I was recently interviewed by Kelly Howell on her brain-sync podcast. We chatted about integrated intelligence, futures studies and developing intuition. Here’s a brief extract from her page, and the link. Please enjoy,and feel free to like or share. 🙂 Marcus
Have you ever felt that you have a greater calling, but have never been able to put your finger on what it is? Listen to Kelly Howell’s conversation with author and post-conventional futurist Dr. Marcus T. Anthony discuss his work on Integrated Intelligence and the practice of accessing your built-in intuitive voice to draw upon an infinite source of knowledge and wisdom.
Futurists are scholars who study, analyze and deeply question the future. Dr. Anthony differs from most practicing futurists in that he focuses on spiritual realms and human consciousness rather than technology or economics.
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.
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?”
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?
Despite what some well-meaning enthusiasts say, just because you follow your bliss does not guarantee that you will succeed. In fact, such a philosophy is full of possible roadblocks. These are almost never discussed in new age or popular self-help books, so I am going to share a few of them with you here.
In his well-researched book So Good They Can’t Ignore You, Cal Newport states this argument well. Although the author has little understanding of introspection or mindfulness, he brilliantly describes the most common errors that some naïve new agers make in this regard. Much of what I have learned from first-hand experience strongly supports many of Newport’s arguments. Here are several of the most relevant.
While many of us do have general innate passions and abilities, it is naïve to believe that you have only one true calling, or that you have to put your life on hold until you find that one thing. In fact, as Newport writes, people often develop their great passions after they begin to master a skill or craft. They often learn to love what they do. So don’t wait until life finds you. Bring love and presence to whatever you do, and you will find your “purpose” in the light that shines through you.
The courage culture is a simplistic fallacy. The “courage culture” is the naïve idea – popularised in many well-meaning self-help books – that the most important step in living your bliss is having the courage to make a sudden change of life orientation, such as quitting your current job or moving to your dream location. Having courage is not enough. You need to be well prepared, and ideally, have some career capital in your new field (see next point).
It can be disastrous to try to suddenly change professions without having established any “career capital” in your new field. You cannot expect to instantly demand credibility in an entirely new field. Just because you love software, does not mean that software companies will open their arms to you when you quit your day job as an office clerk. In such a scenario, the wannabe-IT guy would need to gradually develop a reputation and connections in his new field.
It is erroneous to believe that expertise will come simply because you love doing something; because you spend time doing the thing you love. In other words, you need to appreciate the need for “deliberate practice”. Many people believe that you need about 10 000 hours of quality, focused, systemic time to master a field. Are you prepared to be that focused and to work that hard?
Believing that following your passion is always joyful is naïve. Firstly, there will be times when things will be difficult, where you will face failure and rejection. And secondly, all that time required to develop mastery via repeated practice can be less than exciting!
Trying to develop a business out of a skill or service that nobody is willing to pay for is futile. If you don’t know of anybody who can “buy” your passion, it’s not a business. It’s a hobby. That in itself is fine – as long as you are not depending upon it to pay the bills!
The popular idea of following your bliss can create obsessive self-interest, rather than generosity of spirit. In other words, the naïve new-ager may come to see his calling as being about self-gratification. In fact, many of the great masters of passion that we hear about – Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Martin Luther King, Einstein, da Vinci and so on, focused on being of service to others, not on satisfying themselves.
I’m not suggesting that you abandon the idea of working in your dream job or doing what you love. After all, my book Discover Your Soul Template is all about doing just that. But do keep your feet on the ground, and take into consideration the realities of the world of money and markets.
Note: This post is a short extract from my upcoming book Champion of the Soul.
So you want to dive in at the deep end and get into this alternative philosophy business? And by “business”, I do mean business. Perhaps you have had a few personal experiences which have led you to deeply question the way dominant science and education represent the human condition. You might have had a spiritual experience or an intuitive foretaste of something extraordinary – a glimpse of what have been labelled the “supernatural” or “paranormal”. After such revelations the wise words of the American transcendentalists and Eastern mystics have no doubt been jumping out at you from behind metaphysical corners that you didn’t even know were there.
