Recently a few friends have said to me “I don’t know how you do it” – referring to looking after Ethan (2 and a half) and Huw (11 months), who are definitely busy bodies when they’re awake!
The truth is, sometimes I think the same, there are days where I think it’s all too much – tiring, monotonous, selfless and physically demanding.
And then I look at their little faces and think they won’t be dependent forever.
Whilst having a reflective moment on a family trip to Jindabyne the question ‘How do you want to remember this time?’ came to mind.
My friend JayRay shared this great question with me after he returned from an International Coach Federation conference in London back in 2012. Sir Clive Woodward had spoken to delegates after his role helping bond Team GB in the 2012 Olympic Games. Clive shared two questions he challenged athletes with:
“How do you want to be remembered” and “How do you want to remember this time?”
These questions struck a chord with me and I revisit them from time to time.
During this period of life with two little ones on the go, I thought I can choose to remember this time as tiring, monotonous, selfless and physically demanding.
Or I can flip it and remember it as fun, challenging and giving. As one of my mentors says “Life is a mind game”.
My husband is more natural in this mindset than me and I thank him for his ability to keep perspective well even during some of the more challenging times!
Reflecting on how I want to be remembered. For the boys, I wish them to remember me as a fun, hands on Mum who was present with them, not short tempered, impatient and too serious.
I think there will always be moments of ups and downs (like when they’re both throwing a tantrum!) but it’s how you manage yourself that makes the difference.
Key to this for me is enabling enough self care so I’m not over tired which is generally where I experience the tougher moments.
For me, half a dozen self care strategies that help me be the best version of myself:
- Regular mindfulness practice – My New Year’s Resolution is to meditate everyday (even if just for a few minutes) which I’m tracking via Insight Timer (thanks for the recommendation Steffi!)
- Daily exercise – I feel more alive when I can get in a daily dose of exercise and am enjoying having a personal goal of qualifying for the 2018 World Age Group Triathlon Champs – Thanks husband and family Thomas for enabling me to do some training whilst in beautiful Jindabyne
- Sleep – 8 hour’s of sleep definitely helps me be on top of my game – with Huw still feeding generally once in the night this is interrupted so I try and top it up with an extra hour or a power nap – I find a longer meditation helps bridge any sleep gap too
- Nutrition – Drinking lots of water and eating a good daily dose of fruit and vegetables
- Laughter – Loosening up and taking the time to laugh with the boys, especially playing music in the morning and dancing around
- Accepting help – This is something I’ve learnt to accept more readily from family and friends to get some self care time
Nothing revolutionary but hopefully a good reminder of some good habits to kick start the New Year.
Love to hear from others on how you want to remember this current period in your life and any strategies that help you that may inspire others. Some reflective questions:
How do you want to remember this time? How do you want significant others to remember you? Is there any change in mindset required? How are you showing up to those around you? What if anything do you need to implement to be the best version of yourself?
Wishing everyone a happy and healthy 2018 ahead.
Finishing with one of my favourite Einstein quotes which helps me remember to be present.
‘There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.’ Albert Einstein
The event appeared at the perfect time for me, having recently made the big decision to build my LaunchPad Media Business around Ethan and Huw and not return to IECL where I had been on maternity leave.
As soon as I arrived, I knew I was in the right room. Janine opened with a quote I love from Marianne Williamson:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine as children do. It’s not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own lights shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”.
This reminds me of the following quote which helped me make the decision to follow my passion with LaunchPad Media:
- Own the impact you want to make in your life – Both Janine and Kieran shared that they both act on intentions and don’t leave it to luck – they recommend acting now on that thing you’ve been procrastinating on to take ownership before others take over and make decisions for you.
- Go with the rip and follow your gut feel – Kieran shared her passion for going with human nature and your intuition. If you’re really fighting something there’s probably a reason. The rip ocean analogy brought this to life nicely.
- Come up with a mantra for 2018 – Land on a one word or few word mantra to be your guide for making decisions in 2018 – mine is ‘Lifestyle, Learning and Laughter’ – Lifestyle is inspired by Tim Ferris’s ‘Lifestyle Design’ term explored in the 4 hour work week. Learning is to support my purpose of sharing learning to inspire others to action and laughter is to live in the moment and not take things too seriously!
