Success by Failure

Each of us will take a direction in life depending on who we see ourselves as. For some people this leads to obscurity, for others it leads to great fame, but fame should not be mistaken for success just because it’s more visible. That’s just their job. People’s personal lives will all share the same sorts of ups and downs, so we shouldn’t either lament that we aren’t famous, nor should we be jealous or envious of those who are.

Just the other night my parents were watching America’s Got Talent, and a young singer noted that to pursue his dream of being a famous singer, he left home and moved to New York and for a few years he slept on couch that smelled like cat for $30 a week. Britney Spears has had jobs since she was about eight years old. Olympians rarely see their friends so they can work out instead. And there’s only so many of us who think the result is worth that effort, just like some people don’t think cooking a fancy meal is worth the effort when they could just fuel up. We’re all different.

1207 Relax and Succeed - Believe in yourselfI remember I’d been working in film and television for about 10 years before the first time I ever heard anyone say that they wanted to “be famous,” rather than note what they would want to be famous for–as in the case above, where what he really wants to be is a singer, not famous. In my experience, the ones that want to be famous never have that cat-sofa dedication and they eventually surrender that idea for something that actually suits them better. In that way their failure is a success.

A very talented film student I taught wanted to be an A-list cinematographer on big budget superhero blockbusters. But after close to 10 years climbing his way up and seeing Hollywood work, he concluded that the reality of the job wasn’t what he wanted and he surrendered that and went to do smaller, but much more meaningful documentaries. And he’s much happier doing it.

Cases like the one noted are often seen as a failure by the person approaching the decision. All they feel is the separation from their previous identity. It feels like they surrendered in a bad or weak way, when it’s actually the smart or strong way. Once that student crested the hump into his new identity, he got to work at his new career and it turned out he loved it the way he’d assumed he would have loved the Hollywood blockbuster job. It wasn’t a fail. It was a discovery. You’ll make them your entire life.

As I’ve noted before, if you want to know where you’re at, imagine your life as a big continuous sine wave that completes each wave about every 7-9 years. At each peak you have slowly rewired your brain to be fully efficient at being that version of you. But of course, once you’ve maximized why continue? Been there done that, as the saying goes. And so it’s not really disappointment that disrupts success, it’s the inklings of our next success.

The sooner we start to embrace that downslope the shorter it gets–although it can never be fully removed, otherwise you can’t have your peaks either. This is why a Buddhist monk on a train once lead me to conclude his encapsulation of life: everything changes. If it’s good, enjoy it–it’ll get worse. And if it’s bad, don’t lament–it’ll get better.

Find where you are on your wave and surf that. It’ll include the pain of those downslopes, but wherever you are, wishing you were an an upslope is the literally the definition of suffering. But if you surrender instead, it’s actually flows pretty nicely.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations locally and around the world.

The Spirit of Possibility

Whether it’s their own idea or someone else’s, people scoff when they hear dreams that seem too big. But too big for who, and when? Is it possible that the limitations of the world are merely made up by the limitations of our imagination? Is it possible that everything mankind has wrought started with a thought?

Every single thing you see before you; every cup, every phone, every car, everything you watch on a screen, everything that was ever created–including the blog you’re reading now–began with an idea. So why do you act like ideas are nothing? Why is your reaction to a big idea to note why it wouldn’t work, rather than getting excited by finding out how?

Did a pyramid seem possible to early man? Did the rule of law and democratic government seem possible to the subject of a king or queen? Did cars seem possible to cowboys? Did going into space seem possible to people who’d grown up without electricity or running water? And did the internet or smartphone seem possible even a few short years before their inception? Probably not. But they seemed possible to some collection of people. That’s the only reason you have any of the things that exist.

There’s an interview with David Lynch and Patti Smith where she asks him where his ideas come from and he gives an answer that will feel good to every truly creative person. He talks about how there’s a completed puzzle somewhere off in the universe, and he finds the fragment of it somewhere in the universe and he falls in love with it. And that love attracts other fragments, and the more fragments that get attracted the bigger the bait for more fragments. And that’s how every single amazing thing ever happened.

Darwin felt a tug and he followed the passion right out of his beloved church and right into discovering evolution, which in a way was him trying in his own way to describe what God or the forces of nature had created. But people adopt these ideas at their own pace. There are still people coming to accept that idea, and yet so much of the modern science and medicine the nonbelievers use will have been built directly as an extension of that initial creative truth.

Darwin won one friend over, then another, then a publisher, then a society or two, and eventually the public and the school systems. But it all started with one guy falling in love with his personal fragment, and you yourself are like a spiritual fragment-finding creation. That’s how you found all of your friends, and if you have a family it was literally born from the initial thought to bring those two first fragments together. And you felt it as a simple sense of recognition that felt something like, “Oh, he’s attractive.”

