Tag Archives: finding my calling

Is Following Your Passion Dangerous? (1)

so good

A review of Cal Newport’s So Good They Can’t Ignore You

Live your passion and the money will follow. It’s a popular notion in many self-help and new age tomes. The idea has been around a long time. Thoreau famously put it this way:

“If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”

This conception, increasingly popular since the 1990s, often implies that the most important factors in living your “dream” are to identify what you are passionate about and then have the courage to take the leap of faith and turn it into a career.

I’ve written about this idea in some of my own books, so I was very interested to hear what Newport has to say about the matter. Newport approaches the issue somewhat differently from me. He openly rejects introspection and implores readers to experiment with life and discover what really moves them via trial and error. Let your passion follow you, rather than the other way around.

Perhaps I should mention that I am not opposed to Newport’s approach. I believe all those embarking on the adventure of creating career with passion should do all the things Newport suggests. As I will explain below, the main way I differ from Newport is that I do not consider introspection to be incompatible with “rational” approaches to the problem. Human beings possess both rational and intuitive faculties, and I believe both should be employed when “living your bliss”. But this is a review of Newport’s book, so I shall not labour long on my personal philosophy.

I will first list what I consider to be the most important insights that Newport brings forward. These understandings are powerful and highly relevant for people building passionate careers.

In the final part of this review I will list a small number of significant shortcomings of Newport’s approach.

Career passions are rare
The first insight that Newport relates is that career passions are uncommon. Newport says that people are not born with an innate passion that easily translates into a fulfilling working life. He cites a survey of Canadian university students who were asked to list their life passions. Some ninety six percent of their responses involved hobby-style interests such as ice hockey, dancing, singing, reading and swimming. Only four percent were career or education-related. Quite rightly, Newport finds that such passions don’t readily convert into career options. Newport thus rejects the idea that we all have pre-existing passions waiting to be discovered. “How can we follow our passions when we don’t have any relevant passions to follow?”, he asks.

A related point that Newport makes is that we should not try to avoid the anxiety of uncertainty which often underpins the search for a great career. He argues that the anxiety felt by many successful people like Steve Martin suggests that early in their lives they were not sure they had found their passion.

Newport seems to imply that if a person has really found their true calling that they would not feel such anxiety. Yet is this a sound conclusion? Surely all people experience doubt and anxiety, even if they believe they have found their passion. The creative process tends to create inner tension for even the most successful people.

Newport’s claim that we may not have innate passions is something all of us should heed when building a career. Nnonetheless, there are clearly some exceptions. Certain people have a very pronounced passion for at least a general skill or activity. Gandhi had an genuine enthusiasm for politics, spirituality and social transformation. Jim Carey was always the attention-seeking class “clown”. And despite Newport’s angle that Mozart was a product of his environment (having a highly ambitious musician-father), it is clear that he had an exceptional genius for music at a very young age.

Thus Newport often fails to develop the subtleties within the points that he brings forward. And some of these subtleties are incredibly important when embarking on career paths.

cal-newport-med

Passion takes time
A second key point that Newport develops is that it typically takes time and a certain degree of life experience to identify what you are truly passionate about. This finding is probably Newport’s most important, and is very strongly supported with relevant case studies.

Citing academic surveys, Newport finds that the greatest single factor which determines passion on the job is not innate skill or ability, but the number of years spent on the job. When people feel competent, have independence and have good relationships with colleagues, they feel much happier with what they are doing. When you develop skills and great relationships your work feels more passionate.

We should all keep this in mind when thinking about our work options.

This leads Newport onto his third conclusion: that passion is a side-effect of mastery. Citing author Daniel Pink and self-determination theory, Newport argues that autonomy, competence and relatedness are what creates motivation in people. Clearly this contradicts “the passion hypothesis”, as Newport calls it.

Newport is also particularly savage on what he calls “the courage culture”, the naive idea that it’s just getting started that’s the hard part of creating successful work you love, and that the rest will just fall into place.

