Human Suffering – A Cause For Greatness or Despair

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I am writing this blog tongue in cheek because I am pissed off about humanity’s commitment to suffering. This light-hearted approach to writing helps prevent me from screaming and pulling my hair out. I just need to get this out while my arms are wailing about in the air. Bear with me.

We all have experienced, are experiencing, or will experiences suffering in our lives. We must like to suffer simply because we continue to suffer when it is not necessary. Why give up a good thing eh? We have suffered for millennia – that’s a commitment. So what is suffering and why do we suffer? Firstly, to know suffering we all have had to live through it, to experience it. We all have had to feel what it is like to suffer. Suffering, for the purpose of this blog, refers to long term and includes; continuously feeling pain, misery, distress, agony, self-torment, wounding, self-sacrifice, injury, etc. When we suffer, we feel unhappy, troubled, tormented, and wounded. When we suffer, we learn to endure pain. Since it only takes 10,000 hours to be a master at anything – we are all masters of suffering. Suffering becomes a part of life, a way of life. It becomes our badge of honour (I am being sarcastic here). We do have moments of pure joy, however, there is no continuous state of joy. Joy comes along as if by luck or chance, rather than being something we feel we have control over in our lives.

Unfortunately we usually deal with suffering in a way that enables its continuation as an individual and as a human race. To keep suffering alive we consciously or unconsciously avoid understanding and resolving the causes of the suffering. We go into denial (most of us become either Cleopatra or King Tut, the Queen/King of de-Nile). We make up shite that need not true – all meaning is subjective and it only holds what we attach to it. We stay away from anyone who offers us the truth about our lives and those we fear are often the ones who hold our truth. We continue to do the same thing over and over expecting a different result, which is the very definition of insanity. We blame others for our and identify ourselves as victims. We live entitled lives (a victim coupled with entitlement, whoa Nellie, watch out for this combination). We seek comfort in keeping things the same, same=safe=stuck. We are not curious, and we seek people who support us in our situation of suffering. We bite even harder on our beliefs and on our ideologies (have faith, it will all be OK when we are dead). We abandon ourselves (so that everyone else will as well). Human beings are a strange lot.

Why are we so addicted to suffering? One big reason for being addicted to suffering is because we fear loneliness. Loneliness is about the fear of complete isolation, a life of emptiness. To be with others, we must generally abandon ourselves and accept what is necessary to be in relationship (check it out – still friends with that a-hole? Why? Or still married to that person that blames you for everything? Why?). With life partners, we avoid the truth about our lives and the relationship and in so doing we become dependent on each other to a point where co-dependency is a likely result. Co-dependency is a sure and simple attempt to escape loneliness. We will do nothing to threaten the relationship because of the fear of loneliness. Let’s not open a can of worms or I may get the boot or want to move on. Or you know the movie line, “You complete me.” Yikes!!! Shiver me timbers.

Here’s what I have learned through experience. This is my truth and not the truth. I am alone. I was born alone. Yes, I had family support from the day of my birth, but I was alone. I am in my body. My body is isolated from the rest of the world and I craved others to stop the loneliness. This craving sets up dependency. The solution is very simple yet most difficult to do; I had to become at ease with the fact that I was born alone. To become at ease alone I had to become comfortable with being with me. I had to see the power in myself without being dependent on others – I had to know myself. There it is again; it seems like self knowledge solves just about everything? Hmmmmm? Very interesting. As Socrates is quoted to have said “An unexamined life is not worth living”.  Gee whiz, know thyself.

So to stop the relentless suffering, I/we must face our truth and we must become at ease alone. We must face the pain no matter how painful. We must feel the misery, the shame, the guilt, the loneliness, etc. Here’s the deal: Facing the pain directly now will allow you to release the suffering in the long term. We must follow the saying, ‘Short term pain (facing the truth) for long term gain (end of suffering),’ versus what we normally do: ‘short term gain (avoidance) for long term pain (suffering continues and it intensifies).’

In facing the pain we must be prepared to let go of all relationships that do not serve our greater good. I have found that for those who begin the work of knowing themselves, this requirement of letting go relationships is where they fall down and willingly go back to the suffering. Our attachment to unhealthy relationships is far too strong. We cannot overcome the dependency. There’s too much at stake, whether it is the sharing of wealth on divorce, no one serving your needs, being ostracized by family and friends, being alone, being seen as a loser, or a sense of shame and guilt. I have seen very poor life partner relationships continue because the co-dependency is too great. We are all powerful alone. Try it out.

