UNIVERSAL MAN – EP 18 – SELF-AWARENESS

 

As soon as you honour the present moment, all unhappiness and struggle dissolve, and life begins to flow with joy and ease. When you act out the present-moment awareness, whatever you do becomes imbued with a sense of quality, care, and love – even the most simple action.

Eckhart Tolle

What is Self-Awareness?

In some ways, the question above makes little sense. It is like asking a bird about the air or a fish about water. Yet it is hardly surprising that one of the biggest selling books of the Twentieth Century was ‘The Power of Now’ by Eckhart Tolle.

It would seem that in one way we have never been more connected and at the same never been more disconnected with our own selves. Surrounded by noise, multi-stimuli and busyness we are less and less able to hear ourselves and be aware of our own inner voice and wisdom.

Awareness is a conscious, resourced being in the present moment.

Why is it so important?
Awareness is vital if we are to become a truly universal man. A huge amount of energy goes into being reactive to what others say and do. We react to, we dump on, we are caught in traps and can’t get out of them, we are confused by what is happening to us and unaware of our own beliefs, biases, value-laden language, negative body language, our projection and more.

In this state, we are not in the driver’s seat. And we don’t like this feeling of living someone else’s life – personally or professionally.

Most of us have played some form of sport where we were constantly playing ‘catch-up’ football or the other was totally dictating the speed and the form of the game and we were not able to play ‘our game’! That is the price we pay for a lack of awareness. Awareness skills and equips us to play our game personally and professionally.

Awareness is a conscious, resourced being in the present moment.

Firstly, it is conscious;
You are alert to what is happening within and without and you are able to hear the inner voice, the intuition, the ‘gut feeling’. This means you are able to focus on what we choose to focus on and not be constantly (and automatically) kidnapped by other thoughts.

Things are not a blur of rushed thoughts and surface feelings which means you see and feel clearly. You are aware of your reactions, overreactions, projections, dumping and can name when you are being thrown out of the driver’s seat of your own life and someone else is behind the steering wheel.

You can actually hear the pure noise around you of birds or breeze or children’s laughter. Your inner engine over-revving has finally stopped OR at least you are aware that it has not stopped.

You feel more one, more whole, more complete.

Secondly, it is resourced;
You have developed an array of skills to help harness your ‘monkey mind’ – to focus it. Likely you have a life coach or mentor to assist you in more disciplined, creative and positive thinking. The professional supervisor / coach will help you name the ‘reaction’, the driver behind the behaviour, your inner tapes that set you off. A coach or mentor can help you become aware of your language, the questions you are asking (and the ones you could be asking), your patterns of behaviour and thinking.

As you become more ‘aware’ of the nature of your autopilot you will be more able to anticipate it and counter it. Much of our reactivity is linked to inner tapes that we have developed (unconsciously) from our childhood that kick in during times of stress, pressure and fear. As you begin to be more conscious of these tapes you can NAME THEM and gain a power over them. Examples might “I’m not good enough!”, “I have to work harder than everyone else to be valued”, “What I do must be perfect”

Another way of looking at this is to be aware of your egoic voice sitting there on your shoulder. The ego voice can whisper in your ear, “They are not listening to you …you must beat him …he is a threat to you …you can’t do this etc.” Even being aware of this voice – in itself helps defeat it. But don’t see the ego voice as a battle to win. It will love that and like the chameleon – will slide away but sneak back up on you in another disguise. Sometimes it helps to write down what the ego voice whispers. This can, in time, erase the inner tape and replace it with a more positive, constructive tape linked to your core values

Some form of awareness leading to ‘capturing’ assists in this area.

Firstly, you have to mine for the words of the inner tapes (often this will be better assisted by a professional coach or mentor) – but you can do it yourself. One technique is to just ‘gush’ your inner thinking (unfiltered and uninterrupted) onto sheets of paper.

Secondly, once mined sit back and see if you can identify patterns or beliefs beneath what you have written. Again each person has their own way of doing this. Some like to journal, some like to ‘talk things out’ with a trusted friend, some like to ‘mull it over’ while jogging or walking – whatever works for YOU.

Finally, it brings you into the present moment:
All we have is the present moment. Too many of us are trapped in the past full of regrets and missed opportunities. Too many of us live in the future, “One day I will be fit …” when all we have is the now.

It is in the present moment – the now – that we will become the best me I can be – we choose to do it NOW. And if we choose to do it in this NOW and then the next NOW and then the next NOW – we become it.

When we grow into a deep presence in the present moment – our life changes for the better immediately.

How do we grow into greater awareness?

Find your way of slowing down. Some examples might be;

  • Instead of an extra cup of coffee during work time – go for a short walk outside (especially if you can get into nature in some way). During this time spend some time deliberately and slowly breathing in deeply OR focus totally on some element of nature – light bouncing off the water, a leaf, a flower etc.
  • Begin your day with a time of meditation in some way. Key to this time will be deeply more aware breathing and focussed attention on the breathing – this disciplines our monkey mind.
  • Do a weekend yoga session, long run or walk.
  • Get into nature; it is a great teacher and healer. Go fishing, go hiking, walk the beach, go surfing.
  • Have some quiet time each day alone – choose to catch a ferry to work, go for an early morning walk, have a twenty minute ‘sit’ to begin your day, for an afternoon jog, a gym session – whatever. But during this time either leave your mobile phone at home or turn it totally off. You will discover that you look forward to this time. Call it your ‘me-time’.
  • On a more macro level – plan one day in your week where you ‘slow down’ – spend time playing golf, time in the garden, time reading, listening to music, playing with your children – but again – leave your phone at home or turn it totally off. Gift yourself with this time. Perhaps that one day a week will be complemented by a weekend each month when you and your partner go away for the weekend or go for a longer walk – do whatever helps you ‘drink from your well’ of stillness.
  • Never put off the annual holiday away. The annual holiday does not need to be expensive. It will take you several days just to slow down – but we need it for our physical, psychological, spiritual and intellectual health.
  • Discipline your monkey mind.
  • Discover YOUR way to get a space – a break – between the stimulus and the response. At times this is not possible in the immediacy of the moment but the awareness will grow more skills in this area. But where you can – write a draft of the email and let it sit, don’t return the phone call immediately, go for a short walk ….whatever helps you get that space that brings back balance and perspective.
  • Regularly step back and take a longer / macro view.
  • Do the homework before the meeting or the encounter so that your ego is ‘in its place’ and the chameleon won’t surprise you.
  • Identify positive proactive responses to your inner tapes – erase the old tapes and in a positive, practical way retape the messages you want to guide your personal and professional life.
  • Affirm yourself when you have engaged in a non-reactive / autopilot way – celebrate it in some way

Awareness is one of the great challenges of modern life because everything around us is tempting us into the opposite. Universal Men are aware and present because this is where we are at our absolute best.