Passion is dangerous
In his third chapter Newport states – in something of an hyperbole – that “passion is dangerous”.

In fact, Newport blames increasing job dissatisfaction in the past two decades on the corresponding rise in popularity of the passion hypothesis. Naively following your passion can lead to chronic job shifting and career confusion. Fully sixty four per cent of young people now say they don’t like their jobs, Newport reports. He thus concludes that the more we seek what we love, the less we tend to love what we do. Therefore the passion hypothesis can create a career path riddled with confusion and angst. Although the term “dangerous” might be an overstatement, it is hard to argue that many workers today are afflicted by this restlessness.

Patience is mother factor that Newport identifies as being important. Simply rushing headlong into your new career by quitting your job is most likely a foolish move.

Be so good they can’t ignore you
A workable alternative to the passion mindset is the “craftsman mindset “, says Newport. He states that this should be the foundation for creating work you love. In a nutshell, this means working at becoming great at what you do. A person must adopt the craftsman mindset first, and then the passion – and money – will follow.

It is developing rare and valuable skills, Newport believes, which makes a person an invaluable member of a community or organisation. Such talents are what create a demand for his or her expertise.

Again, Newport is relating common sense, and again he is surely correct. Yet many naive individuals quit their jobs with little or no career capital in their desired new field and expect immediate success simply because they are passionate about it. As many of Newport’s case studies show, such enthusiasm is often short-lived and turns to anger and despair when the individual experiences immediate failure and ongoing rejection. The person is then left with nothing, not even the passion that they initially had for their “calling”. Newport cites the case of a woman named Lisa who quit her job in advertising and marketing to set up a business as a yoga instructor. Lisa had no experience and had spent a mere 200 hours completing a yoga training course. She soon found herself on food stamps, unable to even earn enough money to support herself.

The need for deliberate practice
The strategy of building “career capital” is but common sense. Newport is right to criticise certain self-help philosophies, many of which seem to profess that hard work and thousands of hours of “deliberate practice” are not required to be successful in most fields. While many naive new agers insist on the delusion that all you need is the right “energy”, Newport implores people to work hard and develop great skills.

Deliberate practice requires developing a smart, systematic regime for rehearsing the exceptional skills that you want to develop. Newport refers to the common adage that many great artists and human-change agents put in at least 10 000 hours of practice in their chosen fields before they become outstanding practitioners. Newport suggests that such practice must be carefully designed so that the individual pushes themselves ever-further beyond their comfort zone.

A central part of this approach lies is in identifying what skills you need to build, and what goals you wish to attain. Such deliberate practice is often not enjoyable, something that those who advocate the passion hypothesis may refuse to entertain. Yet again, Newport is correct. It’s not all fun and games on the way to the top. It is naive to believe that one can become exceptionally good at anything without placing great emphasis on deliberate and mundane practice.

An important critique that Newport makes is that the craftsman mindset encourages an attitude which asks “What can I offer the world?”; whereas the passion mindset can promote the narcissistic question, “What can the world do for me?”

Money
Newport convincingly argues that “control requires capital”. Again, this is common sense, but something that many passionate individuals fail to fully heed. Control that is acquired without career capital is not sustainable. This is Newport’s “first control trap”.

Perhaps the most common delusion widely seen in this domain belongs to those who believe that they can set up a money-making blog to sustain their transition away from the grind of nine-to-five work. In particular, bloggers who write about lifestyle design without having established any career capital are the most foolish. As Newport points out, having enthusiasm alone isn’t of much value. Any financially successful blog must provide readers something they are willing to pay for.

The second control trap occurs when employers realise an employee’s value and seeks to reduce your autonomy. In other words, control generates resistance. The key for the employee seeking greater autonomy is therefore to establish enough value for the employer that she has the power to negotiate greater freedom and control.

It is thus true, Newport argues, that you should only seek more control (freedom) when you think you have something people will pay for.

