A dose of simplicity

If 2021 was a bit nuts, what I can tell so far of 2022 things are going to get even more interesting. From my own experience things are moving at lighting speed, and everyone I speak with can relate to this hyper-speed pace.

I’m not sure where the first three months of this year went, though I do know one thing. A major lesson I’ve learned through the fire is this; Be in the moment, focused and intuitive in action.

We’re all familiar with the terminology of “living in the now”, “being present” and the importance of such things. I’d like you to think about how often you truly apply these concepts to your life. I am all about living in the ‘now’, being in the moment. I can also tell you I stress about the bills, how to cover payroll, overhead, where I’ll find business to keep my staff sustained and active in the coming months.

If you’ll notice I’m quite contrary in my thinking. If I’m all living in the “now”, how can I also stress about the upcoming expenses and challenges? I imagine this conundrum sounds familiar.

Here’s what I’ve learned, and it can translate universally. Get your shit done in the moment it happens.

From the mundane to the mountains, tackling the challenges which arise on a daily basis, as they arise, has a funny way of creating results which roll over. For me it all starts with a theme I’ve implemented in my life a few months ago. “with love in my heart…”

“With love in my heart I talk to this upset customer.”

“With love in my heart I take the garbage out.”

“With love in my heart I have the difficult conversation with a loved one.”

“With love in my heart I cook for my family.”

I have practiced (and still am practicing) being in each moment, experiencing each moment, with love in my heart. In those instances I don’t feel the love, or cannot conjure it within me I step back and evaluate why I am doing it.

I have made a choice to do/be those things which I can do with love. Those things I cannot, I am shifting out of my life in some way. Through delegation or outright removal. By using this simple filter in my life, I can be in each moment, present and focused.

The past is unchangeable, the future depends on what we do in this moment.

If we are unfocused and thinking stressing about the future, we will experience uncertainty and stress. When we drill down and focus on those things we love, in the moment, actively and passionately, the future takes care of itself.

If you’re thinking to yourself, this is great for you, “but I have all these chores to do and nobody helps me”, “that’s great but I have kids and they’re a handful”, “my boss is a jerk, I wish I could like my job”.

Perhaps you should evaluate your perspective. At least you have a home, and clothes, and dishes to maintain. Many people don’t. You’re kids can be a lot of things, and they take you as an example. Are you being a good example for them?

What is your bosses motivation for being a jerk? Getting the job done or simply to feed their ego? Being pushed by a boss can be a great thing, while also being very uncomfortable in the moment. Perhaps it’s time to start looking for a new job while you still have one. You do have a choice, as long as you give yourself the choice.

Living in the moment is something we all understand, yet few of us actually practice it. And it is a practice, which we can (and do) fail at often times. The more we practice enjoying, loving the thing we are doing in each moment the easier it gets. When things seem like they’re spinning out of control, take a moment to breath, and be grateful for the opportunity to be stretched by a new challenge.

Life really is simple, yet often the simplicity is the hardest thing to practice.

The Art of Living As If It’s A Game

I’ve often felt as if life is a game, and as this isn’t a unique thought to me I’m sure your familiar or at least aware of the concept.  Life feels like a game to me for a few reasons. 

As we grow and learn, there are periods of learning, then application of the knowledge into our life, then a period of feeling as though everything is perfect in the world.  Until it crumbles and we begin the trudge of up the mountain of learning a new thing.

A game is much the same way, the character starts a journey, fights off challenges and/or foes along the way until there is a test, “a boss” at the end of the level which we have to beat in order to succeed. 

Once we’ve beat the level we feel great and all is good.  Then we start a new level which is harder and more intricate than what we just overcame. 

While most people understand and accept this concept as a whole, I’ve notice we don’t often consider it during our daily experiences.  When we face a challenge or a hardship, an obstacle we’re not sure how to overcome we look at this as a singular event. 

Often these challenges can beat us down, leaving us feeling tired, sick, drained.  Stress builds and can affect us physically during these periods as well.  How many times have you felt overwhelmed or dreaded the idea of facing the foe? 

Yet if we really experienced life as a game, these situations would look much different to us.  When these situations arise we would know we are on the verge of a breakthrough to a new level, a higher version of ourselves. 

If we felt we were on the cusp of upgrading ourselves, would we then experience the event with dread?  Or would it be excitement?

I too have been taking things too seriously lately which is why I am rethinking my perspective.  Life is simple, it is a game to be enjoyed. 

All of life is a gift and when we can shift ourselves to experience the “bad” as an opportunity to expand things get easier, exciting even.

