I AM

“I am not what I think I am.

I am not what you think I am.

I am what I think you think I am.” – Thomas Cooley.

For our reality to exist, it has to be perceived from the self, through another’s perception of the self. So, for me to be as I am, I am as I think you see me.

There can be no concept of a “Me” or “I”, without others. There’d be no point. The definition of an individual wouldn’t exist if there was only one.  And the perception of others as we perceive them to be, makes us real.

What I think you think I am, influences my way of being to some extent.

“But, I don’t care what they think.”  The fact that we’ve acknowledged that there’s a “they” means they’ve experience us in some way and have formed some kind of opinion or judgement or mentally put us into some category.  And, whether we’d like to admit it or not, it does affect us.

We are social animals and our brains are wired as such.  Our thoughts, actions, reactions, attitude, confidence or lack thereof, happiness, anger, sadness, and even our health can be affected by society’s perception of us, whether it’s conscious or subconscious.

Our parents, relatives, siblings, friends, teachers, strangers, significant other, boss, co-workers, colleagues, neighbors, and acquaintances have all influenced our persona and character.  It continues throughout life.  Even what we think they think of us, which could be totally wrong, influences us.

We’re so weird.

As Sadhguru said, “The first and foremost success is to not be a slave to anyone’s idea.”  Shed the insecurities and be comfortable with whom we are.  The world wants our true self, not some version of what we think it wants.  What do YOU want?  Be that.  However, this is not a license to be an asshole.

Not every song is a hit and not everyone likes the hit song.  It’s okay.  We don’t coerce people into buying tickets and force them to attend the concert that is us.  No; we play our music for those who want to experience it.  And we’re accepting and comfortable with those who don’t.

At the end of the “day”, we sleep with our own soul.  It’s comforting to know that it is truly ours and not someone’s altered version of whom they think we are or should be.  It’s not absolute and never 100% and that’s a good thing; you know … if we want to interact and relate with other humans, that is.

And, by the way; I am what I think you think I am.  I am no yogi.

Photo by Christopher Burns on Unsplash

This is Us

The chance of you, me, or anyone ever being born and existing as we are, is one in four-quadrillion.  In simple mathematical terms, that means zero.  A zero chance, so the fact that we’re here means we won the biggest and most impossible lottery ever and we didn’t even buy a ticket.

However, … our importance is greatly over-imagined.  Wait … what?!

Our home; this earth is but a speck of dust in a universe so vast, it’s unimaginable.  Carl Sagan’s observation about this “Pale Blue Dot” we live on, provides some perspective.

He says, “Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”

We’re so intelligent and advanced with our technology, but we’re not very smart, when it comes to what really matters.

We commit gross atrocities against each other in the name of politics, religious beliefs, race, national origin and so on.  Some individuals and groups are affected so much that they’ll kill other humans and feel righteous about it as if they’re on the “good side”.  So much misery and darkness inside an improbable being on a speck of dust.

Hate, division, and racism is big business and the purveyors of this poison have a wider and deeper reach than ever.  It’s sick, twisted, and quite evil.  All forms of media selling us on how we should feel, why we should be angry, and what side to be on and whom to be against.  Telling us that we should be offended, ashamed, mad, repressed, or whatever else rows the oars of their massive ship.

My favorite sitcom used to be a place I could go for a healthy laugh.  Not anymore.  Now there’s a message and an agenda.  I thought this was a comedy?  I really liked that show.  I used to enjoy your talent, your music, your jokes, and/or your writing, but now its tainted with preachy manipulation.  And for that reason, I’m out.

Politicians, news media outlets of all genres, network television programs, movies and the actors who play in them, stand-up comedians, leaders, musical groups and individual singers, churches of all kinds on one side or another, newspapers, Universities and their staff, authors, social media, and … well, almost everywhere.

What ever happened to entertainment?  What happened to the “news”?  What happened to … us?

This planet is roughly 4.5 billion years old.  Us humans; a tiny, tiny fraction of that.  Somewhere around 200,000 years with civilization of any form having only been around for about 6,000.  That’s nothing.  When we’re gone; when this pale blue dot is gone, the universe will still be.

Our significance is minuscule in the grand scheme of things, yet our ego is immense.  Such an advanced species and yet, so greatly flawed.  There’s so much that we can’t truly know, yet we pretend we do.  “We believe that what we know is true and if you don’t agree, you’re wrong!”  Our party against yours, this religion against that one, and that “race” against another.

By the way, there’s only one race of humans, so we need to get our head out of our asses on that one.  Different colors, shapes, sizes, and sexes, but we are all the same animal.  Some are smart and some are quite stupid.  Some are good and some are bad.  Some have class, while others are classless.  Some are assholes while others are just very cool peeps.  Some cling to excuses, while others find solutions.  Some are lazy and some work hard to improve life on this speck of dust.  Some are selfish, while others do their best to help humanity as a whole.  Most of us are a mix of all of those things along a sliding grayscale.  And … we come in all colors.  Same race though.

