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.
June 15, 2010
Linchpins are Everywhere: Dive for Cover!!Linchpins Everywhere, Linchpins Everywhere -- dive for cover!! Seth Godin's latest book: Linchpin which I am 75% the way through, is one of his best. It is written in Seth's usual free flowing style with conviction and passion throughout but manages to call you to action on every page. I plan to post a book review once I turn the very last page.
As always, he's straight forward. There are chapter subheads like: Where do you hide your brilliance? When did the resistance take over your life? Where do you put the fear? And, who are you trying to please?
He's also funny: Would Shakespeare blog? From Superhero to Mediocreman (and Back Again), The Problem with Bowling, Throwing Yourself Under the Bus, and Why the Lizard Brain Wants You to be Stuck?
Tony Robbins uses a figure eight metaphor to refer to our "stuck-ness". There we are climbing the ladder towards brilliance, creativity and joy and just before we get there, we sabotage yourself because emotionally, it is as much as your 'lizard brain' can handle). In order to feel safe, sabotage sets in and down you go back to the bottom of that figure 8 circle until you're so bored, frustrated, sad and pissed off that you fight your way back up again until lizard brain takes over and the cycle repeats itself.
This week, I decided to go to an unofficial Linchpin meet-up because frankly I love Godin's work, his writing, his thinking and this damn book. It turns out and little did I know, that 819 of these events are scheduled across the world and many have already happened.
Below is a video I shot at the end, where individuals came to the front of San Francisco's Georges' bar and pitched their "linchpin" project in 60 seconds to attendees. By "linchpin" project, I am referring to their passion, the thing that brings out their talent and brilliance, the thing that calls their authentic voice, and the thing that makes their hearts sing. The group was a combination of entrepreneurs, bloggers and non-profit evangelists. Have a listen:
April 28, 2010
TEDx San Francisco: Courage & ResilienceTEDxSF was held at San Francisco's California Academy of Sciences yesterday afternoon and evening. The idea behind TEDx events is to extend the spirit of TED, held for years in Monterey and now in Long Beach, with several simulcast events happening at the same time.
I attended a TEDx Berkeley recently and was planning to be on a plane to Japan in a week or so for TEDx Tokyo, but a handful of technology innovations I'm working on are keeping me stateside. TEDx a great idea and a way to bring TEDsters and other like-minded people into a room to share great ideas, network, grow and make connections, that can in turn, lead to other amazing initiatives that can make the world a better one.
Self organized, they are independent events. This week's line-up included movers, shakers, leaders, artists and creators like relationship expert Dr. John Gray, Guitar Hero co-founder Charles Huang, Fighter Nathan Quarry, counterterrorism professor Celina Realuyo, conservationist and whale lover Dr. Paul Watson and among others, advocate of the notion that genes mixed with choice can lead to success David Shenk, who I found amusing and thought: "this is someone I'd like to have lunch with someday."
Singer/songwriter Bhi Bhiman, born to Sri Lankan parents, sings his lessons. For the most part, he writes about struggle and injustice (here's a taste of his music), although he writes love songs as well as tunes that incorporate an odd sense of humor that might invoke an outburst of laughter when you least expect it.
He demonstrates how location, background, less than ideal odds and color do not need to get in the way of your passion, your dreams, your talent and your success.
I've met John Gray and heard him speak several times. I agree with his notion that women, particularly Type A, career-oriented women of the 2000s don't get enough Oxytocin. Yet, if you have not heard him speak before or read his books, he may have lost you at the the Venus and Mars book reference in his intro line.
Gray is spot on when he talks about the kinds of things that give women more oxytocin and let's be honest, we all need more of it. I know I do. The problem is that we (women) dig our own graves in that we often flea from precisely what gives us pleasure and what we really need because the hormone that gets results, particularly in business and competitive sports, is not Oxytocin, but testosterone, the steroid hormone that an adult male produces about ten times more of naturally, than a woman.
What's interesting is that testosterone lowers stress in men, but not in women. "Ever seen a man on a couch?" Gray asks the crowd and everyone laughs at the all too familiar visual, even those who have lived with CEO-type energies. "They're recharging their testosterone," he says. He adds an interesting 'updated' reference to the masculine cave 'need.' "Men used to go to their caves and come out after a recharge. Now, they're going to their caves and are not coming out." OR, they're coming out more slowly or much later.
It's not inaccurate, but it's also not that simple.
Part of the issue that women are starting to go into their caves too, but not to restore testosterone, but because the world around them becomes so overwhelming that when they're trying to deal with or attack it all, and the home is no longer nurturing, they need to figure out other ways, things and places to get that necessary oxytocin recharge that keeps them balanced and healthy.
He very quickly warms up, and brings amusement to his talk on inherited responses: Epigenetics, Courage and Resilience. He talks about the mystery behind gene expression and how sentiment has changed in recent years.
Shenk takes us from The Bell Curve to the modern day thinking of Michael Meaney.
Geopolitical and enterprise risk management expert Celina Realuyo expert talks about taking charge of our own personal 'risks,' and setting up a plan of action to deal with them, long before a crisis happens.
