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Inspiration is the Catalyst of Change

The Tree of Life is special. Grow with it.

Unsought is … most valuable

The Scientist and Philosopher FRANCIS BACON said –

“Write down the thoughts of the moment. Those that come unsought for are commonly the most valuable.’

INSPIRATION IS THE CATALYST … that lights the fire or sets the journey of creativity in our ships as we sail & navigate the Seas of Life.

Without it, every Pirate and genuine Voyager … knows there would be no work of art or scientific discovery. In fact, very little that is New and Creative and Innovative would come into the world. Imagine not having your i-phone? What world would that be like? (actually, a lot of you from my generation would know what that was like .. ha ha ).

Like a kiss, inspiration opens the heart in each of us to receive … it gives us the means of reaching the mystery beyond our worldly identities.

I find that surrendering to inspiration brings about a greatness that is the glory of existence (every Pirate and Viking knows this). We all suffer from lack of inspiration at some point or points in our lives, there is no avoiding it.

Question is, what do you do when you’re experiencing it? 

There is inner and outer beauty. Appreciate both.

The only requirement is that Love

Romantic poets believed that inspiration came to them because their soul was able to receive such visions. In modern psychology, inspiration is seen as an entirely internal process, like Sigmund Freud believed it came from your inner psyche, directly from the subconscious.

Inspiration to me, has nothing to do with the skill or capability of you, the individual and therefore, anyone and every single person can get inspired. We can find it anywhere – in a book, a speech, a movie … a person .. a symbol … a hope. 

To me, the only requirement is that of love. That for you to be inspired, you need to allow the flow (of inspiration) to come from the heart … your heart. It is a Power from Within, necessary for all creation and innovation, which is the way of the future.

It is energy, so you cannot either create nor destroy it .. just become a better conduit of energy .. of what I call ‘un-mind energy’. It is but a brief moment in time … where that un-mind energy flows through your heart … allowing you to transmute that energy … into creating something beautiful.

‘That moment’ is like what the great thinker, Khalil Gibran described   when –

 “the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the wind longs to play with your hair.”

There is courage within each person, There is inspiration available to all souls … just allow your courage to help it speak to your heart … to release that energy … that light … to light others who are in darkness

Inspiration helps light that catalyst

We’ve all faced many problems and challenges in our lives so far (and many of us are struggling with ones now) and … sometimes people, feel incapable of solving, realising and accepting their own limitations. But, it is in those ‘moments’ of challenges/problems/obstacles lay embedded in them, the hidden solutions.

Every situation and every individual stores a potential and strength that is yet to be discovered.

INSPIRATION helps light that catalyst to tap the source of power within … to face whatever obstacle we face. When our purpose is to give birth to our TRUE IDEAL SELF, inspiration allows us to see ourselves in a New way every time.

When you’re inspired, we glow on the outside from the light within and this radiance shines out from us .. and lights the way for others in the dark. Even the great RUMI explains how we can nurture the power of inspiration by transcending our perceived limitations (from whatever fear we are facing), he said –

” The sound of the bow provokes fear for the arrow wounds its mark. What is sense beyond the unseen is inspired by perception. Increase your necessity to increase your perception.”

Let inspiration be the catalyst to light your inner-world … to brighten up your external world and… those you come in contact with

Education

I love many genres of music and one of them is Raggae and I think Bob Marley was a genius. He sang about freedom and justice and was a great Leader and Thinker and Poet, saying –

“I have no education. I have inspiration. If I were educated, I would be a damn fool.”

But don’t confuse inspiration with motivation, they are not the same. Many make this mistake. There is a major difference and the difference is a “matter of heart’. Inspiration connects with the heart .. and motivation connects the mind and is often ego driven. The ego, may in the short-term give to you … but in the long term, will take ..and continually take from you until you don’t know what or who you are.

As Socrates said –

” I decided that it was not wisdom that enabled poets to write their poetry, but a kind of instinct or inspiration, such as you find in seers and prophets who deliver all their sublime messages without knowing in the least what they mean.”

Find the “Giant” within you … within each person … of which inspiration is the catalyst.

Separate inspiration from motivation

“So, what should we do then? How should we live?”, you may ask. 

Here’s the thing, I believe that , one of the ways to separate inspiration from motivation is to be aware that at every moment we have a choice about how to live. With increased awareness, we can observe how those choices affect us. Now, keep it simple … if we allow inspiration to be our guide, then each day can possibly welcome a new and exciting opportunity. When we feel the heart engaging and singing … with and in what is happening ‘in the moment’ to us, we know that we are connected with a hidden source of joy!

Individuals, groups, communities, states and countries all around the world is crying out for inspiration (and for some, for a very long time). Let’s pray for all those in need of inspiration… of more inspiration … to summon the courage to face their fears … to find the solution(s) that may lay within the obstacles/challenges they are facing right now. 

I tell my kids, there is no such thing as a problem/mistake,… just opportunities to find a solution(s). 

The world needs many things right now … but now, more than ever, it needs – more love … more care … more compassion and … more trust. Please play your part in making this world a better place by giving this to whoever interacts with you on a daily basis. 

Inspiration has the Power to Empower. Inspiration has the Power to Change for the Better …. ONE LIFE AT A TIME.

It is a choice. Don’t sit on the fence. Inspiration without ACTION becomes a wasted opportunity.

Embrace inspiration. Embrace Change. Embrace your Heart. It leads to the ultimate Freedom… but you must ACT on that inspiration.

We are all inspired by many things to … Live. Die. With Dignity.

Yours in iron, heart, mind & muscles, 

 

Paul

(some people call me – “The Old Cap’n Viking Pirate Muscled Monk”

Find the inspiration within you … to help motivate you to making a choice … the Right Choice … for LIfe… in your life.

Release the Hulk in you .. when appropriate
There is a time to be placid and do nothing … then, there is a time to act … and stand for something.

 

 

 

 

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A few thoughts from the mind of an Authentic Physique Artist: The Life of Love

A slight variation to the common ‘back double biceps’ compulsory body-building pose.

Vanity

We all know when muscle is being used for vanity, 

It’s hard to understand if you’re uninitiated; 

It’s dense and vague. It’s fake and impersonal;

It’s formal and cold or it’s false breezy.

It’s heavy on ego and light on substance,

It’s loud about ends but quiet about means;

It’s complicated and un-caring;

It dwells on the process not the people … the audience,

It’s passive and does not connect with or opens the hearts of others;

As an artist, I am committed to reflecting on the messages that come through my heart, rather than relying merely on my technical ability in the art medium i choose;

My Physique artistry offers me the creative opportunity to find metaphors and express myself through the medium of muscle dance in slow-motion;

With a belief that, we humans are drawn like moths to a flame whenever we witness physical brilliance – when brain, mind, and body operate together with singular grace as is sometimes evident in sports, dance, craft, or music.

We can all readily appreciate beauty in all its forms and far few take the time to search for their truth.. and create their beauty from within. I have found mine in Physique Artistry and this living project is always a work-in-progress.

Quality lean muscle that “flows” takes time & a goal of balance & symmetry

Create from the heart

As a Physique Artist, you are blessed to be able to manifest and share the beauty of the spirit of love that dwells within us;

Thus, the outer form becomes kind of skin for our deeper surrender to the inner, living reality;

When the Physique Artist allows the creative process to find its voice and clarity, purified by the right intentions, then only are we freed from our more personal ideas and desires and … 

We can then simply focus on what is concealed inside … manifested in our physique as we bring it to the surface … and give it Life;

This is the same for all authentic artists – painters, musicians, designers and so forth;

Drawing on a multiplicity of capabilities, some of which are primordial in their simplicity.

Those that take the ego route, find that they don’t create from the heart

This takes time and a mountain of patience.

