If an oyster keeps all the sand out of his shell, he lives a life of comfort. At the end of his life, you find a dead oyster… in an empty shell.
If a grain of sand enters the oyster’s shell, he loses his life of comfort. In order to protect himself from irritation, the oyster will begin covering the sand with layers of nacre. Layer upon layer cover the grain of sand until the pearl is formed.
When an oyster is bothered by a grain of sand, it creates a pearl.
If the oyster lives this uncomfortable period in their life, at the end of his life you find more than a dead oyster… you find a pearl.
Don’t wish for less problems.
Our problems allow us to create our pearls. When we remove challenge from our life, we remove growth from our life.
So often, our gifts… are not gifts. They come with an obligation. This is not a gift… this is a transaction.
Human beings are hardwired to act in a reciprocal manner – we give back what we receive. If we receive a kind action, we are almost compelled to return the kindness… as long as it is perceived as a gift.
If the action is not perceived as a gift, reciprocity will not work.
Joseph Campbell’s work has had a profound influence on me and on my life. The Hero’s Journey are the steps that a mythical hero must take in order to complete the path to their purpose.
There is no pain-free path… and it must be “chosen sacrifice” if it is to lead you towards self belief. You can’t just accumulate externally imposed suffering and hope… you have to decide to follow the path of the hero.
The Hero’s Journey
“The Hero With a Thousand Faces” is a journey through myths from all over the world. Myths are stories that have been handed down from generation to generation over hundreds and thousands of years. Joseph Campbell shares myths from the ancient Egyptians, the Romans, Hindu and Buddhist legends of the east, and the folk-tales and foundation myths of the indigenous peoples of the Americas.
The book explores common themes that define the world’s myths. While our cultures differ, they structure their stories in similar ways. This template is what is known as the hero’s journey.
The 3 themes and the 17 specific steps along the Hero’s Journey are described below.
Call to Adverture
1.The call to adventure: Something, or someone, interrupts the hero’s familiar life to present a problem, threat, or opportunity. 2.Refusal of the call: Unwilling to step out of their comfort zone or face their fear, the hero initially hesitates to embark on this journey. 3.Supernatural aid: A mentor figure gives the hero the tools and inspiration they need to accept the call to adventure. 4.Crossing the threshold: The hero embarks on their quest. 5.Belly of the whale: The hero crosses the point of no return, and encounters their first major obstacle.
Trials of the Hero
6.The road of trials: The hero must go through a series of tests or ordeals to begin his transformation. Often, the hero fails at least one of these tests. 7.The meeting with the goddess: The hero meets one or more allies, who pick him up and help him continue his journey. 8.Woman as temptress: The hero is tempted to abandon or stray from his quest. Traditionally, this temptation is a love interest, but it can manifest itself in other forms as well, including fame or wealth. 9.Atonement with the father: The hero confronts the reason for his journey, facing his doubts and fears and the powers that rule his life. This is a major turning point in the story: every prior step has brought the hero here, and every step forward stems from this moment. 10.Apotheosis: As a result of this confrontation, the hero gains a profound understanding of their purpose or skill. Armed with this new ability, the hero prepares for the most difficult part of the adventure. 11.The ultimate boon: The hero achieves the goal he set out to accomplish, fulfilling the call that inspired his journey in the first place.
Return of the Hero
12.Refusal of the return: If the hero’s journey has been victorious, he may be reluctant to return to the ordinary world of his prior life. 13.The magic flight: The hero must escape with the object of his quest, evading those who would reclaim it. 14.Rescue from without: Mirroring the meeting with the goddess, the hero receives help from a guide or rescuer in order to make it home. 15.The crossing of the return threshold: The hero makes a successful return to the ordinary world. 16.Master of two worlds: We see the hero achieve a balance between who he was before his journey and who he is now. Often, this means balancing the material world with the spiritual enlightenment he’s gained. 17.Freedom to live: We leave the hero at peace with his life.
What is a Story?
This is a video from a few years back where I simplified the hero journey structure into 7 steps:
“You can’t free anybody else and you can’t serve anybody else unless you free yourself”
You are not an accident. You are a singular piece in the giant jigsaw puzzle that is this world. This jigsaw puzzle is not a 50 piece puzzle, nor a 250 piece puzzle… it is a 7 billion piece puzzle. I find it frustrating when my daughter and I put together a 50 piece puzzle and find that there are only 49 pieces. We can’t finish the game. The great puzzle needs your piece. Whatever you are given, you need to pass it on with integrity, humility and generosity.
The greatest anger is the anger at ourselves for not living up to what we know we are capable of. Hell is not after death, hell is the moment before death when a human being looks back on all the wasted potential.
“What you can be, you must be” Abraham Maslow.
Honestly expressing yourself.
The greatest gift you can give to those around you is your own shining self belief and glorious sense of meaning in what you do. If you don’t have it, only you can do the work to get it. If you have it, only you can keep doing what it takes to keep it.
The opposite of love is not hate, it is apathy. Love is not easy. Love is hard. Doing the work that needs to get done, overcoming the devil in me that avoids the work is the course of love. Allowing the resistance, the procrastination to win is the course of apathy. Apathy leads to self-hate, which builds to resentment and then is shared with others in bitterness and cruelty.