She walks us terrorism examples, snow storms and power outages. Her takeaways largely had to do with the same ones World War I and II children lived by: be prepared for anything. Don't we all have an Aunt Betty and Uncle Melvin who had basements filled with huge water bottles and dozens of canned baked beans?
Fighter Nate Quarry reminds us not to give up regardless of your odds. Sometimes it doesn't take much more than knowing what your priorities are.....for him, making sure he had time with his little girl (after a divorce), being fit, strong and financially capable enough to take care of her, and not losing in a ring with someone he mentally knew he could beat, is enough.
There's always a moment and it exists for all of us, when we know we must succeed, must rise above what we're capable of and do a downward bow to perseverance and courage because it's either the right thing to do, or something in us knows that if we don't, we'll never forgive ourselves for not taking the leap of faith.
Isn't it sometimes as simple as: Believing in something bigger than ourselves just because?
Julie Wurm on Being True to Ourselves.
Michael Warr touches us with his poetry.
LOOP!STATION entertains with an enchanting mix of dreamy vocals and cello.
Below are a few random shots taken at the event.
Michael Levit, Suzie Katz and Sumit Guha
Frog Design's Kristina Loring, Poet Michael Warr, Renee Blodgett
LOOP!STATION's vocalist Robin Coomer
April 06, 2010
Suffering, Heartbreak & Empathy OR Passion, Purpose & Contribution?Two very different personalities on the TEDX Berkeley stage this past weekend: Asma Abbas, who raised the notion of compassion, emphathy, suffering and heartbreak -- how are they related to politics? She suggested a correlation between how deep we can go with empathy and the degree of homogeneity in the society.
Enter personality number 2: inventor Ross Evans, who reached his audience through storytelling, and the idea that the combination of passion, purpose and contribution result in unlimited possibilities. Compassion and emphathy are blown open and now only are they contageous like Dacher Keltner suggests, but a must if we are to find sustainable happiness in our lives.
Political theorist Asma Abbas attempts to draw out of the crowd, posing a number of questions: what do you think of heartbreak and what it means? How do you think heartbreak relates to politics? She also talks about how heartbreak relates to suffering and what suffering means and how it plays out in less homogeneous societies. She asks, "what is it that you and I would die for?
Clearly emotional about the subject, she had a hard time bringing many of us to her central point. Moving in a direction many of us who have either lived abroad or traveled extensively can resonate with, I resonate when she says, "the amount of emtoion and the range I have for it when I return to the states, shrinks. She suggests as a response to what heartbreak has to do with politics - "doesn't it have to do with who our heart breaks for? Who is it that our heart goes out to and why?
She says, "this demand that someone can make on your emotion in a world where gratitude and emphathy are low, just doesn't work. We are making a mistake if we assume that everyone is working towards the same end." She continues, "there are many ways we confront suffering. As things become more homogeneous, it becomes harder to be empathetic and compassionate." What would death mean if there wasn't life? She asserts that some people can't give up 'living suffering' because it's a way to connect with the future.
Ross Evans, inventor of Xtracycle and founder of Worldbike, takes us on a journey to Africa, where we see the workshops they set up to show locals how to use these bikes as a way to alleviate poverty and get people to medical care in times of need.
Ross also created HoliShift, to promote and evangelize the belief that passion + purpose + contribution, will give you everything that you need in your life to not only be happy, but to create miracles.
Examples of HoliShift questions could be: what is sacred to you? what powers your spirit?
We all know passion: it's what we love. When we're doing our 'purpose,' we feel as if times goes away. We're completely in flow when we are living our 'purpose.' It's how we provide value to our own lives as well as others around us. When we provide enough value, the world simply takes care of us.
It's clear that most people want to make an impact in the world before the end of their lives. When we find that intersection between the three - passion, purpose and contribution, then we will create the most impact. We understand this intersection 'naturally' as children, but over time, it gets beaten out of us.
April 04, 2010
Asma Abbas: What Does Heartbreak Have to do with Politics?
Author and professor Asma Abbas who has received her doctorate in Political Theory and Social Thought asks the TEDX Berkeley audience: What do you think heartbreak is and what does it have to do with politics?"
Asma also talks about how it relates to suffering and what suffering means in the west versus more diverse, less homogeneous societies. She asks, "what is it that you and I would die for?"
February 26, 2010
The Sages & the Scientists: Spirit Meets ManifestationThis weekend, the Deepak Chopra, the Sages & Scientists Symposium event kicks off in San Diego, which is focused on the intersection of perennial wisdom with cutting-edge science…......where consciousness makes the impossible possible… where Spirit meets manifestation.
February 21, 2010
Daniel Siegel on Consciousness: Part IIIRigidity versus fluidity versus integration of the mind and what constitutes a healthy mind. What moves us towards consciousness? What can we do? Daniel Siegel continues to talk about what he learned from writing his book Mindsight, which just came out.
Daniel Siegel on Consciousness: Part IIHow do you define the mind? What is a healthy mind? A healthy mind comes from something he refers to as integration. Hear Daniel Siegel's perspective.