Browsed by
Category: Walk Your Talk

living pono, congruence, authenticity, presence and mana

FAIL BETTER

FAIL BETTER

Another IPS (Inner Peace Symptom):  an understanding that action and failure are two sides of the same coin.  [The trick is to use failure as a signal for a course correction rather than as a stop sign….]

FAILURE HAPPENS

I’ve just devoured a book, FAIL, FAIL AGAIN, FAIL BETTER:  Wise Advice For Leaning Into the Unknown, and it’s left me with a full and satisfied feeling.

This book grew out of the transcript of a commencement address by Pema Chodron, the American Buddhist nun who is also a best-selling author of many wisdom books.

Her teachers have included master Tibetan lamas, Dzigar Kontrul Rinpoche and Sakyong Mipham Rimpoche as well as the late Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche.

At various times since she became a nun in 1981, she served as the director of Karma Dzong in Boulder, Colorado and as the director of Gampo Abbey in Nova Scotia.

The speech from which the book was made was a promise fulfilled.  When her granddaughter Alexandria entered Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado, Ani Chodron told the girl she would give the commencement address when the Alexandria graduated.  This was a large gift.

When her granddaughter graduated in 2014, Chodron presented this speech.  It is based on a quote from Samuel Beckett who advised, “Ever tried?  Ever failed?  No matter.  Try again.  Fail again.  Fail better.

In this clip from an Oprah Winfrey Network “SuperSoul Sunday” episode published as a YouTube video in that same year, Chodron tells a little bit about the speech.

The book that was made from the speech is a graceful, simple thing, but, as is true of a lot of Chodron’s work, the information in it is layered, and it unpacks beautifully.

AN OLD STORY

My favorite bit is when Chodron tells an old Chinese story about an old farmer with a beautiful stallion and a strong and strapping son, both of whom are precious to him.

One day the horse runs away and the farmer’s wife and all their friends in the village moan and groan and tell each other how terrible it is.  The old man says, “Maybe yes, maybe no.”

the-gaze
“The Gaze” (of a wild Mongolian horse) by Marko Knuutila via Flickr [CC BY-2.0]
The next day the horse returns home with a wild mare.  The farmer’s wife and the villagers celebrate and tell each other what a grand thing it is.  Now the farmer and his wife have two horses.  The old man says, “Maybe yes, maybe no.”

The following day, the son decides to try and tame the wild mare.  The horse throws him off her and his leg is broken.  His wife and the villagers wail.  It is a catastrophe!  The old man says, “Maybe yes, maybe no.”

The day after that, the Chinese army comes through the village and conscripts all of the able-bodied men in the village to fight in the latest war.  The son, with his broken leg, stays home….well, you know what the farmer’s wife and the villagers said.  You know what the old man said.

That’s where the old story ends, but you do get the feeling that it probably goes on like that over and over again, ad infinitum, with the old man saying, “Maybe yes, maybe no” while the people around him mill about and react emphatically to every circumstance and situation.

Chodron advises the students to take the old man as a model as they go out into the world to meet whatever is out there for them.

She tells them, “If you can just remember the old man and what he had to say about what is happening, you’ll remember that you never know where something will lead.

GET CURIOUS

Her whole point is that we live in the middle of the Great Mystery.  Nobody knows where life will take us.  Nobody knows how we will grow and develop from moment to moment.

The nun tells the graduating class that it’s a good thing to get curious about your outer circumstances and notice how they impact your internal talk.  That internal talk will be what you carry around with you and it does impact what you do in the world.

Each of us is part of a continuing saga and it sometimes goes well for us and sometimes not.  Nobody can know what happens next.  It unfolds.

mystery-trip
“Mystery Trip” by Przemko Stachowski via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
Chodron advises that if you can avoid getting caught up or lost in the storyline, then there is the possibility that you will learn something about Mystery and about your own self.

You might even get to a space where you can stand still long enough in the rawness and vulnerability of what you feel to actually be able to get past it gracefully and learn the lessons each episode has for you.

From this space, you will be able to communicate the lessons you’ve learned from that to other people.  The event and your feelings about them become a door to a space where you can build something new.

The key to getting into that space where creativity and making can happen is to get curious.  To notice what is happening inside you as well as what is happening outside in the world.  To stand up again after you fall down.  To try again.  To “fail better,” as Beckett says.

This YouTube video, “Get Curious,” published by Sounds True, is a part of Chodron’s speech at the university.

AFTER THE TALK, MORE TALK

After the speech, Chodron agreed to a follow-up interview with Sounds True publisher Tami Simon. This interview, which is another rarity for Chodron, is included in the book.

The teaching unpacks the points Chodron makes in her speech and also offers valuable strategies for working with the outer circumstances of your life to help develop your own inner strength and to reaffirm your own inner goodness.

At one point in all this Ani Pema says, Failure opens an unguarded, vulnerable and wide open space.  And from that space the best part of ourselves come out.

“Vulnerability” by Clive Moss via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
She goes on to explain how the process works and how it feels from the inside.

At the end, Chodron and Simon agree, there is only “Forward.”

FINAL THOUGHTS

My favorite quote from the FAIL, FAIL AGAIN, FAIL BETTER is this:  “Failing better means that failure becomes a rich and fertile ground instead of just another slap in the face.

I do recommend that you get this book.  The lady is wise.

Here’s a poem:


I HAD FORGOTTEN

 

I had forgotten:

wrapped up in

just the facts, m’am,

so busy measuring out

and weighing up

the ashes of old dreams,

caught in the conflagration

of yet another apocalyptic end,

I had forgotten

just how beautiful

the ruins look

and just how much I love

the nicked and dented

lived-in parts of

this life I have made.

 

Sometimes I confuse

the facts for the truth.

A common failing, I suppose.

 

And here I am again

working on being “special.”

 

Silly.

by Netta Kanoho

Header picture credit: “Scraggly Tree Sunrise” by Ken Schwarz via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]

Thanks for your visit.  I’d appreciate it if you’d drop a comment or note below and tell me your thoughts.

Chodron keeps pointing out that it’s never a one-shot deal.  There will be many opportunities for failure and many ways to fall down.   The trick is to work on learning how to use the failures and handle them in better ways.    Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Get Social....
HURRY SICKNESS AND SPARE TIME

HURRY SICKNESS AND SPARE TIME

There used to be a thing called “spare time” which was greatly anticipated and enjoyed by those who had it.  It was the time we had available to do other things than work, developing our hustle-muscle, or striving for S.M.A.R.T. goals.

Spare time nourished us and kept us engaged and enjoying life.

Spare time helped us to thrive in the middle of Life’s inevitable obstacles and challenges.  We were able to find meaning and mana in our ordinary lives because of our spare time.

Where did all the spare time go?

hurry-up
“Hurry Up” by Peter Grob via Flickr [CC BY-ND 2.0]

THE RISE OF HURRY SICKNESS

For many people it’s become a point of pride and a badge of honor now to be “Crazy Busy.”

The adrenaline rush of speeding through many tasks and communications can be addictive.  It feeds our illusion that we are always in high demand, that we’re conquering new territory and moving toward something grand.

The breath-taking pace of technological breakthroughs that help us feed our addiction for effortless speed and “saving time” and keeping up with the all of everything while  checking off to-do lists, hammering goals and piling up accomplishments is revved up and running, raining down every progressive technological wonder upon us and we are entranced.

Along with all the joys and blessings of our rapidly expanding technology, assorted researchers tell us, we are apparently experiencing an epidemic of “Hurry Sickness.”

crosstown-traffic
“Crosstown Traffic” by Bob M via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]

THE MIND-BODY CONNECTION

Hurry Sickness is not some newly discovered phenomenon.  The term was first coined by cardiologist Dr. Meyer Friedman.

Dr. Friedman and his colleague Dr. Ray Rosenman shared a cardiology practice in San Francisco in the 1950’s.  They began studying and writing about the link between behavior and heart disease.

Their then-controversial work introduced the concept of the mind-body connection that is still being investigated and explored by researchers today.

The doctors’ observations were published in a popular 1974 book, TYPE A BEHAVIOR AND YOUR HEART.  It was the start of a whole new field of study for behavior researchers as well as a way to explain a lot about the consequences of human behavior on physical, emotional and mental well-being  to the general public.

