. Whatever way, it is bliss.

I lay next to him on the bed, and run my hand over the side of his face, up through his hair and down his neck. He smiles without opening his eyes & mumbles, hmm hello baby. I melt. I kiss his face and I run my hand over where I kissed, up through his hair and down his neck again.. “I’ve missed you” he says, eyes still closed.. “I didn’t miss you” I reply back with a smile.. he opens one eye, to see me smile.

He once told me, when he was on the phone, he was in Singapore, and we were not really even together yet, we were connected, but not yet committed to any connection we felt in any real way. Ok, I totally was, but he was not and that was ok. He said “the very first time I saw you smile changed my life” I was surprised, It was random in the middle of a unrelated conversation, and I replied, “oh…” and he continued, “you have this smile that is so consuming, you light up a whole room with it, your soul, your whole soul sparkles and you can see it in your eyes and your mouth and your face and it took my breath away, I felt changed, to see your smile, it changed me”. He always has such a way with words. I have thought of this many times when I see him, see me smile. Its like a self-fulfilling prophesy, one I deeply love.

He smiles, at me smiling at him, “come here” he grabs me, and pulls me in, under his arm, his hand on my neck, down my back, my heart on his heart, I start to beat to a whole new rhythm, his dance, our dance, this music, its everything.

He holds me close as he slowly wakes up, we giggle, and chat a little, and he marvels at how many things I manage to get done before he wakes. Then he lifts my head, to meet his eyes. I could live in there, that kind of clutter of eyelashes and deep dark gaze. Everything in my life is minimal except this complicated messy, dark handsome being who is anything but. He kisses me in a way that makes my heart skip beats, and go out of time, which he has learnt in the past, to look out for, like an indication of achievement of his kissing me, and he smiles with satisfaction and kisses me once more.

There is not a part of this mans body I don’t want, nor a part of mine he cant have and that is the way we make love.

If the space together and apart is what makes us so strong, what makes me continue to fall in love over and over again has to be the little things. The little things he does only for me. It’s about consideration and care. The care he puts into what he does for me. It is the thing that really caught me in the start, that he is a man of action & his actions towards me have always been so intentional and so deeply kind. He does these little things, like say, take me to a particular café for brunch because he researched and found that they are the ones that use the eggs I love most. But he wont tell me he has done this, he will wait and watch me as I figure it out, like little golden kisses of consideration scattered into my life. When I do see them, his eyes and his energy show how this is an act of vulnerability for him. Sometimes he will send me flowers, but for the summer solstice or the first day of spring, sometimes it’s a little trinket or hand made item he picked up on his travels that comes with him telling me an elaborate story just to make it all that more special when he gives it to me. Mostly, like every other day, he will do something with the soul purpose of just making me laugh, such a true gift. When I think about him, with me, the creation of a uniting ‘us’, I think about the amount of time he spends in consideration of what he gives me, and our us, it is so personal, and so very meaningful. He see’s me and turns what he sees into a continuous action of kindness.

Making love to him gives me freakish amounts of energy – really, it’s not normal. So I jump up, say “good morning” with a huge smile and go to walk out to shower and start the day. He grabs my hand as I walk past, and pulls me in to kiss me, hands on my body, my skin tingles under each touch. I smile, kiss him on the cheek, just above his cheekbone in that little spot where his eyelashes meet his face and there is just enough room for my lips. I love you, he whispers. I look him in the eyes and say. I’m glad you are home.

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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 

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Chocolate Five Ways

Inspiration

“When you reach the end of what you should know, you will be at the beginning of what you should sense.”

~ Kahlil Gibran

Motivation

Could the slow, but eventual death of sugar consumption, be the birth of truly delicious desserts?


Chocolate Five Ways

Recently the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a statement that, for the first time, supports a vast amount of science about why we all (especially children) shouldn’t be eating sugar.

The new WHO guideline recommends adults and children reduce their daily intake of “free sugars” to less than 10% of their total energy intake. That equates to about 25 grams of sugar intake per day. With the guidelines reaching further to say that children under the age of two, should have zero added sugar. Free sugars refer to monosaccharide’s (glucose, fructose) and disaccharides (sucrose or table sugar) that are added to foods. The recommendations were made based on the now mounting evidence of the link between preventable diseases, like diabetes and neurodegenerative disorders and the consumption of added processed sugars and artificial sweeteners.

I have to admit I was pretty excited about this announcement. Long since being convinced of the impacts of sugar on the brain. If you are into the science you can view an extensive file of resources and articles here.

So this leaves us all with a very important question… What should we eat for dessert!!