This is where Newport brings in another valuable distinction: “the law of financial viability”. This maxim dictates that you should focus your creative energies upon offering services that people will remunerate you for. Notably, this is not the same thing as doing something just for the sake of money. The author writes that if you can’t make money from something, then it is clearly not of value. Therefore – if after scanning the world around you – you can find no evidence that people are willing to pay for a particular skill or service, it is probably unwise to seek a career in it.

The power of mission
Mission statements have been popular for some time, and Newport identifies a few important distinctions here. His advice is of particular value to those wishing to express their genuine passion as a “calling”. But unlike some enthusiasts, Newport states that we must first develop mastery, then develop our mission statement.

Newport suggests that we should not start out with grandiose designs on changing the world. We need to think small, but act big. We have to postpone our paradigm-smashing visions and first develop experience and career capital.

A mission is necessary, mostly to focus. Too much diversity – not having a clear vision – is not good because we cannot channel our efforts in a sustainable way.

The law of remarkability
Another piece of useful advice that Cal Newport offers is that we should pursue projects that are remarkable. He makes the analogy with purple cows. Nobody notices a brown cow. But a purple one…?

Your projects should be remarkable in two ways. Firstly, they should be remarkable in the literal sense – unusual. Choose something that people will talk about. Secondly, you should be able to spread the word yourself, via social media, blogging or other low-cost means of promotion. Crucial also is that you must launch your project in a venue which supports such articulation. Projects don’t speak about themselves. You must adopt the mindset of a marketer.

In my next blog post I will continue this review of So Good They Cant Ignore You, putting forward several key weaknesses of the book and its approach to living your bliss… Feel free to add your own insights, below. Do you agree with Newport?

The True Cost of Following Your Bliss (3)

There is a price to pay for following your bliss, especially if you choose to deliberately and publicly advocate an alternative philosophy that challenges mainstream opinion and the dominant worldview. In the first of these articles I described my own problems as a futurist with an alternative take on looking at the future, and how difficult it has been to gain a voice in the academic world despite having a PhD. In the second article I outlined some distinctions I have come to learn from my travails; perhaps the most notable being the error in thinking that success would follow automatically just because I followed my heart and publicly shared what I believe to be deeper truths about life and cosmos.

In this article I will offer some practical advice about setting yourself up while living your bliss. My suggestions follow on from my previous insights. After all, these three articles are aimed at helping people who want to develop their own career, business or professional interests while sharing an alternative or spiritual worldview.

I’m not going to go into details about how to set up a business or sell an idea. There are already many teachers and books who have put great materials out there. Instead I am going to focus on a few common issues typically faced by spiritually and mystically-inclined entrepreneurs and creatives.

Take action

If you want to develop an idea it takes time, energy and commitment. Yes, that means you have to work!

Here’s an interesting question for all those of you who have at least some idea of your own calling in this world – doing what you love for a living.

How much action have you taken towards actualising that calling?

In many cases people have a fair idea of what they want to do. They just never bother to do it!

One simple way to begin to eliminate procrastination is to write down three things per day that you can do towards making your dream real. Then do it!

No action = no dream.

Simple.

As I outlined in Discover Your Soul Template, I am a great advocate of introspection as a means to bring a deeper level of consciousness to life. But don’t become such a navel-gazer that you forget to do stuff in the world. Don’t let the conspiracy theorists fool you. You live in a time where the individual is empowered as never before, and where the knowledge and understanding available to you is simply incredible. Don’t waste it!

Deliberate Practice

If you take a look at the most successful people they tend to be very highly skilled at something. And in most cases they had to work really hard to practice and develop those skills. Most had to engage in what some people call “deliberate practice”.

Deliberate practice is the intelligent application of repetition in order to improve performance. New age “go with the flow” philosophies may delude some people into thinking that hard work and good old-fashioned practice are not required to achieve success and excellence in a particular field of endeavor.