Dial up your awareness legends.

Grego and Pricey

UNIVERSAL MAN – EP 17 – RESILIENCE

 

“Out of massive suffering emerged the strongest souls;
the most massive characters are seared with scars.”
– Khalil Gibran

WHAT IS RESILIENCE?

Resilience is that ability to bounce back and to reframe things in a positive way when you’re faced with a difficult time or adversity.

When there is a lack of adversity in your life it’s probably not necessarily a good thing. There are times when it’s okay to not have any adversity. But in the end, it’s through adversity that we grow. The challenge that we face helps us grow. Through experience, the world grows and widens before us. So, adversity actually plays an important part in us becoming resilient universal men.

Many people either consciously or unconsciously avoid facing into the difficult times. They will project the anger onto somebody else. They will blame others. They will dump on somebody else. They live in a hot-cold pattern or they get all spiritual where it’s fate, the luck of the draw, God’s fault or will. All these are forms of avoidance. They’re not taking responsibility.

Sometimes adversity happens out of the blue and there is nothing you could have done about it. And that’s okay. Resilience still requires an ownership of even the most random situation you find yourself in. Because if you revert to the running away it’s not taking ownership of you and rising up to your greatest version of yourself.

If we consider our four pillars – mental, social, physical, and spiritual. Each of these elements can be heavily impacted in tough times. In a purely physical sense, all of the negative stress hormones, like cortisol get released into the body. And that cortisol can hang around for days at a time. It affects your immune system, your heart rate and your cognitive function. And it plays out in the social realm, in the quality of your relationships with people at home, and at work. It really can affect you across all of these elements. So the importance of resilience cannot be understated as it protects your health and the health and relationships of the people around you.

When you’re resilient you shift into a world that’s clear, focused, relationships are thriving even through the adversity.

And there’s something special there. When you’re clear about your goals. When you’re focused. When you are centred. But when there’s a challenge which actually stretches you up. You know, that brings out the very strongest within you, the best.

THE PITFALLS

One of the big pitfalls of resilience is we can get stuck. And we can really get pulled down into the depths of despair when we don’t know what the new challenge is as opposed to the problem they’re stuck with.

We’ve all had mates call and say, “Hey man, I’m just really down. I can’t seem to get out of this hole that I’m in!”

And the first question to ask is, “What is the outcome? What are you trying to achieve? What’s your career goal? What’s your goal with your family? What are your financial goals? What’s the challenge we’re trying to accept here?” And that’s missing for them. And as a result, they get stuck in the problems without knowing the direction.

We have created a little decision tree to help you understand it in more depth.

And it says, first and foremost, there’s a state of mind which we might call your level of resilience. And it’s either good or bad. And the quality of that resilience then leads to a particular event happening. And out of that, there are a few options. One is, you can either deflect the thing that’s coming your way. And that is a valid choice sometimes. And the other option is, you bounce back, or you rise back out of the ashes.

A very quick example of what that’s like in the real world. Imagine a day, you go to work, you’ve had maybe an average night’s sleep. Things haven’t been going so well, you feel a bit out of whack. You haven’t had good downtime for a while. You’re a bit edgy. And then you walk into a meeting room, and there’s a guy at work who you’re just a bit tired of. And, he gives some terribly bad news. It was completely avoidable. And, he’s famous for it. And you just think, you know what? I know what’s gonna happen here. And then you unload. And you just give it to him.

The thing is, you weren’t resilient in the first place. Then you didn’t accept. And then what you did, in the end, was dump on someone. And they copped it, and no one in the room wins anymore. As opposed to, you walk in the room and you are resilient, you are resourceful. You accept in the moment what has just come your way. And then you make a choice, do I deflect this because it’s really of no great consequence in the world? Or, do I respond to it positively so we all bounce back personally and as a group?

And that’s the little pattern. Be resilient in the first place. Then, in the moment, choose your response. Deflect or accept.

When you accept the challenge part of that is to be open to the wisdom within it too.

And when you deflect things. This is when some heat comes your way and you know it really isn’t about you. It’s actually the other person’s stuff. There is still wisdom and strength in that moment for you to note.

WAYS YOU CAN BE MORE RESILIENT

CLARITY: Resilience comes when you’re on the front foot. When you’ve got your goals and dreams and what you really value. Remember, resilience is easier when you’re moving towards a goal away from the difficulty.
SELF CARE: This is having the right balance and preparation in your life by keeping fit, doing meditation or yoga, listening to music, going for a run, going for a ride, rock climbing. Whatever your thing is. Having that rock so to speak, that everything works around, and the right amount of family time and things.
OTHER-CENTRED: Do not be self-centred. If you’re thinking ‘me’ all of the time when the struggles come, there’s a danger you go within in a poor me type of a way. But when you are an other-centred person, the current resilience has got a context, a goal. It’s to make the world a better place. So shifting that to serving other people, and serving the world. Makes you a lot more resilient on a day to day basis.
PRESENCE: And the next is just being present. Sometimes you’re trying to put your kids to bed, and they don’t want to go to bed. And it can be frustrating because you’re thinking, I’ve gotta get that work done, I wanna catch up with my wife, have dinner, have a glass of wine or watch something on Netflix. And next thing you know these little kiddies just won’t go to sleep. And you realise that all of your frustration has nothing to do with them. And everything to do with the fact that you want to be somewhere else. So remove the need to be for somewhere else, and just be present. All of the pressure in your head releases.
RELATIONSHIPS: One of the toughest things in life where resilience is really difficult is close relationships. Keep following the same process. What is the outcome you’ve got? Go back to what you want out of that relationship. What’s the depth of connection you want? What do you really want to achieve out of it?
TEAMS: One common trait of high performance teams is that it’s often through adversity that they unite and bond. And out of the ashes, they rise like a phoenix to a tight-knit group. Look around your work or a sporting team you’re involved with. What adversity has that group been through? If it hasn’t been through any create some. And you don’t have to put them through hell through some boot camp. Instead what you can do is set the bar incredibly high and challenge the team to greatness as individuals and a team.

