Can you remember when you learned to walk? I can’t. It was a long time ago. But I’ve watched children learn to walk. It’s incredible. It fascinates me. Like watching a great movie or listening to a fantastic song, watching children teaching themselves to walk is a reminder of the power of example. It also reminds me just how massive the weight of responsibility can be.
If you think that I’m dramatic, let me explain.
I’ve heard many analogies inspiring us to take lessons from children as they learn to walk. Each one of them makes sense, but up until recently, I didn’t fully intuit why it was that children learnt to walk.
It’s because of us. Children see us walking around on two legs. And the older they get, the more curious babies become. They watch us walking around, getting swiftly and elegantly from the kitchen counter to the sofa. They see us running, watching the wind we kick up in our wake. Babies watch us, and they want a piece of this walking action.
How long does it take them to realise that crawling is just not an efficient way to travel? I don’t know, but at some point, they make the decision that they too will stand. They will walk!
The baby plants her hands into the ground and shifts her weight onto their feet. There’s a brief moment where her legs are holding some weight, and the pressure is right under her feet. Suddenly there’s trembling. Weakness. And then she’s back on the floor. Maybe she cries. Perhaps she sits there, confused about why it didn’t work.
But before they even know that quitting is an option, who do they see? More and more people, walking around! Not one of them is falling over. Not one of them is looking scared while they walk. Babies watch this and don’t see another opportunity to fail. Babies see a chance to try again. After all, overcoming failure is easy when examples of success surround you. In an environment where people have what you want, how can you not succeed?
Just like Tarzan learned to swing through the treetops of the jungle when he was raised by apes, every one of us learns behaviours from the families that we are raised in. Babies learn to walk because there’s no room for anything but walking upright. Walking is like breathing. It needs to happen. There are numerous examples of how it works. Just crane your neck at your mother, your father, your siblings and your grandparents. Go to the mall and you’ll see hundreds more doing the same thing. Success is everywhere you look.
Walking is everywhere. And so, you keep trying. The trying becomes more effective. And eventually, you’re up. And then comes your first step. Then your second step. After that, you’re on your way to becoming a master of this whole “walking” thing. When success becomes your focus, failure loses its power.
Your children may be older now. They may already know how to walk and talk and eat without spilling on themselves. But they’re still watching you. They’re still learning from you. Your limitations will become their limitations if you’re not careful of what you say and do.
As I write this, you and I are examples to the people in our lives. We show them what is possible and equally, what is impossible. Our responsibility in living is far greater than we will ever realise because we are always an example to someone out there.
Isn’t it time that we started acting like the kind of example we want to be? The kind that inspires children to see past limitations?
In her book Mindset, Dr Carol Dweck gave us two approaches to life. The first was to see everything as fixed. Intelligence, talent, everything is predefined and only finite. This belief in scarcity is the Fixed Mindset. It’s the foundation of economics – the use of limited resources.
The other option she suggested was to recognise our learning as a process. Everything we want to achieve can be achieved and mastered with enough time, practice, guidance and help. There’s an abundance of everything in the universe. This approach is the Growth Mindset.
You don’t need to be the best at anything to be an excellent example for your children. All you have to do is believe that you are continually growing, changing and learning. When you laugh at your failures and learn from them, you become the example your children need to become anything, do anything and dream anything.
No matter if these dreams are more significant than yours ever were. Don’t let that scare you. They will find the answers, the solutions to bring their visions to life. Let’s hope that all of our children dream ten-times bigger than we ever could. But whatever you do, as of today, know that your children are watching you.
You are the example.
Until next time…
Be an example of learning!
I once learned from Robert Kiyosaki that intelligence is the ability to make finer and finer distinctions. Buckminster Fuller was one of his most influential teachers, the reason in fact, why he started the RichDad company…to improve the financial intelligence for all humanity. But how does that apply to integrity?
Think about this definition of intelligence for a moment. Finer and finer distinctions. More and more delicate. Beauty. What I think Buckminster Fuller is saying here is that our integrity is a like a muscle. It builds with time. And with that muscle we can do some incredible things. We can lift weights, we can break walls, or we can paint tiny model cars, with delicate strokes of varnish. It’s about being able to make distinctions about how much force or focus or delicacy or strength is needed in a single moment.
The more we learn to trust ourselves enough to exercise our version of integrity, the stronger it becomes. And the stronger it becomes, the more delicate and beautiful it’s capacity, in our hands.
