Tag Archives: Reflections

A poem inspired by a Peaceful Warrior master


Image: Svaneti by Paata

In case you missed it, last week I wrote a post on the 2-hour talk that Dan Millman gave at the Sydney Masonic Center on Tuesday, the 1st of April (link). Today, I’d like to share a poem I wrote while inspired by his talk. It is called ‘Reflections of a Peaceful Warrior’, and it goes like this:

Two hours
with my spiritual master;
Two hours
of wisdom,
of Universal Laws,
of jokes and quotes.

Two peaceful hours
with a wise warrior;
Two inspiring hours
with a foolish warrior.

A story of humility:
“I am inspired by you”,
said a student to his teacher.
“Don’t worry,” the teacher said,
“that too will pass”.

Humility with humanity;
Wisdom with laughter.
These were the hallmarks
that his teacher Socrates
once etched on him.
They’re now the hallmarks
he etches in us all.

Thank you,
my peaceful warrior,
for sharing your wisdom
with us today.

Thank you,
our peaceful warrior,
for laying your heart
open for us all to see,
to hear,
to touch and to feel.

Thank you,
Oh, peaceful warrior,
for making the mistakes that
took you here today.

Thank you,
my spiritual guide,
for being my friend
today again.

If you liked it, you may want to listen to me recite it on the link below.

Poem Recital: Reflections of a Peaceful Warrior (mp3 file)

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Crazy retro-back: Do you have trouble devoting regular time to exercise?

Today I realised that in October last year I wrote a post to my Facebook blog, but did not put it in here! Below you will find a ‘blast from the past’ that can help you establish a regular exercise routine (which, as you can see from my previous post, works rather well!). I hope you find this post useful.

– The crazy Colombian 

Image by LollyKnit

There is only one way for the odometer to go: higher. Parts get worn out, and joints need some lubrication. No, I am not talking about cars; I am talking about our bodies. As our lives get busier, and we find less time for fun and games throughout the day, exercise is often one of the first casualties. Are you one of the fortunate ones who has managed to build exercise regularly into your life? Well done, mate. You’re ahead than the rest of us.You’re not? Then read on.

From maintaining a healthy Body-Mass-Index (BMI) to increasing your energy levels, regular exercise has many benefits. If you want to learn more about them, just Google “fitness benefits” and you’ll find a universe of relevant information.

The problem is how to do it. You have sure tried it many times, and like me, find yourself drifting back into the more comfortable life that features no regular trips to the Gym.

In my case, I found something that really works. It is John Walker’s “The Hacker’s Diet” chapter on exercise has given me what I need. It is an exercise routine that

  • Takes 15 minutes to do
  • Will adapt as your fitness levels change
  • Helps you move gently up the fitness scale
  • Requires no equipment ( and therefore is totally portable!)If this sounds interesting enough, I recommend you read the e-book (link), or at least the chapter on the Exercise Ladder (link). It may change your life.Good luck!
  • Update : How to love the early morning hours


    Image by jurvetson

    Some months ago I wrote an article discusing how to become an early riser (link) I thought you may be interested in knowing how did I go on establishing a routine of getting up early in the morning and doing meditation and exercise:

    • For the last couple of months, I have been able to regularly wake up at 6 AM without the need of an alarm clock (I typically set my alarm clock as a safety measure, but always wake up before it goes off)
    • I have been doing the ‘Peaceful Warrior Workout’ (link) since the start of this year, at least 5 days a week (and there have been many weeks when I did it every day)
    • I have been doing rung 15 of the exercise ladder from The Hacker’s Diet at least 3 times every week (link)

    The part I have struggled the most with has been meditating every day in the morning. Instead, I have started meditating at night before going to bed. I must admit it has a therapeutic effect and makes it easier for me to go to sleep, but the problem is that I am doing this in bed, and often end up falling asleep within minutes of starting my meditation.

    Do you have any tips on how to improve my practices? I will be very thankful if you leave me a comment at the end of this post with your ideas.

    The world has gone mad: Investing for the long term

    The world markets crashed recently, and we were reminded of the futility of short term thinking. A friend wrote a piece about blogging (link) Another blogger wrote on the virtue of long vs short posts . I read an interview in ‘The McKinsey Quarterly’ with Al Gore and David Bloods, founders of Generation Investment Management, which reminded me of my frustration with financial markets’ analysts focus on the short term.

