Tag Archives: self-discovery

Turning 31 (And staying true)

I turned 31 yesterday, which has me well-and-truly  “living in my 30s”. For the next decade, I’m going to be a “thirty something” (remember that show!), living out the ride as best I can. I’m encouraged by that thought, because it pleases me to no end (grinning in a goofy kind-of-way)…for a couple of reasons:

For one thing the fact that I’ve made it this far. I was most likely still in single digits when “thirty something” first aired, watching it alongside my parents now and again – totally oblivious to the story line taking place. To me, it meant I got to stay up that little bit later; there was no way I could compute the idea of being “that old”, and now, here I am.

Secondly, I’m going to continue to be relentless in the ways and means I have discovered that have helped me find whatever it is that makes me feel peace, anchored, happy, accomplished, loved, etc. etc. All the things that I’m pretty sure we are seeking, in our own ways.

I was reminded by a close friend today that I do that even now and have no qualms about throwing myself into the fire, regardless of what’s happening for me at the time. All I have to say is that my friend truly gets it (and gets me at the same time). I’ve come to count on his support a lot these last couple years (when the questions of purpose first began surfacing inside me). He’s helped me find my compass and it points in one direction. Mine.

Everything that’s happened before now helps me to go even further, I think. In my twenties, I didn’t really know what I wanted, but now the time feels right to just keep exploring, gaining the ground I felt I lost earlier. That is what feels most satisfying – finding out what works.

I recorded this video below, last night. Apologies for any poor sound, maybe it will make sense for some of you. And if it doesn’t, I encourage you to find whatever it is that does.

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A bit of A and B (and you get some C)

I’d like to redirect my attention on here and take this post in a different direction. The last few posts have had a definite feel for the wheels and pedals as of late (which I love), but instead and for the next several posts I’m taking it back, back to the beginning.

The reasons I found myself coming back onto WordPress and setting up this blog were three-fold (because I like things that come in threes). And those were my cycling, my career and what I experience as my path. When I think about it, three makes total sense: two feels like too few, and four (or more) lacks that punch that items in triplicate can deliver.

It’s a classical rhetorical device as well, in both speech and writing, called the power of threes; I should know (and so does the rest of Google apparently) as I studied Rhetoric & the Communications at the University of Winnipeg in the earlier half of our first decade in the 21st century. But that’s not what I’m going to talk about right now.

Over the last two years, something has been quietly rumbling inside me, new possibilities (untapped, unexplored and quite frankly under-developed). Like a snoozing giant, I’m now slowly waking-up. It hasn’t come without its struggles, or its pain and there most definitely has been some sadness and a letting go of a lot of old ways of thinking. But what counts the most is the support I’ve found through the new friendships I’ve made on my path. I’m learning a lot about myself, picking up developing new tools and integrating them into my existing kit of inter-relatedness. And I’m noticing more and more that what I receive in honest truth, clear communication and feeling safe in sharing my vulnerabilities, the more I grow and become the man I imagine myself to be. And the more I trust those that are willing (or are already there) with me.

Take my friend Mark for instance. He’s a cool dude, he has (and still does) live a life that some of us could only dream of. He’s got a growing business, providing a new take on leadership training, that uses embodiment techniques in the workplace. I’ve met him a handful of times, and those times I’ve had, we have a lot of fun in the space. Just to be clear, I’ve not been on any of Mark’s courses so this isn’t a sales pitch of any kind.

It just so happened that this past weekend, Mark and I met up in Oxford (his first visit even inspired this post), however this time, we found ourselves diving into each others worlds  a bit more. And it felt really good, his level of insight and experience really served me. And what I noticed most was that I wasn’t really after anything in particular but his openness, candor and curiosity created a vibe of trust shared between the two of us. And over the last couple of months, I’ve been trying to figure out how my life could reflect one of two different extremes, but that was until the option of a third way came into view: Option C.

What would “option C” look like? Good question. If “option A” was my old way of playing small, never saying “No” to anyone for the sake of just bumping along, and placing the needs of others over my own, this all feels a bit like a life I don’t want to be living. So the opposite (the extreme opposite) of that is “option B”, insomuch that I say no all the time (whatever the reason), get my needs met and carry around inside me a sense of “f*** you all” mentality. That too is definitely not a way I want to be. So is there a way I can amalgamate these two feelings together? Sure there is a balance, another way to have my needs met, at the same time as meeting others needs and being able to say no some of the time. Option C lies somewhere in there. And Mark helped me open this up further.

I want to recalibrate my inner-guidance system. Become more aware of the self-imposed rules that are guiding me, which I then mentally beat myself up over when I don’t stick to them (like cutting out the junk food, or saying no to the booze, etc., etc.)

Mixed with humor, good food and quite a bit of walking around Oxford, I got to know more about Mark as much as I learned about myself, and it was beyond the social networks (where we tango online) and I’m really grateful for that.

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Turning up the volume (on introversion)

I got to spend an hour today pretending I was at a TED conference. In reality, it was the final few days of the Oxford Literary Festival, but more importantly I got to listen (and meet) perhaps one of my newest favourite TED speakers. Next to Brené Brown.

Susan Cain makes a connection that lets my heart sing and my soul shake. Together these two woman touch on topics that I’ve started to find unique and fascinating. Not only within myself, but society at large. They are topics that don’t get talked about all that much, if at all; and in a way touching on the parts of ourselves that we only whisper about and try our best to ignore, but these are conversations we need to have with ourselves and with each other.