To enjoy this game stop trying to understand it, to make sense of it all.  We are not the creators of this game, merely the participants. 

Keep moving towards those things which light your heart up, focus on what is with you now and do your best in each moment. 

We don’t know what the next level has in store for us, so we can relieve ourselves of the stress of trying to contemplate it. 

Play the game as it happens, not two steps ahead or behind.  And enjoy the process of the game and the wins (success) will arrive.

Keeping ourselves in this gamified perspective in times of ease and distress is an art. Art, in my opinion is best in it’s simplest, original form, and from the heart.

What’s Your Purpose

While tucking my daughter in to bed the other night she asked me a question. “What if you found a genie lamp, and when the genie came out he only gave you one wish instead of three? With only one wish, what would you wish for?”

In the blink of an eye a thousand possibilities streamed through my mind and only one was clear and easy to choose. “I would wish that I am living my purpose on this earth.”

“That’s it?” says my little girl. “What else do I need?” I respond.

“Hm, that does make a lot of sense” she responds while I can see her pondering the scenario.

Thankfully I’ve done a lot of internal work over the last several years so I don’t have to wish to be on my path, I know inherently I already am. This quick yet powerful interaction between my daughter and I was yet another reminder of the simplistic nature of the world we live in.

The truest answers are almost always the simplest.

I could have wished for more money, a bigger house, to be forever healthy, to travel the world… and while all of these are valid responses and all serve good purposes, they all leave other areas in life lacking.

None covers all the bases.

Yet if we find and actively pursue the purpose for why we are here, all of those other areas in life fill themselves in effortlessly.

Our purpose may or may not have anything to do with what we THINK we want to do. The discovery process for many, myself included can take years of persistent trial and error. For those willing to put in the time and learn to embrace the process, the reward is far better than can be imagined at the start.

It is a journey free of a specific destination and full of surprises, risks, accomplishments to be enjoyed along the way.

If you haven’t found your path yet, or are trying to force a path you think is right, take a step back and evaluate what feels forced and what flows naturally. Lean into the natural flow and release those things which create friction.

Learning is all about perspective, and each “failure” or “hardship” is only a course correction and a grateful heart will notice this and quickly adapt a change on the path.

Self: Accepted

Most of us are familiar with terms and phrases such as: “you have to love yourself, before somebody else”; “take care of yourself first”; “Be true to yourself”; “Express yourself”; “Be yourself” and so countless variations of this. While all very important and true I almost never hear the continuation of this same thought pattern. We get to be true to ourselves, embracing our passions and desires as we figure out exactly who we are in the first place. The natural next step is the world we live in, the world we experience while we do our thing.

We’ve all also heard the phrase “the world is a mirror of who we are” (or a similar variation of it). When put together it creates a very interesting dynamic and one we can utilize truly in our favor.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve had several scenarios play out in my life where I’m certain I want or need a certain thing, it could be a job, promotion, material item, relationship, anything… And often times I get this thing and it isn’t at all what I thought it would be. Just as often I don’t get the “thing”, and later “out of nowhere” comes something much better.

The human mind has a miraculous ability to lie to itself, to “protect” itself from perceived harm and conflict. While I have gotten much better and continue to practice noticing when I am working on something I really shouldn’t be, I too still get sidetracked on things or ideas which seem great at first but ultimately aren’t good fits for me.

Going back to self love and acceptance; If the world is a mirror and we are totally secure and loving with ourselves, then the world we experience would be full of love and acceptance of things just as they are. Just like 2+2=4, complete interior love = complete exterior love. I’m not sure about you, but these last few years have seemed anything but loving if you’ve turned your TV on for more than a few minutes.

My mirror is telling me something.

The “issues” I see and frustration, anger, confusion and sometimes hopelessness I feel at our state of society are all reflections of inner conflict I am having at some level. What frustration I experience today is monumentally less than only a few years ago and I imagine I’ll be able to say the same thing in a few years time again. I have learned, and am still very much learning and practicing acceptance of myself and the world around me, as it is, not as I would have it.

“We must bear up against them and make the best of mankind as they are, since cannot have them as we wish” A quote from George Washington from November of 1776 after being repeatedly discouraged by his armies performance against the British in the early stages of the revolutionary war. This mentality of acceptance of what is, is purported to have bolstered his immense resolve to keep fighting and eventually win the birth of a new nation.

As I have resolved years ago to realize my highest and best self, the world I experience has also shifted. These last two years, while challenging and full of unknowns and unprecedented events have also been two of the most rewarding and fulfilling of my life. In my last blog post I gave my own personal definition of leadership and success. If we want to be leaders in this world, we must lead our own internal charge for greatness before we can guide others to achieve external greatness.

