How to Not be Jealous – Live Q&A

While speaking at the Inside Out Movement in Zurich earlier this year, someone asked me “How can I observe others’ success without feeling envious?”

It’s always a bit strange for me to be asked questions about how to ‘do life’, as if I might know the answer. I’ve never purported to know the answers or to know how to ‘do life’ well or right. Having spent years sharing insights that I’ve had about how I’ve been able to do my life and work better however, I suppose people assume I might have something to say about what they are facing.

Recently, when on a stage, I’ve given up deflecting such questions or turning them into an opportunity to ‘coach’ people to find their own answers. (I still very much do this in dialogue, but even then not always.) If someone asks me a question and something from my own experience comes to mind now, I just share it.

The key for me in this is not losing myself in the process. It is important to me to not fall for the story that ‘I have the answers to people’s questions’ – be them about life, entrepreneurship or whatever. It matters to me to share what I can see, while at the same time, not buy into my own bullshit.

Having said that, in this video I describe how I deal with (and avoid) jealousy…

How to Love Everyone You Meet – Live Q&A

While speaking at the Inside Out Movement in Zurich earlier this year, someone asked me, “I want to love all humans. How can I get to that point?”

In watching this clip of myself, I had to cringe a number of times.

Firstly, because I spend the first two minutes giving the guy Florien a hard time for asking the question the way he did. I’m framing my response up as trying to help him ask more empowering questions, which is true and useful, but in hindsight, I can see also that my motivation was to remind myself not to buy my own bullshit when people ask me advice.

Ironically, after beating him up for asking my advice, I ended up giving him some advice anyway…just in the form of a question.

Through dialogue, I shared my ideas on how loving people is not about what we need to do, but what we need to STOP doing.

The even bigger and final cringe for me is how the video ended. After our five minute conversation, Florien is even more confused. I decided to take the route that this was a good result, which in many cases can be true, but in this case I think it was a cop-out.

It would have been useful if I followed my own advice in this moment. If I had loved my inner judge of myself as ‘someone who has the answers’, maybe then instead of trying to stop that self from showing up, I could have actually heard Florien. Maybe if I’d been easier on myself, I wouldn’t have gotten in my head so much.

I think the truth is I didn’t have a good answer because I struggle with the same thing.

So much so that I once asked a mentor of mine a very similar question!

“How can I create in myself a desire to serve everyone I meet?”

His response was simpler and much more useful:

“Think loving thoughts.”

How to Serve & Relax More – Me vs You Time

When people get burned out on work, they talk about needing some ‘me time’. I get it. When all you’ve been doing is working, time to slow down and just be with yourself helps to relax and reconnect.

However, some people seem to need more ‘me time’ than others. While everyone is different, I do think that the need for ‘me time’ is more often a response to spending time doing things that lack inherent joy.

While we might say that when working, we are spending time on ‘others’, the truth is most of us aren’t actually that consciously connected to others when we are doing our work. It is thus not being focused on others that has us feel the need to put our attention on ourselves. It is more so that we have been spending time acting habitually and without being connected to anything at all.

My friend S. Brian Smith once shared with me a favorite quote of his:

“I slept and dreamt that life was joy.
I awoke and saw that life was service.
I acted and behold, service was joy.”

– Tagore

It is quickly becoming a favorite of mine too.

What if instead of needing ‘me time’ because we have been spending our time in joyous work, we could oscillate between ‘me time’ and ‘you time’ where BOTH times bring us a sense of joy and fulfilment?

I find there to be a distinct difference between working habitually and on autopilot versus working in conscious service of another person or people. As the quote above reminds us, serving other people is inherently joyous.

To be honest, the text you are reading right now is the product of my ‘you time’. I’d been procrastinating for weeks on writing text the accompany the videos I shot. In a conversation we were having while walking along the beach yesterday afternoon, my wife pointed out to me that my resistance to doing them was because I was focused on them as a ‘task’ or as ‘work to do’. When she asked me “What if you focused on how writing them would serve people?”, it was like someone had plugged me back into the wall. I wanted to stop the walk right then and there, go grab my iPad and start writing. Since then, I’ve written thousands of words and every minute doing it has been joyous. I haven’t felt a need for ‘me time’ at all. I’ve felt only a fully embodied desire for more ‘you time’.