When we’re able to build up this level of integrity within ourselves, we’re able to apply it to a world that in desperate need of compassion, understanding, innovation and change.
If you read any of Bucky’s work, you’ll hear one common idea, whispering through it. He was a simple man and maintained that simplicity in his ideas (maybe not in his words!) and kept it consistent this way.
His dream was to see a world where every individual was playing their part. He saw a future where we’d all be playing a World Game. Where each of us would be conscious of our gifts and our responsibilities to Spaceship Earth. This was the only way that he saw humanity passing the Final Exam. The final test that allows us to evolve and avoid extinction.
That brings our Buckminster Fuller Week to a close. I hope he has inspired you, the way that he inspired me and the hundreds of thousands of influential people around the world today that are still carrying out his legacy.
Until next time…
I’m paraphrasing Buckminster Fuller here.
What he said was that each individual, each human being is facing a final exam. Every day.
And that exam is all about integrity.
What did he mean by our integrity? He meant, our ability to see the truth and to love it.
He went on to say that the closest we can get to God (or the Universe or whichever Higher Power you choose to believe in) was to love the truth.
Now truth is something that’s relative to what we know today. It may change, but when we embrace the truth, we live with congruency. We live our lives beyond our fears.
Basically, living with integrity is living with our eyes completely open to what is. It’s a constant state of being more and more each day.
It’s not easy, but it’s a worthwhile goal to attempt each day. Each day is a fresh test.
Integrity isn’t something that is fixed. A lot of it is a subjective experience. Mostly, being integrous is about being true to what we understand about ourselves and the world around us. We build this up by being honest about what we’re experiencing.
Not justifying our experience.
Not seeking to complain about our experience.
Not looking to blame others for our experience.
Not denying that the experience even happened.
And most importantly, not quitting because of the experience we’ve had.
We build integrity through taking responsibility for our experiences. That means, looking at our responses and choosing them with authenticity.
For example, let’s say I’m desperate to make a new friend. I meet a group of people that welcome me. But they’re crazy about sports…and I’m not. Instead of telling them this, I play along, according to what I think they’d want me to be.
“This is what it takes to make friends.” I justify my experience. But after a while I start becoming irritable and I just don’t know why. I would know why, if I was ready to be honest with myself. The truth is that I don’t like sports. If this is worth losing friends over, then good. I’ll one day find friends that also don’t like sports.
Integrity is the final test.
Until next time…
9 times out of 10, fighting is a waste of your energy.
Buckminster Fuller understood this. He didn’t fight resistance. He looked for answers to that resistance.
Everything around us is travelling in a direction. In a frustratingly stubborn direction. When we become adaptable and learn how to see the direction something is travelling in, we can use it to our advantage.
Most of us learn how to fight early on in our lives. When we fight well, we learn what it means to be in a position of power. When we don’t fight well, we learn what it means to be in a position of submission. That’s when we lose a fight.
This Conquer or Be Conquered approach is an outdated idea, but it’s an idea that we still cling to. Most industries are founded on this thinking. But what does it yield us, at the end of the day? Bruises, scars, broken bones, broken relationships and ideas about people being essentially bad.
In a fight, something’s got to give up. One of the two opposing forces have to relent. And when they do, all that energy that they put into the fight is lost. It’s wasted. What if there was another way of turning that energy into something.
Think about it this way. Would you stand in front of a train that’s hurtling towards you? Or would you buy a ticket and sleep while this train takes you wherever you need to go?
The choice is always yours, when you become aware of the direction things are travelling in. That’s how you turn opposition into collaboration.
The biggest and scariest challenge that mankind faces at this moment, is collaboration. People don’t seem to understand that we’re all living on earth, together. If the planet goes, we go. Until space travel and living on other planets is viable, that’s the way it is.
So instead of us and them, why not look at humanity as being part of the same team?
Why not look at the people around us as collaborators in our success?
Until next time…
The key word here is “always”. Experience is always teaching us. No matter what. And not just one experience. Every single experience!
We’re always learning from our experiences. And that’s why experience isn’t always a great teacher…not if we don’t learn the most effective lessons from it.
For experience to be a great teacher, we need to improve our consciousness, our awareness in the lessons that we’re learning.
What have you learnt today from your experiences?
And how is it serving you in your life?
Let’s take a look at a scenario where experience is a bad teacher.
