This Is Your Time (and how to blow it)

This is your time. 

Never before have things been so perfect for your potential. 
Never before have you had the infinite at your fingertips with just a few clicks.
Never before have you had access to a global collective intelligence that updates itself in real time seeking to serve your insatiable drive for aliveness.

Right here and now you have, 
The tools, the techniques and the teachers
To dream, design and deploy every
Intricate intent of your imagination. 

You can do anything

They’re doing it. 
And so is that guy. 
And that mummy blogger just got a book deal. 
And the young dude that used to work with your cousin...
yeah, he just made it big with his start up. 

Everyone is doing everything all at once. 
What are you waiting for?
This is your time!!!

um…

No pressure. 

This might be your time,
It might be mine, 
But I’ll tell you the best way to blow it.

Get caught up in all that stuff and forget to rock out for a few hours.

Yep it’s true. 
There’s a whole lot of opportunity out there.
There are people winning, succeeding, achieving. 
There are people living the dream baby! 
Everything is possible…

Just don’t forget to rock out for a few hours.

Seriously.

I’ve seen a lot of people sacrifice the simple stuff, 
Get carried away on the complex stuff,
Forget that all they really wanted
Was just to find a way to rock out for a few more hours.

So before you set off on your next great adventure,
To triumph in the world in ways that tickle your wildest wonder,
Between the product launches, beyond the list you'll build with this,

Lay on the floor
Put on an album you adore
Listen to every note, to every beat, to every line
Listen from start to finish without ever opening up your eyes
And breathe
Let it all soak in.

Your welcome.

This is your time. 

Don't forget to enjoy it.
 

How to save the world

It’s no secret, we’re facing some monumental challenges as a global community. The rising polarity that surrounds our politics, the accelerating divide in wealth equality, the deepening impact of our technological advancement. 

Many of us are asking what can we do as individuals to help shift things in the right direction. How can we contribute to a better conversation, make choices that represent a higher value, act in ways that serve all of humanity.

Well my dear friends, I have the answer. 

Go and see some Art. Go and make some Art. Go and buy some Art. 

Don’t wait for Science to tell you how important Art is (even though it is). Don’t wait for the government to invest more Art (because it won’tunless you’re Canada). Don’t wait until there is no Art left to reminisce about how much you miss it. 

Be an impassioned advocate for the culture of your community. Support those who seek to share their self expression. Act on the impulse that you were born with and I promise you many of the solutions we seek will emerge. 

Making art is not a nice to have, it is not reserved for a chosen few nor something to do on weekends. It is your right and your responsibility. Using your head, hands and heart to shape the world around you in unique, beautiful and thought provoking ways is a gift to us all. 

Immersing yourself within Art’s liquid embrace is as vital to our survival as it is nourishing for our health and happiness. Throughout all of human history it is the cultures that valued Art (and culture) that were most successful. Why? Because life is an evolving work of Art.

Nature represents the purest form of artistic expression. To take the vast complexity of possibility and channel it into simple, beautiful, effective and efficient outcomes…well that’s just magnificent. 

If you want to be an innovator, a disruptor, an original thinker, then look to the Arts. Da Vinci, Bowie, Warhol and Wilde were all rogues and mavericks pushing boundaries and breaking rules.

If you want to develop your empathy, your acceptance and understanding of others, look to the Arts. Empathy is the cost of entry when writing music, literature, theatre or prose. 

If you want to restore a sense of community, bring greater intimacy and connection, then look to the Arts. Our ancestors used the power of story to embed an awareness of our interdependence for thousands of years. Through story we find meaning, we experience our lineage, we embody our legacy.

Stop fucking around with Facebook. Book a babysitter, find a band and go shake your booty.

Stop listening to the TV. Join the library, borrow the classics and learn from the best we’ve ever had.

Stop supporting corporations that don’t care. Save the money you were going to spend on mascara and throw a few bucks to the busker.

Be a champion for the Arts. Be a champion for your self expression. Be a champion for a world that values the unique contribution we were all born to make. 

