We each think 60 – 70,000 thoughts a day, and apparently over 90% of those are just a repeat of yesterday’s. The same thoughts lead to the same choices, the same behaviours, the same experiences and, therefore, the same emotions; which then perpetuates the same thoughts…
This is what I learned as I was listening to Dr Joe Dispenz earlier in the week. He points out that our biology, neurocircuitry, neurochemistry, neurohormones, and even our genetic expression, stay exactly equal to how you think, act and feel.
None of this is new information, yet we are so consumed by our daily schedules we rarely take time to reflect and listen to ourselves.
When we think about trying to change the thoughts we have, it often feels overwhelming. Let’s face it trying to change just one thing is hard, but 60 - 70,000 things? However, as Dr Dispenza neatly points out, our feelings are directly linked to our thoughts and it’s a whole lot easier to change your experiences by taking charge of how you’re feeling.
About 5 years ago I attended a workshop though work where we were challenged to really think about some of our own internal dialogues. I remember sitting at a table where there were three of us who summed up a recurring thought pattern we owned as “idiot”. It’s fair to say we were a bunch of pretty driven people with little patience. It’s also fair to say that this is not the kind of thought pattern that was going to lead to the life we each dreamed of.
“feeling good has to be more important to you than anything else”
Probably like you, I take on these nuggets and then life (or the 58,000 or so thoughts/ reactions I have every day) carries me on a wave of autopilot. How do we break the pattern? Well it is pretty simply, feeling good has to be more important to you than anything else. Remember though, simple and easy are two different things.
There was a point this week when I was trying to get my two preschool children focused enough to get out the door to their respective daytime activities, in time for me to get to an important appointment.
Inevitably, just on the cusp of thinking I’d magically managed to keep the chaos contained in a fast flowing steam of activity that led to getting in the car and going, each daughter wanted something extra – unplanned – that was absolutely necessary to them (by this I mean completely unnecessary in the mind of a rational human being).
It’s at this point I no longer heard the calm in my voice, instead I heard a mix of anger, pleading and frustration welling up all at once. Again, inevitably this just escalates the situation. Now I feel bad, and I have a choice, do I keep sliding into those old thought patterns and just perpetuate more bad feeling, or do I nip it in the bud?
I chose the out-of-body surrender experience, disconnecting from any thought of time pressure, connecting with a feeling of having all the time in the world. My calm voice was back, I soothed the children trying to focus on how to help them feel good, and we soon got underway. Everything worked out; we were on time and fairly unscathed.
By contrast (in case anyone should get the idea I’m anything less than a very imperfect being), I slipped right back into those old thought patterns like a pair of comfortable old slippers that night when my partner arrived home asking me a ‘dumb’ question. Snap. Those 50 – 60,000 repeat thoughts all just clipping the ticket for the day and perpetuating exactly the opposite type of experience I wanted.
Eckhart Tolle is definitely on the money when he points out the appeal of animals, because there’s no veil of judgment that exists; which is what generally exists between humans. Every time we interact with another our minds are busy interpreting so many signals based on our past experiences.
Animals are simply closer to their natural state of being, there’s no intervention of the mind. They sense your energy but don’t judge it, they just accept it. Can you imagine if we could be disciplined enough to do that? Just suspending thought, stilling our mind, to simply be there for someone. It would change the quality of our experiences with others dramatically.
Obviously I was needing a big reminder this week to focus on the experiences I’m creating through my thoughts, because I accidently opened the YouTube app on my phone and heard Esther Hicks sharply telling me that while feeling bad is a part of the process of creating something great, I don’t need to spend so long in the contrast.
This is something most of us are very guilty of, we tend to put up with feeling bad far too much of the time and wait until an experience is mostly bad before really doing anything much about it.
Here’s the deal, we are all in the process of creating our own experience all of the time. Yes, starting right now you will have a mammoth amount of unconscious patterning that happens day to day. If your days aren’t filled with, let’s say, 80% feeling good, then there’s probably a hunger to feel better about life.
