Create It Now

509. Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

Clients often say to me, “I don’t know what I want?”

This question, “What do I want?” is hard for most people to answer. It is hard because we assume that the answer is an outcome, a thing (a noun). We assume it is achievable; somewhere down the road is a place called happiness and if only we knew what it looked like we might be able to get “there.”

What if we are making it harder than it really is? What if we have the wrong premise? What if the assumption beneath the question is actually a verb? What if what we want to create is a better life, a better relationship with ourselves, a quality process of living? Then the question is easily answered.

If what we want to create is a better life it is useful to recognize that life is not something we will “get” or achieve by tomorrow or the next day or the next. Life is not something we create later. Life is the process that is happening now while we are fretting over the thing we think is missing.

What if we are not separate from what we want? What if a full experience of life is actually the intention? There is no better time or place to begin a full experience of life than the present.

[I’m be on the road and taking a break so I’m dipping into the archives and reworking and reposting some of your favorites. I’ll be back at it in the middle of August]

Story Yourself Strong

508. Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

I was sitting in Muse waiting for Elizabeth and listening to the conversations all around me. Most were focused on what was wrong. Most were steeped in what was missing. It was a lack-fest.

Brendon Burchard teaches people in business that stories of struggle are more effective than stories of success because people will more readily identify with the struggle. Stories of success put people off. They don’t want to hear about your victories; they will buy your stuff if you identify with their pain. Doesn’t that speak volumes!

So try this experiment: Identify your strengths. Stop and consider what you do well. Focus on what you love to do? Make a list of what you love to do and what you believe are your gifts. Make a list of your strengths. Enjoy it. Brag to yourself. Relish it. Try it.

Then, ask this question: Is it possible to identify your strengths separate from your needs? Make another list of the things you think you need. Embellish this list; have fun with it just like you did in making your list of strengths.

Compare your list of needs with your list of strengths.

Now, throw away your list of needs. The odds are good that this list dominates most of your time and focus so toss it. You can dig it out of the trash later.

It is useful, creative and productive (not to mention generative) to focus on your gifts and build upon your strengths. If you want to create something new, your strengths will help you. Placing your focus on your needs will generally lead to lots of excuses.

Bring your strengths to the party. They are far more interesting than what you think you need.

[I’m be on the road and taking a break so I’m dipping into the archives and reworking and reposting some of your favorites. I’ll be back at it in the middle of August]

Where’s The Value?

507. Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

[I’m be on the road and taking a break so I’m dipping into the archives and reworking and reposting some of your favorites. I’ll be back at it in the middle of August]

Here are some thoughts about self-love from Ana-the-wise (with my comments in parenthesis):

Pure intention comes when you allow that you are the most important person, when you stop relying on others to find your value (your intentions split when beneath every action runs a river of need for others to give you your value; your intention splits and becomes, “to seek my value in others”).

Valuing what you do begins with valuing who you are. Valuing yourself is really a question of being, not a question of doing. Your value has nothing to do with your achievements – your achievements do not give you value (you assign your actions their worth so why not drop the illusion and begin with recognizing that you are unique in the universe before you ever do a thing).

You have within you all the elements you need to create for yourself what you desire. No one is going to recognize your value for you – value can’t come to you if you don’t first value yourself. Begin with this: value your opinion of yourself above all other opinions of you. Know one else knows you better than yourself so be the measure of yourself and let go any one elses idea of what and who you should be.

So, if you are seeking your “authentic” self a good first move might be to stop seeking it in others eyes.

Wave The Card

506. Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

Deep in my crow protection charm box, a potent set of crow talisman cards carefully nested in a Wintergreen Altoids tin, created and juiced-up with the magic of Lisa and Avery, is a card that reads, “Wave this card in case of surrender.” It has become my summer action mantra; its power extends beyond crow protection and serves as the north star of my sailing ship. I wave that card regularly, at least once a day. Recently I’ve waved it so often that like a soccer referee I only need to pull it from my pocket and hold it aloft for the universe to see. Red card; I surrender. What is the next best business step: I surrender. What shall I do with my life now: I surrender. What shall we do for dinner: I surrender.

As Alan reminds me (and I often report), there are two different understandings of the word “surrender.” In the west it means to give up. In the east it means to give over. My card definitely refers to the eastern variety. As I stand on my balcony waving my card I am not signaling defeat, rather I am letting go of resistance. I certainly know how to swim upstream. I am well versed in pushing back. I am a master of struggle. The currents are strong and pulling me in an unknown direction; I surrender. I have been paddling against the current for quite a while and although I might have acquired Popeye arms and a clear determination, my canoe remains stationary. What might happen if I allowed the current to carry me? Where might I go if I used my paddle to steer instead of to resist? I surrender; let’s find out.