Let me assure you that intelligence, sustained commitment, and hard work will almost certainly be required if you are to turn your “calling” into a profession. The truth is that this is a very competitive world, and that standards of performance and excellence have increased dramatically in many fields in recent years. Certainly, if your goal is to reach world-class status, then deliberate practice cannot be avoided.

I highly recommend Geoff Colvin’s Talent Is Overrated as a good introduction to this topic. It shows that deliberate practice is what often separates genius from very good. Colvin outlines the following features of deliberate practice.

  • Deliberate practice is hard work. It is not what we normally think of as practice, such as when you strum a guitar for a bit of fun. You have to move out of your comfort zone to perform deliberate practice.
  • Deliberate practice is designed specifically to improve performance. This means intelligent thought is put into the practice session, so that deliberate and conscious goals for improving performance are met. This in turn requires you to carefully define the elements of your skill that require enhancement, and then go about working at those. Benjamin Franklin, for example, wanted to be a great writer, but realized that his vocabulary was lacking, so systematically set about improving it.
  • Practicing something systematically and intelligently is highly demanding. It requires a great deal of focus and concentration. Studies have shown that excellent violinists practice a lot more than those of lesser skill. Keep in mind that research indicates that practice sessions of more than ninety minutes at a time are counter-productive.

Still, it is entirely possible to do such “hard” work in alignment with Spirit, keeping your mind present and mindful when deliberate practice is required. When I was studying for my PhD I was also working full-time. I used to get up at 5.00 a.m. and write 500 words on my thesis every day. Although commitment and hard work were required, I enjoyed the whole process because more often than not I was fully present and in a state of flow. I completed my doctorate in less than four years (including publishing a dozen journal articles and a book) The whole process went so well that I developed the idea of Integrated Inquiry, an intuitive and creative approach to research.

Develop people skills

I know this will not go down well with many mystically-inclined folks, but you are just going to have to suck it up I’m afraid.

The necessity to take action means you are going to have to get out into the world. You are going to have to work with other people. You are going to have to develop people skills. Yes, that means you! If you have been meditating on a cushion in the garage for the last twenty years you are just going to get off your bum and learn some new skills.

Communication skills can be developed. You do not have to be a natural extrovert or carry on like Anthony Robbins. It is not difficult to learn how to give a public talk, develop your elevator pitch or talk up your idea to a level of competence. Remember what I said about deliberate practice?

Think of social intelligence as being like any other ability, not merely an innate, immovable trait.

The requirement to develop people skills might mean that you have to get rather uncomfortable. But if you don’t like discomfort, I suggest you go back to that cushion in the garage for another twenty years. Because without crossing beyond that comfort threshold regularly, you ain’t going nowhere.

Yes, living your bliss requires discomfort. It’s not a contradiction. It’s just life.

Think about this related point. In his book The Luck Factor, Richard Wiseman indicates that one of the four traits of “lucky” people is that they typically have a wider circle of friends and acquaintances. In other words, they are not lucky in the classical sense. They just rub shoulders with more people, so serendipity is mathematically more likely to flourish.

Be intelligible

You have to take the time to study your market and to deliver products and services that are either needed or attractive to people. As futurist John Naisbitt says, if you move too far ahead of the parade, then nobody is going to be able to see where you are. When you are dealing with other people you need to work in a space, and with ideas and tools that allow those people to understand who you are and what you are doing.

Futurist Sohail Inayatullah once gave me some great advice on how to introduce spiritual concepts to public talks. He said he always begins with the mundane, and with ideas and concepts that the audience is familiar with. Unless it is a central focus of his subject matter, he waits til near the end of his presentation to introduce spiritual concepts. Inayatullah says this works very well. I have followed his advice, and found it to be true. People can become suspicious if you appear to be too other-worldly right from the start.

