Life is too short to figure everything out on your own. 

Humans spend the years from birth to 12 learning how to survive.  Our parents have a vested interest in helping us develop the Stop there: we merely survive. 

We live in a highly complex society.  There is intense competition for status in whatever hierarchy you compete in. It doesn’t matter whether you choose to compete or not, society and humanity are designed to compete for resources.  It is not those born strong that rise to the top of status hierarchies in today’s human society.  It is those who learn to use their capacities most effectively and adapt quickly to changes in the environment.  

There are two ways we learn to make positive progress in this society – 1) our own experience, or 2) through the experiences of others.  Our own experience is a slow and expensive way of learning. 

If I am to choose to learn most effectively, through the experiences of others, I must learn the art of meaningful conversation. Through my work with Entrepreneurs’ Organisation forum and Vistage groups I have worked extensively over the last 15 years on creating the type of meaningful conversation that allows one to learn from the experiences of another.

I’m sharing 4 ideas that I took from Jordan Peterson’s book the 12 Rules for Life when I read it this year.

“Your current knowledge has neither made you perfect nor kept you safe”

Your knowledge is insufficient. You must accept this before you can converse philosophically, instead of pushing opinions, convincing, oppressing, dominating or joking.  

“Assume that the person you are listening to might know something you don’t”

It is necessary to respect the personal experience of your conversational partners. You must assume that they have reached careful, thoughtful, genuine conclusions (and, perhaps, they must have done the work that justifies this assumption). You must believe that if they shared their conclusions with you, you could bypass at least some of the pain of personally learning the same things (as learning from the experience of others can be quicker and much less dangerous).

It takes conversation to organise a mind 

“people organize their brains with conversation. If they don’t have anyone to tell their story to, they lose their minds.” The input of the community is required for the integrity of the individual psyche.    

“Life is short, and you don’t have time to figure everything out on your own” 

They say Aristotle was the last man who knew everything there was to know. Since the time of Aristotle (over 2300 years ago) society has become too complex for any one individual to know all that is known.  

When I was in school, I took huge value in solving from first principles. I would prefer to solve mathematic problems from first principles and avoid using formulaic recipes that allowed you to shortcut to a solution.  This was symptomatic of my whole approach to life. If I hadn’t figured it out myself, I didn’t value the knowledge.  There is a heroic valor to this approach, but it is dumb heroics.  

If you liked this post, you will also like How do I become a better listener and 50 Questions for better Critical Thinking.

Check out the full list of books I read in 2020.

 

 

Be Persistent. Success takes time.

Tom Peters often says that “Everything important in Life takes time”. If you can start something and get it done ASAP, it probably is not that important.

In order to plant the seeds for important things… you need to shift your time horizon to the long term.

Building trusted Relationships… takes time.

Establishing the support of allies… takes time

Listening… takes time

Thoughtfulness… takes time

Gratitude and small gestures… takes time.

Tom Peters says that 50% of your time should be unscheduled. He asks “What’s the most important thing you do as a leader?” I paused and thought… and then he answered.

Daydreaming.

Daydreaming. Visualising a better future. Allowing your ideas to flow. Seeing from a bigger perspective.

The Worst thing a Leader can do

There is nothing worst than a boss running around from one meeting to another, unprepared, arriving late, rushed, busy, frustrated, hassled.

Speed for speed’s sake is crap.

Don’t scale crap.

Great people know that the most important thing is deep, trusting relationships with good people.

This week I had the privilege of listening to Toni Nadal, coach of #1 tennis legend Rafa Nadal, share his story with the Vistage community. He spoke about his approach to helping Rafa prepare for difficult times. The central focus of Toni was removing all excuses from Rafa’s mindset.

How to Prepare for Difficult Times

Lessons from the life of Rafa Nadal

Conferences 2020 style…

The Struggle is the Way. It was important for Toni Nadal to help Rafa learn to love the struggle, to accept that nothing worthwhile comes easily.

