Egos and Salespeople

Richard and Alice didn’t even want to be there, but they had been in an accident and they needed to replace their car. They tried being stealthy but the salesman’s training took care of that. He was ready. Everything about his training taught him how to take full advantage of whatever kind of personality was in front of him.

Alice was just as shy as Richard but, for little more than sexist reasons, she pushed–and Richard accepted–the lead shy person’s position and so he’s the one that talked to Sammy. Richard immediately tried to play his cards close to his chest, but all that he and Alice talked about were safety features, so Sammy figured out that scaring them into buying it was the fastest, surest way to sell them a new van that was more expensive than the one they came in for.

Sammy talked about features, but he was sneaky about always adding in little references to how his van had this or that feature that kept them safer than other vans. Half the time Sammy was making the name of the feature up, and he had no idea what the competitors vans had for safety or features, but he knew if he said his was safest and the customers trusted him, then they’d never check. Besides, Mac was the kind of salesman that told the truth about that sort of thing and he was always in trouble with their managers for reading research instead of selling. Sammy didn’t need that hassle. He wanted to be a good employee.

In a short time Sammy had them scared into dealing with him only, and he had scared them into his van specifically, and then he scared them into a price. Of course his manager started them far higher than the monthly payment number they gave him, but that’s how Sammy’s boss contributed to the psychological assault. And that way Richard and Alice are so off balance that they never even noticed that the monthly payments added up to a lot more than the van plus the interest.

For their part, Richard and Alice are legitimately scared. They can’t deal with those other lying, thieving salesmen. Good thing Sammy warned them about them. And it has to be the D-Lux model, not for all of those expensive features, but rather because that’s how they get the best safety equipment. Besides, Sammy had got them such a great deal. (Sammy also made sure they felt in line to have several more accidents during their driving history.) So they felt they had no option except to nearly double their original monthly payment budget.

Once they’d agreed to that, Sammy handed them over to Polly. She’s the dainty, cute girl that works in the finance office. She was going to take care of the “paperwork” with Richard and Alice, and Sammy had told her about his good friends Richard and Alice, so innocent-looking little Polly also knew to tell a bunch of really frightening stories as she recommended various insurance or protection options. Totally scared of theft, accidents, death and every projectile imaginable, Richard and Alice doubled the price of the van again.

Finally they get word back from the bank but now they’re scared again! After all of this work and planning, the bank won’t approve the loan. Oh no! They can’t let the van go now! It’s the last one like it! Of course none of this is true, but with Sammy, Polly and their manager saying it, Richard and Alice panic. Yes, of course they’ll pay more!

Boom. Polly got her bonus–because had they not been willing to pay more, then the interest rate problem would have suddenly been solved by Polly’s genius instead or Richard’s wallet. So in the end, Richard and Alice got the van that will destroy their future finances and they’re even relieved to have it. They’re so grateful to Sammy for focusing on their safety and not their wallets that they’re planning on sending him business.

On a sidenote, when they picked up their van, Richard and Alice were so excited and happy that they didn’t even notice Mac, the honest salesman, being escorted out of the building with his belongings. Which was too bad for Mac, because the next day he ended up missing out on the free cake to celebrate Sammy’s win as Employee of the Month.

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.

Intentional Being

It’s actually pretty likely that the person reading this is not the person you’d actually planned to be when you grew up. I’m not sure it happens to some Masai guy on the Serengeti but if you live in the modern world then it’s very likely you’re going to end up accidentally being someone. I know. Weird eh? But that’s what people do. They wake up at some time in the next seven or eight years and go, what the…? Whose life is this?!

Let’s pick the art-forms of dance or acting because these are two of the toughest professional challenges there are. A writer can pay his bills by day and dedicate his nights to writing. Professional acting and professional dance understandably and invariably require full day-time and full night-time commitments, so those artists can hold temporary jobs but they can’t climb up any ladders because they’re always leaving when they get a gig. And they will always leave. Artists know their jobs allow them to more fully be themselves than most of life does and so they’ll pretty much die before they’ll give that up. In fact if they do give it up, something has died.