To help with this modern day problem, I decided to put together this list of my most simple to make, delicious chocolate recipes to share with you. This has been an ongoing request from friends, and it is with great pleasure that I contribute to your keeping of the sweet life, without of course, causing you the long-term health issues that too much sugar will create.

I highly recommend keeping a solid supply of these recipes on hand at all times!

 

Rich Chocolate Truffles

Chocolate-truffles

These small round treats are full to the brim with good medium chain fats, which have been shown to improve cognitive function, alertness and overall ability to focus. Got an exam, big workday or busy day running after your children, stash a few of these with you and consume at will.

Ingredients

  • 500g cashews – soaked over night in water
  • 30g of (organic) cacao butter
  • 5 tbl spoons of (raw organic) cacao powder
  • 4 tbl spoons of (organic) rice syrup
  • Almond meal for coating (or anything you desire)

Method

(You need to start this recipe a day in advance)

  1. Soak the cashews overnight – then drain liquid.
  2. While soft, blend in a blender or food processor (vitamix / food processor best – but normal bender is ok). Blend until they form a soft paste. They will appear a little crumbly (you can also keep them chunky if you like more texture) and a little.

TIP: The best way to get them totally smooth and creamy is to blend in small batches. Once blended to your liking, empty mix into a bowl

  1. Place a bowl over a pot of boiling water, and melt the cacao butter. Once melted mix in the cacao powder & rice syrup, it should be a paste like consistency
  2. Mix the chocolate paste into the nut mix until you get a clumpy, thick consistency then take portions as big or small as you want & roll into balls in your hands.
  3. Coat the balls in the almond meal & put in the fridge on a baking paper lined tray and allow 20 minutes to set then.
  4. Eat!

 

Chocolate Coconut Puddings

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This is the perfect dinner party dessert or if you are like me and have no limits on when you eat chocolate, a wonderful breakfast bowl!

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp of grass fed gelatin (or your preference of plant based equivalent)
  • 400 mls organic coconut cream
  • 50grms organic raw cacao powder
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons of raw honey or maple syrup
  • 150g whipped coconut cream
  • Your choice of toasted nuts, seeds and chocolate dusted coconut (pictured) to serve

Method

  1. Combine gelatin with three tablespoons of water in a small bowl and allow to sit for five minutes until the granules have softened and expanded.
  2. In a plan over medium heat, place coconut milk, cacao powder, cinnamon, honey (or maple), whisk to combine. Bring the mixture just to a simmering point and then remove from the heat.
  3. Add the gelatin to the warm coconut mixture and stir until it dissolves. Then transfer the mixture into your ramekins of choice and set in the fridge for one hour.
  4. Serve sprinkled with your choice of topping, whipped coconut cream and dust with a little extra cacao powder.

 

The Worlds Best Chocolate Smoothie

Chocolate-smoothie

Eating a liquid breakfast is an easy way to kick start your brain without slowing down your body’s digestive system. This smoothie is packed with goodness and tastes like a rich chocolate milkshake!

Ingredients:

  • 1 x organic pasture fed egg yolk
  • 1 x tablespoon hulled tahini
  • 1 x table spoon rice syrup
  • 1 x teaspoon essential greens (I use ISO Whey unsweetened green powder, however you can use anything that is pure, unsweetened (no stevia) & organic)
  • 1/2 teaspoon organic vanilla powder
  • 2 table spoons raw organic cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons of MCT oil (I use Bulletproof Brain Octane Oil)
  • 1 cup Organic almond mylk (please use organic, pure almond mylk, so many nasty things in mass produced nut mylks) you could also use other dairy alternatives like Coconut milk or Cashew mylk.

Method:

  1. Mix egg yolk, tahini, rice syrup, greens & vanilla in a small bowl until combined (will look a little like a caramel paste).
  2. Add in the cacao and MCT oil and combine to make a chocolate paste.
  3. In your blender, combine the chocolate paste and almond mylk (or your choice of liquid) and blend for 1 minute.
  4. Drink & smile because it tastes delicious!

 

Double Chocolate Oat Cookies

cookies-1

Who doesn’t love cookies, and more so who doesn’t love eating them guilt free! These delicious cookies are a great afternoon snack or a health treat for the kids.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of organic gluten free Quick Oats
  • 1.5 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 tbsp psyllium husk
  • ½ teaspoon organic vanilla powder
  • ½ cup organic raw cacao powder
  • 85grams organic (pasture fed) butter
  • 80grams organic rice syrup
  • 100 grams chopped dark sugar free chocolate (I used 80% raw dark organic chocolate sweetened by coconut sugar)

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180 C / 356 F and line a baking tray with baking paper.
  2. Place all the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl & stir to combine.
  3. Mix the wet ingredients together in a small bowl until combined and add the wet mixture to the dry one.
  4. Mix with a spoon until combined then using our hands mix the ingredients together, rubbing the oats and wet ingredients together so they are soaking up the liquid and become soft. The trick is to get the oats nice and soft.
  5. Once combined roll about 1-2 table spoons into a ball and softly flatten with your fingers – keep them quite thick, for delicious end results.
  6. Place on trey and cook for 15-18 minutes (16 minutes was probably perfect for my oven, so you may need to play with this depending on your oven)
  7. Take off hot trey as soon as they come out of the oven & onto wire cooking rack so they don’t keep cooking.
  8. I can highly recommend eating these when they are hot!!

