Follow your passion

I was just reading how some people make excuses for not following their passion… and thought that I might respond in support of following your passion.

When I was small, I wanted a Ferrari Testarossa. You see, I have red hair (well at least it was when I was younger!); when I found out that “Testarossa” literally means “red head”, I decided in the unequivocal way children can, that it was my dream car.

Then I saw one… and I thought, “hmmm… that’s a pretty ugly car” – but it was my publicly stated “dream car” so I held onto the dream.

Shortly after starting my first company, I sat in a Ferrari for the first time. It was in a dealership in Brisbane and I was so excited – finally, I was going to get what I had always wanted. As I sat myself into that hard seat of fine Italian leather, it felt fantastic… For a moment… until I realized, “It’s just a car.”

And it hit me like a cement truck falling at terminal velocity. It wasn’t the car that I wanted. It was the concept that the car represented. It was the feeling that I thought the car would give me. Pursuing the car was great in that it took me closer towards things that I really did want (excellence, achievement, impact, joy, passion…). But it wasn’t about the car.

Whenever I’m getting too attached to a goal – whether it’s doing another degree, making more money or even buying a new mobile phone – I’m lucky to have my wife ask me, “What do you want that for?”

What will it give you?

What will that allow you to experience?

And I find that there’s usually something even more important that lies behind the surface desire. Sometimes what we think we want is the best way to get what we really want; sometimes it’s not…

I wanted to feel strong and able to defend myself. I could have meditated and transcended my insecurities. Instead, I did a black belt. Good plan – but it was just the beginning. I wanted to feel confident running a business so I did an MBA. I’m not sure that was such a good plan 😉

The feelings of what you really want are the destinations… the surface desires are just vehicles for getting there. Make sure you get to the destination by a vehicle that suits you rather than just one that seems to work for you.

Perhaps this is particularly significant for me since my wife is pregnant with our first child. If I don’t live my life true to my heart – giving it my all, pursuing with passion the object of my heart’s desires – what sort of role model will I be for my son? What sort of husband will I be if I am not living with the integrity of being my own man?

And when you can live in the present with passion and purpose, opportunities show up that you could never have prepared or planned for… when you can put your cup of water back into the ocean, you can work with the force of the ocean.

Years ago, I found that I could survive on 4.5h sleep but…

Years ago, I found I could survive on 4.5 hours of sleep per night but that my creativity died. Seems that Jim Collins feels the same way

It was while I was at university, and while I found that I could work hard enough to get some of my best academic results, I felt drained. Not that I couldn’t think – but just that I could only think within the rules. I couldn’t look beyond the rules, frameworks and paradigms that were presented to me, and I certainly couldn’t explore the connections between systems. So I went back to enjoying dreams.

Still, it was a worthwhile experiment!

NLP in Love

This afternoon, Wendy and I delivered a short session entitled NLP in Love. We explored a few simple NLP techniques that can enhance the quality of relationships.

We found how “Perceptual Positions” help us understand things from the other person’s perspective – especially when we take the time to really step into their shoes and experience things from their model of the world. It’s a pretty easy process, at least once you learn it. We used the Dilts Meta Mirror exercise.

The subject of “presence” came up a few times, in particular how important it is to spend time totally focused on the other person… in this age of short attention spans, having the undivided attention of another person is perhaps even more precious and valued than ever before.

If you really care about someone, it’s pretty smart to let them know! Not just to feel that way, but to let them know that you feel that way, and to communicate it in a way that they’ll understand. So we explored love strategies, the specific experiences that can help us feel loved. For one person, it involved receiving money (really!!!); for another, it just took a certain look or a touch on the shoulder. We’re each unique, but understanding ourselves can help us better communicate our needs and to better understand those we care about.

More generally, use what works for you…

It’s been more than a dozen years since I discovered NLP and I’m still enjoying learning more…

Of course if you’re interested in learning more about Wendy’s studies into intimate relationships, see Dao of Love

European style?

One of the things that I noticed about Shanghai was the great focus given there towards European inspiration. The concession era, between the revolution and the civil war, saw Shanghai as a paragon of style, sophistication and elegance, a Paris of the East if you will, and the current style-makers appear to be latching onto such notions in helping define the current wave of growth towards such similar sources. This means that ‘French’, ‘Italian’, ‘German’ and ‘European’ generally mean not just good quality, but outstanding style… as it does throughout much of the rest of the world at the moment.

There are two great ironies and one paradox.

The first great irony is that it’s more the exports of Europe who appreciate the ‘style’ that we equate as European… not all Europeans! In the same way that not all Australians ride kangaroos to school and not all New Zealanders have known sheep, not all Europeans appreciate the quality and style factors that we give them credit for. “Europeans” are not inherently stylish – it’s just the way they’re branded by our simplistic minds.

After all, just look at the soccer!
Since when did a soccer hooligan embody class, style and sophistication???

The second great irony is that by externalising ‘style’, we lose our capacity to truly appreciate it. Where the Europeans have Dolce & Gabbana, America has Ralph Lauren – the difference is so obvious it’s almost insulting! They ‘compete’, yet there is really no comparison if you look beyond the brand itself and towards the quality of the garments and the style of those who wear those garments. By equating brands with characteristics of style and fashion, we lose our acuity to notice when something actually has aesthetic value at all, and are left with a water-down, second-handed experience of beauty.

The paradox is that we cannot learn to appreciate design and beauty without being exposed to it. Great spaces and great places help cultivate the great thinking that leads to sublime insights and inspired creations… yet we need sublime insights and inspired creations to create those great spaces and great places in the first place! Our values are so often unevaluated, that we are left confused and ill-prepared to deal with unfamiliar situations and conditions.

What is beautiful to you?
Rather than accepting what the critics think or just putting your head in the sand altogether, what do you notice cultivates beauty in your world?

I have some horrible clothes that I just love… I couldn’t throw out my Seniors’ jersey if I wanted to (even though my ex-girlfriends have worn it more than I have!), and I have made far more than my fair share of fashion felonies. Yet, to me, making mistakes is what allows us to see where the lines are and how those lines work together to create the picture before us.

And to get some great clothes, visit Shirts and Suits of course!

Make your life a masterpiece…

(slightly modified but originally written 4 November, 2006)

Who needs a laptop??

I’ve been using my phone as a laptop replacement for a while. It became especially easy to do when I got my Redfly (here is my earlier post) but even before that my HTC TyTN II has been my mobile email-word processor-spreadsheet-GPS-whatever-else-a-laptop-would-do and a bit more.

But it’s finally made the WSJ and on InternetNews a few days beforehand.

My laptop now sits connected to its second screen and array of peripherals that make any desktop I ever had look impoverished (external HDD, colour laser printer etc)… and it’s likely to stay there until I get around to upgrading the processor – when I’ll move it out and back into place a few hours later.

Best of all it’s good for the environment: by replacing the desktop (possibly with a mostly-stationary laptop) we have one less piece of junk to dump into landfill.