We will never be perfect.  The mathematics make that an impossibility.  There will always be war, hate, division, atrocities, tragedies, and evil.  And there will always be peace, love, union, kindness, miracles, and good.  We will never have world peace, but there is peace on earth.  At this time however, the balance seems to be way off.  We are giving the negative all our energy and of course it’s spreading and perpetuating.  We need to quit feeding it.

We’re all on this dot together; 7.5 billion of us, yet alone in the cold, vast darkness of space.  It’s an incredible existence and I am grateful to be a part of it, however small.

Cheers.

Photo by Voyager 1.  Earth, from 3.7 Billion Miles.

 

 

Don’t Move Mountains

Hawaii, 1983: The small community of Royal Gardens had sixteen homes destroyed by Mount Kilauea’s eruption and lava flow.  Royal Gardens no longer exists.  Only the mountain.

After destroying more homes in other communities, as well as the town of Kalapana, the lava flow shifted out to sea.  But, in April of 1990, lava poured out of the mountain for almost a year, burying the town in 85 feet of volcanic rock.  Kalapana is gone.  The mountain is alive and well.

Crazy enough, a small subdivision they named “Kalapana Gardens” was erected on top of the old Kalapana.  But, in 2011, Mount Kilauea destroyed a home in that neighborhood as well.

Some people don’t believe in mountains.

For two years, I lived in an apartment just on the east side of the Appalachian Mountains.  A beautiful area in upstate Pennsylvania.  But, in the winter, the sun would set below the mountain in the late afternoon and it was like someone flipped off the light switch.  I like the night, but at 4:30?

Before that, I grew up in inner-city Philadelphia.  Quite arguably, the worst neighborhood in the whole city and if you were observant, you could see it was going in the wrong direction.  The glacier was breaking off and it was falling fast.  Some neighbors were in denial.  Some wanted to stay and fight, while others were just stubborn.

Some people want to move mountains.

At the beach, we set up our blanket, a cooler, a speaker, and maybe an umbrella.  This is our spot.  Then, the first strong wave of the incoming tide touches our blanket.

We can’t move oceans.

The Mountain always wins, as well it should and for reasons we may not be able to understand, nor should we.  Metaphorically and/or literally speaking, the “mountain” is neither for us, nor is it against us.  It just is.  Fighting against it, ignoring its power, or denying the inevitable, is quite foolish.

We can embrace its existence or we can climb it, go around it, and move away from it, but we can’t move it.  A life of trying is a miserable, losing endeavor.

Don’t move mountains.  Move.

Photo by Marc Szeglat on Unsplash

Conversational Cannonball

Conversational Cannonball

Walt Whitman once said, “If you done it, it ain’t bragging.”

True.  But …

I was at a party recently and someone asked how my kids were doing.  I’ll only say this; their journey, how they’re navigating it, and all their accomplishments are pretty impressive.  I’ll leave it at that.

But, sometimes we get caught up in the moment and splash their achievements all over the other person.  And, that’s what I did.  Ever notice when one person splashes, the other person tends to one-up you with their splashing?  It’s a reflex and both of us end up with our eyes stinging.  When she began to respond with how well her kids were doing, I realized I’ve gotten us both all wet.

In fact, I probably misinterpreted the depth of her question to begin with.  I overestimated her interest.  Maybe, I overlooked it completely.  Maybe pride pushed me in.  Maybe I wasn’t ready to swim quite yet and it all took me by surprise.  Her too, for that matter.  It happens to all of us on occasion.

Ego and pride play their parts, but a little goes a long way.  It’s why we take showers, wear nice clothes, accomplish things, and care how we’re perceived and received by the world.  But, there’s a threshold.  Cross it and we’ve gone from interesting to “Get me the hell out of this pool”.

When someone asks us, “Hey, how’s it going?”  The most widely accepted social reply is, “Pretty good; thanks.  How are you doing?”  They respond and we go about our day.  It’s a greeting, not an interrogation.

I should have said, “Oh, they’re doing great; thanks.  And yours?”  If she responded with, “Really good; thanks”, that would also be the end of the encounter.  Perfectly acceptable and understandable.  Or, the conversation gracefully makes its way to deeper waters.

Shallow, surface level conversation in perpetuity makes me want to get out and towel off.  I swim much better below the surface than on it.  I thrive there, but a cannonball is too much, too soon, and way too splashy.

Anyways, before we splash our achievements, adventures, and awesome exploits on someone who isn’t ready to get all wet, we should probably test the waters first.  Just because they asked, “How’s the water”, doesn’t mean they want to be violently thrown in.

By the way; how are you doing?

Photo by Eleanor Carter on Unsplash

 

Be the Guide, Not the Show: 10 Wisdoms

I grew up as an only child and an introvert.  In my third year of college, I had to take Public Speaking and I remember thinking about dropping out, because of it.  I went to that class against my own will and with a bad attitude.  Oh, I was kicking and screaming like a three-year old.

I remember the first day of that class: It was icy, cold, and snowing.  I just drank a gallon of coffee, so I stopped in the men’s room just outside the classroom doors.  It was a large facility with a bank of urinals and stalls and it was empty.  Sweet!  I took the far urinal against the left wall and just then, the door opened.  This older guy comes in whistling.  Whistling!