“Think of two thought patterns that you want to change.”
Chances are you’ll be blaming it on others and on situations. This is not helpful. Your experiences are not what happens to you, but how you respond – mentally and emotionally – to those things. At first, as Dr Dispenza suggests, just observe your feelings and thoughts on a couple of topics you know recur for you regularly.
In the heat of the moment it can be hard to make changes, but if you preplan for them you stand a better chance. If you know, like me, you’re prone to judging certain comments, looks or actions, and that the judgment creates a behaviour and therefore an experience that simply makes you feel bad, think about how you might respond differently – without judgment – in the moment, in a way that will make you feel good.
By focusing on feeling good more of the time, you’ll start to rewire your biology, neurocircuitry, neurochemistry, neurohormones, and even your genetic expression. Changing how you feel will change the way you think, which will change the way you behave, which in turn will change the quality of your life experiences immeasurably.
This article was originally published on LinkedIn.
photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/34039290@N06/18662478972">water attack</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/">(license)</a>
CEO's Note: Profit, Purpose and Personal Fulfillment Can Thrive Together - A Remarkable New Organisational Construct
“If we can’t think outside the traditional organizational structure, the best we can do is to try and patch up the unhealthy consequences of power inequality with more enlightened leadership.” Frederic Laloux
As I discussed in my last article on why evolving your culture is, ultimately, the only way to win, the cycle of boom to bust is more akin to a slow death cycle given the construct of most of today’s companies. It is time to evolve or face extinction.
The old constructs found in most organisations simply don’t work for us anymore. People - you, your staff and your customers – are evolving, they are looking for something more. If you have any doubts about this, just look at people across the generations and you will quickly see a pattern – the younger people are, the more they expect. This isn’t about money, it’s about meaning.
After many attempts to implement significant changes and travel the road to transformation in traditional organisations, I know two things for certain: enlightened leadership is an improvement but not the answer, and the only person who can drive a true transformation in ‘the way things are done around here’ is the CEO or the Board, whoever is the ultimate decision maker.
A conversation with my former boss a couple of years back, when taking on his new role, centred around how to create lasting transformation in that part of the company. The problem we were trying to solve was difficult to articulate at first, too often the brand experience of customers who contacted us was atrocious, there was an immediate need to stop hemorrhaging money, and the culture that pervaded that part of the company – which accounted for almost a third of the staff – seemed like it was taken straight from the Lego movie, it had been heavily micromanaged.
I remember recommending that his leadership team read, action and embed Patrick Lecioni’s ‘The Five Dysfunctions of a Team’ and ‘The Three Signs Of A Miserable Job’. My opinion at the time was these leadership fables tell you everything you need to know to get started building your team and creating a culture that will work for everyone in today’s world – win-win-win (bottom line, staff and customers).
However what I missed is, regardless of how enlightened the leadership, in organisations where there is a management and support structure, all the processes and systems required to maintain each span of control breed mistrust in all those people who are not in those roles – often the very people doing the work that is the lifeblood of the organisation.
If you have any doubts about that, think about the way information is handled, especially if there is a sensitive change taking place. All the classifications about who gets to know what basically tells everyone who is ‘not in the know’ they can’t be trusted.
This week Frederic Laloux’s book ‘Reinventing Organisations' arrived in my mailbox. As soon as I read the words “The way we manage organisations seems increasingly out of date, deep inside we sense that more is possible. We long for soulful workplaces, for authenticity, community, passion and purpose.” I knew I had to have a copy; especially given that the book describes in practical detail how organisations large and small can operate successfully in this new paradigm.
This was a book Laloux wrote after researching pioneering organisations that have been operating on breakthrough principles for a long time, as much as 30 or 40 years, and not just with a handful, but with a few hundred and sometimes tens of thousands of employees. Among the pioneers are for-profit as well as nonprofit organisations, retailers, manufacturing companies, an energy company, a food producer as well as a school and a group of hospitals.