Instead, others choose to use the thinking mind as the ultimate source of power,

And as stimulating as it can be – face losing something wonderful in the process – 

Losing something wonderful, mysterious and transformational that moves us beyond our mental understanding alone … because this creation comes from the heart,

And, is, from my three decades of experience, anyway … that moves us towards the ultimate energy that creates the universe;

So, when we only use the ego and the thinking mind, we risk losing ourselves … and ultimately, losing everything;

An authentic Physique Artist is privileged to be a messenger who reflects and reveals the creative power that is hidden within all of us, in a display method to force one to submit, even temporarily;

But, when we allow our ego to master our true selves then …

They are like fine ways to say nothing much at all while taking a long time to say it.

Like good politicians do;

Learn more about YOU. The knowable. Don’t chase the unchaseable.
The physical manifestation of the image you hold vividly in your mind is created from the heart with the tools in (and out) of the gym. My place of meditation, my church rests within me.

Leave your ego at the door

An inauthentic Physique Artist, builds and shows muscles but intends not to include but instead, exclude it’s audience;

Instead of leaving your ego at the door, muscles like these means to deter it’s audience, not really inviting them in;

Such muscle demonstrations is caution and self-interest, run amok;

It’s roots go down to fear and, deeper still, in some cases, to an instinct for keeping hold of one’s secrets… of what, I don’t have a clue.

Countless examples of this is prevalent on today’s social media, feeding the ‘selfie-obsessed’ culture, pampering to a growing ego problem;

Good muscle displays need to transcend ego …. To transcend selfishness … transcend self-interest and needs to face fear or … 

It needs to rise above fear; 

Sportstars (like the great Lebron James) & many others in other sports regularly strike a “front double biceps 💪 “ (which is one ☝️ of the traditional bodybuilding poses). They do this to indicate strength, courage and overall “winner” attitude. A far cry from what it represents in the sport of bodybuilding/physique artistry

The best thing you can do to help the world is … to continuously strive to be the best you can be, for you first, then for everyone else.

Achieving a well-balanced physique should be understood for what it is: a masterful fusion of art and science.
One should improve once’s “BODY Smart”knowledge. this takes time and deliberate practise.
Top 5 in the world, two years in a row at a sport I love ain’t too shaby for an city boy from the beautiful paradise islands of Fiji
If YOU think you can and you BELIEVE YOU CAN … YOU CAN.

It must, within the limits of professional care and perceived and political reality,

Speak plainly to its viewers, aiming to say as much as possible as silently as possible, through the ultimate in non-verbal communication,

With the human masterpiece that is the sculptured Living Human Physique,

Giving pleasure to an audience, that sees the human form in all it’s beauty, 

The beauty, of which part was … the journey of the spirit … with the on-ongoing pursuit of expanding and enriching the individual towards finding his truth and …

With an understanding that the spirit of love moves us beyond time and space to help set us free in a beautiful forest of creativity where we can engage in the dance of life.

Authentic Physique Artistry is bodybuilding with the fusion of art and science, in it’s true sense, with the glue being the heart of the creator;

Communication to the hearts of viewers non-verbally in the most economical poses manageable;

A Good physique artist is like a passionate photographer … he understands the link between heart and mind … between thinking and doing … and the balance & symmetry communicated with the manipulation of light and shadows with extreme angles. He is a “David Copperfield of Muscle Illusion”.

Good physique artistry must be everything that fearful, ego-filled, self-interested posing is not –

It must be humane, plain, active, informal, concrete, elegant and specific.

A Physical Artists’ posing display must have a voice, without uttering a word. 

It must have heart, balance and beauty communicated with harmony and care;

It must, have,  above all, excude the … 

Life of Love.

Collage of some bodybuilding poses .. presenting my physique art to the audience in my gym

Beauty comes in the human form.
My favourite Physique Artist of all time.
It is a living masterpiece.
On display, from a masterful poser/artist, the human body exemplifies beauty and truth rolled in to vibrating ball of flow of muscle.
The hard part is to CREATE beauty. We all have the ability within us.
To create a beauty through the human form is genius.
Everything matters, however, small it is.
GIGO for their minds:
If you want to create champions and leaders , feed them daily champion & leadership thoughts.

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Care/Neglectful & how it relates to Building bigger muscles & relationships

Balance & symmetry brings you closer to harmony … closer to infinity


Balance & symmetry 

Here’s how weight training for muscles 💪 with balance @ symmetry as a goal can be likened to a solid caring relationship.

When you train with care, your sets are sound (theoretically, principally & logically), unambiguous & smooth.

I have always believed that the care you take with what you do (in & out of the gym) is a virtue of every great Bodybuilding champion & leader. This also applies to anyone who is passionate about something or someone. 

Do everything with care. Don’t hurt others & most importantly, don’t hurt YOU

Purpose ambiguous or uncertain 

In contrast, neglectful training is carelessly made: your sets are awkwardly executed; your choice of exercise is dodgy & your number of repetitions of each set is awry; your logic faulty or difficult to understand; your purpose ambiguous or uncertain.

This leads to countless unnecessary premature injuries. And in the relationship side, people get hurt and you get hurt too by saying and doing things with less care and compassion that they needed. 

I say, “unnecessary” because I have stayed INJURY-FREE since I began training with heavy weights in the gym.

“How?! You may wonder. Well, it is not because of ignorance. No, there are many key factors .. one is simply learning from all the greats that have come before me … learning from other people’s experiences and being humble enough to be more coachable.

The latter (neglectful training) is what I observe with the majority of trainees in the gym.

Learn to be a better builder.. to build your bridge from where you are to where you desire to be. It can only be done with care, trust & compassion. Three things that this world needs more of

That kind of care

The moral: take THAT kind of care, even though you’ll think you don’t have to (especially if you want that relationship with that special someone to last). And if you’re not handicapped, take extra care.

I’ve always believed that everyone should keep these two primary goals in mind when trying to build good quality muscles 💪

  1. control
  2. Feel

It takes courage 

It takes courage to be patient, to forego instant gratification for long-term benefit. It takes courage to do the Right Thing. It takes courage to do what the majority are not doing. It takes courage to Lead.

As a mentor told me –

You cannot be truthful if you are not courageous. You cannot be loving if you are not courageous. You cannot be trusting if you are not courageous. You cannot inquire into reality if you are not courageous. Hence courage comes first and everything else follows.”

Our ability to string a few sets of exercises together without difficulty may blind you to the many other ways of stringing them together …

BETTER.

Your relationships you value most can be better . You deserve better.

Try the “care philosophy “ next time If you’re not already doing it.

Get in touch with me in 3 months and let me know how it went for you.

Thank you

yours in iron, mind and muscles 💪,

Paul e 💝alentine

A mentor told me once – “no one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.
Me & Glenn. One ☝️ or the hundreds of members of my Family Gym I once owned & managed for 7 years. They came (& drove past up to 15 other gyms in some cases…  because I cared. I gave them “results with care” (my slogan)

Quality lean muscle that “flows” takes time & a goal of balance & symmetry

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Weird is the New “Normal’

Let your light bring colour to the world

Wait …. what?!.

I asked my eight year old son, my wife and my ten year old daughter, individually, to answer two questions –

  1. Did they think their dad/husband (of 20 years) was weird?
  2. What 3 things (out of the hundreds) they think is ‘weird’ about me?

I got some interesting answers and when my son was asked the question .. he answered it (like he has been since he began talking … saying –

wait … what?!

My wife’s three things were –

  1. What I eat
  2. How I think
  3. How I dress

My daughter’s three were –

  1. Things I liked
  2. Music I listened to
  3. How I eat

My son’s three things were –

  1. What I liked
  2. How much books I had
  3. He always sees me working

If that is what they see as ‘weird’ and is also part of why they each love me … for being … no one else but me, then so be it – I am weird, and proud of it. If being weird is a crime, then, I guess I am the biggest criminal in this world.