Since I began waving my surrender card the crows have stopped their assault. I have stopped my assault, too. At lunch Andrew and I talked of walking into discomfort, stepping into the unknown. This is to allow follow the current. We talked of surrendering the need to know. Act and see what happens. The message is clear: there is a vast difference between working with potential and trying to force something into being: the operative phrase, the statement of nature is “to work with.”

Mind Your Metaphors

505. Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

Alan and I just facilitated a forum on transformational leadership coaching. We worked with the importance of language and metaphor and I was reminded why I believe all change begins with a change in language. To change your language is to change your story. To change your story is to change what you see and experience – it is to change your world.

Language is metaphoric. Language is always referential to experience; language is not the experience, it is the interpretation of the experience. How you story your experience – the language that you use to define yourself – gives meaning to your world. Language is much more powerful than we understand!

You create your world through the story you tell. Your metaphors reveal the story you tell.

Ask yourself what is the difference between “problem solving” and “working with potential?” Are you “fixing” yourself or “creating” the life you desire? Are you “blocked” or “empty” or “jazzed” or “on fire?” Are you “enough” or “authentic” or “present?” Have you “arrived?” Is your life “broken into compartments” or is there “flow?” Have you “fulfilled your potential,” “given away the farm,” or are you “seeking clarity?”

Are you still in doubt about who defines you? Who tells your story if not you?

Gather On The Beach

504. Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

Once, I saw Rex Ziak build a map of the earth with post-it notes as he told the history of exploration and mapping of the world. It was an odd sensation as I was delighted to see the continents slowly take shape – I got to discover the world – but I also had a feeling of tremendous loss – as if the earth was being gobbled.

A few weeks ago the pirates landed on Alki beach like they do every year. It is a ritual invasion that marks the beginning of Sea Fair festivities. Hundreds of people packed the beach. Canons were fired. Parrots sat on shoulders, families cheered. There were vendors of every shape and size hawking pirate patches, plastic swords, t-shirts, pirate flags, lemonade, ice cream, bike rides, boat rides, airplanes pulled advertisements overhead…everything was for sale.

Last night Todd, Lora and I were walking. It was early evening and I’d just finished teaching a class; I often walk to clear my mind. As we approached Alki beach we saw several tribal canoes paddling in a line toward the shore. Each year the tribes of the northwest coast gather, a ritual remembrance and celebration of the time they would come together and trade. Before landing, each canoe glided close to shore, guided by songs of welcome and someone in the canoe ritually asked permission to land from the local elder, “We are tired and hungry and ask that you might welcome us to rest…” The elder, standing at water’s edge replied, “We welcome you to share in our bounty….” Dozens of canoes approached, each asking the blessing, each ritually welcomed. There were no vendors, no helicopters, no fanfare, nothing was being sold; it was simple. It was about people coming together to share their bounty.

The final post-it notes completing Rex Ziak’s map defined the northwest coast of the United States of America. It was the final unexplored/unmapped territory and was completed after the Corp of Discovery expedition of Lewis and Clark. The maps were complete, the trade routes were known, the resources identified, the pie cut into slices. I finally understood why Rex’s beautiful map brought such a conflicted feeling to me: the people that gathered on Alki beach for the pirate landing were there to get something, that is the ritual way of people-of-the-map. The people that came in their canoes gathered to bring something to each other, that is the ritual way of people-of- potlatch. Rex mapped in post-it notes their inevitable collision.

Consider Your Neighbor

503. Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

At the beginning of class, Saul-the-chi-lantern asked a couple to speak of their recent experiences studying with the master. They’d just returned from a trip to New York. The woman (I can’t remember her name) said, “There was a quote that really struck me: What good is your chi if it does not consider your neighbor.” Given yesterday’s post, I smiled. Interconnectivity seems to be the theme this week.

Last night I watched a potent and unsettling interview Bill Moyers conducted with journalist and activist Chris Hedges. Hedges has written a new book, Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt, about the impact of capitalism on the world. He roots his examination in 4 devastated and exhausted communities in the United States; places where the poverty is shocking and the system is wittingly or unwittingly maintaining the cycle. There is a cost in lives of our consumer economy that we shield ourselves from seeing – even within our borders. There is also an ecological cost that we pretend is not our doing.