If you are willing and are committed to go the distance you will discover love and beauty beyond your understanding. You will feel freedom for the first time in your life. You will feel inspired to make a difference in the world. You will be a magnificent example to many. You will live, truly live. Here’s what Khalil Gibran says about those who deal with their suffering in a healthy manner: “Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars”. Your journey THROUGH suffering is what matters in life. Your decision to remain in suffering is your death. To avoid or to wallow will lead to equal amounts of suffering in the long term. One must confront and work through life’s struggles and hardships in order to thrive.

Stop the suffering and begin to heal yourself through self-knowledge. Become at ease alone and choose relationships that fulfill your values, your non negotiables and other requirements from a point of clarity. You will know what it is like for the first time to truly be in relationship because a relationship with another is not possible without first having a relationship with yourself.

All of the above has been written from my experience of facing my pain. I suffered until I was 50 years old. Nine years later at 59 years old I feel like I have lived for nine years. I can only know what is written here by living it. I can only express the aforementioned if I have felt it. And I do. Join me. The world needs you to know your truth.

This blog was inspired by my partner Anne who has the courage to face tremendous pain. She will emerge a strong soul seared with scars. A great example to us all. Thank you Anne.

 

Organized Ideologies and Beliefs

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Why does mankind organize and rigidly maintain beliefs developed thousands of years ago? Why have these messages been organized and sold to the public? Did the people who originated the messages even want their messages organized? Did they know their messages were organized and maintained over a population of people?

We have many institutions that foster ideologies/beliefs that are pre-packaged for us at birth that cover not only religion, but also politics and culture. Have you ever challenged your own beliefs or those of the organizations that you belong to or born into? If not, why not? Do you believe that it is not your right to challenge anything that is been given to you by others like your parents, teachers or the institutions? How do you know what life is for you if you have not explored all options? I love these questions because they go to the heart of the discovery and beauty of my life.

I feel that mankind has organized its beliefs in order to provide certainty, comfort, security and gratification in our lives, for the present and the future. However, I feel that organized beliefs put us all to sleep, a deep sleep that is like death. In the sleep, we actually feel that we are taking action, being good, being right, being significant. I feel that we buy into established beliefs so that we do not have to deal with conflict; conflict within ourselves such as our personal pain; and conflict externally, like world problems and our life purpose. Adopting beliefs solves our problems for us and makes everything seem more comfortable. We are accepted. We belong. We know the rules. We feel secure. It’s really the easy route. However this is unfortunately a destructive way of living our lives.

Here are a few obvious examples of populations erroneously taking on the truth of institutions: Remember when institutions were absolutely certain that the world was flat, and anyone who disagreed was executed? How about now, where in some countries certain institutions force whippings for women who have slept with a man outside marriage, but not for the men? Then there are the institutions that excommunicate its members for denying the faith that they are born into. As well as those that posit that you can be forgiven your past sins, if only you pay financial reparations to the organization. Reparations to the ones that set the beliefs that make what you did a sin in the first place. Why is there a need for these organizations, groups, individuals to be right? Why do they need to be unchallenged and require that you close your beliefs without open and fair challenge? It could be control, power, control of wealth, control of knowledge and intelligence. It could be to create a false sense of security for people, or be built out of a fear of being wrong, or it could be all of the above

Here are a few not so obvious examples: Remember hearing about or living by the belief; spare the rod, spoil the child? Or, honour your father and your mother no matter what they do or how they live their lives? That a woman’s place is in the home? That the glass ceiling does not exist, or perhaps if it does, then it is there for good reason?

I feel that when we buy into established beliefs without challenge we become martyrs for the cause. A martyr is someone who sacrifices his/her life or extinguishes his/her life for a belief or set of beliefs. Martyrs are willing to be nothing on an emotional level. They give themselves away. Martyrs isolate themselves for the cause. They must buy the illusion even when the opposite understanding slaps them hard in the face and kicks them in the ass. No new experience is needed or desired. They are never curious. They are born into belief and die with the belief. That’s their journey in life. No more, no less. They lead a very small life. They may not have lived for themselves, yet they have certainty. Certainty of being right. Thinking that exploration and curiosity are ridiculous. They are sure.