It started to turn the focus of their studies towards ways that people could help themselves look for and find ways to greater personal happiness.

“Type A personality” soon became a popular buzzword to describe the driven, tenacious and relentless strivers who were likely to snarl at slow-moving salesclerks and other minions, who were compulsive multi-taskers extraordinaire and often prone to road rage.

More easy-going folks were categorized as “The Type B personality.”

Friedman’s life work was trying to get people with a Type A personality to behave more like people with Type B personality.  He came up with a therapy regimen that was meant to modify Type A behavior.

As the good doctor was fond of reiterating, “You can’t change personalities.  We just try for more B-like behavior.

slow-down-kid
“Slow Down Kid” by Predi via Flickr [CC BY-ND 2.0]

HURRY SICKNESS AND YOU

A YouTube Video published by the London School of Business, Do You Suffer From Hurry Sickness? points out some of the less-extreme symptoms of Hurry Sickness observed by Richard Jolly, a London Business School professor and business coach.

According to Jolly, about 95 percent of the managers he has studied suffer from the illness, which has been defined as the constant need to do more, faster (even when there’s no objective reason to be in such a rush).

Working at breakneck speed for extended periods of time does not enhance productivity; it reduces it,” declares Dr. Edward Hallowell, author of CRAZY BUSY: Overstretched, Overbooked, and About to Snap! Strategies For Coping In a World Gone A.D.D.

Some of Hallowell’s thoughts from the book are presented in this YouTube video, uploaded in 2006 by simplyab.

As Hallowell says in his book, “When we work too fast for too long we get tired, become inefficient, make mistakes, and become unable to think clearly and sharply.”

ANOTHER HIGH-STRESS SCENARIO

Our bodies and minds aren’t meant to endure continual stress.  We get irritable, easily angered and upset from frustration and exhaustion.

Hurry sickness increases the body’s output of the stress hormone cortisol, which suppresses the immune system and has been linked with heart disease.  Blood pressure spikes and eventually remains at an elevated level.  Hearts wear out.

Chronic stress has also been found to trigger allergies, arthritis, obesity, diabetes, depression, anxiety, insomnia, and loss of appetite…it says here.  Running all-out frantic is generally not good for health, productivity or happiness.

slow-down
“Slow Down” by Wil C. Fry via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
When our bodies and our minds stay in a constant state of overstimulation, it’s like being surrounded by lions and tigers and bears that work in shifts.  Survival becomes the order of the day.

When you’re too busy, you don’t do anything well.  Relationships suffer.  Performance at work and productivity suffers.

As Jolly points out, when you are caught up in all of the minutiae of being connected every minute of the day and night, you cannot take the time to slow down a bit and ask the big, really important questions.  You get too frazzled to entertain any creative thoughts.

Worst of all, you don’t enjoy life.  How?  You’re too busy flying from one thing to the next and you just haven’t got the time.  If unchecked, studies have shown, all this jittering can lead to burn-out and depression.

Hurry sickness is not limited to executives and entrepreneurs.

A classic baby boomer children’s book, HURRY HURRY by Edith Thacher Hurd with old-timey illustrations by her husband Clement was a favorite of my children.

In it, a nanny Miss Muggs who is always in a great hurry comes to stay with Suzie while her parents are away.  Little Suzie gets pulled along faster and faster as the nanny’s great hurry leads from one disastrous situation to steadily worse ones.

[The Hurds were one of the children’s literature’s best-known teams in their time.  The book was part of the “I Can Read” book series published by Harper Books.  It came out in 1960 and it’s still a grand read.]

SEED THOUGHTS AND SUGGESTIONS

For real, it is surprisingly simple to overcome Hurry Sickness.  The thing is, it ain’t easy.

The main thing to understand is the wise guys were right.  There are just three things that can help you reach your freedom from busy:

  • Discernment (also known as asking the right questions)
  • Clarity (also known as deciding what and who are most important and necessary for happiness in your life)
  • Selectivity (also known as choosing to say “yes” to what is important to you, and “no” to everything else)

In later posts, I’ll be exploring these three.  I’ll present exercises and such that you can try to help mitigate the effects of Hurry Sickness.  There are all kinds of neat mind-games you can try.  Some of them may work for you.

In the meantime, here’s a list of assorted books that you might like to explore:

slow-down-snail
“Slow Down Snail” by Aftab Uzzaman via Flickr [CC BY-NC 2.0]
Here’s a poem:


WORD IS….

Word is the World’s not fair,

Twists and turns turn dreams to air.

 

[Make a new plan, Fran….

Set a new goal, Cole.]

 

You watch them crumple, bite the dust.

All that’s left is some soggy crust.

 

[Choose a new mark, Lark….

Start a new plot, Scott.]

 

Entropy rules and it don’t care

‘Bout your Big or your share.

 

[Find a new view, Lu….

Try a new trick, Slick.]

 

Time moves on, all in a flurry,

Pushing you to hurry, hurry.

 

[Shape a new deal, Sheil….

Find a new map, Sap.]

 

Proactive-reactive, boom-shaka-boom….

Drowning in all the doom and gloom.

 

[The game goes on, Dawn.

Do you REALLY want to play, Clay?]

By Netta Kanoho

Header photo credit:  Hurry!  By Michael Pardo via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]

Thanks for your visit.  I’d appreciate it if you’d drop a comment or note below and tell me your thoughts.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Get Social....
LIFE IS GOOD

LIFE IS GOOD

I spent this weekend reading two books.

One was a hoary old classic marketing book, THE 22 IMMUTABLE LAWS OF MARKETING:  Violate Them At Your Own Risk! by marketing strategists extraordinaire Al Ries and Jack Trout which was written in 1994.

This slim book took the world by storm in its day for a good reason.  The master marketers were the first to distill down their work and life experiences into marketing “laws” that still apply to this very day.  It’s a good one for any wannabe marketer to have on their shelf.

gavel
Gavel: Ohio Supreme Court by Andrew F. Scott via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
The second book was a joyous romp of a read.  The book, LIFE IS GOOD, THE BOOK: How to Live With Purpose and Enjoy the Ride, is written by Bert and John Jacobs and is the story of how “two ordinary brothers from Boston, who didn’t want a job but weren’t afraid to work,” built a company worth more than $100 million by selling t-shirts with the help of their friends.

It’s a very good read, authentic and honest, that incorporates told-from-the heart stories and a picture album of their wonderful shirt designs and the people who made it all happen having fun.

It was also a real-life illustration of the Ries-Trout Fifth Law, The Law of Focus, which says, “The most powerful concept in marketing is owning a word in the prospect’s mind.”

You burn your way into the minds of your customers by narrowing your focus to a single word or concept, these mavens say.  And your customers will help you build your world around that concept.

The corollary to that law is this:  “The leader who owns the word owns the category.”

ONE IDEA, ONE DESIGN, ONE BRAND

The rollicking tale of the Jacobs boys’ journey is part of their brand legend .

Starting in 1989, the Jacobs brothers wandered around, crisscrossing state lines in a nondescript mini-van hustling their shirts to no avail.  By 1994, with $78 between them, the boys were ready to throw in the towel.  They had, after all, given it their best shot.

As they drove home to Boston, they were talking about the daily flood of negative news. Between them they agreed that the only thing that could counter the mindset that arises from swallowing all that negativity was a different one with which they were very familiar.

It was a mindset that they had learned from their mom, Joan – untrammeled optimism in the face of constant obstacles and obstructions.

This You-Tube video, published by RogiDream,  features two short poems by the brilliant Charles Bukowski who had a genius for hitting the heart.  They are spoken by Tom O’Bedlam and speak to the real power behind the concept of optimism.

Optimism really is not about swimming in peaches and cream, you know.  It is about fighting the good fight and staying with it no matter what.

The highway talk led the brothers to one idea that led to one shirt design that became the brand called “Life Is Good.”

LISTENING TO THE FEEDBACK

After every road trip, the brothers threw a coming-home party to celebrate making it back to home base.  Even though they were depressed and tired, they went ahead with their ritual.

At each of these parties it was their practice to tape sketches of all of their newest t-shirt design ideas on the walls of their apartment and encourage their friends to comment on the ideas by writing on the wall.

The design that got the most kudos was the result of their highway talk:  a line-drawing of a good ole guy with a baseball cap on his head and a wide grin.  The caption said, “Life Is Good.”