I know this runs counter to what you read in many new age philosophies, but let me be blunt. When you embark upon a spiritual journey the world will not change to accommodate your readjusted spiritual worldview. You have to make your ideas fit the system.

If your ideas cannot be understood, then nobody will listen to you. It doesn’t matter how grand or brilliant they are; it remains a universal truth. I learned this the hard way. Much of my academic writing is just too far beyond the system to be attractive to universities. When I was applying for jobs in Education faculties my CV featured scores of papers about mind and cosmos. Other candidates had one or two papers about things like classroom management or educational leadership. Who do you think got the job(s)?

Sure, you might change the world by dramatically shifting perceptions, paradigms and markets. Steve Jobs did just that, to a certain degree (as I shall mention below). He helped revolutionise the computer industries, mobile devices, animation and music.

But you still have to sell your stuff. You still have to speak a language that other people can understand and relate to. And if your idea is unintelligible or poorly designed or presented, nobody is going to buy it.

Feedback

It is vitally important to listen to the feedback you get from the client, the marketplace, and the cosmos. If nobody is buying your stuff or employing your services then there is no use complaining and calling them stupid. You have to find a niche, a way to get a foothold in the market. To do this you will have to frame or market your product in a way that is attractive to people, and that they can understand.

I highly recommend Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs. As you may know, Jobs was quite alternative in his thinking. He dropped LSD as a youth, then went to India in search of spiritual enlightenment. He had a liking for Buddhism and often used terms like “karma”, “a calling” and “following your intuition”.

Now, if we are to believe the naive law of attraction advocates, then Jobs – a multi-billionaire and one of the most successful men ever to step on the planet – should have been a laid back character who spent most of his time blissing out while visualising manifesting his destiny as Apple CEO; then calmly waiting for the cosmos to drop everything in his lap.

In fact Steve Jobs was almost the precise opposite. By all accounts he was a temperamental control freak with an obsession for having his way with almost every detail. He was obsessed with quality, and often flew into a rage when he saw work being done that he considered “shit”. He railed and verbally abused co-workers in a ways that would be considered inhumane by many.

And as Isaacson’s book indicates, Jobs was scared. He was full of doubt and fear. He was terrified of failure and not being good enough. Orphaned at birth, this instilled in him a great fear of rejection.

According to the naive law of attraction, the universe should have spat Jobs out and left him impoverished and abandoned on the street.

Instead it made him unimaginably wealthy.

What does this tell us? It tells us that stuff doesn’t happen by magic. Detail, precision, and understanding of the market place are vital to success. Nor does having doubt and fear prevent you from living your bliss. If you go out into the world thinking that the cosmos owes you a living just because you are following your dream or you have cleared out all your “blocks”, the world is likely to spit you out.

Don’t be an angry mystic

I have heard numerous mystically-inclined people say something like “Capitalism sucks! I’m not doing this for money! I’m spiritual!”

They have an attitude problem.

There is nothing intrinsically wrong about money and markets. Money can do just as much good as evil. Exchanging cash is just the way the system works.

What would you rather do? Would you rather be sitting at home on social security (hmm, that’s money, no?) and ranting against a world that is evil and materialistic, even as all your talent and soul aptitudes remain untapped? Or would you rather be joyfully sharing your gifts with the world, while accepting a little of that filthy lucre at the same time?

I believe that it is important to work with the system. It is not necessary to blindly accept it and to sell your soul. You can work within it without being a part of it. Play in the system, keep your values, listen to your heart and do no harm. That can’t be so hard, can it?

Many new agers and spiritual folk talk about love and peace. But if you actually listen to them you soon discover that they hate the world and they hate people. There is an anger, blame and judgment burning within them – often rage. “I am not one of the mindless sheeple! I am spiritual!” They reject the world.

It is not necessary to reject the world. Part of your journey is to forgive this place. All judgment is a mental act of annihilation. Judging the world is no different. How can you shine your light in the world if what you really want to do is annihilate it? What kind of message is that sending out to the universe?

