Jailbreak


It’s a glorious day.

Warm with a refreshing breeze.

The Sun is smiling down on the Conservatory in which…

…I am doing my VAT Return.

I’m gazing longingly at the garden, hoping for a jailbreak.

 

I kid myself I am a free man, but I’m not.  The consequences of not doing my VAT Return on time are serious, though not life-threatening.  So I’ve done a deal: I’ll act as an unpaid and unappreciated tax collector for the Government in return for looking like a serious business and getting a stunning 20% off my business expenses.  I agreed to this.  I put myself in this jail.  This is one of my many jails.

 

Civilised life is like that, isn’t it?  We all agree to minor compromises of our ‘freedom’ in return for some kind of payoff.  I was distressed talking to a friend the other day as she shared how she had to get so many permissions from her employer to do what she wanted to do with her time.  People joke about “wage slaves” but it’s not far from the truth.

 

I shake my head and sigh again in disbelief for possible the 10th time today.  My Moodscope score is 20%.

But we can change.

I can change.

A Zen Master once asked his keen and highly attentive students, “What keeps a tiger in its cage?”

Not seeing the trap, a confident apprentice said, “The bars, Master!”

The Master bowed his head, then raised it beaming broadly at his pupils.  With a twinkle in his eye, he declared, “You are nearly there.  It is not the bars but the distance between the bars.”

 

Does my VAT Return need to be done today?  Almost.  I’ve been putting it off because it scares me, but there’s still time.  Maybe I could move the bars?  I could do some tomorrow and the next day.  And this afternoon, I could catch some rays and lift my mood.  I can renegotiation my commitment to the jailers.

 

I know you’re in jail too.

Tonight, today – whenever you are reading this, I propose a jailbreak.  Slap on some “Thin Lizzy” and move those bars.

I’ll see you on the outside.

Just let me know where and when…

 

Chooseday

Chooseday

It’s Tuesday.

Monday hadn’t gone well. I’d pinched a nerve in my spine and my lower back had locked into a spasm of fear. I walked as if I was crippled – as if I’d had an ‘accident’. ‘Everything’ had gone wrong. Of course, it hadn’t, but it seemed as if it had. Good riddance to Monday, I thought.

Tuesday morning came. I tore a sheet off my 1950’s style calendar, and the comment was, “Time for Decision”. I posted: “Good riddance to Monday,” on Facebook, and a new friend challenged me with the thought that today was ‘Chooseday’.  She asked me, very publically, what I would choose today? I was getting a new message, loud and clear.

What would I choose? Well, I chose to look after my back – I took the pain to be a sign that I wasn’t taking good enough care of myself. I chose to defer a couple of meetings to give my body time to reset and heal…

But then I got to thinking. My whole life was off-track. There was compromise leaking from every pore. Wrong job, wrong partners, wrong location, wrong attitude, wrong choices! How had I let matters slide this far off the path? Answer = my choices. Tiny choice by tiny choice.

So, from now on, my Tuesdays are going to be ‘Chooseday’.

A day for good, purposeful, fresh choices.

What will you choose today?

It's Chooseday

It’s Chooseday

Changing History: War and Peace

How could I start making better choices? Something Wayne Dyer had said years ago had captured my imagination,

“I can choose peace rather than this.”

This is fabulously useful in conflict situations but it goes much deeper into what I call, “The Way of Peace.”

The Apostle Paul believed that the Peace of God could guard our heart and mind. I knew that a step away from peace was a step towards war. My heart and my mind were at war – not with each other but with a Universe that wasn’t working for me. The war had raged for years.

It is time for peace. So, today, I choose decisions that bring me peace – decisions where my heart and mind both say, “Yes!”

A Heart Full of Treasure

My heart has something else to contribute to the process. Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Is it taking too many liberties to suggest that where your heart is, there will your treasure be also? Could it be that what my heart loves points the way to my treasure?

Just imagine, if I could find something I loved and that my heart and my mind were at peace about, surely I would find my treasure, wouldn’t I? Could it be that success lies along the path of peace and the path of that which we love to do?

Regardless of your personal beliefs, there is wisdom in the Biblical principle of establishing every matter through the testimony of two or three witnesses. I wanted a 3rd way to check the quality of my future choices.

