You do not need…

You do not need to do anything,
just remain sitting at your table and listen.
Do not even listen, just wait.
Do not even wait, just be quiet, still and solitary,
and the universe will expose itself to you.
It has no choice. It will roll in ecstasy at your feet.

-Franz Kafka

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Inspiration

I wish that every human life might be pure, transparent freedom. ~ Simone de Beauvoir

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For one day, we are going to die.

It’s something I hear often, and something I don’t remember often enough – the irony of human life is that we go about our daily life as though we are going to live forever. So anything we want to do, is something that can be done later – my life is full of the daily tasks of living. It’s as though I’ve got a project manager sitting in my head – who is incentivised on creating more tasks and more dross – for me to fill my daily hour, so I can run further every day – without reaching anywhere.

The second part to this – while we act as though we are going to live forever, we also lose sight of the real significance of our lives. In that context – how important are all those events from my past, or the fears that I am holding on to and dragging around with me? It’s said better by Chaim Potok.


“Human beings do not live forever, Reuven. We live less than the time it takes to blink an eye, if we measure our lives against eternity. So it may be asked what value is there to a human life. There is so much pain in the world. What does it mean to have to suffer so much if our lives are nothing more than the blink of an eye? I learned a long time ago, Reuven, that a blink of an eye in itself is nothing. But the eye that blinks, that is something. A span of life is nothing. But the man who lives that span, he is something. He can fill that tiny span with meaning, so its quality is immeasurable though its quantity may be insignificant. Do you understand what I am saying? A man must fill his life with meaning, meaning is not automatically given to life. It is hard work to fill one’s life with meaning. That I do not think you understand yet. A life filled with meaning is worthy of rest. I want to be worthy of rest when I am no longer here.”
— Chaim Potok (The Chosen)


We are a bunch of organisms, on a small rock in aeons of space – living a brief flash, not even a mote of dust compared to the age of the universe.

How often do we consider what’s important? And how often do we consider what really matters in our lives? And even if we know what really matters – am I doing the best I can right now, every day to create what I want – not just what brings me pleasure, but what makes me truly completely deeply satisfied. Irrespective of momentary pain, never mind short lived discomfort. In the words every movie hero/athlete in a nike ad – the hurt is short, but the glory is forever.

Our understanding of what it means to be a human being, of what’s really going on in our head – grows every day. We have a better understanding of the default evolutionary wiring in our brain that can sometimes run us – and we are learning to overcome this – whether it’s from economic experiments which tell us about how we are wired, our from hardcore scientific research into neural connections in the brain.

Which brings me back to what I started with – all this learning is hopefully bringing us closer to identifying what it takes to be happy.

What can we do to make ourselves happier? – you might use the prioritisation matrix or you could just set down a list of goals (remembering that setting goals works powerfully to focus your brain and resources on being effective and accomplishing what matters to you)  – it helps to be clear about what really matters, and what’s most important (and money is rarely the answer)

And then you could start visualising your goals – either with a deck of dreams, or a simple list or a pinterest gallery, whatever rocks your boat.

I started with what really mattered, what I wanted my life to be about – Love, Laughter, Learning and Making a Difference/Contributing to make the world a better place – then added a list and then added elements for visualisation, it’s a list of 26 so far, with about 15 on the pinterest gallery.

For I am not going to live forever, so I’m going to stay with what really matters – and for that I had today.

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Another Invitation

 

What would tomorrow look like if I could strip out everything that isn’t essential in my life?

What if I applied minimalism to my life? What would happen if let go of all the possessions I have and all the titles and labels I pretend to and the ones that I aspire to. If I no longer did anything out of convention or routine or duty. I get off the treadmill and take a pause. If I get rid of everything that isn’t important – which isn’t mine from the core of my being, but is an externality and a comfort. Keep only that which I need to live and lose everything that my ego needs to keep me from living.  If I just need the clothes on my back and a pen and some paper.

IF that was all I needed then what would be available to me? When you strip everything that isn’t important then surely what’s left is what’s important. The urgency and crazy chaos of everyday living on the endless cycle of ‘busyness’ and ‘consumerism’ keeps the real things hidden.

All of us want to change the world. Or change the environment. We all have our passions, and what we’d love to be doing. And we already know. And we refuse to look too deeply today.

Tomorrow, I tell myself.

I’ll get to it tomorrow, for today – let me just get to the next milestone ($$ or the promotion or the house, or the wedding or the baby, or insert ‘what applies here’)

Well, if I just strip it all down – there’s no milestone to reach.

There’s just me.

And there’s the world.

And there’s so much possible.

If.

If I could strip it all down.

What can you do?