Then buy yourself a canvas, call up all your courage and paint your infinite essence because you can, because you should and honestly, because it feels so good. 

The Key To Personal Branding

The future for all of us is blurry. 

The line between work & life, personal and professional, employed or entrepreneurial has been smudged. The respite of retirement, the hope for home ownership, the safety of superannuation are all up for grabs.

Big companies are downsizing, startups are being swallowed, and self-employment is now the fastest growing sector in most developed countries. We are all scuttling further and faster into the unknown. Together.

So what security could we hope to find in such an atmosphere of uncertainty? What actions can we take to ensure our survival as employees or entrepreneurs in such a volatile job market? What will give us an edge when we find ourselves standing on one? 

Positioning. 

Otherwise known as personal branding. Your rep. Street cred. Brand You. The vibe that surrounds the mere mention of your name. If who you are in the hearts and minds of your peers, potential customers or preferred employer is rock solid & water tight, you’ll be alright. 

You’ll get given the best projects, have a steady queue of clients and forever be in demand for who you are, what you do and how you do it. Sounds pretty cool huh?

But what is a rock solid, water tight personal brand? And how the hell do I get one?

Well, how about I start with telling you what it’s not and we’ll take it from there. 

It’s not just about visibility like some ‘branding experts’ would have you believe. Armed with only an intent to be seen, you might be gaining front of mind awareness, but is your brand one that really serves you? Or us?

Cue the endless barrage of semi-inspirational quotes placed on entirely incongruent istock photos and posted ad nauseam.

Sigh.

It’s not just about authenticity either. Without knowing who you are, what you stand for and why, the application of this ideal is often paper thin. Superficial at best.

Cue handwritten email signatures and bio lines like ‘when I’m not transforming company culture you can find me on the yoga mat, deep in savasana’.

Sure. 

It’s definitely about distinction. To be known as someone for something it pays to be clearly defined and delineated. But sometimes trying too hard to be different we lose what makes us different. 

Cue wildly inconsistent content that changes in style and tone with the wind. 

No, a rock solid, water tight personal brand is all about integrity

To be clear I don’t mean morality. I mean the consistent expression of your congruence. The unfolding essence that emerges only when it is entirely embodied. It is this continuous state of being whole and undivided that makes it easy to remember you.

Whether we like you or not is another story. But there are no mixed messages. We know exactly who you are and who you aren’t. There is a familiar thread that links our every experience of you. Even when you aren’t physically there.

This approach to your personal branding is far from easy. Sure, it requires that you know who you are, what you stand for and why, but that’s just the cost of entry. Once you have that understanding, you must then align every choice, behaviour, outfit, email and offering to it. 

This is where the real work begins and why so many of us fail to maintain a rock solid, water tight personal brand. It’s hard. It’s takes sacrifice. It takes letting go of who we were in service of who we must become. 

A good friend of mine, Peter Cook, told me a story recently that illuminates both the power and possibility of living with such integrity. Among many things, Peter is a grown up Karate Kid. And once while deepening his practice his master told him ’Peter, just remember, 99% in is hard, but 100% in is easy’. 

Once you’re in, once you commit to who you really are or hope to be, the choices that will define you in the eyes of the market become easy. The shape of your uniqueness becomes clear cut. The future of your personal brand position becomes as effortless as it does eternal. 

Go all in. I'll meet you there. 

The Power of a Mentor (And what we can learn from Sister Act II)

With self-employment increasing at a rate of 3.5% it is now the fastest growing sector in our current business landscape.

This means that many of us have already or will soon make the jump from building someone else dream, to building our own.

There are countless books, courses, articles and podcasts on how to make a successful leap into the world of entrepreneurship. But nothing compares to having someone close to you, who has experienced all that you are about to, standing in your corner and nudging you in the right direction.

I’m talking about a mentor.

Someone who has already lived the story you hope to live. Someone who has succeeded through waves of uncertainty and doubt. Navigated the isolation and insecurity that often accompanies such a voyage. And can offer deep insight, real-world experience and powerful inspiration for your quest.