What if you started committing to some ‘you time’ everyday?

This doesn’t have to be ‘feeding the homeless’ kind of service – it can be anything that you already do that is a kind of work. The difference is in your attention to the doing being on the service it is for others – how it will help and impact them.

What if the most productive time of your day could also be the most joyous?

My guess is you would have much less a need for ‘me time’.

How to Have Fulfillment Without Effort

We are presumed to agree that a fulfilling life comes through strenuous effort.

What if this isn’t true? Or at least, what if having to ‘compete’ and ‘struggle’ is not the only path to fulfillment? What if there is another way? A way that is easier and more relaxed? A way in which one may, say, become a mother and have meaningful career success, without straining or fighting for any of it?

In conversation with an entrepreneur I was partnered with last year, we created a ‘rule’ for her life, which is encapsulated in the phrase:

To be joyful or not to be.

For every choice she has to make, she asks herself: ‘Will doing this bring me joy?’

If the answer is YES, she does it.
If the answer is NO, she does not do it.

By building her life with bricks of joy, the house she lives in is joyous.

Does this sound too simple? Does it sound too fantastical? Too improbable?

If you have any grounding in science and logic, I certainly hope it does.

With a background in Physics and Math it certainly did for me, for most of my life.

However, at some point I realized I was considering this through a strictly ‘Newtonian’ lens.

The moment I began looking at life as not simply a sequence of causal events, but as a collective of happenings from the chaos of which order emerges, I was able to see how making decisions based on principles, over time, could be the source of an emergent success.

I began to see, for example, how choosing joy in every moment could create a joyous life.

What if you were to choose a principle and simply live for it and from it? What if you were to do so, not because you could connect the dots of causality between now and a future that you desire, but because you allowed yourself to be raptured by the idea that through time, the seeming randomness and inconsequentiality of your principled activity made an intelligent chaos that was required for the order of your vision to unfold?

What principle would you commit to living?

How to Stop Lying to Yourself – Acknowledgement vs Ownership

I like the idea of ‘owning’ something versus being a ‘victim’ to it.

For example, let’s take the objective situation of a new entrepreneur who is offering their product or service to the market and has had little to no sales.

The victim perspective of this would be to look upon it with desperation and to state simply, ‘nobody is buying our product/service’.

The owner perspective of this would be to look upon it with a sense of possibility and to state, “I haven’t shown people the value of our product/service yet”.

The owner focuses on the aspect of the situation where they have influence. The victim focuses on the aspect of that same situation where they do not have influence.

But this is not the point of my writing or my video. My point here is a nuance that takes this a bit further.

The moment we understand the distinction between Owner & Victim, we begin seeing it everywhere. Simply this new way of seeing can be very empowering.

At the same time, if we’re clever (which all of us are at least unconsciously), we find a way to act like an owner while actually still being a victim.

The way we do this is to acknowledge how we may have been perceiving something as a victim and then instead acknowledge a perspective where we focus on the influence we have. We might say something like, “I haven’t been going to the gym because I have been going to bed too late”. We’re owning our lack of productivity. Great.

But what if we continue to not go to the gym? Are we really owning this? Or are we just ‘saying’ it so that it sounds like we are? I believe the latter.

To be a better owner thus, we must not only acknowledge a perspective where we have influence over the situation, but also take action coherent with that perspective. Otherwise we are simply ‘talking’ like an owner as opposed to actually BEING one.

Without owned action, we are a victim masquerading as an owner.

How to Co-Create with a Partner – You & I vs We

Shortly before I got married, I realised I’d have to give up all the dreams I had for my future. Holding onto them just wasn’t going to be healthy for my relationship. If I wanted to be happy, I needed to be open to living a life that was a marriage between her dreams and mine. Some kind of ‘third dream’, that would only come to be when both of us let go of our individual dreams and started dreaming afresh, together. We managed to do this successfully, and have then gone on to create those dreams. Today we’re not living either of the dreams we individually had, but we are living a ‘third dream’ that we both love. I don’t feel any sense of loss or sacrifice, because I completely let my dreams go. For me, getting married was a point to begin dreaming again, with my wife and from a blank canvas.