Fullness of Joy

When you’re in the right place, when you’re making the right choices, there is a richness of joy. When something isn’t right, you sense it, and you can lose your joy. So here is my third guide to right choices: joy.

I thus have a trinity of guiding principles:

  • Does this choice bring me peace in my heart and my mind?
  • Does pursuing this choice lead me down a path that I would love to follow?
  • Does this choice bring me joy?

Of course, peace, love and joy are three segments of what is called, “The Fruit of the Spirit.” The ultimate test of any right choice is going to be the quality of the fruit it produces. Good choices produce good fruit, worthwhile treasure.

Is it time to plant new choices, new fruit trees?

I know it is for me.

 

On Purpose, Patterns and Passion

On Purpose, Patterns and Passion

On Purpose

I think.

A lot.

On purpose.

I like it when “Life” makes sense.

But it doesn’t often.

When “Life” doesn’t “make sense”, I think you have to make Life make sense.

And I’m not alone in this.

Viktor Frankl wrote “Man’s Search for Meaning.” I’d recommend you read it for yourself. Part of his key message is to find meaning in existence – and thus give yourself a reason for living. His credibility flows from the fact that he managed to do this as an inmate of a Concentration Camp.

My quest for meaning led me to become a Theologian (of sorts!) I went to Theological College and walked away with a love for Wisdom and Inspiration. The Apostle Paul said that, “All things work together for the good of those who love God…” (See Romans 8:28) Paul and Viktor were always looking for a pattern that made sense – that made their circumstances serve them or a higher goal.

They lived their lives “on purpose”.

So, even when “Life” seems both kind or unkind, ask yourself these liberating questions:

“How can this serve my purpose?”

“How can this serve me?”

If you’re even more assertive – make it serve you. Adam and Eve were put on Earth to rule the Planet (according to the Scriptures) – not to whinge and whine. Dominion was their job description! Later in History, when the storm threatened to sink the boat (Mark 4:35-41), Jesus was asleep! The text suggests that He expected His disciples to do something about it.

Whatever your theological position, these messages are about humankind creating purpose and taking action. You are naturally creative – so create value in whatever you experience.

Live deliberately… on purpose.

When you need a better Pattern

If “Life” isn’t working…

…you need a better pattern.

If “Life” doesn’t make sense…

…you need a better pattern.

When humankind has forgotten the “kind” part of “Humankind”…

…we all need a better pattern.

That’s what revolution is – changing the paradigm – upgrading our thinking – creating a better pattern.

If your life seems flat – remember that’s the way the Earth used to be to multitudes of people who were wrong. They had the wrong pattern. Now the pattern is different – now the pattern is round.

The Earth used to be the Centre of the Solar System – now it plays (an important) part, but it’s not the Centre of everything.

You can have a well-rounded life if you take you out of the centre of everything! Light, Life and Laughter – like the Sun – doesn’t revolve around you, you revolve around it. If you want to evolve, revolve! That means making some cause or someone else the Centre of your Universe. That’s a revolutionary pattern.

You are amazingly designed to discover patterns. That pattern of discovery will never end. You’ll always be learning. Don’t fight this, embrace it. If you see a “pattern of behaviour” you don’t like, change the pattern. When you change your thoughts, you change the very chemistry of your brain. When you change your chemistry, you change your behaviour. When you change your actions (your observable behaviour) you change your History. You cannot change your History without changing mine. Let’s change History together.

It begins with another pattern… a pattern of thought.

The Passion

They can make software and robots to do many of the tasks and activities that take up my time. I have access to a washing machine – I don’t need to spend hours going to the river to wash clothes. Sewing machines can sew my clothes. My computer can even back up my memory so that I can remember birthdays and get to meetings on the right day – without having to think.

But, the software and the robots will never have my passion. They may be able to mimic passion, but they can never have my passion. That’s unique. That’s the spark. When that goes, the spark dies.

So today’s blog closes with this imperative:

“You need to control your chemistry.”

You are more in control than you’ve yet realised. “Enthusiasm” is a chemical reaction. “Love” is chemistry. “Faith” is chemistry. “Hope” is chemistry. It’s “stuff”. And you can make this “stuff” in your very own Chemistry Lab. It begins with a thought and a purpose. You can lead your thoughts. Your thoughts become the catalysts for the kind of chemical reactions that happen next. You can put that chemistry in motion – that’s why we call part of the process “E-motion”. Choose the thought, add the passion, trigger the reaction, watch the result as you witness the magic unfold.