Only those who are willing to pursue their own truth through self-knowledge will be able to confront their beliefs in a healthy way. We must understand ourselves in the total process of life. We must challenge everything until we know it is our choice. To choose freely is real freedom. To choose to seek approval or acceptance is not freedom. To choose to gain security is not freedom. To choose to gain recognition is not freedom. To choose to avoid being alone is not freedom.

Here are some questions that have dominated my life of late; can anyone organize truth? If truth is organized, is it still truth? What is the purpose of life if we do not seek to know the truth of life without encumbrance? What is life if I buy what is sold to me early in life? Is life not to be explored? Why do we want things to be easy?

J Krishnamurti’s explanation for seeking truth sums it up very well for me. He says that truth is a pathless land. Truth is not fixed so that there is no path to find truth. Life demands exploration and evolution.  Life demands that we show up: my life, my power, no excuses.

For me, truth must be discovered moment by moment and it must be felt. Truth requires presence of being and knowledge of self. Truth requires absolute vulnerability. Truth requires continuous search. Truth cannot be organized as it becomes about the past or the future, because organized ideologies keeps the person within a limited knowledge or understanding. Truth demands that each and every person on the planet must commit to keeping an open mind to everything. Truth requires constant change and evolution. Truth demands the person develop a life of being at ease alone.

We are creatures of comfort that seek easy answers and avoid facing painful things and feelings. We sacrifice our lives for ease and certainty. It’s a shameful waste. I wasted my life for the first 50 years. I thought I knew it all. I was a martyr to my beliefs. It was only when I became CURIOUS and I decide to discover my truth that I woke up and start to live. There’s no going back for me. It would be too painful. I am on the path of continuous discovery.

Challenge your understanding of truth. Seek it for yourself, by yourself. Seek guidance and not just anyone’s truth. We do not need gurus. We need mentors who help guide us to our own truth. Let go and live. Explore. Be curious! The world desperately needs each and everyone one of us to wake up to our own truth.

 

Our Obsession With Knowledge Is Our Weakness

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Does the knowledge of the disaster of war prevent war? Apparently not. Wars are currently being fought every day from all corners of our world. Russia is on the verge of copying Nazi Germany by invading other countries on the premise of saving particular nationalities. Do the Russians really believe it will be different this time? Leaders continually ignore the ever-expanding knowledge that wars do not change the behaviour or the wisdom of man in the long run. We continue to do as we have always done, and we get the same results as we have always gotten. Humanity is an insane lot. Certainly not a wise lot. How else can one explain why we do what we do and do not learn? This doesn’t only apply to conflict on a global basis, just look in your own home, neighbourhood, institutions, etc and see the hostility happening there continually and systematically. Or in countries where firearm regulation is lax and gun culture is such that it is the norm for citizens to be running around with fully loaded guns ready to kill the innocent, the young, the beautiful, simply because something pisses them off. This is often done under the guise of self-protection and personal freedom, but at what cost? It is statistically proven that more innocent people are killed than protected with these practices, but the proof is ignored. With the unlimited knowledge available, nothing really changes mankind’s addiction to suffering. Knowledge may give us some advances in technology or medicine or war machinery for example. However, it does not give us the ability to love ourselves or each other. Knowledge alone does not allow us to live lives in joy, fulfillment, empowerment and relationship. Because nothing of substance has changed with all the knowledge available, mankind will continue to repeat the insanity of the past.

We seek external knowledge because we believe that knowledge is power. We have hi-tech tools that allow us to be inundated with data, facts and general and specific knowledge. We have never been so knowledgeable in human history. Many of us have university degrees and some have multiple degrees. Knowledge is abundant. So my question is, why has nothing much changed in the world and why is it that so much destruction and pain is necessary?  How useful is knowledge? If we think we know something, does it hinder our understanding of what matters? Does knowledge get us to act differently? Is the greed of knowledge an attachment or bondage? Why haven’t we stopped to see what more and more knowledge has given us? Who are we without our degrees or our knowledge? These are powerful questions I have asked myself and the answers to them have allowed me to live a very different life. One I cherish.

For me, the accumulation of external knowledge on it’s own is not learning. External knowledge is always in the past. Real learning is in the active (actionable) present. Our belief that the more knowledge we have, the greater our lives will be, holds us in living a life in denial. I am personally not one to pursue knowledge without knowing its application. I find that only what I am living is knowable. Everything else is theory and useless in my life. Some knowledge may be fascinating or entertaining yet useless for life itself. Knowledge without self-knowledge for me is at the root of disorder. It keeps me stuck.