Regina has been in a relationship for 3 years now. It’s one of her first serious relationships as an adult. It’s not perfect and it has more ups than downs, but she’s kind of happy. She lives with her boyfriend, Ralph. They’ve lived together for 2 years now. When they first met, she loved Ralph’s sense of humour. He always knew how to make her laugh. But when they started getting serious, Ralph turned that humour on her.
At first it was a joke. It was harmless. But as time goes on, it gets worse. Little jabs at her weight and the odd shape of her nose increased with greater frequency. Eventually, they turned nasty. The one day Regina arrived home from shopping with two grocery bags in her hands. Ralph was lying on the couch and turned his head to see her come in.
“I never thought I’d see the day where a whale was carrying the shopping. We should film this and sell it to the news people. We’ll be rich.”
Regina doesn’t say anything. It isn’t the first time he had said something like this. Yes, it is deeply hurtful, but instead of saying so, Regina goes into the kitchen and starts thinking about this experience.
Well, maybe I am as fat as a whale. I have been putting on a few kilograms lately, she thinks to herself. Maybe it’s time that I started going on that diet that I’ve been planning on going on since I got together with Ralph. Maybe he’ll love me better if I lose some weight. I mean, he’s a big guy and he should have a slim woman to take care of him.
She justifies what Ralph has said while she’s packing away the groceries. By the time she’s done, she’s feeling better and joins him on the couch. She’s turned her experience into a learning. Is it the most effective learning? Will it bring her the most happiness?
Let’s use the same example.
Regina wakes up the very next day. She’s hurt and resentful of Ralph’s comments from the day before. In fact, she’s downright angry.
She wants to scream at him.
To punch him. She wants to…to…
Ice cold fear pours over her anger, turning it to cool steam.
Ralph’s a good man. He doesn’t mean what he says, she thinks.
Instead of screaming, shouting and punching, Regina signs up for a gym contract with immediate effect. She signs up for a personal coach and a diet plan and she gyms every day. A month later she’s lost 10 kgs. Two months later and she’s lost 30 kgs.
One day she’s having coffee with her friend, Jessica.
“Regina, you’re looking amazing.” Jessica leans in and smiles. “And look at all these guys checking you out!”
Regina blushes. “Is that what they’re doing? I thought there was something on my face!”
“Oh, come on. You’re stunning.”
“Oh stop it.”
“I’m serious. I saw seven people turn their heads to take a double look back at you. And that was just walking up from the car park. Haven’t you noticed this?”
“I have. But to be honest, I thought that there was something wrong with the way that I was dressed. Do I look okay?”
“No, Regina. You don’t look ‘okay’. You look amazing!”
She blushes again. She’s not used to these complements. They make her feel warm and glowing, as if she’s bursting at the seams with this feeling that she’s never experiences before. After her coffee, she goes home. As she opens the door, Ralph is on the couch. He turns his head, rolling his eyes up to see her come in.
“Did somebody order a scarecrow? We don’t exactly have—
Without thinking, Regina throws her handbag at Ralph. It hits him in the head and he squeals into an upright position, holding his throbbing head.
“Dammit, Regina! What’s your problem?”
A clear light goes on in her head.
“You’re my problem, Ralph. I see that now. You’re my problem. You had an issue when I was heavy. You have an issue now that I’ve lost weight. You’re my problem! Wait, let me rephrase that. You were my problem. I’m done with you. Goodbye, Ralph. This is over. I’ll fetch my things in the morning.”
She snatches her handbag from the couch, turns and leaves. Ralph is still trying to mumble something behind her. She doesn’t care. It’s the like the echo of a song she once liked. A song that she’s outgrown.
Buckminster Fuller understood the value of learning from experience. But conscious learning from experience. The sort of learning that benefits the whole of mankind.
When we are able to take lessons from our experiences, we’re able to grow. That’s the beauty of experience.
P.S. If you’d like to check out a few more insights from Bucky, check out another post about being naive here.
Until next time…
We’ve already seen what computers are doing to specialist jobs in the world. Years ago, most industries were safe…now, automation has made a lot of that safety redundant. It’s gone. Is this cause for fear?
No! Human beings were meant for so much more than menial tasks that computers can do without thinking. What Buckminster Fuller saw happening in the future was just what has come to pass.
But he saw past the fear of losing jobs.
He saw past the fear of survival.
He believed that human beings were only species that didn’t need to rely on being specialists in something. Humans are comprehensive. We think, we act, we do, we learn. We have a level of consciousness that is creative or even destructive.