When they printed up 48 shirts with that one design and took them to a street fair to hawk, they were amazed.  All of the shirts (including the two they were wearing) sold in less than an hour to a wide array of people.

BUILDING OF A TRIBE

Naturally they made more of the shirts.  They kept on selling and LIFE IS GOOD became their brand name.

The concept grew and evolved as more and more people joined in the fun and the brothers kept listening to the suggestions from their customers.  More and more people jumped on for the ride.

The result became that $100 million company that uses art work and shares inspiring stories from their customers.  Their designs, all focusing on the power of optimism,  were magnetic.  People flocked to join a tribe who sincerely believes in the power of optimism.

These days, ten percent of the company’s annual profits goes to help kids overcome poverty, violence and severe medical challenges.  Their nonprofit LIFE IS GOOD Kids Foundation positively impacts the lives of more than 100,000 children a day.

Festivals and celebrations are a part of corporate life.  So is helping people.

Here’s a YouTube TEDx talk at Beacon Street recorded in 2013 featuring one of the brothers, Bert Jacobs, “Do What You Like, Like What You Do.” The company’s grown a bunch since then.

It’s all good.

SUPERPOWERS YOU CAN GROW

LIFE IS GOOD, THE BOOK lists ten “superpowers” that can be developed to enhance your own optimistic mindset:  Openness, Courage, Simplicity, Humor, Gratitude, Fun, Compassion, Creativity, Authenticity and Love.

The brothers devote a chapter to each of these attributes, ending each one with ideas and suggestions for growing your own.  And they promise:  “The Life Is Good superpowers will help you overcome obstacles, drive forward with greater purpose, and enjoy the ride of life.”

That is also a very good thing….

Here’s a poem:


THE CYCLE CONTINUES

The cycle continues:

arising, becoming, crumbling away,

then born again in some new-old form –

a never-ending relentless pattern

flowing, spiraling through this life,

in this world of dust.

 

And here’s me: 

trying to dance on top of this turning wheel…

moved to try to direct it, even…

(not that there’s a steering wheel).

 

It rolls on, it rolls on,

and I keep trying to play with it,

reiterating halcyon days of youth

when us kids took turns

rolling that abandoned old truck tire

down the grassy hill behind the baseball field,

trying to keep from crashing it through

the mean old neighbor-lady’s hibiscus hedges

and running over her half-blind old English bulldog.

 

Rolling that tire back up that hill

was part of the price for playing.

 

Laughing was the best part.

by Netta Kanoho

Header picture credit:  Life Is Good by Herr Olsen via Flickr [CC BY-NC 2.0]

Thanks for your visit.  I’d appreciate it if you’d drop a comment or note below and tell me your thoughts….

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Get Social....
WORK AND MEANING

WORK AND MEANING

“Meaningful Work” is the new Grail, it seems.  Every time you turn around there’s somebody or other admonishing and exhorting you to get out there and “find” the work that gives meaning to your life.

It’s the key to happiness, joy and self-fulfillment, they say.

WHAT MAKES WORK MEANINGFUL?

Adam “Smiley” Poswolsky, in his book THE QUARTER-LIFE BREAKTHROUGH, has a clear and succinct description of the shape this “work with meaning” is supposed to take.  He says this sort of work has these four qualities:

  • It reflects who you are and what your interests are.
  • It allows you to show your gifts to help others.
  • It provides a community of believers that will support your dream.
  • It is financially viable, given your desired lifestyle.

This is the kind of work that has all the bennies and the good stuff that you like, so I suppose it does makes sense that if you actually had a job like that it’s likely you would be blissed.

Lifestyle and career coaches and fire-starters all seem to agree:  If nobody will hand over that Meaningful Work treasure to you, then, by golly, you can just get out there and make your own bread for your own self!  (Go, you!)

daily-bread
Daily Bread by M. Dreibelbis via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]

“MEANINGFUL” CAN BE HARD TO FIND…OR IS IT?

In the real world, it seems to me, a majority of the people who must work for a living often have a limited number of options.

For one thing, they do have to accept whatever available jobs there are that they are qualified to get.  (They hope these jobs will pay enough to support them and their families.)

servant-girl
Servant Girl by University of Hawaii at Manoa (Hawaii Digital Newspaper Project) via Flickr [CC BY-NC 2.0]
If not, they may choose to take on a couple more similar gigs or invent side-gigs that take up the slack.

Often they may work really hard on acquiring or expanding skill-sets that will make them more attractive to assorted employers.

Some of them may even make the effort to develop skills that will allow them to build a framework for work that is uniquely their own.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics, in a press release issued in March, 2015, tells us that the four most common occupations in America at the time were retail salesperson, cashier, food preparer and server, and office clerk.

All of these jobs are basically low-paying positions that are mostly done by rote.  If you tried to fit them into the “meaningful-work” template the life-coaches tout, these jobs probably would flunk a bunch of “meaningful-work” tests.

The thing is, these jobs are still a necessary part of keeping the world around us functioning smoothly and well.

If you take away all the salespeople and cashiers, all the food service people and all of the assorted office minions and functionaries, would we be able to live life as we know it?

Probably not.

WHERE DID ALL THE MEANING GO?

In this YouTube video featuring a TEDx talk given at Azusa Pacific University, Ryan T. Hartwig explores how Meaning went Missing-In-Action from the still-useful post-modern jobs we do.

Hartwig’s point in the video is this:  “There is no meaningful job unless someone brings meaning to it.

It’s not a new idea.  For what was perhaps his best-known book, WORKING, which was published in 1997, American journalist and radio broadcaster Louis “Studs” Terkel talked to over 100 people – from gravediggers to movie studio heads — about their jobs and how they felt about them.

He came away with the thought that “Work is about a search for daily meaning as well as daily bread.”

A couple of stories from the book THE POWER OF MEANING:  Crafting a Life That Matters by Emily Esfahani Smith, illustrate this point quite handily.

In the first story, John F. Kennedy ran into a janitor at NASA in 1962.  When the president asked the cleaner what he was doing, the janitor said he was “helping put a man on the moon.”

first-man-on-the-moon
First Man on the Moon by John Flannery via Flickr [CC BY-SA 2.0]
The second story is about a road-worker directing the flow of traffic near a repair site on a stretch of Colorado highway.  The guy stood in the hot sun and periodically he would turn  a sign that read “Stop” on one side and “Slow” on the other.  He kept doing that diligently, over and over again.

A driver in the line of cars waiting for their turn to get past the repair site asked the road-worker how he could stand such boring work.

The road-worker replied, “I keep people safe.  I care about these guys behind me and I keep them safe.  I also keep you safe, and everyone else in all those cars behind you.”

As Smith points out, “The ability to find purpose in the day-to-day tasks of living and working goes a long way to building meaning.”

 THE SERVICE AGE

Wharton School of Business professor Adam Grant did a survey of two million individuals across over 50 jobs.

Those who reported finding the most meaning in their careers included clergy, English teachers, surgeons, directors of activities at religious organizations, elementary and secondary school administrators, radiation therapists, chiropractors and psychologists.

These people all felt that the world was a better place and other people were better off because they were there doing their work.  Grant found it telling that every one of these satisfied workers provided needed services to other people.

We’ve been told that we have moved out of a “manufacturing economy” into a “knowledge economy.”  However, as Grant points out in a 2015 Huffington Post article, “Three Lies about Meaningful Work,” we are actually living in a “service economy.”

In the United States, nearly three out of every ten employees are knowledge workers, Grant says in the article.  They are outnumbered by the service workers who represent eight out of every ten American employees.

Not only that, but it was estimated that in 2016 almost two-thirds of the world’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product) was produced in the service industries.

ANOTHER ANSWER

In this YouTube video of a 2012 “Capture Your Flag” interview, author and public speaker Simon Sinek answers the question, “What makes your work meaningful?”

Capture Your Flag” is executive producer Erik Michielsen’s educational media company which has been creating online video content and helping to develop material for online and educational publishers since 2009.

In the series of videos Michielsen continues to produce, he interviews what he calls “rising leaders” and “near peers” (people a step or two ahead of the viewers of the video) who have faced and resolved familiar business and career situations and problems.

