A Course in Miracles

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAOAAAAAJGVkMTM2ZTIxLWJjYmItNGQ3MS1hN2JmLTdiMDZhZDNjMjM5ZA

A Course in Miracles is an amazing text written in the 1970s by Helen Schucman and William Thetford, two professors of medical psychology at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons.

Neither of them were particularly spiritual people and the book was certainly not an account of how to live according to their lives.  They didn’t get on particularly well and the office where they worked was often stress-filled and tense.

It was through sheer frustration that Thetford announced one day “There has to be a better way” – to which Schucman responded “I agree Bill – and I will help you find it”.

And so the Course in Miracles was born.

I have been a student of the Course in Miracles for over two years. It is a monster of a text and requires me to be totally present when I am reading.  It found its way into my life in one of those very synchronistic kind of ways.

It just kept popping up on to my radar – everywhere I turned there seemed to be a reference to it.  Every new teacher whose message deeply resonated with me referred to A Course in Miracles as a profound text that had significantly impacted their journey.  After this had happened five or six times I finally said to the Universe “Yes, you now have my attention and I will go and buy this book”.

Teachers such as Van Tharp (one of the best super traders on the planet), Oprah Winfrey, Marianne Williamson, Neal Diamond Walsh, Gabby Berstien and so many others credit A Course in Miracles as a pivotal text on their journeys and I now understand why.

It is a complex read but the messages are pure, enlightened and all about love.  One of the most predominant messages throughout the book is that there are only two emotions – love and fear – and we as humans tend to get very stuck in fear and ego. Unfortunately this is where all the pain resides.

The following passage was written by Marianne Williamson from her book A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles. I think it beautifully sums up the message of the text and it truly lights up my soul:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves: Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

If you get a chance to be a student of A Course in Miracles, take it.  As much as it is a challenging read, the love, wisdom and grace in this book are sure to light up something in you that is truly magical, for you too are a child of God.

 

 

The Quiet Whisper of Intuition

trusting_your_intuition

 

During the week I watched an excellent four minute clip by a man called Kerwin Rae.  He is a businessman, entrepreneur, investor, international speaker and a very dynamic man.

In 2009, Kerwin suffered a stroke and was lucky to survive.  After the stroke, his short term memory was reduced to 15 seconds which meant he stopped paying attention to what people were saying because he couldn’t retain the information anyway. Instead, he started to “feel” them to work out whether he wanted them to be near him or not.  Through this process he honed his intuition and became very skilled at feeling energy and intention.

In this clip Kerwin talks about the energy that people have and how, when we develop our own intuition, we are able to accurately feel the intention of the people around us. He says that intention is the energy that is being sent out by another that we then intuitively pick up on.

Have you ever walked into a room and met a person and they have just felt wrong or bad?  They may not have even spoken yet, but energetically, your intuition is picking up on them and their intention. Alternatively, have you ever met someone who you connected with instantly and felt a lot of energetic attraction to even if a single word had not yet been said?

I am a huge believer in the philosophy of energy and intuition.  We are energetic beings living in an energetic world, so it makes perfect sense that we can pick up on someone else’s energy/intention even if we are not aware that we are doing it.

The points that really captured my attention in this short clip were Kerwin’s views on how we respond to our intuition – our innate knowing that often cannot be explained by logic or reason.

He said that normally two things happen: Firstly, we simply don’t hear our intuition because of the amount of noise that is in our internal or external environment. We are so over-stimulated with noise, colour, technology and life that we struggle to hear the quiet whisper that is our intuition (and often it is just a whisper).

Secondly, Kerwin said that when we do hear our intuition, we follow it and if things appear to go wrong we tend to blame it and vow that we will not listen to it again: “Damn! I am not listening to my gut again – that turned into a disaster!”. We give up on it so quickly when we don’t enjoy the outcome.

The defining point that I love about this is that it is unfolding exactly as it should.  He said our intuition is connected to infinite intelligence, and it is playing a far bigger game than what we can ever conceive.

So we follow our intuition, something goes “wrong” and we stop following it, when we should instead trust that whatever happened is a part of the process to get us to where we need to be. We need to trust that we are getting the learning that will prepare us for the journey we are on – that in actual fact this event is the prerequisite for the amazing event that will unfold in two, three, or four years time.

Kerwin’s main point of the clip is that when we hone our intuition we become so much better at business and life in general.  Intuition is not about everything feeling great, it’s about connecting to a game plan that is far greater than what our minds can appreciate and therefore living our most abundant life.