People need to survive. They finish school, they’ve got their school debt and likely a car payment and some insurance and a chunk of some rent somewhere. And eventually you want to date, maybe get married and think about maybe having enough resources to support a family. And all of a sudden your life vanishes and you replace it bit by bit with surviving. You just hope by the end of the month to be able to make ends meet. The ends. You stop living and you start making a living. It can get a bit desperate.

You’ll do your best, so you’ll work to become a better salesman, a better people-manager, a better task-manager, being more organized—whatever. You’ll start developing and competing as that instead of offering the world who you are. So you’ll be more interested in the best sales technique, which isn’t finding the person the best product, but rather it’s the most effective and quick way to get people’s money.

To have a more fulfilling life, instead of just getting their money we can seek what Robert Pirsig called the moment of Quality. The Now moment, when cannot care about the sale itself because there is no subject and object. There is no act and result. Everything is combined. All attention and focus is on the enthusiastic creation of anything original, whether it’s some brand new choreography or an oft-repeated tea ceremony. It all comes from us.

If we continue to care about Quality we won’t lose track of who we are. But if we want to satisfy our ego by trying to be good, or if we just seek to make money, then the blinders go on and invisibly we climb onto a kind of autopilot treadmill. That’s why everyone looks half-dead today. They’re not adding any real value to the world. And if it’s happening to you, what makes you notice it is the monotony and the futility. See? Even those things have advantages.

One day you wake up and realize, whose life is this? When did I become this person? It’s not like you had to get on Broadway or TV, you could have just done community theatre and enjoyed your major in school like a hobby. A lot of places in the world would think that quite sane. It’s less so now, but I like how European students were propelled to be who they wanted to be through their studies, whereas in North America it’s always felt more about training for what you’ll do. That’s a hard thing to define, but there’s something rich about pouring a bunch of education into yourself and not a career you might hate in a few years.

I’ve written it before—your life will go in roughly 7-9 year stretches. That’s about as long as I see people being anyone before they’ll eventually stumble into being someone else. There are those moments of becoming. It’s hard to remember those early ones—where you got your first real independence, or went into puberty, or shifted into young adulthood—but by 25 or 27 years old you’re getting a bit more conscious and you notice the change into actual699 Relax and Succeed - If you don't build adulthood (which is about when your brain stops growing—no joke intended).

So one of the people you will become is a person with a job trying to stay ahead. Not get ahead in many cases. Just keep the wolves at the door for another 30 days. Some people watched their parents resign themselves to that too, but that’s like handing over your life to slavery. Your work day is 50% of your waking life. If you can’t turn it into something meaningful then you’re surrendering way too much.

Fulfill yourself. Change jobs. Create your own value-based company. Or if that feels impossible at least go to your job as a salesman invigorated by the standing ovation you got last night in your community theatre production. Start a dance class for the disabled where you work as an orderly. Teach singing to poor kids at the school where you’re the custodian. There are a lot of ways to be the thing you imagined in university. It doesn’t have to be your work. It can be a big and nourishing part of your life though. We have to stop dividing those two things up as though they’re different. They’re all you being you.

There was wisdom in your youth. Before you were told about responsibilities and obligations etc., you were free. You had ideas about how you would expand the world, not fit into it. What were those dreams? And is some aspect of them still alive? Do you still want to write that novel? Do you still want 699 Relax and Succeed - If you aren't making a differenceto learn to build a computer, or ride a unicycle, or play on the sports teams you had dreaded as a kid? Then do it. Because any pain you feel—any boredom or frustration or lost-ness all stems from you doing and not being. Shakespeare talked about the seven ages of man, and he also said “To be or not to be,” not “To do or not to do.”

Don’t trade your life for money. Don’t do work you can’t invest in. Do things that allow you to genuinely enjoy your day, even if that’s via your customers and co-workers versus the work itself. Because as long as a lot of your days are spent joyfully creating worthwhile things or experiences, then you will continue to expand as is your nature.

Don’t be someone accidentally. Be intentional about your life. Choose your life, choose how to act and choose to be okay with however you feel. Those are all trickier than they sound, but they are all also ultimately answers that are hard to find precisely because they’re so easy and obvious.

