#13 | Iceland calling

inspirational-quotes-10

A Toast to Iceland (Íslands minni)
Our land of lakes forever fair
below blue mountain summits,
of swans, of salmon leaping where
the silver water plummets,
of glaciers swelling broad and bare
above earth’s fiery sinews —
the Lord pour out his largess there
as long as earth continues!

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#12 | Borrowed Wisdom #001

The problem with the world today isn’t that we lack good ideas.

We have great, sound, beautiful, enlightened ideas to last us a hundred generations.

We don’t have to work stuff out.

We have to make what we already know very well, more effective out there.

So the urgent question is how to ally the very many good ideas which currently slumber in the recesses of intellectual life, with proper organisational tools that actually stand a chance of giving them real impact in the world.

(TBL)

#11 | Experience

“Only a man that has been in jail can truly sing about it”

Johnny Cash said that. Or something like it.

I got called out the other day; “But who are you to help people with life turbulence? You’re not a psychiatrist!”

True. But then neither do I present myself as one. Or anything close.

This person didn’t know my back story.

“No, but I’ve been there. I’ve got the scars. The t-shirt. The experience. Everything else is commoner sense and empathy”.

Same holds true for everything in life. In this age of information, it’s far too easy for people to get seduced into pivoting from one thing to the next, whilst standing on a rice-paper layer of credibility that a 2 week online course and a few crates of google slide under them.

I’m not belittling their ambition or the integrity of their intentions. But we should never underestimate the value of the coal face. The jail cell. The hospital bed, or the hundreds of hours of blood, sweat and tears that carves out the priceless foundations of Experience.

Who am i to help people? Who is anyone. But if they ask me what it felt like – before during and after – I’ll be able tell them. And that breeds hope.

The rest is common sense and empathy.

#10 | Permission

permission

The hardest challenge we face in life is the phantom of Permission.

Permission to try, fail, love, lose, cry, laugh, buy, sell, run, hide…

The higher the stakes, the more foreboding Permission becomes.  And yet “waiting for permission” is a pervasive problem that many of us live with and don’t even know it.

But we have a choice. We can do one of two things:

  1. Treat the phantom as if it’s real, dangerous and out to get us. Leak so much energy and emotion in trying to defeat, we have nothing left to do the very thing for which we fought it for.
  2. Recognise it for what it is. Nothing. And idea. A non-event, and most importantly a non-issue.

Look at the 3 key areas of your life – your work, your health, and your
relationships. What are the changes that you’d like to make in each of these
areas and why haven’t you made these changes yet?

Get the answers down on paper so you can see them and refer back. Chances are, that if you notice an area in which you haven’t made the changes you want to make, you are unconsciously “waiting for permission.”

Let it go. The difference in who you can be and what you can achieve is remarkable.

#008 | And jump…

Interestedly, although perhaps unsurprisingly, Calm, the brilliant app by Michael Acton Smith was voted 2017 App of the year, by Apple.
Mental health in the workplace is one of the fastest growing issues in the UK, as evidenced by the amount of innovation and cross-industry attention it’s finally getting. An area in which greater Calm would certainly be of comfort.
Alain De Botton’s brilliant blog The Book Of Life, boldly and accurately suggests that “Calm is one of the distinctive longings of the modern age” 
(Visit all the links, by the way. They all deserve your time, and you deserve their message.)
Calm, so it would seem, matters.
My curiosity and study of Calm stems from both a deep fascination with an ancient prophecy, that predicted this current time of accelerated complexity and turbulence. As well as the darker truth that lay behind me getting so sick in 2014. And I’ve wrestled for some time now about how to take my dedication and commitment to Calm forward. In a way that would ultimately help other people.
It has been a jagged and unusual journey. I’m far (faaaar) from academic – which would have been useful given the ambition. Ironically, in pursuit of trying to codify a means of cultivating Calm, I dug up along the way deep reservoirs of its polar opposites; depression, anger, frustration, self-loathing, self-doubt etc. etc.
But (and in danger of slipping carelessly over a cliche) there’s comfortable wisdom in the maxim; ‘before the pleasure we must have the pain’. The things that matter to us most deeply are rarely won without a good bar fight with our own shadows.
“Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding. It is the bitter potion by which the physician within you heals your sick self. Therefore, trust the physician and drink his remedy in silence and tranquility.” Kahlil G.
Calm is a loaded ambition. Abstract too, since it means different things to different people. Finding and bringing Calm to our lives, through internal and external resources is for some visceral, others intellectual. Whilst most of the Calm inducing solutions available today, either tech-based like Calm and Headspace, or the many sensorial products we buy, provide ephemeral comfort.
That’s not to say they don’t work. To the contrary. I have been using Calm for years and have fine-tuned the art of creating a highly relaxing and calming environment at home (accidental hygge specialist) particularly in times of turbulence. But in truth, they only bring short-term relief from the deeper issues.
I needed to chunk-up a level. Think longer term. Think in terms of cause, plan and mend. Build a system. A process that illuminates the cause of turbulence, and marshalls a plan to bring Calm back into the centre. Make it default. Permanent. An energy and means for sustained happiness and success in its own right, rather than a moment of relief from our conflicts with life.
I used  – and still use – Calm to fight back against cancer. I use Calm to fight back against the fear of failure, embarrassment, debt, seniority, confrontation, executing ideas and all my other ridiculous but nonetheless human foibles, that can bring a person to their knees if left unchecked.
It works, and I’ve seen it work for other people too. But the challenge was in the code. The method. Building that framework for cultivating Calm that could be used by anyone from anywhere and for anything.
Turns out I found the solution, for now, hidden in the word itself. Just as the best marketing should always be built into the product,  the framework I’ve finally started to work with, in earnest, is built into the very thing I am committed to serving.
So here it is. As a gesture of jumping into a deeper level of commitment, welcome to C.A.L.M Version 1.0.
Calm Virtuous circle.001
I’ll break it down across future posts. For now, if you’d like to understand more about the model, how to use it, or (better still) interested to work with me directly with it, then naturally I would be thrilled to hear from you.
It’s is a labour love. And if Monsieur De Botton was right, its timing might just be perfect.

#007 | A Theory of 7 Breaths

So it would appear that there are 7 breaths we all need to take. Regardless of who, where or what we are:

Certainty
Variety
Significance
Connection
Continuous Growth
Beyond-self contribution

And yet while we hyperventilate, sometimes manically, after the first 4, it’s the last 2 that feed us with the necessary oxygen we need for deep fulfilment, and authentic success.

It’s perhaps undeniable, and something I plan to explore this year, that by dedicating the lions share of one’s time to their continued growth, whilst contributing to something – anything – that is beyond their immediate sphere of normality; more Connection, Significance, Variety and Certainty will naturally flourish.