All those things lead to a whole mindset, that you can handle anything. You actually welcome some of those difficult times. Because you know you’re not going to just cope, you’re going actually thrive.

Let’s finish with a passage from one of our favourite poems by William Earnest Henley, “Invictus”:

“It matters not how straight the gate. How charged with punishments their scroll. I am the master of my fate. I am the captain of my soul.”

Stay legendary

Grego and Pricey

UNIVERSAL MAN – EP 16 – MARRIAGE: KEEPING THE FLAME BURNING

 

“A good husband, makes a good wife.” – John Florio

In all long-term relationships, the challenge to keep the flame burning never ends.

In the early stages of relationships, life is bliss. You spend hours and hours together every week without distraction or hindrance. You may have also been a bit younger, in less demanding roles and had no children. Whatever, your situation, at some point life gets busier and the glamour of your wedding or even the beginning your relationship is gone… you’re left with the challenge of keeping the flame burning.

How do you keep that connection when you’re constantly on the move with incredible pressures at work?

Why does the flame flicker?

The simplest way to think about this is from a pure fuel perspective. In the early stages of the relationship you likely had several dates per week, loads of great holidays and life was more simple. You had more time on your own with your mates and you could invest heavily in your career without worry about missing out on home. You were fuelling the fire almost every day.

Now a date night is a thing. You have to schedule it in your diary to even get one. You’ve got greater pressures at work too and that can make you more distracted at home and likely so does your partner. The fuel or investments in the bank account have dried up so the flame doesn’t burn so bright.

And when it doesn’t the relationship strains. Small things can become big things. Everything from finance, parenting challenges, where to go on holidays or who is cleaning what, can become painful. And the biggest of all is the feeling that you and your partner are just spinning the wheels at best or even ever so slowly drifting apart. Why? Because the spark is gone.

But the principles of creating a fire remain the same. When you add fuel and give it some oxygen the flames grow.

Key Methods to Keep the Flame Burning in Your Relationships

  1. Date Nights – you have to book them, but so what. Make ’em happen.
  2. Little actions that speak louder than words that show you care. Like cooking her favourite meal, doing a load of washing, looking after the kids while she has a timeout. These are the small things that show you actually care.
  3. Build little traditions as a family or as a couple like Saturday morning breakfasts, annual holidays. These traditions are what create a closeness and unity as a family and partnership.
  4. Put the fun and energy back into your time off. Every now and then throw caution to the wind and crack an expensive bottle of red on a Tuesday, go and do something super fun on the weekends and have a laugh together.
  5. Every now and then do something that is an extra special surprise that totally knock your partner of their feet. This is the bigger thing like taking her away for a surprise weekend after organising someone to look after the kids, the dog or the house. It’s an extra special gift away from her birthday…make her feel loved.
  6. Have times where the phone and social media is totally off together. So much down time these days has couples sitting on the couch next to each other with their minds far off on social media or the internet. So create a few friendly rules around shutting these off. These might be making sure no phones at dinner and that is your time to reconnect 100%.
  7. Work hard on your own health and appearance. Be proud of your body men and keep it in good shape. This will not only give you more energy it’ll keep her attracted to you so you can dial up the goodness factor!
  8. Keep separate identities by giving each other some time out from the family to refresh and maintain your own friendships and hobbies

YOUR CHALLENGE

  1. Do one thing immediately that’ll add serious fuel to the fire.
  2. Create a tradition as a couple that you keep every week

Stay legendary

Grego and Pricey

 

UNIVERSAL MAN – EP 15 – HUMILITY

 

“I believe the first test of a truly great man is in his humility.”

John Ruskin

WHAT IS HUMILITY?

Our Universal Man core principle of ‘know thyself’ comes to the fore in Humility.

When you are in touch with your truest self and ‘at peace’ with who you are you are freed from the ego battles that build within you.

As this energy grows it naturally leads to a profound sense of purpose and service of humanity and the planet itself. You grow to truly become a ‘universal man’ who is not just well-rounded but serves others above self and is accepting of the mantle of responsibility.

Importantly, Humility does NOT mean that you do not seek to be aspirational. We are all called as Universal Men to be the ‘best me I can be.’ Humility is often used as the excuse to not have a go, take something on and stand up. That is not humility.

Humility is a gracious acceptance of your gifts, roles and responsibilities and with their acceptance comes the privilege of pressure to enhance the world in which we live. From this space, we grow a deep sense of gratitude. The humble person is grateful, aware and does not shirk or take the service of others for granted.

The story is told of a University Professor in a Scottish Medical School. The medical students filed in for their final exam. The Professor said, “Today there will be two papers …begin work on Paper 1 now.” The students dived into the large exam paper full of the anticipated questions about anatomy and more. The second paper – a single sheet lay next to it. When time was called the Professor had the first exam paper collected. He then said, “Turn over Paper 2 and begin work now!” The curious medical students turned over the paper to reveal ONE single question, “What is the name of the tea lady who serves in the medical students’ cafeteria each day?” There was a grumble around the room, protests and frustration that their precious time was being wasted. When no one could answer the question the Professor said, “Her name is Mrs Smythe – Shirley actually, and she has been serving you for the last six years. We as medical professionals must always be about people first – when we are – we will become the medical professionals we are called to be and this world so desperately needs.”