I say get off your high horse and forgive the world! Acknowledge your own anger and pain, because that is your responsibility. Learn to shine your light from within, and then move out into the world. What greater gift could you possibly give?

Back to that price

There is no guarantee of professional success if you follow your calling. But if you shine your heart light, you will at least offer something to the world that you cannot by sitting at home and meditating and grumbling about how shitty the world is.

All this is not easy. This world is not for sissies. Acknowledge your weaknesses and delusions. Stand up for yourself and for what you believe. Take action, work hard and work smart. Be prepared for failure, and don’t take it personally. Step out into the world lightly, joyfully and with courage. Be strong, be noble and be as loving as you can.

Forgive others when they don’t understand what you are doing. Most of all, take note of their feedback. It just might be useful.

Living your bliss is sometimes not as blissful as you think! Your great idea will not manifest itself without you applying your God-given intelligence and work ethic in the real world.

Sorry to burst the new age bubble. But somebody had to do it.

Actions and Choices: Diary of a 21st Century Mystic #11

What is it that a modern mystic seeks in this world? Are there some things that he must seek? Are there some things that he should not seek because they are incompatible with a genuine spiritual path? Or should there be no seeking. Simply being?

These are the kinds of questions that I have had to ask myself so far as I continue The Diary of  21st Century Mystic.

In case you are new to the Diary series, this is a series of written and video reports about my adventures – or perhaps failings – as I attempt to set myself up on my return to Australia. I spent 16 years overseas, then returned to Australia five months ago. Six weeks ago I moved to Melbourne, where I am now living, and deciding what actions to take to move me forward. The entire purpose of this Diary series is to test the principles of certain spiritual and mystical philosophies, and report the results – including those set out in my book Discover Your Soul Template. Given that I have arrived here in Australia on my own with no job or regular source of income, no connections and no set plan, I figured that this is the perfect occasion to put all this to the test. In reporting the results, it may help others who are active in putting forward spiritual principles in their lives.

I can now report that I have narrowed down my list of potential projects to just a few. Below, I will outline what these four things (+1) are; but most importantly I will also relate how I came to choose them. For the modern mystic, it is not just what you do, but the energy behind your actions that is important. So here are the projcts, and a brief description of what they will (most likely) entail.

1)     Sage Leadership programme. These will be workshops aimed at helping create leadership for a more sustainable future. They will not be aimed at the rich and powerful in particular, but anyone who may wish to lead now or in the future. The programme will teach participants mindfulness, intuitive intelligence and responsibility to community and planet – and how to apply these in relationships and decision making. This project is going to entail a lot of work and planning, and probably a couple of years to really get moving. But my aim is to set it up and bring it to as many people as possible before the end of the year, so as to include it in these Diary reports.

2)     Personal mentoring: This is a continuation of my work as a spiritual counselor. It will mostly be one-on-one, and will be done via the internet or in person. The three areas I work with are soul purpose readings, personal healing and developing intuitive intelligence. This year it will also incorporate Sage Leadership mentoring.

3)     Authorship: As many of you will know, I have written a number of books (see www.marcustanthony.com). This year I will continue to work at marketing them, mostly via social web spaces like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. I will also seek ways to get out to the broader media, something I haven’t done much of to date. I have to admit I don’t particularly like doing this, but if an author does not promote his own work, nobody ever hears about it. I will also complete my new book The Deepening: The Art of Unconditional Love. At this stage it will be an ebook, but I will probably pitch it to my agent as well, if the energy feels right. This is one area where I am going to specifically apply – and test – the law of attraction; then blog about the results.

4)     Article writing: Writing and publishing 20 short articles in relevant magazines, preferably hard copy. This is a promotional activity. Many of these articles are already written, so the workload is not so great. Includes overseas magazines.