FINAL THOUGHTS AND A TAKE-AWAY

If the only meaning in work is what you, the worker, brings to it, then it seems to me that it would be a good thing to think on the counterintuitive advice Professor Hartwig gives at the end of his TEDx talk:

  • Focus on the good you do in your work. How you help others and the value of the work you do are important building blocks for finding meaning in your work.
  • See and act beyond the bottom line. Profit is an important thing, but it is not the only thing of value for your bottom line.  Building relationships, connections and community transcends and adds to your bottom   line.
  • Never say, “I’m just a ________” (Fill in the blank) You are more than just a job title.  Remember that.

Hartwig also encourages managers and administrators to develop a work environment that will help to foster this way of thinking by allowing and encouraging workers to make their work more meaningful and allowing them to use all of their human qualities to do it.

Here is a poem I wrote about what being a property manager means to me and the lessons it has taught me.  [Kuleana is Hawaiian for “responsibility.”]


THE GATEKEEPER SPEAKS

Ya know, I’ve been thinkin’,

I get to walk through Other People’s worlds –

All of them valid, all of them real.

The people living in these worlds

Are who they are,

Are what they are,

And they have to be Real with me.

 

Because I am the gatekeeper –

The foo-dog holding the key that

Unlocks the theater back door.

In order to use that stage that is my kuleana,

These people must get by me,

So I become a tourist in their lives.

 

They show me its shape –

All the good parts, polished up and spiffy-nice.

(It’s only later that I get to see

The darknesses and broken crockery.)

 

This all helps me understand a fundamental thing:

These others walk wrapped in a bubble-world

Of particular hopes and dreams.

They come to me lugging a load

Of issues, the consequences of past mistakes.

 

It has nothing to do with me

When some dream blows up in their faces,

Or some hope dies a lingering, agonizing death.

It has nothing to do with me.

Their moves then are predicated on

The prevailing climate in their own world-bubbles.

 

Sometimes I get caught in the crossfire of conflicting other-people needs.

Sometimes I’m in the wrong place at the wrong time –

The quintessential bystander

(Not always innocent)

Who gets the random fist in the nose.

 

It has nothing to do with me.

But, DANG!  It hurts!

Since I don’t see it coming,

A face-block’s the only move left to me.  Ouch!

The blows a reminder-tap.

It says, “Pay attention!”

 

It surely is a liberating thing to know:

People are doing what they do,

And very often,

It has nothing to do with me.

I do not have to take what they do personally.

by Netta Kanoho

Header picture credit:  The Grail by Carlos Garcia via Flickr [CC BY-2.0]

Thanks for your visit.  I’d appreciate it if you’d drop a comment or note below and tell me your thoughts.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Get Social....
WHERE ARE YOU STANDING?

WHERE ARE YOU STANDING?

Another IPS (Inner Peace Symptom):  an understanding that your own truth is based on what you feel or deduce from where you stand.  [So then the question becomes:  Where are you standing?]

It’s the human dilemma, it seems to me:  we each have this spark of the Creative in there and it demands that we do Something to deliver the gift that each of us is to the World.

There is even a built-in expiration date on the thing.  (We only get a certain amount of time here in the World, after all.)

It’s not that there aren’t guideposts, and training manuals and how-to books, and tapes, and organizations galore that are perfectly willing to tell you which way to go.  Everybody has an opinion, everybody has The Right Way.  Uh-huh.

stand
“Stand” by Go to See This World Through Lenses via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]

GETTING ON WITH YOUR OWN DANCE

It seems to me that the only thing that’s worth anything in all the blather is knowing that you are free to do whatever you want to do, just like everybody else.  It is a good starting point.

You get to choose which way you go from where you’re standing.  The rest of it you make up as you go along.

It does work better if you listen to your own heartsong.  It gets right lively if you dance when you can.  (Trudging along with your head down tends to be so disheartening.)

movement-9
“Movement 9” by Pedro Martin via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]

Since you’re just the messenger, the gift you are holding is the important thing in all this. Your  job is to make your delivery.  The world is waiting on you.

(If you step on too many toes, of course, there will be consequences and you’ll either handle them or not, but that’s just another part of the story.)

Your delivery-man  or -woman journey probably goes better if you can find your own way to dance.

Dreams and visions are a part of that journey.  Where you go and what you do is all on you.

WHAT IF YOU’RE A NON-STARTER?

It is always an option to be a non-starter.  You could just say no to all that effort and trying and turn your back on your mission.  Of course you can.  You’re free, remember?

The biggest problem you encounter when you give up on your visions and your dreams is that you will probably end up dissipating all this good energy that became available to you when you first started out.

When you decide to just give up, you are very likely to end up standing there in the middle of the road, scratching your head wondering how you’re supposed to share this gift you know you’re carrying.

RECURRING OBSTACLES AND OBSTRUCTIONS

The other thing about this journey is that, invariably, no matter which direction you choose to take, there will be a really big ball of knotted strings — your if-thens and your maybes and your buts and your can’ts — right in the middle of this road you’ve decided you’re supposed to be traveling down.

It is huge, this ball.  It blocks the whole road.

You’ll probably have to push that ball out of the way so you can get on down the road you’ve chosen to take.  (Every time you stop to take a breather, that stupid ball’s probably going to materialize right in the middle of your road again.  It’s what it does.)

It is H-A-R-D.  Yes, it is.

And every time the ball comes back and you’re standing there feeling disgruntled, you have to decide again:  Go on?  Stop?  Turn around?  Take the time to try to dismantle the ball (and watch it morph into some other recurring obstruction) or just keep on heading towards your dream?

You know, if you do give up on dreaming and visioning and all that and refuse to enter into or continue onward in the fray, it’s possible that you will get to be a rock that sort of sits there eroding in the wind and the wet.  Just part of the landscape.

Somebody may come along and turn you into a piece of a wall or something.  Maybe you’ll get to be part of some other road.

rocks-on-koki-beach
“Beach Rocks on Koki Beach” by Adam Theo via Flickr [CC BY-NC 2.0]
Maybe that’s okay.  You’re useful.  You’re doing something.  And then you’re dead.  Right.

Or maybe you can transform yourself into a leaf floating down a stream, just cruising and looking pretty, bumping into things.  You’re already dying, but it’s a sunny day and it’s okay. Nothing much happens.

mango-leaves-in-chings-pond
“Mango Leaves in Ching’s Pond” by Forest and Kim Starr via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]
You party with all the other leaves or sit around telling each other things and all that.  It’s cool.  Then you sink down under the water and turn to sludge.  Right.

A BETTER WAY

There’s got to be a better way, don’t you think?  Here are some thoughts from motivational speaker Iyanla Vazant, speaking at the 2014 ESSENCE Music Fest, a “party with a purpose” that started in 1994 as a one-time event to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Essence, a magazine aimed primarily toward African-American women.

It’s a YouTube video, “Iyanla Vanzant On Creating a New Life Vision,” published by Essence in 2014.

The Essence Fest, as it’s known locally in New Orleans, has become the largest event celebrating African-American culture and music in the United States.

And here’s a poem:


 DARING TO DANCE THE TIDE

Daring to dance the tide.

(Won’t reach my dream-place ‘less I try.)

 

Daring to dance the tide.

(No question ’bout it,

Those scary waves are so very high!)

 

Daring to dance the tide.

(Stomach in knots but my hands are steady,

My heart’s already sailing on,

Going high and wide.)

 

Daring to dance the tide.

(Hey, heart!

Wait for me!

Here I come….

Hoo-hoo!

What a ride!)

by Netta Kanoho

Header picture credit:  “Maui Sunrise” by Angela Sevin via Flickr [CC BY-NC 2.0]

Thanks for your visit.  I’d appreciate it if you’d drop a comment or note below and tell me your thoughts….

 

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Get Social....
RESIGNING AS GM

RESIGNING AS GM

One day I stood up bravely and told a bunch of my friends that I was resigning as General Manager of the Universe.  They laughed so hard they were crying.  (Sigh!)

Nobody believed me.  I didn’t believe me.

CONTROL-FREAKING

My way through the world seems to attract a lot of control freaks of one sort or another, as well as people who seem to want  to be told what to do, so it seems that maybe there are lessons there that are mine after all.

Maybe it’s ’cause I do have “issues” about Authority-with-a-capital-A.

It seems to me that the need for control arises out of the fear that what you want is never going to happen unless you, personally, ride herd on the thing and keep it going towards your own personal vision.