Can you guide somebody to do great things while you are a hot-mess inside? Of course you can. And you can suffer the consequences of fighting such an inner conflict. These consequences often manifest as weight issues, health issues, depression, addiction, anger and so on. I know because I’ve been down this road, luckily I was able to change direction before I was too far down it.

When I mentioned earlier the dynamic we can use in our favor, here is what I mean. When we experience things in this world we don’t like, it directly means there is some part of us internally creating this experience. If we want to effect a positive change in the world, we must be clear in our intention of looking inward for the solution, never outwardly.

Bitching out politics or how the coach lost the game for your favorite sports team just took a twist didn’t it?

We have the opportunity to check ourselves each and every day, to see the progress we have made and if we are on the right track. All we have to do is pay attention to the world around us. If you find yourself extremely frustrated and mad at the state of the world, you get to do more work than some, but there is some “low hanging fruit” you can likely start with easily. Turning off the news for one, (all of it) is a great place to start for most.

Noticing when you are getting upset or frustrated at something is another big step. Simply noticing it and taking a breath will calm things down quickly. “I notice I’m getting pissed off right now…” breaks the thought pattern and allows you to recenter. Acceptance of “what is” is another step and not likely one of the first ones. We don’t have to understand the world in order to accept it. Acknowledging this is another step on the path.

There was a monk from Tibet being interviewed by an author about the power of prayer and spirituality. The interviewer delicately asked the monk a question about a concept which was the interviewer was struggling with. (I’m paraphrasing the quotations) “If the power of prayer is so great, and Tibet has a high number of dedicated monks, why is Tibet in such turmoil as a country? Why isn’t prayer working?” asked the reporter.

“We don’t pray for a peaceful Tibet, we pray for peace in the world. Because of the turmoil in Tibet some of our monasteries have had to relocate monks to other parts of the world. Because these monks are now in other parts of the world, their teachings are spreading in ways they never would have had they remained confined. Perhaps they will return once peace has spread and our prayers have been effected” replied the monk.

Each of us has such a limited view of the world at large, there is so much we are unaware of and no way we could understand all which is happening at all times. Accepting what is, as is, is a practice which will reflect back upon us and fulfill us anew. We can utilize a bi-directional love as we accept ourselves and express who we are. And receive our mirror back in kind as we accept the world as it is too.

As a dearly departed brother of mine used to say. Keep it 100(%).

Leader on Duty

I don’t know if it’s just me, but I have noticed when most people talk of leadership it’s almost always referred to in the environment of a board room, the workplace or sports.

I say this with due humility, as I am a natural leader and have been in management/leadership roles professionally since I was about 19 years old. Now in my early 40’s I have more experience managing people than most people well over my age and based all of the feedback I receive I am a good leader. Feedback to me comes in the moral of my team, the results we deliver to the customers, the observations of customers, vendors and people in and around my company.

Leadership in my experience isn’t just something you do at the office. It’s not a role to play while in front of your employees and customers. Leadership to me is a lifestyle lived in each moment and applies as much to parenting and gardening as it does in our professional lives.

Gardening? I imagine you’re trying to connect the dots on this. Parenting is an easy connection though often not obvious, but gardening? Yes, in the sense of an example. As leaders, when we do a thing like gardening we tend to do it well, with intention of a quality outcome. It may or may not actually turn out well, but the effort and intention is on display as we do the thing we have set to do. This can be exercise, painting, washing the car, cooking, anything we choose to do, great leaders apply themselves to the experience.

This intent-full approach resonates to those around us often in a sub-conscious way. As leaders we don’t turn off this switch when we go home at the end of the day. We are wired to do things the best way possible, and to help others grow in a similar way.

We get to be the example we want to show to others. For me leadership flows effortlessly from the workplace to the home, to fitness and nutrition. Balancing the areas of our lives in a successful way provides the example for others to follow, and is what a new generation of leaders are doing more and more.

I for one treat my employees and my kids with the same level of appreciation and respect, and I expect from them much of the same things. While I certainly don’t believe employees are children or child-like, or that my kids are employees and have measurable expectations for performance, I do believe in treating people with one foundational starting point. I treat everyone as I would want to be treated. This simple and powerful starting point for my interactions in all aspects of my life allows for all my relationships and interactions to draw a clean and consistent pattern through them all.

My job as a father is to mentor and cultivate by kids own unique natural talents. I get to tend the garden of their little worlds, while they grow and eventually flourish in their own light. When we think of leadership in the workplace and employee development, is it really different? In scope certainly, but the concepts are the same thing. No two kids are the same, as no to employees are the same and each must be uniquely tended to.