 

Extreme Ownership

todays-60second-book-brief-extreme-ownership-by-jocko-willink-and-leif-babin-4-638

Have you ever been in a situation where things go wrong – really wrong – and nobody is prepared to step up and take total ownership of the situation?  Sometimes the leader will deflect on to their subordinates, blame the equipment or the systems, or even just deny that they have had any part in the situation because they weren’t there on the day.

Sometimes the people involved in the situation blame the leader for inadequate training, unclear instructions or improper supervision.  It comes down to everyone passing the buck and a whole lot of finger pointing.

The concept of Extreme Ownership was developed by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin in their book Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win.

Willink and Babin were both officers in Navy SEAL Task Unit Bruiser. These guys fought through the worst days of the battle of Ramadi in Iraq. The knowledge they acquired on the ground has now become part of the training for incoming SEALs.

Willink starts the book with a powerful, yet bleak story – an incident that went disastrously wrong. When it was all over, a SEAL was injured, an Iraqi ally was dead, and many others were placed in serious danger.

The thing about this story is the whole thing could have been avoided.

Multiple breakdowns in systems and protocols added up to one big disaster. In aviation we call that the “Swiss Cheese Effect”. It’s when all the holes line up which allows the accident or incident to happen.

Straight after the event the Navy wanted an investigation. Willink, who was in charge, collected all the relevant information. He found mistakes at all levels, but he didn’t feel right about submitting the list without adding one crucial detail.

“I had to take complete ownership of what went wrong”, says Willink. “That’s what a leader does, even if it means getting fired”.

This is what Willink and Babin call Extreme Ownership.

Regardless of whether Willink had a part in each of the breakdowns along the way, he was the leader and was therefore prepared to allow the buck to stop with him.

It was not only the right thing to do, it also paid off. By taking the blame, Willink kept the trust of his team and was able to identify ways of improving operations. A different level of communication was possible because of his leadership.

It also preserved trust with his commanders. He says “Looking back, it’s clear that despite what happened, the full ownership I took of the situation actually increased the trust my commanding officer and master chief had in me.”

If he had thrown someone under the bus he would have lost the trust of his team, making it impossible to lead them. He also would have told his commanders that he couldn’t manage his team. That is a lose-lose situation.

So how come most of us don’t follow the principle of Extreme Ownership?

It seems like such a positive way forward: it builds trust, promotes open communication, and creates the space for very powerful learnings.  Step up, own it, be the leader, and set the example.

When I thought about why we don’t embrace Extreme Ownership I came to the conclusion that people don’t like having arrows shot at them and unfortunately our society has gravitated towards a “blame someone else” culture.

We are more litigious than ever with the number of lawsuits skyrocketing this century.  I have noticed common language patterns around shifting blame and deflecting ownership. Taking responsibility for whatever is under our care now seems to have options.

True leaders own everything that happens on their watch and the results of that are phenomenal.

 

 

 

Shake that booty!!

Colors-splash-dance-wide-wallpaper

One of my most favourite things to do in the world is dance, or more specifically, to dance with my young nieces.

There is something about dancing with children that gives me the space to really let loose, not care how I look, and get in touch with my inner rockstar!  There was a long period in my life where the only time I danced was when I was out with friends late at night and quite a few (let’s be honest – many!) champagnes down.

When my nieces arrived on the planet I felt like I had been reintroduced to my inner child. I think I had totally forgotten her and disconnected from her. A big part of that was how I moved my body. I hadn’t played on swings for years, hadn’t bombied in the pool like a hooligan, and I certainly hadn’t danced around the living room sober with total abandonment.  I realised that by being a full-time adult, I was moving my body so differently and in such a limited way.

Over the last ten years as I have spent more time with my inner child, I have found that I have so much more pleasure in my life. Being with her makes me feel so free and filled with joy. On reflection I realise that I had forgotten how to be playful in pursuit of being an adult. And I had gotten very good at being an adult!  One of the greatest gifts that my nieces have given me is to show me how to be a kid again and access that state very easily.

As simple as it sounds, dancing, playing “Apple On A Stick” (a hand clapping game that you play with another person), exploring the beach for shells, climbing trees, having handstand competitions in the pool, riding irresponsibly fast down a hill on our bikes, chasing each other around the garden, and shooting goals on the netball court is where my inner child likes to play.

Every single part of who we are is worthy of love and attention: our Inner Child, Queen, Teacher, Warrior Princess, Caregiver, Rebel, and all the other parts, both light and dark.

Honour them all by finding your ‘thing’: the thing that connects you powerfully to the other parts of yourself simultaneously.