Back when I wrote Better Brand and Bottom Line – Ditch Your Call Centre, I cited many examples of the ridiculously expensive, soul destroying practices that surround call centres, a common function in many organisations. The conclusion in that article was to ‘cut out the middlemen’, let those developing products and services talk directly to their customers. In Laloux’s study he concludes the same, only in reference to the entire management and traditional support structure of any given organisation.
This may sound radical and unworkable, especially if you are in just the type of role rendered redundant in the blueprint of these new organisations. However, ask yourself, just how content are you in your role? Do you feel you are really making a difference? Are you able to be completely yourself, the real you, or is there a ‘corporate’ version of you that turns up? Are you valued for the breadth of talents, passions and purpose that drive you?
Like Laloux, I believe change is inevitable, and was excited to read concrete examples of companies that had transitioned from the traditional hierarchical structures we largely have today, to a very different paradigm. In those cases, the vast majority of the management and support teams remained with the company, albeit without their previous ‘powers’. Instead, these people found roles that added real value, in a way that allowed them to be more whole.
What Laloux has written manages to interweave personal fulfilment and enlightenment, together with a fairly easily understood - yet scholarly - look at human development, giving context to organizational development. Most importantly, he describes in every crucial aspect what one needs to know to create such organisations.
‘Getting over our bad selves’, an expression I’ve heard people say jokingly with increased frequency, is key to making this transition. If you are still reading this, it means there’s at least a part of you ready to transcend ego and ambition for wholeness and purpose. For those who are the ultimate decision maker in your organisation, here is a workable way forward, a necessity for us to thrive. For those intending to start a company, you’re in the enviable position of being given a blueprint.
What about the vast majority of you who are feeling ‘stuck’ in your role? Reading this may have given you a glimpse of something you now feel is beyond your grasp; it isn’t. Your actions will hasten change. If you can focus on the goal of uncovering your innermost self and being true to that, as I describe in Making the Shift from Ambition to Purpose, we will all be one step closer to a better world.
This article was originally published in LinkedIn.
Don't mistake the cycle of transformation to cost cutting as anything other than a vicious cycle, or more likely a death spiral, if you are not focused on evolving your culture.
People - you, your staff, your customers - are changing, looking for more. There are many in the morning of their life who don’t need to wait for the sunset to know there’s more, there’s a yearning for meaningful exchange. But most companies are not ahead of this change, many recognise it but don’t know the answers and don’t make seeking them a priority.
The current construct of the majority of our companies is still driven by the qualities of the white, western male; I think it was the book Decisive by Chip and Dan Heath that first provoked that thought in me. Changing the construct, the way of doing things, is like crossing the Rubicon for most executives. The question is, what can companies do in order to leverage today’s diversified population, with all our talents, needs and desires? And why would you want to?
Let’s take the process of choosing between limited numbers of options from a business case, which is a common place way of informing decision making in an executive board room. It is rare for anyone in the room to debate whether there are other options, never mind stand back from the options and question whether the problem being solved is even the right problem.
Debating and defining your problems is a critical step in determining where to put your focus, are you taking the time and involving enough people in the initial part of the process? While ‘fresh thinking’ can be a great thing, in reality, it's not always entirely welcomed. While it seems common sense to involve downstream deliverers and recipients of a product or service upstream in its development, it rarely happens.
Smaller companies that are growing tend to be more inclusive by necessity, employees feel their opinions and ideas are valued, that they need to pull together to address the problems before them. But as the company grows, processes, systems and specific roles start to push out that sense of being valued as an individual and the inner loyalty crumbles.
Yes, we live in a faster paced world, and few folk expect to have a job for life. Despite that, most companies are still looking for highly committed employees. There's an old saying that really resonates "the key to commitment is involvement".