You are the Chemist.

You just might be an Alchemist.

It’s time to stir yourself!

The Power of Speech: Your Slogan of Destiny

JPG-Slogan-Blogpost

What Is Your Slogan?

Until we truly can talk to the animals and understand their languages, we assume that we are the only species on Earth that can articulate their ideas and consciousness in speech.

This is our power.

This is our pitfall.

Why? Because our power of speech programmes us – and does this from the earliest ages. If you want to know what your family slogans are, just listen to your children as they begin to learn to talk. You’ll hear them using your phrases!

Bang your finger with a hammer and you’ll find what words are at the top of your brain’s search engine!!!

Mohammed Ali believed in affirmations – that what he repeated often enough would come to be believed by others as well as himself. Whether he was right or wrong, he’s not alone in that belief. The Good Book is full of commentary on the power of speech.

“Death and Life are in the power of the tongue.”

So if you could choose life – choose a slogan for you that empowered you – what would it be? When you need to speak to the mountains of resistance in your life, what would your power-phrase be?

Brands know the power of this – hence brand slogans like,

“Just Do It!”

Propaganda knows the power of this –

“Keep Calm, and Carry On!”

If our subconscious mind is truly programmed by the words we speak out, let us choose those words carefully. Here are some really good slogans:
• All things work together for my good
• I can find positive meaning in everything and anything
• With a strong hand (My family Clan motto)
• My body is my temple
• Carpe Diem (Seize the Day or Seize the Moment)

“Carpe Diem” is a favourite as it comes from the idea of plucking. It could literally be translated as “pluck the day” – because the day is ripe. Well friends, for good or for bad, the day is ripe for plucking!

[btw, Latin phrases are invested with more power in our imaginations for some bizarre reason. In the scarey movies, the baddies chant in Latin, but so do the heroes too. See if you can find a Latin phrase that works for you. Check out your Clan or Family Motto – that’ll be in Latin. Speak it like a spell (a good one in a Narnia kind of way!)]

Let me conclude with this: you can change your personal history and destiny by changing your slogan. Try on a new slogan until it fits. This can be like a pair of shoes that are too gorgeous to resist. You buy them even though they don’t quite fit. You know that they are more likely to wear you in than you to wear them in… but somehow it works.

Sometimes we need to grow into a slogan – so pick (or pluck) a good one!

Sermon: How Much is Your Self Worth?

How Much is Your Self Worth?  Yes, it’s time for the Sunday Sermon for the non-religious!

Today’s lesson will begin in Matthew, chapter 20.  [Text from New International Version (NIV) via biblegateway.com]

The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard

20 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. 2 He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard.
3 “About nine in the morning he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. 4 He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ 5 So they went.
“He went out again about noon and about three in the afternoon and did the same thing. 6 About five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’
7 “‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered.
“He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’
8 “When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’
9 “The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius. 10 So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. 11 When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. 12 ‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’
13 “But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? 14 Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. 15 Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’
16 “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

Author’s Intended Meaning vs this Sermon

Clearly this is a parable about the generosity of God and the repeating motif of the fact that the last will be first, and the first will be last. If you’re a regular visitor to my blog, you’ll realise that my sermons are not for those with a particular faith but rather are a channel for learning life’s principles. Living Coaching is what I have in mind!
There’s only one verse I want to focus on today:

“Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius?” (v13)

That’s a pretty powerful summary of most people’s lives: they’ve agreed to work for whatever their particular ‘denarius’ is.
We live in a Universe that has riches in abundance. We live on the most abundant, resource-rich, and perfectly-suited planet. Nature is generous. Real Wealth never disappears; it just changes hands and form. Humans have even created new genuine wealth – more of it. So let’s get one hurdle out of the way:

there are plenty of denarii to go round!

That leads us to the big question: what is your self worth?

