The greatest privilege of a lifetime is to be ourselves

Take a journey in your life

journeys bring power and love back into you.

if you can’t go somewhere

move in the passageways of the self

they are like shafts of light,

always changing,

and you change when you explore them

Rumi

Be not the traveller who takes their world with them

I caught something interesting on BBC4 yesterday.

Two travellors were walking all day, around the Cape Town area as it happened.  They were tired and very hungry.  One said to the other:  I must eat lest I faint.

The other said:  I am hungry too.  But I don’t find it uncomfortable.  I find it interesting.

The first travellor thought:  If he does not feel his own hunger, then how can he feel the hunger of another.

For some of us, entering into the moment is hard.  We watch.  We observe.  Even when we are abroad, we are distant from our our own emotions and feelings.   We travel, yet never experience anything new because we cannot leave our world’s behind.

Be the privileged who travels at home

It’s an interesting idea then to simply explore the passageways of the self.

Be like the first travellor who engages directly with the world and listens for its response?

Be the poet who describes his life and changes his poem as he reads it to his audience?

Riff rather pontificate?

Accept the demands of the moment and our response?  Perceive the limitations of others as part of the situation.  And act?

As Joseph Campbell said:  The greatest privilege of a life time is to be ourselves.

3 must-knows of leadership that I learned from Gerald Durrell

Durrell in his final years, with Cottontop Tamarin
Image via Wikipedia

In My Friends and Other Animals, 10 year old Gerald Durrell taught me the most important trick of leadership.

He wrote a list of everything he wanted for his birthday, divided it up, and sent everyone to their favorite shops – his sister to buy cotton wool and pins for his butterfly collection, his author brother to a book shop, and his outdoorsy brother for supplies like formalin.

In all the years that I have spent teaching and consulting, I don’t think I have come across a better description of leadership.

There are three questions to remember about leadership.  That’s all, three questions

1 What brings us alive?

What lifts my soul? And what lifts the spirits of my companions?

What do they like to do, and what brings the light to their eyes?

2 What excites me about my companions?

What do I find fantastically good about the people I am with?

What do they do with ease and grace?  What do I love to watch?  What do I think they do magnificently well?

What brings out my smile and an impulse to applaud?

Even when they have been irritating me horribly, I must bring myself back to their story and their attributes that bring so much pleasure and opportunity to my life.

What makes me want to clap my hands in pleasure?  What can I say about this person to someone else?

What am I so confident that they will do so well because they always have.

3 Is this collective project sufficiently important for me to give it my full attention?

Will I be watching as events unfold?  Do I care enough – or was I just ranting?

And what will be watching? Can I play it through in detail in my mind and will it hold my attention as events unfold?

What information can I pass on to each person that will help them do better what they do so well?  How can I keep the light in our eyes?

Is this the most important project for me right now?

“. . . this is all, this is perfect, this is it . . .”

Does my project raise my compassion and my ease with the world?

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Mindfully in the recession

Exploration as holiday

Two days before Christmas, all the younger generation in our family are away, exploring new parts of the world, as we often do in early adulthood.  The “grand tour”, or what Kiwis call “OE”, is a venerated tradition to see the world and to cope with unfamiliarity and surprise.  Some people travel “to find themselves”.  Others are drawn by challenge & adventure.

Exploration as necessity

Real challenges, though, when there is no safety net, and lasting, damaging failure is possible, are altogether different.  We are often paralysed by fear, and we come to know too well the phrase ‘there is nothing to fear but fear itself’.  This really means, there is everything to fear, so much so that we cannot afford to indulge emotions that distract us from dealing with threat.

Am I suggesting that we “get hard”, or be Polyanna, and smile?

Julian Carron, a professor of theology at the University of Milan suggests we are all beggars and that to live our lives purposefully, in good times and bad, we must be conscious of our needs, aware of reality, and aware of our needs in our reality, whatever it is.

“The beggar has only one option: asking.”

“So the beggar is not the one who is most naive, but who is most realistic.  And, consequently, as we begin to defeat the confusion that surrounds and penetrates us, nothing can hinder us from become aware of ourselves in the the present moment.”

Like monsters in the dark, what is the unspoken need that panics you to name?

Is there not comfort in saying  “I ask for  .  .  .”?

Does not compassion for yourself awake in you compassion for others, whoever they are, and whatever their circumstances?

UPDATE:  The message that is delivered again and again by poets, philosophers and priests is that we must be able to talk to ourselves about our vulnerabilities; and it is only when we do that we can calm down pay attention.  When we refuse to acknowledge our predicaments, we become very anxious and cannot think straight.  Oddly, when we have not choice but to confront the threats against us, we often calm done and start to deal with them.

UPDATE: For an HR Managers perspective on the Recession, I have written a summary on a new post.

The biggest challenge for positive psychology is dealing with dark times

Sometimes the glass is half-full .  .  . of poison

When we are faced with brutality, cruelty, perversion, etc., it is NOT wise to dismiss it in with superficial optimism. Sometimes the glass is not just half-full, it is half-full of poison. Realism is important.

Real life can be awfully depressing

Unfortunately realistic attitudes are associated with depression. Not only do we have to confront exceptional nastiness on occasion, or for some unlucky people day-after-day, experiencing extreme unpleasantness tends to close use down psychologically.

Positive psychology requires us to recognize evil for what it is and to recognize opportunity, however minute

Positive psychology is about the processes that allow us to recognize what is evil and keep a clear mind, and conversely, to keep a clear mind and yet recognize evil for what it is. It is also about how to recognize opportunity, even if it is minute, when opportunity seems to have deserted us.

Today, I came across this quotation on Inner Edge on how to maintain some mental balance and perspective when life horrifies.

“Let fear soften us rather than harden us into resistance”

This is also a very attractive blog of poems with beautiful accompanying photos.