5)     Attending the sustainable leadership programme, run by the Centre for Sustainable Leadership. This is a mentoring programme for future leaders. It ties in well with my Sage leadership programme. However in this I will be (if accepted) a participant. The programme requires quite a strong time commitment. I will write a little more about this in a later post.

Of course, besides these projects I will continue to write and publish on this website, including making videos to do with the Diary, and How to Learn Something.

So how did I come to decide upon these things? The answer is that over a period of a few weeks I came up with a list of about twenty projects I thought I might like to do this year. I cut a few out because I immediately felt they weren’t what I wanted to do, and was left with 17 possible projects. Then I used the Quick Check and The Feeling Sense to narrow the list down (these intuitive tools are outlined in Discover Your Soul Template). The Quick Check gave me an energy reading for each project, as a number from zero to one hundred per cent. The higher the reading, the better the energy on doing the thing. I simply asked the question: “What is the energy on my (doing X) this year.” Then I took the reading. The energy readings came out as follows. This has been directly cut and pasted from my computer. I won’t try to explain in detail what each idea entailed.

  1. Facilitator (indirect): Deep Futures/leadership for organisations difficult. 15%
  2. Trainer (indirect): Developing Integrated Intelligence workshops. Easy, 45%
  3. Author (direct): Selling and writing books. Mostly easy. 40%
  4. Speaker (indirect): Public speaking on deep futures and intelligence. Moderate difficulty, 25%
  5. Facilitator: Inviting spiritual speakers to Aust. and making money. Difficult ,20%
  6. Mentor (direct): Spiritual counseling: mentor. Easy, 75% 
  7. Mentor (direct): Individual INI training. Mostly easy, 40%
  8. Video series on intuition/training. Moderately difficult, 35%
  9. Mindfulness in schools; for High school students. A bit difficult, 35%
  10. Enhancing teaching and student interest in areas of low interest and engagement. 10%
  11. Sage leadership for organisations: teach people hw tro be mindful, present, and tap into spiritual intelligence. Difficult, 55%
  12. The greatest love of all. Finding empowerment in high school students: how to stand in your power. Difficult, 20%
  13. Sage leadership in high schools. 10%
  14. Self-belief for unemployed youth. Difficult ,55%
  15. Developing intuition app. Moderate difficulty,  40%,   with C D 33%,     CD only, 40%
  16. 20 Magazine articles. Easy, 50%
  17. Consciousness promoter for overseas teachers. 10%

My initial goal was to narrow the list down to no more than four or five things. You’ll note that at the end of many of the projects I wrote how easy or difficult the thing might be to put into practice. This was important, as I didn’t want to be doing five difficult projects. The ideal was one or two difficult projects, and the rest being moderately difficult to easy. Since only one resonated in the highest category, this choice was easy (spiritual counselor/mentor). This work is also rather easy for me, so it was a no-brainer. I can also combine it with the number seven on the list: training for Integrated Intelligence. (which resonated at 40%).

I immediately scrapped all those projects with a very low energy reading – say, below 30%. I then underlined all those with a reasonably high energy reading – over 50%. Two difficult options ranked at 55%: the Sage Leadership programme, and working with unemployed youth. I didn’t want to do both.  I chose Sage Leadership because it just feels better, and excites me more. It’s more of a challenge. I have worked with young people for years as a teacher and in other capacities, so I felt my enthusiasm for the youth project would not be anywhere near as great. Also, the Sage Leadership programme pushes me into new territory, and challenges me more. I think I’d rather fail at that than succeed at the youth work option.

I chose the authorship option, even though it resonated at 40% for two reasons. Firstly, it is easy, and I know how to do it. Secondly, I sense that the reason it didn’t resonate higher is that if practiced in the way I did it in recent years, it won’t take me forward greatly. If I  sit at my computer and tap out books and promotional stuff, it won’t be much of a challenge. I’ve been there, done that. So my sense is that I need to approach this in a different way, to reinvigorate the energy of it. My sense is that this involves getting out into the public spotlight more. One thing that I have come to acknowledge more in the past few months is that I have a fear of going out into the world and doing this stuff more openly. This touches upon other related personal issues (which I will write more about very soon on Diary).