Shame, vulnerability and introversion, I believe, when acknowledged can help us all lead more fully-involved, connected and authentic lives. So while the mute button still feels like it is on, the volume ought to be turned up a bit more; and for me personally that is about to end.

I consider myself a closet introvert – who wouldn’t? You’re kind of in the closet already…but if you’re like me, you may have felt a certain way (or taught yourself to get by, by not fully embracing your introvert) when in a room full of people. It’s taken me most of my life to understand that I like solitude. I like doing things by myself, in my own company. It doesn’t really matter what: going to the movies; listening to live music; attending public speaking engagements; or my biggest passion – cycling. But equally I like doing these same activities with friends as well.

So I wanted to write about this “condition” I have. In fact, I know I’m not alone because according to the talk Susan Cain made at this year’s TED conference, one-third to a half of today’s population share this with me.

Society has got us in a catch-22. It shows us that the loudest people in the room, are the one’s that typically get heard the most. But are they the ideas that need to be heard? Would we be in “this mess” (e.g., global financial crisis, unemployment, cuts to public services, etc.) if those leading from the front had been more introverted from the start?

Every aspect of society that we know has been impacted by the “he (or she) who shouts loudest gets heard”, that’s nothing new. But Susan Cain is challenging that precept, with this manifesto, inviting us to join the Quiet Revolution. What are we not allowing to progress if our children, our colleagues, even our leaders in business and politics are told they must be extroverts? Have we disconnected ourselves from solitude, and if so can we re-embrace it?

In my experience “this shouting” lessens the contribution I feel I can make. There have been times in my life where I believed I had something to contribute (an idea, an insight, whatever), but I haven’t done so because someone else was speaking louder than me. My parents always told me that it was rude to interrupt, so while I felt what I had to say may have added value, I was never confident enough  to speak up and I let the moment pass. That’s not to say that I’m not a team player, I feel I am, but the continued need for collaboration and “group think” can get in the way of the time that might be better spent in independent thought. One’s desire to be alone, to have solitude, in a world full of extroverts needs to be recognized. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

A few takeaways Cain made today (amongst many) really resonated with me and my own work:

  1. A sense of community comes later, only after the passion/activity has been found.
  2. The response to stimulation, how it occurs for different people and why there is an extrovert ideal between cultures.
  3. You don’t suspect the introverts around you.

I’m really looking forward to diving into these more with my coach Jeffrey and to begin reading Cain’s book, “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking”  in detail.

Finally and after getting my copy signed by Cain, I got to ask her further about the idea of dedicated practices, through an introvert’s lens and the possibility of richer integration. The insight she offered me, as I knelt down beside her was that it is one of managed practice, being sure not to take on too much at once. That really clicked with me, because in my own seeking I’ve tried a number of different techniques, but I can serve myself (and my community around me) better once I discover what practices work best for me.

It may only be one, and it may be a few, and I’m committed to finding that out…

Signed Title Page of Quiet

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I’m new here (kind of)

Not long ago (yesterday, actually), a friend reminded me while sipping soup inside St Pancras Station that I don’t need a specific angle for this new blog I’ve gone and created. Its name, I thought, meant it would need to have an agenda for topics, news and other related bits-and-bobs. It might take a look at the increasing impact the digital world has in our real lives, or it *could* have been a space for me to cover the digital issues my profession (book publishing), but instead I’m just going to write what comes up naturally and let the rest sort itself out.

Welcome to Digitize We Must!

Tonight, I began a relationship. A relationship with a life coach I’ve hired for the next two months.

Why have I hired a life coach? I’ve hired a coach because I was curious about what this kind of relationship could offer me and my life as I am living it now. Are there certain aspects of my life that I feel need to be looked at? Of course. Don’t we all have things we want to look at more closely, but might be too afraid to do so, or keep running the same old patterns that never allow us to start in the first place? I think so.

There are four areas I want to look at: deepening relationships and connections with my family, friends and lovers (new and old); my personal fitness and nutrition; my career; and noticing old habits and behaviours that no longer serve me and getting shot of them.

I’ve been on a personal growth/self-development “kick” now for about 18 months. It’s hard to explain, which is what I hope this space will allow me to, but quite frankly I can’t get enough of it! It hasn’t cost me a whole lot of money either. A few books here, a training course or two there, and at the heart of it new connections with friends on similar (but equally different paths). Along the way I’ve discovered more about who I am, why that matters, and what I can try and offer the world. It’s the most amount of time I have ever spent trying to figure this stuff out for a very long time. More importantly, I’ve been noticing that I’ve gone as far as I could go on my own. This is why I’ve hired a coach.

I had my first call with Jeffrey tonight, a 90 minute, one-to-one call (save for a wonky Skype connection), where we set out to look at the things that were most important for me right now. Keep in mind this was only the second time we’ve actually spoken to one another face-to-face.

So far I’m feeling pretty excited and quite charged up about the possibilities Jeffrey and I will explore together for me and my life. Starting the call eager and ending the call feeling clearer was a good way to start. I’m sure it could have been a lot more difficult or I could’ve felt like it was a waste of money – not so.

I think over the coming weeks I’ll begin to write more freely about what we discussed, but for now if I’m going to keep my intention around my current fitness plan, based on the Strength for Life, by Shawn Phillips (note to self: write up a review for that), then I best sign off for now.

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