A few years ago, an HR colleague and I were pondering how the company we were working for could get ahead of being seen as a utility in order for it to start turning more profit. The problem being the company had been at the forefront of making communications mobile; many of the original employees were still there and continued to see the company as the sexy start up that had brought about a revolution in the way people went about their daily lives.
The culture was still deeply wedded to the ‘start up’ mentality and yet driven by a global corporate with big shareholder expectations. Customer perceptions and expectations had also dramatically changed. Among the literally hundreds of projects on the go, addressing the culture to any degree of substance wasn’t among them.
If you’re lucky, you’ve got employees who are debating this kind of thing, though in most cases it will be a side bar conversation rather than a solution that the company is actively seeking. So how do we make it centre stage, invite more ideas?
The obvious answer is to create a more inclusive process to involve your people in meaningful conversations to take the organization forward. But creating a process, without also investing in your people, especially your leadership, would be a serious mistake.
For the most part, people need help to uncover what is within them. That is where we should focus our efforts, because through personal transformation you create an energy that is infectious.
I remember working with a head of department a number of years ago who was a clever guy, but difficult to work with. He was always late for meetings, or didn’t turn up; he’d make derisory comments and just generally do what he liked. He was in charge of a large department, multi million dollar contracts and a lot of his team’s work impacted on the organisation’s reputation.
Along with some other senior managers he was sent on an intense leadership development programme. This was an out of office, away from home, stripped bare type of a deal. But he came back a changed man, and it changed his relationships, and the people around him. The organisation reaped the benefits of the newfound cooperation in many unseen ways.
Therein lies the rub, back to the business cases and returns on investment. Investing in your people, your culture, is often difficult to quantify. I’ve heard executives agree it is common sense and we all know it’s the right thing to do, but you have to prove it. Why is that? I'm quite sure that those of you who hold the purse strings know a wise choice when you see it.
Let’s take a different approach to our corporate lives, one that seeks, values and leverages the best of people. Let’s get back to a place where we trust our inner knowing, and start to see our work lives as a vehicle for our passions to thrive (no, I don’t mean a sneaky liaison in the back office).
Whether you see it yet or not, we’re not going to win where we stand. You need to be more to make more. It’s time to take a leap, cross the Rubicon, to build a better team, a better company, a better world.
This article was originally published on LinkedIn.
“The purpose of life is a life of purpose” said Robert Byrne rather pragmatically. But many of us struggle to answer the question that arises “what is my purpose?” Wise words from Dr Amit Ray point us in the right direction “It does not matter how long you are spending on the earth, how much money you have gathered or how much attention you have received. It is the amount of positive vibration you have radiated in life that matters.”
When you are doing something you love, you radiate that. Good vibes are infectious; we can’t fail to be lifted when we are around someone who is clearly in the zone. The opposite can be true too. So the first really obvious answer to a life of purpose, is in the acts of doing things you love rather than things you feel you must.
For many years I struggled to find an answer about my own purpose, some people just seemed to know exactly what they should be doing in life and I was waiting for that thunderbolt. Well, not waiting so much as prowling like a wounded tiger. Hurt by the emptiness of the world of ambition; the politics and positioning, the cyclical spiraling of transformation to cost cutting, yearning for something more.
Having read many career books over the years, even some great thought provoking ones like What Color is Your Parachute and The Artist’s Way, the thunderbolt never appeared. What did happen (and is still happening) was more of a slow awakening. I attracted people into my life who were able to help point to where my talents lay. In hindsight all those things seem obvious, but stuck in a quagmire of obligation to the duties of whichever role I was in at the time, combined with a hectic schedule, like many, I was stuck in a sea of fog.
Even last year when the opportunity came up to leave the big corporate role I’d come to despise, I knew I wanted to take it; I just didn’t know what I was going to do with it. There I was, 10 years old all over again, at the edge of the tallest diving board, “just jump” the inner voice said.