Chris Hedges used a term, “moral fragmentation” to describe us, a society that has thoroughly confused money with morality, whose value set has eroded and been replaced with, as he named it, “Wall Street values.” He said of the financial players, they know the impact of what they do and think that being a good father is enough or absolves them (us) of their actions. This is what Joseph Campbell meant when he said, “Our mythology is dead.” In the absence of a cohesive narrative, a greater story, we eat each other; we justify the virtues of the 1% at the expense of the 99%. “We’re good people. We are justified. Our way is the right way.”

As within, so without; and the reverse I also true. When we forget that we are a community, we cannot participate as a global community; the motives are consumptive, the collapse is internal and inevitable. To off shore the jobs and expect economic recovery is madness. To put corporate wealth ahead of societal good is suicide. A society driven by bottom line motives is already bankrupt; it is only a matter of time before the exterior of the social body shows the internal rot. It is a cancer.

It is no small sentiment – and there was a good reason the quote stayed with my classmate: “What good is your chi if it does not consider your neighbor.”

Bring Back The Boon

502. Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

One of the things I most appreciate about stories is this: all stories are about transformation and usually the transformation is about the change in the inner life of an individual. But, individual transformation is hollow until the boon is brought back to the community. It only seems that we live for our own betterment. None of us lives in a vacuum. All of us need to contribute or we wither. This was Scrooge’s recognition. Frodo returned the ring to the fire to save the Shire. He was changed in the journey and so the Shire was also changed.

Greater self-knowledge impacts the lives of everyone in the community. Personal growth, deeper self-knowledge, sends a ripple through the society. We rarely see or understand the full impact of our lives on others because the ripple does not stop. My mentor, Tom, had a mentor, Demarcus, who had a mentor…. Understanding the impact of a single life on the world, across time, is one of the purposes of story. Who might you become if you recognized that you mattered, that fulfilling your potential serves the fulfillment of potential in others far beyond your capacity to see. Blunting yourself serves only to blunt others, too; we all lose.

When we step toward our fear and face our bear, we face it for ourselves and for everybody we know. And our stories of facing the bear serves to help others face their bear when their time comes. And their story helps others face their bear…

Fly Like Lucy

501. Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

About 6 years ago I wrote and illustrated a children’s book entitled, Lucy & The Waterfox. It is about a fox with a natural capacity to fly. She keeps her flights of fancy secret because she knows her pack-mates will not understand. And she is right. When they discover her ability to fly they shame her; they convince her there is something wrong with her. She stops flying and starts withering. The rest of the story is about reclaiming her natural gifts. By the end of the book, Lucy soars without apology. She flies because she can.

Like us, Lucy has a desire to belong. As Catherine once told me, “Sometimes a talent can hold you hostage. It separates us from the pack. It conflicts with the necessity of belonging.” As creative tensions go, Catherine described the mother lode. I work with so many people who have squelched their natural gifts in exchange for acceptance. I’ve done it. And, like Lucy, it is the path of withering. Cut off your gifts, diminish your offer, and you will put a kink your life force.

Of course, Lucy’s story is universal. The tension between belonging and expressing your nature is a pull that every human being feels. W.B Yeats called this tension the right hand path and the left hand path. Do what society expects of you and you are walking the right hand path. Follow your nature, separate from the crowd and you are on the left hand path. The trick is always integration; finding the middle way. That is the grail path.

Catherine also recently sent me a reminder that the entire story depends upon where we place our focus. We can be surrounded by supporters and only see the critics. We can have one foot on the left hand path and only see the limitations. She reminded me to “Just fly! Be true to your range of gifts and abilities and just do it.” Good advice from my dear Catherine who, in this story, just became my Waterfox.

Ache If You Dare

500. Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

Have you ever loved so much that you ached? Once, I stood atop a mountain over 12,000 feet and the expansive world before me was so beautiful that it hurt. Last week I stood before a painting, an aboriginal dreamtime and I was suddenly weeping. It took my breath away. And in the absence of breath it gave me life and dreaming. It made me ache.

Once I was in an airplane that lost most of its power. We limped into the airport. Like my fellow passengers when I was again safely on the ground I had a complete and utter love and appreciation of my life. I ached with the magnificence of it all. I wanted to dance with the joy of being alive.

Each of us will have a moment when we have only a few breaths remaining, a few moments before we shut our eyes and bodies to this life. I imagine those moments will be filled with aching, with the understanding (if it has not come before) of how immense and precious this life is. I will remember holding a hand, blue eyes, mountaintops, umbrella’s in Bali, seawalls, late night pizza and beer, an aria sung just for me.

Long ago I decided not to wait until those last few moments to realize the enormity of it all. I intend to ache everyday with the utter intensity of being alive.