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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 🙂

 

 

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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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Our Dark Teacher

Inspiration:

“Allow the heart to empty itself of all turmoil” – The Tao Te Ching

Motivation:

How do we find gratitude for our darkest teacher? Who are the people who teach us the lessons we didn’t want to learn?


Our Dark Teacher

Sometimes I forget just how much generosity it takes to simply be ourselves.

We moderate, regulate, and over compensate to be something. What? It is likely if we were asked in that moment, of trying and changing and compensating, what we were aiming for, we would not know. More like that, less like this, or just this, only in this other way. We find ourselves contorting around an endless road of participation in something that has neither a means nor an end in the truth of who we really are or even aspire to be.

It takes a deep sense of giving to openly allow ourselves to surrender to the truth of where we are, when where we are is not close to the potential of where we would dream to be. It is an omnipresent need in the times when what we are capable of creating does not meet our idealism of creativity. When connections falter, ideals break and time passes to quickly.

So we stumble, and fall. We fail. We get rejected. We don’t meet our own expectations. As we stumble, we remember the dark teacher that pushed us down. As we fall, we remember the one that took the ground from below us as we slept. Confronted by rejection we feel our hearts weep for the time we didn’t ask but were taught, too young, too soon, the feeling of neglect.

The dark teacher is the person, place, time or space sent to educate us on the lessons we never dreamed of, to fill our worlds with experiences that we never asked for and to bring us to our knees with an abusive, neglectful  reality that is too real to look directly in the eyes.

How easy it is to forget just how much generosity it takes to believe that we ourselves are reason enough. How quickly we forget, that we are the ones that need it most. It takes a kind of primal energy, to connect to the place within ourselves, to remember, like a homecoming of sorts, that if our needs are not pinned to our within, we are almost certainly going to go without.

I have often thought about the tightrope we walk, in the face of our own personal honest expression of who we are, what we think and how we want to be in the world. It comes from a narrative of never really fitting in, not at home, not at life. My own fine line to dace between the wanting to be myself and longing to be in communion with another. The balance between the expression of a cold truth and the warmth of acceptance.

Do we let our big dreams of being of service, of creation, of leaving a truthful individual expression of ourselves in the world become the hardest obstacle?

If we surrendered to our own fallibility and forgetfulness and humbly said, I’m sorry, I forgot just how generous I need to be with myself would it empty our hearts of the turmoil that we too often use as a tool to against ourselves through the pursuit of acceptance?

“To know tranquility is to embrace all” says the Tao. I don’t think this was referring to a kind of apathy to the worlds suffering. To embrace all may simply mean to surrender to our own mediocrity as the foundation of our pursuit to find our greatness. Perhaps it is that we are only ever accepted in the world outside with the depth of generosity that we are willing to give to our own self-acceptance.

 

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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.

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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

chocolate-coconut-3
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.

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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.

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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.

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The Business of Connection

Inspiration –

“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable”  ~ JFK.

Mindset –

Our number one responsibility as humans is to love. Our second is to demonstrate this in action.


The Business Of Connection

I was in a meeting this week with six highly intelligent, open minded humans and I said the following phrase… “the new paradigm of business”.

I was given the 12-eye roll salute. 

I left the meeting engulfed in consideration about this reaction. My “New Paradigm” was disregarded as some kind of esoteric, new aged rhetoric.

It got me to thinking how undefined business is right now; how being in business and creating new business in the current moment of time is new territory for all kinds of reasons. It also got me to thinking how more mainstream thought and conversation should be going into the big picture to really take advantage of the change in the individual mindset that’s starting to take place. So I am hear today to start a conversation.

From where I sit I see a kind of access to technology, information and the global marketplace like never before. The traditional limits have been demolished. It’s never been easier to become a business owner. So you can go out and choose; who you want to do business with, how you want to do it & what you want to get paid to do that. You get to write the rules. All good news!

Yet. Many people do not want to own and run their own businesses. Rightfully so. I know first hand, as someone who started my first business at age 19 (cough…17 year ago!), that the risks and investments go far beyond time and money. Many people make incredible careers of far reaching success in contributing their own kind of genius to companies created by others.

Yet it is clear that there is a problem. Gender inequality, pay gaps, minimum wage workers below the poverty line, profit over environmental sustainability, no moral or legal accountability in the chemicals used in products, decisions made simply to improve cost margins, no moral accountability in dealings full stop, are just a few that come to mind when I consider the current state of play.

So where is the solution found?

I am not here to throw in the towel on capitalism. In fact I proudly call myself a capitalist. I am simply a socially minded one.

Capitalism stands as a way for people to have the freedom to create gain from their unique creative outputs. It is a wonderful circle of giving and receiving when applied in a socially minded way.

