February 20, 2011
Marti Spiegelman on Consciousness, Awareness & Perception
She has inspiring and humble views about the growth of global consciousness and why its so important to bring together complimentary opposites in order to accelerate that consciousness.
We're at a time when we need to create things to create more consciousness than we've ever even imagined in our lifetime.
I loved how she prepared the audience for her 18 minutes of wisdom. Marti asked the audience to FEEL what we are going to talk about and learn rather than THINK about it. FEEL IT she repeated.
On the path to human consciousness and awakening, she referred to the wisdom she has learned from indigenous elders around the world, starting with Mexico and their view of perception. Their philosophy is that the core of our being is perception and the magic of our being is awareness.
Perception is to be aware of everything around us.
"There's an intelligence that moves those forces, that intelligence is what human beings have only known as consciousness," says Marti. She asserts that if we're intelligent and half awake, it will speak us into BEING.
Her informal and witty style brings you into her dialogue, whether its as an audience partipant watching her from afar or sitting across from her over a cup of tea. Marti is also funny. She says, "I used to think I was like a bug on a hot stove by jumping all around, but now I see that consciousness was forming me so that we could be here today."
She shared with us some of the seeds of what she learned from indigenous elders she studied with as well as from others on her journey. More humor comes out as she pointed to science as a way to make sense of the world. "In science we have an experience, then we try to prove that we had it," she reflects.
Consciousness taught her that we could learn about the speed of light, about all the possibilities in life without one piece of data.
In graphic design or art or in my case, photography, we learn how to make information technology and objects visible. In the world of technology, we can make something beautiful through coding or altering the original object. What's cool in my own personal experience of this is that you code or edit or use a graphics tool and create your own world of beauty, and then someone else can take it, modify it, and add to it.
Then, that piece of beauty you created changes, morphs and becomes a different kind of beauty. In other words, the beauty grows. That's exactly what happens with nature.
Says Marti, "we are just the portal - consciousness speaks through all of us." For those of us who have been a recipient or the portal, you KNOW this to be true. I've been a portal and in that unique beautiful moment when it happens, nothing is more important than being present with where you are and open. Then, whatever is supposed to happen, whatever is supposed to be 'said' just gets said through you without you controlling it. It's almost as if you don't have a choice, because a bigger force outside of yourself takes over.
When you are the recipient, which I have also been, it's an incredibly life-changing experience. If you've gone through this, you know exactly what I'm talking about. There's no force and no control -- you know you're there for 'it' whatever that 'it' is (message, moment, miracle, exchange of love) and you just go with it and absorb. There's an acute awareness when this happens.......the attention is OFF yourself and the other person and ON/IN the creation of beauty, love, peace, harmony and sometimes, the hardest ones: self love and forgiveness.
This my friends is what this magical thing called Global Consciousness is about.
She also addressed consciousness and business, a world she came from and it appeared 80% of the audience (minus the Berkeley students) spend their time in today -- "performing". I chose the word performing because its precisely what life is fixated on when measurement of success is based on performance rather than on 'gifting to the world' through business.
Says Marti, "business is nothing more than the center of exchange of value. The only thing that is valuable is that what supports thriving." The indigeneous elders once said to her, "all that stuff you've been learning is a technology. There is a technology to consciousness."
Here's the other thing about global consciousness. It's limitless and once you've experienced it, you know that it can keep going or rather flowing....only of course, if we don't put a plug in that flow. (i.e., fear does that).
What happens to many of us, (it has certainly happened to me) is that we experience the gift of human consciousness because we evolve into it through an unspoken door of trust and then when things feel too joyful (in other words, do I really deserve ALL of this? ahhh, that muddled complicated word deserve which requires its own blog post), we somehow sabotage the door that leads us to more miracles. Yes, miracles...miracles that come from being consciously aware, miracles that come from walking through the door of consciousness and never turning back.
The bottom line is that we all want to be thriving and deep down when we're living from a place of love, not fear, we all want everything and everyone else to be thriving too. Once fear takes over, survival instict takes over, you know, that lizard brain that Seth Godin talks about in Linchpins, and we remain in the ego state, the one that doesn't serve anyone including ourselves.
Another principle she talked about was repriocity, which is one expression of human consciousness.....a deeper expression. She uses the example of two magnets to demonstrate how we seek sameness and push away difference.
Welcome to the western world is all I could think when she said the world sameness. I'm not suggesting that sameness doesn't show up in the East or other parts of the world, but in living in 11 countries, I'm always shocked by how much sameness we support and embrace in the U.S. compared to other societies in the world.
I would go so far as saying that I think we're killing inspiration, art and creation in humanity because of the growth of sameness, most noticeable in the western world. My mind wandered and spiraled as she said that word because of how many visuals I had of the joy I have experienced over the years whenever diversity showed up, which it did in so many marvelous ways.
I have thought and said this often - how on earth can we create a life full of magic and joy with so much sameness around us? People so often embrace sameness more than they do diversity.
Well done Marti and thanks for throwing that awkward word out there for us to reflect on, perhaps so much so that we can perhaps discard the coward claws of 'sameness', the ones that keep us inside a world of reaction rather than creation. When we live our lives from a place of creation and diversity, we can learn, grow and yes, thrive from that which is not the same as ourselves and our understanding of the world.
Indigeneous people are able to move things because they embrace the differences. Imagine that you could sit in awareness and acknowledge in consciousness that this is just this and nothing else and that is just that and nothing else, rather than try to figure out what this and that is supposed to mean. Forget the meaning for a moment and when you do, you'll find yourself moving into that beautiful state of being.
I remember being on a walk on an island in Fiji many years ago and a quiet man with a very peaceful face emerged from the woods. He asked me before I said a word, "why are you trying to fight with God my child?" By God, I learned that he didn't mean the God we think of in the west, he meant the greater force in the universe (perhaps embraced by purpose)....the one outside ourselves that we can't control nor can we always understand.