- Wealth as much as health and self – Janine and Kieran shared how women in particular often don’t talk about finances and challenged us all to come up with some wealth goals for 2018.
- There are only 52 weekends in a year – Breaking down the year in this way shows how precious time is, just 52 weekends a year. Or as Janine and Kieran put it, ‘just 52 Sunday’s or 52 phone calls with your mum, or 52 weekends of having a 9 year old.’ It’s an A4 page and a half of things to do, by having a focus each quarter, then broken down into weeks, you can achieve an awesome amount and accomplish a lot.
- Design your life then build your work around it – We mapped our 2018 in a 52 week double page diary format with the key milestones and trips. It was great to pencil out the weeks for our family trips away including my mum’s 60th in the UK and think I’ll be scheduling my work around the things that really matter most.
For each quarter of 2018 we set goals across four areas: Self, other, wealth and work. Here are four of mine as examples:
- Self – Qualify for the world age group spring triathlon champs up on the Gold Coast in 2018 (had my first qualifying race last week which went well and Canberra is next weekend).
- Other – Support my husband with his Kona 2018 Ironman goal and then have a relaxing time in Maui afterwards and maybe sneak in a Fiji family holiday at the end of 2018.
- Wealth – Meet with a financial planner and start using proper accounting software.
- Work – Aim for two workshops a month in addition to one on one and group work to further the ripple effect of building an authentic digital brand.
Our table observed that it was interesting to see which goal sections were the easiest to fill in and which ones we left until last. For me the wealth one were left until the end. Financial planning has never excited me which is why my first quarter goal is to meet with a financial planner for my business and create a 2018 plan.
For those interested, a couple of other activities included:
- Writing down everything we achieved in 2017
- Writing a list to the statement ‘Dear me, 2018 was the best year ever because:’
A few of the quotes in our 2018 planner which resonated:
- “Don’t dream, decide, Don’t hope, hustle, Don’t wish, work, Don’t wait for someday, Make something happen today”.
- “So play big. Do the things you want to do. Challenge the beliefs that contain you. Dream big. Do the things that inspire you.”
- “Who says being serious is more significant then fun. That laughter is less than solemnity. That play is inferior to work. Someone silly ironically. Because fun is serious business. It makes us happy, healthier and more enthusiastic. So work out how to make the got to dos enjoyable. Design for enjoyment.”
I loved that the day was all about taking action and not making excuses. On this note, what can you do today to move your forward on one of your goals?
My friend Jenn (pictured below) and I have committed to facilitating a Design Thinking meets Digital Branding workshop in January to help kickstart the year off. We’re meeting this Tuesday to plan, details to follow 🙂
Thanks Janine and Kieran for an awesome day, I am feeling energised and inspired by 2018 and the possibilities ahead. In the words of Janine and Kieran, Be open, Be curious, Be outrageous!
Would love to hear any reflections and any mantras that come to mind for you #theyearofyou
This decision (to focus on building my own business instead of returning to my great workplace post maternity leave) took a good few weeks of rumination and conversations with my network to make. When asked a few times how I made this big decision, I reflected on some internal and external factors which I’ve since visualised in my Decision Making Compass.
Internal Factors: Gut Feel, Mindset, Values, Strengths, Courage
External Factors: Family and Friends Conversations, Mentoring, Coaching, plus “The Law of Attraction”!
Gut feel: I’ve placed gut feel in the centre of the Decision Making Compass as I believe it is the central, intuitive guiding force. With my big career decision, my initial gut feel when visualising each direction ended up being the direction I took. The other factors outlined then helped me to “sense check” this. Through mindfulness training and practice I feel I have further developed my intuition and gut feel effectiveness.
Mindset: When making the big decision, I chose my default mindset (positivity) to look for the positives in each option rather than focusing on the negatives. I find this helps me think about what I can gain, versus what I might lose. I’ve found it useful to consistently embrace this positive mindset, which also helps with the change process later on.