It could be that things have begun to gather momentum for you – not so much like a giant snow ball rolling downhill, but a great wave of mystical light cascading from the heavens. Reading a few books about things like “spiritual business” and “the law of attraction” may have begun to stir creative juices within your mind. You could be forgiven for starting to think of the possibilities. What if I put all that spiritual knowledge into this idea??
So now you are all set to go, full of excitement at the journey ahead – as a writer, public speaker, social media expert, researcher, healer, entrepreneur… Those famous words of perhaps the greatest of the American transcendentalists, Henry David Thoreau, never felt truer.
“If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with success unexpected in common hours.”
So it all looks pretty good from your current perspective, doesn’t it? Success seems almost divinely guaranteed. But before you step off onto the road less traveled, before you take that first step on the journey of ten thousand steps, you might like to consider the price.
“The price?”, you say. “What price? Everything’s cool!”
Please allow me to backtrack a little. Let me give you some advice from a traveller of both mystical and worldly waters. Permit me to return to where it all began for me…
Twenty years ago I made the big decision to resign from my job as a secondary school teacher in Warren, a tiny, remote town in western New South Wales, Australia. I had had enough of the mundane world of chalk and talk. My decision had been initiated a few months earlier when I had stumbled across Wayne Dyer’s new age tome You’ll See It When You Believe It in the local newsagent. Reading that book gave me the courage to quit. So I packed my stuff into my car and headed for greener shores – quite literally. I landed in Coffs Harbour, a nice little town on the north coast of the same state. As I outline in my book Discover Your Soul Template, my newly acquired mystical proclivities then led me to join a meditation group fronted by Lesley Halverson, a middle-aged woman with some obvious intuitive gifts. One evening after her meditation class had wound down, Lesley announced that she had dreamed of UFOs the previous night; and based upon that dream she predicted that UFOs would be observable at around 2.00 am that night. Although it seemed preposterous to me that anyone could predict such a thing based upon a dream, I challenged myself to get up at that ungodly hour and take a look around.
My naive mystical worldview was well rewarded, for that cool and starry winter’s morning I witnessed two very different UFO phenomena – one a great ball of shimmering light that glided silently across the sky, and the other a flotilla of disc-like objects which flew over my head at a distance of a few hundred metres.
You can imagine how this event forever changed the way I viewed life, science and education. No longer could I buy the dominant western worldview which depicts human beings as biological meat machines trapped without meaning and purpose in a mechanistic universe. Nor could I continue to commit to a nine-to-five mundane existence in my home country. Instead I embarked on a long journey of self-discovery that saw me live and work in five different countries. It also included exploring exhaustive spiritual disciplines and emotional healing that necessitated enormous courage and commitment.
Throughout this period I explored the mystical and spiritual realms via meditative and mindful practice, shifting my new worldview from a “belief” into lived experience. My innate intuitive abilities expanded and I developed cognitive capacities that had believed to be science fiction only a few years prior to that. I found that I could sense the future, channel creative energy, interact with spiritual dimensions and tap into consciousness fields of both individuals and groups.
During this time I did not ignore the more “rational” side of human experience. Eventually I earned a PhD, developing the concept of “integrated intelligence” – the idea that the human mind is not limited in space and time, and can draw upon non-local information. In my thesis I argued that consciousness is not confined to the brain, nor even to physical systems. Thus the notion of integrated intelligence was developed from both personal experience and formal research.
I kept working in mainstream education to pay the bills, even as I developed my esoteric and intuitive proclivities. Eventually I established a niche for myself as a researcher, writer and speaker. I became the futurist with a passion for Deep Futures, speaking and writing about how an unnecessarily delimited model of cosmos and consciousness was retarding human social and spiritual development. I published widely in magazines, newspapers and journals and successfully published my doctoral thesis. I was elated when I also got my first mainstream book contract.