It turns your whole road into a battleground, full of other people stepping on your toes, getting in the way and not doing what they’re supposed to.   And you go into battle mode because your fears keep telling you yours ain’t gonna happen.

You waste a whole lot of energy on that one, expending it on trying to get all these people out of your way!

The other part of that, of course, is that all the other guys are also trying to get to their desires and trying to do their vision, and you are in their way.  It makes this big, old roiling ball of crisscrossing strings that is an incredible tangle.

ALEXANDER THE GREAT’S SOLUTION

I suppose you could do Alexander’s Gordian Knot move where you whack the thing with a big old sword and bully your way on through.

The problem with that solution is you leave behind broken strings all over the ground and those strings are, every one of them, aka threads — the connections between everything in the Universe with everything else in the Universe.

They lie there writhing like a whole bunch of dying worms.  Not a pretty picture.

alexander-the-great-mosaic
Battle of Issus Mosaic (from Pompeii) [PD-old-100]
Alexander, called The Great, left a mountain of skulls wherever he went.  He died early, having attained his vision, and failing to come up with some other one to take its place.

He brought great changes to his world and people learned new ways of walking as a result, and the world kept on going, growing, developing.

CATALYTIC CONVERSIONS

Alexander was also a catalyst that shook things up good, and maybe that was the gift he carried into the World.  The aka threads that Alexander cut reconnected, grew together in other ways and kept on keeping on.

Alexander, of course, was still dead but he got written up in all kinds of history books and like that and his life story gets inflicted on every wannabe billionaire who lives today.

I’m still working on it.  So’s the rest of the world…..

Here’s a YouTube video featuring the thoughts of philosopher Alan Watts, “Let Go Of Controlling Everything.”  It was published by HDvids101.

And here’s a poem:


TITA RISING

He says he’s ready to quit:

He’s tired of the b.s. heaped on his head,

Tired of your issues and your wah-wah-wahs,

Tired of chaos and confusion.

 

He wants off this job that drags on and on,

An interminable rondel that goes ’round and ’round,

Apparently without end.

 

He’s tried, he says, tried and tried,

But it feels like he’s herding lemmings,

Trying to keep the little guys

From throwing themselves off some high plateau

Onto the rocks edging the shining sea below.

 

Every time he gets one cluster of lemmings headed right,

The other guys make a break for it…

Aiming for that seductive edge of nihilistic angst.

 

Oh, yeah.

It’s come to a head all right…

(Or some more earthy organ that’s

unmentionable in polite company.)

So, he comes to me…

‘Cause I’m Da Boss, right?

I am in charge – Big Mama to the forefront…

Little “g,” in control…uh-huh.

 

The job’s three-quarters done and he’s feeling done-in.

And me…I’m standing here flat-footed,

Looking at this thing that’s becoming

A cut-rate model for some stupid government contract –

Complete with asinine road blocks,

Replete with meaningless detour signs and side-trips into the absurd.

 

I am NOT dancin’ now.

I am standing here scratching my head.

I’ve gotta wonder:

Do I LOOK like a branch of Head-Trip International?

Am I the Bureau of Eat-Shit or something?

WHAT?!?

This is NOT the How!

 

Me, all I want is Done.

And it is on you, my braddah…

I backed you, and it looks like you are playin’ games!

You do not have my back

And that wind blowin’ up it is getting COLD.

 

So I’m just sayin’…and I’m saying this LOUD:

WHASSUP?

Tita is risin’…and it ain’t lookin’ good!

by Netta Kanoho

Header Picture Credit:  Defying the Gordian Knot by GollyGForce – Living My Worst Nightmare via Flickr [CC BY-2.0]

Thanks for your visit.  I’d appreciate it if you’d drop a comment or note below and tell me your thoughts.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Get Social....
PROGRESS COMES AFTER

PROGRESS COMES AFTER

Another IPS (Inner Peace Symptom):  an understanding that past mistakes have consequences and what we have been and done does not just disappear because of good intentions now.  [Sometimes it takes a long time to get back to pono.]

It seems to be a given.  We’re clumsy oafs, us humans.

Often we break things without meaning to.  Our words and our actions break hearts and shatter lives – our own and those of the ones we love.

Other times, life takes its toll.  We get lost, we fall down and we lose our way.  Bits of ourselves get lost somehow.

On the other hand, broken can become stronger and more beautiful.

It does take time.  It does take care.  It takes patience and gentleness.  It is not likely to be an easy fix.

One metaphor that points the way to repairing brokenness beautifully can be found in a Japanese pottery technique called “kintsugi” or gold-joinery.

The following video, “When Mending Becomes Art” published by Kintsugisouke, is an introduction to this ancient art form.

AN OLD WAY TO REPAIR POTS

“Kintsugi” is an old way of repairing broken pottery developed by the Japanese using lacquer or some other resin laced with pulverized gold.

The story goes that a samurai broke his favorite tea bowl and sent it off to China to be repaired.

When it came back there were ugly metal staples all over the cup firmly holding the cracked bits together.  This was unsatisfactory.

The cup was sent to another artisan, an old Japanese goldsmith, who worked on perfecting a new way to heal the broken cup.

He made each crack in the cup a thing of beauty.  He honored and emphasized every flaw.  And the gold in the cracks caught the light and threw it back each time the old warrior drank his tea.

 I got to thinking about kintsugi and about all the ways we humans get broken.  I ended up writing a poem about it.  Here it is:


KINTSUGI MUSINGS

 ‘Kay.  Try this:

Take this clay tea bowl.

Now throw it on the ground…HARD!

Go for it!

Okay.

Look at those clay bits scattered all about.

Is it still a bowl, do you think?

Sure doesn’t look like it, huh?

 

Okay.

Now, say “sorry” to it.

Go on.

Apologize.

 

Did it go back to the way it was before?

No, huh?

Come on…

Put some SINCERITY into it.

LEAN on that remorse.

Say, “PLEASE forgive me.”

Say, “I didn’t mean it.”

Say, “It was an accident.”

Hmmm.

Try pulling out the big guns.

Say, “I LOVE you!”

Yeah, really…

Say it from the heart.

 

So…

Did all that saying work?

Not really, huh?

Broken’s broken, ain’t it?

And words don’t do a thing.

 

The pieces are still lying there,

Looking all forlorn.

They will not hold together.

The integrity is gone.

When you try to make them fit,

Try to press them into place,

The pieces fall apart.

Sad, huh?

 

Try pouring some tea

On all those broken bits

And the wet just runs down

All over your feet.

Hmmm…

 

Now, what?

Oh, wait…

Here’s some sticky resin stuff.

And, look at this:

There’s this shiny golden powder sitting there,

Right next to you.

 

Let’s try something.

Here, take this brush.

Now pour a dollop of that goopy stuff on this plate.

Swirl it around with the brush.

Right.

Now mix in some of that powder.

Just stir it right on in.

Slowly, slowly, slowly.

Mix it all up.

No lumps, no bumps.

Mix it all up smooth.

 

Okay.

Now, grab up one clay piece

And turn it so the broken edge faces up.

Brush the glop – all golden now – along that ragged edge.

Carefully, carefully…no slopping allowed.

Then grab up a second clay bit

And fit together the edges.

 

Resin oozes out of the crack, huh?

Okay.

Run your brush along that golden bleeding line

Along the front, along the back.

Make it smooth and smoother.

Gently now, like a dream.

Now…repeat, repeat, repeat.

 

You will mess it up, you know.

You’ll get impatient and you’ll push too hard.

The glop will spread and splotch

And you’ll have to start it over.

 

Again, again, again.

You’ll have to keep on mixing,

keep on brushing,

keep on smoothing,

On and on and on

Until each clay edge is touching a matching other

And every crack glimmers golden.

 

Oh-oh.

There’s one piece missing.

(It probably got pulverized,

Or maybe it got lost.)

No matter.

Glop some of the gloop into that empty

And smooth, smooth, smooth it on out

Over the edges, front, then back.

There.

 

Okay.

Now, set it aside.

Wait.

It’ll dry in the bye-and-bye.

 

And…

Oh!  Will you look at that!

The bowl is resurrected,

But it really is NOT the same.

Oh, no.

Now it’s something other.

Now it’s something more.

It gleams now in all the broken places.

Gold shines in all its cracks.

When you pour some tea in it

None of the wet runs out.

