Have you become pinned beneath the boulder of your own reputation?

Photo by JESSICA CASTILLO

This is not an original thought but then if you read BIG MAGIC by Elizabeth Gilbert you will realize that two or more of us can in fact have the same thought/discovery what scientists call multiple discovery – a term used whenever two or more scientists in different parts of the world come up with the same idea at the same time.

When I read that description about being pinned beneath the boulder of your reputation it felt like it had come from the bowels of my own existence.

The pain is not my own pain. My own pain is different.

This pain is the pain I feel when I see wasted gifts, strewn carelessly along life’s path because we are stuck at the top – at the pinnacle of our success…feeling as if we can’t recreate what has brought us this far and so we allow fear to consume us.

Many times those who were magnificent in the field of sales, are now leading other sales professionals. But we no longer sell. We are afraid of not swinging it out of the park as we once did.

We all feel that when we’re at the top, the only way we can go is down and so we build a moat around us and stop learning, doing, trying, experimenting…for fear that if we do – we will be exposed as a “one hit wonder”.

Gilbert says of Harper Lee

I wonder if perhaps she had become pinned beneath the boulder of her own reputation. Maybe it all got too heavy, too freighted with responsibility and her artistry died of fear – or worse self-competition.

Sometimes we just get pinned down. We’re neither at the top nor bottom of our game but we are pinned down by that boulder of fear.

I’ve taken Liz Gilbert’s suggestion to accept that fear is always going to be along for the ride, but I will NOT let fear drive.

I’m also accepting that life will always change. It is neither consistently good or bad. There is so much that I don’t control. There is so much that I don’t have to explain.

I am haunted by this…

You could leave life right now…” said Marcus Aurelius “…Let that determine what you do and say and think.”

Lessons keep repeating themselves…I can’t seem to shake certain feelings…yet time marches on.

It’s time to get from under that rock. Don’t be burdened by your past successes. With humility press forward knowing that you control only those actions you take.

I’m asking myself this:

How long are you going to wait before you demand the best for yourself?

How long are you going to wait?

Forget the New Year, new you B.S

Photo by Danielle MacInnes on Unsplash

We could all be a little more cognizant of time…because it truly waits on no one. On my Fitbit Versa I chose a watch face that shows me so far, how many seconds I’ve lived. Below is the reminder to make every second count.

Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius reminds us…

You could leave life right now. Let that determine what you DO and SAY and THINK.

From childhood, I have always been obsessed with death. I contemplated everlasting life, based on my Catholic upbringing and got equally scared. Ryan Holiday says that meditating on your mortality is only depressing if you miss the point. It is in fact a tool to create priority and meaning. It is a tool that creates real perspective and urgency.

Have you fully explored “YOU” with all of what makes up your wonderful human beingness?

We obsess with improvement but I think we miss the absolute wonder of being and doing what comes to mind for us, whatever that is. The urgings, the desires, the longings…we need to act. Not keep reinventing a self that is already perfect in all its imperfections.

We need to treat time as a gift. Not waste it.

We need to accept everything and every one in our lives as is.

We need not become defensive or feel we need to justify our own choices.

We need to remember that we could leave life RIGHT NOW!

How long are you going to wait before you demand the best for yourself?

epictetus

We need to return to the Age of Exploration

It’s been a tough time for everyone. COVID-19 is the great equalizer. It has brought everyone to their knees and cast a spell of pessimism world-wide.

Yet there is always hope, if only we shift our thinking and view life through different lenses.

In the world of work, we have no choice other than to get more creative, more resourceful and more reliant on our only security – our competence.

No block of marble, tiny canvas, or eight basic notes ever stifled creativity and so like the artists that we know, we must be more than just technically proficient. We need to return to what got us fired up when we started doing what we are doing. We need to examine what worked then, what has morphed into the status quo and what is capturing our attention right now in the world that we simply cannot accept.

Transformation requires imagination but the key ingredient that we all need to do more of is to explore.

Believe it or not, there was a period in European history, loosely defined as the Age of Exploration. It began early in the 15th Century and lasted through the 17th Century. It was a time when the Europeans began exploring the world by sea in search of new trading routes, wealth, and knowledge.

The impact persists to this day, with many of the world’s former colonies still considered the “developing” world, while colonizers are the First World countries, holding a majority of the world’s wealth and annual income.

Here are some other impact areas:

  • Explorers learned more about areas such as Africa and the Americas and brought that knowledge back to Europe.
  • Massive wealth accrued to European colonizers due to trade in goods, spices, and precious metals.
  • Methods of navigation and mapping improved, switching from traditional portolan charts to the world’s first nautical maps.
  • New food, plants, and animals were exchanged between the colonies and Europe.