Some fifteen years passed between the time I left my first teaching job until I published Discover Your Soul Template. In many ways it was a time of incredible excitement. I was following Thoreau’s advice and pursuing my dream. Success seemed to come easily. As I travelled from country to country I managed to earn a very good income, taking jobs that were high-paying but undemanding. This is what allowed me to pursue my doctorate and to write and present at academic conferences and in public domain.
It is not that there were no challenges during this period. Perhaps the greatest was acknowledging that I carried a huge amount of pain and self-limiting belief structures within my psyche. Working with that energy was often excruciatingly difficult. But overall I can say that everything fell together in what seemed to be divine perfection. As my wife noted, things just kept getting better and better.
Perhaps it was that this success had created a little naivety within me. I had conveniently forgotten something that Lesley Halverson had told me all those years ago when I had attended her mediation group. For one day she had passed on a message to me “from spirit”. It was the most simple communication imaginable.
“Remember that there is a price to pay for everything,” she had said.
That was it. The words had been spoken seemingly out of the blue in the middle of a meditation class. They were directed specifically at me. I suspect Lesley has probably forgotten about those words, but somehow they lingered in the back of my mind.
It took me many years to appreciate what they mean. I’m a slow learner.
So let me get back to my story. I haven’t quite finished yet.
It was only after I completed my PhD that I began to experience setbacks in my professional and personal life. The first and obvious problem was that my impassioned focus upon researching and writing about the spiritual and mystical had become a roadblock to my academic and public career. No university or academic institution would touch me. I got hundreds of rejections. I looked on with an increasingly despairing gaze as I saw some of my futurist colleagues (who did their doctorates in more mainstream fields) snap up university jobs with little or no effort. My papers were rejected at many academic conferences; and when I attended such conferences at my own expense, I often saw rather robotic and soulless presentations by professors who were just going through the motions of the academic system. I sat there thinking, “I know I could do a much better presentation than this!”
It was frustrating. It was disheartening. I felt angry and abandoned by the system.
When I returned to Australia from Asia things got even worse. Not only was I getting rejected by the universities; suddenly even public high schools would not hire me. My CV was a confusing mishmash of mundane public school teaching combined with extensive, self-funded academic qualifications and publications. I recall one interviewer looking at me with a rather puzzled expression. “It seems like you have even living two very different lives,” he said. I laughed. But the smile soon faded when he turned me away.
I experimented with different approaches. I submitted CVs leaving off all forty or so of my academic publications and erasing the PhD. But that just made me look like a middle-aged school teacher who had been too lazy to invest in career development for the previous twenty years.
The low point came when I had used up all my savings, and could no longer even afford to rent a house. While I was receiving an income stream from books and publications, it was nowhere near enough to live on. My wife and I were forced to move into a single room, sharing a house with three others.
I had to make a choice. Would I give up all that I had invested in my soul journey? Would I recommit to a mundane life of nine to five?
I’ll let you know what happened in the second part of this article, and I’ll also share with you some of the key distinctions I have taken from my setbacks.
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.
Facilitator (indirect): Deep Futures/leadership for organisations difficult. 15%
Mentor (direct): Individual INI training. Mostly easy, 40%
Video series on intuition/training. Moderately difficult, 35%
Mindfulness in schools; for High school students. A bit difficult, 35%
Enhancing teaching and student interest in areas of low interest and engagement. 10%
Sage leadership for organisations: teach people hw tro be mindful, present, and tap into spiritual intelligence. Difficult, 55%
The greatest love of all. Finding empowerment in high school students: how to stand in your power. Difficult, 20%
Sage leadership in high schools. 10%
Self-belief for unemployed youth. Difficult ,55%
Developing intuition app. Moderate difficulty, 40%, with C D 33%, CD only, 40%
20 Magazine articles. Easy, 50%
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.