I’ve since brought this same approach into a number of other places in my life. The basic idea is to let go of my individual desires and to then co-create a third, greater option. I find the ‘third’ options to almost always be greater than the one I let go of. There is something inherently fulfilling in knowing that the third option not only serves me, but also serves the other person.

Taking this idea even further, I’ve at times restricted myself from even using pronouns that put the focus on anything other than the union or partnership. This works especially well in high-tension situations where there is a me vs you dynamic arising. To begin using only pronouns We, Us & Ours in place of You, Yours, I, Me & Mine immediately helps to move the focus from a game of balancing to a game of integrating and creating together.

Most of the world orients itself in a zero-sum game. We are inculcated with the idea that resources are scarce and thus we must win over others to succeed. To look through the lense of the ‘we’, however can create a lightness because it presupposes abundance instead of scarcity. Acting as if you are parts of a whole (which on some level, everyone is), dissolves attachment and creates a sense of freedom.

For a guy who has spent his entire life dreaming and creating those dreams, I never imagined that giving those dreams up would give me an ever greater sense of freedom. But it has!

Who Are YOU to Create This? – Stop Stortelling

While speaking at the Inside Out Movement in Zurich earlier this year, someone asked me, “How will ‘just me’ be able to create this? I am not as good as others are.”

I hate this question.

Not that I hate that they asked it. I’m glad they did. I hate it because I ask it myself sometimes and because the question is extremely egotistical.

In this video, I go on a bit of a rant about how if our purpose in life is simply to (pro)create (see my video ‘What is the Purpose of Life?’), then we get in the way of this primarily by imagining we are someone in particular.

What if it isn’t about finding a more empowering story to tell ourselves? What if being liberated as a Creator is as easy as giving up storytelling all together?

How to Have Better Success – Qualitative vs Quantitative

The dominant paradigm for success is that of a quantitative measure.

Inculcated with this worldview by an industrialized education system, we unconsciously measure success by ‘how much’ is achieved. We don’t consider this is only one way to measure success. Without even realising it, we take quantitative success to be success.

What if we measured success qualitatively?

What if instead of asking ‘How much…?’ we asked ‘What kind of..?’

Our focus goes immediately to our experience and the ramifications of the results, as well as the journey of producing those results.

Sure, I could make a few million doing that, but would I enjoy the work?
Sure, I could capitalize on that market, but what good would it do for the world?

Collectively, we are tunnel visioned for quantity. Many people spend day after day, obsessively striving for quantifiable results. They do it so much so that they become blind to the wider indirect impact of those results as well as their own well-being. They suffer burnout and the world faces the wrath of their care-less-ness.

The drive for success, I believe, is innately human.

If we want a world where people care more about the ramifications of what they create – and where people experience greater joy in the work that they do – then the first thing we need to do is move the balance for our measure for success from quantity to quality.

To do this, we must diversify our questions:

Quantitative Success Questions
– How much of X will feel successful to me?
– How much success will doing X bring?
– How much impact will X success have?

Qualitative Success Questions
– What kind of X will feel successful to me?
– What kind of success will doing X bring?
– What kind of impact will X success have?

How to Create Everything – Abracadabra

After a brief personal update about what I’ve been up to (and why I’m walking barefoot in the woods), in this video I share some insights I’ve been having around my absolute favorite word as of late; Abracadabra.

Sure, it’s a fun word to say. But my greatest interest is more so in the power of the word’s etymological meaning, which is ‘I create as I speak’.

What if creating is a kind of magic? What if simply speaking is how you transform an idea into something physical.

It struck me that at it’s essence, this is essentially ALL that is required to create what you envision. Sure there is other work to be done, other kinds of action, but these actions are inconsequential without also casting a spell of spoken word.