Real wisdom is in the application of knowledge. If I am not living it (the knowledge), I do not really know it. And, to have credibility in my life, I cannot teach something I cannot live and I cannot say something I cannot feel. For example, ten years ago I read a book whose premise inspired me. It said in part, that each of us has unlimited potential in life. WOW, I was totally fascinated by that statement. Why would anyone make such a statement unless they knew it to be true? After thinking about it for a while I said, yes, that’s right. It works for me. However, nothing happened after that. I continued to live the same life I always had. I did not step into my potential. I was missing a major part of my understanding of this premise; I was not living the understanding. I was not discovering how I could step into my unlimited potential. The knowledge in and of itself was useless.

Fortunately I began to examine my life shortly thereafter. As I did this I took new and different action. I took little steps at first and that moved me into a different place. I loved it. The results where spectacular. My health got much better (my doctor hugged me when he saw the results of my life style changes), my business grew by 500% in 5 years, my soccer coaching effectiveness skyrocketed, my relationships became more authentic and loving, my public speaking ability went far past what I thought possible for me, I feared writing and now write every day, etc.

I am now able to feel and live the premise; each of us has unlimited potential. My new plans for my business takes it into the stratosphere, my commitment to relationships are on a conscious level, my plans for my health is to live to 100, I plan to write successful books, speak worldwide, etc. Yes, I/we do have unlimited potential. I know this through living it. To understand it intellectually has no meaning to me.

My truth is that the most meaningful, the most rewarding, the most powerful, the most important thing in life for me is to know myself. Self-knowledge is the beginning of real wisdom. All the educational degrees in the world combined could not replace the importance of self-knowledge for me. I would be much, much, weaker if I had all those degrees without knowing myself. There is no amount of money in the world that anyone could offer me to give up knowing myself. For me, with deep self-knowledge, the whole universe opens up, all is now possible, fear is diminished, power is restored, love is real, joy and fulfillment is accessible. With self-knowledge, I embrace the struggles of humanity, I have compassion for myself and others, I am intimate and I feel life itself. With self-knowledge, I get to contribute and make a difference that really matters. With self-knowledge I get to step out of the conditioning and the illusions. I get to see what is real.

Why do most of us reject the pursuit of self-knowledge? Why do those who commence to walk on the path of self-knowledge, leave the path and fall into the ditch? Why do we pursue options that continue to give us the same results? Why do we like our pain? Why do we like our comfort? —- I feel that most of us do not vigorously pursue self-knowledge because we cannot feel what the result will give us. Well, for me, the results are magnificent. Sweet as life itself.

With self-knowledge, I am able to apply knowledge so that my life and the lives of others can change. I do understand why wars continue and will always continue. To stop wars, each and every individual on this planet is responsible for making a decision to discontinue our obsession of being “right” and the other “wrong”. Each and every one of us must develop compassion for ourselves and then others. Without it, wars will continue. War starts in the heart of everyone on this planet. The knowledge of the evils of wars is not effective. The self-knowledge of why I may wish to control another is the beginning of ending my need to go to war (including the need to exploit those we love).

Pursuing knowledge about the external without knowledge of yourself, without application and action, without change, will only be for entertainment, which is a form of staying the same, living in denial. All of the theories of new ideas, new politics, new this, new that, is bunk. Self knowledge this the only route to change and living in harmony with yourself and others.

We must remove the leaders who do not understand themselves and who cannot live the change you wish to see in the world. Follow your own leadership. Leadership and change starts and ends with every individual on this planet. You live the life you wish to live and be the example for others. Real change will then occur.

Releasing Childhood Sexual Shame

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I had been living my adult life with sexual shame that I developed in my childhood while living in South Africa. The shame manifested itself in several ways. I became depressed and sad, I feared intimacy and my body reacted by developing psoriasis, a problematic skin reaction. The shame arose at an early age. I was sexually molested throughout my childhood, beginning at age six. I became a sexual being thereafter and I sought out children my age that were also sexual. There was a group of us all under the age of ten, both boys and girls, who would regularly meet at a sewer entrance for our sexual fun. It was just something that seemed normal for me at that time.

Upon reaching the age of 12 years old, I experienced the shame of what I was doing for the first time. I wanted to be the “good boy” because I felt my survival depended on being good or nice. The sexual behaviour of my earlier years was not in alignment with being the good boy. So I stopped the sexual activities and denied it ever happened. This was effective for me at a surface level. However the price was a life of self-denial and the manifestations of shame. Underneath the surface, the shame continued to be felt in my heart, soul and body. The result was that I became depressed, feared intimacy and developed the stress related skin condition psoriasis.