Don’t complicate things. Just be yourself. That would be perfect. And have yourself a stupendous day.

peace. s

I’ve posted it on a past Friday Dose but despite some of the language it’s just too appropriate not to re-post, so here’s Joe Rogan’s video The Society Trap. I recommend taking the time to take a look:

The Friday Dose #67

680 FD Relax and Succeed - Life is not about success

Let’s use today to move through the stages of life. We’ll finish with dying, and we’ll precede that with aging, a look at the middle of your life and we’ll start off here with kids. As I’ve written before, most of the world group-sleeps. Brothers and sisters and other family members cuddle up, using each other as pillows and they sleep to the sound of each other’s breathing. There’s an epidemic of people who have trouble falling asleep and that’s a huge reason why. Here’s a talk with James McKenna on how our society urges us to train children to be unnatural:

A Conversation with a Co-Sleeping Expert

*

Next David Cain takes on the next stage of programming of your life. This is where you learn to work instead of live. He talks about the simple joys in life that are surrendered without us even realizing it. If this short article doesn’t get you to really think about your life carefully I’ll be surprised, and the comments are almost as interesting as the short article:

Working to Live

*

Next we’ll hear Maurice Sendak, author of books like Where the Wild Things Are, as he discusses aging and dying and how life only becomes more precious and where our tears are generated more by great thanks and appreciation than over loss or sadness:

*

And we’ll close with a talk by the great Alan Watts on what you’re supposed to do before and after your life:

*

No matter what stage you are in life I hope you found this helpful in getting yourself to where you’d really like to be. Have a wonderful weekend everyone.

peace. s

00 Relax and Succeed - Friday Dose Footer

Values for Living

People often wonder, am I doing the right thing? Is there something better or more important I should be doing? We’re always asking the world who it wants us to be and it’s sitting there looking impassively at us, waiting for us to be the only thing we ever could be—ourselves.

668 Relax and Succeed - They say love is the best investmentIf you want to calculate the value of anything you’re doing you have to put it into terms of time. That’s your limited resource. It’s how much of that you’ll pay that determines how valuable you actually believe something is. So if you’re a $1,000 dollar an hour lawyer and you buy your wife a $350 dollar dress then you’ve invested about 20 minutes in her, whereas if you hand made her a birthday card that might take you two hours plus the time buying the craft supplies at the store plus the time to earn the money for that, so in that case the card would be worth more than the dress.

This not only applies to relationships with our lovers, but also the relationships we have with our children, or even our employees or co-workers. You can work to get a promotion that results in more hours but higher pay so that your kid can ride in a nicer car, or those hours can be spent at a less stressful job and more of that time can be invested in spending nows with the actual kid. Using this scale I think you can easily see that most of the Western world is wasting their lives on things that ultimately have no value. No one lays on their death bed wishing for more time in a mall or on social media. They want more time with their brother, or their wife or their son.

Every day you make choices regarding where you invest the time of your life. Like a vein of gold running through rock you have no idea when your lifetime will come to an end. And so starting to spend it more wisely is something that should be done as soon as possible. Do not always assume there will be more time. The vein will eventually be emptied. The answer that defines your life is, what did you invest your time in?

668 Relax and Succeed - It is no bad thingStart calculating your life based on how much time you’re giving to the different aspects of your life. Is enough going towards sleep? And how about food? Is enough going toward buying, preparing and paying for quality food? And is your time spent repetitively, or on debts for things that no longer assist us you in being happy? Because you need far less than you realize. If you slow down the rate of your desires you’ll be able to shift into the speed of life. This is where the most valuable thing is: connection. Maybe it’s you connecting to nature. Maybe it’s you connecting to your lover, or your family or to your friends. Or maybe it’s you connecting to yourself. That’s what life is. The time spent in those states of interplay with other aspects of the universe—that is when you are alive. Owning things has absolutely nothing to do with that. Those are the decorations around life but they are not life itself.

Spend less time adorning your life and talking about your past or future choices and start making choices in the moment you are in. Stop commentating on your life and others and start living as a verb instead. Don’t have a lifetime of items and opinions at the end of your time here on Earth. Have a lifetime of experiences. Have a lifetime of living.