Values: From a career coaching collaboration with Jill Livesey from IECL, I had a one page map of my values, purpose, strengths, skills and expertise. I found this a useful guiding force when making my decision. A key value for me was family and building my LaunchPad Media business will give me more flexibility with my beautiful boys, especially thinking of school holidays in the near future.
Strengths: I’ve written before about the power of discovering and utilising your strengths. I looked closely at my strengths in relation to my career decision and the Clifton Strengths of Maximiser, Strategic, Activator, Ideation and Command all seemed to support my start up business venture. I’ll just have to watch they don’t become over used strengths, which can then become pitfalls!
Courage: I came across the phrase “back yourself” multiple times whilst going through the career decision making process, from various sources including: my mentors, Gail Kelly’s “Live, Lead and Learn” Book (which I wrote about here) and Turia Pitt’s newsletters. I had to dig deep, draw on my courage reserves and back myself with my skill set and expertise to commit to the decision. Once I made this decision, the rest started to fall into place.
Coaching: During my wonderful 12 year relationship with IECL I learnt about the benefits of having a coach to stretch your thinking through the use of deep questioning and active listening. I engaged with a couple of coaches to help me think through my career crossroads, which helped provide me with profound insights.
Mentoring: In my experience, different to a coach, a mentor passes forward advice from their experience that may suit your context. I feel very grateful and fortunate to have a full bench of mentors that I could draw on when making my big decision. A term I heard once which resonated for me was “establishing your own Personal Board of Directors”. Having wise sounding boards to consult was instrumental in my decision.
Family and Friends: I’m an advocate for systems thinking. If my family and friends network weren’t aware of my decision, they wouldn’t be set up to support my new behaviour. Having my husband’s full support was one of the crucial factors in making my decision.
Law of Attraction: Put simply, the Law of Attraction is attracting things in our life that we focus on. Once I had thought about alternative options I started to attract new energy and opportunities. There were a few quite concrete signs from the universe that affirmed my decision!
I hope this Decision Making Compass may be useful to others at a career or other life transition crossroads.
For those interested in the decision making process, I enjoyed Matthew Trinetti’s four part ‘How to Decide’ series and the Huffington Post has a whole topic area allocated to Decision Making. I know there are a plethora of books on this topic too. It would be great to hear any of your suggestions.
To finish, I also think gratitude is an important practice to remember when we make a decision; we’re extremely lucky that we have choices available to us. I feel very grateful to all those involved and supporting my recent decisions including my family: Owain, Ethan, Huw, Mum, Dad, Holly, Aunty Julie and Uncle Barry and friends/mentors: Alison, Barbs, Cai, Chris, Dean, Gaby, Grazia, Hil, JayRay, Jeff, Jenn, Jill, Kris, Mandy, Mel, Monica, Myza, Oscar, Paul, Ros, Tricky and Zoe.
For the last few years I have admired Lisa Messenger’s entrepreneurial spirit, being an avid reader of the Collective Magazine and her books.
When an opportunity emerged to hear her speak through my friend Bel and a Flight Centre Business Travel ‘Women in Business’ event I was very excited.
Lisa certainly didn’t disappoint with an authentic sharing of her entrepreneurial journey so far.
Very timely for me as I look to build my LaunchPad Media business – more on this to come!
Here’s what I learnt from Lisa:
- Follow your purpose – Lisa shared the guiding purpose for the Collective Hub has been ‘Ignite Human Potential” – Once you find your why and what to do with it, anything is possible!
- Outsource as much as you can – One of my favourite sayings from my entrepreneurial aunty is ‘hireable skill’. Lisa paid forward that she isn’t great at detail and organising and outsources this to her awesome team. I know an area of weakness for me is financials which I’ll be looking to outsource!
- Work, life “blend” versus balance – Lisa said when you love what you do it blends into your life versus having work life balance. When I shared my recent decision to build LaunchPad Media with a business owner I admire he said “You’ll no longer have any work-life balance as when it’s your business you’re always on, but it won’t feel like work when living your passion and the flexibility with your family will be great.” Work-life blend J
- Be lean and proud – I was inspired to hear Lisa be really proud of her lean staff base and big network of freelancers. In a traditional sense this may not seem like success but is the modern, agile way! From my work with the awesome SWOOP Analytics team I have learnt about the power of this and will look to take this forward with LaunchPad Media.