 

And when you hold what once-was-broken,

Healed now after all your gentle care,

Maybe then you will understand:

Fixing what you break

Is not supposed to be easy,

And words alone won’t get you there.

By Netta Kanoho

The following video about Kintsugi and the philosophy behind it was published by The School of Life in collaboration with Mad Adam Films and is part of a weekly series of offerings.

The School of Life is both a YouTube channel and a real-life school for adults that focuses on how to live wisely and well.  They are bent on asking the important life-questions that you never got to ask in regular school.

There are ten physical hubs in cities around the world including London, Melbourne, Istanbul, Antwerp, and Seoul.

Header Picture credit:  Sunrise Over Maui by April Schultz via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]

Thanks for your visit.  I’d appreciate it if you’d drop a comment or note below.

Get Social....
YOUR BEST ADVISOR

YOUR BEST ADVISOR

I am re-reading life coach and best-selling author Martha Beck’s 2001 book, FINDING YOUR OWN NORTH STAR: Claiming the Life You Were Meant To Live.  One of the running themes in the book reminds me of Marcus Tullius Cicero’s thought that “your best advisor is yourself.

The only problem with this thought is that for many of us, there is a civil war happening inside us and it’s hard to hear the advice from yourself when there’s all that shouting and contradicting going on.  The war is on-going, apparently, for most people.

Who’s in there arguing?  Beck has an explanation.

Beck bases her life-design and career counseling on the premise that each of us have two sides.  One she calls the Essential Self.  The other is the Social Self.  (The capitalizations are mine.)

THE ESSENTIAL SELF

Beck says the Essential Self is the essence of your personality, the “basic you.”

It’s the personality that comes from your genes and includes your characteristic desires, preferences, emotional reactions and involuntary physiological responses.   All of these are gifts from your ancestors and from the Universe.

The gifts include your talents and predispositions as well.

The Essential Self is you as fetus.  It’s the you that came into the world trailing clouds of glory before the world stuck add-ons onto you.

fetus
Fetus (from “The Miracle of Pregnancy” exhibition at the London Natural History Museum, 2011) by Nathan Rupert via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
Essential Self is attraction-based.  It knows what it likes.  It prefers to be unique, spontaneous and playful and it is often surprising and inventive.

Beck’s Essential Self sounds like it’s a lot right-brained.  According to Beck, the Essential Self doesn’t change.

It is like the North Star, “Stella Polaris.”  This star is a fixed point that doesn’t move around in the night sky the way the other stars do.  Because it doesn’t move, Polaris has been used by seafarers to figure out which way they’re supposed to go in the middle of the trackless sea.

Beck believes that your Essential Self is your own North Star, pointing the way toward your own “right life,” the one that will lead to the ultimate realization of your own happiness.

THE SOCIAL SELF

The Social Self is the part of you that developed in response to the people around you.

crowd
Crowd by Amy West via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]

As Beck points out, human babies are born knowing that their survival depends on the goodwill of the Big People around them.  We are literally designed to please other people.

Cute and adorable is a pretty straightforward human survival mechanism.  On a pragmatic level, cute and adorable is more likely to get fed and nurtured.

Social Self is avoidance-based.  It wants to avoid making trouble, making waves.

It prefers to be conforming.  It spends a lot of time imitating other people and is hardworking, predictable, and really big on making set-in-stone plans.

The Social Self is a fast-talking nagging presence that’s kind of sergeant-major-ish.  It sounds like it’s a lot left-brained.

Your Essential Self cracked your first baby smile, just because.

Your Social Self noticed how much Mom liked it.  Charming Mom with your most endearing smile became a major strategy for getting everything from that extra cookie to convincing her to loan you the down-payment for your new car.

During your lifetime, your Social Self has picked up all kinds of skills from the people around you.

In our society, you learned how to talk and read and dress yourself.

You learned how to dance and drive and share stuff.  You learned how to win social approval.

You learned to display traits that are politically and culturally correct.  (If you belonged to a headhunter tribe or to a yak-herder family, you probably learned other useful skills as well.)

If you were diligent as a youngster, Social Self helped you learn how to be Normal.

If you got really good at it, maybe you even made it to Cool.

BATTLE OF THE SELVES

Social Self’s job is to know how to override Essential Self’s core desires.

Social Self is very good at raining on Essential Self’s parade and stopping all that impulsive, giddy-making behavior that might upset other people.

After a while, Essential Self starts feeling squashed and fights back, rebelling against all the strictures and structures and rules and regs.  Passive-aggressive behavior is not unusual.

One interesting theory Beck cites is that so-called “self-sabotage” is very often actions taken (or not taken) by your Essential Self when your Social Self insists on moving in a direction that your Essential Self does not want to go.

Falling asleep in the middle of working on some interminably boring, “very important” report, or “forgetting” to pack that report when you are supposed to be meeting that “very important” client might be examples of this phenomenon.

Then Social Self pours on the pressure and the two selves get locked into a battle that leaves you feeling exhausted and drained.

It doesn’t have to be like that.

RECONNECTING YOUR TWO SELVES

The other thing your Social Self is very good at is working with your Essential Self to sustain relationships with people who are important to you, to finish school, to hold down jobs and to meet your goals, realize your dreams, and all that good stuff.

According to Beck, that can only happen if your Essential Self and your Social Self are on the same page, if they can work together as a team.

When you get to that stage, then, yeah:  Cicero’s right.  You become your best advisor.

After telling you how your two selves came to be working at cross-purposes with each other, Beck’s engaging book takes you through the process of reconnecting your two selves so the old stuffed-shirt Social Self can pay attention and help to meet the needs and desires of your Essential Self, who is, after all, your true North Star.

There’s a plethora of case studies, questionnaires, exercises and very good information  in Beck’s FINDING YOUR OWN NORTH STAR.  Get the book and check it out.

In this YouTube video published by Aspeakers and featuring Martha Beck, the author recalls how she came to write the book.  She is a wonderful storyteller.

FINAL THOUGHT

If you do the work and talk it over with your own selves and pay attention to the thoughts you think and the feelings you feel, your two selves can help you navigate your way through the choices and opportunities you encounter, leading you toward a more joyous and meaningful life for yourself.

How do you tell if it’s working?  It’s easy.  Your energy level increases exponentially when you’re paying attention to your Essential Self and honoring the course-corrections your Social Self makes in the process.

And that’s a very good thing….

I have personally used many of the exercises in Beck’s book to help me suss out the direction that holds the meaning and mana for me in my own life.   My copy has all the blanks filled in and notes in the margins.  I’ve bent my head around her concepts and tried to do the work she suggests.

The book has a place on my reference shelf.

Here’s a poem:


GEE, THANKS

You tell me you’ve been noticing

That I’m just not

As bubbly as I was,

Not singing on the wing

Like some demented lark,

Spiraling up into the sun.

 

You’re right.

I’m not.

 

You tell me

It caused a disturbance

In your contemplation

Of the mountain of

Your desires and

You’ve interrupted

Your own climbing flight.

 

Oh, wow.

I’m surprised.

 

You tell me

That you feel for me,

And wisdom-words come

Tumbling out of you

As you try to pat me

Back into the shape you remember.

 

Gee, thanks.

You care.

by Netta Kanoho

[A colleague of mine at a real-estate office where I once worked awkwardly tried to give me “sage advice” during one of my down-periods.   Her platitudes were so completely off the mark that I had a hard time not laughing.  But, hey…she did try, and I truly was grateful for that.]


Picture credit:  Polaris by Julian Schugel via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]

Thanks for your visit.  I’d appreciate it if you’d drop a comment or note below.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Get Social....
HEART, PASSION AND THE WORLD

HEART, PASSION AND THE WORLD

“Follow your passion”…”take the path with a heart.”  We hear that a lot, those of us who are looking for meaning and mana to add to our ordinary lives.

Are they the same thing?  Do they mean what we’ve been told they mean?  Does this advice make sense?

A PATH WITH A HEART

The “path with a heart” entered the public arena for consideration back in the late 1960’s, when an anthropology student Carlos Castaneda began writing a series of books recounting his experiences as an apprentice sorcerer under a Yaqui Indian “man of knowledge” Don Juan Matus.

The exchanges between student and teacher are often humorous in a way.  Carlos, the linear left-brained thinker, keeps trying to unravel and straighten out Don Juan’s circular, right-brained way of dealing with the world.  It never goes well for Carlos.