For me, that is dancing with my nieces.

 

 

 

The Desiderata

2923205633_1b8f9d3828_z

Last week I posted a single line from the Desiderata on Instagram, a prose poem written by Max Hermann in 1927. It is a magnificent piece of writing, a simple and thoughtful take on how to live a life of contentment, happiness and fulfilment.

The post prompted several conversations about what sort of person Max Hermann must of been to have had such an insightful and simple take on life. He was clearly  a man who understood the world, and even though this poem suggests that he had his struggles, he was loyal to the belief of choosing happy.

It is the simplicity of this poem that makes its so attractive to me, and the wisdom too.  If we  all lived by these words, I think the world would be a happier place.  I just had to share it again.

Enjoy Max’s beautiful work…..

Desiderata

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.

Be cheerful.

Strive to be happy.

Help me!

shutterstock118860388

I was talking with my friend the other day and she was sharing a situation she was having in her workplace with me.  She had gotten in way over her head and was confused about how to resolve the situation.  I wanted to know: “Have you asked for help?”.

Often, by the time we consider asking for help, we have reached a category five, code red situation and the problem or challenge has gotten so much bigger than if we had asked for assistance earlier.  How come it is only when we are at crisis point that we believe it is appropriate (or we have become desperate enough) to ask for a hand?

My experience of western society today is that we are all so much more independent (especially us women) than what our ancestors were.  Back in the day, we had to ask for help with so many things in life because we needed the manpower: plowing the fields, hunting and gathering or trading services in the village. It makes me think of the Amish community all coming together to build a neighbour’s barn in a day – and that is still happening now.

I do love the fact that I am an independent woman yet that same independence has been one of my downfalls on occasion. Any strength that is over-utilised will become a weakness – including independence.

I mean, I can take care of it, get it done and make it happen yet there have been many occasions where I think that if I had asked for some help/guidance/advice/support a little earlier things could have worked out so much more gracefully.

I also appreciate that in relationships, us fiercely independent women can leave little space for our men (or women) to take care of us.  This is not a positive thing as everyone wants to be needed – in fact masculine energy thrives on being needed.  This is often why, when we share a problem with the men in our life, they want to give us solutions as opposed to just listening.

My friend with the work situation was very reluctant to ask for help yet it was very apparent that if she did, this situation would find a resolution so much quicker.  It is impossible to solve a problem with the same mind that created it, and if we have not yet moved into a new place our ability to solve the problem may not yet be there.  It’s why collaboration is such a powerful platform for true innovation.

As I explored my friend’s resistance to asking for help, so much of what she said resonated with me. She believed that she should be able to solve this on her own, she believed she would appear weak if she asked her boss to step in, she believed that if she just focussed on something else it would no longer be such a big deal, and she believed that she should just accept the status quo and get over it.

I completely disagreed with all of her beliefs, yet I did question: “If I was in her situation would I be offering some of the same responses?” I realised, with loving humour, that I would be 🙂

As we talked through her options, I was internally reminding myself to take some of my own advice next time I am in a similar situation.

I believe that asking for help is a sign of courage as well as strength.  Why struggle when we have an entire world of people around us who may have just the thing we need to solve our problem?

So, a note to self (and others): Be truly courageous and ask for help when it’s needed.

 

What makes you happy?

Happy

 

I was recently asked a question by a person I had just met, “So Kate, what makes you happy?”.

As I responded, I got to truly show who I was:  my values, the things I love, how I spend my time and so much more. Answering a question like that is a glimpse into another person’s soul so much more than the usual “What do you do?” or “Where do you live?”.

His question indicated that he was genuinely interested in understanding who I am as opposed to knowing the external factors or vehicles in my life. Often in our society we allow those external things to define us, but they are not who we really are.

I found this question totally refreshing and got immense enjoyment out of listing all the things that make my heart sing. I spoke about:

My family. Especially my nieces (and especially dancing with my nieces whilst pretending to be rockstars!).

My friends. Especially my “mantlepiece” friends (best friends). Especially breaking bread with my mantlepiece friends, and especially laughing whilst breaking bread with my mantlepiece friends!

Nature. Especially being amongst the trees. Especially being amongst the trees whilst enjoying their energy, and especially being amongst the trees whilst enjoying their energy when there are no other people around!

Coaching. Especially serving my clients. Especially serving my clients whilst they are creating amazing breakthroughs, and especially serving my clients whilst they are creating amazing breakthroughs and changing the lives of the people they love in the process.