Beautiful art with my favourite colours

Weird to me is …

I was asked a question by a group of thinkers I’m a part of –

“What is weird to you?”

I typed my response as I sat down and thought … I”m a very fast typer, so I typed as I think … weird to me is .. 

Weird is being comfortable within yourself. With YOU.

Weird is closer to learning your truth, your beauty in life. Weird is heightened awareness that your truth lies within you.

Weird is being less self-conscious and not using that energy worrying about what other people think,

Weird is picking yourself up and trying again, no matter how many times you fall/fail or stink;

Weird is having abnormal strength, not from the gym but from all the times you’ve picked yourself up

Weird is never, ever, ever … giving up, simply because you’re ‘tough’;

Weird is loving the Journey song – “Don’t Stop Believin!” and use it as a mantra when you fail,

Weird is being courageous at just being YOU, in a world where everyone else is trying to be ‘like someone else’, following one another’s tail;

Weird is loving YOU, unconditionally and others you value, too

Weird is loving others enough to enlighten them with your truth and take time to admire the sky, so blue;

Weird is being open and prepared to listen to their truth,

Weird is allowing yourself to be vulnerable even at the expense of ridicule and shunned

Weird is speaking out against injustice when the majority won’t, without the use of a gun;

Weird is not accepting the ‘status quo’ and always seeking a new and better way of doing something,

Weird is always questioning the wisdom passed down from our forefathers … even two plus two equalling four and why do bees sting;

Weird is being self-less, about reaching out to connect through communication,

Weird is communicating with more than words … it is a communication from the soul & using your vibration;

Weird is respect, responsibility and peace, personified into every thought,

Weird is wisdom and strength disguised as UN-Normal, for all battles fought,

Weird is spiritual discipline revealing hidden treasures from one’s infinite creative source within and sharing with love

Weird is acceptance, freedom and contentment disguised in your physical form, taking you places by a dove;

Weird is courage, humility and integrity to oneself and others,

Weird is giving .. hope and gratitude as a daily habit, similar to that existing with lovers;

Weird is offering a hug or shoulder for someone to cry on when no one else will,

Weird is accepting you don’t know anything and your curiosity and energy keeps your search beating down new paths of knowledge trying to get your fill;

Weird treads the fine line that many fear to walk …

Weird is the precarious fine line between insanity and … genius, but for those who don’t understand, all they do is – talk;

Weird is closer to genius that you think,

Weird is knowing that which way you fall comes down to becoming a Master of Mind Management, let’s put in down in ink;

Weird is knowing that Mind Management involves 3 main areas –

Weird is knowing and doing better thinking because –

Weird is the summary I put forward here –

Weird = Thinking (focused) + Feeling (Heart) + Imagination (Goals/Dreams) ==>Good Life.

If you’re Weird, wonderful.

I like Weird.

I am Weird.

Being weird was seen and treated with distaste and branded ‘abnormal’ in our history of mankind. But that was history, this is the present.

We’re living through unprecedented change in our current history, the present. A gift. We’re creating our new history, beginning now … I pronounce that –

Find your truth, create your beauty.
Be the light you want to see in the world

Weird is the New Normal … 

Let’s be Normal, together … with all our other weird friends and … help imagine … and make this world a little better than how we have found it.

What do you reckon?!

Who’s with me?!!!

Do you believe this?

Cheers from Sydney, Australia

Paul e Valentine

**Vitality, Health & Lifestyle Coach/Entrepreneur**

Be the person that YOU are.

Be YOU.
As YOU are.
Accept the uniqueness … and weirdness that you know you are.
Embrace YOU.
Never imitate.

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Death of a Cubicle Worker

Bigger isn’t necessarily better but … it can smash things (like the Hulk)

Bigger isn’t necessarily better

I remember the last words my boss of almost three years say to me as I walked out of his office –

Paul, bigger isn’t necessarily better’.

I nodded at him, smiled and left. This happened a long time ago, back in 2003.

You see I had an offer to go work at one of the Top 2 Accounting & Business Advisory Firms in the world and I was leaving my role as a Senior Accountant of a 2nd-tier Accounting & Business Firm in Sydney, Australia (Top 20 in Australia).

It was exciting and even though my boss was happy for me, I could tell he was a little sad. I had handled his clients for almost three years and did a good job at it, working very hard. Heck, for about six months after I joined, my Manager upped and walked out and I was thrust in to an “acting Manager” role. I held the fort, so to speak for half a year while they looked for someone appropriately qualified and skilled.

He liked me. I was loyal and I was there when he needed me. This was reflected in my six-monthly salary review, I was handsomely compensated and was at the top of the salary range of my peers. “Not bad” I thought.

I could not foresee the future and being a candidate for the death of a cubicle worker.

Funny thing is that that piece of advice also applies to muscles and bodybuilding. The guy with the biggest muscles doesn’t necessarily win on stage in competition. That is because the guy with the most balanced & symmetrical physique with the right muscle: joint ratios and knowledge of the ‘art of posing’ is what builds a champion physique.

I’d understand that fully in my next phase of life, only a few years from where I was then …

 

Exactly.
No one can truly see the future but we can certainly extrapolate current patterns to help predict the future.

When being your Best isn’t good enough

I was hired at a newly-created level just below the “Senior” level I was at my old Firm. It was a blow to my ego, initially, as I felt that I was being demoted. I brushed that out of my mind and told myself that ‘it was only a title’.

Thing is, that initial thought bugged me right through my experience there and every other thing that bugged me just seemed much bigger than what it was. Hey, I was back at a Big Four! (My first Corporate work experience was at the largest of the Big 7 at that time – Arthur Andersen, just after graduation in the late 90s, where I spent over 2 years as a Risk Consultant).

It is now the Big Four.

Was nice to be back, or so I thought.

Let me just say that …I failed at my role. This is when I learned how being your best was not good enough.

I was going from a mid-tier to a Big Four and that was a ‘step up’ in the world, or so we believed. My first, heck, my first three months was nerve wrecking and admittedly, I found the place intimidating, cold and I was filled with fear but also a bit of excitement and loads of nervous energy.

But I had a bit of pride about it all.

I was sort of average at University. Many students had been far above me on the Dean’s list and graduated with honours and straight A’s. Not me. I had never hit any academic home-run except when I was in Primary and High School.

But that was a long time ago…. and besides, I was literally practising my social skills and building relationships and making connections in many sections of life. Skills like honing ‘small talk’ in various social situations, comfortably having conversations with people from all levels of the university and society- from the Chancellor, to having beers with Heads of Departments, to Gym Managers to gardeners. I spent a lot of that time mixing and socialising and finding out more about people as I ran a small business on the side too.

Besides there just so much to do besides study for straight As, and working on developing ‘me’ as a whole person and …. I had the energy and foresight to do that.

“What did my employer see in me? “ I used to ask myself.

They were looking for “well-rounded” individuals with experience along with brains… not just super-brains with no ‘people skills’. Ha! All that time running a business while studying and socialising wasn’t a waste after all. Apparently, many studies from major educational institutions indicate that the ability to connect with people is a key skill to have in life, a part of what is now commonly known as ‘Emotional Intelligence’.

One thing that immediately bugged me after getting that ‘newly-created’ title was I wasn’t getting much more than what I was getting at my old job.

I went from a Window Cubicle with great views to a ‘hot-desk’ and great work colleagues and a wonderful culture to something that was very different. A hot desk means that you don’t really work there and they don’t give you a permanent spot. You’re meant to be at your client’s premises, because if you are then, you’re charging your time to the client.

The firm makes it’s money that way, they had many perks. Employees loved that. I wasn’t phased.