He worked in practice on Rafa’s capacity to stay the course, to struggle to the end, to fight to the last minute of practice, the last point in a match.

“An excuse has never won a match”

Toni Nadal

The excuse may be true, it may not be my fault, but only when I completely accept responsibility for my current situation can I find the power to change the path.

Your excuses are all correct.

Rafa: “It was hot” -> Toni: “It must have just have been hot on half the court?”

Toni Nadal worked on character, not on ability

Character gets you through the tough times

Where is your Locus of Control, 2 choices:

  1. Me as responsible,
  2. World as responsible

I only have power to change my life when I take responsibility for my current and future situation.

It is easy to Give Up

It is easy to complain

It is easy to find reasons to stop fighting

It is easy to give up

It is easy to say that today is not your day

It is easy to say that tomorrow will be better

It won’t be…

Not until you change.

You can use your mind in two ways -> find the excuse, or find the resourcefulness to get through.

If you search for excuses you are guaranteed to find excuses. The smarter you are, the better your excuses.

If you want to throw in the towel, throw in the towel. Just get that life is an uphill struggle…

Uphill Habits

The habits that matter are uphill habits Exercise, Listening, Getting clear on your goals… these take work

Donuts, Complaining and putting the TV on… these just flow down easily.

In the most recent edition of James Clear’s weekly newsletter, he shared this gem on improving your quality of life.

Be “Selectively Ignorant”

  • Ignore topics that drain your attention.
  • Unfollow people that drain your energy.
  • Abandon projects that drain your time.

Do not keep up with it all. The more selectively ignorant you become, the more broadly knowledgable you can be.

What or who do you need to start ignoring?

We cannot control how the news will make us feel, but we can decide whether to watch it or not. We cannot control how someones words will make us feel, but we can decide to spend time with people who want the best for us. Choose who and what you let into your mind.

I’ve had some tough days this year.

I am not alone.

Covid is a physical disease, but the wider impact will be on the mental health of the billions who have been hit by the economic shutdown.

Who do you feel is struggling to keep things together?

Every single one of us has incredible power to lift up the spirits of the people that are around us. It requires a choice. It is harder when you are struggling yourself. It is important. The people around you need your leadership.

How can we help those around us feel good about themselves?

In the video, I share 3 ideas.

  1. Ask Questions
  2. Let them help you
  3. Shine a light on their strengths

Who needs your attention today? Who around you would benefit from a few minutes of facetime or skype or a phone call?

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.

If you liked this post, you will also like Notes from Cicero and 4 Steps to Stop Self-Sabotaging.

These are my notes from the webinar that EO Coimbatore organised for today, 25th April. The livestream replay is at the bottom of this post.

“When you are in fog, you don’t need inspiration… you need clarity”

Sadhguru

Don’t seek inspiration, seek clarity.

Memory and Imagination – this is what we are suffering.

Right now you are home with family. Nothing is missing.  Your memory can haunt you and your imagination can scare you. It is you who generates suffering. 

Where is your intelligence working?  For you?  Or to scare you?  Or to haunt you?

Family and Relationships

Every relationship we have formed, we have formed to fulfil our needs. We cannot control the other. Everything that happens outside of us (outside of our mind) will not happen our way.

Do you want control? Get a dog.  Guaranteed 12 year love affair.  No human being will give such love.

On Freedom…

Freedom in the USA = I want my freedom to not change, to not adapt, to have my haircut… even while people around me are dying

70% of US employees “hate their job”… and still go… what damage it does to oneself to spend time with people or things that you “hate”

  • Many are stuck in the rut… but it is a comfortable rut
  • If the virus lockdown is short… we will stay in our ruts
  • If the virus lockdown is long… we will be forced to leave our ruts

If the quarantine is less than 12 months… we’ll go back to our old ways. Growth, growth, growth… 2%, 5%, 8%… we will destroy this planet.