    Sustainable investment – an Oxymoron?

    Why do people invest? To make money. It is that simple. Most people are aware of the fact that they will need some level of ‘liquidity’ in their investments, in case of emergencies. And for this reason, many investors care a bit too much what the market is doing today and tomorrow.

    But sustainable investment needs not be an oxymoron. Well established principles of investment highlight that the value of a company is intrinsically determined by the quality of its future cash flows. As such, investments in companies that are more sustainable over the long term ought to be also valuable ones to add to your portfolio.

    Crazy stuff: Focus on quarterly earnings

    So why do investment managers focus so many of their decisions on quarterly earnings? One explanation is that the key to success, according to many, is in the execution. Having a great plan for the future is not enough; we must make sure that the executives at the top of the organisation are able to execute their plan successfully. One way of assessing their ability to execute is to observe quarterly promises of earnings, and their follow-through on these promises.

    A balanced perspective: Sustainability

    Yet reality shows us that balance has been lost. Too much focus has been placed on short-term results; and too little on long term potential. Some investors have focused on ‘growth potential’ thinking they are taking a long-term view; but their assessment of growth potential invariably over-relies on short-term measures and evidence.

    A more balanced perspective is required, and Al Gore and David Bloods emphasis on assessing sustainability is a great start. We need more creative thinking that draws from our experience in assessing the long-term impacts of our economic activity. Environmentalism and climate change, with their long-term focus, provide a great platform from which to assess an organisations capability to survive in a changing world.

    Make a difference: help us improve

    This is more of a Post Script (Ps) on the post than actual content, so feel free to skip. If you follow our writing on this space with some regularity, you will have noticed the difference in length & style of this post. Do you like it better; and if so, Why? If not, what aspects of our previous style do you like best?

    You can also make suggestions on topics on which to reflect; research; and write about. I am always on the lookout for new ideas, and your comments are always a source of joy.

    Leave your comment, and make a contribution to enriching this space. Your fellow readers will thank you for doing that.

    Wise advice from Dan Millman: “Just fit in until you find out where you stand out”


    Image by Hamed Saber

    One of my constant sources of inspiration is best-selling author Dan Millman. I am starting to notice a pattern here: two of my spiritual guides (Jack Lalanne and Dan Millman) were former athletes, and shared their perspectives on life with others in a rather public way. If you know of more characters like these two, please drop me a comment at the end of this post.

    Let’s get back to Dan’s words. You can find the original piece, which was entitled ‘Dream Small‘ on Dan’s personal blog (click here for full article). On it Dan talks about the unrealistic expectations that Gen Y’ers typically have; and the impact this has on these young people when they get to compete for jobs in ‘the real world’. Dan’s advice? To dream small, take it a bit easier while you find yourself, and allow sufficient time for you to gain experience and develop yourself, your skills, and your own dreams.

    This article made me reflect on 2 issues that I have been thinking about for quite some time. Firstly, it reminded me that we no longer recognise inexperience for what it is: a wonderful opportunity to try different things and find yourself. In today’s ultra-competitive, uber-complex world, we expect our children to choose-their-path as soon as they finish high school – ideally even before- and charge ahead with determination and perseverance. Newspapers and books around us are filled with ‘inspirational’ stories of those who found their calling at 14 or 15, started their career with impetus and energy, and became famous and/or a millionaires by the age of 25.

    The problem with this abundance of stories on successful people is that it reinforces the illusion that we should all do the same. Not just that people can, and if you’re lucky enough, you will have the experience and skills and motivation to do it; but that it is only a matter of wishing-for-it strongly enough, and it will happen. Add to this the latest craze around ‘The Secret’ and ‘The Law of attraction’, and you end up with a generation that believes that the only thing you need to do to succeed is sit around dreaming and affirming your desires, and life will put them in your plate effortlessly.

    Unfortunately, the world just does not work like that. Affirmations and desire are important, but it takes ACTION inspired by those dreams to make things happen. Today, many people have forgotten this second – and critical – part of the equation! My advise then is not to stop dreaming – but don’t just stop at dreaming, or you will be seriously disappointed.