Obviously I’m enjoying the play on words here. I’m asking what your talents are worth in the market, but I was also alluding to the fact that the value you put on your talents is often indicative of your self-worth – the value you put on yourself.
When life gives us a bit of a bashing, it’s easy to begin to devalue your life-currencies: your time, your fees, your ideas, and your attitude. It is, however, the greatest foolishness to let circumstances or even the market define your worth. Consider how many artists (Vincent van Gogh instantly comes to mind) were not valued in their time – but whose works are now worth millions. You might say to me that this is the opposite of the point I am making. You might say that the market is now saying how much they are worth. And you would be right.

stone_table 3

Deeper Magic Before the Dawn of Time

I, however, am talking about the “Deeper Magic before the Dawn of Time”. What do I mean? I mean there is a ‘worth’ that goes far deeper than the magic of market forces. This deeper magic is far more influential on the final outcome. The fact is that:

Vincent van Gogh’s pieces of art were always worth millions – if we value their true worth.

In the current world paradigm, where the art appears on the time-line is defining its worth. That’s the magic of marketing. The market is defining the price. My point is that YOU are more than the time-line you are on. Vincent van Gogh is worth more than his pictures. The artist (i.e. you) are worth more than your art. This is the deeper magic.

In the New Paradigm, the Artist sets the value.

This is what the workers in the vineyard did at the beginning of the day. They agreed to work for a denarius. Later, by comparing themselves with others, they became dissatisfied. Assuming a ten hour day, and taking into account that the last workers got a denarius too for just an hour’s easy work, even the market was valuing them at an hourly rate equivalent to 10 denarii-a-day – ten times their own estimation.
So, if you charge by the hour, how much do you charge? (If you are an employee you can easily work out your hourly rate too. It may even be explicit in your contract.)
Now times that by ten.
That’s a good start.

Delivering Value

I can hear rebellion in the ranks! The thought arises: “No one is ever going to pay me that rate!” You’re right. If I can paraphrase Henry Ford,

“Whether you think you are worth it or not, you’re probably right.”

But…
True wealth comes from true value. Value begins at home. You’ve got to value yourself – otherwise you’ll end up bitter and twisted like the first workers in the vineyard. Notice that by under-valuing themselves they actually became envious of the others because of the Vineyard Owner’s generosity.

Undervaluing yourself does no one any favours.

You and I need a New Paradigm of just how much we are truly worth. Then we need to play to that value. We need to deliver outstanding value.

The Heart of the Agreement

The Vineyard Owner said, “Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius?”
Here’s a glimpse of your future:

Don’t agree to work for a denarius. State what you’re worth.

You can pull a “Mr Scott” if that helps. You could say, “I agree to work for ten denarii, but I know you won’t pay that so you’ll give me ____ at this point in time…” They may look at you strangley but the valuable point has been made. Mr Scott was famous for his estimates on repairs. If the Starship Enterprise needed fixing, he’d say it would take so long, then agree that the crew didn’t have that long, so he’d do it in ____ – and you can fill in the gap depending on the episode.
The point is, he delivered the value regardless of the timeframe. He valued his work highly and he was highly valued for it. The timeframe didn’t define the value. Mr Scott’s uniqueness did.

You are unique

You should be internally referenced and externally calibrated.

This means that you alone decide upon your true wealth and value (internally referenced) but you also remain sensitive to where you are on the timeline and what the market environment is like (externally calibrated). The external does not define your true wealth. Work for what you can work for but always deliver based upon your internal reference of what you’re worth. You’ll play a higher level game. You can play from a 2 or you can play from a King (or an Ace when Aces are high). Your choice will be driven the internal reference of your true value.

Wealth begins within.

I had “Rule 5000” stuck to the top of my computer monitors years ago. That was the value I’d put on my day-rate, and that’s what I sought to deliver. It worked for me. The ‘rule’ has changed but the commitment to deliver, and to do whatever it takes to deliver, remains.
Here’s the warning: if you undervalue yourself you will make negative comparisons between your rates and other people’s. You will grumble and become envious. Flipping that over, if you are grumbling and envious because you are comparing yourself against others (if, and only if, they deliver similar or less value than you but get more for it), you can bet your bottom-line that you have seriously undervalued your worth.

So I ask you again, what will the internal sum be that you agree to work for?

What’s your self worth?

Get it right and the last shall be first.

Amen.

Encourage One Another – Daily

I thought I might return to my roots and begin producing a Sunday Sermon again!  Fret not if you’re not into sermons – this is for everyone, not just for those who attend Church (which I don’t either, currently).

“But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”

Hebrews 13:3

Today’s little message is on the vital importance of encouragement… encouragement as a daily prescription for psychological and spiritual health.