Real active social capitalism (that’s not socialism – please don’t misunderstand, I mean ‘social’ as in morally, environmentally & economically considerate) is when human kindness, environmental impact and economic accountability are held as equally important as profit.

One would be hard pressed to look around and not see that the profit first, human, environmental & economic impact last mentality has rained supreme for far too long at far too high a cost.

When you break down all the different issues listed above, like gender inequality, pay gaps, minimum wage workers below the poverty line, profit over environmental sustainability and so on, they all share one very big similarity: the business double standard.

‘The business double standard’ can be basically summed up with one commonly used sentence.

“Its business; its not personal”  

I can’t even tell you how many times this line has been used on me over the years when I was sitting on the very wrong end of a deal. It’s a “kill or be killed” approach to business and it’s the socially accepted way to operate in the “business world”.

I just want to point out a couple of things, which instantly come up for me regarding this approach to business.

  • From what I understand & what I believe is supported by a fair majority of the science community, as it stands there is only one world as we know it. Not a supposed “business” one & then another one,  you know the other world where people act with sound moral accountability and respect.
  • If one person is dealing with another person, about decisions that will impact both people – it is, unquestionably a person issue. It’s personal.
  • Most people spend more time working than any other activity – it is a life majority & for almost everyone, it is a means of being able to provide basic living standards for them & their family. That’s pretty personal too.

So now we have established there is no “business world” and separate nice “other world” and we have established that it is undeniably personal.

We also know, this is a big, complex issue. So I’m left asking, what is the better way forward? Where do we start?

I don’t have the total solution for this. A total solution will involve many smart, innovative and creative humans to work together to make major change happen, but I do have some suggested starting points to prepare ourselves and our direct communities & workplaces for this collective future change.

Number one; the most important first step (in my mind anyway), to really begin creating a “solution revolution” is connection.

Arthur Aron of the Interpersonal Relationships Lab at Stony Brook University in New York, created an experiment he called  “The Experimental Generation of Interpersonal Closeness”.

It was constructed of two complete strangers, tasked with asking 36 questions as they sat face to face.

His paper has been taken and used in several high profile studies showing a considerable, and incredible outcome. On completion of the task the majority of participants felt a great (rated high) level of connection to the person they partnered with, (some even fell in love and got married – no joke!) and more so, when participants were asked, they said they would be less likely to commit a hurtful act towards that person, and more so, would go out of their way to help them in the future.

This method, the simplicity, of just asking each other 36 questions, which takes about 45 minutes of time to complete, is a game changer for connection.

So how could this be applied on a large scale?

Imagine a company of 2,000 people, most of whom only really know their immediate peers, and even then, sometimes only on a surface level. Then make this a once a month activity – the last Friday of each month, you are paired with someone you don’t know, and you run through a set of questions. Or 10,000 people from around the globe on Skype calls.

All of a sudden, you start removing the separation and replacing it with communication to create connection and with connection there is collaboration and when people collaborate, great things are created (think Apple – computer hardware people collaborating with computer software people).

This doesn’t even touch on the deep and far reaching social and psychological impact for what is fast being recognized as an over crowded society that feels a sense of deep individual isolation.

On a more personal level, imagine going into business with someone, but first, sitting down for 45 minutes to ask these questions. I have a deep understanding of the importance of the questions you are asked, and that which you ask another, at the meeting point of business relationships & I can tell you with assurance, this simple task is everything.

Connection, human connection, is step number one. 

You can view the questions here 

Don’t feel alone in your fight for change. There are great things already happening. Look at Dan Price at Gravity Payments, for example.

He announced on NBC earlier this year that within a two years of a stepped pay rise plan he will make the minimum wage in his company $70,000 p/a (cutting his own wage from $1.1 million to $70,000 to afford it) because you “simply can not survive on anything less”.

People are calling him a socialist – yet in the first 6 months his company’s growth tripled, profit margins are up & client retention is a staggering 95%. 

The numbers don’t lie. Nor does the public interest – the video aired by NBC of the announcement has become the most watched & shared video in the networks history & Harvard is doing a study tracking the company’s success.  (You can view the video here)

There is a lot of talk about self love & self care, meditation & movement, which is all valid & necessary, but let’s not forget collaboration & connection as key ingredients to a better future for all.

It is not ok to be dishonest, disrespectful to both nature and people nor discriminative in the name of “better business profit” and now is the time to change.

Maybe this shouldn’t be called “The New Paradigm”, maybe this morally accountable, kind hearted, interconnected, collaborative approach to business – should simply be called “Business”.


Note – This blog first appeared on Nabalo – you should check out their site, it’s full of all things wonderful & wellness.