 

Crunchy Chocolate Trail Mix

chocolate-granola

Snack the right way with this delicious salty sweet mix that will keep you feeling good guilt free. Personally I prefer not to leave home without a little stash of chocolate crunch in my bag!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups mixed organic almonds, cashews, pecans, walnuts and pepitas, roughly chopped
  • 3 cups coconut flakes
  • 2 tablespoons cacao nibs
  • 1 cup of organic rice puffs
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 2 teaspoons rice malt syrup
  • 1/2 cup raw cacao powder
  • 1 teaspoon of sea salt

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 120ºC / 250°F and line a baking tray with baking paper.
  2. Combine all ingredients except the salt together in a large bowl, making sure all the nuts and are coated in chocolate/ coconut oil/ rice syrup mix, then spread evenly on the tray. Then, sprinkle the sea salt overtop of the mixture.
  3. Bake for about 20-25 minutes until golden, turning halfway through the cooking time. They will go dark, which is a sign of impending crunch!
  4. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
  5. Store it in an airtight container in the pantry for up to 2 weeks
  6. TIP – this tastes GREAT on the Chocolate Coconut Puddings mentioned above!!

 

Having amazing sweet treats in your life need not be bad for you, nor difficult to make yourself at home. Be creative, mix up the ingredients, add spices and herbs that you love and mix and match flavours.

Here is to you living the most delicious life possible, one chocolate treat at a time.

Surprise

Feature Image – Incredible artwork by Mike Dargas (mikedargas.com). Yes, it’s a painting!! 

Inspiration

“Passion gives me moments of wholeness.” ~ Anais Nin

Motivation

Spontaneous thoughts on the topic of love


Surprise

Take a deep breath, let it out, take another and as you exhale, bring to mind a time when you have been deeply pleasantly surprised. When something tickled your imagination because the world presented it to you before you had imagined it, seen it or dreamed it elsewhere.

Last week I was home with my little boy, in the morning he woke, and I didn’t hear him walking to my room, so just as I opened the door, he also was opening the door. We both screamed and then two seconds later we both burst out laughing, the pure joy, of the feeling of surprise washing over the morning and our hearts. There is a bliss found in this moment that is unlike any other. A vulnerable moment where the environment conspires to push you over the comfort cliff into pure vulnerability and then catches you right before you hit fear. It’s a complete moment of pure surrender.

It got me thinking about acts of unexpected event in our lives. In a romantic context, could there be anything more sensual than being taken on a path of surrender to a point of delight that is both unexpected and considered at the same time. When a lover takes the time to attend to the details of your experience, pushing you into the unknown all the time holding you safe in their guidance. It’s trust, in motion. It is deep consideration in action. It is magic. It is also, dare I say, out of fashion.

When I think about modern dating (I’m not going deep into this topic, because it isn’t the point here) it doesn’t really have much of any surprise attached to it. Spontaneous experience does not live in the realms of dating app algorithms nor does it live in dinner and a movie. No such surrender lives in the rules of contact, the “I’ll meet you there” or the “it’s a numbers game”. I’m not insulting any of these realities, they exist and have their place, but I cant help but question, that if there is no surprise, if the spontaneity is gone, has the bliss of unexpected sensual delight gone with it?

It is not hidden that the construct of traditional marriage style relationships are not going so great. The divorce rate is now past 50% of all marriages in the western world. It gets me to wonder if part of the reason this is the case is that by the very nature, a marriage style relationship is founded on consistency and routine. When meeting and experiencing time with another is so devoted to your own set of rules and accommodation of habits of when, what and how things should play out, does that come at the cost of never really surrendering?

So what could this look like?

Step one, you have to think about the person, what they like, the things they have said, the things they do in passing, what opens their mind, heart and world to joy. Step two, you have to research; search out and find ways, places and people that bring these things to life. Step three, you have to really consider how this person will feel about all parts of the experience. You have to deeply empathise with them, and take time to consider how they see the world. Step four, you have to think about details, the little things that sparkle and give depth. You really need to take the time to make sure that everything is conspiring with you to bring forth the true depth of experience you want to bestow on your lover. Step five, you have to be creative, to bring the timing, presence and circumstance into play. Step six, you have to let go of any expectation and make the whole experience about the other person. Step seven, you have to listen, watch and hold space for them through the whole experience.