We need to suspend what we think we know and believe to be true because if we don’t, we will limit ourselves to the options that have been in front of us all along.

I ask questions. The stupidity of people comes from having an answer for everything. Wisdom comes from having a question for everything.

MILAN KUNDERA – Author

According to author Matt May, the Universe has posed to each of us, a very specific question of paramount importance that only we can answer in our unique way.

This is how artists and scientist sculpt their work, around a central question so they own the work. Their world revolves around masterful work performed for worthy reasons toward a meaningful end. They go their own way in the face of what to most looks to be impossible.

There is a dark side to this approach of course. We get criticized, denied, rejected, dismissed and laughed at.

But this is par for the course and we shouldn’t let this hold us back.

  1. We need to protect ourselves from those “keepers of the status quo” also known as our peers, and trust in our own strength.
  2. We have to believe in our own ideas and to daily recommit to making things happen.
  3. We need to explore and experiment with new approaches and new ways to do things

The truth is, we are being taught a valuable lesson:

Nothing and no thing is permanent. Change is always around the corner. We can choose to dance with it or resist it but resistance only leads to pain.

We don’t control many of the things we pursue in life – yet we become angry, sad, hurt, scared, or jealous when we don’t get them.

THE DAILY STOIC JOURNAL – Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman

Expect that people won’t agree with you, like what you’re doing, support your approach. That’s ok. They are not your tribe. Those who need you will read about what you’re doing, and want to learn more.

To succeed you need to be both artist and scientist. You need to keep tinkering, tailoring and trying. Examine your results, and make the necessary changes. Don’t look for shortcuts. This IS the shortcut.

There is a story that I absolutely love that tells of an exchange between Martha Graham and Agnes De Mille who was hired in 1943 to choreography the musical Oklahoma. She was feeling dispirited despite the success of her musical and confessed to Martha over a soda at Schrafft’s restaurant, that she had a burning desire to be excellent but no faith that she could be. This was Martha’s quiet response

“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. As for you, Agnes, you have so far used about one-third of your talent.”

The world is driven by social response. We measure by likes and give up on our dream because someone who doesn’t even understand WHAT we’re doing weighs in.

I know and understand that we have to earn money but I think we totally miss the point when we chase “doing it like everyone else” versus doing what that inner voice compels and haunts us to do.

Kill expectation. Do what you know is your work, your art and good things will follow.

You don’t need to be saved or rescued. What you need is the knowledge of your power, how to access it, how to communicate your value and how to earn accordingly in exchange for what you’re offering.

If any of what I’ve said resonates then your are in the right place and I definitely have solutions for you.

the hard work is the shortcut

We look for shortcuts like this all the time:

Yet when pursuing mastery it’s often more than four simple steps.

For anything I’ve ever had to master it involved:

  • Practice
  • Repetition
  • Revision
  • Iteration
  • More practice
  • Making mistakes
  • Redoing
  • Revising

You get the picture. No straight lines. Always a learning curve. Some curves steeper than others.

When we set out to learn anything new, we are attracted to those courses that promise mastery in 30 days, results in 21, genius level in just 3 months.

We watch reality TV shows, where restaurants are renovated in an hour AND staff and leadership issues are sorted in that timeframe too! Didn’t you know it? Houses can be renovated with ease and look as if you’re about to be featured in Architectural Digest.

We are lured by the end but never get a real sense of what it’s like to experience the joy of doing the work, of making mistakes, of falling out of love and falling right back in within the hour because this project is yours….you taste the need for it, and your heart aches, the longer it stays locked within.

One of my favorite books is one published in 1997 called Mastery by Joan Evelyn Ames. She interviewed 30 remarkable people including Jean Wiart, master metalworker and successful businessman.

When asked what are the keys to mastery and what keeps him fresh and excited, he said:

It’s a total dedication to your trade. This is absolutely essential. What makes people people great is their faithfulness to their trade and those who have trained them. It’s a lifetime project. Another key to mastery is that we constantly learn. I think that’s true in every discipline. We have to walk in the path of our predecessors for a long time before we can fly with our own wings and be an example for others. To produce excellence is hard work and demands constantly re-evaluating things and rebuilding them. And I am always vigilant against “short cuts”. They may make life easier but at the same time it’s a disgrace. I say, “Listen, we cannot do that, because it should not be done like that, and we know it.”

How steep your learning curve will be….I can’t say…but don’t let that stop you.

The world needs your “art” even if it may take more than 4 easy steps!

don’t wait…

Many times we remain stuck, mostly because we want guarantees that our next step will bring us exactly what we want.

We want control.

Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman share:

We don’t control many of the things we pursue in life – yet we become angry, sad, hurt, scared or jealous when we don’t get them.

