Transcending the Victimhood of Ownership

While there is great power in seeing how one may be living life as a victim of circumstance and learn to instead own their destiny, the idea that one can own anything is actually double edged.

Anyone who owns a home knows that, in another way, their home also owns them. Maintenance, mortgage, taxes…it never stops demanding of you.

The owner is also the victim.

What I see is a third stage which transcends victimhood and ownership all-together…

Meeting Life Not-Knowing – Unarmed vs Disarmed

When I was younger and travelling, I sometimes carried a knife. I carried it for defence in case I met violence.

After a while I stopped carrying it though. I had gotten a sense that by pro-actively protecting myself against potential violence, I was also carrying violence with me.

While journaling just now, I was exploring how I might meet a recurring situation that creates tension for me and I was reminded of the knife.

With my inquiry I had been looking for a dependable solution; something I could do that handled the situation in an effective way. When I remembered the knife, two insights came.

First, my lack of an effective response in the moment is actually due to my state of being. Being tense was narrowing my focus. A relaxed and loving state of being is the only place I can truly respond creatively from.

Second, although the situation appears to be recurring, it is not because every familiar situation also has a uniqueness to it.

My experience has been that being unarmed (not having my knife with me) is very different from being disarmed (choosing to leave my knife at home).

With the former, I simply felt less able to protect myself. With the latter, I carried an awareness that much more is possible – ‘more’ that I could not access with a knife in my pocket or a ‘how’ in my mind.

To live life disarmed is to meet every moment with not knowing.

And surrender to the present is the path to the infinite.

You Are NOT Only the Average of Your Five Closest Friends

Most everyone has heard the idea that you are the average of the people you spend the most time with. Most often this is applied to income in that your income will Be the average of your 5-10 closest friends.

There is interesting research that shows how it is not only the case that your friends influence you, but also your friend’s friends and your friend’s, friend’s friends. This works not just for income, but political beliefs and even your waistline.

However, it struck me recently like a ton of bricks that there is a whole other side to this. One I’ve never heard anyone talking about.

The Vanishing Act

Recently at the playground, an older boy grabbed the ball from my son’s hands and threw it over the wall.

The moment it happened, I felt a slight tension around my solar plexus and a memory from the schoolyard in my youth flashed across my mind. Thoughts began to swirl around where the kid’s parents were and what I should do or say.

Lucky to have noticed the feeling first, I was able to doubt the quality of my thinking enough to just watch and wait instead of act. On the inside I watched my unfolding experience of feeling and thinking and on the outside I watched how my boy would respond.

As he stood there in curious amazement, I realized nobody had ever taken something from him and thrown it away before. He didn’t have any meaning around it as good or bad. He just stood in wonder at how the ball had gone from being there to suddenly not being there. It also appeared he was amazed at how that older boy had gotten it to go over the wall.

As I watched the unfolding of my own thoughts and feelings, they faded and eventually vanished like the ball had.

I wandered over to my son and encouraged what he seemed to be experiencing.

“Where did the ball go buddy? That was funny wasn’t it!? Let’s go find it!”

And off we went on an adventure.

Remembering the Not Knowing

Five years ago I was in Spain with my girlfriend. We were doing a juice fast at a health resort.

I took my lady for a walk one evening to see the orange groves and on the way back, we caught the sun setting through a little wood.

“Go into the wood and walk back towards me!”, I insisted, opening my camera phone.

“Why?” she asked with a sigh.

“Because! It will look like you are coming out of the forest in Lord of the Rings or something! Like you are an elf!”

With a soft roll of her eyes, she smiled and obliged.

When she turned back towards me it looked better than I’d imagined. Her thin legs making shadows with the trees, the way her arms floated as if they were being lifted by air, and although small and distant in the photo, her beauty radiating like the sun.

I love looking back at photos of before we had a son and before we were married. I love remembering not knowing what our future would be. Would we be together…was this another relationship and we were having fun on holiday, but would we end up with someone else? Or would it lead to more?

I’m so glad we lead it to more!

The Happiest Guy I Know

Throughout my late twenties and into my thirties, I had said often to myself and others, “I’m the happiest guy I know”.

It always just occurred to me to be the case, as I was generally quite happy with everything in life; work, family, relationships, adventure, health. I didn’t say it obnoxiously, I just shared it when relevant because it seemed to be true.

However, when I discovered the world of personal development, people said to me things like: “You are deluding yourself.” “Nobody is that happy.” “You must have some stuff that you need to uncover.”

Slowly, these remarks made me doubt the validity of my statement. Eventually, I stopped saying it, and with that, I stopped thinking it too.

Through enlightening work with my coach Steve this year, I discovered that my doubt was the actual delusion.

Over the past month, I’ve taken to using the phrase again. It feels at home and familiar for me to genuinely say, “I’m the happiest guy I know”.

Importantly, I also see now how my speaking this phrase was and is not only a description but also a creation.

Since speaking and thinking it again, I have felt the idea come back to life in me and my world.

I’m smiling at people more because that’s what the happiest guy does.

I find things bother me less because the happiest guy isn’t bothered by much.