- Test, iterate, test – See what the market wants by asking them and then test and iterate. Lisa shared a real example of asking her twitter followers if they were interested in a digital course the Collective Hub could run which then sold out in 20 minutes!
- Make it easy for people to say yes – Lisa told the story of how she made it easy for Sir Richard Branson to say yes to her Necker Island pitch by keeping it simple and offering to send a box of Collective mags there every month knowing the influence this could have – read more about this in her blog ‘How I got Richard Branson to say ‘YES'” – (Thoughts with Richard and the Necker Island community after it was devastated by Hurricane Irma – you can donate to support the community here).
- Everything in life is a two way energy exchange – Give and receive, don’t just look for gain were Lisa’s wise words. One of her partnership approaches which helped build the Collective Hub is the question; If we remove money as the currency – what can we trade? This reminded me of an article I wrote on the Barter Economy.
- Don’t think everything has to be linear – Lisa recommended us taking our skill sets and looking outside our industries to keep developing. When she launched the Collective Magazine she had no prior magazine experience and utilised her transferable skills from her previous ventures including event management and book publishing.
- We’re only responsible for ourselves – Lisa shared she’s never felt ‘less than’ for being a woman in business. When asked a question about female sabotage in the workplace she said try to be the bigger person and that we’re only responsible for ourselves.
- Human connection is the most important thing – When Lisa was asked about her inspirations she said that until she meets someone she doesn’t get too attached to them and that we are all equal. Some of the most extraordinary people she’s met are making it up along the way J
To finish, a paragraph from Lisa’s ‘Daring and Disruptive’ book which really resonated with me:
“To succeed in business – hell, to succeed in anything in life – you must have unwavering, insatiable, tenacious self-belief. You have to be able to back yourself’ to harbour that kind of unbridled passion for winning that will stop at nothing until you reach your goals.”
Thanks Lisa for sharing your lessons with us, I look forward to reading your new book ‘Purpose’ which is available for pre-order here.
Whilst away on a recent girls weekend (plus baby Huw) in the quiet countryside I looked in the bookshelf to find a short read and discovered ‘Living the Wisdom of the Tao‘ by Dr Wayne W Dyer.
I hadn’t come across this work before, which shares wise words of the Tao Te Ching, a collection of verses authored by the Chinese prophet Lao-tzu.
I wrote down half a dozen thoughts which resonated with me at the time:
“I know that there is no way to happiness – happiness is the way.”
“I work at eliminating all my judgements of others.”
“I pay attention to my inner callings and apply my own uniqueness to everything I undertake.”
“It is through selfless action that I experience my own fulfillment.”
“When my cup is full I stop pouring….”overfilled, the cupped hands drip, better to stop pouring.”
“I fully trust that others do know what is best for them.”
The cup full analogy really resonated. For me with ‘Maximiser’ my top Clifton Strength, I know it can become a pitfall when overused, trying to always fit more in and keep achieving. I’m working on streamlining, being content in this moment, appreciation versus expectation and embracing the mantra “you can do it all in the long term.”
More to come on this!
I hope through sharing that these words may provide insight/action for others.
Please do share any thoughts on verse sections that resonate for you.
Wishing everyone a wonderful week ahead! Xx
Some previous related reads that you may enjoy:
After much media attention has been given to Generation Y, Generation Z are now the youngest generation in the workforce.
Whilst I don’t like to generalise, I do think the different time periods we grow up in can shape our behaviour. Understanding this can help us relate to each other more and for businesses to relate to their target customer base. There is even a business of market researchers, cultural observers and trend forecasters looking to understand the Gen Z psychology!
With Gen Y (which I fall into) often in the media for our neediness and ‘brash, narcissistic, entitled’ nature, also being a higher purpose generation interested in social good, I was interested to see what the media’s portrayal of Gen Z was?