Encourage is a wonderful word isn’t it – the english splits to ‘en’ and ‘courage’ – which could be a message in itself – how we can put courage into one another.

The Greek meaning here is more of an intimate urging – to bring comfort or even bring motivation to action.  It is to act as a catalyst to help someone convert inertia into momentum.

Your Personal Coach

Being an encourager is like being somebody’s personal coach – and on a daily basis.  You lovely gym goers will know about the power of having a personal trainer.  Well this is a personal trainer or coach for your soul.  The Scripture here is suggesting this is a role for all of us.  Part of our mission as fully-paid-up-members-of-the-Human-Race is to encourage others.  What do you think of that description:

“fully-paid-up-member-of-the-Human-Race”?

I first heard that used to describe Vanda North (www.mindchi.com).  It seemed a very loving way to describe someone.  When I met Vanda I understood why.  Here is someone who is fully subscribed to being all that’s good about Humanity: compassion, humour, joy… and encouragement.  Vanda is one of those people who sees no value in using one exclamation mark when three would be better!!!  I have never left a meeting with Vanda without feeling encouraged

So how about that as a role for you and me too?

It’s a simple mission: seek to encourage everyone you meet – and on a daily basis!

Of course, there would be consequences!

  1. We might have to cut down on complaining or gossiping – because they’re not very encouraging to hear about are they?
  2. It might not work!  And for this reason, encouraging others needs to be our intention regardless of the outcome.
  3. It might be catching!

Psychological Sclerosis

I thought that would excite you!  Sclerosis is a word used to describe the hardening of body tissues.  The one that interests me here is the heart – the spiritual heart.  It seems that a lack of daily encouragement can lead to a hardening of the heart.  Here it mentions “sin’s deceitfulness” – but I don’t want to be all preachy.  My single point is that discouragement might as well be called sin because it is so destructive and deceitful.  Encouragement is positively righteous!

I’ve met thousands of people with a hard heart… and perhaps thousands more on the way to a hard heart.  It is not attractive.  Well, at least we know the rememdy: daily encouragement.  The Doctor can keep her apple, I’d prefer encouragement any day!

Our Mission/Hour Mission

So are you ready for our Mission briefing?  Being an encourager (or “fully-paid-up-member-of-the-Human-Race”) is about being creative.  Why?  Well some people are going to pose a challenge!  Can you find something good to say about everyone you meet each day?!!!  If not, there’s a “Plan B”.  Plan B is to find something good to say to everyone you meet.

That will still take creativity – especially if you’re not feeling so good yourself – but it can be done.  You see:

“Action follows attention…”

Psychologically, action follows our thinking patterns (obviously!)  And our thinking patterns are stimulated by where our attention is.  Where is your attention?  By drawing someone’s attention to something encouraging, you tamper with their mindset in a good way!  I don’t usually feel happy after watching the News, do you?  But five minutes with Vanda, and I’m grinning like a joyous chap!  I’d love to be able to have that effect on others.

Hour Mission… how about having this as an hourly ambition and mission – find something good to say to someone each hour.  Sounds exhausting?  Actually it’s the nutrition that feeds and fuels life – because I promise you that you’ll find that when you encourage others, you’ll end up feeling encouraged and energised yourself.

Poem: God and Mammon

The_worship_of_Mammon

You cannot serve God and Mammon,

There can be no compromise.

It’s like serving greens with a side of gammon

As a “Vegetarian Surprise”!

You cannot serve God and Mammon,

I think I get that now,

It’s like saying Nut-Roast is perfectly fine

When served with Golden Cow.

________________________________

This tongue-in-cheek poem came to me this morning after laying awake from 4.30 worrying about money (writers sometimes do that).  I think it was the impossiblity inherent in the word “cannot” that struck me.  You cannot be a slave (it’s a stronger word than servant in the text) to both God and material wealth or money.  You cannot serve two masters.  When you start losing sleep worrying about money, that’s a sign of slavery – or at least a sign of lack of freedom.  Here, it seems, is an alternative option – become a slave to God and forget about your old master… at least you’ll get a good night’s sleep.  The alternative is to press on with an awkward double-standard, and double-life where the suggested consequence is that you will end up clinging to one and despising the other.  The image at the top of the page (from Wikipedia) is of Eve clinging to Mammon personified.  The verse quoted is from the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 6, verse 24.