I’m noticing it’s easier to let go because if I’m the happiest guy, I must not hold on to stuff.

I’ve even noticed people saying it to me too. The other day a guy said to me, “You’re so happy!” and just now, on the way to the airport, my Uber driver said, “You’re such a positive guy!”

Someone asked me once….

“How do you know there is nobody happier than you?”

“I don’t!”, I said. “I’m just that happiest guy that I know.”

“Yeah, but what if you meet someone happier than you?”

“Then I become as happy as them. If I see a way to be happier, I just be that. I love when this happens. Why would I want to be any less happy than I know I can be?”

“OK, but what if someone is happier than you realize? What if they are happier than you, but you don’t know it because you mistakenly think they’re less happy?”

“Well, I don’t know how happy people are FOR THEM. All I know is how happy I know (perceive) them to be. And as far as this is concerned, I am the happiest. I will take all the happy anyone I meet has to offer.”

“I get it, but still…isn’t it a bit conceited to say you are the happiest guy you know?”

“The first time I ever said it, I said it because I wanted the person I was speaking to know that being the happiest person you know is possible.

Since then, every time I have spoken it, I have done so not only to describe my experience of myself but also as an offering of a possibility.

Call this conceited if you want, but to me it feels like a gift. What I see happen to people when I share it with them is a beautiful thing. They get happier.”

How does it make YOU feel?

Anger is Love Misguided

Recently, my wife and I got into an argument. It happened in seconds, like a flash fire in a pan. Seemingly out of nowhere we were shouting at each other about something inane. And then, just as quickly as it had come, it ended. Somehow we realized how silly it was, burst into laughter and began tickling each other.

I reflected quite a bit on how and why this argument happened. Sure, we can push each other’s buttons, but the intensity and the rapidity of this ‘event’ was quite uncharacteristic. Usually when we argue, which has been less and less lately, it is a slow build. This one though seemed almost to come from the outside. As if a dark wind blew through the walls of our home, into our chests and bellies and then, within minutes, back out of us again.

I had a hunch as to where this wind had come from and upon further reflection it became clear to me what was happening.

Not long before the flash fire, my wife and I had read of the people being stabbed and having their throats cut by terrorists in London. The place where it happened, Borough Market, was our home for a number of years. Although we don’t live there now, we visit frequently and it felt very close to us. As we read the news, a visceral pang of fear had crossed our chests, knots had filled our bellies and tears had filled our widened eyes. There was mostly silence between us until the argument kicked off.

I realized the pit in my stomach for what happened in London had been what had me on edge. Why this is, I understand through something I learned earlier this year.

In January my mentor showed me, first, how all anger comes from hurt, and second, how the only reason we hurt is because we love. Furthermore, and this is the really useful part for me, when we know that anger is essentially a response to love (be it often a misguided one), then we can drop out of anger by settling down into the love at its root.

What I can see now is that my wife and I were really hurt by what happened in London and the flash fire argument we had was that intense hurt quickly becoming anger, which we sloppily aimed at each other.

This is how terror works. It moves in waves of hurt, anger and violence. Everyone is affected. Everyone hurts, lots of us get angry and some of us, in one way or another, get ‘violent’ be it towards our loved ones, a political party or leader, a race, etc. We unconsciously pick a target and on and on it goes.

When the hurt comes into me like a wind, what I see that I can best do is be present to it, open quickly and let it pass back out the other side.

Otherwise, if I carry it around with me, keep it pressed down in there, then it will grow quickly into anger. I may find an ideology to latch onto that justifies and inflates my hurt and the next thing you know I’d be running around my neighborhood with a machete chopping people’s heads off in the name of an idea that is really just a muse for my hurt.

If it ever came to that, I hope someone would find a way to remind me that I was angry because I was hurting, and that I was only hurting because I love.

Alpha Omega Leader

Our evolution is accelerating.

Technology, medicine, climate, economics, politics and religion – all changing rapidly and causing disruption. While in ways the world is coming together, an underbelly of fear is also driving greater separation.

Questions on the minds of many leaders are:

How do we grow a successful business with such an uncertain future?
How do we lead amongst so much change?
How do we inspire those filled with fear?
How do we drive our people forward without resorting to dominance or authoritarianism?

In 2013 my personal approach to leadership was the subject of a covert study at Cambridge University. Although the researchers gleaned some insight into the impact of my leadership style, they missed the deeper learning:

How does one actually CREATE a powerful way of leading today?

For the past seven years, this question has been the central focus of my work with leaders around the world. As a result, I’ve developed a nuanced approach that leaders find refreshing, intuitive to grasp and empowering to embody.

Recently in public keynotes, I’ve been sharing this integral way of leading and how it creates emergent change in organisational culture, generates results in pitching, sales and negotiating and even improves personal and intimate relationships.

Per the suggestion of a friend, I also decided to capture the essence of this approach to leadership in an audio recording so that more people could learn it.

Click here to download or listen

If you are a leader of any kind and you would like to explore the possibility of my supporting you in creating more loving power and impact in your work, please reach out to me. I’d love to speak with you and show you what we could create together.


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