It was at a time when I was on a seminar not long after my grandfather died and I was trying to make sense of the whys, the pains and the emotional hardships my own family faced for so many years. Still, without me saying a word, he said, "stop trying to figure it out, stop trying to come up with a solution or analyze it. Stop. Just be with whatever is gripping you and strangling your soul. Just be. Don't control it, just embrace it and be with it."
Then he was gone. I saw him again two more times before I left and twice more, he left me with words of wisdom as if he saw through me, could read me, perhaps for a moment or two, was me. He was the portal and I was the recipient: human consciousness, love and awareness in action.
Imagine if we could experience that every day? Where would the pain go? Wouldn't it be cool if we could stop trying to figure out where it would go or what life would be like if that what was familiar even if painful just disippated into air?
Marti ended with an important reminder: "All of the other principles will fall into place if we focus on the first principle: "Be here now, outside the constraints of time." Thank you for your free flowing "I'm just here and now" presentation, your ongoing seeds of wisdom and commitment to sharing it with the world.
February 19, 2011
TODAY, TEDxBerkeley Brings Leaders Together to Reveal World-Changing Projects that are Engaging the World
Fifteen ground-breaking thinkers and leaders in their fields will discuss issues such as: how to find personal meaning in the business world and how to scale social change in the developing world.
Within the theme of “Engaging the World”, the event will be broken down into three categories: Dream, Pioneer and Connect.
Below is a list of the 2011 TEDxBerkeley speakers. Visit the TEDxBerkeley speaker page for their detailed biographies.
- Bryan Alvarez – Doctoral candidate at the University of California, Berkeley, researching brain-based and cognitive mechanisms of a unique form of sensory-blending called synesthesia, which he also experiences.
- Jason Atwood – Ph.D. Candidate, Activist, and Director of Ethiopia ConnectED, an education initiative inspired by TEDster Sugata Mitra’s research on self-organized learning environments.
- Anat Baniel – Founder of the Anat Baniel Method and Director of the ABM Center in Marin County, California, where she and her colleagues teach professional training programs and workshops.
- Lopa Brunjes – Biochar pioneer, passionate sustainability advocate, and Executive VP of Biochar Engineering Corp, a small Colorado company defining the leading edge of the burgeoning biochar industry.
- Chip Conley – Founder and Executive Chairman of Joie de Vivre, California’s largest boutique hotel company, Author and Entrepreneur.
- Sonja Drakulich – Musician and Singer who performs Balkan and Medieval European music, as well as Persian, Turkish, Greek and Arabic; toured nationally with the Mevlevi Dervishes as singer and percussionist and in Indonesia with the Gamelan Theater Group.
- Robert Fuller – Former President of Oberlin College and Author of Somebodies and Nobodies: Overcoming the Abuse of Rank, coined the term “rankism” and is a leader in the worldwide quest for human dignity.
- Erin Ganju – Co-founder and chief executive officer of Room to Read, an organization that seeks to transform the lives of millions of children in the developing world by focusing on literacy and gender equality in education.
- Eoin Harrington – Singer, songwriter and guitarist, described as described as reminiscent of Maroon 5's Adam Levine, James Blunt or "a grittier Elton John."
- Walter Hood – Professor at the University of California, Berkeley’s Landscape Architecture and Environmental Design Department. His studio, Hood Design, has been engaged in architectural commissions, urban design, art installations, and research since 1992.
- Gopi Kallayil – Group Product Marketing Manager at Google supporting the marketing of the Company’s flagship advertising product, AdWords, in the Americas and Asia Pacific.
- Brad Kava – Award-winning journalist, writer, blues harmonica player and co-owner of the Santa Cruz Blues Festival.
- Noteworthy – UC Berkeley all-male a cappella group unique for writing the majority of their own pieces.
- David Rose – Product Designer, Technology Visionary, Serial Entrepreneur and current chief executive officer of Vitality, a company reinventing medication packaging with wireless technology.
- Moses Sedler – Cellist & Composer of music for dance, film and concert stage, with a background in classical, improvisatory music as well as European folk and Indian music.
- David Silverman – Animator and was involved with the animated TV series The Simpsons from the very beginning, where he animated all of the original Simpsons Tracy Ullman shorts and went on to serve as director of animation for several years.
- Shore Slocum – Co-Founder of SoulNeeds, a social networking platform for the soul, and Speaker/Trainer who conducts Speakers Boot Camps which has inspired tens of thousands annually around the world.
- Marti Spiegelman – Training Professional, Mentor, Speaker, and Founder and Host of Awakening Value: Shamanic Technologies of Consciousness and Success on the VoiceAmerica Web Radio Network.
- Peter Stanley - Record producer, songwriter and guitar player extraordinaire who fronts the blues band Doghouse Riley.
- Matt Venuti – Composer, multi-instrumentalist, and TED veteran who opened the 2004 conference in Monterey with a solo. He will perform on the Pan Art Hang on the TEDxBerkeley stage.
The TEDx Berkeley team includes: Curator Kevin Gong, a translator who has volunteered for the Global Lives Project; co-curator Renee Blodgett, founder of Magic Sauce Media and We Blog the World, co-curator Ross Evans, founder of Worldbike; Director of Marketing, Jennifer Barr, VP/Operations at Northern CA Wharton Business School Club; Director of Logistics Navi Ganancial, serial volunteer and social media marketing guru; Director of Sponsorships Brent Locks, founding COO of GreenLaces.org; Director of Web Strategies Massimo Paolini, founder of MPThree Consulting Inc.; Technical Director Rocky Mullin, production volunteer for EG and TEDMED, musician & producer and Volunteer Manager David Allen, Berkeley student studying Neural Theory of Language.
February 19, 2011 in America The Free, Events, On Being Green, On Innovation, On People & Life, On Science, On Spirituality, On Technology, On the Future, WBTW, Web 2.0 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack
February 12, 2011
Leaving Fear At the Curb So Your Real Life Can Show Up
We all have to dive into something we don't want to do from time-to-time, and one of the emotions that can come up in the process is fear, particularly if its something we don't perceive ourselves to be good at or avoid because the 'act' brings us into an energy we're not necessarily comfortable with.
