Sailing the seas of consequence


What is “success”?

It’s February 1st. For a the past 2-3 years, on the first of every month, I listen to the same video recording of Ernest Nightingale‘s “The Strangest Secret”.  It’s a simple message really, and the practicality of it makes it almost elusive in it’s execution. It’s unapologetic and it seems he could care less if you believe what he is saying or not. He proceeds to give quote after quote, scenario after scenario of examples of the process he is describing actually working, which at the end, you know to be true. But still, we don’t execute (ideas are shit, ya know).

Ernest starts the recording by telling us that he would like to discuss the strangest secret in the world. Right off the bat he hits the listener in the head with a response from Albert Schweitzer  to the question “what’s wrong with with men today?”. Schweitzer paused for a moment and replied “men simply don’t think”. We seem to be happier with the winds of destiny rather than solving the puzzle.

Next are statistics describing that out of every 100 men, by the time they are 65 years of age, only 1 will be rich. Four will be financially stable (retirement, insurance, etc.). Five are still going to be working (WTF?!) and 54 will be BROKE! Given the same starting point, why is it that so few men (or women) are succeeding in a society with the enormous opportunities that we have in front of us? And with the internet, the playing field is  even more level than it has ever been so don’t whine about not having a rich family or a proper education.  (note, we can argue all day about socioeconomic class, gender, race, etc., but that’s not the point). 

I’m in the middle of a Joe Rogan podcast with Henry Rollins as a guest and they talk a little bit about David Lee Roth (“Dave”). Dave often returns to his home town of Pasadena to visit and sometimes hangs out with old high school buddies. Every once in a while, one of them will say crap like “oh yeah, it must be easy for you, you’re David Lee Roth” to which Dave replies “You know what? On graduation day in high school, we all were on the same starting blocks. You chose the bank job. That’s a sure thing. You’re gonna die in that cubicle. I chose to sail the seas of consequence“. Geez Dave. :/

Dave’s life falls squarely in line with the strangest secret. As Ernest points out, using a deep cutting quote from Rollo May’s book Man’s Search for Himself, “the opposite of courage in our society is not cowardice, it’s conformity.” Conformity is a result of feeling like we are a victim. Things happen “to” us instead of “for” us. I’m guilty.

In Dave’s choosing to “sail the seas of consequence”, he unwittingly stumbled upon the strangest secret: “We become what we think about”. In Ernest’s talk he paints a detailed story of huge cargo vessel in a harbor without a captain or crew, ready to leave for its destination. How can this behemoth get out of the harbor without a captain or charts? Obviously, it can’t. Yet we expect to be swept by fate to a goal that lies somewhere in the future. Somewhere over there. That’s a lot of what ifs. Inevitably we come to the conclusion… no goal, no destiny.

The definition of success in this narrative is mathematically gorgeous: “Success is the progressive realization of a worthy ideal”. A goal without a plan is a wish. Simple and true. Uncomfortably true.

Ask and it shall be given to you, seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you. Forever one that asketh, receiveth, and he that seeketh, findeth and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened.



Please keep it down, I’m flowing over here

If you haven’t read Steven Kotler’s “The Rise of Superman“, I highly recommend it. In the book Steven describes the flow state that is best recognized when athlete’s hit that “zone” during training or competition. The so-called “runner’s high”. An amazing example of this is illustrated in Danny Way’s incredible jump over the Great Wall of China on his skateboard after shattering his ankle and tearing his ACL on a practice run earlier in the day (check out the video). A feat that even the most prolific athlete couldn’t conquer, Danny did it under extreme circumstances. The book essentially goes into the “how” of this and other examples of ordinary people doing extraordinary things, attributing this to a flow state.

Extrapolating this to the office environment is a simple jump (punny, huh?). Capturing the ability for employees to experience flow would make a company unmatchable in their execution. Alas, offices are not run this way. Shouts from the top of the food chain, where the goal is ambiguous or worse, is not seen to have value to the team executing the order, are blithely managed. “Ambiguity is always negatively perceived”.

Kotler describes in the section ‘Hacking Flow’, that the environment we are in directly influences our ability to get into a flow state. Recently, to save money (sorry, nothing to fostering teamwork), offices have shifted to a hot-desk style where employees are required to sit wherever there is an opening, never having a set location each day. This, along with cubicle farms, are inversely proportionate to the amount of flow a person can experience. Flow requires focus, and who can focus when someone is talking loudly to their spouse, a client, whomever, sneezing, coughing, eating Doritos, when you are just trying to get the damned spreadsheet filled in?! As Greylock Partners venture capitalist James Slavet wrote on “These interruptions…move us out of ‘flow’ and increase research and design cycle times and costs dramatically. Studies have shown that each time a flow state is disrupted it takes 15 minutes to get back into flow, if you can get back in at all.” Something to think about next time you decide to bring in grandma’s leftover tuna casserole and eat at your desk.

I hope you check out the book and if you do, let me know your thoughts.

And go for a run. Get outside. Walk. Breathe. Get into the flow.

Continue reading “Please keep it down, I’m flowing over here”

Ego… you bitch!

What are you noticing? What is different? What is changing?

As cathartic as these questions can be, the use of inquisitive words, such as “why” can be nonconstructive, such as “why is this happening to me?”. The ego is a trickster. It is tricking you into dismissing your journey, thoughts, feelings as something that isn’t ‘you’. Trust yourself, being mindful of the words you speak as they not only align you with your frequency, but also have the ability to CREATE reality.

The term “self fulfilling prophecy” has been heard by all of us, but we don’t listen. Hearing without listening. My kids do this all the time. When I hear them say they’re a failure at school/sports/whatever, I have to stop them. Those words have more meaning than they understand. OR, if there is a deeper knowing within my kids, the ego is tricking them to play it safe. Success is a heavy burden.

Have you ever gone blank when trying to remember a name, or during a presentation completely lost track of what the heck you were talking about? Just when you had the perfect(ess) thing to say… blank. Nothing. That’s the ego. She is a cruel mistress.

For 44 years, I have dismissed myself. Going forward, my intention is work from within my deeper knowing and choosing action that honors that.

Maybe, it seems, I think, I believe

These words are killing me! It seems I have a problem with commitment. I believe I may have an issue. Maybe it’s me. I think therefore I am?

These “non-committal” words are poisonous. And I seem to use them way too often. The language we use, even when talking to ourselves, matters. How does it make you feel when the doctor says “I think I know what is wrong with you” or if a mechanic were to say “Maybe it’s your fan belt”. You feel unsure. Un-trusting. You are left in an amorphous cloud of WTF!

The way out of this is awareness. Aware that I (you) am (are) using these words to make damn sure I (we) can remain lazy and not get too uncomfortable. the-stranger