One Saturday morning, in late 2013 when I was 58 years old, my mentor Dov Baron called me. Dov stated that he called me because he was feeling sadness in me over the past few days. He asked me if everything was alright and I said that I felt things were, except that I was quite worried about a psoriasis flare up I was having, that was the worst I had ever had. Dov said “That’s it.” “What’s it?” I asked. Dov said he felt that the psoriasis flare up was what was causing the sadness and that it related to sexual shame in my early childhood. Dov asked me to journal about my sexual experiences as a child. I did and it became clear to me through the journaling that I had denied my history and that I felt deep shame for being sexually active as a child.

To deal with the shame in a healthy manner I accepted, and more importantly “FELT” that I was indeed sexually active early in life, that I became that way due to molestation, that I liked sex as a child, and that I did visit the sewer a few times. In fact I accepted that I was a “sewer rat.” I gave myself the name “sewer rat” which allowed me in part, to break the need for the identity of the “good or nice” boy. A sexually active child was who I was – a young being who had a sexual drive. Being sexually active as a child did not make me a bad child. Needing to be a good boy made me feel I was a bad child because my behaviour did not match the requirements. Strangely, a week after feeling that being a sewer rat was alright for me I read the book Zorba the Greek. I loved the character Zorba. He was who he was and he owned it. He was a robust person with a strong drive for all life had to offer and when he spoke “The world got bigger”. Then it hit me, near the end of the book, Zorba writes a beautiful heartfelt letter to his friend and he signs the letter as the “Sewer Rat”. Wow, was this a coincidence? I thought not. I too was the sewer rat and loved all of who I was and had been. I felt a kinship with Zorba – brother sewer rats who love life to the fullest.

I have begun to realize that ALL MEANING IS SUBJECTIVE. And that NOTHING has meaning BEYOND the meaning I give it. I took on the sexual shame because I gave my behaviour a shameful meaning. It was not until I changed the meaning of my behaviour that I began to heal myself. Calling myself a sewer rat forced me to deal with the old meaning. There is nothing wrong with being a sewer rat unless I make it so. It’s good for me and it’s also good for Zorba. The Universe gives me what I need when I need it. Cool.

Two weeks after my realization of my childhood sexual shame the psoriasis went away and it has stayed away for six months now? Coincidence? No way!!! I felt my shame, I gave up the false meaning I attached to my behaviour and I have begun to heal myself. Facing it and feeling it is the only effective way to deal with the wounds of the past.

Have you faced and allowed yourself to feel the shame of your past? Are you living in denial and paying a tremendous price for your decisions? Do you feel it is best to live who you truly are and not something others want you to be or who you think you should be. Are you done doing things just to survive? Do you see that what you are not prepared to see about yourself, owns you (as the shame did for me)? Do you understand that all meaning is subjective and that nothing has meaning beyond the meaning you give it? Give yourself a gift and heal yourself of the past. Perhaps start with reading the book Zorba the Greek because Zorba expresses the zest for life and the love of who he was. We all need to embrace Zorba’s commitment to the love of self.

Yours truly,

Sewer Rat

PS – writing this blog has been a part of the healing process for me

 

 

Got My Mojo Workin’

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The first blues song I remember as a early teenager was Muddy Waters’, Got My Mojo Workin’. I loved it upon first hearing it. The song was catchy and it made me feel good. In fact, the song inspired me. When asked how I was feeling, if I was feeling good I’d reply, “I got my mojo workin” (have you done this yourself?). Mojo is generally thought of as something charming, sexy, and skillful that arises from something magical or purposeful. Interestingly, the muddy waters I was born into would assist me in empowering my own life later on.

Muddy Waters had a tremendous impact on most of our modern music including, blues, rock and roll, jazz, hard rock, etc. He also impacted great musicians such as The Rolling Stones (they named themselves after Muddy’s song Rollin Stone), Jimmy Hendrix and Eric Clapton to name a few. Muddy was an inspiration and he made a significant contribution to our world. However, Muddy is also a great example of a life lived in gratitude and connection with oneself. When asked about all those who stole his ideas and made money off of him, Muddy answered, “If I had money, I would not have had the blues.” The blues was Muddy’s gift to the world, and this understanding of life is what I would like to discuss in this blog.