Fear is a powerful word; when I think of living in fear or going to a place of fear, I think of darkness. In other words, fear is the the opposite of the energy source that gives light, love or connectedness. Its at the base of the very things that create friction in the world, such as war, racism and corruption.
But there's a joy in the process of embracing fear, because once you embrace it, you can unmask it right before its ugly clawing eyes. We can strip it down to such a granular level that we force it back into its rightful place....that nothingness place, where it cannot take ahold of us, it cannot grasp us by the throat, it cannot take control of our minds and our lives. Fear is the drama that we 'think it is,' not the actual situation itself.
I love these words by Leonard Cohen: "Dance me to your beauty....with a burning violin. Dance me through the panic....till I'm gathered safely in. Lift me like an olive branch...and be my homeward dove. Dance me to the end of love."
Then there's Ken Wilbur: "Whenever we split seamless awareness into a subject versus an object, into a self versus an other, then that self feels fear, simply becasue there are now so many 'others' out there that can harm it."
A friend of mine said as she stepped out on stage at a presentation she was giving recently, Let me introduce myselves. We often joke about how many of our selves inside our head there is at any given time and which self decides to show up at any given time. When we decide to surrender control to all of those selves, then the only self that is forced to show up is our 'true self,' the essence of who we really are, the self who operates from a place of love and connectedness, not fear and darkness.
Steve Chandler writes this amusing and touching snippet in a chapter of one of his books called This Insane Posse of Clowns: "there's a spooky imaginary source for much of my fear. It's the fake construct that pretends to be true. It's an unreal thing. And, because its not real, it is impossible to protect it from harm. It is what I call my personality. I'm frightened and defensive because of it. It feels like a costume I'm sewn into. What was once hastily formed in my childhood mind to give me a sense of a safe identity and separation now, in later life, becomes a trap.
Like being imprisoned inside a puppet; or stitched into a clown suit." Later in the same chapter, he says of being fearless, "It's a dropping of personality. It replaces it with the fierce thrill of doing what ought to be done."
Isn't it time you got out of that stitched clown suit, the personality that has you imprisoned inside a puppet and left fear at the curb so your connected life, full of all things possible, can show up?
Photo Credits: Fanpopp & DemocraticUnderground
February 02, 2011
TEDx Berkeley Coming to the Zellerbach Stage on February 19
On February 19, 2011, TEDxBerkeley will gather world-leading thinkers, makers, and doers at UC Berkeley to discuss the theme: “Engaging the World“. The audience will be a diverse yet curated mix of 1,400 students, professors, and thought leaders from Berkeley and beyond, gathering for a stimulating day of presentations, discussions, entertainment and art that will spark new ideas and opportunities for all.
If you're interested in attending, fill out the form and join us. The speaker line-up can be found here, with additional speakers and performers being added in the next few days. Below is just a glimpse - more updates coming next week.
- Jason Atwood - Cal PhD, Computer Lab in Uganda project.
- David Rose - Founder of Vitality.
- Chip Conley - CEO of Joie de Vivre.
- Marti Spiegelman on consciousness.
- Erin Ganju - CEO of Room to Read.
- David Silverman - Producer of The Simpsons.
- Bryan Alvarez - Cal PhD and the Human Atlas Project.
- Lopa Brunjes - co-founder of Biochar.
- Gopi Kallayil - Heads of Product Marketing for Search Advertising at Google.
- Shore Slocum - Author and Speaker on spirituality and the real world.
- Bob Fuller - Author on rankism.
- Walter Hood - Berkeley architecture professor.
January 31, 2011
The Power of Fire, Drumming, Chanting & Vortexes
I'm certainly not new to dancing, nor am I new to drumming and chanting. That said, I experienced a powerful ritual recently that merges exercise, expression, empowerment, psychology and spiritual worship all under one roof. (or the stars in some cases).
Imagine an event/ritual with this combination: the fun and creativity of Burning Man expression (face and body painting if that's what you want to do), the humanist element of spiritual worship (regardless of your religion -- gratitude and love is what holds court, not God), psychology (because your schtuff can all come out through movement not sitting on a couch talking to a PhD -- I'm not condemning this btw, just suggesting there are other ways for healing and growth), exercise and physical movement (to keep toxicity where it belongs, moving through you and not staying stagnant inside you), and lastly, empowerment through chants and language that elevates not reduces you.
I have chosen not to mention the place or name of this event for confidentiality purposes and to respect the space attendees consider sacred and private. Respecting the privacy of what comes up at these events is an essential part of what makes it all work, or purr as I like to say when something is really working.
A lot of preparation goes into the event itself, such as learning the guidelines of what certain words or noises mean, how to know when silence is more powerful than sharing something, or how to pay attention to the beautiful relationship between the drummers and the dancers. In most cases, you'll do both, so it's important to know what to 'give' the dancers when you're drumming and vice versa, in order to make the experience purr.
Once cleansed, you line up in two lines and face each other, and then slowly you fold into the middle of the circle and move up the middle to re-enter the building, almost in a wedding-like receiving line fashion.
There are some aspects to the early part of the ritual (the quiet, meditative part at the beginning) that is very similar in experience to the Labyrinth Walk, a non-denominational ritual that involves movement on a spiritual journey - towards and always in motion. Some of the earliest forms of labyrinths are found in Greece, dating back to 2500-2000 B.C.E. and early Christian labyrinths date back to 4th century, a basilica in Algeria.
With the fire circle ritual, there is often a fire in the middle of the circle and a border to the circle around it, where movement takes place inside the circle. In our case, since it was inside and there were fire regulations, we had a massive metal bowl propped up on an iron stand, filled with water and floating candles.
The circle itself was closed in by a glowing white chord that lit up in the dark, roughly an inch or so thick. When inside the circle, you are walking into your 'foundation' which is an area of focus.