From this point on, I will continue to use my Integrated Intelligence as I develop specific actions to put these projects into place. In essence, I will follow the Wisdom Cycle, which I also outlined in Discover Your Soul Template. This involves introspectively checking the energy at various points as the actions steps are initiated.

wisdom cyc

There will indeed be some seeking by me this coming year. After all, it is in the seeking – and in the finding and not finding – that we can see ourselves reflected back. The only question is whether we choose to keep our eyes open to all that the world shows us; or push aside those things that we would prefer remain in shadow.

So this will be my great adventure this year; getting out into the world, into the broader community and taking risks. It’s scary. But the other option is to keep doing the same things I’ve always done. And that would mean stagnation for my spirit.

Blessings,

Marcus

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Diary of a 21st Century Mystic, #2: Wisdom & action

DIARY OF A 21st CENTURY MYSTIC (#2). “It isn’t necessary to be right, just don’t get it wrong.” Apparently this is a quote by management guru and futurist Peter Schwartz. I heard it quoted yesterday at the Asia-Pacific Foresight conference in Perth, Western Australia, and it struck me as a profound truth. Too often we move through life worrying about making mistakes, and believing that there is only one right way to do or create something. In spiritual circles, people often make the mistake of thinking about “my calling” or “the will of God”. If we deviate from the one right path, then it will be disastrous. The result of such a mind-set can be guilt or self-condemnation.

In turn, this leads to anxiety and judgment of what lies before us, of the life that we have created or are in the process of creating. We then lose presence, the connection with the bountiful joy of the present moment. The heart then tightens and restricts the expression of love. The spirit becomes fearful and reclusive, and stops taking positive actions towards creating its desired future.

The truth is that there are many ways to express your spirit, your calling. There is no single right way. The process of creation is just as important as the outcome. I say, go about your life and creating your goals with a light heart and a joyful stride. Enjoy the day. One way to make everything “wrong” is to judge and condemn others or yourself. Even if you are successful beyond your wildest dreams, is it worth it if the process is full of fear, anger and rejection? Personally, I say it isn’t.

We all have an inbuilt intuitive guidance system – Integrated Intelligence. Listen to it. It will let you know if you are creating a future that will lead to suffering and failure. It is also true that suffering and failure are in themselves not intrinsically “negative”, as long as we learn quickly and move on. Yet most of us would agree that it is preferable to learn through joy and success, not via the pain of failure and rejection!

So listen to your intuition. When it tells you are going in the wrong direction, stop and listen. I have created a simple process called the Wisdom Cycle, which works from the principles that I have written about above.

You can begin the Wisdom Cycle by “checking energy”. This just means listening to your intuition or applying any of the INI Tools I have written about in Discover Your Soul Template. Allow excitement and passion to draw your forward, for these are the feelings that draw you towards the highest expression of “self”. If it feels right, take action towards the goal. You can imagine the outcome (goal) and even visualise it, but don’t get too attached to it. Release expectations and continue move forward with passion and excitement. After some time you will be able to observe results. Evaluation means that you decide if the result is good, bad, or somewhere in between. You can modify your actions if you choose. Again, you can use your Integrated Intelligence at this point to check for what feels right. The last step is “integration”, which is simply the learning and wisdom which emerges from your experience, some of which will be subconscious, and some of which will occur from your rational mind evaluating the whole situation.

The Wisdom Cycle helps you keep on the right track, on one of the many paths that resonate with your spirit. It also helps keep you alert to failure, to going in the wrong direction. Most importantly it enables a joyful and relaxed approach to life and “achievement”. It is very relevant to where I am in my life, as I write this. There is a state of strong uncertainty, where I stand at a crossroads with many possible paths to take. But I will say more about this in my next post.

Travel well,

Marcus

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