Our experiences as we grow older can shape us in innumerable ways, but there is always a way to utilize them to serve society and ourselves. My lot was to experience the pain of being an emotional orphan. I was neither wanted nor desired nor planned by my parents, two young adults in their late teens who had great difficulty dealing with their own pain. There was no time for me in their lives. I was a burden to them. In fact, my father was to blame my mother for getting pregnant and my mother was to blame me for being born, and making her life hellish. This auspicious beginning was going to require a great deal from me just to survive. These same survival skills would go on to make a difference in my later life

As an unwanted child, I developed a deep feeling of shame early in life. The shame of not being wanted, of not being loveable, of not being worthy, of not being good enough, and of being an outcast and an emotional orphan. To survive, I had to overcome my shame in any way I knew. How did I do it? I became highly successful in everything I did to prove to my parents and others that I was in fact, desirable, loveable, worthy and good enough. I had to prove it, and prove it I did. I had enormous success in education (winning the student of the year in my high school), sports (playing at the highest amateur levels of soccer in Canada), business (becoming a chartered accountant and a partner in a big accounting firm), becoming wealthy and having many friends. I thought that by achieving these things my parents and others would have to see that I was worthy, because I had concrete evidence of my success. And what actually happened? The people I tried to prove wrong removed themselves from my life completely. It backfired and I felt stabbed in the heart. No matter how much concrete evidence I had, the illusion of winning them over was just that, an illusion. It would never happen. It was a stunning realization that in fact helped to set me free. My shame of feeling less than human was used to over-achieve and appear as super human. Neither end of the spectrum works however, because they both are on the poles and one is a reaction to the other. There was no authenticity involved – a lesson I had to learn the hard way.

Shame was to be my master from early on in life until I reached 50 years old when I decided to face my shame. I began to do deep internal work with my mentor, Dov Baron. Facing my shame I learned to forgive myself. I learned that what others thought of me did not make it true. That I was born beautiful and loving. My parents’ decision not to embrace their son was irrelevant to my own worth. As I healed, the drive and skills that I developed to survive and to prove myself became a massive asset in moving my life forward, and in the service of others. If I had not grown up in the negative environment my parents created, I may not have developed the high level skills that I did. The shame was my driver and it felt like life or death. Do or die. I showed up brilliantly because I wanted to live. As Muddy says, If he had money, he would not have had the blues. If I had not been an emotional orphan, I would not have had the drive.

Where have you let your life circumstances hold you back? Do you see how your circumstances may have had a positive impact on your life and in your ability to teach and serve others? Have you looked into your history to determine how it has impacted you? Have you learned lessons in your own life that you can use to assist others? If you have, you must learn to heal yourself first so that others with similar experiences can learn from you. My mentor Dov Baron is terrific at assisting those who wish to know themselves and develop their life purpose. See http://www.fullmontyleadership.com

I am heading into my 60th year on this earth and I feel like the best part of my life lies ahead. I feel I am just beginning. I still love the blues, and would like to thank Muddy for making a difference in my life; I got my mojo workin, Muddy. To close, myself and so many others are glad that Muddy, felt the blues. Oh yeaaaaaaaa.

Eleanor Roosevelt – An Authentic Leader

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I recently read Eleanor Roosevelt’s autobiography and was inspired by her great leadership and humanity. Let me tell you why.

Eleanor grew up in a very influential family. Her uncle was the president of the United States, Teddy Roosevelt. Her family was wealthy and Eleanor had the best of schooling. Eleanor went on to marry the president of the United States (one of the greatest I may add), Franklin D Roosevelt. With all of this power, wealth, prestige, and connection, Eleanor did not allow herself to be consumed by the powerful human beings that surrounded her. She remained her own person while following her truth to discover life for herself. An awe-inspiring woman in a time, society and culture when women were not to be recognized as powerful beings.

Here’s what I liked about Eleanor:

1. In her book Eleanor lets the reader in to see her as she truly is. She presents herself as human, authentic and vulnerable; characteristics of powerful human beings and leaders.

2. Eleanor does not allow herself to be placed on a pedestal. She desires equality and connectedness with other human beings. Being placed on a pedestal would have been counterproductive to this desire.

3. Eleanor always felt that she needed to find her own way in life while supporting Franklin and the people of the United States. Eleanor did not rest in her position of being the first lady. She had goals for herself and fought to achieve them.