It could be unconditional love, peace, or frankly, anything you choose. Outside the circle, you prepare yourself for that place so that when you walk into it, you are in that place, feeling it, breathing it, being your authentic self, whatever that is.
Movement felt forced to me in the beginning although over time, once I got out of my head, nothing but natural flowing energy moved me to do whatever I did inside the circle. Some people skip, others move in stride -- slowly, quickly, flowingly, energetically, happily, spiritually, all depending on where they are at any given time. Some people just walk. The key is to keep moving since movement is a symbol of life and how we live life. Have you ever noticed that how people do anything is how they do everything?
This is why constant movement inside the circle is so important just as it is inside any vortex. The ritual's guidelines/rules keeps you in motion even when you feel like you want to stop. When you stay in motion even when you're feeling stuck, things begin to open up and get clearer - both in your head and your heart.
We explored the energy of vortexes, where we looked into the early work of Viktor Schauberger, who was an inventor of what he called "implosion technology." Schauberger developed his own theories based on fluidic vortices and movement in nature. He coined Observe Nature and then Copy Nature and was known for observing fish and their behavior in rivers. In his work with vortexes, he realized that everything is affected by the 'vortex' and believed that all life IS a vortex.
The circle we moved in and around was a vortex just like tornadoes and water are vortexes as is our inner ear. When you change the pattern and direction of a vortex, interesting things happen. Sure, there's turbulence, but there is also an inner calm that occurs as has been evidenced by objects, such as a birthday cake, being swept up in a tornado and then being spit out unharmed and untouched.
Tornados breath everything in its track IN and then spits everything OUT. Refer to a great book called Sensitive Chaos, which explains the simple flowing phenomena of water and air, and how we can use that understanding to "read" the living meaning of water.
All of this comes back to the importance of keeping things moving inside the vortex, in this case, the humanity "fire" circle where the attendees' job was to keep everything flowing: our hearts, our minds and our bodies.
There are two directions you can move in the fire circle and you can choose what each direction means for you. For example, moving counterclockwise towards the inside rim of the circle could mean holding on whereas walking clockwise in the inner part of the circle could mean letting go and releasing.
Dynamics of the group participating inside the circle change frequently, but it happens with respect for what others want to experience. Being in touch, listening and allowing silence creates the space to understand that dynamic.
You could be moving to a mid-tempo beat, then the drum energy may simmer down and someone may start to recite a piece from Shakespeare or Eckhart Tolle. Later, it may move into a chant or a silly song. Ultimately, this means that the entire fire circle is organic and its energy depends on the players in the circle at any given time.
When someone starts to sing a song, people often chime in. If someone begins a poem, people may just listen and respond to it through dance or movement, and a chant often takes on a life of its own. Example: I am the power and I honor you and I empower you to be who you are. The energy is almost always positive and from a place of love and gratitude.
Gratitude is a big part of the ritual. Whether you go into the process wanting to give gratitude or think about it or not, you can't help but leave the circle feeling grateful for the people around you and most importantly, for yourself.
Isn't self love, or rather lack thereof, a known factor, that holds us back from becoming our full potential? (by full potential, I don't mean becoming a CEO of a Fortune 500 company or a professional athlete), I mean stepping into your 'true' self, rather than holding back that gift and trying to replicate the "sameness" around us). Sometimes I think Sesame Street said it best. (aka, the most important person in the whole wide world is ......)
That brings me to other senses and modalities. In addition to verbal mantras and reinforcements, there's a visual component. Women typically dress in flowing clothes, often with clothes and hats, sometimes with decadent jewelry and face paint. There were other visual expression props you could add to your persona for the ritual such as angel's wings, funky and romantic hats and shawls. Some men dressed up in cultural clothing from other countries (Egypt, China, Japan, etc), others wore robes, and some just wore loose clothing.
The altar to the west is dedicated to image and reflection and on that altar were mirrors and candles. Remember that in ancient times, mirrors were believed to hold your reflection and if a mirror was shattered, it was said that your soul would be shattered. (that's where the 7 years of bad luck came from). Reflections represent why you 'showed up,' what you want to accomplish, what direction do you want to go and what is your intention along the way?
There are four altars in total and everyone pays respect to each -- north, south, east and west -- at the very beginning of the ritual. Typically two people say a few words about it and more candles are lit along the way.
The altar to the south is about experimentation and considered a laboratory of sorts. In this particular fire circle, laboratory coats were hung on a coat stand to symbolize exploration and experimentation in life.
The altar to the east is about play and there, hung hats, scarves, coats and shawls. Play sister play. Women tended to use the props here more than the men although all the men in my group had an aspect of play to their personalities. (note: our group was roughly 50 in size although fire circles can range from 20 to over 1,000 in size).
There was also a hoola hoop in this area which some used to play on their own while others used it as a prop in which to dance and play together.
And lastly, the altar to the east is about connection. This altar was the most cluttered of all and included flowers, candles, one tangerine, bones and necklaces. If you felt a particular connection to someone throughout the process, you could let them know by hanging one of the necklaces around their neck to symbolize that you shared something "kindrid" and meaningful with them.
The coolest part for me was the dynamic between the drummers and the dancers, and the mutual sharing of expression that came from a place of true authenticity and vulnerability. Even at Burning Man, albeit authentic and fabulous, it's more about art, expression and experience than it is about being vulnerable and showing your true interior -- sans drugs -- which could change by the moment, by the hour or simply not at all.
It's also about becoming more and more okay with silence but not having to do it through some form of formal or informal meditation, so it's great for people who are not naturals at meditation.
Lastly, the drumming circle itself. Dancing to it while respecting the organic nature of what is being created on the fly is as magical as drumming for the dancers is, with an intention of creating a magical experience for them along the way.
Since the drumming circle is lined up as an arch, there is a circular area in front of the drummers where a dancer can come in and show gratitude by dancing wildly or softly (typically there's more energy than less) in front of them. And this, my friends, is a very very cool experience, as a drummer and as a dancer.
A few links and resources to check out more information on fire dances and circles for those interested in learning more.