Watch yourself today. See people’s statements to you as offerings, and ask yourself what you do with them as offerings. Do you reflect back a previous belief regardless of what they’ve said, or do you attempt to prove it wrong using what you believe versus what they believe? Or, do you take it in and ask questions and really ask yourself what’s being said? Because Einstein told people about gravitational waves 100 years ago, but few believed him then.

Fortunately Einstein’s initial thought was enough bait to attract 100 years worth of clinging fragments, and recently some of the fragments who are scientists actually turned enough of their own thoughts into machines and processes that they were actually able to prove that Einstein’s had formed a truth.

Too often children and adults alike are told that ideas are crazy or too big. Too often we tell ourselves that, but we must shake that collective tendency. It’s ego-related and it’s all about your fears. Forget those. Find your fragment–the thing that will be worth you moving past your fears for. Maybe you’ll be right, maybe you’ll be wrong about what’s on the other side. Maybe you’ll create the thing and maybe you won’t. But that doesn’t matter. Because the power isn’t in the creation, the power is in creating. Even your so-called failures add value to the universe.

Don’t sell your dreams short. The route to them might be entirely unexpected, but if you boldly go forth you are sure to accomplish something meaningful. Start today.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations locally and around the world.

The Friday Dose #132: Feeling Lucky

1033-fd-relax-and-succeed-i-will-be-gratefulLuck isn’t something that happens to you, luck is something you impose upon the world with your thinking. Just watch for yourself to see which habit you have. Some people generally always feel like it could have been worse and they’re grateful, others always wish it was better and they complain. Just listen to how the people around you react. They’re pretty consistent and so are you. One is a life of gratitude and the other is a life of complaint. I’ll let you figure out which one would feel better.

This video is great example of the power of gratitude. It can be a deep and even difficult feeling at times, but it does not feel anything like an ego complaining even at its darkest. There is a profoundness to feeling it, even if that’s to be grateful you made it to a parent’s bed before they passed. These are still rich and rewarding feelings.

Watch how quickly these people can become connected. Watch how quickly their own challenges can change from monumental to nonexistent. You can do this any time you choose. Wisdom is knowing what the choice is, enlightenment is living that choice.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone. We’re all a lot more fortunate than we realise.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organisations locally and around the world.

Anxiousness vs Authenticity

You feel uncertain and anxious but it’s not your fault. You are however the only one that can get you out of that trap, but to do that you don’t need to change yourself, you just have to recognise that the only reason you feel uncertain is because long before you, humans created language and we used words to assemble ideas of right and wrong (as opposed to what we personally preferred). For the first time there was a way for a human being to be unacceptable.

In school you were taught this correct thing and that correct thing and you got big red X’s for anything that wasn’t correct. The problem is, later in life it turns out those same educational experiences taught you to always look for answers outside of yourself. A line was drawn between you and your natural wisdom. You were inadvertently taught to seek external approval, meaning you literally, subconsciously learned not to trust yourself, like a mechanic trusting a computerised scanner over something obvious to their own eyes and ears.

So here’s your lifelong problem; you spend your whole life searching for the parts that will make up a healthy you when you were whole right right the start. Yes you might need to add to some knowledge to do some specific thing, but after that you have to trust yourself in life. It’s like that trust exercise where one person falls backward, counting on the person behind them to catch them? This is like that except you’re both people. You need to trust you. You just also have to remember that sometimes even the catching part of you also falls. It just goes like that sometimes. For everyone.

1027-relax-and-succeed-stop-trying-to-fit-inYour life isn’t over. It hasn’t even started. Understand that the world still has a lot of cool directions to go. That’s all highly acclaimed art and science are; it’s art that not only was fantastic from a craftsmanship perspective, it’s the stuff that is more like a philosophical treatise, like when Picasso created cubism. Most breakthrough science entails uncovering new knowledge that couldn’t possibly have been learned by looking at what already existed. We must have faith in the infinite nature of the universe. Trust me, if you had a better appreciation for how vast it is you’d feel more comfortable with the idea that it has enough space even for you to be a genius.

What’s you being your own genius look like? I dunno, maybe you’re a working mother who deeply would rather stay home and raise your kids like you were raised, but you and your husband need the money for the mortgage, plus if you’re not working then other women will think you’ve lost your mojo or something. But think about it: these are your kids and they’re only kids a short time. Better you shape a tree when it’s young. It’s not crazy to prioritise family over work, but how brave have you been about making something work?

Can your ego accept a smaller house and the lower payments that would allow you to be a stay-at-home mom? Could you trade the joy of what feels natural and the upsides to your kids for whatever thought-based reputation you have among your friends and co-workers? Is what anyone thinks of your decisions really important when those judgments only remain place in the conscious of often unimportant people for a short time?

You can afford to be braver. We all have plenty of headroom in that regard. But you can’t second-guess yourself using egocentric, word-based thought because if you’re scared you’ll always be able to rationalise your decision not to take action. You are not that voice. That voice is just something you do instead of taking action.