As if that wasn’t enough, he broke rule number 2.5 of section 1, under man-code “A” of the manual.  He took the urinal right next to mine!  Are you kidding me!?  That urinal isn’t supposed to be used at all.  In fact, it’s just a buffer to the next one.  There’s a whole bank of urinals and you want to rub shoulders with me!?  And then … this: He stopped whistling to speak to me.  Why?

It went like this: “Good things, these.”

Um … what?

“These.  Urinals.  What a great invention; am I right?”

Uh … sure.  I guess so.

“Cold out there.  Have a good day.”

And he left.  Skipped the whole hand washing bit.  That was weird.

I washed my hands and headed into the classroom where I met my Public Speaking instructor.  Yep … you guessed it: Urinal guy.  Ugh!  But, as it turned out, it was one of the best course experiences I had and he was a great instructor.  Never shook his hand though.

He challenged and pushed me and at times, I hated him for it.  Now, I love him for it.  It’s been many years since that class and I’ve built my career on being a really good guide.  I’ve been, and some I still am, an instructor, teacher, trainer, host, guide, mentor, speaker, writer, marketer, brand manager, sales director, business development manager, director of corporate culture, and presenter.

I’m not a yogi.  Not yet, anyway.  However, if we’re going to be yogis, teachers, instructors, leaders, managers, speakers, hosts, or have any human interaction whatsoever, I’d like to share some practical real-world wisdom:

It’s not about us.  It’s about the audience and each of their individual experiences.  It’s our job to be the guide, not the show.  Unless we are the show and if that’s the case, we better be the damn show.

  1. Be credible. Know your shit.  Learn, train, practice, research, and prepare.
  2. Lose the ego. They’re looking to us to lead, guide, or teach.  That is all.
  3. Be real. Be you.  Be authentic, down to earth, and relatable.
  4. Check your bad day at the door.
  5. Be present and engage with the audience.
  6. Get a sense of humor and relax.
  7. Be alive, enthusiastic, and energetic.
  8. Never stop learning and growing. The journey is ongoing.
  9. Speak clearly, understandably, and audibly. And … listen.
  10. Be, flexible and adaptable, because shit happens.

What we’re teaching, presenting, hosting, writing, sharing, or instructing is the show, not us.  We are only the guide.

Be a great guide.

Photo by Severin Hoin on Unsplash

Meta-human

Meta X = X about X

So, if X is data, then Metadata is information about data.

Data, data.

It’s self-referential.

Meta-archeology is archeology about the study of human history.

Archeology, archeology.

Meta-comedy is comedy about jokes.  Very funny.

Even a metaphor is using one word/phrase to designate another word/phrase.

It’s next level stuff, right?  Going deeper from within.

Following this “meta” pathway, I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m a Meta-human.

A human about people.

Meta-Cheers.

Photo by Artur Kraft on Unsplash

Leader: No Titles Needed

Back in my single digits, I remember getting birthday cards in the mail addressing me as “Master Wilson” or “Master Rob”. That was pretty cool. You don’t see that much anymore. In accordance with the English honorary system, as we become adults, “Master” becomes Mister (Mr.), where Mr. is used to denote rank below Knighthood. That would be “Sir”.

“Introducing Sir Robert Wilson of the Clan Wilson, descendant of Scottish ancestry and rightful heir to … well, whatever it is he’s accomplished and earned at this point in his life, I guess. Anyone want to chime in here? Anyone at all.”

Crickets …

What I may have achieved in rank or status is simply a byproduct of the journey thus far.  I am comfortable with “Rob” with no need or attachment to “Mr. Wilson”.

Anyways, mastery is in the process, not the result.  Ego and pride, like anything else, can be healthy, but there’s a threshold.  Too much of either and we’ve crossed over into insecurity.  Wait … who’s room is this?

Power exercised, through rank, title, or status, is weak and it’s following is false.  True leadership is empowering those around us to be their best selves.  Throw in the dynamics of reality with its infinite number of variables and it takes a diverse menu of skills, characteristics, experience, and knowledge to effectively serve that restaurant.

For Starters: Trust, open and honest communication, candor, real-world experience, benevolence, knowledge, wisdom, transparency, confidence, active listening, interest, passion, and authenticity.

Main Dishes: Respect, optimism, delegation, collaboration, empathy, resilience, strength, care, decisiveness, fortitude, optimism, focus, egoless, human-centric, concern, and nuance.

Desert: Humor, levity, celebrate wins as a team (big and small) and encourage personal growth and quality of life, because happy people are successful people.

When we do the leadership thing right, there’s no need for a mandated “Mr”, “Sir”, “Master”, “Doctor”, “Sensei”, “Yogi” (which I’m not), or whatever.  If it’s offered, then we graciously accept, but just the name should be and mean more than any title (official military ranking aside).

Your table is ready, Mr. Gandhi. “Please; call me Mahatma. Thank you.”

Photo by Mikito Tateisi on Unsplash.