25 Mar

And We Watch

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Imagine, you’re on your way to a job interview. You’ve been short listed and rejected so many times you’ve almost given up. This time though, you feel good about it, you’re dressed in your best interview outfit and you feel like it might be the one.

You’re standing at the curb waiting for the light to change so you can cross the street. The crowd behind you surges and you feel yourself being pushed and you can’t stop it. You fall forward onto the street and as you fall, you look to your left and see the headlights of a small blue car bearing down on you. You hear it rather than feel it, like an out of body experience you see yourself flying through the air, cars, people and buildings roll before you like a movie reel.

The force of the collision shatters your bones. It breaks your skin and causes damage to your insides. You lie in the middle of the intersection, the cold wet pavement against your cheek, a warm sensation trickles down the back of your head. You’re still conscious but in shock. The world still moves around you in slow motion. As you watch the people on the streets, there’s a long pause, many have their phones out and are filming you, others are taking pictures – you realize for a brief moment that you’re the show.

You know they’re thinking about uploading you to the internet and sharing your pain. Some will add rants to show they’re caring individuals. Others will take it up as a cause to show the world that they’ve got some compassion. A few will upload simply because they want to be first to bring shock and awe to an already jaded audience. Then there’s the ones who think it’s their job to report the news – as if a single person’s pain means anything to complete strangers. Few see it as their responsibility to get involved, its not their problem. Amazingly though, they see it as their right to capture  and share.

As the world returns to real time, several people run towards you. There’s no phone in their hands, no thoughts about viral fame. They see another human being suffering and want to help. You’re a person just like them; you are family. They talk to you in soothing tones, ask how you feel and try to comfort you. The wail of an ambulance draws closer. You close your eyes and let go, you’re not alone anymore.

There was a time that everyone felt this way, now it seems the majority of us only care about ourselves. Who are you?

22 Jan

Life Lessons Online

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I admit it, I’m a self improvement junkie.  Also, a confirmed believer in the silver bullet. A combination, not without its challenges. You see, I’m always looking for that rare melding of a logical process, a significant improvement to some aspect of my life, a short reference time frame, no really weird complex steps and all for under a hundred bucks. That may seem a little rich for a flyer but true fulfillment is priceless.

I’ve been on this journey for a number of years and have watched the formats and the presenters evolve. My first set was a Tony Robbins cassette pack that my office at the time had in their Library. I listened, and wrote and believed that I had the inner power to change my life. At the time I was working as a territory rep for a food wholesaler and grossly underpaid and overworked – at least, if not only,  in my opinion. Tony helped me to become a stockbroker that time. The hook bitten, I was in for life.

There have been many over the years, but the style and focus have taken some definite turns. Along that road I’ve come across some great ideas, some really weird ones and some downright dangerous ones. As most people do with these things, I embrace them wholeheartedly in the beginning, tell everyone I know what a great trip I’m on and then slowly the light fades, my interest wanes and I move onto the next great idea. This leaves me at a crossroads though: if I believe in the goal setters and the power-through-your-weaknesses crowd, I’ve simply given up when the going got tough. If I believe that I am exactly where I am supposed to be, and the reason for failure to launch is because I’m not supposed to, then not following through is the right thing to do.

The easy path is the one I want, but like all things, I believe the true path lies somewhere in the middle. Everybody who has a voice to speak, a pen to write  or a blog to publish has something worth saying. I may not agree with them, but it’s important to hear them out, at least as long as the free trial lasts.

There have been a few though that remain favourites, they’re wisdom sound and they’re paths walkable but not easy. The key I’ve found, at least for me, has been to find the writers who believe that simplicity is more effective than complexity, and that the number of problems, steps and potential solutions is a finite one that is preferably under the number 12.

The authors/writers/bloggers who I admire most are the ones who aren’t trying to sell me a one stop solution (maybe an ebook or two, but that’s ok) – they’re not offering to save my soul, make me rich or asking me to convert to anything I’ll regret when I get really old. They’re mostly just trying to make me happy.They each have unique perspectives and a way of looking at the world that resonates deeply with me. It’s like an old school field manual, it doesn’t give you every step along the way, it simply provides you with knowledge you will need in different situations. Your responsibility is to know the material, keep it close and pull it out when you need it.

So with little fanfare and probably an even littler audience, I bring you my list of people who I think are doing their best to offer me a helping hand, improve the world a little bit and make their way with humility, grace and a brilliant vision of their corners of the world. I don’t know any of these people personally, I wish I did, but feel that I have a connection of sorts after spending a lot of time with the products of their minds and hearts.

For the guide to all things mindful, I turn to David Caine at Raptitude.com. He illuminates the way to the present moment in a way that only a boy from Winnipeg could – with honesty, common sense and a daily expanding grasp of what it means to be in the present moment for those of us in the real world. I also must thank him for the post on flotation tanks – I went to my first session the day I read his post and I have to tell you it rocks!

To learn how to eat, to be lean, healthy and to keep it simple, I turn to Mark Sisson at Marksdailyapple.com. His plan is called the Primal Blueprint and it makes eating well a pleasure. He’s sort of a Paleo guy but with his own way of going about it. As he says, it’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle. He writes with passion, walks the walk and actively posts and forums about his thoughts and ideas.

Leo Babuata at Zenhabits.net  is all about mastering change and the habits that are so important to a successful, happy life. This is his most recent post:  The Contentment Habit, read it, it’s brilliant. His Sea Change program rocks, but I must admit I’m a fairly new participant, actually, really new. I’ve always followed from afar but never took the plunge till very recently – I’m a member. He’s the only person I’ve ever seen put his uncopyright details on his site. His ebooks and material are all public domain and he’s comfortable with people doing whatever they want with his work. I now understand that meditation doesn’t have to be pretty, you can fall asleep, you can sit on the floor, sit on a mat or in your car… all that matters is that you do it and do it regularely.

Seth Godin doesn’t need any introductions but his work is fascinating. He takes the things that we see everyday as complex and mysterious, or don’t even notice and then explains them to me in a way that I shake my head and wonder why I didn’t see it myself. He’s the rockstar of marketing, and is worth reading for anyone – a little psychology, a little sociology, a little Madison Ave and a whole lot of seeing the world for what it is and understanding how to teach that in a way that gives you conviction. The only thing I will give you is directions: sethgodin.com.

Marc and Angel Chernoff at Marc and Angel Hack Life come out with some of the best ideas I’ve read on how to walk this path we call life. In their own words they’re, “passionate writers, admirers of the human spirit, and full time students of life”. It’s one of those sites that I find when I’m out of sorts or something is bothering me and I can’t quite articulate it, or they’re latest post in my inbox shows me the way.

It’s not an exhaustive list but where I go when I don’t have the answers to the things that matter most to me; my field manual for work, for peace and for all that confuses me on this path I walk.

-Billy