668 Relax and Succeed - I was dyingSo many are bound up by thoughts about the paths that they believe were theirs to happiness. But there is no path to happiness. Happiness is how we walk any path. It is a choice to accept everything that comes and not argue with it because it steals our attention away from the experience we would otherwise be having. Talking about life is not living life. Decorating life is not living life. Being in the moment you are in is the only way we can actually live our lives consciously. The sooner we realize that the sooner we do it and the sooner our decisions start to more closely reflect who we truly are.

What are you currently investing your time in? What does that say about your values? Because we can make all the excuses we want, but where our time is is where our heart is and possessions don’t have a heart. Even the people in our life must be freely choosing to spend their time with us before a connection is truly achieved. Love cannot be possessed. It can only be lived and experienced as a collection of decisions about how we chose to invest the value of our lifetime.

peace. s

Spiritual Priorities

What are your priorities? Not the ones you automatically tell people as part of your ego’s pose in the world. What does your life indicate your priorities are? Where are your actions in life and to what end? Do you spend your day actually trying to get happier, or are you mostly focused on affording what you either have or want?

593 Relax and Succeed - If we do not feel gratefulRecently the New York Times did a piece on John Osburg, the author of Anxious Wealth: Money and Morality Among China’s New Rich. It’s an interesting article in which Osburg is asked about how the wealthiest Han Chinese respond to their success and he notes that, “…there’s no question tastes are evolving, albeit somewhat slowly. Now that every Shanxi coal baron’s mistress can afford Louis Vuitton, in order to differentiate themselves, other new rich are moving on to other pursuits and tastes.”

That trend isn’t exclusively Chinese of course. When I was head of creative at the network in the 1990’s we did a two-part movie-of-the-week with Richard Chamberlain called The Lost Daughter. It was about the Order of the Solar Temple cult, which included many extremely wealthy families from Europe, North America and Australia. Much like the Chinese noted above, these people were very successful in the materialistic world, but once you can buy all the things you’ve dreamed of, how do you distinguish yourself?

So why do people want to be distinguished? Why do they want us to admire them? Because much like victims employ sympathy, admiration is a shallow refection of love, which what they want but don’t feel they can get without achievements. And so in their desperate attempt to find greater meaning, wealthy, educated people were encouraged to not only commit mass suicide, but to murder their own family members as well. Can you see how this unhealthy lust for love can manifest? Because remember, those murders were viewed by the parents as acts of love.

593 Relax and Succeed - Carrot and stickNone of that is much different than a victim sacrificing their enjoyment of their own short time on Earth to instead focus on garnering sympathy. Not loving someone is seen as reasonable, but not giving someone sympathy is seen as cruel and the people who use sympathy subconsciously know this. And so they tell their sad story and they get their imitation of love.

Now if their attempts to find value in themselves is what leads them to healthy spirituality then that’s great. If some crazy-rich Lamborghini-driving 29 year old Han ends up discovering true enlightenment by hanging around Monks for status, then the route up the mountain isn’t what matters—it’s the view once you’re up there.

So do you see that you can save yourself from trying to achieve material success in your own life? Can you see that you’re just on some kind of weird treadmill-ladder where no matter how long you climb you still get off at the same height? So you might as well jump off now. Think of how developed you’d be if you invested the same time on your spiritual development as you do in making, saving and spending money. When you think about it, that’s the vast majority of your waking day.

What I like about all of this is that it’s media-friendly. These stories will travel well. And these are stories of the richest people in the world who are placing their spiritual development above their material success. Material success is simply not enough anymore. Not in an age where someone like Ambani can build a billion-dollar 400,000 square foot (37,000 square meter) 27 story house for a family of six. Once you get to that kind of ridiculous excess you literally start to look crazy instead of successful and so people realize that they need to find something that people can genuinely respect. And in the end, when push really comes to shove, the only thing people will ever wholeheartedly respect is if you unconditionally love them.

593 Relax and Succeed - RevolutionIf it continues like this we’ll either destroy the world or we’ll come to the realization that ever-increasing wealth isn’t the answer to happiness, satisfaction and ultimate success and it may very well be the super-wealthy that signal this change. If they start being honest, humble and public about how disappointing their lives are, then that may be the signal for the next big change, which is not a political revolution, an industrial revolution, nor a technical revolution—it’s a spiritual revolution. Not a revolution of religion. One of compassion. Of prioritizing the happiness and security of people rather than focusing on economies. We can invest in ourselves instead of in the stock market. In the end the investment in yourself pays far better dividends.

