Who do I serve?
Last week, during a compelling conversation with a dear friend, this question came up for me.
This is not an easy question yet I feel it is a fundamental one.
We all live and work in this tension between our inner purpose, needs, desire and the purpose, needs and desire of the world outside.
At the beginning I thought that I should be able to sacrifice my own needs for a greater good; to move from ego to eco. But then I realised that the answer was coming from my desire of feeling one of the good ones.
My second stage of this self-inquiry brought me back to the self. To serve others, I must serve myself first. So, through serving myself, I will be able to serve others.
Still, I wasn’t satisfied. Why does it have to be either/or? What if it’s an and? What if I can serve both myself and others at the same time? But how is this possible? What does it mean when my purpose and the purpose of others is different? Should I dedicate myself only to causes that are aligned with my own needs and desires?
Something was missing so I kept exploring, and then I read this sentence from Rupert Spira: “If we understand and feel that every animal, person and object is our very own self, we cannot go wrong.”
If I remove the boundaries between myself and others, that tension disappear. It’s no more about helping one or another. It’s about serving a higher vision. One the goes beyond this tension.
Rupert Spira wrote that “love is the experience of that oneness of being.”
Then the way forward is through love. Or, as Saint Augustine said:
‘Love, and do whatever you want!’
Tough morning this one.
I struggled to get my mind starting, and my routine didn’t help this time.
My mind is still foggy, and I’m not sure I’ll be able to write anything meaningful.
Luckily for me, I have the BeTheChange cards to help me in this small daily practice. This morning I picked two cards for no reason, it just felt right.
One card says “I inspire people”.
I’m not sure I do, but this card gave the boost to start writing despite my slow mind.
The second one says “Truth is desperately important”.
In this historic moment when every topic is so divisive, this message feels so important.
The time for this practice is almost gone – I told you my mind is very slow this morning – so I’ll use the word of someone else to share my feelings about truth.
“If we really want to speak the absolute truth we should remain silent.” —Rupert Spira
When I was looking for my definition of innovation, I found the amazing work on the topic of Professor Benoit Godin. His definition is the results of his extensive research on the history of innovation.
“Innovation is a deliberate human change to something existing to create something new.”
The word that struck me the most in this definition is “deliberate”.
Innovation does not just happen. It is a deliberate change.
To me, that means that to create innovation is not enough to declare it or to make some once-in-a-while strategic choices such as building an innovation team, hiring the right people, learning new methodologies and buying smart tools.
Innovation is an attitude that we must practice every day.
Too often we look at incredible innovations as if they came out of a magical burst of creativity of some talented guy or team.
I can understand why.
Most of the time the ideas that changed everything were completely unpredictable just an instant before they surface.
But those a-ha moments did not happen by chance.
They were the results of a deliberate choice to be open, curious.
They sparkled from an attitude of innovation.
“With everything perfect, we do not ask how it came to be. Instead, we rejoice in the present fact as though it came out of the ground by magic.” —F. Nietzsche
Take a pause.
In the last two days, I discovered the power of slowing down.
It is as if all the parts of me, that have been flying around while I was busy doing stuff, all of a sudden sank back and I’m whole again.
You are pulled in many directions every day; your attention and energy split in small streams.
But the world around you spins so fast that you struggle to keep the pace while keeping all the parts of your life together.
All of you together.
You’ve learned to prioritise and focus on one thing to maximise your performance. And in doing this, sometimes you feel you are sacrificing your integrity.
I see you.
I feel the same.
That’s why I’ve decided to take a pause last days.
To slow down until I was staying still.
And while all those streams, all those part of me were coming home, I began feeling whole again.
If you feel you’re losing your integrity, just breathe.
Take a pause.
Even if only for a few seconds.
Take a pause and just breathe.
“Our longing for love comes from the intuition of our shared being.” — Rupert Spira
What is the shape of love?
What is its form?
What objective qualities does it have?
Because, if we want to hold or own something, then that thing must have a form in time or space, some objective or material qualities.
Only when something can be objectively defined, we can perceive it as a separate entity. Something separated from ourselves and everything else. Something that we can observe.
Love has no shape.
Love is transparent and non-objective.
Love is formless.
How can you observe it? How can recognise it as different from something else? How can you say what it yours and what not?
So, if love is formless, then it can’t be divided into pieces.
The love I experience is the same love you experience.
Our experiences are different, but love is the same.
This is why our mind can not grasp it.
Our thoughts are objective and limited.
Words are limited.
So, we ask artists to describe something that cannot be explained but only felt.
We all are immersed in the same love.
But sometimes, layers or resistances and obstacles keep us away from feeling it.
The quest for love is not a journey to something.
It’s not about doing something.
It’s about sinking in our own being.
“The experience of love is precisely that experience, the experience of our shared being.” — Rupert Spira
I believe in the transformative power of small daily practices.
If I want to learn a new skill, develop a new behavior or become better at anything, I create a daily habit. Something, small that I can integrate seamlessly into my life and in my environment.
I love to experiment and play new practices.
It transforms everything into a playful experience.
For a new practice to stick, it must match my passions, my values, and my strengths. This way I can create the consistency needed to make it a habit.