I have been lucky to find and know many mentors in my personal and professional life. Whenever I have worked with one, my business growth has accelerated and my sense of self elevated beyond what I could have done on my own.

This post is a reflection on what I’ve seen in others and experienced personally when utilising the power of a mentor.

And to do this, I’m going to use the wonderful 1993 film, ‘Sister Act 2: Back in the habit’. 

Yup. 

Doing it. 

Firstly, this is one of my ALL TIME FAVOURITE films. The message, how it’s delivered and the performances are exceptional. The cast were young, soon to be superstars. It was a sequel that surpassed the original (which rarely happens) and it changes me every time I watch it.

For those that haven’t seen it, do it today.

For those that have, a quick plot summary.


Deloris Van Cartier aka Sister Mary Clarence (Whoopi Goldberg) is drawn back to the church that once housed her while she was in hiding from mobsters. This time to help teach the music class and somehow save the school that will soon be demolished to make way for a parking lot.

It’s a low socio-economic area, the kids have no positive role models, they are rude, crude and full of attitude. But we discover they can sing. And over the course of the film, Sister Mary Clarence (Whoopi) teaches them to sing together, stand in their truth and take control of their destiny.

They transform the community around them, relationships with their family and go on to win a choir competition which inevitably saves the school from closure.

I want to highlight 3 key moments that capture the journey of working with the right mentor.

Stage one 

A good mentor balances their experience, their intent to serve and a series practical frameworks, ideally they have developed, that you can use to develop your own business or practice. 

Whoopi Goldberg brought these kids together as a choir by getting back to the basics. They started with scales. They learned to sing in harmony by following a prescribed set of tools she laid out as the foundation for their vision. 

Imagine they’ve developed their first offering. They’ve written the copy for the website, had a professional photo taken and are putting themselves out there for the first time. 

They’ve been comfortable within the safety of their mentoring relationship but now they have to suck it up and share their ideas, their IP and they’re intent with the market. Watch

Initially they’re shy and timid. They want to keep hiding out and fitting in. It’s insanely hard to trek out on your own.

Whoopi (their mentor) recognises the fear and immediately brings them back to basics. She reminds them of the foundation they used to build their initial offering. We hear her say ‘alright you guys, take your cue from me’.

She runs them through a scale, they become grounded in their purpose again. They find their rhythm, they gain in confidence and inevitably, they cut loose.

A good mentor is there for you when you take your first steps out into the unknown. They anticipate any roadblocks and return you to the fundamentals when necessary. All in service of your own unfolding truth.


Stage two

Now imagine you’re a little further along your new venture. There are people in your life, often those closet to you, who don’t understand what it is you’re trying to achieve. They offer ‘well-meaning bad advice’. They believe they’re looking out for you but may not have your best interests at heart.

This is captured in the beautiful moment between Lauryn Hill and Tanya Blount.

Lauryn has just received ‘well-meaning bad advice’ from her mother. She now finds herself in comparison. Judging her own worth compared to those around her. 

She questions giving the up her business or practice. Throwing in the towel. Getting a ‘real job’. Tanya reminds her that her dream matters by asking her what she thinks. Reminding her to trust her instincts. And to never surrender her power.

But the best part after that is, she creates a framework for her to get in action. She doesn’t launch into a long, convoluted motivational speech. She invites her to step back into what she loves. Get back into action. Dive into her process and sing. 

Through this, Lauryn finds the conviction she thought she had lost. Not by planning, or writing a manifesto or repeating a daily affirmation. But by doing the work. 

A good mentor is inspiring, full of deep insight and motivational speech. But they are always focused on getting you back in action. Because that is where we learn. That is where we remember why we wanted to do this in the first place. And that is where we find results. 


Stage three

Now imagine you have have arrived at your moment of truth. This is the biggest pitch you’ve done to date. This is the gig that will open doors for you in ways previously unimagined. You have done all the work. You’ve busted your ass and this proposal is make or break. 