- Phoenix Fire – the West Coast's largest fire-circle gathering happens every August under the redwood trees in the Santa Cruz mountains
- Winter's Flame – weekend events held in the San Francisco Bay Area.
- Fire Tribe Hawaii – circles every solstice and equinox on the island of Oahu
- Forestdance – circles in Massachusetts every August
- Vegas Vortex – hosts Mysterium, May Fire, and Fall Fest in and around Las Vegas
- Spirit Fire – circles in July in upstate New York
- Fires Rising – features a fire circle at this event every May in Pennsylvania
- Rites of Spring – a week long pagan festival with fire circle in every May in western Massachusetts
Photo credits: BoulderssResort, FireFamily, InventorSpot, FreeExtras, DrinkingDiaires, Celebratewomantoday, and VortexHouse.
November 27, 2010
Dalai Lama Posts This on Facebook Today
And, it's worth a share:
September 12, 2010
Hey Digital Maven: How Okay Are You With Silence?
Let's take a look at polarity for a minute, not chemical polarity, but linguistic polarity which does in fact change our behavior, our wants, our likes, our dislikes and so on.
The most well-known polarity items are those that are sensitive to negation and related expressions - think: negative and positive expressions. The speech and behavioral patterns that you consistently do again and again define your life experiences.
When we live 'most of our life' in a digital world, we can't possibly define our lives any other way other than digitally. The same applies to the opposite. There's only so much space, time and energy we can dedicate to a given thing - does that one thing fall into a digital realm or a non-digital realm? Those patterns become what we know, what our bodies and minds do and what we 'become' most comfortable with. While we may argue that these patterns do not define us, over time, they do in fact become part of our DNA, our make-up, our new persona, our new identity.
Among other things, I suppose I could call myself a 'digital maven.' It didn't start that way -- I'm not a daughter of an engineer or from a family who spent their life employed at HP, Intel or Apple. Quite the contrary, I'm about as opposite of a poster child for Silicon Valley as you can find, yet.....here I am, a victim of the digital revolution. (G'head, slam for me the use of the word victim, but not unlike other addictions, technology takes on its victims in the same way cocaine and alcohol do).
We can make our own choices and create the necessary life balances but that doesn't mean we don't fall prey to the addiction. Pattern repetition: repeat, repeat, repeat. Ever have this feeling? I'm a mouse caught in a digital and social media maze -- please let me out.
I grew up in an environment where access to a digital life was limited and discouraged. The mantras I received included getting an old fashioned education, reading literary masterpieces and more than anything else - world experience. "Get your hands dirty, and walk on the dark side, the tough side and there.....there, you'll learn how to get ahead in life."
If it came easily, my grandfather believed, it wasn't real, or at least not sustainable. Two main things that fell into the easy category as a teenager: TV and fast food. Both were off limits without some kind of negotiation. We were also a family who held onto a rotary phone for longer than most.
Falling into technology twenty years ago had its rewards then as much as it does today. Innovation is exciting - you can feel the pulse of leading edge.....you have an opportunity to see it, hear it, taste it, feel it, and experience it.
If you're not an early adopter at first, the digital world soon converts you into one. Suddenly you wake up and you've become a geek, unclear of how you made it from luddite to digital maven. It's not as if there's a single moment where a lightbulb goes off and you suddenly can fix your pal's PC or set up your aunt's cell phone. It's gradual like all addictions.
Once you move into that world, it's hard to turn back to a mindset where silence becomes your truth rather than your digital persona.
Let's face it - while many will argue that their digital persona, in other words, who they are online, IS their physical persona, it's not the same - it can't be. The medium changes us, whether it's a large monitor, a small mobile screen or a GPS gadget. As humans, we simply respond differently to human touch -- sound, sight and smell in the physical world than we do in a digital, virtual one. It doesn't mean that innovation and progress isn't blurring the lines (read: singularity), but it's important to acknowledge the distinctions for us to understand the digital addiction and how it can and does lead us further away from presence, and further away from silence. Singularity enthusiasts and futurists may think differently about this of course.
Enter my world. This world is one which never shuts off and is rarely disconnected from the web in one form or another. In other words, life is almost never offline. What does almost 'never' lead to?
Almost 'never' leads to a world where silence can't exist, at least not as we have known and understood it for centuries.
Enter Silicon Valley, a place some call its own planet. Others call it a insular bubble shut off from the 'real world.' It doesn't mean that everyone who lives in Silicon Valley is living in an insular bubble, but what it does mean is that the technology culture Silicon Valley has created is all digital and as such, removed from the way the rest of the world thinks and lives.
I moved here after the 2000 crash, but before the recent economic downturn when start-ups were not getting funded, companies were not hiring and the outlook was grim. That said, there was still advancement - products were still being launched, companies were sold and innovation ploughed ahead economic surplus or not.
The early adopters and creators continued to throw invites my way for every new social media service, plug-in, mobile feature and software download under the sun; I got a daily dose of them for months. In this increasingly 'more authentic than ever' time, I was asked to 'friend' people I never met or heard of on Facebook, Orkut, LinkedIn, MySpace...........the list goes on. And on.
Are you tired yet? At what point do you say "get a life, enuf already." It's not about keeping up with the Jones anymore; it's about keeping up with the digital mavens and these mavens keep coming at you from all sides. Their persistence is so prolific that you can't really escape them if you work and play among them, nor can you create uninterrupted time for silence.
Ahh yes, that magical word: Silence. Being connected to all of these disparate digital worlds takes time, energy and focus because for the most part, these worlds are silos even though there's an attempt to integrate more and more of them. Integration isn't happening fast enough nor is it a priority, and so we continue like mice in the maze of ever exploring one path (i.e., social network with no clear value-add or problem that it solves) after another.
*Check to see what my friends are doing on Facebook, do status updates and write on their walls.
*Find out who poked me and why and then respond.
*Respond to comments in MySpace world.
*Answer questions from people who send me notes on LinkedIn despite the fact that they have my email address and have known me for a decade.