Look at your life honestly. How much of it is spent shopping or working? How much of it is about money and how much of it is about happiness and life and meaning? Because far too many people wait until they’re seriously ill or dying before ever considering these questions and that’s unfortunate. Because most people who do consider them end up realizing that they’re not actually living the life they truly want and they begin to make changes. Don’t be brainwashed by your society. Don’t have silly, meaningless priorities because that’s what some business needs. Live your life by being present in it. It doesn’t matter what you wear or drive or where you live. What matters is, do you feel connected to other people and do you find it easy to give love? If you have those two things then you have everything that anyone ever truly wanted or needed.

peace. s

Save Yourself

Most of us get too much of our food from unhealthy sources. Almost every one of us wants the animals we eat to be cared for better. Most of us are rushed and harried. Our lives are too busy to be as rewarding as life feels like it should be. And it’s true. In North America we’ve gone downhill in the total quality-of-life scale since about the very early 1950’s. We need two 484 Relax and Succeed - A savage is the one who livesincomes now to care for fewer kids because each kid and both parents have so darned much stuff. Just their car alone has about 14,000 parts in it. We’re busy people and so we consume a lot. A lot of what? A lot of everything.

So what’s this mean? It means our gross consumerism is doing two things: it’s disrupting the social structures that our relationships were formerly based on, and it’s eating up the world and spitting out toxic garbage. What’s toxic mean? It means it’ll kill the planet. And what do we want all that stuff for anyway? We just lose it all when we die. By now, 80% of 40 year olds and older will be working very hard to deal with whatever unexpected financial event happened in their life. Maybe they got cancer and were only getting a percentage of their wage on disability, maybe they had an expensive divorce or got defrauded or maybe an illness lead to an early retirement. Bottom line, people have never worked harder to be more stressed and the planet itself is in a declining state.

These two things are linked. We need to consume because our lives are hollow because our relations are shallow and short and fickle and thin. Not as long ago as it seems, people lived in groups. They slept in groups, hunted in groups, gathered in groups. And now we invent houses and encase ourselves. We talk to each other through phones even though we’re at the same restaurant table. We’ve become unnatural. And we have to get back to being more natural or we’re all gonna die.

If the Earth were the size of a basketball, the atmosphere is about as thick as two coats of paint and we have been pumping crap into it for 150 years. I’m a scuba diver and in my short lifetime I have witnessed the degradation of dive sites I had previously visited. I have seen the fish disappear and the shorelines change. We water golf courses and flower pots outside hotels, but if you’re travelling around the 484 Relax and Succeed - Sustainable development is the masterful balanceworld a lot and you’re watching for it, you’ll notice that a lot of things are dying.

We’re too interested in money and not interested enough in life. Our own or the planet’s. I don’t want you to do this because I’m some green activist because I’m not. I’m a guy who loves everyone around him and that’s the way of living that this blog exists to impart. It just so happens that a byproduct of that objective is that you fall in love with the whole world around you.

I’m not saying it’s easy or without its huge challenges, but seriously try to reconsider the world and your life at the same time. Instead of going out to a movie where you all stare in the same direction in the dark and don’t talk, try staying in, facing each other at a small table, and play a board game and talk. You’ll be surprised at how therapeutic it is. And it’ll leave a tiny footprint on the planet. People playing Scrabble or Chess or Monopoly tend not to do a lot of damage to the Earth.

You want your life to feel better. I’m not kidding. This is how. Stop caring about yourself and your happiness and start caring about other people’s welfare. The sharing of compassion is at the heart of the sort of love we’re all seeking. It’s that wonderful warm feeling where you don’t feel like you need to be anywhere except where you are. You are Be-ing.