Having a read of the New York Times article ‘Move Over Millenials Here Comes Generation Z’ I discover the points below to which I add some thoughts:
- First true digital natives – Gen Z have grown up with smartphones which didn’t yet exist when I was a young teenager. To them communicating through this medium is seamless.
- Conscientious, hard-working, somewhat anxious and mindful of the future – Gen Z seem to have more pressure academically on them and have grown up in a world where terror attacks have been common
- More aware of their personal brand – Gen Z on the whole seem a bit more cautious when it comes to openly posting publicly online having watched and learned from Gen Y mistakes – choosing more private channels
- Inclusive – many Gen Z’s are growing up in multi-cultural environments making this their norm and are also champions for same sex marriage
- Big dreamers – Gen Z are seeing start ups make it big and are dreaming big themselves, looking to follow their passions even if it isn’t a traditional path to success.
So what can we learn from Gen Z?
I had the privilege of hanging out with two Gen Zer’s (Kya and Bri) during the recent school holidays.
Here’s what I learnt:
- You Tube stars are the new celeb – Sitting in a café one day, Bri suddenly got excited when she saw a You Tuber getting into a car. I quickly learned that You Tube stars such as the Dolan Twins are the idols of many Gen Z’s and are making a fortune at the same time by Vlogging (video blogging)! I heard from my husband Owain that You Tube is the second biggest search site after Google which this infographic brings to life. Businesses note this is the place to be!
- Move over Facebook it’s all about Instagram and Snapchat – As I had already picked up Gen Z mainly communicate over snapchat and Instagram (Insta) versus Facebook, Twitter and text messages which I am comfortable with! For businesses looking communicate with Gen Z it’s good to think about your comms channels. I learnt even party invites now come through Insta with their terms and conditions!
- Boyfriend Jeans are in – We were having a laugh with Kya and her parents that she was wearing her boyfriends jeans, the term for jeans rolled up at the bottom. It seems 90’s fashion has come back including ‘mum’ style jeans (lucky for me!). I had fun with the girls in Cotton On where they picked me a new outfit which was called trendy by some friends.
- Face to face connection still key amongst online relationships – Within lots of online messaging, seeing both Kya and Bri interacting with Ethan and Huw shows me face to face relationships are still very precious. They miss the boys when away and photos just aren’t the same as a physical cuddle.
Spending time with Kya and Bri was a good reminder to me to ensure we have diversity within our network and learn from each other.
Here are a handful of ways that help me relate to Gen Z that may be useful for others:
- Ask for help with your digital challenges – I find they love to help
- Really listen and be curious with your questions
- Look to share experiences – in an online world, the face to face experiences you create can be the most meaningful.
- Go shopping together and let them dress you!
- Brainstorm their ideas, supporting their dreams and big goals
So what can we expect for Ethan (2) and Huw’s (6 months) generation? The alphabet has run out at Z, so I guess we go back to A?! Research based futurist Mark McCrindle led a campaign to call anyone born after 2010, Generation Alpha.
Business Insider writes, “Alpha kids will grow up with iPads in hand, never live without a smartphone, and have the ability to transfer a thought online in seconds. These massive technological changes, among others, make Generation Alpha the most transformative generation ever, according to McCrindle.”
For Ethan and Huw self driving cars and robots may become the norm, what I hope remains is the art of human connection and quality conversation.
Family Matthews have recently returned from a few weeks overseas visiting family and friends in the U.K. and Cyprus.
Approximately 33,000kms traveled across 7 locations with a 2 year and 4 month old! When we finally got home we took a moment to cheers with a beer!
It was very nostalgic to be back after 5 years away and wonderful to catch up with lots of family and friends.
Here are some wisdom snippets I picked up along the way which I thought others may enjoy to spread the learning:
Life is full of new beginnings – this gem was shared by my maternal Grandma who I shared a very special conversation with. At 92 she said there’s always a new beginning like meeting her first great Grandchildren.
Always be a kid at heart – from my 62 year old dad who still loves playing pranks! We were in the garden one day and he said where do you think Ethan’s sock is? He’d hidden it under his hat and was chuckling. Inspired, I embraced my inner kid on the trip enjoying water park fun in Cyprus and a zip wire play in the U.K. which felt exhilarating 🙂
The power of unconditional love – this one from my mum who was born to be a Grandma – seeing her in her element was very special and made me feel grateful for the unconditional love my sister and I grew up with.