Often I share with the entrepreneurs I partner with that their ideas can be spoken into existence. Speaking is a great replacement for hope, wishing and waiting. In fact, just last week I was have a conversation with a small group of entrepreneurs who are doing a lot of free consulting and wishing they would be paid for it. What I pointed out for them was that the paid consulting clients are on the other side of them speaking a fee.

It’s that simple really. Until you speak something into the world, it exists only as an idea.

We get caught up thinking “What’s the market? Who’s going to say ‘yes’?”

When we worry about these kinds of things, we consider the outside world to be an objective separate pool that we dip our hook into with our requests or proposals. What we are missing though is that the world is not separate from us. What we are missing is that our act of speaking is not a hook dipping into a pool, it is a wind that changes the world.

Our request has influence and impact. Our speaking CREATES.

This is why I’m not interested in doing ‘market research’. It’s too passive. It’s boring. It comes from a focus of extraction, rather than creation. I’m interested in CREATING MARKETS.

When we speak, we can speak as a light breeze or a hurricane. The words we choose to use and how we use them are what make this difference.

From this single idea of ‘abracadabra’ – I create as I speak – I have drawn so much inspiration. It’s simplicity and directness is profound. When put into pragmatic use, ideas are brought into form almost like magic.

Recently I founded a non-profit for leaders using this principle. I had been carrying the vision in my mind for months, until my wife kicked me up the ass and made me put a date in the calendar. (Thus generating structure and tension – another great and simple principle of creation!) From that point, I began speaking the vision into the world. People began organising around it. Now a small movement has started.

Lately, I’ve also been helping a number of entrepreneurs to scale up their businesses with little more insight than the one contained in the word ‘abracadabra’.

It is a simple idea, but an idea often overlooked or misunderstood.

In the book ‘The Four Agreements’, author Don Miguel Ruiz wrote about the same concept, but using different words. His second agreement is ‘Be impeccable with your word.’

During an interview he did with Oprah she demonstrated her misunderstanding of this concept. Oprah fell into the same trap most people fall into when they hear it for the first time. They believe it means to ‘do what you say you will do’. They aliken it to ‘integrity’. It can mean this, but this is hardly the power of the concept.

‘Be impeccable with your word’ actually means to be impeccable in your choice of words, be them spoken aloud or spoken silently to yourself inside your mind. Don Miguel understands that our words create our world (or what he calls, ‘the dream of the second attention’).

Lastly, in this video I also recommend the James Allen classic ‘As a Man Thinketh’, which was first published in 1902. I reference it to point out that not only are we casting spells of creation in the world when we speak things aloud, but we are also casting spells upon ourselves with the words we choose to think.

I understand there is a lot of personal and spiritual growth narrative around ‘thoughts’ and ‘thinking’ being something that happens to us, rather than something we do or are. I agree that our thoughts are not who we are, but I disagree that thinking is not something done by us.

Thoughts are simultaneously happening to us AND within our agency to amplify, quiet and direct. We can stop our thoughts and we can change our thoughts – and doing so is how we cast spells of creation on ourselves.

We can literally create anything within us and within the world through our speaking.

Through reading this, you have had a spell of creation cast upon you.


The Purpose of Life – You Are Here to Create

Earlier this year, while speaking at the Inside Out Movement in Switzerland, I shared publicly for the first time the story of my wife and I losing our first child to miscarriage. It was devastating, and to be honest, it is still not easy for us to share. I am doing so anyway for two reasons.

First, miscarriage is not spoken about enough. It sneaks up on many hopeful couples as a devastating part of the journey to parenthood. You only find out how common is once it happens to you. Suddenly friends and family come out the woodwork telling you how it happened to them too.

Second, the miscarriage was an incredible growth and learning experience for us. In this video, I explain one of the insights I had that solidified my understanding and sense of purpose in life.

There has been other growth around how my wife and I relate, which I will likely share at another time. Here though, for those who follow my work on being a leader and a creator, I want to share a perspective that has helped to liberate and empower me as an entrepreneur, husband and new father.

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