As I’ve written about before, there’s a guy whose ultra-religious family lead him to rebel by creating super creepy art featuring blood and skulls and snakes and things and he’s rich and lives in a castle and has superstar clients. What would you have done if that’s what you wanted to do? Surely you have an easier calling being a stay-at-home mom, or whatever your authentic choice yours is. Just don’t expect to live in a castle, because that’s not the point. The point is that he’s happy with his life and he does what moves him and somehow that either works out to be wonderful or it’s some kind of valuable lesson. Either way you win.

Stop worrying and create more original living in your life. You don’t have to read the right book or take the right class or meet the right person or get the right job; you just have to be yourself and your place in the world will be known. And then wherever you are you’ll always feel comfortable because you’ll always be comfortable with yourself.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organisations locally and around the world.

The Tension of Ego

928 Relax and Succeed - What screws us up mostWe all grow up around it so none of us really notices. If it weren’t for my accident I’m sure I wouldn’t have noticed it either, and yet there’s the secret of living right in front of you and yet it’s still difficult to recognize because you’ve spent your entire life being primarily trained by a lot of other egos.

Those egos created all kinds of words and concepts for you to use to build your expectations. For instance, you could have a partner or spouse but those words sound like nouns don’t they? Partner has a verb too, but spouse doesn’t even give you that flexibility. It’s a title not an activity. Which is why it feels like it isn’t something in motion; like something dynamic–like something that could change.

A job, feeling included as a member of your family, even our health can easily be lost and yet few of us live as though that is true. So for instance an employee will get so focused on their complaints that they’ll forget to keep track of whether they are actually worth fixing the issues for, just as a sad or angry partner in life can have legitimate reasons for struggling but at a certain point they have simply become a primarily a sad or angry person to their partner. Then the attraction that forms the basis of any relationship slowly deteriorates until that day you’re told it’s gone.

928 Relax and Succeed - New beginnings are often disguisedOur immediate reactions to these events is to assess them as both bad and repairable. We don’t assume getting fired is good news, nor do we imagine when someone leaves us that it’s happy news. We don’t want to have to find work. We don’t want to risk the unknown and date again because we’re not at all sure we’re going to meet someone better. No, that is not what we do.

What we do is we want. We want things to go back to the way they were. Our book was written in ink and we’re not interested in late, unauthorized edits. What we’ve forgotten is that we’re not the only person writing the book of our life.

The tension in these situations exists due to the time and distance between our old set of definitions for our lives and the new set. Rather than enthusiastically functioning with the freedom of no identity, we strictly focus on getting our old identity back. That’s why the healthiest breakups are mutual. The others all involve a tension of someone trying to return to a definition that the other people refuse to agree to. They rewrote that over time. They just can’t write it back immediately because we want them to.

928 Relax and Succeed - Tension is who you think you should beThe people who initiate that change feel fine because they have escaped. They used to feel tension about the distance between the actions and the definition but now that they’ve severed the idea of the connection they’ve now lost some dead weight. The other party still has the old idea, held in place by narratives about how it should be. Those narratives and their lack of relationship to reality are what constitutes the pain people feel. We feel the tension of the gap.

Acceptance is when we sever our ties to a definition and we accept whatever Is. We don’t pine for something else. We don’t want or wish or hope or believe. We don’t do anything. In the best case scenario we don’t even use our thinking to create an individual that could experience a loss. Because until we quiet those conversations down we will experience the tension of not ever fully being where we actually are.

Life is easier than you think. You just have to surrender your ideas about how you want it to be and instead just let it unfold and then watch for its gifts. So rather than waste your lifetime spinning in place wishing things were otherwise, try seeing where you end up by just reacting to what’s actually happening in the moments that are you in. Do that and you’ll be surprised at how great a life can be if you simply stop trying to make it your own.

Much love, s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations locally and around the world.

The Friday Dose #110

As you’ve likely noticed, there is a new trend in advertising that rather wonderfully hinges on the positive aspects of life. Hopefully it will take hold and almost accidentally–and this time positively–change the society it functions within.

If you read me often you know that I occasionally write about how advertising one of the most destructive and insidious forces in our world. It has historically always targeted our ego and its fears. We’re frightened into cooperating. We feel like we won’t be cool, or we won’t be in, or we’ll be somehow missing out. It’s where most FOMO is born.

At the same time and in this same world there’s a book I found very funny. It was written by a guy who lives not far from me named Will Ferguson and the book is called Generica (aka Happiness). It’s funny because it’s about a guy who writes a book that makes the whole world happy and that ruins the economy. It’s fiction but its central point is valid.

If our needs go away so do most of our problems. And if we’re not focusing on our problems, what then do we have time for in our lives? Ask yourself this question seriously. Ask your friends too. Figure out what your answers are and meditate hard on why you’re not following through. Is your life really not going well, or are just not fully living it?

Stop waiting for things to happen and start making them happen. And have a wonderful weekend. It’s far more up to you than you’ve realized.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations locally and around the world.