YOUR ‘WHO’ AS OPPOSED TO YOUR ‘WHAT’

There is good ego – that drives you (from inside) to become your best self. The false ego wants to be in a competition, where you win and others lose.

Humility will focus on and be driven by our WHO (our core, our essence). Humility does not focus on the titles and the ‘whats’ of our lives. It is focused on being greater today than you were yesterday.

The humble person when you are with them – you meet their WHO, not their what. And invariably – you come away deeply impressed – deeply touched and influenced by them – you have met the deeper them – not some title or accolade.

Our achievements are good and something we should be proud of. Our CV, our ‘what’ will give you a credibility and get you in the door but it will be your ‘who’ what will take your message (and very self) into their minds and hearts. Your whats are built upon your hard work and this hard work only serves to strengthen your sense of a deeper self – your rock that will not be shattered no matter what storms come your way.

So both your WHO and your WHAT play an important part in building your overall humility. But WHO comes first.

Humility is NOT Trickily there are many versions of false humility:

– The times where you refuse to step forward because you don’t want to be judged is

just a version of the tall poppy syndrome that you’re playing on yourself. – When someone always plays the martyr – appearing to serve the other but the real

energy is very me focussed, seeking attention and love but in an egoic way.

Remember, the false ego loves competition – almost as an end in itself. Its ‘winning’ depends upon the other losing. The false ego locks us into a life-sapping dualism where I can only ‘win’ and become my best self if the other is lower than me. This type of false victory is never satisfied.

So often they are caught up in the group’s ego as well and have lost touch with their true purpose and the human element that makes all journeys noble. When one is caught up in their competitive world you are never truly at peace with your own self. The circle narrows and more and more it is about ME, we begin to believe our own press and everyone and everything is framed in terms of a win-lose competition.

HOW TO BUILD HUMILITY

Some practical steps

  • Build your self-awareness and knowledge of self. Learn your fears, dreams and any tendencies you have to compare yourself or let your ego off its leash
  • Become at peace with who you are. This is no small ask. But the more you learn to forgive yourself and be 100% comfortable with where you are in life the more your  humilty is given a chance. You’ve got faults. We all do. Get over it. Be ok with it. You’re not perfect. None of us are.
  • Practice random acts of kindness (RAK). Make a note in your daily diary – RAKs – and in some small way (no matter how small) do something for someone else that draws absolutely no attention to yourself and they will probably never know about it. Make this a habit – and you will become aware of a new magic in your life.
  • Be involved in a cause that stretches you and is other centred.
  • When in the public speaking sphere or even when engaging with your team at work – know your audience and be focussed on them.
  • Practice ‘presence’ when you are speaking with someone – make a deliberate choice to deeply listen and be totally ‘other centred’. Stop trying to be interesting and just be interested
  • Work on your sense of team – be other centred – at work ask whose agenda are you serving?
  • Trust your hard work and keep building mastery and leaving an impact through your work.
  • Accept the mantle of responsibility when an opportunity arises and stop making excuses.

The Litmus test of Humility recently, Greg in his The Inner Chief podcast series met a very successful businessman and a household name. The man met him at the door, welcomed him, showed him around his home, introduced Greg to his wife and then proceeded to personally make Greg a coffee. In the ensuing conversation and before the podcast, again, the focus from the interviewee constantly and naturally turned to Greg and his project. The host was welcoming, accepting, humble and present.

The true test of humility will be to what extent the world is a better place today because you contributed to it. Is it more peace-filled? Is there more joy? Humility will release and nurture the inner chief within each one of us. Each one of us is called to truly encounter our inner chief. The inner chief knows who he truly is and is at peace. This peace leads him naturally to encounter those he meets free of any ego need to win but only to grow and to serve. Paradoxically, this leads to an ever-stronger sense of self and a humility which inspires and transforms.

Stay legendary

Pricey and Grego

UNIVERSAL MAN – EP 14 – SAYING NO

 

“Half the troubles in life can be traced back to saying yes too quickly and not saying no soon enough.” – Josh Billings

 

What is saying ‘no’

Saying ‘no’ can be one of the toughest things as a bloke. We’ve all been in situations where for one reason or another we got talked into something we didn’t really want to do.

And these tricky moments take a thousand forms. There’s a sense that if I say ‘no’, I’m going to let someone else or an entire group down. I’m going to miss out on something really fun with my family or mate, a big opportunity at work, or some much needed extra income.

You’ll find that the moments where you are called upon to say ‘no’ are often where your standards are placed at risk and where you find out what you’re truly made of. Saying no is simply the ability to put a boundary – big or small – around those choices that are linked to your core values.

Why is it so hard?

Saying ‘no’ becomes a real issue when you do not know what you actually want. You’re confused as to what your real goals are, who you want to be and what you really want to do with your life. When you are in that ‘unsure’ space, ‘no’ becomes hard. Saying ‘no’ is also a real factor when you are confused as to the priority around your energy. You want to do ‘X’ and ‘Y’ and ‘Z’ but there are only 24 hours in a day and you have other core priorities to honour. You want to do everything and please everybody – this is linked to knowing what you really want.

This can be even harder when you feel like you’ve lost your sense of self or your direction. Generally in this state you don’t know your standards, or you haven’t been living to your standards, and as a result, you lose that sense of discipline, because you’re not on a path, and that’s what makes saying ‘no’ so difficult. You might even end up agreeing to some very questionable business decisions that you know are profit grabs or making a moral choice that your ‘gut’ tells you is plain stupid and you will live to regret.

How to make saying ‘no’ easier

One of the things to remember is that saying ‘no’ actually means saying ‘yes’ to something else.

You could go to the pub on a Friday afternoon with some mates, had three or four beers etc, and the whole group around you is saying, “Stay on, stay on. One more beer, one more beer.” And your gut in this instant wants to you head home… it’s saying, “No. I’ve had a really good couple of hours here, but I want to get home to my partner. I want to do something else.”