The office was huge. An open-flat plan, comprising of a cubicle-walled jigsaw puzzle that felt like one of those boxes they make white mice run through to find the cheese.

Sometimes taking a bad photo of yourself can be very good for your own good. Just like sometimes, the greatest hurt teaches you the most.

Our Life-Controlling Mechanism

We can fill our minds with inspirational messages encouraging us to “Just do it!” or “Follow your heart!” so when we can’t do something or we recognize we aren’t good at something, we feel stuck. If we quit, that’s a problem (“Just do it! Don’t give up!”)

Sticking with it and quitting is a losing game, it is a lose-lose situation. No amount of positive affirmation can get you out of this abyss.

You feel like you’re unable to move at all.

Not able to think straight .. I felt like an imposter .. that I wasn’t good enough to be amongst the best of the best … not a good feeling to have at all.

I grinded my teeth as I slept, tossing and turning at night, and waking up with a feeling of dread in my stomach. I couldn’t handle that immense feeling of failure that kept rising and rising. Was it that I couldn’t do my job or I just lost all care about doing it? I’m not sure what happened first, my memory may have been a bit distorted.

I didn’t know where to turn.

I felt trapped.

You see, each of us have our own self-image, which kind of determines the kind of scope of person we are – it is our Life Controlling Mechanism. You see, we all have self-imposed limitations and we cannot outgrow these limits we place on ourselves.

We can only set new limits within which we must live.

Sometimes inspiration is not what you need, it is acceptance.

Acceptance so that you can move on and one day be in a position to say –

“I used to do that at one time in my life, but I no longer do”

A very powerful phrase to say. We all need to think we are making progress in life, no matter how small ‘that’ progress is. Saying ‘I used to do that?” gives you at least a perception that you’re kind of progressing in life.

Never give up.
In less than I year of leaving my cubicle in the Corporate Environment I was standing and competing against the best natural bodybuilders in the world at the World Natural Bodybuilding Championships in New York, USA.
Find your strengths .. know your strengths .. continuously build your strength on strengths.
Never give up

It’s not what you are that holds you back, it’s what you think you are not.

Especially if you’re hard on yourself like I am.

What doorways are you trying to squeeze yourself through right now where … you know what?

You really fit just fine. You are not the problems. It is the environment that you are working in, that is the problem. If you take a fish out of water and expect it to climb a tree, it will fail miserably.

Does the environment make us believe it’s all our fault? Yes, yes, definitely yes.

We live in a world where the screws are on tight. There’s a capitalistic shrink wrap making sure everything is fitter, happier, and more productive. So sometimes the stress on all of us builds too high.

There’s no room for error.

Now, that doesn’t mean my bosses at the Top Firm were bad, they absolutely weren’t. They had lofty expectations and needed me to help. Fast! The screws were tight on them, too.

No wonder it’s such a hard lesson to learn as we’re falling that we’re okay, we’re okay, we’re okay. And maybe it’s just not about us. It simply isn’t about us.

Well, nobody is telling us that. So we always think it’s always about us.

Maybe what we need is simply – a Fresh Start.

I did.

A few years later I did what I really loved to do and that was to coach people how to be their Best – I owned and managed my Family Gym for about seven years. That failure at that cubicle job had many benefits, it spurred me on to very intense self-reflections and an identification of personal strengths. So much so, that in less than a year of leaving the cubicle world, I was competing at my first of two World Natural Bodybuilding Championships, representing Australia.

Finally, this fish was in the ‘right environment’ and my Best was good enough… good enough to be one of the best in the world at my chosen activity (Top 5 in the world two years in a row, representing the country I love).

You see I’ve learned many things from that failed cubicle job experience and one of it is that it’s not what you are that holds you back, it’s what you think you are not.

I wonder what yours is?

I know one thing for certain … the future of work will see the death of many cubicle workers. It already has as technology has allowed many employees to work from a distance already. Be creative and consider strategies for your future and the future of work, Now.

Never forget: BELIEVE in YOU, first.

All the very best,

 

Cheers & Ahoy!

The old Cap’n Viking Pirate Evangelist Muscled Monk

Learning from the best at something, to be your best is the quickest way to get to where you’re going.
No one can teach you what they don’t know.

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Not Knowing the Unknowable

Maybe life is just a sequence of layers of energy that reveals itself to us based on the level of consciousness we attain. Just like the many layers you see here in my line-art.

Consciousness and Death

What is consciousness? How do you define it? Many have tried. Many have failed.

What is death? What happens when you die? Is reality, death? Is death more Real than reality as we know it? There are a lot of questions but not as many answers to consciousness and death.

Yes, we are accelerating our knowledge on the brain but we are furthering our understanding on the “soft” or “easy” problems. What are these easy problems, well, according to the Australian philosopher, David Chalmers, they refer to those that we, in principle, know how to solve, even if we have not yet done so.

They include perception, learning, attention and memory; how we discriminate objects or react to stimuli; how being asleep differs from being awake. All these are easy, he says, compared with the really hard problems of experience itself.

do you have more consciusness than a dog?

The Hard Problem

Not everyone agrees with the Australian.

Some claim that the hard problem does not exist, that it depends on a false conception of consciousness, or on drastically underestimating the ‘easy’ problems. The American Philosopher, Patricia Church-land, for example, calls it a “hornswoggle problem” argueing that we cannot, in advance, decide which problems will turn out to be the really hard ones.

The “hard problem” Distinctions between conscious and non-conscious processes are not addressed; consciousness is assumed to emerge at a critical level (neither specified nor testable) of computational complexity mediating non-conscious processes.

The brain will always search for meaning …

Feel your emotions.
Think through and with your heart.
Listen to your íntuition
We are not ‘thinking creatures who feel’ … but instead we are ‘Feeling creatures that think”.
We need to always remind ourselves of this.

So, what is it?

“It”, being consciousness.

This has baffled many philosophers and scientists and thinkers since the beginning of time. So, what is it?

Consciousness simply implies awareness: subjective experience of internal and external phenomenal worlds and it gives an independent view on reality, of the universe and of ourselves.

Consciousness basically defines our existence!

Some believe we will never know what consciousness is. The American Philosopher, Colin McGinn says that we humans are ‘cognitively closed’ with respect to consciousness. That is, we have no hope of understanding it, just as a dog has no hope of being able to read the newspaper he so happily carries back from the shop.

Even the famed psychologist Stephen Pinker agrees: we may be able to understand most of the detail of how the mind works, yet consciousness itself may remain forever beyond our reach.

Communication in life is like a neuron connectome.
A neuron example and its network of dentrites
One of the 100 billions neurons in your brain that make you …
who you are.
Your are your connectome

“I think, therefore I Am”

Descartes says – “I think, therefore I AM”

This implies that consciousness is only aware of itself when it assumes form. “I AM” is a statement of awareness, confessing that the capacity for experience is independent of form.

But is this so?

Those that were ‘enlightened’ throughout history have disagreed with the thinker, Descartes, stating that consciousness is beyond form and is, indeed, the very omnipotent Matrix out of which form arises. Modern Physicists (like Bohm) agrees saying, to the effect that without consciousness there would be nothing to experience “form” and could further imply that form itself, as a product of perception with no independent existence, is thus transitory and limited.

Consciousness on the other hand is ALL – Encompassing and Un-limited!

So, if form (our body) is transitory, what is death? What and where do we go in the 4th dimension? Some call it heaven. Is death our partnership with infinity? Do we (our spirit/soul/consciousness) connect with and live forever.

I. AM.
GOD?

Concept of Self

Part of the answer of what consciousness is, is aligned with our concept of self. The more limited the sense of self, the smaller the parameter of experiences is. For example, a dog or a bat “experiences” less than us and so has lower levels of consciousness.

