Good marketing helps someone say “No thanks” just as quickly as “I’d like to know more.” What follows is my attempt to help you determine whether the perspective I represent serves the call of your heart in a way that further exploration is worth your while.
The first thing to know is this. To me, the principle that most determines the well-being of any person or institution is: How we define our world creates our world. I have never known a moment of misery or happiness that, upon reflection, wasn’t self-created. My every judgment, I’ve learned painfully, has nothing to do with other people or events, and everything to do with me. Pain, fear, grief and all their cousins are a regular part of my life, and I presume everyone’s life. But how I consider them, their purpose, their origin, their essential nature (e.g., unwarranted afflictions, or cues that something needs my loving attention within) is whatever I say it is. And, when I’m most awake, influencing whatever I feel about anything is a sense at the core of my being that one of life’s greatest gifts is the power of choice.
Here is a brief overview of how I define my world. This represents the lens through which I attempt to navigate my life, and help others navigate theirs. And because I find that questions make the most fertile playground for self-discovery, I will employ some my favorites.
What are life’s two most important questions?
What’s going on, and what’s the healthiest action I can take in this moment? We seek to answer these questions all the time, whether we know it or not. As our exploration becomes more conscious, more deliberate, more discerning, our answers become more useful––enjoyably so.
What is the underlying aspiration of every human being?
To take action with confidence that the action we’re taking is the healthiest choice for us in that moment. Developing the awareness to actually take such action is what our work together is about.
What is health, as it applies to every person and institution?
Health is “growing resilience”. Resilience is the ability to respond in a life-affirming way to whatever presents itself. This ability is vital to taking action with confidence that the action we’re taking is the healthiest action for us in that moment. “Life affirming” is a term we must define for ourselves. To me, it means: with kindness, compassion and understanding. But perhaps the most valuable characteristic of growing resilience is that it is something we can do our entire life. Our last breath can be our healthiest.
What practices are necessary to grow resilience?
There are four:
- Managing fear, managing change.
- Learning from our experience (embracing “what is” and allowing it to teach us).
- Gaining ever-deeper understanding of what is essential––what we cannot live without––in our life, and in the moment.
- Aligning our commitments with action, and aligning our actions with commitments.
Perpetual application of these four practices reveals an ocean of awareness, from which resilience grows. We become an ever more positive, grounded presence for ourselves and others.
What is the purpose of life, and how does the universe work?
Each of us has our own answers to these two beauties. Those answers reside in our heart. We need only discover them, and their endless depth of meaning. As we do, we continually strengthen the context in which we make choices. I can’t speak for God, so let me just say that the purpose of my life, I’ve discovered, is to grow my capacity to love so that love is all I know and all I am. A wise man of my acquaintance wrote that love is the highest and holiest action because it always contains within itself that which is not love, it always moves to include the unloving. I have found (often the hard way) that there is no problem to which love is not key to a healthy response––from scrambling an egg to changing the world. In every moment, every situation, the universe is offering us an opportunity to grow love, either by making more room for something (pain, fear, and forgiveness, to name just three possibilities), or by letting go of something (an idea, a habit, a preference, a belief, an attachment) that doesn’t serve us.
What am I trying to accomplish?
The significance of this question is that it has nothing to do with anything outside of us. It pertains solely to what we can control: the integrity of our intention and effort. No one can make sure their business is successful, or that their children are happy, or that Thanksgiving dinner turns out just the way grandma would have made it. We can only be as mindful as possible in contributing all we can to an external objective. Outcome is beyond our control. As America’s second president, John Adams, said, “We cannot assure success, but we can deserve it.” I’m very equipped to help someone deserve success by growing resilience. The laundry list of things I’m trying to accomplish, meanwhile, begins with a peaceful heart and includes helping others never lose sight of the big picture. That, and this: If any action I take is not an attempt to serve the entire human family for all of eternity, I’m thinking too small.
What is leadership?
A monkey can be a leader, since it is just a position, a title. Leadership, on the other hand, is invaluable, rare––and most important of all, a gift anyone can contribute, regardless of the worldly chair they sit in. That’s because leadership is perspective that helps those we serve, including ourselves, take healthy action. Leadership at its most complete helps those we serve take healthy action in the face of anything.
What does the sign say that hangs over the doorway of my life?
Everything is a gift. (Life is the school where we discover how come.) Yes, I understand this may be the most fear-provoking point-of-view the world has ever known. But it also just may be the most exhilarating. It is to me. Which is why the B side of my business card looks like this:
For a video version of Working Together: The Call of Your Heart, click here.