Remember saying ‘no’ is a good thing. The thing here to remember is, you’re saying ‘no’ to the short-term thinking and immediate temptation, which although lots of fun, is sacrificing another long-term thing that is really, really valuable to you (your relationship with your partner). Of course, if your gut is saying the opposite, “time to let the hair down and hang with my mates” then hell, stay out a couple of beers, that’s great. Might be your night to go out with the boys. It helps in your ability to say ‘no’ to be more in touch with the ‘yes’ that you can gain from it.

The situation might be that your boss wants you to go on yet another business trip away or to make a decision that has no morals or clashes with your core values or you or your partner want to spend money on something that isn’t right for you at this time. The key in these situations is to remember what you are trying to achieve that is of a greater or higher purpose. When you say ‘no’ to the extra business trip and spend quality time with your family / partner, when you say ‘no’ to the moral compromise – your ‘no’ adds to your saying ‘yes’ to your own greatness. You almost immediately feel right and stronger about it.

This starts with knowing your own direction and personal standards. So if you don’t have anything like that, that’s something all Universal Man should make a priority. Then you can centre yourself around that because that should be the filter for your decision making. Once you’re centred, that’s when you’ve got the right physical and emotional and spiritual presence to deliver a ‘no’ message.

And when you do that, your boss, your mates, your partner can all sense it. They will know that you are centred, that you’re focused, you know who you are and what you want to be and it will come through in your voice. The tone of your voice is resolute, it’s focused, it knows what it wants, and that is an awesome thing to be around. You are strong, and you stick to your values and your standards. Your boss and professional peers will admire you even more for your ability to say ‘no’ from this strong base.

Key principles that make saying ‘no’ easier:

  1. Remember, saying ‘no’ means saying ‘yes’ to something else. So, know what you are saying ‘yes’ too
  2. Be very familiar with your standards and values
  3. Know your bigger goals and dreams and have them close in your mind when you need to say ‘no’ to something (share these with people close to you)
  4. Centre yourself when you know you need to say ‘no’ in a difficult situation and speak with a resolute and clear voice
  5. It’s far easier when you add the full context to the person as to why you’re saying ‘no’ and what you’re saying ‘yes’ too
  6. When you really struggle to say ‘no’ to a particular thing over and over then seek deeper wisdom as to why you’re finding it so hard. Is it fear? An incongruency? Lack of skill in saying no? Do you just lack conviction or courage? Do you have a belief that you’re not up to it – i.e. a limiting personal belief that is stopping you setting the boundary? Are you just seeking comfort? The deeper reason will reveal exactly what you need to overcome in order to own those situations better.

Saying ‘no’ is liberating

Saying ‘no’ can become much easier. Start with the small things, because along your life’s journey you are going to be offered some things that are very, very hard to say ‘no’ to. It might be a big job, it might be a move internationally, it could be anything, and you want to know how to identify if it’s right for you or not.

These moments shape the course of your entire life. If you look back at all the times you should have said ‘no’…what would this have added to your life if you did rather than taking the easy path?

Saying ‘no’ liberates you to a higher level of yourself that you didn’t know was possible – just like fitness – you train and train and train to achieve a certain level of fitness and then one day you find yourself surpassing even what you thought possible – and easily and with true pride.

Stay legendary

Grego and Pricey

 

UNIVERSAL MAN – EP 13 – ESTEEM

 

“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer.

Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away”.

Henry David Thoreau

What is Self-Esteem?

People often talk about their ‘physical core’ and the need to work on it. Each of us shares another ‘core’ – our sense of self, our self-worth; our self-esteem. Our self-esteem is our core belief about ourselves. People can confuse a good sense of self-esteem with an arrogance or ‘having tickets on yourself’ but true esteem is nothing like arrogance.

Why is self-esteem so important?

Esteem is like a tree. When its trunk is strong with roots reaching deep down into the earth it can withstand the storms of life, can reach out and grow and welcome others into its branches. But when the roots are shallow and malnourished the tree withers, it becomes susceptible to damage from the elements and loses battles with weeds that suck away its best nutrients.

When you begin to question your sense of self, the flow on effects are significant. Lack of a true sense of self can lead to;

  1.    Constantly comparing self with others
  2.    Marching to someone else’s drum
  3.    Never being good enough in your own eyes
  4.    Confused priorities
  5.    An inability to be truly intimate in a relationship
  6.     A needy and or selfish approach towards life

Sadly self-esteem has become a confused subject among men. We have this crazy illogical belief that ‘real men’ (whatever that term is supposed to mean) are never weak, never vulnerable and at all times and in all places must have it all together. This is bullshit. An essential part of life and being human is we face limitations in our self and overcoming them is what makes the journey so challenging and rewarding. We all have feet of clay. It is not about being perfect. When we are aware of our current weakness and limitations this opens the door to deeper growth, where we shed the victim person and grow stronger and wiser. But it is when we ignore them or become the victim that our esteem suffers.

Where does our sense of self come from?

Our childhood is a significant time for us all in shaping our esteem. We tend to take the messages through the responses and body language of others very personally. At this time the set of inner beliefs we carry about ourselves if formed through our infant eyes and ears. These inner beliefs most often take the form of labels. “You’re useless!”, “Can’t you do anything right!”, “After all I that have done for you!” – These kinds of negative labels limit and are never based upon reality. Conversely, sometimes as kids we’ll have an extraordinarily good moment or experience that invests heavily in our self-belief. This might be a parent, teach or coach saying something that made us feel ten-foot tall. Our young brains can take that on and make it the soundtrack to our lives. “You’re a super-star young man”, “You’ll go all the way”. The crazy thing is how easy it can go either way. Limiting or generative for our esteem. Which of these messages do our young brains pay attention to? And why?

As children and teenagers, we do not have the resources nor the self-awareness levels to truly understand the role of the negative labels in particular. In your lack of maturity, you accept them as ‘truth for yourself’ often in an unquestioning way. As time grows by if you’re carrying negative impressions of yourself it can give way to a voice that sits on your shoulder and constantly feeds comparison and negative messages at you.

All these labels filter down to our core beliefs about who we are. Good, bad, indifferent. They shape our lives every day and we generally have little understanding of what they are and how we could adjust all of them to be more constructive (even the good ones!)