484 Relax and Succeed - I thinkn a hero is any personPay more attention. Live more consciously. Choose connection. Choose friendship and camaraderie. Eat healthier and be easier on the planet simultaneously and both you and it will get stronger and healthier. But it must be intentional. You must really want to be this person who lives this way. It’ll be easy though. Because once you start, and once you get past the initial awkward stage that goes with any new thing, you’re left with one of life’s better experiences and that will motivate you to want to recreate them. And the only way to do that is to care. To actively care, with the accent on the active.

We can’t think the world into being better. Too many of you are unhappy and too many of you aren’t doing anything concrete to help anyone in a significant way. Choose an activity you currently derive little benefit from, and instead of doing that, put consciously compassionate living in its place. We’ll all be better off. The world could use your love. You’re awesome.

peace. s

Knowing vs Understanding

Most of the time in life we don’t stop to truly consider each idea that is presented to us. We just accept them, and yet if someone asks you something obvious like: what exactly is the difference between being alive and being dead? you realize that even philosophers who ask that question as a full time job are incapable of finding one, single encapsulating answer. That’s because it is possible to understand something without knowing it.

481 Relax and Succeed - Out of your vulnerabilitiesSo we all know what death basically is. We just don’t know what defines the actual transom between life and death. Knowing that is a bit like a mathematician taking me through the various steps of a large formula. I can understand each step, but if you ask me if I know the whole formula itself, I probably don’t. My knowledge would not be deep enough. Similarly, I understand how a car engine works, but on 95% of breakdowns I wouldn’t know enough to be able to help.

Knowing is when you own an idea. That’s when your brain is wired up to include a framework for the analysis and calculation that goes with that idea. If someone explains something to you, they can step by step you through other ideas you already know to eventually reach the correct conclusion. But that is different from you practising that calculation until you understand it in a different way. When you get what it’s doing—that’s when the idea becomes yours and you can’t unlearn it. It is now a part of your brain. You have been expanded.

This explains why smokers can understand that smoking is bad for them and yet they still do it. It’s why lovers return to bad relationships over and over. It’s why people eat when they’re not even hungry. You can understand an idea intellectually. But until you can see how that idea comes alive in your own life, you cannot make any real use of your awareness. Knowing about something is not the same as understanding that if you don’t act soon, there will be 481 Relax and Succeed - It is not what you do for your childrenrepercussions you’d prefer to avoid. When that idea belongs to you as an aspect of your own life, then you know something well enough to be able to act upon it. To own it, those pathways have to spend time in your brain being used.

This is why you can’t suddenly teach your kids about money when they’re in their teens. That’s way too late. Money is a concept. If it’s not linked to sacrifice early in life, then later lessons will have much less value. It isn’t a matter of a kid learning to add or subtract better, it’s them developing a strong framework for the idea of limits and planning and value. How much work/time is this or that worth? It’s funny how much less appealing something is when you actual weigh out how hard you’ll work to earn that much—after taxes.

If a kid has to deal with money issues, they become second nature just like some kids eat potatoes and some eat rice. If you’re exposed to something you come to understand it through that exposure. But for those pathways in the brain to be effective, they have to be well-established before the introduction of larger amounts of money. To wait until then is to leave a child with an unsharpened tool to hunt with.

Teaching a kid to budget isn’t cruel or difficult. It’s necessary if you want your child to have a brain that can actually manage money in a useful, sophisticated way. Because otherwise they’ll nod at you and earnestly tell you that they do understand, but once they get out into the world they will eventually realize that they never did truly know what it was they were doing.

481 Relax and Succeed - Treat people as if they wereDon’t teach your kids a set of beliefs. Instead, teach them how to learn, and then inspire them. Let them go at whatever pace suits them. Some kids develop quickly at one age, others at other ages. There is no set of rules other than the fact that their brain will be built by experiences. Put a smart kid in a car and drive him everywhere and he’ll have a high IQ and no sense of direction whatsoever. Same with the ability to manage finances.

Don’t explain things to your kids. Set up experiences and then let them learn by living up to the same responsibilities that simply reflect the world they will actually live in. It’s easier on you and it helps them to see how capable they truly are, which is great for their sense of self-worth. And self-worth is something every ego struggles with whether it’s rich or poor, so as much as possible avoid ego, and after that just teach the kid the stuff they need to know to survive without you. Have fun!

Have an awesome day.

peace. s