But just as you’re about to begin, just as you are standing on the verge of truly breaking through, the ghosts of your past appear.  A phone call from a family member. An email from a dissatisfied client. A post from one of your competitors locking in a deal with someone you hoped to work with.

It throws you. You stumble. 

Just as Lauyrn is about to sing her mother walks in. Full of judgement and contempt. Sometimes our ascension throws the life choices of others into question and they will stop at nothing to stop us.

At this point Whoopi orders the kids to take of their robes. In order for them to step into the fullest expression of themselves, they have to be and own their uniqueness. Without regard for how they will be perceived. 

The point is not winning the competition, the point is who they became in order to get there. Making it in your own business is pointless unless it is a reflection of what you want and who you are. 

Surrounded by others on a similar path, we see all the kids overcome their background, their influences, their conditioning. We see them collaborate whilst maintaining their individualism. We see joy. Unfiltered, unashamed, unbridled joy. 

A good mentor is not trying to get you somewhere. They merely create the space for you to explore, to own and to share your magnificent self. Turned up to eleven.

 

A final thought. 

Almost every good mentor had a mentor of their own. They know they will never repay the contribution that was made to them, by them. The only way to show gratitude is to pass their wisdom on. To help someone else in the same way they were helped. 

Don’t be afraid to reach out to someone that inspires you. Someone who has lived what you hope to. Perhaps they’re currently too busy, or too expensive, or too whatever. But perhaps, they’ve been dying to find a way to give back to the world that gave so much to them.

Perhaps you are the vehicle for them to express their gratitude. 

Perhaps they want to work with you just as much as you want to work with them. 

So pick up the phone and ask em.

The Innovators Advantage

In life, change is the only constant. Our natural world exists in a state of flux and to survive all living things must evolve. This is equally true in the world of business.

Innovation is no longer a nice to have, it is essential to our success.

Over the last 100 years, we have seen unparalleled technological advancement. Every facet of our lives has been touched by innovation. But our journey is far from over.

Most of what we developed and relied upon to bring us where we are, is longer effective as a vehicle for where we need to go. 

We changed the world and are now being asked to change ourselves.

The real difficulty, however, is not necessarily what we need to build, but why. Through our dogged obsession with making bigger, better and faster machines, we often overlooked the point of having them. And as Marshall McLuhan pointed out “we make the tools, now the tools make us”.

Our preference for science and technology as the foundation for understanding has birthed a world that values efficiency over elegance. Product over process. Data over dreams. And as such we now have instruments that influence us to think, act and become more like them.

But we’re not like them. We are emotional, unpredictable and temperamental. We feel, sense and intuit. We are spontaneous, dynamic and capable of unforeseen creativity in the most arbitrary of ways.

It’s time we started celebrating this. Not as a feel-good mantra but as a strategy for unlocking true innovation. As leaders, we must cultivate the creative development of our people and leverage our imperfection.

In a world driven by data, that calls us to find new meaning between the measurable things, the smartest thing we can do for ourselves and our organisation is to foster that which makes us human.

How confident are you with your creative capacity? How connected do you feel to the infinite mystery of your true nature? How supportive is your organisation to those who feel before they think?

Your next great innovation will not show up in sequence nor will it be the result of an anticipated outcome. It will emerge in the most unlikely of places. It will speak in a language that disregards standard procedure. And it will ask that you dance in order to receive the truth you so desperately seek.

Can you hear the music?

From Mastery To Artistry

Our world has an overwhelming obsession with mastery.

On some level, we’ve all subscribed to the idea that doing more of something will equate to more of everything. 

Revived and popularised by books like Malcolm Gladwell’s ‘Outliers’, we’ve been told that anyone can master just about anything by applying enough effort over enough time (10,000 hours to be precise).

Maybe, but I’m not interested in challenging the length of time it takes to master something. I'd like to question whether we focus on mastery at all.

See mastery for all it’s confidence and charm has never been a guarantor of success. Being technically proficient or exhibiting unrivaled skill over an instrument is commendable but hardly memorable. 