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.
Where: Esperance, Western Australia, Bayview Motel
“In the mind of the novice there are many possibilities. In the mind of the expert there is but one.” So said ancient Chinese mystic Lao Zi some 2600 years ago. He was commenting on the tendency of peoples’ perceptions and attitudes to harden as they gain more knowledge and experience in a particular domain. That knowledge and experience is invaluable, but it can also be a grave hindrance to opening to new possibilities, to being creative.
This is particularly true at times of renewal or rebirth in your life. These periods typically occur after you leave you job, career, or relationship. Perhaps it might correspond with the end of your life in a particular location. You move to a new city or country.
That’s where I find myself in my life currently, having recently left behind a career and life in Hong Kong to return to Australia to live. I am at a crossroads. The great thing is that there are many directions that I might travel. However the stressful thing lies in narrowing down my range of options. To making a commitment. It’s all about choices,
And that why I have begun this Diary of a 21st Century Mystic project – to explain in details how to apply intuitive processes and tools in making important choices in life.
A month ago I had basically no idea what I was going to do here in Australia. Then one morning I awoke and a song came into my head, with these words:
Doesn’t have a point of view
Knows not where he’s going to
Isn’t he a bit like you and me
You might recognize the lines from the old Beatles song. Nowhere Man. This piece of spiritual guidance represented the second time that this song had come to me as a form of spiritual guidance. The previous occasion had been thirteen years earlier when I was living in Taiwan. At that time the ‘energy’ of my Taiwan experience was coming to an end, I was feeling depressed and stuck, and spirit was encouraging me to explore new avenues. That guidance prompted me to resume my PhD studies, and to leave Taiwan and move to Beijing.
I admit that a month ago when this song came through again, I was once more feeling stuck and depressed. I had been in Australia over a month, and was doing little more than sitting around in my brother’s house. Besides a little writing and blogging, I wasn’t doing much. The song made me realise I had to get moving again. I had to start making choices, and moving out in the world. The only thing was, I didn’t have any specific leads as to what I should do!
It is very important for people who have done a good deal of inner work that they stay true to their higher purpose. So I do know the bigger picture of my ‘soul purpose’, in a very general sense. My gifts are very much about utilising my intuitive abilities and knowledge of spirit to make a difference in the world. But that is very ‘purpose’ general indeed.
A significant problem is that I am now out of touch with current Australian society and culture. So there has definitely been doubt as to whether I can fit in here again, or whether I can find a way to be of service in this country.
When you embark on a new phase of life, it will push your buttons. You better believe that whatever self-limiting beliefs and fears you possess will surface. My main soul issues are about fear of rejection and failure, a belief that the world is not fair, and that I will be punished and excluded. “Trying is no use!” That is the cry of my wounded child. It’s the cry of the victim (a very common cry indeed, if you look around). Just look at social media and the internet in general, and you’ll see that call resounding across many an e-medium. In my case, all of these issues relate to my childhood and – I believe – past lives.
I have been working on these issues in various ways, but I won’t go into that here. I just want to emphasise that one key to dealing with “spiritual issues” is not to judge them as being wrong, or be ashamed of them. Trying to get rid of them doesn’t work, because that is a subtle rejection of the inner child. The wounded child will merely turn away from you, and create havoc in other ways (read, ‘create dramas’). I suggest that you merely learn to allow these parts of yourself to be freely honoured and expressed.
Another key is to just to make light fun of your “issues”. That’s what I was doing with this recent mini-video, which I put on FB and YouTube.
Just be careful not to believe in the story that the wounded child is selling you, or to try to seek attention for your issues. Nobody else needs to comfort you or support you (don’t confuse that with intimacy). You just need to develop the right relationship with your inner child. That will enable you to travel through your periods of transition with a light heart and a good sense of humour.