    The second topic that Dan’s article reminded me about is the concept of ‘defining & taking control of your career’. In today’s corporate world, there is an inbuilt expectation that everyone WANTS a career. But I know many people that just want a job that provides sufficient for their needs, without draining them of the time & energy they need for their life passion. And these people typically do not give a hoot about where their career is going. In a way, they are enjoying their lives while supporting themselves with a job. Unfortunately, this concept does not sit well in the corporate world of today.

    It is amazing to think of just how universal has this concept become in today’s corporate world. Especially when we know that not everyone needs and wants a career. Large consulting firms have developed particularly discriminatory practices on this regard. Many of them have established policies that stipulate that if you don’t move to the ‘next level’ within a set period of time, you must leave the firm (‘Up-Or-Out’). For clerical or administrative staff, they adjust it and suggest that if you are not developing new skills or moving up the performance curve, you must leave (‘Grow-or-go’).

    But where does this leave the single mother of two who needs a decently paid job to support her children, yet has reached the Pinnacle of her learning and efficiency curve? Or the young guy who decides to follow Dan’s advise and ‘just get a job’ so that he can pay the bills while he gets enough life experience that he can figure out which direction to take?

    We live in a mad world. The corporatocracy we live in adores mass, homogeneous markets, and abhors diversity. Unfortunately, the side effects of these principles of industralisation are insidious and corrosive; Something must be done. If you agree with these ideas, why not joins us in trying to do something about it?

    You could start by sharing some of these thoughts with co-workers; question the whole idea of career-obsession, and ask them how it has affected them, both positively and negatively. You can then engage your HR department in a dialogue about the diversity of needs their workforce has, and highlight the benefits that implementing more progressive policies could have in their ability to attract and retain a more productive and talented workforce. Or if you want to be a bit more extreme, take am intellectual break from your career-oriented life, and stop to smell the roses. Live in the present; Dream small, like Dan suggests; and observe – really observe – what happens in your life. Your outlook on life and love and those things that matter most is likely to change; and then you can say that at least you have managed to change the world and reduce its number of career-extremists by one.

    Go crazy. Seize the day.

    Assess your environmental literacy: Take the eco-IQ test!


    Image by diegovv

    A number of things have made me think about the impact I have on this planet. There is the incredible prominence that environmental issues have nowadays in the news; Then there was Dan Millman’s blog post about the impact that my choice not to be a vegetarian has on carbon emissions. And yesterday, I was listening to one of my favourite Colombian music groups (Bacilos), and noticed that one of their songs is filled with comments about the ecology.
    So I asked myself: How responsible am I with the environment? Well, a short quiz would tell me, I thought. I collected a variety of ideas from many sources, and pulled together this resource for my readers. I hope this tool will help you assess how much you really know about the threats to our environment.

    The Eco-IQ Test: Finding out how much you really know about environmental issues

    INSTRUCTIONS: Answer questions in order, one at a time. Write your answers on a piece of paper (e.g. 1-a, 2-c, etc). At the end of the quiz, check against the correct answers, and follow the instructions for how to score.

    QUESTION 1 – When you hear about ‘The Environment’, you think of

    a. Petrol prices at the station and global warming
    b. The crazy weather we are experiencing of late
    c. The plants, animals, and minerals that exist on the earth
    d. Our oceans, forests, creeks, river systems, and the Amazon
    e. All of the above

    QUESTION 2 – Reducing carbon emissions important for the environment because…

    a. If we emit too much carbon dioxide, there won’t be enough oxygen for us all to be able to breathe
    b. More carbon dioxide in the ocean creates bigger waves and increases the chances of Tsunamis
    c. Carbon emissions create a blanket over the atmosphere which overheats our planet
    d. Petrol prices are related to carbon emissions, so more carbon means more expensive petrol
    e. The ozone layer is depleted by carbon emissions and that is a real problem

    QUESTION 3 – More severe droughts and pollution of our rivers are a problem because…
    a. Without them we will not have food at prices we can afford
    b. We will continue to have water restrictions and our gardens will die
    c. Water prices will increase and the economy will suffer
    d. Our supplies of bottled water will decrease and we will have more health problems
    e. More water pollution creates more air pollution