The other day, however, I was facing a different type of challenge.
I didn’t want to learn something new.
I needed to stop doing something.
I wanted to get rid of a habit that it’s affecting my focus and my productivity.
When I don’t have something planned like a meeting or a session with a client, instead of tackling an item in my to-do list, I end up wandering aimlessly online between useless videos and not-so-interesting articles.
At the crossroad between work and idleness, I just go with the path of less resistance.
Anytime this happens, I feel guilty.
I tried many solutions from better planning to external accountability, but nothing really worked.
I know how to create a habit, but how do you get rid of one?
One that plays on my weaknesses.
In this case laziness.
And then, in a session with my fantastic coach, it hit me.
The answer was in that same weakness.
I just needed to be creative by being more who I am.
In this particular case, I decided to use my passion for stories as a way out of the unwanted habit.
I now keep a novel always at hand. Anytime I feel I’m dragged towards a time-wasting activity, I take out my book, and I start reading.
I’m still not doing the things in my to-do list that I should do.
But at least I don’t feel guilty at the end of the day.
Every morning I do this small ritual using the Be The Change cards.
I sit down with my eyes closed, and I shuffle the cards.
The intent for this ritual changes every day; an inspiration for my writing, a new perspective about something that it’s stuck in mind, or just an idea to kick off the day meaningfully. Then I pick a card, and I let it sink in my awareness for a few seconds.
This morning I went through my ritual as usual with the intent to find inspiration for this post.
But I while I was observing the card that I picked — Deepening into own wisdom — I realised that I chose two cards. There was another one stuck behind.
As you can see in the picture above, the second card has the word “Soul”.
The invitation from the cards is so vivid and compelling that I don’t think there is much I can add.
More and more in the last months, I’m becoming aware that my path to wisdom is taking me beyond my mind, my knowledge or my understanding.
It is a journey of the soul and into the soul.
“It’s the heart that knows the path. The mind is just there to organise the steps.” — Jeff Brown
This morning I decided to surrender to the Be The Change cards fully.
Usually, when I sit down to write the apple of day, I already have some running in my head. I still pick a card most of the time. It helps me spark my writing in the direction of what I want to share.
But this morning I woke up only with some vague thoughts.
So, when I set up for the writing practice, I decided to let the cards determine the topic. And they did. A card dropped out of the deck when I started shuffling.
I had to sit in silence for a good minute to let this invitation to sink in.
“Step aside & make space for others.”
What does it mean for me to step aside? Is it about work? Or my relationships? Who are the others I can make space for?
One of my guiding principles is “kindness”. I firmly believe in the power of being kind.
Today, this card made me realise a sort of a paradox.
My way of being kind has always been to help and support others. I am kind to others, and they are the objects of my kindness.
But that put me right in the middle of the stage.
What if being kind is not about me giving help or support, but it’s about me stepping aside and making space for them?
So they can help themselves.
So they are the protagonists of their stories.
Like this card today.
Not all days are good days.
Sometimes things don’t go as we expected or as we would like them to go.
Nobody is immune to sick days.
What do you do when you find yourself in one of those bad days?
Do you push harder to get to the other side or do you shrug your shoulders and keep going as if nothing happened? Do you let the negative thoughts to steal your focus or can you set the problems aside and keep moving?
I believe that negative days are great teachers.
When I feel that adversities are getting in my blood, I know that there is a lesson to learn for me.
So, I pause, I take out my journal, and I start writing until the negative thoughts are out of my head, or a solution manifests.
What do you do when you have a bad day?
“The religions start from mysticism. There is no other way to start a religion. But, I compare this to a volcano that gushes forth …and then …the magma flows down the sides of the mountain and cools off. And when it reaches the bottom, it’s just rocks. You’d never guess that there was a fire in it. So after a couple of hundred years, or two thousand years or more, what was once alive is dead rock. Doctrine becomes doctrinaire. Morals become moralistic. Ritual becomes ritualistic. What do we do with it? We have to push through this crust and go to the fire that’s within it.”
Yesterday I found this powerful metaphor from David Steindl-Rast, a Catholic Benedictine monk. The beauty of this metaphor is that it can be applied to any organisation.
Just replace the word “religion” with “form” or “configuration”. With the word configuration, I mean all the visible and invisible elements that define the “HOW” of an organisation.
Then replace “mysticism” with “consciousness” or “energy”; the true self, the bigger “WHO” of an organisation.
Then the sentence reads: “The form starts from consciousness. There is no other way to start a form. But, I compare this to a volcano that gushes forth …and then …the magma flows down the sides of the mountain and cools off. And when it reaches the bottom, it’s just rocks. You’d never guess that there was a fire in it. So after a couple of hundred years, or two thousand years or more, what was once alive is dead rock. Ideas become risks. Principles become bureaucracy. Ritual becomes routine. What do we do with it? We have to push through this crust and go to the fire that’s within it.”
How many organisation do you know that are in that place? Where the original fire now is just some dead rocks?
And what about you?
Because this metaphor works beautifully also for us, as individuals.
Is your flame, your energy still alive or did you allow for the time to cover it beneath solid rocks?
Every transformation journey starts with removing all those layers of solid rocks to find the original fire and reignite the volcano.