The following YouTube video, “Don Juan Matus – The Four Natural Enemies of a Man of Knowledge” was published in 2012 by jdogsful.  It is a reading by another vlogger, LucidMaui, of Castaneda’s book, THE TEACHINGS OF DON JUAN: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge.

That’s a far cry from the advice you get from the career counselors!

At one point, Don Juan tries a number of different ways to explain to the slow learner about the “path with a heart.”  Don Juan tells Carlos all he has to do, before embarking on any path is to ask the question, “Does this path have a heart?”  He tells Carlos that just asking the question will give him an immediate answer.

Carlos cannot get it.  He keeps wanting to know how to know for sure that the answer he gets when he asks the question is “real.”  After all, Carlos says, maybe he is just lying to himself.  Maybe when he asks the question, Carlos tells Don Juan, the path is enjoyable, pleasant.

Exasperated, Don Juan tells him, “A path without a heart is never enjoyable. You have to work hard even to take it. On the other hand, a path with heart is easy; it does not make you work at liking it.”

Carlos, poor man, still didn’t get it.  I’m not sure he ever did.  Most of us who were not raised to listen and trust our hearts don’t.

This YouTube video, “Path With a Heart” features a slide show of photography by Bill Caldwell of ABeautifulSky Photography with music by John Mills.  The paintings are Caldwell’s.  It was published in 2014 by EverSound Music.  Bill Caldwell and John Mills, unlike Carlos, do get it.

The iconic Maker Patti Smith, after forty years on the planet being a musician, singer, poet, painter, actor, photographer, and even a fashion focus,  shared some secrets to her success in a 2013 interview with THE GLOBE AND MAIL.

patti-smith
Patti Smith by Phil King via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]
At one point, she described an instance when, early in her career, a producer who had seen her doing a “musical poetry reading” wanted to shape Patti into a 70’s-style Cher. Patti was flattered and, perhaps, even tempted by the offer.

She said, “Of course it was an honor that someone wanted to invest time and money in me, but this guy had a specific vision for me and it wasn’t what I wanted to do.”

She turned him down and walked away.  After all, she figured, Cher was already being Cher and there was no need for two in the world.  As Smith pointed out in the interview, it’s wise to dodge opportunities that are not in keeping with your own personal vision.

She said, “Everyone has to make a living – I worked in a factory, I was a really bad waitress – but in terms of your art, that’s not something you should compromise. You might think you will only compromise for a while, but that’s not the way it works.”

And that’s the thing, isn’t it?  “Heart” is purpose.  “Heart” is the why you do what you do.  If the why of a particular path is not aligned with your own self-definition, what is the point of taking that path?

DO YOUR PASSION

Life and career coaches keep on telling you that you absolutely must, “follow your passion,” and just do only what you love.  You’ve got to believe in your dreams, they say.  It’s the very first step.

They get you doing all kinds of exercises that are meant to show you what you really love and in among all that stuff you like, there’s going to be the one thing that will skyrocket you into the stratosphere of $ucce$$.  Uh-huh.

You know what the major problem with following your passion is?  You can be caught up in a love affair with a something for which you are particularly unsuited.

Maybe your passion is playing the piano and you’re tone-deaf.  Maybe your passion is cooking, but your tastebuds don’t register (or even notice) many flavor nuances.  Whatever.  You can train yourself to do it, right?  Ri-i-i-ight.

Yes, you can, but it will be a long, hard road just getting to square one.  Your chances of success, however you choose to define it, are probably not going to be very high for a good bit of time.

This YouTube video, published by PragerU, features TV personality Mike Rowe, star of “Dirty Jobs” and “Somebody’s Gotta Do It” shares his “Dirty Truth” (his opinion) about the whole concept.

This video was a commencement address for PragerU, which is an online educational organization who says forthrightly that they want to “help millions of people understand the fundamental values that shaped America.”  It was founded by syndicated radio talk show host Dennis Prager.

ANOTHER TAKE ON IT ALL….

Nathaniel Koloc is the co-founder and CEO of ReWork, a highly successful mission-driven talent firm that connects professionals with hiring managers at companies who are attempting to be change-agents on social, environmental and cultural levels.  He writes a blog on his website, The Muse.

According to Koloc, finding and holding onto meaningful work is a bit more complicated than most career coaches and other advisors tell you.

Yes, you do better if you know what your passion is and what you are driven by.

But figuring that one out involves more than locking yourself in a room and pulling out a pen and some paper and writing reams about how and what you’re feeling.  He outlines a process that does work.

CREATING A LEGACY

Koloc points out that before anything else, it would be a good idea to ask yourself what change you want to create in the world, for yourself and also for others and for future generations.   You need to figure out the shape of what Koloc calls your “legacy.”  It’s the old question:  “When you’re dead, how do you want to be remembered?” 

You’ll find some of your answers by talking to other people and finding out what lessons they’ve learned so far in their own walks.  Maybe you can use the brain-pickings to up your own game.

You’ll test your long-held assumptions and your personal theories of how the world works by actually designing products or systems or services that make use of your theories and then implementing them in the real world.  These tests will help you figure out whether what you “know” is drek.

Will your balloon fly?  Or is it just going to be an empty bag spread out on the ground?

HOW DO WE EAT?

You need to take a hard look at this next question:  Would you do this passion of yours every day to make money?  Or is this passion-thing too pure to be “sullied” by commercialization?

If your passion  — whatever it is — is too pure for doing the marketing dance, then you have to ask yourself the Mommy-question:  how do you plan on eating while you pursue this?  And how do you plan on feeding your children and other dependents?

MAKING IT COME REAL

You’ll also need to ask yourself whether you have at least the start of the skills you need  to pursue this passion of yours.  Are these skills things you want to continue developing?

Most importantly, you have to ask yourself whether you willing to put in the time and the all-out effort that is demanded for getting to becoming a master in matters about which you are passionate?

It takes time and it takes work, mastery.  Are you up for it?

If you’re not going for mastery, why would you bother?  If you are okay with just being okay, are you sure that this thing you love doing is a passion?

And then you have to go do it. 

There may already be a market with a multitude of folks panting for whatever you and your passion produces.  Will it still be there when you’ve finally gotten the skills you need?

Maybe not.  Then you’ve got to be prepared to also do the work of building a market for your own unique productions.

Regardless of what the market is or isn’t, you will still have to work on making the transition from doing the dreck-work and sweeping out the stables to soaring around with eagles or whatever.

FINAL THOUGHTS

To get to where you love doing everything you do, you have to get through the part where you do the set-up so you can.

It’ll take time.  It’ll take effort.  You will be frustrated.  You will feel trapped.  You will go broke.  You will fail.  You will fall down and stand up and fall down again.  That’s all normal.  According to Koloc (and many other guys who did it their own selves), it is well worth it.

As Koloc says, “It may not be as easy as quitting your job one day and living in eternal bliss the next—but the things we value most in life tend to be the things we fought hardest for anyway. So, let’s drop the “follow your passion!” mindset and get to work.”

Here’s a poem:


PASSION

Passion is vital energy:

Used to combat entropy

And turbocharge creativity:

Passion.

 

Doesn’t matter what the focus.

It can be used for hocus-pocus,

Keeps one from being a diplodocus:

Passion.

 

Passion’s more than lovers’ schemes.

Passion fuels the wildest dreams,

Straps rockets onto hopes, it seems:

Passion.

 

What a great discovery!

A cure, a hope against apathy

That makes the heart go flying free:

Passion.

by Netta Kanoho

Picture credit: Passion by Patrick Garcia via Flickr [CC BY-ND 2.0]

Thanks for your visit.  I’d appreciate it if you’d drop a comment or note below.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Get Social....
DEVELOPING PRESENCE

DEVELOPING PRESENCE

Another IPS (Inner Peace Symptom):  a growing awareness that all phenomena are empty and illusory and the only meaning and mana in any situation is what the people involved bring to it.  [It’s a cool thing to realize that we humans are the arbiters of the meaning and mana in our own lives.]

The search for meaning and mana is a very human thing.  It’s been going on for centuries now.  The words themselves are so nebulous that it’s hard not to head off into the woo-woo zone when you talk about them.