When you really consider what it takes to truly delight someone you care for, in surprise, it is in fact the personification of deep connection.

Step one. Consideration. Step two. Effort. Step three. Empathy Step four. Attentiveness. Step five. Creativity Step six. Selflessness. Step seven. Kindness.

 

Surprise-2

As the giver it takes vulnerability, but is there any sensuality in life without this? It takes a deeply passionate gesture to bring someone out of the grasps of self-control safely into the arms of surrender and back down to earth again softly. Perhaps this is what Anais was speaking to when she said “Passion gives me moments of wholeness.”

I tend to lean towards this being something you practice at all stages of a relationship; as strangers, as intimate partners, as long time companions.

The incredible author Paulo Coelho once said, “The world is changed by your example, not by your opinion” and in the dating world, where experience has somehow been distilled down to three or four standard options of activity you have a choice. We can choose to tell people all about how show up in the world all while fitting into the status quo; or we could simply do something to surprise them.

The flip side of this is. You also must be open to receive.

As with all deeply loving actions, the benefits for the giver are exceptional.

Inspiration, originality and creativity breads more inspiration, originality and creativity. It also breads energy, excitement, focus, worth and positive bias.

Seems like a good deal to me.

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The Death Of Time

Inspiration –

“…and time is the stuff of which a self is made.” ~ Mohsin Hamid

Motivation –

Who is really in the decision seat of my perception of time?

The Death Of Time

At the current rate of innovation and my current rate of willingness to try new kinds of risky, cool things (and generally mess with my biology), my estimate is that I will live until the grand age of 156 years old.

By innovation I’m talking about human longevity and the rapid pace at which health and our understanding of the human system is increasing. I should note that collective adoption rate is never in direct correlation to understanding in anything. So I’m talking about the human longevity projects really pushing the bounds of imagination and for some comfort (you can read about some here & here if you are interested) that are still perhaps not widely discussed or getting lots of press.

Before I gave it much thought, I was automatically programmed to just assume like I think most people do, that the end of my life would be some time between 80-90 years.

I think this assumption was built over my lifetime of listening to the averages. The statistical data that is fed to us constantly, without real context, or taking into consideration choice. We end up subscribing to it as unconscious fact, and then that fact somehow gets twisted into belief, which then becomes a kind of pathological “knowing” or our “truth”.

Every major goal or purpose I wanted to pursue in life had been forced to fit within this timeline. Which basically means that everything I had done in my life thus far had been set and measured around a time line I had never really considered, verified, questioned or chosen.

Last year I read a book called “how to get filthy rich in rising Asia” by Mohsin Hamid. It is really a great book. It’s about death. Or more so the life lived before death happens and it has me asking some questions around how I have been measuring time in my life. How old is the age I internally set my creative motivation clock by? Or more so, how much time do I think I have to live a purposeful life?

Digging into the current conversation and innovation on human longevity is really quite wonderful. I already have a love of psychics, and the discoveries being uncovered around cellular health and DNA and how connected mind, body and energy is within all this in every little atom of our existence is truly sci-fi psychics fabulous. Only it’s not sci-fi, it’s real.

I really took a deep dive into the research, attended conferences, and read a whole heap, on the many aspects of longevity (including vitality, consciousness and genetics) and within this I came to the decision that I can make it to 156 (that’s the year 2135). If the earth will make it to 2135 is another conversation entirely, for another day.

A lot of focus is given to what we want to “do” with our lives, even more towards how “purposeful” of a life that doing creates. But how often do we get called to take a step back even further and consider within what framework are we making these decisions?

I think it would be easy to look the investment and focus on advancement in the human longevity space as being somewhat, shallow. Perceived as a group of smart people, spending time and money on research that is seemingly trying to obtain the fountain of youth. But what about the very real and exciting consequences of such research, one of which is to finally light up the pressing need for the whole of society to seriously take a step back and consider exactly how much of their time is spent apathetically living in resignation to a prescript of how much time you are spending doing things, making choices and living in a particular way, purely because you have not questioned it.

I agree with the futurist Kevin Kelly, when he says that we all only have a limited amount of attention to give and this fact is one that wont change much in the future, even if life is elongated. The more time passes, the more and more things there will be in the world vying for that attention. So the choices you make about your time, how much you have, how you use it, and what you can do to create more of it, are really some of the most important responsibilities we have as individuals.

I think the first choice we need to make, as a foundation to our living, is if time is going to be a choice we make, or one that is made for us.