Positively our sense of self comes from ‘knowing thyself’ and as Shakespeare says in Hamlet, “to thine own self be true!” Our sense of self needs to be built on real personal victories, clear goals aligned with our truth and a sense of our own purpose.  

So what do we do to build a holistic and healthy sense of self?

  1. Work hard to achieve what you want to achieve. As you achieve, you deposit into the bank of esteem, and this, in turn, creates resilience and a truth to unpack and reject the falsity of childhood labels and those placed upon us by the insecurity of others.
  2. Don’t become a slave to the labels you put on yourself or others place upon you. Keep on working on them. Firstly become aware of what they are – name them, challenge their assumptions and understand the impact they are having now, that they had on your past and will play in your future if you don’t change them
  3. Similarly become ‘ego’ aware. Become aware of the egoic voice that is constantly wanting you to compare yourself with the other, allow the other to set YOUR agenda and wants to frame everything in terms of win-lose.
  4. Be aware of your language. Be aware of your use of phrases like “I’m only,” “I can’t,” “I’m hopeless in relationships ….!” Reframe your use of language in relation to yourself. Do this deliberately and be aspirational in your new language.
  5. Be other centred but not in the sense of ‘giving your inner power’ to others but rather giving and contributing to make this a better world for all. This mere generosity of spirit will free up your energy and give you back a balance. Our shared brotherhood calls us to leave our planet a better place for all.
  6. Be aware of when you respond to compliments! When you are complimented and you know that that affirmation or compliment is based on fact and your hard work; humbly accept it.
  7. Quietly celebrate your achievements. Or loudly! When you have worked hard to achieve a goal and you now stand on the mountaintop of success find some way to celebrate this; it may be a dinner out, a coffee or beer with a friend, some money put aside towards something in your ‘bucket list’

Often with esteem, the image of a rickety chair comes to mind. A chair with only two or three legs is quite unstable. As we deliberately ‘add’ legs to a chair through attaining small goals, learning new lessons, creating firmer boundaries, developing new skills and more – we add legs to the chair; we create stability and a firm platform to go forward from.

When we know self we are marching to our own drum. There is a beautiful sense of presence, confidence and self in the one who knows who they are, who they want to be and is prepared to work hard to achieve it.

Your Challenge

  1. On your own or with a few mates, answer the following:
  2. What is my esteem out of 10? Why that number? What evidence do you use to determine it? Is that realistic?
  3. What are the negative labels I place upon myself or others have placed upon me? In what ways are the untrue?
  4. What is my negative self-talk?
  5. What is an achievement I am deeply proud of? Did I celebrate it? How did I? If I did not – why not?

UNIVERSAL MAN – EP 12 – WELL-ROUNDED

 

“The superior man is one is he who develops, in harmonious proportions, his moral, intellectual and physical nature. This should be the end of which men of all classes should aim, and it is this only which constitutes real greatness.”

Douglas Jerrold

 

“Wanted, a man who is symmetrical, and not one-sided in his development, who has not sent all the energies of his being into one narrow speciality and allowed all the other branches of his life to wither and die.”

Orison Swett Marden, Pushing to the front, 1911

 

What does Well-Rounded mean?

In the speed of modern life, things can get out of whack very quickly. We’ve all seen men that put all their faith in developing just one element of their life. They become gym junkies thinking that this will lead to their happiness, they hide away and meditate forever removing themselves from society and thinking that will be their saviour, they become mental giants, studying and learning and being the smartest person in the room or they become social animals always out and about.

This one-dimensional focus often leads to a hyper-competitiveness at being the best in those areas. But competing for what reason? To what end goal?

All of us has spent certain periods investing heavily in one element to the detriment of others. And that is OK. This is how we grow naturally but a well-rounded man does not let this prevail. He knows the true cost. Eventually, the lack of balance makes us start to feel ‘empty’ like ‘something is missing’ and that things are out of balance. In these times we are often more ‘reactive’, short-tempered, emotionally up and down like a yo-yo, and disconnected from those around us.

We’ve simply put all our eggs in one basket for too long.

Too much time in one part of our lives and the other parts suffer. This is where the importance of being rounded in our development is so important. Being well-rounded doesn’t just mean balance (of time spent). It means that you’re continuing to develop in equal parts your physical, spiritual, mental and social skills. The greater our fitness in all elements the greater our internal system works.

Ask yourself, would your spiritual self want you to not develop the mental, physical and social self? No. It’d want roundedness. Balance. Harmony. That is because each of the elements – physical, mental, social and spiritual – is integrated. They work together like a team of horses pulling a carriage. If any one horse is under-performing the whole team suffers. If they are all ‘fit and healthy’ then the whole carriage runs faster for longer with less effort.

How to be more well-rounded

Imagine for a second that for 3 months you felt spiritually connected, physically fit, socially valued and mentally sharp. How much better would you feel? Now, what if you were like that for 10 years? What could you achieve from a legacy perspective in that time?

An important foundation for creating the time and space to work on the different elements is to build a discipline in your life around your key ‘rocks’ by locking in time in your schedule for all four of them. And when you ‘rock your life’ – and you give each of these elements quality time – then they link with one another – and all elements benefit; “I sleep better, I eat more healthily, I am less stressed, I react less.

Being well-rounded is not an end goal. It is a way of life. It is the path of the universal man and at the heart of know thyself, grow thyself and brotherhood. Those that never stop learning and investing in each of the elements will find that life has a purpose, clarity and energy that drives deep happiness, rewarding careers and the closest of relationships.

A few final tips on how:

  1. Find ways to kill two birds with one stone by combining pursuits that develop and invest time in more than one element. E.g. Get fit and do it with a mate
  2. Score yourself on the 4 elements regularly
  3. Find a coach / guide for each element
  4. Build the ‘rocks’ to your routine that everything else is built around
    1. E.g. a morning spiritual or mental practice
    2. Fitness sessions
    3. Key times with family and friends
    4. Traditional catch ups with mates

Prioritise these right now. Today or sometime in the next couple of days look at your weekly diary through the lens of our four core foci; mental, social, spiritual and physical. Deliberately choose to give each of them some quality time either daily or at the very minimum over the course of the week. And remember as we say so often – do it YOUR way! You march to only one drum, “to be the best ME I can be!”