With the responsibilities that come with having a family, my partner and I decided to lessen the financial burden by moving away from the big city. The move took much longer than anticipated, and started to feel very uncomfortable as I was trying to figure out what to do. Was it writing? Coaching? Speaking? Should I set up a website?
I started investigating but was getting a bit lost in another fog of research and information about which platforms to use, what to write about, how to get published and other ways to make money. Although I became aware of the easy-to-use LinkedIn platform for publishing articles, the general advice for serious bloggists seemed to be to use the WordPress platform. It all got too technical and I almost gave it up as a bad job.
Then that inner voice said “just jump”. I needed to ‘out’ my writing, to simply start. So I set aside all the ‘technical’ stuff and chose LinkedIn to publish my first blog.
Nearly 6 months on from that first blog, I have published one weekly since and had some great responses. But I am a seedling that has barely taken hold. Vulnerable; though I do now introduce myself as a writer when asked what I do, which is a step forward.
Having now written much about being the person you were born to be, being present and stilling the mind, I’ve had the good fortune to converse with a few of you about your own journeys. This week I heard from someone who has also taken the plunge into a role that they see more as their calling. But things aren't going as planned and they are feeling bad. The question arose, was this a sign that they were on the wrong path? Or is this a normal part of the process of a life of purpose? It was a timely question for me too.
Then I learned of the passing of Dr Wayne Dyer. Earlier this year I heard about a film he’d made, and seemed proud of, with his friend Portia de Rossi, called The Shift; the inspiration for this week’s title. In his memory, Hay House Publishing allowed free access to watch the film for a short time. I’ve heard the saying “you don’t attract what you want, you attract what you need”. I am so thankful for such a lovely gift, I certainly needed it.
As we have made the move to our new home, and I have made the decision to let my writing grow organically (rather than try and force it in order to make an immediate income), I had some interim contracting work all set up to contribute to the household budget. That hasn’t come to fruition and I find myself in a place I don’t want to be, relentless domesticity with little time to search for some interim contracting work and even less time to develop my writing. Is this a sign it’s not for me?
What I know for sure, when you “follow your bliss”, as Joseph Campbell said, obstacles and challenges are part of the journey. Living a life of purpose doesn’t mean you no longer attract these, but you will find that as you become more of who you truly are, and as you start to still your mind to listen to your inner knowing, your perspective on life’s challenges changes.
To know if something is for you or not, dwell on how it feels. For example, as I was sifting through the things I might want to do versus those I don’t, I thought of the frustration that arises for me when I’m coaching someone (who might not take the advice), versus the fulfillment I feel, the stillness, the connectedness, when I’m writing, or the frission of energy I get from speaking to audiences on a topic I’m passionate about.
As I watched Dr Dyer’s “The Shift”, there was a character that was caught in a world of domesticity bringing up her two young boys, who got reminded of that feeling she used to have when she painted. Caught in my own world of domesticity at the moment, I related to that character, and it served as a timely reminder to me that my present obstacles are temporary.
Gratitude has taken on a whole new meaning; it used to seem trite, something said on the front of greetings' cards. But as I sat there after the film, and after having talked to another person on their journey, after experiencing the frustration of my present situation, I felt nothing but gratitude for the things I was attracting into me experience – you get what you need – I hear, loud and clear.
Are you paying attention to the signs in your life? Making the shift from ambition to purpose might not be a thunderbolt, but you can make a start. Start to do more of the things that feel good, and less of those that don’t. Be that person radiating the good vibes, and you’ll have contributed more to this world that any amount of money or recognition can.
This article was originally published on LinkedIn.
“If you want to be somebody, then stand up and be somebody.” The words resonated in my ear. It was 1995 and I was in an auditorium listening to a mentor of mine speak at a conference, he was relaying the tale of how his wife gave him the proverbial swift kick. At the time he was pursuing a venture that I don’t think was really his calling, but his words spoke to a hunger in me.