Inspired by

  1. The Invitation – Oriah Mountain Dreamer 
  2. The Nike Ad – which looks like a take on ‘You shall know our velocity‘ – Dave Eggers
  3. A day spent packing – I have way too stuff, which I don’t need and never did
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The Alpha and the Omega

He sat in the darkness, stretched out over the chair – one leg across the arm rest and his back across the other. All the years of work had finally paid off – he had pierced the centre of the universe and discovered all it’s secrets. He knew everything, he was all seeing, all knowing and one with everything.
He knew why the waves bent, and why particles appeared and disappeared. He knew how it all started, and where it was going to end. He knew when, and he knew how.
The burden of ignorance had been lifted from his shoulders. But it was now replaced with the burden of knowledge. And suddenly he was not so sure – that knowing made a difference. He had felt more freedom, when he had been wandering blindfolded through the alleyways of the universe. Now, when his eyes were open – all choices were closed. He could only follow the path he could see.
He no longer had the freedom to stumble, to make mistakes, to let himself go with his whims – or indulge his ego or his irrationality. Reason ruled the roost, and he had only one God to follow. He was God now – and he was a heartless one at that.
He paused, looked back and then looked forward.
And looked around.
Every human being has a choice. So surely as God, he had many more.
What’s the point going to the centre of the universe, to the heart of life itself and coming back if he wasn’t free. He knew more, but he had the freedom to act. To choose what he made of this knowledge.
And a smile broke out slowly over his face. He knew everything in terms of knowledge.
But there was still more to learn.
And he could stumble.
And he could fall.
And it would be ok.
After all, he was God and he could always forgive himself.

 

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Hello Poppet!




Think of this wide expanse we call life. 


Suppose reality was like a sheet and you me are shapes popping up in this sheet. We are like sock puppets –  Shakespeare could’ve been a little more specific – All the world is a stage, and we are merely sock puppets. 


Infinity fills this little shell we call ourself, and animates it. And for the duration of the play we forget that we are more than this shell. We are more than just this little something we call ourselves. 


We have within us – the infinite. We are Infinite.

All of us.

And when we can see beyond the illusion of the puppets. And look at life force which is animating the puppets – we can see that all our fears are tiny tiny specks of nothing. Our concerns are fleeting. Compared to what is available to us.

And also we can see – just like the two hands animating a sock puppet are actually just one person. We are all connected, and we are all part of the same infinite. And we experience the same connection, with variations on the theme. Based on the roles we play. Which doesn’t change the fact that we are not so different – you and I. We are the same. All of us are just ONE. Which might also tell us why the simplest act of helping someone gives us so much more satisfaction. Anything you do to connect with someone – smiling in the lift or opening the door or just complimenting someone on their shoes, that’s why it’s all so rewarding. Because we’re just helping ourselves. 

The illusions of color, race, gender, sexuality, wealth etc are just the sock we’ve chosen to wear for this particular show. 

A sock doesn’t make the right hand better than the left hand. And a sock doesn’t suddenly make the right hand and the left hand eternal enemies.

It’s just a sock.

And we are not just a sock. We are infinite. And we are One.
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On the Claude Makalele Conundrum

One of the greatest footballers ever. He won’t be remembered, and he won’t make many lists. And not many outside the game will know him – the way they know Messi, Ronaldinho, Ronaldo or Rooney. And arguably he made a bigger difference to the teams he played on, if not as big a difference as any of the Golden Ball winners.

First the results:

  • 1 UEFA Champions League
  • 1 UEFA Super Cup
  • 1 FA Cup
  • 1 Community Shield
  • 2 Premier League Titles
  • 2 La Liga Titles
  • 1 Ligue 1 Title

And of course, a runner’s up medal at the 2006 World Cup – which could easily have been a Winner’s medal but for the momentary lapse of reason from Zizou.

And now there’s the Makalele role – teams now look for players like him.

Chelsea (Ranieri signed him, although he ended up playing for Mourinho) famously signed him when Florentino Perez decided that he needed Beckham, and said Real would not miss Makelele, who joined the Premiership club in a £16.6m deal.

“He wasn’t a header of the ball and he rarely passed the ball more than three metres,” Perez said. “Younger players will arrive who will cause Makelele to be forgotten.”

Other members on the team didn’t agree.

Zidane “Why put another layer of gold paint on the Bentley when you are losing the entire engine?” Steve McManaman called Makelele “the most important and yet least appreciated midfielder at Real” while Fernando Hierro echoed him, saying: “he’s been the best player in the team for years but people just don’t notice him”.

Of course, Chelsea paid up and got the best defensive midfielder in the world, and Real Madrid spent the next few years getting knocked at the pre-quarters in the CL and failing to win a trophy until they managed to win La Liga in 2007, and they are still chasing the elusive tenth Champions League title.
But all this old hat for most soccer fans and followers. They’ve heard this one many times over, and read about it many times. They get it. Real and Perez screwed up big time. That’s not the point here.
The point is how often this happens in organisations and teams – everybody knows the stars, and the supposed winners – the rainmakers, but how often do the leaders or the executives high up in the organisation get reliable and effective information to evaluate contributions at a team level – especially a few levels removed? Also considering how differing motivations and human behaviour make it harder for unbiased information to filter upwards. Add to this the difficulty of really getting good data on performance considering the subjective nature of most performance evaluations and it can get really hard to gauge individual contributions accurately and even harder to acknowledge and reward these contributions in a manner that is fair and helps drive the organisation forward. Considering how effectively player stats are measured and the wealth of information available – and still how hard it is to build a great team, you can appreciate the complexity is multiplied many times over when it comes to organisations,
So the question is what’s the solution?
Peer feedback, especially informal feedback is a good starting point, rewarding teams for team results and appreciating the steady B’s in addition to the superstar A’s is another way.
And understanding that not every great performer seeks the limelight, so relying on self-promotion from your teams and employees can be misleading at best and create a culture of credit piracy, at worst.
And ask yourself, who is the Makalele on your team.
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