This conversation went on for quite a while and my list was very extensive, he had to stop me at number 74! It was such a pleasure to share all of these nuggets of joy with someone and I realised I hadn’t actually thought long and hard about all the things that make me happy in quite a while.

As I verbalised each of them, I got to visit the moment again and by the time I had finished answering his question, I felt amazingly happy and deeply blessed.

I asked the same question of him because I wanted to give him the chance to enjoy a walk down happiness lane too. Plus, it is just an outstanding question to ask!

Can you imagine a world where instead of asking about what we own, or do, or where we live, we asked about what makes a person truly happy? How much more connected would we all be? How much easier would it be to contribute to another person’s joy in life? How much more interesting would the conversation be?

So I am curious, what is it that makes you happy?

 

 

Man’s (and Woman’s) best friend

 

file_2153_column_popular-dog-names

What is it about dogs that makes them so absolutely wonderful??

Is it the unconditional love? All the ways that they think you are the best person in the world?

Is it how they look at you, with a smile in their eyes and an open and eager heart?

Is it because they are just so present and are experts at living in the moment?

I am over here in Brisbane (I live in Perth) and am staying with my gorgeous friend and her family who, since my last visit, have a new dog! I am pumped! Billy Dog is a Scmoodle (aka super cute) and has the most infectious and joyful energy.

Today is her birthday so I am writing this blog to celebrate her special day and to express my deep love for dogs and all they give us. I have always had dogs in my life and when I reflect over each and every one of them, they have all taught me so much.

Children who get the opportunity to grow up with dogs, I think, get a whole different perspective on life. Not only because they are able to practice those soft skills like responsibility, discipline and caring for another being. They also get exposed to unconditional love of the animal variety, playfulness, friendship, loyalty and often tolerance, acceptance and forgiveness as well. Dogs are so great at teaching those qualities without even knowing they are doing it.

Growing up, we had two Blue Heelers (also known as Australian Cattle Dogs) and one Jack Russell. The Blueys were called Rosebud and Violet and the Jack Russell was Daisy. Yep, we named them in accordance with a flower theme.

The Blueys were tough. I grew up on 20 acres next to government catchment land and the Girls were always out there looking for stuff to chase, bring down or hunt. There was many a morning when we found an animal or part there-of on the doorstep. They would be so proud for having brought a gift home, and they sure were confused when I would open the door to half a dead kangaroo and start yelling like a banshee!

Mum often sent us off into the valley to play for the day with a packed lunch and the dogs. She knew that we would be 100% safe because the dogs would know how to bring us home if we got lost and they would never let anyone hurt us due to their protective nature.

Rosebud and Violet taught me to be an adventurer, to be in the moment and to love unconditionally and loyally. They always forgave me when I didn’t pay them attention or forgot to feed them or just didn’t care about them because I was thinking about me. They were always about the love.

They would always be by my side if I was sick, they let me dress them up, and they were always ready to play with me if I wanted that.

Those dogs really did make my childhood so memorable. I have always seen pets as family members and I am so grateful that I had so many siblings over the years.

Dogs rock.

 

Empathy

Thoreau-empathy-quote

I love books and am always on the lookout for a new one.

This last couple of weeks, I have been reading a book called Empathy by Roman Krznaric, an English philosopher. It was recommended to me by a guy called Ben who I met on a tour in Langkawi last year. Ben and his new wife September were on their honeymoon and we were chatting over lunch about all sorts of different things.

Ben was telling me about his visit to the Empathy Museum in London and what a profound experience it had been. I was fascinated! At the Empathy Museum, the visitors are able to experience different peoples’ lives by literally standing in their shoes while reading their stories. The exhibition is called “A Mile In My Shoes”. The purpose is to help develop their ability to be empathetic. It is all about seeing the world from another person’s point of view and to feel their experience of the world – “feel“ being the key word here.

Thoughts and beliefs around empathy have certainly had some huge shifts over the last few decades. For a long time it was believed that humans were primarily self-centred, self-focused beings.

In the 17th century, English Philosopher Thomas Hobbes wrote about how, if we were left ungoverned it would be a “warre of all against all”. In his book Leviathan he concludes that we are inherently self-seeking and violent creatures who need an authoritarian government to keep us in check. Wow!!

As we move through the centuries, Hobbes’ ideas were supported and built on by the likes of Adam Smith, Charles Darwin and Sigmund Freud. This view of us being selfish and aggressive is all a bit depressing really!

Astonishingly enough though, Smith and Darwin couldn’t ignore the fact that we really are social animals and the theme of their work did start to shift over time to acknowledge that.