The yearning for more, the emptiness and – oftentimes – frustration inside, there has to be more than this? Feeling, more than knowing, that the person inside is not the person you portray to others. But how could I even begin to fathom that out? Twenty years on (and where did that time go?), I say “just start”.
It doesn’t matter if it’s the wrong ladder against the wrong wall you’re climbing, unless you take at least the first rung you will never find that out. Just start, you will likely climb so many ladders that the ceiling which was above your head is now the ground on which you are walking.
In taking those first steps, committing to them enough until we know better, we evolve, we grow. We slowly awaken to the person on the inside, the one who looks through those eyes when you look in the mirror. The inner knowing starts to show itself in more and more ways, giving us clarity on who we really are, and who we are here to be.
This week our little tabby’s ashes have been returned. I tell my daughter, everything in the world around you eventually turns to dust, but what is within will always remain. As I watched the unseeing eyes of the dead animal that was moments before our beloved pet, I knew that her body had ceased to exist, but she hadn’t, her love lives on.
That inner essence that dances through you is not about the body you inhabit, the body is simply a vehicle in this life that you wanted to undertake. As I walk further through the years, part of me marvelous at the miracle of nature. I look at all life and wonder at how things that are so complex can be made out of so little in their physical beginnings. On the other hand I struggle with how little the human mind tends to be aware of.
I saw a video this week promoting a Science and Nonduality Conference: Exploring the Nature of Consciousness. I was intrigued because I have only recently come to appreciate the true meaning of the word consciousness.
What struck me was the divergence humanity seems to have taken over the last hundred years or so into the world of ‘science’. The topic up for discussion is how science has tried to explain consciousness as a function of the mind, and cannot, and so the question is whether the opposite is true; that the human mind is actually an expression of consciousness. Of course.
After quickly climbing the corporate ladder when I finally entered that world in my late twenties, I remember one of the team asking about my ambition given the fairly senior role I was in at the time, it gave me pause. It’s not ambition that drove me, it was more the big picture wiring, I had just needed to get to a role that was more strategic.
Of course as I’d been climbing I could no more have articulated that than I can figure where I’m headed right now. As a reflector, I struggle with being questioned about what I’m going ‘to do’ now. In those younger years I would go to lengths to derive a plan so I had answers for people. Well meaning people, like family and friends. Even today it still happens.
As I’m making the switch away from the corporate and doing more writing, I get asked about how I plan to make money. Of course I have developed answers, I know how writers can make money, but I’m not ready to aggressively pursue this because of the need to make money. It needs to grow more organically than that. It’s about growth from the inside out, and there are plenty of other ways to make money in the meantime.
The real answer is this. I trust that it will all work out, it always does. In the big picture. Of course I understand those closest to me worry, because their minds are playing out the ‘what if’ scenarios in their head. Thankfully I have learned to shut out ‘what if’ scenarios in my mind pretty quickly. Knowing the longer I dwell on them the more likely I am to bring them into my experience.
Instead I use those brief skirmishes with any negative ‘what if’ to make sure that ‘what is’ does not take that route. I do allow myself to dwell on ‘what if’ in the positive sense. What if something I write sometime goes viral? What if it leads me to like minded people? It does, it has. But I’m also not getting tethered, I’m still growing, still exploring, going with my flow.
And so should you. Finding your flow is about following the things that give you a positive boost, great vibes. Do those things, those are the key to figuring out who you are on the inside. Trust that if you are doing those things you will not miss out on life, you will be living your life in a way that brings no regrets, only peace.
Make a start, commit to at least observing in your life what feels good and what feels bad. Make a plan to do more of the good, just inch forward if that is all you can do right now. Who you are on the inside, beneath any suffering, beneath any well meaning versions of your life loved ones have wanted for you, is the person who can do most for this planet. Go find that person and live a life fulfilled.
This article was originally published on LinkedIn.
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