*Check messages on the six vertical market social networks that promise to keep me appraised of the latest in the world of my top passions and interests.
*Check aggregator for top news and to sift through favorite blogs and sites.
*Read Google News. Read Yahoo Alerts.
*Check Google Analytics. Check Statcounter. Check feeds.
*Check blog post comments. Respond.
*Respond and monitor spam on blog. Respond and monitor spam on Facebook. Respond and monitor spam on.....
*Try to find useful and important stuff in email in the midst of useless and irrelevant stuff.
*Wonder daily how on earth you got on so many newsletter lists for so many companies. Try to unsubscribe and note that the volume continues to go up despite your best effort.
*Update location on FourSquare. Update again on Gowalla.
*Tweet something useful on Twitter or retweet someone else's thought provoking comment. Tweet again. Respond to tweets.
*Update status on LinkedIn.
*Write Blog Post. Respond to comments and emails about blog post.
*Make silly correction from something someone didn't like from blog post they see as inaccurate but isn't really.
*Update contact database.
*Do back up.
*Copy files over for trip and then do again. Back up. Do it again.
*Synchronization. It always works flawlessly right? Don't get me started.
*Download new updates and upgrades for software, hardware, web browsers, mobile phones....
*Download new apps for phone, laptop, iPod, iPad, Droid, Blackberry, do it again.
*Upgrade to new operating system: Phone, Laptop, Blackberry, iPod, iPad, Droid. Do it again.
*Download new printer drivers.
*Windows Crash. Firefox Crash. Chrome Crash. And yes, Apple fan boys, iPod Crash. It happens almost daily and I own five.
Since I work in this industry, go there I must, at least to some degree. Create more boundaries, more balance, you might say. And I do and others I know have tried also. In making that conscious choice however, bear in mind that the inevitable happens: you move yourself further away from your 'digital tribe.' If you are not fully integrated into your 'digital tribe' yet you're not 'out of it' either, you're living a luke warm 'digital existence,' at least in the eyes of the tribe.
Yet, if you have your toes dipped into the waters of the digital tribe, you're not fully living in the tribe that lives, breathes and honors 'silence' either. No-man's land. Doris Lessing remains a great read for those who have never been attached to any one label, any one culture, any one name.
When there's nothing to click, nothing to push, nothing to update, nothing to respond to, silence takes over. It can be disconcerting at first, especially for the digital maven. For example, watch a digital maven board an airplane. As they walk onto the plane, they're checking text messages -- head down -- paying little attention to the announcements or people around them. They check into Foursquare, send out a tweet and make a phone call the instant they sit down, thereafter begrudgingly switching their device off when the order comes from the cockpit.
Continue to watch. They'll look around, then back down to their lap, then at their device, which is turned off. They play with the keys anyway just like a smoker coddles the unlit cigarette when they're forced to abstain. They're at a loss where to turn and what to do. Read a magazine? A Book? Unless it's on a Kindle, it would appear foreign, out-dated.
The neurons don't know how to fire up that part of their brain - it's out of practice and 'hooked' on digital connection.....addicted to that digital connection. Enter the world of no silence. Silence doesn't have the juice they need, the 'hit' that keeps them engaged, connected, in motion. Hey Digital Maven, ask yourself an important truth: "how okay are you with silence?" Then, sit with the question for a long, long time. In Silence of course.
September 08, 2010
On Philosophy: A Partially Examined Life
An interesting post over at Open Culture (love this blog). Philosophy: A Partially Examined Life. In the piece, he says of his experience of philosophy from his studies at university: "we loved philosophy but preferred it as an avocation. There was something about the professionalization of philosophy that seemed to go against the spirit of it. We preferred the “partially examined life” to the examined life." I can relate and felt the same way, hence my change to Sociology, then Psychology, then Anthropology. (Not that any of these didn't bring on the same reflections).
They created a philosophy podcast with discussions that were informed but not overly academic, less like a classroom lecture and more like a conversation over drinks after class, and unified by the question of what makes philosophy worthwhile. They covered topics ranging from Plato’s conception of the examined life to Nietzsche’s immoralism, God and faith, to the philosophy of mind. Podcast here.
August 02, 2010
Breaking Through with Tony Robbins on National Network NBC“Breakthrough” is a new summer reality show on NBC with Tony Robbins, which started last week. Many know Tony from his empowerment seminars and audiotapes, which are marketed worldwide, making Tony Robbins synonymous with motivation and life coaching. He has also written books and for years, held 2 day to week long seminars on getting your life on track and creating empowering choices in your life, whether that be around relationships, finance or your professional 'destiny.'
Given that I have done a number of Tony Robbins seminars myself and have met him personally on more than one occasion, the way he is often portrayed in the press doesn't do him justice, nor is it always accurate. People still respond to old infomercials from twenty years ago - a bit like pigeon-holing Ron Howard into his role as Richie in Happy Days when years later, he has gone on to become producer and director of well-known respected films.
C'mon people, move on - haven't you progressed in your career development and the things you have done in the past two decades? Tony has come a LONG way since the late-night infomercials he did early on in his career. Today, he spends his life work not just running seminars that help change people's lives for the better, but he coaches major luminaries, politicians, sports heroes and Hollywood celebs as well. Additionally, he has a non-profit foundation, which provides assistance to the homeless, elderly and inner-city youth, and feeds more than one million people in nine countries every year through its international holiday "Basket Brigade."
The New York Times article on his NBC debut writes, "Mr. Robbins is well spoken and persuasive, but the series is a reminder of how unusual his looks are for a man in the counseling field. Enormously tall, dark, with big teeth, high cheekbones and the hint of a five o’clock shadow, Mr. Robbins looks more dangerous than safe and more wolfish than shepherdly; he could pass for a Bond villain."
