In part one of this blog series, I highlighted how caring about people and a job well done as being at the heart of excellence and effectiveness in business and in life. Then in part two, I spoke to the feeling of care and caring as being the natural response to recognizing our shared humanity and engaging fully with our lives instead of our thinking.
In part one of this blog, I shared what I’ve come to see as the critical differentiator between long-term sustainable success and the people and businesses who burn bright for a season or two and then lose heart, lose hope, and move on to the next thing, hoping it will be “the one”.
In order to thrive over time at whatever we do, we need to genuinely care – about the people we are with, the task at hand, the overarching mission or purpose , and our own well-being.
One of the questions I am eternally engaged with in my work is the search for “the special sauce” – the difference that makes the difference between the good and the great and between the one-hit wonder and the person or company who achieves long-term sustainable success. There are any number of books on the market that attempt to reverse-engineer the answer to this question by studying what high-achieving individuals and companies do differently and offering up a behavioral menu of options, ranging from Steven R. Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People to the five keys to corporate turnaround outlined in Jim Collins business classic Good to Great.
People come to me all the time to talk about what they want to create and specifically, what they see as the barriers to creating. They complain about their personality quirks; that they are procrastinators or don’t have follow through. They lack discipline or confidence. My reply to them is always the same, “That’s simply not true. Your only problem when it comes to creating in life is you’re not actually in the creative problem that you want to solve.”
A few weeks back I attended a wonderful weekend program with three of my favorite mentors in the inside-out understanding. George Pransky, who I have written about often in these missives, was sharing how a recent health challenge had, “through no fault of his own”, caused him to experience a depth and scope of being that was so beautiful and all-encompassing it made him question all the years of thinking and doing he had participated in up to this point in his life.
Over the years, I’ve had a long and varied history with the word “hope”. For a long time, I thought of it as a kind of a toothless variant of positive thinking, keeping people mindlessly justifying all kinds of horrible circumstances in the vainglorious hope that things would magically improve all by themselves.
For more than a decade, I have been sharing a spiritual understanding of life that is more commonly known as either “the 3 Principles” or “the inside-out understanding”.
When they talk about it in terms of the inside-out understanding, they’re pointing to the fact that the human experience only unfolds in one direction – from formless to form, inside to out, thought to experience.
Years ago, a friend of mine in the voice-over business shared a story about the oddest piece of direction he’d ever gotten while recording a commercial. The producer listened to him say the same line over and over again, asking him to try something different each time without giving him any particular direction to aim in.
Then, in a flash of inspiration, the producer said “Try wonderment – it needs more wonderment”.
First of all, when I was in a physical body I had the best home any cat could have wanted: I could roam free, climb trees, chase butterflies, feel the sunshine on my fur ,and snuggle down on soft beds inside the house when the snowstorms raged. But best of all, I was adored by my humans. And I adored them.
Over the past eight months, I’ve been working with a live and virtual group exploring the nature and catalyzation of genius. Not the “high IQ” kind of genius that is often associated with both prolific accomplishment and social awkwardness, but the kind of innate, unlearned genius that fits more aptly with this definition…
In putting together our newest online program, Falling in Love with Writing, one of the topics my friend Steve Chandler and I explored together was what I call becoming an “amateur professional”.
In order to make sense of that phrase, let me first distinguish what it is to be an amateur and what it is to be a professional…
Amateurs do what they do, at least in spirit, for the love of the game. The word itself comes from the French, and can be literally translated as “lover of”…
Years ago, I was complaining to my mentor George Pransky about some goal or other I was pursuing to no avail when he said to me, “Have you considered that it might just not be in the cards?
I was sufficiently unsettled by the implication that I might not be in charge of the universe that it led me to some serious soul-searching into the nature of how things happen in the world and how involved (or not involved) we are in their unfolding.
This past month was supposed to be my summer sabbatical in Sri Lanka – a chance to rest, reflect, recharge, renew, and work on my tan. While I did get through six novels (including Philip Kerr’s amazing Berlin Noir trilogy) and an equal number of volumes of business development and spiritual philosophy, life intervened in my grand plans and we wound up having to cancel our family vacation. Instead, I spent the majority of my time off adapting to my wife’s newly broken legs, trying to move house, and recovering from gum surgery…
My friend and colleague Aaron Turner once described our grounding in the inside-out understanding of life as a measure of how much of our experience looked like it was made of the energy of Thought as opposed to being either “the energy of Thought plus external factors” or even external factors alone. For example, if you get a “Final Demand” bill from a credit card company and feel stressed, is that stress:
a. Simply the feeling of whatever you happen to be thinking in that moment?
b. The feeling of your thinking about a very real problem?
c. The feeling of the credit card bill?
This week’s guest blog was written by my apprentice Mer Monson. It’s a beautiful exploration of lessons learned about empowerment and surrender while dealing with a life-threatening illness. As she says in her article, “A profound gift of love in disguise, cancer shoved me off the ledge of my own sense of control and into the freedom of surrender.”