    QUESTION 4 – Which of the following practices does not
    alleviate our impact on the environment?

    a. Having shorter, colder showers
    b. Buying light bulbs of lower wattage
    c. Walking to the station instead of driving
    d. Using clothes lines instead of clothes driers
    e. Reducing infections at home by always using anti-bacterial products
    f. None – they all are positive for the environment

    QUESTIONS 5 – Which of the following environmental problems were you aware of before reading this post? (Tick all that apply)
    a. Global Warming
    b. The melting of the polar caps
    c. The increase in the number of species that are extinct, or at risk of extinction
    d. Global deforestation
    e. Peak Oil
    f. Extreme Weather conditions – especially droughts and floods

    Scoring your eco-IQ test

    Allocate points according to the following scales:

    Response

    Question 1

    Question 2

    Question 3

    Question 4

    Question 5

    a

    0

    -5

    3

    -2

    1

    b

    0

    -5

    -1

    -2

    2

    c

    3

    3

    0

    -10

    2

    d

    3

    -2

    -3

    -5

    1

    e

    5

    -2

    -3

    5

    3

    f

    n/a

    n/a

    n/a

    0

    1

    Interpreting the score


    Below 0: Hommo Ignoble
    Your level of ignorance about environmental issues is unacceptable for this day and age. Visit one (or many!) of the links below; watch the Al-Gore’s film “An inconvenient truth“; listen to the radio programs “Life Matters or “The Science Show(or download their podcasts from the podcast section on the Radio National web site) on a weekly basis; and grab some books on the topic. Then come back and test yourself to see if all of that made a difference.

    Between 0-5: Hommo Indifferentus
    You have listened but not tuned into the environmental debate. With a very basic understanding of the topic, you are missing out on the majority of the ‘big picture’ issues. Wake up to the fact that our current lifestyle is based on un-sustainable practices, and take personal responsibility. Follow the same suggestions as for the previous score, and your understanding of the issues will be greatly enhanced.

    Make sure you take individual action on the basis of this knowledge. Without that critical step, your understanding is unlikely to make any difference – except, maybe, to keep you awake at night, scared of what the future holds.

    Between 6 and 14: Hommo Sapiens
    You have a solid grasp of the environmental issues we are facing. If you are not already taking action, consider transitioning to a more active role in solving our environmental issues. Help others understand why these problems are of such relevance for all of us. Instil in your children (if you have any!) a sense of respect for our planet. Get active!

    15 or Higher: Hommo Excelsius
    What are you doing reading blogs on environmental issues? You already know it all!! Spend your time in your environmental activism instead – it will make a far larger difference that trying to learn about that extra 0.05% that you haven’t heard about yet!

     

    Aiming for excellence

     


    Image by nattu

     On Dan Millman’s blog, there was a recent entry that generated some interesting commentary (click here to see the entry and comments)

    This is what was said that grabbed my attention: “I feel the aspect of achievement and success and making-something-of-oneself plays less of a role here in Europe. These are, after all, deeply American values, and sometimes it’s overburdening to me.

    Dan’s response to this was that “I’ve never aimed for “winning” or for “success.” Only for excellence (which is all that we can control — the quality of our attention and effort, moment to moment). We can control efforts, not outcomes.

    On the context of my recent experience with a performance review, these words really make you think. Our ‘performance culture’ in organisations has aimed for a very long time to measure & reward success (outcomes). We are even told that our objectives for the year need to be ‘Smart’: Specific, measurable, action-focused, realistic, and time-bound. Yet time and time again we focus on what is achieved, rather than the effort of the individual in achieving those outcomes. At my workplace, they do try to have a measurement for the ‘behaviours’ that generated the outcomes: Not so much the what but the how. Yet in both cases, the focus is very goal-oriented.

    Dan’s comment reminded me that in looking at life, one can easily allow other-people’s-values become entrenched in the way we feel and think. This obsession with ‘success’ and ‘goal-orientation’ is a great example. Despite my focus on the journey; on the effort I put into learning from every moment; on the positive or negative experiences I create for myself and others; I continue to evaluate my success by (a) how much money I make, and (b) How others perceive my achievements.

    So what are you aiming for? Perfection of outcomes, or excellence of effort? You be the judge.