There are countless talented and technically dexterous guitarists who can move effortlessly around the fretboard but there will only ever be one Jimi Hendrix. And he played it backwards and upside down. 

Despite his unorthodox style and somewhat unconventional approach there’s no denying he exudes complete mastery over his craft. But with something more, something else, something intangible and unique to him.

To stand out in todays competitive marketplace we must move from mastery to artistry.We must unlock and unleash our authentic expression if we are to stand any chance of cutting through. 

By no means am I advocating we throw away all we’ve learned, paint our faces and hold hands in our sales meetings. But stretching our attention beyond our technique, loosening our grip on protocol and focusing more on what it means to put more of us in our work is a great start.

When we dance in conversation with a prospect rather than running through the sales script. When we surrender to what’s emerging rather than fight for what should be happening, we go to places that neither of us have ever been. It’s intimate and addictive and unforgettable. 

When we trust what feels good over what worked before, when we build on ideas and reveal our weaknesses with conviction, we enter a new realm of risk and reward. A space that can only be occupied by ourselves that is as magnificent as it is magnetic. 

Take for example this clip of Kurt Elling performing with the SSO earlier this year at the Sydney Opera House. Every single one of the musicians on that stage is a master of their craft. They have all spent a stupid amount of time developing and refining their skills. They are all world class.

Now tell me who are the masters and who are the artists?

And as we barrel toward a new year, tell me this, for your customers, for your colleagues and for yourself, who would you rather be?

Have you mastered the art of you?

We are living in an era of unprecedented disruption.

Our relationship with change is vital to our success in modern work and life. 

If I were a betting man, the only thing I'd put money on regarding our future, is that sometime soon everything we've worked for will be thrown into question by something out of our control. 

Maybe we run into someone we haven't seen in years. Someone we used to know who is visibly excited about their new career opportunities. This spontaneous interaction disturbs something deep within us and it's now harder than ever to keep towing the company line.

Or maybe while spring cleaning the study, we find a bunch of old journals from when we were young. After reading a few pages, we soon discover the dreams we had for life look a whole lot different to what we're living. 

Or maybe someone we love has just been told their health is not what it was and will never be again. All the someday, one-day wants we've had crystallise at once. The fragility and impermanence of our lives has never been clearer and yet we're paralysed by all the potential possibilities. 

When we hit a transition point and change is the only way forward, how do we know we're making the right choices? Where do we find the courage to leave what was in search of what could be? And whatdo we tell the people around us?

The key to any smooth transition in career or life is to rebuild our relationship with ourselves. To listen for, engage with and act upon our own unique expression of the truth. All the answers we seek are already speaking, we've just forgotten how to hear them. 

Unfortunately, much of the self-help industry has damaged our view of personal or career development. Many of us are cynical of the self-proclaimed gurus and their tasteless prescriptions for mindfulness or meditation. 

But unless you actively participate in your own progress; unless you get interested in who you are and why, you'll never know what you're capable of or what Is standing in the way.

Here are my 3 cents on how to start a conversation with yourself about yourself.

1 -  Make room for space. Unless you carve out a minute, an hour or a day every now and then, there ain't no way you'll change. As time rolls on your life might look, sound or feel different, but it's just the same stuff wrapped in a different package. In the same way you make time for others, make time for work, or make time for shitty TV, make time for you. Quiet, quality time whatever that looks like. 

2 - Stop looking, start noticing. I wrote about this in my last blog post. When you look for something there is an agenda, you're hoping to find an outcome. When you notice things you're just present, curious, deepening your awareness of what's around and within you. This is the gateway to hearing your deeper self and learning your deeper desires. Just notice how you feel about the unfurling world around you.

3 - You gotta give it up to turn it loose. Who f@#king cares what your people think. You don't have to tell them that you've bought a book about desire. They don't have to know you're speaking to a life coach. It's none of their f@#king business if you keep a journal about your feelings. It's your life, not theirs. And you've only got one of them. And if you're not strutting enough, then get over it, get responsible and take some action. 

Just don't let anyone or anything stand in the way of you returning to your truth. We need you to find it, own and express it just as much as you do. You have Art in you that will change us!