The world is changing as it always has and will. This means everything gets to shift into focus anew. As we shift gears to the ever-changing world we can update a few definitions. Two stand out for me at the moment, which are the definitions of “Success” and “Leadership“. Leadership is no longer simply a professional capacity and success doesn’t have much to do with a bank account these days.

My definition of leadership is this: A leader is being the example of success in relationships, business, lifestyle, and mental and physical health.  Leadership is the state of being the result of how to balance all of these things with sustainable, healthy results for all persons directly involved with and around the leader.

My definition of success is this: A consistent state of being in harmony with oneself and the world we experience, while we experience it in real time.

To me being successful in leadership and in life is when you can remain calm and collected in the best of times, and the worst. Being the rock everyone else can cling to when the world (or the business, or the relationship, etc…) goes a bit crazy. By being the rock for ourselves, we can truly be there for others.

What is prayer

We are familiar with the word “prayer”, we’ve heard it thousands of times in our lives whether we are religious, spiritual, agnostic or anything in between. We have heard people around us say they will pray for this, or pray for that, for the well-being of a loved one or for the outcome of a job interview or winning lottery ticket.

Definition of prayer

 1a(1): an address (such as a petition) to God or a god in word or thought said a prayer for the success of the voyage

(2): a set order of words used in praying

b: an earnest request or wish

2: the act or practice of praying to God or a god-kneeling in prayer

3: a religious service consisting chiefly of prayers —often used in plural

4: something prayed for

5: a slight chance haven’t got a prayer

According to the above Merriam-Webster definition above it gives us a good idea what a prayer is. Or does it? What has lead us to believe our words have anything to do with the prayer we actually petition for? How does God, Source, The Divine, Energy, know what words to listen to, which prayers to say “yes” to, and which ones to say “no” to?

How does this universal wisdom listen to our words and know how to respond, when in many cases we don’t even know what we really want?

Often people as for money, lots and lots of money! “If only I had more money than everything would be just fine!” Ever heard, or said a version of this? I’m willing to bet we all have and on more than a few occasions. Money though isn’t the desire, security is and the money is simply the tool we perceive which will provide us the security we seek. These prayers go “unanswered” because we are asking for something verbally, that we really don’t care about as long as our other needs are met.

Imagine for a minute your bank account has one million dollars in it. Imagine what you would do, would you fly off to some remote island and retire? Would you buy a bigger house, pay off debts you owe, perhaps some medical bills? Would you buy a nice new car or send your kids to the best colleges? Imagine for a moment this scenario, close your eyes and imagine one million dollars in your account. What would you do? Take a few moments to visualize this.

Welcome back! Now think about what you visualized and I invite you to bring it back into focus again, this time focus on your heart and how this visualization makes you feel. Keep this feeling at the forefront of your being and experience the feeling of this visualization. If you don’t feel much, that’s ok too, this is different for everyone and perhaps trying this again later may or may not yield different results.

The words used in our “traditional” prayers are not heeded by Divinity. We ask for things often based upon immediate desire or need. Our words are riddled by thoughts of logic, fear, what we perceive in our worlds at that moment. Even when we are meditative in our prayers our conscious thoughts are rife with what we think we know. The Divine shoots right past our conscious thought and dives straight into the energy we are moving.

This energy is like a truth serum to the universe around us. There is no on/off switch we can use to turn off our energy when we are feeling fear, anxious, sad, depressed. The universe, the Divine gives us more of what we transmute in our energy base. What does this mean?

I go back to the original question; What is prayer? Prayer is the feeling we have within us when we converse with The Divine. Prayer is something we can (and often do) be in, a continuous action instead of a short burst of a request. Prayer is the feeling we give to the universe, and the universe responds in kind.

Our words can be used as a tool to create this feeling, as can music, laughter, lighting candles and myriad other actions we may consider as “prayer”. These things though are not the prayer itself, but the tools we can utilize to create the feeling, which is ultimately the prayer.

There are no right or wrong ways to pray and if you have certain rituals or practices which create strong feelings within you I’d love to hear about them as I’m always curious as to how people individually perform this sacred ritual or prayer. I often pray, that is to say I create a feeling of love and open-ness in my heart which feels as if my heart is “on”. I no longer associate requests or words to my prayers as I let my energy speak and what the universe delivers will be exactly what it should be.

I invite you to keep this concept in mind the next time you pray, or choose to speak with you Divinity. Practice with it, play around with it, and have fun while you explore. Indeed, it’s why we’re here in the first place!