The Daily Stoic Journal

Those emotions – our reactions to the things we don’t get – are about the only thing we control.

We tend to focus on what we don’t have, can’t control or won’t get. We focus on lack.

What is it though, that you have that others don’t?

Conformity makes you average. Otherness makes you remarkable.

Dan Rockwell

Look no further than your patterns:

  • The way you do things – your approach – your method.
  • The way you see the world – your perspective.
  • The way you think.
  • Your story and the way it has influenced how you do what you do resulting in a unique philosophy and approach to business and life.

Instead of pinning our hopes on a better future, we focus on the present and being grateful for what we have now

Frank Ostaseski – The Five Invitations

What are you waiting to say, do or be in your life?

Don’t wait.

Let your words, become your works.

don’t go to the ocean with a thimble…

Many years ago, I had bronchitis. It was one of the worst times of my life.

I remember asking my doctor how do asthmatics feel, how do people with pneumonia feel, because I was having such a terrible time breathing.

I thought about this yesterday when I felt gloomy and out of sorts. I couldn’t see to move past a sea of tears and thoughts of despair. I decided to sit with it. Not try to fight it.

How do people with severe depression feel, I wondered?

So many we’ve lost – Robin Williams, Anthony Bourdain, Alexander Mc Queen…

Countless others that I did not know about, including Bhaiyyu Maharaj – a spiritual guru.

While navigating my doldrums, I felt (quite dramatically I thought in hindsight), I would NEVER come out of this!

It’s as the prophet Isaiah wrote, “We hope for light, but behold, darkness, for brightness, but we walk in gloom. We grope along the wall like blind men, we grope like those who have no eyes; we stumble at midday as in the twilight, among those who are vigorous we are like dead men” (Isaiah 59:9-10).

How do we find the light, that glimmer of hope, that it’s possible to cross over each chasm we face and emerge, ready to move forward?

We must vision and re-vision what’s possible.

Nature always provides insight.

I had cut the last of the celery stalks off this heart of celery and placed the off cut in a cup of water. I had no expectations. Two days later…growth.

It really doesn’t matter what has happened. The celery’s vision is fixed – to become more of what it is.

We are the same, but unlike the celery – we forget.

So it’s important for us to retain our vision.

In ‘Road to Riches’ by Napoleon Hill he talks about heading to the mountains to gather chestnuts. He took a gallon bucket to gather chestnuts, visualizing a gallon bucket full of chestnuts. He was prepared to bring back just one gallon and no more. When he got to the mountain he found bushels of chestnuts on the ground, but had to leave them there because he had not thought in larger numbers when he planned the trip.

Never limit what’s possible for you, even when you’re feeling doubt, uncertainty or a lack of self-confidence. Neither has anything to do with what you can achieve.

In his song ‘With Imagination (I’ll Get There), Harry Connick shares

I started with a dream
But came to a decision
I started with a dream
But now I have a mission
I have a goal
To see beyond my vision
With imagination
I'll get there.

I suspect that to control our thoughts when severely depressed, is difficult. This is a journey you cannot traverse alone. Doctors and therapists can provide the necessary guidance and support needed.

I was reminded today to re-read my vision. Remind myself why I am doing what I have chosen to do.

In the relative darkness of my kitchen, a shaft of sunlight covering the teacup filled with a cut stalk, new life blooms.

This alone provides hope.

Be encouraged.

We face locust attacks daily

I’m missing out on a lot of news.

I am not a newsmonger for starters, but between Donald Trump, Covid-19 and the revelation that underneath the “all ah we is one family” blanket, we as a people in Trinidad & Tobago have a closet full of race hatred, I have completely stopped looking at any of the local and International news channels.

On social media, I might recognize that more than 5 people are talking about something but still need to ask exactly what they are referring to.

It means I completely missed that there was a huge hurricane heading to Texas, where my bestie temporarily resides and only became aware when she sent me a text saying

“By the way I am fine. Hurricane did not hit here. Thanks for asking BESTIE!!”

I also missed the video circulating showing Jacob Blake being shot by police and as I sat to write this piece on locusts – that in January millions of locusts were wreaking havoc in Rajasthan and Gujarat, the worst locust attack seen in almost three decades. 

I have only read about locusts but got curious to actually see them in action when I saw this –

According to the UN body Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the locust attack poses a threat to food security of the affected countries as an adult locust can eat a quantity equal to its weight of about 2 grams every single day. A single square kilometre of the swarm can contain somewhere between 4 to 8 crore adult locusts. Every single day, if they cover 130-150 km, they can eat the food consumed by as many as 35,000 people, it said.

And I will restore to you the years that the locust has eaten.

JOEL 2:25

Lost years could never be restored. We all live with regret. “Shoulds” we ought to have taken care of years ago. We watched time pass us by. The fruits of wasted years – the potential of what could be.