And remember that finding yourself, getting clear about who you are and what you want in life is not the end...it's only the beginning!

How Does Your Business Feel?

Let me be blunt. 

In today's economic climate, your culture will make or break your company. 

The way your employees feel about themselves, about each other, about the work they do and the organisation as a whole, greatly impacts the quality, quantity and consistency of their output. 

The way your vendors, customers and competitors feel about your company will define the value, length and profitability of those relationships. 

The way you feel about this conversation will shape the choices you make after we’re finished having it. 

In other words, the way your business feels is now just as important as what it does.

And the individuals and organisations brave enough to explore this with enthusiasm, vigour and intent will be the leaders in tomorrow's business landscape.

But where do we start if we want to articulate and amplify the feel of our organisation? And how on earth do we begin a conversation about the feel of our business without sounding like a new-age, psycho-spiritual w@#ker?

Firstly I'll answer the second question.

Choose your audience. Just because you know the importance of culture and the need for fresh thinking about it, doesn't mean your team does yet. So unless you're courageous with your conviction and can withstand the jokes and jabs, I'd start slow, ask more questions and do lots of listening.

And as for where to look to understand the feel of your business?

Stop looking. Start noticing. There is a subtle distinction between the two that allows for vastly different experiences. When you look for something there is an intent. An agenda. You're searching and hoping to find something. And sometimes, this can get in the way of seeing what's already there. 

When you notice the world around you, you are giving it your full attention. You're observing things as they are. Present to what is around you. Once you reside in this place of awareness, you can begin explore how it makes you feel. 

Notice the reception area, the boardroom, the kitchen. Your business card, email signature, job title. How does the atmosphere of your office change at different points in the day? How do you feel before a meeting? In a particular person's company? Or after a spontaneous disruption? 

This process is not about fixing, changing or even understanding the events around you. It’s merely a practice of curiosity and awareness. Learning to listen to both the world and yourself and the intersection between the two.

Developing soft skills like these are now vital to cultivating cultures that thrive. To succeed in today's business environment, leaders must read the energy of their people and sculpt the atmosphere of their workplace accordingly. 

For some, it might still be too progressive to talk openly about our feelings, but that doesn't mean they don't feel. Knowing how to work with and in the energy of things is now as imperative as it is an advantage.

So how do you feel about that?

Your Imperfection Will Be Your Advantage

As our lives become more digital, more sanitised and more impersonal, a new opportunity emerges. 

While the rest of the world seeks robots, programmes and automation, remaining human will be both our defining characteristic and our most valuable asset. 

At first I loved the online check in. The unstaffed bag drop was bliss. 

No queues, no missing tickets, no…human interaction. 

But now this computerised convenience is compounding.

We email more than we speak. We share more with our apps than we do with each other. Our social feeds have become our social lives.

And it’s not enough. 

As hard as we try to systemise our souls we will forever seek the untamed beauty of imperfection.

We are eternally drawn to the sweaty hot mess that is our humanity.

And those who are brave enough to own their dusty edges and share their unfinished selves will stand out like neon stars on a jet black sky.

In the future, your imperfection will be your advantage.

5omething

I am no stranger to the creative process.

I've spent my entire life seeking and surrendering to it. I believe it holds an unparalleled power to heal, to elevate, to inspire and transform.

When you give yourself over to make something, the process will make something out of you. 

In 2014 I wrote a song a week for 50 weeks.
In 2015 I'm writing a poem a week for 50 weeks. 
Today I'm starting to write a book that I will finish in 50 days. 1000 words everyday for 50 days. And all of it done by rising at 5am every morning. Ouch.

I'm calling it #5omething

It's a celebration of and an invitation to the wonderful world of creativity, commitment and conviction.

If you want to join me, pick something you love to do, something that brings you closer to your creative self and do it every day for 50 days. 

Take a photo, post it on Instagram with the hashtag #5omething and we'll voyage through uncharted water together.

It's not important what you make, all that matters is that you...

Just . Do . #5omething