Stephen Pressfield speaks powerfully about the Resistance. It is a force within each of us that stops us from doing the work that really matters.
The 3 big voices of my personal resistance are:
The Last 5% is the Hard Part
Starting is easy. There are no prizes for starting the marathon. You get the medal for finishing. Most people I know are good at starting. Few people I know are good at finishing.
The closer you get to the end, the stronger the Resistance grows.
“An artist never finishes a work, he abandons it.”
Here are a few of many ways I bring these voices into my life to procrastinate and avoid finishing important work.
They won’t let me
I am too young
I am too old
I am only one person
I don’t know enough
I am not a guru
This could be embarrassing
This will be embarrassing
This is too touchy-feely
I won’t get paid for this
This isn’t business stuff
I have to finish the things I have already started
Seth Godin has already said it better than I can
I’ll do it tomorrow/later/after this coffee
Who am I to think I know something special about this?
Abraham Maslow was the first psychologist to look specifically at what it takes to live a healthy, fulfilling human life. Prior to Maslow, psychology was focussed on dealing with mental illness and abnormality. Maslow suggested that to be happy, it is not sufficient to just remove sadness.
The 6 basic Human Emotional Needs
Maslow, Victor Frankl and Tony Robbins have developed the idea that there are 6 specific emotional needs that must be met in some way by each individual human being in order for life to have a sense of fulfillment.
These 6 needs must be met in a specific order… You can’t seek variety if you don’t have any safety; you can’t seek growth if you don’t have connection and significance.
1. Safety & 2. Variety
3. Connection & 4. Significance
5. Contribution & 6. Growth
Video: The 6 Emotional Needs of Human Beings
Maslow investigated the ingredients of positive mental health and developed Humanistic psychology. This approach to mental health is guided by the idea that we all possess the inner resources for growth and healing.
The basic principles behind humanistic psychology are simple:
Here and Now is Everything – How you are right now is how you are in life; how you interact with me now shows how you interact with everyone.
You are Responsible – To be mentally healthy, individuals must take personal responsibility for their actions.
You are Worthy – Each person is worthy. I can take negative action, this never stops me being inherently worthy as a human being.
You Need Growth – The ultimate goal of living is personal growth.
The Journey to Fulfilment
A Fulfilling Life or Transcendence is not a state that one attains, but a constant state of becoming. Self-Actualisation is a continual process of becoming rather than a perfect state one reaches of “happy ever after”.
No matter how learned or wise you become, if you stop the journey… you lose the sense of fulfilment. This is a journey, not a destination. This is life’s great pilgrimage.
You can’t copy someone else’s fulfilling life and expect personal fulfilment… your journey will be different than every other human being. If you find yourself following another’s footsteps… be careful.
Great leaders have high levels of self awareness. One element of self awareness is a good understanding of how human beings differ in terms of personality. The big 5 personality traits can be remembered with the acronym OCEAN.
Trait descriptions and impact on job performance.
Openness, inventive/curious vs. consistent/cautious; Openness is positively related to proactivity at the individual and the organizational levels and is negatively related to team and organizational proficiency.
Conscientiousness, efficient/organised vs. easy-going/careless; Conscientiousness is positively related to all forms of work role performance.
Extroversion, outgoing/energetic vs. solitary/reserved; Extraversion is negatively related to individual task proficiency.
Agreeableness, friendly/compassionate vs. challenging/detached; Agreeableness is negatively related to individual task proactivity.
Neuroticismsensitive/nervous vs. secure/confident; Neuroticism is negatively related to all forms of work role performance.
There are 3 reasons why a human being makes a change in their habits. If you want to effect a change in your life, or help another with a change that they say they want to make in their life – there are 3 levers that can increase the likelihood that change happens.
The 3 Reasons we Change
Pain – When my perception of current pain is visceral, then I will make the effort required to change. Someone can be in great pain but be unaware of the degree to which they are suffering. If I help myself or other become fully aware of the current pain, change can begin.
Vision – When I can see with extreme clarity where I want to get to, it is more likely that changes will happen. If I have a vague sense of where I want to go, nothing will change. As I make that vision clearer and clearer, more and more believable… change will begin to happen.
Fear of Future Consequences – When I can see the future pain that is coming if I do not change, and I feel it viscerally as if it was a current pain, change can begin to happen. Often I know that there are future consequences, but I haven’t truly taken the time to visualise and feel how bad it will be.
If you want someone to change, including yourself, don’t tell them what to do. Help them feel the current pain, see clearly the vision or feel the future consequences. This is how we help change happen.
I was in Boston to teach on the Entrepreneurs’ Organisation EMP (Entrepreneurial Masters Program) this week. MIT Endicott House is one of the most beautiful locations for leadership retreats and programs. I brought my drone to capture the scenery around the main buildings. You’ll see the drone shots right at the beginning of the video below.
Why Do We Need to Clarify our Purpose?
Dandapani was one of the speakers at the Entrepreneurs’ Organisation Masters Program event this week at MIT Endicott House, outside of Boston. Dandapani spent 10 years as a Hindu monk, meditating with his guru on the purpose of his life.
Dandapani spoke about the importance of consciously deciding what is important and what is not important in your life. Why?
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