Extinction has claimed the lives of certain birds, mammals and insects because these species “specialised” in only one area.
These birds, insects and mammals found their food from one place.
They made their homes in one place.
They had generations in that one place.
When “that one place” was demolished, what happened to the entire species? Extinction wiped them out.
With computers, automation and robots taking over the boring stuff, we can focus on what we do best…innovate, create and make the world a more effective place for the people who live on it.
Remember, computers will never be as comprehensive as a human being. Use that to your advantage. Be Comprehensive.
That means, being curious about the world around you.
It means being open to learning, listening to new ideas about the world around it.
Often it means trying things out and making mistakes and learning from the mistakes that we make.
Being comprehensive is the reason why we’ve managed to progress as human beings, to reach the technological breakthroughs that we’ve discovered.
Until next time…
When was the last time you were naive? I mean, really, really naive. When was the last time you had someone laugh at you after you expressed an idea, a dream or a thought?
Growing up, I hated it when people called me naive. “That’s not the way the world works.” It was as if I wasn’t grown up enough to understand how things worked. It was as if I was living in a fantasy.
Well, I’m not a child anymore and now that I’m an adult, I look back on my childhood and my experiences and I understand that the naive are the ones that re-imagine the world. No innovation is done by the people who are set in their ways.
The future that we all dream of is possible…if we’re naive enough to dare to dream it into existence.
But dreaming is counter-intuitive to the traditional systems of the world. In order to dream, you’ve got to have thick skin.
As a dreamer, you will be laughed at.
You will be ridiculed.
Perhaps you will be scoffed at.
You will have numerous heads shake at you in disdain.
But one day those same people who laughed might be the same people who thank you for thinking differently, for creating a new reality for them and their families. Know this every time they laugh at your ideas and remember that thinking, creating and dreaming is some of the hardest work that a human being can do…that’s why so few people engage in it!
Buckminster Fuller was a man in reverse. The older he got, the more he dreamed. And the clearer his dreams became. His greatest dream was that one day, all mankind would play a “World Game” where everyone would play their part and contribute to the success of mankind, together.
Until next time…
This week, we’re going to give appreciation to a great man. Look, I have no doubt that he had his faults. I’m sure he upset a lot of people and stepped on a lot of toes. He understood what it meant to live with tension. But he lived his life with passion and purpose and that inspires me.
I recently started reading some quotes that Bucky explored and I was once again excited by the ideas that permeated his mind. I’m going to share the ones that have really stood out to me. The ones that make sense.
Over the next week I’ll release one idea that has stood out to me, each day. I’ll explore the idea and see how it applies to our current state of the world. So, let’s get started!
Tension? Tension?! On holiday last week, I took the time to read some Bucky Fuller and was once again inspired by his ideas. So, this week will be Bucky Fuller Week.
What does he mean by tension? To me, it means the pressure, both inside and outside a system that keeps it in shape.
Most people think of tension as something negative, but tension is the way that anything keeps its shape.
As human’s our tensions hold us together. They give us shape and allows us to be. Too much tension and we lose ourselves. Too little tension…and we once again lose ourselves. Tension, stress, pressure, whatever you want to call it, defines us.
The question is really, who are we? How do we define ourselves? That’s where integrity comes in.
I firmly believe that if we’re honest with ourselves, we discover our true tension, our true integrity.
When we allow ourselves to discover who we are, what we’re most passionate about, and what our purpose is, we discover the integrity behind our tension…our tensegrity.
Until next time…
I used to feel bad about not being busy. So much so that when I met busy people, I told them I was busy. The conversation went like this.
“Hey Joe, how are you doing? How are things?” I’d ask.
“I’ve been busy, man. There’s a lot going on at the moment. I’m doing this and that and blah blah blah. What about you?”
“Same here, busy times. Lots going on.”
And then we’d depart our separate ways and I’d be walking feeling anxious for all the things that I needed to get done.
We live in a world where being busy is the standard solution to living. But is that the legacy that we want to leave our children? Do we want them to feel anxious and unworthy if they’re not busy with something that the world deems important?
This article is all about teaching children how to use their energy…and how to become aware of how it is being used.
You may not have money.
You may not have time.
But every single one of us has a finite amount of energy. No matter how old you are, you have some energy. If you doubt this, remember that you’re breathing.