Distance means so little, when people mean so much – from my great friend Sharan who it was wonderful to spend time with. It was like we’d never been away as it is where you catch up with dear friends.
Don’t overthink things – this one emerged from me after being a bit apprehensive about 21 hours of flying with the little ones! In the end it was fine, tiring but the boys were champions and Huw didn’t have a melt down. I even took some mental pictures of some precious moments of our beautiful boys flying high.
To finish one more nugget from my husband Owain’s old running coach Des who shared his greatest life lesson paid forward from his dear late mum was to just live life.
Cheers to that 🙂
Learning from our Mother’s
I enjoyed a beautiful Mother’s Day themed yoga practice at our local Lululemon store this morning. During the opening meditation the instructor read an insightful passage from one of her teacher’s Doug Whitaker called a Mother’s Love.
It really touched me both from the perspective as a daughter and now a mother to two beautiful boys.
A few of my favourite snippets:
- According to Hindu and yogic philosophy your first teacher and guru is your mother—the creation of your life is that guru.
- The love of a mother is unconditional. She knows that by virtue of our existence we will cause harm to her—yet she continues to nourish and support us with all her heart.
- Honoring and respecting the power of the Mother, seeing Her as a living being—as a goddess—is to move away from separation and closer toward union with the source of our creation.
As I read on a retirement home quote board on a trip recently : “We never know the love of a parent until we become parents ourselves.” I’m sorry to my mum for the times we have clashed, especially during the teenage years!
Now knowing the unconditional love and nurturing that has emerged from me being a mother I really appreciate even more what my parents did for me.
Learning from our Children
As well as learning from our mothers I think we can learn so much from our children.
My meditation teacher and friend shared one of her favourite readings in the world from ‘The Prophet’ by Kahlil Gibran when I had baby Huw. A few of my favourite phrases:
- You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
- You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
- You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
When Ethan turned two recently I reflected on the privilege of being a mother and what I have learnt which includes greater presence, patience, empathy, curiousity and the ability to laugh more.
This Australian and US Mother’s Day, I’d love to hear from others….what have you learnt from your mother and / or your children?
Happy Mother’s Day to all the wonderful mums out there! X
Having reflected on this idea for a while, I’m writing this post during some rare, precious quiet time on a family break over the long Easter weekend. Over the past two months, I have found it fascinating to watch our 23 month old Ethan adapt to having his 2 month old baby brother Huw around. Whilst working at IECL we were often helping leaders transition to changing circumstances and observing this transition has really helped me appreciate the stages of change.
Here I reflect on it using Prochaska and DiClemente’s stages of change model with some photos documenting the journey!
Pre-contemplation (No intention of changing behavior) – I vividly remember the day we introduced Ethan to Huw, complete denial that this baby boy was his little brother. We tried all the tricks paid forward from friends, including giving Ethan a present from Huw and picking a present with Ethan to give to Huw….he was not interested at all in welcoming a baby brother to our family unit.
Contemplation (Aware the change exists but with no commitment to action) – The next morning I went to Ethan’s cot, took him to the lounge to play whilst baby was still asleep. When Huw started crying Ethan looked deflated that the baby was still around, was he really here to stay?
Preparation (Intent on taking action to address the change) – Over the coming weeks Ethan would acknowledge the baby with a gruntled ‘baby’ with a pointed finger. He would start to lie next to Huw, but no looking at him, whilst Huw loved looking at his big brother (maybe memorised by the blonde Afro?!).
Action (Active modification of behaviour) – As Huw has started to be more alert and make cute cooing noises Ethan has started to show some affection towards him with eye contact, bounces, kisses, cuddles and tickles. He can be quite heavy handed so we have to watch him!
Maintenance (Sustained change, new behaviour replaces old) – I don’t think we’re quite at maintenance yet as Ethan has to be in the right mood for Huw cuddles. Sure there will be some relapses along the way with a brotherly love/hate relationship!