4. Eleanor was clear about her values and would live life within them. Integrity was important to her.

5. Eleanor did not concern herself with what others thought about her. As a leader, Eleanor realized that with leadership comes opposition. When we concern ourselves with what others think of us we generally give our power away. Eleanor would not sacrifice herself for the opinions of others.

6. Knowing that her life purpose was on the world stage, Eleanor got the lessons she needed to be a world-class speaker. Eleanor did what was necessary to serve her purpose powerfully.

7. Eleanor realized that her life experience and her life story was the way to teach the world. She lived what she taught and she said what she felt. This is a requirement to live in our power.

8. When Eleanor’s husband, Franklin died, Eleanor was poised to step into the world a fully powerful woman. She did not have to prepare herself. Eleanor had been living powerfully all along.

9. Eleanor’s relationship with her husband was one based on inter-dependence. This means that both Eleanor and Franklin were powerful beings on their own. Their choice to be life partners meant both were coming from a position of each being whole without the other yet the combination made them each more powerful.

Eleanor inspires me because she understood that her life was a journey of discovery. Eleanor wished to continue to grow and heal as a human being while serving the world in the way her purpose and her integrity dictated. Most of us would have been consumed by the influence of the presidency of the United States and the powerful family Eleanor was born into yet Eleanor managed to live the life of her dreams and on her own terms. Eleanor was what I refer to as an authentic leader; one who leads from the heart, being in her authentic power and inspiring others to their greatness.

For more on authentic leadership see Dov Baron’s authentic leadership programs at http://www.fullmontyleadership.com.

High Tech, Low Connection

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Is technology, which is growing at an enormous speed, destroying our psychology, our wisdom, and our relationships? I ask this question because of what I witnessed on my trip to Thailand in January 2014. I am not the first to ask this question. In fact, Albert Einstein was much more blunt many years ago when he said “I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots”. Let’s explore this possibility.

My partner Anne and I were staying in a beautifully landscaped hotel on a perfect beach in Thailand. The hotel had 16 acres of pure beauty. There were a variety of trees, plants, animals, lakes, sounds, and smells. Everywhere we walked had magnificence written all over it. Anne and I cherished every moment of our stay. We discovered that our fellow guests all took to arming themselves with an array of I phones, I pads, lap tops, computers, and video and music machines. These guests carried the high tech tools everywhere. We found them in all the hotel restaurants, morning, noon and night. We found them at the pool, at the beach, in the lobby, at the playground, in the taxi shuttles, on excursions, on the pathways around the hotel. Simply everywhere. It was obvious that people were addicted to their high tech tools.

The enormity of the addiction finally hit us one evening just before dusk. They say dusk is the bewitching hour, and for us it was. We were seated in an adult outdoor garden lounge for cocktails. There were twenty tables scattered around the lounge. All of them filled with couples. Fancy and colorful drinks were served. Candles flickered brightly everywhere. The moon was rising, the evening swallows were fluttering about, the smells of the tropical plants permeated the air, a light yet warm breeze caressed us, it was perfect. Then we noticed the insanity. Almost every person had their high tech tools out and playing with them. These couples were not talking to each other. Not enjoying each other. Not connecting with each other or to nature. In fact they were likely talking to someone on the other side of the planet. We were floored to see how unconscious humanity had become. The beauty all around us was irrelevant. Their partners were irrelevant. The taste of their drinks was irrelevant. The only thing relevant so it seemed was what was on the screen. I felt a deep sadness for humanity at that moment. Why do we do this?

When we are in pain, we look for distractions. We become addicted to our distractions because it provides temporary relief from the pain, and high tech tools are a convenient and accepted source for distraction.  But true life, and full living demands complete attention. Instead of feeling the beauty of each other and their surroundings, these couples avoided everything that mattered. They were disconnected. Distractions are only a short-term solution for the pain and agitation we feel. Short-term solutions give us short-term gain as they pull us away from feeling that discomfort. However it leads to long-term pain because nothing is ever resolved, and emotions are never processed. The high tech tools are just that – tools. However, we do not use them as simply tools. They dictate our lives like all addictions.

We are focused on technology and on the external and material because it keeps us from focusing on the internal and emotional. What are we so afraid of to look inside?  Can we afford to become disconnected? Will our technology surpass our human interactions, as Albert Einstein said? If wisdom is emotional connection with ourselves and others, then I agree with Albert Einstein. We will have a generation of idiots. There is a big price to pay and we do not see the consequences.