Stay legendary

Grego and Pricey

UNIVERSAL MAN – EP 11 – TALL POPPY

 

“Your candle doesn’t glow brighter when you blow someone else’s out”

What is Tall Poppy?

The ‘tall poppy’ is a mentality that seeks to put the performance of another down in order to feel good within our own mediocrity. Tall Poppy thinking is at home in the herd. In the herd mentality the sheep flock to the pool of the lowest common denominator – of mediocrity to help them feel better in their own lack of courage to risk and dare and dream to become their best self. Tall Poppy thinking is not about the object of the criticism but more about the thrower of the mud, the cynic and the armchair critic. Rarely will you find tall poppy thinking come from those who have shed the blood and sweat of real battle.

Effects

The effect upon the person seeking to be their best self when confronted by mud-slingers can be devastating. At the recent Commonwealth Games, Emily Seebohm challenged many elements of the Australian media who appear never to be satisfied with anything less than a Gold medal from swimmers. At this Commonwealth Games, the Australian swim team was highly successful if you measure success in Gold Medals won. The accolades in the media were generous. But what if in those many ‘close calls’ – eg the final swim of the met where the Australia team of Larkin, Packard, Irvine and Chalmers touched the wall .09 seconds ahead of the English, we had come second or third and our overall medal tally had been significantly less. Would the media be howling for blood? In former Commonwealth and Olympic games despite thousands of hours of training and often putting in ‘personal bests’ sections of the media have been scathing of our swimmers’ performance.

So often those on the end of the tall poppy put down can lose confidence. When you are exhausted and given your all and often in a quite vulnerable place the ill-informed mud slung to create a headline can truly hurt and sap confidence. Tall Poppy putdowns can create a loss of perspective and those who have given their all can give credence to the armchair critic. At times this can lead to a diminishment of trust; in self, in the other, the team and the wider community that you have given your best to and for.

Most elite athletes have a more hardened shell the product of performing in the glare of public scrutiny. Many others who perform to their best in the sports venues of suburbia don’t have the luxury of a sports psychologist to help them weather the storm. The self-doubt can kick in, the teasing can become part of the bleating of the herd and the courage to ‘get back on the horse again’ may flicker and die.

The effect on the cynic, critic or mud-slinger is significant too. The easily flung insult or criticism, the bleating bahhhh often hidden among the herd, or the snide barb fired at the vulnerable can deepen the victim persona of the bully firing the arrow. Each barb digs the hole of fear and mediocrity and negativity deeper. Each bit of digging makes the effort to be YOUR best self-harder. Sadly there is a communal side to all of this and the negativity and cynicism can hook the same energy among others and this only reinforces the spiral that robs the individual or the community of the noble journey to be their best.

What do we know about the tall poppy mentality?

Putting the other down so as to feel good about yourself comes from a space of your insecurity. The energy is other focussed in a non-reflective way. The green eye of jealousy is not far below the surface and the pleasure one may feel in dumping on the other is always short-lived and ultimately self-defeating – you invariably end up feeling worse about yourself. Hidden in the ‘put down’ energy is the fear that WE are not good enough. The cynic and the critic are marching to many drums; the herd, the populist, but never their own.

One of the good things about being at the end of a tall poppy attack is that it can help you on your journey to an even greater personal freedom. We are not really free when we are constantly concerned and losing energy to what others say or think about us. When we go within and are clear about our own goals and expectations and choose to put our best efforts forward we slowly grow to know that that is all that matters. Our honest efforts when placed against our own expectations give us a freedom to be the ‘best me I can be!’ As the uninformed criticism or cynical tall poppy attack of the other comes our way, we slowly grow beyond and above its effects; we gain an ever deeper personal freedom and resilience. That does not mean that we are not open to true constructive criticism. But we are more ‘at home’ in our own skin.

We all fail, we all have feet of clay; no one of us is perfect. The journey of life is NOT about perfection. So when criticism comes our way, as it will, part of the journey is to acknowledge the element of that that we have personal control over and responsibility for. Then we reflect and learn from it and then make the choice to move on stronger and wiser. The Steve Smith ‘ball tampering’ incident is a classic example of this. Smith did the wrong thing and no-one, including Smith himself, has questioned this. The crucial thing is what he has done with the incident. He went inside (gain perspective), reframed the situation for himself and then in true humility came back out, apologised and named the learnings for himself from it. Steve Smith will be a stronger and wiser leader of men as a result.

We know that in the tall poppy scenario that thrower of mud is invariably someone who has not risked to be their best self, has not gone out on the limb and who hides behind group thinking and the bleating of the sheep around them. As Adler says, “The place where people meet to seek the highest, this is holy ground!” The cynic and armchair critic ‘safely’ sets a standard and a level of scrutiny upon the other that they would never dare place upon themselves; there is a degree of hypocrisy there!!

How to respond to a tall poppy attack?

  1. The first thing to do when mud is slung at our best efforts is to stop, reflect and seek the wisdom that lays within the situation. Even physically stopping, taking a moment to regain perspective or stepping away from the noise surrounding criticism can be of great value. In this quiet space objectively look at your performance matched against YOUR expectations and criteria and hear again from within the beat of YOUR drum.
  2. Reframe the situation. Know that the attack is the other’s issue – not yours.
  3. If necessary work on a new narrative; your narrative – your story and effect and take on what has occurred. Sure in the midst of it you may be disappointed in your performance but it is a disappointment from within you and in the context of your goals and expectations.
  4. You perform to your yardstick; to your criteria – and you do not live comparing yourself with others.
  5. Refocus your goals and establish short, medium and long-term goals in the light of what you have learnt from the event and even the criticism.
  6. Seek out someone from your Wolfpack – someone that you trust – and check out if the ‘criticism’ is fair. The good friend can be honest and open with you and that is a great gift.