What is success without growth?

Either consciously we slow down… or an outside force will slow us down. If we don’t do this now, we will never make this change.

Thought experiment…

Everyone in India is walking around with the latest phone, the latest sneakers. It is like it is an embarrassment to have a 4 year old phone. Imagine:

  • If you buy a phone, you must use it for 4 years
  • If you buy a car, you must use it for 8 years

If we don’t do this now, 2050 or 2100 will be bring massive challenges for humanity.

Are we serious about sustainable development goals?

Investment is messed up

“Over 70% of global investment goes into 30-40 cities”

Sadhguru

No city can handle this level of inflow. Not New York, not Mumbai. Slums are a terrible place for women, for children. There is dignity on the land… but not in the slums.

How to create opportunities for human beings where they are?

If we saw our children without food for just one day, the food industry would change very rapidly. We would each highly value having some land.

Education – ripe for major change

Today: Teacher is someone who has read a book you haven’t read. Education as transmission of information is on the way out.

Teacher must become someone who helps you read books you haven’t read, and inspire you to create the works you can create.

Taking care of Oneself

“I have not given the privilege to anybody to make me happy or make me sad”

Sadhguru

What is being well? …to be Happy, to be healthy, to be functioning well. This can only happen if the controls are inside.

Are you joyful as your own nature, or triggered by outside? Once you leave it in the hands of other people, you are accidental in your existence.

If you are accidental, anxiety is guaranteed.

There was happiness before iPhone, car, home. The experience of being human doesn’t change. Only the outside changes. We get used to certain things, and we think this is life

What we gather should serve us. People have lost the distinction between what is me and what is mine.

There are two kinds of suffering – body, mind.

Today it is like the Animals/Plants are saying: “Let’s make the planet great again”.

It is Friday for 6 weeks…

  • The problem is not work
  • The problem is not family
  • The problem is your own mind

Education should focus on “the inner wellbeing of the human being”.

Your body and your mind should work for you, always. Anxiety is your own mind working against you

The science of inner wellness

Only to create pleasantness in our surroundings depends on many many factors. Pleasantness in mind, in health, in compassion… this is under my control

“The One Thing”

Be part of the solution. Inner audit – am I contributing to solution or to problem?  

Be part of the solution. Do what you can do. Don’t make things worse. 

If you liked this, you will also like Sadhguru: If you lose your laugh, you lose everything and Relationships: Build trust.

Livestream EO with Sadhguru

…not if you give with expectation.

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.

What do you take from this video?

More on Reciprocity…

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:

If you liked this post you will also like What is Mentorship? and Living a Purpose driven life.

“You can’t free anybody else and you can’t serve anybody else unless you free yourself” 

Nelson Mandela

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.

You are not a Cog in a Machine.  Photo: iansand
You are not a Cog in a Machine. Photo: iansand

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.

The 3 Escuses

The Resistance

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:

  1. Comparison
  2. Pointlessness
  3. Fear

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.”

Pablo Picasso

Here are a few of many ways I bring these voices into my life to procrastinate and avoid finishing important work.

  1. They won’t let me
  2. I am too young
  3. I am too old
  4. I am only one person
  5. I don’t know enough
  6. I am not a guru
  7. This could be embarrassing
  8. This will be embarrassing
  9. This is too touchy-feely
  10. I won’t get paid for this
  11. This isn’t business stuff
  12. I have to finish the things I have already started
  13. Seth Godin has already said it better than I can
  14. I’ll do it tomorrow/later/after this coffee
  15. Who am I to think I know something special about this?
  16. I’ve got plenty of time next week
  17. I’ve got plenty of time this year
  18. I’ll do it this summer
  19. I’ll do it after the summer
  20. I need to do a little bit more research
  21. Who’s going to read this anyway?
  22. [¡¡¡ insert your own excuse here 😉 !!!!]

That’s just 21…  I have many, many more…