ANOTHER FORM OF MANA

I was reading Tobin Hart’s book, THE FOUR VIRTUES:  Presence, Heart, Wisdom, Creation, and it struck me that what he calls “presence” is really one more form of what I call mana.

According to Hart, Presence is that “tug of aliveness in the silence.”  I do love that phrase.  It’s beautiful!

However, it doesn’t really say much.  (That’s the problem with all this wisdom-stuff.  You end up spouting poetry and everybody around you just goes, “HUH?”)

Hart goes on to say that Presence is an “openness to beauty and mystery.” He says Presence requires the capacity to be silent and still, to endure emptiness in order to witness and open to the good, the beautiful, and the true.

Yeah, yeah.  I know.  More beautiful blather.

The components of Presence, according to Hart, are:

  • Appreciation (that openness to Beauty and Mystery)
  • Stillness
  • Focus and Attention, which includes things like steadying your mind, not-doing, centering yourself, and pausing in your walk to notice the World around you.
appreciation
Appreciation by mark via Flickr [CC BY-NC]

APPRECIATION REQUIRES HUMILITY

Being open to the Beauty and Mystery of what is in front of you is often called “appreciation.”  It does seem to require humility.

If you are complacent in your knowledge of the World and if you are armored in your sureness that you know what’s what and what is really going on, it’s sort of hard to get entranced by the Mystery of the World around you.

Mystery is what you don’t know.  Mystery provokes wonder.  When you think you know all of the everything, it seems to me, the World gets a lot narrower and shallower.

THE WORLD BECOMES YOU

It’s a funny thing:  the World is pretty obliging.  No matter how you think and no matter what you know, it’s pretty easy to see what you believe.   Evidence mounts up all around you that you are right, right, right.

The World is quite malleable.  It is perfectly willing to climb into the box you’ve constructed.  You can get a heck of a lot of World into a very small box, apparently.

Do you think that people are out to get you?  Guess what.  You’ll find plenty of evidence that, indeed, they are.

Do you think people just naturally like to help each other?  You’ll find lots of evidence that is true as well.

Do you find the World unsatisfactory and boring?  That, too, can be arranged….

So if you want to glimpse the Mystery at the heart of the World, then you have to be really careful that you’re not letting your mind order the World around.   Since it’s something we humans are really good at, this is a very hard thing to not-do.

IS IT ME?  IS IT I?

In his writing, Hart seems to be separating out “I” and “me” from each other.  They are both inside of you, he posits, but they are nuanced and different.

There’s a part of you that observes and witnesses the World in all its glory, trying to see what is really there.  That’s the “I” part.

Then there’s the “me” part.  “Me” is mostly just in the world, so distracted and caught up in the busy that it’s swimming around in one big chaotic soup.  “Me” gets lost a lot.

I’m not sure what to do with this.  I do know that I agree with Albert Einstein’s thought that either it’s all a miracle or none of it is.

I really think that it’s my “me” part that is responsible for most of my poetry.

The confusion that comes from immersing yourself in the World produces more interesting thoughts than the observer-“I” part that sort of stands back and keeps trying to sort out the glory and reduce it so it can fit into neat little boxes.

stillness
Stillness by criana via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]

STILLNESS

This thought reminds me of my ch’i kung explorations of Mountain energy…getting grounded in Earth energy and all that. I do notice that the one thing people with mana have in common is the ability to be still.

My Si’fu (teacher) once demonstrated a particularly powerful stance to our kung fu class.  He stood there in the center of the circle, perfectly poised with his arms and hands at the ready.  He didn’t do anything….and, literally, no one could attack him.

Remarkably, the man conquered us with his stillness.  There was no opening, no invitation for an attack, and none of the students in the circle felt any sort of aggressiveness was warranted, even though we had been instructed to move against him.

It is a thing I have tried to emulate ever since with very little success.

Another kind of still focus is illustrated by this picture of a Tibetan Buddhist high lama, His Holiness Dilgo Kyentse Rimpoche.  He is displaying the vitarka mudra, a hand gesture that signifies “teaching, giving instruction, reason and preaching.”

hh-dilgo-kyentse-rimpoche
HH Dilgo Kyentse Rimpoche by Wonderlane via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]
Perhaps this kind of centered stillness might also be effectively applied to the way an artist and a writer goes about making art as well.  Art, after all, is only an extension of the one doing it.

It occurs to me that practicing any form of art is sort of like weapons-training in kung fu.  We are taught that any hand-held weapon is just an extension of your arm and hand.  It does things, but you’re the one directing it using your body and your mind.

The same thing happens when you use the skills and tools you’ve developed to make your art or your poetry.  Your art, your poem, your dance performance takes form as your mind and body give it direction.

attention
Attention by nofilm via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
Stillness is the ground for focus and attention.  If you can’t be still you are unlikely to develop enough focus to actually finish anything meaningful.  (Mana doesn’t come with built-in octopus tentacle suckers it seems.)

And if you are flibbertigibitting around like a demented butterfly, it is unlikely that you’ll be capable of giving anything much attention.

Stillness, according to all the wisdom teachers, is also the ground for tranquility and for peacefulness, so it is probably a good thing to work on.

SOME TAKEAWAYS

Hart has a number of guidelines for how to work with the mana mindset.   Here are a trio of ideas I picked up on:

  • Sensations and feelings can be used as a guidance system and built-in feedback loop which can help you stay aware of the world around you.

It’s sort of like that hunter-sense of terrain and place.  If you know in your body where you are and what you’re standing on, you automatically move in ways that don’t disturb the world around you.

This one does take a lot of practice.

  • Pleasure is a tool for understanding what nurtures youThat one, taken to the extreme, sounds like a hedonistic sort of thing –”It feels good, so it’s gotta be good.”

I suppose if I were an academic sort, I could probably get lost in the nuances of the differences between a pleasure like an ice-cream sundae and one like wild jungle sex or something….Hmmm.  Might-be, could-be actually fun!

  • Mindfulness is a way to experience the world deeplySometimes I can really get behind this and sometimes not.  My problem is that Mindful-Me tends to be like that centipede lying in a ditch trying to figure out how to walk around with all those legs.

FINAL THOUGHTS

When I look at the people who I consider powerful and filled with their own kind of mana, I do see all of the qualities Hart mentions.  The work these people produce does seem imbued with echoes of their own “presence.”

They are fully human, these people, so I am guessing that if I want to produce art with mana, it means I have to keep working on just being a real human being

MY THANKS

Thank you for sharing in this bit of silliness with me.

As a reward, I offer this beautiful YouTube video, “Icheon Master Hand” that was put together by the American Museum of Ceramic Art (AMOCA) to celebrate the exhibit, “ICHEON:  Reviving the Korean Ceramic Tradition” which was on display at the Museum in 2013.

The video features five masters, Lee Hyang-gu, Kim Seong-tae, You Yong-chul, Choi In-gyu, and Jo Se-yeon.  They live in Icheon in South Korea, a designated UNESCO City of Crafts and Folk Art, and are part of the city’s efforts to revive a 5,000-year old tradition of Korean ceramics.

And here’s a poem:


PFUI!

Oh, I give up!

Dragon gets me into things

And then stands there grinning

While I flounder around

Trying to find my balance again

In a space turned upside down

Or sideways or inside out.

 

I Ching nags and scolds me

All the time to be patient

And steadfast and true.

 

Archetypes wander around in my head,

Making themselves at home,

Lying on the couch, watching tv, and

Checking out the refrigerator

On the commercial breaks.

 

My inner drill sergeant revs up

At the drop of a hat.

And that stupid knight in the rusty armor

Won’t go away and leave me alone.

 

And here I am, the fool,

Trying to find my way

Back to being ordinary.

 

Why can’t I be a normal, unconscious person?

They are probably very happy.

Ignorance is bliss, right?

 

Me, I have to aim for stars

And run after rainbows.

 

Idiot!

After all the striving and trying,

I’m not even conscious yet.

Probably semi-conscious.

Definitely not post-coital.

 

All this cosmic stuff is getting me

REALLY IRRITATED!

Must be P.M.S. – Pre-Mastery Syndrome.

(Or maybe I’m just horny?)

by Netta Kanoho

Picture credit:  Presence by zlaping via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]

Thanks for your visit.  I’d appreciate it if you’d drop a comment or note below.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Get Social....

Enjoy this blog? Please spread the word :)