Your Challenge

On your own or with a few mates, answer the following:

  1. How do I respond to criticism?
  2. How do I differentiate between fair and healthy criticism and a tall poppy put-down? What are my criteria?
  3. Who in my life do I have a tendency to ‘put down’? Reflect on the root causes around this?

Stay legendary

Pricey and Grego

UNIVERSAL MAN – EP 10 – SPIRITUALITY

 

WHAT IS SPIRITUALITY?

We are all spiritual. This is the space of meaning-making, of purpose, of our deepest sense of self; who I am beyond all else. Spirituality is where and how we find meaning and purpose in our lives. It is intimately linked to our truest and deepest self; our inner chief. One could say that coming to grips with our spirituality is our ‘coming home’ to our truest self.

Too many people reject the notion of spirituality because they confuse it with religion. Religion is that system of rites and rituals, symbols and texts, beliefs and practices that certain groups have wrapped their collective efforts to engage their spirituality around. Religion only has value when it flows from spirituality. Religion without deep spiritual experience becomes hollow, meaningless, a ‘tick and flick’ and at worse cultish.

Our inner chief is that inner space of energy and being that feeds who we are and what we do ‘out there’. Spirituality is the nurturing of that inner chief.

WHY IS SPIRITUALISM IMPORTANT?

Every great tradition has had its rites and rituals, its symbols and sacred stories, its seasons and its ways of ‘telling the inner story’! But every great tradition has also at various times and in different ways ‘lost’ the truth behind these same ways to engage the heart and the meaning search.

Spirituality is most keenly felt at those deeply human times of loss and joy, intimacy and birth, death and weakness, vulnerability and commitment. There are so many times ‘beyond words’ where we need to make sense of what is going on for us – or we are invited into a space of wonder / awe / pain and just need to ‘be there’ and allow it to happen. It is at the peak human times of experience – often linked to change – that our inner chief kicks in and helps us grow through these times and to find deeper meaning.

We live in a crazily busy world. It is strange but in many ways, we have never been more connected (through IT) but at the same time never more alone and isolated. We live in a world of noise. We live in a world of rush, of deadlines, of calendar pressure. In the midst of this world, it is often so hard to hear the inner voice, feel the deeper wisdom and name the deeper learning. In the midst of noise (external AND internal noise) we need to find times and ways to listen and to listen more and more deeply; that is the role that spirituality plays.

The inner chief voice – the meaning whisper does not need a name. Whatever name you give to this energy; love, life, awe, God, Jesus, Spirit, mystery, the Universe ….is not ultimately important. It will be important to you. But the inner chief invites us to focus on the energy within and around the name; that is what is important. In some ways, the inner chief calls us to be a ‘monk’ in everyday life. When part of our holistic Universal Man is the ‘monk’ then we are more complete – we all have the monk within us.

Our spirit needs to be nourished. The rush and complexity of this world can drain our inner world dry. When we are being pushed this way and that by competing demands, competing value systems, compromise, ego clashes, successes, failures, struggles, pain and loss we can lose our way. The spiritual space and practice is that which calms the stirred up water, allows us to slow down to truly and deeply listen and nourishes us – feeds us – allows us to drink from a deeper world of wisdom and peace. We come from this space more whole and complete, more able to engage with power and positive energy in the complexities of life. The other will sense in you that deeper energy and space – there is something – an aura – about the person who is in touch with their inner chief – their spirit.

One of the key aspects of spirituality is awareness. Awareness is THE best weapon in the fight against having your life being run by the ego. Self-awareness leads you to quickly recognise the ego reaction, the ego response and to quietly and calmly respond from a deeper more whole space. You respond – you do not react.

HOW TO INCORPORATE SPIRITUALISM

  1. The first and most important rule is to FIND WHAT WORKS FOR YOU. Just because someone else loves doing Bikram yoga does not mean that you have to like it. There are thousands of ‘techniques’ – that is not the important thing; ask what works for you?
  2. Yoga, meditation, a surf, an early morning run, sit with a coffee, nature – quiet the racing ego – quiet the racing mind – find your way to ‘go inside’.
  3. Begin your day with some form of centring – even as simple as five minutes of deep slow breathing
  4. Be Still: Simple – quiet – still – don’t go listening FOR – don’t go being still ‘waiting for something to happen’ – just be quiet – be still – then slowly – in your own spirit’s time – you will gently hear a deeper inner wisdom / voice – often you will hear it intuitively – not as a ‘voice’ as such
  5. One hour a day (of self-time in some way) – one day a week (one day when you are not working and reacting but recreating – turn the work phone off, only respond to personal calls / emails) – one weekend a month (have time away or quality time with loved ones) – one month a year (have a holiday and during that holiday – for a week – do a retreat).
  6. Find an author whose words touch your spirit – read them reflectively
  7. Find an outlet for your creative expression – but it must be YOU – prioritise this time of creative expression (music, art, writing etc)
  8. Find YOUR way to ‘name’ your inner spirit energy – journal, intimate sharing with a soul mate, a heart companion

SUMMARY & A CHALLENGE

Finally – you will know you are more in touch with your inner chief, have found the spiritual balance within your life when you are feeling more and more free; free to forgive, free to let go, free of materialism, free of being driven by needs, free even to understand and make sense of everything. Like all journeys, the spiritual journey is taken one step at a time. The true ‘monk’ is not dualistic and our growing awareness will lead us to one of the greatest gifts; not to see the world as black / white, as in / out, as accepted / not accepted – but to see and value each moment and each person before us as a gift.

On your own or with a few mates, answer the following:

  1. What in your life truly and deeply nurtures you? How does it do this?
  2. Who is someone you admire who appears to be ‘in touch’ with their inner chief?
  3. Think of a time in your personal or professional life when you sensed you had true balance and perspective or were truly free? Was there an element of reflection / space / your time / nurturing practices etc in it? In other words was there a ‘spiritual’ element to it? What form did this take for you?
  4. What is YOUR way to find space / solitude  and balance?
  5. What ‘spiritual’ or ‘inner chief’ practice works for you? Why do you think it works for you?

Stay legendary

Grego & Pricey