It is one of the few real mysteries of life: –

What is the nature of consciousness and it’s occurrence in the brain and it’s ultimate place in the universe are UN-KNOWN!

So, if science cannot answer it, where should we turn for answers?

Stop. Take stock. Be like water. Adapt to the different states of life … and mind.

Death could be permanent, could be our chance to live forever

Have you ever had a near death experience or an ‘out-of-world’ experience?

I have.

That day change my life forever or rather, my perception of life changed dramatically.

I believe that there is a mystery to Life and our perception of Reality and our perception of the Universe. I mean, why do we die? So much of what we do is to stay alive – we’re born, we grow up and work hard, have a family and then … we die.

Why?

So much of life is stress, lots of worry … hard work and a lot of hurt and tears.

If we are going to die, then why do we strive so hard to be busy … and continue to be busy JUST to stay alive.

Why not JUST die?

Death could be permanent, could be our chance to live forever. It could be paradise. It could be a state of infinite happiness and joy and love.

Why do we fear death?

Maybe, consciousness knows. But we don’t know what consciousness is … so, I guess, we won’t know what death is really like. Until we die of course.

Was crucifying Jesus Christ ‘Justice’ at that time?
Is the answer to death and consciousness with Jesus? Does it with God?

Maybe our relationship with God has the answer

One does not have to look very far to feel the pain and despair of death. I have experienced my fair share over the years, losing both my grandparents in my teens and my mum when she was only 54 years old. I’m sure you’ve felt that despair and pain too.

I found that when we confront our pain and despair and begin to accept the loss, surrendering ourselves to God in our powerlessness, the pain and despair can then give way to hope.

The life and death of each of us has influence on others. “If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.” (Romans 14:8)

Jesus didn’t say much about what happened to people after they died, but he promised everlasting life to all who believed in him (which is similar to what I said in the previous sub-topic. It is interesting though, that Paul saw death as “The Enemy”, but an enemy defeated by Christ … through his resurrection.

So, I would pray –

“Father, my death and the deaths of people I love are indeed a mystery. Although I may not give up searching our the mystery, I do not want to torture myself to know the unknowable. You have penetrated and conquered it. My hope is in you; I need no more. Your saving grace is enough. “

Thank you, through Christ my Lord,

Amen.

Cheers & Ahoy!

The old Cap’n Viking Pirate Evangelist Muscled Monk … & Not Knowing what we Don’t Know has a much bigger influence on our daily life than we think

Learn more about YOU. The knowable. Don’t chase the unchaseable.

 

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To DO NOTHING could be the best thing you could do for yourself.

The brain cannot multi-task, this is a myth.
Neuroscience shows that the brain can only TASK-SWITCH.
You CANNOT multi-task without mistakes.
Teach yourself to DO NOTHING … to SIT STILL. … to …
Just BE.

Sitting still is UN-Easy

My daughter and son are now almost eleven and nine respectively.

I have watched them grow in to enthusiastic and very curious individuals. They have the same blueprint but have very different personalities and appreciate their own uniqueness. Over the years, I have given them many challenges for their growth, in various forms – art, music, sport, mental agility, verbal wrestling etc.

When they were four and two respectively, I gave them a challenge to DO NOTHING … just to sit ‘still’. We first began with 20 seconds and kept increasing. Like any new habit, the first time was quite difficult for them, being kids .. but as time went on, they got better at it. It was the hardest thing they have had to do in my opinion and is one of the hardest things for adults to do too.

Sitting still is UN-Easy, indeed. Some cultures do this better than others and I believe many in the developed world can take a page out of the Fijian’s handbook. It is no fluke that they are the happiest people on the planet. They know when to work … and when to relax. They don’t mix the two.

Try it. How did you go?

Guess how good my children are at sitting still now? Yep, they can sit still for an hour with ease now, when they need to. Like all habits, it takes patience and practise.

People in a hurry struggle to find time for recovery, real recovery. Many look forward to their annual 4 week leave, but by then, it is too late, as you cannot escape your mind. You can only manage it better. Their minds have little time to meditate, to UN-Think, to just BE. Still. Their minds have little time to pray and their problems seem to get ‘blown out of proportion” and usually taken out of perspective.

In short, I believe people in our very fast-paced cities and societies have been showing clear signs of physiological and psychological disintegration because of many reasons. One key reason, as I see it is that we are living at a pace that is too fast for our bodies. It seems that people think that all other areas of life needs to be changed as fast as technology changes.

Nope, very bad extrapolation of ‘correlation’ if you asked me. This, I believe is the Essence of the Stress Problem in society, as this way of thinking feeds in to the ‘instant gratification’ mentality afflicting many in our modern-day societies.

Find your inner-peace but don’t wait too long … or until you’re a skeleton

ACTing to Create Change

It is difficult to get YOU and your mind to be in the Present moment, to have mindful connection with the present moment. Why is that? I wrote that one way to do so is to learn to “UN-Think”.

You see, from my experience, plugging back into the present moment and connecting with our surroundings does not need to be complicated.

Being in the present moment tends to prove most difficult when we are troubled with a major life problem, loss or trauma, and no one reading this and alive, can say that they haven’t experienced these challenges.

As we all know, problems have the habit of filling our minds and taking over our thoughts to the point where we can be emotionally and mentally absent from the people around us. This is why we all need to improve our skill at being still.

You see, I believe, to do nothing and be still is an under-rated, yet, KEY life skill, as hinted in the Bible –

“Be still and know that I am God.”    

  • Psalm 46:10

But many have forgotten how to do so because they are always ‘busy’. “How are you?” I would ask … to a response of – “busy!” . Really, I ask myself.

Like all new skills, practice makes a huge difference and with perseverance, the skill becomes easier to master.

Here are a few routines you could practise to help you get back to the present moment, as part of your acting to create change

  • Apply your senses
    1. Stop
    2. Be Still.
    3. Concentrate on trying to name 3 things you can –
      1. See
      2. Hear Feel or touch
  • Grounding YOU”
    1. Stop.
    2. Be Still.
    3. Push your feet into the ground (feel that force travel through your feet into your glutes into your lower back and up towards your neck)
    4. Consciously straighten your back.
    5. Chin up and shoulders back.

STOP and RELAX
After almost 30 years of training with weights in the gym, I have found that Breathing properly is one of the Key factors in achieving the results you desire. Apart from staying alive, breathing properly allows you to focus better and when you focus better, you have improved ‘mind-muscle’ connection, you become “ONE”.

When you have better mind-muscle connection, you feel and control the weight better and when this happens, you build quality muscle better. Breathing correctly increases your self-awareness and helps you avoid injuries in the gym (part of the reason I have stayed INJURY-FREE since I began weight training in the gym).

Stop and Relax

  1. Stop.
  2. Be still.
  3. Take a deep breath and count ‘one’
  4. Then breathe again ..
  5. And Count ‘Two’ in your head …
  6. Then breathe again ..
  7. And count “Three” in your head…
  8. And keep going to ten.

 

If you can focus on nothing else but the numbers and not let any other thought come in to your mind as you count one through to ten while focusing on breathing slowly and deeply, you would have gotten closer to mastering the ‘art of concentration’.

Try it. See how you feel.

Find that place where you can sit ‘still’ and ‘ do nothing’ … but just BE. For me, it is where the land meets and sea that meets the sky. I sit still and do nothing but listen and see and smell and feel. where do you go?

 Stress-Free Living

I have noticed that many expressions of spirituality have become linked to adrenalin arousal. I believe, can be very harmful. In recent times (over the last 10 years or so), many modern-day sages or ‘saints’ seem to find their peak spiritual experiences in exciting challenges or emotional catharsis.

Why?

[Many] seem to confuse adrenalin arousal with spiritual growth. If their bodies were stimulated, they then felt they were growing spiritually. If they were not stimulated, they felt nothing was happening.