Anyone who knows Tony personally would be in stitches over this description......I still laugh at it re-reading it the fifth time around. Clearly the reporter hasn't met him if they think he could pass as a Bond villain after looking in his eyes or shaking his hand. But yes, Tony is tall and has a powerful presence. But, given her reference, it makes it seem like all counselors should be shepherdly and safe. Egads. Think about it, if you're a type A athlete who is muscular and 6 foot something, might you not want a personal development life coach who can not only get you to deal with where you're stuck emotionally, but also physically match you?
I'm not a professional athlete nor am I over six foot tall and I know I'd opt for someone with Tony's energy and presence than a shepherdly, safe counselor who what, starts the clock, stares at and listens to you from across the couch for 59 minutes until the bell rings? Hell, that's not what I call transformative work even though I'm not discounting that it can be helpful for some people along their life's journey. Bottom line, there are more effective techniques and approaches out there and Tony has mastered them.
It's time to rethink the paradigm and rethink the speed at which we CAN change our lives and break our old patterns. Transformation can be almost immediate. What I mean by this is that change happens the moment you make a DECISION to make change your patterns - really make that decision.
There are countless things that Tony walks people through in his seminars to break your patterns and create a life worth living but the big one is this: Rewrite Your Story.
A rewrite isn't done by seeing a shrink for months or years on end trying to analyze why your story is what it is and slowly migrating from an old you to a new one. It happens the moment you DECIDE to rewrite that story. It's yours to create and his point is a simple one - you're the author, so why not write an incredible life story?
Some kudos for Tony's new show below. And yes, as it may appear from my tone, I am also a fan of his work. More at Breakthrough Insider.
July 09, 2010
A Look at Godin's Linchpin: Get Uncomfortable & Get out the CowbellThose who are already fans of Seth Godin's work will find his latest book Linchpin among his best, if not his best, and those who have never heard of him will get glimpses of his words of wisdom from his previous works of art Tribes, The Dip, Purple Cow and others.
A world renown branding and marketing expert, Godin's lessons and pitch to the world is really about how to live an authentic life. Sure, I love his writing and agree in principle with everything I've read, yet the real magic comes when you realize the power of meshing his Buddhist-like approach to being present, choosing happiness and YOU as the leader in charge of your life and making hard painful decisions to leave complacency and fear behind so you can start creating your real art.
He begins by reminding us what century we're living in. In other words, things have dramatically changed - we no longer have to be a faceless cog in the machinery of capitalism. We now have a choice, as the migration completes itself from two teams (management and labor) to a third team - the linchpins.
We no longer need to be faceless cogs in a bureaucratic mediocre system. We can choose our own path by stepping into our art in the same way other linchpins have done: Colonel Sanders, Jack Bauer in 24, Michael Jackson, Tony Robbins, Steve Jobs, Oprah. This is what Linchpins do - they step out of the faceless system, draw their own maps and create art that matters. Consider "this art" that you are here in this world to create, as gifts that change people and potentially change the way the world thinks.
He brings us back into the mediocre world - you know, where 'average' comes from. Among other things, he blames traditional schools which have conditioned us to do 'our jobs' and follow instructions. It makes us feel safe to fit in, doesn't it, but following the status quo has never made anyone indispensable.
Let's revisit the 'safe to fit in' part. If you think about it, when you feel most alive, the moments you can remember where you are in your zone and doing remarkable work, ask yourself, "were you fitting in or were you stepping out on a limb and creating art?" In these moments, the Linchpin took over and pushed the Lizard Brain aside. Seth refers to the Lizard Brain as the persistent obstacle that sets us back. The Lizard Brain often sabotages the progress we have made and stops us from creating our best work. Refer to a great post Seth wrote on 'quieting the lizard brain.'
The Lizard Brain stops us from saying what we think is important at the right time, and holds us back from making remarkable things.
|Do not internalize the industrial model. You are not one of the myriad of interchangeable pieces, but a unique human being, and if you've got something to say, say it, and think well of yourself while you're learning to say it better.--David Mamet|
Where Seth merges from taking ownership of living and winning in your own life to the business world is the crossroads where the same principles apply to the products and services you are trying to sell. You can win in the short term on selling cheaper, faster or even the best quality but where you really earn your place in the market is with humanity and leadership. He asserts: "the only way to get what you're worth is to stand out, to exert emotional labor, to be seen as indispensable, and to produce interactions that organizations and people deeply care about."
When you do the latter my friend, not only do you win and start living a remarkable life, but so will the products and services you represent. They'll take on a life of their own because that authenticity and remarkableness will ensure that your what you create is true art, whether that be a physical product, how you interact with a customer or recommendations you make to a client.
This question and response is probably one of my favorites in the whole book and there are a lot of really great take aways: "Why is society trying so hard to kill our natural-born artists?" When we try to drill and practice someone into subservient obedience, we're stamping out the artist that lives within.
What average managers and CEOs don't embrace is the notion that the universe always provides when we allow creativity and gifts to flow back and forth, somehow not only do we win, but thrive. Zappos' corporate philosophy is a great example of this. The more you give, the more the market gives back reminds Seth. "Abundance is possible, but only if we can imagine it and then embrace it."
He talks about the NEW American Dream and how to live it, the one that markets around the world are embracing:
--Make judgment calls
--connect people and ideas
...and we have no choice but to reward you.
As always, Godin weaves humor into his work with titles like Would Shakespeare Blog? People will Laugh at me and Anxiety and Shenpa, the latter being a Tibetan word that roughly means 'scratching the itch.'
And, as always, he talks about the importance of passion. It's no surprise that the most successful client relationships I've ever had are with ones who are also musicians or artists. There's a line at the bottom of my business card that says "Those Who See The Invisible, Can Do The Impossible." Some people read it and are confused or even worse, don't even notice it because they don't live their lives paying attention to where remarkable may show up in the details. Others read it, pause, nod and with intention either say "nice, really nice" or something to that effect. And, others get excited and say, I love this. Chances are I wouldn't have an outstanding relationship with the former group of individuals but would be able to collectively create magic with the latter.