No amount of dwelling in the past, simmering in unforgiveness will restore what we lost.

The only place we can change anything is NOW – in this present moment. And we need to be mindful of the thoughts we think – “those locusts devouring our hopes and dreams.”

I remember Joel Osteen talking about this man who kept reliving the tragic death of his wife, by looking at the newspaper clippings of the tragedy daily. He lived in pain and torment bringing it into each new day.

You may have experienced unhappiness in a past relationship. Is it still making you unhappy?

You have a choice.

Will you continue to harbor feelings of resentment, of loss, thinking it was a complete waste of time? Will you let the years that this “relationship locust” ate continue to torment you and cause you unnecessary suffering now?

Or will you choose to learn from it and grow? To be wiser, perhaps more discerning? To understand your own shortcomings and perhaps chart a way forward for self-improvement?

The only way to change anything is to give new meaning to the experience. And as you augment the meaning to serve you favorably, your emotional state will also shift positively.

Change your past by changing your attitude towards it and watch as years lost to the “locusts of your mind” are restored unto you.

the oyster understanding

iStock

Oysters weren’t really in my head today, until I wished a two year old “Happy Birthday” on Facebook.

Ellie was sitting atop a table as if she were in charge with a firm handle on her two year old life.

“Congratulations!” I told Ellie. “The world is your oyster.”

For someone so young, with so much runway in front of her, I thought my salutation appropriate.

Then there was the word “oyster” again.

For some reason I selected ‘A House of My Own’ by Sandra Cisneros, from my library. A birthday gift in 2016 that I had not yet read.

There it was, in the middle of a blank page:

The pearl is the oyster’s autobiography – FEDERICO FELLINI

Whenever a word appears more than once in my day, I know I need to pay attention.

On page five of the introduction, Sandra went on…

Often I had to tell the story over and over till it felt complete. When this happened, it’s likely I couldn’t remember the “true” event anymore, but I could understand myself better. I think it’s like this for most people. We tell a story to survive a memory in much the same way the oyster survives an invading grain of sand. The pearl is the story of our lives, even if most wouldn’t admit it.

I sat with this for a bit.

So what exactly is it that the oyster does to survive an invading grain of sand?

In order to protect itself from irritation, the oyster will quickly begin covering the uninvited visitor with layers of nacre — the mineral substance that fashions the mollusk’s shells. Layer upon layer of nacre, also known as mother-of-pearl, coat the grain of sand until the iridescent gem is formed.

We tell and retell stories, each time, taking the sting out of the story, making it more palatable until we can present to the world “the pearl” we are finally comfortable with. It’s our augmented truth. It’s the way we can survive pain, tragedy and despair.

So what’s my takeaway today?

There is beauty in irritation.

Just shy of perfect are the really great, but slightly broken moments that make up a truly marvelous existence.

JOHN CARLTON

There are many grains of sand in Ellie’s future as I’m sure there will be in mine and yours. If we spend time trying to keep those irritant grains out of our oyster, we are going to expend a lot of energy playing defensive.

What if we didn’t resist?

Especially now, we need to do the best we can in a VERY unpredictable world.

Will the Real Entrepreneurs Please Stand Up!

The Oxford English Dictionary defines an entrepreneur as ‘a person who sets up a business or businesses, taking on financial risks in the hope of profit’.

Who comes to mind? Perhaps Mark Zuckerberg or Alan Sugar? Maybe Bill Gates or James Dyson?

If we were talking about entrepreneurs in Trinidad and Tobago who would we select? Maybe Derek Chin, or Mario Sabga Aboud?

Continue reading “Will the Real Entrepreneurs Please Stand Up!”

It doesn’t matter your level of success…

No matter your level of success, if you encounter a challenge, the solution comes from asking the right questions, digging deep, being truthful and discovering what works for you.

Franchises have figured out operations and product – marketing is up to you.

You may take onboard a tried and true consultative approach but it’s still up to you to build real relationships.

There is always work. Nothing is ever “all figured out.”

joshua-hoehne-jAomkJlKwPI-unsplashSuccess in any business is found by solving solving solving the riddles served up – all the time! Your answers are not going to be found in any book, or doing a course.

It’s found inside you and you need to be prepared to deep dive for your answers. Sometimes when you think you’ve found the answer, that may be just the tip of the iceberg for you. You may have solved a part of a much larger, more pernicious disease operating in your business.

My point – less reliance on “the other”, “the guru”…

The skills we are going to need now and in the future are in the invisible realm:

  1. Alignment
  2. Critical thinking
  3. Curiosity
  4. Self-awareness
  5. Self-discipline and
  6. Opportunity discernment