Well, I’ve got news for you … it ISN’T!

The saddest thing about this kind of confusion is that it actually works against spiritual growth. People are confusing adrenalin arousal with spirituality. Many true saints of God as outlined in the Bible found their peak spiritual experiences in quietness and solitude.

Here’s the prescription for ‘stress-free living’:

“your beauty … should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet smile, which is of great worth in God’s sigh.”

  • 1 Peter 3:3-4

This truth, which was meant for wives in the original context is a wonderful secret to stress-free living.

Begin with YOU … the internal-you.

Then, worry about the external.

 

Cheers & Ahoy!

The old Cap’n Viking Pirate Evangelist Muscled Monk … & learning to DO NOTHING could be the best thing you could do for yourself.

Have no doubt.
Help yourself first.
God will meet you half way …
he ALWAYS does.
All you have to do is: BELIEVE.

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11.5 KEY Life Lessons I’ve learned in my life so far …

Do you believe in Love at first sight?

ONE. GIVE people more than then they expect.

Go the extra mile. Do it with a smile.

Human nature (especially in the Western World), teaches us to “Take”. We are constantly taking, taking things in life, for granted and by doing this philosophy of taking, we are intentionally Taking from Themselves.

If you’re a Christian like I am, you will know that the Bible teaches that to receive, you have to GIVE. You can give, in many ways – financially, emotionally, intellectually, your time etc.

I believe, your greatest GIFT to others and the world is your Attitude. Having an Attitude of Gratitude’ (by giving Thanks), you connect yourself to the magic in the universe and ultimately receive everything you desire in life.

One must deliberately think and feel Gratitude, there is no other way to tap in to the abundance but first, you must give.

I like the point where the sun looks down where the land meets the sea meets the sky. My Golden Point. Do you have yours? Where?

TWO. Don’t believe everything you hear or read.

Reality is what you perceive it to be, not what others tell you it is. If you don’t think so, just watch a really good magician or illusionist change your reality right before your eyes.

Also, spend all you have and sleep all you want.

Continuously helping you become the best you can be … BEGIN help by helping yourself.
Then,
Reach out and touch someone … be the light for someone who can only see darkness.
Help them see ‘beauty’ .. see their truth.
Help them manage their insanity with sanity … their chaos with order.
Pray.

THREE. Marry a man/woman you love to talk to.

I’ve been very fortunate to have been with a woman who said she just wanted to keep talking to me from the very first time she met and hear my voice. I think that is one of the best compliments I have ever had.

I feel the same way about her and we have been together since we first laid eyes on each other twenty years ago.

As you get older, their conversation skills will be as important as any other.

Thank you, my darling wife and dear life friend, Cathy for the last twenty years of talking and conversing.

A lovely time out on the ski slopes.

FOUR. When you say, “I love you,’ MEAN it.

I’ve heard it and so may, have you. People who rattle off the phrase ‘I Love you’ but, you know they don’t really mean it as their actions to match the words.

From my experience, love is worth the risk.

It is quite simple, if you say it, mean it.

Don’t abuse that phrase.

To pursue your SHIT and never achieving it is far better than never having a go at your SHIT and living with regret forever.

FIVE. Live with each other for at least six months before you get married.

About eighteen years ago, my girlfriend at that time (my wife now), asked me to move in with her. After two weeks of deliberation, I called her up and said –

“why not, let’s just do it”

We were both a little scared. It was new territory for both of us. We agreed that we would give it a try for six months. If either of us or both didn’t like living with each other, we would call it quits and go separate ways.

I heard couples breaking up because they pressed the toothpaste from different ends. Apparently, the little mosquitoes irritate you more in life.

Almost twenty years later, we have beautiful memories with two beautiful children and a dog.

The six months was a key moment in our relationship.

Thank you, Cathy for agreeing with me to do this all those years ago.

Travelling the uncertain seas of life together.
Love is worth the risk.

SIX. Believe in love at first sight.

I know some people don’t believe in this and try to analyse their future love partners based on other logical reasoning like income, status, intelligence, looks, height etc

They’re all important, yes they are.

I believe they are not as important as listening to your intuition in choosing a partner. This usually involves illogical reasoning and matters of the heart, which is tied to your eyesight and seeing love before your eyes.

It is a beautiful thing.

I’m still with my wife from the first time I laid eyes on her in the Photocopying/Fax Room at our place of work, in the year 2000. We were Business Consultants working for a Top Advisory Firm in Sydney, Australia.

She gave me the best smile I had ever seen and I believe I saw her heart smile to me, through her eyes.

I fell in love, then and my love for her has grown every day since.

What do think YOU see in the mirror?

SEVEN. Don’t laugh at anyone’s dreams. People who don’t have dreams, don’t have much.

What are dreams?

Dreams tell dreamers what could be as opposed to what currently is. Dreams are essential to creativity and innovation and achieving goals.

What are goals?

They are ‘dreams with a deadline.’ Everything begins and ends in the mind, starting with your imagination/dreams. As a mentor once said –

If you can conceive it and believe it, you can achieve it.

I used to tell people that if I made that person I see in the mirror better than, last week, than last month, than last year … in ten years I will be on the World Stage, standing and competing against the best in the world.”

Within ten years, I stood on stage against the best natural bodybuilders at that time, representing Australia. A Big Dream, come true. I repeated the feat the following year for good measure. As a great mentor once said –

“If you think you can, you’re right … you CAN.”

Don’t ever laugh at another person’s dream, no matter how far-fetched it is.

My ten year dream. Achieved. Twice.
Believe in YOU. Have a Quality Plan and then Work that Quality Plan

EIGHT: Great love and great achievements involve great risk.

It is worth it, if you desire it so.

Life, is many things and one of them is – life is a big exercise in Risk Management.

Remember: No Risk, No nothing.

Wonderful insight in to the mind of a Great Leader

NINE. Smile when picking up the phone. The caller will hear it in your voice.

Smiles should be traded in, like the Stock Market.

Those who smile often and readily, should get credits of some sort from society. Smiling makes everything a little better, unless you’re the Joker and going up against Batman.

Everything is going to be alright.

Smile.

One of my many quirks – my Old Captain Viking Pirate persona
Smiling is a habit of mine. … a contagious habit I must add.

TEN. Disagree with people, if you must but don’t hate them.

It’s ok agree to disagree and still like someone.

In disagreements, fight fairly. No name calling and personal judgements. Leave judgemental comments to God or people who have a profession as a Judge.

Shit happens. Stand your ground. Don’t be afraid.

Exactly.

ELEVEN point (.) Five: Spend time alone. Learn to enjoy your own company.

I enjoy my own company.

Do you?

You can be alone, but you are not necessarily lonely. Many people cannot stand being alone with themselves. It can be the most difficult thing for some people to do, the thought of spending time with themselves, with their own minds, with their inner-thoughts is just not ‘cup-o-tea’.

Spending time alone can be beneficial in more ways than one. It doesn’t have to be a huge amount of time initially, you can simply start small and slow.

The important thing is to Start.

My time alone produces my version of magic.
My Fine-line drawing paper art.
The fusion of chaos & order … that point where I dance with peace.

This is a list of only 11.5 Key lessons from my life so far … ‘0.5″ because the list is not exhaustive.  Many other lessons you can choose to learn as you travel through life. The skill is in identifying the relevant ones with appropriate sufficiency.

All the very best in your choices,

 

Cheers & Ahoy!

The Old Cap’n Viking Pirate Evangelist Muscled Monk … & Life lessons/hacks (11.5 Key) so far …

The Old Cap’n Viking Pirate Evangelist Muscled Monk and his pirate dog – “Mr Fuzzy/Fussy Cuddles”

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Headship

To lead, you need to serve … you need to spread your love … you need to spread your wings … and be the wind beneathe other wings …
Here I am spreading my wings … my lats … just like Batman’s cape

Another term for Leadership

Have you heard of the term – “Headship?”