Let's go back to passion. Godin puts it in these parameters: passion isn't project specific, it's people specific. Some people are hooked on passion, deriving their sense of self from the act of being passionate. He goes on, "perhaps you need to get in touch with what it means to feel passionate. People with passion look for ways to make things happen. The combination of passion and art is what makes someone a linchpin."
So by now, you surely have an idea of what it mean to be a linchpin as defined by Godin. Among other things we have discussed, it's the person who makes a connection when it's not part of their job. That connection becomes a gift. Being open is art. And art is a gift.
Enter the Lizard Brain again because I know we've all had this experience. You work hard, you create your art and it falls on deaf ears. We didn't please everyone and Lizard Brain steps in to pull you back into the mediocre world to ensure you're safe and accepted by all. Remember the rejection that painter Jackson Pollock suffered through before critics declared him a genius. All of us want to make our art for an audience at the end of the day - we hope to change someone as a result of it; we likely even want to change ourselves in the process.
There must have been some mentor or friend in your life who told you before you reached adulthood - you can't please everyone -- and nor should you try. The same applies to your creations. Seth puts it in this way, "if you don't pinpint your audience, you end up making your art for the loudest, crankiest critics. And, that's a waste. Instead, focus on the audience that you choose, and listen to them, to the exclusion of all others. Go ahead and make this sort of customer happy, and the others can go pound sand." Well said Seth.
He refers to Steven Pressfields The War of Art, where Pressfield calls our inability to easily free the daemon "the resistance." Enter Seth's powerful chapter on the Resistance, a tough chapter for those fighting the shift.
Here's the resistance at work - it's your Lizard Brain again, which is the part that the daemon has no control over. He writes, "it (lizard brain) will invent stories, illnesses, emergencies, and distractions in order to keep the genius bottled up. The resistance is afraid. Afraid of what will happen to you (and to it) if the ideas get out, if your gifts are received, if the magic happens."
There is something that Tony Robbins always brings up in every seminar I've ever attended and every one of his books I've ever read: "the quality of our life is in direct proportion to the amount of discomfort (and I'd add uncertainty) we allow ourselves to live with," or something to that effect. (Tony - sorry if I got the exact quote wrong)
You get the point. Seth is on board with living and breathing this value as well and brings it up with examples throughout the book. He says, "the road to comfort is crowded and it rarely gets you there. Ironically, it's those who seek out discomfort that are able to make a difference and find their footing. Inevitably, we exaggerate just how uncomfortable we are."
I'll add - discomfort not only brings engagement and change but passion, purpose, and our true art to rise to the top and make a difference.
As I make my way through the book, I see a lot of life lessons from one of my favorite authors and buddhist thinkers: Pema Chodron, and then later, Seth references her. Why am I not surprised to learn that he's also a fan? I've read every one of her books and if you haven't, don't miss out on learning from her bright light and inspiration.
The place where Pema's insights come into play is his section on Anxiety. What Seth suggests is the very Buddhist (very Pema -- sit with it and be present) route. Frankly, it's the only way. Not only can you not unleash the Linchpin inside you if you feed that anxiety, but you'll never feel at peace with your choices or the world around you.
Sit with it, acknowledge it, explore it, watch it, befriend it...and just when you feel that its getting overwhelming and you want to flee, sit with it even longer. I've done this time and time again (I just wish I were better at it), and a funny thing happens. The pain, the suffering, the resistance starts to dissipate and fade away. It works but it's not easy to do particularly if you're new to it and even moreso, if it involves a place or person or thing that has had you in a "stuck" comfortable position for years. Time to move on.
The last thing I'll mention in reference to his book is the concept of SHIPPING. Think about how many things you've started over the years and not finished. You never shipped the damn thing - your precious art. Somewhere the Lizard Brain showed up and its annoying "it's not safe out there" little voice came up with excuses, "I don't have the time, I don't have enough money, I don't have the resources, the product or service wasn't perfect."
I have spent my life helping companies SHIP...products, services, websites, blogs, books, movies. We always ship, but sometimes the art wasn't good enough, or the timing was off, or we shipped into a market that wasn't ready for it. There were other times when we shipped the wrong thing and the real art was the idea that got tossed because the idea was too "big" - perhaps too much of a "purple cow" - for the team to handle. Fear set in. Resistance took over. The Lizard Brain won.
As I read this section and thought about how many products and services I did ship, I was brought back to the one I'm trying to ship now and how long it is taking to launch. It still hasn't shipped - part of me wants it to be perfect, part of me wants the art to be just right and part of me wants the plan to finished before I give it some wings.
The bottom line is that whenever there is lack of movement and progress, I can't sleep at night. Why? Because this launch is created from nothing but passion, nothing but art....so the conflict is between serving clients on the other side and serving my art on the other. The art will ship this month, ready or not, because I've set a date. Setting a hard date with a goal next to it moves idea and poetry in motion to reality and increase the likelihood of getting to go.
Getting to go and releasing your gift is what its about. Linchpins, he writes are "geniuses, artists and givers of gifts. They bring humanity to work, they don't leave it at home. The hard work isn't lifting or shoving or sharpening. the hard work is being brave enough to make a difference."
I'll end on a humorous but reflective note from a title in his next to the last chapter: Making the choice: MORE COWBELL. I'm not sure what visual that brings up for you but as a New Englander, it brings up a real cowbell, an old rusty burgundy cowbell that sat in our den which we used as a dinner bell when we threw large dinner parties at holiday time.
I still have that cowbell and it looks out of place in my 1930s townhouse on a steep San Francisco hill. I don't have reason to use it anymore although I've decided I'm going to think of a way to give it some life again, even if its only a few times a year. It will serve as a symbolic reminder to everyone who hears it that we all need to get out our cowbells more often than we do and ring them loudly.
As Seth so rightfully points out, "the funny thing is that learning how to add joy, create art, or contribute humanity is a lot easier than learning how to play the guitar. For some reason, we work on the technique before we worry about adding the joy."
Why not start with the joy and work backwards and see where it brings you?
Seth, thanks for shipping Linchpin, a beautifully written, engaging and inspirational contribution.