I’ve taken the following lessons from this which I thought may be useful to others facilitating a change process:
- Patience – people have their own pace for chance, quick expectations and a forced timeline might not do any favours
- Empathy – change is hard, try and walk in the other’s shoes and feel some empathy rather than getting frustrated. It helps if you’ve been there too 🙂
- One size doesn’t fit all – What motivates one person to change may not work for another.
- Acceptance – accepting where people are at in the process and understanding that relapses are very likely!
To wrap up, observing Ethan adjust to Huw reminded me that we need to be patient when expecting people to change habits, whether it be to an agile working environment, virtual team, quitting smoking or starting a meditation / exercise routine. Relapse is almost a certainty as we re-wire those neural connections to a new normal.
Any one working in change / going through a change themselves love to hear any other learning that may help others.
I’ve just finished reading ‘A New Earth’ by spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle and I have to say it’s one of the most thought provoking books I’ve ever read. Maybe this was due to its timing spanning pre and post birth of our recent family addition baby Huw? As discussed with a friend recently, I found it’s a book you need some headspace to process and I found myself re-reading some parts again.
Here I share some of my reflections and key takeaways:
- Our relationship with ego – Tolle defines ‘ego’ as a dysfunctional relationship with the present moment and shares the best way to disidentify with it is to acknowledge it and be present. I was interested in the different examples of ego that he wrote to look out for including the urge to speak first or tell someone news first. I reflected on the times where I’ve been really eager to answer a question first and give my input, all unknowingly stemming from ego. Being mindful of this and trying to hold back has been an interesting process and allows more gold from those around you to be shared. As I’ve written about before when we’re speaking we’re not learning.
- The body processes thoughts as reality – I’ve heard a lot of wisdom teachers say that we are not our thoughts / emotions and have firsthand experienced the power of this. Interestingly however, Tolle shares whilst we are not our thoughts, our body processes them as reality, having the same physiological response to fear. This made sense to me as I reflected on times I’ve had nightmares with spiders coming down from the ceiling and waking up with the heart pounding and palms sweaty! Or when I thought I’ve seen a snake in the bush. I’ve found through mindfulness practice, the more we can respond versus react the less these instances occur (although we want the fight or flight response to occur if the danger is real!) My dear friend Ros shares some great tips here on how to ditch the deficit that we are wired for.
- Unattachment to possessions – Tolle talks about the Buddhist philosophy of being unattached to possessions and how it can be common practice to get rid of all your belongings. He shares a story ‘The Lost Ring’ of a dying woman and her strong identification with a diamond ring who reacted strongly when she thought it had been stolen by a carer. As Tolle explored this with her and she let go of the identification with things she became liberated and started giving away all of her possessions. He also explores many people’s infatuation with designer goods which I know I went through in my teenage years.
- Parenthood Role or Function? – I found this chapter very topical with a newborn and toddler. Tolle describes how can can get caught up in playing roles whether that be ‘parent’ or ‘worker’ and thus losing our true self. He shares the all important question is “Are you able to fulfill the function of being a parent and fulfill it well, without identifying with that function, that is, without it becoming a role?’. He writes when it becomes too strong an identity and overemphasized it can become excessive and turn into spoiling children , controlling and becoming overprotective.We do not own our children and need to let them learn and explore whilst preventing them from danger. The role of a parent can also then remain long after the needs of those functions has passed with parents not able to let go of being a parent when the child grows into an adult, an egoic motivation. The first step to dissolving this is recognizing this form of ego in yourself or others and acknowledging its the ego and not who you or them really are. Tolle shares not opposing this can help the egoic patterns dissolve and if they don’t accepting them with compassion, without needing to react and personalize it.
A few final snippets of Tolle’s wisdom:
- How can we embrace ‘one with life’ thinking that ‘we are life’ versus ‘my life’
- Think of truth as relative versus absolute with no one truth
- The shift from unconscious to consciousness is awareness and being in the present
Have you read ‘A New Earth’, are on a journey to consciousness or intrigued by this concept? Love to hear any of your insights. It will be one of the few books I keep to revisit in the future.