It is another term for Leadership.

I think it has a Biblical origin, whereby the man is recognised as the “head” in marriage and so he was endowed with authority and the right-to-dominate. This set of beliefs would not sit well with women in marriages or society in general, today, and understandably so.

It may have been Paul’s mistake of patterning the man’s role as “head” after Jesus Christ’s position as “Head-of-the-Church” which gave weight to the husband’s role in a marriage. Patterning your life on someone else without thinking about possible negative consequences can be a dangerous thing.

Great Leaders bring out the best in others … Great Leaders walk the trenches with their men … great leaders are great servants
Here I am with the members of my gym
Members that I served for 7 years of my life …
to be their BEST

A True Leader has a Servant’s Heart

Should the husband, become Lord and Master or Servant, I ask you?

The Man and Christ have been compared since, so does that automatically give the Man all the rights and roles to that of the Lord in the home?

I think many in societies today still act out this misconception in families and in other areas of life, like board rooms, sports fields etc. Men dominate to a significant degree. Change is happening but it is happening so slow that the real benefits will be experienced fifty to hundred years from now.

But why?

What are some of the traits of good Leaders anyway?

I think the great Leader and teacher of Leadership, Mr John C Maxwell, stated it rightly –

“The best leaders desire to serve others, not themselves.”

How many of you reading this can honestly look at yourself in the mirror and say that you truly have a servant’s heart?

I agree, totally, … all great Leaders have a servant’s heart. Can you think of some great Leaders? Who comes to mind? Gandhi? Nelson Mendela? Donald Trump? General H. Norman Schwarzkopf? Jesus Christ?

There are many good Leaders .. but not many, Great Leaders throughout history.

Winning this award in 2008 for the BEST GYM in the Northern Beaches of Sydney was the best award I have ever received (better than my 2 x World Championship trophies)
It was an award judged and voted on by the residents of the Northern Beaches on the BEST GYM & related Services in the Health & Fitness category

Headship means responsibility to act in love

We, as humans making our path through the maize of life, tend to seek & gravitate to Leaders, consciously and unconsciously.

It can be a benefit for some people, who prefer to off-load their responsibility in making decisions to someone else – a volunteer that can be used as a ‘scapegoat’ when things fuck up. You see and hear about this every single day – in politics, business and sport and life.

Headship means responsibility and initiative.

Headship is a responsibility to act in love; initiative to act in service to another. And who do you think is the greatest actor in Headship that ever walked this planet? I believe it was Jesus Christ. He demonstrated self-giving love and self-humbling service which gives us a whole new meaning and standard to the term “Headship.”

He truly embodied the qualities of servanthood.

So, to be true Leader, you need to take the initiative in building an atmosphere of loving, self-sacrificing service.

 

What’s you idea of Headship? What is your idea of what a Leader should look like? A Viking? A Pirate … maybe?

Taking on other’s qualities

Are you in a marriage?

It seems that marriage partners tend to become like each other, don’t you think?

After nineteen years of marriage with my partner, Cathy, I have deduced that there are one of two ways marriages can go. Based on my relationship and my observations of other marriages, either partners tend to become like each other and start taking on other’s qualities, or developing the opposite characteristics in negative reaction to the other.

Which way to you choose? Question is: are you still married?

Bowling night out with the Men of my gym
To Lead is to Serve

Real Leadership begins in the home

A person’s fundamental character is learned from the people he or she lives with in the early part of his or her youth, his or her family. Real Leaders are molded by the people that love them in the early years.

Real Leadership, begins in the home.

Leadership, I believe, is a function which should always be shared. I grew up in an extended family where Leadership was shared. That is what I adopt with my wife and nuclear family now.

I find when Leadership is shared in mutual respect for each other, it establishes a climate of dignity, freedom and responsibility. I believe this is part of the secret to my wife and I managing our relationship for nineteen years now. We’ve both changed in more ways than one since we first met but we’ve always allowed one another room to grow.

This climate of dignity, freedom and responsibility in turn creates an atmosphere which is both comforting and stimulating to both partners in a marriage. Do you share the Leadership function with your married partner?

And how do you know if this is what you have?

Well, shared Leadership is one where each is free to grow toward personal maturity and each partner is eager to see the shape of Christ forming in the other (see Galatians 4:19-20).

With Margaret .. the blind member of my Family Gym .. & her dog
Never forget – to Lead, one must have a heart to serve
I served this lady and her blind daughter (who I helped train for her first Paralympics in her teens).

Choking of communication and understanding is a cause of bad leadership

Where one party seizes power, or both the husband and the wife, both struggle for control, an atmosphere of competition and conflict results. The choking of communication and understanding is the fuel of this atmosphere. Even the unconscious assuming of power by one partner or the other will mold the relationship, perhaps in ways neither desire.

We’ve all seen this play out in the Hollywood movies countless times and some of you may have played it out in real life too.

When relationships break up, a common reason is there was a ‘break-down in communication.”

Leadership ability begins in the home … children learn character building in the home
Be the best character you can be … for YOU, first .. and then for your kids

Traits of a True Leader

Here are some ways you can become a True leader:

  • Put others first – being intentionally aware of others’ needs and being available to them
  • Confidence to give power to others – how we treat others is often a reflection of how we treat ourselves. How do you treat others?
  • Initiating service to others without expecting anything in return – the heart of true leadership is in the initiation of service
  • Not status/rank – conscious – your motivation to help others is paramount
  • Serves out of love – the quality of your leadership depends on the depth of concern for others

So, how do you fair in your Leadership skills so far in life?

More importantly, how do you learn to become the best servant you can be and as a result a Great Leader? A mentor once summed it up to me many years ago –

You must be little (seem insignificant) and serve all.

 

All the best to your Headship Role in life.

Cheers & Ahoy!

The old Cap’n Viking Pirate Evangelist Muscled Monk … & what it means to be a Great Leader

Me, some of my quirks (showing off my muscles, posing at every and any opportunity and my desire to ‘over’ dress than to ‘under’ dress. Also, my quirk of love for dogs (and in particular, my pirate dog) and animals in general.

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The Christmas Nativity Story speaks to our need for Hope

Find your light.
Light your path.
It is YOUR path.
No one can ride that path with you, but YOU.

Your “Right” to something can be very different to doing the “Right’ thing

I am a human and societal observer.

I have been since I was a child and I love it because you learn a lot, just by watching.

Permit me to make this observation: we must be very careful in speaking of our ‘rights’. I think people who constantly refer to their rights tread on dangerous ground. You see this just about everywhere you go in our modern-day, fast-paced societies.

Your ‘right’ to something can be very different to doing the right thing.

That is part of our reality, or a perception of our reality, at least.

Where the land … meets the sea …. meets the sky

The Nativity Scene on Christmas Eve Mass

I signed up my son and daughter to take part in the Nativity Scene on Christmas Eve Mass a few months earlier. My 8 year old son, Zachary, said that I was wrong not to assume that he wanted to participate in it. He said that he was going to church but was adamant he won’t play the “Sheppard” role in the Nativity Play.

Initially, I was angry but then realised that I was at fault for assuming I had the right exercise authority over him, simply because I was his parent. I subsequently apologised to him and said he didn’t have to do it if he didn’t want to.

My wife, Cathy, subsequently persuaded him to play that Head Sheppard role. And he looked and sounded terrific on stage, saying his lines to Mary and the Angels (my daughter, Olivia, played the role of one of the Angels) at the time of Jesus birth. It was beautiful to see them along with other young children re-enact the scene of the Nativity and the birth of Jesus Christ, our saviour in front of a packed out Church.