Back to my current situation. Just a week or so after the “Nowhere man” incident, I received an email from a friend. He told me about a talk being given in Melbourne by a man named Peter Cook. Peter is part of a dynamic team of “Thought Leaders”, the other notables being Matt Church and Scott Stein. After checking these guys out online, I found that there was something about the whole venture which excited me. But should I follow it up? I used the Quick Check (one of the INI Tools), and I got that I should go to the talk. So a few days later I took the two hour train trip into Melbourne to hear Peter.
As an intuitive, the first thing I do when assessing someone I’m about to deal with is to check “the intention” of that person, especially if it is someone I might be investing time and/or money with in the future. I like to think that I can tell a fake, liar or fool pretty easily, and Peter struck me as none of these things. So I listened. And I liked what he said.
Peter spoke of his “Million Dollar Expert” programme, a short intensive course which claims to teach smart people with good ideas how to develop them into a successful business. It impressed me. After the talk I bought his book Sell Your Thoughts (with Matt Church and Scott Stein), which provided me with more detail about Peter and his philosophy (I am not going to detail the processes here, but may write a little more about it in a later post).
There are two main questions to be considered here, and they are both important for my immediate future in Australia.
1) What is the energy on utilising the Thought Leaders ideas and tools in developing my work in Australia?
2) What is the energy on attending Peter’s Million Dollar Expert workshop (in December)?
The overall feeling sense I get is good for both questions. So for me there is no doubt that there is merit in following through with both questions with affirmative actions. But the truth is that I have to weigh that “vibe” up against financial considerations. The first option is no problem, as there is merely the cost of a book or involved. But the second question involves an investment of $3300. That’s how much it costs for the two day workshop.
Using the INI Tool the Quick Check, I get an 80% resonance on the first question. Yet the second option creates anxiety for me. It raises “money issues”. What if I do the programme and it is a waste of money? What if that money is better spent on other things? Like saving for a home, self-publishing a book, hiring a helper or attending a more useful programme? There is thus a possibility that fear can “contaminate” any energy reading I do on the question. So to do this reading accurately I have to put myself in a state of perfect presence, where my desires and fears don’t get in the way. The result? It still resonates quite highly – around 75%
So will I do Peter Cook’s Million Dollar Expert programme? With the reading, I am leaning heavily towards that direction, but I have not decided yet. I will do a Light Trance meditation on it in the coming days, then make a final decision. I will let you know about that.
Many important life decisions involve risk. We may invest much time and money into them, with no guarantee of success. What the INI Tools do is allow us to sense the energy of the decision and its most likely outcome. They can cut much of the guesswork out of decision making. But the whole process of activating Integrated Intelligence requires a reorientation of the mind/brain. It requires – to quote management guru Stephen Covey – to “lead from the right, manage from the left”. Covey is referring to the left and right hemispheres of the brain. Although it is simplistic in terms of its actual representation of neuro-physiology, the left/right brain dichotomy is a useful model we can use when trying to develop a better relationship between the “rational” and “non-rational” domains of mind. To “lead from the right” requires letting go, and trust in the intangible feelings of intuition.
I have always said that you should listen to your intuition, and follow your bliss. But it is also true that action itself creates an excitement and energy of its own. So it is very important to move from a position of possibilities, to one where you are taking committed action towards a goal. If you keep your heart open to spirit, it will guide you in the right direction. But it won’t do the work for you. You have to get off your butt and do stuff yourself. You have to make concrete decisions. Otherwise the guidance, the energy, cannot translate into the real world of people, places and markets.
There is something which I call “aligning with the path of least resistance”, where actions become relatively effortless and often joyful. Finding that alignment comes from listening to spirit and taking actions within the domain of highest good. That is what I will be seeking to do as I make these important decisions in the coming weeks.
But what next? Just a few days after the Nowhere Man guidance, I had another vision during the night. I saw myself on a bus, and was getting off – in Melbourne. I knew I was being guided to move to that city. So that will be my next step – after I get back to Morwell, on the other side of this vast county, next week.
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.