The List

Wednesday 16 August, 2017

What follows is a list of many of the most important pieces from this blog. The list makes it easy for you to understand at a glance what is necessary in this work. It takes you through the process of self-development and self-realisation – from awareness, observation and reflection, and back to awareness – offering you guidance on what to expect along the way and what you can do to help yourself.

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Reflection Of What’s There

Tuesday 16 May, 2017

Sitting on the train, I look at the people standing on the platform as they catch themselves in the darkened glass of the train window. They move their head slightly from side to side, but their gaze remains fixed, fascinated by a face they see every day. What is it about our own reflection that captivates us so much? Is it because we make an effort to look good and we like to admire our work? Or are we looking for flaws which might need correcting? Whether it’s admiration, correction, or curious fascination, we require our reflection to be able to do it.

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Yes, It Is That Simple

Sunday 30 April, 2017

We can be forgiven for thinking life is complicated. We can even make allowances for those who expect complicated solutions to life’s problems. But why do we question something just because it’s simple? Perhaps the mind feels insulted, preferring solutions akin to its own complexity. Maybe we struggle to accept the simplicity because it trivialises our predicament. Whatever the reason, the same question can be seen on every face at some point in their personal development: ‘Surely it can’t be that simple?

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Expectations High & Low

Thursday 30 March, 2017

This piece examines what happens when expectations are left to run their course, and how easily and unknowingly we are captured by the mind. It is a reminder of the repetitive nature of this work and the need for vigilance. More than anything, it highlights the importance of reflection in seeing more clearly what is happening and in helping to understand that whilst there is always so much noise on the surface of our persona, the deeper we go, the calmer, more peaceful, and more beautiful we are.

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Use Life To Make Life Easier

Monday 13 February, 2017

Who wouldn’t want to make their life easier? Whenever I see a list of the things we apparently need to be doing in order to improve our lives, the same six instructions keep appearing: Eat well, sleep, exercise, meditate, reflect, and be grateful. That’s it. If we do those six things every day, we’ll live a better life. And it’s true. It works. Furthermore, everything on that list is simple to understand and easy to do.

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Novelty & Repetition

Tuesday 23 September, 2014

I’m in Northern California for a few weeks, and last Friday a friend took me on a visit to her home town; an idyllic place where coat shops don’t exist because the sun always shines. We drove past the local cinema, outside which a long queue of people had formed. As I was wondering what movie could possibly cause such an extended line of eager people, my friend realised there was a particular technology store a little further down the road. Renowned for their quality and design, and masters of expectation, on this particular day they happened to be selling their brand new phone.

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Leading From Within

Friday 20 June, 2014

This post takes its title from a workshop I was invited to give this week to a global leadership academy. Leadership begins with the self and I wanted people to gain insight into the many thoughts and feelings we have every day, and to share their respective experiences. When we harness the information our mind and body continually make available to us, we become incredibly effective. Observation, reflection and feedback are the mainstays of this work but, ultimately, it’s about connecting with the self first, in order to be able to connect with others.

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Write Your Own Feedback

Sunday 27 April, 2014

It was the third day of his visit and the end of another productive day of silences, conversations, reading, writing and reflection. I had given the TA presentation in Amsterdam that evening and, as part of the process, I had asked the participants for their written feedback. I explained to them that although it obviously helps me, it is more important for them to take a couple of minutes to reflect for themselves. The exercise will bring more clarity to their experience and reinforce their learning. At home afterwards, as I knelt by the open, floor-level window of my apartment and Karaj sat in the armchair, we reflected on how well it had all gone. Outside, the country was celebrating. It was the first King’s Night here in the Netherlands for 122 years.

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Make Your Own Tools

Saturday 26 April, 2014

I gave a talk at Amsterdam University’s Business School yesterday. Near the beginning I spoke of the importance of writing things down and the necessity of seeking feedback from others on our behaviour and blind spots. It was at this point that one of the participants asked if there are any tools I could give him to help him with his personal development. I was privileged to have my mentor, Karaj, with me who easily became involved in the two-hour interaction with the students and alumni. He talked of people’s obsession with having tools and that the shelves of bookshops are full of books which offer tools. What is actually needed is the experience of the journey and knowing that patience, discipline, awareness, feedback, observation and (written) reflection are the elements you will have to come back to time and time again.

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From Curiosity To Reflection

Saturday 8 February, 2014

I ended the first post of this series talking about having the curiosity of a child in a brand new playground. As I wrote that line I questioned whether the analogy was still appropriate. Yesterday, during our most illuminating conversation so far, I got my answer. Karaj asked me whether I could recall at what point in my life my journey of self-development had begun. It felt as though he was searching for information to satisfy his own curiosity, rather than to make a point for my benefit. It felt different to how our relationship used to be.

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This Is Our Celebration

Thursday 6 February, 2014

I told him what I had written yesterday: that I didn’t want to show off. He interrupted me, saying, ‘You should show off. This is our celebration.‘ He explained that leaving and returning are natural parts of the process; they make the celebration possible. I had left because I could take no more. I was being challenged every step of the way and it became increasingly difficult for me to be here. From the inquisitive, deferential person I had been at the beginning, I had become cocky, argumentative and confrontational. There had been no other option but for me to go.

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A Reunion

Wednesday 5 February, 2014

I’m off to visit Karaj today. Aside from a couple of hours in his company a few years back, this is the first time I will have seen him since my training came to a close over ten years ago. I’ll be there for a week and, as part of my preparation, I talked the visit over with a close friend because he knows me, he knows my story, and he knows how all this works. During our discussion I wrote down the following:

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Calibrate The Machine

Friday 20 December, 2013

The more familiar you are with your core self, the easier it is to identify and deal with how your direct environment affects you. But with everything going on around you, how can you tell the difference between what is you and what you might be picking up – or have picked up years ago – from others? From day one we are so busy improving and developing that we hardly have time to catch our breath, let alone take stock or come to rest. Progress implies motion, so when do we have the chance to stop and reflect? And how do we calibrate who we really are?

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It All Comes Down To This

Monday 14 October, 2013

When we forget the simplicity of it all, or we’re convinced there must be another way; when we are stuck, or frustrated by the lack of novelty, this is the post to read. It’s a reminder of the value of repetition and practise. Every day, every minute, every breath. In the end, it all comes down to this:

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