My initial failure at persuading my son to do the Shepherd role in the Nativity play also reminded me of how difficult I have found when helping people, help themselves to do the ‘right thing’ as they move towards their best selves. Despite presenting all the evidence and logical reasons for making or choosing healthier options with regards to habits, doing so is very very difficult for many.

Thank you Zachary for the reminder.

Father-son relationships take work
A lot of work

Failing as a Dad

After that heated debate with my son, I contemplated my failure as a Dad in relation to what I was observing quite readily in society – that many were referring to and claiming ‘their Right” but not necessarily considering whether they were doing “the Right” thing.

I thought about these questions: do you have the unqualified right to the respect of your children? Do you have an unqualified right to the respect of your spouse for that matter? Do you have every right to exercise authority over your children?

The answer is – No, you don’t!

You certainly DO NOT have an “unqualified right.”

You have a parental duty from God and you cannot sever that right. So, let’s ask this question: –

“Does and should a person demand his rights?”

So, I believe, God grants us ‘our rights’, but in so doing, these rights are only that, and no more … these rights are only granted to fulfil his or her duties. I know I have failed my children many times in this aspect of parenthood and especially in being a Father. I am certainly far from perfect and still very much a Work-in-progress…. in being the Best Dad I can be and also a better husband to my wife.

What do you think?

Believe or not believe.
Get your ass off the pole of the fence (stop sitting on the fence!)
Choose.

Duty to God, first

As parents, we automatically get ‘parental duties’ imposed on us and most of us, embrace them. It should not be forgotten that these parental duties apply towards God and to our children. Then, and only then, should we speak of our ‘parental rights’.

Duty to God, first.

Bare your cross.
Then …
Help someone else carry their’s … only if you can manage both

To exercise and respect, Authority

Each generation speaks of and writes about the rebellious spirit of children and young people of the generation that comes after them. Why do think this is so?

On one hand, it is one of education, whereby I believe, the children have never learned respect for authority as their parents didn’t know better and had not exercised authority. However, on the other hand, it is very possible that these children did not learn respect for authority because the parents misused it. Or parents have completely different views of respect for authority and demonstrate this towards one another in front of the children.

I’m sure there are many of you out there who feel that you’re not respected by something your wife, husband, partner said or did. One or both parties then abuse their authority and supposed power over each other.

It is no wonder, that in life, we have so many examples of men and women, inevitably, abuse power when they attain so much of it.

With the next generation of Valentine males – Zachary.

Authority: a God-given Weapon

We had a major disagreement this morning – my wife, kids and I and some things were said that hurt each other. I needed ‘time-out’ to cool down so I listened to some ‘Enya”. Her musical frequencies (songs) has certainly resonated with my brain wavelengths since I first heard her musci in the early 90s.

All relationships take work and disagreements is simply what people who love each other do … very similar to building and keeping good quality lean muscle mass. You hurt the muscle area (through repeatedly lifting weights and increasing the load/hurt on the muscle over time)… then, feeding it with the necessary nutrition (love and care) and allowing the muscle/person/relationship to heal/recover and become bigger, more shapely and better.

That is a very simplified version of loving relationships.

I think I was guilty of abusing my authority as a Dad and raised my voice unnecessarily when arguing. I was wrong to do that and I demonstrated a lack of control and respect for my power in my family. Others were guilty of it too but I won’t go in to that here.

Authority should not be toyed with. A person that is given that power to wield this authority over others, should understand that it is a God-given weapon.

All who wields this Power (like us, parents), must be constantly vigilant on it’s use and abuse of it. One should always be ‘on guard’ lest you misuse it for selfish ends.

Authority, must never be exercised in an arbitrary, unreasonable manner.

The world is still crying out for more Leaders who exemplify the utmost discipline in the respect of and exercise of authority and power. Leaders that go from good to Great.

Praise the Lord!

My son, the Shepherd

Zachary’s role in the Nativity was – one of the Shepherds.

Got me thinking about the question why, the shepherds?

The announcement of Jesus birth went to the Shepherds, first. Why? I mean, God didn’t go to the Theologians or the elite? The first group would have probably consulted their commentaries and the latter, may have looked around nervously to see if anybody was watching. What about the successful, why not them?

Well, maybe, they would have consulted their calendars because they were so ‘busy.’

Instead, God went to the Shepherds. Why, I ask?

Maybe, it is because they didn’t have a reputation to protect or an axe to grind or a ladder to climb. They were simple men, who maybe, didn’t know enough to tell God that angels don’t sing to sheep and that messiahs are not found wrapped in rags and sleeping in a feed trough.

I have seen this re-enactment play out on Christmas Eve masses many times over the years but it is only yesterday in Zachary’s role playing, my son, the Shepherd … that I asked those questions.

Like my failure to persuade my son to take part in the Nativity initially, many things in life and what we call ‘reality’ is heavily influenced in being able to communicate effectively through storytelling. The Nativity is a great story and the Bible has a collection of great stories, written by wonderful storytellers. Stories that connect and move people. Even all these centuries later, like we do today.

Maybe, we can all learn how to be better story-tellers now and for the rest of our lives to be more effective communicators.

Me and my children.
Children gives you a hint of eternity.
A true blessing to be graced with seeds.
Vv.

Christmas is about … Hope … the vision of Life

Christmas is about many things, to different people. In yesterday’s mass, one of the 3 things he asked the members to consider was that Christmas was not just about ‘your immediate family’ but should be about others. About asking yourself what can you GIVE to others, in whatever shape or form.

I felt good that my family did give.

My wife helped encourage my children to practise sessions of the play leading up to the mass in which they gave their performance. I gave my voice as a member of the Church Choir during mass and helped set up the hall prior to mass. I was happy we ‘gave.’

Here, I am again, in the early hours of Christmas morning, giving you my thoughts … through my writing and I hope it add some value to you and your life, however, small it may be.

It is my gift to you, this Christmas Day.

Don’t give up, don’t give up on what you believe in .. . don’t give up, but use the chance to return to HOPE. Hope that everything will be better and as you imagined.

There are many good and bad things Religions of the world represents. However, the one thing that I believe Religions of the world provide is a strong pathway for the individual towards Hope. This belonging to a sense of Collective Faith is very powerful … which is reflected in Christians all around the world celebrating Christmas Day.

Hope, ultimately is all that we have in life.

Hope is ultimately, all we have in this life

Remember, to stoop in the presence of Greatness

In church, there are moments when we are required to ‘stoop’ or bow our heads or kneel when we are talking to Jesus and God. That is what you do when you meet or are in the presence of Greatness.

Jesus was a great man, a great Leader, a great Messiah. He still is, many centuries later.

As I see it, as you go through life, you can see the world and everything it has to offer – standing tall. But, to witness the Saviour, you have to get on your knees.

So …

While the theologians were sleeping;

And the elite were dreaming

And the successful were snoring …

The meek were kneeling.

They (the Shepherds) were kneeling before the One, our Saviour .. that only the meek will see.

That is the Nativity. That is Christmas Day. They were kneeling in front of Jesus, the son of God.

Remember, to stoop in the presence of Greatness, like my son reminded me in his role of a Shepherd in this year’s Nativity Play.

Thank you, son … for the life lessons you’ve taught me.

My prayer for my son …

I pray that from today forward, I may be the greatest example to you of someone (a Gentle Man in this case), who not only recognises and exercises authority when appropriate but also respects the power it allows me to wield.

In all areas of life, especially, as a parent.

Merry Christmas to you and your family,

 

From my family or Valentine Viking Pirates …

 

Cheers & Ahoy!

The Old Cap’n Viking Pirate Evangelist Muscled Monk … & Shepherd Lessons from my son’s Nativity Role

Find your strengths.
Society only rewards when you’re working from your strengths.
Work to your strengths.
Give your Gifts.
Live.
I like this hat.

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