Children are especially energetic…while they’re children at least. But childhood is also where we learn how to harness our energy. We learn how to use it. The problem is that we learn how to use our energy, but never how to invest it.
Investing energy is about placing it into an activity, idea or format that will create something in the long term. If you doubt this idea, answer this question:
Which of these is an investment – watching tv for 2 hours a day, or learning how to ride a horse for 2 hours a day?
Put this way, it’s a lot easier to see what an investment is. An investment is something that you put a little energy into today and a year from now, there’s a lot more that you can get out of it.
A life without some sort of compelling future, feels heavy. Everyone who has ever woken up in the morning with a little bit of purpose and something to look forward to knows the lightness and ease which follows getting out of bed.
As a teacher, I’ve noticed that a child’s day is becoming more and more demanding. They have their attention pulled in so many directions, with the demands of school, sports and everything else that they want to get done in a single day. The older they get the more the responsibility shifts from their parents to them. And then we have people living in a perpetual cycle of busy-ness.
This busy-ness is a habit. It doesn’t really serve a purpose. If you ask someone, “Hey, what are you so busy with? Why are you doing all of this?” You won’t be impressed by the answers. Most people break into habit because they’ve modelled their parents being busy…or not. Habits come from what we see the most prominent figures in our lives doing.
There’s nothing wrong with being busy, but when it becomes a habit without a purpose it becomes an unconscious act that is relived each day.
If you doubt this, visit the mall on a Saturday. Pick a table at a restaurant where there’s heavy foot flow. Watch the people that walk by. What emotion do you see etched into the lines of their faces? See if for yourself. Most of the time, it’s an acute form of anxiety. There’s a sense of urgency when they walk. Life is full of urgent demands.
These urgent demands gradually stack onto each other every day and build into something that will slow everyone down.
But what if there was another way of looking at it?
What if there was just one thing we decided to do, every day? Could that make a difference? That’s how we find a way around busy-ness. We learn to do small, meaningful things with our energy, every day.
The cure to busy-ness is purpose. Choose to priorities with purpose and busy-ness will take a back seat in your life.
Also known as the Pareto Principle, the 80/20 rule applies to energy, money, time, etc. Any place where you put something in and want something out, Pareto is there for a rough guideline. For now, let’s apply it to energy…and put it into a statement.
20% of the energy that you put out there results in 80% of your results. The question is, which 20% is it? This is the eternal question to success. Which twenty percent! If only we knew, we could do more of that! Life isn’t that simple. It will never tell us openly what to focus on.
But the feedback we get from our own experiences will. And when you start looking for the feedback from your experiences, that’s when you start to see the answers in everything that you do. The 80/20 rule is all about Return on Your Energy Investment.
Our energy should be used to make our lives more fulfilling. Where most people are concerned with time management, shouldn’t we be concerned with energy management? How are you, your children, your family using your energy in a day? What are you getting in return? But most importantly, what do you want to get in return?
Dream big and use your energy to get you closer to those dreams.
Until next time…
I love getting older. It’s like some sort of supernatural gift. Every day that passes, I look at the decisions that I make with more clarity and understanding and appreciation.
That’s not to say that I make great decision. No, I still make a lot of mistakes. But nowadays, when I make mistakes, I learn from them a lot faster than I used to. I’m gradually learning to take my emotions out of my decisions and exercise a lot more logic and intuition in the process.
Growing older has had this effect on me.
But you don’t just get to a point where suddenly you’re making better decisions. No. It’s never a place that you ever actually get to. You can’t. All you can do is stay present with yourself in the moment where you’re making your decisions. That’s where the magic happens.
You see, in that moment, if you’re present, something incredible happens. You realise that you’ve been there before. At first, you’re just suspicious of it. But the more it happens, the more you realise that you’ve been there before. It’s like visiting a house that you used to live in. You recognise the furniture, the smells, the textures, the sounds of the neighbour’s child hitting a ball against a wall.
Being present while you’re making your decisions allows you to review the choices that you’ve made in the past. It allows you to make new choices…and get different results.
With awareness, we overcome one of the greatest obstacles to human living: emotion. Don’t get me wrong. Emotion is great. But it often becomes dangerous when it overpowers our logic. When an idea runs away with us, we lose the one great gift that being human affords us: choice.
Without choice we live in the land of reaction.
Without choice, we become the history that is about to be repeated.
Awareness allows us to grow into the people that we’re mean to be. The people that we want to be. The people that the world wants us to be.
Until next time…