By the early 20th century, as psychology was becoming an established science, empathy started to get the attention it deserved. More and more research was conducted and the data was very conclusive: we do have an empathetic side, some of us more than others.

What I have been most enjoying about this book though, is the techniques that help us develop more empathy. From what I have read, when each person has a well-developed sense of empathy, the world has to, by default, become a better, kinder and more peaceful place. We simply wouldn’t harm each other, animals or the environment in the way we currently do if we had a deep sense of empathy. That being said, we are coming along in leaps and bounds.

So how do we develop our empathy? Well, the book is full of all sorts of different habits that we can develop to become more empathetic – six habits to be exact. There was one idea that so inspired me that I wanted to share it in a blog, it’s called “experiential empathy”.

Experiential empathy is where we literally take on the life and activities of someone else. One of the more famous examples of this was documented in a book called Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin. He documented his experience of spending six weeks in the Southern American States as a black man in 1959. He dyed his skin using black pigment and then went out into the world to experience it from the point of view of an African American in a very racially prejudiced time.

It was tough to say the least!! Segregation was still alive and well. He was spoken to poorly, people continually looked over him or through him, he was yelled at for no apparent reason, and generally treated badly. This was something that was very unfamiliar to him – being a white male – and it made the experiment even more powerful and shocking.

This is an extreme example of experiential empathy and there are many other examples. Gunter Wallraff, a German investigative journalist, spent two years posing as an immigrant worker doing low paid jobs and experiencing the conditions that these workers were subject to. This experience lead him to write a book (which sold two million copies) and the profits went to legal aid for these workers. Two American born men, Tushnar Vashisht and Matthew Cherian, who were highly affluent and university educated, returned to their native India and lived off $2 a day for three weeks to experience what poverty felt like.

For many of us, to be a part of an experiment like this might be a bit too challenging but we can have our own, more simple experiential empathy experience. It is as easy as halving your weekly food shopping bill to see what it would be like for a family with less money than you.

It could mean doing a “God Swap”: if you are Christian, go to a mosque and sit with people who follow Islam. If you are Muslim, go to a Catholic church to see what it’s like to be Catholic for a day. If you are a rampant meat lover, be vegetarian for a week. If you never worry about money, go and sit on the street with a tin in front of you and see the world from the point of view of a homeless person. If you work Monday to Friday and your partner stays at home, take their role for a week and see what it’s like to walk in their shoes.

The purpose of doing this as I said earlier is to grow our empathetic side. Empathy CAN be learnt, yet like any learnt behaviour, there has to be practice.

The Gift of Receiving

abundance-circle

I am blessed to have some wildly generous people in my world and I consider myself a very generous spirit too.  I have always believed that sharing is caring and I have often evaluated people by whether they are predominantly givers or predominantly takers. I do believe it speaks of a person’s character.

Through my giving nature, I have certainly attracted takers in to my life.  One of my favourite sayings is “Givers need to know when to stop giving, because takers don’t know when to stop taking”.  This is certainly true!  Its the ying and the yang of life.

A challenge that givers come across is that often the line is blurry around when do they stop giving.  Because this is such  firm part of their identity, the realisation they are being used can often come a little late.

The other challenge that I have noticed both in myself and other givers is that when we identify with being a giver, we can struggle to receive.

This is a grave travesty!

About ten years ago, someone who I greatly admire called me on the fact that I was not very good at receiving, whether it be a compliment or an act of service.  I didn’t like this very much but because they are a mentor of mine I sat with the feedback I had one of the greatest epiphanies of my life.

I was stealing an opportunity of pleasure off someone else.

Every time I rejected a gift of generosity, kindness, something material or an act of service, I was denying the person who was giving the enjoyment of being the giver.

I was crushing their desire to feel that “giving” feeling, the same feeling that I thrive on and love to experience myself. When I looked at the situation from this new angle, I realised just how selfish I was being.

The conflict that came up in me was huge.  I mean how could I be a giver AND be selfish, it just didn’t make sense to me?  Humans will do more to remain congruent with their identity than anything else so here I was having an identity crisis.

As I moved forward with this new realisation, I noticed more and more how much pleasure other people got when they gave and the other person received.  I really hadn’t seen both sides of this picture so clearly before, I finally had a more holistic view. I watched the dance of giving and receiving like it was a beautiful ballet and more importantly, joined in.

Giving and receiving is equally important.

As I much as I still get more pleasure from giving than receiving, I appreciate the pleasure I allow someone else to experience when I receive from them.

So in my receiving I still get to be a giver, how special is that!